Heavenly Hawaii (Part 2) : Our cruiseship, Hilo and Kilauea of Big Island, Molokai

Our cruiseship

Atrium on level 5

The public areas on the ship were nice and our cabin was fine. There were always activities or some entertainment available.

Buffet at Lanai Café was usually crowded and few times we ate there, the food was mediocre. Even though the menus were similar, dress code for Liberty (upstairs) was formal and casual for Skyline (downstairs). The quality of meals at these two restaurants was mixed. Our experience at Cadillac Dinner, a much smaller place, turned out more satisfying. The best meal we had on the ship though was from one of the specialty restaurants, Asian Fusion, where we had to pay extra. Water, tea and coffee were included but you had to pay for alcohol, which was expected, but also soda.

I booked the package including flight and cruise from a travel agent and did not find out till later from the cruise line’s embarkation document about the additional service charge of $12 per person per day.
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Heavenly Hawaii (Part 1): Oahu(Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Paradise Cove, Honolulu)

Picturesque view

Nothing is truer than Seeing-is-believing for Hawaii. If you have been to Hawaii, I congratulate you. If not yet, I hope you’ll get to.

Tender blue and brilliant sky, turquoise or sapphire blue water depending where you turn, lush and exotic greens and flowers, amazing marine organism, rolling verdant mountain ranges, blackened rocks lapped by windless yet splashing waves… Hawaiian Islands are sublimely beautiful, and truly wondrous as formations of undersea volcanoes. Thus is the summarized impression I take home from our vacation to Hawaii in Apr.

We flew to Honolulu a couple of days before our cruise, with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, so we had some time for Oahu. The ensuing week long cruise was spent between shore excursions every other day and activities/relaxing on the boat. At the end, it was a holiday too good to end and I grew a degree in favor of go a-cruising.

A picture is worth a thousand words and more than ever I am happy to share with you our journey via photos, selected from my reservoir of more than 800 and ordered chronologically.

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Washington DC (Winter 2009)

From western end of Washington Monument with Capitol Hill behind it

As it turned out, the two-week block vacation that my husband had to take for 2009 fell on the Christmas Holiday. Even though I incline to avoid sightseeing in the cold, I was aching for a little action around that time, so I planned a 4 nights, 3 and ½ days visit to the capital city on our way up north to join my in-laws for Christmas in CT.

While I did the usual diligence preparing for the trip, my list of interest grew and my enthusiasm increased. Our nation’s capital really is a gem-packed place. Among others, intriguing history, fine architectures, distinguished landmarks and splendid museums, many of which are FREE, await everyone.

So I was finally back to Washington DC, after only 20 years, and in spite of the unforeseen once-a-decade snow storm, that delayed and shortened our trip by one day, we had a decent time and it left me wanting to come back for more. The blizzard, while causing some closings and inconvenient road conditions, was not a show stopper and presented a set of sceneries and experiences that we won’t have had otherwise.

DC remains the free and open city that it has been with some exceptions – added security checks and scans at some sites and the changed procedure for visiting the White House. To visit the White House, one has to plan ahead. “Requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress and are accepted up to six months in advance. “ See http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events for details. And needless to say, visiting the White House would have to come on another trip for us. It is, however, a no brainer to understand the need for tightened security rule.

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New York – Manhattan (From Grand Central to Statue of Liberty and China Town)


While vacationing with family in CT during the summer of 2005, my husband, son and I took a day trip to New York City and our main destination was The Statue of Liberty. That was my second visit to the Statue of Liberty but first of my son and first of my husband too even though he had lived no more than 2 hours from New York most of his life before moving down south.
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New York – Taking Feizi to Empire State Building and Times Square


Feizi and I at Time Square

Feizi and I at Time Square

Feizi is a classmate and friend from college, one of the seven girls from my class. By mid 1990s, four of us had moved to the States and one to Canada. While 6 of us had managed to stay in touch, no one knew where Feizi was for more than a decade until the spring of 2008. Continue reading

New York – Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum

Scrolls from Qing Dynasty

Scrolls from Qing Dynasty

Almost every time we visit my parents in law, my husband and I would take a day trip to New York City. The recent one was during our Christmas vacation more than a week ago. An easy one hour train ride took us from CT to Grand Central where the subway picked up till we reached uptown Manhattan. The destinations of the day were Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum and we were lucky to have with us uncle Mat who is a talented artist. Uncle Mat gave us passes to both museums and walked through Guggenheim with us.
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Most Stunning Foliage: Grandfather Mountain, NC

Another fantastic view from South Side of Bridge

Another fantastic view from South Side of Bridge

A North Carolinian since I moved to the United States, I’ve always been appreciative of the diverse topography of its land and the beautiful landscape it boasts from its coastal area on the verge of Atlantic Ocean to its mountainous terrain on the western side of the states. Having been to and through the western part of the state many times, I’ve seen the mighty mountains clad in different lights, colors and atmosphere. To me, nature preens up the area the best in autumn. Continue reading