On Wednesday, it was back to Hilo to see some of the sights we had missed on Sunday. Again, we drove through Waimea during breakfast and again, Hawaiian Style Cafe was packed. This time, we kept driving, arriving in Hilo around 11.
My girlfriend wanted Thai food so we settled on Naung Mai Thai Kitchen, which was in a one-way alley, that I finally found after driving around the block a second time. The place was very small and the buffet style lunch featured five dishes, three of which were vegetarian. I picked the two chicken dishes — chicken with red curry and samba chicken — as well as the vegetarian pad thai. I thought both chicken dishes were great, but I wasn’t a fan of the pad thai. I like pad thai and I like catsup. But I now know that I don’t like them together.
After lunch, we went to the nearby Hilo Farmers Market. There were a ton of food and product vendors and my girlfriend bought a colorful Hawaiian dress. I didn’t buy anything but I did pay $25 for a chiropractic adjustment, which made my neck and lower back feel much better.
We left downtown Hilo and headed to Nani Mau Gardens. However, there were several tour buses in the parking lot and we decided to skip this stop and head down the road to the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens. I wasn’t expecting much since we’ve been to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and the San Diego Zoo, but Hilo has a pretty nice zoo for a town of its size. There are over 80 species of animals, including the main attraction, Namaste’, who is a white Bengal tiger. While at the zoo, we came across Hilo’s other claim to fame, its rain. Hilo is one of the wettest cities in the U.S., receiving over 100 inches of rain per year, and halfway through our tour of the zoo, we were drenched by a rain shower.
The rain continued as we hit Hilo’s other landmarks, its waterfalls. First was Waiale Falls, which can be seen from the road. Next was Pe’e Pe’e Falls, also known as Wailuku River State Park-Boiling Pots Area. Seeing the Boiling Pots was bittersweet. At dinner on Sunday night in Hilo, the table next to ours had been to the Boiling Post earlier that day when a teenager lost his life jumping into the dangerous, swirling water. Our final stop was Wailuku River State Park-Rainbow Falls Area or simply Rainbow Falls. There were no rainbows today, just steady rainfall.
As it had on Sunday, the rain subsided once we headed North out of Hilo. Again we drove through Waimea on our way back to the West side of the island. We had passed the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi on both Friday and Saturday and the guidebook raved about it, so we decided to give it a try. Great choice. My tenderloin beef was superb, and my girlfriend’s ono was the best fish I have ever had. I also thought the rib appetizer was first rate. This place gets my vote for the best restaurant on the island.