Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Having Chilli’s Bar and Grill on the ground floor of our hotel was one way to welcome us back to American food culture, tantalisingly delish but instantly regrettable. Luckily there was plenty of walking to be had around our new temporary home to help move along the couple pounds of meat, cheese and grease we had just ingested.



Waikiki is pretty much the Oahu equivalent of Surfers Paradise, ie. tourist central, but its not all bad! Street botherers and slow moving path blocking groups aside, between the scores of hotels there is a generous speckling of retail shops and eateries. Kuhio Ave is a good place to start with the Waikiki town center, Kings Village shopping center, Royal Hawaiian center. Here you’ll find almost any souvenir you can imagine with the usual excessive over redundancy of content and shops in tourist hot spots but it is still worth a look-through as some stores will stock different designs, colours or styles. The fixed shops make way for open air markets and mobile stalls in surrounding lanes and streets, thankfully very few are pushy with their sales.


The Royal Hawaiian is where the branded shopping begins with high end names like Fendi, Hermes, Bvlgari and even a Ferrari store but the one we were most interested in was Zumies – the token skate, surf, snow, moto-x store. They actually had quite the range of stock and brands, even a small section of Undefeated along with a bunch of sale items, always a good sign (:
Downstairs, it wouldn’t hurt your taste buds to pop into the Honolulu Cookie Company and try a few samples of their gourmet shortbread cookies.



Out on the streets you’ll find a couple 88 tees stores – kind of a designer vintage tee store dressed up like a rubbishy clearance store where shirts are in piles on large tables and in pigeon holes. There were some cool designs but prices were quite expensive for what they were (starting around $20). They did however have some other random items like old Hawaiian and American licence plates which were great for a slightly quirky souvenir (:



Alot of the high end stores made use of their massive store fronts for some intriguing art exhibits.



Finally, if by some chance you were walking around with your eyes closed, you may not have noticed that there’s quite literally an ABC store on every corner (not be mistaken with the Japanese Footlocker equivalent). Basically your one stop shop for souvenirs, convenience items and last minute life saving.

Next up, we take our best shot contracting mall dementia by running the gauntlet of the major shopping centres on the west coast… all in one day!


Hawaii 2012 part #1 – Arrival
Hawaii 2012 part #2 – Waikiki
Hawaii 2012 part #3 – Honolulu shopping – Part A
Hawaii 2012 part #4 – The Big Island – Volcano tour
Hawaii 2012 part #5 – Shopping Honolulu – part B
Hawaii 2012 part #6 – Tattoo Honolulu / Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit art exhibits
Hawaii 2012 part #7 – Pearl City area
Hawaii 2012 part #8 – Swap meets and Made in Hawaii festival
Hawaii 2012 part #9 – Cook offs and Car shows
Hawaii 2012 part #10 – North shore
Hawaii 2012 part #11 – Windward shore and Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #12 – Chief’s Luau at Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #13 – South shore – Diamondhead crater, Hanauma bay



It might be a little cliché to honeymoon in Hawaii but can you really argue? Sun, surf, sand (if you go to the right beaches) and still plenty of sight seeing, activities and shopping to more than keep you busy.

I knew very little of “the rich man’s Bali” prior to researching and after viewing google maps and the associated scaled distances I was expecting it to be a lot smaller, however after a rather slow crawl through traffic from the airport to our Waikiki hotel it was instantly recognisable, for good and bad, as just about any other major American city.



But first, getting there. Like the savvy travellers we are, we held off till we could nab some crazy cheap flights and lo and behold a couple months out, Air Pacific had a sale and we were set. We heard and read a few horror stories about this budget Pacific carrier but didn’t really encounter close to a Tiger Airlines facebook post.


Of course the trade off for cheap flights is usually an extra stop over, which was in Fiji. Better than a slap in the face yea? Unfortunately it was more like a slow slap in the face, we were scheduled to arrive early evening so the choice in venturing out was limited and with the sun all but gone, it wasn’t even worth a look at the beach outside of the Nadi airport. So with 7 hours to kill we made the most of what the airport had to offer, 2 levels of shops and a food court….cool, now there’s only 6hours 50min left to go. Yep, the place is small, the shops uninspiring and mostly redundant. The food court is based mostly around a carvery style vender which served a variety of meals from classic American to a few Asian dishes. Prices were ok and the quality not too bad. Best thing was they took AU (or USD) currency without a transaction fee but you got your change in Fijian dollars.

Travel Tip: Carry small denominations of AU or USD notes to minimise the amount of unused Fijian currency you’ll have to get exchanged or just keep it for your return stop over.

So to kill the time? We came prepared with a season of Fringe on a netbook, then we just commandeered a table. Later we mixed it up and pulled up some carpet near an unused powerpoint.

Travel Tip: If you get bored from counting the number of Aussie girls with French braids or corn rows and want a bit of piece and quiet, head downstairs to the airline lounges. You can pay a small fee for creature comforts inside or just stretch out on the floor/seats out the front for free.

(not) Christmas Island

(not) Christmas Island

(not) Christmas Island runway

(not) Christmas Island runway

Time marched on with the slumping body language and expressions of center staff till we were finally on our way – but wait, whats this? An extra stop at Christmas Island??? Ok first shock was the previous no mention of a second stop and the second was Christmas Island?? Isn’t that in the opposite direction?? Turns out its part of Kiribati, a tiny little island that’s more lagoons and oases than island – but a perfect place if you want middle-of-no-where picturesque beaches, endless fishing and literally nothing else. The ground crew there reflected the laid back environment, some rode up to the airliner on bicycles, most were either wearing thongs or were barefoot and shirtless. One even took a break from doing nothing by lighting up a cigarette, apparently avgas is so laidback here it couldn’t be bothered exploding :-\

After another hour of sitting around (minus the break where US border patrol entered the plane and searched seats …and the poor guys that fit the stereotypical profile) we were on our way.

On arrival at HNL airport we picked up our hire car from Alamo, despite some negative reviews for this location we had no problems at all and even ended getting to choose a VW Jetta over a Ford Focus. After spending a couple thousand miles in a Focus last time, it was an easy decision to choose the German… and it wasn’t just because it was red 😉 You can get around the island quite sufficiently using public transport and mopeds but nothing beats having the freedom and convenience of a car especially when you have multiple activities planned for a day and a bunch of shopping to go with it.


Travel Tip: For the best prices on hire cars go to www.DiscountHawaiiCarRental.com – basically a blind selection from dealers of your car category choice, or better. Once your preferences are entered, you’ll get an email from the hire company with pick up details. A little daunting not knowing what you’ll get or from who, but they only deal with the bigger name companies so you should still have some choice depending on your nominated category. If you’re choosing “convertible” you’ll be mostly limited to a Mustang or Sebring … realistically you’ll end up with a Sebring (which is essentially an old Ford Taurus with the roof cut off. Yep, as ugly as it sounds) To give you an idea, a week hire for a “compact”, which going by the Jetta felt more like a mid-size was about $150 for the week, total of $350 with insurance which is always the killer. Still, at $200 less than the cheapest online advertised price, it was an easy decision.

The prepurchase of a $50 ebay gps complete with current US and Europe maps instantly paid for itself as we made a steady crawl towards Waikiki and our hotel for the week, The Outrigger – Ohana West.



There is of course a plethora of hotels to chose from, most going from “more than your flights” to “yikes!” but thankfully this (not so) little gem was significantly less than surrounding places including sister hotel, Ohana East, a mere half block away. Having the deal sweetened with Zuji’s package special made it even better. The only reason we could tell for the difference in price was from the décor. It looked like the last reno in the rooms was during the 80s but other than that nothing to complain about, good service, large room and balcony and a 5min stroll to the beach. There’s also Chili’s Bar and Grill on the ground level and a Denny’s just across the street, both with a wide range of foods and meal deals.

Travel Tip: Parking is a premium almost every where in Waikiki and of course they capitalise on it. There are a few cheaper long term parking spots but all a few blocks away and most not secured. Ohana East offers paid parking at about $20-25 a day with discounts for longer stays, which makes unloading and loading alot easier. The trade off is, the carpark is very limited so they tend to run out of spaces from mid to late afternoon but if you have already paid, you get directed to Ohana West down the road.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Travel Tip: A lot of the beach front hotels have “private” beaches ie. Its easiest accessed through the hotel. For off the street access you’ll want to head straight for Kuhio Beach Park (Waikiki Beach). Possibly one of the busiest beaches in Oahu, it has levies for shelter and corrosion prevention (I read somewhere that they actually import sand from Australia!), though the native sand is rather coarse. Great spot for a quick dip and kid-friendly but if you want to do anything other than a fun splash/cool down then its best you try elsewhere.

Bags dumped and a quick shower, we were ready to hit the streets of Waikiki!


Hawaii 2012 part #1 – Arrival
Hawaii 2012 part #2 – Waikiki
Hawaii 2012 part #3 – Honolulu shopping – Part A
Hawaii 2012 part #4 – The Big Island – Volcano tour
Hawaii 2012 part #5 – Shopping Honolulu – part B
Hawaii 2012 part #6 – Tattoo Honolulu / Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit art exhibits
Hawaii 2012 part #7 – Pearl City area
Hawaii 2012 part #8 – Swap meets and Made in Hawaii festival
Hawaii 2012 part #9 – Cook offs and Car shows
Hawaii 2012 part #10 – North shore
Hawaii 2012 part #11 – Windward shore and Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #12 – Chief’s Luau at Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #13 – South shore – Diamondhead crater, Hanauma bay

Death to all but metal!! Steel Panther bring their headlining show full of quips, tits and vulgarity to the Eatons Hill Hotel

More Steel Panther photos here


Milpitas is probably an unlikely stop for most travellers with it being over shadowed by San Jose in the south or Oakland in the north for stops on the way to San Francisco but when there’s a place called the “Great Mall” we couldn’t resist taking an overnight detour.


We took the 120 out of Yosemite to the 205 then the 680 which pretty much dropped us right at our hotel, The Marriot TownePlace Suites, which we strategically planned due to it being directly across the road from the Mall.

The day started off with a free continental style breakfast which for me included a portioned cup of the now extinct in AU, Corn Pops. Memories of eating them for dinner at uni came flooding back and it was a sign it was going to be a good day (:

Getting to the centre within the first hour of opening on a weekend day is definitely the way to go. No problems with getting a covered park right near an entrance and it’s a casual stroll for a good hour or two before the crowds start rolling in. It opens from 10am Mon-Sat. so you even get a nice little sleep in.

So to the shopping… with over 200 stores I guess it can lay claim to the “Great”ness but where to start? Since there were so many stores I’m going to refer back to the mall directory to help me remember them all and list them alphabetically.

The Nike factory store is a good place to start, big variety and I must say we bought more here than at Citadel. Cortez’s = $35USD, girls Airmax 90 = $30USD, Omar Salazar SB’s = $35USD *yoink* plus an array of apparel and tee’s at throw away multi-buy prices.

Reebok also has an outlet store and then there are the usual mall suspects, Champs, Converse, Finish Line, Journeys, Shiekh Shoes, Sports Authority and Vans. Footlocker gets a special mention as this one seemed to be one of their few clearance stores. Normal fair up front but at the back it was pile after pile of mismatched boxes, pairs and markdown on top of markdown stickers. For the most part there was a reason why most were reduced but there were some diamonds in that rough, biggest problem was finding how much they were. This thankfully paid off when a pair of Punkrose Retro Hi-Tops purchased, basically the bastard child of Chuck Taylor and Vans. Going by the reduced tickets and percent off markings, the guesstimation came to about $20 down from $100. Not bad at all right? Not even close, the sales guy stumbled back wide eyed before calling his colleagues over. While we were thinking…”Oh great we’re gonna have to put these back”, he turns the register readout around to show… $2.17 inc tax. What??? He even got the manager to check and sure enough that was the price! Free lunch then (: This further enforces my claim that the internet is not the best place for bargains 😉

$2.17 inc tax!

After that, seeing items on sale just wasn’t the same, after all, its no $2.17! But we continued no less. Sanrio and Toys R Us were the only major places for toys though there were a couple places with a limit selection of anime and game related merch. Sears has an appliance outlet store if you’re chasing down some cheap Aldi-esque appliances.

What mall stop for us would be complete without a Wetzel’s Pretzels stop? Yep, just so happens there is one here too 😉 and it has stolen the torch for best pretzel’s ever. The fresh pretzel bites were a cut and a half (no pun intended!) above all the other stores we’ve tried, deeeelicious.

All pretzelled and bargained up we waddle out to the car and hit the road once more for our final USA stop, San Francisco!

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here

Melrose Av West Hollywood +cliche' cop car

After a day stopover in Ueno, Tokyo we were on our way to Los Angeles. Crossing the International Date Line meant it was going to be the longest Saturday ever, even longer than that 3 day bender in college where I was down to drinking Vodka and cordial dregs from the night before by the end of it… but that’s another story.

It’s true what they say, “nobody walks in LA”. Simply because everything is so far apart… and to add to it, the public transport is pretty rubbish for a major city. So your best bet if you’re staying longer than a 2-3 days is to hire a car. Being the USA this can be quite cheap but remember you will need to find and pay for parking.

Since we were only there for 3 days we opted to skip the car and go with the alternatives. Coming from the airport, the easiest and quite reasonable option for door to door is to use Super Shuttle, a private shuttle bus company at pretty much every major city in the States. They’re easy to spot as you leave the terminal, big blue vans with bright yellow writing. You can just go to the stop and wait for one or pre-book, save a few bucks and guarantee yourself a seat, roughly $20-25US. Note that you will more than likely be sharing with other passengers over several pickup and drop off points so the journey can take some time. We also noticed there can be a lack of order/priority at times between the driver and the representative at the pickup point, pretty much whoever yelled/nagged or was stubborn the most got their way!

If you’re on a tight budget then your only real option is to catch a bus which may not be feasible if you have to make 3 transfers and still have to hike it with all your luggage. The up side is it’s a fraction of the cost (round $5US) and you don’t need to tip the driver.

After circling LAX 3 times with a full van load we hit the motorway along with LA’s oblivious sloth-like drivers. A bit over an hour later we were at our hotel, the modestly luxurious Double Trees in Santa Monica. 4 star/3 diamond rated, short 10min walk to the beach, 15min to the pier and definitely one of the better priced hotels for the location. The big warm chocolate chip cookie on arrive was a nice touch 🙂 Room size was more than adequate, large lounge area with kitchen space and large bedroom. Not to mention it was so good to have a shower after wearing the same clothes for more than 56hours!

I wrote a more detailed review on Tripadvisor, complete with a whinge about housekeeping taking our shoe boxes!

West Hollywood

We only really had one major day for shopping in LA so we wanted to make it count. While downtown has it perks you really cant go past the one stop shop, that is West Hollywood. If you want strictly high end designer gear than you’ll wanna keep going till you hit Hollywood for some Rodeo Drive action, otherwise this is a great place to start for modern streetwear, quirky vintage, good selection of sneakers and a generous serving of everybody’s favourite retail dish, sales!

First stop is Melrose Ave. complete with “Melrose place” (the street, which looks nothing like the show and no one actually comes back to life after they die (if only it was the same for the show)). This stretch of 10-15 blocks is great for a day, or even a half day power play shop-over.

We started down the western end at Burton/Analog. Plenty of ski, surf and skate wear, relaxed staff and even their pet dog lounging next to the counter. A little further along is Fred Segal, kind of like “Country Road” meets Roger David and Cue, mostly noted for its vine covered building and in store toilet (a godsend since there’s no public toilets that we could see till you hit La Brea Ave more than 1km away!)

Heading east you’ll hit Bape, Adidas Originals and then a little cluster of the coolest group of shops you’ll ever come across. Kidrobot, Tokidoki and Loyal army covers the Japanese inspired art, vinyl collectibles and apparel so cute you’ll leave with sore thumbs from pinching the cheeks of everything there!

Loyal Army and Kidrobot on Melrose Av

Paul Frank continues this theme with their large store. They had quite a few items on sale but on the day we were there they were also handing out scratch-it coupons where you received a mystery %-off discount. The shopping gods smile upon us that day as we scored 40% off. If we didn’t have to try and get it home, the beach cruiser bicycle would be sitting in my garage right now!

The last shop of mention in this group is one of our favourites, Johnny Cupcakes. For those that don’t know, no, unfortunately they don’t actually sell cupcakes, but they do sell cupcake related clothing and accessories in a less cutsie and more So-Cal rock kinda way and the store is set up like a 50’s bakery!

Retro ovens, display cases, fridges and even a black and white checkered floor. Most of the items are in the fridges and a café pastry style display case. Not only that Mr. Cupcake, Johnny Earle himself is quite the entrepreneur and only too happy to share his knowledge on his blog and tours business seminars to uni students and work expos. The designs range from baseball and sport themes to their classic cupcake and bones logo, all in a variety of bold and vibrant colours. What makes the designs special is they are all limited, once the batch has sold out that is it forever. Definitely one way to not be another General Universal Pants clone.

Johnny Cupcakes on Melrose Av

A couple blocks along Melrose, you’ll hit North Fairfax Av. With Flightclub LA and Supreme. Flightclub has a feel of a Hong Kong or Tokyo shoe store. 2 large walls from floor to ceiling of shrink wrapped sneakers, very impressive. They also deal in pre owned items like K-Skit but don’t opening advertise it as such, so if you’re after brand new, you might want to check first. Either way, you’re in for some bargains and maybe some rare finds. The selection is predominant Nike and Jordans with a scattering of other brands, a small rack of tees and a selection of G-Shock watches and New Era caps. I picked up 2009 Nike SB Greenbay Packers for $60US, which are more than double that to buy locally at $160AU rrp and 2009 Nike AF-1 Armed Forces Ltd Ed. for $70US.

Most of the sizes are on display but don’t hesitate to check with them, just in case

Flightclub LA

Further down Fairfax is Supreme if you have a penchant for the more designer stuff or love muppets apparel 😉

If you’re still feenin’ for sneakers, back on Melrose is Sportie LA, which is divided up into 3 separate stores, new footwear, new apparel and preowned. The new footwear store is one of the few places that focus less on Nike, in fact they don’t even have a brand listing on their site, instead they opt for Converse, Adidas, Vans, Asics, Supra and even LA Gear. Though if you’re looking for some rarities or a bargain or just something a bit different than the norm, the preowned store is the one to scope out. There are some items that have clearly been on display forever and are subsequently “shop soiled” and dusty (no shrink wrapping), but the majority of the stock is in good/mint condition. Further in to the store is all new stock, with plenty of boots and dressier shoes for the ladies.

Stay tuned for part #2 when we continue to cruise down Melrose, up La Brea to Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles holiday photos here

Los Angeles part #1 – West Hollywood
Los Angeles part #2 – West Hollywood(pt 2)
Los Angeles part #3 – Santa Monica and Venice Beach Shopping
Los Angeles part #4 – Santa Monica and Venice Beach Sightseeing

Sydney electro mash boys drop in to the Empire

Act Yo Age photos here

The boys are back at it again with their “Giving it back” series, basically putting their pay on the bar and sharing the love! It’s not about about being cool or leeching your mates, its about the love of music and having a good time and that’s exactly what we had!

Vinyl Slingers photos here