I slept at 1am and woke up at 4am…What do I do now?
4am in Hawaii is 9am in Toronto. I have always been unable to sleep in past 9am. It doesn’t matter how tired I am; my brain has no consideration for my body.
I tried to go back to sleep, but I was too sensitive to my new environment. My eyes were alert, and my heart seemed to beat faster than usual. Quietly I rose from the bed, careful not to wake Cinnamon. My phone accompanied me to the dark balcony. Although it was 4am in mid-November, the air was as fresh and cool as that of an ideal summer night in Toronto.
I opened the balcony door and the Big Dipper greeted me from the night sky. I traced an imaginary line through the seven stars of the Dipper, like I used to draw in a connect-the-dots exercise book when I was younger. I felt as if those stars were shining with all their might, making themselves extra bright, just for me. I know that this is far from the truth, but one can fantasize. I tried to take a picture of it, but my camera phone wasn’t good enough to capture it. So I stared at it for a long time, trying to engrave it in my head. I am saving it for the rainy days when I need to recall a comforting memory.
I sat on the balcony, jotting down things on my phone and just thinking about stuff until 6am. I wrote about the first day of this trip, then I stared into the night view and thought about how I should live my life, and when I couldn’t figure out the answer, which is usually how it goes, I recorded fantastic business ideas that I knew I would never put into action. Then I wanted a change of environment so I went to the washroom and sat in the tub and thought some more.
Cinnamon woke up at 7am. She wanted to go jogging before breakfast. I don’t like to exercise, so I chose to walk.
We could see our morning workout route from the balcony.
The view from the balcony in the morning.
We got out of the hotel and crossed a street to get to the walkway by the waters.
8am. The clear water was a giant mirror.
The other side; sun in my eyes.
Even the birds here are beautiful…Look at their cute red hats.
Water so clean, you can see the fish.
Cinnamon jogging on the left. Far down, you can see the bridge that connects to the other side.
Cinnamon has a friend who frequently visits Honolulu, and when she saw the picture, she immediately recognized this walkway as “Ala Wai Boulevard”. We didn’t know this was such a well-known road. How lucky we were to be able to look at this everyday from our hotel room.
We had breakfast and coated ourselves with SPF 60 sunscreen before we headed out. SPF 60 was the highest SPF level I could find in Toronto. You walk into an ABC Store in Hawaii, and there’s SPF 100, right by the cashier. They know their sunscreens here.
Speaking of ABC Store, it was our first stop of the day. We desperately needed a SIM card with data. They said they had stopped selling SIM cards for a while now, and referred us to “Hoku Wireless”. The manager of the store was really nice. He couldn’t remember the name of the store off the top of his head, so he googled around for a while to find it, then gave us a tourist map, drew and labelled Hoku on it, and gave us directions for the best route. Is there something in the water here? How is everyone here so kind?
So we got to Hoku Wireless, which was on our way to Waikiki Beach. Hoku is a small store on the first floor of Ohana Hotel, with a sign and door facing the pedestrian road.
Cinnamon and I hadn’t unlocked our phone before coming here, but the Hoku employee was really helpful. The SIM card gave us unlimited data and local calls for 5 days for $41.85 USD. Pretty sure it included phone calls to North America as well, but we just used WhatsApp to communicate with people back home, because this is 2016.
Our first time walking to Waikiki Beach was filled with anticipation. The beach…the beach…Waikiki Beach!!!
It was 35°C, but it wasn’t sticky and humid, nor was it too drying on the skin. It was tolerable heat, and best part of all, I did not see a single mosquito in all of my 6 days in Hawaii. Surprising, as beaches are usually a buffet table for mosquitoes…
Anxious to cross over and get to the blue water!
The beach wasn’t as populated as I thought it would be. I guess November is off-season.
I want to go back…
Lots of benches for you to sit and relax if you don’t feel like walking in the sand.
When we got hungry, we stopped at Waikiki Beachside Bistro. They sell burgers, snacks, snow cones, but of course we wanted poke (pronounced POH-keh). There were three different flavors to choose from.
Here are the two poke bowls we chose. The one on the left is sweet, salty and sour. It has seaweed salad and gari (Japanese pickled ginger). The one on the right is spicy mayo. Both had tuna; they don’t have salmon poke here.
Close-up of the left
Close-up of the right, Spicy Mayo.
It’s the same concept as bibimbap. Mix it all up and start eating.
I wouldn’t make an extra effort to go to the Bistro, since I did not cry metaphorical tears of joy and pleasure as I ate, but it is at a convenient location and poke just feels so right when you’re at Waikiki beach. There are lots of other good places to eat by the beach, so take a walk and explore the options. You don’t have to worry about being short of drinks or snacks, as there is an ABC store every few steps away from each other. I guess market cannibalization isn’t a concern…Seriously, it’s worse than Starbucks.
We were eating our pokes outside, and Cinnamon had the pleasure of getting shat on by a friendly seagull. I told myself, ‘This gloop of green, grey, and white is not poo. It’s not poo….’ as I wiped it off her hair with a bunch of napkins. Suddenly, the seagulls that were surrounding us all seemed to look at us with hateful eyes. They looked like they were ready to play another round of Call of Doodie (heh heh, get it? Call of Duty, but with doodie, which is poo. Heh heh). We hurriedly left their turf and started walking in the sand again.
Wish you were here, XOXO
Hawaiian Sun juice is so good…“Pass-O-Guava” is short for Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava. This is a very popular flavor in Hawaii. So popular that it’s simply written as “POG” in menus.
I was drinking this can of Pass-O-Guava juice while sitting on the sand at Waikiki. Then we got up and walked some more, and I started to get little seeds from the bottom of the can. I wondered if they were tiny pieces of guava seeds or something. I bought this can of juice again two days later, and I never got any seeds, even when I got to the bottom of the can. It was then I realized that I had unknowingly consumed the sands of Waikiki Beach.
After admiring the beach from the shore and taking tons of pictures, we headed to the hotel to change into swimsuits and drop off our valuables. We walked back to the beach and played in the salty water. Whenever it got into my mouth, I worried about my rising sodium intake level. Whenever it got into my eyes, I felt as if my eyeballs were turning into pickles. But no one wore swimming goggles here…so I didn’t either. As Patrick Bateman would say, I… want… to fit in.
We swam and floated until we felt cold and hungry, at which point we went back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. Feeling tired and lazy, we decided to go to Sam’s Kitchen, the place we couldn’t find last night. It was a 3-minute walk away, had a good Yelp rating and there were great reviews about their Garlic Shrimp, which is a symbol of touristy Hawaiian fast food.
The more I use Yelp, the more I feel that the best way to discover a new restaurant is to just get out and walk around, without reading reviews beforehand. I have started to go in to a place if I see a lot of people inside, or I just trust my nose. If it smells good, it probably tastes good.
Sam’s Kitchen was meh. It was an outdoor patio with tables and chairs that took up a long alleyway, and the food came out in styrofoam containers… The shrimps were marinated so they were savory, but they were tiny, like the freezer-burned shrimps in the frozen section of a Food Basics. Yes, ghetto shrimps. The steak was better than the shrimps.
I recommend Ken’s Kitchen if you want good Garlic Shrimp. It’s a food truck close by Sam’s Kitchen. The shrimps at Ken’s are juicier, the sauce is more flavorful, and it comes with salad and a piece of pineapple, and it’s also open late. We made the mistake of trying Ken’s Kitchen for our last meal in Hawaii before we headed off to the airport, and we regretted not trying it earlier.
Garlic Shrimp and some beef steak thing from Sam’s Kitchen. $14 USD each. Garlic Shrimp is always $14 USD everywhere.
There was an old man at the entrance of Sam’s Kitchen, switching between “Konnichiwa” and “Ni Hao” whenever he saw an Asian, trying to convince them to come in. I wished he’d stop doing that.
We were still hungry, so we went on to the next round of drinks and a snack.
We finished off our night at Duke’s. It’s a huge restaurant with a back patio that opens up to the beach. The ambiance was really nice, but it was really dark even with the fire lamps on, so all we saw was darkness in place of the beach. If you’re looking for scenery, it’s better to come here in the day. We enjoyed the summer night breeze with our drinks and food. Hawaii is great to walk around in at night, and almost all shops are open until 11pm or later, including clothing stores, if you didn’t get enough shopping done during the day.
The outdoor patio at Duke’s. You can find these standing fire lamps all over Hawaii. But WHO is lighting them? Is it island magic?
Cocktails and nachos. The cocktail is called Mai Tai, and is a staple at any bar in Hawaii.
Mai Tai. The glass was so pretty! It was sweet and bitter.
I’ve been told to drink Mai Tai and Lava Flow when in Hawaii. I guess they’re the local cocktails, as I’ve never seen them in Toronto. We tried Lava Flow two days later. It’s a sweet and creamy strawberry-coconut-pineapple slushie. It’s yummy, but you can barely taste the alcohol. Not my cup of booze.
We chatted on into the night and headed back to our hotel with just a bit of a buzz.