Tag Archives: Zippy’s

Young Man Went West #42: Just One More State

As we made our way from the snack stand to the fake river’s edge to watch the “Rainbow of Paradise” canoe pageant, a thought crept into my head: “I’ve done this before.”

This exactly? No. I had never been to the Polynesian Cultural Center before. I had never filled up on a meal of chili rice and mac nut ice cream. I had never squeezed in among tourists to watch a river parade.

But I have done “this.” I’ve explored the most touristy attraction of a region with equal parts admiration and cynicism and my good friend Ian by my side. Sure, our summer roadtrip had ended eight months prior, but apparently he and I had one more state to explore: Hawaii.

Ian came to stay with me during the second week of May. He had been talking about visiting since I moved here almost three years ago, but it wasn’t until news of my impending move reached him did he make plans to come. That, and his savings account had to recuperate after our cross-country adventure. I was excited to have him come. Ian and I went to the same middle school, high school and college. We have a lot of the same friends, interests, and opinions. We spent three months together in a Honda Civic. It was weird to think that something as familiar to me as Hawaii was something he hadn’t truly experienced before. I couldn’t wait to fix that.

I had played tour guide to a number of friends before Ian, so I knew what I was doing. Jenn and I picked him up from the airport ready with a couple containers of poke. In the span of six days, he also tried traditional Hawaiian food, shave ice, Spam musubi from 7-Eleven, Storto’s sandwiches, Kahuku shrimp, and a Zip Pac from Zippy’s. We did the requisite trips up to North Shore, around Waikiki, and into Chinatown. And even though I couldn’t go because of work, he got to visit Pearl Harbor, too. I’ve not only eaten, seen, and done all of these things countless times before, but I’ve also made a point of introducing them all to my friends.

But this time, it was different.

I realized that these mini trips and food experiences were as much for my sake as they were for his; he was exploring these places for the first time, and I was exploring them for possibly the last. At least, the last time as a resident. A transplant local. Universities say you need to be living in state for a year before you can claim residency; on my one-year mark I got a tattoo in honor of my first “kama’ainiversary.” Since then, I’ve transitioned from wide-eyed newcomer to indifferent local. I don’t go to the beach anymore. I no longer walk around Waikiki for the hell of it. I barely leave my neighborhood except to go to work. I decided to use Ian’s visit as motivation to rediscover my island.

On Ian’s first full day here, I swallowed my pride and participated in a full day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. For the past three years, I’ve been told to avoid this tourist trap, but before our day at PCC  was even half over, I was legitimately enjoying the entire experience! Unlike Germaine’s Luau and Paradise Cove, PCC isn’t just a luau–which by today’s terms means a low-quality Hawaiian food buffet with a cheesy dancing and an even cheesier host–it’s a theme park as well as a stage show with high production value. I mean, it does have that aforementioned type of luau, but it’s sandwiched between two much better experiences.

Even though the layout of the 42-acre collection of “villages” looks as fake as Disneyland, it’s more of a living museum than a theme park. There are demonstrations at each of the six main villages every half hour. Each village represents a different major Polynesian culture (Samoa, Aotearoa a.k.a. New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, and Hawai’i), and each is run by natives from those places who are dressed in traditional garb, demonstrate dances and instruments, and drop some first-hand knowledge of their respective cultures. I learned a lot from the demonstrations, and not just about the characteristics of those six cultures, but also about the distinctions between them. This came in handy for the evening show, which was an awe-inspiring spectacle that told a legendary tale while exploring the six major cultures through song and dance.  Ian and I were equally impressed with our time at the PCC, especially since this was supposed to be our ironically touristy day in Hawaii.

While Ian’s first full day at the PCC was an experience most locals don’t partake in, his last full day was something we almost all do: spend a day on the North Shore. It was his first legitimate Hawaiian beach day. We jumped off the rock at Waimea, got shave ice in Haleiwa, and ate shrimp in Kahuku. To top it off, we spent that Friday night barhopping in Chinatown and Waikiki with Jenn and her friends. It was typical and it was perfect at the same time. I’d never seen Ian lament over leaving a place as he did the next morning. He did just enough of everything in six days to realize that six days wasn’t enough. While I think nearly three years was plenty of time for me, I can expect that my last day here, much like Ian’s, will still be filled with a similar sweet sorrow.

The week Ian came to explore one last state with me was not only a good epilogue to our summer road trip, but also a good ending to my time in Hawaii.

My hat: the past. My shirt: the future.

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YMWW #6: THE PHOTO ISSUE!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

First of all, let me start off by quoting my good friend Josh Cella (as written on my Wall): go west young man / haven’t you been told / Hawai’i’s full of whiskey, women, and gold

(We’ll soon find out. . . )

Now, welcome to the Photo Issue of YMWW! Following is a collection of photos I took with my Samsung Propel (an affordable slide-open smart phone great for web browsing, messaging, and—obviously—photos) as I explored my new town.  Some photos I took just to send to my friend and make her jealous, while others I took because some things in life need to be photographed.  All, however, were taken with the intention of sharing with you (This blog is constantly in the back of my mind; I now mentally narrate my life as it happens.).

And here. . . we. . . go!

Waikiki Beach

I was aiming to take the most cliche, postcard-worthy photo of Waikiki Beach. I probably should have pointed my Samsung Propel slightly more to the left, but it’s still a nice representation of my ‘hood.

Lifeguard Tower Silhouette

This photo was one of the first I took to make my friend jealous. It turned out better and more postcard-worthy than I thought. Can’t you imagine “Aloha from Waikiki!” scrawled across the upper right portion?

My Workplace

Here is an exterior shot of my workplace: Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall. Damn, I’ve been meaning to get a picture of me in my uniform. Next time.
Sidenote: Hot women who workout love shopping at Whole Foods.
Addendum: They also love bringing their boyfriends.

Sunrise

I have to wake up so early for work, I am able to watch the sunrise. Here is the morning sun peaking through some trees at Kaimuki Middle School on 18th Ave (from the spot at which I’m getting ready for a little more uphill trekking).

Sunset

Interesting fact: this photo was taken on the same day as the previous photo. I’ve always been up to see the sunset, but now I get to see it settle behind the Pacific Ocean at Waikiki! Those silhouettes in the distance are cruise ships.

The Ocean. . . At Last!

At the time these photos were taken, I had been on the island for about two weeks. This was the first time I actually got around to touching the ocean! I was so determined to find a job (check) and a place to live (check) that I just put off the first thing every visitor does when the arrive. I hadn’t realized how much I loved the ocean until I walked in it again.

Paparazzi

Walking down the main drag of Waikiki around sunset, it looked as though all the Aloha-shirt-wearing tourists became freelance tabloid photographers following around Kate Gosselin. I thought I’d be ironic and take a picture of people taking pictures. Here are two of the more professional photographers who actually had decent cameras and the balls to venture out from the sidewalk.

Matching Couple

This is one of those things you can’t help but take a photo of: a matching Japanese couple. His Aloha shirt and her dress seemed to have been made from the same fabric. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they were tourists.

Tour Boat

I have to admit, I love tourists. It’s refreshing seeing people whose only aim for that day is to have fun. They also serve as a reminder to how awesome your city is. This is an hour-long tour boat docking on the beach. I should get me that job!

Tourist Market

Here is the entrance to the tourists’ natural habitat: rows of knickknack kiosks and cheap food. I love it! I had to go in!

Coconut Bras and Grass Skirts

These have to be the second most popular Hawaiian tourist purchase behind Aloha shirts. Wouldn’t it be great if the women here wore these all the time? Oh well, I’m fine with the workout outfits is see all the time.

Swami

I have no idea.

Dole Whip

Even though I was nowhere near the Dole Plantation, I still came across my most favorite frozen treat of all time: Dole Whip! You have no idea how happy I was to find this. It is better than heaven in your mouth. It is like heaven died and went up to its own heaven. It’s heaven’s heaven in your mouth.

Now Hiring

As you may know, Zippy’s is everywhere in Hawai’i. Everywhere. It’s a Hawaiian fast food restaurant more widespread here than McDonald’s (but a little less than Starbucks). . . and they’re hiring! I would have grabbed one of those tickets if I didn’t already have a job. But hey, if you’re jobless in California, come join me and become a member of the Zippy’s team! Do it.

HI-Life

I saw this stencil on the wall across the room of the sports bar where I watched the last Cal game (no comment on the game). If you can’t tell, the tree leaves resemble the shapes of the Hawaiian islands. I saw it and was immediately mesmerized. It was like one of those cliche love-at-first-sight moments where our eyes met across a crowded room, but instead of it being the woman of my dreams, it was this. Whatever. Baby steps. Anyway, it gave me a great idea for a tattoo: this design, but with the shape of California as the tree trunk. Maybe I’ll try to fashion roots to resemble my family name, or the shape of the Philippines. Maybe that’s too much. More on that later.

Anyway, I thought I could get away with letting the photos speak for themselves, but I ramble on too much for that to happen. Tell me if I need to edit down these blogs at all. Brevity is key, or so I’m told. In an effort to be ironic, I will NOT end the Photo Issue of YMWW with a Roxy model.

Just kidding. Screw irony.

This may be the same model from last time.

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