Friday, May 21, 2010

Treats from Van and Tran's Great Hawaiian Adventure

Our trip to Hawaii started out with a small glitch from which we concluded that we will never fly Delta again and that Delta staff are very unhelpful.  Due to numerous delays, which were never explained to us, we missed our initial flight to Hawaii.  After some negotiations, we were able to get a flight to LA and were put up in a hotel for the night.  Luckily there was an early flight the next day which we took to Honolulu -- unfortunately, our bag did not follow us to LA and therefore was not there when we arrived in Honolulu. But everything worked out, bag found and all, and the two of us began our Hawaiian adventure.  We spent the next couple of days hiking Diamond Head, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, hitting up the Polynesian Cultural Center, traveling around Oahu, and trying out various foods.  Consensus thus far: food is delicious, Hawaiians are extremely friendly, the weather was a little warm but a nice change from Providence, and that May is the best time to travel to Hawaii since there are fewer tourists.  We also flew over to the Big Island where we spent a few days in Hilo and a day in Kona.  The first two days we explored Hilo, saw a few waterfalls, went to the Lava Tree State Park, drove in search of lava, and checked out one of the black sand beaches.  It took us a while to find the lava -- with advice from the locals,  we decided to bypass Volcano National Park and head over to Kalapana, an old town which was overrun by lava decades ago, to get a closer view of the lava.  The night before, a few Swiss travelers had shown us pictures of them within a few feet of spewing molten lava and we decided we wanted to see it too.  So we followed their instructions and drove past barricades and made it to the site where the lava had spilled over the road.  We thought about walking onto the cooled lava to search for molten lava, but were advised against it by other tourists because the heat would probably melt the rubber off our tennis shoes (the tourist were sporting extreme hiking gear/boots). Indeed, as we walked closer to the cooled lava, it got unbearably hot and we had to turn back.  En route to Kona, we hit up Waipio lookout, the town of Waimea, and Hapuna Beach.  On our last day, we visited Greenwell Farms and snorkeled at several bays before returning to Kona to fly back to Oahu.  At Greenwell farms, we saw chameleons and learned how Kona coffee was made.  Did you know that coffee comes in the form of cherries or that expresso contains the least about of caffeine and light roast contains the most?  We didn't but we learned so much about coffee that we gained a great appreciation.  Snorkeling again was a fun experience however much more dangerous than our first time.  The currents at these bays were a lot stronger and there were more rocks, corals, and a ton of sea urchins.  On more than one occasion, we found ourselves being thrust against the rocks.The last few days in Oahu were spent walking around Waikiki, sun-bathing, and eating frozen yogurt.  We also decided to try bodyboarding which we felt was the most exhilarating activity we had done so far, just in time to go home.  The sport, similar to surfing, requires you to lie on a smaller board.  With the same concept as surfing, you paddle out and wait for a good wave to make its way over.  About 10 feet before the wave catches up with you, you start kicking in the direction of the shore - in our case, since we aren't strong swimmers, we had to start kicking about 30 feet before.  The wave picks you up and literally it is like flying over water. With the help of a local native, we managed to not drown ourselves or swallow too much salt water.  There was a lot of "pearl-ing" - aka flipping over involved - or getting stuck in a rock barricade by relentless waves.  It was a physically-demanding activity - we were sore for the next few days.  On our second to last day, we headed over to Pali's lookout where we got a gorgeous view of the entire island.  However, it was extremely windy.  Much to our surprise, a local told us that it was actually a less windy day and that on some days, people have to hang on to the guardrails to pull themselves up to the lookout and that parents should hold their children's hands.  As for the Hawaiian treats, they were bought at the Honolulu Cookie Company in Waikiki.  We sampled all the flavors in the store and concluded that these were the yummiest.  All the cookies there were in the shape of miniture pineapples.  The flavors were lilikoi (passion fruit), coconut chocolate chip, and kona coffee chocolate chip.  The candies came from the Dole Plantation - we have pineapple hard candies and chewy lychee candies. 

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