Tag Archives: Hawaii

#CatTravels: 67 hours in Beijing


This trip has already been, well, a trip.

Awhile back, Hawaiian Airlines invited me on its inaugural flight to Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world. The airlines is starting this new route Wednesday morning, with a departure just after midnight.

I had months to prepare for this — and I was preparing. Fellow blogger — and one of my favorite travel partners — Melissa Chang (@melissa808) and I had started mapping out a 10-day trip to China, which included a stop in Shanghai to visit her niece.

But then I got sick.

And then I was hospitalized.

And then three doctors advised me not to travel to China anytime soon.

So here I was, with a coveted invitation to travel on this landmark flight to a mysterious city I really know nothing about.

I’ll be honest, Beijing wasn’t high on my list of Places to Visit Before I Die. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t have its allure.

The fact that there are more than 21 million people living in this uber-metropolis is reason enough to go. But it’s also the hub of all things Chinese, from its politics to its culture.

This is the site of Tiananmen Square, the focal point of pro-demoncracy protests in 1989 that ended with the declaration of martial law in Beijing and the death of hundreds of people.

It’s also where you can access the Great Wall of China, which stretches for more than 13,000 miles.

There’s the Beijing Zoo, the Forbidden City, the Ming Tombs and the various hutongs (or small streets lined with shops and restaurants), not to mention the venues built for the 2008 Summer Olympics, which the city hosted.

So there’s a lot to see and do.

But I was sick — and the healthcare system, air quality (@BeijingAir) and overall cleanliness of China are all suspect, especially to first-time visitors like me.

But that’s not the only reason this trip almost never happened.

I didn’t get a visa in time.

This may sound dire, maybe even downright crazy, but here’s the thing: According to one travel agent I spoke to and a dozens of sites online, China instituted a visa-free transit policy in 2013, which allows passengers with passports from certain countries — U.S. included — to stay for up to 72 hours without a visa if entering and exiting Beijing (and a few other airports).

I had three people — the travel agent, a Hawaiian Air rep, and my CPA friend — to calculate the exact number of hours I’d be in China.


I would just make it.

And if, by some reason, I don’t, I’ll be stuck in China for at least another week — or I might have to start learning Mandarin. (Melissa did promise to bust me out of a Chinese prison, so I’m counting on that.)

So stay tuned! Follow me on Twitter (@thedailydish), Instagram (@catherinetoth) and on YouTube to see what happens to me!

Special thanks to Hawaiian Airlines who graciously invited me on its inaugural flight to Beijing! Learn more about Beijing here.

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Opening tonight: Honolulu’s newest brewpub


Geoff Seideman has come a long way from brewing craft beers at home.

Tonight he flings open the doors to his latest venture — and Honolulu’s newest brewpub, Honolulu Beerworks, in Kakaako.

This laid-back, warehouse-style pub on Cooke Street will feature 12 beers on tap, all brewed in-house. It sprawls over 3,200 square feet, with an additional 800-square-foot beer garden outside.

Consider this Honolulu’s New Favorite Pau Hana Spot.


With both a culinary and construction background, Seideman spent more than six months gutting and building out the space. “I built out everything except the stuff that can kill you,” he said, laughing.

He enlisted the help from veteran brewmaster Dave Campbell, who has spent nearly three decades in the business, most recently at Aloha Beer, to handle day-to-day brewing.

That’s Seideman on the left and Campbell in the middle.

On Tuesday the media was invited to check out the new pub and sample the craft beers on tap, including the crisp Kakaako Kolsch, the earthy It’s Not Bitter Ale, and the Pia Mahiai Saison made with Big Island citrus, lemongrass and honey.

“The whole neighborhood here is seeking out special, unusual, bolder flavors,” Campbell said. “What we’re doing, it’s a lot more fun than what we might be doing at a chain brewing or family-dining brewpub. We’re able to get a lot more creative here … It’s a little more adventure, a little more passion, a little more soul.”

Here’s the menu, which will change every two weeks or so.

Here’s what the tasting glasses look like. Just $2.

Here’s Lisa Yamada, editorial director of FLUX Hawaii, and Martha Cheng, food editor at HONOLULU Magazine, sampling some of the Honolulu Beerworks’ brews.

A sampling of brews and ingredients.

Seideman shows us the hops he uses.

Though the pub opens today, it will feature a limited, pupu-style menu. The food portion of the business will be rolled out in phases, Seideman said, with compatible fare such as briskets and ribs eventually hitting the menu.

You can sit at the bar with a view of the back room and its fermenters — or you can head outside to one of the picnic tables set up in the beer garden. Or you can pick up a keg — likely in the $75 range — for your own pau hana.

“It’s just the beginning,” Campbell said. “And we look forward to the neighborhood growing up around us.”

Honolulu Beerworks at 328 Cooke St. opens today. Hours are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly. (It will be closed April 13)

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What? Archie is dead?

archie ap comic

Maybe news of the death of Archie Andrews, the beloved redhead protagonist in the popular comic book series, didn’t rattle your morning.

But it did mine.

My mom texted me the link to a CNN article announcing the tragic news of his impending death come July, when the series, “Life With Archie,” ends after a 73-year run.

The #36 issue hits stores on July 16.

This is devastating to me. Very, very few people know I’m a hardcore Archie Comics fan. My parents would buy me issues all the time, feeding my addiction to all things Riverdale.

These characters — Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Moose, Midge — were my childhood friends, and I followed their teenage exploits since the time I could read.

It’s hard enough knowing that the comic series will come to an end. It’s like a part of my life is over. But it’s even stranger — and, frankly, difficult to accept — that the freckled-faced teenager who always tried to do the right thing is going to die.


Sure, he supposedly will die saving a friend. (“Archie dies as he lived — heroically,” Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater told the New York Post. “He dies saving the life of a friend and does it in his usual selfless way. Archie has always been a representation of us — the best of us. Our strengths and our faults.”) But it’s just tragic. I mean, what’s the point in killing the poor guy? Doesn’t this just add weight to the argument that nice guys finish last?

In a way, I suppose it’s much more interesting than ending the series with Archie finally choosing between the saccharine-sweet Betty and spoiled-but-fetching Veronica. (I’ve always been a Betty fan, so there’s no argument there.) But death? Isn’t this going too far?

It actually makes me sad to think a whole generation of kids won’t grow up with Archie Andrews and his Riverdale High classmates. But I suppose, like all good things, this, too, had to come to an end.

What has amazed me with this series is how, well, normal it was. These characters didn’t have superpowers, they didn’t live in far-off galaxies. These were regular teenagers dealing with the same problems we all face with — love, rejection, heartache, trust, envy, friendship. And that’s what has made them all so lovable.

So why kill him.

I’m not about to stage a protest — though I’ve seriously thought about it — since, to be honest, it won’t help. But I just don’t think it’s necessary to do something this tragic and heartbreaking. Let Archie live. Let him grow up, find a job, pay taxes, maybe get married and then divorced. Let him live that normal life trajectory he was already on. It would make me feel better that he’s still out there, trying to do the right thing and giving us hope that it’s OK to fail at it.

Who’s with me?

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Oh, age is more than just a number!


Something happened when I turned 39.

OK, maybe when I turned 35.

Everything changed.

My body started to ache after surfing for three consecutive days. I couldn’t eat Taco Bell without hurting later. And I realize I don’t walk into a room the same way. The swag — if I even had any — is now more of a limp.

I was never one to believe the complaints about getting older. I never really looked my age — thank the Asian genes — and I never subscribed to “adult” things like home ownership and retirement plans.

Then I turned 39 and realized this was my last year to be thirtysomething. And really, what do I have to show for it?

It never occurred to me that I would get old — and what that would mean. I’ve hung out with older folks — I’m talking guys in their 60s and 70s — for more than a decade and never felt like I was a kid. We all did the same things — surf, run, swim, eat donuts — so age never mattered.

But now I’m starting to feel it. I’m tired by 9 p.m. I’d rather sip wine than kick back tequila shots. And I’m starting to squint. That freaks me out.

There was a graphic that I saw posted on the Facebook walls of friends that was a bit startling. It put into perspective how quickly time has passed. It said that “Shrek” and “Monsters Inc.” were released 11 years ago. Hillary Duff is a mom. And Dylan and Cole Sprouse are 20 years old.

I don’t even know who Dylan and Cole Sprouse are!

I can’t change the fact that I’m 39, nor can I fight this aging thing. But I’m just not ready to embrace it yet, either.

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Thanks, folks, for not being there


Dear Mom and Dad,

I was driving to work this morning and caught a bit of “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN radio.

Usually, he chats about things like the NBA Draft, flaws in Major League Baseball, or why warm weather cities won’t have loyal fans.

But this morning he started ranting about over-parenting.

He talked about how modern parents are obsessed about being there for their kids. They want to do everything, go everywhere with their kids. They feel guilty about going on business trips, like they’re going to miss something important or impactful.

I agree with him: parents today don’t want to mess up. But “messing up” may not be as bad as they think.

You both worked full-time jobs. You had four kids to raise. You didn’t have time to take us to basketball practice or soccer games. You did the best you could, and that’s all any kid could ask for, really.

And now, in hindsight, I actually appreciate the fact that you weren’t always there for me.

I know that sounds weird to say. But think about this: I caught the bus in second grade, mastering the public transportation system by age 8. As a latch-key kid, I figured out how to bake sugar cookies in a toaster oven and make grilled cheese sandwiches — and I was still in grade school.

I had to figure things out on my own. If I missed a bus stop, I had to learn to stay calm, ring the bell, find my way back. If I broke something, I had to fix it. And if I was left with a choice, I had to make my own decision — and live with the consequences of it.

I know you would have wanted to be there, to help me navigate life. But because of that freedom — OK, it was more like throwing me in the deep end of the pool and telling me to swim — I gained confidence in myself, I became self-reliant, and I learned to be creative.

There was a study done awhile back that showed kids who got fewer presents turned out to be more creative. That made me laugh, remembering how we’d play in empty refrigerator boxes stuffed with styrofoam peanuts. Seriously, those were good times!

It’s easy to blame our parents for the things that go wrong in our lives. And I could sit here and whine about how you weren’t around growing up. You rarely came to my volleyball matches, you never taught me how to ride a bike or swim, you were never around.

But that’s not fair.

You guys were great parents. You provided for us, you pointed us in the right direction, you doled out advice (some of which you don’t take yourself, but that’s another blog), and you were our biggest fans, even from a distance.

So I’m not upset that you worked more than most parents and didn’t make me home lunch every day. You helped me become the person I am today, flawed and somewhat neurotic but happy nonetheless.

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