Monday, February 25, 2008

Unorthodox Travel Advice in Hawai'i

Visit Chinatown in Honolulu's downtown district.  Unlike the rest of the city is is dirty, noisy and the buildings are rundown and old.  What you will discover that Chinatown is a misnomer.  Rather what is represented in this area is a hodgepodge of South East Asia.  Inhabitants and stores are Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino and Malaysian.  They have an amazing if ghetto footcourt which features a Filipino place, next to a Singaporean place, next to a Malaysian place, next to a Thai.  You'll never see that anywhere else in the States.  My (possibly racist) assumption is that new South East Asian immigrants account for a large portion of the manual labor that runs Oahu's tourism industry and thus this neighborhood has a distinctly blue-collar feel to it.  This place doesn't look to impress anyone and certainly not tourists. 

An interesting tidbit courtesy of Hideki Kinoshita.  Many of the Chinese who live in Hawaii came many years ago did so to flee the communist regime.  Hence you will see a plethora of ROC (Republic of China) flags in this neighborhood (also the Taiwanese flag).  Definitely pick up fresh Lychee at one of the grocery stores.  Like the $10 per bag coffee, it's grown on the island and it's damn good.

Scubadive the YO-257.  If you're not certified, get certified because you don't want to miss this.  Not only were there tons of beautiful fish and sea turtles around this WWII wreck, every once-in-a-while a miniature submarine called the Atlantis does a flyby.  It's just you in a scuba suit and a crustacean filled shipwreck in that deep blue sea and there's a whole crowd of little kids in a sub thinking you're part of some giant aquarium.  Definitely Captain Nemo 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea.   Also, disregard your scuba instructor and swim into the ship.  It's really cool inside.

Eat at McDonald's.  There are many fine eating establishments but if you're looking for something "Hawaii" and you're Grad student broke then head for the arches and get the Local Delux Breakfast - which consists of Spam, Portuguese Ham, and Rice.  They don't even sell rice at McDonald's in Japan.   It'll make you fat and comatose by the time you hit the sand.  Just like a beached whale.  Awesome.


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