26th – 30th June ’12 Leaving The Big Island and back to Oahu and Waikiki Beach, our last few days in Hawaii.
Another 48 seater plane back to Honolulu Airport and then another interminable bus journey back to Waikiki! This time we are staying at The Royal Grove, one of the original 1950’s hotels, which hasn’t had anything done to it since then I reckon! It’s a great location, only one block from the beach and close to all the shops and restaurants and for Waikiki are bargin price – which is why we are staying there rather than the lovely Aloha Surf! I sometimes think it’s almost better never to have a taste of luxury, as that way you don’t know what you’re missing. Anyway our little pink hotel is surrounded by huge modern skyscrapers and is pretty basic but you get what you pay for. The evening’s entertainment is provided by sitting in the lobby (only place you can get wifi) and listening to the woman on the desk talk at the top of her voice to her friends about what she’s been up to!!
We walked down to the International Market where they have a food
court and got ourselves some bargain Chinese for tea. Afterwards we found a group, singing and playing Hawaiian music with 3 dancers performing as well – all of this taking place outside in a beautiful courtyard garden of one of the big posh hotels, that was open to the public. We watched for a while and much to my surprise one of the dancers came over to me said ‘Aloha’ and put a leis (flower garland) over my head – I was well chuffed!
27th June ’12 Waikiki
Down to the beach, the surf wasn’t really up, but we just spent a lazy day sunbathing and swimming and got slightly burnt! Back to the food court for tea again, back to the hotel and a final session on the internet, being entertained by the girl on the desk once again!
28th June ’12 Waikiki
Having read about how easy and cheap it was to travel around Oahu by bus we decided to give it a go. Being a bit wary about the length of time it takes to get anywhere within the city limits we decided to head east along the coast and check out some
beaches. The buses charge $2.50 a journey no matter how far you are going and if you need to change buses to get to your destination you can have one free transfer which is a pretty good deal.
We just sat on the bus looking at the views along some pretty and rugged coastline, we passed a couple of beaches and a marine reserve then suddenly spotted this long, white sandy beach with really pounding waves which looked heavenly so just jumped off.
We had arrived at Sandy Beach, which we subsequently found out was one of Barrack Obama’s favourite childhood places no less. Although there were a lot of people there the beach was so long you didn’t feel crowded at all. Out at sea were loads of people bobbing about on surf and body boards and nearer to the beach were lots of people being thrown around in the massive waves!
The beach was littered with red warning signs, advising of the dangerous current and strong waves. We sat for quite some time just watching the waves and the antics of the people in the sea. Soon we were baking hot and decided to go
in for a dip... and i was knocked off my feet immediately, got up again and got knocked straight over again! Howard reckons I really went flying, he was trying to pull me up but I couldn’t see as I was covered in sand – it was like 2 years worth of exfoliating in 2 seconds!! Suddenly this voice boomed out of a loud hailer saying if you are not used to these waves they can be dangerous, there have been a lot of back and neck injuries, there is a nice beach for swimming 10 minutes down the road!! Well i was already trying to get out of the sea, he only needed to add i am talking to the fat, old woman and my mortification would have been complete! Back on the sand i couldnt stop laughing, we had been there about 40 minutes and hadn’t heard any announcements before we went in the sea, we did hear one other announcement just before we left and that was saying similar things but addressed to parents of small children!!
So feeling slightly battered and bruised we made our way back over the road to the bus stop where
we sat and waited and waited for a bus, 45 minutes later one finally turned up. So I have no doubt you can get right round the island for $2.50 but I reckon it might take you one week non-stop to do it!!
Once we were back at the hotel I went in the shower and approximately half a ton of sand emptied itself from various nooks and crannys into the tub!
29th June ’12 Waikiki
Today was another combination of beach and moving to a different hotel – The Royal Grove had only been available for 3 out of the 4 nights we had left in Waikiki. So we moved quite a long way down the road back in the direction of Honolulu to the Maile Sky Tower, which was a giant of a skyscraper and apart from us the place seemed to be full of Korean tour groups. It had a pool on the 5th floor and we were on the 12th but it went up to 48 floors!
It was a nice place but kind of lacked the old worldy charm of the Royal Grove and instead of hearing about the girl on
Oahu - Waikiki
Old film posters, love 'em!
the desks activities we were assaulted by a stream of Korean spoken at full blast!
30th June ’12 Waikiki to Alaska
As our flight wasn’t until 9pm we had booked places on the USS Arizona Pearl Harbour Memorial Tour for today. Actually we knew you had to get tickets to do this but didn’t find out until we arrived back in Waikiki that you could actually book them on line, as soon as we tried to we discovered that they were all full until 12pm today, but it worked out well.
We caught the city bus out to Pearl Harbour which took about 1 hour with all the stops. The first thing we did was find the bag store, as you are not allowed to take anything other than your camera and a clear bottle of water in with you. Then we went into the site and picked up our tour tickets, which had to be collected one hour before the tour starts – otherwise your places are given away.
Along the harbour side are lots of moving memorials to the thousands who died in the attack, there are boards of original photos showing glimpses of
what happened on the day and the positions of various ships and airfields in the area. With roll calls of ships and crew that were lost.
There was a really good museum which explained the history of the time and lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbour, both from the American and Japanese perspective and the subsequent impact of the attack on the American people and their involvement in the second world war.
The tour started off with an excellent film which used actual footage from the time, both American and Japanese and really brought home the horror and devastation caused – both to the armed forces and the civilian population. The shot of a grinning young American sailor on his ship, the troops on recreation in Waikiki, the Japanese Airmen preparing to set off on their mission and then the destruction and horror – men being pulled out of the sea which was alight with burning oil, and once again I found myself with tears rolling down my cheeks. It was extremely thought provoking and moving.
We were then taken out on a navy craft to the USS Arizona Memorial site, where a structure has
been built above the remains of the ship, which you can see quite clearly, even today you could see small oil escapes from the sunken ship floating on the surface of the sea. There was a memorial wall which listed all the names of the crew which died that day and are still entombed in the wreckage. It was made very clear on the journey across that there was to be no loud talking etc as this was the final resting place of all those 1,158 men and respect should be shown. It didn’t stop lots of people posing, laughing for photos though, we took a couple of grim faced shots but even that felt wrong.
Back on the harbour side again we had to make our way back to the bus stop but had we more time there were other sites you could have visited such as the Bowfin submarine and the USS Missouri.
I was glad we had visited Pearl Harbour but I could do without be faced by the realities of the horrors of war, so Howard reminded me we have yet to visit Hiroshima.
Later that night we took the bus (thankfully for
the last time) to Honolulu Airport, which I have to say is one of the strangest, most poorly signposted airports I have ever been to. After a bit of traipsing around we found the Alaskan Airlines desk, got rid of our rucksacks and got our tickets. The flight was on time hooray.
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