Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas on Oahu: Surfing, Luau, and Poke

I started my first morning in Hawaii like an athlete: with a juicy cocktail courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.

Why was I partaking in this vitamin packed olympian breakfast? First thing on our agenda on this sunny Christmas morning in Waikiki was... surfing lessons!

The Ty Gurney Surf School's website proclaimed:

 "Thanks to our incredible team of instructors, we guarantee that you’ll be standing up and riding waves in no time, even if this is your very first surf lesson. Our expert water knowledge will ensure that you’re in the right position to be catching waves, and once we help you catch your first wave, we’ll coach you on any improvements to make riding the next waves even better!" 

We'll see about that. Lydia once fell UP a staircase while completely sober so hard that she had to get stitches. Meanwhile the only thing remotely close to surfing I've ever done was sandboarding in the deserts of Dubai. While that sounds cool the end result was a lot of violent falling and a sensual amount of sand in my underwear.

I listened to this song about 50 times on this trip. Mele Kalikimaka is the wise way to say Merry Christmas to you.

I turned the bathtub faucet on before heading out to surf.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach's baller location meant we could just walk to the surf shop. They outfitted us with some surf boards and some cool surfing shirts that they refer to as rashguards. 

Delightfully they gave us short sleeve rashguards while our instructor had a long sleeve rashguard. You can probably guess where this is going.

As you can see, surfing involves a lot of quickly dragging one's salt water marinated flesh across a bumpy piece of wood to produce a sort of cheese grater effect.

We did a few quick lessons while on the beach. I was surprised how quickly this part of it was over. I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Which was mostly true.

Awesomely Lydia was smart enough to book a photographer for us. I'm glad we had pictures of this experience because otherwise... no one would believe how much better I am at surfing than Lydia!! She initially was doing better than me and was bragging that it was because of all the yoga she does. I was like "oh hell naw" and decided I had to crush her. She clearly didn't realize she was talking to a Wii Fit Penguin Slide champion.

Early on when we both were falling over and failing every time Dave the surfing instructor told me that "usually people either love this or quit by now". I took that as a compliment. #Determination He didn't realize that the real reason I wouldn't quit was that I'd already paid for this lesson and I was going to get my money's worth either in joy or in tears. #CheapAss

After every run towards the beach we had to fight the same waves while paddling our sorry asses back out to sea. I was dead tired by the end of it.

I walked away having had a really fun time, with some war wounds as proof. By the end of the session I had a pretty painful case of board rash. Also, the ocean floor was not sand. It was coral. So every time I fell off my board my giant feet scraped the coral below, and I ended up with two bloody feet. Worth it.

We grabbed a well earned poke bowl on the way back to the hotel. This place was awesome! It was like a poke Chipotle, where you could add all sorts of good toppings and seafoods to your bowl. I would eat there every day if we had one in St. Louis. For those of you that aren't cool poke is like diced fish, often with a sweet marinade going on.

Another thing I learned about Hawaii: everything is still open! A majority of the shops and malls were still humming along. Hawaii is the only Asian majority state in the US, so maybe that has something to do with it. It was a mix of tourists there to play and Asian people who don't do Christmas.

Lydia was excited to try Hawaiian shave ice. It's clearly got some Japanese influence.

We picked a place that we knew was going to be good and we paid the price. The line was crazy long.

And the wait to actually get the damn thing was even longer. 

In honor of Lydia we ordered the "Heavenely Lilikoi: Lilikoi, Strawberry. Organic Frozen Yogurt, Lilikoi Popping Boba, Mochi, and Snow Cap." It was pretty damn good. They were hand shaving the ice just like we had in Tokyo.

At this point we were able to chill a bit back at the room island style. 

The only other thing we had on our to-do list was... a Christmas luau! It was touristy as hell but I felt like it was something I had to do either way.

The Paradise Cove Luau was a good drive away in Kapolei. This trip combined with visiting Kailua yesterday meant we'd traversed a pretty good chunk of Oahu. Waiting for the bus was sad. It was like the loserest looking white people had all convened to have a lame club meeting. 

Our tour guide on the bus was like forcefully cheerful and would not be quiet for two minutes in a row. There was a lot of "repeat after me" and lame jokes. I felt like I was trapped on a bus to summer camp. The giant Hawaiian woman had a really long name, but said that we could call her Cousin Louie. She kept talking about how the tour bus group was a family and so she and the rest of the staff would address us as "cousin". It was a good size drive so she was clearly just trying to kill time. She liked to keep repeating that we were only "15 Hawaiian minutes away".

The laid back relationship with time along with a lot of Hawaiian culture made me feel like Hawaii was essentially rich Fiji.

When the bus finally dumped its pudgey tourist cargo I realized there was a whole lot of people at this place.

We got that welcome lei. Boom.

We got that welcome drink. Boom.

It was a really nice place despite all of the crowds.

There was some time to wander around and do some activities before the show and food portion of the evening began.

They got us all together and did a fun unveiling of the menu for the evening along with some entertainment. This was actually pretty useful because many of the Hawaii dishes were completely unfamiliar to me.

Kālua pig is roast in a pit in the ground filled with hot rocks. This gave me another Pacific islander culture echo from the Maori people of New Zealand sharing some pit cooked food with us. 

Then we got down to the serious business of stuffing our faces with copious amounts of awesome Hawaiian food.

I've been wanting to try poi since I saw it on a travel show years and years ago. It is essentially mashed up cooked taro root. It didn't taste like much but I didn't not like it.

Haupia is sort like a coconut milk pudding that's thick enough it can be sliced into squares. It was good but they warned us that too much of it might have an unfortunate effect on our stomach. I had enough surfing injuries to deal with so I took it easy on this.

Then there were songs and dances. Tons and tons of songs and dances. You could tell that Hawaii is still a big military base state because they thanked the troops over and over and over. Lydia and I wandered a bit after dinner while they were still performing. How much hula do you really need in your life?

They drove us past a Honolulu Christmas light display on the way back.

It was a very memorable day.

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