Aloha and Mahalo
I've only been back in New York for 48 hours and I am already missing the glistening turquoise waters and the balmy breezes rustling through the palm trees. It was my first time in Hawaii and as one airport bystander quipped with absolute authority: "you'll be back". Indeed I very much hope to be! Even though we only stayed in the tourist-trap of Waikiki Beach, Jane, Mia and I were just daft happy watching the waves lap over the beach and being swept up in the truly overwhelming warm Hawaiian embrace of hospitality.
I will always warmly associate my first Hawaiian experience with the film festival and with our family friend-cum-consummate hostess: Flora Lu. There is no way to overstate the absolute generosity and hospitality that Flora poured over us. Now, coming from Chinese families, we were all used to the overflowing attention and proactive help that Chinese mothers are famous for. But if there were an Olympics for hospitality, Flora Lu would take first, second, AND third place - and then she would probably invite you over for a ten course meal afterwards just for fun! Just to name a few of the wonderful things Flora helped us with: even BEFORE our arrival Flora had contacted all the major local news outlets and posted up our posters around town, scouted restaurants where we could have a post-screening get-together, AND arranged for newspaper and TV interviews upon our arrival in town. Once we were there, Flora's hospitality kicked into high gear: in addition to driving us around Honolulu, Flora insisted on adorning us with (and then refusing to take back) beautiful jewelry that she designs from her beautiful Lucoral store, enrolling us as part of Team Taiwan in support of a cancer walk, shuttling us to and from interviews, taking us out to countless delicious local restaurants (and, to our collective chagrin, winning every fight for the check - you'd think we had been properly brought up young Chinese ladies but we were no match for Flora!), introducing us to the local community leaders, and then rallying everyone to come see our film! I haven't even begun to talk about the heaps of presents she lavished on Jane, Mia, and myself on our last day. So, we were truly overwhelmed by Flora's hospitality and don't know what to say except a very sincere and heartfelt: Mahalo!!!
Believe it or not, we did have some time outside of Flora-land. :) There was a lovely party at Gordon Damon's home in Kahala beach where we got to meet festival director Chuck Boller and many other film folks before rushing off to our first screening. Both of our screenings took place in the Dole Cannery Theaters where we first expected to sit on pineapple crates to watch movies! In fact, the Dole is a multiplex with 18 theaters. I am delighted to report that both of our screenings filled the large 400-something seat theaters and the response was incredible. In fact, Roger Ebert even made it to our second screening, stayed for the Q&A, and then even spoke to us for a bit afterwards. We are incredibly flattered to be mentioned in his festival wrap-up in the Chicago Sun-Times!
The funny (or annoying) thing about me is that once I find something I like, I stick with it. Over and over and over again (in college, it was playing Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" time and time after time again to the deep dismay of my roommates). We were only in Hawaii for five days and I ate at Shanghai Bistro three times. The local Chinese and Taiwanese say that it is the best Chinese restaurant in Hawaii. Flora (of course!) brought us there the first night we arrived. We then returned the next night for our post-screening gathering where we met Phillip Wang (the Taiwan Director General) who was also dining there. He, in turn, graciously decided to host a private dinner for us at the same restaurant the following evening! So all in all, I think we probably tasted the entire menu in 72 hours. Incredibly delicious and yet another reason to return to Hawaii soon!
So, now I'm back in the 40 degree grayness of New York and dreaming of when I can return to lazy walks on the beach and jumping soft turquoise waves...I guess I should get off my sunburned bum and make another movie!
BdC gets lei'd (and
Jane wears a dress)!
A whole lotta Hawaiian love from
Flora (standing, far L.) and friends.