Cruising through life with a camera, healthy appetite, and endless gadget lust.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Where Everyone Hangs Loose
Ets and I rang in the new year in paradise. She was there for a holiday and I was there to present at a conference (and a bit of the former).

We arrived early in the morning and had most of the day ahead of us. But tired as we were from the long flight, we only had the energy to listlessly wander around Ala Moana shopping centre. Still, that gave us the chance to get the lay of the land and plan our big shopping trip.

Ets already knew where she wanted to have breakfast the next day. We both read in
various books and travel sites about Eggs 'n' Things which should be an institution unto itself. Famous for pancakes, the restaurant is almost always packed. In fact, we were there at 8am and we didn't get seated until after 9am. The pancakes, for me at least, were okay but what they came with (spicy fried mahi mahi) was what sold me. Meals in general are huge, just like the people, and we found that we were usually fine until dinner time.

 Blueberry Macadamia (left) and Strawberry Macadamia (right) pancakes

Suitably stuffed, we went for a much needed walk around the main Waikiki drag and further into central Honolulu to the Nordstrom Rack for me to buy shoes. We came across a delivery truck for a meat supplier in town and had to take a picture. The sign should be a shirt for the entire Wong Clan. Dinner time rolled around son enough and we went to the Side Street Inn located in what appeared to be a sketchy part of town. Apparently, this is a local favourite being substantially off the beaten track, I think we were the only tourists there. I'd read good things about the food (you will see this as a recurring theme) and felt that it was worth the effort. We went with the waitreses' recommendation of the Aku Poke (marinated raw tuna in chilli pepper water, spring onions, and sesame oil), and the famous pan-fried pork chops. Both very, very good although the pork chops were a little on the dry side (they were saved by the crispy, well-seasoned crust).
 The Aku Poke (left) and the Pan-fried Pork Chops (right)

Day 3 saw us on our way to the Polynesian Cultural Centre for our history lesson on the islands culminating in a luau and a show. The tour was fairly interesting and felt a little like how I would imagine a Hawaii-themed Disney Land would look like complete with kid-friendly activities and overpriced concessions. The main draw for me was the luau, specifically the kalua pig (it's all about the babi) and that certainly didn't disappoint. The show, Ha: The Breath of Life, was good too but the storyline reminded me too much of the Lion King .
 The Kalua Pig fresh from the underground oven.
Oh, you magnificent beast.

The after-dinner show

 One of the restaurants on Ets' list was the Cheesecake Factory. She had first heard of it from The Big Bang Theory and coupled with her love of all things cheesecake, she absolutely had to go and it didn't let us down. I'd read about the Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake (by now, I had become the F&B Coordinator of the trip) and it was a huge slice of creamy heaven.

The Yard House located in the Beach Walk area of downtown Waikiki was home of the world's largest selection of draft beers. A title that remains unchallenged although I suspect that Popeye's in Ryogoku might come close with its 77 beers on tap. I had the Coconut Porter and Ets turned out to be a fan of the raspberry lambic. Can you believe I got carded there? Seeing as their main money-spinner was the bar, all the food naturally goes with beer. The Happy Hour Poke Stack and Grilled Korean BBQ Beef were reasonably good as were the cheeseburger sliders.

Since we were celebrating the end of 2010 and the start of 2011 in paradise, we had to catch at least one fireworks show, right? The Hilton Hawaiian Village down the road had one at 8:45 and we found ourselves a nice vantage point out by Fort Derussy Park.

Up till this point, it was shopping, eating, and general wanderings. But what trip to Hawaii would be complete without a trip to a beach? We took the bus to Hanauma Bay to take in a spot of snorkeling. The weather was picture-perfect and it wasn't too crowded. The water was nice and clear and we got to use our new water-proof camera that I had gotten us for Christmas.

The next day, we planned to go to the KCC Farmers Market, then hike up the Diamond Head Crater, and finish off with dinner at Irifune's. However, we didn't count on the fact that a lot of things would be shut down for New Year's and the only thing we could do was the hike. Although it was a little disappointing that my epicurean dreams of sampling local food at the Farmers Market and the garlic ahi at Irifune were dashed, the hike was well worth the effort.

We were off to Maui on Sunday where we checked in to the Sheraton in Ka'anapali. Much to my surprise and her delight, we were upgraded from the Garden View to the Ocean Front Room. Score!

Everyone we spoke to back in Honolulu mentioned how the snorkeling at Black Rock (right outside the Sheraton) was the place to go for snorkeling. The weather was amazing and we saw rainbows every day we were there. I could see why the conference organizers chose this particular spot.

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