O'Ahu - Honolulu


We’re in Hawaii…tell me again how we ended up on the old number 2 bus?


Somehow, after only a few hours…and most of them spent sleeping…the hotel rooms looks as though we have moved in or been robbed.  We reorganize the chaos of clothes and repack our bags for the final time on this trip.  After breakfast we drop our bags at reception and set out to make the most of the day.  Our evening flight home allows us one day to see as much of O’ahu as possible.   

First, we arrange to take a shuttle to Pearl Harbor.  We request a 13.30 shuttle pickup from the site, hoping that the monument tour isn’t too busy.  Even though we go straight to get tickets for the USS Arizona, the earliest time slot available is hours away.  Since I’m far more resourceful in English than German, I negotiate us a spot in the next tour, departing momentarily.  The 75 minute tour starts with a short film honouring the fallen soldiers and explaining the history of the attack (incorporating both US and Japanese film footage from the time -  a Park Ranger explains that the Japanese were forced to provide all intelligence related to the Pearl Harbor attack as part of their eventual surrender). After the film, the group is taken by boat to the offshore memorial, built over the sunken midsection of the USS Arizona.  We are both pleased we saw the memorial and agree that the film was well done, appropriately setting the tone for the visit to the sunken boat and shrine. 


At the USS Arizona Memorial

Our Lonely Planet guide suggests that one can’t claim to have really gotten to know O’ahu if he or she never leaves Waikiki.  Not ones to miss out on something, we ask to be dropped off in Chinatown.  Since we are the only ones in the shuttle, we start chatting with the driver…and he turns out to be hilarious in a completely crazy kind of way.  Excited to learn we are from Switzerland, he chats animatedly about his friends from Switzerland…at one point he fist pumps MG (while driving) to complement him for snagging me and claims to know that “all Swiss dudes are real lady hunters”.  He shares stories of his Canadian girlfriend once I confirm I am from Canada…apparently he “wined and dined” his girl at Niagara Falls, so she would never forget him.  Later in the ride, when he asks MG his name, he laughs because he ALSO has a friend with the same name that used to regularly sing the Lion King song (not sure if he meant Hakuna Matata or the Elton John one…but thought  we better not ask)…apparently it was quite a hilarious performance.  Eventually, we reach Chinatown and wave goodbye to our instant friend. 

Chinatown, unfortunately, turns out to be a bust.  Missing the vibrant colours and fragrant markets we were expecting, we abandon the walking tour and have a quick noodle soup.  Ready to get back to Waikiki, we opt to take the bus, as there isn’t a cab in sight.   A few minutes later we squeeze into the Number 2 bus to Waikiki, only to find it full of the sketchiest people we have encountered on the entire trip.  The trip isn’t too far…except we stop…and stop again…and stop again…and stop at every single possible bus stop, which seem to be placed every three meters.  I half joke to MG, it’s unclear to me how or why we are stuck on this bus and not at the beach…he reminds me that I was the one who wanted to see Chinatown.  In the end, we agree these are the experiences that make a trip memorable (further evidenced by how many time we have told the story about sleeping in a freezing cell with fabric on the walls in Tibet) and all we can do is laugh about it… a few minutes later we arrive at our destination and say farewell to the Number 2. 

For the first time on the trip,  I understand why people suggest Hawaii is commercial.  Within steps of the famous Waikiki beach, lush streets are lined with palm trees and fancy, flashy stores, covering all designer labels.  It’s almost overwhelming – I wouldn’t trade our time on the other islands for additional time in Waikiki.  Still starving after the noodle soup and aware we need to start thinking about getting to the airport, we go to the Cheesecake Factory for something to eat, sharing a macadamia nut cheesecake for dessert.  Later, as the sun is starting to set and the heat of the day is gone, we stroll up and down the beach…our feet in the sand and the waves at our ankles.  MG is taking pictures along the way and we even spot another turtle.  Waikiki beach – complete.

Then with a lot of sand in our clothes and a little sadness to be leaving Hawaii, we walk back to the hotel, collect our bags and take a cab to the airport. 


Sunset at Waikiki Beach