Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Hawai'i (12/25/2011)

Sunday, December 25, 2011
Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas in Hawaiian.)
Santa left a stocking for Brynne:
Today, as most venues were closed for the holiday, we drove around to check out sights pertaining to when President Barack Obama lived in Hawai'i. Those I will put in a separate blog.
Although also related to Obama, we did visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Located in the long-extinct volcano called Punchbowl Crater, it is the resting place for over 48,000 service men and women.
Medal of Honor recipients and other notable Hawaiian heroes are buried here including Ellison Onizuka, Hawai'i's first astronaut.
Wildflowers on the hillside: 
Brynne tries not to be blown off the stone stool:
They were in the process of re-sodding areas around the graves: 
At first it looked like horrible vandalism.
The entrance to Punchbowl Crater:
The base of the flagpole recognizes all the branches of the military:
An allee of Ficus microcarpa/Chinese Banyan trees leading to the Honolulu Memorial: 
The 48 trees representing each of the states during WWII were donated from China.
The Honolulu Memorial:
Commissioned in 1964 and expanded in 1980 to include the Vietnam War, the steps of the memorial are flanked by the Courts of the Missing with the names of those missing in action, or lost or buried at sea.
The steps are also lined with Filicium decepiens/Japanese Fern Trees shaped like halos:
The gallery of maps and achievements in the Central and South Pacific during WWII:
Lady Columbia:
Also known as Lady Liberty or Justice, she represents all grieving mothers as she holds a laurel branch while standing at the bow of a ship.
The maps are creative mosaic murals:
A chapel is located in the center:
Chapel window:
Chapel gate:
The gallery of maps and achievements of the Korean War:
View towards Diamond head from the Memorial:
View of Honolulu from Observation Point on the Punchbowl rim:
View towards Diamond Head from Observation Point:
View into the Punchbowl from Observation Point:
 Callistemon citrinus/Dwarf Bottle Brush Plant:
Windswept coconut tree: 
Memorial Walk up to Observation Point:
Jasminum polyanthum/White Jasmine:
We had lunch at Zippy's, a chain that can be found on nearly every corner. The dish to try is Zip Min:
A type of Saimin, Japanese noodles with everything.
Even the beer bottles say Mele Kalikimaka/Merry Christmas!
By 4:20PM we had to be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (a couple blocks from our hotel) to await pick-up in tourist buses for Germaine's Luau. There were crowds of people waiting for several tour companies for several types of entertainment. We had to be patient until the Germaine's people showed up. Then we had to find the correct bus and check in. We were on Cousin Alika's bus, and he was our guide for the evening. Apparently in Hawai'i, any younger person is your cousin, and an older man or lady is your uncle or auntie.
We were given the drill as to what would happen during the evening, as we drove to the southwest corner of Oahu among the industrial buildings. Cousin Aliki made a point to get to know everyone's name on the bus. As the sun started to set, we were let off at the beach. First we had to get "laid" (lei'd), Hawaiian-style, with shell leis:
Kent and Brynne:
Next we had our photo taken.
I took a photo of the sunset:
Then we were to find a seat. Since we were one of the later buses to arrive, we had seats off to one side of the stage. Next, use your three drink coupons and get your drinks before they run out! 
The stage: 
The Royal Procession and welcome:
Next we crowded around the Imu or fire pit where the roasted pig was removed:
Then back to our seats to wait our turn to stand in the buffet line. Meanwhile, we were entertained by music and dance from different regions of Polynesia (Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand and Hawai'i).
Boy, those Tahitian dancers move fast!
Finally the buffet:
with Kalua pork, chicken and rice, fried chicken, teriyaki beef, fried fish, lomilomi salmon (salad of diced tomato, onion, salmon, and chili pepper), rice, poi (purple pasty taro), pineapple coleslaw, three bean salad, tossed salad, dinner rolls, and desserts of haupia (coconut pudding), vanilla coconut cake and chocolate cake. Slices of fresh (but not very sweet) pineapple were on the tables. 
The entertainment included some audience participation, three men dressed as hula dancers vying for a prize, mass hula lesson, etc. It ended with the Samoan Fire Knife dance, which is supposedly dangerous, but it was so dark you didn't realize he was twirling around a blade.
Cousin Aliki outdid himself on the bus ride back to the hotel. He pulled out a ukulele, and taught us some bus games. He had us get out our cameras and when we passed another bus, he turned off the lights and we flashed our cameras at them. Then after that, every time we passed a bus, we pretended to have a rollicking good time by waving our arms. The people on the other buses did just sit there...
We walked through King's Village on the way back to the hotel to window shop and see the guards:
Mele Kalikimaka!

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