Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Honeymoon

Caution: this is not for those who lack a span of attention. We documented our entire honeymoon, day by day, hour by hour (almost)... and are ready to share it as our first adventure.

Day 1: Today's adventure involves jet lag and cheese fries.

After a draining 8 hours and watching Disney's "Mulan" twice on the flight, we landed in sunny Honolulu. We made sure that a convertible was our first priority, and chose a cherry redhot Mustang. After we settled into our hotel for a few minutes, we headed out for some grub and found a local joint at the Hale Koa hotel which has VERY cheap fast food. We also swore we heard the words "Halo and A&M" mumbled in a nearby conversation and almost got homesick... then the feeling quickly subsided. It's a military hotel, you can walk onto the property straight from the beach, and because of some loophole, you eat duty free! Turkey sammich- oversized and too dry. Fish filet sammich - decent, but only because I compare it to the McD's Filet-O-Fish. Cheese fries - delicious because they use hot & melted crock pot cheese.

View from our cafe:

Leaving our mark:

After our late lunch, we spent the afternoon leisurely shopping around Waikiki's high end stores. We settled on the grass to watch a brief live show of hula dancing and singers, then headed back early evening to relax after a long day. And check FB for all of the lovely updates from our friends of photos from the wedding.

We're off to bed - I pray that my internal alarm clock doesn't go off at 3 a.m.

Day 2: Today's adventure involves a giant crater and the world's largest maze.

I was so afraid that we would somehow wake up at 3am (8am our time) because of our internal alarm clocks, but was pleasantly surprised when Hubs woke me up at 7:30am. We packed up our stuff and headed to Diamond Head for a much anticipated hike and sightseeing mission. Everyone who has heard anything about Oahu knows about this scenic and tourist-packed hike. As soon as we turned in, the clouds turned on their faucets and we opted to grab a quick coffee and egg sammich at "The Coffee Bean" which I was stoked about since they don't have those from where we come from.

Diamond Head. For $5 bucks a car - I want to do this everyday while we're here. Diamond Head is a giant crater, and now a statewide landmark. It's a 1.5 mile round trip hike up to the top of the historic mountain - where you get a certificate of completion. It took us 26 minutes to get to the very top where we got lots of great pics and 1hr 5 min for a total round trip. At the bottom we met 2 celebrities from Texas: the Mayor and Chief of Police from Three Rivers - I love going on vacation and meeting friendly people who you share something in common with. Since we needed something to cool us down, I opted for a mango smoothie and Hubs got a rainbow snow cone... and I ended up with 2 brain freezes.


View from the top:

Brain freeze source:

Tripod fun w/Diamond Head in the background:

Dole Plantation. Pineapple heaven! Everything from pineapple bbq sauces, dried pineapple, homemade pineapple whip dessert & pineapple demonstrations every half hour. It's everything you wanted to know about pineapples... but were afraid to ask. We had 2 reasons why we wanted to make this 30 mile drive: Guinness Book's Largest Maze in 2008 - spanning 137,194 sq. ft w/2.46 miles of pathway made w/14,000 local plants, and pineapple whip - which is Dole's version of creamy pineapple gelato with more crushed pineapple on top. Since the clouds hadn't turned off their faucets, we ate lunch first which was: Kalua pork quesadillas smothered in sour cream & bbq sauce w/pineapple salsa, chilli cheese fries, and pineapple whip... YUM. That definitely gave us enough energy to complete our next task - to conquer the maze. World record is 9 minutes. I was determined to beat it. If we could do this, going on the Amazing Race would be a piece of cake... it was only the largest maze in the world, right? If some dude did it in 9 minutes, we would be sure to finish in like, 15..tops. FAIL. Not only was it raining the entire time, but the map they gave us was pocket size and the line width to trace your path was less than a millimeter. Total time - 1:08:16. Towards the last checkpoint, Hubs finally says, "OHH.. I get it now." Big fail. I'm determined to return one day, with plan in mind and map in hand. We WILL return. So after we scrubbed off our muddy calves and picked out our souvenir magnet, we bid goodbye to the Pineapple Express and the labyrinth of Hades.

On the long drive back, I dove into our book and wanted to learn Hawaiian language basics. There are the 5 vowels (A E I O U), and only 7 consonants:H K L M N P W. I wanted to come up with our Hawaiian names. As follows: Phi = Puhoi. Mine was a little harder since I couldn't accommodate the S or T in my name. So I came up with simply Stella = Leila.

Tantulus Road. A 10 mile loop buried in the lush greens of Honolulu. We have never been in such awe or appreciation of such an amazing array of greenery that surrounded us. Pictures and video DO NOT do this place justice. There is a canopy of trees and vast variety of foliage that stretches out and above you, with the sun barely seeping its way through the cracks. The overwhelming smell of green is inescapably fresh and cleansing. The roads are windy and the turns are sharp... with houses buried into the nooks and crannies that the forest has created. Breathtaking!

PIMM (Party In Mouth Moment): Yotekko-Yu Ramen. Paitan ramen w/chashu pork - so incredibly buttery, creamy and fatty.. just the way I like it. Got the combo that came with ramen, fried chicken and fried rice that glimmered with butter.

All in all, we probably covered over a near 10 miles today on foot... so I'm ending on a note of Haagen Dazs' Dulce De Leche for all of my hard work.

Day 3: Today's adventure involves our deepest kiss and learning a new song.

Woke up before 7am so we thought we could catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, we didn't get out of the room until past 7:30 so that idea was a lost cause. We chowed down at the Shorebird bfast buffet. Pineapples w/cottage cheese, sticky walnut buns, fried rice, sausage, bacon and raisin bran.. yummmmmay for me. My choice in the morning is mostly carbs and sweets... Puhoi's choice is more meat and protein (i.e. scrambled eggs, hardboiled eggs, bacon and sausage.)

Hmm... I could get used to this:

Submarine. So thank goodness for the undying power of Dramamine to get me through this tumultuous boat ride to sea and aboard the submarine. I get so pumped about under water adventures since I count the days until Shark Week in HD everytime it comes around. When you submerge underwater, the colors break down according to ROY G BIV. So the first color to go is red, and to see this theory in action, Hubs wore his red shirt - which turned quickly purple as we approached the ocean floor. We saw many native Hawaiian fish, a sleeping shark, and some giant sea turtles (which usually rest for 2-3 hours before they come back ashore and can slow their heart rate down to only 1 BPM in order to stay under). We made sure to give each other a kiss when we reached - 107 ft. because that would definitely hold the record as our deepest kiss.

Ramen Part Deux. Today we ventured to another ramen spot (yay!) because we couldn't get enough of yesterday's PIMM. Decided to try Nakamura's Ramen near the hotel - I had the oxtail in shoyu broth and Hubs had the kimchee ramen. Hit the spot, and we were on our way to..

Germaine's Luau. Our tour guide dubbed himself "Cousin Greg" and all of the rest of us cousins on the bus. He did various ice breaker games to get everyone comfortable with each other and he really made the entire trip most enjoyable. I can't imagine telling the same jokes everyday to a different group of people and being so full of life and enthusiasm as he was. The luau itself was what we expected... and a little less. Leave it to our Southern roots to determine that the fried chicken was the best thing on the buffet. After a too strong blue hawaiian and mai tai concoction, the show carried on with hula dancers, a Tahiti cultural dance, Samoan dance, fire eaters, and hula lessons. Yawn. Once we got back on the bus, it was lights out for me.. or so I thought. To my utmost surprise, the entire way home, Hubs was singing along why he was happy and why he knew it, clapping his hands, stomping his feet, hanging loose, learning new songs, and participating in all of the bus activities. It took a little while for my grumpiness to subside in order for me to join in on the laughs. I think I finally joined in on the 5th time around of the song... and here it goes:

"Just hang loose,
just have fun,
sippin' on a drink,
lyin' in the sun.
Don't try and fight it,
it ain't no use,
cuz when you're in Hawaii
you should just hang loose."

We've learned that everything is fun as long as we're in it together (mostly). Even though the luau itself was subpar of our expectations, Cousin Greg is someone who we will remember for a very long time - just a class act, genuinely funny guy. So we end this night on a good note... and it's up and early tomorrow morning for another adventure in paradise. Good night world.

Day 4: Today's adventure involves timeshares, lots of driving, and a Chinaman Hat.

This morning started much like yesterday's did. We dined on the breakfast buffet - me having my usual concoction of pineapples, cottage cheese, cheese danishes, fried rice, sausage and bacon. Our breakfast was paid for by the Wyndam Resort today - because in order for us to eat for free and receive a $100 credit towards our activities, we had to sit through a 2 hour timeshare presentation. Which they promise that they are not trying to 'sell' anything to you - because the product sells itself. And 1 out of 3 buy this product on their first presentation, so either way, they are not pressuring us. "But wait... there's more." I've spent the latter part of the last decade in sales. I can sell you your own pair of socks. I know the drill... you'll ask me open ended questions about myself and how we met and laugh at all I say while taking notes on buying signals and emotional links so you can use them in your close of the sale. I'm sure they didn't appreciate ME taking over and hoarding the finance calculator while I did my own equations of what interest would be paid over the life of the loan and whether it was worth our while. You know what? I was almost sold. Good thing Hubs and I are a good balance and he kept me grounded while my Gemini instinct wanted the thrill of an impulsive buy.

North Shore. We packed up our things and headed to the most northern point of Oahu to check out the breathtaking beaches. 1st stop: Sharks Cove - an unbelievable snorkeling cove with calm & clear waters during the summer months. I would consider myself a snorkeling veteran by now. I've been in the Bahamas, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun (twice), and now Hawaii. This was BY FAR the best array of underwater life I've ever seen. Not only was there a lot of fish & coral reefs.. but the vast variety of native Hawaiian fish was remarkable. Hawaiians are very, very serious about preserving their marine life and I don't blame them (you must stay 500 yards away from whales & sea turtles & other marine life under water - or there's a number to call to report violators! The only number I know to call around Houston is to report HOV violations...and Crimestoppers). As soon as we stepped off the beach into the water, there was GIANT fish that would swim right up to your face, small fish, colorful fish, schools of fish, medium & striped fish - it was a true fishing expedition well worth our 1.5 hour drive up the coast. Too bad I almost threw up in my snorkel because swimming in the current was making me feel woozy.

Shark's Cove:

Side bar. So we got a little sidetracked and wanted to try a local highway stand for some fresh coconut juice in the strangest looking coconuts I've ever seen. I also got to try everything from green mango, pickled mango, and pineapple soaked in a sweet and overly red natural syrup. NO bueno on any of the above. I got the bag of fresh Dole pineapple for $3.

L&L Drive In (thanks Sam for the rec) - a definite PIMM. For $11.73, we had more bbq chicken, chicken katsu, mac salad and steamed rice than we knew what to do with. It looks like a shotty joint, but the place definitely kept it real (I guess Asian people everywhere bring their kid to work in the summer). This really hit the spot... and there are 2 locations in TX now - in Lewisville & Plano.

Laie Beach Resort. No tourists here at all except us. Just a lot of brave locals catching the surf on their boogie boards as the huge waves rolled in. We found a new friend, a smooth white rock in the middle of the dirt - and dubbed him "Pohaku" which means rock in Hawaiian. I bet he's sad to leave his home on Laie beach, ours will not be nearly as scenic - but we will promise him a long and air-conditioned shelf life.

Chinaman Hat. Last beach stop of the day. We set up the tripod and got busy with silly pictures of the giant island in the shape of .. you guessed it.. a Chinaman's Hat.

Curry House. Not so much a PIMM for me, because I already had my fix of chicken katsu earlier in the day. But got to try my first udon with curry as the soup base. The ma-po tofu curry was excellent - what a fantastic idea, despite the fact it looks like something Bentley leaves behind everytime he eats pepperoni. Now we're back at the hotel after another fun-filled and tiring day.

Day 5: Today's adventure involves my fear of heights, a dog named Koko, and the BEST smoothie to date.

Thanks to Sam, today's agenda was pretty easy. Since we love all things daring and active (mostly), we wanted to test our hiking skillz on Koko Head - which is not even remotely in the same league as Diamond Head. It makes Diamond Head seem like an anthill. All along the way you'll see evidence of the trail's original purpose--getting military supplies to the top of the hill--from a dormant old cable-car track (the steps), to rusting metal lock-boxes. As we were driving in, I was thinking that we had the wrong mountain - then realized the little ant-looking creatures crawling to the top of this massive crater creation were people. Crazy people that I was about to join in my quest to see the most coveted view of Oahu. It took me 28 years of my life to attempt my 1st hike... here I was... standing like Jack at the foot of his 1st beanstalk. With Phi-Fi-Fo-Fum in hand, we were on our way. It took us 29:42 to get to transcend the 1048 'steps.' We were pretty proud of ourselves for our first time and brisk pace, until we saw some 2 bikini clad girls running up the steps BAREFOOT... did I mention there are rocks and beehives and bugs, OH MY! Their time was 15 minutes.. they sure knew how to kick us off our high horse. The trail speaks for itself, and it is even more daunting in person - the way down took us almost double the time because I looked down and saw practically NO SLOPE and was not about to risk my already clumsy, accident prone self more than I already do everyday. So Hubs had to harness me with his finger (see below)

Fell in love with a dog (conveniently named) KoKo.. after the crater!

Only 1048 to the top!


We had to leave our mark:

Impeccable view:

My fear of heights realized @ this exact moment (yikes):

Kailua Beach. After climbing and descending Satan's Vertebrae, we wanted some quality beach time to take some pics. Too bad the rain didn't stop long enough before we got hungry after our hike, but this beach is mighty pretty and away from tourists like us.

Round Table Pizza. The last honest pizza (that's their motto). After peeling through page after page of where to eat in our handbook, I just wanted to reward myself for my first hike and couldn't think of anything more comforting than some hot, bubbling, greasy pizza. So we stopped here... and I knew we weren't in TX anymore when they didn't have ranch as a dressing choice on their salad bar. Hubs looked over at me, perplexed, and said,"...what dressing did u get?" Ranch is one of those things that Southerners need but never think about. Like toilet paper. Yep, that's my analogy and I'm sticking to it.

Laikuna juice & bakery (PIMM alert). Who's ever heard of a smoothie bowl? US NEITHER! What a genius little idea to pack something like an acai (crazy high in antioxidants) smoothie with organic bananas, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and granola on top! All of the flavors together were amazingly refreshing and they should put a disclaimer for the amount of brain freezes you get because of how fast you eat it.

Mansions in East Oahu. Decided to check out the rich and famous in Oahu... living out here is possible... if you want to spend $500,000 for 600 sq ft. So the size of the mansions wasn't anything we haven't seen around our own hood - but I'd rather live in a 5000 sq ft house in Oahu than a 10,000 sq ft house in Houston for the same price anyday. We did see an all bubblegum pink mansion with Mickey & Minnie painted on the garage... I almost needed lasik again after seeing that.

Central Waikiki Beach. After 5 days, we finally made it to the beach! Central Waikiki beach had soft sands and clear waters and it was a perfect and relaxing way to just come back around the hotel to chill out and watch all the sailboats under the sunset.

Roy's. We washed up and decided to dress up for out first nice dinner and headed to Roy's for dinner. Roy sure does know how to make a potent pineapple martini - I had to give up mid-gulp because I was already feeling a bit buzzy. Puhoi had a full order of the salmon sashimi as an appetizer. I had the yummy moto roll. Dinner was the macadamia crusted opah w/lobster sauce. Hubs had the 16 oz. ribeye. Since I'm an avid cheesehead, their mac n cheese was a no-brainer for me to order along with my meal. I've never had mac n cheese I didn't like... until now. Hubs loved it - I thought it was awful. Must have been the lingering horseradish-esque taste that lingered after the bacon. Bacon = good, horseradish = bad. Dessert was a mixed berry strudel w/vanilla ice cream. A sweet way to end another fabulous day in paradise.

Need to wake up for the sunrise tomorrow. I'm putting my money on us not making it in time for 6:05 a.m.

Day 6: Today's adventure involves the sunrise (or lack thereof), a Harbor of Pearl, and lots.of.dimsum.

Makapu'u Point. Today, we were so proud of ourselves for actually getting up on time at 4:30 a.m.... but somehow still late to make sunrise at 6:05. Could have had something to do with the 2 mile hike up ANOTHER mountain that we had to climb before we could reach the top of the cliff that overlooks the sunrise. Since we had already missed the sunrise, we decided to stop and take a few pictures of some native Hawaiian birds... until Hubs became obsessed with birds.

The sunrise we missed:

Pearl Harbor. I totally understand why history is important. I get it. It's just not my preference. After my 2nd hike in 2 days and waking up at the butt crack of dawn without my coffee... I was pretty beat by the time we got to Pearl Harbor. After an hour long tour through the USS Bowfin, we finally got a rest to sit down and eat some stale nachos. Then there was an actual Pearl Harbor survivor that spoke to us before they showed us real footage of how Pearl Harbor was attacked. Then we went and visited the memorial - which was built on the shipwreck of the real USS Arizona.

Chinatown. We headed to Legend Seafood for dim sum... and it was good... verrrry good. Almost as good as Golden Palace back at home ;) We had the usual: pork buns, shumai, shrimp dumplings, pork spare ribs, chicken feet (oh yeah!), taro cakes, and sticky rice. We licked our plates clean.. and the whole time couldn't help but notice that the 2 dudes next to us only had 3 dishes before they were full. They were glancing over at our portions like... that couple eats like they're fresh outta prison... or Texas. Washed it down with a DIET Coke (hey, every little bit counts), and we headed back to Waikiki to rest up after a very full day.

Bubble tea. We found one place on the way back called "Coffee or Tea?" and decided to stop in since they had a picture of some bubble tea on the window. This was my conversation with the nice young lady taking my order:

Me: Can I get the fresh watermelon juice? With tapioca?
Young Lady: We don't have tapioca.
Me: OK.. I mean, the pearls.
Young Lady: Huh?
Me: Don't you guys have bubble tea?
Young Lady: No... but we do have "BOBI"
Me: Yeah, that's what I meant... I want it with the bobi.
Young Lady: Ok, that will be $7.02.
Me: *thinks* What the hanky?! This 'bobi' better have gold shavings in it...

Ocean House. After doing some shopping - Hubs bought a new and pimpin' Hugo Boss suit - we headed back to our hotel for some beachside dining. The panko crusted cocunut lobster skewers w/plum sauce were finger licking good. I had the seafood linguine with a creamy lobster parmesan sauce. Puhoi had salt and pepper steak with creamy garlic mashed potatoes. We were too stuffed for dessert.. and wanted to finally pop open the bottle of champagne the hotel gifted us for being on our honeymoon. So sad to leave this wonderful place so soon. I'm almost tan enough to blend in with the locals.

Day 7: Today's adventure involves a ginormous omelet, a mad shopping spree & HPD (Honolulu Police Dept.)

Eggs N Things. OMG... I think I've died and gone to breakfast heaven. My omelet filled with meat, veggies, and cheese is spilling over my plate! The pancakes are bigger than my head (and I have a big noggin') and the coconut syrup is almost worthy enough to become a decadent beverage.

Ala Moana mall. I wished we hadn't found out that Hawaii only had a 4.75% sales tax.. because we felt compelled to go on a last minute shopping spree before heading back to Texas. I mean, it's totally worth it if I get my designer jeans and Tory Burch flats and save almost 3% right? Right! We were also pumped to see they had a Lululemon store, which is our fitness fashion obsession of the moment. Hubs found a sexy Hugo Boss suit at Nordstrom during their huge sale... but wait... didn't I say he just got one yesterday? He did! So it was up to ME (of course) to return it after the sales staff waited on us hand and foot the night before for nearly an hour.

HPD. After I returned the suit (while Hubs was circling the block in the car), I was running to get into the car on the busy road as he passed by. In an impulsive instant, Hubs decides to put on the hazards and stop in the middle of moving traffic so I can jump in the car. Even though we totally saw someone else getting pulled over on our first day because there are signs everywhere saying that there is "NO STOPPING/PARKING." We are both startled by the angry series of horns from the car behind us (no surprise), then the flashing blue and yellow lights that appeared in the rearview mirror shortly after. Oh no... we made it all the way to our last day... our LAST DAY.. and now we're approached by a young and sparky officer that gives us no smile and says the dreaded line, "License and registration." After a minute or two of cursing the moment, and me trying to convince Hubs he doesn't have to pay the ticket if he never drives again in Hawaii.. the officer walks back to the car and says, "You can't stop anywhere here. See the sign?" And when I ask, "So how much is this ticket going to be?" He replies, "Nah.. I'm just giving you a warning. Be careful." Did I mention how much I love Hawaii?!?!?!?! I even love HPD! I would never dare say that in Houston!

We finally make it to the airport to settle in, and Hubs decides to wine and dine me on pizza one last time before we leave. So we end this trip with a shopping spree and pizza... and just like that, I'm putty in his palms. Aloooooooooooooha and mahalo to all of the lovely people in Hawaii who truly need to show the rest of the world how to "just hang loose, and just have fun... sippin in a drink... and lying in the sun..." And even though we're far apart... Hawaii will always have a happy place in our <3.


  1. hahaha omg! sooo long! I love the pictures and PIMMs. :D

  2. Love the pics. Maybe it's time for us to upgrade our camera !!!

  3. Hello,
    I wanted to know if image "Only 1048 to the top!" corresponds to Haiku Stairs. If not, what other attraction of Oahu?
    I've been three times in this island, but did not know this beautiful location.
    Congratulations for the photos, really beautiful.

    Giuseppe from Italy