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Quick Weekend Getaway to Beijing (TR) Here is a mini trip report from my very recent trip to Beijing.

Taking advantage of Americanís business class mistake I snagged myself a ticket to Beijing for a quick getaway weekend. I flew out on Wednesday, April 22 (4pm, landing PEK 8pm on April 23rd) and returned Monday, April 27 (10am, landing ORD 9:30am on April 27th). I will skip the info about the flights as it was the old AA 777-200 business class seat and Iím sure there are many reports on these around the web. I will note though that the meal on the return from PEK was from the Beijing Chabad. It seems that the Chabad possibly takes over one of the kitchens of the airline food caters and prepared the food there. It was nothing special. Appetizer was a few sliced pieces of Chicken and for the main was fish. For the snack there was a lox sandwich. Breakfast was the classic egg type substance.

During my time in Beijing I decided to stay at the Grand Hyatt. First, let me say the hotel is magnificent, big, and great. The last part with a few creavits. After checking in by the lounge I was given a deluxe room, which was a bedroom with a separate living room that has a sliding door between them. However, in that room there was an issue with the bathroom so we got changed to a full on suite. The lounge there is great. It was big with a second floor and the spread definitely satisfied my hunger or thirst pains.

In the basement they have whatís called ďClub OasisĒ. It is their pool and workout gym. The pool closed around 11pm while the gym is 24 hours. Letís put it this way, it will be very hard to beat their setup. The pool is built and setup to remind me of a rainforest; trees, animal sounds, rocks, and more. In the general area the pool itself it huge and there are two hot tubs. Inside the locker rooms there is an additional hot tub and a dry and wet sauna.

The only downside I found with the hotel was the language barrier and when needed something done. For example, when I wanted the light or sensor removed in the fridge for Shabbat the engineer came up and didnít understand what I was asking since he didnít speak a word of English. I had to use Google Translate to tell him what I needed. (Thanks Astrill VPN). When I needed an extra bed I had to ask about 3 times I got it sent to the room. Oh, and the sensor in the fridge couldnít be disabled so I had to use a book to keep the fridge open a drop so the light wouldnít turn off.

But enough with the hotel, lets get on to the fun parts.

On Friday we walked to the Forbidden City, which was quite something. It is huge and definitely and eye sight to remember. From there we walked over to Tiananmen Square. After those two we headed over to the silk market to get some shopping done. A trip to China is never complete without the customary haggling and counterfeit shopping.

After those were done we heading back to the hotel to get ready for Shabbat. For Friday night and Shabbat morning we headed to Chabadís downtown location, which was about a 30-35 min walk from the hotel. The Chabad in downtown is hosted by the Raskin family. Inside their living room is where they hold the services and meals. Unfortunately this Shabbat there wasnít a minyan, so after a quick davening they set up the meal.  There was nothing to complain about here. The meals were good and did the job. Itís always fun to go to other Chabad houses and make new friends.

On Sunday we decided to head to the Great Wall. I coordinated with a guy named Larry whose info was originally sent in the Chabadís info reply. He originally wanted about 1300 RMB for the trip but got him down to 700. He picked us up from the hotel around 9am, drove to the Wall and was there for about an hour and a half, which then we headed back. He was polite, had a clean car, and best of all, spoke English. The Great Wall was definitely the highlight of the trip and very happy I went.

Sunday evening we went to Diniís Restaurant that is located in Chabadís main location. When we went it was empty and didnít have a few things off the menu. The food was ok, nothing special. Prices were ok, main dishes are around 110RMB and appetizers are around 20-40RMB. You can see their menu by going to their website. It did the job to satisfy our hunger but nothing special. To get to the restaurant we used a taxi which cost about 40 RMB and back to the hotel we used Uber which cost about 40 RMB.

Finally, Monday morning came around and it was time for my flight home (on which I wrote this). The taxi I originally took from PEK to the Hyatt cost around 110 RMB and for the way back Hyatt to PEK I used Uber. After requesting the Uber and someone confirming the pickup I had the hotel stall call the driver to say exactly were the hotel is. The total cost for the Uber ride was 50 RMB, less than half the price of a regular taxi.

Now that this is all said and done it definitely was not a short report and sorry about the deceiving words in the beginning. But if I would have said here is a long boring trip report who would have actually read it?? >:(

Thank you for reading. Next up, Shanghai sponsored by Emirates for $350 in Y.

Trip Notes:
AA J R/T. ORD-PEK AA187, PEK-ORD AA186 - $440 R/T Revenue
Hotel: Grand Hyatt Beijing, 15,000 points per night.
Taxi: PEK to GH = 110 RMB, GH to PEK = 55 RMB Uber :: GH to Dini's (Restaurant) - Taxi 45 RMB, Uber 22 RMB
Driver GH to Great Wall = 700RMB

April 27, 2015, 01:12:59 PM
1
Re: Provo T&C Great find... beach looks awesome...
August 29, 2016, 02:21:39 PM
1
Re: Kauai, HI Master Thread
Is the drive to  Polihale doable in a mustang?
Yes.

Yes.
Let some air out of the tires and don't go on the soft sand.
No need to do that. Just don't drive on sand.

Has anybody flown from LAX-LIH on united in First?  If so, how was it?  Is it worth it?  Or can one save miles and fly coach on this route?
Fly coach.
Or better yet use Avios if possible.

August 30, 2016, 10:46:16 AM
1
Chasing Lava in Hawaii: Warning - May Induce Happiness, by PBaruch (2016) Our love for Hawaii Island (commonly known as the Big Island) is well known and some of you may have read my past two trip reports, which can be found here:

http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=60541.0

http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=60745.0

Our story began years ago while I was reading a photography magazine containing an article about shooting lava on Hawaii Island.  I was absolutely mesmerized by the photographs and immediately began planning our first trip.  Although DW had been bugging me to go to Hawaii before that time, I had never been interested until reading about the lava.  Since that time, we have visited the Big Island several times and we have been very fortunate to befriend some truly wonderful individuals.

Earlier this summer, we heard reports that the lava was again flowing towards the ocean.  The last time that there was ocean entry was in 2013 and although I had seen ocean entry on two prior visits, DW and the kids had not previously seen ocean entry from land.  Also, my little guy wasn't even born yet when the lava was last flowing into the ocean in 2013.  As soon as the lava flow hit the ocean, DW told me she wanted to go back to the Big Island and I wasn't arguing with her.  Also, since I had recently become self employed, taking time off was not really an issue.  I asked my boss for two weeks off and his response was take all the time that you need.

Flight to Hawaii:

ewr-hnl-koa map by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG-20160824-WA0007 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the flight to Hawaii we received Regal kosher meals which weren't bad and they were edible.

For this trip, we decided to stay eleven nights at the Sheraton in Kona and two nights in Volcano.  Although DW and I much prefer Volcano over Kona (the kids prefer Kona due to the swimming pool and nearby beaches), it made more sense for us to stay in Kona rather than Volcano for the bulk of this trip.  DW didn't want to spend Shabbos in Volcano and the cost of staying at the Sheraton was minuscule (using SPG points) compared to Volcano (where I had to pay for the hotel with cash).

We arrived in Kona on Wednesday afternoon, picked up our rental car, stopped by Walmart for some drinks and supplies, and then headed to the Sheraton.  Once again, we were treated well and upgraded to a large ocean front room containing three beds (only such room in the entire hotel).  On the following day, we did some more shopping including buying a jogging stroller for our lava adventure.  We stopped by Target and bought this stroller, which served us very well:

http://www.target.com/p/baby-trend-range-lx-jogger-chrome/-/A-15207263

We also stopped by Greenwell Farms, one of our favorite spots in Kona.  We took a farm tour and tasted delicious Kona Coffee.

Taking a tour of the farm:

DSC_7272 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Holding a coffee bean:

DSC_7257 by P Bryan, on Flickr

I love Kona coffee!

DSC_7283 by P Bryan, on Flickr

There is a resident chameleon but we couldn't find it this time.

DSC_7315 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.  We awoke at about 12:00 a.m. and headed out at about 12:30 a.m. for the drive to Kalapana for our trip to the ocean entry.  At the present time, there are three ways to access the area where lava is flowing into the ocean: (i) walk the approximately 10 miles round trip over the county emergency access road from Kalapana (you can also walk over the road from the National Park side as well); (ii) rent a bicycle from one of several companies and ride to the ocean entry; or (iii) pay for Kalapana Cultural Tours to drive you most of the way and then hike or bike the remaining approximately 1.8 miles each way.  We chose the shuttle tour as it is very important for us to do as much as we can as a family and expose our kids to these wonders.  I was lucky to be introduced to the owner of Kalapana Cultural Tours, who graciously arranged a private tour for my family.  We were shuttled in a 4WD van and we then hiked the remainder of the way to the lava flow.  Unfortunately my buddy, photographer Bruce Omori, was unavailable to join us at that time.  I was able to go out to shoot lava with Bruce later in our trip, more about which is discussed below.

The county emergency access road:

DSC_8005 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs taken at the ocean entry:

DSC_7772 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_3239 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_7454 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_7854 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_7910 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs of the lava from past trips:

Lava ocean entry on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2011. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lava flowing into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2013. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lava flowing into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2013 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After being out most of the night and into the morning hours, we returned back to the hotel for much needed naps.  We relaxed and prepared for Shabbos at the Sheraton.

On Sunday we visited Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park.  Although we had driven past Punalu'u on prior trips, we had never previously visited this particular park.  Punalu'u is famous for having sea turtles on the beach but none were there during our visit.  I didn't find Punalu'u to be particularly attractive but it is relatively easy to access this park and the black sand beach.

DSC_8020 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lilly pond behind the beach:

DSC_8024 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Punalu'u, we visited South Point where we watched some local kids jump off the cliff into the ocean below.  Also, I went hunting for the South Point marker, which denominates South Point as the southernmost point in the United States.  After an unsuccessful attempt on my own, I asked one of the locals who was fishing in the area about the marker.  He directed me to an area behind a large rock.  Once again, I went off in search of the marker but found nothing.  I went back to the local and he explained that the marker was nothing more than the remains of a plastic rod cemented in the rock:

DSC_8031 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After speaking to the local for a few minutes, he told me that his cousin owned Kalapana Cultural Tours and he asked me to send his regards.  After South Point, we headed back to the hotel to pick up frozen meat that we had brought from home for a BBQ with friends.  On the way to the BBQ, we stopped off at Walmart to buy a grill and supplies.

We met our friends and their families for a BBQ at a beach near Costco:

DJI_0006 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8070 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8075 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We grilled hotdogs, salami, burgers, and vegetables.  Our friends brought lilikoi (otherwise known as passion fruit) and breadfruit (which we grilled as well).

DSC_8045 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The lilikoi was delicious and we couldn't get enough.  The breadfruit was...something to taste once.  The fruits in Hawaii taste amazing and you can immediately tell the difference between Hawaii grown fruit and the stuff we get back home.

The following day we took a snorkel trip to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.  Although we had snorkeled there once before, it was worthwhile to return.  Once again, the kids had an amazing time.  On the way there we saw a school of flying fish and on the way back we saw a pod of dolphins.

DSC_8101 by P Bryan, on Flickr

P1020600 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the snorkeling trip, we visited the beach by the Lava Lava Club in Waikoloa (near the Hilton), where we stayed for sunset.  We had wanted to photograph sunset from behind the fish pond by 'Anaeho'omalu Beach, but it was closed for construction.  Turtles can often be found on this beach but none were there when we visited.  (Noticed a pattern yet?)

DSC_8244 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8251 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Tuesday we visited Waimea and the Parker Ranch.

Driveway leading to the Parker Ranch:

DSC_8265 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8274 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Inside the main house:

DSC_8292 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Room inside another house at the ranch:

DSC_8318 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Parker Ranch we visited Umauma Falls, which is considered by some to be the most beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island.  We received free admission as it was raining when we pulled up.  However, when we arrived at the falls, the rain stopped and we had a perfect view.

DSC_8344 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8376 by P Bryan, on Flickr

My little guy took this picture of me:

IMG_4349 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Wednesday we visited the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm near the airport in Kona, information about which can be found here:

https://www.seahorse.com/

At the seahorse farm, our kids were able to feed and hold seahorses and it was one of their favorite activities.  We found out about the seahorse farm thanks to my buddy Mitch and his wife, who also happened to be on the Big Island at the same time.

DSC_8384 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8408 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8402 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8436 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding some fish:

DSC_8460 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The touch tank:

DSC_8498 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8510 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8489 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the seahorse farm, we went to the Hilton at Waikoloa, which has a saltwater lagoon that is open to the ocean but contains grates to prevent anything dangerous from getting in.  At the lagoon, you can rent hydro-bike, kayaks, or paddleboats and see colorful reef fish and green sea turtles.  Due to the expected Hurricane Madeline, boat and equipment rentals were ended early.  Luckily for us, neither of the two expected hurricanes affected us at all.  The weather in Kona and Volcano was perfect for the days that we were in each place.

Information about the lagoon can be found here:

http://www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/resort-experiences/lagoon-and-beach

While at the lagoon, the kids fed a sea turtle:

DSC_8665 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8689 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Since we were so close, we went back to the beach by the Lava Lava Club in Waikoloa for sunset.  Once again, there were no sea turtles to be seen.

DSC_8707 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Thursday we went to Pololu Valley, a short but steep hike to a black sand beach.  Although it was pretty, Waipio is still my favorite valley and black sand beach on the Big Island.

DSC_8758 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8723 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8746 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Pololu, we visited Kiholo Bay where we stayed until sunset.  Kiholo is another beach know for sea turtles but once again none were to be found.

DSC_8759 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8766 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8773 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Friday, DW and the girls visited Mauna Loa Observatory while I stayed with the little guy at the Sheraton.  Principally NOAA is based there, with a few other agencies also conducting experiments.  A NOAA technician conducted the tour.

Road to the observatory:

IMG_5045 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ozone detecting equipment is inside this telescope-like structure.  The technician was happy to rotate the dome and open it for them.

IMG_5071 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Touring the observatory:

IMG_5094 by P Bryan, on Flickr

List of famous astronauts who visited the observatory:

IMG_5135 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW requests that I give you the following to ponder: is there more carbon dioxide in the air in the summer or winter and why?

After DW and the girls returned to the hotel, we prepared for Shabbos.  I made a fried potato kugel:

DSC_8792 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW made chicken in a crock pot, which was transferred out right before Shabbos, and replaced with cholent:

12369 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Sunday, DW and the kids went swimming and used the water slide while I helped pack out for our transfer to Volcano.  Along the way to Volcano we stopped off again at Greenwell Farms for delicious Kona coffee.  One of the employees, Chai, recognized us and came running over asking me if I was Mr. PBaruch.  When I responded that I was, she thanked me warmly for our return visit with an Asian greeting.

After Greenwell Farms we stopped off at two roadside fruit stands on the way to Volcano.

Cooks Bounty Fruit Stand:

DSC_8795 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8798 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Basket of lilikoi (DSC_8799) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Judy's Fruit Stand:

DSC_8818 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8811 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8808 by P Bryan, on Flickr

That evening, Bruce and I arranged to shoot the lava flowing into the ocean.  After we arrived in Volcano I did my best to get some rest but the noise from the kids jumping about coupled with my excitement precluded any sleep.  I was scheduled to meet up with Bruce at 1:30 a.m. at a gas station along the way to Kalapana.  I arrived at the gas station at about 12:40 a.m. and went into the gas station convenience store.  Afterwards, I sat in the car for a bit but became restless.  I then decided to linger outside the car for a while.  Several minutes later, four police cars showed up, which I though was due to the strange lurker hanging around.  Luckily I wasn't tackled or tasered that evening.  Bruce arrived at about 1:40 a.m. and we both went into the convenience store (right past the police officers) to stock up on drinks for the trip.  After we exited the store, the police asked us if we were coming or going.  I responded that it was "lava time" and asked if the police officers wanted to join, to which they all had a good laugh.

Bruce was able to drive his truck to the second gate down the county emergency access road (the farthest that anyone can drive), from which point we rode bicycles the rest of the way.  I rented a bicycle from Kaimu Rentals (808-333-4392), which is owned by my friend Junior (same person who guided me and my friend Alex to the lava in 2011).  I could not rent a bicycle from Kalapana Cultural Tours as they did not have anyone available to provide me with a bicycle in the middle of the night.

I mounted the bicycle wearing my heavy camera backpack and tripod, rode forward for a short distance, and promptly fell over sideways.  I hadn't been on a bicycle in years and was off balance with the backpack and tripod (that was hanging off to one side).  What happened next was quite comical.  I got back on the bicycle but must have looked like a drunk as I weaved back and forth.  Once I did get the hang of it, I realized how uncomfortable it was to sit on a narrow hard seat with a heavy load on my back.  My tuchus ached for quite a while but we managed to arrive at the lava at about 3:30 a.m.

Shooting lava is incredibly challenging and the magic light is only there for a very brief period of time.  Despite not always being able to properly capture the lava during the darkness of the night, Bruce and I both enjoyed the show.  At times the lava flowed like a river into the ocean while at other times it dripped as if from a leaky faucet.  We also saw lava exploding like a firecracker and lava balls rolling in the surf.

Pictures taken of the ocean entry:

DSC_8930 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8958 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9272 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9302 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9392 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9686 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Videos taken of the ocean entry:





I returned back to the hotel in Volcano at about 9:00 a.m. and took a much needed nap for a few hours.  We ran a few errands in the afternoon and then visited Volcanoes National Park, where we saw the endangered nene.  We received a free one year family National Park Pass due to the following program for fourth graders:

https://www.everykidinapark.gov/get-your-pass/

Pictures of the nene:

DSC_9778 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9768 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9730 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9737 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Flowers at Volcanoes National Park:

DSC_9702 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9749 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9748 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we stopped off at Jagger Museum to observe Halemaumau Crater.  The lava level in the crater was quite high and, for the first time, we were able to see lava spattering from the overlook.  I did not, however, take any photographs at that time as I had previously seen better.

The following day we returned home:

ito-hnl-ewr map by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9781 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On our flight home, we received Regal kosher meals which were absolutely horrible and barely edible.   On our return flight this past February we received kosher meals from Oahu Kosher that were quite delicious.  We were looking forward to receiving meals again from Oahu kosher and were very disappointed with the Regal meals.  I'm not sure of the reason for the change but I hope UA continues to use Oahu Kosher in the future.

In summary, we didn't have the opportunity to do everything we would have liked due to time constraints and the two threatened hurricanes.  Nevertheless, we had an extremely restful two-weeks on the Big Island which is unlike many of our other trips.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this trip report.

September 12, 2016, 08:51:58 PM
1
Re: rating places you've visited - 1-4 stars USA?
Why dont we just rank Earth?

October 06, 2016, 05:26:40 PM
1
Re: South Florida Master Thread
Any update on whether zak the baker is still cholov yisroel? Thryre not picking up phone and website doesnt mention its status
Still CY. Let him know you appreciate that if you go.

November 17, 2016, 10:50:30 AM
1
Re: Re: AJK's Trip/Route Planning Thread Pic from North Maui:


December 15, 2016, 01:21:32 PM
1
Re: AJK's Maui And Big Island 2016 TR Without further ado:


December 16, 2016, 01:09:07 AM
1
12 Days In Paradise II: Oahu, Kauai & The Big Island, By PBaruch (2017) After many visits to the Big Island and last year's winter trip to Maui, Kauai beckoned us.  Once again, we stopped off in Honolulu for Shabbos and we stayed the final two days of our trip on the Big Island.

EWR - HNL (UA J)

EWR - HNL by P Bryan, on Flickr

Shhh...Do Not Disturb

Shhh....Do Not Disturb (On our way to Hawaii) by P Bryan, on Flickr

I'm very busy....

 On our way to Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 1 - Oahu

We arrived in Honolulu on a Thursday afternoon, picked up our minivan from National, and headed over to our hotel - the Ala Moana.  I know some of you might be surprised we chose to stay at the Ala Moana again after last years experience, but the convenience of being next door to Chabad along with not having to shlep my little one on a 20 minute walk made more sense than staying at the Royal Hawaiian, which I would have preferred.  Since we were all tired, we relaxed at the hotel, ate dinner delivered by Oahu Kosher (there is no option for pickup), and went to bed early.

We awoke early the next morning for our drive to the north shore of Oahu hoping to see big waves and big wave surfers.  After some initial confusion as to where we should go (my friend said people line up by the side of the road but we arrived while it was still pitch black and couldn't see the ocean or where we should park), we ended up at Ehukai Beach, commonly known as the Banzai Pipeline, the most notable surfing spot on the North Shore.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any monster waves that day as they were only about 6-8 feet high.  (The waves there are known to get 25-30 feet high).  Nevertheless, it was still fun to watch the surfers.  I was told that there were many famous surfers out that day.

Ehukai Beach Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii  - DSC_0050 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Banzai Pipeline, we visited the Bishop Museum, which contains historical and science exhibits.  Founded in 1889, it is the largest museum in Hawai'i and has the world's largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts.

Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Kahili at the Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

What are Kahili Sign, Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Kukulu Ka Hale (Building a House), Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Portrait Of King Kamehameha The Great:

Portrait of King Kamehameha The Great, Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Outside Hawaiian Hall, we saw several individuals dressed in a traditional Hawaiian loincloth.  Unfortunately, one of these fellas took the period dress a little too seriously and some of us were treated to a very unpleasant view - wardrobe malfunction.  We then stopped by the planetarium and science discovery center, where the kids had a great time playing and exploring.

Bishop Museum Planetarium, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bishop Museum Science Adventure Center, Oahu, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting the Bishop Museum, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for Shabbos.  Once again, we dined with Chabad on Friday night and Shabbos day and the food was delicious.  There was a medical convention in town and many doctors from all over were in attendance.  We also met a doctor now living in Honolulu after relocating from the mainland.  On Shabbos, I had the chance to meet and speak with Yudi from Oahu Kosher.  I told Yudi how much we enjoyed the meals from Oahu Kosher on our return flight from Honolulu last January and asked if he was still providing meals to UA.  Unfortunately, Yudi told me he had some issues dealing with UA and that he was no longer providing meals to them.  Yudi did ask, however, that I write to UA and ask that they continue to offer meals from Oahu Kosher.

Part 2 - Kauai

On Sunday morning we flew to Kauai.

HNL-LIH by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fortunately, my buddy Bruce Omori and his wife were able to join us for three days.  Bruce is an award winning photographer with a gallery in Hilo on the Big Island.  If any of you find yourselves in Hilo, please consider stopping by his gallery.  Bruce also leads photo and non-photo tours on the Big Island.  Information concerning the gallery can be found here:  www.extremeexposure.com.

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kaui, which I booked through a friend's Diamond Account.  Since the hotel was fully booked, the best upgrade that we were able to obtain upon check-in was to a room that opened to a garden with a partial view of the ocean.  Although there was availability to upgrade to better rooms and suites later in our stay, we decided to stick with the room that we were given because all of the better rooms all had one king size bed and we needed at least two beds.  We very much enjoyed staying at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and frequented the club room where we were able to obtain lox, cream cheese, jam, cereal, and fruits in the morning.  Although they offered bagels from Oahu Kosher, the bagels were frozen and we stuck with eating bread brought from home.

On Monday we flew a doors off helicopter tour with Jack Harter's.  First I flew with Bruce and his wife on a photography charter, followed by my wife and daughters on a separate flight.  My little one wasn't permitted on the doors off flight so we had to take turns watching him.  The flight was wonderful and I highly recommend Jack Harter's for a doors off tour.  Photographs taken during our flight:

Door Off Flight with Jack Harter, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Flight with Jack Harter, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wai'ale'ale Crater:

Wai'ale'ale Crater, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wai'ale'ale Crater, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wai'ale'ale Crater, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

One of the many waterfalls we saw during our flight:

Wai'ale'ale Crater, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Na Pali Coast:

Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

You can drive a boat into this:

Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainbow over the ocean:

Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

After our flights, we returned to the Grand Hyatt Kauai and made a BBQ on Shipwreck Beach directly in front of the hotel.  We commandeered one of the beach front cabanas for our BBQ:

BBQ at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

We grilled burgers, salami, sausage, zucchini, and pineapple.

BBQ on Shipwreck Beach, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Tuesday we drove to Polihale Beach, a real gem.  On the way, we stopped off here:

Menehune Food Mart, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Menehune Benjie was searching for?  We found them---or at least their food mart.  Bruce and Sheryl went there to get kulolo---a dessert made from poi, sugar, and coconut.

Polihale State Park, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Playing with the shutter speed is lots of fun:

Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Having fun on the beach:

Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Playing At The Beach by P Bryan, on Flickr

As you can see from the photographs, we saw storm clouds moving in so we had to hightail it out of there.  Unless you have a 4WD vehicle (which we didn't), you can easily get stuck on the road if it rains.

After Polihale, we went to the Waimea Canyon Overlook.

Waimea Canyon Overlook, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

When we arrived, this was the view:

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Several minutes later, however, we were treated to these views:

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Enjoying the view:

Waimea Canyon Overlook, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding chickens at Waimea Canyon Overlook:

Feeding The Rooster by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding The Rooster by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waterfall in Waimea Canyon:

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then visited the Pu'u o Kila and Kalalau lookouts but there was little visibility due to clouds.

On Wednesday, we spent the morning at the Grand Hyatt relaxing with our friends, as this was their final day in Kauai.  I enjoyed the club room and we went swimming.  After our friends departed, we visited Wailua Falls.

Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

At Wailua Falls, we saw a family of pigs near the road.  Apparently they hang out in the area as tourists feed them.

Wailua Falls Overlook, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

In the evening, we went to Poipu Beach, where we saw monk seals:

Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

The next morning I awoke early to photograph turtles and seals at Poipu Beach, and I was not disappointed:

Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Green Sea Turtle, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

After I returned to the Grand Hyatt, we all went to feed the fish, which is done each morning at 9:00 a.m.

Feeding the fish at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fish at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then went to view and hold a macaw, which is done daily at 10:00 a.m.  I think the macaw was just about as big as my little one.

Holding a Hyacinth Macaw at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we went to Allerton Garden, renowned for being one of the nicest gardens in the world and the site of several movies.

Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Orchid at Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Picking a pomelo at Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Enjoying the view at Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Coconuts at Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Exploring Allerton Garden, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then drove back to Waimea and visited the Pu'u o Kila and Kalalau lookouts again.  On the way back, we found a beautiful spot along the road in Waimea:

Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Friday morning, I returned to Poipu Beach hoping to take more photographs of turtles and seals but this time there were only turtles on the beach:

Look what I found at Poipu Beach? by P Bryan, on Flickr

Napping Green Sea Turtle by P Bryan, on Flickr

Napping Green Sea Turtle by P Bryan, on Flickr

Green Sea Turtle at Poipu Beach, Kauai by P Bryan, on Flickr

After I returned from the beach, we went swimming and used the hot tub at the Grand Hyatt.  We then prepared for Shabbos.  DW made challahs and cake in a toaster oven that we had purchased at Walmart.  Afterwards, I made a potato kugel using the toaster.  DW also made chicken in a crock pot, which was substituted for chollent shortly before Shabbos commenced.

Baking Challahs by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 3 - The Big Island

On Sunday morning we flew to the Big Island.

LIH-HNL-KOA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We visited Greenwell Coffee Farm, a favorite spot of ours:

I love my Kona Coffee! by P Bryan, on Flickr

Avocado Tree at Greenwell Coffee Farm by P Bryan, on Flickr

Relaxing at Greenwell Coffee Farm by P Bryan, on Flickr

Making A New Friend by P Bryan, on Flickr

This time the resident chameleon showed itself:

Chameleon Crossing Sign at Greenwell Coffee Farm by P Bryan, on Flickr

Greenwell Chameleon by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then stopped off at Higashihara Park for lunch and the kids played in the playground.  Afterwards, we stopped off at the Mark Twain Monkeypod Tree.

Our next stop was at Punalu'u, where we saw turtles on the beach:

Punalu'u Turtle by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lilly pond behind the beach:

Punalu'u Beach 1-2017 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Punalu'u Beach by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Punalu'u, we made our way to Volcano Inn, where we stayed the night.  We were not very impressed with this inn.  The room, although large, had a musty smell to it (I was told that running the dehumidifier helped with that).  They did not permit shoes in any part of the hotel and refused to print our boarding passes telling me that they had no printers available for public use.  Nevertheless, for one night it sufficed.  After checking in, we made our way to Jagger Museum overlook to view Halemaumau Crater but the weather was rainy and foggy so there wasn't much of a view.  Also, it was extremely crowded and park rangers were directing people to parking spots.  It was not this way in the not so distant past when I had the place almost to myself.

The next morning we got an early start.  Our first stop was at Rainbow Falls in Hilo:

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii by P Bryan, on Flickr

Girls Also Like Climbing Trees by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainbow Falls Forest by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then visited Boiling Pots (where we saw broken car glass in the parking lot) and finally stopped by our friends' gallery in Hilo to say farewell.

Flight home:

We flew from Hilo to Honolulu, where we stopped by the UA lounge and relaxed for a bit.  We then made our way to the gate, where we heard an announcement asking if anyone was willing to give up a first class ticket in exchange for $1000.  I immediately ran up to the gate agent and offered our five tickets.  Sadly, I was told that they only needed one.  Interestingly, a family that was on our flight to Hawaii was also on our return flight.

ITO-HNL-EWR by P Bryan, on Flickr

Perfect ending to a wonderful trip:

On our way back in UA J by P Bryan, on Flickr

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this trip report.

PS:  All who comment in this trip report are eligible to win one of three 2017 Extreme Exposure Lava Calendars with free shipping anywhere in the United States.  Drawing will be held on or about March 7, 2017.

Final Note:  A video of the doors off helicopter flight with Jack Harter will be posted later.

February 07, 2017, 12:14:53 PM
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Re: Kauai, HI Master Thread I think it's time the GHK open up a kosher kitchen & shul, it's only fair
February 08, 2017, 02:02:41 AM
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