Category Archives: writing

A New Year’s Tradition: Letters to the Universe

When one door closes, another opens. Or something like that, right?

I feel the same way about the changing of the calendar from one year to the next. It’s a perfect time for starting fresh! New Year’s Day has grown to be my favorite holiday of the year.

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Growing up, I remember my grandmother starting the water boiling for everyone to take a shot of hot sake once we watched the ball drop in Times Square in NYC. (To this day, I still can’t stand hot sake and will only take mine cold.) In my 20’s, I loved it for the parties the night before – getting all dolled up and celebrating with my friends, maybe even searching for a tall, dark and handsome stranger to kiss at midnight. These days, I tend to celebrate in a quieter way. To be honest, I think I didn’t even make it to midnight the past three years or so. (Sorry, not sorry!)

Part of the reason that I’m usually at home celebrating New Year’s Eve these days is that I truly look forward to getting up early to greet the first sunrise of the year at Sandy Beach with my friends. We’ve created a bit of a tradition and it always helps me to look back at the year that’s passing and to bring a fresh energy to the year that’s ahead. It’s grown to be such a fun and meaningful way to ring in the new year and I always love hearing when other people have joined in and found a way to participate as well, or put their own spin on ours.

In 2008 (video above), my word was EXPLORE and it was especially meaningful getting together with my friends as on January 8th that year, Jess and I set off on our adventure through SE Asia and the Pacific. That year I traveled until I couldn’t any longer, eventually passing through 17 countries!

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Sprawl

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Shadows growing long
Palm trees rising like dots against the horizon
As the California sun drips into the sea

Cars going round the freeway clovers
Orderly stops at each entrance
Concrete baking in the sun

A thousand blue pools shining
Like turquoise jewels
In the midst of the arid grid below
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Amtrak Coast Starlight: Portland to Los Angeles

Enjoying the morning light on my overnight train...

Enjoying the morning light on my overnight train…

The first time I can remember catching a real train (the Sugar Cane Train and the Pearlridge Monorail don’t count) was the summer after I graduated from high school, when I spent three months backpacking around Europe before heading off to college. My friend Meghan and I bought the Europass option that allowed us 8 days of train travel over a 2 month period and we made use of it by visiting France, Spain, Italy, plus a last minute addition of Prague when we gained one extra leg where the conductor forgot to punch our passes.

I loved it even more than I loved airplane travel, simply because it allowed us so much more room, huge viewing windows and freedom to walk through the cars. Growing up in Hawaii, we have no need for a long-distance train, so I find that in my adult life – whenever the routing allows – I try to book train travel to get me at least part of the way to my destination.

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Since that summer in Europe, I’ve also taken trains in the Northeast US – I remember heading from NYC to West Point one autumn when the leaves were changing color because I sat glued to the window in awe. (Leaves don’t change in Hawaii either.) In 2008 when we traveled in Asia, I frequently caught the overnight train between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, enjoying the ride even when I was squished up in my sleeper bunk, rolling around and hoping I wouldn’t fall out in the night. One particularly memorable train ride came in 2011, when I’d talked Jess, Eric and Edwin into coming with me from Seattle to Vancouver for my TBEX Conference. On the way back to Seattle, Eric got down on one knee and – with the help of Edwin and I (and the train crew) – shocked Jess by proposing while he played “their song”.

Portland to LA on the Amtrak Coast Starlight

This trip, I had the chance to piece together trips on an Amtrak route that I’ve always been curious about. The Amtrak Coast Starlight actually starts in Seattle and runs all the way to LA, but I opted to catch it from Portland. This portion of the route takes a whopping 30 hours because of the stops, but it really didn’t feel that long until maybe the last couple of hours once the sun had set. It was also one of the most productive trips I’ve had. There is no wifi available yet on this route, which I at first thought would be a hindrance but was really a blessing in disguise. Without constant connection to the internet, I was able to slow down, unplug and to really soak in the experience.

We left just around 2:30pm from Portland and arrived in Los Angeles about an hour ahead of the posted schedule, at 8:15pm the following day. The best part of the trip was watching the scenery change as you head south.
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Feed Your Wanderlust: WildJunket Magazine

I just finished reading the second issue of Wild Junket Magazine, and I’ve concluded that it is perfect for anyone with a case of wanderlust like mine! This issue featured more than 100 gorgeous, full-color pages on destinations such as Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uruguay, Mongolia, South Korea, and Kyrgyzstaan. I love that the table of contents features a map of the world, so that I can travel along in my mind as the writers and photographers lead me through their adventures.


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A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

…Begins with a single step!

And here we are. Though I’ve been keeping blogs for awhile now, this is the first time I’m really delving into the process of building my own blog from the ground up.

I’m mostly doing this for me – a place to jot down my thoughts, to share my favorite places and things with all five of you who may be reading (hi, mom!) and a way to be continuously learning and growing, challenging myself to write regularly.

I’m also doing this for you – the hypothetical readers of Shoyu Sugar. I’m hoping these stories will convey my cravings – for food, for life, for new adventure, and for meaningful connections with those I love. I’m also hoping to honor my past, my family, and the beautiful islands that I call home.

Each year, my friends and I start the year off by toasting the first sunrise at the easternmost spot on the island and picking our word for the year. For 2012, my word was CREATE. One of my resolutions was to create my own blog, finally.

First sunrise of 2012

So here it is. Let the journey begin!