August 22, 2006

Part 3: Hawaiʻi


Though I'm pleased that ATA now cross-lists with Southwest, they pretty much suck. Asked at the airport what food was served on the plane, answer: nothing, not so much as a peanut, unless you paid for it. Credit cards only, no cash. Also, they wouldn't give you have pillows or blankets unless you bought them. The staff was uniformly surly and passive-aggressive, one of them picking an argument with the woman in the seat next to me over the credit-no-cash thing (she hadn't heard the announcement). A passenger got stuck behind the drink cart on the way back from the bathroom---it happens---and both of the attendants on the *other* drink cart made a huge production of warning the attendant the passenger was behind. As if this is not something that occurs on every single flight ever. Echhh.
When we touched down, I called and surprised Mike, who had checked the website, which said we were still over an hour away. It took forever and a day for my luggage to hit the baggage claim, but it did and we went back to his place, where I checked email and read up on bus schedules and tourism guides.


Called the local Catholic Church to ask about holy day Mass schedules. They said it wasn't an HDO; I thought that was set at the national level, not diocesan. Whatever. I decided to spend the day wandering downtown, ended up at the cathedral anyway and went to their noon Mass. Funky layout---it's long and narrow like all the old churches, but they've put the altar and lectern (and for that matter the cathedra) down the central axis, with all the pews parallel to the axis of the church and facing the middle. Fortunately, they appear to have preserved the pre-Vatican II altar in its entirety, along with the altar screen in front of it (which I had thought fell out of ecclesiastical architecture before the Reformation, but evidently not). Gorgeous. And this is the oldest active cathedral in the US, so I suppose that counts for something.
Grabbed sushi from a take-out place not far from the cathedral, then walked around the Fort Street open-air market and then Chinatown. There are a surprising number of fresh-food markets down that way. Anyway, caught the bus back and relaxed a bit.
Gaming! Finally got a chance to learn Cities and Knights. Good variant. Tried to get midnight sushi (cheaper after 10:30, otherwise they just have to throw it out anyway) but they were closed early on Tuesdays; ended up at Zippy's instead.


Went with Mike on an errand and discovered that Home Depots are pretty much the same everywhere. Prices not too much worse here, either.
Thought it'd be nice to go on out to Makapuʻu Point to walk the trail, and there's a bus line that goes pretty much there. Guide book said to take the golf course stop, then walk along the road ahead 20 minutes; I missed the stop, but figured I'd just hike back instead. The problem being that the road between Makapuʻu Point and Sea Life Park (the next stop) is mountain on one side and cliff on the other, with not much space for walking. Ah well, didn't seem too dangerous except right after the curve, when I couldn't see the cars. Anyway, I walked the trail, and it's pretty neat to be at a place where you get about 240 degrees of nothing but ocean. You could even see Molokaʻi from there. Walking back, I figured I'd go back to the golf course stop---which actually turned out to be further away, and still no real place to walk---and then I ended up sitting there for nearly an hour. One bus schedule said the busses were supposed to be every 30 minutes; the guidebook said the last one was at 7:15. At 7:20 I sighed and called Mike and Tami... fortunately just then the bus showed up!


Morning and afternoon:
I spent all day at the Bishop Museum, which is a pretty neat place. First cut-stone building in the islands; with permanent exhibits on Hawaiʻi and Polynesia (though much of the Hawaiian stuff was closed for renovations, alas). Also, lauhala weaving and hula demonstrations. Also, a real melted lava demo. And a planetarium show on Polynesian navigation techniques. (Also, randomly, the travelling Grossology exhibit.) It's like three different kinds of museum rolled into one. Not to be missed.
For dinner, wandered over to the strip mall restaurants, and tried the Korean place. They actually served a bi bim bap with raw meat and egg in a hot stone bowl: perfection. (And for the squeamish, after you mix everything together the meat and egg end up being lightly cooked by the bowl, actually.) Followed that up with a trip to Cold Stone Creamery, which I'd heard raves about but managed to never hear their gimmick, which is that they have a cold stone (as such) that they mix the ice cream on. All those nifty Ben and Jerry's inventions? You could get them here, except that they'll mix the ice cream and the stuff (cookie dough, banana, sprinkles, Heath bars, whatever) on the spot. Way cool.


Figured it was about time to hit the local yarn shop. Ursula's Needle Arts is on Kalākaua just a couple blocks from here, so I headed over there. The shop would pretty much fit into my bedroom, but it's neatly arranged and has a surprising amount of stuff. Ursula herself was clearly a German emigré, and the other women in the shop (occupying that common yarn-shop niche of customer-and-salesman) were a mix of Hawaiian-born and mainlanders. It was a great group. The $4-a-ball sale of a discontinued yarn was pretty great, too... fortunately, I had happened to bring my checkbook with me, though, because they didn't take credit cards. I literally can't remember the last time I wrote a check for a store purchase; weird.
Wandered generally towards Ala Moana mall, got some excellent pho in a little Vietnamese hole in the wall on a little side street, then wandered the whole mall for a few hours.
Mike's friend Torin took us (well, Mike drove, but you know) to a Bon dance, which is a traditional Buddhist thing where a central tower that's all decorated and has music loudspeakers, and a broad swathe of ground (well, parking lot) around it, where people dance in a repeating pattern that slowly advances counterclockwise. Sort of a line-dance, except circular. Each song has its own separate dance, though of course there are a lot of individual moves that show up throughout. The dance seems to be a sort of offering in honour of ancestors, at least originally, although many of the people were doing it as a strictly cultural event. They have a few of these every weekend all summer, hosted at various temples all over the islands. This particular one also featured a troupe of taiko drummers, most of them quite young, who were very good. I also got a chance to look at the inside of a Buddhist temple, and was slightly surprised to find that it looked more or less like any other church, except for what was on and over the altar. Some year I should really check out what a Buddhist service would be like. We ended the evening at Zippy's again, where Mike was denied twice before he picked a dessert they weren't out of.

"Puritans came frequently to Vagabond-camps bearing the information that at the time of the creation of the Universe---thousands of years ago!---certain of those present had been predestined by God to experience salvation. The rest of them were doomed to spend eternity burning in hellfire. This intelligence was called, by the Puritans, the Good News." --Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver

Posted by blahedo at 5:00am on 22 Aug 2006
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