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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dusit Thani Hotel Manila

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are staying at Dusit Thani Hotel Manila which is under the umbrella of Dusit International, one of Thailand’s leading hotel and property development companies.

Our choice of Dusit Thani Manila was its convenient location —  across the street from major shopping malls, easy access to the Manila International Airport, plus the two of us had previously stayed at this hotel and remembered their excellent service. Ability for us to book directly with the hotel at a great rate which includes daily buffet breakfast for two made our decision a no brainer.

Christmas season begins on September 1, according to Dolores, and like most of the commercial establishments, the lobby of Dusit Thani is over flowing with Christmas decorations.

J.J. has been enjoying an international breakfast showcasing Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Indian and Western dishes. As you can see, I tend to make more conservative choices.

On most days, I have been using the treadmill in the hotel’s gym to supplement my daily walking target of 10,000 steps.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Traffic Situation in Metro Manila

Aloha Everyone,

For both residents and visitors, the traffic situation in Manila is one of the inevitable topics of conversation. Here people do not talk about the distance they have to travel but how many hours it would take. The metropolis has commuter hours which equate to rush hours, but the joke is every hour is rush hour. 

According to our friend Richard, one of his advertising clients Toyota produces and sells passenger cars at the rate of 1,000 a week. About 700 are sold in Metro Manila. The increase in new roads is zero. Add to that 2,000 motorcycles a week. Prosperity and a growing middle class, who are now able to afford cars and motorcycles, contributes to traffic congestion.

Many of our friends have drivers who will ferry them around. Cell phones have mitigated useless “hanging around” of drivers. Still we witness so many drivers circling around hotels, restaurants or shopping mall entrances to “pick up” their patrons.

J.J. and I have seen flashing green and red light on sides of toll roads. No one is paying attention and it is “sayang” (too bad) if an ambulance gets stuck amidst traffic. When we asked Dolores, why motorists disregard the flashing lights, her response was, “for us it’s not a command but a suggestion!”

As much as possible, J.J. and I meet our friends at the hotel or walk to the nearby shopping malls and meet them at a restaurant. Perhaps walking in the humidity and heavy air pollution caused by vehicular traffic is unwise, but for our brief visit, it is a simple and practical solution.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Friendships With No Geographical Boundaries

Aloha Everyone,

Richard and Terttu are one of our oldest and dearest friends. Over lunch at the Dusit Thani Hotel’s Thai restaurant, topics of our conversation jumped from travel to family, politics, books, movies to food and health. Ah the joy of seeing old friends to whom our life is an open book.

Dolores arranged for me to practice yoga and meditation with a couple of her friends. How fortunate for me to be treated to Deetu’s wonderful home cooked Indian foods again. Her home was all decked in Christmas festivities which all of us joined the merriment by donning our choice of Christmas hats.  

Deetu with her wisdom commented that a life is a journey and not knowing what might come into your path, it is also an adventure. I am grateful to have friends that are sharing our paths.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, November 26, 2018

Peping & Letty

Aloha Everyone,

Letty, J.J.’s sister, and her husband Peping invited us to a lunch at a Japanese fusion restaurant.

Peping has always been involved in numerous business ventures from retail and commercial banking to security guards and building maintenance services. However in his retirement, Peping has new passions. He is the founder & board member of two schools that are diametrically on the opposite end of spectrum.

Everest Academy Manila, the only K-12 International Catholic school in the Philippines belongs to a network of more than 200 schools around the world. The school caters to the upper crust of society whose parents are willing and able to pay high tuition to educate their young.

Mano Amiga Academy is a K-12 school offering international standard education for poverty level families. They provide scholarships for students and sustainable livelihood for parents. Part of the tuition is in-kind labor.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Reyes Family Get-Together

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I were invited to join the Reyes Family get together at a beach resort in the province of Batangas. Most of the family members were staying at the beach house over the weekend. Due to our other commitments in the city, we opted to go for the day.

J.J. made arrangements for a car and driver prior to leaving the USA. Our original timetable was to allocate two hours driving each way to cover 120 km or roughly 75 miles. That would have given us 6 hours to visit with the family! Our calculations were way off.  Even with our highly skilled and experienced suicidal driver, who was able to sneak the car between bigger vehicles, it took 4 hours each way.

We were on the road for exactly 10 hours. The cost for driver and car was US$100. After the 8 hours of riding, J.J. commented that his body was cramped. I noticed that my iPhone walking app registered that I climbed 37 flights of stairs due to the bumpy ride.

There were probably about 30 of us at the beach resort. It is always delightful to catch up with family members as well as meet new members.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy

Aloha Everyone,

We celebrated Thanksgiving at San Francisco Airport with deli sandwiches, California veggie for me and crabmeat for J.J.  

When flight time exceeds 5 hours, J.J. and I try to book seats in the Premium economy - seating section between business class and economy.

Airlines advertise Premium Economy seat pitch and width to be bigger than Economy, thus more comfortable. Individual seats in Cathay Pacific has an 8” recline allowing you to sleep or sit upright. The meal service is “enhanced” which equals to getting better food choices. Welcome juice and champagne upon boarding, plus a bottle of water and steady flow of complimentary beverages were a nice touch.

Traveling on one of the busiest air travel days, we appreciated the priority check-in and boarding.  

A more spacious, quieter cabin compared to Economy seats, dedicated toilet for Premium economy passengers, larger pillow and headsets were definitely welcomed. Was it worth paying an additional 40% over the Economy fare? Yes, for the comfort and quality of service. Total time to reach our destination, including layovers, was 24 hours.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I have so many reasons to be grateful. The two of us are blessed with wonderful family and friends. Our adventure in Honu interwoven with foreign travel destinations also have given us countless opportunities to see new places, learn new ways of doing things, immerse in new cultures, become familiar with foreign languages, and most of all make new friends around the globe.

Each one of these big and small adventures help us open our hearts and mind.

Thinking of you, your family and wishing you a very Happy, Safe and Peaceful Thanksgiving Holiday!

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Upcoming Trip to the Philippines

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I will be flying on Cathay Pacific to Manila, Philippines. The first leg of our flight, from Las Vegas to San Francisco is operated by Alaskan Airlines.

From San Francisco to Hong Kong then from Hong Kong to Manila via Cathay Pacific.  

We will be traveling on the busiest travel day of the year, Wednesday, November 21st and returning on December 3rd.

This would be our first experience flying on Cathay Pacific Premium Economy. Looking forward to sharing our impressions.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Movies: Fantastic Beasts, Crimes of the Grindalwald & Instant Family

Aloha Everyone,

Pre-Thanksgiving movies opened this week and J.J. and I went to watched 2 of them, one each on Friday and Saturday at Century 18 Sam’s Town theaters.

J.J. requested for senior price which was $5 per person. We noticed that senior rates varies from state to state and sometime even from city to city. We’ve paid as much as $14 per ticket for a weekday matinee showing in Torrance.

J.J. is not a big Harry Potter fan nor fantasy genre films. He appreciated the special effects of the Fantastic Beasts but basically he went to keep my company :-). I enjoyed the film and besides our granddaughter and I will have lots to talk about the next time we see each other.

Instant Family is a story about a couple taking in 3 siblings as foster parents and the joy and frustration that accompanied the process. The story is based on director and co-writer Sean Anders' own experience of adopting three siblings. Isabella Moner, a young 17-years old up and coming actress’s portrayal of the oldest of the 3 siblings, Lizzie, is impressive and skillful. Moner’s acting is joy to watch as she sensitively balances comedy and drama. It is a “feel good” wholesome family movie which is often missing in today’s film selections.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Original Tommy’s Hamburger

Aloha Everyone,

Today’s lunch took us back to memory lane.

Original Tommy’s Hamburgers was established in 1946 by Thomas James “Tommy” Koulax in Southern California. It is still a privately held restaurant chain known for its chili burgers.

As college students with a limited budget, J.J. and I, along with our friends, frequented Tommy’s in Los Angeles, known then and now for quality food at reasonable prices.

Today there are a total of 33 restaurants all in California except for 3 in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of them is located in the shopping mall just across the street from KOA Las Vegas.

While J.J. feasted on Tommy’s Original Hamburger and fries, I asked for a veggie wrap with no chili sauce. For our lunch, we paid $13.00 plus tip. Still very reasonable for 2018.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tangible Benefits of Exercise

Aloha Everyone,

I am and have always been a morning person. I love the cool or even cold, brisk morning air. I love to listen to bird songs. I love to watch the sun rise especially when Honu is parked among ancient trees. There is a magical quality and special energy as the sun’s warmth envelopes the world.

After sharing breakfast with J.J., I am off for my daily walk. Using my iPhone  timer, I divide my time into two segments — 50 minutes each. The first 50 minutes is for my walking meditation. It is my personal time. It makes me calm, I am focused, I am balanced.

During the second 50 minutes, I talk with friends who live in the East Coast or in the Mountain Time Zone. Usually our son Jeff calls me from Hawaii as he drives to school. This is a weekday routine which I cherish.

Exercise, of any type, helps maintain your positive mental state and helps you relax. This is because the brain releases endorphins, “feel-good chemicals” throughout the body which helps reduce anxiety and a depressed mood. When your body feels good, you also gain self-esteem.

J.J. and I hardly ever get colds, the flu or stomach indigestion. We are grateful that our current lifestyle is beneficial to our physical, mental and emotional health.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My New Pair of Walking Shoes

Aloha Everyone,

According to my research, most walking shoes usually lasts 350 to 500 miles. Since I started to maintain a log, I have been walking an average of 5.2 miles a day.

If the calculations are correct, my new pair of walking shoes would probably last me 3 1/2 months.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, November 12, 2018

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

Aloha Everyone,

Codependent No More - How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself was originally published in 1986. Written by Melody Beattie in the Self-Help genre, it is considered a “Modern Classic”. This is an inspirational book that explains and helps you if you are in an unhealthy codependency relationship.

I just finished listening to the “free” audio book available on YouTube and found it as meaningful and enlightening.

Here are a few brief quotes from the book:

“Codependents make great employees. They don’t complain; they do more than their share; they do whatever is asked of them; they please people; and they try to do their work perfectly—at least for a while, until they become angry and resentful.”

“Letting go helps us to to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress.”
“The only person you can now or ever change is yourself. The only person that it is your business to control is yourself.”

“Codependents appear to be depended upon, but they are dependent.”

“We rescue people from their responsibilities. We take care of people’s responsibilities for them. Later we get mad at them for what we’ve done. Then we feel used and sorry for ourselves.”

“If you did not have that person or problem in your life, what would you be doing with your life that is different from what you are doing now? How would you be feeling and behaving? Spend a few minutes visualizing yourself living your life, feeling and behaving that way—in spite of your unsolved problem.”

“Detaching does not mean we don’t care. It means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Artisan Craft Festival at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall

Aloha Everyone,

I saw a banner advertising the Artisan Craft Festival at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall. When I checked the hotel’s website, it stated:

This is the must attend event of the Arts and Crafts world in Las Vegas!
  • Free parking!
  • Free admissions for all ages!
  • One of a kind gifts and keepsakes!
We are not gullible to believe in such advertising, but then I thought we might find something that is one of a kind. The hotel and the KOA RV park share the name but not much else. Unless there is a movie we would like to see, the two of us stay away from that section of Sam’s Town.

Once inside, J.J. and I had to ask two different security guards as to the venue. It was on the far end of the second floor with no sign to indicate that we have arrived.

J.J. estimates that there were a maximum of 40 stalls predominantly displaying inexpensive trinkets from countries where you can buy I inexpensive trinkets. At 11:30 am, the place was empty. Vendors were visiting other vendors, especially if they were offering free samples.

We declined free face painting and balloons, no palm reading and left the place without purchasing anything as we truly wished them well in their endeavors.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Attorneys in Las Vegas

Aloha Everyone,

Driving to Las Vegas on Interstate 15, we are inundated with billboard advertisements from attorneys offering their services.

In 2012, according to the State Bar of Nevada website, there were more than 8,600 attorneys licensed to actively practice law in the state.

We know attorneys whose expertise are in corporate law, international patent law, environmental law and real estate law. Most billboards promote attorneys who specializes in injuries and accidents. Makes us wonder how many of the 8,600 attorneys work on a full-time basis on injury cases.

Aloha -- Cathi