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Friday, June 12, 2015

I spent a while in the last post talking about how we were going to get to Hanauma Bay and the decision was that we were going to take a taxi and it was going to cost $30-$40. So, we walked down to the street and found a taxi. We told the driver where we were going and his smile went from ear to ear. Hmmmmmmm...... So, I thought I would asked how much the fare would be. He said "Close to $50." Add a tip and this was going to be an EXPENSIVE expedition. We haggled for a moment and there was not going to be any letup. So, we got out of the cab, unaware of how we were going to get there. We thought that we would walk the streets looking for shuttle buses but it was 6:15am and there was not much movement on the streets. We conferred for a moment ..... I was tired, Kylie was tired ...... it was a moment of weakness ......  we walked past a taxi and said 'Take us to Hanauma Bay.' He also smiled from ear to ear.....

We got there. We knew that we didn't have to watch the video because we had already watched it a few days before. But, what was THE COOLEST was because we got there so early, we got in FOR FREE!!!! There was hardly anyone there, so everything worked out as planned (well, almost everything).

One thing that wasn't planned was the snorkel. The snorkel isnt really suitable for my enormous nose. 

But, we did great! And, we saw some amazing stuff.

But, first, lets take a selfie.....

All of these pics were taken using the waterproof cover in this earlier blog post.

In a few hours, the beach is packed. We came at a great time.

It was so cool to have fish just swim past you like this.

When we watched the video the few days before, it had this song that they had written which was very powerful in message. Why do I say its powerful? Well, if you are singing the song for the next few hours, I think they got their message across.

Here are a few more pics....

Because we woke up so early, we were REALLY tired. Like, really really tired. So, I lay down on my new towel (purchased at the ABC Store) and slept. Then, Kylie saw me sleeping on the beach, so she also lay down on her towel (also purchased at the ABC Store) and slept. I think we were out of it for about an hour.

We were not going to use our snorkels again. So, we approached someone at the sign for snorkel hire. It followed the same pattern;
  1. Person walks up to hire place excited about snorkelling
  2. Person reads sign
  3. Person realizes that it will cost them $20 each to hire
  4. Person is disappointed
  5. Person realizes that there is no other option
  6. Person pays $20

So, Kylie hovered around at the hire place and people watched (something we both love doing - and, yes, its different to stalking). She sees a couple perform steps 1-4. Then she approaches them and says 'Would you like these?' They were VERY excited!

One thing I forgot to mention was that to get down to the beach, there is this path which is fine on the way down. But, on the way up ...... hmmmm ...... not so much. So, we dragged ourselves up the path. We were NOT going to pay $50 for a taxi fare. So, we asked where the public bus is caught from. We followed the path, not knowing when it was going to come, where it would take us or how much the fare would be (given the link on trip advisor was so out of date). So, we saw the sign for the bus stop, we walked towards it and within 20 seconds, the bus arrived. It would take us right into Waikiki. It was $2.50 each. It was SOOOOO easy. Oh well, we know for next time.....

So, next on the agenda was going to the Waikele Premium Outlet centre. We had heard that this was good. Kylie usually isn't really interested in shopping, but I am. I get it from my dad. Those of you that know my dad ...... you understand. His philosophy is 'Why buy one when you can buy thirteen?' I'm not that bad.

Its about an hour from the centre of town. There was no way that we were going to catch a taxi (we learned our lesson that morning). When you are walking in downtown Waikiki, you get handed flyers; one flyer is to buy guns (yes, real guns) and the other one is for a $10 transfer to the Waikele Outlets. We had taken one a few days before, we knew where the pickup point was, so we headed in that direction and bought tickets. The bus arrived and it was a converted American school bus which Im spewing that I didnt get a picture.

Had a great time at the shops! Kylie bought a handbag that she has wanted for ages (on sale of course). I was happy because my fave shop is Tommy Hilfiger. But, in Australia, its prohibitively expensive. At the outlets, its extremely affordable. So, I was happy.

One thing we were looking for in Hawaii was our favourite confectionery - Peanut Butter M&Ms. Our friends were in Hawaii in November and brought back a 1kg bag for us. We love them! Have you tried them? You will love them too!!!! Every ABC store, we would look for them. Some of them had the small packs, some of them didnt have any. While we were at the premium outlets, there was another section which had normal shops, including Walmart. So, we figured we could get some from there. None! For some reason, there is a shortage of Peanut Butter M&Ms. Incidentally, this other section of the Mall had my new favourite store called Old Navy.

We went to where the bus was supposed to pick us up - we ran because we were running late. There was this HUGE line to get on the bus and there wasnt any room on the bus for us. Fortunately, there was a mini-bus for overflow passengers, which was also quickly filling up. The attendant said 'Two seats left at the back.' This was my seat.

Yes, that is a dining chair. And, this happened everytime we went around the corner....

I survived. And, I have a story to tell.

I told you that ABC Stores have everything. 

See ..... its true.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sadly, we left our beautiful accommodations at Sheraton Waikiki. Stampin' Up! generously provided us with five nights accommodation. But, we were staying on in Hawaii, so we had made additional accommodation arrangements. Have you tried AirBnB before? We have stayed in properties sourced on AirBnB in Brisbane, New York (twice), upstate New York (whilst visiting Patterson and Walkill and this has been my favourite place thus far) and now Hawaii. We were put onto AirBnB through Travis and Annette who stayed in accomodation sourced through AirBnB across Europe. Why is it so great? You are living among locals. You are not staying amongts the thousands of visitors. You go to the local stores. You are often staying in peoples places - and often with Kitchens (not that we have ever used them). And, the best part is the price! Give it a shot!

Anyway, we had to check out by 12. And, we were going to the meeting at 1:30 (Sunday). So, we dressed for the meeting and hung out in the lobby of my fave hotel just down the street (Moana Surfrider).

This picture doesn't do it justice! It is an amazing OLD building. Believe it or not, it was built in 1901. Here is a link to the Wiki if you are interested in learning more about it. When I first walked past, it looked to me that it was a new building built in the old style. It is termed as 'Hawaiian Gothic' style. But, then to find out that it was almost 100 years old - I was just staggered!!! It has a classical style to it. If we are ever in town again, I'd love to stay here (Kylie - Hint! Hint!)

Its obviously undergone a number of renovations and restorations. But, I was happy to note that the building the $50 million restoration in 1989 restored the building to its 1901 appearance.

Something that we saw quite alot was this;
I think while we were sitting in the lobby, there was three or four Japanese weddings that appeared to take photos. And, over our stay in Waikiki, we saw Japanese weddings every time we went out of our accommodation. Kylie speaks Japanese 'skoshi' (a little) and it always floors people when she says 'yoi itchi nitchi oh sagoshi kuracye' (it means 'Have a nice day' politely). I'm not sure what the fascination is - but the Japanese getting married are not locals. And, we didn't meet any of them that spoke English. So, there must be a roaring trade in Japan selling Western style weddings.

It has this awesome Banyan tree in the rear planted in 1904. Here is a panorama I found showing how magnificent the tree is.

The time came and we went to the meeting with the local Waikiki congregation. It is an amazing experience - we went to the meeting twice here in Waikiki and we felt at home. Anyone can walk in and feel at home; I knew the format of the meeting, I know the article that will be studied. It makes me warm and fuzzy thinking about it....

Interesting story - my new bestie (from Instagram nickhawaii) was not at the meeting as he was involved in a convention planning meeting (it was tied in to a meeting given to all involved in convention planning across North America). So, Nick texted me and told me that he saw me on a convention video. My friend Greg (from Vancouver) was tied in to the same meeting and told me that he saw me on a convention video. So, unless its my doppelganger, I guess Im on a convention video! News to me - but, how cool? You all know how camera shy I am.......NOT!

So, after the meeting, Kylie just casually said to me 'Lets go back to Hanauma Bay tomorrow.' Well ..... ok then. But, my proviso was; 
  1. We had to be there when it opens 
  2. We were going to Waikele Premium Outlets (shopping) in the afternoon. 
She was OK with both of those provisos which surprised me (particularly the one about getting up early). When we got back to our accommodation, we lazed around. I was playing my game at the moment and when I looked across at Kylie, she had fallen asleep. Not just napping, but asleep! Poor thing must have been tired. So, I woke her up. lol!

'Why did you wake me up?' She asked.
'Well, 1. Im hungry and 2. We need to get organized for snorkelling' I replied.
'Let me wake up slowly.......' she replied and about an hour later, she was awake. 

So, we went down and looked for something to eat. Didn't know what we felt like. Every restaurant we went past, we'd look at the menu and nothing we saw really appealed to us. We even considered McDonalds, but turned that down. They have some weird localised options of the menu at McDonalds, involving spam of course. 

So, like every time we left our accommodation, we ended up at ABC Store

This is my FAVE store in Hawaii - it should be because its almost on every block. You think Im joking?

Just to give you an idea of scale - to walk from one end of this map to the other will take about 25 minutes. So, as you can see - the ABC store is on every block - literally!

Aside from being everywhere, whats so good about it? It sells EVERYTHING! At the front, it has sunscreen, towels and other touristy things. But, it has EVERYTHING in the store - check out the description;

"We carry everything from daily needs, beach needs, groceries, fine wines & spirits, drugs & cosmetics, gifts, souvenirs, local apparel ~ add fresh gourmet deli sandwiches, crisp salads, island inspired entrees from our Island Deli division."

Added to this, its quite reasonably priced. 

So, back to the story ......since we were going Snorkelling the day after, we bought snorkeling gear from ABC store for $12 for both of us (it is $20 to hire at the bay EACH) so we were totally impressed with our bargain. And, since we hadn't found anything to eat on our travels that evening, while we were there, we looked at what we could find to eat. By this stage, I was just over it and I ended up buying a pack of Salt and Vinegar Chips for dinner (I think Kylie ended up with a salad for dinner). 

I'd googled how we were going to get to the bay first thing. Since we had a local sim card, I put my Googling skills to good use. We knew we had to be there when the place opened because we didn't want to miss out again. We had learned from locals that even if the carpark is full, they still allow the local bus and taxi's to get through. 

The most helpful post on trip advisor was this one (note the date). We had heard that most tour operators arrive at the park by 8am, and bring the crowds. Everyone we spoke to told us that the crowds 'kick-up sand' and make it more difficult to see the coral and the fish. According to that link, there was a public bus which cost $2, but it didn't get there until 9am and the cost of a taxi was $30-$40. It was alot in comparison, but we absolutely were not going to miss out again or be put off by the crowds. And, we reasoned 'We didn't pay for flights, and most of the accommodation.' It was decided - we would catch a taxi there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm loving being in a place where the weather doesn't change.

Today - this is what I did (and, by today, I mean May 16) .....

There was nothing planned from Stampin' Up! for the 'Plus 1.' So, I took advantage of this and spent as MUCH time here in the infinity pool.

A few days before this, we went out to Diamond Head (shown in this photo). According to Wiki;

"Diamond Head is the name of a volcanic tuff cone on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu and known to Hawaiians as ʻahi, most likely from lae 'browridge, promontory' plus ʻahi 'tuna' because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna's dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds."

I looked that up because I thought that the mountain was supposed to look like a diamond, but I didnt think that it did.

I could easily transport myself back to this place now. Its FREEEEEEEZING today here in Melbourne.
Id love to take credit for these pictures, but I have to thank Google for these.

Everytime we went down there, the view was interrupted by the hundreds of people (including me).

And, finally, using the selfie stick, i took this picture from our balcony. And, yes, Im kidding.

That night, there was a Stampin' Up! dinner at the Battleship Missouri. This ship is docked within the naval station Peatl Harbor (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose).  Aside from the 2001 film, it's been interesting to learn more about what happened here.

So, funny thing happened while we were waiting in line to get on the bus to get out  to Pearl Harbour. As many of you know, I do not celebrate birthdays, including my own, which incidentally was that day. So, I heard a group of people a few people behind us in line starting to sing a particular song that is sung every 365 days. I thought to myself 'Who told them?' Apparently, the colour departed my face. I hadnt even remembered that I was born that day 38 years ago until lunch time. Turns out - it wasn't for me. But, it made lol! 
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