Day 5 - Polynesian Cultural Center
Well, we are certainly adjusted to the timezone by now. Nobody stirred until well after 6:00 AM, and nobody got out of bed until after 7:00. It seems pretty easy to acclimate to westernbound timezones, at least to a point. I remember the adjustment being very difficult in Manila, but here it’s been a breeze!!!
Jenny, Mireille, and I went over to the hotel lobby and got some morning drinks and a croissant while the boys continued sleeping. While we were there we started picking out locations where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed. It’s kind of fun recognizing things from a movie…
Since we didn’t have to be anywhere until noon, the boys and I decided to take a little hike. Jenny and I started out towards Kahuku Point, so we decided to finish the hike. The resort’s trails are pretty nice, but if you get off of them by accident, they are difficult to re-find. That happened a few times on this hike! Quinton had his typical early hike grievances, but after some shoe adjustments, was pretty much fine for the rest of the hike.
It was actually a pretty good hike. We eeked out over 3 miles (due to getting lost a few times) and saw some areas that were pretty cool. Leading up to Kahuku point, we were able to see our first mongooses. We actually saw a mongoose trap before we saw any mongooses, but once we saw one, it seemed like more of them were willing to come out and show themselves.
Ethan and I mused about trying to find the nudist camp that is near this end of the resort. I’m not sure how far it would have been, and it seems like it probaby doesn’t exist anymore, but I did a little study on it the night before and it would have been fun to find. Apparently this was a pretty well known secret in the 80’s. There is a secluded beach out on the south-east corner of the resort near an abandoned WWII airstrip. You can access it from roads outside the resort, one of which is actually called Nudist Camp Road on Apple Maps, though to this day I have been unable to locate it in real life. I did find out, at least on the internet, that topless sunbathing is completely legal and even encouraged on Hawai’i. I’ve yet to see anybody take advantage of this law, however.
After what seemed like forever, we finally made it to Kahuku point. Honestly, it wasn’t all that impressive at first. Yesterday we were wondering why rock climbers didn’t flock to these islands to do a bunch of rock climbing. It looks like it would be awesome. Our guide yesterday told us what we discovered for ourselves today - lava rock is brittle and harsh!!! Climbing around on these rocks was challenging and painful in some instances. We did get to see a bunch of crabs and sea urchins, though, so that was cool.
The other thing that made this not very impressive was that it seemed to be the ocean’s garbage dump. Not sure why - probably the way the point was situated or something, but a whole bunch of garbage washed up on shore here and was laying around. It definitely detracted from the otherwise paradise like atmosphere.
After about 30 minutes of climbing around on lava rocks among a bunch of refuse, we decided to head back in a direction that more closely matched the actual path, and who knew, it was much easier!!! On the way, we saw a tent and a fenced off area where a mother seal and her pup were nursing. We didn’t get to see the pair, but took a picture of the sign warning us away from the area. Apparently momma seals can get pretty protective!
After returning from our long, hot hike, we showered and got ready for the main attraction of the day, the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, about 10 miles south of the resort. Before we could leave, though, Mireille spotted a lizard in our condo!!! Of course, I’m very tough, but I decided to play it safe and try to trap the little guy in a cup. He freaked out and ran right out the door instead. Mission accomplished! Heroics aside, we ate mainly in the room for lunch and headed out.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The main event for the day was the Polynesian Cultural Center. We had been warned away from Laie, where the PCC is located, because it is a dry, Mormon run town. So we purchased our groceries elsewhere, but the PCC looked pretty cool, and we had heard good things, so we went!
The first thing you see going into the PCC is the Hukilau Marketplace. Yep, you can shop! Actually they had some pretty cool things there. Quinton got a vacation hat, Ethan got a necklace for his girlfriend, and Mireille and I went to get Malasadas, which are like donuts, but from Portugal with a Hawai’ian twist. I thought they were more like mini donuts, so I got 9 of them (Mireille talked me out of the dozen). That turned out to be a mistake because each of them was like the size of a grocery store donut, so we were able to eat 4 of them before going into the PCC and had to stow 5 in the hot car all day long!
Once inside, the PCC was pretty impressive. It was lush with tons of vegetation and a lagoon snaking down the middle of the property. If you haven’t been to the PCC, I’ve heard it described as being like EPCOT Center but for the Polynesian Islands. I believe there were 9 different regions represented, though I can’t remember them all. Among those represented were Hawai’i, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, New Zealand (though I can’t remember the native name), among others. Each area had a show and had activities that you could take part in, like making a fishing net, prepping food, or playing games. It was pretty fun, all around.
One thing they don’t have at the PCC is any alcohol! Not sure why it matters, but it seemed odd. Also, during our first show, the “Canoe Show,” there was some odd dialog in the story about their church burning down and everybody being sad… Since when do natives have a church that burns down and they are sad? We had seen a worship area for native Hawai’ians the day before and it didn’t look like a church at all. In fact, we hadn’t seen any sign of the Hawai’ian gods or any other religious customs of any of them throughout the day, nor would we. Hmm…
Nevermind. At 4:00 we had reservations for the PCC Luau Buffet. The food was pretty good with lots of different food represented. Notable was the pork, the poke, and the poi rolls which are purple (I’m told) and made from the tarot root, just like poi. I think our family alone ate 10 poi rolls with butter… There was a little show that accompanied our buffet with fire dancers, hula dancers, singing, and even some audience participation where Jenny got to go on stage and compete in a dance competition with other June birthday celebrants.
After our luau, we finished out the open hours of the day at the PCC with a canoe tour and a movie shot from drones around the Hawai’ian islands. Both were pretty cool. Our tour guide on the canoe tour definitely had the chops to be on the Jungle Cruise Ride at Disney.
By the time we were done with the canoe tour and movie, the islands were closing. So we walked out of the park to bide some time in the marketplace until our evening show started at 7:30. On the way out of the park, there was a tour bus parked just outside the gate asking people to go on a free tour. Why not!!! Well, once the bus took off, we were greeted by two sisters of the Church of Latter Day Saints. They told us some of the history of the LDS buying the town and building a temple there, the fifth oldest in existence. They also decided to build an extension of BYU there, BYU Hawaii, and in the 1960’s, one of the members had the idea of trying to retain some of the native Polynesian Island Cultures by building and running the PCC. So, it turns out, this whole thing is a Mormon ordeal. No wonder there is no mention of religion or native gods as any part of this tour. Of course, now I feel dirty and lied to. Is anything they showed me today really historically accurate? Did I just pay money to go to the Polynesian equivalent of the “Creationist Museum?” How can you show off a culture without any discussion on the religion of the culture?!!? Dammit! Well, it was still cool, but I’m heavy with skepticism now.
So the LDS church ends up giving kids of these nationalities scholarships where they perform at the PCC in exchange for a free education. Seems like an OK deal, though Jenny and I are wondering just how badly these kids are being used. It seems like a LONG day to be entertaining people at the PCC, getting an hour break or so, then doing the night show, Ha, which was awesome… Oh well, I guess I just need to do my own research now and find out what these cultures were really like to see if I got my money’s worth or if I just payed somebody to convert me.
To stick it to them, we opted to stay on the tour bus when it dropped everybody else off at the temple visitor center, and just rode back to the marketplace to get some ice cream and look at the on-site ukelele factory, which was pretty cool. Quinton and Ethan took a free lesson, though Ethan really didn’t need it (he plays the ukelele). Ethan fell in love with a Ukelele-Banjo which is now a reason that he may finally get a job. Who knows, maybe there is divine intervention going on here in LDS land!!!
The evening show was called Ha, which is the “Ha” part of “Aloha.” I don’t recall what it means, now, since my head was swimming on self doubt about the entire day at this point! The show was really spectacular, though. Lots of native dancing and fire stunts. It followed an interesting storyline that weaved all of the island cultures into one story about a boy traveling from his own birth to the birth of his own child, along the way experiencing love, war, and the death of his father. Like I said, it was a good show, but it was 9:00 by the time it wrapped up and we were TIRED.
Mireille fell asleep instantly when we got back to the condo, and the rest of us weren’t far behind, though I needed to get a little alcohol in me just to stick it to the Mormons one last time!
Lastly, here are some unorganized interesting tidbits from the day that I noted but was unable to weave into the narrative of the blog.
- New Zealand’s dances were super cool and manly! The male dancers were very agressive and we all felt very pumped up after watching them!
- We’ve been saying Hawai’i wrong this whole time. Hawai’ians really like to pronounce their vowels, and the “w” is actually pronounced like a “v” almost. It felt almost like the time I found out I was pronouncing Oregon incorrectly…
- The US built a bunch of air fields on the Cooke Islands just in case WWII needed to use them. They didn’t, so now Cooke Islands has a bunch of air fields that are useful, but never useful to the US!
- Ukelele means “dancing flea” in Portuguese (I think).
- Polynesian Boats were super big. The war canoe weighed over 5000 pounds and could go 35 MPH when fully loaded with men paddling.