Hawaii - Oahu Day 3
Aloha! I woke up at 5 am again....I was super excited about today's plan - Polynesian Cultural Center! I booked the Ambassador Luau Dining Package well in advanced (2 months ago) to ensure we get the best seats at the night show Hā: Breath of Life. I choose the 2nd row right in the middle to get the best view for pictures but unfortunately just weeks prior to our departure, PCC changed their policy so no photos are allowed during the show :( Anyways at least we get to enjoy the show! Also PCC offers 10% off if you book 10 days or more in advanced!
PCC opens at noon so we still have time to plan something in the morning. We decided to go to Chinatown to have Dim Sum for breakfast. I picked Fook Lam Seafood Restaurant (100 North Beretania Street, Honolulu) after reading reviews about it in Yelp. The restaurant opens at 8 am and they offered validated parking right around the corner at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza Center. We got there before 8 am so we walked around the cultural plaza for some photos.
We were the first customers in Fook Lam, this restaurant is much smaller than the dim sum restaurants in Boston. The menu was right underneath the table glass and its prices for the "medium" and "large" plates were more expensive. The lady wheeled the cart to us and we ordered the shrimp dumplings, the short ribs, and the chicken feet. Their dish of shrimp dumplings only had 3 dumplings instead of 4 so we had to order 2 orders for 4 of us. Looking at how small their dishes were, I wasn't impressed by them but I was so wrong! I took a bite of the shrimp dumpling and it was 10 times better than the ones in Boston!! The shrimp inside was really fresh and the skin was really thin! There were like at least 2-3 shrimps inside unlike the shrimp dumplings in Boston; mostly were powder inside!
The chicken feet were the best I ever had!! The short ribs were excellent as well, I can taste the meat instead of the MSG!! At this point, we were very impressed by the quality of the food!!!
We ordered the shrimp rice roll, beef rice roll, and the Xiao Long Bao (picture on the right). The rice rolls were big and fresh but the Xiao Long Baos were just average.
The egg tarts were very good too! See the inside is like melting!
Next, I ordered the pan-fried turnip cake...the lady didn't give us Hoisin Sauce and quickly we figured out why....it was so fresh and tasty that it doesn't need any dipping sauce to give its taste! That's how good it was!
Lastly, we were going to order some rice noodle with short ribs but the lady recommended the ribs and rice noodle "hot pot". We don't have this in Boston so we give it a try and it was soooo good! The rice noodle absorbed all the sauce from the ribs and it wasn't even oily! Love this!!
Picture of hubby and I enjoying our dim sum in Honolulu!
We were full and the bill was $51.94 for four of us...not bad for the quality of the food we had!! I rather paid a little extra for the tasty dim sum in Honolulu, I would never suggest to go to dim sum in Boston! We were wondering how come dim sum in Boston couldn't be as good as in Honolulu, we have a lot of Chinese in Boston too!
After dim sum, it was not even 10 am yet so we decided to have our 2nd attempt to the Byodo-In Temple! I have looked over google map last night to have an idea where it is located. We went back to the Kahekili Highway again and turned left at McDonald's, it was the entrance to the Valley of Temple cemetery. We passed by the cemetery and there it was....Byodo-In Temple! The admission was $3 per person which was not bad for the beautiful temple and its surrounding scenery.
We were there right before the school bus so it was empty at first and quickly filled with kids. I took some photos before the kids entered :D
Very beautiful and scenic temple!
Would be a post-card perfect picture if it was blue sky but it was a little bit cloudy at first!
Hubby took so much photos of the temple!
Inside the temple was the huge Buddha...
Since we were here, we lit up the incense stick and wished for a safe and fun vacation!
I really like the bright red and yellow color of the temple...doesn't it match my dress? haha!
Hubby spotted a black swan so he was chasing it for photos LOL!
I really like the trees and its reflections in this picture:
Can't miss a photo with the trees hehe!
It was crowded at the bell when we entered so before we leave the temple, we went back to the bell to ring it :)
This tree is still growing, very strong life!
The background mountains of the Valley of Temples:
Weird looking plant so I had to snap a pic of it!
We left the temple at 11 am and drove to PCC which was a 45 min drive according to our GPS. The drive was really easy and we got there and parked at its front parking row. Parking was $8 which was not bad at all for the whole day.
Christmas trees at the entrance....really like the feeling of Christmas tree and warm weather!
We entered and picked up our ticket and waited in the Ambassador's meet up place to meet with our "tour guide" which is included in the package. Our tour guide was Lily and she was very friendly, she is a student from New Zealand. She gave us an introduction and greet to each of us in our group - total around 12 people. She bought us to the canoe ride to start our day at PCC. The grounds in PCC were very nice with 6 village settings.
We got off near the village of Hawaii and here they gave us an ukulele lesson!!! It was so much fun to learn how to play this incredible instrument. Next, we had a hula dancing lesson too haha!
In the village of Tahiti, we had a chance to play with spear throw!
It was harder than it looks!
We also have some hands on lesson on making a fish out of straws :D
Lily took us to watch the canoe pageant at 2:30 pm, it was a really nice show of all the 6 villages!
Dance from the village of Aotearoa:
Dance from village of Samoa:
They rocked the canoe so hard that the guy fell off
Poor guy but he seemed to have fun :)
Dance from village of Fiji:
Dance from village of Tonga:
Dance from village of Tahiti (my favorite, very bright color of yellow):
Lastly, dance from the village of Hawaii:
After the Canoe Pageant, we went back to the Tonga and they had a performance of drums. Then we went to Samoa to see how natives make fire by rubbing two sticks together. This guy was extremely funny!
He easily cracked open a coconut and made coconut milk!
This guy climbed a 40-foot coconut tree with ease!!
At Aotearoa, we played with the poi balls, it was harder than it looked!
Lily helped us took a group picture together :)
It was a long day full of activities and fun at the PCC. By now we were hungry but it was time for our luau! We chose the luau although we heard the food wasn't as good as the prime rib dinner but we were here for the entertainment and experience. Actually the food was acceptable, not as bad as it sounded like. PCC coordinated the dinner very well so we didn't even have to wait long for food. They had performers dancing at the stage while we eat so it was a lively atmosphere.
We had a quick took at the pig cooked in underground oven.
We had plenty of time to eat before the night show Hā: Breath of Life. Too bad PCC changed their policy so we couldn't take an pictures of the show, the show was awesome! We were in the 2nd row right in the middle, there were only 4 people in the front row so our view was amazing. My favorite part of the show was near the end - the fire knife dancing!!!
We had a wonderful day at PCC, I highly recommended the Ambassador package because you'll have a private tour guide. I never like to be with a tour guide because it felt rush but in PCC is different. The tour guide knows exactly when and where each special performance/activity taken place so you won't miss them and won't need to worry about where to go. PCC is not as big as I imagined a themed-park would be but it has plenty to do to keep you busy and your day will fly by! All the people who worked in PCC were super friendly, we can see that they are passionate with their job. Every performances, they put their heart and soul in it! After we got out of the night show, we easily got out of PCC because we were parked right at the front. The drive back to the hotel was long and thanks to hubby who did the driving while we felt asleep haha!