Monday, October 9, 2006

Hawaii was great!

I should have written something up daily to make it easier to write about (and remember) our trip. Oh well. Here are the pictures with some of the highlights:

We left Thursday night and unfortunately our flight was delayed…like about three hours(!). We amused ourselves as best we could:

Tired and hungry we arrived at our hotel (Aqua Palms Hotel) and decided to grab a snack at the diner next door and go to bed since it was like 2am L.A. time by the time we were done eating.

The diner next door was open 24 hours and it was there that I had my first authentic spam musubi:

(Photo by Philbert Ono via Wikipedia.)

The first of many that weekend (I am not embarrassed to say). When we woke up the next morning and ventured out to explore, we found that the diner next door has rock-star status in the breakfast world. (Pretty much every morning there was a line out to the street.)

I can only second that emotion. Hey man, any place that serves me spam musubi and miso soup 24 hours a day is my kind of place.

We walked around a lot that first day just trying to figure out what we wanted to do, what we wanted to see first and trying to figure out why we were so exhausted. We finally realized that we’d only gotten 4 hours of sleep on our first night. After that we stopped feeling bad about feeling so bad and just tried to relax. It wasn’t too hard. Here’s some of the stuff we saw on the first day:

Trees with the prettiest band-aids on them. At least I thought they were band-aids. I couldn’t figure out what they could be.

Long string-y viney things coming from the trees. We got closer to investigate and this is what we saw:

The vines dangle to the ground. They take root where they touch ground and then become a new tree. This is the oversimplified version of what we could figure out. I was amazed.

Then we were tired so we took a break (and a photo or two).

We consulted the book of power and decided to go snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. While waiting for the bus to Hanauma Bay, we were visited by a few redheaded friends that I later learned were Brazilian Cardinals

I wanted to take him home for Pekoe.

Buses in Waikiki are great. TheBus as they are known run all over the island and fairly frequently. We took one to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. It’s a beautiful bay that has the best snorkeling on the island. I didn’t take underwater photos of what we saw because we screwed up with our cash and didn’t bring enough to a cash only place. In the end it worked out because the water wasn’t 100% clear and the sun hid a lot behind clouds. The best snorkeling is on bright sunny days when you can see better under water. I wouldn’t have been able to take very good photos under those conditions. It was still a lot of fun and very tiring.

This would have made a better panoramic shot, but hopefully you can get the idea. The last photo above shows the coast on the right and there are lots of little specks. The specks are the people lounging on the sand and enjoying the beautiful sights. And here is the obligatory vacation shot with the tropical paradise background:

You know, for mom and dad who love to have photos like these in their collection.

Leaving the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve parking lot, I noticed that the lights were solar and wind powered:

Way cool!

After snorkeling and the hour bus ride each way to the bay and our hotel, we decided to keep the rest of the evening low-key and just plan for dinner. We had delicious food and drinks at Tiki’s Bar & Grill. M ordered their macadamia nut encrusted mahi-mahi and I had pork chops with some kind of yummy chutney. They served us soft warm rolls that were a lovely shade of green infused with taro root, I think. We were stuffed and decided to head back to our hotel for an early night in.

The following day we rented a car and tooted around the island, getting a feel for the place and also getting a better idea of what we might want to do next.

We stopped off at a Japanese place next door to Foodland and picked up some lunch:

The cutest fake sushi display ever. Here’s a close-up:

Can you see the figurine in a ballgown playing the flute?

At the grocery store we picked up snacks for the road trip. I confirmed the military presence on this lovely island:

I guess sometimes, you just get a craving.

During our drive around the island we only stopped a few times. We kept wanting to see what’s around that next bend in the road? We did stop off at Sandy Beach:

So beautiful! The picture just doesn’t do it any justice.

Driving in a convertible was a lot of fun:

And the water was like RIGHT there. If we stopped the car in the middle of the road, I could just take two steps and there’s the water!

We stopped at a roadside shrimp truck at the advice of my boss and shared a plate of garlicky, garlicky shrimp scampi with some rice for like $12. We burped garlic for the rest of the day.

We stopped again on the North Shore because we saw a long line of people outside a store. And someone once said: If there’s a long line, you should stand in it too. Cause it’s probably something good. The something good turned out to be shave ice!

Fun graphic on their shirts. This was one of many.

Note how it’s called Shave Ice not Shaved Ice.

A ga-zillion different flavors to choose from. I got mango and m got grape/cherry. While we were waiting in line, we noticed folks coming out triumphantly with their cones of shave ice and posing for photos in front of the store sign. Never to turn down an opportunity to make like a lemming, we followed suit:

And then sat next to the building to enjoy our icy treats before getting back in the car.

Driving around for the rest of the day we got out one more time to take a dip near Waimea Bay. If only I had consulted my map in the book of power at that time. We were just east of Waimea and that’s where I really wanted to stop. My boss had been to Waikiki a month or two before our trip and she showed me the coolest photograph of her husband and friends. They were jumping off of a big rock and into the waters of Waimea Bay. I SO wanted to do that and have a photo to boot. I found this one on google, but it’s not as cool as the one my boss took (in terms of composition):

(Photo found on this site via Google. I hope he doesn’t mind that I borrowed it.)

Where we got out instead and took a swim was a nice-sized tide pool. It was rocky and the tide was surprisingly strong. M and I got pushed back to the shore a few times and each earned a nick in our feet from the sharp rocks. The tide pool was a little cove along the shore that was ringed with large volcanic rocks. The waves from the ocean would crash against these rocks and sometimes the water would crash over them pushing into the cove. The strength of these waves would cause really strong currents that made it hard to swim. It was kind of fun to get carried along by the currents, but it could also get tricky trying to avoid the sharp rocks in the water.

A side note about the water around O’ahu. In a word: it’s awesome! We spent a lot of time walking and maybe we tired ourselves out from it. Most days we wore our bathing suits under our clothes so that we could spontaneously go swimming if we were hot or just in the mood. The waters around O’ahu were warm (but not pee-warm like the Gulf of Mexico) and refreshing. It’s usually pretty clear and even in up to my armpits deep, I could see my toes. When get out of the water after a swim, we’d dry off and salt crystals would form on our skin and hair. That water was super salty and man did it feel good to be in it.

After our swim and shave ice, we kept driving and didn’t really get out of the car again. We got momentarily disoriented in the upper western part of the island where there isn’t much there but agricultural fields empty in between plantings. The soil is unusually red and I thought it was kind of pretty:

Then we drove right through the middle of the island (on one of the only three highways H1, H2 and H3 all in O’ahu) towards Honolulu’s downtown. We saw some of the older buildings in the downtown that looked strangely european and also took a swing through chinatown. Honolulu’s chinatown is small and on the day we drove through (it was a Saturday) it was eerily quiet. Kinda reminded me of a western town where a few random shopkeepers will sit outside their stores on chairs, staring ahead blankly.

When we got back to L.A. we both realized that we forgot to look for Magnum’s house. You know, for yucks. Further conversation about the show revealed that I remember very little about it. So I’m not too bummed out over it. Back in its heyday I think I was like 10 or younger and my english was not so great until I was about 9 or 10. No surprise that I hardly remember any of the episodes or the cast. Simon and Simon, now that’s another story.

After all that driving, we were pretty tired and though I thought it would be fun to catch a night out on the town, we just had a quiet dinner and went to bed early. Yes we are such the party people.

Sunday morning we stayed in because m wanted to catch The Game. I hear it was quite an upset for the Bengals. I picked up around the hotel room for a bit and walked over to one of the many ABC convenience stores in our area to pick up some snacks and water. I was amused by the selection of snacks clearly intended for the strong Japanese presence in that town:

In case you can’t read the writing in my very blurry shot, that says: Dried Clam and Fried Squid.

Also available at ABC were bottles of Horny Goat Weed placed next to Colon Cleanse (complete with illustrations of the colon). Just who is their target market there?

After the game we took the bus to Diamond Head crater. I forgot my camera so you’ll just have to use your imagination. There were stairs. A LOT. of. stairs. And of course the view was awesome.

(Photo from - shoot, I forgot where, but I think it was from their site)

After the hike we were hungry and tired and a buffet caught our fancy (read: caught m’s fancy) and so we had dinner at a buffet. The bad news about a buffet is that you don’t realize why it’s a mistake until it’s too late. The good news about a buffet is that there is usually a decent salad bar. And after a few days of Hawai’ian living, I was ready for a nice big salad. What is it with these guys and their lack of greens/vegetables? After checking out their local markets and shocked at the sticker price of $3+ for brocolli crowns, m and I theorized that brocolli is regarded as some kind of mainland delicacy. And maybe all vegetables there are too. Not that I am complaining about the food there. We ate very well. The fish and seafood was awesome. The mai tai’s couldn’t be tastier. I loved their exotic fruit juices and island fruit. And I discovered a love affair with papaya that I didn’t even know was burning deep inside.

Oh my sweet papaya, how yummy you are. I desire you even back home on the mainland. Your Mexican counterpart found in our local grocery stores don’t do you justice.

After dinner we went back to our hotels and rested. I think we were planning to go out again, but m got sucked in by the tv (cable!) and I got sucked in by a book (Time Traveler’s Wife. Oh, it’s so good. You must all go out and read it right now.)

Monday was our last full day of our vacation. I ended up staying up pretty late to read 3/4ths of my book and so we slept in. Then again, most mornings we were up by 7:30 so we didn’t feel too guilty about one day of sleeping in. We got some breakfast and took the bus to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. I didn’t take any photos. It didn’t seem right. But here’s one of the memorial from their website:

The memorial was built perpendicular to the USS Arizona which lays in it’s watery grave below the water’s surface. Visitors take boats from the visitor’s center to the memorial (the white long structure at the bottom of the photo). The memorial is regarded as a grave site of the people who perished during the attack. I think that they set it up well and it was informative, but it wasn’t my cup of tea, you know? I’m not particularly interested in war memorials but do acknowledge their importance. So while I’m not sad that we took the time to visit it, I didn’t get a lot out of it.

After Pearl Harbor m wanted to go for a swim (one of his favorite parts about our trip) so we headed out to the beach closest and played around in the water until dinnertime. God that water is awesome!

And that pretty much sums up our first time in Hawai’i. We look forward to future trips (with our kids?) exploring new places and trying out different islands. We didn’t get to partake in a luau (m still regrets the Khalua pig that he never got to eat) but next time we’ll make sure to do so.

Thank you O’ahu! You were a blast!

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