Tehrangeles

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i’m back from yet another quick weekend trip to southern california. like the last, i spent a considerable time stuck in the notorious los angeles traffic. this time around, however, i played tourist. i didn’t take nearly enough photographs; in fact i only snapped a few on saturday afternoon.

on friday i took the scenic route down along highway 101, and although it meant spending a couple extra hours in the car, it was nice to look out of the window and see san luis obsipo and santa barbara as opposed to endless overcrammed herds of cows. by the time i reached the hotel, i had just enough energy to have dinner at california sushi roll in west la. i’d been (and still am) craving authentic japanese food, but i willingly obliged and went with japanese-california fusion instead. i was pleasantly suprised. my house special maki of salmon wrapped around seaweed, rice and fried fish cake was pretty good, and the beef gyoza’s offbeat hint of lemon was a good match.

the next morning i set out for lunch at the infamous roscoe’s house of chicken and waffles. my fried chicken was seasoned well and the syrup-laden waffles were yummy too, but i’m sure my arteries were begging me to stop.

afterwards i set out with a friend to the museum of contemporary art to check out their new exhibit, ecstasy: in and about altered states. to my dismay photography was not allowed, but i was really impressed. in particular i enjoyed olafur eliasson’s, erwin redl’s, and fred tomaselli’s pieces.

Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

i spent the early evening in santa monica along the beach, and continued along to the third street promenade.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

that evening i ate at korean char-b-que with a friend. i mistakenly ordered naengmyon. i’d accidentally ordered it a few weeks ago at another korean restaurant and found it to be anathema to my favorite flavors prominent in korean cooking. to my misfortune, the menu we ordered from on friday night didn’t have english translations, only pictures. i ordered what looked good yet recieved something quite different. the slushy ice water, flavorless beef and rubbery noodles and slices of pear made me wish i had ordered something else.

we redeemed ourselves by going to westwood to grab a mango hookah and mint tea at habibi cafe. i was in awe most of the time; almost everyone was iranian. i’d never been around so many iranians in public outside of iran at the same time. i don’t quite know how to say this politely without generalizing, but a lot of iranians i saw were, how should i put this, special. glitzy clothing and makeup, glitzy cell phones, glitzy attitude. everything seemed a bit overdone. i wondered if any of them had ever been to the iranian countryside, to ramsar or tabriz, to isfahan or shiraz. it seemed so far-removed. still, i had a great time people-watching. the music was great, as was the hookah, but the tea was a sorry mug of lipton with a couple of crushed mint leaves thrown in.

sunday was spent having lunch at farmer’s market. we met up with another friend for brazilian at pampas grill churrascaria. little did i know how delicious brazilian food is. the hearts of palm and cucumber salad, fried bananas, okra stew, and grilled garlic steak were all mouthwateringly perfect.

after a quick stop for shakes (i had banana flavor), it was time to say goodbye to los angeles and its sunny weather. tony toni tone was right; it never rains in southern california.

Three Days In Honolulu

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i miss hawaii. the trip was so short but ever since i got back everything reminds me of it. i already want to go back.

i suppose i should start from the beginning:

Waikiki skyline

the view from my hotel room. can you see why i miss it so?

my hotel, or resort i should say (why anyone would want to stay within the confines of their hotel/resort instead of venturing beyond touristy waikiki is beyond me) was home to many animals which probably would not have found their way there naturally.

Flamingoes
flamingoes, for example.

Penguins
and african penguins.

Koi
and finally, koi.

on the first afternoon, i had to attend an international relations conference panel presentation, but afterwards i was able to go to the beach to catch the sunset and go for a little swim.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach
can you believe the water was warm enough to swim in the evening? try doing that in san francisco.

Waikiki Beach
a partial view of the hotel from the beach.

Singha Thai Cuisine
for dinner, i decided on thai with my conference group. one unfortunate thing about the neighborhood was that all the restaurants were upscale chains (benihana, todai, etc.) that we have in california too. why would people come to hawaii and not want to try regional cuisine? we were hard-pressed to find any hawaiian restaurants, let alone find fresh local fruits. (no coconut! no mango! no starfruit! i had a slice of pineapple but it tasted like nothing!) i imagine the non-touristy areas were much different. regardless, the thai was delicious.

we shared the duck-filled spring rolls with mango salsa for dessert. too much cilantro, but otherwise perfect. i had a seafood and vegetable green curry over somen noodles.

the next morning, i woke up early so i could hike up diamond head crater before my panel presentation that afternoon. what was to be a fifteen-minute walk (according to the map) turned out to be two and a half hours.

by the time i reached the foot of diamond head, i was too exhausted to climb it. i got a cab and went back to the hotel, where i spent a couple hours at the beach until my panel presentation.

later on that evening i got my first taste of hawaiian homestyle. i highly approved of the garlic chicken strips.

Homestyle Hawaiian dinner

the next morning marked the beginning of my one day in hawaii where i didn’t have to attend any panels. i went with my university’s panel group to hanauma bay, also known as paradise. also known as The Best Place In The World. also known as Where I Would Love To Be Right Now.

we ate breakfast while we waited for the bus. i love the abc stores in hawaii, for they provide me with the best breakfasts ever, a breakfast i am unable to attain in san francisco:

Breakfast
spam musubi (contrary to what i expected, it was good!), salmon rice ball and island mocha iced coffee. delicious.

we had a little mix up with the bus lines and on our way there we had to transfer to another line. we decided to walk towards the bay until we came across the bus stop.

hanauma bay is gorgeous. i went snorkeling and saw lots and lots of bright colorful fish in the coral reef. it was like swimming through a pbs nature special. it wasn’t until over five hours later when we were leaving we realized that the gift shop sold underwater cameras. hopefully next time i’ll get underwater photos. we all got sunburned pretty bad but it was very much worth it.

Hanauma Bay
all the dark grey-ish areas in the water are coral reef. we saw fish of every color and pattern imaginable.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay
this must be the happiest flower in the world, for it lives in hanauma bay.

that evening our group went to sam choy’s for dinner. if any of you lovely readers who have an affinity for cooking follow pacific rim cuisine, you know that sam choy is the hawaii’s most famous chef. the food was wonderful.

Ahi poke amuse bouche
i love poke.

Seared scallops and prawns
i had the seared shrimp and scallops.

the next morning was my final few hours in hawaii.
Last morning in Honolulu
this is what i woke up to every morning.

Waikiki Beach
i really do miss hawaii.