Jul 15, 2014

Hawaii - Our Version of the South Pacific Islands

A tourist is a fellow who drives thousands of miles 
So he can be photographed standing in front of his car.
Emile Ganest

Surfboard are used for everything from wind-vanes to road signs
First stop Oahu – best known for Honolulu, Waikiki and the invention of surfing!

We had not planned a stay in Hawaii but a flight back to the US from Tahiti costs hundreds of dollars more if you don’t stop in Hawaii so with that incentive baiting us we decided to keep the adventure going a tad longer and visited three Hawaiian islands before returning to the mainland.

Oahu was our least favorite island – way too touristic, flashy and impersonal.  We nicknamed it the Las Vegas of Hawaii.  Some friends exclaimed we were crazy to go to Hawaii after spending 3 months in beautiful French Polynesia and its friendly people and they were right.  This was not the best way to end our wonderful travels but we still discovered many interesting and beautiful things.

We just could not bond with the native people (of which there is less than 8%).  Another friend who worked with some Hawaiians shared just how much they hate what has been done to them in the last 200 years and recent tourists, newcomers, etc.  In general they are a hard nut to crack and two weeks wouldn’t give us the appropriate amount of time to connect with them.
Many beautiful sculptures can be found around the island - Dragonfly visited by live ducks
Makua and Kila from book by Fred Van Dyke
Front view
Like any major tourist center (Over 7.5M tourists/year land there!) it is filled with hotels, businesses catering to tourists, museums, many statues and sculptures, etc.  It also boasts a Chinatown, an Arts District, various types of performing and visual arts, several colleges and universities, a large design center, zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, Pearl Harbor, etc.  Military defense, R&D and manufacturing complete this list.  You get the picture – it’s another big city surrounded, in this case, by beautiful beaches and nature. 

With as many as 145,000+ tourists a week served by a town of less than 400,000 people, things churn at a very rapid rate – it is definitely an industry, no time to personalize here…  Also traffic is a nightmare – as bad as Los Angeles during rush hour… One has to plan well in advance.

Its location makes it a great hub between East and West.  With nearly 50% of the population from Asia, that influence is felt and seen everywhere – buildings, art, food, clothing, etc…  It is so expensive to live here that the average age is 41.3!  Only established people with money can afford to move here!  Rent is one of the highest in the US. 

Did I say surfboards everywhere? On beach, on balconies, between buildings, on cars, firetrucks, etc
Super sized beach chair!
A great thing about Hawaii is the weather.  With such balmy weather it is easy to stay active all year round and for that Honolulu was named fittest in the US in mid 2,000.  We see runners, swimmers, bikers, walkers, surfers, everywhere – that part feels good.  Massive trees called monkeypod trees grow everywhere and are amazing for shade.  Banyans and orchids can also be found just about anywhere you look.  Good weather is good for plants as well as people.  Over 150 years of growing orchids, they have come up with 150,000 hybrids…  It is amazing to think that out of that number only ONE produces an edible product, vanilla. 

Honolulu (sheltered bay or calm port) also hosts Dole bananas and pineapples which you can pay to visit but we didn’t attempt that.  We only visited the North Shore, famous for its large waves in the winter, and walked around Waikiki where we stayed. 

Well protected beach (man-made jetty) - Great for kids and more
Way too many people for us...  That was early in the morning before the crowd
Surfboard on firetruck - matching color - stylish
We had dinner at a restaurant that serves authentic Hawaiian food and has been doing so for 52 years – all recipes from grandma who still helps once in a while.  Of course it is an easy to miss hole in the wall but we got a good tip and were happy we followed it.  You can only wait for a table outside – no one is allowed to wait inside.  It is tiny, tidy, quirky but definitely local and most of the food is very similar to what we ate in French Polynesia except for the names so we felt back ‘home’ for a short evening.

City skyline from Wikipedia

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