Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Taking it all in at Waikiki

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While the northern region of Oahu offers waves, sand and culture, the southern side is where most of the urban development is in action.
Waikiki is a showcase of the modern Hawaii; with the co-existence of the relaxation under the sun and sand right in the middle of the city; making this an iconic prominent beachfront neighbourhood.
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This is where all the action are; from the beach to the food and shopping! Yes, be ready to squeal with delight at the luxury brands such as Tiffany, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, etc - all making their marks here with their flagship boutiques along the Waikiki streets.
While you can opt to shop till you drop at these luxury boutiques, there are also souvenir shops and surf wear shops; along with ABC stores (your all convenience stores) and there is even an International Market Place

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There are also buses to hop on and off around town; and some hotels offer shuttles to the beach or along the streets of Waikiki - like what my hotel did. It would be exciting to walk when you are heading out, but at the end of the day you would be exhausted hence this is a welcoming mode of transportation and a great service by the hotels.

Trolleys like these are also found on the streets and there is a minimum fee to board one

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A Memorial for Duke Kahanamoku; a famous surfer

Enjoy the people watching and the scenes unfolding along the streets, with your shopping bags or a drink in your hand
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Now, that's what I call a beach vacation - relaxing by the beach without sacrificing the comforts of civilization~

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Big Shrimps from Giovanni

Driving along the coastline of Oahu is just like driving along our good old Batu Ferringhi stretch leading all the way up to Teluk Bahang; sans the inclining winding and sharp bends along the way. The fun part of the drive is in the sights of the local daily scenes unfolding before us like it was put to play on a roll of film, in the forms of the local beach houses facing the roads and the glimpse of the glistening ocean under the sun, children running around and young boys with surf boards tucked underneath their arms and the list goes on. It is like a warm postcard greeting from picturesque Oahu :-)
As we drove along the coast, I noticed small gas stations (they call it gas stations in the States), and also small eateries and even food trucks. Oh ya, apparently food trucks are the trend around here whereby the locals just drive their heavenly food in their truck, park it in an available location and start selling from the trucks. A rather ingenious idea, I may say, and this pretty much is similar to our local stalls along the highway set up by the native residents in some of the remote areas. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
One such truck which caught our eyes was this; Giovanni's as we were hunting for the famous shrimp food trucks. (Oahu was famed for the shrimps as part of their beach street food, or so it says in most travel guides for Oahu).
Filled with graffiti, the truck was definitely an eye-catcher compared to the many food trucks we have passed by so far; screaming to us with their signs that they serve the best shrimps in Oahu. If the scrawly signatures all over the truck is not testament enough to Giovanni's reputation or quality, the queue and the crowd pulling over for this would definitely confirm that this is the right shrimp food truck for an Oahu shrimp virgin to try out. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

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The crowd is something to pull the other wondering passers by like magnates to this food truck and with the heavenly aroma of the shrimps cooking in the air, it needs no further justification to the attraction here.
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Now what about the shrimps, after so much talk about the truck?
Nothing short of the high expectations after the excitement from the huge crowd; we had this:-
Giovanni's Shrimp Scampi - Lemon and Butter Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
Giovanni definitely did not disappoint in its taste after presenting such a enticing visual of the shrimps served with white rice. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
The shrimps were superb; scrumptious and bursting with the fresh flavors of sweetness from the sea. We were instantly hooked!

Hot and Spicy Shrimps
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Another winner, we had mouthfuls of fantastic shrimps that there is no more need to justify how much we enjoyed it with the photos!
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I have done a little research and found that Giovanni's is no Oahu household name but a rather nationally acclaimed food truck chain making its way around America, peddling these delicious shrimps to the food lovers on the streets.
They have left a mark in many's hearts; from the collection of well wishes all over the truck....I felt like a tagline coming, Think of Shrimps? Think of Giovanni's after a swim :-)
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Not Forgetting Turtle Bay

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingTurtle Bay was one of the hotels located on the North Shore of Oahu and is an idyllic setting for a romantic getaway with your loved one for a weekend. Due to the serenity of this place, it is no wonder it is the perfect spot for weddings, honeymoons and even filming a romantic comedy! Oh ya, if you are wondering which one, it was last year's production starring Kristen Bell; Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing Taking a stroll along the beach in the evening with the waves washing up to your feet sounds heavenly; but beware as the waves could tend to be a little on the rough side over here on northward Oahu. In fact, the waves, beside the tranquility of Turtle Bay is also one of the reason which attracts some of the surf lovers for a little board action. Though not as dramatic as the other favorite spots on Oahu, Turtle Bay is mild enough for that little excitement and provides the setting for a enjoyable family or romantic vacation.
I love the backdrop of this place....makes me think of escaping on a vacation almost immediately now... Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing Perhaps a setting for the character in the movie to escape from his heartbreak after his girlfriend left him and to heal his heart by forgetting all about her, but Turtle Bay is definitely not a place to be forgotten....

Cultural Lessons at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Enjoying the bright sunny days with a light breeze kissing your cheeks, listening to the sound of the waves lapping repeatedly and stretching your legs on a deck chair with your sunglasses to shield from the sun and sipping cool pineapple juice or probably a pina colada is probably the very image most would dream of when it comes to holidaying in Hawaii. In fact, that is probably the Hawaii that most would know- not forgetting the Hawaiian shirts and the lei garlands symbotically hung around to welcome visitors upon arrival.
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However, the real Hawaii lies not in the fun under the sun alone, as there is more than just meets the eye (or the sunglasses) when it comes to this beautiful group of islands located off the coast of the United States of America. I have seen the beauty of the natural landscape formed by the volcanic movement on the islands and also experienced the tropical weather which the locals seem to bathe in just like what we have back at home. Coming to terms with the story of Hawaii, and the origins of the Hawaiians is something much more to look forward to.
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To say that Hawaii is a cultural place is an understatement; as the colony of islands is more than just a uni-cell of its own culture but rather a huge melting pot of a myriad of cultures which are greatly influenced by each other, though the local Hawaiian natives still dominate the reigning culture from its early days of civilization.
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The Polynesian Cultural Center is established to introduce these variety of cultures from all such islands to create the awareness and knowledge of their existence in their very location. Originally built with the intention to fund the students of the Brigham Young University Hawaii through the offering of jobs at the center; where students could help with the shows, performances, food eateries, rides, etc and at the same time, fund the scholarships for the needy young students. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing The center was majorly owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) ; with only part of the premises belonging to the University. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
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Located on the northern shore of Oahu; Laie, the center is a popular tourist attraction with its daily schedules of live performances, rides taking place in its very premises. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing
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The shows and demonstrations of the local way of living within each polynesian tribe; such as Hawaiian, Fiji, Tahitian, Samoan, etc charms its visitors with the colorful culture and even offers the tourists an opportunity to be close and personal to experience for themselves the art of the culture.
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The villages are representatives of the respective Polynesian tribes and each of them have scheduled their own show times for visitors to enjoy the tribal show native to their culture. It is indeed interesting to see the different cultures which exist among us which we are not even aware of and I find this truly enriching; while pondering on the fact of how big yet small the world really is. (I am not even sure if some of the performers are even natives as they truly looked like they hail from the tribes themselves; which makes the performances all the more convincing and natural. Or perhaps they have had years of practice?) Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

The dinner included in the ticket introduced us to another variety of the food and drinks from each of the culture; which is part of the whole educational package tour to really immerse ourselves to know the culture. Food is served in a large banquet hall and the servers were rather young and cheerful students from the University; dressed perfectly in typical Hawaiian or Polynesian costumes and wearing a bright smile to welcome each and every diner. Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingImage Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

The performance not to be missed is the Ha - The Breath of Life which is one of the main highlights here. As it is a protected performance and not to spoil the surprise, no photos will be posted as no form of recording is allowed. However, it is truly one not to be missed as it integrates all the cultures and presents the Polynesian culture in a memorable and breathtaking manner - courtesy of the amazing performances put forward by the performers.

There is always much to look forward when on a holiday, and experiencing or learning about the culture is one of the best way to enjoy the scenes unfolding as we travel through the places each and every day during our trip. The Polynesian Cultural Center is truly a window to the true inner self of Hawaii....after all, if you do not know about the roots or the origins, how would you learn to love the place?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Aloha again!~

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My last post was still on my Hawaiian honeymoon back in early last year, and trust me when I tell you that I have more posts lined up than even I can imagine. Last year was a busy year; after leisure traveling, I did quite an extensive bit of business traveling and I had captured photos, saved them and waiting for the time to post them. At the same time, I was also waiting for the time to recover my blogs and you know what they say about waiting; procrastination and one thing leads to another. I still can't believe it is another year again as I looked at my photos all waiting for the editing and posting. I will be finishing the honeymoon posts soon; not dwelling too much on the honeymoon details but rather on the beauty and interesting secrets this age-old cultural island tagged as one of the top honeymoon destinations has to offer.

A sneak peek into what's coming up next; I just could not resist this photo....can you guess what's going to be in my upcoming post?

Stay tune...
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