Stories from stuff: souvenirs from Hawai’i

Confession time: I love bringing home souvenirs from my travels. Aside from the physical representation of actually having been there, each one I bring home has a memory behind it. They also need to be something I’m going to keep: no pesky desk trinkets here.

The haul from my recent trip to Oahu and The Big Island:

1. Ref magnets!Β My family collects magnets and I picked up the habit early on. And hey, magnets are useful! πŸ™‚ I got the Hawaiian map magnet from Walmart (I know, I know, but it was the only one I liked) and the other magnets from their respective places. Waikiki Aquarium was small but nice, Diamond Head was a bit of a hike (I’m really not a hiking person) but the views were fantastic, and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was one of my favorite places in this entire trip.

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2.Β A book! Specifically, Archipelago: the Origin and Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands by Dr. Richard Grigg. I love this book! I love well-written history books and I love well-written science books, so a well-written history AND science book is a magical unicorn for me. It mostly explains the science of how the Hawai’ian Islands were formed and how life arrived and evolved on the islands, but the last section deals with how the Polynesians discovered Hawai’i and how people have impacted the islands. I got this from the gift shop of the Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island. Tip: items bought in the gift shops of Hawai’i parks help support the parks and don’t get charged sales tax πŸ™‚

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3.Β  Shirts! I don’t particularly care for souvenir shirts with generic designs (e.g. those “I <3 [Insert Name of Place Here]” or “Someone Went Somewhere and All I Got Was this Shirt” designs) but I have a soft spot for great design. I got the surfing Darth Vader shirt in Haleiwa while we were waiting for the bus to take us to Shark’s Cove. Star Wars + surfing = INSTANT LOVE. I wish we got to spend more time in Oahu, as I really wanted to take surfing lessons in the sport’s birthplace. The price annoyed me though: the Youth Large and the Adult Small were the exact same size but the Adult size was more expensive. As luck would have it, the color I wanted was only available in Adult size. Sigh. The black shirt I got from the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station (AKA the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station). It’s awesome because it features the constellations as seen from Mauna Kea and the constellations glow in the dark! The blue one is a great design from the Hawai’i Pacific Parks system. The front has turtles on it (turtles!), while the back has the logos of the different parks in the system. An advantage of being Asian-sized: this shirt is another Youth Large πŸ˜›

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4. Kona coffee! I love coffee. I LOVE it. Granted, I’m not at the level of some people I know but I do appreciate a great cup of coffee in the morning (or any time of the day, really). And since we were on the Big Island, I definitely wanted to taste the best coffee that I could afford. Google led me to Koa Coffee. Because it’s promoted as the best coffee in Hawai’i, I naturally thought that it would be available in retail stores. I mean, there had to be a coffee shop that sold the beans, right? Wrong. They don’t!. The big clue should have been the Koa Coffee website not having a list of retail stores but I was in denial . It was also my fault because I didn’t research beforehand (that’s what happens when you cram your presentation for an international scientific conference). Long story short, I actually got these about two months after my trip. My parents were going to the US to promote my mom’s business so I ordered the three-pack bundle from the online store and had it sent to my godfather’s house. And yes, the effort was worth it because the coffee is excellent πŸ™‚ I’m working my way through the Private Reserve bag first, then the Estate. I’m saving the Grande Domaine for last πŸ˜€

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5. And last but not least: chocolate-covered coffee beans! I actually didn’t know about this prior to a labmate sharing some that she got from Walmart. Hello, caffeine rush! I got these from the Donkey Balls store on the Big Island too. They were definitely expensive (about $13.50 including tax for a 228g bag) so I only got for my mom and myself. On the other hand, they were definitely good too. Though a part of me cringed at the thought that peaberry beans were so ingloriously relegated to being covered in chocolate instead of ground and drank.

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