Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hawaii: Thursday--Polynesian Cultural Center

We arrived up at the Polynesian Cultural Center sometime after 11. The island is just not that big. We had stopped at two different parks even.

The PCC doesn't open until noon, so we looked for a place to eat. Our guidebook, Oahu Revealed (which I can't recommend ENOUGH, in spite of the following story) directed us to, um, some Chinese place. I'm too lazy to go look up the name now, but it was their top recommendation for [the city of] Laie. Anyway, it merits mention only because of the Cold Ginger Chicken. Don't do it.

Everything was really very good and reasonable. Most of us got the lunch plate which came with two main dish choices and an appetizer type thing. I got some shrimp thing and Mr. GT got some ... thing, but we both ordered the Cold Ginger Chicken. Sounds harmless enough, no?

I happened to glance into the kitchen while we waited for our food to see the elderly chef deftly chopping something into pieces with an enormous cleaver. E. Nor. Mous. I'm thinking, "Lucky guy. Nice knife."

Then the food arrived. Yeah. Cold Ginger Chicken is just that. Cold boiled chicken leg. Pasty, clammy chicken leg. Pale, soggy skin-on chicken leg. CUT IN PIECES! I don't like to see my marrow, thank you! Have you ever looked at the cross-section of a chicken leg?


Now a whole chicken leg would have been manageable. One can get the meat off of a chicken leg. It's not so hard. Unless you cut it cross-wise into 1/2" pieces.

I have to say, the Ginger part was really, really good. It was cold, fresh (maybe steamed) ginger mixed with something green and bright, like a little relish on top of your cold. clammy. pasty. soggy. skin-on chicken leg.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is like a theme park of Polynesian culture. You can read the website to see what it is like.

Here is a very cute video of Nonny learning to hula dance. She's quite good!

Banana Boy and Daisy took ukelele lessons, we all tasted poi (pleh. Mr. GT liked it). All the kids fished with bread dough. They were enormously frustrated that the minnows wouldn't take the hook but only nibbled off the dough. Rose Bud got quite good at holding the dough juuuuuuust above the water so that all the minnows would swarm around and at the last second she'd jerk it out so they couldn't take her dough. She's a clever one, that Rose Bud.

Hey, look! Pepper came too! Here she is getting a tattoo on her leg.
Everyone's tattoos. Nonny has an L on her ankle for Grandpa Low.

Here's a funny story. When we arrived at the tattoo station, the equipment was out, but no one was there. Nonny picked up the brayer, used to spread the black tempera paint on the rubber tattoo stamp and said, "Here kids, you just do it like this!"

Uh, no. Always get tattooed by a professional!

Boys do a Tongan dance. Wiggle those knees, Mr. GT!

Hangin' loose with Mr. Figi.

Rose Bud made friends with these VERY funny Samoan guys. (did you remember that the next season of Survivor takes place in Samoa?????) They tried to tell us that you should NEVER eat a coconut out of the ocean; it's poisonous. All the kids and Nonny bought that. We made Rose Bud pose with them so she'd always remember she met guys who had Survivor in their land. They made her hold these props.

THIS is how it's done! One of the highlights of our visit to the PCC was watching the Samoan culture demo. We learned how to make coconut milk (I told you!), how to start a fire, how to say all sorts of funny things in Japanese (you'll have to go yourself--you really just had to be there), and we watched this guy shimmy about 50 feet UP a coconut palm. Yikes! The wind was blowing and that tree was SWAYING! Pepper & Daisy found it very funny that they suggested he was going to jump to the next tree. The MC said, "Are you ready? Are you ready?! ARE YOU READY! Are you CRAZY?????????" He didn't jump. He also has a tricky little climbing secret. You'll have to visit to find it out.

This is a picture of (are you ready?) Banana Boy!
BB and Mr. GT learn to make fire.

Rose Bud, still obsessed with the coconut theme, made her way to the how-to-open-a-coconut hut. Again, it was unstaffed at the moment, but that didn't stop RB.

She found a coconut in a basket under the hut and set to work husking it. When Michael, the coconut guy, finally arrived, he looked at her with a startled look. RB ignored him. She was sweating away at the coconut. He asked where she'd gotten it and she replied that it had been in the basket. Sounding slightly alarmed, he said it might be that was an old one. Old, schmold. RB didn't care.

He finally convinced her to let him show her the proper was to husk on on a machete kind of thing. Here they are.
After getting the husk off, he demonstrated how to crack the shell open: Look for the face, then whap the little bugger smartly over the head, right on his crack. Ta Da! Coconut in half!

Only, Michael was right. This was a bad coconut and if you find one in the ocean, you will definitely know if it is good to eat or not. This one was all mush (think cream of wheat) inside and smelled BAD! Rose Bud was a little disappointed.

Here is where her wayward coconut possibly came from. Banana Boy has his Maori face on.

Do we look melted? By this time (3pm) we were and we found out later that June 4 was a record-setting heat day: 91 degrees shattered the old record of 90 in 1997.

Still more adventure coming.... (we still have to get back to the hotel, you know!)

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