Mindful Travel Tips

 

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Pack less!

Let’s just get it out of the way and start with the thing everyone says to do but no one actually does; PACK ONLY WHAT YOU NEED! We all have the tendency to pack for every occasion. Going on vacation for a week doesn’t mean somehow we may end up at a black tie affair. Take out the ball gown and jewels and reduce your travel headache. Instead, use space saver bags. Seriously, use the bags they work! Or simply pack modestly and still use the space savers. Your suitcase and arms will thank you for it.

When it comes to makeup and hair keep it SUPER simple. Don’t pack things you don’t use on an everyday. That’s right. That new urban decay palate does not need to go vacation too. Leave the multiple hair tools at home. Most hotels have hairdryers. If you are staying somewhere that doesn’t then buy a small folding travel hairdryer. Personally, I have fairly curly hair and sometimes a flat iron comes in handed, but I much prefer a wand to keep my curls tight and manageable while on vacation. Plus it’s small and can usually fit into my case with little to bulk. Rarely will I take both. I realize everyone is different though so really when it comes to hair pack what is going to help you. If you feel you need several different products then downsize the bulk by using travel size containers. Refills are easy to find. imageI use rubber squeeze bottles for shampoo and conditioner, while also using smaller ounce plastic jars for any other hair products. Any leftover empty containers work great for small jewelry storage. Plus they are washable.

 

Be a SMART souvenir consumer.

Now that we have all that room in our suitcase we can fill it up with all the things, right? Not so fast! While I like to say it’s your money use it how you like, I will still insert my own two-cents here. Ultimately we want to get our money’s worth. For now, we will sideline that living in the moment of being in a beautiful place is your ultimate ROI and focus on things of material nature.

We made to Costa Rica and can’t wait to live brag, Pura Vida. Tempted by stores and stands offering “local art”. Cut to your next vacation in Hawaii and curiously Ticos and Hawaiians have similar, almost exactly the same “local art”.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Everything’s made in China, that’s who!

Look it’s true that in some way we are supporting locals when buying on vacation. Locals are employed by these shops and everyone needs to make a living. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that cute set of Maui wooden turtles for $19.99 was carved from an old fallen koa tree and represents an ancient Hawaiian tradition of turtle art. It’s not. Buy smart. Research and ask around.

Back to living in the moment. Do we always need to buy everyone something? I don’t think Johnny’s piece of the week will cry if you don’t include her on the wooden turtle buying. If she does…Johnny has big problems ahead. Enjoy why you are there. Take it all in and tell people about it. If you feel like bringing back something memorable think small, especially if you are on a budget. Locally made products are always a good idea and it doesn’t have to be a hand-carved ukulele. I mean, if that’s what you’ve saved for and dreamed of buying then, by all means, go for it. But grandma and cousin K  don’t need or expect you to bring them back something. Send a postcard. No one does this anymore but honestly, it’s awesome! Make memories not more credit card debt.

Research.

That Hawaii trip is insight. We scored on a deal and we aren’t passing on it. January on the North Shore of Oahu must be better than January in Minnesota, right? Not so much. Okay so it’s a definitely not freezing cold and the weather is still gorgeous, but research will tell you the North Shore of Oahu between the months of November and March can have some very rough surf. Major surf competitions can be held during these months, due to the fact that the surf is in prime form. This also means it’s dangerous for the average swimmer. So Susan from the midwest you may want to rethink getting your snorkel on for the first time in Waimea Bay. Maybe go check out the surf competitions during the day (warning: traffic is crazy!) and get your beach on somewhere else on the island.

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Let’s Review:

  1. Pack smart = pack less

  2. Buy smart and make memories not debt

  3. Research. Know before you go and don’t be disappointed. Nature doesn’t give a shit about how much money you spent on your tropical vacation.

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Orwa​iian, what is that?

Where are you from?

The name Orwaiian was born from partial humor and partial reality. Having moved so often I have to constantly answer the inevitable question; where are you from?  It’s become an important habit of mine to answer respectfully by answering accurately. To be honest, when you’ve moved several states and experienced varying cultures where do you draw the line when establishing the “from”?

Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to answer that question if I responded with a country. “I’m from the United States.” Sure if I wanted to be sarcastic or cheeky or really turn people off, I could answer this way. I doubt anyone within their own home country would. So we tend to get a little more specific. “I grew up moving around the northwest.” Or, “…mostly the SoCal area.” Or, “Washington.” By the way, having lived in Virginia for a year, if someone from the east coast is responding like this and “Washington” isn’t followed by “State”, the odds favor they are from DC.

My current situation: I’m an Orwaiian living in the south. I promise I will explain the meaning of this strange name I call myself, but for now, hang on. The American south has a deep history of its own with well established varying cultural groups, but a very recognizable accent. As someone having absolutely no cultural roots in the south I certainly have an accent that contrasts those with a southern drawl. Full disclosure, I do live in a place of many transplants. The Charleston area is beautiful and attractive to so many that’s it’s been a heavily moved-to place within the U.S. for many years. In any social interaction the tendency to ask the common question, where are you from, is inevitable and natural here. We all want to get to know each other without being too invasive. Or at least that should be the intent. If you are looking to ask the question with the intent to judge and not get to you, well you are doing it wrong. It can be a great starting point. “Tell me about that place.” Or, “I’ve always wanted to go there.” Or, “Wow why the hell did you move here!” All very natural reactions.

So again, why?

Why Orwaiian? I was born in Hawaii raised there for 11 years. Part Hawaiian by ethnicity as well as statehood. Oregon is where I lived for most of my life, about 15 years in fact. How do I pick between two important and distinct places of where in my life? In response to someone’s “where” question I humorously said, “Orwaiian.” Naturally and appropriately. It was also around this time I decided to take the dive back into the blogging world. The name seemed to fit.

Where are the other Orwaiian’s?

I’m not the only one. In fact, I have siblings with exact or similar upbringings. Many family and friends from the islands no longer live there. I find it beyond interesting to see how their new familial roots look outside of the place they lived and possibly still love. My family has branched into a new generation and maybe a new generation of Orwaiian’s. Sure they’ve been to Hawaii, they eat the food, and they know the family and friends that still live there, but I wonder what their view on culturally important things looks like. Some of them are entirely too young to think about such things but I still wonder.

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©CLKeahi | High School Graduation. A mild version of what you might get at graduation in Hawaii. Still a tradition none the less.

Well, that’s the what, why and where of Orwaiian. Partial humor partial reality. Probably more reality at this point.

 

The Manapua Man

Manapua

You may be reading this because manapua was the thing to eat as your afternoon snack. Or because your own town came with its well-known manapua man. Or because you want to know what the hell manapua is and who is this man that dons its name. The more familiar name for those living in, at least America, is Chinese pork bun, or steamed bun. Usually, a cha siu filled steamed bun that won’t break the bank but will satisfy your afternoon cravings. It was the thing we did as kids; running out of the house chasing down the manapua man with our bits of change. Sure the ice cream man was around, but the manapua man was our island thing. It’s true. He drove a van, usually with a glass display case anchored at the sliding side door. It was filled with your more common American snacks. Skittles, M&M’s, Snickers, soda’s, chips, etc. But who would chase down a manapua man and not get manapua? Well, me. What can I say, I was a kid? My taste buds hardly existed. I was even that kid that never enjoyed POG (passion orange guava), basic blasphemy in Hawaii. A kid that’s doesn’t enjoy the taste of local food and sweet Hawaiian juice. I was that kid and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Rice Cakes

I may not have enjoyed the savory-sweetness of a manapua but rice cakes were my jam! Another sweet treat that I can say was something like a tapioca-flan-cake confection. It’s still a favorite sweet treat of mine. It’s sticky rice usually cooked in coconut milk then covered in a sweet syrup. I am no epicurean but if you are looking for a recipe that, instantly made my mouth water check out The Little Epicurean’s Biko recipe. While some kids chased after ice cream trucks we waited for our after school delight with island style and understated flair. The routine was all the same – kids, parents, grandmas, older and younger siblings all gathered around to order – cash only. As kids, we stood face to face with Cornuts, Starburst and Twix bars, but we knew what was worth ordering. If rice cakes and manapua weren’t doing it for you, often the manapua man acted as the best kind of local fast food around. Plate lunches filled with noodles, rice, delicious savory sometimes sweetmeats. As he prepared your order chips hung by clips from a repurposed clothesline behind the man. Soda cans usually displayed on a shelf. My rice cake slice often spilled over the edges of the paper boat it came in. My brother usually had his manapua and Hawaiian Sun P-O-G to wash it down.

The Van

The van was basically a bodega on wheels. It was plain with nothing especially eye-catching about it, except if you caught it on its passenger side. It’s sliding door locked to an open position with a display case full of snacks. Being a child at the time that I lived on the North Shore of Oahu, I figured this was normal. I thought this is what every town in every place had. Well, not so much. I currently live in a place and time where food trucks rule. I feel I can share my story of the manapua man with people that never experienced his awesomeness. What we lack in the comforts of home we find in a communal sense of nostalgia, practicality, and pride of home when we share our stories. Have it be the local bodega or manapua man.

The Man

The man provided a “convenience” of sorts to the hard-working people in some of the lesser talked about locales. The story starts back in the plantation days of historic Hawaii. It was a way to provide for the plantation workers. Sure, today we see food trucks serving up the same thing, but the man with the manapua hardly has a catchy business name. It’s simply The manapua man. In every town, where one exists, it’s simple. Before hipsters and pop-ups and restaurateurs in food trucks. There was the manapua man. Rolling through our neighborhoods serving up Hawaiian-local style food. Remembering the regular faces of those he served. He was someone to count on when you needed a sweet-sloppy treat or pork filled steamed bun. In my case, he was the man that noticed my absence from the crowd. Absent because I was sick (nothing drastic). He filled a paper bowl with sticky rice handed it to my brother. “I hope your sister fills better,” he said. No payment needed. It’s this memory I will always have about Hawaii’s non-ice cream man. The manapua man – established in Hawaii at some point in time, in our tummies temporarily, and our memories forever.

Finding Polynesia

“The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” – Mark Twain, Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii)

I have these vague, but very real memories dreaming of being somewhere else. I was a kid in search of adventure, discovery, new people and new things. I would look through National Geographics whenever I could and drool over the intriguing photos accompanying the articles I barely (if at all) understood. I remember sitting at my desk; it was white and had this vintage romantic look. It was shiny, but a little distressed. I would stare at these photos. I would crank my tiny radio up hoping for a favorite song so I could live in a trance beyond my desk.

There came a day for me to finally see the world, and it came a bit unexpectedly. It took a lot of self-growth, but I eventually figured out that looking back shouldn’t be about recreating the past. Looking back should be done admirably, to be proud of my where’s.

I’m reminded of how I felt when I was eleven. The new kid in school and it felt so foreign. Not only was the place different, but the school was. The weather certainly was. I had never seen so many kids that didn’t look like me. At that time I didn’t know too many other kids in my school of Hawaiian or any Polynesian ethnicity. There was one girl, but it felt like she filled that token Hawaiian slot for so many of kids. Like their dashboards already had a hula girl and I wasn’t it. I made friends anyway.

The friends I made helped me move forward. We were all awkward. We all ate rice with every meal. We took our shoes off before stepping into any house and we liked talking about where our families came from. I was fascinated with my friends’ cultures and I would share mine with them as often as I could. I still do it…here in the south. It’s important to understand each other. To accept our differences, respect and appreciate one another.

I find myself making spam musubis and enjoying them with new friends even farther away from Polynesia. What I am saying here is that Polynesia, whatever that is to you, can be where you want it to be. Maybe you aren’t physically there, but it doesn’t have to be gone. Live in it in someway despite geographic boundaries.