March 17, 2013: A Cambodian Wedding

This is what I wore:

Traditional Khmer (Cambodian) dark olive and gold elephant embroidered silk wrap skirt with a heavily embroidered peach satin and lace shirt and matching periodot necklace, bracelet and earrings in traditional Khmer settings (and 92.5% silver!) with incredibly bedazzled heels, which I will wear again…

Also, I had to get up and get dressed like this by 6h30 to make it to the bride’s house by 7h00 for the Fruit Song, in which all of the groom’s relatives wait in a queue and bring fruit to the bride’s house and family. 

Spring Break Forevaaaaaa (How's It, Oahu?)

March 21st- March 27th, 2014

This Spring Break (my first of grad school!) I bought myself a ticket to Oahu, Hawai'i to visit one of my favorite beezies, Danielle (Dani), whom I hadn’t seen since December 2012 when she transferred from SBCC in Santa Barbara, CA to University of Hawai'i in Manoa.

Before leaving Seattle (where I now live and attend school for my M.A.), I  asked my friend what the weather was like and she told me “70s and 80s” to which I responded, “I can’t even remember what that feels like.”

After a very long plane flight during which I was seated in the midst of not one, not two, but THREE toddlers, and my eardrums feeling like an explosion on the way down (I woke up with blood in my ears after Mardi Gras and this was proof that I had ripped them), I finally landed in Honolulu.  

The day that I left it was actually sunny in Seattle, and 53 degrees felt downright fucking glorious, so when I landed in Honolulu, I was freaking out that it was SO WARM.

Dani and her best friend Jessica picked me up and we went straight to their friend’s annual mustache party where I met Dani’s boyfriend, Kainui, a local boy from Kailua.

The next morning, we woke up and went out to breakfast and then straight to Cromwell’s Beach, where we scampered over lava rocks to Diamond Head and a pool next to it where we could jump in.  

I hadn’t felt the ocean on my skin in over 9 months, and I was already halfway to heaven before we even got there, so by the time I actually got to jump in, I was ecstatic from the beauty of the island and the feeling of salt licking my skin and stinging my eyes. 

After trekking back to the right side of Cromwell’s (to the left are the pools and Diamond Head and to the right is the actual beach) and lounging on the beach with Dani’s roommate Joely, Dani and I returned to the house so she could get ready for work.  Her boyfriend Kai and I drove her and afterwards we both took naps before sunset, for which we raced up the hill on the opposite side of Manoa Valley, Tantalus for a sweet view.  I had the entire ride on my GoPro, which I had just started using, but unfortunately deleted the files by accident the next day.

My second full day on island, Kai, Dani, Joely and her boyfriend Tony and myself drove out to Kailua to hike to Maunawili Falls.  Kai, the official tour guide, led us past the waterfall and back to a natural waterslide deeper in the jungle.  To get there, we had to swim through the pool, climb up the waterfall, follow the river upstream until we got to a dilapidated bride to which we scaled another (much more minor) waterfall, climbed an access ladder and then side-stepped across the steel remnants of the bridge to a rotting flight of stairs, which we climbed up by stepping on the steel mounts for the now nonexistent wooden steps.  After the bridge, we got to an aqueduct, which we followed back further into the jungle, until it became a steel pipe again, which we then crossed, and then we finally reached the end of the aqueduct, where we found the natural waterslide.  Afterwards, we tramped back to the first waterfall (after following the aqueduct downstream, climbing the ladders, crossing the bridge again, hopping down with the help of a rope down the minor waterfall) where we all jumped into the pool at the bottom, before hiking back to the car. 

The next day we took the scenic route to the North Shore of the island, with Kai and Dani pointing out beaches, where Jurassic Park and Lost were filmed, and other various points of interest.  We stopped at Kalahopele Gulch near (in?) the town of Hale'iwa on the North Shore, where we scampered across the reef and I first immersed my GoPro in water to get underwater footage!

Afterwards, we stopped at some tourist stand with beautiful shells (at my request, I like pretty things, whatever) where I picked up my grandmother a woven coaster set embellished with cowrie shells.

Then we drove to the end of the road to Kaena Point to watch the sunset.  This place felt very sacred, and Kai told me that Kaena point is where the Nightwalkers or the souls of the deceased enter the ocean into the afterlife… pretty fucking cool, and easily my favorite spot on the island.  The Ko'olau mountains were to our backs, and looking upon them you could see that they were drenched in mystery.  Kai also told me stories of how he and his buddies would camp out on the point and play with sand-wedges, hitting Mulligans while trying to aim at various lava rocks strewn across the sand, and how at night when you looked upon the mountains they would see lights dotting the tops, that could not be produced by anything human, since they were so insurmountable (although he told me it was possible to scale them through a particular gorge).  In all honesty, for that full hour or so waiting for the sunset and during the fading twilight, I felt like I was fully in a Miyazaki anime- that’s how unbelievably magical, mystical, spiritual and lyrical this place was.  

That night we got ready to go out for Industry Night (it was Monday) but the club we were going to in Waikiki was over-packed so we went to some bar to dance at instead, which was fun, but I was reminded that my eardrums are basically busted, so decided to stay away from the speakers for the rest of the night instead.  I was surprised to discover that Hawai'i’s liquor laws are much different from the mainland- last call at 1:30 a.m.?  Nah.  The bars stay open past 4 a.m. still serving alcohol!  What was this madness?!  After the place we were dancing at we went across the street to some Irish pub where a fairly decent cover band kept playing on past 2 a.m.! 

The following day, Dani and I took her moped out to breakfast.  Later, Dani had to work, so Joely took me to her favorite beach where we snorkeled, then to Cromwell’s again to snorkel some more.  After, we went back to the house to get ready to go out to Bar35 where we shared some pizzas and had good conversation with each other and some former customers of hers (she had previously worked there but quit for various reasons).  

Wednesday we spent lounging around the house in Manoa Valley and Dani took me up to the roof where you could see sweeping views of all of the valley, Manoa Falls, to Waikiki and part of Honolulu.  Afterwards, later in the evening, she and Kai showed me where the Bounty Hunter lived and his ridiculous landmark gate to his house of his face on a police badge before taking me to China Walls, where she and I jumped off and swam in the surf and Kai caught his first wave in about a month (he was incredibly stoked, to say the least, beaming ear to ear afterwards).  

That night, I spent most of my time out on the lanai, looking at the constellations as they danced across the sky, observing an endemic gecko and centipede on the wall as they hunted for food, and watching the clouds come over the mountains into the valley like cotton candy, coming together and wisping apart, showing peek-a-boo stars, through the intermittent, peaceful rain.  I even saw a shooting star!

The following day, which was my last before I had to leave this enchanting island, Kai, Dani and I drove out to Kailua (which is where Obama is apparently from).  Kai grew up there, and a friend of his had found signs pointing to a vein of quartz crystal in the mountain, and Kai had already dug out about 134 pounds of quartz.  He told me that the Hawaiian Islands are not supposed to be old enough to even have quartz on them, but legend has it that the island chain along with all of the islands in the French Polynesian Pacific are supposedly the tops of the mountains of the lost continent of Lemuria…

He wanted to take me there to find my own crystal point.  After a muddy, strenuous trek up the mountainside by the quarry there, Kai began digging in one of the last of the large holes he had made to find the crystals while Dani and I rested.  Soon, Kai let me dig in the hole and showed me how to follow the vein to find the quartz, and he took his pick-axe and began digging a new hole elsewhere.  While I was digging out little bits of crystals, Dani pointed out to me that I was the first person whose energy has ever touched these crystals since I was the one who was directly digging them out of the Earth.  After about 15 minutes of digging, picking and brushing aside clay, sand and rock, I found my point: about 3 inches long with phantom points inside of it which reminded my of the Ko'olau mountains on the North Shore.

We returned down the mountain, slipping in the muddy clay most of the way, and went to Lanikai Beach to wash off, admire the Mokes (two islands which are a bird sanctuary) and play in the waves.

Afterwards, we got amazing pizza, the slices of which were literally a full quarter of the pizza pie, before driving to a lava tube, which we all walked through.  There, out on the dried lava bed, Kai pointed out the layers and the different names for the types of lava (smooth versus pointy), and showed us two more tubes that were full of fossilized coral reef, as we walked about some amazing tide pools!

At the end of the day, as the sun was setting, we went to Spitting Caves next to China Walls, where Kai jumped the 70-foot drop into the ocean right as the sun set.

That night we went to an Art and Flea market, and to a local dive before I taxied my tired self back to the house and packed my belongings, preparing to leave the next morning.

The next day, Kai and Dani drove me to the airport in Honolulu as the sun rose.  We hugged and said our goodbyes, and made tentative plans for me to return at the end of August or sometime in September, before the Fall quarter starts for me at UW, during the off-season on Oahu.

I had a great time.  Of all the Hawaiian Island that I have visited, Oahu is the one I want to keep returning to, because there is so much to do.  I was able to completely unwind, and I feel fulfilled and like I finally fell in love with myself again.

Thank you to all of my followers who take the time to read about my silly, small life!  I love every last one of you and will post pictures soon!

XO, Momo

January 19th, 2013: Day One, Breakfast

After a 15 hour plane ride to China and an equivalent amount of time spent at the airport waiting in Guangzhou as well as the 2 hour plane ride to Cambodia, last night I finally arrived in Phnom Penh.

15 seconds into being actually in the country, I was already in love.  Southeast Asia is in my soul and I am as happy as can be.

Since I started readingWorld War Z  (the book about the zombie apocalypse) yesterday naturally all of my dreams were nightmares about zombies.  I have never had a zombie dream before in my life mind you.

When I awoke this morning at 7h00, as soon as I noticed the sun was up I ran to the top of the Tattoo volunteer house to greet the sun, the sky, the world, truly exhilarated.  On my way back down I nearly gave some poor woman a heart attack and realized that I may have actually accidentally invaded someone’s home….