Living Aloha

Wrapping up another week in Hawaii…

Finally saw some popular hiking spots on Oahu this trip! Beautiful.

^Waterfall at Manoa – The end of the hike for most, although there is an option to continue climbing the mountain to reach the top of this fall. Next time, with better shoes and an earlier start.

^Diamond Head Lookout – A quick hike, close to Waikiki with great views.

^Manoa Falls Hike Path – Muddy and wet, it was a bit rainy today.

^Manoa Falls Hike Path – Jurassic Park and Lost both filmed some scenes at Moana Falls. Hiking this easy trail is like being on another planet! I love the tropical, jungle atmosphere of the area.

 

Introducing Meili

Meili the French Bulldog… he is the best.

This 3-year-old pup spends his days traveling the globe… most recently the West Coast.

What a cool dude.

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Overlooking the Valley of the Moon, on our road trip from Tucson, AZ to San Diego. This spot is somewhere in the Jacumba Mountains. Hot, hot heat and beautiful sights!
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Photo taken after landing safely in San Diego, CA after a weekend trip to former home-base in Chicago,IL. Meili had a great time seeing friends and family, but is happy to have 4 paws back on the West Coast… Time for more adventures!

Muay Thai for 8-year-olds?

I recently discovered the documentary, Buffalo Girls, the brutal and heart wrenching story of two eight-year-old Thai girls participating in their country’s national Muay Thai championship. 

Stam, one of the girls featured in Buffalo Girls, poses after a win.
Stam, one of the girls featured in Buffalo Girls, poses after a win.

For those who aren’t familiar, Muay Thai itself is a 700-year-old martial art with a long and cherished history in Thailand. Brutal in its nature, the fighting style is comparable to that of MMA.

There are some 30,000 children under the age of 15 fighting in the Muay Thai rings of rural Thailand.

Blood, sweat and tears: Muay Thai child fighters

Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, "Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters"
Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, “Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters”

Fighting without headgear and incurring bruises, bloody noses and even broken bones, there is absolutely a physical toll on the children involved. To Westerners, the participation of children in Muay Thai may appear reprehensible and dangerous.

But in a country where the per-capita income is less than 10% of that of the United States, there are other harsh realities to consider before making judgements. The impoverished farming communities of rural Thailand offer few opportunities for people to better their lives and boxing is one of the few alternatives to the country’s commercial sex trade as a means of escaping the extreme poverty.

Only recently has it become acceptable for females to be near the action, let alone enter the ring, which is all the more reason why the Buffalo Girls documentary is so fascinating.

For the villages involved, an evening of boxing becomes a community event with farmers and laborers enthusiastically betting on the matches. With their limited incomes and little or no access to affordable credit, gambling is viewed as a viable part of the local economy and a means of increasing their meager resources.

Photo by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, "Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters"

Photo by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, "Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters"
Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, “Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters”

These children, if they are successful in the sport, earn enough to provide food for their families, put their siblings through school, improve their own quality of life. Child boxers in Thailand can often earn as much as half of a family’s monthly rent from a single bout, sometimes taking home more than what a farmer or factory worker earns in an entire month.

The documentary, Buffalo Girls, follows the successes of the two eight-year-old girls, Stam and Pet, as they work with professional trainers. They do sit-ups and push-ups, lift weights and run, all in preparation for their upcoming fights. They are lean, powerful and athletic, glowing with confidence from their participation in the sport.

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Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, “Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters.”

“When I first saw the children boxing, I absolutely thought it was horrible,” said director Todd Kellstein. But after spending two years in the rural Thai provinces documenting this world, Kellstein admits that his overall perspective has changed. His initial anger with the parents of the children for putting them in the ring gave way to a resigned empathy for their circumstances. 

“It is difficult to understand the economic circumstances that lead to child boxing, but what now angers me is economic inequalities in the world. These circumstances exist and we should think of ways to make it better for everyone. Not just in Thailand, but everywhere.”

What do you think?

Watch the trailer for Buffalo Girls:

Waze, A Superior Mode of Travel

You’ll never open Maps again. The Waze app is all about contributing to the ‘common good’ out on the open road. Outsmarting traffic, together.

By connecting drivers to one another, Waze creates local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving. Users update real-time information as they travel, cluing other drivers in to essential information like police ahead, traffic jams, road closures, hazards on the road or quicker routes to the destination.

The Waze interface is easily accessible while driving, and has a lock to prevent drivers from becoming too focused on the application while behind the wheel.
The Waze interface is easily accessible while driving, and has a lock to prevent drivers from becoming too focused on the application while behind the wheel.

Waze offers all of the navigational perks that you find in the iPhone’s Maps app or Google Maps, but with the added bonus of real-time updates and user interaction. Think of it as minimally involved Facebook and Mapquest rolled into one.

After registering, users create a profile and earn points based on interaction with the app. You gain points every time you use Waze on a drive or update your route with activities like road reporting, fuel price reports, editing the map, adding street names or house numbers, etc.

The points are a nonessential, but will earn you fun additions to your profile, like the ability to choose from various icons to represent your presence on the road. Users can also update their current mood, join groups, chat with other nearby users and upload photos to ‘map chat.’ Anything from a passenger selfie to an accident photo is acceptable here.

An extremely helpful app, Waze will redirect drivers around closures or areas of heavy traffic, and will loudly notify when police or hazards are reported ahead- saving time and frustration for everyone on the road.

So rest easy knowing that Waze has your back when it comes to cops ahead waiting to ruin your day. Applaud yourself for ensuring that they won’t succeed this time.

 

Get Around in Chicago, Innovative Ways to Ride

With the Ventra fiasco giving the Chicago Transit Authority a hernia as of late, and the cold weather making it extremely difficult to dig our cars out from the snowy streets, we thought it would be beneficial to share some travel innovations that are picking up speed in the windy city.

We've found a way around those rude drivers and smelly, expensive taxi cabs.
We’ve found a way around those rude drivers and smelly, expensive taxi cabs.

Of course there’s one thing that you can always fall back on: taking a good ‘ol cab. Hundreds of these guys trolling the streets of any given Chicago neighborhood- but you never really know what you’re in for when you stick your hand out for a ride.

On-Demand Ride Sharing with Uber and Lyft
These two smartphone applications connect users with a nearby driver at the touch of a button. Drivers are background checked and personality screened to ensure a safe and friendly ride for patrons–even their cars must pass a safety and comfortability screening before being sent into the field.

It’s cashless and donation-based, with rates starting at only $6 for a ride. After connecting a credit or debit card with your account, the application does everything for you after only a few selections. All you need to to is request a pickup at your desired location, and the app will scan the area for the closest drivers, and send one your way.

You may have seen cars with giant, plush, pink mustaches attached to their front grills… no, it's not a new and obnoxious type of bumper sticker- it's the secret sign of Lyft!
You may have seen cars with giant, plush, pink mustaches attached to their front grills… no, it’s not a new and obnoxious type of bumper sticker- it’s the secret sign of Lyft!

Lyft notifies you when the driver is on his or her way, sending photos of the driver and car so you know exactly what to expect. Change your mind? No problem, cancel the Lyft with no repercussions.

Uber has an additional feature where users can select the type of vehicle that they will be in need of: basic taxi/ black car/ SUV/ Limo, etc.

Gaining popularity across the United States, services like Uber and Lyft are most commonly utilized in highly populated urban areas, like the city of Chicago. Sometimes the drivers even provide refreshments and snacks for their riders–probably in hopes of coaxing out a higher donation–but hey, that’s ok, everyone’s happy with a sucker in their mouth, right?

Divvy Bike Rentals
Divvy is a Chicago-based bike sharing system that allows users to rent bikes from various stations around the city. Featuring thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations from Andersonville to Hyde Park- Divvy is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Every station has a touchscreen kiosk, station map, and a docking system that releases bikes using a member key or ride code.

Divvy has set up bike stations at various locations all around Chicago to make the bike-sharing system an effective mode of transport.
Divvy has set up bike stations at various locations all around Chicago to make the bike-sharing system an effective mode of transport.

Annual memberships can be purchased online at Divvy’s website, or 24-hour passes can be printed from any Divvy station- but only annual members will receive a unique Divvy key. Annual memberships are usually $75 for the whole year, but right now annual memberships are on sale for $65.

You’ll get unlimited 30-minute trips for the duration of your membership or temporary pass. Run an errand, grab a bite, commute to work or school… simply ride back to any Divvy station and return the bike once you’ve reached your destination.

Divvy crews are constantly monitoring the stations to ensure that they are neither full nor empty. Having just started in 2013, Divvy is already the 2nd largest bike sharing system in the United States.

According to the website, the word “Divvy” means “to divide and share.” This new bike system aims to connect us all and help to build a stronger local community.

Of course, some minor biking knowledge is required to use the system. Don’t forget your helmet, leave the headphones off, and pay attention to your surroundings…. otherwise you might end up notoriously riding down the Lake Shore Drive Expressway, just like this chick: