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Travel that I need

Travel that I need

What a dream it has been to travel to new places! It’s always so exciting to have something to look forward to, and right now I’m looking forward to Bali in just a few more days.

I am currently at my sister’s place in Arizona, visiting with my niece and nephew for the week. They grow up so fast, it’s a constant reminder whenever I see them again of time that passes quickly, and all that’s changed in between.

This week has been very relaxing. I told myself that I would spend my time in Arizona working on things that I didn’t have time for (or bandwidth for) in American Samoa, but instead I’m forced to put my technology down and play with my nephew–he loves to bring books for me to read with him–or pick up my baby niece, who loves to be carried. It’s not every day that I’m surrounded by these adorable human beings!

And since I’m on a hardcore budget, I’ve been really good at not spending money. I almost opened up a new credit card just for this trip, but I think I’m just gonna make do with my current balance and hopefully it’s enough to last (and pay the bills)! I’m eating at home, eating leftovers, window shopping, watching netflix, playing in the pool, and just today went to a $5 baseball game.

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

 

Keep Calm. Wander On.

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

8 MAY 2017 One of my favorite things about art is art supplies. I adore looking at them, using them (obviously) and now making them! I’m currently obsessed with the watercolor medium—how amazing it makes everything look, the way the paint flows wherever the water...

Travel that I need

Travel that I need

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15 MAY 2017 I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers. I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat...

Quality time with the Que’s

Quality time with the Que’s

It’s getting harder to say goodbye. I live so far away, it’s not easy to just stop by for a visit, and I wish I could see them more often.

Fast kine in Hawai’i

Fast kine in Hawai’i

Photos from my first couple days of vacation in Hawaii.

After flying in at 6am, we headed straight to Laie where my colleague Line lives in a beautiful house by the beach. We caught up over breakfast then played with her awesome 4 kiddos bodysurfing the choppy little waves. I unfortunately did not take any photos while we were in Laie because I was starting to get sick and I barely slept on the flight.

Later we made it to the very hip Kailua area to be reunited with a couple of our AmSam friends, Tim and Brenda, who recently relocated to Oahu. In the evening, we picnicked on sushi and red wine, and laughed at the stars outside of a Jack Johnson concert.

The next day consisted of a lot of waiting around for buses, but we got to eat some fresh ahi and salmon poke(!), did some errands, and checked out Kaimana beach to meet up with Ian’s college friend, where two monk seals crashed the scene!

The downside to visiting Hawai’i is that it’s always too short, but the upside means that I get to spend quality time with my family in Arizona before jetsetting off to Bali next week!

Keep Calm. Wander On.

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

8 MAY 2017 One of my favorite things about art is art supplies. I adore looking at them, using them (obviously) and now making them! I’m currently obsessed with the watercolor medium—how amazing it makes everything look, the way the paint flows wherever the water...

Travel that I need

Travel that I need

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15 MAY 2017 I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers. I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat...

Quality time with the Que’s

Quality time with the Que’s

It’s getting harder to say goodbye. I live so far away, it’s not easy to just stop by for a visit, and I wish I could see them more often.

Getting Caught Up & Getting Away

Getting Caught Up & Getting Away

22

JUNE 2017

Getting Caught Up

In my attempt to blog more (consistently) this year, I’ve only been maybe 25% successful. I have so many photos and ideas of things to post but not enough patience with my Internet connection and most of the times, I get so distracted with day to day life things and blah blah blah…

Something like a vacation

Well, these days, I always feel the need to go on vacation, to take a long break and get away from my day to day routines and experience something new. So it was good timing for my college friend Scott to visit.

I took a week off work to go ti’eti’e pasi and show Scott around American Samoa, then we headed off to Samoa for a long weekend getaway.

Samoa, as usual, was a dream.

The weather in Pago was pretty drab up until the day we left, but thankfully it stayed a steady sunny in Samoa. Our first order of business: food!! We headed to town for a nice little dinner at Paddles, and toasted to me and Ian’s 3 year anniversary! And later hit up Club X with Lauren, Megan and Lagi for a fun night of dancing.

The perfect jumpstart to any day is brunch at Home Cafe – the cutest little hipster spot in town. There, we decided we wanted to go wherever the water was and drove off to Papase’ea Waterfall Sliding Rocks. I’d never been in the past because the waterfalls were dried up, but after the previous week of rain showers, we had no reason to not walk down the steep and uneven stairway down to a series of waterfall slides. I knew it was going to be fun, but I didn’t realize it was going to be really fun. We slipped and slid our afternoon away, and I almost wanted to spend the whole day there sitting in the pools!

 

PAPASE’EA SLIDING ROCKS

 

BRUNCH VIBES
AT HOME CAFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

But alas, we got back on the road and headed south towards the heavenly sands of Lalomanu Beach. We rented out a tiny beach fale and spent our day snorkeling and soaking up the sun over fresh pina coladas. We lucked out arriving on a Friday because it was Fiafia Night and we feasted on an appetizing spread of seafood and lots and lots of lobster! We also met some cool people that night, so that’s always awesome.

TAUFUA BEACH FALE

LE MANUMEA

If you’re going to the south side of the island, just be prepared to bring all the cash you need. I wasn’t really thinking ahead and only brought $400 tala (roughly $160) with us in cash. We blew through that real quick, so we had to scrounge, literally, in the folds of our rental car for loose coins to get into the instagram-famous To Sua Ocean Trench, where we sunbathed in the natural salt pool.

After satisfying our hangry bellies at Sinalei Reef Resort, we headed back into town and chilled out at Le Manumea Hotel. We were thoroughly ready for a nap. But first, dinner plans at Giordano’s Pizza with a couple of kindred spirits whom we had met at Taufua Beach Fales.

We lounged in the pool the next morning, and Ian decided to check out the SPREP offices to network with the environmental folks. We then hastily made the decision to drive south again but this time to Savaia to visit a giant clam hatchery – which by the way, was incredible! So many colors and psychedelic patterns! The clams are part of a Marine Protected Area, which makes them legally protected (and so should not be touched), and swimming amongst them was the highlight of this trip for me.

I didn’t realize how hungry I was and found myself devouring my burger at The Edge Cocktail Lounge. All our adventures had left us feeling worn out, and thankfully, we picked the perfect solution – full body massages at Touch of Samoa and a classy little dinner at Scalini’s.

To sum up our trip: we got exceptional food, exhilarating waterfall slides, beach fales, ocean trench visits, and giant clam swimalongs. The trip was meant to both show Scott our island life and celebrate me and Ian’s 3 year anniversary. It was something like a vacation.

Keep Calm. Wander On.

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

8 MAY 2017 One of my favorite things about art is art supplies. I adore looking at them, using them (obviously) and now making them! I’m currently obsessed with the watercolor medium—how amazing it makes everything look, the way the paint flows wherever the water...

Travel that I need

Travel that I need

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15 MAY 2017 I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers. I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat...

Quality time with the Que’s

Quality time with the Que’s

It’s getting harder to say goodbye. I live so far away, it’s not easy to just stop by for a visit, and I wish I could see them more often.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15

MAY 2017

I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers.

I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat some good food, get a massage, and explore new places!

With that being said, I’m mentally preparing for the weekend escape with a list of things to bring, the essentials for packing light for a long weekend. Island style!

It’s only a weekend, so I don’t want to burden myself with too many things. And as much as I’d love to travel and have all the contents of my room readily available, it’s just not practical. Here’s my light packing list which I will be fitting all into one backpack and tote bag.

Packing light for a long weekend (in Samoa)

What I’m Packing:

* Deuter 30L Backpack
* Sunglasses
* iPhone
* Canon 60D with 24mm and 50mm lenses and 3 memory cards
* GoPro Hero 4 with underwater housing and dome
* Comfortable walking shoes
* Slippers
* Lavalava
* Hat
* Toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, retainers, soap shampoo and conditioner if you’re not hoteling it, moisturizer)
* Sunblock (doubles as moisturizer)
* Natural Bug spray
* Voltage converter
* 3 Bikinis
* Hand sanitizer; travel size
* Travel Journal
* Passport/ Driver’s license/ cash and credit cards
* Favorite book/ eReader
* Microfiber towel

What to wear:

Samoa is a tropical climate, and it can be sunny one moment and then stormy the next. Either way will be very humid. It’s a good idea to pack clothing that is comfortable and dries easily, like cotton fabrics. I’m bringing 3 swimsuits that also double as my undergarments, because first of all, you’re on vacation, let those girls hang! And second of all, because I will likely spend most of my time in the ocean or by the pool, so it helps to have underwear and bras that dry very quickly. If you don’t have slippers, you must not know what an island is.

Adventures:

While some places offer snorkel gear for rent, I prefer to bring my own because it’s saving me money and I won’t have to worry about finding a place to rent gear from. I have this awesome Cressi Mini Frame mask and snorkel that fits my smallish head, and Ian got me this pair of DaFin kick fins that are perfect for bodyboarding and relaxing snorkels. Take sunblock everywhere (doubles as moisturizer) and a small bug spray if you plan to be hiking.

Technology:

It’s a long weekend away. Use this time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with mother nature. For technology, I’m only  bringing my DSLR camera, a Kindle (pre-downloaded 2 books so I don’t need to pay for WiFi), and my iPhone 6 for snaps here and there. Also, because Samoa has different sockets, I brought a power adapter in case I need a quick recharge.

Travel documents:

These are the obvious essentials: passport, driver’s license, wallet, and itineraries. Since I am packing light, I plan to take all these important documents with me everywhere, so keeping them stored safely is very important. I am using my Lalelei clutch to hold my passport, IDs, and money. As for the itineraries, I do like to have printed copies with me, but I also keep a copy on my phone, usually screenshots so I can just access them in my Photos folder. Tip: also save a photo copy of your passport and driver’s license on your phone or on your email, just in case.

Extras:

Bring a notebook and pen in case you need to jot things down. I’m bringing my Midori Travelers Notebook with a fresh insert for this trip. I’m also bringing my tricolor pen and my watercolor travel palette that I made out of an Altoids tin! Travel journaling is a lot of fun, and I just collect little mementos from the trip like tickets, receipts, stamps, maps and pamphlets and write down absolutely anything.

Keep Calm. Wander On.

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

8 MAY 2017 One of my favorite things about art is art supplies. I adore looking at them, using them (obviously) and now making them! I’m currently obsessed with the watercolor medium—how amazing it makes everything look, the way the paint flows wherever the water...

Travel that I need

Travel that I need

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15 MAY 2017 I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers. I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat...

Quality time with the Que’s

Quality time with the Que’s

It’s getting harder to say goodbye. I live so far away, it’s not easy to just stop by for a visit, and I wish I could see them more often.

Photo Diary: Adventures in Queenstown

Photo Diary: Adventures in Queenstown

Welcome to the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown!

My boyfriend bought us flights from Auckland to Queenstown in the South Island and our plan was to pick up a rental car (that we got for FREE!) and we would road trip it all the way back up to Auckland in the North Island. And that was about it. We hadn’t really planned anything else, except to meet up with some friends who were also on holiday in New Zealand.

We flew into Queenstown in the morning and I was immediately greeted by my friend Leá who ran up from behind yelling “BABY!” and gave me a huge hug. Lea was my study abroad “buddy” in college, and we became really good friends after some fun little misadventures at a wedding in Mexico hehe. Who knew we would be reunited 3 years later halfway across the world in New Zealand?! It was so good to see her, and to meet her boyfriend Geoff. We tried to go on a hike but changed our mind and got lunch at Caribe Latin Kitchen and coffee at Starbucks before walking around and dipping our toes in Lake Wakatipu.

Summer season in Queenstown means it’s bustling with tourists for the holidays. And that in turn means accommodations would be expensive. Lucky for us, we found a spot–literally a parking spot and tent site–at the Lakeview Holiday Park which was reasonably priced for our backpacker budget (about $50 NZD for a non-powered site).

Typical holiday park in New Zealand

This was BEFORE everyone showed up to our holiday park, so just imagine this but 10x more full.

Hey neighbor, want to go on an adventure?!

We explored the town and made plans to meet up with our other friends, who also happen to be our neighbors back in American Samoa, Mark and Alice. We grabbed drinks by the wharf and went back to their camper van named “Bernie” and they told us that they were gonna go paragliding the next day. Now I knew that Queenstown was popular for extreme sports but I honestly didn’t think about participating in any adrenaline pumping events until that very night. I had already tried skydiving two summers ago in Phoenix (which I loved) and isn’t paragliding a step down?  The next morning Ian and I woke up in our tiny tent in packed-like-sardines-land and I was on my way to the bathroom when I looked up and saw a big parachute with a guy attached to it. I took a photo and added it to my Instagram story with the caption “Looks like fun”… next thing you know, I’m booking two paragliding tickets for the highest jump off of Coronet Peak.

We picked up our free rental car (did I mention it was free?) and grabbed brunch at the acclaimed “best burger joint on the planet”, Fergberger’s. We tried eating here the day before but the line was literally out the door and ’round the corner for who knew how long… we didn’t bother to check. But it was still pretty early so the line wasn’t so bad. After a 30 minute wait, I can officially say I agree, best burger I ever had!

Manuia! Mark and Alice in New Zealand
Cozy camper van in New Zealand

Why Paragliding was just okay

I wasn’t nervous about paragliding at all. I was however nervous about the windy shuttle ride up to Coronet Peak. I got just a tiny bit motion sick from the ride but made it up to the highest jump off no problem. My first thoughts when we arrived at our launch point were (1) I wish I brought chapstick and a down jacket because it’s cold, and (2) this is going to suck isn’t it?

Five minutes later, I’m strapped in to a guy named Peter watching my boyfriend jump off with his tandem partner and he looks stoked. His jump was perfectly executed. I was gonna jump right after but it took a couple of tries because I couldn’t exactly run against the wind with a guy 3x my size strapped to my back. So I had to get an assisted pull into the wind until I was airborne. Once we were up, I felt so relaxed. The view was incredible. I was cold and really wishing I had chapstick on but it was manageable. Time flies when you’re high, literally. And 15 minutes later and a couple of roller coaster spiral spins down towards earth, I landed on my feet (yay!) at the base of the mountain.

Ian landed right after me, followed by Mark and Alice, and we all met at the coffee shop where our pilots were trying to sell us the GoPro photos and videos. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I found out that both Mark and Alice puked their morning fill of cherries during their flight, especially since they were the ones that were all gung-ho about paragliding! I couldn’t laugh too hard though because I also got quite motion sick from the downward spiraling, so my shoulders were tense and if I moved too much I could have puked too. But more importantly, I didn’t!

Did I like paragliding? Sure. Would I do it again? Probably not.
I’d definitely recommend this for someone who wants to do something exciting but not too blood rushing. In my opinion, it’s just really overpriced (~$200 NZD per person) and not my favorite experience in Queenstown.

Paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand
Falling in style in Queenstown, New Zealand

Luging isn’t what you think it is

Speaking of favorite experiences… you would think that after paragliding, that would be the topper event of the day, but you’d be wrong. Luging is where it’s at!

The Skyline Luge is cleverly and appropriately marketed as the ride where “once is never enough”. So we went 4 times, but easily could have gone on the 7x maximum ticket if we knew just how fun it would be!

After an hour of resting off the physical discomforts from paragliding, we walked up to the Skyline ticket office, took a gondola up a mountain, and then got on a ski lift that would take us up to the top of the luge track. We were quickly briefed on how to use the luge carts, and proceeded to the first timer’s “scenic route”. It lasted a couple of minutes but it was quite a rush! We got in line again and again, and a group of girls showed how how it’s done when they zoomed by us violently fast laughing their heads off! We were awestruck (that girl is kinda my hero) and on our last race down, we barely used the brakes because we just kept wanting to go faster!

I had no idea what luging was going to be like, but that was my favorite thing I did in Queenstown! We’re putting together our GoPro videos of us luging, so I’ll post that here soon.

While paragliding is the story we will probably retell a lot (mostly because Mark and Alice puked and our friendship warrants this to be held over the other’s heads for some time), luging was the adventure we were looking for in Queenstown.

Savoring Queenstown before getting the heck outta there

We spent our evening at the wharf with our fish and chips, pizza, and fizzy drinks; and listened to live music by a street performer surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. A guy flew a drone and caused a raucous with the gulls in flight. A couple of brüs jumped into the water and laughed like manly men about it. It was already 8pm but it was still bright out. We drove off to Mark and Alice’s campsite by the lake. They got a sick free spot with an epic view. Ian and I almost wished we could camp there for the night too but the drive was 40 minutes away from our holiday park in town and we were feeling exhausted, so we said goodnight and hit the sheets.

The next day was New Year’s Eve. Traffic was suddenly a thing and there were way more people in town, jaywalking and drinking way too early in the day. We packed our stuff and prepared for our road trip. We got groceries at Pak’N’Save (I freaking love this grocery store!) and were relieved to finally get out of touristy Queenstown and hit the open road again.

Gulls going crazy over a drone.

My first time in a holiday park… honestly, not a bad way to travel.

Keep Calm. Wander On.

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

8 MAY 2017 One of my favorite things about art is art supplies. I adore looking at them, using them (obviously) and now making them! I’m currently obsessed with the watercolor medium—how amazing it makes everything look, the way the paint flows wherever the water...

Travel that I need

Travel that I need

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15 MAY 2017 I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers. I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat...

Quality time with the Que’s

Quality time with the Que’s

It’s getting harder to say goodbye. I live so far away, it’s not easy to just stop by for a visit, and I wish I could see them more often.

Photo Diary: Auckland

Photo Diary: Auckland

13

JAN 2017

Travel

Auckland is one of those places you either love or you hate. I didn’t do much research beforehand and had no expectations for the “City of Sails”, but after spending the first few days of my quick New Zealand tour in Auckland, I was definitely getting good vibes! We stayed in a beautiful AirBnB that was a 5 minute walk from Takapuna Beach, took the ferry to the city, drank a lot of coffee and good brew, and omg the food! Everywhere we went, all the food we tried… everything was so good! And my favorite was the incredible “gastro experience” at the Sugar Club at the top of the Auckland Skytower (thanks to Polly and Rick!).

View of sailboats in Auckland by Nerelle

Keep Calm. Wander On.

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

CREATE: DIY Altoids watercolor travel palette

8 MAY 2017 One of my favorite things about art is art supplies. I adore looking at them, using them (obviously) and now making them! I’m currently obsessed with the watercolor medium—how amazing it makes everything look, the way the paint flows wherever the water...

Travel that I need

Travel that I need

This isn’t how I normally travel. I usually like to go places and see new things. But right now this is just what I need.

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

Packing Light for a Long Weekend (in Samoa)

15 MAY 2017 I love long weekend getaways. These little trips are lifesavers. I’ve booked my tickets for a long weekend adventure, island hopping to Samoa. It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I haven’t been back there since last year, so I’m excited to go and eat...

Quality time with the Que’s

Quality time with the Que’s

It’s getting harder to say goodbye. I live so far away, it’s not easy to just stop by for a visit, and I wish I could see them more often.

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