Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hawaii Part 2: Volcano park tour

Hawaii is not only well known for its sandy beaches but also its fuming volcanoes and Hula dance.  I was told by a local that when the missionaries influence came to Hawaii, a lot of the island cultures such as Hula dance and surfing were banned.  The hula girls were said to be dressing inappropriately and the shaking of their hips were too much for the missionaries to handle.  It was not until King Kalakaua took over the throne that those cultures iconic to Hawaiian were revived.  And did you know Hula were first performed by men only? It is hard for me to picture tall dark and macho island men scantly clad in grass skirts shaking their hips vigorously.  I am not sure i would enjoy that as much as the female version.

To make our Hawaiian getaway complete, we thought we should watch a Hula dance.  Where else would it be better to watch such performance than on a sunset cruise?  We signed up for a evening on the reef sunset cruise run by a company called Blue sea cruises.  We spent around three hours on the boat, cruising slowly into the sunset.  The ticket included a buffet style Hawaiian dinner.  There was also endless supply of various alcoholic cocktails on board (not included in ticket though).

It was my first time viewing a sunset from the sea.  You felt closer to the setting sun.  You also felt as though you were sailing into the sun but in actual fact of course the sun was moving away from you (that why the sun is setting).  Hui and I thought it was one of the nicest sunsets we have seen.

After the performance, every one of us got picked to go up to the stage to have a go at working our  hips. Big Kahuna was the guy who was singing and playing the Ukulele.  He was also the host for that evening.  This photos was taken when Big Kahuna asked this gentleman to step away from the yellow pole as Pole dance is a very different dance to Hula dance.  But that gentleman was quite happy working the pole after a few glasses of Mai Tai.

On another day, we joined a day tour to the Volcano national park on the eastern coast of big island, where Mount Kilauea sat.  From Mauna Kea beach on the west coast, we had to travel across the desert land to the other side of the island.  It was a long drive.  It made me realised just how big the big island was.  Apparently you can fit all the other Hawaiian islands onto big island and still have land to spare.  The road across the island was called the saddle road, a very long and windy road with uneven surface.  I was glad i wasn't the one driving.  The four photos coming up were all shot through the window of our moving bus.  A lot of them needed to be straightened in post processing because taking straight photos on a moving vehicle was harder than i thought.

The photo above shows a US army training camp in the middle of the desert.  The US army deliberately placed the camp here so that their soldiers can get use to the extremely dry and hot condition (think Iraq and Afghanistan).  You can see the mighty Mauna Loa in the background.  Mauna means Mountain. Loa means long.  This is what they call shield volcano, a volcano with a gentle but long slanting slopes.  Mauna Loa is the world largest volcano, 4170 meter above sea level.  Its summit and base are 17km apart!  You can see black streaks on the slopes of the mountain.  Those are lava tracks.

The crater in the photo above is the crater of Mount Kilauea (meaning Spewing in hawaiian).   This is a relative young volcano, started erupting in 1983.

Our last stop for the day tour was Punaluu beach, a black sand beach.  Unlike our volcanic sand beach in New Zealand, the black sands in Punaluu were very coarse and unpleasant to step on.  But we weren't there for the sandy beach.  We were there to see green sea turtle.  We found three of them sun bathing on the beach.  Sea turtles are protected by law in Hawaii.


I think i would name the turtle on the right Adolf.  He is doing a Nazi salute!

That concluded our day tour.

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