Honolulu Wrap-Up

My obstructed view seats of the Pacific.

The business trip of my dreams has come and gone and it looks like the actual work we did was more than adequate not to sink my company. Seriously, I'm totally not fired. This is not to say that the team from the client was delighted to see us there (their VP of Sales, who we were working with on-site, was clearly not tickled to see my smiling face every morning at 6:30 am and he did not so much as extend an invitation for a drink for the whole time we were there), but their CEO should find the results of some sort of interest which is something.

I don't mean to disparage the free trip which I have boasted about incessantly, but I think I would have liked Maui or Kauai better. I'm not complaining. Shit, everyone should work like that every now and then. Waikiki is just not my style. It's Hawaii meets Vegas, basically a strip of all hotels and absurdly high-end shops designed to make people feel like their some place that is fancily exotic. Let me just put it this way, I did not see a whole pineapple until the third day when I ventured into Honolulu's Chinatown. It was, however, the greatest pineapple ever to cross my taste buds. Speaking of food, here are some highlights:
  • Kalua Pig Plate at Ono's, a little out-of-the-way place skillfully recommended by my friend Alex, Ph.D. It was moist and wonderful. Initially, when I heard it pronounced I thought this was pig cooked with coffee liqueur, which sounded fine by me. Turns out, "kalua" means"to cook in an underground oven." Also fine by me.
  • Keo's. This was not out of the way. Keo's is a high-end Thai place on the main Waikiki strip, Kuhio Blvd. As far as I can tell, Keo Sananikone is kind of like the Arun Sampanthavivatof Hawaii. Alex, Ph.D. did not recommend this one to me, but it turns out that his brother works there. So, Alex called his brother up and it was suggested that I go for the shrimp and scallop panang. This was damn tasty, but my co-worker got the crispy mahi-mahi with sa-teh sauce. Best peanut sauce ever. It was unreal, a thicker, darker, and more flavorful version of the stuff you get with a skewer of chicken here Chicago. Co-worker also bragged that the lava flow he drank was manna from Heaven's corner tavern.
Nicest men's room flowers ever. (Keo's)
  • Yet another Alex tip was Alan Wong's. Wong has two restaurants in Honolulu, but we chose The Pineapple Room, which, we didn't realize at the time, is inside of Macy's. Macy's colonization of Marshall Field's aside, this seemed like a very bad sign. However, when pineapple-glazed ribs are on the menu, well, evandebacle is in. The ribs were an appetizer, as was an amazing taco with a shell that was a fried won-ton of some sort and that was filled with kalbi (korean-style beef), avocado, chili sour cream, and goat cheese. Then there was more mahi-mahi.
  • Sadly, I went to Cheeseburger (as in "in Paradise") Waikiki twice. So touristy, though their macadamia nut pancakes made for a tasty for breakfast. Plus I got to watch most of the World Cup final there, though not the important part. You know, where balls went in nets and whatnot
  • Even the conference hooked us up with good food. The exhibition hall where I was doing my thing was also the home to the breakfast and lunch buffets. Macadamia nut pound cake with pineapple compote and all the Kona you could drink! Also, while this wasn't the greatest conference for swag, one morning ABM had a exotic fruit cart so people could sample their goods and I got to try dragon fruit, which, in fact, is kinda dragon-y looking.
Dragon fruit. Please no jokes about gay role playing games devotees.

Beyond the food, there was a lot of walking around, looking at water, a nice sunburn (my back is totally hypercolor now), and general seeing of sights. Granted, I never actually entered any places of cultural interest, but I did wander around outside a royal palace here and an old church there.

King Kamehameha

Like any good American, I exhibited only a superficial interest in indigenous culture and history and spent way more time in shopping areas than anywhere else. Unfortunately, in Waikiki and Honolulu there seem to be few outdoor markets designed to give the traveler the illusion of local flavor. Plentiful, though are the designer boutiques. Shopping centers crammed with denser concentrations of high-end stores than I imagined possible. My assumption is that they are able to stay in business because Honolulu is a destination for wealthy Japanese who fly out for shopping excursions. This is only a theory, but is corroborated by the fact that some shops take Yen and the prevalence by wacky Japanese cartoon characters like the one below, chock full o' non sequitur cuteness.

My Humps, Your Humps. Camel Humps. Doggie Humps.

Let me end this by answering a question that was posed to me shortly after I arrived: are the people there hotter than in Brazil? The short answer is no. I've repeated a million times how Sao Paolo was a testament to race mixing. In Hawaii there were plenty of beautiful people, but for some reason it seemed to be more about sex (miscegeny now!). In Hawaii, sexuality, as opposed to beauty, seemed more palpable. Everyone looked like they were anticipating or had just completed the greatest erotic experience of their lives. Maybe I'm projecting my assumption onto them. Could be that everyone just glistened a lot and wore minimal clothing and that bronze skin and bright flowers made for a fetching contrast, not to mention the fact that many people had a wedding and/or honeymoon glow about them. The key thing is that the attractiveness of many of them seemed to be a product of their context. The beauty of the some of the Brazilians was so improbable that you assumed that they could show up at your doorstep after a 72-hour bender which followed directly on the heels of their 24-hour shift at a slaughterhouse and still look stunning. In Waikiki, you had the feeling that the people, while perhaps attractive in their regular lives, fell within the normal range of looks.

But enough of these tropical urges. It's gonna hit 98 degrees this weekend in Chicago after all.


At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Rev Transit said...

Brazilians... mmm mmm mmm.


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