|The posh hotels of
Waikiki, as seen from Diamond Head.
(We stayed to the right a ways)
At this point we had a few hours to relax in the hotel and observe the steady flow of people in the streets below. Although Waikiki looks very high-rise and austere in pictures, at the ground level it has a tropical, laid-back feel. And while there are a number of posh stores, there are even more stores reminiscent of Hong Kong—little niches in the wall selling a variety of trinkets. It was hard to distinguish the first floor of the hotels from the stores, partly because the first floor was generally open to the air. For northern-born people like me, the concept of unenclosed buildings is hard to get used to, but has a pleasant, inviting aspect. In the evening we ate at Genki Sushi in one of the new malls; I wasn’t terribly impressed, although it was tasty. I was also disappointed that, despite the enviable proximity to the ocean, sushi did not seem to be as cheap as one might imagine in Hawaii.
|Me, taken at one of the
on the way to the top of Diamond Head.
In the late afternoon we meandered down to Sans Souci beach (all except for Paul, who was sleeping and then never managed to find the beach) at the eastern end of Waikiki, where all the posh, semi-private-looking hotels were. Here Ronnin and his (then) fiancé, Amanda, had a welcoming dinner for any guests that happened to be in town a litle early. It was a pleasant picnic and I got to talk with a couple of Ronnin’s friends and meet his fiancé.
|Facts about Hawaii
• Became a state in 1959.
• 75% of Hawaii’s 1.2 million people live in Oahu
• Oahu has the best beaches; the north shore hosts surfing competitions
• Kauai is known for its vegetation
• Maui is the most popular tourist spot
• The big island, Hawaii, has the only active volcanoes.
|Ronnin and Amanda
(Courtesy Ronnin and Amanda)
Since we were near Chinatown, we stopped in for a bite of lunch at a restaurant there and were rewarded with an excellent meal. Afterwards we hustled to the hotel to change and make it to the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The dinner was my first multi-course Chinese banquet and was, as all reports indicated, quite the lavish (and tasty affair). It was during this time that I discovered that the Japanese influence in Hawaii had influenced even the Chinese immigrants. Asia has a variety of gelatinous, glutinous desserts (which are much tastier than the adjectives suggest). One in particular, made of glutinous rice with sugar and poppy seed (or, in this case, peanut) filling, is called tāng-yuén in Chinese. This was served at the banquet (and was very tasty), where I observed Ronnin’s mother, who is probably about third generation Chinese, referring to them as mochi, a Japanese word for a particular kind of glutinous sweet-bean paste dessert. In fact, she did not seem to know about tāng-yuén, and I remembered that the brown tapioca balls in the Taiwanese bubble-tea we had in Chinatown earlier had been referred to as mochi, so it seems that all gelatinous Asian desserts are referred to as mochi in Hawaii.
In the late afternoon, after becoming frustrated that no one wanted to do anything (why waste an afternoon in Hawaii in a hotel room?), I took off on a walk along the Waikiki shore. I discovered that on Saturdays they show a movie on the beach, but kept walking, right out of Waikiki, in fact, into the neighborhood beyond. Some of the houses come right up to the edge of the concrete container, overlooking the water, with a walkway along the edge. Later on is a full-fledged beach, where people were night fishing and making out, which I passed as hastily as possible. The beach after that was a long beach with no exit, and when I finally found one I managed to walk some six miles or so from Waikiki, past a lighthouse that we had seen from Diamond Head. I returned to Waikiki by way of the highway and was treated to a magnificent view of the ocean. If you travel along the southeastern corner of Oahu, stop at the roadside park by the lighthouse. Upon returning to the hotel I had the opportunity for another walk along the main Waikiki beach with Paul, Chris, and one of the bridesmaids, who was quite fun and chatty. My feet were quite sore that night, and I slept the sleep of the exhausted!