Thursday, August, 10, 2017
On Thursday morning, Alana, Erin, James and I were up while the sky was still dark and before the birds started chirping. That's early! We were at the airport before 5 am to catch our Hawaiian Airlines flight to Oahu. The flight over was short - about 15 - 20 minutes - just enough time for a quick coffee (or water in my case) in the air. The driver from Discover Hawaii was there to meet us and brought us to meet up with our guide, Kona, at Pearl Harbor (I hate spelling harbour without a U, but I will out of respect).
What an amazing tribute to the events of December 7, 1941. We walked through the museum area which explains what was going on at the time, the events leading up to the attack and why the Americans were caught off guard. It is really well done. At 8 am everyone stopped to listen to the Star Spangled Banner. We then went in to the theatre to watch the film with actual footage from the day. It's unbelievable that they had all the footage - especially the Japanese footage. From there we took the boat over to the sunken USS Arizona site. The memorial is stunning - it rises out from the harbour sitting above the sunken ship. Inside are the names of the 1172 men who were killed on the ship from the attack. There is a memorial for those who survived but decided to have their ashes buried with their fellow soldiers on the Arizona. There are only 5 survivors still alive who served on the USS Arizona.
In total 2335 military service people and 68 civilians were killed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Japanese lost 55 men.
Our next stop was completely different. The Dole Plantation (really, a big pineapple themed gift shop) where we had Dole whip. It was good. Most of the pineapple companies on the islands have closed down. They now only grow pineapples to supply the islands - not for export. Same goes for sugar cane. We've heard many different versions of why these two exports which once ruled the Hawaiian economy are no longer in existence. The short (and consistent) answer - not enough profit for the companies producing them.
As we drove we could see the fields of pineapples. A lot of labour goes in to growing pineapples.
We drove along the north shore to see all the beaches. In the winter there are tons of surfers and surf competitions. At this time of year the beaches here are quieter. Waikiki Beach is another story - it's crowded with people! We stopped at Sunset Beach for a photo opp.
Next up, the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. The Center celebrates the Polynesian nations that settled in Hawaii - Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Aotearoa, Tahiti. There is also a group of indigenous Hawaiians. We had a big buffet lunch and then followed our guide around to some of the shows. They were interesting to see.
The Center is operated by The Church of Latter Day Saints and most of the employees and performers attend the Brigham Young University down the street.
Switching gears again, we went to the Byodo-In Temple. It was built in 1968 for the 100 year anniversary of the first Japenese immigrants to Hawaii. We all gonged the Bon-Sho (sacred bell) on the beautiful grounds. We will all now have happiness, blessings and long life.
Inside is a 9ft+ golden Buddha - thought to be the largest figure carved outside of Japan. And through the temple is of course a gift shop.
We drove up for a view of Oahu before making our way back to Honolulu. The prices of real estate seem crazy here from what our guide told us. Homes no where near the ocean that kind of look like a run down trailer are $1 million.
We were dropped off at the gorgeous Moana Hotel - the first hotel in Waikiki in 1901. We took a quick peek inside.
We learned about Aloha Fridays when the business people in Honolulu wear flowered shirts and mumus to work.
We had dinner at the airport and finally made it back to our condo at 10 pm. It was a full day. It was great to see Oahu - Pearl Harbour was the definite highlight - but I love Maui!