O'ahu

Sunday 11 November 2007 (continued)

The temperature, at about 23o Celsius was quite a pleasant change from the crispness of Canada.  The shuttle was run by a tour company who issued us with a blue piece of paper which was a voucher for breakfast at a particular hotel. 

I was a  bit tired, so it took possibly two milliseconds to realise that this was their opportunity to get the tourists together to sell them tours and take them to shops where they get a kick-back.  The fine print on the brochure/voucher confirmed this, so we didn't bother. Cynicism is its own reward!

The hotel (Pacific Beach) had upgraded our accommodation which was a pleasant surprise.  It still had "partial beachfront views", which I took to mean that if you stood on the toilet and used a periscope to peer out the window you could possibly see a reflection off the water. This wasn't quite the case, as the room has a balcony with a view of Waikiki Beach off to one side.

After getting into something more comfortable (no, not that comfortable) we went for a walk along the street which runs along the beach.  Between the hotel and the beach is only a one-way street and a narrow strip of parkland.

[Right - Margaret after paddling at Waikiki beach]
[Below, right - view of Waikiki beach and mountains]

Margaret after paddling at Waikiki beach.
View of Waikiki beach and mountains

Monday 12 November 2007

Air Canada struck again!  Margaret opened her cosmetics case to find that for the second time things were missing from it.  Among the things missing this time are the HRT tablets that Margaret takes every day, a new bottle of Opium perfume and some other cosmetics.

Perhaps I should mention at this juncture that when travelling in the US and Canada, should your bags not be able to be opened, they are in danger of being smashed open.  They're taking security seriously, but theft a little less so.

We rang Air Canada to report the loss, but will have to make a formal written complaint when we return.  In the meantime, we had to address the loss of the tablets.

 After breakfast we went to a surgery at the Sheraton Hotel where Margaret produced her letters from GP and gynaecologist, only to be informed that the medication she takes is not available in the US. 

The doctor identified a substitute which will address part of the problem and we were advised that we should go to the Lanes drug store (pharmacy) that is in the Ala Moana Shopping Centre, as the others were "too small and would not carry the medication".

They were wrong, as not only was it a long way to that pharmacy, they didn't have it either, and we'll have to pick it up tomorrow from somewhere marginally closer.

The rest of the day we spent having a look around at our own pace and getting to know the area.

Waikiki beach
View of Waikiki beachfront

We had dinner in a little place behind the main tourist strip, and while we were a little apprehensive at first, the food was fine and the margaritas even finer!

The area is pretty commercial and reminds us more of the Gold Coast than anything else. Lots of high-rise accommodation.  Not that this is a bad thing, it just that it is what it is.

Tuesday 13 November 2007

We've decided that we'll use today to recharge the batteries, and so we didn't get down to breakfast until something approaching 9:00am.

[Left - Waikiki beach]

We've done a bit of window-shopping, Margaret's had her nails and toenails done, we've picked up her medication and we've booked a tour for tomorrow. It starts with the memorial at the USS Arizona, sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour, then the Mighty Mo, the USS Missouri.

As I understand it, it's the last battleship afloat anywhere in the world.

In the evening we went for dinner in an Asian restaurant which advertised both Chinese and Japanese dishes.  We we a bit dubious about what we'd end up with, but the meal was very good.  Of about 60 people in the restaurant, only 6 were European, the remainder Japanese.

[Right - Remains of gun turret on USS Arizona]
[Below - Roll of Honour, USS Arizona]

Gun turret, USS Arizona
Roll of Honour, USS Arizona

We can't believe how many Japanese tourists there are here, so obviously the sting of Pearl Harbour has been soothed by the purchasing power of the yen.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Today is Margaret's birthday and we were up at 5:15am in order to get ready for the tour.  The pickup was at 6:10am, so we had time for a quick shower and breakfasted on some fruit that Margaret had picked up yesterday.

Because of security requirements we've had to rearrange what we carry, as no bags at all can be taken onto the Arizona Memorial or USS Missouri.

 

We arrived in Pearl Harbour at about 7:30 and so were part of the group admitted at 8:00am.  There was a background video of 23 minutes which covered the political lead-up to Pearl Harbour, the attack itself and the aftermath.

The video wasn't particularly gentle on the Japanese, and yet they made up a significant proportion of the audience and did not seem to us to be at all put out by the comments.

After that we boarded a launch to go out to the memorial which sits above the bridge of the Arizona. Sticking out of the water is a single turret ring.  The vague shape of the ship can be seen under the water.

[Right - Oil slick from USS Arizona, Pearl Harbour]
[Below - 16 inch guns of USS Missouri]

Oil slick from USS Arizona, Pearl Harbour
16 inch guns of USSS Missouri

The superstructure was removed after it was decided to leave the hull as it was because some 1,177 crew members lost their lives when the ship went down.  That's more than half of the total losses of 1,999 sustained in the attacks on Pearl Harbour and the Hawaiian airfields on 7 December 1941.

The ship went down with about a million gallons of fuel oil aboard, and it still leaks from the hull after all these years.

A local myth is that the tears of the ship will cease when the last of the survivors of that day joins his comrades in death. Unlikely, but a nice story.

The USN maintains the whole site and does its best to keep an air of respect and solemnity about it - or as much as is possible given the number of tourists like us.

We were advised on the later tour of the USS Missouri which is moored bow to bow with the Arizona that they are considered the "bookends" of the war. The sinking of the Arizona was the start of America's entry into World War 2, while the surrender of Japan was formally made on the Missouri.

Our next stop was a tour of "big Mo", BB63, the USS Missouri. She is maintained by volunteers who carry out physical maintenance, raise funds and conduct the tours.

[Below - National Memorial Cemetery at Punchbowl Crater]

The scale of the ship is almost unbelievable. 270m long, 33m wide, 45,000 tons. She was originally armed with nine 16 inch guns, 10 five inch guns, 80 40mm anti-aircraft guns and 49 20mm anti-aircraft guns.

In 1984 the five inch guns were reduced to six and she also carried 32 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 16 Harpoon missiles and four 20mm Phalanx chain guns.

The ship took part in the latter part of World War 2 and provided naval gunfire support for Korea.

She was then mothballed for many years, later refurbished as a result of Ronald Reagan's revitalisation of the US Navy, and then took part in Desert Storm, again providing naval gunfire support.

We returned to our hotel via the National Memorial Cemetery at Punchbowl Crater. This is an official war cemetery, similar to that at Arlington.

 
Knot Board, USS Missouri

After we'd tied to contact the company which runs the shuttles, we went for a walk through a local market which is not far away.

Don't get the impression  that we're not enjoying ourselves - we are -  but perhaps we're also a little jaded in certain areas from so much travel.

I supposed we're also annoyed about the time wasted in recovering from Air Canada's ineptitude.

Next time we should spend a little longer at each venue and program in some more down-time.

Back again to have another attempt to contact the shuttle people to arrange our transport to the airport tomorrow.  After trying the fifth number we were successful. 

The numbers provided by our travel agent have been pretty much wrong for all of the shuttles in the US and Canada. We'll follow this up when we return to Oz, purely as an "information" thing.

Some background information - I looked for it on the brochures as I really didn't have much of an idea of the islands that make up the group known as Hawai'i. They are, from north to south:

  • Kaua'i
  • Ni'ihau
  • O'ahu (Honalulu, Pearl  Harbour, Waikiki etc)
  • Moloka'i
  • Lāna'i
  • Maui
  • Kaho'olawe
  • Hawai'i (the big island with the volcanos)

Proper pronunciation is, of course, an entirely different thing!

In returning from our tour we passed the office of "Dog", the Bounty Hunter as seen on Foxtel from time to time.  Dog isn't much respected here we understand as he cries about every second episode and is seen as a sook.  His wife on the other hand is built like a pit bull terrier and acts like one too.  No-one thinks she's a sook!

[Above, left - "Knot Board" on USS Missouri]
[Below - "Dog" the Bounty Hunter's office in Honalulu]

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