Time for a Little Culture

Today Rachel and I traded sociology for geology. I’ve always had an interest in Polynesian culture, and today was our day to learn about it at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the north-eastern side of Oahu.

Mid-morning we boarded a tour bus for the cultural center, and our tour guide Vatti pointed out some of the pretty sights along the way, including beaches, gulches, valleys and locations where movies and tv series were filmed (Jurassic Park, Lost, Fantasy Island). Sadly we did not stop at any of the beaches on the North Shore, so we will have to amend our itinerary for tomorrow afternoon so that we can see the big waves!

After about 75 min we reached our destination.  After lunch we entered the exhibits of the park. We started in Aoteroroa (New Zealand) and learned about the woodwork, customs, combat training and welcoming ceremonies of the Moari.

Next up we visited the Tonga exhibit, and witnessed a fun Tonga drum show and learned a bit of a sitting “hula” dance. We also learned to underhand throw spears. This old game was used to settle disputes. There was a short competition amongst our tour group. Rachel and I tied for second.

We didn’t win, but we did well.

We didn’t spend much time at the Tahiti exhibit. We spent a few minutes learning to do a Tahitian dance. Blackmail photos are shown below.

Rachel learning a Tahitian dance.
Ryan learning a Tahitian dance.

Fiji came next, where we learned a few words of Fijan (which may be useful next week) and played the bamboo sticks during a song. Later we were taken into a replica chief’s hut. We learned that under no circumstances should we ever enter from the west side unless you want to be clubbed to death without a warning.

Samoa was a really fun exhibit. We made fire with hibiscus wood! However in the future, a bic lighter with newspaper will be a the preferable option. We also weaved palm frond fish.

Hehehe… fire!

The best part was the cooking demonstration where a comedically talented Samoan demonstrated how to climb a tree, grab a coconut, quickly and easily open it and prepare it meals.

A Samoan showing how to start a fire with 2 sticks.
A Samoan climbing a tree to get a coconut.

We didn’t have enough time to see the Hawaiian village before the luau. And the Marquesas and Rapa Nui exhibits were closed. The last two greatly disappointed me. I went to Easter Island a couple of years ago and loved it. I greatly miss the island and want to return some day.  (Rachel edit: I kept reminding Ryan that he was actually in Easter Island and the fake plaster undersized Moai did not compare the real things he saw… so stop complaining!)

The next part of the day featured a luau. It was kind of a let down, the food was a minor variation on lunch and the entertainment was a bit lacking. The Polynesian Cultural Center made up for it by putting on a great “stage” show afterwards called “HA – The Breath of Light”  Photography was strictly prohibited; but Rachel managed to snap a few anyway.

Fire Dancing

After the show we boarded the bus for Waikiki. In general this neighborhood of Honolulu was too glitzy and commercialized. A bit like Vegas, but with more water and tourists, less sand and gambling and much worse traffic! However tonight on Halloween… its even worse. It looks and sounds like everyone under the age of 30 on the island is outside partying it up. It’s very loud, and we question if the revelers realize they have places to be tomorrow morning?  We now understand why the hotel provides earplugs in the bathroom instead of a shower cap or q-tips.

Speaking of which, tomorrow morning we tour Pearl Harbor.

Word Drops: 4, one of whom asked us to take him with us on the trip.

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2 thoughts on “Time for a Little Culture”

  1. What an incredible day….. It is fascinating to be reading about your travels. Not to say I might be a bit jealous 🙂 Enjoy every day of this experience of a lifetime. Aunt Mona

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