Travel Diary: Honolulu, Hawaii

Lizard friend.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to Honolulu, Hawaii for a conference. Now, Honolulu’s a bit of a strange place to go for work, so I tried to mix in some fun time too. The first 4 days were work, and the 5th day I took off for fun. This is my combined money/work/travel diary!

For those of you with short attention spans 😉 ,  here’s the “executive summary” of the expenses:

  • Airfare: $517 (expensed)
  • Conference registration: $1000 (expensed)
  • AirBnB: $129/night * 5 nights ($516 expensed, $129 out-of-pocket)
  • Food: $295.91 ($75 expensed, $220.91 out-of-pocket)
  • Transportation: $178.11 ($146.11 expensed, $32 out-of-pocket)
  • Entertainment: $25 (out-of-pocket)

Most of the expenses are paid by work, but all the expenses on the last day (my fun day) were out of pocket. All-in-all, it’s a good change of scenery and traveling is definitely one of the benefits of academia.

Day 1

Get up at 3:30am and drive to the airport for my 7am flight. It’s an early start, but the airport is 1.5 h away. Parking is expensive at $13/day, but there are no trains at that early hour, and a Lyft would cost ~$100 each way. ($89.22, expensed)

View from the hotel.

I arrive at the hotel by Lyft ($30.80, expensed) and meet up with my friends . A bunch of my friends from grad school are also here, so it’s awesome to see them again and hang out! I get freshened up in their hotel room (our AirBnB check-in time is later), and we get lunch at the conference.

I sit in a session or two in the afternoon, then find my grad student. He’s only in his second year, and it’s his first talk! I practice with student and give him some feedback. I’m kind of freaking out because I want him to do a good job. I know I could do a good job if I just gave the talk myself, but delegating is tough. It’s hard for the students when English isn’t their first language, but they really need to learn good presentation skills. It’s all marketing, people.

After the practice, we go to the reception. I had planned to do some networking, but it’s really dark (the reception was outdoors), and there are so many people that I can’t find the bigwigs I wanted to talk to. I decide to just chill with my friends instead.

Day 2

I’m chairing a session at 8am (ugh), so I rush off to the room. There are some technical issues with the gosh-darn HDMI cable, which is awkward. The student volunteer is pretty clueless, but I eventually find a solution.

After my session, there’s a panel and my former advisor is there! He spots me in the crowd and comes down from the dais (lol) to talk to me, which makes me feel very special 🙂 I somehow can’t get over some leftover fear of my advisor, despite having graduated, but we have a nice and brief conversation.

Lunch is at the conference. They’ve really cheaped out and gone with sandwiches instead of hot food, boo. The Indian food at the Indian conference next door looks tempting. For $1000 conference registration, I want my money’s worth 😛

After lunch, it’s time for my student’s session. I anxiously sit through his talk. He’s improved a lot, and actually does pretty well (later, I find out that he’s won “best presentation in session” award, so I guess all that rehearsal paid off!). I meet some other researchers in my session who are working on similar topics and talk with them. It’s nice to find people with similar technical interests.

I’m on the Technical Program Committee, so I go to the planning meeting for next year. There are some super depressing gender diversity statistics, as usual:

Some depressing gender diversity statistics.

For dinner, we’ve organized a big dinner with my labmates from grad school, and our students. It’s great to see our professional family expanding! We head to Waikiki Brewing Company and have a nice dinner with burgers. ($29, expensed)

Day 3

I decide to actually attend some technical sessions, and sit through a variety of them in the morning and afternoon. There’s also a panel with a guy who makes a sexist technical analogy, which I’m pretty annoyed by. I’m kinda tired of the conference at this point, and find my mind wandering.

Luckily, my friends and I have planned to go to a nice dinner! We walk to Sushi Izakaya Gaku, but there’s an hour-long wait. I wasn’t a good lil’ blogger and forgot to take pics. The food is good but not that exceptional. ($46, expensed)

Day 4

Whew, the conference is finally over! However, I’m attending a separate technical workshop. The vast majority of attendees are senior people who’ve known each other for years, so it’s a bit intimidating for me and my friend, who are both assistant profs. It gets even more intimidating when my session chair asks me last-minute to make a verbal report of our findings to all 50 attendees, with about 3 minutes of prep time. It’s kinda scary, but I think it goes off all right. I hope I impress them and can get reference letters from them later 😉

Finally, the work part of the trip is over, and I can just relax! My feet are really really sore at this point. I have the Ferragamo Vara pumps (mostly inspired by reading fashion blogs), but find they’re quite uncomfortable because they’re 1/2 size too small. The patent color is also too fancy for my everyday dress, so I basically only wear them to professional events. I think it’s time to sell them / give them to my mother, but I’m crying internally because I bought them full price for MSRP ~$500.

Painful patent-leather Ferragamos.

For dinner, we’ve reserved the Paradise Cove Luau. We hang out, have a couple of drinks, eat the buffet dinner, and watch the show. It’s a bit touristy, and not as good as the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, but it’s nice to just hang out and relax after a long week. ($113)

Paradise Cove luau.

Day 5

Today’s our fun day! My friends and I rented a car ($25 each) and plan to drive around the island. We use the Gypsy tour app ($7), which I highly recommend for road trips. It tracks your GPS location and gives commentary on interesting sights. First stop, the North shore. We haven’t had breakfast, so we stop at Kono’s, which is delicious ($15.91). We continue driving along the coast and end up basically making a food tour of it: Matsumoto Shaved Ice ($5), a garlic shrimp truck (my friends paid), and a fruit stand ($5). Yum!

Road trip to the North shore of Oahu.

On the way back, we stop at the Mormon Temple, which is interesting. The Chinese-speaking missionaries approach my friend, and my other friend and I ungracefully escape to the bathroom to avoid an awkward conversation. The grounds are beautifully kept, though. We also visit the Byodo-In Temple ($5). It’s super pretty and peaceful. Ringing the giant bell is supposed to bring good luck. I ring it and hope my next grant proposal gets accepted…

In the late afternoon, we arrive at Hanauma Bay. We rent snorkel equipment for about an hour ($20), and it’s tons of fun! Not as many fish as I’ve seen in tropical areas (Mexico, Thailand), but still great, and the reef is super shallow. One of our friends gets left on the beach though, and I think she’s kind of annoyed at us when she gets back. Oops 😦

The Bay.

For dinner, we go to Chiba Ken. We had sushi multiple times this week, and I wouldn’t say it was any more amazing than the mainland, but it sorta fits with the vacation/tropical/fish theme. Although we were in good spirits for most of the day, by nighttime everyone is tired out and slightly irritable. I think it’s almost time to go home. ($56)

Day 6

Today is my last day, with my flight at noon. Due to jetlag, we all wake up super early, and decide to go to Goofy’s for breakfast. Highly recommend! It’s a hipster-ish sorta place and the food is really good (and Instagrammable, with the bright colors). There’s no line when we show up at 7am, but by the time we leave, the line is out the door. ($26)

Delicious smoothie at Goofy’s.

From there, it’s off to the airport for me ($26.09, expensed), and goodbye to Hawaii!


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