Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Lydgate State Park

This morning we went to Lydgate State Park, which has two very nice little man-made lagoons on its beach. One of them is just for kids, as it has no real waves to speak of and is about 4 feet deep at the worst; the other is larger and full of fish.

The children’s lagoon at Lydgate State Park (left). The kids loved it

The latter is basically a great place to go if you want the experience of snorkeling without the difficulty, which was just what I needed. While I did once live near a beach in Bahia that had some great snorkeling (thanks largely to a Dutch fort and pier that had fallen into disuse in the 400 years since the Dutch were a significant naval presence in the South Atlantic), that was 30 years ago, and whatever instincts I developed for the sport are as rusty as my command of Portuguese. So the easy-to-handle snorkeling experience was just about right for me. And in fact there are some pretty good fish there.

Daniel’s idea of fun on the beach: bury Daddy!

Daniel and Elizabeth make a sand castle

There’s actually a Russian fort on Kauai, on the western side of the island. Apparently the Russian fur traders were looking for a warm-water port, and built a fort here that they used for a year or two, until they were ejected; it’s since fallen into ruin, but you can still make out its basic star-shaped pattern.

These fortsboth so old, and so far from their creators’ homesmake me a bit more generous towards European reluctance to go to war with Iraq (and whoever’s next). Europe seems to be on the verge of putting politics by other means behind it; given that these are nations that spent centuries fighting all over the worldthe Dutch and Portuguese fought all over the Atlantic and Indian Ocean for control of the Indes trade; the French and British struggled for a century over North America; the Spanish, French, Bortuguese, and British had world-circling empires, and the Belgians and Germans tried hard to match them, with the world much the worse for it; and then there’s the twentieth centurytheir reluctance to take up arms in the name of preemptive defense may, on balance, be a very good thing. A peaceful Europe that has no interest in destroying itself or occupying the rest of the world would be a remarkable thing. (Of course, they thought they’d some something like this after 1815.)

Another historic building: this movie theatre in Lihue has been converted into apartments for senior citizensone of the more creative reuses of old architecture I’ve come across

After our morning in the Lagoon of Fish, we drove up to Princeville.

Elizabeth hiding

Princeville basically takes the aesthetic of a luxury hotel or golf course, and tries to apply it to an entire town. The result is beautiful in a highly manicured way, but also a little eerie: I kept expecting to see Uzi-toting private security guards in SUVs. It differs from a real town the way a really nice hotel differs from your house: there are certain basic similarities, but you don’t go around stamping your logo in the sand in the cigarette extinguishers and putting little mints on your pillow. (Or maybe you do, in which case, more power to you.) Partly on the advice of a friend who recently spent his honeymoon there, we didn’t stop, for fear of being run down by David Hasselhof, who apparently is a regular there.

The mountains of Kauai

Instead, we kept going west on the island, nearly to where the road runs out. One of the charms of the drive is that there are a number of old, one-lane bridges that you have cross; it’s a bit like driving in some parts of Vermont. (I’m still thinking of the New England-Hawaii potato chip connection.)

One of the mountains on the northern side of the island

On our way back to Poipu and Suite Paradise (shudder), we stopped at the Paradise Bar and Grill in Princeville for lunch. Not a great moment in the history of service: the place is decorated like a beachfront shack, and the service is similarly faux laid-back. Skip it, and drive on to Hanalei.

Daniel drinks some lemonade

Daniel ate his weight in French fries on the way back to Poipu. It was as if we’d fed our other son lunch, and ignored him

There are Internet cafes dotted all over the island. Not many of them, but I keep meaning to stop in and do a little impromptu fieldwork. Are these mainly used by tourists? Are they more of a local resource? Maybe I’ll get some time in a couple of them before I leave.

Wild Bill’s Internet cafe

There’s also a Computer Hospital

After we returned to the condo it was time for another swim with the kids.

Elizabeth with a flower in her hair

It often seems to me that my life is an exercise in managing the children’s blood sugar and fatigue levels, with the aim of keeping the former within certain parameters (no sweets, but you don’t want them to get cranky from hunger either), and manipulating the latter to suit your schedule (run them around for a couple hours so they’ll go to sleep easily).

Daniel in his Hawaiian shirt and matching shorts

Of course, it usually doesn’t work. Fortunately, they both have been running around so much that it’s been relatively easy to put them down, even in strange quarters.


  1. For what it is worth, our encounter with David Hasselhof didn’t involve him driving, so “being run down” by him is perhaps a bit unfair. His KITT days are now well behind him. In fact, he really just narrowly avoided stepping on my wife’s feet as they were both going for the eggs benedict. That said, Princeville indeed gives you the feeling that every fifth tree is made of metal and contains numerous surveillance devices, and the Uzi-toting guards, though not observable, are there somewhere and ready to spring out at a moment’s notice. Beware, non guests! Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful area and a nice place in which to be a guest. Just don’t think about loitering…

  2. Just happened across your blog and found your posting on your trip to Hawaii. I would have to says Steve’s comment on the security is on point and halarious. Princeville is a fantastic place and I just love it there – for me the golf can’t get any better.

    Safe travels!

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