travel

Hawaii

Hawaii

The first time I went to Hawaii, I was 4. When my parents told me we were going, I started crying. I wailed, 'I'm not going! I don't want to die’. I locked myself in my bedroom in protest.

I. Was. Not. Going.

We'd been watching nature TV (whatever the 1987 version was), and I saw a feature on Hawaii's volcanoes. As I understood it, Hawaii was covered in fiery death mountains, and anyone who went there was sure to burn alive.

My young attempts at autonomy were (luckily) foiled, and I was gifted with the most vivid memories of my childhood.

I remember feeling tropical air kiss my skin for the first time as I breached the airplane's exit. At the end of the mobile stairway, there was a line of locals there. They placed an orchid and plumeria lei around my neck. I'd never smelled flowers so sweet. Within the first 60 seconds, I was transformed.

Mom bought me a hula skirt with a red floral bikini top. I wore it over my tighty whities every minute of our visit. Droves of strangers complimented me. People loved the uninhibited costume and panty-rocking, I suppose.

I snorkeled for the first time in Hanauma Bay, saw Polynesian fire dance at a Luau, and wove palm fronds. I learned new words: 'mahalo', 'mahi-mahi', 'kahuna'. I learned about why Pele would not approve of me taking home a rock. It was delightfully different than Charlottesville, Virginia, where we lived at the time.

We even flew right over a spewing, glowing volcano in a helicopter. The extreme heat cooked my feet, but it didn't bother me at all when I was there.

The memories lack-chronology but there are full of color and sensation.

Coming back 31 years later has been very impactful.

Zombie Crab in the Philippines

Zombie handstands are all the rage so I flipped it over and became a zombie crab....The reclined heel sit position is one of my favorite quad stretches and the crab position is one of my favorite shoulder stabilizing/ front line lengthening moves. Together they are challenging and perfect for a morning in the Philippines : ).

Start lying flat on your back and slide your heels in. Then, slide your shoulders towards your heels by reaching your knees forward towards the ground (to get to the start position shown here) for full zombie status.

I'll be posting more videos like this on the Flow Movement Facebook page.

Mexico (October 2015)

At 7AM this morning, we took this photo on top of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City. It was misty and magical; hot air balloons rose from the fog and floated over this 2000 year old pyramid. Big thanks to Diana PT for suggesting this location, driving, guiding, and lighting.  Photos by Pole Ninja Photography.

Mexico (January/Febraury 2015) - Part II

Photos by Kenneth Kao.

Japan (December 2014)

This was my third visit to Japan, and it was unquestioningly the best, partly because I am a more experienced traveler now. I am more accepting of my circumstances. I now appreciate the process of adapting to the way things are wherever I find myself.  When I wasn't teaching I had adventures . . . adventures in cuisine, learning the way of the samurai, temple hikes, tea ceremonies, and three nights on tatami mats in a ryokan. I saw geishas pop out of their incredibly mysterious quarters and became obsessed with tamago (omelet sushi). I failed to wrap my head around the enormity of Japanese nightlife but I did succeed at teaching full classes without relying on language. When it comes to being observant and thinking about everything from object placement, organizational systems, and courtesy, no one beats the Japanese. (Bless the heated toilet seats, lights shows and multitude of electrical outlets.)

I spent time in Osaka (the land of ultimately convenient food and shopping), Kyoto (Japan's historical and cultural center), and big city Tokyo.

I saw my first bamboo forest and learned that bamboo has defended itself against human animals with a climbing proclivity. They are quite slippery. I saw the abruptness and snow cover of Mt. Fuji and trees in colors I didn't know existed like strawberry blonde pines and cartoon lobster-hued maple. I will continue my morning matcha ritual and make good use of my new neck warmer.

I left with an immediate longing to spend more time and grow a deeper understanding of the eternally intriguing Japanese culture. Thank you Japan for being so welcoming.