Day 3 and 4 in Oahu
After a day of doing little to nothing, it was time to do something again on our vacation! But before any of that, we needed a proper breakfast to start. Given that CP’s ideal breakfast are blueberry pancakes, no matter where we are, I found him a place that actually served it (you’d be surprised how hard it was…every place wanted to put either bananas or pineapples, which is not all that surprising since we were in Hawaii).
Now…those 2 pancake stacks look the same with the exception of the topping right? It is actually the topping that gives it away: one is a buttermilk blueberry pancake (top) and the other is a ricotta blueberry pancake (bottom). The difference? One is a good, standard, pancake…the other, is a creamy, decadent disks that will fill you up 5x faster. Just take a look at the creamy goodness inside:
I had made it through half of the stack before I decided that it was a better idea to walk away than to push through. CP on the other hand had wiped clean his stack (of 3…instead of 2 because his was slightly lighter than mine). After our yummy breakfast, we had to make a stop in the Lego store we walked by on our way to breakfast because both CP and myself are big fans of Legos…but CP was just so excited to see a store with nothing BUT Legos.
He ended up buying 3 Starwars character keychains (since it was buy 2, get 1 free) and walked out of the store triumphant and happier. 🙂 With this good start to the day, we decided to go see some of the “sights” of the island…you know, the tourist stops. It is in us both to do as much one can during a vacation (it’s more myself than anyone), so since we spent one whole day practically doing nothing…it was time to do something! That’s why we spent the next 2 hours or so at the Waikiki Aquarium.
We learned that this monk seal is best known for “energy conservation.” CP and I both thought, “How appropriate for this vacation…perhaps we should take a page from its book and we could learn a few things or two on how to enjoy life.” I loved this seal because: 1. it’s just a blubbery cuteness and 2. lives the life I wish I could.
After spending the time inside a wonderful aquarium and learning about the animal that embodies Bruno Mars’ newest single, “The Lazy Song,” CP and I decided to do something just completely the opposite. Here’s a shot of what I’m referring to:
Can you guess where we were headed off to next?…No? Here’s another clue then:
CP and I were about to take a “hike into history” up Diamond Head Crater! Let me tell you…it is one, fracking harsh hike into history. Irony lost upon us? Nope. Deterred? Ha! We’re city people in a profession where people think sleeping is inefficient use of hours in the day. So suck it up, get lathered up (with sunscreen…we’re not stupid, skin cancer is not our agenda for this hike), and “LEGGO!”
There’s CP as we left the paved lower part of the crater’s park, into the rough and uneven terrain. I took random shots throughout the hike, but we hit a point where I was using all my energy to keep myself from slipping and/or twisting my ankle on the uneven trail.
Just when we thought we would never get anywhere, we reached a break from the hike to this gorgeous view:
After a brief break to catch our breath, cool off, snap some shots of ourselves…we continued our trek northward! Let’s just say it was more uphill climbs before we hit some very steep stairs, followed by a long dark tunnel, then more stairs that were even steeper, then another tunnel before ending at…A SPIRAL STAIRCASE! (insert gasps and shock…feel free…I’ll wait for you 🙂 ). Once we made it to the top, we were reward with amazing views of the island. A perfect view down the shoreline of Waikiki beach, and the lush mountains of Oahu.
Needless to say, CP and I were happy we had made it up to the top in one piece for wonderful views. Even though we were both a sweaty mess, we were champions of the crater for that moment!
Let’s just say the trek down was a hop and skip for us by this point. Filled with joy and the taste of victory, we sauntered to the car and headed for a victory cool off snack at Waiola again:
A lime and pink lemonade shaved ice over 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream for CP.
And a modest lychee and lilikoi shaved ice for me. Plus…
A musubi! You seriously didn’t think I would not get this while here right? (Side note: I am a BIG fan of spam. Every since I was little, Spam was a treat for me since Mom didn’t like for us to eat too much of it because at the end of the day, it was processed meat. However, pan-fried Spam made it to our noodles and ramens, as well as scrambled eggs for dinner. Needless to say, I ❤ Spam!) CP on the otherhand had a lot of reserves about eating it. He, like many mainlanders and the uninitiated, looked at this product only to think of all the rumors about how Spam is not real meat. Or that it was what kids at camp would call “mystery meat”. As I explained to CP what Spam was and wasn’t, he made a comparison that I thought was completely brilliant and people can understand: “So basically, it’s like a hot dog?” Yes! It is!! Spam is ground and processed pig, with spices and repackaged for consumers. 🙂
Anyways…the conclusion to this story: CP was not only convinced, but HOOKED on it.! Mission: Complete.
We basically wound down the day by the poolside again at the hotel in the waning sun light. For dinner that night, CP was craving a hefty hamburger so we ended up going to Cheeseburger Waikiki. This is a burger chain and…I really did not have anything to say about this place because I was not entirely pleased with my turkey burger. Not exactly what I would go for in Hawaii, but CP wanted his burger and according to him, it was quite delicious.
The following day, we decided to enjoy our day at Dole Plantation!
There were several attractions you could go to and learn about the plantation and about pineapples. CP and I went to all 3 attractions. First stop: The Pineapple Express (…yes, we both smiled and had an unspoken moment there).
On this narrated train ride, you learn about the Dole Company’s history as you ride through the pineapple fields. During our visit, the fields were bare as the season had passed already. Given like any proper tourist attractions, proper planning included planting other crops that Dole grows, as well as showing the other fruits that are grown on the island. The varieties included: banana, mango, lychee, cacao, ti leaf, and others. Learn something new everyday!
The Dole Garden was next, where you can walk through their garden area to look and learn about the native plants and the many uses of them. It was a gorgeous garden and a nice learning experience.
We took a brief break to get out of the sun and re-nourish ourselves at the café in the shopping area. My choice of refreshment? A Dole Whip!
CP’s choice? A hot dog chili plate with rice:
Strange as it may sound and look, it worked out quite well !
After resting ourselves a little to let the food settle, we headed to the world’s largest maze! The challenge: find all 8 “check-in” points in the maze as fast as you can. With our combined powers of navigation, a few mistakes here and there, CP and I successfully made it through the maze in approximately 2 hours. Victory yet again!
With our satisfaction of conquering the plantation, we headed north for our next mid-day snack stop and the signature food/destination of the North Shore: a shrimp truck. Our destination: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.
Tucked into a little forest clearing right off the road, you would easily miss the truck even with a GPS (we had this issue several times during our trip) and we did. So we made a turn and made our way back. Their menu is simple and minimalistic, all surrounding the key protein: shrimp. Given that it was already well into the day, by the time we were there, all they had available was the shrimp scampi. That was fine by us, all we wanted was to taste the delicious, plump (not-so) little shrimp.
The order comes with a pile of fresh, cook-to-order shrimp (sans the head…thank goodness) and 2 scoops of white rice. The shrimp was cooked and bathed in a wonderful garlic, lemon, buttery goodness. To put it simply, here was what CP said to me, “I normally don’t have the urge to lick my fingers, but…” *proceeds to lick his fingers*. This is a sign because what CP said is true, we’ve eat BBQ and I have NEVER seen him lick his fingers. Whereas I have no problem with doing so…whether BBQ, Indian, anything! Thus, this just goes to show you how amazing this was. I can still smell the strong, sweet garlic smell as I write about it and it lingered with us as we continued on.
We took the drive up to one of the beaches in North Shore to dip our feet in. However, as you can see for yourself, a storm was brewing and yet, we thought it would just pass like it always did. Well…let’s just say that did not go quite as so. As we drove down the west side of the island back to Waikiki, the rain steadily started coming. By the time we were back at our hotel in Waikiki, it was POURING! It was flash thunderstorm and it was as if the sky turned into the ocean and gravity brought down all the water to us. It was a mad house watching everyone trying to run for cover and the streets flooding within matter of seconds. At one point, one of the sidewalks slightly below the hotel’s main road was a miniature moat or more aptly, a cesspool.
CP and I took refuge back in our hotel room to clean up, in hopes that the storm would pass. And fortunately for us, it did! We headed back out to grab dinner at Yotteko-Ya.
This ramen house was small and tucked at the far end of a strip mall. Unassuming and you would never even think twice about it. The only way you would go: recommendations or you just so happen to be stuck at that strip mall. Otherwise, you would never find it.
The restaurant specialized in ramen, but also served fried rice and appetizers. They also offered a set meal where you could choose an appetizer, ramen, and have either white rice or fried rice. The ramen soup base choices included: Shoyu, Shio, or Paitan. Paitan is a rich chicken/pork based broth and has a milky look from the cooked down chicken/pork bones. Also, you can choose how firm you wish for your ramen to be cooked: firm or soft.
Both CP and I ordered the Paitan ramen with fried rice (no eggs for CP though) and the Kaarage/Gyoza (CP/me).
The ramen you see above you was something else! I cannot even begin to tell you how wonder, flavorful, rich, smooth, and silky! I had never had a broth this rich in flavor in all my ramen adventures. This bowl and my memory of it is what I will use to judge all other tonketsu and paitan broths from here on out. (I am a fan of Tajima, but putting their broth on a good day up against Yotteko-Ya…it is like a Hefty bag commercial – “HEFTY HEFTY HEFTY……wimpy wimpy wimpy”.)
The fried rice and appetizers kind of just fell to the sideline and to the back after we had our taste of the broth. Man…I really need a good bowl of ramen right now.
There we go folks! Just two and half more days to go in Paradise!
3 locations (Oahu and Maui)
Waiola Shave Ice
2135 Waiola St
Honolulu, HI 96805
64-1550 Kamehameha Highway
Wahiawa, HI 96786
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
2 locations in Oahu
1960 Kapiolani Blvd, #214
Honolulu, HI 96826