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THINGS TO DO IN HAWAII: CHINATOWN, FLOWERS

Foster Botanical Gardens. Chinatown shopping, statues, pints and slices.

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All photos by Phillip Roberts.

If you're looking for things to do in Hawaii, enjoying the natural habitat one way to go.

Foster Botanical Gardens

I continue to enjoy walks in public gardens. Foster Botanical Gardens is a pure delight! Located at the edge of downtown Honolulu, the 13.- acre site offers art amidst luxurious flora. You can see many rare and endangered varieties of orchids, plants and trees on an easy-going hike through the grounds. Guided tours are available daily at 1 p.m.

Opened in 1931 to the public, admission to Foster Botanical Gardens is very reasonable at $5 for adults and $1 for children. Honolulu residents get a discount admission. It is estimated 750,000 people visit the complex annually.

There are two species of native Hawaiian butterflies and they thrive here. I don’t know if I saw the state insect, the “Pulelehua” or “Kamehameha” butterfly, (Vanessa tameamea) but I did see plenty of colorful bugs flitting around the gardens during my leisurely stroll.

From exceptional trees to prehistoric plants, there plenty to take in at this little oasis smack dab in the middle of the concrete jungle of downtown Honolulu. Fragrant blooms and plenty of space for taking a picnic or plate lunch, Foster Botanical Gardens is a must do if you have a few spare hours on a week day. I left the garden quite refreshed by the beauty and things I’d seen.

Food

The melting pot of Pacific Rim cultures in Hawaii leads to great eating experiences. After exiting Foster Botanical Gardens, I walked down to Chinatown. The area has had quite a rebirth, with many new restaurants, art galleries, and night clubs opening. The area is jam packed with people during the art walk on the “First Friday” of every month.

One of my favorite spots to grab a pint and a slice is J.J. Dolan’s. It’s located on the edge of Chinatown. They have some of my Tiki art photographs hanging on their wall for sale.

This afternoon, however I decided Little Village Noodle House at 1113 Smith Street, was the tasty choice. I had a delicious Orange chicken ($9.25) dish with rice and tea. My fortune read, “The great joy in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”

Public art in Chinatown

Last month I quoted Confucius. “When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.” Kǒng Qiū a.k.a. Confucius lived from 551BC to 479 BC. Legend writes that he was born in (or near) the city of Qufu in the state of Lu.

“Michael Jackson off the Wall” is a second tribute to the “King of Pop,” recently installed by crew 808Urban. Far from illegal taggers, these artists do commissioned art as a tool to help beautify the city. They donate their time teaching at risk youth to express themselves with art.

Edward M. Brownlee was the recipient of the University of Hawai‘i’s first Master of Fine Arts degree studying under the direction of muralist Jean Charlot. The 19 foot “T-Sung” is near River Street. The master carver, Brownlee, was also one of the most important Tiki artists of Hawai‘i’s post World War II period. His epic carving’s graced “Canlis’s Charcoal Broiler,” “The International Market Place,” “The Waikikian Hotel,” and the adjoining “Tahitian Lanai” restaurant. He lives in Oregon, and retains a studio there occasionally carving black jade found on his land.

“Club Hubba Hubba” has been closed since 1997, but the iconic sign remains on Hotel Street. The all-nude bar was a favorite of servicemen in the 1950’s. Honolulu’s Chinatown has changed a great deal since the area was the center of sin since before World War II. For more information about the area’s seedy past, I recommend the book “Hawai‘i Homefront” by MacKinnon Simpson. (Bess Press 2009)

Shopping

Produce shopping in Chinatown is cheap and easy. If it grows and is eaten, you can find it there. I’m partial to locally grown radishes. There are many places to choose from within walking distance.

Some September events in Hawai‘i I recommend.

September 5 - 6 27th Annual Okinawan Festival. Food, dance, and culture plays out under the sun in Kapiolani Park. FREE.

September 9Modest Mouse plays Pipeline Café. $

September 10 — The Aloha Festivals opens! This year’s theme is “Hula, Let the story be told.” Many events will be held including the Waikiki Ho‘olaule‘a (September 19) and the Annual Aloha Festivals Floral Parade on September 26.

September 18 Taste of the Arts Honolulu Street Festival. Downtown hosts Jazz, art, food and more. 6-10 P.M. FREE.

September 20Voodoo Glow Skulls play at Anna Bannana’s. $.

September 25Taking Back Sunday at Pipeline Café.

Until next month, Aloha!

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