Posts Tagged With: family

The Hawaii Diaries: Day 12 – Tantrums & Tsunamis

Day 12 – 25th October 2012 – Honolulu

Back to Waikiki and the beloved Banyan Tree. Ben andI go for a surf in the morning and in the afternoon to celebrate our last day in Hawaii. In between the surf, Dad and I go on a bit of a shopping spree fun.

My surfing has improved dramatically despite not being able to surf whilst on the cruise. During the afternoon surf session a man and a younger guy start to paddle for a wave that I’ve already started paddling hard for (and I’m much further out than them). As it is I’m paddling to the furthest left side of the hundreds of Waikiki surfers due to plain intimidation or fear of causing an accident. I decide to keep paddling towards these guys and I’m certain they must know surfing etiquette if I do, right? Since I can only surf in a straight line I’m sure they will veer away. Of course I was wrong – both guys stand on their boards less than a metre from me and keep going on the wave. As per usual I totally nosedive before even standing. On my way back out I see the older guy staring at me. As I keep paddling he says “I hope you are heading out that way”, indicating even further away from everyone else. I ask, “Why?” and he says “because you are DANGEROUS!” so again, not being a confrontational person I ask “why?” and he says I almost crashed into two people.

Not quite understanding whether I was in the wrong and being too scared to stand up for myself I paddled off, heart beating hard. Ben was out further so I paddled to him and explained what had happened. We could see the man was making snide remarks about me to the younger guy and I was getting really worked up! Ben slowly paddled closer to the guy to try and overhear him and then caught a wave. Unsurprisingly, the older guy cut in on Ben too but mid way when they are both standing Ben calls out “my sister isn’t dangerous!”, unfortunately the older guy didn’t hear him and when they were paddling back out he called, “what’d ya say buddy?” and Ben repeated himself. What prevailed was quite amusing, although not at the time. Ben and the older guy had a bit of a splashing war. The man finally heads into shore and I’m scared he has gone to get back up. I’ve now lost my confidence  and so decide to head in. Ben says he will follow me. I can’t find Ben on the shore when I’ve handed in my board for at least another 30 minutes. Watching the sunset I’m starting to visualise this guy getting some island friends to come and sort my brother out. Contemplating my options he finally comes in – Phew!! Crisis over. I will be practicing my surfing in isolation now.

Looking back this is the funniest story of the trip. It was just so comedic watching them splash around – both as serious as the other. Needless to say I haven’t been surfing since.

If only that was the most eventful part of the day…

We go to Waikiki’s only revolving restaurant for dinner. It’s the best food we’ve had so far. During our meal our waiter tells us there has been a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Canada and all of Hawaii has a tsunami warning! We are used to warnings that never eventuate having grown up in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Queensland so we don’t rush back to the hotel. When we get there we go to our separate rooms after the concierge has assured us it is likely nothing will eventuate. Mum starts stressing out and comes to our room yelling that we are going to be evacuated and to start packing up because we need to find a hill. Her eyes are wide and wild. She spends too much time listening to crazy people in the lifts. We finally convince her to leave our room.

It’s one hour until the supposed tsunami will hit and Ben and I have the news on. It seems like a very serious matter as it is all that is on TV. There are reports that tsunami alarms have failed to go off on some of the islands and as there was a bad tsunami the year before after the Japan earthquake everyone is on edge. Ben and I are still convinced that it is a false alarm when mum calls us again pleading for us to come to the sixth floor. We refuse as are beds are so comfy and we are absolutely exhausted.

Finally, after another four calls mum and dad decide to knock on our door. Dad calls reception and they tell us we should have heard the warnings to evacuate (none of us heard any announcements) and that we needed to immediately head to the ballroom. When we get there people are prepared for the long-haul – Food and water rations are being provided which everyone rushes too and greedily takes more than their fair share, even though they would have just eaten dinner. Bedding is also supplied. It’s like a scene from a movie and I can imagine everyone slowly plotting against each other to ensure their own survival.

People are finding their own space where they can and creating make-shift beds or gathering around the TV. We finally realise this isn’t going to go away easily so I go to sleep under the table. I’m woken at 1am and told it is all over. The tsunami never hit, although waves were reported to be larger than normal.

Off to bed silently hoping our flight home tomorrow is cancelled. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 10 – Kawaii

Day 10: 23rd October 2012 – Kawaii

I’ve read about a beach called Hanelei Bay which regularly wins best beach in America awards. This is also the garden island so we decide to go for a bit of a drive. This is where Jurassic Park was filmed and it isn’t hard to see why – it looks exactly like it does in the movies.

The beach is huge and the drive is scenic. We spend the day relaxing and hanging out in the area. It was nice to have a quiet day with the family consisting of lounging, swimming, card games and beautiful Mexican food. What a life!

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– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 9 – Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii

Day 9: 22nd October 2012 – Kona

As the others are sleeping in I go to the mainland to find some decent coffee. We agree to meet at Starbucks at midday. As the name suggests, this is the largest island and as such, Hilo is quite a populated area with everything from Burger King (more about that later), to Starbucks to designer outlets.

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I find myself a coffee and walk through the farmers market – there are so many exotic fruit and vegetables. I buy a HUGE mango, a custard apple and some delicious Phillipino bananas. The bananas are actually grown on the island despite the name, but I’m told by the friendly shop keeper that there are over 300 species available. I taste test some and am so impressed bananas can be so delicious, they are much nicer and sweeter than Australian bananas.

I hike up to Starbucks to meet the family – if I had of known it was such a hike I would have suggested somewhere else. The humidity makes even the shortest walk almost unbearable. Whilst sweating profusely on the walk I decide that I could live on this island, even if it was just for a few months. There are so many outdoor activities; I could spend my Summer hiking, swimming, surfing and eating amazing fresh produce. I try to weigh up my current planned tour of Asia with a summer on a tropical island – both appeal to me a lot.

Mum and dad decide to the back to the boat to relax as it is so hot so Ben and I hire scooters and go for a ride. There are some awesome waves and we go to Turtle Bay for a quick dip where I spot a few turtles within minutes. They are so close to shore in a highly populated beach and most are in less than a metre of water. Truly impressive.

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At one point in the day we stop at Burger King. It was cheaper to buy all this than to opt for a smaller meal...

At one point in the day we stop at Burger King. It was cheaper to buy all this than to opt for a smaller meal…

We drive further and find volcanic rocks where the swell hits and gushes over the top. It may not sound that impressive but the waves and impact was huge and made some great photos.IMG_3023

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 7 – The Infamous Road to Hana, Muai, Hawaii

 Day 7: 20th October 2012 – Maui

In preparation for our trip I read Lonely Planet’s Hawaii travel guide and was transported by their description of The Road to Hana in Maui…

“Of all the jaw-dropping dramatic drives in Hawaii, this is the Big Kahuna. A roller coaster of a ride, the Hana Hwy winds down into jungly valleys and back up towering cliffs, curling around 600 twists and turns along the way. Fifty-four one-lane bridges cross nearly as many waterfalls – some eye-popping torrents, others so gentle they beg a dip. But the ride’s only half the thrill. Get out and swim in a Zen-like pool, hike a ginger-scented trail and explore the wonders along the way.”

Completely mesmerised, it wasn’t hard to convince the rest of the family that this should be on our must-do on Maui list. The ship had its own tour, but we had been warned the day before it was a ten-hour drive and that the passengers had felt that it wasn’t the best way to see the journey as the stops were limited and it was a long time to be on a bus. As such, we hired our own car.

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It didn’t take long before we saw that Lonely Planet’s description was appropriate – the road was littered with waterfalls, beaches, stunning greenery and great views.

Our first stop was at Twin Waterfalls which was on private land but open to the public for free. The owners had cleverly built a juice stand at the entrance though, as the forty minute walk to the waterfalls and back in the humidity certainly had everyone lining up for fresh coconut juices and fruit. I found it quite amusing that they took credit card there when we thought we were in an untouched part of the island and it was literally a little wooden shack.

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Our next stop was lunch at a ‘plate-lunch’ stop on the side of the road which had BBQ’d chickens. The men cooking had a trailer on the back of their car with a BBQ on it and would sit listening to music until the next car stopped to eat. The food was delicious and we sat on a rock fence on top of a cliff staring straight out to sea. It was such a great view and great food – I still have cravings for that chicken to this day.

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Another noteworthy stop was Black Sand Beach which was visually spectacular with the beach being black pebbles the size of potatoes formed from volcanoes set against the lush trees and the blue surf. There were also a lot of sea caves and Ben and I went for a quick dip but the beach was quite rough and chilly.

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As the saying goes, it is all about the journey, rather than the destination. A typical tour of the Road to Hana does not stop at Hana and continues past to many more beautiful natural attractions including Seven Lakes which was recommended to us, however, we couldn’t miss our curfew and have the ship leave us behind so dad rushed back, causing me incredible car-sickness which was not pleasant.

The Road to Hana was one of my favourite parts of our holiday. If I were to do it again though, I’d make sure we left first thing in the morning; we were held up by problems with car hire. This also means you beat all the tour buses – on a one lane road you do not want to be stuck behind them! You also need to plan the trip carefully – there are so many sights to stop at, it is impossible to see all in a one day trip, especially if you have a curfew like us and I wouldn’t choose to drive that road at night or in the rain.

It is hard not to imagine yourself living an island life after spending time at Maui, if that doesn’t relax you I don’t know what will.

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 5 – Boarding the Pride of America Cruise Ship

Day 5: 18th October 2012

Ship day!

Ben and I went shopping to Ala Moana – the largest shopping centre in Hawaii but were sadly disappointed. It wasn’t anything special and we lasted less than two hours which is very unusual for us.

Then it was time to board our ship –  the Pride of America for a seven-day trip around a few of the Hawaiian islands. We got lei’d again and spent the afternoon exploring the ship. Ben and I shared a room and it had its own balcony which I’d recommend as whilst the room was bigger than I expected it still was a tight squeeze and it was nice to be able to enjoy the vista by ourselves or enjoy a vino while the sun set. The ship even had its own basketball court, 14 restaurants and lots of shows. Mum and I watched the opening show that night which was great but since we were so tired we were in bed by 9:30pm. 3815_10151153099942587_764714934_n

Our itinerary:Courtesy of ncl.com

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 4 – Jetskiing in Honolulu

Day 4: 18th October 2012

Today we had a very relaxing day and finally a sleep in as jet-skiing wasn’t until the afternoon.

Another surf – my muscles were killing me but bring it! I am determined to be a surfer if it kills me.

Our hotel, the Moana Surfrider was built in the early 1900’s, in it’s centre courtyard overlooking Waikiki beach stands a huge Banyan tree which shades the tables and hotel bar. I spent hours here reading, eating nachos and drinking my favourite Pina Coladas (nowhere makes them as good as the Moana Surfrider hotel!)

Source: http://www.moana-surfrider.com/

Source: http:/www.moana-surfrider.com/

 Source: http://www.moana-surfrider.com/

The beautiful Bayan tree:

Source: www.gohawaii.about.com    Source: www.travelandleisure.com

Jet-skiing was  bit more legit than Lucy’s establishment. The men were lovely (as all Hawaiians seem to be, even though dad keeps reminding Ben and I that it was the Hawaiian’s that killed Captain Cook).

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Ben and I shared our own jet ski and so did mum and dad. Mum didn’t last long on the ski though. I let Ben drive first and being a typical male he had to go fast and wild and ended up throwing us both off and I lost my sunglasses. After that I let him ride by himself and then I had my go. It was much easier to drive without him and lots of fun. Dad loved it too – hopefully he buys us one!

On the way back into shore we ran into a little Hawaiian girl who had found some very young stray kittens. She decided to wash them (in the waves) and carried hem around like shopping bags in either hand. All of the jet-skiiers were entertained but worried about their safety (even dad intervened and he hates stray cats). Hopefully they made it through the night.

We had a Korean BBQ for dinner, which meant we cooked our own on a BBQ plate which was delicious. We just can’t get over how fresh and tasty the food is in Hawaii.

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 2 & 3 – Pearl Habor & Hanauma Bay Snorkelling

Day 2: 16th October 2012

Up at a ridiculous hour to go to Pearl Harbour (Harbor for some). We soon learn that Hawaiian coffee is bitter and strong and proved quite hard to find a decent one much to our disappointment. In serious need of a good coffee hit we did finally stumble upon Island Vintage Coffee. The coffee here was smooth and creamy and the food was always fresh. I can highly recommend the cafe and their Acai bowls; I think I became their best customer as I was always awake well before the others and knew if I waited there long enough they would turn up – the never did disappoint!

The delicious food at Island Vintage Coffee

Our Pearl Harbour tour was a long one, it was organised with the rest of our booking Flight Centre. We had a great tour guide who knew what he was doing but because of the crowds there was a lot of waiting around in extreme heat and minimal shade. The historical video and the floating memorial were really interesting and the tour also included a bit of sightseeing around Honolulu but because Honolulu traffic is always at peak house it was quite slow. The day was worth it for me, but if you are in Hawaii purely to relax and you’re not really interested in history (no judgement passed – it is your holiday!) then I probably wouldn’t suggest it.

One of the last remaining battleships. This ship was used in the movie Battlship     Remains from the Pearl Harbour attack

That afternoon meant another surf and I was quite fatigued from the day before so struggled to have a strong paddle but caught a couple of waves.

Day 3: 17th October 2012

Up quite early again (Ben was not happy!) for a day of snorkelling.

Our tour driver to Hanauma Bay for snorkelling was a Vietnamese lady who told us her name was Lucy. We then named her Lucy Do after the Australian/ Vietnamese Anh Do as she was out there… I’m not even sure how to describe it in words other than to say she was definitely quite the character who spoke a million miles a minute. The extent of her instructions for snorkelling were to “not breathe through the nose” and to “just think about it”.  We found out later that her tour was a bit on the dodgy side – she didn’t have a permit to enter the bay so parked in a random car park and made us walk up a very steep hill.

Hanauma Bay

When we got to Hanauma Bay it was beautiful (but so dry and hot!). I had never been snorkelling on a reef before and although the coral wasn’t very colourful there were fish everywhere. It was amazing. Ben and I even saw a couple of turtles. The bay is a key tourist destination so there are a lot of people around; I was surprised that there was still so much wildlife.

The family waiting for Lucy to wake up

When we got back to Lucy’s van she was asleep in the back and so of course dad stared at her, at which point she instantly woke up. Lucy had to slap herself in the face numerous times to freshen up – it was quite comical.

Another day, another surf… minimal progress.

Wish you were here xx

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A note for my father…

Dear dad,

If I happen to go missing somewhere among the crazy streets of Bangkok, the remote Koh Tao island, the isolated Kerala backwaters, or trekking through the Himalayas please watch the movies below and do exactly what Liam Neeson does.

Love,

Abby xx

P.S. You can consider me missing if you haven’t heard from me for three consecutive days… not three consecutive minutes.

                        image                                              film-poster

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 1 – Aloha Waikiki, Honolulu

Day 1: 15 October, 2012

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Lei’s and island beads

After a long plane ride I arrive in Honolulu with my mother, father and younger brother. We all were lei’d at the airport, and to my brother’s disappointment, this was the only action he got on the trip – which was actually lucky for me since we were sharing a room! The family was in Hawaii for a two-week holiday to celebrate my parent’s retirement and to have one last family holiday before my brother and I flew the coop (finally).

IMG_2752Ben and I... can you tell we've been flying for a while?!

The drive to Waikiki, Honolulu isn’t long but we can see Honolulu itself is quite run down and has a lower standard of living than Australia. We notice that there seems to be something missing that we are used to – mass advertising! We didn’t see any billboards, sign written cars etc. We asked our taxi driver about this and he mentioned that a law was passed to stop people from advertising in a way that detracts from Hawaii’s beauty. I must admit, it’s nice not having marketing unwilling thrown at you.

Waikiki is a completely different story than the rest of Honolulu; being the tourist mecca it is not run down at all and the main drag is filled with shops, palm trees and places to eat. At night torches are lit and hula girls dance the night away for your entertainment alongside a magnitude of buskers, some with macaws  that just seem so out-of-place being on a busy street rather than in a rainforest.

Source: Theage.com.au

Waikiki Beach
Source: Theage.com.au

The shops are open until late every night as people lay on the beach all day and socialise all night. One block away from the esplanade (away from the beach) the street is lined with run down apartment blocks – it’s hard to believe it is still Waikiki! On the other side of the street is the famous and pristine Waikiki beach – just as beautiful as the postcards.

Pina coladas

Pina coladas

We checked in at the The Moana Surfrider Hotel and had a very relaxing day under the Banyan tree, drinking pina coladas and watching the surf. My brother, Ben and I decided to rent to some long boards. This was the first time I’ve tried surfing since highschool – needless to say it was quite entertaining. I managed to stand up pretty fast, albeit not very well. Still on an adrenaline high we made a pact to surf every day, I was convinced I’d pass as an extra from the movie Blue Crush in no time. There are always at least 100 surfers at Waikiki, so I was a bit intimidated and just took my time and tried to learn some tips off the pros but all I seemed to learn was how to fall off!

Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe

That night being pretty jet-lagged we walked to Hard Rock Cafe – the first time we had eaten there. We weren’t very impressed with the food but the atmosphere and cocktails was a lot of fun.

– Wish you were here xx

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Hula’ing in Hawaii

I recently had the opportunity to go to Hawaii for two weeks with my family. The trip was made up of one week in Waikiki and one week on a cruise boat visiting most of the islands. Below are a few of my favourite memories from the trip. I’ll post my travel diaries over the coming weeks too.

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Relaxing in Waikiki. Our hotel was right on the water and it was great to wake up first thing in the morning and see all of the surfers out and about. Sipping a Hawaiian coffee while having a beach stroll was how I spent most of my mornings as I was the only early riser in the group. Waikiki beach gets pretty busy so it was nice to not have to compete for space this early.

The food is so fresh and diverse in Hawaii, even on the smaller islands. There is a strong Japanese influence, so we ate a lot of sashimi which just melted in our mouths and I also ventured to a farmer’s market where one store had 33 varieties of banana. Pineapple is served with almost everything and it makes the Australian varieties taste like cardboard in comparison. The food stalls on the side of the road with traditional meal plates, consisting of meat and rice, and sometimes vegetables was delicious. We had smoked chicken from a stall in the middle of the Road to Hana, three hours from any larger towns. The thought of it still makes my mouth water.

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When most people think of Hawaii they think of hula, lei’s and cocktails. I can certify that I did get lei’d numerous times and the cocktails are amazing. It’s a local saying that ‘a Pina Colada a day keeps the doctor away’. OK, maybe that’s just my saying, but hey it worked and I still reminisce about sitting under the Banyan tree, drinking Pina Coladas and watching the bikini/board-short-clad world go by.

The snorkelling. I’ll post specific details later, but it felt like if you popped on a snorkel and went for a swim you were bound to see something! We did snorkel tours and our own snorkelling. Whilst the coral isn’t anywhere near as colourful as Australia’s, the fish were plentiful, vivid and tropical. I even was lucky enough to spot an octopus, eel and too many large turtles to count.

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Volcano National Park. Even though I’ve seen plenty of volcanoes after living in New Zealand , I found Volcano National Park spectacular – when you walk through the huge crater you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. We did a great 6km hike (despite me being severely hung over after one too many Pina Coladas) which involved a climb through lava caves, a hike into the crater and then a trip to a local waterfall.

IMG_2822Hula dances and ukulele performances. The Hawaiian people are always friendly and willing to help. Sure they take their time, but it’s island time and if you don’t plan on slowing down in Hawaii you are probably in the wrong place.

Learning to surf. You can’t go to Hawaii and not try to get on a surfboard. I’ve never seen so many surfers in one place as there are in Waikiki. The local surfer boys make it look so easy, especially when surfing alongside the tourists who seem to have a beacon pointing at them. Watching them fall off their boards was as entertaining as watching the naturals. I must admit I was part of the beacon group, but with a bit of practice every day and my brother’s feeble attempts at coaching; ‘you just gotta stand up!’ I did slowly improve and was only involved in one surfing altercation which my brother attended to for me (cue two macho men splashing each other in the water – hilarious!)

Most importantly are the family memories. As you get older, the opportunities to spend time with your family are less and less. This trip was perfectly timed as my brother moved to Canada the following month and I’m about to head off on another overseas jaunt so it gave us all some new memories to cherish. Impressively, there was only one drama between my brother and I over the two weeks, involving car sickness and the Road to Hana but that’s a story for another time. I guess we must be getting more mature in our old age… or everyone’s assumption that we were on our honeymoon gave us our own honeymoon period… after we had been suitably grossed out of course.

There are many more things I could list – Hawaii is a great place in that there is something for everyone to do, and I loved going somewhere that one day we could be in the middle of Honolulu and the next on a boat in the middle of nowhere free diving amongst 1000’s of fish or even climbing volcanoes. I would love to be back sitting under the Banyan tree drinking a Pina Colada silently observing…

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