It's taken several days to get to Bali...and briefly it is one gorgeous place. Our (I'm travelling with my friend Anasuya) first stop was Japan with a layover at the Tokyo airport courtesy of Japan Airlines. Everything Japanese felt small--the airline seats with almost no legroom, the complimentary hotel room with a small single bed and the portions of food, too. Interestingly, apart from the Sumo wrestlers we saw on TV no one in Japan looked overweight. Yesterday we ventured out to the town of Narita (Tokyo itself is a several hour train ride from the airport making a visit with our short layover impossible.) At Narita we explored a Walmart-like store, gawking at several of the food displays especially the colored gelatin specialties. Anasuya bought a plastic raincoat--I suggested she buy "large" and it just barely fit!
Then we wended our way up to the Narita Buddhist Temple. The streets were lined with trinket sellers--and with the US dollar exchange rate there were absolutely no bargains. The temple was very impressive. There were ponds filled with turtles and carp, amazing spires and views. We then rushed back to the airport, checked in and explored the airport (we had several hours for this...). We found a sleeping area where one can rent beds (with private baths and showers) by the hour. Quite civilized compared to US airports where weary travellers just crash on the chairs.
Our flight to Bali was nearly empty (tourism is way down still--since the Kuta bombing in 2002). The airport itself was filled with gorgeous sculptures--and luscious photos. As we soon found out aesthetics are central consideration in everything Balinese!
We were met by a driver from our wonderful hotel that's on the edge of Kuta. It was an absolute paradise. Our room looked over a rice field and there was a luscious pool. The surroundings included an altar that was being decorated for a full moon festival and gorgeous tropical foliage.
After breakfast and swimming we hired a driver to take us to Ubud. Ubud is touted as the art center of Bali. In some sections it’s like a Balinese version of La Jolla and in others its more like Venice Beach. We found some sweet bungalows behind an art and dance studio with plenty of roosters and a friendly family.
Just indulged in some of the best massages either of us have ever had. Mine combined swedish, reflexology, accupressure—a pretty amazing experience!
Since I last wrote we've been swept into a bunch of tourist activities. While we haven't come across other Americans here, we've met loads of Aussies, lots of Japanese, and many Europeans. Apparently tourism is now about 70% of what it was prior to the Kuta bombing. For awhile all the Balinese went back to their rice farms--now everyone with anything to sell is out with vengeance --trying to scare up all that sorely missed tourist money.
Lucky for us the US dollar exchange rate is excellent--we move from our simple bungalows with the friendly family and their petulant roosters onto some plush digs at Nicks Pension which features a huge swimming pool, lovely streams, breakfast and nicely appointed bungalows all for $14/night. (At that rate we happily each rented our own rooms!)
The night before we saw one of the many traditional dance troupes perform. Exquisite costumes including some amazing dragon masks--and of course those amazing Balinese eyes! I kept jumping up to capture each new move and costume with my long camera lens--hopefully they'll turn out just as they appeared!
Then yesterday we took a half day "organized" tour -- actually more like a driver who took us to different sites and told us to figure it all out on our own... Our favorites were the monkey forest with upwards of several hundred extremely tame Rhesus Macaques who were trained to grab food from our hands and jump up on our shoulders. Our guide grabbed my camera several times to document the shoulder jumping! I'm hoping at least one turns out--it was a most wacky feeling to have this 15 lb being leaping all over you and then mess with your hair!
We also went to a beach on the southwest coast of the island that featured a huge Hindu temple at the water's edge. Bali is something like 90% Hindu--and each temple is more gorgeous and ornate than the last one. I rinsed my hands and face in holy water and then some of the temple priests anointed my forehead with a patch of rice and then placed a lotus flower on my ear. Anasuya commented that I looked completely blissed out... As the sun began to set groups of Hindu kids took pictures of themselves visiting the temple and then suddenly one of them spotted Anasuya (who is tall and blonde) and they requested that she pose for a picture with them! Amongst a group of short olive-skinned dark haired kids with veils, we were clearly the odd ones to them!
This morning we took a Balinese cooking class. Lots of the same flavorings and techniques as Thai cookery (which I studied last year in Thailand)... Did learn how to make some of the most exquisite peanut sauce--also Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Chicken Sate (with a delicious marinade). Our class was topped off with a dessert made from coconut milk, palm sugar, flavorings cooked with fresh fruits and served over ice cream... Eating and cooking like that we could easily gain back all of the weight we might have lost the last several days from all of our walking and exploring.
Last night it rained--this morning was overcast and now we're in mid-afternoon full sun. Today is our last day in Ubud which has at times gotten on our nerves as a mecca for tourist pandering. Out on the streets we're forever getting hit on for tours and Balinese crapola--and whenever we buy anything the next Balinese person we meet readily informs us that they could have gotten us a better deal. Ultimately I've had to face that to all of them we're rich Americans which has given us the luxury to focus on things like pleasure, enlightenment, adventure and discovery. While for a couple of weeks we're sharing their country, ultimately we're the ones with the means to leave Bali whenever we choose.
This morning we went on a white water rafting trip. Apparently about six different companies offer trips on this gorgeous river that's less than an hour from Ubud. Being a class #2 river (quite easy) there were plenty of opportunities for horsing around. Paddle-boats tried capsize each other (none succeeded) but everyone managed to drench nearby boats with all the water fights! And it was truly an international adventure. There were boats filled with Japanese paddlers (they were the most aggressive water fighters), Taiwanese, and then representatives of the English speaking world (Europeans, Aussies, and us Americans). The Balinese river guides would shout out "forward -- one - two" for the English speakers and then the equivalents for the Japanese and Taiwanese paddlers.
Yesterday we went on a great adventure with a private guide named Wayan. (All first born males in Bali are named Wayan.) We began with a drive up to Mt. Batur (a volcano which was last active about 40 years ago.) We sat out on the patio of a swanky restaurant and ate banana crepes and banana fritters along with tropical fruits like papaya, pineapple and watermelon. Below we surveyed the expanse of Lake Batur--and I took as many landscape photos as I could...eventually I sensed I was repeating images I'd already captured and forced myself to stop.
As we drove down we (like every car on the road) stopped to receive an offering cup. Our driver readily placed it on our dashboard to protect us for the rest of our journey. These cups are made from coconut palm leaves and filled with flowers. Such cups are created and distributed everyday and in every way throughout Bali. (In our cooking class there was such a cup on the stove to ensure we learned to cook a good meal!). Cups placed outside eventually become bird feed--perhaps the birds help to transport wishes to the higher powers!
Next we explored some lava flows and then walked down to edge of Lake Batur. Several families were bathing and doing laundry while others were tending their rice fields. Some agreed to let me take their pictures while others believed I was the white goddess of money (or something like that) and wanted to be paid some unknown sum for which I passed...
Then we drove a little further and were fitted with mountain bikes and helmets and proceeded to bike for several hours through picturesque villages. We were trailed by our driver (in one vehicle) and a bike van (in another vehicle). At one point my bike's chain got hopelessly caught between gears and within seconds the mechanic came to my rescue---I didn't have a moment to even consider getting my fingers covered with bike grease! Ah the pleasures of being the while goddess of money! During the bike ride we drove by loads of rice field that were in the process of being harvested, giving me the opportunity to photograph many steps of the process. Plants were being chopped, shaken, winnowed, and huge sacks were carried (easily balanced on the tops of women's heads) into the village. Then along the edge of the road shucked rice was allowed to dry in big flat circles in the sun. Once a field was harvested, the plants would be chopped down to about six inches high and then flooded with water. A flock of ducks would then be brought in to eat all the remains. Once the ducks were finished (several days later), a Balinese tractor (in the form of a water buffalo) would be brought in to trample the field completely down. Then seeding could happen again. In Bali there are two planting seasons each year. Fortunately for us, Bali is in the midst of one of them...and we've been able to witness all the steps!
As we passed through the villages kids would come out into the street to greet us, yell "hello" and raise their little hands to "high five" us as we whizzed by! At the end of our bike trip we were handed wet wash clothes to cool down our hot faces and then whisked over to a most delicious Balinese meal with roast duck, tofu in peanut sauce, chicken sate, and an assortment of fresh vegetables.
Upon our return to Ubud I indulged in my second Balinese massage (Anasuya was way ahead of me...having had atleast four by then.) This time I tried one that followed the full body massage with a yogurt exfoliation and then a bath filled with flowers. The experience of being rubbed and scrubbed and washed while I rested just as limp rag doll/white goddess of money was quite extraordinary.
The day before I explored Ubud's major art museum It combined ancient works with much Hindu influence and some more modern work. The Hindu mythologies are quite phantasmagorphic --with multi-headed gods filled with vengeance that swoop down to castigate wrongdoers. One of my favorite paintings was one that featured villagers dancing on top of water buffalo to pass the time away. We're off to Lovina tomorrow -- a reportedly sleepy beach town.
Yesterday we engaged another Bali. We did our part to further entrepreneurialism in Bali! Wayan our bike tour guide wants to start his own tour company and enlisted our services. In exchange for a "free" tour of the region west of Ubud including a buffet lunch I shot a roll of film for him to use in creating posters to attract travellers. Anasuya posed as a tourist in several of the shots -- and we taught Wayan a little about being a photo director. (I was a little sad to just hand over the roll in that I knew he'd gotten at least one award-winning shot.) Anasuya wrote captions for each of the photos while I rewrote his brochure so it was easily readable. (I'd never before corrected English as a second language from the Balinese perspective--all I can say is that it needed some serious help!)
I must say it did feel good to help someone. Day after day being attended to as the white goddess of money does get old!
Afterwards we were driven up to Lovina which is clearly more laid back than Ubud. We indulged in a suite at the Bali-Taman hotel with a gorgeous pool, lily ponds, and footsteps from a pretty black sand beach. A scattering of locals hangout at the beach edge of the hotel waving conch shells and Balinesian trinkets as we sit safely cloistered amongst the other indulgent travellers from Australia, Europe and the US. Our cost per night including a very generous breakfast is about$50--I imagine comparable digs in the U.S. would be upwards of $400!
Ultimately the beach pester crowd got their way with us and I hired a woman to do my laundry for about $5. (possibly overpriced, but she had a great story about needing tuition money for her kids.) We also arranged a snorkeling tour for tomorrow morning as well as a visit to one of the regions Buddhist Temples (apparently a bit of an anomaly for Bali) as well as a soak in a local hot spring.
We're stationed over gorgeous rocky cliffs with an exquisite view of the Indian Ocean. Last night I could hear the waves gentle roar all night. We rounded out our stay in Lovina with a visit to the Buddhist Temple and an amazing hot spring. Being that Bali is largely Hindu, the temple aesthetics very much incorporated Hindu iconography. Nonetheless there were the Buddhist requisites of golden Buddhas, and barefoot entry into the interior rooms...
The hot spring featured several pools of varying temperatures with ornately shaped heads from which water gushed out. One set were so strong, they functioned like powerful Jacuzzi jets. I just melted--I was simply a body having its aches pounded out.
Then yesterday morning I decided to go snorkeling--I did my best to push through past experiences of being a bit uncoordinated with mask, snorkel, etc and viewed some amazing blue star fish, bright green and turquoise blue fish---and neon orange ones, too. It was quite a feast for the eyes! Then something like jelly fish started nipping at me. All over there were little pings of pain. I swam back to my boat and just clung to the bamboo edge poles. The rocking started doing me in. By the time I was seated in the boat, I felt a well of nausea forming. Pretty soon everything I'd eaten in the last day came up and hopefully fed all of those hungry Balinese fish. By evening my stomach settled enough so I could down a bowl of white rice. (It was absolutely time to abandon my low carb diet!)
This purging was just one of many that had occurred in the last day or so. The Balinese backdrop seemed to trigger buckets of tears, too. Tears over deaths, losses, and all of the ways we Westerners handle life's passages. I look in at the Balinese approach to ceremonies...and become a bit envious. The processions, pageants, dances -- it is all quite remarkable.
Anasuya is off sailing in the beautiful Amed Bay this morning--I'm staying off of boats for the time being. We're headed off to Sanur this afternoon to wrap up the last two nights of our journey.
We leave Bali later tonight. Anasuya returns to LA on Monday morning while I go to Honolulu to give a paper at the International Conference on Social Sciences. (I return to LA the following week.)
We arrived here in Sanur after a glorious afternoon enjoying a drop dead gorgeous Amed pool overlooking some of the best surf I'm swam in during our stay. Amed did get to feeling a bit quiet --it's a perfect destination for lovers, honeymooners and scuba divers. We promised ourselves we'd return to Amed under more appropriate circumstances!!
Sanur, unlike black rocky beached Amed and Lovina, has big stretches of white sand beaches. There's a reef a distance from the beach causing the swimming waters to be shallow, filled with seaweed and placid. Nonetheless along the beach there's a perfect warm gusty wind.
The beach side market vendors are super desperate here--those with distant shops troll the beach looking for potential buyers...it begins with a friendly chat and then a long walk to "just look" at their shop. After I got drawn to one shop that had absolutely nothing I could imagine buying I realized that I could not even "look" without creating a scene over my refusal to buy!
We located ourselves at Homestay Yulia, which is a family run bed and breakfast. Yesterday the family invited me to their celebration of the day of the sword, which these days honors everything metal and technological. We blessed their motorcycles, washing machine and the children’s toy cars and bikes. I did my best to photograph the incense-rich offerings as they were distributed amongst the household appliances. Lots of fun!
I also had my final Balinese massage. We found a great place, which has tables that overlook a gurgling stream--that sound combined with bamboo flute music was just a perfect backdrop to a truly excellent massage. As I write this Anasuya is getting her final massage (I think she's up to six!)
Sanur attracts a decidedly different tourist than Lovina and Amed--lots of middle-aged and retired Europeans...quite different from the Aussie honeymooners we'd hung out with in Lovina!
Today I traipsed down the beach photographing kids and a couple of dogs enjoying their Sunday morning swims. Eventually I arrived at the Louis Mayeur museum. Mayeur was a French painter who spent time in Bali in the 1930s and 1950s. He depicts an idyllic life of women gathering flowers, relaxing around pools and altogether enjoying each other's company. All the women (including his Balinese wife Polok were deliciously topless.) These days the only topless women we've seen are elderly village women wearing just a loose Sari draped around their waists. I figure these women have been topless all of their lives--some 40 years ago the practice for younger women must have been interrupted by Western prudery.
Afterwards I put together my own Den Pasar tour. I caught a taxi into town (about 10 miles from Sanur) and explored the central museum. In the gardens I was constantly accosted by sellers of everything museumish. What an effort to discourage them! Eventually a "professional" guide glommed onto me and did what he could to explain Bali's prehistorical period, the influence of the Hindus, later the Buddhists and Chinese. Quite interesting artifacts ranging from traditional necklaces and bracelets to sword handles. The final room with contemporary painting had some beautiful pieces of work.
Next I was guided to a nearby Hindu temple with some beautiful iconography of Ganesh (the god with an elephant trunks nose) Hanuman (the god in the form of a monkey) and Vishnu. Next we walked through downtown and into a huge market place. Just in case I didn't have enough Balinese crafts, I bought a couple of more things, and then took a whiff of the fruit and meat markets. Makes Grand Central Market in LA look like Ralphs! I then found the outdoor flower petal market with stalls with women selling gorgeous petals for Bali's many ceremonial uses. What a very beautiful scene!
Upon my return to Sanur I took one more dip into the warm placid Indian ocean, got accosted by a couple more beachside masseuses and of course more hawkers of Balinese stuff. Then I came upon my final funeral procession. It filled the streets for several blocks--all wore traditional sarongs and headscarves and walked arm-in-arm. After dinner and a final repacking of our now very heavy bags, we're off to the airport.
When I last wrote we were on our way out of Bali. Following a pretty turbulent night flight from Bali to Tokyo, I decided to spend another day in Narita, the town adjacent to the Tokyo airport. (Anasuya opted to rent one of the sleeping rooms at the airport in that her layover was a bit shorter than mine.) I caught one of the free airport shuttles over to the Nikko Narita hotel and read in the garden hotel for several hours. Eventually I gathered myself together and caught another shuttle bus into town. As I walked up the streets towards the shinto temple we'd visited last time, I sampled a huge variety of pickled Japanese condiments. (They made the pickled sweet ginger Americans serve with sushi seem especially limited!) Eventually I selected a restaurant where they took credit cards (the Japanese ATMS unlike those in Bali only accepted withdrawals on local banks) and had lunch. Being that my waitress spoke no English I pointed at a plastic model of the sashimi plate I wanted to try. Beyond some delicious raw tuna, white fish and tuna I had MANY pickled things to draw from.
Afterwards I tried out the restaurant toilet which had a warmed seat and all kinds of controls from washing and drying without the use of toilet paper. At some point the washer got pretty irritating (I felt perfectly clean by then) and I could not turn it off. As I jumped off the toilet it kept spurting water at me, attempting to soak my clothes. I fought back by slamming down the toilet seat cover and then it looked like the entire room was going to get soaked. By the time I summoned the waitress to rescue me all had stopped and she flushed the toilet, like duh I didn't know how to do that?
Then I wandered beyond the Shinto temple to find loads of walking paths surrounding a beautiful lake with many carved panels of stone along the hillsides. I lost track of time and space as I began creating photo-paintings of each image. Suddenly I realized I had no idea how to get back to the road. After several false starts, I eventually wandered my way down.
At the shuttle stop I chatted with a flight attendant from Turkey. (Narita is flight crew central with several hotels and restaurants focussing on their needs...) She invited me back to her hotel and sneaked me into the Japanese style spa. What a treat! There was a steam sauna, hot pools, cold pools, and lots of great smelling Japanese shampoos, conditioners and lotions.
Eventually I shuttled my way back to the airport and boarded a plane bound for Honolulu. It was so filled with Japanese tourists, they neglected to make boarding announcements in English! (I just figured out what to do by watching everyone else...) After a pretty uneventful night flight with more Japanese airline food (some good--some very strange) we arrived in Honolulu. While I'd never been to Hawaii, I suddenly felt I was certainly back in the USA.
Suddenly every chain hotel and restaurant I'd ever seen at home was well-represented! I caught the airport shuttle to my hotel (a very moderately-priced one for Waikiki) and quickly it became clear I was no longer in Bali. The manager was aghast when I expected his help in bringing my bags up to my room. (In Bali even the simplest places we stayed at would not dare let us carry our own bags.) Then I walked down a block to the amazing Waikiki beach. It was completely filled with sunbathers and surfers. The sand was perfect (some of it has been imported from other islands---and reportedly even some had been imported from California). And the waves were exquisite. It was clearly the very best beach swimming I'd had on my whole trip. Oh how those market-sellers from Bali would have loved to have at this crowd of moneyed Americans!
The next day I partook in one of the most touristic things I've ever done in visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). Here around seven different island cultures (including Samoa, Fiji, the Marquesas, Tongo and Hawaii) are represented by different "centers" that "teach" things like coconut palm climbing, drumming and hula dancing. Mostly the cultural representatives (many students at the sponsoring Mormon University) cracks silly jokes and do everything they can to keep the audience laughing and moving. The high point was an evening extravaganza with fire dancers and more. At one point I chatted with one of the performers and told her how I thought the PCC would be more like a living history center (like Plimoth Colony in Massachusetts) than this dizzying Disneyland-style extravaganza. She completely agreed that hardly anything seriously cultural could be gleaned from this experience and said she'd pass my observations onto the powers that be!
Today I attended the first day of the International Conference on Social Sciences. Its a hugely eclectic gathering of social scientists (including sexologists, sociologists, psychologists, political scientists and anthropologists) who in a very relaxed setting present their research to each other. I love hopping from sessions that seriously analyze to terrorism to those that measure the impact of height and weight on dating patterns of adolescents to those that look at the impact of viagara on couples in New Zealand. While on the whole the sessions have been excellent, as far as I can tell the primary reason anyone comes to the conference to have a business excuse to visit Hawaii! Nonetheless, I've met some absolutely delightful people and am so enjoying engaging in one thoughtful conversation after another.
When I was perhaps in kindergarten Hawaii became our nation’s 50th state and we California kids would don paper leis while struggling to keep our hula hoops swiveling on our madly undulating little hips. Despite all the reports I’d heard of Hawaii’s amazing beaches and lush countryside I’d chosen to travel to places more exotic like Uganda, Papua New Guinea and most recently Bali, Indonesia. Then last Spring I’d heard about the International Conference on Social Sciences and used it as my excuse to finally check out Hawaii.
Initially I’d planned a series of island hops wherein I’d go backpacking in Kauai, visit several of Maui’s beautiful towns and beaches and take in the still active volcano on the big island. When I began to price such a trip, I faced that I’d save hundreds of dollars by going to Bali rather than attempt an island-hop adventure. In the end I admitted that I had a morbid curiosity to check out Waikiki, which happened to be the location of the conference. With barely a week to do Hawaii, I opted to confine myself to the island of Oahu. Using the Lonely Planet’s listing of hotels, I located the Waikiki Prince which was a block and a half from the beach and about a five minute walk to the conference’s pricey Sheraton Hotel complex. I was impressed with the deal I’d found—with the hotel’s 7th night free deal, I had a room with a kitchen, hot shower, air conditioner, queen bed and TV for just over $40 a night. While it couldn’t compare to the comparably priced suite we stayed in Lovina (north end of Bali) the Hawaiian surf was a hands-down winner.
Now Waikiki is apparently the vacation destination of choice for millions of Americans who are looking for something tropical and perhaps a bit exotic. And they were all there—teens strutting their pierced-naval-flat bellies, 20-something honeymooners, families with young kids, elders, people in wheel chairs and just lots of people who’d found some kind of Sunday Times travel-section bargain. And then of course there were the Japanese tourists—don’t forget I’d flown in with a planeful of them. To them Hawaii is cheap…and the Ala Moana shopping center which is a short bus ride from Waikiki becomes their destination of choice as they snap up $300 Gucci
For the first couple of days I chose to take in the Waikiki tourist scene. To me it was this unbelievable confluence of the packed energy of Las Vegas distributed along a breezy beautiful coastline. Every evening at the beach park closest to my hotel ukulele and guitar players would play hula music for performing dancers from a local hula school. Each night that I could I’d nestle in the crowd and take in their beautiful performance. Then afterwards I’d take an evening swim just as the sun finished setting.
The day before my conference started I signed up for the Polynesian Cultural Center tour. Clearly I was not the only visitor to Waikiki with that idea. That day (and presumably every day) many bus loads of tourists from Waikiki are carted up to the center’s North shore enclave which is adjacent to its benefactor Brigham Young University and the Mormon Temple. While I’d imagined a kind of living history center with “native” Polynesians carrying on daily life as they might in their home villages, the center was designed for eight year olds. Every village involved its visitors in an activity like banging drums, learning an “native” chant or dancing some version of the hula. At some point I got a huge headache and wished my return bus wasn’t scheduled to leave for another five hours. I hid out in the IMAX theater and watched every dolphin and underwater adventure movie I could just to avoid those horribly obnoxious “native” performers.
As part of the conference I’d signed up for Germaine’s Luau which was touted as the best one on the island. Again I was herded onto an air-conditioned bus and forced to weather bad jokes and “entertainment” from a native tour guide. I let my mind wander off and thought about our innocent guides in Bali who could barely speak English and wouldn’t dare try to entertain us with bad jokes. The luau featured more Hawaiian dancers and some of the worst food I’d had on my trip including some extremely salty roast pork and some rancid tasting poi. (In that moment I felt quite relieved that Hawaii had become a US state and sported plenty of American chain restaurants.)
The following evening I was booked for another tourist event—a cruise with more dancers and more bad Hawaiian food. When it turned out the cruise was overbooked and there was a chance to get my money back, I jumped at the opportunity to avoid watching more honeymoon and anniversary husbands dressed in grass skirts and coconut bras compete in dancing the hula. Instead I stole away from the conference and took a local bus (way too air-conditioned but thankfully with no tour-guide-entertainers) and made my way over to Ala Moana beach. Suddenly I was amongst Honolulu’s locals enjoying an afternoon at a beautiful beach that was not infested by ten-year-old Midwestern kids trying to surf for their first times. The Honolulu locals were decidedly less moneyed—as became increasingly apparent as I caught another bus over to Manoa Valley Road. After a long bus ride—made extra-long by the failure of a wheel chair lift to release its patron properly, I eventually made my way to a beautiful hiking trail. The trail was studded with thick roots, lots of mud and gorgeous tropical flowers. After walking maybe 45 minutes through thick warm rainforest air, I came upon an utterly beautiful waterfall. In that moment I was especially happy that I’d come to Hawaii.
Other adventures I had included hiking around Diamond Head and visiting the seaside aquarium (both walking-distance from Waikiki) and watching the monk seals hand thrown fish. They were as good a catch as my dog Bacchus—made me wonder if they and dogs inhabit the same niches.
On my last day I partook in Waikiki’s monthly brunch on the beach. Here top restaurants sell less pricey versions of their specialties to both locals and tourists. In line for a tasty shrimp fritata, I chatted with a local romance writer who hardly ever comes out to Waikiki because the parking is so impossible.
Afterwards I caught a local bus to the Bishop Museum, which was where I should have gone the day I’d sought deep historical and cultural information about Polynesia. The museum’s holdings on Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and the Marquesas are excellent. I must have spent at least four hours just inhaling the permanent collections. Afterwards I attempted to take my own circle island tour by catching a series of local buses that headed to the North Coast and then skirted the coast down towards Waikiki. I got off in Haliewa and proceeded to take pictures of the gorgeous coast and then went to a fish restaurant and had some of the best food of my little Hawaiian adventure. I eventually caught another circle island bus—watched the sunset over beautiful expanse of beach from my bus window and then night fell and sadly the rest of my circle of Oahu was in the dark!
On my very last morning I took one more swim in the Waikiki surf, ate one more helping of pancakes with coconut syrup, bought a bag of macadamia nuts that was slightly on sale and caught a shuttle over to the airport. My airplane seatmate’s had just celebrated their honeymoon and still could not get enough of each other. I vicariously grokked their pleasure as I inhaled the heavy hardback book I’d barely read during my travels to Bali and Hawaii. The book, Intertwined Lives tells a most intriguing back story to the lives of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict.