May 25, 2010

On-island Vacation

This past weekend my family and I had a mini vacation.  We didn't leave Saipan, but rather we spent a night at one of the hotels, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Garapan.  My brother-in-law gave us a gift certificate that he wasn't able to use, and so with his generosity, we got to experience one of Saipan's beautiful hotels, for free!

The room was lovely, the view was gorgeous, and we soaked up the sun at the pool and beach.  That Saturday evening we walked over to the Taste of the Marianas to have our dinner.

The grounds of the hotel is filled with beautiful tropical flowers and gardens that are handsomely manicured.  A small white gazebo stands beside a large reflective pond, full of fish that you can feed with pieces of bread.  A past-time my kids enjoy.  On the grounds you'll find three spitting dragons, or at least that's what I call them, which are fountain water features that have been there since I can remember.  The beach in front of Hyatt is perfect for kids, and there's a sand bar that you can walk onto that extends far into the lagoon as if you can walk right out to Managaha.

It was a fabulous time... family time... quality time.  We vacationed without leaving.  Or rather we had an on-island vacation.  On-island vacations, another reason why I Luv Saipan.
Click on image for more pictures
(hu guaiya hao mama)

May 16, 2010

Got a Taste

Every May, the Marianas Visitors Authority, holds an event called The Taste of the Marianas.  Each Saturday evening in May, restaurants and hotels man booths at the American Memorial Park, selling dishes they've prepared to give local residents and tourists a taste of their culinary delights.  There is also entertainment from local and visiting musicians, performers and dancers.

It's a great way to spend the evening with the family, in a casual, festival like environment.  The food choices are many and all delicious.  The performances always bring a smile to your face and to the faces of the children.

Every year since we've been on Saipan, we've made it to The Taste of the Marianas.  Last night, my wife and I had local favorites like lechon (roasted pig), chicken kelaguin, tinalan katne (dried beef), with red rice and pickled cucumber from Herman's Modern Bakery.  As always, it was delicious.  My kids had their usual favorites, barbecue chicken and pork on sticks, pancit, red rice, and pearl shakes.  They topped that off with cotton candy.  

The performances we saw last night were of some adorable cultural dancers from Saipan and Palau.  The little ones represented.

The Taste of the Marianas, if you're visiting Saipan in May, you've got to make it out to one of the Saturdays.  Great food and good times to be had and another reason I Luv Saipan.

(hu guaiya hao mama)

May 10, 2010

Views of Bird Island

In the Northeast area of Saipan, an islet sits offshore.  Its name is Bird Island.  Visitors to Saipan usually come here take their pictures atop a lookout, framing their snapshots with Bird Island in the background.  It's a beautiful view.  It sits there, with its white walls of stone, in the middle of a yin and yang contrast of water.

So why the name Bird Island?  It wasn't until I got to see the islet from the beach did I understand why it has its name.  The birds--there were so many--they were amazing, launching themselves from the cliffs, dancing in the sky, flirting with one another.

Standing at the beach you also get another perspective on the features of Bird Island.  The tame islet one sees at the lookout is replaced by a rock that looks quite fierce.  If you stare long enough, you can make out a skull and several faces in its terrain, some of them creepy.  Examine the pictures and tell me what you think.
Click on image to view more pictures...

The many views of Bird Island: a contrast of tranquility and ferocity, a tourist photo opp seen by many and a view seen by few.  To experience it fully, take the trail down to the beach. From there you will get to know it for its namesake.

Bird Island, another reason why I Luv Saipan.

(hu guaiya hao mama)

May 8, 2010

Mother's Day Message

To the wonderful mothers I know... 
Grandma, mother-in-law, aunties, sisters, cousins, and friends, as a mother you are the center of your family. Your love for your children is eternal and a testament to the beauty and power of this greatest of emotions. Because of this, hope and love will continue in the generations that follow you.

To my Mom... 
Your love continues to fuel my soul. Your discipline shaped my character. Your devotion to your kids instilled in me the devotion I have to my family. You made me the gentleman that I am. I love and miss you. Thank you for being a wonderful mom.

To my enchanting Wife... 
You brought into this world our three beautiful children. I cannot imagine my life without them and without you. You are an amazing mother: devoted, nurturing, and loving. Our kids are growing into delightful, affectionate, creative, intelligent, and independent individuals because of you. I am--our kids are--forever blessed to have you. Thank you for all you do. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day. God bless you.

May 4, 2010

Kids, Park, Rain Refresh

Yesterday, I decided to bring my daughters' bike and scooter along with us as we picked up the girls from school.  I convinced my wife that it would be a nice change to walk and ride around American Memorial Park after school with the kids instead of heading straight home.  I also wanted to give my daughter more practice on her bike as she just learned how to ride on two wheels.

It has been warm of late.  The trade winds have slowed and so you can feel more of the humidity.  The sun feels a tad more intense on your skin, and the landscape has been dry.  In fact, this past weekend we had a couple of fires in the dry grassy areas on the island.

So here we were strolling and riding at AMP, occasionally resting in the shade, when we noticed the clouds starting to turn a little dark.  Then the droplets came sprinkling down.  The sprinkling turned into a downpour.  There was no shelter near us other than the trees, and the kids, well, they were hot from the riding, so they just stood in the rain.  And well, my wife and I, after a quick hesitation, encouraged them.  What the heck.

I remembered my mom telling me she loved to play in the rain when she was younger, and I remember doing that too when I was a kid.  When she was still with us, she even encouraged my kids to play in the rain and would scold me for being uptight about them getting wet.  Well, that was for you Mom, I'm sure you were smiling down at us, watching your grandkids enjoying the rain.

As soon as the rain began, it had stopped, which is typical here on Saipan.  The air was sweeter and cooler.  The flowers adorned their droplets like jewels.

The kids, the park, the rain, it was a welcome refreshment from the warmness of the afternoon, and the past few days for that matter.  It was another pearl in the collection, another reason I Luv Saipan.

To see more pictures, click on the following image.
2010-05-03 Kids at park, flowers

(Hu guaiya hao mama)
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