The final full day in Waikiki on the Screamer!

Today was the final full day we’ve had in Waikiki. It’s hard to imagine that we’ve been here since last Friday night, but I think that time plays tricks on you when you’re on holiday. On the one hand time moves quickly because you’re not really keeping a track of what day it is, it’s just another day of holiday, and eventually they all run out. On the other hand, time moves slowly because you cram in so much different sights and experiences each day, as compared to a normal working week back home. Literally a month can go by and I’m not even aware of it, because nothing different or exciting happens, really just another day at work…

Anyways, today was the final day of shopping and activities. For shopping, we decided we needed another suitcase so we headed to Walmart, home of low low prices. We ended up buying a pack of three suitcases for $29 because it was cheaper than buying one duffel bag for $39. I don’t understand how prices work here. All I wanted was one suitcase. for $49 I could have bought five. Anyways, we also decided to buy a few ticky-tacky gifts for people. Keyrings and Macadamia Nuts for everybody! You’re all lucky. Turns out you can get six boxes of Hawaiian Host Caramel Chocolate Macadamia Nuts for $12USD. That’s damn good value considering one box in New Zealand is worth $10. I also tried to purchase things that looked interesting like Pringles Pizza, Cheese, and Baked Potato flavours, Twinkies, and Kathryn bought some Poptarts.

Next, it was a quick dash home, and then I caught the bus to do the Screamer. The Screamer is like the Shotover Jet, but for Waikiki. It does the same sort of thing, goes fast, spins, gets you wet, for an hour for $30USD. It was really good fun, but I do wish that I had done para-sailing instead. There’s always a regret when travelling. When I was in Tokyo I should have done this faux Japanese news and weather show, where you’re greenscreened into the show. Here, I regret not para-sailing. Or shark-diving.

Anyways, the Screamer provides you with a great view of Waikiki and the weather was simply amazing. It probably wasn’t the best trip to take the digital camera on, considering you get saturated with sea water, and the camera did get wet, but I did managed to get some pretty sweet video.

After that it was dinner at IHOP. I bought ‘Big’ Country Fried Steak. Turns out that means Schnitzel coated in a KFC-like material, and then covered in a white sauce. It was super average. Sure the ‘Steak’ may be larger than my hand span, but it just wasn’t very tasty. IHOP, awful.

North Shore Bra!

All this travelling is really getting to us. The alarm went off at 7am, so we ignored it, went back to sleep, and instead woke up when the cleaners knocked on our door at 8.50am. Still, perhaps that’s the sign of a good holiday.

Today we decided to head up north towards North Shore, the famous surfing location on Oahu. We got ready, then we caught the free pink trolley bus to Ala Moana Center, then we waited for the 52 Circle Island bus. This bus, like all public buses in Hawaii costs $2.50USD, no matter the distance. When the bus pulls up, my advice is to wait at the front of the line to try and get a seat. Probably wouldn’t recommend the very back seat considering that’s where the engine is, giving you its gift of noise and warmth. However, sitting by the engine beats standing up for two hours. Which coincidentally was the amount of time it takes to go from Ala Moana Center to Waimea Bay. Since this is a public bus, the journey would probably be heaps quicker if you rented a car. Of course, it would cost $60USD instead of $5USD.

The bus slowly made its way through downtown Honolulu, including Chinatown. From what I could see, Chinatown is much like downtown except they’ve put Chinese words above the English words on shop fronts. Honolulu goes on for ages, just when you think you’re out of it, then you hit Pearl City, and its fellow harbour, Pearl Harbour. Moving on from there, it’s then past Waikele (where the outlet stores are), and then to central Oahu. Finally we got to see some native vegetation. A person on the bus asked if Pineapples grow on trees, or in the ground. After just checking Wikipedia right now, turns out they grow on a plant in the ground, but the fruit itself isn’t in the ground. Maybe you should just check Wikipedia yourself if you’re that interested in the lifecycle of Pineapples. Speaking of which, we went past the Dole Plantation, which is the home of pineapples on Oahu. It has the largest maze in the world, beating the Amazing Maze in Foxton. I can’t think of a more fun activity than being lost in a pineapple maze in the midday heat, with the sun beating down on you.

After that, we get to the middle portion of Oahu. The freeway turns into the interstate highway, except since Hawaii’s an island, it doesn’t link to any other states. But anyway, the scenery out here is a lot different to Waikiki. If you’re ever here, do yourself a favour and get out of Waikiki and Honolulu and explore the island a little more. See the sugar cane and pineapple plantations. See roads that are just made of dirt, yet are pretty much main roads. See people with outrageously large trucks and little regard for personal safety. Enjoy yourself.

After all of this, we finally made it to Waimea Bay. Just past the bay itself is presumably the small township of Waimea, featuring a small supermarket called Foodland, and a Starbucks. We stopped here for a coffee, and some food. I love supermarkets, you get a real feel for how regular people act and shop, and you get to see the foods that are sold to the masses. Today I found the largest fried chicken of my life, with massive thighs about a third larger than the ones sold at the Bakehouse Cafe (now Town and Country Cafe) for $1.50USD. I was impressed. For my side, I had Mac and Cheese, and some chocolate puddings to round out the meal. Now before you say that’s enough Tubby, we then we snorkelling for the next three or four hours. So beat that.

Speaking of which, we headed to the beach. We only picked this beach because it was the closest one to the supermarket. And yet it was an amazing beach. Turns out there was a huge variety of fish down there, at least as much as the famed Hanauma Bay ocean park, except far less people, and a better environment for snorkelling. We grabbed a couple of snorkels from Foodland (@ $10USD a pop), and we went for it. Seriously amazing. Fish all colours of the rainbow, and my personal highlight, watching a school of fish feeding, and seeing how they swam and interacted with the environment, as I floated above. It was great, just great, and all for $25USD, including snorkels.

But everything great must come to an end, and with showers on the way, we decided to head back home. No stresses at all, just caught the same bus back for another $5USD. All fairly smooth running except for the crazy Hawaiian guy who was damn angry that were weren’t taking the most direct route to Ala Moana Center. In fact he was furious, and making a scene on the bus.

I killed Osama Bin Laden with a 9mm Glock!

Today we got up a little later than normal – travelling really takes it out of you. You’d be surprised, you’d  think it’d be quite relaxing, but considering the amount of sights you’re trying to see and cram into the few days you have, and you get sore feet, you get a film of sweat all over you, and you just want to relax…

So we decided to walk a mile or two in the middle of the day to the Waikiki Aquarium. But first, we went to the other end of Waikiki to find a wallet for Kathryn. We headed to the DFS Galleria and checked out Chloe. DFS Galleria is set up to look a bit like a cruise ship, and is full of fancy shops for rich Japanese tourists. Kathryn did find a wallet she liked, but there was no shop attendants. At all. None. Seriously, just grab a bag, walk the 10 meters outside, and you’re away laughing. I told the security guard. I mean seriously, if you’re not gonna be in your shop, just close the doors. That’s OK. It’s better than not being there at all…

So we headed out and went to Tiffanys to see if there was anything there. Kathryn saw a 4ct diamond ring. Turns out they don’t put prices on things like that. If you have to ask for the price, you probably can’t afford it.

So we decided to walk back to the Waikiki Aquarium, about 2 miles over. On the way we past the Waikiki Gun Club. I couldn’t resist going in there and shooting some handguns. The lady asked me if I wanted to upgrade to something more serious, like an AK-47 or an M16 Assault Rifle. I said no. She said that little kids pick the guns I use. I said we don’t have handguns in New Zealand, so this was as bad-ass as I was willing to go. Once you pay for your shooting, you have to pick a target. Kathryn suggested Osama Bin Laden. I said she shouldn’t joke about that sort of stuff here. Turns out there actually is an Osama Bin Laden target. I bought that one. Then it was through to the gun range. There were three guns, a Rutger pistol, a Rutger handgun, and some sort of revolver. Shooting a hand gun doesn’t have a lot of recoil, and correspondingly, they’re not super accurate. Then again, if you’re shooting someone 3m away, you don’t need super accuracy. I was quite shaky. I felt like someone had caught me with my hands down my pants. Shooting handguns is a naughty thing to do, but I’m glad I did it. I don’t like guns, and I still don’t like guns, but life is made of experiences and stories. Oh, I aimed for the head and crotch of Mr. Bin Laden and got them both. He’s dead.

Moving on, we then walked through the hot sun past the homeless people to the Waikiki Aquarium. IT was $7.50 each and I didn’t rate it. It took about 10 minutes to go through. There was one seal. Not good value.

We then retreated tired and blistered back to the Ohana Waikiki West. It has a pool and I always wondered why people would hang out at the hotel’s pool when the sea is a block away. It’s because the sea is a block away and sometimes you just can’t make it. Today was one of those times. So instead we went to the hotel pool and just dived in and relaxed. It was amazing. Sunbathing, relaxing, I nearly fell asleep in the sun. This time around I made sure I put sunscreen on, especially on my nipples. Trust me, sunburnt nipples are no laughing matter. It happened to me once, and then when I wore a shirt a special part of hell was reserved for me to experience.

We then decided to do a bit of shopping, this time for me. Back to Ala Moana and then a quick walk to Ward Center to hit up Nordstrom Rack. This was the place where I got the $25USD Calvin Klein glasses. Now it was time to get t-shirts, shirts, and shorts. Shorts here weren’t the greatest looking, but you could find some OK ones for $30 down from $50. Shirts were OK, and were around $25. T-shirts weren’t the best and were around $20. $20 is about the going price for a new good t-shirt, so instead we walked the half mile back to Ala Moana and went to Maceys. Found some sweet Rip Curl shorts, were $50, down to $35. Beat that Nordstrom Rack. After a bit of a wander around Maceys, it was 8.50pm and time to head back to Waikiki. The pink trolley bus back to Waikiki is free with an Ohana hotel room key, and so 100 million Japanese people were waiting for the same trolley. Not to worry, we waited in line 10 minutes and caught one of the last ones back to our hotel room.

The meaning of IHOP + Hanauma Bay + Dennys!

I was knackered last night. Just so tired, that I couldn’t even find enjoyment watching Fox News and laughing at the lies they tell people. Seriously, just imagine one news channel super biased towards say, the ACT party. That’s what Fox News is like. One woman was interviewing a Muslim guy talking about whether to build a mosque in the shadows of Ground Zero. She had a whole bunch of excuses why not, and for each the guy had a well thought out, reasoned answer. After changing her tack on this question about six times, she just cut him off and said thanks for talking.

Anyways, the morning was eventful. The GPS in the Samsung Galaxy S is well known for being, well, awful. However I’m pleased to say it pulled through and told me how we could get from the Ohana Waikiki West to IHOP. Turns out IHOP stands for International House of Pancakes. Yeah, that’s the meaning. I guess the word ‘international’ makes the pancake place feel a bit more grand. Anyways, 10 minutes down the road, and there it is. We went inside and waiting for someone to seat us. Kathryn got the five-stack of pancakes, which is ridiculous. I mean these pancakes are the size of saucers, and there’s five of them. I decided to get a ‘melt’ which is a toasted sandwich with cheese (orange of course), ham, and egg. This sandwich was the size of a box of Hormel Bacon, so massive. The lady asked if I wanted ‘mumble’ or ‘hashbrowns’. I asked for Hashbrowns. Once my order was served, I got chips. I thought that maybe hashbrowns in America meant chips. Turns out they don’t, there was a mistake, and then she gave me a dinner plate full of shredded potato fried on a hot plate. Real hashbrowns. So that, plus the chips, plus the sandwich was enough to feed me, Kathryn, and probably two of her good friends, Kate, and Sam. And have enough to feed Africa. Don’t get me started on Kathryn’s five stack of pancakes. Turns out there was so much she needed lubrication to help it go down, so that’s where half a jug of syrup helped. She must have had about a fifth of her serving, and was then full. All up that came to $27USD. Once you tip your 15 to 20%, we paid $35USD. Don’t tell me how much that is in NZD, I don’t want to know.

After that, we went to the hotel to wait for our ride to Hanauma Bay. Imagine a former volcano where a side had been eroded by the sea, and then coral and fish took over and because a snorkeller’s paradise. That’s pretty much was Hanauma Bay is. For $15USD you get a return trip from Waikiki and snorkels/flippers. We used a company called Hawaiian Comfort. The driver was insane. Seriously. People give stick about New Zealand drivers being awful, but this man was more suited to the mean streets of Vietnam than Honolulu. Some would say he’s an experienced professional driver. I’d say he was bat-poo insane, and things like indicating are for sissys, and you get bonus points for changing lanes without telling any other drivers first.

Anyways, after the death race, we made it to Hanauma Bay. It’s closed Tuesdays so don’t even think about it. But on a Monday it was pretty packed, so we waiting in line to pay our $7.50USD entry fee, and then waited in another line to watch a 8 minute movie about the bay. Here’s my abridged version. Don’t stand on the coral or feed the fish. Then you can choose to walk down the side of the former volcano, or pay 75 cents to catch a ride. We caught a ride. 2nd best dollar ever spent.

Hanauma Bay is an amazing place. We put on the snorkels, and I found out mine did not have enough strength to take my fierce head and so leaked. As an adventurer I complained bitterly but continued. Kathryn and I went out and it was lovely. Let’s just say a random person I knew over here who has a fondness for makeup got freaked out by the coral and fish three times and returned to the beach. She asked me if I was freaked out by coral and fish. I said no, that’s pretty much the attraction here.

Two cuts later, bleeding and wounded, I returned for some sunbathing. Saw a creepy guy at the beach with a towel over himself sitting in a beach chair filming what appeared to be 8 year old Japanese girls. I filmed him instead. Beat that creepy guy.

We went in one more time snorkelling and this time it was amazing. The coral close to the shore is bleached dead and lifeless, but once you get over this 1 foot deep coral pipe you get to the really deep interesting alive bit, and it’s amazing. Kathryn saw two yellow fish which was her highlight, and for me, mine was being still, just breathing, and watching all manner of white, blue, green, black, and other coloured fish eating, playing, and doing what fish do. It was great, like swimming in an aquarium.

We were done with Hanauma Bay after this, so we paid another dollar to catch the shuttle back up the side of the Volcano. Best dollar ever spent. Imagine Hamilton’s steepest hill, in the sun, and then you driving up while poor souls walked. That’s luxury. At the top while waiting for Mr. Death, we talked to some Americans from San Jose, California. I explained that New Zealand’s biggest export was milk and dairy, and Kathryn said it was tourism. Only later did we think that maybe our accents make the word tourism sound a bit like terrorism. But that’s not a New Zealand export at all.

Death race later, and we were back in the ‘ki. I don’t know if anyone calls it that. We then we to dinner at Dennys. They have a two, four, six, and eight dollar menu. You don’t see that at some of the fancier restaurants. So we knew that this place would be good value. In the end I ordered a T-Bone Steak, and Prawns, and then Orange Cheese-covered mashed potato, and corn. The steak was thinner than NZ steak, and lightish in colour, a bit like veal. It was OK. Kathryn had a cheeseburger and fries. She thought it was fine, not as good as Burger Fuel. Thanks to the Doos for sponsoring this meal.

Then we went on what was to become a two hour tiki-tour (Kathryn says Kiki-tour, ya’know, like Waikiki. That’s why she doesn’t have a blog) of Waikiki. Turns out we’ve been getting up early, and going to bed early. When really the Hawaiian model is to get up late, and go to bed late. All the shops were still open, and serving Japanese people. We went into a DFS Galleria which was never ending with bags, bags, chocolate, makeup, and bags. Kathryn got some makeup for $48USD which is normally $96NZD. An actual saving.

My Hawaii Shopping Haul for $205!

Today we got up pretty early, and then mucked around, and then decided to head to the Waikele Premium Outlets. Imagine if you will that you live in Tokoroa, or Te Awamutu, and you thought it’d be a great idea to get the kids, catch a bus, and have a day trip to Dressmart @ The Base. Well that’s pretty much what we did, except in Hawaii.

If you’re thinking about going, catch the City Express E from outside Food Pantry on Kuhio Ave, and head towards Ewa Beach until just off the freeway, and you’ll be at the bus stop. 0.7 miles later, you’ll be at the shops.

There are some crazy deals here in America. They really want to get rid of stock, and they just don’t care about margins at all. Take a nice shirt, say, $200. Then discount it down to $120. Then take 50% off the lowest marked price, so now we’re at $60. And then, give a guy a voucher that takes another 25% off that. So that makes it $45. That’s 25% (roughly) of the original price.

So we headed to Levi’s outlet store, where you can get two pairs of Levi jeans without flaws, for $60USD. At the current exchange rate, that’s only $500K NZD. But seriously, two jeans for $60! The sales person was super nice. I think he was on commission because he kept mentioning his name to me. He asked me if the jeans fit, and I put my hands down my pants and made a fist. I could do this, and so I said yeah, they fit well. Kathryn said to stop putting my hand down my pants, to which I replied that it’s OK, and people in New Zealand do it all the time. The sales person said that’s OK, people in America do it all the time as well. Creepy.

Then we headed into Starbucks. Great times. The people there couldn’t understand my accent. I asked for a Tea/Lemonade thing, small size, and she said I wanted it sweet. I didn’t. She said are you sure, and I said, OK, just a little. Not super big on confrontation. Then she asked me for my name. After telling her my actual name, and her not understanding it, I said it was Tom. Then I waited. And waited. She didn’t even ask me to pay. I politely had to ask to pay. Man, they do things differently over here in America.

Kathryn thought it’d be a swell idea to check out Nordstrom Rack. That’s the outlet version of Nordstrom, which is the American version of Farmers. OK, not Farmers, but Kirks. Anyways, turns out that instead of being one at the outlet mall, it was instead 13 miles away at the Ward Centre, which is a block away from Ala Moana Centre. Neat.

So 1 hour bus ride later, we were at the Ward Centre. We headed to Nordstrom Rack, and it was full of actual Hawaiian people shopping for clothes. I think the real Nordstrom is just for Japanese Tourists. Anyways, I bought myself three business shirts @ $40USD each down from $220USD each. That’s a saving right there of $540USD. Beat that. I even bought myself a pair of awful (according to Kathryn) looking Calvin Klein glasses for $25USD. Actual original glasses. In America they just discount to get rid of stock ASAP. In New Zealand, those glasses would still be priced at $600NZD for the next 10 years. Kathryn just mumbled about how ugly they are, read her blog for more details.

So all up, that’s three pairs of business shirts, two jeans (one smart looking picked by Kathryn, one comfy fit picked by Waylon), and some awful glasses, for $205USD + Tax!

We then walked a block to the Ala Moana Centre to relive my own personal hell. Kathryn bought another $400USD dollars worth of face paint and sunglasses. I think they’re secretly for me, but she denies it. I’ll know when my CK ones get crushed. Accidentally. It’s just such a massive mall that we walked around for literally hours, and we still haven’t seen about 3/4 of the shops.

One grape flavoured shaved ice later, and a slice of pizza bigger than a Big Ben’s Family-sized pie, we then headed back to Waikiki. McDonalds are selling 20 chicken nuggets for $6. I asked her if I could combo that, and she said no. I asked her for fries and a drink instead. That’s forward thinking. New Zealand Education System in action right there. We went for a swim at the beach, it was as always amazing. Now that I have my sunglasses, I can perve at girls without them noticing. Yes I know I’m engaged, but it’s the covered meat theory. No, that’s not right. I’m just saying that there are a lot of pretty people around. Kathryn and I have started to rate them on a scale of 1 to 10. I’m thinking about doing a travel video a bit like New Zealand’s next top model, but without telling people and just filming and rating them. Without being creepy. Or getting arrested.

My favourite food of the moment – Glacaeu’s Vitamin Water Formula 50 Grape flavoured water. Beat that. It’s just delicious and makes me feel like 50 Cent.

I didn’t know it was possible to spend $1000 in a day

And yet she did! Way to go Kathryn. I don’t know what she bought, but whatever it was, it fit inside a shoe box. Maybe should bought Gold Bullion.

Anyways, today we did the shopping trip. At 9.30 we caught the Waikiki Pink Trolley Line to Ala Moana Shopping Center. These Trolleys aren’t really trolleys in the way you think about them – think more a bus without windows. I’m still not used to tipping people. One driver didn’t say anything, so I gave him no cash, another talked the whole time, but then growled me so I didn’t tip him. I wonder if that’s how tipping works. It still seems like a pointless idea.

A bit like tax in Hawaii. Imagine if every shop just had prices without GST. Buy some candy for $1. Turns out that’s $1.15 please. Why not just say it’s a $1.15? Why subject me to working out basic maths to figure out what 4% or 5% of $2.79 is?

Anyways, made it to Ala Moana. 290+ stores, over 100 hectares. Probably not 100 hectares, but it was massive. We went into Macys, which is pretty much the Farmers of the United States. Worst store ever if you’re a man. Best store ever if you’re a woman. Just think, make up, perfume, clothes, more clothes, and some chocolate. Nothing remotely interesting if you’re a guy. Except an automatic soap dispenser. Because that’s the problem with society these days, pressing the soap button. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that heavy burden now in life. Just put your hands under, and boom, soap comes out. Now your bathroom can be like a mall urinal. Awesome.

After Macys, we swung by a Japanese department store in Ala Moana. It was great. It was literally just all Japanese people selling Japanese things. Amazing. Don’t even need to move to Japan now, I can just live in Hawaii and Kathryn can go to Maceys and I can go to this department store. After checking out a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t understand, we decided to head down to the makeup part of the mall.

Kathryn spent a silly amount of time in Saphora and MAC. All the girls in MAC wore short skirts and black and looked a little punk/post-apocalyptic. Think the girls of Hannahs, except they’re all Asian and wearing crazy makeup. I decided to swing by Sears. Sears is like the K-Mart of America (except for the actual K-Mart in America, but lets not talk about that). There was like a 60″ TV screen for $1000 because it was used. There was a powered push lawnmower in case you wanted to mow your own lawns, but it takes it out of your knees. But all the prices are pretty similar to New Zealand, except in US dollars.

After a million years waiting for Kathryn, we decided to grab a bite to eat. In KFC. I ordered a Double-Down! Boo-yah, that was delicious. Just chicken fillet, cheese, bacon, and then back to another fillet. I always felt that buns were just a waste of calories. Didn’t add BBQ sauce because I didn’t want to ruin the experience. And plus BBQ sauce doesn’t make things taste like they were in a BBQ. If I cook steak on a BBQ, I don’t go “Wow, this tastes just like BBQ sauce”.

After KFC, there was more shopping at Nordstrom. More makeup. Was super over it by this time. We then decided to go back to Maceys to see more makeup. Awesome! Turns out they didn’t have any. Maybe someone like Kathryn bought it all first.

So we decided to head back to Waikiki. The driver talked non-stop for 1 hour. About how he was a super hero. Seriously, if bullshit was a money-maker, he’d be richer than Bill Gates. The Japanese people just lapped it up. He made the experience authentic. His name was Blane. If you’re on the Pink Trolley and Blane’s your driver, I recommend your iPod touch. It’s shitty, but it’s better than Blane FM.

We then headed to Waikiki beach. OK, so it’s super popular, but it’s just amazing. So relaxing to swim around, check out all the people, marvel at the beautiful people, and then think about not eating another Double-down.