Wednesday was our second daytrip day. We did not need to get as early a start as we did on Tuesday; therefore, we each kind of did our own thing until it was time to head out. Audie went for his morning run as did Traci. What I failed to mention earlier is that during the time Traci was doing the 21-Day Reset, exercise was discouraged. I think this was more of a hardship for her than was the restrictive diet. Now that the Reset was over, it was like she was trying to make up for lost time. She ran 6 miles and then signed up for a yoga class at our resort that morning.
Traci was happy to be running again.
I was still craving pineapple syrup so Sugar agreed to meet me at the Aulani breakfast buffet (Makahiki Restaurant). We were surprised to find out there was a waitlist for the buffet. It turns out that that particular morning was the Disney character breakfast. We were not interested in that. As an alternative, the hostess told us the full-service ‘Ama ‘Ama restaurant serves similar food and there was no wait; therefore, we ate there. I ordered the French toast. The restaurant offered four kinds of syrup (maple, chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut) but no pineapple syrup. On the flipside, I found out I love coconut syrup!
Our excursion for the day was the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) and what an enjoyable experience it was! The PCC is outdoor island village recreations in which you learn about 6 Polynesian cultures through demonstrations and interaction. The concept kind of reminds me of Disney’s Epcot World Showcase theme park except there are no thrill rides at the PCC. Furthermore, the PCC offers Polynesian-themed dinners and an amazing arena show with hi-tech effects and talented performers. A visit to the PCC is an all-day affair. You can piecemeal your visit by purchasing a ticket for, say, just the village experience or just the dinner or just the show. However, to get the most out of your day, I recommend purchasing a package that includes a guide and all three experiences. Although the PCC is not a luau, I found its package prices to be on par with a luau evening at establishments throughout Oahu. The difference is that the PCC includes the village life daytime experience in addition to a dinner and evening show. Furthermore, if you book online at least 10 days in advance, you will get a 10% discount. We were able to take advantage of this.
From our resort, it was an hour drive through the scenic North Shore region of Oahu to get to the PCC. We arrived shortly after its noon opening. The lady at the will-call window needed to see my id and the credit card I used to reserve our tickets. It was at this time I realized I had left my credit card on the table at the ‘Ama ‘Ama restaurant that morning. Boy, my search for pineapple syrup was starting to make me absent-minded. Anyway, the lady just checked my id and had me sign for the tickets.
Our guide for our Ambassador Package was Haley from New Zealand. Like 70-80% of the employees of the PCC, she is a student at Brigham Young University (BYU) located next door. In return for working at the PCC, students are housed and educated by the university at no charge. Many of the students are actually from the islands represented at the PCC.
ready for our Polynesian adventure
The island village life portion of our day began with introductions of our group of approximately 12 tourists. We were referred to as “Haley’s Family”. We sang happy birthday to Traci who celebrated her birthday the week prior and then were led by Haley to begin our tour.
We started with a canoe ride that gave us a glimpse of the villages. The cultures represented at the PCC are Samoa, Aotearoa (known today as New Zealand), Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Tonga. We were told the section of the park that was under construction will contain a man-made volcano in the future.
At the conclusion of the canoe ride, Haley led us to the various Polynesian villages where we watched demonstrations, participated in games/contests, learned a traditional skill, or listened to a cultural lesson. Some of my more memorable experiences were the spear throwing contest in Tonga, trying to keep a straight face as our guide pronounced some of the Tongan words that sounded like the f-word in English, rooting for Audie as he rubbed sticks together in the fire-starting contest in Samoa, and learning all the ancient rules in Fiji that could get you executed if you violated them.
Audie in the fire-starting contest in Samoa
chief house in Fiji
I had the most fun in Aotearoa where we spent the most time probably because Haley is from there. We participated in an ancient warrior greeting ritual in which a man holding a spear pranced toward us and dropped something for our appointed king to pick up and show our peaceful intentions. The way the man was goose-stepping with the spear made some of us giggle but we were quickly shushed by Haley and reminded that this is a serious sacred ritual that honors the ancestors. We watched a song and dance presentation. We learned to swing poi balls which ancient warriors used to strengthen their wrists. We learned stick games (tititorea). One was used to improve hand-eye coordination. The other game reminded me of Simon Says. Yes, we had a good time at Aotearoa.
learning to swing poi balls
learning tititorea (stick games)
song and dance presentation
In between the village visits, we were given time to visit various snack shops located throughout the premises. We watched the 2:30 canoe pageant in which the various nations float down the river in colorful costumes demonstrating their native songs and dances.
The island village life exhibits close at 5 PM. Haley had done an excellent job as our tour guide that day. We wanted to tip her but she told us they are not allowed to accept tips. Before she led us to dinner, Haley quizzed us to see if we remembered the greetings in the languages of the nations we visited that day. We were successful in recalling the greetings as a group - yeah! Haley said goodbye to each of us with a big hug.
At the time of booking the Ambassador Package, we could choose one of two buffet dinner options: Ali'i Luau Dining or Prime Dining. We chose the Prime Dining option because it had more food choices than the luau. The Prime Dining contained foods from the different cultures represented at the PCC (Island Feast) in addition to mainland food such as prime rib, chicken cordon bleu, and crab legs. I really enjoyed trying some of the more exotic island dishes such as the purple taro rolls and pollock in coconut milk.
Haley and Traci
Prime Dining Island Feast
Prime Dining Island Feast
Prime Dining Island Feast
After dinner, we still had time to kill before the 7:45 show. Therefore, we took the free bus tour of the BYU campus and the small town of Laie. We saw the Laie Hawaii Temple. It's a beautiful building from the outside but we were not allowed to see the inside because we are not Mormon. Instead, we were given 25 minutes to walk around in the visitor center. We were shown a film on how the Mormons settled in Laie, established the university, and created the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1963.
Laie Hawaii Temple
The final experience of our day at the PCC was the evening show called "Ha: Breath of Life" (trailer on YouTube). Our Ambassador Package seating was in a great location in front of the stage. The show was a great way to sum up our day. It told the story of a young boy coming of age while visiting each of the cultures represented at the PCC. It was a fabulous presentation with plenty of drumming, singing, effects, colorful costumes, smoke, and fire. Although the narration was in English, all of the songs and chants were done in the native languages. One of the chants amazed me by how many words the performers managed to get out in a single breath. Ice cream with fruit on the bottom was served during intermission. It was included in our package. The show resumed and culminated with spectacular fire dancers. The show ended around 9:30 PM and we made it back to our resorts by 11 PM. What an incredible day we had at the Polynesia Cultural Center. continue...