Steve's China Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oahu - Last few days

Our 3rd and 4th days in Oahu were pretty similar. We started each day with a trip to Ala Moana Mall to do a little shopping. This was a really nice shopping mall. It had a lot of stores and a lot of restaurants. Most of the stores that we visited were clothing stores. Jackie didn't want to buy anything since she could buy things cheaper in Beijing, but she wanted to see all the fashions.

Jackie in front of the Chanel store

They also had a Hilo Hatties at the mall, so I stopped there and picked up a few more Hawaiian shirts and a bunch of chocolate covered macadamia nuts for my friends back at the office. Jackie was a little tired after all the shopping.

Jackie takes a quick nap in the hotel lobby

For dinner we went back to Outback Steakhouse, since Jackie liked that so much. There were a couple of restaurants on Oahu that I had read about that I wanted to try (such as Alan Wong's, Nico's at Pier 38, 12th Avenue Grill, etc...), but I discovered that Jackie wasn't very interested in fine dining but was rather interested in fun dining. The waiter we had was new but luckily he was being trained by Ashley, the same waitress we had the first night there.

After dinner we went back to the Harbor View Pub for a few drinks and to listen to a band that was playing there.

Enjoying the band

It was a lot of fun. The place was full of locals having a good time. One guy had a dog that would guard his beer when he left his seat....

Rascal, the beer guard dog

Another guy had some money from Zimbabwe. Their inflation is so bad that this $20,000,000,000 note is worth about 22 cents US....

Big bucks (sort of)

On the 4th day we took a little trolley that went around Waikiki so we could see some sights...

A pretty hotel on Waikiki

Surfers hanging out at Waikiki Beach

Another shot of Waikiki

A pretty surfer girl

The trolley eventually made it to Ala Moana Mall where we did some more window shopping.

Jackie tries on a coat

For lunch we went to Bubba Gump's, and had a bunch of different shrimp appetizers. It was kind of hokey, but it was fun.

Inside Bubba Gump's restaurant

After lunch we went to the Ala Moana Park, and did some swimming at the beach there.

Ala Moana Beach

Some Japanese newlyweds take some wedding pictures in Ala Moana Park

Some tourists in canoes head out to the ocean

For dinner we found a nice little Indian Restaurant called Bombay Indian Restaurant. The food was very good. Since we had to wake up early for our flights home the next day we decided to just go relax in our room. I watched a little TV and Jackie watched some Chinese TV over the internet.

Early the next morning we went to the airport. Jackie's flight to Tokyo and then Beijing left at about 10:30am, and my flight to Tokyo then Shanghai and then to Chengdu was to leave at 9:45. My flight to Tokyo on China Airlines was over an hour late taking off, and I was kind of worried that I would miss my connecting flight to Shanghai. Shortly before we were to land they moved me to business class so that I, and 3 others who were on the same flight to Shanghai, could get off the plane first and rush to catch our flight.

We ended up making our connecting flight with only a minute or two to spare. Unfortunately our luggage did not make the flight. In Shanghai I arranged to have my luggage flown to Chengdu the next day and then rushed to catch my flight to Chengdu. The next day was a work day and since I did not have my dress shoes, toothbrush, or shaver (they were in my luggage) I worked from home. Later in the afternoon I got word that my luggage had arrived in Chengdu and I had to go to the airport to get it.

With my poor Chinese it was quite funny trying to get through security to get the the baggage claim office, and then trying to get my luggage from there. Eventually I got my bags and took them home. I really needed a shave and to brush my teeth. I could go into the office the next day. I had a lot of chocolate covered macadamia nuts to give out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oahu - Day 2

On our second day on Oahu we caught an early morning shuttle to Pearl Harbor.

There were a lot of things to see at Pearl Harbor.... USS Arizona Memorial, tour of the Battleship USS Missouri, Submarine USS Bowfin, Pacific Aviation Museum, etc... We got tickets to go see the USS Arizona Memorial and had about an hour to wait, so we walked around some. We got to see the USS Bowfin, but did not have enough time for a tour of the inside...

USS Bowfin submarine

Some different naval items from WWII...

Jackie takes a look at a naval gun

There was also a memorial for lost submarines...

Memorials for submarines lost at sea during WWII

The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis...

A big aircraft carrier in the harbor

USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorial in the distance

After a little bit of sight-seeing we headed over to the USS Arizona Memorial...

When we arrived at the memorial there was a place where you could rent some headsets that played information at different locations about the USS Arizona and the attack on Pearl Harbor. They had them in about half dozen languages and Jackie got one in Mandarin.

We walked about listening to recorded information at some locations, and then we were lucky enough to meet 3 Pearl Harbor survivors who were there for a short time in the morning talking to people and signing autographs on descriptions of what their story was on 7 December...

Some survivors of the Pearl Harbor attacks

One of them even spoke a little Chinese to Jackie, which made her very happy. After that it was our turn to start the tour. We entered a small theater where they played a short movie about the USS Arizona and the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the movie we went outside and we boarded a small ship that took us out to the memorial. Here are some pictures we took...

On the boat coming to the USS Arizona Memorial

Docking at the memorial

Some of the names of those who lost their lives on the USS Arizona

Those who survived and later joined their shipmates

The buoy marks the one end of the USS Arizona underwater. The USS Missouri in the distance

One of the turrets of the USS Arizona is above water. The buoy marks the other end of ship underwater

A display showing the remains underwater

Inside the memorial

The flag flying above the memorial

Some of the USS Arizona still visible

Jackie poses with a US Sailor

After visiting the USS Arizona Memorial we went over to a stadium nearby where they were having a swap meet. The swap meet is held twice a week, and is hundreds of vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs, clothing, but not much food. We bought some cold fruit drinks and walked about the area looking at things. We didn't buy anything and after awhile we decided to find our shuttle and head back to the hotel.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was almost 3:00pm. Jackie was very tired and wanted a nap and I was very hungry and wanted something to eat. I went to a little place near the hotel called the Harbor View Pub, which luckily had some very good sandwiches. A little while after I got back to the hotel room Jackie woke up and was hungry so we went out for dinner.

For dinner that evening we went to the Chart House restaurant which is right next to the hotel...

Jackie all dressed up for dinner at the Chart House restaurant

I was told that this restaurant was owned by the same person who use to own the Chart House restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia which I had been to before and thought was very good. This one didn't seem as good, and it also seemed more expensive. Jackie had the Chicken Picata (which looked really good), and I had some clam chowder and a caesar salad with chicken. It was kind of so-so.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Big Island to Oahu

Our last day on Big Island and we started with a nice breakfast of cinnamon French toast and fresh fruit. I have not had French toast in ages, and Jackie had never had it before. It was delicious! After saying good bye to the others at the Volcano Forest Inn we got back on the road again. We wanted to see some of the east side of the island before we caught our afternoon flight to Oahu.

On the road again

Where the west side of the island is mostly volcanic soil and in some places resembles a desert, the east side of the island is lush with lots of grasslands and jungle. Here are some more pictures...

Some grasslands near cattle farms

A big beautiful tree

A lovely scenic view

North of the city of Hilo are a few waterfalls, the largest being Akaka Falls which was very beautiful...

Akaka Falls

A little side trip into some jungle

Some jungle flowers

This gives you an idea how big the jungle growth was

Another waterfall near Akaka Falls

There was one place that I was hoping to go to, but we had trouble finding it. Laupāhoehoe is a place that was hit by a tsunami in 1946, and there is a memorial for the school children that died in the tsunami. It turns out it was a little north of Akaka Falls, but we thought it was to the south.

For lunch we stopped at a little Thai place in Hilo. We were in need of some spicy food and some rice.

Our waitress was impressed we could eat such spicy food

After lunch we went to the airport, dropped off our rental car, and caught our flight to Oahu. The flight from Hilo to Honolulu was about 40 minutes, and at the airport we got a shuttle to our hotel. We were staying at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki. It seemed that 90% of the guests at the hotel were from Japan, so the service was very good and the place was very nice and clean. Our room was on the top floor.

Across from the hotel is a large marina with all kinds of sailboats and yachts, as well as some very pretty beaches.

Left view from our hotel room on the 33rd floor

Middle view from our hotel room on the 33rd floor

Soon after checking in we made arrangements to go to Pearl Harbor the next day, and then Jackie wanted to go to the beach next door that is in front of the Hilton. Jackie went for a swim and I decided to relax in the shade of a palm tree.

Jackie goes for a swim

After that we went for a walk in the marina to look at all the boats.

Jackie poses by some boats in the marina

At dinner time we went walking around Waikiki near our hotel and decided to have dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Jackie had never been to one before, and it looked like fun. I had the Outback Special (sirloin steak) and Jackie had the Savory Pepper Mill Steak, and we both had a beer that was either local or Australian... I had never heard of it before. Our waitress was great, and really took great care of us.

NOTE: I got my evenings messed up and changed the last paragraph to the right place.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Big Island - Day 5

We got up early on our 5th day on Big Island, checked out of our resort, and hit the road. We decided to drive around the south side of the island and see some sites before checking in at the bed and breakfast place near the town of Volcano we would be staying that night.

Driving along we stopped at places to see some of the beautiful scenery...

View of the see along Route 11

Down around the southern most point of the island we stopped at a bakery called Panaluu, which is the southernmost bakery in the USA. Since it was lunch time we decided to eat there. They had a nice little place outside where people can sit and eat.

Outside the entrance to the Panaluu Bakery

Some birds who hoped we dropped some of our lunch

After lunch we wandered about looking at all the different types of flowers that grew nearby.

Jackie really loved all the different flowers

We got back on the road and started heading east along route 11. There was lots more beautiful scenery to see.

Some coastline along the southern part of the island

We stopped at one place that was very beautiful, and Jackie had to yell, "漂亮!" (piào liang... beautiful) since it was so lovely. It was the only time I heard her speak Chinese during the whole trip. The picture here does not show how vivid the colors really were.

Jackie really loved the view here

We also visited a black sand beach that was very pretty. The thing that struck me about the black sand beach was how strong the waves and wind were. It was exhilarating being there.

A black sand beach

Big waves and big winds

Eventually we made it to the Volcano Forest Inn, which is where we stayed that night. The Volcano Forest Inn is a really nice B&B place run by a couple named Debbie and Greg. They did a very good job of making us feel welcome. The inn is located off of route 11 about a mile or two from the Volcano National Park, down a little gravel road and surrounded by jungle (rain forest is the new pc term for it, but I still call it jungle).

Volcano Forest Inn among the jungle

After settling in our room and resting a bit we drove out to the Volcano National Park. Here are some pictures we took in the park...

Outside the Kilauea Visitor Center

Pele... Goddess of fire and volcanoes

Some of the many steam vents in the area

Kilauea volcano

Some hikers walk inside a crater of an old volcano

A view of the shoreline in Volcano National Park

End of the road

We went back to the Volcano Forest Inn before dusk, and met another couple that were staying at the inn also... John and Teryn (hope I spelled that right) who were from Oregon, and friends of Debbie and Greg's. Everyone else had already had dinner; so Jackie and I heated up our leftover pizza, lasagna, and Pasta Milano and had a nice Italian dinner.

After the sun went down there was a light rain and everyone headed out to the park to see the lava at night, but Jackie and I were a bit tired after all the driving around that day so we stayed at the inn and relaxed before going to bed. We wanted to get up early the next day to see some sights on the east side of the island before our afternoon flight to Oahu.