Today, the only thing we had planned was a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center. A co-worker kindly bought us tickets to the place, ’cause it was something he’d done when he was in Oahu that he really liked. Which is great, ’cause that’s exactly the kind of assistance that works great on a trip to a new place.
So, we were just at a loss for what to do in the morning. So we ran errands. Ha. Got a new belt, to replace the one that was stolen, and Ei-Nyung got some new underwear to replace the underwear that was… yeah. Stolen. Fun. On the way back from Macy’s (yeah, shaddap – it was close, adn we knew they’d have what we were looking for), we stopped off at Island Snow, a skate/surf gear shop/shave ice place. Got a bag (to replace… yeah, you get it) and a shave ice. The shave ice was good – not much more or less than expected, though the flavors the guy behind the counter recommended were surprisingly tasty.
Oh! Forgot to mention – before going to Macy’s, we went to lunch. LUNCH WAS AWESOME.
We ate at “The Alley,” which is the restaurant inside Aiea Bowl, a bowling alley about 20 minutes from where we were staying. Yes, we drove 20 minutes to eat at a bowling alley. It’d been recommended on Chowhound. We got the “Tasty Chicken” (foreground), the garlic fries (background), a bowl of ochazuke, and another bown of yakisoba. It was all pretty surprisingly awesome. I’d definitely go back – the best things, IMO, were the ochazuke and the Tasty Chicken, though both the garlic fries and yakisoba were well above average.
So, anyway – after that was the shopping, and the shave ice. Then off to the PCC*.
It was about a 40 minute drive – and while it’s a gorgeous drive, the problem for me was that it was exactly the drive to the North Shore, where we got robbed, so the whole time I kept thinking of that. Which sucked – there’s nothing to be done about it, but it’s difficult to just not think about it, even if I really, really want to just let it go and get on with things.
When we arrived at the PCC, there was a show already underway, so we scurried along to check it out. The PCC’s basically got five branches – Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Fiji. Each was represented by some traditional dance on a boat as they made their way down the little manufactured river. The highlight was the Haka, a Maori dance that we first saw on the Korean show Dream Team, which I’ve really grown to enjoy watching. It’s a powerful, intimidating, and strange dance, full of chest-slapping, tongue-sticking-out, eye-bulging, and stomping. I LOVE it.
So that was nice.
We then went and watched an IMAX movie on coral reefs, walked around to tht little villages, and watched some demonstrations of stuff. Taken as an authentic experience, the place is sort of ridiculous, but as a little Polynesian tourist EPCOT center, it’s pretty entertaining.
After walking around and checking out the villages, we were off to the Luau, where we got our lei’s and sat down for dinner. The show was entertaining – the MC was pretty sharp – strangely, did a really good Louis Armstrong impression, among other things. The food was good – the poke was surprisngly good, and I had enough of it that it was at least a little unreasonable. 🙂
After the Luau, we went to watch “Ha – The Breath of Life,” which was the big show of the evening. Didn’t really know what to expect. Started off with a strange narrative that was a little hard to follow, and ended up basically following a guy’s life story as he grows up, falls in love, gets married, etc., while transitioning between the various cultures at the PCC. It was good – lots of people, very energetic performances… then it got INSANE. The fire show at the end was pretty freaking epic, and in the end, we left with big smiles on our faces, grateful to the friend that got us tickets, and tired from a fun day.
* The only negative thing about the experience was that a couple days prior, someone had mentioned that the PCC was heavily tied to the branch of BYU that’s adjacent to it, and that it’s a Mormon-run establishment. Given the Mormons’ involvement in Prop 8 in CA, I’m not exactly happy with their involvement in our culture. How that extends to the cultures represented at the PCC, I honestly can’t say. But would like to find out.
And if one day, I can go see a Haka done with experienced Maori tribesmen, it would BLOW MY MIND.
All in all, though – good day. Full of good food, lots of new experiences. Now I’m beat.