Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Discovering Waikiki...still

I'm starting my 20th year of living in Hawaii, live 1/4 of a mile away as the crow flies and I still am discovering new things about Waikiki and haven't "done it all."

I had some time this afternoon and decided to go down to Waikiki to get inspiration for my Trapped in Paradise podcast. I got on the number 2 bus at the Kapiolani and Kalakaua intersection and took it all the way to the Kapahulu and Kalakaua stop. I usually don't take the bus that far down when I'm heading into Waikiki. Most of the time I walk into Waikiki.

After getting off the bus I was right in front of the Park Shore Hotel. I moved forward to walk into the lobby but then realized I passed two other hotels, the Queen Kapiolani and the Waikiki Grand. For both of those hotels, I don't remember being in either one since I moved to Hawaii. In the Queen Kapiolani I walked up to the 3rd floor where they have their pool.

There were only two people in the water and they were talking. I went over to the edge facing the road and looked out to see the famous Hawaiian landmark Diamond Head as I had never seen it before. It wasn't blocked by trees, I was looking over the trees at about tree level to view it.

The day was hot and humid with a capital H. On the pool deck was a soda machine. I was able to get a 20oz diet pepsi for a buck thirty five. Ho! That is quiet the deal, so I plunked in exact change and got my drink and headed out of the building.

Walking through the Waikiki Grand there was nothing special there. No special stores, art work, decor or furniture were to be found. The one big positive was that they had a door that entered Teddy's Bigger Burgers from the lobby. There I have eaten a number of times. They have good burgers!!

The original location, the Park Shore was next. I didn't go up to any other floors. The last time I was in there I was visiting a friend who worked the front desk. Outside there was an event going on and this person came in asking for the restroom. My friend Buddy said they were reserved for hotel guests. After the person left we both looked at each other and questioned who the person was. We realized that Buddy had told Michael Nakamura the Chief of the Honolulu Police Department that he couldn't use the Park Shore restroom. Not sure if he ever got scoldings for that one. I exited the lobby through the ABC Store. There used to be a long hall way that lead out to Kalakaua Ave but it has been long gone.

I walked along Kalakaua Ave past the Waikiki Beach Hotel, headed past the Marriott and then over to Saint Augustine's Catholic Church. At one time there was a Father Damien museum inside. In just a few days as I write this Father Damien will become a Saint within the Catholic Church. I couldn't get inside to see if that museum still existed as it was locked up with signs posting hours as they are doing renovations to the facility so access was restricted.

I headed over to the Pacific Beach Hotel. I used to go to that hotel every Sunday evening as my gym is located on the second floor and has a great view overlooking Kalakaua Ave and the beach. I'm still paying my monthly gym dues, I should probably start getting back there and enjoying the views! Anyway, in the back of the hotel they have a restaurant with a special fish presentation. Not cooked fish, but live fish. I was happy to see that it still exits.

From there I entered the lobby for the Waikiki Resort Hotel. This hotel caters more towards the Korean traveler. It's been over a decade since I've been in this hotel. The last time was before Ron, one of the bellmen that I knew, passed away from bladder cancer. I followed a set of stairs and found myself looking at meeting rooms and the pool. They had restrooms that weren't locked so I decided to use them. With all the humidity, I was really sweaty so I splashed myself with water. When I exited the door, what was right in front of me? A Coke machine. This was $1.25 for a 20oz bottle. Note to self, stop buying soda inside of the ABC Stores and use the vending machines. It's about a buck cheaper per bottle!

I passed through Waikiki Beach Tower, my first time in there, and headed to the Waikiki Circle Hotel. Walking up a ramp towards the registration desk on the wall next to the elevators was the story of the hotel. It was the first hotel on Waikiki owned by an Asian who was a female! The story told of how she came over from China, was in an arranged marriage, overcame a number of obstacles to own the hotel and how it is now owned by generational family members.

I cut through the Hyatt Regency before heading over to Kings Village. I haven't been there in years. In many ways the place looks the same, but it was different as they have had turn over in the shops. One hidden gem was a small museum that had memorabilia from old Hawaii. Two display cases had mugs from a number of old Waikiki hotels and restaurants as well at other locations in the US that were part of the Tiki pop that was part of the culture of the 50's and 60's. For me seeing an original mug from the Bali Hai in San Diego was exciting. In case you can't tell by the name of the blog, I like tikis.

The Princess Kaiulani was next. I had been in there last Christmas. Their chefs do an awesome Christmas Village made out of chocolate and having animated pieces including a train and chair lift that bring the village to life during the holidays. I exited the building out the side and took a short path back up to Kalakaua Ave in front of the International Market Place or IMP.

The IMP over the past number of years has been changing. It's full of carts that you used to haggle prices with the owners. Most of the owners are immigrants with their carts of trinkets, treasures, and some trashy tourist items. Today, the wares have a price tag...most of the time. In front of the IMP there was one guy handing out flyers for shave ice. Not a big deal but this one was different. He had a rig he was wearing around his chest. From the back side were two rods sticking up. Attached to the rods were a balloon that had a picture of shave ice. It had wires running between the balloon and the back pack so I'm sure at night it could have lit up to advertise the cold tasty treats.

At this point I decided to leave Waikiki. I was hot and very sweaty by this time plus I had another errand to run. Waikiki even when you think you know it, you don't and that's part of the fun of it.