Hindu Temple on Kaua’i

Hawai’i is more than just tropical beaches and crystal-clear water. It also provides plenty of examples of globalization whether  in the case of plant life (see my previous post) or religion. During my last visit to Kaua’i, I had the opportunity to visit what has been called one of the most important Hindu holy sites in the world (see article). I have no experience to judge whether this statement is true, but plenty of visitors were nearly packed into the grounds of the Aadheenam Hindu Monastery near Kapa’a and that in the middle of the week at a time when the typical holiday visitors from the mainland usually have already left the island.

FullSizeRender_3

View from the Monastery over the Wailua River

It was so busy that we could not join the free tour of the grounds, but the gardens are beautiful and the view over the Wailua River is spectacular.

Garden View

Another View of the Garden and the River Valley

We were visiting in the morning when resident monks and devotees of Hinduism were in the middle of their morning worship, so I did not take any photos of the temple since I thought it would be inappropriate to take pictures of worshipers. But we watched as the group poured out of the Kadavul Temple and looked for shoes left outside the temple. The monastery was founded in 1970. In addition to the stone and wood Kadavul Temple with its many gold-leaf statues of Siva in his many dance poses, a second, hand-carved stone temple is in the process of being built.

Offerings

Offerings

The most memorable part of the ground was the large banyan tree close to the entrance of the monastery.

To learn more about the monastery, see this website. Visitors for the worship at the  9:00 AM temple ceremony may enter the inner gate leading to the temple before 10:45 AM. Visitors who do not wish to participate in the worship may enter this area from 10:45 AM – noon. The monastery is at 107 Kaholalele Road on Kaua’i.

Entrance

Entrance Gate to the Aadheenam Monastery

Advertisements

Hawaiian Signs

While I am trying not to be buried under an avalanche of essays/papers this weekend, I cannot help but reminisce about my last trip to Hawai’i (no essays followed me there). On the trip, I was fascinated by the many signs that I imagine I am likely to see only in Hawai’i.

The signs for the restrooms at the Honolulu airport always make me smile, and I believe the Munich airport in Bavaria should adopt similar signs: lederhosen and dirndl.

Even the figure on the bathroom sign wear a Hawaiian shirt and lei. But just as on the other sign , the person in the wheelchair is  assumed not to be into Hawaiian fashion.

Even the figure on the bathroom sign wears a Hawaiian shirt and lei. But just as on the other sign , the person in the wheelchair is assumed not to be into Hawaiian fashion.

People stared at me for taking pictures of the signs for the bathroom but they show that the Hawaiian decor touches everything. I wonder why the woman in the wheelchair did not get a lei though.

People stared at me for taking pictures of the signs for the bathroom but they show that the Hawaiian decor touches everything. I wonder why the woman in the wheelchair did not get a lei though.

I found the marketing display geared towards Japanese tourists in the international terminal of the Honolulu airport rather entertaining;  I have no clue who this character is and why he/she is participating in all these activities around the islands, but I am intrigued. I have never seen another country/place advertise itself with odd creatures.

Poster for Japanese Tourists in Hawaii

Poster for Japanese Tourists in Hawaii

Plenty of signs highlight living with aloha, but I like the sign that for me says: “No matter what, one cannot have a bad time in Hawai’i; come here and leave in a better mood.”

Plenty of signs with the expected references to aloha, hula, leis, and hula girls.

Plenty of signs with the expected references to aloha, hula, leis, and hula girls.

At some Kaua’i gas stations, gas is still pumped for customers. It felt odd to sit in the car and watch someone else pump the gas for me.

Sign at a gas station in Lihue. Who knew there are still gas stations where self-service is not normal.

Sign at a gas station in Lihue. Who knew there are still gas stations where self-service is not normal.

My favorite brand of sunscreen available in Hawai’i (but originally from Florida) is Ocean Potion. In addition to its great sounding name (in my opinion), it also comes in the scent of sunshine. I have never really thought about what sunshine would smell like, but this truly fits: a little citrusy, a little sweet, and a little salty. I usually bring plenty of unopened bottles of Ocean Potion home to California to last me the year.

The scent of the sunscreen is advertised as the scent of sunshine. It is a great scent that is hard to scribe - fresh and crisp but also flowery. I have never smelled anything like it before - maybe because it is the scent of sunshine.

The scent of the sunscreen is advertised as the scent of sunshine.

And of course, surfing is popular and mentioned in plenty of signs and on products. Here is one of the more entertaining shirts about surfing:

Surfing is a major part of life in Hawaii.

Surfing is a major part of life in Hawaii.

Maybe it is time to slather on the scent of sunshine and wear my surfing shirt before I get back to those essays that are still waiting for me.

Hawaiian Food

Road stands with fresh coconuts are common and everywhere on the islands.

Road stands with fresh coconuts are common and everywhere on the islands.

One of the pleasures of visiting Hawai’i for me is tasting the foods that are difficult to impossible to get here on the mainland, and I do not mean just the typical Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pork or poi. I am not the biggest fan of poi, the mush of boiled taro stems; I imagine if I would taste wallpaper glue (not that I ever have tasted it or have the desire to do so), it would taste like poi. But to get the Hawaiian culinary experience, I usually eat poi at least once on my trip.

Bowl of poi with its usual consistency (photo found on Wikipedia)

What I really look forward to are the snacks that are not usually listed under Hawaiian cuisine. These include the wide variety of fish jerky. While on the mainland jerky seems to be limited to beef and turkey and possibly deer, fish jerky seems to rule supreme based on the many varieties offered in all supermarkets.

Different versions of fish jerky.

Different versions of fish jerky.

IMG_1251

Some type of fish or octopus jerky – I am not sure; but it was tasty.

Coconut seems to be another favorite – whether fresh or dried.

I guess the idea is that really everything is better with bacon.

I guess the idea is that really everything is better with bacon.

Of course, there are always Spam and macadamia nuts, so the next “logical” step is of course to combine the two for Spam-flavored macadamia nuts.

Spam is one of the favorite foods of Hawaiians, so it is not a surprise that even Macadamia nuts are flavored with spam.

Spam is one of the favorite foods of Hawai’ians, so it is not a surprise that even macadamia nuts are flavored with spam.

A common Hawai’i favorite for tourists and locals is shave ice (no, Hawai’ians do not call it shaved ice). I learned from Wikipedia that the main difference to a snow cone is that the ice is shaved and not crushed for shave ice. In contrast to a snow cone, shave ice is fluffy and seems to retain the flavor syrup better than a snow cone. The shave ice creates a light snow-like substance that rivals the consistency of fresh powder that skiers seek.

Hawaiian Shave Ice - it is never as fluffy and snow-like anywhere else but in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Shave Ice – it is never as fluffy and snow-like anywhere else but in Hawai’i.

The ultimate experience and new find on the recent trip was the Sugarloaf Pineapple Phrosty at the Kaua’i farmer’s market at the Kaua’i Community College. A frozen piece of the white sugarloaf pineapple is run through a juicer to create a frosty without any additional sugar or dairy. The result is divine and should seriously be listed as one of the reasons to consider moving to Kaua’i. I wonder whether Kaua’i Community College is accepting transfers…

I was so distracted by the amazing taste that I never took a photo of the pineapple phrosty. Look for the stand at the Kaua’i farmer’s market or check them out online: http://www.kauaisugarloaf.com. Here is a photo from their website:

Pineapple Phrosty from Kaua’i Sugarloaf Pineapple (photo from: http://www.Kauaisugarloaf.com)

Plants as Immigrants to Hawai’i

The rock walls terracing this are of the garden are about 700 years old.

The rock walls terracing this area of the garden are about 700 years old.

Another great advantage of living in California is that Hawai’i is just around the corner (relatively speaking). While plenty of my Austrian relatives and friends want to make the trip to Hawaii, the journey often seems too long and too expensive in comparison to trips to other exotic locales such as the Maldives from Europe. However, I ran into a lot more Germans at this year’s trip to Hawai’i than ever before and the local Hawaiian newspaper also reported about an Austrian who nearly drowned in Kaua’i. So clearly, more European tourists are showing up on Hawai’i.

Even though this was not my first trip to Hawai’i, I am still fascinated by many of the small details and appreciate each trip I take. So while California has many good traits, the possibility for a quick winter trip to Hawaii is definitely another plus point in my book. At the beginning of the new year, I spent a fabulous nine days with sunshine and temperatures in the 80s while most of Northern California was shrouded in fog and nighttime temperatures close to freezing. I do not just appreciate Hawai’i’s warm climate but all its oddities; and on every trip I still find plenty of things that amaze me. I can never get tired of Hawai’i!

Ocean View from Limahuli Garden

Ocean View from Limahuli Garden

This year, we spent time on Kaua’i, the Garden Island. Just as the name implies, the island offers plenty of unusual plants and thus also several botanical gardens (Google shows eight botanical gardens on Kaua’i). I had a chance to visit Limahuli Garden and Preserve, a National Tropical Botanical Garden in Ha’ena, Kaua’i. It is situated in a 1,000-acre valley with nearly 250 taxa of native plants and birds; about 50 of them are on the verge of extinction. So if you want to see Hawaiian plants, this is the place to visit. The garden is divided into different sections that showcase the suite of plants that cultures carried with them as the migrated to Hawai’i. So many of the plants we think of as typically Hawaiian are actually not native to Hawai’i but were brought to Hawaii. For example, the Polynesians brought their 27 most important plants and four animals (jungle fowl, pigs, rats, and dogs) along on their canoes on their voyages to Hawai’i. Polynesian introductions to Hawai’i include taro, ti, sweet potato, banana, coconut palm, sugar cane, kukui nut tree and many more.

Taro is a Polynesian introduction to Hawai'i. Every part of the plant is edible when cooked.

Taro is a Polynesian introduction to Hawai’i. Every part of the plant is edible when cooked.

After Captain Hook first anchored off the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, many immigrants from China, Japan, Portugal, and the Philippines arrived in Hawai’i, especially because of the work on the sugar plantations. Many of the immigrants brought their favorite plants from home to Hawai’i, and many of these plants seem to be so representative of Hawai’i even though these plants are immigrants as well. Some of these plants are plumeria and mango.

Sugar cane is another Polynesian introduction even before it became a commercial crop in the 1800s.

Sugar cane is another Polynesian introduction even before it became a commercial crop in the 1800s.

The garden showed Hawaiian indigenous species, which means they are native to Hawai’i, endemic species, which evolved from native species and are native to Hawai’i only, as well as native species, which reached Hawai’i without the aid of humans but either by wind, wings, or water. Nearly all the native plants are rare and endangered as 114 of Hawai’i’s 1,200 native plant species are already extinct and about 300 have only 50 individuals or less remaining in the wild.

The garden also offers a pleasant walk with stunning ocean views and much information. I have never really considered the impact of immigrants on the plant life of a country, and I was surprised to learn that so many plants that I associate with Hawai’i, such as plumeria and the coconut palm, are actually not that Hawaiian at all.

Details and numbers are from the guidebook provided by Limahuli Garden, revised summer 2013.

The breadfruit is another Polynesian introduction to Hawai'i as staple food in much of Polynesia.

The breadfruit is another Polynesian introduction to Hawai’i as staple food in much of Polynesia.

The autograph tree is a modern introduction to Hawai'i and has become and invasive weed. The leaves are easily marked with a scratch.

The autograph tree is a modern introduction to Hawai’i and has become an invasive weed. The leaves are easily marked with a scratch.

Hala is a native to Hawaii and also other places (indigenous). Fossils of this plant have supposedly also been found in Austria. No this is not a pineapple - even though many think so at first glance.

Hala is a native to Hawaii and also other places (indigenous). Fossils of this plant have supposedly also been found in Austria. No, this is not a pineapple – even though many think so at first glance.,

The banana is a Polynesian introduction, with as many as 70 Polynesian varieties developed in old Hawai'i.

The banana is a Polynesian introduction, with as many as 70 Polynesian varieties developed in old Hawai’i.