Switching sites!

http://www.craigchee.com should take you to the new site! This wordpress site will be shutting down soon. Please check out the new website and let me know what you think.

Aloha,

Craig

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Major Update Coming Soon!

There are a TON of things happening (hence the lack of updates in a while) but will have the new site up and running soon!

Aloha,

Craig

Cairns Ukefest 2013 – Day 1

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Day 1

 

I did not expect to have such a hectic first day! It started off with getting an email 5 hours before my flight from Eugene to San Francisco that my flight was canceled. I then was told to rush to the airport to make an earlier connecting flight. I was then told that flight was also cancelled. From there it just got worse. 

 

-Was put on another carrier to Portland to try and make the SanFran to Sydney flight. 

-Was booted off two of those flights 

-Managed to get to SanFran, ran to next gate, agent there laughed saying I was just a few seconds late as he just closed the door

-Was told to wait in line for customer service which ended up being a 2 hour wait (by this time it was about 1am, I started the adventure at 1pm)

-Was told all hotels were booked

-Was also informed that they weren’t sure what happened to my bags

-My heart dies a little

-Am reminded of last year where my bags fell off the face of the Earth for 4 days. 

-Stay up all night in vacant airport

-Rebook my flights (Jetstar was happy to charge another $300 to change my flight from Sydney to Cairns)

-Head up to the United Club Room where I will spend the next 15 hours hopefully sleeping before my flight to Sydney is ready

 

That is where I am at right now 🙂

15 hour wait, 15 hour flight, 3 hour layover, 3 hour flight, 2 hours of rest and then off to perform at the opening night of the Cairns Ukefest! 

 

All in all, I’m staying very positive. I have a huge grin knowing I’m so close to seeing some of the most amazing people in the world. I think the biggest thing I got from this situation is how much has changed at United (and maybe other airlines? I’ve mainly traveled with United my whole life). Back in the day I remember how incredible the stewards and stewardess were. They knew each passenger who had a close connecting flight and relayed not only the gate number they needed to run to but gave directions how to get there and called ahead to that gate knowing they were on the way. They’d also make sure everyone who wasn’t in a rush let them through. Last night, the response I got when I asked the stewardess to check on the flight status of my connecting flight (it was going to be super close) she scoffed and said someone should have worked with me on that already and walked off. After sprinting to the gate, the agent there laughed and said if I was 5 seconds earlier I would have made it but he just closed the door. My heart just sank. 

 

Just a little disappointed. But regardless! If everything stays on track, I’ll still make it for the first performance and everything will be groovy! “Here I am, with a smile on my face!”

 

Cairns Ukulele Festival Day 2 + 3

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I am struggling to stay awake and update the blog because there has been so many things happening during the last few days! There were ukulele paintings, ukulele building workshops (by the Ko’Aloha crew), interviews, practices, and of course spending time trying to find my luggage! Good news, Qantas claims to have finally found it and will be delivering it early in the morning… fingers are crossed! I will post a few photos that I have taken over the past couple of days and will explain everything tomorrow when I have more time (need to wake up early to photograph an event in the morning before opening ceremonies in the evening! All of the artists are having a blast together and there will be some amazing collaborations happening this weekend… I’m so excited! Enjoy the photos and remember that I will edit them all at the end of the trip and post much more than the select few used in this blog.

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Cairns ukulele festival day 1

A rough start filled with chance encounters that remind me what kind of person I aspire to be.

It hasn’t been an easy trip so far. Of course there was a pair of babies 1 row and 2 seats away that did not seem to sleep at all for the entirety of the flight from LA to Sydney… or course there was a group of high schoolers studying abroad that gave no second thought to slamming the overhead compartments closed after stuffing it to the brim even with an instrument and camera gear sharing the space (extremely glad I bought a great uke case for the trip, will write about that a bit later). This goes a bit further… We’ll start from the top…

After a drive from Eugene to Portland, a flight from Portland to LA, my flight from LA to Sydney was held up for almost 3 hours. Apparently the handle for the cargo hold fell off as we were getting ready to take off. That is all the information we were given and one can only assume that a fix is more complicated that replacing the handle with a spare one. Because of the delay, I missed my flight to Cairns from Sydney and ended up stuck for a few hours in customs trying to find my luggage. I had flown Qantas from LA to Sydney and was supposed to have transferred to a flight from JetStar to Cairns. Apparently Qantas and JetStar don’t play nice together (as I was reminded numerous times by employees from both companies). I was sent through the Customs line twice, checked two separate areas of baggage claims and still could not find my bag.
The whole ordeal wasn’t all bad… Staff members from both Qantas and the airport security helped me get around long lines of security and customs the second time as well as escorting me around straight to the ticketing area to figure out my next flight. It was genuine kindness that drove these people to help. They could have just pointed me in the right direction but took it upon themselves to make sure I was taken care of. Some of the staff escorted me all the way through Customs the second time to make sure I had no other issues to worry about. They definitely made a difficult experience bearable.

From there I had to take a couple extra flights to finally arrive in Cairns.

Due to the extra flights I was able to meet an up and coming artist from Portland, a Ukulele Underground member studying abroad for the summer, a family from Samoa, a couple that just learned the joys of the ukulele and a couple of rugby players who were interested in learning the ukulele but didn’t know where to start. The whole ordeal has been a blessing in disguise. I spent the night BBQ-ing and playing music with my lovely host family the Walkers and couldn’t be happier. Though I can only hope in the morning I’ll get a phone call from the airlines with good news about finding my luggage filled with the rest of my camera gear, CDs, uke gear and clothes. Fingers are crossed 🙂

Cairns Ukulele Festival Day 0

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I am sitting here in the LAX airport waiting for my flight to Sydney. I remember last year how excited I was heading to Cairns for the first time and as hard as it is to believe, I think I’m even more excited this year to be returning. It’s almost like returning home to see family. That’s one of the biggest differences about this festival. With many events during the week leading up to the weekend of concerts, one is able to meet and have more time to interact with other festival goers. When talking to groups of people last year, a common story was that they just met during the festival and ended up spending the week together. Absolutely amazing. I told myself last year that if I was to return, I would want to be involved even more, to get a chance to spend more time with attendees… My wish came true and Gaby (the amazing festival director) has given me a chance to be much more involved and I will be giving it my all to help live up to and exceed the growing expectations of this festival. As the ukulele continues to gain momentum, the Cairns Ukulele Festival will continue to grow and stand out as one of the greatest ukulele festivals in the world, especially when paired with the amazing crew that put it on. For me, it will forever be a home away from home.

Like last year, I will be trying to do a daily blog and will be taking a ton of photos! Don’t forget to check out my youtube channel, or listen to my album on iTunes or spotify.
Here is a link to a blog that shows a quick sticker we made for the festival! They were a great company to order stickers from , will do so again soon!
A preview of our new sticker!