Thursday, May 3, 2012

Somewhere Over The Rainbow In Hawaii - My Trip in Photos

I'm back from my very first trip to Hawaii.  What a beautiful place!  I hope I'll get the chance to go there again one day.  Here is my trip in photos to share with you!
As the plane approached Hawaii, the skies were vivid blue with fluffy white clouds.  A far cry from the grey, rainy city I had left behind.
The clouds cast shadows on the blue waters.  I found it neat to see the clouds from above instead of below. Airplanes are a marvel to me.
Thanks to a three hour time difference, we gained three hours on arrival.  Sweet!  A full day to spend exploring Hawaii.  We were greeted with marvelously fragrant leis made from tuberoses.  
We came to recognize this fragrance as a way to identify newcomers at the hotel.  You could smell the newcomers from a mile away and they smelled sooooo gooood!  :P  For days after, the hotel room smelled fantastic. We put one lei beside the shower and one in the bedroom.  I was sad when they finally wilted, leaving a light, lingering fragrance.  I wanted to dash out and buy a new one!
The beaches looked amazing.  The waters were so blue and the waves so... alive!  They would crash onto the white sands and soak you, throwing interesting coral bits and stones your way.  Sometimes I would see a  shell, but before I could grab it, the waves would literally suck them away out of my reach.  So fast!
Children played in the shallow waves at the beach front and surfers played in the bigger waves farther out.
Here's an interesting beach thing I found.  Is it coral?  I liked the orange colour and the texture. 
 I made myself a little collection on the sand.  I'd run about the waves, collect bits and things, run back to deposit them on the sand wall my hunnie built as he baked in the sand, and run back to the ocean to find more.  It was fun. Once in a while, a big wave would come up and take the sea things back.
There were pretty seaweeds along the water edge.
 I saw some sea creatures as well like fishes in the water and crabs.  I also saw a funny looking spotted fish thing.  I didn't get a good picture though.  The ocean sucked it back too fast. 
This is overlooking some coral reefs.  There are a lot of people with scuba masks padding around here. 
I didn't get to swim here, but maybe I'll do that if I ever go back one day.
 
We visited a Japanese temple and there were sooo many koi!  Here they are in a feed frenzy as I throw them some food.
This dove looks like he's enjoying the fish too.  It looks like he wants to eat the fish, but really he just wants to eat the fish food.
 See?  Tasty, tasty!
 Plants that I've only ever seen in the middle of malls or in the tropical section of Home Depot grow wild here.    It's weird seeing tropical house plants grow so lush here. 
 On Lei Day (May 1st) our hotel had tables set up with piles of local flowers and greenery.  A volunteer showed me how to make this pretty corsage.  It smelled great (most of the flowers in Hawaii seem to smell good).  The lady who sat beside me turned out to be a florist from Canada, and she was commenting how expensive it would be to make something like this in Canada because fresh tropical flowers cost a lot to ship over.
I also made this orchid and plumeria lei.  When I considered how each orchid plant costs about $30 at Home Depot and how I had just used over 60 blooms to make this lei... yup, it would be costly to do this in Canada.  In Hawaii, you can buy a lei for $5 or make it for free (like I did!). It makes me want to run out and buy/make a gazillion leis each day while I'm in Hawaii. 
 We visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial.  It's a beautiful but somber place.  Black dots of oil still leak from the ship sunken below and they call them black tears.  Thousands of soldiers are still buried with the ship because it was impossible to get them out without making the ship explode.  

The driver told us about how his relatives cried one day a month after the ship was sunk.  The divers had discovered that they could still hear knocking coming from the ship.  People were still alive in the ship, but there was no way to get them out.  I can't imagine the horror of waiting to die in this ship when it's so close to the surface of the water.  There were thousands of people on that ship.  So the memorial remembers and respects those that were sacrificed for the sake of their country. 
I was pretty depressed after thinking about all those people trapped below the memorial, but the people of Hawaii are generous and kind.  They treat you like family, and they feed you like family.  We went to Ono's Hawaiian Foods.  It's just a little hole in the wall place, but the food is delicious.
They make an amazing dish called Lau Lau.  It's chicken or pork wrapped in taro leaves and steamed.  It doesn't look like much, but it tastes soooo gooood.  I don't know why we don't eat taro leaves.  They're so yummy!
I also liked the Lomi Lomi Salmon.  It's very refreshing.  I loved the Kalau pork too.  I found the taste was very good.  If you go to Oahu, you should check out this restaurant.  Don't expect stellar service and expect a hole in the wall, but the food will be tastier than the fancy luaus you go to (we went to both the luau at the Polynesian cultural center and the one at Paradise Cove.  The food at Ono's is tastier.)  Oh, and for $20 for a set meal for two people, it's a seriously good deal!

It was good enough that we went back on our last day.  Back for Ono's and back for Leonard's fresh malasadas (donuts).  My favourite was the hot macadamia filled version.  Yummmmm!
 As a random photo, check out the price of milk here!  $10 for 4 liters, and that's on sale!  The driver joked that it was because there's only one cow on the island  :)
Our trip was winding down.  We had learned so much about a different culture, a different lifestyle, and we loved it.  Hawaii is a mixing pot of different people from all over the world.  As a result, the Hawaiians we met treated us like family, what they call "Ohana".  They call you their cousins when they greet you, much like we call people "brothers", "brotha", or "buddy" around here. 

This is not to say that everything is perfect.  We saw a different side of their city while we were there too.  We saw an old man (homeless?) walking around drunk with poop coming out of the top of his pants.  Another man came and saw him and told him to stay there so he could go get help.  Unfortunately, while he was gone getting help, the old man found a $20 in his pocket.  His eyes glowed with delight and he stumbled away into the nearest liquor store.  It reminded me of downtown Vancouver.

As we walked along Kapahulu, we saw a man who looked utterly depressed and hopeless.  He had his head down like Eeyore and his shoulders were slumped.  He was the saddest man I had ever seen.  The image was a stark contrast to the tourist areas I had come from, and the image of happiness and perfection that they talked about.   
I walked the beach for the last time, and I looked at the little bird foot prints in the sand.  Pigeons in Hawaii are white and they are everywhere.  They're even in many restaurants because most building are open to air.
Most of Hawaii is dependent on tourism now.  Plantations like the Dole plantation have shrunken down to a small fraction of their original size.  I saw mango trees everywhere with juicy fruit hanging down, and yet when I went to buy mangos at ABC stores the mangos were from Mexico.  I didn't know what to think.  It  didn't seem right.

One day, I'll go back to Hawaii and eat a ripe mango fresh from the tree.  I think that will be a very nice day indeed.

Have a wonderful day, and remember to enjoy your life.  Life is short, and there are so many beautiful and wonderful things in this world to experience.  You should go try them  :)

Take care~!

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