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Aloha Hawaii: A mini guide on beaches, where to shop + attractions

Hawaii spells sun, sand, and surf and getting a chance to spend Christmas here (so much sun, love!) was a dream come true. My sister and I spent most of our days at the beach or if we were out exploring the entire day, we made sure to be back just in time to see the fiery sunset of Waikiki. I couldn’t be more thankful for the year that was about to pass.

Here are some of our favorite places in Hawaii. For a gastronomic experience, click my first blog post here. There are definitely more to see and experience the next time I swing back, but here are starters for first-time travelers:

BEACH

Waikiki Beach

The only man-made beach in Hawaii, Waikiki Beach was literally just 50 steps from our hotel which was great! I could wake up, skip breakfast, and go straight to the beach. And really, who wouldn’t be so excited to see something as beautiful as this?

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Aloha Hawaii: A mini-guide on where to eat

It was a toss-up between Sydney and Hawaii and on the last moment my sister asked: “So where do we go?” I guess we were both exasperated already and pre-occupied with work that at the last possible minute, I answered: “Let’s just go to Hawaii.” We had the US Visa already, that meant less work and less preparation.

It’s been a tradition of sorts to pick one major destination every December for our family vacation, the time when everyone can unplug and not think about work. Plus, we were to celebrate my sister’s birthday and last year as a single person, haha. So this had to be special and memorable.

Sunset at Waikiki Beach

Sunset at Waikiki Beach

We booked our tickets 4 days before Christmas Eve, booked the hotel and tours 2-3 days before. We didn’t think much of Hawaii even when tons of people were telling us it was their dream destination. You could say, we all went there with zero expectations which is really the best way to travel — to keep an open-minded and just enjoy the flow.

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Is 2018 up for the challenge?

Earlier this year while having dinner with someone, we got into the conversation of how our 2017 fared compared to last year. He, with full conviction, declared that his 2016 was more epic and he had yet to see what the current year can bring.

Bali_Elegantly Wasted 6

After that episode, I started thinking about my own year and if it was any better. The answer at that time was 2016 had been fantastic. Too fantastic that I backtracked and re-read my New Year’s wish last January, I warned that 2017 will have some big shoes to fill.

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The Art of Lontar Drawing in Tenganan

On my return to the wonderful island of Bali, I decided to explore the ancient village of Tenganan. About a two-hour drive from our hotel in Seminyak, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is a 250-hectare community village. Home to 750 families, it is somewhat secluded in the sense that villagers here live traditionally, mostly working as farmers and craftsmen.

Since it was located in the outskirts we decided to have late lunch before entering the village. While waiting for my Nasi, I took a walk to the farmlands where I saw some farmers harvesting. I smiled as I approached with my trusty camera in hand.

The farmers were happy to see me (I take it they may not get a lot of visitors this time of the year) and although I had been warned previously that locals may be unable to speak in English, they actually surprised me with their attempts at communicating. They could understand me perfectly, albeit in broken English. I took this as a sign of good things to come, I was very excited to be here and learn more.

The farm was along the roadside, part of Tenganan Village already. For a more in-depth experience, you have to drive a little bit more along a narrow path and enter the community itself. Kedak, our guide, waited for us by the entrance.

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The Sama Tribe teaches us to make Amik

On this particular sunny October day, the community was buzzing with activity. The Sama Tribe in Bgy. Tagbaobo, Samal Island were preparing for the death anniversary of one of their tribe members, and we were smack in the middle of it.

The tribe knew that I was coming to visit, I was housed next door and had previously spoken to Ms. Zenaida, their Community President. I approached the busy group awkwardly that morning, and it was then I was greeted with a local dance and then offered amik (local rice snack) and coffee (ground with corn).

The story goes, amik is what the Sama Tribe will offer guests and family members during the death anniversary celebration itself. The actual anniversary date is November 11 and since they need to produce at least 200 pieces, the whole barangay is up to their elbows in work. And thankfully, they were willing to let me pitch in.

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My Gastronomic Davao Experience with Etours.ph

Davao is synonymous with good, affordable, inventive food and on my second visit, I was invited to try out a new food tour conceptualized by Etours.ph along with accredited DOT guide Samuel Libre, Jr. I’ve met Sam before, he was our assigned tour guide during Kadayawan last August . He did such an exceptional job that I got in touch with him right away when I planned my return to this busy city.

So here’s a peek at the different Food Tours you can choose from:

Organic Food & Urban Farming

Features a roster of farm-to-table establishments that offer delicious organic food. Our first stop is Echostore, a popular haven for all-natural products and healthy living. We tried the Father Franco’s Pizza All Meat (ham, bacon, smoked chorizo). Fr. Franco is a priest residing in Bukidnon who has built his brand called “Parde Ninno,” known for his bottled delicacies, pizza dough, and duck pate.

Compared to the Manila branches Echostore Davao City has a more homey feel with a larger floor space, the menu is different, and it has a varied selection of skin care products, drinks, and local chocolates exclusively available here.

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