Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hawaii: Day 12 ~ Iolani Palace and Kualoa Ranch

Our fourth day on Oahu we visited Iolani Palace and took a tour at Kualoa Ranch.

It seems strange to say that one of my favorite memories from Oahu was when we exited Alii Place on our way to the palace.  Here is a description of the building: "Alii Place is a 24-story, 316,000-square-foot office tower in the historic downtown Honolulu Capitol District, across the street from the Iolani Palace. The high rise is constructed of structural steel with a cast-in-place, reinforced concrete basement parking area. The superstructure is clad with distinctive architectural, acid-etched, red-tinted concrete panels."

The key word being "parking".  We parked and exited Alii Place on our way to Iolani Palace.  It's nice inside, but walking outside . . . WOW.  It was the most incredible feeling, being surrounded by tall buildings and huge trees.  It was beautiful . . . and exhilarating.


On to the palace!

As we walked around the building looking for an entrance and finding several barred areas with signs saying "DO NOT ENTER: alarm will sound" . . .

I was taking pictures of trees.  These trees were neat, with their vines.  Reminded me of the jungle.

We finally found an entrance, paid, watched the introductory video, got our earphones for the audio tour, and went inside.  It was far more ornate than the summer home on the Big Island.

On our way back to the car, we stopped by a tiny store inside Alii Place to ask a question about how to pay for parking.  It felt like a large closet!  This was most of the store, and to my right was the cash register.

We went to Helena's for lunch.  They specialize in traditional, authentic Hawaiian cuisine.  It was in a rough-looking area, but they were doing a bustling business.  We were fortunate that a table was open, and we were seated right away.  Quite a few people were waiting outside when we left.

After a very long wait, our food arrived.  I ordered menu D: kalua pig, lomi salmon, pipikaula short ribs, luau squid, and a small poi.  The kalua pig is the shredded meat.  It was good but too salty for my palate.  The lomi salmon is the dish that looks like salsa.  We didn't care for it, as we couldn't get used to salsa that tasted like fish.  The spinach-looking dish is the luau squid, which was probably my favorite.  Luau is a type of leaf.  It tasted like a really good spinach dish.  The ribs had great flavor but were tough and chewy.  Poi is the purple dish.  It's the Hawaiian name for a Polynesian staple made from taro.  People told us it's an acquired taste.  I could see how I could learn to like it in time. We wouldn't order any of these items again, but we were glad we got to experience authentic Hawaiian food.  Greg and Kylen went the safer route and ordered beef stew and chicken.  We all liked their dishes.

They do a lot of business by take-out.  While we were sitting there, many people came in and picked up orders.

Between the long wait for our meal and getting lost on the way, we almost missed our tour.  But we sure saw gorgeous scenery on the drive over.

Seriously, I was in heaven with these views.  Can you believe this?

Kylen and I got in line while Greg parked.  It was only a few minutes until departure.  By the time we were checked in, it was a couple minutes past.  They told us to run to the bus.  Greg and Kylen did the running.  We got the very back seats and barely caught our breath before we were on our way.

Kualoa is a privately owned 4,000 acre ranch where over 50 movies and shows have been filmed since the 1950's, including Godzilla, Jurassic Park, and LOST.  They have bus tours, ATV tours, horseback riding, jungle expeditions, ocean voyages, a petting zoo, museum, zipline, and a restaurant.  We booked the Movie Site Tour.

Can you see the tiny highway?

They have a variety of crops.  Below are bananas.

They raise various animals such as chickens.

There's a famous scene in Jurassic Park when the kids are running away from ravenous dinosaurs and hide in a tree.  This is the tree.

Hurley's golf course from LOST.

What do you think this is?  Answer at bottom of post.


Kylen's favorite part of the tour was when our guide said that some cows want to be beef patties.  You had to be there.

There was a WWII bunker with a bunch of memorabilia.

Here's where we exited from the bunker, only the gun was no longer there.  Just a cement slab.

Greg thought the tour was overpriced, but Kylen and I really enjoyed riding in a bus on bumpy roads, and it was cool seeing where famous movies were filmed.  Overall, I'd probably do it again.  At the very least, it's worth driving to the area for the fantastic scenery.

On our way "home," we tried out a Japanese restaurant, Gyotaku.  Much of their menu was sushi.  We aren't big sushi fans, but we found other items to try.  The main meal was pretty good.  Greg loved the teriyaki chicken.

The dessert was outstanding and unique.  It was called Kinako Azuki Blondie Sundae.  Azuki refers to Azuki beans.  Possibly the first time we've had a dessert with beans as a major ingredient!  It was one of the most delicious things we ate in Hawaii.  (We also tried Azuki Beans Topping, but we didn't care for it.  The beans weren't altered enough to make it feel like a dessert.  Instead, it came across as really weird.)

At home, we sat around and listened to two of my uncles swap stories.  Kylen said it was one of his favorite parts about our time on Oahu: listening to their stories.  :)

Answer to earlier question: Godzilla footprint.