Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Journey to Hawaii via Long Beach

We did a bit more Hawaii trip cultural study in the days before leaving.

It turns out a lot of people wanted to go to Hawaii for Christmas, because I had to do some serious searching to find us roundtrip Hawaiian Airlines business class tickets. It was a dramatic process because it seemed for a while that we wouldn’t be able to go to Hawaii at all. Or even worse than that, we might have had to fly economy class.

So after all of that work and heroic perseverance I was a little confused when my reward seemed to be watching the Hawaii episodes of horrible tv shows from the 90s.

One of the results of my painstaking flight search was that both flights in and out of Hawaii had different start and end points. On the journey towards Hawaii we flew Southwest to Long Beach, California. We were stuck spending the night there which did take a night away from my hula practice but I hadn’t been to Long Beach before and it turned out to be awesome.

I don’t generally give a crap about the architecture of airport’s but Long Beach Airport is great. It’s one of the most stylish, art deco airports you’ll ever see. On top of that it was very open air, which is something I usually see in the Caribbean. For example the baggage claim area was under and overhang but it was outside. I could look over and watch the palm trees sway while I waited for my bag.

It was only a quick stroll across the scenic Los Angeles River to get to where the Queen Mary was resting at its dock.

The Queen Mary was a real cheeseball tourist attraction. I’m glad I went just because it’s such an odd, unique place but I definitely do not need to return. They aren’t messing around with ticket prices; I think it cost like $20-30 just for the privilege of wandering around. Being a travel genius though I figured out that if you had a dinner reservation to one of the ship’s restaurants then they’d let you in for free. And what if once you entered for free you were to then accidentally miss your reservation due to… choppy waves on the high seas or pirates or something? That would be a shame indeed…

The bridge was fun because it was full of ancient and strange technology.

These were all of the signal flags they used to use to communicate with other ships.

They kept some of the officers' quarters in their original state.

After some good wandering we did go ahead and pop into a restaurant for some appetizers to tide us over until we could find a real nice restaurant.

I really liked these antique prints raving about the amazing stats of the ship.

The sign was particular amusing ""Service" and "seamanship", after all, are but different phases of the same ideal ... racial to begin with, and crystalized into one high clear code through Cunard White Star's near-hundred years." Is this a cruise ship or a nazi submarine?

The Queen Mary was a luxury ocean liner but it was drafted into service as a troop transport during World War II.

The engine room was one of the best parts.

Once we escaped the ship we did a quick search of the bestest of the best Long Beach restaurants. Did you know that Long Beach is home to the largest stateside population of Cambodians? I think you know what that means: Cambodian restaurantttt!

OC Weekly raved that Crystal Thai Cambodian was "as close as it gets to having a yiey (grandma) of your own." I was real excited because I hadn't ever had Cambodian food before. Plus we have a trip to Cambodia booked in May!!! We got to sit and watch a really bad Cambodian musical while we waited. Apparently a good place to meet women in Cambodia is while they are bathing in the river.

The article seemed to know what it was talking about so we stuck pretty close to its advice. I ordered the salar ka-kol, "a bitter-greens stew that is essentially the national dish".

"At Crystal, the somlar kako is as green as a superfood smoothie and, like most Cambodian dishes that contain the ever-present fish paste prohok, tastes a lot better than it smells. Bitter greens, stem and all, take up the majority of the soup, sloshing around like seaweed noodles along with strips of translucent green papaya in a hearty broth that makes meat a secondary thought. But get it with the pork short ribs anyway because you can always fork out the tender bite-sized morsels and dip it in the spicy pepper fish sauce before chewing it to the bone." Short ribs in my soup please!

"Another home-style favorite is the bahn cholw (also found as “baign chow” and “num bain chow”), a massive portion of two pancakes folded in half over a mixture of ground pork and bean sprouts. As with many other Khmer dishes, this one comes with an overflowing plate of cool greens that you can pile up with the main dish to make crunchy lettuce wraps.

The technique is such: Grab a piece of lettuce with the widest wingspan, layer it with cucumber, Thai basil and mint leaves, scoop up some of the yellow pastry (don't mind the consistency; there is no egg in this omelet-looking flapjack) and wrap it like a protein-style burrito. Once you have a DIY spring roll, dip it in the bowl of tuk trey–a catchall sweet fish sauce made with sugar water that comes topped with floating peanut grounds–and eat it quickly before the thin liquid drips all over your shirt."

 OC Weekly did not let us down. 

Popped over to the next door Bayon Market while we waited for the Uber.

Grabbed the single strangest thing I could find.

Our Uber driver was impressed with our adventurousness. I guess she used to live above the convenience store and was surprised when a white person needed a ride from there. We were the only whities in both the restaurant and the shop so that story did check out. She wanted to know all about what we ate at the restaurant and what we thought of the neighborhood. I learned a new slang word when she kept calling everything "Cambo" instead of Cambodian. She was a hoot.

Oh man the Christmas lights along the Naples Canals were awesome. 

Some families took advantage of the crowds gawking at their houses by playing live music or selling cookies and cocoa.

This Jewish display was my favorite, I think.

No comments:

Post a Comment