so... hawaii
June 22, 2004 09:40 AM

I wrote a little bit in my livejournal about Hawaii when we first got back. Then I got sleepy and busy and sick (not all at once) before I had a chance to post everything else I wanted to write.

So, the log of my Hawaii trip, for those of you who are interested.

Day one. I really really really hate airplanes. The only watch I have is my cell phone, which adjusts to whatever time it is on the ground at each airport. This is very confusing.

I'd like to always fly during the day. I can't sleep on a plane anyhow, and I might as well be able to watch mountains and fields and cities as we pass them.

Even the airport smells fresh and floral and fruity. How do they do that?

When we get to O`ahu, there's a woman waiting with leis for us. More importantly, she points us to our luggage and the place to catch the rental car shuttle; we are really tired and might not have found these things on our own. Then the rental car place is a mess. I nearly cry, and curse my travel agent's name. But we get in a car and on the road. It's now like 9PM local time (six hours behind us) and we're really punchy, but even the drive up to the North Shore [to give you a sense of perspective, the drive from the southern coast to the north takes maybe 45 minutes] in the dark is beautiful and foreign. And being Hawaii, it rains off and on.

The resort we stay at for the first part of our trip [Turtle Bay] is lovely. The little bungalows on the beach manage to combine a military housing style with a sort of "grown out of the sand" quality that would make Howard Roark proud; inside it's gorgeous and comfy and outside it's like summer camp. They give us more leis. We watch a Korean soap opera set in some feudal era and fall asleep.

Day two. Despite having gone to bed around midnight local time, we wake up before six. We exercise on our little lawn, then attempt to walk in our little surf. Slade gets a weird little lava pebble stuck in his foot. We decide we need reef shoes.

There are mongoose and bird species I've never seen all over the place. Many "Riki Tiki Tavi" jokes are made.

Hours after we get up, but still early (I love travelling east), we go up to the main hotel for The Yummiest Breakfast Ever. They have seaweed salad and salted fish and fruit as good as tomatoes picked off the vine at dinnertime in August. The whole get up early, exercise, go have delicious food thing is basically our morning routine the days we're on the North Shore.

Then we hang out at the pool for hours and get sunburned and eat fish tacos and more fruit, wander around the resort, and generally vegetate. We run out and check out the local area on a little bitty road trip, and pick up a li hing mui (salted pickled plum) shaved ice, which begins our fascination with all things li hing mui. We order room service for dinner and watch the sunset. I love Hawaii.

We watch a Korean soap opera that spends a lot of time talking about cookie production. It's gripping. I end up watching the show ("Kuk Hee") every night.

Day three. So, yesterday was fun, but really a bit boring - we never left the resort. Today we're off to Mormon Polynesia Busch Gardens (aka the Polynesian Cultural Center). The place is a series of "islands" - that is, people who are local to several island groups and have come to school at BYU Hawaii work here (I think it's like a workstudy thing) demonstrating different crafts and arts and such. No rides, despite my allusion to theme parks - it's just very manicured and clean and deliberate.

The place is set up with scheduled presentations so you can't actually see everything in one day, which is disappointing - but then, it gives us something to do next year. We start off seeing a Samoan guy who seems to be the star of the center set things on fire and husk coconuts while telling jokes about "the happy people" (apparently what Samoans are known for). We also learn about Maori tatooing and watch some guys do a haka. The Maori scary face (bulging eyes and sticking your tongue out, basically) is in fact very frightening in person, not at all comical as it seems in pictures. And then we watch dancers from Tahiti and Marquesas, who are absolutely wonderful. We miss the stuff from Tonga, Hawaii and Fiji.

Part of the kinda expensive package at the center is a luau dinner, where I do my level best not to freak out at the crowd and lines and stuff. Food's good. Of the usual Hawaiian foods, poi is basically taro glue (nasty), poke (salty sashimi) is pretty tasty, lomi lomi salmon (basically tabouli with different spice and salmon instead of bulgar) is deeelicious, and haupia (crazy coconut custard) is a gift from the gods. But. We're seated at a table with people who are Not Having Fun. This is all followed by an evening show. Despite its resemblance to the usual amusement park "trip through rock and roll" sorts of shows, it's beautiful and moving in a "wow, look at the talent" way. The lead Tahitian dancer is astounding. I want to dance that well.

Oh, and Slade bought himself a manskirt. It's very cute, actually, but he doesn't have the right shirt for it.

Day four. We leave the North Shore and head for Waikiki. The ride takes us through a whole landscape of Hawaiian variation, including the ever-present rain and rainbows. Waikiki itself is rather frightening - it's cheesy and tourist-oriented, not in the way I'm imagining. I had imagined bumper boats and all-night minigolf, but taken to new extremes. What they actually have is five Chanel boutiques per block and all-night fine jewelry shopping. Boooooring.

But they do have a pretty nifty mall, including a Japanese department store and the aforementioned (on livejournal) astounding variety of food courty goodness.

The first day in Waikiki, we mostly wandered around looking at shops and restaurants. The much-vaunted-by-our-guidebook International Marketplace was actually a dense collection of stores selling cheap jewelry, aloha shirts, and other cheesy stuff. It was more oppressive than fascinating, but I imagine it's what you'd see in an area of Hong Kong or something aimed at American tourists. Though I had some brilliant pancit at a dive Filipino restaurant there.

At the end of each day in Waikiki, a couple of guys run down the street lighting the torches. And you can sit on your hotel lanai and watch hula and Tahitian dance from more than one hotel at a time.

We went to the beach for a very little while and then swam in the hotel pool. Waikiki/Kuhio Beach is fun for the crowds - which are really truly international (it's fun to hear different languages being spoken by beet-red families all around you), but kinda dirty.

Day five. We're very sad to be parted from our resort breakfasts and our exercise lawn.

We pack off in the car for the center of the island, where we take a gorgeous drive through the mountains to the Byodo-In (Buddhist) temple. It's in a place called the Valley of the Temples, which as far as I can tell is a vast multi-denominational cemetery.

On the way back, we attempted to hike Judd Trail, which is theoretically a rainforesty path with a waterfall at the end. We couldn't even find the trail, which we took as a sure sign it was tougher than our hiking abilities. But we did see some nice rainforesty residential area in the process, and drove up to the Pali Lookout, where you could see half of eastern O`ahu, I swear.

All of this takes us maybe half a day. I think we went back to the mall, or to Hilo Hattie (or both) after the hike-that-wasn't. At some point, we ended up buying a whole bunch of crazy dried fruit and teas. And we went gift shopping for various folks. And swam some more.

Day six, seven and eight. All the road trips blur together. We get up early (as usual) and head to Hanauma Bay, a nature preserve/beach/carved out crater, to snorkel and frolic. There's a little video you have to watch before you head to the beach with accompanying songs about how you shouldn't feed the fish; I think the "please don't feed me" song was in "The Little Mermaid".

It's ridiculously windy and surfy and rocky, and I get scraped and bruised all over the place, but we do get in some fun snorkeling finally. I love snorkeling. The beach is otherwise much too windy for sitting or anything, but the fishes were well worth driving up there at 6:30AM. Plus, we drive around Hawaii Kai and Koko Head, which is very pretty and residential. This and the North Shore are the areas I'd stay in next time I visit (next time, we'll rent a house I think).

We also go to the Dole Plantation, where they have a billion kinds of crazy pineapple growing, a maze that tried my patience, and the world's tastiest dessert: pineapple sorbetish stuff on top of pineapple chunks and covered with pineapple bits.

Slade makes me go, in the very hot sun, to the very tucked in the depths of campus bookstore at UHI Manoa. It isn't actually that cool for him - they don't have the exciting theatre books he'd hoped for - but I score a couple of graphically compelling chapbooks about random stuff and pidgin/HCE/Hawaiian Creole. So, yay - points for me, no points for him.

We buy a boatload of Portugese donuts (malasadas) from a bakery called Leonardo's, which seems to be a big local deal. We later eat many of them on the plan home to Richmond. And in the Atlanta airport at godawfulearly in the morning.

Slade goes on a surfing lesson and becomes very keen on surfing in general. I acquire my own snorkeling gear (minus flippers, which I hate) and read Jon Rauch's irksome book on the beach. Is it okay to loathe log cabin republicans? I mean, I did get a little sunburnt.

Another high point of the trip is the Bishop Museum, where we spend hours in the historical part of the museum watching dance and storytelling and learning all sorts of stuff about the various -nesias (Micro-, Poly- and Mela-)represented. They also have good books in their gift shop.

We also check out the North Shore beaches, which are nice but very rocky. I try to snorkel at Pupu`kea, but most end up just walking on a bunch of lava and peering at urchins. We do the sushi counter thing where you pick your food off a conveyor belt; hardly new, and I'm a little surprised we don't have one of those here, as we have so many other sushi places. We drive around Hale`iwa, but are really tired, so we add it to our "things to do [again] next year" list; it looks like a relaxing good time.

We eat at the mall a lot. I have better Thai food than I could ever get on the east coast, Hawaiian regional food, tropical-infused Mexican, and ramen, none of which are remotely like things you could find anywhere near a food court on this side of the country. In addition to the ramen place and requisite sushi bar, the place has Japanese curry, a donburyi restaurant, and a Japanese/Korean BBQ place. Even the mall food is better than eating in New York.

The only part of the island we don't see is Pearl Harbor and the southwest coast. Things to do next year.

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your wicked thoughts

hawaii is not that great. our government cares for only tourism.

-anonymous

these are the thoughts of girl from hawaii on September 6, 2004 07:05 AM

thank you for this...i googled tongue sticking out polynesian thing and got a link to all this. i am on kaua'i and have been keeping a blog..it's here: http://keyworthgraphics.com/hawaii-updates/

hope to be in touch and compare notes every now and then :),

aloha, billy from huntington vermont

these are the thoughts of billy keyworth on August 1, 2006 03:25 AM
















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