On the North Shore of Oahu By Ringo Boitano
Nation of Tonga dancers perform the Ma'ulu'ulu at
the Polynesian Cultural Center.
The drums were pounding and so was my heart. Five Maori warriors moved in unison to the pulsating beat of the Haka war dance as their vessel glided down the tropical river. The tattooed men were powerful; not tall, but compactly built and intimidating. If I were a NFL quarterback I would want them on my offensive line. As the war dance subsided, the audience on the shore applauded in awe.
Next down the river was the display from Hawai'i.
Grass-skirted women moved in harmony to the gentle rhythms of the Hula
Kahiko - the ancient Hawaiian dance that predates the arrival of the
Europeans, who introduced lyrics and string instrumentation.
Tahitian dancers perform at the Polynesian Cultural
I stood in wonder, as the Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant continued at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of Oahu. I had often dreamed of visiting all the island cultures of Polynesia. And now, with the warm Hawaiian sun on my back and palm trees swaying in the wind, my senses told me that I was experiencing my own paradise found.
A member of the Maori tribe greets visitors at the
New Zealand village.
Polynesia (many islands) covers a triangular-shaped geographical area of the Pacific Ocean, known
throughout the world as the Polynesian Triangle. The triangle consists of New Zealand at the southwest,
Easter Island at the southeast, and Hawai'i at the northern apex, with the Marquesas, Samoa, Tahiti and
Tonga in the middle. Fiji, though technically part of Melanesia, is included due to a strong Polynesian
influence. All of the island cultures share similar traditions, language, arts and religion.
There is no definitive answer to the origin of these fascinating people, though everyone seems to offer an
opinion. Many believe the Polynesian cultures descended from a single proto-culture established in
the South Pacific by migrant Malayo-Polynesian people, while others point to the Easter Islands. Everyone seems to agree that these ingenious explorers were ultra-sophisticated sailors, with a highly complex navigational system based on the observation of the stars, ocean swells and flight patterns of birds.Their primary vessel was a 50 to 60 feet long canoe, consisting of two hulls, connected by lashed crossbeams. A precursor to the modern catamaran, the sails were made of matting drove. Long steering paddles enabled the mariners to keep it sailing on course. The canoes could accommodate roughly two dozen people, food supplies, livestock, and planting materials, essential for the long expeditions and the eventual founding of new island colonies. Like athletes they would go into vigorous training prior to voyages, even conditioning their bodies to deal with less food and water.
Climbing a 40 foot coconut tree is part of
the fun at the Samoan village.
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
In the mid-1800s, the village of Laie on the North Shore of Oahu became a place of refuge for villagers
who had broken the laws of the king of Hawai'i. The lifeblood of the community was the Hukilau, a form of net fishing invented by the ancient Hawaiians. This evolved into a festival, open to all who wished to participate. In 1865, the LDS Church purchased the land, making it a "gathering place" for all the people of Polynesia. Soon other people of Polynesian cultures poured into the area, bringing their own unique
island traditions. A church and relief society was created, where inhabitants grew food and made handicrafts. In 1963 the LDS Church and University established the Polynesian Cultural Center to keep alive the rich history and traditions of the indigenous island cultures of Polynesia. The center also helped defray educational expenses and provide practical work experience for their students at the university next door. Today approximately 700 BYU-Hawaii students work at the PCC, all of them anxious to share their history with you. Located a one-hour drive from Waikiki, the center offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the lifestyles, habitats, entertainment and hospitality of seven Polynesian villages -- all in one location. The purchase of tickets, food, shows and souvenirs helps fund the educational/work objectives. I visited all seven villages and saw islanders re-enact wedding ceremonies, wield fire knives, conduct cooking demonstrations, carve tiki figures and even climb 40-foot coconut trees. Visitors are invited to participate with drum playing, dancing, chanting, canoe treks and creating fire by rubbing two sticks together. It became painfully obvious to me that I would never make it as a cast member on Survivor. Special events include an IMAX theater, the world's largest Polynesian night show and an authentic Hawaiian Luau, complete with Kalua Pig (cooked whole in an 'imu' underground oven), Mahi Mahi, Lomi Lomi Salmon (cold diced salmon, tomatoes and onion), sweet potatoes, Poke (generally fresh cubes of ahi/tuna), Taro Dinner Rolls, Hapuia (a coconut flavored desert) and, of course, Poi (a thick, purple-colored paste made by pounding taro, used to absorb the saltiness in some dishes). I had been informed that the Polynesian Cultural Center is the number-one paid attraction in Hawai'i. Now I know why. "Bula"-- the Fijian word for 'life,' and a way of wishing good health and fortune to you all!
HOW TO GET THERE
Hawaiian Airlines offers direct flights from LAX and
San Diego. In the Aloha Spirit, the airline is a welcoming
throwback to the days of ample snacks, highquality, warm meals and attentive staff, all-included in the price of a coach seat. HawaiianAir.com
WHERE TO STAY
For many, the iconic Turtle Bay Hotel is the North Shore of Oahu. Nestled on 880 ocean-front acres, the full-service luxury property offers spacious rooms with views and balconies, beaches on both sides of the property, a surfing reef, two golf courses, walking trails and on-site restaurants including the cutting edge (and right on the beach) Hawaiian fusion wonder, Ola. TurtleBayResort.com
Feedback for Ringo
I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed
at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic?
And then there was the Heups in Bismark.
It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.
Brent, Seattle, WA
It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.
Sandee, Seattle, WA
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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!
Ramon, Kansas City, MO
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Ha ha ha ha ha...love your "schtick" Ringo!!
Dolly, Las Vegas, NV
Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best
My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my
human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it?
Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks
for blazing the trail!
Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA
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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories
about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans
seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to
the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.
Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA
Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.
Key Logger, New York
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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Thanks for taking the time
for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo
Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without
a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for
years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.
thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing
that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.
To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories
like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent
relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media
stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then.
The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda"
been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this
to yourself all these many years.
Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.
Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA
Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos,
too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered
the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to
that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.
Mick, Greenbay, WI
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Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy.
Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products,
and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant
in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually
uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord
lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down
in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait
a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city
in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations
--- you know, whats a city, which one is a town, ect so
better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to
argue about any subject.
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum
in Vevey, Switzerland
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism
recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin.
A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir
Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright
Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model
Treasures of Ireland: The Burren (Dispatch
The Palladian Traveler ventures back to the days
of fearless Celtic warriors to search for some "stones to take you
home" as he files his latest dispatch from the monochromatic moonscape
known as The Burren.
Buckingham Palace It's THE Most Popular Tour
in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham
Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I
know that's an odd question, but if you grow up as I did in
London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff
of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of
Tahiti and Her Islands
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating
perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical
place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It
is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first
encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended
as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.
Provence: As Much a Mood, a Spirit as a Destination
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" goes
the song. Robert Goulet sang it and Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis,
too, and it surely comes to mind when you stand on a bluff in the Luberon
of Provence and stare across at the little hill village of Gordes. The view
is the best part; the village's interior itself is not dramatic and stands
as a warning of what contemporary popularity can do to the simple homes
of 12th century working people.
Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds.
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a
wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving
for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me
despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing
and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.
Traveling with Beautiful Boots and a Bison Backpack
People often asked about my favorite travel apparel and
gear. This happened to me at the airport recently. One question came as
I was putting back on my clothes after going through the TSA checkpoint
striptease. Before leaving the area, I heard a soft voice say, "hey,
I really like your boots. Where did you get them?" Looking up, I
found a uniformed employee staring at my feet.
Film Review: "My Hero Brother" A Tribute
to the Human Spirit
I just spent five days attending the Santa Barbara Film
Festival and for the most part, the features, animated shorts, and documentaries
were quite professional and compelling. That said, "My Hero Brother,"
a documentary that was particularly outstanding, told the remarkable and
inspiring story about a group of Down syndrome young men and women who
go on a two-week trek through the Himalayas with their non-Down syndrome