Aloha!

A trip to the Pa­cific is­land of Hawaii opens Hanna Hus­sein’s eyes to its beauty and his­tory

New Straits Times - - Jom! -

ranch is al­ready crowded with vis­i­tors. It is a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion in Hawaii, mainly be­cause it has been the site of many tele­vi­sion shows and Hol­ly­wood films in­clud­ing the box-of­fice

Juras­sic World and Juras­sic Park.

Wast­ing no time, we kick off our visit by tak­ing part in the Juras­sic Jun­gle Ex­pe­di­tion Tour.

We board the back of a 4x4 truck which has been mod­i­fied with rows of seat­ing benches that can fit up to 20 pas­sen­gers at a time, com­plete with safety belts. We put on our seat belts, and are all ready for our bumpy ad­ven­ture!

The tour takes us to theKááawa Val­ley, nick-named “Juras­sic Val­ley” where most of the movie lo­ca­tions are found. Our driver, who is also the guide, ex­plains that Kualoa is a 1,618-hectare pri­vate nature re­serve and also a work­ing cat­tle ranch with more than 500 heads of cat­tle. It over­looks the white sandy shores of Ka­neohe Bay. The ranch of­fers nu­mer­ous tour pack­ages and ac­tiv­i­ties that in­clude ATV, Zi­pline, Horse­back Rid­ing and more.

We drive along the rugged dirt road head­ing deep into the jun­gle. The track is bumpy, hilly and wind­ing at some point but our driver seems to know her way, ma­noeu­vring to a des­ti­na­tion un­known to us. I en­joy the green jun­gle view along the track.

Af­ter a few min­utes, we stop for a view of the 800-year-old an­cient Hawai­ian fish­pond, also known as Moli’i. It is a 61.9ha pond, and it is still stand­ing with much of the orig­i­nal stonewall in­fra­struc­ture in place.

The guide ex­plains the early aqua­cul­ture prac­tices and how the fish was farmed dur-

ing those days. The pond was ac­tu­ally a part of the Juras­sic World movie set, where the sea rep­tile, Mosasaurus,is be­ing fed a shark. Of course in the movie,com­puter-gen­er­ated im­agery was also used.

Fur­ther in the jun­gle, we come across the In­domi­nus Rexcage, Juras­sic World’slat­est hy­brid dino that made a sus­pense­ful es­cape from her cage and cre­ated chaos.

Along the way, we also en­counter a re­al­is­tic heli-crash scene from Kong: Skull Is­land fea­tur­ing Tom Hid­dle­ston and Sa­muel L. Jack­son. Our last check-point is my favourite, where we hike up steep stairs thatleads us to a spec­tac­u­lar bird’s eye view of Ka­neohe Bay. Up here, we spot the movie-site camps where

Juras­sic World 2 is film­ing at this mo­ment; per­haps Chris Pratt is down there.

We then head back on a “roller-coaster” 4x4 ride down the hill to the main ranch and hop on a tour bus to go on an­other jour­ney — the Ocean Voy­age Cata­ma­ran Tour.

The tour will take us to an­other area of the ranch called the Hakipúu Val­ley where the­fish­pond is lo­cated. The stretch of fish­pond is also a pop­u­lar site for many movies in­clud­ing the Huk­i­lau Cafe from 50 First Dates.

Upon ar­rival at the Moli’i dock, we hop on a cata­ma­ran that takes us across the fish­pondto an­other spot known as the Se­cret Is­land. It’s a stun­ning se­cluded beach, an ideal place to spend the day re­lax­ing and en­joy­ing wa­ter­sports.

While guests who take the Se­cret Is­land Beach tour con­tinue their day by the beach, our team boards an­other pri­vate cata­ma­ran head­ing off the blue wa­ters of Ka­neohe Bay.

The sea is re­ally choppy and the ad­ven­tur­ous lads head to the lower deck to get splashed by the salty water. How­ever, I just chill and en­joy the view from the up­per deck.

The jour­ney takes us to see the iconic Mokoli’i Is­land (Chi­na­man’s Hat) and Hokule’a Beach. We are lucky to spot a few tur­tles pop­ping their heads out of the water.

O’AHU BEAUTY

If you want some­thing more free and easy, there are many other scenic land­scape op­tions in O’ahu such as Waimea Val­ley and Nu’uanu Pali Look­out.

Waimea Val­ley is a lush botan­i­cal gar­den that leads up to the grand Waimea Falls through a plea­sur­able 1.6km stroll lo­cated in the north part of Oahu. Vis­i­tors are al­lowed to take a dip in the wa­ter­fall. Ac­cord­ing to our guide, the wa­ter­fall used to be a sa­cred haven of the Waimea Val­ley.

Nu­uanu Pali Look­out, on the other hand, lo­cated in the south part of the is­land, of­fers panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and lush Wind­ward Coast.

It is su­per-windy up here on some days, and to­day is one of those days. Hon­estly, it’s hard to even get a de­cent photo as my shawl keeps flap­ping ev­ery­where.

Look­ing at the spec­tac­u­lar view, it’s tempt­ing not to take a pa­naromic shot of the area. As the wind is too crazy, my fo­cus is to keep my phone from fly­ing off the cliff, but I did man­age get a cou­ple of good shots.

Nu’uanu Pali was ac­tu­ally one of the blood­i­est bat­tle-site in­Hawai­ian his­tory, in which Kame­hameha I con­quered the is­land of O’ahu, bring­ing it un­der his rule in 1795. It is said that more than 400 of Kalanikupule’s sol­diers, who are the de­fend­ers of Oáhu, were driven off the edge of the 304.8m cliff to their deaths.

HAWAII ROY­ALS The knowl­edge that Hawaii is the only state in Amer­ica that was reigned by a king­dom makes me cu­ri­ous to know more about the Hawai­ian Roy­alty.

The best place to find out about its royal his­tory and back­ground is the Iolani Palace, the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the Hawai­ian monar­chs.

Lo­cated in Down­town Honolulu, Iolani Palace is a liv­ing restora­tion of a proud Hawai­ian na­tional identity that was built in 1882 by King David Kalakaua.

The palace is where the roy­als held of­fi­cial func­tions, re­ceived dig­ni­taries and lu­mi­nar­ies from around the world, and en­ter­tained of­ten and lav­ishly un­til the monar­chy was over­thrown in 1893.

The build­ing is regis­tered as a Na­tional His­toric Land­mark since 1962 and metic­u­lously re­stored to its for­mer grandeur. It is open to the pub­lic as a liv­ing mu­seum.

As we en­ter the lux­u­ri­ous palace, we step into the grand hall which has a large stair­case made of Hawai­ian koa wood, which leads to the pri­vate fam­ily suites on the sec­ond floor. Hang­ing on the walls are por­traits of Hawai­ian kings and queens, wel­com­ing the guests to their stately home.

We are in­vited to see the throne room which has been lav­ishly dec­o­rated in crim­son and gold. This is where the king re­ceived for­mal guests, and held di­plo­matic re­cep­tions and state balls. There are two thrones in the room which is for King Kalakaua and his Queen, Ka­pi­olani. We also get to see some of the replica dresses that were worn by the royal fam­ily, some of which are made with pea­cock feath­ers!

Also on the same floor is the blue room where smaller re­cep­tions were held and the strik­ing din­ing room with koa wood fur­nish­ings, elegant Bo­hemian crys­tal, Paris porce­lain, and a mas­sive flo­ral car­pet. You prob­a­bly wouldn’t be­lieve me if I say that the king’s favourite food was ice-cream, con­sid­ered an ex­pen­sive dessert at that time.

Head­ing up­stairs, there’s a mu­sic room, the king’s and the queen’s room, the king’s of­fice and the im­pris­on­ment room where Queen Lil­i­uokalani (sis­ter of King Kalakaua, and his suc­ces­sor) was ar­rested and forced to ab­di­cate her throne in 1895, af­ter a failed at­tempt by Hawai­ian roy­al­ists to re­store the queen’s power.

She was im­pris­oned in the bed­room

for nearly eight months with no out­side news. She was de­nied any vis­i­tors dur­ing that time so her day were filled with daily prayers, read­ing mu­sic com­po­si­tions, cro­chet-work and quilt­ing.

The palace was also ahead of its time as it was out­fit­ted with the most up-to­date ameni­ties, in­clud­ing the first elec­tric lights in Hawaii, in­door plumb­ing and even a tele­phone.

POLY­NE­SIAN VIBES

An­other in­ter­est­ing thing about Hawaii that I love is the unique na­tive culture. To know more, we head to the Poly­ne­sian Cul­tural Cen­tre which is lo­cated in Laie, the north­ern shore of Oahu.

It is a Poly­ne­sian-themed theme park and liv­ing mu­seum, fea­tur­ing a 16.9ha land ex­hibit­ing the is­land cul­tures of not only Hawaii, but also an­other five Pa­cific cul­tures — Fiji, Aotearoa, Samoa, Tahiti

and Tonga.

Here, we get to min­gle with the na­tives, see their real-life liv­ing quar­ters as well as try cul­tural demon­stra­tions. Among the things we get to do is try to make a fire with sticks at the Samoa is­land, play a Maori stick game at the Aotearoa is­land, and do the Hula dance in Hawaii is­land.

We also get to ride on a ca­noe around our trop­i­cal la­goon and en­joy the dif­fer­ent scenery from all the is­lands.

Be­sides that, we also en­joy a cou­ple of great per­for­mances at all the is­lands and the high­light show in the evening called the Breath of Life.

The 1½-hour evening show was a spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance about life, love and fam­ily, tri­umph and tragedy, punc­tu­ated by Poly­ne­sian dance, mu­sic and blaz­ing fire knives. It fea­tured over 100 Poly­ne­sian na­tives, spe­cial ef­fects, an­i­ma­tion and sur­round sound. Truly awe-in­spir­ing!

Do you dare to en­ter the In­domi­nus Rex cage?

Take an ad­ven­tur­ous ride in the jun­gle!

Iolani Palace is the only palace in United States.

The lux­u­ri­ous grand hall of Iolani Palace.

One of the Hol­ly­wood sets in Kualoa Ranch.

Nu’uanu Pali Look­out, a scenic spot and very his­tor­i­cal!

Ac­cord­ing to the guide, this is a typ­i­cal Hawaii Five-0 scene from the pop­u­lar TV se­ries.

FAR RIGHT: One of the mustvisit places in

O’ahu.

Poly­ne­sian del­i­ca­cies, any­one?

Vis­i­tors can meet with Poly­ne­sians from all six is­lands at the Poly­ne­sian Cul­tural Cen­tre.

Ex­pe­ri­ence the ca­noe ride .

RIGHT: One of the thrilling shows at the Poly­ne­sian Cul­tural Cen­tre.

Ex­quis­ite feath­ers sewed to­gether, a sym­bol of wealth.

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