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Published: November 7th 2014
Sunset over the marina
I'm a sucker for a sunset, glad we saw this on Nikki's birthday
After a 26 hour journey including a 6 hour stopover in L.A. we finally made it to Honolulu just in time for dinner and bed. As far as long journeys go this one was pretty easy, no particular reason why, it just was, or maybe I’m such an experienced traveller now that long journeys don’t bother me anymore….
Nope, definitely luck!
Our hotel, The Modern Honolulu, was the perfect location. Our room overlooked not only Waikiki Beach but the marina and lagoon too. Service, as you would expect at a top hotel, was impeccable. Decorated immaculately with everything you could want within the confines of a hotel.
Due to our monster journey we decided to dedicate the first two days to rest and relaxation. Sunbathing, eating and pampering in the spa took up most of our time. The first morning we spent in Hawaii was Nikki’s birthday and what beautiful scenery to wake up to. The sun was scorching in Honolulu, the only other place I’ve felt that uncomfortable in the sun was in 42 degree heat in Rio De Janiero.
Luckily/unluckily there wasn’t a day we spent in
Hawaii without rain. As Brits we hate rain as we live with it almost 12 months a year in the UK but in Hawaii it was welcomed as it was the only thing giving you respite from the heat.
Our first two nights were spent watching the sunset and eating the most amazing food. On our third day in Hawaii we went to Big Island (Please go to our Big Island blog to read about that).
Day four was another sightseeing day, to Honolulu’s biggest tourist attraction, Pearl Harbour. There are a number of things you can see and do when you visit Pearl Harbour. The obvious first choice is paying your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial, the ship still lays where it sank all those years ago with the bodies of over 900 people still entombed within it. When you get your ticket to be taken to the memorial a 25 minute film, made of actual footage of the attack, is shown.
I wish I could put into words the emotions you feel watching that video, shock, upset, disbelief, no words can do justice to what happened that day.
As everyone leaves the cinema theatre to make their way to the boat everyone is silent still, marking their respect for those killed.
The USS Arizona is still, to this day, leaking oil, some say it is the ship weeping waiting for the last of the survivors to be buried along with their ship mates. Currently, there are nine survivors left, the tenth survivor died last month and chose to be buried within the USS Arizona. This is an option all survivors have since the 70’s, many people think that more of the survivors would have been buried on the Arizona had they had the option before the 70’s.
As you approach the memorial by boat you can see part of the ship poking out from the water. The memorial itself is built over the ship and has no windows, allowing you to get an uninterrupted view of the ship sat in the shallow waters of the harbour.
At the far end of the memorial is a marble wall with the names of all of the people killed on the ship that day. Unfortunately it had been taken down for restoration
when we visited so a printed version of the list was on display instead.
A worker at the memorial told us about a few of the names on the list.
One man was known as ‘The unluckiest man in Pearl Harbour’ as he wasn’t even an officer on the ship. As a lot of young sailors do, he was drinking in a bar one night and got into a drunken fight. He was arrested and given the punishment of a week in the hold of the ship. The hold is located almost exactly where the bomb hit, meaning he was probably incinerated instantly upon impact, his name is the only one on the list not to have been an officer of the ship killed on that day.
Another name he mentioned was the luckiest man that day. This man was on the deck when the bomb hit the Arizona, causing him to be knocked off, into the water. He was knocked unconscious but managed not to drown, when he woke up he swam over to the ship next to it, through oil that had ignited due to the explosion, where he
was pulled to safety. That ship also sank and he became known as the only man to survive two ships sinking that day.
He was unfortunately plagued with guilt for surviving, something many of the survivors suffered with. He received treatment for his wounds and reenlisted in the army to fight once again. When he eventually died he opted to be buried within the ship, to join his friends where he felt he should have been all along.
The last story told was that of the name of a child, a young girl whose father was an officer on the ship. She lays entombed within the ship as she died when she was a child. Her father took her ashes with him on the ship. When the bomb struck her ashes remained on the ship so her name is included on the list of people entombed on the ship. That girl had a twin and every year her twin visits the memorial and lays flowers for her sister and her father and also thanks the other officers who look after her sister in her final burial place.
There are hundreds of
stories of the people that died that day, I learned about just a few.
After paying our respects at the USS Arizona we visited the Bowfin submarine, you can actually go inside the submarine and see what it was like for those that lived and worked on board. I wouldn’t have lasted a day on a submarine nor would anyone with even a hint of claustrophobia.
Finally we visited the ship the USS Missouri, this nearly 900 foot long ship survived the bombing of Pearl Harbour and went on to fight in other wars. This ship was also the place where Japan signed to surrender. The exact spot in which the declaration was signed is marked with a plaque.
This ship is worth visiting not only because of its historical importance but because of its sheer size. It certainly puts into perspective how daunting it would feel going to war trying to fight against it.
The whole day at Pearl Harbour humbled me probably more so than any other sight I have visited.
The following day we visited the Polynesian Cultural Centre. I hadn’t really
done much research into the centre before visiting Hawaii so knew very little about it.
Hawaii is at the northern tip of the Polynesian triangle and the centre educates and entertains people with traditions, dances and languages of all of the places within the triangle. Near the start of the day you are informed that 70% of the workers at the centre are students at the local university. You are told this as a majority of the money the cultural centre makes goes towards the scholarships of its students. Students that are from one of the countries within the Polynesian triangle that cannot afford a university education. As the day passed and we visited more of the centre I noticed one part was closed. I asked why, our tour guide who is also one of the 70% of students, informed me that they did not have enough people from that particular country at the university and wouldn’t want to give visitors an experience that wasn’t 100% authentic from that country.
I think that is amazing!!!
Not only are you educated and entertained on separate Polynesian cultures but you are taught by
people from that particular, very remote, country AND the proceeds of the centre go towards educating those students, giving them an education they probably would never have gotten in their own country.
After a day of visiting numerous different “countries” within the centre everyone sits down for a traditional Hawaiian luau. After that is a show that the students act, sing and dance in. The university is not a university for just art students, dancers etc. It is for business, IT and a range of other courses. But regardless of which course they study ALL students must work at the centre as part of their scholarship.
I used to teach fitness lessons to a performing arts school.
I know the type of training that dancers and actors receive.
The show at the Polynesian centre was as good as any show I have seen in London’s theatre land and most of these students do not even study performing arts!!!
From start to finish the trip to the Polynesian Cultural Centre lasted 12 hours, so prepare yourself for a long day. It is on the ‘wet’ side
On the USS Missouri with the USS Arizona memorial in the background
of the island, so dress accordingly. But it was definitely one of the highlights of our visit to Hawaii.
Summarising my experience of Hawaii.
It was sunny and rainy.
It was HUGELY expensive.
The visit to Pearl Harbour was good, not amazing, but good.
The visit to the Polynesian Cultural Centre was a long day but was good and certainly worth it.
Including my trip to Big Island I would have to say that noting about Hawaii made me go “Oooooooh” or “Ahhhhhhhhh” I didn’t dislike anything about Hawaii (except maybe the price and journey to get there).
I can’t fault Hawaii at all but it just didn’t have the wow factor for us.
Being completely on the fence, nether disliking or liking Hawaii, meant it was a completely neutral place.
It had the ‘neutral’ factor.
Nikki and I both agreed as we were leaving that we enjoyed our time in Hawaii, it was ok, but neither of us will miss it and we were more than ready to leave.
Another destination ticked off the list but I’m SO glad we used it as a long stop over for our ultimate destination, Truk Lagoon in Micronesia, otherwise travelling all that way just for Hawaii would have been a disappointment.
Roll on Truk and wreck diving!
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