Our AM hike along the northwestern coast of Oahu was amazing. Let’s just say that it was TOO short. We got going really early but we should have been up at sunrise. If you are ever in Oahu I would highly recommend this hike. It is not at all strenuous but you walk the edge of the coastline and in morning you are in the shade with the ocean breeze in your face. Can’t think of a better way to spend a morning. Well, if we had brought our bathing suits we would have really enjoyed soaking in this lovely pool (below).
If you are on Oahu driving to the airport and running late and Yelp most helpfully recommends that Mike’s Drive In is a) right on the way and b) highly rated for great Chinese food… just remember that you are on Oahu and you have probably already had way better Chinese in New York City. Keep your expectations low. In fact, I would take all of Yelp’s highly rated ideas for Oahu with a healthy grain of salt. Dan’s, while very salty, was better than mine… he went for the oyster sauce chicken. I got the “famous” sweet & sour – kung pao which was as you would expect: typical, greasy Chinese food.
Observation of the day: there is no greater contrast that I can think of than the international departures terminal at the Honolulu Airport and the international departures terminal at JFK. Since we had stopped for lunch at Mike’s we were running very late for our flight to South Korea pushing right up to the limit for getting through security. However, if you are in an airport where everyone is on “island time” that is small and friendly, you are the only white people going to South Korea and the airport staff realizes how dumb you are getting there late they don’t yell at you and roll their eyes and make you wait like they would at JFK… nope, they take you by the hand, walk you to the front of the security line and tell you nicely that you will need to run after security since the gate is the last one at the end of the terminal in order to make your flight. Very. Helpful.
When we got to Seoul we took the train into Seoul Station and walked to the Hilton. I had booked it with points because I knew we would be arriving late and would want to be at a hotel that was easy to find and close to the station. The Hilton was “right across the street” from Seoul station but we didn’t realize that South Korea is topographically extremely mountainous. Our entire trip we would be constantly amazed how often we were hiking up hills. So getting to the Hilton was a trek with our packs on and after the time change and no sleep. The fellow checking us in was very excited to hear that we were visiting Korea for a full two weeks and wanted to know where we would be going. When we mentioned Ulleung-do he asked again to be sure that we were serious that we were going to the remote island. He seemed VERY surprised about this fact likely for reasons that would become more clear to us later on.
Quick stop at Waianae grocery store–breakfast supplies
Hike in Ka’ena Point State Park
Return to Scott’s, shower, check out
Lunch at Mike’s Drive in, Honolulu
Honolulu > Seoul
— International Date Line —
AREX local to Seoul station, dinner
Check in at Millennium Seoul Hilton
I don’t have a lot to say about the 17th. I wasn’t really ready to go on vacation. I didn’t think that we had done enough to prepare for Korea, I was stressed about work and I was nervous about two 10-hour flights. Hawaiian Airlines check in at JFK was tragic… computers for self check in were down so even though we had only carry on luggage we had to wait in line. I am certain that I was driving Dan mad with my impatience. Once we boarded the plane things got worse. Hawaiian Airlines has this video trailer they put on screen that you cannot shut off when you first broard. I think that it is suppose to make you feel relaxed. On the video you see ladies dancing in traditional Hawaiian grass skirts and views of the ocean… but the audio track makes me want to kill myself. Imagine if Kenny G had a baby with polynesian smooth jazz and ocean sounds meditation record. I will say no more.
It wasn’t really until we were sitting in the totally adorable backyard garden of the Kahumana farm restaurant that I started to relax. The garden was simple, chickens and roosters digging around for bugs, a cool breeze, the smell of dirt and the ocean, the mangoes hanging in the trees. The meal wasn’t anything to write home about – just a simple chicken and vegetable curry – but the ingredients were super fresh and the hibiscus/lemongrass ice tea was refreshing.
JFK > Honolulu
Pick up rental car
Drive to Scott’s place, Waianae
Shave Ice, Sea County general store
Beach walk, Maipalaoa Beach Park
Dinner at Kahumana Cafe
Sunset & pint of Kona IPA at Sunset Cafe
Hang with Scott on his lanai
Drive: Tucson to Phoenix
Quick stop at Queen Creek Olive Mill [tours sold out]
Heard Museum: Native American collections, Katsina
Tacos at La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop
Beer flights at O.H.S.O. Eatery + nanoBrewery