Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just a weekend in Honolulu..

Started our Hawaii vacation in Honolulu. As my previous post says, I had been in Hawaii for two weeks before Sapan got there. Sapan landed on a rainy Friday evening. It was too late by the time Sapan got there so, we just had some Pizza at the hotel and decided to call it a night..

On Saturday, we woke up really early and decided to go for a run along the beach. After couple miles of the run, we had breakfast at the Wailana Coffee House . A few hours later, we met up with Armando and Will and decided to go to the USS Arizona Memorial . While waiting for our Arizona tour, we decided also visit the USS Bowfin Submarine . Didn't realize how claustrophobic the submarine would be. As expected on a boat, everything is bolted down. Would love to tour one of the recent subs to see how much has changed. Arizona was a humbling experience. Before you board the boat to go to the memorial, you see a video describing the attack and all the loss the US Navy suffered. Made me want to learn more about WW-II. The ride to the memorial was about 10 minutes. We spent some 1/2 hour so at the memorial and took the next boat back. By the time we got back, it was lunch time. We had decided to go up the Diamond Head Crater , so we decided to have lunch somewhere in Waikiki. We had a hard time finding a place that all 4 of us liked. So, we split up. Sapan and I had lunch at Taco Bell and Armando and Will had lunch at Ono Hawaiian Foods . This is supposed to be a place to get the best Hawaiian food in town. But, Armando and Will didn't like it as much. They initially rated it at 6/10 and then a few hours later demoted it to 4/10. After lunch we headed over to the crater. We pulled out of a tunnel into the parking lot of the crater. At this point, you look around and realize that you are in the middle of the crater. Quite impressive. This photo of the crater that I had taken from the plane a few weeks before when I got to Honolulu. The activity in this place was to hike up one of the edges of the crater to see the spectacular views at the top. And, it was well worth it. Didn't take us too long. I definitely realized how horribly out of shape I was when I climbed up the 200 stairs to the top.. Spent some time at the top taking photos and then came back down and drove back to the hotel to drop off Armando and Will. Later in the afternoon, we drove up the west coast of Oahu. Most of it looked it industrial land. We stopped at a beach and watched few people boogie boarding. Sunset also looked quite pretty from this place. After sunset, we drove back to Waikiki and went to Cafe Maharani for dinner. This place is really good. The wait however was too long at an hour. By the time we were done with dinner, we were too exhausted to do anything else and decided to retire for the night.

On Sunday, we had a nice relaxing breakfast the hotel before our Atlantis Submarine Tour . The tour was nice but not worth the money they charged. Maybe because I had already seen a lot of the fish that we saw when I went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. It was however neat to be at the bottom of the ocean, some 100 ft. down. After the submarine tour, we headed up to the north shore to watch surfers at the bonzai pipeline. Always amazing to see high waves and people riding them. We then decided to keep driving the Kamehameha Highway along the coast. We stopped along to roadside to have lunch of the Indian leftovers. Saw lots of pretty sights, including a pregnant seal along the way. Later in the afternoon, we went to the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden saw some pretty flowers there and got eaten alive with mosquitoes. People who were in Hawaii with me the previous week will tell you how big those mosquito bites get (as big as a quarter) and I had 10 bites all over my arms and legs.. Yah, I counted.. After the mosquito bites, we decided we had had enough of the nature and decided to bid adieu to Honolulu and started heading back to the airport. We took Pali Highway. The road that I had taken every day for two weeks. It was hard not to feel sad as the reality of maybe never coming back and never seeing my Hawaii friends kinda sunk in. We did stop by the Pali lookout point to see the panaromic views of Kaneohe bay.

We finally got to the airport and got on our plane to Hilo (Big Island). Stay tuned for stories of our Hilo adventures.. The rest of our photos from Honolulu are posted here

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Working Hard? Hardly Working? In Hawaii....

The next few posts are going to be really LONG!!

Most of you already know that I was in Hawaii for work for a week in December and then for couple weeks in January.. The work involved experimenting with some new technology at the Marine Corp Base in Kaneohe, HI.. Hawaii as you might know is a collection of 6 or so islands. Kaneohe is on the island of Oahu.. The same island that Honolulu is on.. Some trivia about Hawaii.. Its the most remote set of islands in the world. The closest land mass is around 2500 miles away. The chain of islands is still growing due to an active volcano under the ocean.. More on that in the next few posts.

Hotel - My december (I've forgotten grammar.. Should the "d" in december be upper case?) trip was very short.. Got to Honolulu sunday afternoon .. Hawaii is 5 hours behind eastern time this time of year. So, it was already night time in Boston by the time I got there.. I had taken a VERY early (5 am) flight that morning so was pretty beat.. When I first got to my hotel, Hilton Hawaiian Village it felt like a big zoo.. The place is huge with multiple high rises on the property. The front desk is not in a building but, kind of in a courtyard between the buildings. One of my co-workers, Dan had insisted on staying here because there was some 24 hour coffee shop across the street from the hotel.. People from other companies that we were working with were also staying at the same place.. So, after standing in line for what seemed like eternity (it was only about 10 minutes and I didn't see that there was a separate line for Hilton Honors members, so I had to stand with the masses ;-) ), I was checked in and was in the Rainbow tower on the 17th floor.. The guy said that he had upgraded me to "partial ocean view" which I was excited about... Ofcourse when I got to the room, I realized that almost all the rooms of this hotel have some or the other view of the ocean.. Mine wasn't that bad.. I didn't get a chance to take a photo during the day but, this is what it looked it at night.. We had to reach our work by 7:30am, which meant that we had to leave our hotel at around 6:45am, which was before sunrise.. We used to leave our work around 5:00pm and it would already be dark by the time we got back to the hotel. The hotel complex also had some 5 or so restaurants and 2 or 3 swimming pools, hot tubs, a HUGE shopping area with designer stores.. In January, I stayed in the Tapa Tower on the 25th floor.. This was set little further back than the Rainbow tower, but I could easily see the Hilton Luau (which was on the rooftop of their parking garage) from my room. Every friday the hotel has fireworks.. Which are LOUD.. Almost made me jump out of my bed one friday..

Food - Breakfast at this hotel was a nice EXPENSIVE buffet.. I opted for that for most days of the 1st trip.. I used to get their awesomely (is that even a word?) sweet Papayas and acidic pineapples and their divine guava juice and toast with guava jam and strawberry yogurt with granola.. Sometimes I would get their macadamia and coconut pancakes with coconut syrup.. Yummmmmm!! This was way more food than what I have for breakfast everyday.. I did go to the 24 hour Wailana Coffee House once to try it out and see what Dan's fuss was all about.. Its just a generic diner that is open all 24 hours.. For lunch, we had our pick of Subway or Taco Bell and MCBH Officer's Club .. And then for dinner, we went to restaurants in waikiki like Singha Thai which used to feature tradtional thai dances, Yard House which I found out later is a chain, Todai which is an all you can eat sushi / sea food buffet.. On the last thursday of the second week, almost everyone got together and we had a very nice dinner together at a oceanside reastaurant called, House Without A Key .. Their drinks were yummy.. And for dessert, I had a panna-cotta... The vanilla custard layer and pomegranate jelly was good but, I didn't care much for the green tea layer that they had added to it.. I can't go too long without Indian food so, during my January trip after about a week or so, I started craving some Indian food.. Searched on yelp and found Maharani Indian Restaurant which had gotten pretty good reviews. Went there with the BBN gang.. The place it seemed was really popular. We had about a 45 minute wait. When we did finally sit down, order and eat, the wait was definitely worth it.. I had some Malai Kofta and Naan and Tomato rice.. All very very yummy!! The Malai Kofta had the right amount of sweetness to it.. The naan was very soft and tasty and this is the first time that I had tomato rice, loved it.. Would highly recommend it to people going to Honolulu.. They don't take reservations.. So, be prepared to wait..

Work - With this awesome weather around me, I had almost forgotten that we were there for work.. Met some very nice people there.. Most of my work day involved either sitting in a windowless freezing conference room or sitting in a non-airconditioned disel fumed HMMWV(Humvee) or sitting in a nice SUV. Liked the SUV the most.. The people I worked with were super funny and we became really good friends towards the end of the trip and used to often get into mini competitions on who could type the fastest or speak on the radio the quickest.. Here are the photos..
Hawaii Work

Fun - As they say, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well, we are by no means dull.. So, we also took some time out to go sightseeing.. On the last day of the first week, we took the long way home and drove around the east side of the island.. Was great seeing the ocean against the moutains.. We also saw a few people body surfing some big waves... And, then during the second week, we learnt surfing and went snorkeling where we saw turtles and some very pretty fish and coral.. Most of the people in our group had also invited their wives and families to come to Hawaii.. It was great meeting them and hanging out with them..

OK.. I could go on and on and on.. but, I'll stop here for now.. Stay tuned for the Hawaii Vacation Posts(Sapan came to HI on the last day and then we stayed an extra week and vacationed on the different islands) ..