A week in Hawaii: Swimming with dolphins and Japanese tourists.
July 27, 2014
Oddly, there is nowhere in Hawaii to smoke my cigar. The hotel I am staying in –the lovely Surf Rider in Waikiki- has positively no smoking anywhere on the premises, which is why I’m huddled beneath a canopy in one of the stately courtyards currently not being used, which is surprising, given it is Saturday night and I counted four different brides shuffling nervously from powder room to salon. Interesting, each of these lovely ladies is Japanese.
For those unawares, myself included, the Japanese absolutely adore Honolulu, ironic I should think given Pearl Harbor. A local told me they started coming in droves when the Yen got strong, during the 1980’s, and have not stopped. I’m not exaggerating when I say there are more Japanese tourists here than Americans, followed a distant third, by Australians. It’s a nice place; I don’t blame them!
If the global economy is still troubled one cannot tell it here. Honolulu is packed with tourists. I cannot recall being at a place with so many people not from that place. Consumers abound!
Honolulu is expensive, even by San Francisco standards. I’m guessing, however, that prices are even higher in Tokyo. How else does one explain all the glitzy retailers like Gucci and Prada positively killing it? $30 dollar and up entrees are commonplace at most restaurants. Alas, the fare is mediocre. Even high-end establishments serve food no better than business class on a plane. That said, I’m certain the casual dining is superb and much cheaper. But my wife values ambiance. As good as it looked to me, we were not getting plates of spicy chicken from a strip mall or bags of fried shrimp from the ubiquitous “shrimp trucks” lining the public beaches. Our loss.
What little advertising I’ve seen on the television in my room is comprised mostly with candidates running for local and state elections. These electoral ads are as crappy as anywhere else, with each candidate hitting on family values and a history of caring for people and the Hawaiian way of life. One spot was about how poor the candidate’s parents were: they didn’t even have hot water! I guess cold showers help in making good decisions. I will give the local populace points for zeal. There are placards everywhere.
In non-advertising news, we swam with dolphins just off the western shore. There was no shortage of these ”spinners” either. In the water five minutes and they were all around us: delightful creatures, social and chattering, blissfully unafraid of our presence in their aquamarine playground. We also visited Turtle Bay on the North Shore. And sure enough…
Another awesome sight are the massive, sprawling Banyan trees one encounters on the island. Mature branches sprout hanging tendrils that eventually become massive trunks of the same tree, perpetuating its canopy. The one at our hotel is perhaps the island’s most famous, planted over 100 years ago; it now spans the entire courtyard of the hotel, covering a bar and café in its shady canopy.
On our last night my wife is taking the girls to a Luau, their first. Mercifully, I do not have to go. The idea of spending three hours watching Polynesian folk dancing does nothing for me.
So, that is my snapshot of Hawaii, with some attention given to themes relevant to this blog. And to think, I got through the whole piece without saying “aloha.”