Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hawaii Part 3: Honolulu & Oahu

Our one week holiday at the Mauna Kea beach on big island Hawaii ended before we knew it.  It was then time to move on to the next destination, Oahu island.  Oahu is the most populated island in Hawaii.  I could feel the density of population when i glanced out the airplane window.  Like any other Hawaiian islands, Oahu is full of mountains.  You can see that from the photo above. 

We stayed in an apartment in the heart of Honolulu.  There are a lot more high rising buildings in the city of Honolulu.  Big names of the hotel industry.  Hilton hotel on the Waikiki strip has its own lagoon (see photo below).  But did you know a little secret about Waikiki beach?  Waikiki use to be a swamp.  Developers got rid of it and started building hotels along the strip and imported sands from California and Australia.  Basically whatever you see on Waikiki beach today are man made.  Feeling a little bit disappointed?  That's why the locals don't go to Waikiki beach.  The local go to one of the Northern beaches on Oahu island.

Next to Hilton is the Ikele Marina.  Most of it look very pretty.  Take your time to walk around it you will find some very neglected water.  Have a look at the photo below. (By the way, the photo of the marina above was taken with a iphone 4S. Not bad for a smartphone camera right?)

We stayed at Ala Moana hotelon Atkinson drive.  It was right next to the biggest shopping mall in Hawaii, the Ala Moana center.  There was even a skybridge connecting the two premises.  We could shop all day, rain or shine.  How convenient.  And our apartment was located on the 35th floor! We got nice view of the city and also partial seaview, gorgeous during sunset.


On our fourth day in Honolulu, we went for a evening stroll along the famous Waikiki beach to see what all the fuss was about.  It was a very crowded beach, very industrialised.  You see many more young tourists there (in contrast to the much older crowd at Mauna Kea beach).  I prefer the latter.  I thought Waikiki was a bit too rowdy.

In the photo above you could see the slope of diamond head in the far distance.

 We had to make way for a newly wed couple doing  their wedding photoshoot on the beach.  The sunset was beautiful.  I bet the golden light from the setting sun would have look very nice in their photos.

I got my very own model for my photoshoot, haha.  After we got most of our shopping sorted (that was totally the first priority!) we went on a circle island tour, visiting the main attractions on Oahu island.  First stop, Diamond head.

Second stop, the Pali lookout.  You get a very nice panoramic view of the steep Koolau mountain range and the town of Kaneohe.  The lookout point was 361 meter high.  The Pali cliff was the place where King Kamehameha fought and won his final battle with his 10,000 men army in 1795.  That was the day he united all the island of Hawaii.  Have you noticed the sharp blade-like shape of the mountain in the following photo?  A lot of the mountains on the windward side of the island are like that due to the constant assault from the wind and rain carried in by the wind.

We then stopped by the Halona blowhole, not far from Pali lookout.  Blowhole is basically part of a molten lava tube that brings lava into  the ocean.  When the angle and the strength of the wave is right, water shoots out the hole and spray upwards like a fountain.

From there we visited the Byodo-In Japanese temple.  It was a buddhist temple built in 1968 at the foot of Mount Ko'olau by the Japanese to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the first Japanese immigrant to Hawaii.  This temple is a replica of the original version in Uji, Japan.  The one in Japan is 950 year old!  Did you know these majestic temples were built without a single nail? Amazing.

The final stop for our circle island tour was the Dole pineapple plantation.  At one stage, Hawaii's number one industry was sugar cane plantation, then pineapple took over.  While this pineapple plantation is still generating income and has a reputation of producing one of the best canned pineapples, pineapple planting is no longer the main industry in Hawaii.  The number one industry in Hawaii now is a fruit called tourism.  Dole plantation was fairly big, with a big cafeteria and pineapple product store, selling things from candy to biscuits.  We had the nicest pineapple ice cream ever at the Dole cafe.  The circle island tour was well worth the money.  For those of you visiting Oahu, i highly recommend going on that tour. Forget about the similarly priced Pearl harbour tour, because there is a bus you can take on your own that will drop you at the Pearly harbour's Arizona memorial and you can spend the whole afternoon there.  That was exactly what we did the following day.

 The following day we took a bus to Pearl harbour.  The entry ticket we paid for included a 20 minutes documentary film on the japanese attack on Pearl harbour.  I have learn how clever the japanese were.  Their attack was sneaky but very well planned.  Even the torpedoes the japanese used were specially designed for the shallow water of Pearl harbour.  Most of the battle ships were destroyed instantly.   It was a war that has cost many lives.  It was quite a touching film to watch, in a saddening way. 

 The photo above shows the special torpedoes that crushed the american ships.

War is bad. If you live in a country without war, remind yourself that you are the lucky one.  Cherish what you have.  Be grateful of the stability you are enjoying in life but do not take peace for granted.  At the same time, spend some time to think about the more unfortunate ones in countries at war.  Close your eyes and say a prayer for them.

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