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Published: September 1st 2010
Once again, we have a mile high blog entry! We are high above the Tasman Sea on our way to Auckland. It’s a relatively short flight, only two and a half hours. For the first time in a long time, we experienced cold weather last night and this morning. We even had our fleeces and jeans on to come to the airport this morning! (PS - We are on to day 2 in New Zealand now when I am actually able to put this online!)
Well, back to Hawai’i and picking up the story after our day seeing the natural sights of the south east coast of O’ahu on Wednesday.
We had a double whammy of great activities planned for Thursday. First of all, we drove up the east coast towards Kualoa Ranch. This ranch is nestled in the mountainous region overlooking the coast, and once again the scenery was beautiful. As well as the imposing mountains, the views of the turquoise waters of the Pacific were amazing and the uninhabited small island known as Chinaman’s Hat (I can’t for the life of me remember the proper name for it! Google it, if you want.) allowed for some great photos.
It is named such because it’s shaped like a…… yeah you got it, a chinaman’s hat!
The reason we were at the ranch was to take part in the hour long, Movie Site and Ranch Tour. Many blockbuster films and also the series Lost were filmed at this location. As well as driving around the beautiful grounds of the ranch on an open air bus and taking in the awe inspiring views, we were shown Godzilla’s footprints, the ‘kissing rocks’ from Mighty Joe Young, an artillery post from the Nicholas Cage film Windtalkers, a bunker from Pearl Harbor, and most excitingly various areas were Jurassic Park was shot (including the log where Sam Neill and the two children hid from a stampede of dinosaurs). Other films filmed here include 50 First Dates, You, Me and Dupree and George of the Jungle. At $21, it was good, harmless fun and a nice way to spend the morning.
A short drive north took us to the Polynesian Cultural Centre, advertised as a cultural theme park focusing on the Polynesian Islands of the Pacific. We had booked a ticket which included entry to the park, a traditional Hawaiian feast (known as
a luau) and then seats at the evening show called Ha: The Breath of Life. The islands featured were Hawai’I, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Aotearoa (Maori), and they all had demonstrations of traditional things such as Tongan drumming, Hawaiian hula dancing, Fijian tattooing and the Maori haka. The ‘villages’ included replica buildings from these islands. It was a bit touristy and commercialized but still informative and a good introduction into the ways of the people of this fascinating group of islands. A highlight of the centre was the Canoe Peageant which took place soon after our arrival. Each island had a double hulled traditional canoe sail down the man made waterway. On the canoe were students of the centre doing chants, dances and music whilst dressed in the traditional attire of the islands.
A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast hosted by the king or chief of the land. It involves music, drink and a huge feast involving a pig roasted in a fire pit for 8 hours, raw fish, vegetables and the staple part of the Hawaiian diet, Poi. This is made from a root vegetable called Taro that is grown in flooded fields and once ripe it
is ground up with water the make a grayish purple paste. It is very gloopy and tastes starchy. Certainly an acquired taste! We were given a fresh lei made from orchids and shown to our seats where we proceeded to stuff our faces whilst watching the dancing and music on the stage. The food was lovely and the traditional dancing and music were a good taste of Hawaiian culture and prepared us for the show we then moved onto.
Ha: The Breath of Life was the story of a fictional Polynesian man and his journey through life and around the islands that make up Polynesia. From being born in Tonga, growing up in Hawai’I and finding love in Samoa, the story highlighted the Polynesians reliance and reverence of fire, water and the land as well as their faith based around honoring ancestors and the ‘circle of life’. Despite Rachel having a terrible migraine and us still suffering from the lingering effects of jet lag, we really enjoyed the show and the whole day. It was expensive but then again, we found that Hawai’I in general was more expensive than anywhere else we have been so far.
morning we picked up our now fixed computer and drove the short distance to the Bishop Museum, which as I mentioned is the foremost museum for Polynesian culture and history in the world. We spent a couple of hours furthering our knowledge on how the Hawaiians used to live, the Gods they worshipped, the houses they lived in and the work they did. It was extremely interesting and informative and we took a mix of guided tours and browsing ourselves. At the pre arranged time, we visited the Planetarium for a fascinating ‘lecture’ on the night sky above Hawai’I and how the ancient Polynesians navigated the vast Pacific Ocean from island to island. Very clever and talented people to use nothing but the ocean swells, the sun and the stars in the sky to navigate thousands of miles by boat. We spent the afternoon driving to the North Shore and having a nosey around the little towns up there. We had a snack of Lemon Pepper Shrimp from a roadside shack that was delicious, and I also gave myself a much needed hair cut (at the roadside as we didn’t want to get hair all over the hotel room!) The
‘trim’ was a little drastic and after speaking to Mum on Skype who said I looked like a convict and Sophie who said I looked I could be in the military, I am fairly pleased with the results! I didn’t want to have to bother with my hair when we are slumming it in our campervan so thought the ‘all off’ approach would be best. I guess not many people can say they have shaved their own hair (or anyone elses for that matter) at the side of the road in Hawai’i!
After handing back our car on Friday evening, we decided that Saturday would be a slightly slower paced day in preparation for our flight the next day. We booked the campervan, booked the hotel for Sydney and I mourned Spurs defeat against Wigan, before heading for a leisurely walk along Waikiki Beach (we couldn’t come to Hawai’I without visiting a beach and seeing the surfers properly - I don’t think Lee and Lucy would forgive us!) We managed to seat ourselves right on the end of a jetty sticking out into the sea and spent a while just watching the surfers, paddleboarders, snorkelers and pleasure boats having
fun out to sea whilst soaking up the beautiful sunshine.
Unfortunately all good things come to an end and we needed to get a move on and pack but not before we stopped at the shops to get a few things. First on our list were Hawaiian shirts! One for me and one for my father in law as we all know he loves ‘bright’ shirts. We managed to find him a cracker and then at the next shop found a more sober one for me and couldn’t resist getting Robert a matching one; we are going to look soooo cool! After stopping in at a really cool tattoo shop it was time to get back to the hotel and do our laundry, pack and catch up on emails before the monster flight the next morning.
So that brings us all up to date and we have finally left America behind after what seems like forever and now it is on the to the next part of our adventure. As you may remember, I was geekily collecting the quarters from all the states in America since we landed in New York on June 7th. Well, I left America
having managed to collect all but two of the states. 48 quarters collected and only New Jersey and South Dakota missing. So near yet so far! Ah well, I’m sure eBay (thanks Matt) will help me finish the collection!
Anyway, its time to say goodbye again for now, we will try and update on here when we can and let you know our lives as happy campers in New Zealand are!
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