As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been working on final exams for the past week. And today I finally finished! The last exam was pretty sucky, but at least it's over now. No vacation for me, though--summer is the time to get research done.
Anyway, I also mentioned that one of my first cousins was visiting O'ahu last week. She was supposed to stay with me the first night she got in along with an old friend of hers that she was vacationing with, but her plane got delayed forcing her to stay overnight in L.A., so it was just her friend, who I didn't know, that slept over. Potentially awkward, but it turned out just fine.
My cousin and her friend stayed most of the week out in Haleiwa on the North Shore. Between my extended family, there are three beachfront condos that no one lives in full time, so it's a good place for visiting relatives to stay. They came into Honolulu several times, and I went out to visit them on Sunday.
Most of what I did with my cousin centered around food. We had udon, pizza, Chinese food, Thai two times, sushi, malasadas, two trips to Waiola Shave Ice, and two trips to Bubbies (first time for ice cream pies, second time for ice cream mochi). Three of these I just have to gush about (Bubbies and Waiola are worth gushing about, too, but I think I've done that before).
If you don't know what a malasada is, it's kind of like a doughnut, a vaguely spherical fist-sized lump of dough fried then rolled in sugar. Can't go wrong with fried dough plus sugar, right? Leonard's Bakery is a great place to have them, and they have a number of different flavors, including cinnamon sugar, haupia (coconut cream-filled), and li hing sugar. Their special flavor of the month right now is mango-filled malasadas. I had never had one of these before, but it was delicious. I will have to go again before the end of the month!
I've eaten in Haleiwa many times, but I'd never really noticed the handful of lunch trucks that gather in this one parking lot at the end of the town that's farther from the ocean. But on Sunday, I went with my cousin and her friend to get lunch from the Thai food truck. They had eaten there a few days before, and her friend had somehow made friends with the chef in the truck, so when we each ordered separately, he decided that it would be better if we shared family-style and took it upon himself to decide which dishes would be good for us and would taste good together. So basically, he gave us one of the things we ordered and then a bunch of other stuff of his choosing. Which was fine because it was all really, really good. I would definitely go back to that place.
Last but not least, we had sushi for dinner at Tokkuri-Tei on Kapahulu. It was a bit pricey, though reasonable enough for the quality of the food. The sushi was very good, nice and fresh, but there was definitely one that was my favorite. They called it "There's a SPIDER in my POKE", which was really like a sushi roll with fancy poke held inside the seaweed. The spider part of it was tempura-fried soft-shell crab with the legs sticking out of the roll. There was also some sashimi, little greens, salmon roe, and smelt roe. And some sort of spicy sauce. The flavors were amazing, and there's something really fun about crunching on the soft-shell crab legs. Yum. I really wish I'd taken a picture, because it looked pretty awesome, too. Oh--luckily I found a picture at House of Annie:
The spider poke was especially expensive, though, so while I'd love to have it again I won't be rushing off to make a regular habit of it.
The other exciting thing I did with my cousin besides eating fun foods was I went stand-up paddle boarding for the first time. We rented boards at Waikiki along with the Housemate. My cousin and I did our best to paddle away from anything that looked like it might be a breaking wave; the Housemate went after those very same waves. Ah well. At one point a big wave knocked me off the board in an area with a shallow reef, giving me a nice scrape and bruise on my back. It was so shallow that I had to put my feet down to maneuver, but underneath me there were dozens of sea urchins. Ouch! I had to swim away from that area, amidst more breaking waves, looking very ungraceful with the long paddle in one of my hands. That was a little bit miserable. But the rest of the afternoon was mostly pleasant, and in one area with calm glassy water I could see pretty fish underneath me. The fact that seeing the fish was my favorite part of paddle boarding made me think that maybe I'm really more of the snorkeling/diving type than the surfing type. We'll see.
Anyway, I drove my cousin to the airport on Wednesday after we had a nice dinner with my grandparents. It was too bad she couldn't stay longer, especially now that I'm done with classes. And while I will be working full time doing research, I will have a little more flexibility with my hours, and NO HOMEWORK. That is the most exciting part--coming home without the guilt that I should be working on something. Of course, it won't be long before I'll have a prospectus to work on...then a dissertation...oh dear. I'll do my best to enjoy the summer while I can.