Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hawaii

Paradise on Earth

During my schooldays I cherished reading travel stories. I used to read a Bengali magazine in which I once read about Hawaii. I often used to see the pictures of Hawaii in that magazine and during those days I came to knew about the historical Hula dance of Hawaii and the famous word ‘ALOHA’. Even in my wildest dream I never thought I could visit there and could feel the experience of the amazing beauty of Hawaii. In my childhood I never had opportunities to visit any places. After I had grown up and started working I visited a few places in India.

The opportunity came in the year 2009. After a long vacation in India when I came back to USA my husband told me about his plan to visit Hawaii. Initially I was not willing to go with my small baby however my husband insisted me a lot and lastly I agreed to go. If that time I hadn’t agreed I really would have missed the experience of the paradise on the earth. Soon my husband started planning for the trip. I didn’t pay much attention in the planning that time. I was also unaware about the promotion of Hawaii trip by AAA. One Saturday in the month of July my husband took me to AAA office to make all the arrangements for the trip. All arrangements were made by them.

On our way to hotel

At Humpback Whale point

Pacific ocean in the evening

The cool breeze of the Pacific in the morning

Somewhere on the beaches

Sunset from Lahaina Hotel

 Luau Dance

The Rainbow Eucalyptus

Calm Pacific

                             The Rough ocean

The Black Sand beach

Seven Sacred Pools

Sunrise at Haleakela

Iolani Palace

Our plan was for 6 days, 3 days in Maui Island and 2 days in Oahu Island. I did all the packing on 27th July for next day’s journey. On 28th July we started our journey early in the morning. Our flight was at 7:00 in the morning. One of my husband’s friends dropped us at LAX airport. It was a busy Tuesday morning. With many bags, long queue, stroller and a small baby we had a very difficult time.  After sitting in the plane I got a great relief. We had a little bit of food. It was a six hours journey. My son didn’t make much trouble during the journey. He was sleeping most of the times.

In the afternoon we reached Kahului airport in Maui Island. The airport was just like any other airport in the USA, only a bit smaller. I was anticipating buying garland of Plumier or Orchid flowers. When I found those garlands outside the airport I was tempted to buy one, but those were too costly. I suppressed my desire. That time my son was only 9 months old. Seeing such a small baby everybody asked me his age. After doing all formalities we took our rented car from the airport rental center and headed towards our hotel. When I stepped out from the airport I felt I came to a very different place. Everywhere people greeted us saying ‘ALOHA’. The splendid natural beauty made me think of paradise on earth. My childhood longing to see Hawaii became true. However my son made me realize that I was on earth not paradise by his cry. Actually he used to hate his car seat and we faced a tough time to make him sit in the car seat. He compelled me to take him in my arms in the car. I was scared of police and was thinking how fast we could reach the resort. On our way to resort we got down at the humpback whale point. The cool breeze of the pacific brushed on our face.  After a long journey the fresh cool breeze made our spirits high.

Reaching hotel was a story. We lost our way coming very near to the hotel. We came to Lower Honoapiilani Road and as we reached the resort, Hotel Papake,my husband told me that wasn’t our hotel so he turned his car into another road. After proceeding for sometime he realized that we were going in the wrong direction, so again we came back. When at last we entered our beautiful condo in the resort we didn’t know that time that more surprises were waiting for us. First we just saw everything in our room and we decided that after our lunch we would explore the nearby areas on that day. In a happy mood I went to open the suitcase and I asked my husband the number of the lock. What he told was not working. We tried in vain many combinations of numbers. I didn’t know whether I would be scared or get  angry or something else. My husband then went to reception of the hotel to ask for help. A guy came with a screw driver and opened our suitcase rather broke it. That was my favorite suitcase. At that time it was already 3 in the afternoon so we decided having snacks instead of lunch. At 5 in the evening we went to a nearby store to buy some grocery as we planned to cook our food in the hotel. Then we went outside to explore the nearby area. It started getting dark so we decided to return. While coming back to the hotel room, we stopped at the reception to get any suggestions for planning our tour as we didn’t have any idea how to start our journey. They suggested attending the next day’s complimentary breakfast and tour guidance.

Our resort was just in front of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately we didn’t get any ocean view room. Anyways in the evening we went to sit near the sea side, when the sun was just setting. The serene beauty of the dusk made me completely breathless. I captured the beauty of that enormous orange ball of flame in the lens of my eyes. Still I can see the beauty when I recollect it by closing my eyes. It was cold so we came back to the room.

Next day in the morning we went to the beach for the breakfast and tour guidance. The cold breeze from the calm Pacific in the morning, the soft sun, the purity of the nature made me poetic. I wanted to spend the whole morning just strolling in the beach. During the breakfast the local guide explained about the sights and the activities in Maui. After the session my husband asked him for suggestion. He suggested us an excellent plan. He told us to enjoy the Luau dance that night. According to his suggestion, we decided to go to Hana next day and Haleakela national park day after the next day. So there were no such activities before evening on that day. In the afternoon after lunch we decided to explore the beaches. Inside the car my son fell asleep so we couldn’t sit on the beaches but took a drive along the sea shore. The blue sky above, bluish green sea down, the cool breeze and the bright sun made a perfect romantic environment. We drove along the Kapalua, Kanapali, Lahaina, Kihei beaches. In the evening we went to Hotel Lahaina to see the historic Hula, about which I read in my childhood. Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant or song which was developed in the Hawaii by the Polynesians who originally settled there, who came from New Zealand and the nearby islands. This hula is the traditional way of celebrating everything in Hawaii. That was a new experience to us. We were welcomed with seashell garlands. It was an open air party. The sunset, Hawaiian dinner and the spectacular dance created a mystical environment. However it was very difficult for us to sit for a long time with a little baby. So I couldn’t enjoy the evening as per my expectation. But the night was very different.





 

On 30th July early morning we got ready to take the bus tour for Road to Hana. I read about road to Hana, but I couldn’t imagine how scenic and scary the road was. The road consists of over 52 narrow bridges and 620 hair pin curves. The local guide advised us not to take our own car rather to take a bus tour. When the bus entered in the dense forest we realized we did the right thing by listening to the local guide. The road was so narrow that two vehicles were having tough time to cross each other. The Hana rainforest was comprised of mainly bamboo trees which is the fastest growing tree in the world. I was completely blown away by the beauty of the forest. I visited many national forests in western part of the USA. However I found all of them more or less same, to some extent barren except Yosemite. This Hana rain forest was totally different from the others. I could feel that the beauty was totally different. The wild beauty of the lash greenery didn’t show that how dangerous it could be.  Our journey started with the beautiful Waialua waterfalls. Our tour guide showed a beautiful eucalyptus tree with multicolored stump named ‘Rainbow Eucalyptus’, which I had never seen before.  The road at times went through the high mountains and sometimes just along the sea shore. It was very thrilling when we were passing through the dense jungle where sunlight couldn’t reach. When we were passing the sea beaches that was again different experience. The three colors of the water could be distinguishable. The color near the shore was grey, then greenish blue and lastly deep blue in the middle. The beauty was awesome. We passed the Puohokamoa Falls, Haipua’ena Falls, beaches like Hamoa and later we reached the Black Sand beach. Though it was called Black Sand, it was not actually sand. Those were small black pebbles which were formed long ago from lava. The tranquil small clam beach was covered by mountains from every side.  We sat there for sometime before the journey started again. We reached one beach and it was very turbulent. I was just wondering that within a small distance how could be the nature of the ocean change.  Sometime later we reached Hana town where we had our lunch. A local singer sang their local song. Then again our journey started through the thick jungle. We reached another falls; there we saw all local people were selling goods. I wanted to mention about local people because they were all original Polynesians who were the native people of Hawaii. Then our journey started towards seven sacred pools. This series of lovely waterfalls and tranquil pools trails through the O'heo Gulch and flows into the ocean nearby.  There was a small beautiful trail to reach the pools. My husband wanted to swim there, but my son started sleeping so he dropped that idea.  When my son was sleeping I went to the pools, then after coming back again all of us went there. We saw the Virgin Mary shrine. End of the pools the road was quite different, it looked barren and desert was seen. We could see the lava rocks and dried grass. During the journey somewhere, I forgot the place there was a church in the small valley surrounded by mountains. We were told that couples came to that church to get married. That’s craziness of the rich people. At the end of our journey we reached at the Rose Ranch winery. I was delighted to taste wine. But I was refused as I couldn’t show my identity. Did I look so young at that time? Anyway that was the end of our journey. This was a lifetime experience. If I get chance again, I’ll again go there to feel the experience.


Our next plan was to see the sunrise in Haleakela Mountains. According to our plan we started our journey towards Haleakela next day at 2 o’clock in the morning with our sleeping baby. That time it was so dark that we couldn’t see the road properly. The mountain road was very narrow with gorge on the side. We reached on top around 4 in the morning. There were very few people when we reached. The temperature was most probably subzero at that time, moreover it was too much windy. I felt like the wind was biting us. I went inside the watch tower with my sleeping baby and my husband sat with camera outside the watch tower. It was too cold to stand and no place to sit. I became very impatient and was thinking when the sun would show the face. Then the sky started changing to red. The color started gradually increasing.  The red color was coming slowly behind the mountains into the dark sky and it made a heavenly feeling. Slowing the sky was becoming clearer and clearer. Then suddenly the orange red ball popped out behind the mountains. That bright light suddenly illuminated the earth. That experience I would cherish whole of my life. While coming back to resort we had our breakfast at Mac Donald. After reaching the hotel we started getting ready for our next journey to Oahu.

At 4 o’clock we left the resort and went to airport to catch the 6 o’clock flight to Oahu. The hassles that we faced in the airport were beyond our expectations.  When we went to board we were told that the flight was half an hour delay. That half an hour delay stretched to six hour delay. Finally the flight took off at 12 o’clock midnight, which took just 20 minutes to reach Honolulu airport in Oahu.  It was extremely frustrating. After getting down at airport we didn’t receive the hotel car service due to our arrival long after 11o’clock at night. My husband had a tough time to get a taxi. At last we reach the Hotel Hyatt at 1:30 in the morning. We went to bed at 2 o’clock. It was our plan to take the complimentary breakfast at the hotel but none of us could get up before 7 in the morning. Anyway we took a bus tour to Pearl Harbor. We saw Oahu Church of Christ, Iolani palace which was the only royal palace on the US soil and the seat of the Hawaiian government and subsequent Territory and State of Hawaii. Though we went to saw The USS Arizona memorials in Pearl Harbor, I wasn’t happy to see that, because of the history behind it. This memorial, built over the hull of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, commemorated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into Second World War. After coming back from the tour we went to take a walk along the Waikiki beach. Then in the evening when we went to eat out most of the shops were already closed. Anyways we bought a beach wear for my son and ate Mahi Mahi fish. This was the special fish in Hawaii.

USS Arizona Memorial(Pearl Harbor)

Honolulu Skyline

On way back-- Sunset from plane

Next morning we again went to Waikiki beach to stroll for some time and then we came back to our hotel to get ready for going back to LA.


N.B: My special thanks to my best friend

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