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Baby in Finland – Nursing while shopping

We have been living in Espoo for almost three months.  Now I know a little bit more about those shopping centers, especially how to take the baby to shopping!

First of all, traveling with a baby in pram/stroller is free on buses (and other HSL public transportation).  So, just board the bus through the middle door.  Those large shopping centers are well served by public transportation 🙂

Secondly, look for the door open button to make life easier:

Door Open Button
Door Open Button

Now while you are inside of the shopping center, look for the nursing room when it’s necessary.  Be confident that there is a nursing room!  Just ask for directions.  Here I will show you the nursing rooms in these shopping centers: ISO Omena, Sello, AINOA/Stockmann, IKEA Espoo, and Kamppi (Helsinki).

ISO Omena probably has the best nursing room.  It is located on the first floor, close to the children’s clothing shops, right beside the children’s playground.  Push the button to open the door, and you will see a very big room.  There are stroller parking, lockers, table and chairs (for bigger kids), a big sofa (for breastfeeding), and kids’ restrooms.  The nursing room is always occupied, almost constantly being used.  In fact, the playground outside is also one of the best, and is very popular!

Sello is another popular shopping center in Espoo.  The nursing room is also on the first floor, and in the children’s area (see photos).  This nursing room is not big, although it’s quite popular.  You can do everything you need to, but the room itself is not as fancy as the one in ISO Omena.  For example, there’s no sofa.

AINOA/Stockmann is in Tapiola.  It’s supposed to have two nursing rooms, but we could only find the one in AINOA side.  It’s a bit tricky to find the nursing room.  The tip is to find the children’s playground, which is beside the second floor of H&M.  The playground, or rather the rest area, is huge and fabulous!   We saw fathers were taking care of kids (while mothers were shopping?).  Then, follow the signs to the nursing room, on the fourth floor.  The room is warmly decorated.   Although there is no sofa either, the chairs there are very comfortable for breastfeeding.

Then, IKEA Espoo.  After you enter the building, take a right.  And you will see the information desk and the small playground.  The nursing room is on the opposite side of the playground.  The room is not big, but it’s lovely and very IKEA (my feeling).  The red box on the wall is a changing station (diapers available).  The pretty IKEA chair is perfect for breastfeeding!   There’s no kids’ restroom.

Nursing room in IKEA
Nursing room in IKEA

Lastly, the Kamppi center in Helsinki.  We have used the nursing room there several times, because we often transfer at Kamppi bus terminal.  The nursing room is on the third floor, where you find children’s clothing shops.  Different from nursing rooms in other shopping centers, the nursing room in Kamppi is located inside of a store!  So look for the sign on the window, go into the store, and you can find the nursing room.  It is a small room, but “luxurily” decorated.  There are diapers, towels, and even baby cream/lotion.  Outside of the nursing room, there are two love seats and breastfeeding pillows!  How thoughtful!

I am not afraid of taking my baby to shopping any more, because I know I can care for him just like at home.

 

 

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Baby in Finland – Healthcare – Private Hospital

Since our baby does not have a KELA card, we had to look for a private hospital for his vaccination.  We found Mehilainen located in Toolo (Bus/Tram stop Apolonkatu).

Mehilainen in Toolo

Children’s healthcare is on the second floor.  The waiting area is nicely decorated.  There are sofa, stroller parking, lockers, and many toys.

Mehilainen waiting area stroller
Mehilainen waiting area stroller parking
Mehilainen waiting area locker
Mehilainen waiting area lockers
Mehilainen registration
Mehilainen registration

Firstly, we went to the registration so that they can put in all the information.  The ID number is required.  Then, they told us the room number where we would go later.  We just needed to wait in the hallway, and the nurse would come find us.  There is another waiting area if you walk down the hallway – it’s on your right side.  There is one chair that I really like!  While feeding, the baby is less likely to be distracted.

Mehilainen nursing chair
Mehilainen nursing chair

Meeting the nurse

Soon the nurse came out, and invited us into the room.  She also has a lot of toys.  Our baby immediately liked her.  She checked the strength of neck, and measured weight and height.  Since it’s our first visit, we chatted a lot about how we were taking care of our baby.  Then she went out to see if the doctor was ready.

Mehilainen nurse room 2
Mehilainen nurse room

Meeting the doctor

We moved to another room to see the doctor.  Basically we discussed about the vaccination plan.  Since we don’t have a plan to go out of  Europe this year, we decided to just follow the Finnish program.  The doctor then further checked his heart, eye, etc.

Vaccination

Lastly, we went back to the nurse for vaccination: PCV13, Infanrix Hib Polio, and Rota.  The first two are injections.  Rota is oral.  After the vaccination, we were asked to wait for ~15 min to see if there was allergy.

About the payment

We just found out yesterday when we did the second Rota.  For the two visits, the total bill is over 500 euro!    That explains why it’s so easy to make an appointment – no waiting line at all.

Here’s the price list: Doctor 30 min – 125 euro.  Nurse – ~50 euro.  Registration – 19.5 euro.  Rota – 73 euro.  Infanrix polio + hib – 26.5 euro.  PCV13 – 91.7 euro.

The doctor gave a bill right away, but the nurse’s bill would come in mail.  The bills can be paid at the registration, or through IBAN (additional fees may be required).

 

 

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Baby in Finland – Vaccination – What if No KELA Card

Kela Card needed for service at the public neuvola

When we moved from France to Finland, our baby was only six weeks old.  When we realized that it’s time for vaccination, he was almost ten weeks.  In Finland, the vaccination program includes a Rotavirus vaccine at two months.  Therefore, I went to the close-by health station to figure out how to get the vaccine.  I was told to call a number, later I realized the number was for making an appointment at the public neuvola.  After I made the phone call, actually several calls, I found a big issue – our son can not use the public neuvola without the KELA card!  It seems that they also called the KELA office to find out my husband’s situation to determine whether our son has the right to use the public neuvola.  And the answer was, unfortunately, NO.

Finnish ID needed even for private hospitals

They suggested me to look for private hospitals.  I called one (Terveystalo) that is not very far from our home.  I found another issue – they require ID number!  Our son only had a Japanese passport at that time.  We planned to apply for the residence permit (which has the ID number) for him in Finland.  Somehow I thought that he did not need a residence permit, that we just needed to register him at the Population Register Centre (Maistraatti).  I was WRONG!  He needs a residence permit!  Unlike in Paris, the queue is very long.  The earliest appointment we could get is six weeks after.  (So, if you want to apply for a residence permit in Finland, you’d better plan early!)

To get the Finnish ID without residence permit

Anyway, can we register our son, in other words, get the ID number without a residence permit?  Yes, but they require a legalized birth certificate – Apostille stamped birth certificate.  We did Apostille before, for the Japanese family book.  Since the language is Japanese, it was done in Japan.  And it’s very expensive!  The Apostille itself costed about $300, not to say the shipping and waiting. Unfortunately, that family book was done before our son was born 🙁   Should we do the Apostille in the same way again?  If so, we have to translate the French birth certificate into Japanese first…  Long waiting, and another $300!  Why don’t we get Apostille from France?  Our friends in France helped us to ask the local office, and told us how to get the Apostille, for free!  It was actually very simple.  We just had to request the Apostille from the Hotel de Ville where we got the birth certificate.  They won’t charge anything, and they would even mail the Apostille to us.  Sounds terrific!  So we did it.  After just one week we got the letter from the French office.  Without checking carefully, we immediately went to the Maistraatti in Helsinki.  Who would know that the French office forgot to stamp the Apostille?!  What a surprise!  But… emmm… probably not that surprising considering who they are.  They often make me speechless.  Luckily, our friends in France also requested Apostille for us, and he got it right!  So he mailed the correct copy to us.  Another week passed by, and the Apostille stamped birth certificate was finally in my hand.

Got the Finnish ID without waiting for three weeks

Again, we immediately took the Apostille to the Maistraatti.  This time, we could register our son (finally!).  The problem was it would take about three weeks for us to get the ID number.  In that case, our son would miss the first a few vaccinations.   I wrote a short note explaining why we needed the ID number as quick as possible.  The clerk said she would ask the manager.  With hope, we left.  While I was feeding my son in Kamppi Center, they called me! I was very excited.  Yes!  They processed my son’s application right away, so the registration paper (which has the ID number) was ready to be picked up! Yeah!  After I got the ID number, I called the private hospital, but it’s already too late.  OK, tomorrow then.

Not every private hospital has the vaccines for babies

The next day, I called the private hospital again, with the ID number at hand.  I thought everything was ok now.  However, the nurse answering my call was not sure whether they had the vaccine.  After serval phone calls, they and I were clear that they could not do vaccination for little babies!  I wish I found this out earlier.

So foreigners’ babies can not get vaccines in Finland?  I don’t believe that. Obviously I was not alone.  Somebody out there also came across with this issue before.  Finally, I found Mehilainen.  Their site in Toolo can do the vaccination!  I will describe our visit in another post.

Conclusion

If your baby needs vaccines, make sure s/he has the ID number.  If s/he does not have the KELA card, try Mehilainen.

 

 

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Feel Finland – Weekend on an island

Finland is known for its thousands of islands, which are ideal places to escape from modern city life.  Finnish people, or finns, are known for their coolness.  I don’t think they are cold.  They are simply cool – do not bother others, and do not want to be bothered.  Chinese people often say: The unique features of a local environment always give special characteristics to its inhabitants.  I think finns are part of the Finnish nature.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to enjoy a typical Finnish weekend.

Around 8:50 am, two friends (one of which is Finn) and we met at the Kinvenlahti pier (in Espoo).  The 9 am ferry was already there.  We purchased the tickets (5 euro each), and boarded the ferry.  The ferry has two floors.  The top floor is open air.  The bottom floor is inside.  The ferry stops at many islands.  Our target was Gasgrund!  It took about 90 min.  Although 90 min sounds a bit long, it’s actually a pleasant journey.  After all, we came out to enjoy our time.  This particular ferry does not have coffee, but some other ferries do.  I do not know how many islands we passed by, but almost every island has one or more houses.  What a life it is to own a vacation house on an island!  In some aspects, I feel I will enjoy Finnish life – I don’t mind to be isolated at all.

Espoo ferry
Espoo ferry
Espoo ferry inside
Espoo ferry inside

Soon we arrived at our destination – Gasgrund Island.  Nothing extraordinary, but who asked for it?  The point is: we are on an island; we are surrounded by trees and water.  The wood storage is right in front of us, and the shelter is only 20 meter away.  The shelter is well equipped for BBQ.  Actually, it looked like somebody just used the fire place.  So our friend just needed to add wood to it.  While the wood was burning, we took the time to walk around the coast.  So peaceful!

 

shelter
shelter
fire place in shelter
fire place in shelter

After we came back from a short walk, we started to prepare food.  Our friend is clearly professional!  Look at her BBQ!  We prepared chicken and asparagus, which are also tasty 🙂  The dessert was chocolate banana!  It’s really delicious.

BBQ
BBQ
BBQ dessert
BBQ dessert

Different from the BBQ in US, it’s much quieter and natural in Finland!  I liked that the wood was used for BBQ.  Before we left the island, our friend threw in a few more wood to keep the fire.  Finns do not talk much, but they are very considerate.  Everything is in good and unspoken order.

 

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11 days in Hokkaido ~Japanese best nature place

Summer in 2016. We traveled Hokkaido! Hokkaido is one of the best nature places in Japan. It is very famous travel destination not only for foreign visitors, but also for Japanese. I invited my wife X to Japan before our marriage and we traveled Hokkaido during her visit. We used rental car to cover broad area in Hokkaido. We write summary in this post and will make a link from day ~ to the posts for travel details .

day 0 ~HANEDA Airport

I and my parents stayed nearby from HANEDA Airport (HND). I planed to meet X in HND this day. BUT, she could not arrive to HND because of very bad flight delay. Poor X needed to stay in Beijing airport and she could arrive to Shinchitose airport next day midnight.

day 1 ~Yubari and Sapporo

hokkaido yubari

I and my parents took a morning flight to Shinchitose airport which is only an hour away from Sapporo, capital of Hokkaido. Because X were still in Beijing this time, we decided to go ahead to see Yubari. Yubari is economically collapsed city in Hokkaido due to the population decline. They are doing a lot efforts to make the town better again. After eating lunch here, we moved to Sapporo. After checking in to the hotel, we went to Sapporo JR station to eat Sushi. When we are eating, X finally arrived to HND. When I went to pick her up at Shinchitose, it was already around 12 midnight.

Hotel: Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi, Sapporo (東横イン)
Lunch: “restaurant oyama”, Yubari(おーやまレストラン)
Dinner: “Hokkaido Shikisaitei”, Sapporo station北海道四季彩亭

day 2 ~Sapporo, Biei and Asahikawa

hokkaido biei

We woke up not that early this morning because of X’s late arrival last night.
We  visited Biei at first. Biei is very beautiful rural area in Hokkaido. Biei has  a lot of flower gardens and trees, and so on. We visited “zerubu-no-oka” and “shikisai-no-oka”. They are very beautiful hill with bunch of flowers. We also visited “aoi-ike” which is very famous recently because it is used for the wall paper of macintosh computer.
We moved to Asahikawa city after additional a few stops in Biei. We checked in a hotel in Asahikawa and ate “ra-men”, Japanese soup noodle.

Hotel: Toyoko INN Asahikawa, Asahikawa (東横イン)
Breakfast:Toyoko INN has complementary breakfast!
Lunch: “Furokkusuhoru “, Biei Shikisaino-Oka(フロックスホール)
Dinner: “Matsuda”, Asahikawa(まつ田)

day 3 ~Asahiyama Zoo and Lake Saroma

We visited Asahiyama Zoo in this morning. Penguins, polar bears and sea lions are very famous in the zoo. We left the zoo around 3 and arrived to “Saroma-ko”, saroma lake. We checked in Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort. This hotel has very good hot-spa and excellent dinner!

Hotel: Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort, Kitami
Breakfast:Toyoko INN has complementary breakfast!
Lunch: “GARDEN TERRACE LION”, Asahiyama Zoo
Dinner:  Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort provides good complementary dinner

day 4 ~Lake Saroma, Lake Kussharo, Lake Mashu, Mount Iou, Taiho Sumo Museum, Kaminoko Pond and Abashiri

hokkaido kaminokoike

The final destination of this day is Abashiri which is very close to Lake Saroma. So we decided to explore south side of this area. Main stops were Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu, very popular lakes in Hokkaido. We also visited Mt. Iou. Iou is the Japanese word for sulfur. As you can imagine, this mountain is very smelly. We also visited “Kaminoko ike” which is nowadays getting attention in this area. Transparent water and fallen trees in the pond make the view very special.

Hotel: Toyoko INN Okhotsk Abashiri station, Abashiri
Breakfast: Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort provides complementary  breakfast
Lunch: “Poppo-tei”, Mashu station (御食事処 ぽっぽ亭)
Dinner:  “Victoria station Abashiri”, Abashiri (ヴィクトリアステーション 網走駅前店)

day 5 ~Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum, Syari and Shiretoko

shiretoko yuhidai

We visited Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum this morning. Abashiri is famous for Ryu-hyo (floating ices on Okhotsk sea). Unfortunately it was summer, so we decided to visit museum of Ryu-hyo. The museum was actually pretty good. Next, we drove to Shiretoko, the north-east pole of Hokkaido. After check-in to “Shiretoko daiichi hotel”, we saw extremely pretty sunset from “yuhi-dai”, which is one of the eight Shiretoko must-go.

Hotel: Shiretoko daiichi hotel
Breakfast: Toyoko inn’s complementary  breakfast
Lunch: “Soba dokoro Ajisai”, Shari (そば処味彩)
Dinner:  Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet dinner

day 6 ~ Okhotsk Cruise, Shiretoko Goko and Star Gazing


Shiretoko was the main destination in this trip so we stayed in the same hotel two days. We tried the cruise tour in Okhotsk sea in the morning. Then we went to “Shiretoko Goko” in the afternoon. At night we went to see the beautiful stars in Shiretoko. We enjoyed the beautiful nature in Shiretoko using whole day.

Hotel: Shiretoko daiichi hotel
Breakfast: Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet breakfast
Lunch: We bought lunch in seven-eleven
Dinner:  Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet dinner

day 7 ~Shiretoko, Rausu, Notsuke-Hantou and Nemuro

We ate good breakfast in hotel. We drove east coast of the Hokkaido to south. We stopped notsuke peninsula. This peninsula is very weird shape and we could see unique plants and trees. We checked in the hotel in Nemuro. We slept early not to miss the sunrise next day!

Hotel: Nemuro Kaiyo-tei
Breakfast: Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet breakfast
Lunch: “Restaurant Nobana”, Notsuke (レストラン野花)
Dinner:  Nemuro Kaiyo-tei provides complementary dinner

day 8 ~Sunrise, Nosappu-Misaki, Nemuro, Kiritappu, Akkeshi, Kushiro

hokkaido sunrise

We woke up 1 hour before sunrise and drove to Nosappu-Misaki. Nosappu-Misaki is the most east point except for the small islands. Therefore it gives the earliest sunrise in Japan most days of the year. We could enjoy very impressive sunrise. After eating breakfast in hotel we went to see a few wetlands in this area, Kiritappu and Kushiro. We took a hotel in Kushiro, so we enjoyed beer and famous robata-yaki (kinda seafood BBQ).

Hotel: Toyoko-INN Kushiro Juji-gai
Breakfast: Nemuro Kaiyo-tei  provides complementary buffet breakfast
Lunch: “Yachibouzu Cafe”, Hamanaka (やちぼうずカフェ)
Dinner: “Gannpeki Robata”, Kushiro (岸壁 炉ばた)

day 9 ~Kushiro, Akanko, Tokachi

hokkaido marimo

This day’s main target was “Marimo”, very rare round green alga. Marimo is living in Akan lake so we could see it during the tour cruise. Next, we moved to Tokachi. Tokachi is famous for plain land and hot spring. Especially Tokachi has so-called moor hot-spring. This hot spring is heated by the conversion energy from ancient plant to brown coal. So it has very blackish color! We picked the hotel which provides this moor hot-spring.

Hotel: Hotel Daiheigen
Breakfast: Toyoko INN provides complementary breakfast
Lunch: seven-eleven
Dinner: Hotel Daiheigen provide complementary buffet dinner

day 10 ~Tokachi, Obihiro, Kouhuku eki, Sapporo

After leaving Tokachi, we went to Obihiro to buy sweet snacks as gifts. “Rokkatei” is very famous sweets shop in Hokkaido and main shop is located in Obihiro. Then we went to “Kohoku station”. In Japanese, it means happy station, so it is very famous for Japanese people, especially for young couples. Finally we came back to Sapporo. We ate “kaiten-sushi” to celebrate safe and sound travel in Hokkaido!

Hotel: Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi
Breakfast: Toyoko INN  provides complementary breakfast
Lunch: Michinoeki Nakasatsunai
Dinner: “Kaiten-Sushi Toriton”, Sapporo-Hiragishi (回転寿しトリトン平岸店)

day 11 ~ Sapporo, Shinchitose Airport

We walked around Sapporo a little in the morning. Then we drove to Shinchitose airport. We returned the rental car and ate lunch at the food court in Shinchitose airport. We also did a little shoppings in airport since they have good gift shops.

Breakfast: Toyoko INN  provides complementary breakfast
Lunch: Food court in Shinchitose airport

D & X

 

 

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Aloha Hawaii – Pearl Harbor Memorial – Beautiful Plumeria

After we returned from the Big Island to Oahu, we picked up a rental car at the airport, and drove to our hostel.  The driving was easy, but finding a free parking spot was not.  After all, the hostel was located in the center of downtown.  I circled around for quite a while, and finally got an on-street parking.

On the early morning of the next day, we checked out the hostel, and drove to Pearl Harbor.  Before the visiter center opens (7 AM), there was already a long line waiting outside.  People, including us, were trying to get tickets for the free tours to the USS Arizona Memorial.  For us, we had to get morning tickets, because we had a flight to catch.  Since one person can get several tickets, I was anxious while waiting.  Unfortunately, when it’s our turn, the earliest tickets available were afternoon.  We had to give up!

pearl harbor USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial

So, we just walked around the Pearl Harbor Historic Site.  To be honest, I found myself more interested in Hawaii Plumeria 🙂

pearl harbor USS Bowfin Submarine
USS Bowfin Submarine
Hawaii Plumeria
Hawaii Plumeria

 

Then, we headed to the airport.  I really enjoyed our Hawaii Trip.  I actually wish I skipped more sessions in the conference 😉

Hopefully I will visit Hawaii again, and spend more days there.

 

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Aloha Hawaii – Mauna Kea Observatories – Big Island

To me, Mauna Kea Observatories was the main reason to visit the Big Island.  Simply because astronomy has been my thing since I was little.  Before this trip, I had never been to a real observatory, and suddenly I had the opportunity to visit one of the best ones!  So, driving to Mauna Kea Observatories was exciting.  On the way, we saw some sheep … wild?

Mauna Kea Observatories Sheep
Mauna Kea Observatories Sheep

And, there were … volcanoes!  A bunch of volcanoes!!  Volcano-looking volcanoes – I mean, they are different from what we saw in the Volcanoes National Park.  These volcanoes have a bowl-shaped dip at the top.

Mauna Kea Observatories Volcano closeup
Colorful volcanoes have a bowl-shaped dip

After driving for a while, suddenly we were in clouds – and soon above the clouds.  We could see more and more volcanoes.  It’s a strange feeling – to be close to so many volcanoes.  There were also dried lava visible in the far place.

Volcanoes (close) and dried lava (far)

The driving was not difficult, but we liked to drive in the center of the road.  It’s a little bit scary when passing cars (only met a few).  Finally we arrived at the top.  It’s sunny and chilly.  And the view was breathtaking!

Mauna Kea Observatories Volcano
Volcanoes
Mauna Kea Observatories Volcano road
Where does this road go to

There are many telescopes.  I only knew Keck.

Mauna Kea Observatories Keck
Keck (one of the two)
Mauna Kea Observatories Keck IRTF
Keck and IRTF

Here are some other telescopes I don’t even know their names.

Mauna Kea Observatories
Other telescopes
Mauna Kea Observatories Radio Telescope
Radio Telescopes

To me, this place is heaven.  

I regret that we didn’t spend one more day on the Big Island.  I really want to go inside of those observatories, and see what I can see.  I heard they have very good stargazing programs.  In fact, on the way there is a complex for amateur astronomers.  People there seemed to be waiting for the night.  I wish I could join them!

 

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Aloha Hawaii – Volcanoes National Park – Big Island

Volcanoes National Park was our first stop after arriving at the Big Island. Since we had an early flight, we were quite early at the national park (open 24h), weren’t we?  Anyhow, there weren’t many people in the park.  It’s like a lost world.  If we had more time (if I go to the Big Island again in the future), I would love to try wondering on that black land.

Hawaii volcanoes national park lost land
The lost land
Hawaii volcanoes national park dried lava pattern
Dried lava pattern

We drove towards the seaside, hoping to see lava flowing into the ocean.  Unfortunately, it was not possible that day.

Hawaii volcanoes national park dried lava
“River” of dried lava

However, we could see the the path of the flowing lava.  Imagine that the black dried lava was boiling red and marching towards the ocean some days in the past…

Hawaii volcanoes national park dried lava river
Lava flowing into the ocean

Then we went to the Jagger museum to see Halema ‘uma’u Crater, one of the most active volcanoes on earth.  It was easy to spot from far place, with high and big “smoke” (gas eruption).

Hawaii volcanoes national park
Halema ‘uma’u Crater from far place
Halema 'uma'u Crater
Halema ‘uma’u Crater Info

The overlook in Jagger museum offers a closer view (still one mile away).  I heard that the view would be much more spectacular in the evening.  But we had to go to see the Mauna Kea observatories, where we could see a lot of volcanoes (although not nearly as active).

Halema 'uma'u Crater
Halema ‘uma’u Crater

 

 

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Aloha Hawaii – Flying to my dream land – Big Island

I had one free day after the conference.  The problem was there were too many attractions in Hawaii!  Where should I go?  The Big Island!  Simply because the Keck Telescopes are there!

The round trip (HNL – ITO) airline ticket was ~$200 each.  Hawaiian Airlines.  We had an early flight, at 5:32 AM.  It’s a short flight – 49 min.   The returning flight was 8:59 – 9:48 PM.  From our hostel to the airport, we arranged a shuttle, which came to pick us up.  At Hilo Airport on the Big Island, we had a rental car.  Originally I booked an economy car from Advantage, for $37.  However, at the counter, the Advantage lady highly recommended us to get a SUV (after hearing us going to the Observatories).  I forgot how much I paid to upgrade the economy car to SUV.  I guess it’s a right decision.

It was an enjoyable early morning flight.  We saw beautiful sunrise:

Hawaii big island sunrise

Hawaii big island sunrise 2

After the sun was up, we were descending.

Hawaii big island sunrise 3

Hawaii big island sunrise 4

After picking up the car, we headed towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Then we went to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.  The garden is close to the ocean.

Hawaii tropical botanical garden
Hawaii tropical botanical garden

The garden is not very big.  We followed the trail, and saw a lot of strange plants.

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Aloha Hawaii – A different world – Waikiki and more

Several posts will be devoted to my Hawaii trip.  Here are some general information.

  • Time: July 2013

– I was attending a conference in Sheraton on Waikiki beach.  Why not have some fun?  I took my mom to Hawaii as well.

  • Flight: From Las Vegas to Honolulu (on Oahu island), 6 hours, time difference is 3 hours, ~$ 220 per person one-way.

– Before going to Hawaii, we stayed in Las Vegas for two nights.  Our flight to Honolulu was delayed.  At first, the plane was called back from the take-off lane to add more fuel (wasn’t it weird?).  Then, we had to wait for the storm to pass by.  The airline blamed weather for the delay, and only gave us drinks.  We were supposed to get to Honolulu by 9PM, but we ended up arriving after 1AM.  Not a good start!

  • Accommodation: Hostel International (HI) Honolulu Waikiki, $25 per person per night.

– I booked two beds in a six-bed female room.  Surprisingly, the staff there gave us an individual room!  The room has a bunk bed and a restroom.  The location of the hostel is super – just two blocks from the BEST part of Waikiki Beach.  They also have various beach stuffs – we always borrow a bodyboard.

Hawaii Waikiki Beach
Hawaii Waikiki Beach

– I hope one day we can take Fu to Waikiki.  Beach is surely the heaven for kids!

Hawaii Waikiki beach
Hawaii Waikiki beach
Hawaii Waikiki beach
Hawaii Waikiki beach
  • Places visited: Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, the Island of Hawaii (Big Island)

– I am so glad that we went to the Big Island.  That’s the best part of this trip 🙂

  • Restaurant: Marukame Udon (丸亀製麺)

– We went there three times.  Every time there was a long line.  Luckily the line moves fast, as the service there is fast.  Basically you pick the type of soup (pre-made) for the udon noodle.  They have tasty tempura too!