Visiting the Great Pyramids of Egypt after the Arab Spring – Slideshow Saturday

 

 

Pyramids

As a child, I was fascinated by the pyramids and the culture of the Egyptians. I used to sit on the floor of my grandmonther’s house and look through her vast collection of National Geographic magazines – it was the pyramids and Egyptians that fascinated me. Maybe it was because of Leonard Nemoy and that show he hosted in the 1970s ‘In Search of…” which obsessed about the mysteries of the pyramids, who built them, and how they were…impossible.

Or maybe it was being forced to go to church – the only interesting part of the bible for me was about the Egyptians, the pharaohs, and Egypt. Later, in my twenties, I became enamored of tarot cards – which generally are thought to have come from Egypt and encompass a lot of the esoteric lore connected there.

Pyramids

Lawrence of Arabia was my favorite movie for much of my life. The romance of the desert. I married my wife in the Sahara. All of it connected with these ancient wonders. I had my chance to go to Egypt just after the Arab Spring. Tahrir Square was still in turmoil. Tourist businesses were suffering – there were no tourists – except me. In the Egyptian Museum, I was alone except for the guards who followed me – whether to keep me from being kidnapped, to make sure I didn’t steal anything, or out of curiousity about what kind of person comes to Egypt at a time like that – I don’t really know.

Pyramids

There were seemingly far more guides than tourists – I picked one who was probably the same as many. My first guide was a driver, probably in his late fifties – he drove me to many locations where I seemed to be the only non-Egyptian. I went inside ancient tombs and wandered around freely. My driver was friendly, worried about the future. At Giza, he waited for me while I found a horse and a horseback guide. The young horseback guide was disinterested. We rode to the great pyramids. On the way, we saw five or less tourists – I probably could have climbed the pyramids – there were no guards – but there were signs- so I didn’t.

I walked around the Sphinx – I didn’t climb it either. None of it seems very real now…like a distant dream. I look at these pictures now though and I realize – I was there.

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A Day Trip to Kauai – Flashback Friday

Kauai

I don’t make it to the neighbor islands nearly enough. I live on Oahu, which is my favorite island of them all (for many reasons but mostly for Honolulu) but when I get the chance, I love to explore the Big Island, Maui, Lania, Molokai, and of course Kauai – which, if I didn’t have to work and had enough money to take trips when island fever hit – would probably move to the top of the list – mainly because of the raw natural beauty sculpted over millions of years by wind, rain, and surf.

I lived on Kauai in 2002 and 2003. At the time I was working as a kayak guide on the Waialua River and living in a VW van that I parked on the beach in Kapa’a. Over the years I’ve made many trips back to Kauai, mostly to hike into the dreamlike Kalalau Valley – but earlier this year I took my shortest trip to Kauai.

Kauai

During spring break, I had the pleasure of introducing my wife and daughter to the Garden Island on a 14 hour day trip. I’d found cheap fares going in early and leaving at about 8 pm. Here’s what we did.

Kauai

We arrived in Lihue at about 6 a.m. – we got our rental car and checked the weather forecast – unfortunately it was going to rain all day – that’s the way it goes on the island that contains the wettest spot on earth (I know, wet is wet but Mt. Waialeale gets more rain than anywhere else on the planet).

Kauai

We drove into Kapa’a and grabbed breakfast at the famous I Heart Country Cafe before driving as far North as we could – the road was closed past Hanalei Bay but we had the chance to see a couple of roadside waterfalls, drive across the one way bridges, and see 5-7 foot waves rolling into the very brown and muddy bay.

Kauai

It was a terrible day to kayak or take beautiful pictures (mostly) , so we didn’t kayak and mostly enjoyed the sites without taking many pictures.  We admired the epic views of the taro patches in the Hanalei Valley but the rain was so heavy that none of the pictures we took looked like anything but rain.

Kauai

Next we drove to Kilauea and the lighthouse for some bird watching. We saw plenty of nene, the state bird of Hawaii and lots of other birds in a 15 minute period where the rain dropped to a mere drizzle.

Kauai

At one point, my wife learned how to fly like the magic creature she is….

We continued on south taking the Kapa’a bypass and admiring the sleeping giant and then stopping for the incredibly swelled Waialua Falls. Further on we explored the arts in Kikaha and then the amazing beauty and overwhelming colors of Waimea Canyon. My family got their first look at the Kalalau Valley (albeit only from above in the Koke’e) 

Kauai

Back towards town and a stop at the Kauai Coffee Company for a quick tour and some seriously discounted Kauai coffee (it is better than Kona, in my opinion) and then on to Poipu where we had lunch at Duke’s and enjoyed an all too brief respite from the rain.

Kauai

14 hours isn’t really enough time to see or explore Kauai – but with a good guide and a day where the rain barely lets up, it was enough for us this time. The next time we go, we’ll stay for a little longer – unless it’s raining again.

The Manoa Chocolate Factory in Kailua, Oahu

Manoa Chocolate Factory

One of my favorite hidden gems on Oahu is the Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour. Located in Kailua in the upstairs of a nondescript building, this fun and informative chocolate tour will teach you about sustainable bean-to-bar chocolate and also treat your tastebuds to the exotic world of custom chocolate.

Manoa Chocolate Factory

Started in 2010 by Dylan and Tammy Butterbaugh, Manoa chocolate takes it’s name from the University of Hawaii at Manoa – where they were both college students at the time. Their philosophy is simple – create great chocolate from great cacao and make sure that every step of the way is sustainable to farmers and producers. It all starts in Hawaii, the only state that can actually grow cacao commercially. The two started with home made equipment and a love of chocolate. Today they are in the top ten of bean to bar makers in the U.S. and the largest in the state of Hawaii.

Manoa Chocolate is located above Cinnamon’s Restaurant in Kailua at 315 Uluniu Ave. It’s not an intuitive location which is great because if you can find it, you can usually walk in and get the free 30 minute tour which starts with cacao and how it is grown and then moves on to how chocolate is made before ending with chocolate tea and a sampling of their amazing offerings – made from fair trade cacao they purchase from around the world – as well as Hawaii. Chocolate is a lot like wine and there are many different factors that go into creating the complex tastes.

They have recently opened a tasting room in the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki. Private tours and tastings can be booked through their website at the Manoa Chocolate websiteManoa Chocolate Factory

Honolulu – Capital City of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the State of Hawai’i

HonoluluHonolulu, Hawaii on Oahu is my home. It’s the capital of the Hawaiian Islands and the State of Hawaii. It’s the largest city in Hawaii and the second largest city in Polynesia (Auckland is first). It is the most isolated city in the world and has a population of about 400,000 with close to 1 million in the consolidated metro area. Honolulu exists not just as a city but also as a county government – so our mayor is also our county executive. It’s a crazy and down to earth place that is completely different from anyplace else on Planet Earth.

Honolulu

Honolulu has a huge US military presence and hosts millions of tourists each year. It’s a major hub for fligths from Asia, Oceania, and North America with Honolulu International Airport serving as a sort of gateway where East meets West. The city sits on the southern coast of Oahu but actually the boundaries of the City and County of Honolulu extend northwest for nearly 2500 miles and include the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and Midway Atoll.

Honolulu

When I moved here in 2001, I had come from a neighborhood/town called Fairhaven in Bellingham, Washington and I was surprised to learn that Honolulu actually translated as Fair Harbor or Fair Haven – which was pretty cool. The name fits. Honolulu is the safest city in the USA with lowest violent crime rate of any American place of comparable size – if you watch Hawaii 5-0 or Dog the Bounty Hunter, that might be hard to believe – but it’s the truth, not TV fiction.  Honolulu is consistantly ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world with a perfect climate and peaceful, educated population. The downside is that it’s damn expensive to live here with the median price of a single family home in the million dollar range and rent ranging from $2,000 to $5000 per month. It is the second most expensive urban rental market in the USA.We have more homeless per capita than anywhere in the USA.

Honolulu

The city is made up of a number of neighborhoods including Waikiki, Chinatown, Downtown, Kaka’ako, Ala Moana, Manoa, Kahala, Kaimuki, Kalihi, Salt Lake (Aliamanu or Moanalua), East Honolulu, and Moiliili. In addition, the city and county administers Kailua, Kaneohe, Waialua, Hale’iwa, Waimanalo, Makaha, Waianae and every other place on this island.

Honolulu

The archaeological evidence shows that Honolulu has been occupied for over a thousand years. King Kamehameha made it his capital after conquering Oahu at the battle of the Nu’uanu Pali in 1809. The first European to come to Honolulu was Captain William Brown – an Englishman who came in 1794. Many more followed. Honolulu became a main stopover for ships between Asia and North America.

Honolulu is the only American City that was once the capital of an independent kingdom and as such it is the only one that has a palace that was home to ruling royalty. Iolani Palace sits in the downtown historic district. There are tens of thousands of hotel rooms and vacation rentals in Honolulu which cater to the tourism industry – the economic lifeblood of modern Hawaii. 

Honolulu

Visitors are often struck by how clean Honolulu is – which is a point of pride for residents. People who live here are called locals – although some have tried to make the term ‘Honoluluan’ stick since it doesn’t have the same racial overtone of local (generally locals are brown and haoles are white).

Honolulu

The tallest building presently is the First Hawaiian Center at 438 feet. There are numerous museums, attractions, monuments, and points of interest in Honolulu. Among them are Chinatown, the statue of King Kamehameha, Iolani Palace, the Bishop Musuem, the Honolulu Academy of Arts (Honolulu Art Museum), Hawaii State Art Museum, the murals of Kaka’ako, Waikiki, the Punchbowl memorial,  Ala Moana shopping center, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Aloha Tower, Diamond Head,  a variety of botanical gardens, beautiful beaches, and much more.

Honolulu

The weather here can only be described as perfect staying mostly in the 70s and 80s (24-35 celsius). It rains every day and is sunny every day so the weather men have it easy. Partly cloudy with a chance of rain…every day. Which means rainbows daily. Lots and lots of rainbows. The water is usually the perfect temperature for a swim.

Honolulu

The population here is roughly spilt with slightly higher female to male ratio. Ethnicty is roughly 55% Asian, 20% Causcasion, 8% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders , 11% mixed race, and the remaining 6% made up of African American, Latino, and other ethnicity. Median age is about 40 years old. The Asian population is broken down into 40% Japanese, 26% Flipino, 20% Chinese, 8% Korean, 4% Vietnamese, 2% being Indian, Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian. Native Hawaiians make up only about 3% of the total population.

Honolulu

Honolulu ranks highly as one of the most fit cities in the USA. Each year there is the Honolulu Marathon and the Great Aloha Run as well as the Honolulu Triathalon. While we don’t have any professional sports teams here, we are big supporters of the University of Hawaii football, basketball, and volleyball programs as well as high school sports. Honolulu’s Little League team has won the world championship three times…most recently in 2018.

Honolulu

Honolulu has consulates for Japan, South Korea, the Phillipines, Micronesia, Australia, and the Marshall Islands. There are also numerous church and religions headquarters located here.

Honolulu

On a not so positive note, Honolulu often ranks with the worst traffic in the United States. A somewhat controversial rail system is being built to help with the problem but has run into numerous budget and time issues. It remains to be seen if if will help at all. Our bus system is frequently lauded as being very good, but in recent years has degraded and become unpleasant and too expensive for the slow speed of delivery. Lyft and Uber are readily available as well as bike-share and soon scooter share programs. Parking is a big issue in Honolulu and if you have a car but don’t have designated parking expect to spend a significant portion of your time waiting for a parking space at shops and in neighborhoods.

Honolulu

We have three interstates – which is funny if you think about it, but they are there to connect the major bases of Schofield Barracks (Army), Pearl Harbor (Navy), and Marine Corps Base Hawaii (Marines) as well as Hickam and Wheeler Fields (Air Force). The military are those most able to afford living on Oahu with plenty of subsidized housing, tax free and discounted shopping in the commisary and Navy Exchange shops, and discounts for nearly everything. It’s also nice for those military coming here that they are able to have their household goods and vehicles shipped here via tax dollars which living in base housing and shopping on base, they pay less of.

On the whole – Honolulu is a great place to live – if you can afford it.  Most people can’t and for those who live here, that means working two, three, or more jobs. It’s a great place to visit, but unless you or being susidized by the US government or are independently wealthy – don’t try to live here.

Waikiki – America’s Tropical Resort Neighborhood

WaikikiThere are songs and dreams of Waikiki. All over the world there are cafes, restaurants, streets, and shops named for this little slice of paradise on the southern end of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Waikiki is properly written Waikīkī if you use the script that German missionaries created for the Hawaiian people – but mostly it’s really a word and a name you should say. The Hawaiians went for more than a thousand years without a written language and to be honest, written language seems to have brought more problems than solutions – so I don’t get too uptight about the punctuation – but some people do.

Waikiki

Waikiki might be the most famous tropical beach in the world. It is not the only beach in the Waikiki neighborhood though. There are actually seven of them. Queens, Kuhio, Kaimana, Gray’s, Fort DeRussy, and Duke’s (also known as Kahanumoku Beach and named for Duke Kahanamoku .) The name Waikiki means spouting fresh water and while it’s hard to believe today, it was once a swamp – but one without mosquitos (introduced by ship about 1840), snakes, gators, or other unpleasantness. Instead it was a paradise. The beach portion was pretty minor back then…and actually, the beach is almost entirely man made with sand brought from a variety of locations to make it.

Waikiki

The Ala Wai Canal on the ‘back side’ of Waikiki, was built to ‘drain the swamp’ and the emptied wetlands were filled with the dredgings. Prior to that, this was a retreat for Hawaiian Royalty – the literal Kings and Queens of Surf would lounge about in little more than their birthday suits among wetland agriculture, swimming ponds, and some small beaches . In the 1800s there were a couple of guest houses but the first ‘resort’ was at Sans Souci beach (now Kaimana). Many more would follow. And of course the resorts wanted beaches so they built them with sand from the North Shore, California, Maui, Fiji, Australia…an astounding number of places – but the truth is, Mother Nature doesn’t want a beach in Waikiki and she erodes the sand away constantly. If the beach were not ‘replenished’ or ‘nourished’ or more accurately restocked with foreign sand – it would not exist. The sand which washed out has also impacted the reef and changed the surf breaks.

Waikiki

Seawalls, piers, pillows, groins, and sand bags have all done their part to try to protect the commercialy important beach, but you can’t stop Mother Ocean. Still with scores of hotels that charge $500 per night for rooms – there is plenty of money to spend keeping the tide at bay. The first big hotels were the Moana Surf Rider and the Royal Hawaiian – built by the Matson Shipping company but the age of jet travel brought a lot more tourists and the cabanas at Halekulani were upgraded to Hawaii’s poshest hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village was born, and others have kept growing to match the ever increasing number of tourists who fulfill their dreams by coming here. You would think the resorts would pay for all of the beach ‘nourishment’ but actually, that falls on the people who live and work here for the low wages tourism offers. Tax dollars foot the bill and corporate dollars buy the politicians that distribute it.

Waikiki

Still, no one blames the tourists, the hotels, or the government because quite frankly, the beach is nice and even if most locals don’t get to enjoy the beach as much as they would like – we all get down there from time to time.  There are surf competitions, a nightly free hula show, the lighting of the torches, and every high end shop or restaurant you can imagine all competing for those coveted tourist vacation dollars.

Waikiki surfing

Waikiki is essentially the neighborhood from the Ala Wai Canal to the beach to the Diamond Head Lighthouse including Kapiolani Park, bequethed by and named for Queen Kapiolani, the wife of King Kalakaua (see statue of her above). The main roads in Waikiki are Kalakaua Avenue (named for King Kalakaua), Kuhio Avenue, and Ala Wai running parallel with the beach along with Kapahulu running inland (which will lead you to Leonard’s Bakery). There are also a large number of smaller cross roads. Kalakaua is the main drag for high end shopping. Kapahulu takes you out of Waikiki and to some great restaurants. Ala Wai takes you back to Ala Moana – and Kuhio is a little bit of a red light district – though not as bad as it used to be.

Waikiki is primarily a place known for surfing with a wide variety of breaks and waves. The statue of Duke Kahanamoku draws admirers and each year there are numerous competitions held there. If you want to learn how to surf, it is possibly the best place in the world to do so. Other attractions here are the Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Aquarium, and the International Marketplace .It is also where most people start and finish their Hawaii vacations…which is a bit of a shame – because with a great guide, it’s easy to realize that Waikiki is just another manufactured tourist destination next to the beach – but Honolulu, Oahu, the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, Lanai, and Molokai are where you will actually discover Hawaii. I’m not saying that Waikiki isn’t great, because it is great, but it’s not the best that Hawaii has to offer – though it is the best place to start and finish your trip here.

Lanikai – The Beach, The Neighborhood, The Legend

I lived in Lanikai once. It’s a bit of a heavenly dream combined with a heavy sadness.

Lanikai

Lanikai is consistently ranked among the top beaches in the world. It’s the only beach in the USA that makes those lists. It’s powdery white sand, the view of the Mokulua Islands, the calm and protected waters sitting like a piece of blue sik encrusted with turquoise jewels. Lanikai is a bit of heaven. The name means Heavenly Sea – but rather than having been named by Hawaiians, this beach was named by savvy haole developer Charles Frazier when he bought the land from Harold Castle and created the Lanikai Subdivision in 1924.

The beach itself is a relatively small strip of sand in a pocket of Kailua town on the windward side of Oahu – while it used to be more than a mile long, erosion and climate change have reduced it to just 1/2 mile of heaven and social media and internet coverage have made it one of the most crowded beaches on Oahu during weekends and holidays – despite efforts by residents and the City and County of Honolulu to discourage people from going there. Those efforts include draconian parking restrictions, fines of $200 and more for illegal parking, and no restrooms, showers, or lifeguards.

Lanikai

Living in Lanikai more than a decade ago was amazing. I’d walk to the beach in the morning or sometimes climb to the famous Lanikai Pillbox before my morning swim. Then home for a shower. Today, the crowds, the parking, the uptight neighbors venting their frustrations at the crowds and the parking – I wouldn’t live there today – even if I coudl afford the $4000/month rent or had the ability to buy one of the median average of nearly $2 million dollar houses in the neighborhood.

Lanikai

The people who live in Lanikai would like nothing better than to make Lanikai a private, residents only, beach. Who can blame them? But Hawaii state law guarantees that all beaches in Hawaii are public access (with a few military exceptions) – so instead they have passed laws that prohibit commercial vehicles or tour companies from dropping off visitors in Lanikai or even stopping on the street for visitors to take pictures of the residence where Barack Obama frequently stays on his vacations to Oahu.

Lanikai

Obama’s stays in Lanikai were at about the same time that Japanese guide books started listing Lanikai as one of the must-see places to visit in the Hawaiian Islands. It wasn’t long before big tour buses began dropping of literal busloads of tourists in the neighborhood. Prior to this, small tour companies and private guides used to bring small groups to Lanikai – companies like Oahu Nature Tours which I used to work for. The small tour groups didn’t bother anyone very much – but the buses and the Obama seeking tourists – it lit a fire under the neighborhood association and since Lanikai is more than a little bit affluent, it wasn’t long before all commercial activity in Lanikai was banned. Not long after, all public parking during holidays and long weekends was banned.

Lanikai

Today, if you want to visit Lanikai – your best bet is to park at Kailua Beach Park and then walk up the hill to the Lanikai Marker (no, it’s not the entrance to the Penis Park) where you get great views of the Mokulua Islands (the Mokes) and Flat Island on the Kailua Beach side. You can also take ‘Da Bus’ into Lanikai from either Honolulu or Kailua.

Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport – Hawaii’is Gateway to the World

Honolulu International Airport The first place that most people step onto the Hawaiian Islands is the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The airport is named for Daniel K. Inouye, one of Hawaii’s deceased U.S. Senators and a World War II medal of Honor winner. Located on the western edge of Honolulu, the airport was known as Honolulu International Airport for much of its life. The theee letter airport identifier is HNL.  We get nearly 22 million visitors and residents stepping onto Hawaiian soil each year through HNL brought by more than 278,000 flights! This makes it one of the busiest airports in the United States. One thing for sure – it’s the busiest airport on Oahu

HNL is the home hub for Hawaii-based Hawaiian Airlines and it serves all of the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Lanai, Molokai) and has flights to the mainland USA as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Tahiti, American Samoa, Guam, and several other Pacific Rim destinations.

Honolulu International Airport

HNL opened first in 1927 as John Rodgers Airport. Keehi Lagoon was where the majority of planes landed in those days and most of the traffic was seaplanes. As the lagoon was dredged the dredgings were used to fill in what is now the reef runway as well as some of the land that modern day HNL sits upon. During WWII (after the bombing of Pearl Harbor) it was one of the largests airports in the USA with a land area of 4019 acres and a total of seven runways (4 on land and 3 on sea). In 1947, the airport was renamed Honolulu International Airport – poor John Rodgers was lost to history and very few Hawaii residents today have ever even heard of him. This is unfortunate since Rodgers and his story are absolutely awesome. He was the first aviator to try to fly to Hawaii from California. His aircraft was a flying boat and when it ran out of fuel, he and his crew were forced to improvise sails and after a week without  food – finally managed to make it to Honolulu Harbor. It’s an absolutely epic story. 

Honolulu International Airport

In any event, HNL became the third busiest airport in the USA by 1950 and had the longest runway in the world in 1953. With the age of jet travel, flights started coming from abroad. Over the course of many years the terminals have been changed and upgraded – though the airport still feels quite dated. Poor John Rodgers lost the terminal named for him too.  HNL was the transpacific hub for Pan Am (Pan American Airways) until the airline ceased operations. Pan Am is an amazing story in itself from the founding and innovations of transport to the glamourization of the Asian flight attendants – then called stewardesses.

Honolulu International Airport

 

 

Through the years, a series of fare wars and airline rivalries have left Hawaiian Airlines the only survivor in Hawaii. It has defeated Aloha, Pan Am, Go, Mokulele, Interisland and many others. While it’s always great to see the fare wars…the inevitable defeat of other airlines and then the rise of interisland fares is never fun. 

There are currently three terminals with a fourth terminal being built. Quite honestly, the airport is a mess and it feels like it is stuck in the 1970s with terrible concrete architecture and a dull and boring mix of high end tourist shops, duty free shopping, and mediocre restaurants. There is a nice garden in the center – but beyond that – not much to entertain, educate, or amuse those who are stuck there for any length of time. 

Honolulu International Airport

The majority of flights are to the USA mainland with a majority of those going to the West Coast cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and San Diego. Las Vegas is not far behind. About two thirds of international flights are to Japan but Chinese flights are growing in importance. Vancouver and Sydney are also important international flights. 

Honolulu International Airport

There have been an amazingly low number of fatalities or incidents involving HNL or flights coming to or going from here. In 1962 a Canadian Pacific flight crashed and killed 27 passengers. On August 11, 1982 a small bomb went off on a Pan Am flight from Tokyo as it approached Honolulu – it killed one person. The most interesting incident is the Bojinka plot which was foiled in 1995  in the Philippines but ultimately developed into the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the USA. If you are interested, the whole thing reads like an epic adventure story. Through the years there have been small incidents and hopefully that is all there will ever be. 

In any event – I hope you aren’t trapped in the airport for long. Almost all of the fun stuff is outside. There are city buses, taxis, Uber and Lyft, as well as car rental opportunities. If you really want to, you can walk from the airport to Honolulu or Waikiki but it will take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to get anywhere you want to go on foot. 

The Penis Park in Samcheok, South Korea – Saturday Slideshow

In 2012 – I took a short trip to South Korea. I’d never been there and I wanted to see as much as possible in a short amount of time…I didn’t expect to see this much….

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South Korea can be a surprising place – it is a fairly conservative culture but not in every way. For example, you can pay a visit to Haesindang Park (Penis Park) in Samcheok, South Korea.

When I heard about this, I realized I would have to go there. Why? Because it defied my North American imagination that a place like this could even exist..

HaesendingalingThe legend says that a young couple were engaged to be married in the fishing village of Samcheok. Before they could be wed and before pleasure of the penis on the wedding night, she was swept to sea and drowned, thus dying a virgin and without the penis she so desired.

After her death, the seas around the village stopped yielding fish. No one could figure out why, but one night, a drunk fisherman took a leak facing the water, thus exposing his sizable genitalia to the water (and presumably to the ghost of the virgin). Apparently, she liked what she saw and after that the fish were plentiful. The villagers, understanding intuitively what they needed to do, began exposing themselves regularly and then they began to build larger than life statues of giant cocks to satisfy the nymphomaniac ghost. Over the years, the collection of phallic art was expandend and enlarged and the seashore became swollen with dicks.

Getting there was a bit tricky. I took the bus from Sokcho and then a second bus from another town and a third bus to get to Samcheok. I was sitting next to a very pretty woman in designer sunglasses and I asked her if she knew how to get to the Penis Park. Fortunately, she spoke some English. She said yes, she knew. She told me which stop to get off in Samcheok and then she suggested we get a cup of coffee and wait for her friend who would be able to better tell me how to get there. Soon a second girl showed up and her English was even better. They told me just to sit and wait. Fifteen minutes later a man in a minivan showed up, he was girl #2’s father. The three of us piled into his mini-van and we all headed to the Penis Park on one of the strangest family outings I’ve ever been on. A father, his daughter, her friend, and a strange American man they all just met on the bus and off we went to the Penis Park.

Rather than being filled with gay pickup artists, the park was filled with Korean senior citizens all posing next to the giant phalluses (or on them) and enjoying the scenic beauty of the rocky seashore and the huge collection of giant anthrpomorphic cocks. The father insisted on paying my admission and we all posed together for pictures with the many penises.

South korea penis park

 

At the edge of the park we ate the flat, dried fish which the old women were cooking there. After that since they knew I needed a place to stay, the father dropped me off at his favorite love motel – a topic which I will write about in another post.

And that, my friends, was my wonderful day at the Penis Park in Samcheok, South Korea. Below are some further details and a few more photos to motivate you in case you get the chance to visit. I highly recommend it.

Haesindang Park (more commonly – and creatively – known among Westerners as ‘The Penis Park’) is around 20km (12 miles) from the centre of Samcheok, and is, as the name would suggest, a park full of penises!!!

Entry Fee – this was small, around 2,000 won. There is a ticket desk at the entrance, which also displays a return bus schedule in it’s window. It’s worth having a look to see what your options are for buses back to Samcheok. The stop is right by the road, you’ll see it when you come in.

Opening Hours – Mar-Oct, Tues-Sun, 9 am-6 pm; Nov-Feb, Tues-Sun, 9 am-5 pm

Address – 167-8 Seongnam-dong.

Phone – 033-570-3568 (for the Korean-speaking Fishery Village Tradition Exhibition Centre)

Getting There – A frequent 50 minute bus will easily take you to the park from the Samcheok Express Bus Terminal. Ask for Haesingdang Park at the ticket window, and they will know what you’re talking about! Come out of the door that they will point you to, and turn right. You’ll see a little bus stop. Just wait there until the bus is scheduled to come. When we went, the bus didn’t actually come over to the bus stop – it just stopped in the middle of the concourse, and everyone walked over to board it. You may need to just check with the driver that you have the right bus, before getting on, especially if you can’t read Hangeul. Let the driver know that you are getting off at the park, and he’ll be sure to make a commotion about your stop when he comes to it at the side of the highway. (In terms of landmarks, the stop is just past the small park dedicated to local Olympian Hwang Young-Cho, who won the marathon event in both the 1992 Summer Olympics and 1994 Asian Games.) The drive itself is lovely, and you will see some great scenery and coastline. If you go at the right time of year, you will also pass the famous yellow rapeseed fields, and see people posing for photographs amongst rapeseed almost as tall as themselves! You can get off the bus here too if you so desire.

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A Christmas Trip to the Big Island of Hawaii – Flashback Friday

Last year (2017) I took my family to the Big Island of Hawaii for a Christmas holiday. I’d been to the Big Island several times before – the first time back in 2002 and then again in 2006 and last year for work and an earlier trip to explore the possibility of buying some land in Kurtistown . Each trip had been about a week – so I suppose that means that all together, I’ve spent a little over a month on the Big Island. I love it and can’t wait to spend more time there.

Kohala Big Island

The Christmas trip last year was by far the best – sure I wasn’t staying in the scientific barracks on Mauna Kea with all the astronomers, hiking through active lava fields, or even driving a convertable Mustang through Kohala with the wind blowing through my hair (hair that is now mostly gone, I might add). What made this trip special was being able to share it with my wife and daughter.

Big Island Hawaii

We stayed at the Hilton Double Tree in Hilo – a hotel which sits on one of the most scenic bays in the world. From there we explored in many directions. On Christmas Day, we went to the visitor center on Mauna Kea where there was a little bit of snow to play in. Another day we explored the Volcanoes National Park where we didn’t get to see huge lava flows (those came a few months later) but still got to see a little bit of activity in the distance.

Big Island Hawaii Volcano

It was fun to share the vast lava plains, the cold mountain tops, the rugged and raw beauty of Kapoho Bay (which completely filled in with lava during the eruption of 2018). We wandered around Hilo and Kailua-Kona (not to be confused with Kailua on Oahu). We explored the lava tree forest and Akaka Falls and we enjoyed almost every minute of it. Even better, Santa somehow found us in our hotel room (our six-year-old Sophia never bothered to ask why usually light packing Daddy brought a huge suitcase on this trip – hint: this was Santa’s bag). We almost had a not so perfect moment when we went down to get breakfast on Christmas morning and found out that there was a 2-3 hour wait in the hotel restaurant – but adapted and headed out into Hilo town where Ken’s House of Pancakes was open and working hard on Christmas morning.

This was a super fun trip and since this is a Friday Flashback – I’ll share a bunch of pictures since every picture really is worth at least a thousand words. Aloha and a hui ho and ho ho ho!

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Nico’s at Pier 38 and in Kailua

Nico's Pier 38

I’m a big fan of Nico’s at Fishmarket at Pier 38 in Honolulu and of Nico’s in Kailua – just not as big a fan as I used to be.. This is a restaurant that I’ve been eating at since a friend introduced me to it back in 2004. At that time, it was a tiny little plate lunch joint right near the fish auction. Nico, a French chef and his two fishermen friends decided to showcase some of the amazing fish coming out of the auction and ‘Voila!”

It looked like this back then…and frankly…I miss it. There were rarely lines. The poke was the best in town at a really reasonable price and the food was something we describe in Hawaii as ‘Onolicious!” Which means as delicious as it gets.

Nico's Pier 38

The food and poke are still top rated, but, today, it’s grown to at least four times the original size. There is always a crowd. The poke is a bit pricey for a guy like me to enjoy it on a regular basis, and the whole thing feels … well, for lack of a better word … touristy.  That’s the thing. Nico’s used to be a little hole in the wall plate lunch place for locals who knew about it, but these days…it’s mostly for the tourists. Yes, you still get your food in a styrofoam pack. Yes, you still order at the counter when you go in, but it’s by design…not by necessity. this is the Furikake Crusted Ahi Tuna with Nalo Greens…oh man. Yum. Still ono.

Nico's Pier 38

The original Nico’s is still located at Pier 38 off of Nimitz Highway – though it moved to a larger building from the one in the old picture right below – several years ago. It now has an enclosed outdoor seating area and a bar with an upscale feel despite the styrofoam packs. They’ve opened a second location in Kailua on the Windward side. I heard recently they closed down the poke bar there…but I’ve been for the Sunday Brunch and it was good – the thing was…it didn’t feel like Nico’s over there. It felt like a decent little restaurant.

Nico's Pier 38

I’m happy for their success…but a little bit sad that we lost what you see above. Below is a picture from a recent trip to the Pier 38 location – I still go, but it’s not like before when I’d decide to go and feel like doing the happy dance…

Nico's Pier 38