A Tropical Holiday… and Movies I Watched During My Vacation

Hello everybody! Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas break. It was nice to be home for Christmas, we purposely planned to avoid being at the airport during the holiday craze so coming back last Saturday was perfect timing for us. Thank the Lord that our trip went smoothly. Despite the long layovers, not a single flight was delayed and no major travel headache for us to complain about, so we were indeed very blessed.

AlwaysRoomForFamilyWe had a mellow Christmas eve, went to a joyful Christmas service at our local church. I love this year’s theme… There’s Always Room for Family… so true isn’t it? Since I just spent time with my family in my hometown, it definitely holds a special meaning for me. Afterwards we’re invited to dinner at a friend’s family home where we had a super-delicious-but-not-so-conventional Swedish-Indonesian cuisine :D

Baby it’s cold outside.
It’s quite a drastic 50+ degree swing from our tropical vacation. We went from 90-degree climate of Jakarta to about low 80s in Kauai to well, barely 15° F with a sub-zero windchill here. Brrrrrr!
Anyway, here are some pics from my two-part vacation to Jakarta and Kauai. Pardon the picture quality in Jakarta, I took all of them on my iPhone. The Kauai pics are the ones my hubby took with his digital SLR, so they’re definitely much better.
One of the highlights from my Jakarta trip is that I got to meet I’m super excited that I’ll be meeting up with some of my fellow Indo bloggers next week: Andina from Inspired Ground, Novia from Polychrome Interest, and FC contributor Cecilia! It was fun chatting with all of you ladies! I was especially thrilled to see Novia’s huge smile when she received the Mighty Boosh Special Edition DVD :D
From left: Novia, Cecilia, Andina and yours truly! Somehow Novia and I wore matching yellow to our meet-up, we must be kindred spirits!

From left: Novia, Cecilia, Andina and yours truly. Somehow Novia and I wore matching yellow to our meet-up, we must be kindred spirits!

For more pics and a complete recap from our Indo bloggers meet-up, do visit my friend Novia’s post.
The view from my hotel room... the sky is always hazy in Jakarta because of the polluted air :(

The view from my hotel room… the sky is always hazy in Jakarta because of the polluted air :(

Since we visited during monsoon season, it’s almost always overcast here but the temperature remains hot, around 90+ degrees every day. The relatively high winds did help cool things a bit but the torrential downpour wreck havoc on the already super-heavy traffic as flash floods pop up everywhere, especially in low-lying areas.

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From top left: Ivan & I at Ancol Beach City, the wooden boat we’re on, and various ‘macet’ (extreme traffic jam) views that constantly plague Jakarta.

A trip from point A to point B that would normally take 10-15 minutes would take 90-120 minutes, that’s on a normal weekday and NOT during rush hours. Just add at least an hour to your commute if it’s during AM or PM rush hour. My brother said that in Jakarta, there are only two congestion type: heavy or extreme traffic jam… so either you’re crawling at 5-10 mph or basically at a standstill for a good hour or so, barely moving an inch, whilst a throng of motorcycles zip by all around you. I really don’t know how people could endure that day after day.

Suffice to say, we didn’t get to visit too many places in our 6-day trip to Jakarta. Though it was fantastic to spend time with my family and eat my favorite food growing up, by the end of the week, we were ready for our real vacation to Kauai :D

ViewFromWestinResort

View from our resort in the Princeville area, the northern part of Kauai.

PoipuBeach1

Poi’pu Beach (on the south side of Kaua’i) … that’s me on the left taking a stroll on the gorgeous sandy beach

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Another view of Poi’pu Beach

The most magnificent rainbow at Waimea Canyon!

The most magnificent rainbow at Waimea Canyon!

It just rained briefly before this picture was taken and we were about to leave. Fortunately I overheard a girl yelling loudly about a rainbow so we promptly went back to the Lookout area. Lo and behold, the most spectacular rainbow suddenly appeared in the canyon. The rainbow was so vivid that all the photos we took looked like they’ve been Photoshoped! We saw a few more rainbows on the way back, in fact, I think we saw at least one every single day!

Various shots of Molokaa Beach, a secluded beach we got to during our Kauai Photo Tour

Various shots of Moloa’a Beach, a picturesque secluded beach in the north shore we went to during our Kauai Photo Tour

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A wild white cat kept us company at Moloa’a Beach

The serene Anini beach in the North Shore near our hotel. It actually rained just a few minutes after we took this picture so we had to run to our car!

The serene Anini Beach in the North Shore near our hotel.

It’s a pretty windy day as you can see. It actually rained on Anini Beach just a few minutes after we took this picture so we had to run to our car! It rains quite a bit in Kauai in the Winter months, but fortunately it was mostly passing rain, so we could just wait it out for a few minutes and it’d be sunny again :D

IvanRuthBeachSunset

Not sure which beach this was. Ivan and I sort of stumbled upon it from the Marriott Kauai Lagoons Golf Course in Lihu’e

Last but certainly not least… on our last day in Kaua’i, we took the helicopter tour to Jurassic Park Falls. The chopper ride was really smooth and we got an amazing view of the entire island from above, like this view of the majestic Napa’li Coast…

NapaliCoastFromAbove

Can’t get over how blue the ocean was from above…

More views of Napa'li Coast from the helicopter

More views of the mystical Napa’li Coast from the helicopter…

The only way to get to the pristine beach above is through a rocky Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile of arduous hike that includes a very narrow paths over cliffs that are hundreds of feet high!

We went with Island Helicopters as they’re the only chopper company that has the permit to land on the island. So here it is… the crème de la crème of our trip…

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Ivan and I at the base of the Manawaiopuna Falls (aka the Jurassic Park Falls) in the Hanapepe Valley

The chopper landed just a few hundred yards from the 360-foot Falls. It’s a bit of a movie geek moment when they played the glorious Jurassic Park theme as the chopper descended down onto the island… I literally got goosebumps! The pilot told us that only three years ago Island Helicopters was able to purchase the permit to land there, which took about five years to obtain. He showed us the remains of the concrete slab where the Helipad from the first Jurassic Park movie was used. Apparently it was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the biggest tropical storm that hit the island. According to this article, several storm scenes in the 1993 movie are actual footage of Iniki.

So that’s my vacation recap… hope you enjoyed the pics :D

Movies watched during my vacation

Pretty much the only time I had to watch movies was during my long flights to and from Minneapolis. I watched a total of four movies and one documentary just on our 15+ flying hours to Jakarta!

  • Bringing Up Baby
    Cute rom-com with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I’ve got the worst headphones ever, I could barely hear a thing! The movie itself is not bad, kinda silly and absurd but enjoyable.
  • Pride & Prejudice (rewatch)
    l was in the mood for something romantic so this was a perfect choice. I still think Keira is too pretty as Lizzy Bennett but she was all right. At least the chemistry between her and Matthew MacFadyen was right, I especially love the proposal scene. Hence it’s one of my favorite movie rain-scenes!
  • The Dark Knight Rises (rewatch)
    I never made it to a second cinema viewing of this one so I couldn’t help but watch it on the plane. The giant plot holes I mentioned in my review still made me laugh, but darn it’s still one heck of a superhero flick! 
  • InBrugesPosterIn Bruges
    I’ve been curious about this movie for so long I’m glad I finally saw it! My hubby actually saw it right after I did and I couldn’t help peeking at some of the scenes again. LOVE this film! The acting is top notch, full of witty dialog, plus the scenery is so gorgeous. It could practically doubles as a tourism video for the capital of Belgium. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson have an effortless chemistry together, and man that final scene packs a punch! Ralph Fiennes has quite a memorable supporting turn as well. I definitely should rent Seven Psychopaths, the latest from writer/director Martin McDonagh.
  • This Means War
    Every time I came across this one on Netflix my hubby always scoffed about it so I figure I’ll just watch it on the plane when I came across it, for one reason only and that is Tom Hardy ;) The preposterous level is off the charts and Reese Witherspoon is hardly believable as a girl these two guys would fight to the death over, but still it was fun watching the charismatic Hardy and Chris Pine bantering. Not a bad rental, even better when it’s free!
    ,,,
  • National Geographic TV show Megastructures on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa
    You can watch this one on Youtube, it’s quite fascinating even if you’re not an architecture buff.

HemingwayGellhornOn the way to Honolulu, I also saw the HBO TV movie Hemingway & Gellhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman. It focuses on the tumultuous affair of the renowned writer and the war correspondent. I thought it was a decent film, and I think Owen captured the boisterous, untamable nature of Hemingway. He may be a great writer but boy, I wouldn’t ever want to be married to someone like that. Apparently their romance is the inspiration for his book For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Later this week I’ll have reviews of The Hobbit & Playing For Keeps, and also guest reviews of Jack Reacher and Django Unchained, courtesy of my pal Ted S.


So what have you been watching the past week, folks?

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52 thoughts on “A Tropical Holiday… and Movies I Watched During My Vacation

    • Hi Stephanie! Glad you enjoyed the pics. Yes In Bruges is indeed terrific. I don’t mind watching it again one day. Makes me want to go to Bruges now :D

  1. Hawaii looks very nice, Ruth. Must’ve been an enjoyable ride after the hectic-ness in Jakarta. I know I would love to ‘escape’ there. I enjoyed our meet-up too! Wish we have more time! I also posted a little about our meet-up. Glad to know your trip went well

    • Hi Andina. Kauai was absolutely beautiful… even when it rained it was still awesome. Glad we planned to go there after Jakarta, I’m not used to the heat and frenetic madness of my hometown anymore. Yeah, it’d be nice to have more time. Well next time I come back hopefully we can hang out all day. Or you & Novia can come to Minnesota :D

  2. All I can say is WOW! Those pictures look amazing. What a great trip. Glad you had a wonderful and safe trip. Looks like you also have a host of great reviews in the way. Can’t wait. Was gonna see Django tomorrow but I’m trying to have second thoughts. Several good alternatives though.

    • Thank you Keith. We were very blessed that the journey was pretty smooth, not a single flight was delayed and no weather-related headache.

      I just finished up my Hobbit ‘review’ of sort, I really enjoyed it so ended up doing a top ten list :D

  3. Fun recap, I didn’t realize Jakarta’s traffic is so bad. I remember vaguely that Manila’s traffic was awful too when I was living in the Phillipines. I really like In Brudges too, kind of weird mix of comedy and thriller.

    Recently I saw Jack Reacher in theater, haven’t seen The Hobbit yet. Then I watched my annual Christmas film Die Hard and last night I watched The Dark Knight Rises again, yes it’s a very flawed film but somehow I’m able to watch the whole movie without skipping scenes. If I watch either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, I usually skip a certain scene and go to the good part.

    • Thanks Ted! Glad to see you yesterday man, always fun to chat about movies with you. Oh man, traffic in Jakarta is just the worst. I’ve never been to Manila but can’t imagine it’d be worse elsewhere.

      Yeah, I was surprised how much I enjoyed In Bruges. I thought it was super violent that’s why I’ve been putting it off, but it was actually quite funny.

      Got your Jack Reacher review ready for later this week. Curious to hear what you think about The Hobbit. I like it a lot, but I didn’t read the book so I’m not complaining about the extra scenes. I was actually thinking about seeing Die Hard, ahah, but yeah TDKR is still a fun movie. As we talked about though, I can’t wait for Man of Steel now!

  4. Wow these pictures are beautiful! The only thing I did during Christmas break was pretending to learn and cooking Christmas food:D

    So glad you liked In Bruges, it’s one of my favorites and Fiennes is so hilarious in it. I can’t wait to see Seven Psychopaths.

    I bet your review for Playing For Keeps will be awesome:D

    • Thank you Sati! It was mostly my hubby’s pics :) Learning to cook Christmas food, how fun! What did you end up making? I’m a terrible cook, I only know how to ‘prepare’ food using ready-made ingredients, ahah.

      I really dug In Bruges but I already like the cast, esp. Fiennes and Gleeson. Yeah I’ll be renting Seven Psychopaths for sure, I somehow thought you have seen it already.

      Well, I’ve decided to write a letter to GB in lieu of a review of PFK. No, definitely NOT a love letter :(

      • Oh I help my mother every year – we make pies and many different kinds of fish, a salad with carrots, eggs and pickles – it sounds weird but it’s actually good:D I’m usually in charge of decorating the food, since there is no way you can screw it up :D

        I was going to see Seven Psychopaths but I had to study, damn it’s ruining my life:D

        It must have been awful movie. I wanted to write to Lee after seeing Marmaduke :/

        • Sounds delish, though I actually don’t eat seafood (yeah I know, it’s weird since Indo is surrounded by oceans!) Ahah, I remember decorating my mom’s pudding that she made, you’re right, less chance to screw it up.

          I’m amazed how you could still keep up such a tremendous blog whilst studying law, girl!

          Yikes, Marmaduke?? But really, at this point, there are few movies as bad as PFK. I’m truly done w/ him. I think GB’s been wasting many of the opportunities presented to him since 300. Anyway, more of that in the letter :(

  5. Wow!! the photos taken by your husband are amazing!! I especially like the one with the rainbow. He is a good photographer ;)

    Thank you for the link, Ruth :)
    It was a fun night and we should meet again in the future. Hahaha you have seen my fangirling smile when I had that DVD on my hand ;)

    • Why thanks Nov, I’ll let Ivan know :) Too bad you didn’t get to meet him, but he was actually meeting his high school buddies at the time of our meet-up. Yes I think he’s a very talented photographer.

      I LOVE your fangirl smile when you got your dvd, Nov! You’ve got such a lively personality, I felt comfortable chatting with you right away, like you said, it’s like we’ve been friends for ages! :D

      • Had a great Christmas, not least because I saw Les Mis!!! And some nice person handed me a ticket they weren’t using, so I saw it for free! I also watched The Christmas Story for the first time, and that about rounds up my (pathetic) holiday viewing.

  6. Those are some stunning pictures, Ruth! I couldn’t take that traffic either.

    Thrilled that you loved In Bruges, which is my favorite film of 2008. The cast is superb, and I love that it’s both hilarious and quite sad at the same time.

    I’ve been rewatching some Christmas films, and I just saw Les Miserables (loved it). Hoping to see Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook this week, and I might see Jack Reacher and This is 40 next week.

    • Thanks Josh! Well after being in Jkt traffic, I really have NOTHING to complain about the traffic here in MN. Even in snowy days it’s still better than an average day there.

      Amen on all you said about In Bruges. Glad I finally got around to it, I didn’t realize it’s been around for 4 years!

      Oh so jealous you’ve seen Les Miz! I so wanna see that, still have to convince hubby to see it with me :D Did you see The Hobbit yet?

  7. Wow, amazing pix, what a great vacation for you. So glad you had such a good time on your break doll :) I’m running a bit behind…still need to check out IN BRUGES. It’s been on my Netflix for quite a while. I’ve heard good things about SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS as well.

    • Thanks dahling, you’re so kind. In Bruges is great, hope you get to see that soon. I kept putting it off for some reasons but when I saw it listed on the plane I just immediately hit play :D

  8. Awesome pix of Kauai… really reminds me of when I was there. And it doesn’t even seem like it’s changed that much since. Love all the gorgeous deserted beaches you can have almost completely to yourself ;-D

    • Thanks Becky! Your Sand-off came in handy, too :) The beaches weren’t deserted, just secluded as it’s a bit hard to get to, esp. after a rain as it’s slippery. Once you’re there it’s absolutely worth the extra hike though.

  9. Awesome pics, I’m so jealous. I got to spend a couple of weeks in Margarita Island in Venezuela to visit my mom, but then I had to return to the cold Chicago. At least we had a white Christmas this year (not that I really give a damn about that). The Kaui pics are especially awesome.

    As for the rest, I’d like to hear more thoughts on In Bruges which I also found to be very good, especially Brendan Gleeson who is always great in everything he’s in. One of the most consistent actors out there. I actually didn’t know that Seven Psychopaths was by the same director. That fact alone makes me want to watch it.

    I should also get to the Nat Geo documentary on the Burj Dubai even though I’m already very familiar with the building, it doesn’t hurt to see a ton of imagery though. Look for my incoming post on supertall towers coming this week if you’re interested.

    • Thanks Niels. Hey, Margarita Island sounds awesome! I’ve never been to South America. I don’t mind a White Christmas, I just don’t like driving in the snow!

      Yes Gleeson is definitely an underrated actor who’s always good in everything I’ve seen him in. Yes, Seven Psychopaths was written and directed by Martin McDonagh as well.

      I love tall structures, so yeah I’ll be checking out your post!

  10. Hey Ruth, great pictures! Looks like you had an awesome time. Hawaii looks especially amazing!

    That’s great that you were able to squeeze in some movies during your trip. In Bruges is a good one! I should revisit that. Haven’t seen Bringing Up Baby, though I was thinking about including it in my next project. Sounds like I shouldn’t bother…?

    • Thanks Eric, it was awesome indeed. Add Kauai to the list of ‘must-see places before you die’ :D
      Yeah, it’s one of the benefits of loooong flights. I actually saw 7 movies, forgot to add This Means War to the list. Bringing Up Baby is not bad, I was quite mesmerized by the ‘Baby’ pet leopard, more so than the two leads, ahah.

  11. Ruth! Thank you for sharing your vacation with us. some beautiful photos. I had such a big smile on my face when I saw the picture of you with Novia, Andina, and Cecilia. How wonderful. We are glad to have you back, but what a great time to get away.

    I have yet to see In Bruges and it is on my list. Some great watching while you were away. Always a movie fan regardless of the location! :)

    • Hi Terrence! Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the pics. Yeah it’s a fun meet-up with my fellow Indo bloggers, hope one of these days the two of us can meet as well!

      In Bruges is really good, it’s got some violent scenes and swearing (naturally) but the story and dialog are ace. I’m surprised I got to fit in quite a few movies, not much to do when you couldn’t sleep on the plane I guess :D

  12. Looks like you have a lovely holiday, Ruth – in a beautiful part of the world. Glad you’re back, though.

    Loved your summation of This Means War – that film ranks on my top 5 list of worst films I watched this year….

    • Thanks Rodney! I don’t get to go home very often so it’s always a blast when I do. I still wish I could visit my aunt in Sydney, maybe then we could do a meet up? ;) Hope your holiday was great man.

      This Means War is silly good fun, I really wouldn’t have watched it if it weren’t for Tom Hardy!

  13. Some great photos there Ruth, looks like you had an amazing time. My Christmas generally involved eating and driving as is the same every year!

    Glad you liked In Bruges, it’s a fantastic film. I saw Seven Psychopaths over Xmas and thought that was great too.

    • Hi Terry, yes we were very blessed. Hey, there was a lot of eating too during my vacation. I miss my hometown food so much!

      I definitely would rent Seven Psychopaths as soon as it’s available. Love the cast and I think I’ll enjoy it if it shares the sensibilities of In Bruges.

  14. Darn… those helicopter photos of Jurassic Park Falls are AH-MAZE-ING!!! I might be late noticing this, but it seems you’ve changed the blog’s look. I like it!

    • Hi Asrap. Yes the JP Falls is quite something to behold. Thanks for noticing the blog layout, it’s the same theme just in wider format with some minor alterations :D

  15. Glad you enjoyed your vacation, Ruth. I bet that Jurassic Park experience was all kinds of awesome. So cool that you got to meet fellow bloggers :) Oh, and the pics are wonderful. Your husband is very talented.

    • Hi Fernando! Yes it was a very blessed vacation indeed. Sounds like you had fun too in Disneyland. It was fun meeting fellow bloggers and thanks for the kind words about the pics :D

  16. 50 degree swing?! That is INSANE. I’m sort of nuts in that I love cold weather but one extreme to the other like that must be hard to handle.

    Looks like a fantastic trip, beautiful pics, makes me want to go back to Hawaii soon. And, of course, as a fellow movie geek who has specifically traveled to movie locations I love that you saw that waterfall from “Jurassic Park.” And it’s even better that you have to helicopter in just like the characters themselves! So perfect.

    • Actually it’s a bit more than 50 degrees when you count to wind chill! I do prefer the cooler climate myself, but surprisingly my body took it well, I didn’t get sick from the abrupt temperature swing.

      Yeah, Kaua’i was magical. Which island were you at? I’ve only been to Oahu and Kaua’i so far. The descent down to the island where the Falls is was awesome, they played the soundtrack and I was giddy like a school girl!

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