Monday, February 25, 2013

3 nice days in the sun.

It’s been a long old day today! It feels a lot more than 10.30pm at the moment as I sit in the hostel lounge area and type this.....

I woke up early – which for me isn’t unusual as my body and head seem to have some in built alarm clock going on. If I need to be up at 7, I wake up at 6. This morning I needed to be up by 3.45 (Yes, quarter to 4 in the morning) so that I could walk the short distance from the hotel to the airport in time to check in and get my 5.36am flight. So, you guessed it, my body woke me up at about 3am. I tried to get some more sleep but had to keep checking the clock every 5 minutes until my actual alarm went off right on time.

The first leg of the journey was a flight to San Francisco airport, where we landed in the dark before I grabbed a snack for breakfast and waited for my 2nd flight. This took off just after 9am and flew over the ocean to the Hawaiian island of Oahu (Hawaii is correctly pronounced Haa-Vie-ee and Oahu is OO-AAH-OO, as I found out on the shuttle bus to the hostel later.)  We landed just before midday Hawaiian time and seem to have been slowing time ever since! People here are really laid back, so the nags took ages to come out one or two at a time and this gave everyone time to take photos of the two locals giving out the ‘Lei’ – the flower garlands that are traditional. Then I boarded the ‘Speedi-shuttle’, bus to take me to my hostel in Waikiki. Speedi, it wasn’t. The driver explained about the pronunciations above and seemed to enjoy taking us on a tour of the city, rather than dropping us at hotels and the like. All in all it took just over 3 hours from landing to getting to the hostel about 6 miles away! He was interesting though as he told us all about the sand which is brought here from the Whitsundays in Australia and from California, plus all the best sights to visit during our stay.

After checking in to the hostel I had a few hours to spare and it was lightly raining, so I put on my new running shoes, left my top behind and went for a run around Diamond Head crater – an old volcano crater a mile to the east. It was a lovely cooling run and I passed a load of surfers out to catch a wave as I headed back towards town.
Waikiki beach

Surfers making their way down..... the sea

Later in the evening, I wandered down to the Hilton Hotel village with the posh people to sneak into their private beach and watch the Friday night fireworks over the ocean. It was a good end to a good day – even though now I have been up for the best part of 24 hours and am aching from the run and the two plane journeys. There is a 3 hour time difference between here and Boise where I started, so it’s time for bed I think. Tomorrow, weather permitting; I’ll spend most of the day on the beach. 

Posh fireworks... the Hilton

Local Woodwork

It’s now late tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) and I did indeed spend the majority of the day lazing on the beach. There’s not much else to say about what I did today, but I did notice a few things:-
Firstly, a few years ago, if a grown man would have swum in the ocean wearing a t-shirt, he would have been laughed at and wedgied by everyone around. Blokes on the beach were beer swilling, large bellied morons who used red burnt skin as a sign of virility! Nowadays however, more blokes than ever wear t shirts and even hats while swimming to prevent any nasty ray of sun ending their life even one second early.  Come on blokes; at least go swimming for a minute without fearing for your life! 

Secondly, Hawaii, to us poor English people is the epitome of a posh, expensive foreign holiday abroad. It’s where we go for the once in a lifetime experience and we probably never come again. It’s frequented by rich famous film stars and singers......only it’s not.  Hawaii is about 4 hour’s flight from the USA and for Americans it costs about a week’s wages for a holiday here. It’s got sunshine a beach and shows at night-time. It is in fact to the Americans what Tenerife or Majorca is to us Brits. It’s a cheap easy place to visit once a year and bring your kids. Yeah, it’s got the posh hotels and shops and a lot of very rich people, but most people are families having holidays. In that way, it is much better and more relaxing than say...Miami, which is shit. I like Hawaii.  

Beach in the morning

Beach at night!

By the way – I’m not sunburnt – yet.....

It’s now Sunday evening and after a long day out, I am sat sorting out photos and stuff so that I can update the blog today. I went to see some history today by visiting Pearl Harbour. Just in case you didn’t know, Pearl Harbour is where the majority of the American Naval Fleet was based before the USA joined WW2. On a Sunday morning in December 1941 the Japanese attacked the US air force bases, before attacking the ships that were docked in Pearl Harbour itself – destroying all the battleships and many smaller ones. One of the main casualties was the USS Arizona, which was destroyed and the remains of which are still visible in the waters of the bay. The ‘highlight’, of a visit to Pearl Harbour is to take a boat over to a memorial which sits atop the remains of the ship and allows you to look down into the ocean to where over 900 sailors and marines died and their bodies remain inside. There is still also the slow leak of oil from the wreck, even though its over 70 years since it sank. Its an eerie place.

The memorial

A model of the wreck

The remains of a gun turret on the wreck.

Looking down


Oil seeping out after 70 years.

The story told in the museum is surprisingly unbiased, with a detailed explanation of why the Japanese ordered the attack and the new technology they created in torpedoes that could be used in such shallow water. Plus we see the errors made by the Americans and the destruction that followed. It’s a sad story as with any loss of life, but also a very interesting one as it was what made the Americans finally join in the effort of war. 

The memorial gardens

I dont want to be on this submarine!

There is more to look at than just the submerged hulk of a destroyed ship though as the harbour is still a working US naval base and has real ships to look at from the dock area. There is also a submarine and some torpedoes and missiles, two of which were quite strange – Firstly there is a nuclear war headed missile that if used would have probably killed everyone in the submarine that fired it as it could only be fired from close range. Secondly, there is a Japanese suicide torpedo, which is actually a small submarine for one crewman who drives it straight into its target!!
No thanks.

Only has forward gears....probably.

After Pearl Harbour I spent the afternoon wandering around the sights of Honolulu town centre – a couple of Palace like buildings, a statue of a Hawaiian queen and a visit to the top of the tower that sits in the marketplace on the waterfront were all highlights of a mellow Sunday afternoon stroll around town, before I took the three mile Walk back along the seafront to Waikiki, looking down into the sea at all the bright and colourful fish that roam around the clear waters of the bays.  

Cool buildings in Honolulu

Tiny little church

The tower

Statue in Honolulu park

Cruise ship in harbour


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