Monday, August 19th, 2002:

Gate Keepers

Jet lag ain’t all bad, ya know…

Try as I might, I couldn’t stay up much past sunset Friday night. But my early rise the next morning didn’t just get you Saturday’s entry sooner; it also gave me the opportunity to take a quiet stroll along the beach before the crowds showed up. As the rising tide poured over my feet I just couldn’t believe how warm it was, and immediately ran back to the hotel for my swimming gear. By the time I returned the beach was already starting to fill up (at 8 in the morning!), but I now knew why. A power sun bath was followed by a power swim. Actually, letting the surf thrash me around was enough of a workout.

I barely made it back to the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel in time for checkout, and after transferring my bags to a rental car, set out for Oahu’s North Shore. About an hour of spectacular scenery later, I was ready for some Polynesian culture at, fittingly enough, the Polynesian Cultural Center.

The PCC positions itself as an interactive hands-on learning environment; what that means to you and me is audience participation at every exhibit, which is great if you’re the one on stage but lousy if you’re the one sitting alone in the audience. While wandering around I got a little creeped out by the incessant greetings of “Aloha” from the employees as I passed by. After a little digging, I made a startling discovery — the joint was run by Mormons! Apparently Brigham Young University has a Hawaii campus next door, and all of the employees, honest to goodness Polynesians from Fiji, Samoa and so on, perform at the PCC as work trade for studying the ways of Christ and polygamy. I guess its better for Fijians to believe in god than cannibalism, but who am I to judge one cult over another?

I skipped the PCC luau and instead hooked up with Kim Binsted, the former CEO of i-Chara who took me out to dinner in Tokyo last summer. She’s now on track for tenure at the University of Hawaii, but still has some kind of research deal with Sony. She graciously invited me to a birthday party at her north shore oceanfront condo. And talk about an entrance — I tried to beat the entry gate on the way in and lost, made apparent by the loud “whack” as it came crashing down on my windshield. Hey, it’s a rental!

Soon I was back at the airport, waiting for my midnight departure to Sydney. I arrive early Monday morning (hence no Sunday entry), so to help me sleep on the plane I used my bizknob class ticket to suck back a couple of Caesars before boarding, adding to the mix a glass of complimentary champagne when I got to my seat. I was out moments after takeoff, and all was going as planned; until a surly flight attendant woke me, demanding an order for a meal that, oddly enough, never came. I’ve eaten twice since, but not that particular thing I ordered. Weird… Maybe I dreamt it?

At this moment I’m looking out my window at the rising sun, somewhere over the Pacific. I think it’s five-thirty in the morning, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s going to be interesting stumbling around downtown Sydney like a zombie until my hotel room is ready. Beeeddd… Beeeddd….

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