Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hawaiian Adventures!

Aloha, everyone! I will try as best as I can to recount my past 10 days of vacationing on the island of Oahu with my family without boring anyone!
Day 1: Take off from LAX 45 minutes later than expected due to a missing part of the plane wheel (!) but end up arriving in Hawaii 5 hours later unscathed. We went straight to our family friend's house, whom we were housesitting for and were greeted by their cats, Amigo and Kitty.
After settling in, we took a trip down to the supermarket to buy dinner, food for the week and of course, look at all the interesting (but expensive!) goodies and explore.
Our dinner consisted of somen poke (which I actually ate!), brocolli, cold tofu and pineapple. All quite healthy!
Day 2: I woke up earlier than normal (6:45ish) due to my body being ahead in time. We hiked up to a park in the neighborhood and found chickens, sticks, and a passion fruit.

In the afternoon we took a trip to Byodo-Inn which is a replica of a temple in Japan. I've been going there every trip since I was a baby. Besides housing a large Buddha, it's also home to koi fish, swans, geese, ducks, turtles, and peacocks. I was disappointed to see that the large pond in front of the temple had gone slightly green, a sign of still water and algae, and by the lack of fish. We lit incense, rang the bell for good luck and left to begin searching for some spam musubi.
These steps are on the side of a mountain on the way to the temple, called the Stairway to Heaven. Unfortunately, you're not allowed to climb them yet (despite all the renovations) but someday I will.
On the way back from lunch, at my sister's insistence, we drove over to Kailua beach, which happens to be a favorite of Obama's and ours. Since we were going there on the later side, not to mention a weekend, parking was hard to come by. After circling the lots and neighborhood, we were on our way out, when much to our luck, someone pulled out of a space right in front of us on the highway! Although I didn't feel like swimming, I went in anyways and swam in the surf for a good hour.

Day 3: Due to my enjoyment of the hike the previous day, my dad and I went again this morning to get our blood flowing and get some fresh air early in the day. The rest of this day, however, was dedicated to Waikiki. We started off with breakfast at Bogart's in Diamond Head, a place my dad found when he was working on LOST. They have amazing blueberry pancakes and last time I got banana waffles but that day, I decided on an acai bowl (acai/soy milk blend, granola, fruit, and honey) and oh my gosh it was good. I still crave it.
From breakfast we walked to the Waikiki aquarium (another tradition!) where we love to see the Hawaiian monk seal. For as long as I can remember I've loved aquariums and all things underwater (including swimming pools and the Little Mermaid), so visiting aquariums is always an interesting and beautiful experience.

I was very glad to see that the monk seal was still there, although if I remember correctly, last time I think there were two :(
It had gotten hot and the aquarium is only so big, so we headed off towards the center of Waikiki, stopping off at multiple ABC stores so that I could find souvenirs, gifts and postcards. On the walk through downtown, my mom, sister and I were fascinated by all of the plumeria trees lining the streets and searched the bushes and sidewalks underneath for fallen flowers that we could wear in our hair. Our search (and my dad) brought us to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hotel where we rested (or slept in my sister's case) and looked in a few shops. On the way out, my dad led us to a penguin enclosure right on hotel property! As penguins are my favorite animals, this was especially exciting and I had a really great time watching them swim around and stretch their flippers.
We said goodbye to the penguins and continued to the Ala Moana, a large mall. I shopped in Longs, Hello Kitty and the ABC store and looked at luggage in Louis Vuitton (I dream of owning an old fashioned chest or steamer trunk).
Half pies at Foodland, such a good idea!
We were all tired, hot and had sore feet but we still managed to walk back to Waikiki so that my mom could see this famous ukelele player's free concert. My sister and I sat on the floor and explored the duty free mall where the event was held. We got free samples of tea, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and shortbread cookies. While my mom stayed in the crowded concert, my dad, sister and I walked to the Moana, a beautiful plantation style hotel, to sit on the back patio and have drinks. I didn't get anything but my sister got a pina colada, which was not only delicious but also got points for having an umbrella, cherry, pineapple AND orchid in the glass. Finally the concert was over by 9:00 and we trudged wearily back to our car to go to sleep.
Day 4: My plan to go hiking everyday was put on hold because my feet were so sore from walking all over Waikiki. We ended up resting and doing errands in the morning while my sister made some duct tape wallets for gifts. At around 2:30, we left to go to the set of Hawaii Five-0. We met many workers, played with dogs, walked through sets and watched a scene being filmed. I'm not familiar with the show, having only seen it once, so I can't comment too knowingly on the characters and plot that I saw. I do know, however, that the two main characters were there and also Jin from LOST (I'm sorry, I don't know his real name!). When they were done filming, one of the stars kept looking at my sister and I (perhaps because we were playing with his dog? or he just was wondering who these random people were) and as he walked out, he stopped in front of us, clapped his hands and his dog jumped straight up (and he's not a little thing) into his arms. I was so surprised and impressed that I may have clapped (hopefully not) but I definitely laughed and expressed my delight.
During filming, we were allowed to sit in the room with the director, script supervisor (an old friend from LOST) and other people of probable importance, which was exciting, not because of their power, but because I could witness and now appreciate how they did their job and why I find this line of work so interesting. On our way home from downtown, we stopped at the Aloha towers, which was sadly closed, but still got in a view of the harbor.
Day 5: Today's theme was the North Shore, our plan being to go to Waimea Bay and Haleiwa. Since we went early, there was plenty of parking at the beach and we were able to easily find a spot and get in the water. I ended up going in and out of the water, interspersing it with stretches of lying on my towel, soaking in the sun. Too much soaking in the sun and not enough sunscreen, though. Later on, when we got home, I found that my back and thighs were pretty burned.
When we'd had enough of the beach, we drove into Haleiwa, where another one of our spots is located: Matsumoto's Shave Ice. I got a snow cone with vanilla ice cream and strawberry, lime and blue raspberry syrups. 

We shopped around a little bit and then decided it was time to head home to shower and get changed for dinner. Dinner was in Kailua at a country club with some family friends. I got pea soup, caprese salad and fruit salad (pineapple again!) and raspberry sorbet. And I had a bite of haupia ice cream and some of my mom's dessert, which she had to get because it was called Cherilyn's Trio (her name is Cherilyn). 
Day 6: We went to Hana'uma Bay, which is a protected reef designed for snorkeling and swimming and observing life under the waves. I wasn't that practiced at swimming with flippers and I think I may have ended up kicking a few people but I tried my best to keep my feet to myself and not damage any of the reefs, many of which housed sea urchins! Although the current was strong and kept pushing me towards shore, I managed to see lots of fish, including a humuhumunukunukuapua'a (I hope I spelled that right) and best of all, a sea turtle! Yes, it swam right up to where my mom, sister and I were floating, and after much pointing and trying to grab their attention, we all watched it until it swam off. A truly wonderful spectacle. When we were tired (and in my case, more sunburnt), we went home to clean the house and get ready for our friend's return (the ones that live in the house we stayed in). 
My dad and sister picked them up from the airport and it was really wonderful to see them all. The last time I saw them I was going into 12th grade, it's funny how time flies like that. 
Day 7: Almost a whole week of island life! My dad had work meetings so my mom, sister, JoAnn and I went shopping. We started at Target in hopes of purchasing Hello Kitty duct tape but they were out and instead I bought some Shaun White Stride gum and Starbucks. I was intrigued by the big selection of SPAM themed things that they carried. Next we hit up Costco, where my sister hunted for samples and my mom looked for shirts. We also ended up with a Red Velvet Cake for dinner. From there we went to the Ala Moana again and then to Nick's school since it was time for him to be picked up. By that time, we were sort of hungry so went to Menchies (yes! my addiction can continue across the Pacific!) and looked at puppies in the shopping center (nothing to do with hunger). Nick needed some new board shorts so off we went to Macys, where I also bought a Volcom shirt with an owl that says Hoo Farted? Sooo random but also so funny. I couldn't stop laughing when I first saw it. Incidentally I'm wearing it as I type this. For dinner, we picked up Thai food and had coconut fruit bars and cake for dessert.
Day 8: Nick, Anna, Robert and my dad went to Waimea Bay in the morning to do more swimming, go spearfishing and to jump off this giant rock. I was not in the mood for sand and more sunburn, so I opted out and stayed with my mom and JoAnn. At around 11, we drove over to Haleiwa to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. There was some confusion and we didn't end up meeting them, but shopped (more souvenirs and gifts!) and got our own food. I walked almost all the way to the end of the road for a smoothie shack that I saw earlier in the week but had never tried. I was temped to get the acai bowl but didn't have enough cash (it probably would have melted anyways). I got a blueberry, banana, soy smoothie, really really good and I could go for one right about now. Once we got our food, we met them at another beach close by. They wanted to take us there because if you look out in the water, you see turtles swimming back and forth in the waves, sticking their head out to breathe every so often. And once in a while, they come up on to the sand to rest, making perfect picture and viewing opportunities. We were very lucky to have 3 waddle onto the shore.
Eventually we had to say goodbye to the turtles and go home to get changed and showered for dinner with the same people we saw last time but with JoAnna, Nick and Robert included. We went to Shokudo, a Japenese restaurant in Honolulu, another one of the LOST spots and a place that my family really likes. The adults ordered a bunch of random appetizers for the table and I also got miso soup (I've been wanting this since July) and spicy tuna crispy rice. For dessert, we got the famous honey toast with chocolate syrup. Being picky I don't really eat it (I don't like honey or Japanese bread) so I ate the ice cream and the chocolate sauce. 
Day 9: We had company over at JoAnn's house and they brought a ton of tasty Japanese and Hawaiian food. The get together was in honor of Tiffany, a family friend who recently had a baby. His name is Easton and he's absolutely adorable. I ate an abundance of spicy soybeans and broccoli and obviously, pineapple. Later that afternoon, my mouth stung a little bit, which I thought was sort of strange but brushed it aside. When our guests had gone, Nick, Anna and I ended up watching snippets of movies on tv such as Yes Man, Final Destination 3, Nacho Libre, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and some weird movie with Keanu Reeves. Before everyone came over, the three of us went on a hike to the same park but from a different, steeper and muddier direction. We saw a teepee at someone's house from a distance and I accidentally stepped in mud. 
Day 10: Sadly, our last day in Aiea. Robert and JoAnn went to work and Nick went to school so my family and I went down to Pearl Harbor, because I haven't been there since I was about 4 and don't remember a thing. We got a 12:00 ticket to go to the Arizona and therefore had 2 hours to look around at other things. 
We toured an old submarine, which I really enjoyed because of all the hatches and quirky equipment. In one of the rooms, there were bunk beds resting above torpedos. All of the spaces were extremely small, so it's amazing that people were able to run important operations down there while being cramped inside. We took some photos off the sub on various guns and in front of torpedos and looked through a periscope. Finally, we went to see an educational movie on Pearl Harbor and the attack and were allowed to get on a boat and go over to the memorial site. 
It was crazy how big the sunken ship and the list of victims were. 
We walked through the museums on site and looked in the gift shop and made our way home. 
For lunch, we had some leftovers and Anna and I found a Psych marathon on tv. We also got one last pineapple. Remember how my mouth stung the day before? Well, this day it started stinging and burning while I actually ate it. I love pineapple so I ate through the pain but eventually couldn't bear it anymore. I looked in the mirror at my tongue and found 3 little cuts on it, which was pretty weird. Apparently the acidity was too much for me to handle after a while. I don't know how long I'm going to have to wait to eat it again, which is disappointing. When Nick came home, he, Anna, and I decided on one last hike before we had to leave that night. Also because we had to return some walking sticks that my mom had brought back to the house earlier in the week. 
Hawaii has many homeless or permanent outdoor cats roaming through jungley areas. I'd spotted a few cats here and there during the week but this outing took the cake in terms of the amount of cats I saw. I'm going to estimate that I saw about 30 cats during the walk, from little gray ones to fat orange ones. We spent a long time trying to coax them out from the leaves and branches of hillside brush but most of them just stared and ran away when we got nearer. 
We returned home to a dinner of rice and cooked leftover poke (3 kinds of tuna). I hate fish but I had eaten some of the poke during the week. I didn't like the texture, though, it was kind of gummy, so cooked was much better and actually tasted like chicken. I feel stupid writing that but it's true!
Around 8, we said goodbye (so sad!) and went to return the rental car and go to the airport. Our terminal was incredibly far from everything and there were no open Starbucks in the area (!!!) but I still managed to buy an Us and Glamour from the only store. I managed to sleep on the airplane for a good chunk of time (not well, I kept moving around and changing position) and woke up with the sun rising in the distance. After that I stayed up to watch the oranges and pinks and purples and the thick layer of clouds down below us. We landed at LAX at around 7:30 am, and made it home by 9:30. 
I was starving and was so grateful that we had some peanut butter puffins and milk in our house for me to eat. I vacuumed and went to Trader Joes with my sister because we had guests coming over at 4:30. Crazy, right? 
The guests are old friends, my friend Elliana, whom I've known since kindergarden, and her mom, Jan. They moved to Davis during middle school and haven't been in SoCal for a while. They were only stopping by for a brief visit in between visiting family and other friends. It was fun to see them, we used to be pretty close growing up and I hope that we visit with them again soon.
Yesterday was my last day with Lena :[ She moved to her new apartment in Brooklyn and is getting ready to start another year at Parsons. Obviously we went to Aroma for iced tea and chai lattes and hung out with some other friends before we had to part ways. It's sad that she's gone but at the same time, I'm so proud and happy that she's enjoying school and living in NY. And I want to try and visit her at some point, I've always wanted to see an East Coast autumn so we'll see....

Phew! I'm so sorry for the long post but I had so much to recap on! I hope no one fell asleep or wants to punch me in the face!
xoxo, Sara


  1. TAKE ME ON EXCITING VACATIONS WITH YOU. I will make spring break happen. I will.

  2. Yessss please! Someday when we have money to spend, let's go to Paris and eat macarons, visit museums and walk in the rain

  3. def just watched the hills episode where lauren and whitney go to paris together. I think it's a must. maybe we'll even make it to a ball just like them!