Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hawaii (Oahu, Days 3, 4 & 5)

Day 3:

The wedding wasn't until 4pm on the third day, so that morning, we met up with some friends who live in Honolulu. They brought some delicious (and cheap!) garlic chicken bento boxes from a hole-in-the-wall place called Mitsu-Ken's, and we ate at one of the picnic benches in Kuhio Beach Park.

Afterwards, we drove to Diamond Head Beach Park, and explored the beach a bit. It was much, much less crowded than Waikiki, and just as pretty:

We saw a couple of fishermen who had caught some eels, our friend explained to us about the darker, volcanic sand which we saw mixed in with the normal sand, and we did normal beach stuff like chasing waves and playing in the sand.

After a couple of hours, we headed back to our hotel to change for the wedding. We managed to get ourselves there a little bit early to check out the grounds of the Ihulani Resort, which was where the ceremony and reception were held. Everything in Hawaii is gorgeous, but the resort area is super gorgeous, with beautiful gardens and pools full of sea life (including stingrays and sharks). The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch, the seventy-odd guests appeared to have a fun time at the reception, and I myself much enjoyed the food, which was definitely above average for wedding food. The dessert was a "trio of brulees"; I've forgotten the flavors exactly, but I think one was coffee, one lilikoi (Hawaiian for passionfruit), and one vanilla. Yum.

Day 4:

We were leaving for Kauai on the fifth day, so we had a lot that we wanted to do on day four, which was also New Year's Eve. That morning, we drove up towards the North Shore, stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation for some pineapple soft-serve topped with pineapple chunks, and then proceeded on to Hale'iwa, where we had shave ice at the famous Matsumoto's. Afterwards, we stopped at several beaches along the North Shore, including Sunset Beach, and took lots of photos of surfers riding huge waves.

Here's one:

We had a late lunch at Romy's, one of the "shrimp shacks" near Turtle Bay, and then continued around the island to Kualoa Ranch:

There, we took a "Ranch and Movie Tour", during which they took us to the Ka'a'awa Valley and showed us some of the filming locations for Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Godzilla, and more. My favorite was "Hurley's Golf Course" from the last couple of seasons of Lost. On the way back to Honolulu, we drove through the Valley of the Temples and stopped at the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, which has a great view of the southeastern coast of Oahu.

For dinner, several of us went to Alan Wong's Restaurant. Since it was New Year's Eve, the menu was a fairly expensive prix fixe, but in the end it was worth it. We started with an ahi tuna amuse bouche, ate an appetizer of oyster, ikura (salmon roe), ahi, and crab, then had some kind of meat wrapped in a flaky pastry crust with two sauces, followed by an entree of our choice, and then an amazing dessert. I chose the rack of lamb, which was quite good, but I didn't eat much of it, because I kept eyeing the waiters who were carrying the dessert plates to other tables. When it finally came, I was really glad that I had saved room.

Here's a photo of our dessert:

On the far left is a "coconut" which is made out of a chocolate shell, encrusted in coconut flakes, with coconut ice cream inside. Next is a strawberry gelatin, followed by two kinds of cheesecake. On the far right is a crunchy chocolatey dessert that takes a little bit like a really good Kit-Kat bar; this was my favorite, especially because it had a cute little clock on top, in honor of the New Year's countdown.

After dinner, we went to the bride's parents' house, and set off firecrackers. Apparently, in Hawaii, everyone buys firecrackers in huge boxes from Costco; the cheapest box is $30 and has about 15-20 firecrackers inside. We certainly saw evidence of this on the drive over; every block had someone setting off small firecrackers, some on the sidewalk, some in their own backyards, and one person on his roof. As we got to the more residential areas, we even saw aerial fireworks, although it was a little scary when the ash rained down over our heads afterwards.

Here's a photo of one of ours:

Day 5:

We didn't do too much in Oahu on the last day, since we got home pretty late on New Year's Eve, so we slept in a bit the next day. Basically, we grabbed a quick brunch at Seaside Bar & Grill, a pretty cheap breakfast place in Waikiki, and then packed up our stuff and hung out in our hotel room for an hour or two until our flight. Then, it was off to the airport for the Kauai part of our trip!


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