Weekly Photo Challenge: One

Diamond Head Light House

Diamond Head Light House

While coming back from Hawaii, I read an article Odyssey Of Mind by Rob Britton (http://hub.aa.com/en/aw/remembering-travels) in the in-flight magazine in American Airlines. The author says that at some point in our life we get caught up when we will have no time to travel. He says,

Although trip recall is often spontaneous, our senses usually are our boarding passes. Our senses of sound, smell, taste and feel can serve as similar tickets to another time and place.

We left Maui reluctantly, thinking we could have spent more time in Maui. Reading this article was a consolation to my mind. Ever since I returned from Maui, I have been revisiting whenever I narrate my experiences to friends or when I wrote posts on this blog about my travel.

Like Rob Britton said in his article, senses of sound, smell and taste take me back. Every morning I close my eyes and breathe the fresh air and the smell takes me to Maui. The sound of running water in a fountain at my office takes me in front of those waterfalls and the black sand beach. I come home and listen to Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia’s flute, and next second I am in Halemano. While cooking, I open the kitchen rack and the tinned Dole pineapple chunks remind me of Honolulu. Pesto Penne Pasta reminds me of Halemano, since we cooked the same at Halemano kitchen for evening dinner.

Looking at the photos that we captured in Hawaii again takes me there and all other places we have visited so far. There’s no 6 hour flight and journey is free of cost.

Re-posting some of my favorite photos, some are taken by my husband and couple of them by myself. The picture of a flower in snow, was not taken in Hawaii.

Koki Beach Park

An island seen from Koki Beach Park

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A distant tunnel seen from Nu’uanu Pali Look out

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A Beetle on a plant

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A man skiing at Ho’okipa Beach Park

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A flower covered in snow

A pineapple at Dole Plantation, Hawaii

A pineapple at Dole Plantation, Hawaii

Scenery on Kamehameha Highway

A tree on Kamehameha Highway,Hawaii

 

Dancing girl at Thanksgiving Parade – Waikiki

Statue of Kamehameha I the great

Statue of Kamehameha I the great

Puua Kaa State Wayside

A waterfall- Puua Kaa State Wayside

Our cottage at Halemano to the left

Our cottage at Halemano to the left

Morning Sun rise

Me sitting on the bench at the edge of the cliff watching the morning Sun rise

Written for : http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/photo-challenge-one/

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Part 3: Mahalo Oahu, Aloha Maui

Music auto plays on clicking this post.

1 Dec

In the morning Inland Air plane, we left for Maui, the second largest Hawaiian Island. When the plane took off, we got a good view of Diamond Head Crater, colorful beaches and the Honolulu/Waikiki city. The flight from Honolulu to Maui is about 40 minutes. On the way, we get a good view of Molokai and Lanai Island.

While Oahu was crowded and commercial, the part of Maui that we saw was naturalistic. We had rented a cottage at Halemano estate, down Hana. We rented a car and started driving on Hana Highway. There are many beaches, hikes, look outs, gardens, on Hana highway. We stopped at Paia, a little town, on the way for breakfast. The small restaurants and grocery shops blend in the nature. We had breakfast at Cafe Des Amis at Paia and bought grocery at Mana foods, an organic food store, to cook for the night.

Our first stop was at Ho’okipa Beach Park followed by a small hike to Twin Falls. Drive on Hana highway is very scenic, but the roads are curvy and narrow. On almost every one mile we encountered a water fall. It is a scenic drive in the middle of mountains with lush green trees and water falls, on a curvy and moist road. The leaves of the trees were fresh green and wet. The light breeze carried fragrance of the mud. All these reminded me of my native town and the drive to the town. Continue reading

Part 2: A peek into Hawaiian History

Second day in Oahu, Hawaiian Island.

30th Nov

We woke up as early as 4 in the morning to visit Pearl Harbor Memorial. In holiday season tickets for USS Arizona memorial tour are limited and are sold quickly. The park opens at 7 but according to my hubby the queue starts as early as 6. We got ready and had ‘everything bagel’ and coffee at a cafe in front of our hotel. It was dark but not very cold. By the time we reached there were already 30-40 people standing in the queue. The tour hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. In each tour a maximum of 100 people are allowed. After waiting for 30 minutes we got tickets for the first tour. We bought a self guided audio tour. For the next 40 minutes we followed the audio tour. We were shown a short movie for 20 minutes about Pearl Harbor history. After the movie, a ferry waited at the exit, in which we were taken to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. During the World War II, Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and  USS Arizona ship was hit with a torpedo. Arizona sank and became a final resting place to nearly 1177 soldiers even to this day. This catalytic event led US to enter World War II. A memorial is built on USS Arizona that still sits under the water. Traces of oil still seeps from the ship, families of soldiers believe that it’s the tears of soldiers trapped in Arizona bubbling up. Here are some photos:

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We came back to the park and went around to complete the audio tour. There were many more interesting tours but that would require a whole day. We decided to leave for Iolani Palace that is located in Honolulu business district. May be because of Saturday morning, the road was empty and very few cafes and restaurants were open. Those that were open had no vegetarian options. The Denny’s at Kalakaua Avenue was the nearest. We drove back to Waikiki for breakfast. Vegetarian is not just difficult to find but very expensive.

We drove back to Iolani palace after breakfast around 11 a.m.. Iolani Palace belonged to King Kalakaua and his sister and successor Queen Liliuokalani. Iolani stands grand and majestic. A big banyan tree stands next to the palace, as grand and huge as the Palace itself. We didn’t take the tour inside the palace.

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace

In front of Iolani Palace is the Statue of King Kamehameha I or Kamehameha the Great. A brave and powerful warrior, he is said to have conquered all the Hawaiian islands and established Kingdom of Hawaii.

Kamehameha

Kamehameha

Lunalilo, unlike his grandfather Kamehameha I, is said to be the most liberal king. Below pic is the tomb of Lunalilo. He requested a burial at Kawaiahaʻo Church with his mother. His mother Kekāuluohi was excluded from the royal list and was not buried at the Royal Mausoleum, which was mainly for the chiefs.

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Mausoleum of King Lunalilo

Nuuanu Pali State Park Lookout. Battle of Nu’uanu was fought here. Kamehameha 1 fought this battle to unify Hawaiian Islands. A information board displayed warriors falling of the cliff during the battle. For that reason in Hawaiian language it is known as Kalelekaʻanae, which means “the leaping mullet”.

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It was terribly windy at the Nu’uanu Pali Look out. After spending 20-30 minutes photo shooting, we headed back to Waikiki for food. We had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen at Ala Moana Center, Waikiki.

The one thing we were desiring to see in Hawaii was Hula, the traditional Hawaiian Dance. Polynesian Cultural Center has a packaged tour including Luau, a traditional feast accompanied by entertainment. The feast comprises of mostly pig, salmon, chicken and other food. There were Luau at other places but we didn’t find it reasonable to pay an exorbitant amount simply to watch the dance. We dropped Luau and decided to spend rest of the evening at the beach and Waikiki Street.

While exploring each store, we stopped at a huge crowd at Royal Hawaiian Center. In an open garden there was a stage arranged with lights and microphone. After a couple of minutes dancers in native Hawaiian costume showed up. We managed to find a seat at a corner. The Hula dance, which we most wanted to see, began. It was a wonderful experience to see the Hawaiian Hula Dance. I managed to take some videos. From where I sat, there was not enough light for recording. The video recording is shaky. With the help of YouTube I stabilized and auto corrected which is bearable.

In Hawaiian, Laka is the goddess of Hula dance. It is said that the hulahula dancing in Hawaiian was not so much of dancing in usual sense. The dancers act out of hand gestures and movements to convey the meaning of the song. Dances were named from the nature of accompaniment. Like, ka-laau, in which the tune is marked by the striking of sticks, hawaiian puili sticks, the Hula Pahu accompanied by drums.  Dancers wore Pa-u dress with wreaths on head. 

Though the following videos are shaky, it is worth watching. The first playlist has 7 videos, showing Hula in traditional Hawaii fashion. The singer uses the instruments Ipu and Hula Pahu. She beats it for rhythm. Dancers use sticks I believe to be puili sticks made of bamboo.

Second single video is of an artist dressed as Elvis Presley and other dancers. I thought this is modern form of Hula.

Third playlist has 4 videos. We managed to find a seat in the front for this performance. The singer uses a guitar kind of instrument called Ukeke. Dancers use Ipu and puili sticks.

Reference: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~anu/pdf/Brief_History_1891.pdf

Interesting read: http://www.bishopmuseum.org/documents/govdocs//PAM_DU_HIST_8.pdf

Other references: Wikipedia

Submitting for : http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/multimedia-storytelling-challenge/

Part 1 – A dream come true, surprisingly!

Aloha,

For the thanksgiving weekend we went on a trip to Hawaiian Islands. This came to me as a total surprise when I had least expected. The day before long weekend (27th Nov) I told a couple of my friends that I had no plans. I even promised I would catch up with a friend for dinner or lunch on one of the days. Later that evening my husband told he has something to tell me if I get up very early the next day. I grumbled and he pestered me to wake up early. My husband is a morning person. He wakes up pretty early and expects me to do so to give him company in the morning. I thought it is normal that he asked me to get up early like he usually does. I just told I would.

28th Nov

As early as 7’o clock, my husband wakes me from sleep and says we have a flight to catch at 11 a.m. to Los Angeles, to visit his cousin. I washed my face still in confusion and in sleep. I smelt aroma of fresh filter coffee and slurped two sips to stimulate my brain. My husband was running all over the house, arranging documents, putting clothes for laundry and packing. In a couple of hours I got ready, still confused and remained silent.

Our friend PP came to drop us to SJO airport. He knew about our trip but kept mum even when we met the previous evening at our home and went out for snacks. We reached Los Angeles. At the American Airlines terminal, my hubby asked me to look at 46B, the board read, flight to Honolulu. I was completely thrilled and started laughing uncontrollably. We boarded a 6 hour flight to Honolulu, Oahu.

We landed at around 8:30 p.m. HST, went to car Rental and rented a car. We then drove to our hotel on Kuhio Avenue. While my husband was driving, I was navigating him with the help of GPS. Most of the street names start with letter K and are hard to pronounce like for example Punahou Kalakaua Kamahameha etc.. Sometimes I would simply spell the word. And by the time I had learnt to spell the names, we were leaving Oahu.

We arrived at our hotel Ambassador and checked in. Our hotel was in the prime area of downtown Waikiki. We went for a walk in search of food at 10:30 in the night. The city was still awake. Many shops and restaurants were still open, or as the hotel receptionist said, the closing hours was extended mainly for the long weekend. Waikiki city is very commercialized with super posh shops like Prada, Dior, GUCCI, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co. along with shopping malls like Royal Hawaiian Center, Hilton Hawaiian village etc.. While they all stood proudly and royally, we went to grab a bite of pizza at Round Table Pizza on Kaiulani Avenue. It was hard finding a parking even at that time. With lot of one way lanes we went round and round and finally parked on Ala Wai Blvd and walked to Kaiulani Avenue. Round Table Pizza was dark inside and almost empty with a couple of tables occupied. We took a table in the balcony and silently watched people passing by us crossing street. For the first time in the entire day we sat relaxed taking a deep breath. I slightly pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming. We ordered a Gourmet Veggie which was very salty and garlicky.

29th Nov

We had set the alarm clock to 6 a.m. but neither of us woke up until 6:30. We wanted to do the Diamond head Crater Hike to see the sun rise and finish the hike before it could get sunny. Even though we missed the sun rise, we woke up and got ready to hike. The weather was simply beautiful, not too cold and not very hot either, felt just like Bangalore. It was a 10 minute drive from our hotel to the park.

Le’ahi in Hawaiian means crater. If translated as “brow of the ‘ahi fish”, the crater as seen from Waikiki. This was on the information board at the entrance. I believe this crater was formed long ago due to volcanic activity. The entrance is in the middle of the crater. The hike from entrance to the view point is 1.6 mile and moderate. It gets very steep in the end though. The view point is on the rim of the crater. The view from here is worth all the sweat. Some of the photos taken at this view point is below. By the time we came back, there were lot of tourists at the entrance and hardly any parking space left. It’s ideally better to finish off early in the day.

Diamond Head Crater Hike:

Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater

Above photo: The crater clearly seen from the rim of the crater itself.

Diamond Head Light House

Diamond Head Light House

Above photo: Beautiful view of Diamond Head Light House

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

Above photo: Waikiki city and the beach from the view point

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

Above photo: Greenish Blue ocean and coconut trees

After the hike we came to our hotel and got ready to go out for breakfast. We went to Denny’s on Kuhio Avenue. For breakfast we had oat meal, English muffin, fruit bowl, whole wheat pan cakes from ‘Build your own grand slam’. As we had breakfast we decided to drive to North Shore taking H1 and Kamehameha(named after a Hawaiian chief) Highway.

Our first stop was at Dole Plantation on Kamehameha Highway. The shop at the entrance was crowded with visitors. There usually is a tour to plantation which is mainly for children. We didn’t take it. We bought a sweetcorn and mixed fruit bag that had fresh local grown Pineapple, Mango, coconut pieces, Banana and Papaya. The fruits taste amazingly good.

For visitors, on a patch, they have grown different variety of pine apples. Below is one photo captured by my hubby.

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A pineapple grown in Dole Plantation

After Dole Plantation, there was heavy bumper to bumper traffic on road. A couple of random photos that I captured while waiting to move.

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Our next stop was at a beach on North Shore. The currents were powerful. They came raging and roaring, hitting the shore chasing us. We didn’t give up, we ran away from it. A little game. The beach was slippery with algae. There was a warning sign for public not to enter. Anyway we were not prepared with additional clothes. After some photo shoot and play we got back on road. The traffic was again very slow.

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Oahu North Shore

After 3-4 miles we realized there was Surfing World Cup Championship being held which explained the heavy traffic. There was no parking and we were getting hungry. We didn’t stop anywhere. There were fresh shrimp, shark, fish and other sea food trucks available. A tourist we met at the beach told us they were really great. We drove for a long time until we found a taco bell. We are not fond of taco bell but for that day that was our feast. There are small road side shops where they sell tender coconut and Hawaiian art. We bought a tender coconut, it was incredibly sweet. Back in India, after we drink the tender coconut water, the vendor cuts the coconut in half to eat the white fleshy part. I love this!! We asked the vendor at Hawaii if she knew to cut it, and she did! The white tender slimy flash was tasty and relishing.

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The Vans World Cup Surfing

After lunch we drove back towards Waikiki on Kamehameha Highway. Since we still had lots of time before dark, we thought of going to Kailua Bay. We missed the exit to Kailua Bay, a narrow single lane road.

We reached Waikiki around 5 p.m. and decided to spend the evening at Waikiki. The tacos we had for lunch were not very filling and we decided to finish of dinner early by 6 or so. On Beachwalk Avenue there’s an Italian restaurant, Arancino which had veggie options. There was 45 minute wait even at 5:30 in the evening. We gave our name and just went for a stroll.

Due to space constraint in the island there are many high raise buildings. The beachfront hotels The Royal Hawaiian Waikiki, Sheraton, Embassy Suites are grand and magnificent. Across the road in a nearby park by the beach we noticed a crowd and some people in native Hawaiian costumes. We walked fast to the crowd dressed in native Hawaiian and learnt there was going to be a parade on Kalakaua Avenue at 7 p.m.. We still had sufficient time but just hoped we got a call from Arancino soon so we could finish dinner soon. We further explored the neighboring streets. In almost every street there’s one ABC store, to buy souvenirs like fridge magnets, Hawaiian dancing dolls, T-shirts, flowers, garlands and so on. By then in 15 minutes or so we got a call that our table was ready.

Arancino is pretty small but cosy restaurant with great ambiance. I loved their lighting and the Focaccia bread with fresh olive oil. We ordered melanzane alla parmiginia, oven baked eggplant Parmesan for appetizer and spaghetti all’ ortolana, vegetables tossed with garlic and olive oil for entree. The cheese, the bread was pretty heavy. The service was excellent and taste was amazingly great. My hubby said that was the best spaghetti he had ever had.

After dinner, we walked to Kalakaua Avenue and waited for the parade to start. The entire street was jam packed, people sat on the footpath eagerly waiting for the parade. As the parade began, students from local schools marched wearing school uniform beating drums,blowing trumpets, holding the school flag, showing their skills. In between, war veterans, survivors of Pearl Harbor drove waving at us. The street applauded in return. Some photos of the thanksgiving parade here. We thoroughly enjoyed the parade and performances of students and other folks.

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After the parade, we went inside a mall and tasted free samples of cookies and coffee. It seems in Hawaii they grow coffee. After spending about 30 minutes loitering in the mall and the street, we returned to our hotel and called it a day. We slept setting the alarm to 4:00 a.m. for the next day adventure.

Mahalo

Continued….

Singapore in a glimpse

We had a half a day stop over at Singapore, Changi airport. At first our idea was to stay at transit hotel in the airport. We reached Singapore at midnight, the transit hotels were full. The airport has luxurious sleeping lounges, massaging chairs and comfortable seats to rest, We decided to sleep at the airport, with so much facilities we were able to get a good sleep. In the morning we had breakfast at an Indian vegetarian restaurant – Kaveri – which has amazing South Indian food.

There’s a free city tour from airport, starting at 9 in the morning. We took the first slot from 9 – 11 a.m. We realized how humid the city is soon after we were out of the airport. It’s pretty much like Chennai. The city tour bus, took us over the downtown Singapore, a 15 minute stop at Marina Bay from where we could see Sentosa island. The guide in the bus explained the history of Singapore, about the housing provided by government, the city during the world war II  and more.

The tour ended in an hour or so, since some of the roads were closed due to Formula race. Continuous sweating due to humidity causes dehydration and feels tiresome very soon. After the tour, we took Singapore Subway to Little India. I was amazed to see the mini-Indian bazaar,fresh flowers, vegetables, camphor,  beetle leaves, dresses, jewelry and even a Hindu temple. For a minute I thought I was already in India!

Some photos taken from the moving bus. The photos are taken from my mobile, didn’t carry a camera while travelling. We wished we could take another tour in the evening, to see the city lights, but had a flight to catch. Awesome city Singapore:

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The Singapore Flyer , The central business District and Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay Financial Center

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Little India

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Garden at Changi air port.

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The old-style departure board at Changi airport.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

Kochi port Kerala

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This post is in response to Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s topic is to go out and take a click of “The Golden Hour”. Golden Hour is first and last hour of sunlight of the day. Photography has not been my hobby but I very much wanted to buy a camera for myself since my college days. After I started working, I bought myself a Sony Cyber Shot Camera DSC-S730 with 7.2 Mega Pixels (basic model). These two photos are initial photos I took from my camera when we went to Kerala to attend my Team Lead’s wedding. I have not done any photo editing to any of these photos. Continue reading