Sunday, 26 January 2014

It's Time To Go........

When we arrived in Hawaii, our driver presented us with orchard leis (you might remember from a previous post).  When we got to the hotel, we 'layer' them around the room over the light shades and the corners of the TV.  They lasted beautifully until our last day when they started to look a little like this.

It was than we realised that it really was time to go.

We've had a fabulous, fun filled holiday.  We've been blasted by an 'Arctic Vortex', and struggled with subzero temperatures, 'Michelin Man Jacket Syndrome' and oddly enough prickly heat rash.  We shopped in the funky little corners of New York, visited a record number of museums in Washington DC, promenaded up and down 'The Strip' in Las Vegas and witnessed some of the biggest waves in the world in Hawaii.

As always, I like to finish each blog with 10 new things I've learned:

1. Always pack less than you think you'll need..... it doesn't matter how many times I write this in the "things I've learned list" I still pack way more than necessary.  I'm a "what if?" type of packer. I feel like I need to take things with me 'just in case'.  I'm getting better at this and hopefully after a few more trips, I'll be down to the bare essentials.

2. It's ok to take time out by yourself.  Even when you're travelling with other people, you don't need to be in each other's pockets 24/7.

3. Always learn the basics in the local language, it's noticeably appreciated.

4.  If you are able to find your favourite toothpaste at a quarter of the cost you have to pay for it at home, it's ok to by 12 tubes.

5. Be nice to kids sitting next to you on the plane.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer..... also, their mum and dad will appreciate it.

6.  Las Vegas is beautiful at night and looks broken during the day.

7.  It doesn't matter how early you get to the airport or if your bags get checked in first, it does not mean that you will get all your bags at your destination.

8.  Hawaii is more beautiful than people say it is.

9.  Elvis Presley made 31 films as an actor.  I really only loved Blue Hawaii, so I didn't know about the other ones.

10. Traveling with old friends (and family) is awesome. 

 Mahalo, Aloha and Noho'ana Hau'ole

Until next time......

Soaking It In

After weeks of Go Go Go, we decided that we needed on day to just chill on the beach.  In front of the Hilton there is a little lake where people can hire paddle boats and stand up paddle boards.  It was very relaxing to sit and people watch.

We were also treated to an impromptu formation of bird flight which was both lovely and frightening.  We thought it was lunch time at Stella Maris Presentation Ladies College all over again, but someone must have been looking down on us as all shoulders, backs and heads were poo free.

We didn't have to look too far for entertainment.  This chap was driving the cherry picker from tree to tree fixing the lights.

People canoeing.


Peeps just cruisin'.

The beautiful scenery.

My nail decorations.

A wedding photographer with his busy camera utility belt with holstered cameras.  He's on his way over to a bride and groom.

This strapping young lad was learning a few baseball skills.  

Does he remind you of anyone from a TV show in the late 80's - early 90's?

There was this guy who had tank planking to a whole new level. 

This poor kid whose parents put is floaties on sideways.

Then there was this young lady in the skimpy bikini who we could not take our eyes off.  She and her boyfriend, who Marie predicted met at the gym, paddled up and down the lake...

...and then did yoga on the paddle board!

So whilst she had hardly anything on and was out in the sun for a good hour and a half with what we could only guess was a mere 15 SPF and we all sat in the shade, or covered by our sarongs wearing hats and 50+SPF for fear of getting the tiniest bit burnt.  

 Pick the Aussies!

Speaking of "pick the Aussies", I think there were possibly more Australians in Hawaii than Hawaiians (except of course, Japanese).  Everywhere we turned, the beach, in a restaurant, on the street, in a shop - there they were - Strayans.  When you're overseas, that's not what you want to hear.  I have to say it takes a bit of the special out of it.

 To make it special again, check out the one piece of culture that we took in as we walked past this live music and hula dancing show.

We just happened to walk past them on the way out to dinner.

And yes, Marie did have food for dinner.  She didn't just feast on this small box of apothecary items.

Shooting Canons

So, here we are waiting yet again for the trolley that is meant to come past every 40 minutes, however that is not the case today.  We think another stern letter is on the cards.

We finally got to Aloha Tower Marketplace, which from Chris' recent trips to Hawaii was a bustling centre of shops and people.  However, when we got there, this is what we found.

You could have shot a canon down the middle of the plaza as most of the shops were closed or empty or abandoned.  There was only one shop selling fridge magnets and souvenirs - score! and a funny and smelly patisserie with only one or two old donuts.  We weren't sure if it was actually one of the abandoned ones or what until an old man followed us into the front door.  He had been sitting out at the tables.  One can't blame him for that with the smell of the shop.

This was as close to people that we came across.

But there was a Hooters restaurant, so that would probably bring the crowds at lunch and dinner times. 

We headed to the next lot of shops, by taxi this time, who knows how long we would have had to wait for the trolley and we came across the TV Shop - you know those shopping channels where you buy the thigh crunchers and the ab rollers?  

Check out some of the winners they were selling in the shop.

 A) for the lady who only needs spanx in the arm region
B) Really?  Buy the whole camisole!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Blue Hawaii

  • Blue Hawaii is definitely on my list of ALL TIME favourite movies.  I have watched it at least 100 times and can recite the movie from beginning to end.  It's odd, because I'm not a massive Elvis fan and haven't seen a lot of his other movies, but this one, for some reason struck a chord with me.  So you can understand my excitement when the green trolley drove through the suburb of Kahala...... where Elvis' family live in the movie.  I desperately searched for his house, but my guess is that it wasn't on the main road, or perhaps even filmed there..... nevertheless, I looked.

    Movie Synopsis
    Chad Gates (Elvis) has just gotten out of the Army, and is happy to be back in Hawaii with his surf-board, his beach buddies, and his girlfriend. His father wants him to go to work at the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company, but Chad is reluctant. So Chad goes to work as a tour guide at his girlfriend's agency.

    Fun and hilarity ensue...

    Scene between Chad's parents, Sarah-Lee (played beautifully by Angela Lansbury in a southern American accent) and Fred Gates: 

    Sarah Lee Gates: Now that Chadwick's home, I'm sure he's got all that foolishness out of his system, after the war.
    Fred Gates: Sarah Lee, how many times do I have to tell you, he was not in a war.
    Sarah Lee Gates: I know you're right, Daddy, but if I don't tell myself there was a war, I have a most depressive feeling Chadwick's just wasted two years.

  • Scene between Chad and Mylee (his Hawaiian girlfriend):

    Chad:   I used to think a lot about this place (the beach).  I was afraid it might change, but it's still beautiful.  This is for me. - Mylee:  You're not going to stay here.
  • Chad:  I got a roof over my head, a cot, a stove...
  • Mylee:  But you've got a beautiful house in Kahala, and a family.
  • Chad:  Let's get this over with.  All the time I was overseas, I got a letter from my folks every week reminding me of my beautiful future in my dad's pineapple business.  And the more they reminded me, the more I knew I couldn't come back

    He wore tight pants and broke into song for no apparent reason. 

  • And always had a following of have naked Hawaiian men in even tighter shorts who carried percussion instruments with them.

    Scene between Chad's parents:

    Sarah Lee Gates: Chadwick think of who you are. Remember you come from a fine family.
    Chad Gates: You'll do enough remembering for both of us, ma.
    Sarah Lee Gates: Oh Daddy, what did we do wrong?
    Fred Gates: Off hand I'd say we got married.

    The spot where Elvis is sitting is pretty much the exact place where we had a picture taken the other day...... this means that we, but transferal of bottom placeage, know Elvis!

    Thank you for the music Elvis.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Just Another Day In Paradise

Posing with Duke whilst we wait for the trolley.  He's obviously a revered man here in Waikiki, everybody puts their leis on or around him.

Sitting and people watching is a fantastic past time.  This man on the right was going to wander through his holiday looking at everything through his phone and the man on the left was jog-dancing.  This is a phrase I've coined when someone is jogging more fancifully than necessary - they're really putting in something special for the people watching.  The photo doesn't do his performance justice, but it was magic to see.

 I've got a question for you...... What is it about us that makes people who are tiny bit special drawn to us?  Is it our seemingly welcoming nature?  Our approachable stance?  Our friendly smiles?

Whatever it is, all sorts of people flock to us like a moth to the flame!  It might be to ask directions, or to tell us their life story on a bus or sometimes it's to ask us if we can read a text! Here's how this interlude went....

We were sitting quietly waiting for the Waikiki trolley when the man sitting on the next bench over got up and approached Chris.

Man: "Excuse me, can you read this text?  It's got no vowels in it.  I took the vowels out." 
(man with Jim Carrey hair cut from his role of Loyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber chuckles to himself as if he's about to prank Chris)

Chris: "Sorry? What do you want me to do?"

Man: "It's got no vowels.  I took the vowels out, can you read it?  I can read it."

Confused, Chris took the phone and read the text.....

'Wake up Uncle Keith and don't think there's a gun there when you wake up."


He then proceeded to tell us the whole story of his Uncle who was drunk and he couldn't wake him up even though he said "wake up" four times.

"Because they could think that there's a gun there and you don't want somebody to wake up suddenly and they have a gun next to them, right?  It would be different if they had a pillow next to them."

I turned to Marie and said, "You know what the saddest thing about this is?  That I'm not one bit surprised that this is happening to us."

Not sure whether or not this man would turn 'nutter' on us or not, I bravely asked if he minded if I took a photo of him.

Me: "Do you mind if I take your picture?"

Him: "No, sure"..... "Oh wait, What kind of website am i going to end up on this time?"

Me: "This time?,  Are you on a lot of websites?"

Him: (sighs)"Well, yeah, The Europeans like to put me on their websites and I've been on a couple American ones and on Asian ones too."

He then launched into this dialogue:

"I can't get a library card (tuts and sighs) because I don't have a Hawaiian ID card so I've found an employee of the library that I can bribe to get one 'cause I don't have a Florida ID either so I have to bribe somebody, but the employee that I can bribe only gets back to work on Tuesday which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I have my passport, but no-one wants to steal my passport cause nobody looks like me.  I like to go to dangerous places like Panama, that's if you call getting robbed and stabbed dangerous cause that happened to me when I went there to Panama.  That's why I don't have my Florida ID, cause it got stolen, you see?

I mean I want to got to Cuba, but I can't because I don't have my ID, you see Cubans can come to American but Americans can't go to Cuba.  Does Cuba care?  No.  Do Americans care? Yes.  It's just like if you have a semi truck licence, you can drive a car, but if you have a car licence, you can not just go and drive a semi.  It does not work both ways. 

Besides the occasional giggle from Marie and myself behind bags, we sat there in silence whilst he went on and on and on.  When we quizzed Chris afterwards and praised her for her patience and understanding towards this man, she responded, "yeah well, you never know with people like that whether he had a gun or a knife.  It's best to just ride it out, be friendly and pray for your trolley to turn up."

The trolley did eventually turn up and it was goodbye Lloyd Christmas.  We did a few turn arounds to make sure Mr Christmas didn't follow us onto the trolley, but he just picked up his belongings and went on his way.... possibly in search of drunk Uncle Keith?

Once we were on the trolley we breathed a sigh of relief and sat back and relaxed whilst we were driven in the direction of the Diamond Head Volcano.

There was much to look at along the way. 

 Our trolley driver was absolutely hysterical.  He made jokes the whole way and told us interesting facts about the surrounds as we drove.

He insisted on taking photos of everybody.

"Give me your camera.  Give it to me."

A couple of quick snaps of the scenery

Then it was back onto the trolley  

 (I thought the girls looked a little like Laverne and Shirley hanging of the trolley)

 This lady was a Japanese tour guide.  There are more Japanese tourists here than I think there are local Hawaiians.  They must love it here.  There are lots of services in Waikiki aimed directly at the Japanese market.

The Waikiki Trolley service runs four different routes around Waikiki and the south of the island.  There were people waiting at all the stops to get on, but because they only hold about 40 people max so unless people get off at your stop, you can't get on and you have to wait for he next trolley.  They meant to come around every 30-40 minutes, depending on the route your on, but in our experience they never ran to schedule.  

The most annoying thing was that when we were waiting for our trolley (there appears to be 2 of each of the 4 colours), about 15 trolleys that were set aside specifically for Japanese tourists would go by with one or two people on them - sometimes they were completely empty. Then when the Waikiki Trolley would eventually turn up, it would be so full that there would be standing room only.  The poor people further along the line couldn't fit on and were told to wait of the next trolley - in about 40-45 minutes.  

We've decided we're going to write a few stern letters to people here about some issues that need to be dealt with. 

 One of the challenges given to us was to climb the rim of Diamond Head Volcano to the very top... 

Well we did a lot of prep work to build up our stamina for this mammoth feat.  It took about an hour to climb from the base to the tip and it felt really good and we're all so glad we did it and ....... Oh, who am I kidding?  We didn't even contemplate climbing it.  The trolley took us to this look out where we posed for photos to appear exhausted and then it drove us down again.

 And we were as happy as Larry about that decision.

There were some lovely views from the lookout.

 And even better ones from the trolley!

As the sun set on this great day we headed down to Dukes for dinner.  We'd been trying to get into Dukes for a few nights running but with the long weekend, they were flat out and just couldn't fit us in.  Even though the restaurant is part of the hotel we're staying in, apparently they don't give any preference to the guests staying in the hotel.  

So the night we finally did get in (after booking 4 days ahead) we got a lovely table overlooking the pool and it was so windy they had to put the plastic barriers down and I went up and got us jumpers because the wind was so cold.  

It made the evening so unenjoyable the only thing we could do was order the Hula Pie - the Duke's Special to cheer ourselves up.

That night, after the girls had gone to sleep and I stayed up a bit listening to the wind and the waves and the rain which was coming in sideways directly in our balcony doors.  It was quite the storm.  The palm trees were barely holding on and were flapping around wildly.

These following three photos are not mine, but they look like what was going on out there.

Well, maybe not this one, but it's a cool pic.