August 27, 2007

First Impressions of Hawaii: Waikiki


Work seemed to have sucked all the life out of me lately. A positive thing though, is that my bosses have sent me to Hawaii for a “work” conference. Snicker. "Work", "Hawaii", in the same sentence. That’s kind of funny. No but seriously, I am here for work.

The taxi trip from the airport to the resort was blessedly refreshing after nearly 18 hours of plane travel and airport waits. My taxi driver is a pleasant old guy, with a white, linen shirt and old 1940s-newspaper-boy cap to match the shirt. He has almond shaped eyes that reveal pupils that stare at opposite directions. He is a hodge-podge of ethnicities, perhaps half native Hawaiian, with a hint of Pilipino and Japanese— the essence of Hawaii. He senses my need for peace and quiet, and drives in total silence, except for the Beyonce blaring on the radio (“to the left, to the left; everything in a box to the left”).

I quickly arrive to the resort, set my bags down and fall asleep by 8 pm. The Hilton Hawaiian Village has graciously given me a decent rate, that falls within my per-diem allowance. This is a monstrous complex of hotel rooms, expensive stores, smiling hosts with their ubiquitous flowered shirts and beach drinks. I swear, I almost got lost there.

The trouble with jet lag is that you are up and about by 3 am, starving from last night’s lack of dinner. I wait for 5:30 am, get dressed, and go to the cheapest restaurant in the resort for breakfast. I end up spending $8.32 for a ham and cheese pastry and a cup of Earl Grey tea. This is absolutely outrageous!

Around 6:30 am, I go for a quick run to explore the streets of Waikiki. The sands near the resort have been neatly combed so that the beach looks perfect and pristine. Two people are combing the beach and the swallow waves with metal detectors to find the various gold, and diamond rings wealthy tourists have lost the day before. The day has barely started, and to beach and streets are cool and nearly empty.

The streets are packed with high end stores like Fenti, Louis Vuitton, LeSport Sac, and Bulgari. Interspersed are street cleaners, beach bums sleeping on the sand with their plastic bags and flowered shorts, old Hawaii men parading billboards from water sports, and hotel staff in head-to-toe Hawaiian cloth uniforms. All streets are lined with hibiscus flowers, ponds with potted water lilies, and orchids. Everything is man-made and everything is for sale. The majority of signs are in English and Japanese. A few jet-lagged tourists and joggers are walking in the streets as well, in ill-fitting and neon beachwear.

I stop at the local convenience store, ABC store, that is located every two or three blocks (I swear, in one hour, I saw six or seven different ABC stores). I buy 2 fuji apples, 2 onigiri squares, 2 bananas, 3 instant noodles, for the same price of my breakfast. I'm starting to realize that ABC is much more reasonable option that eating at the resort.


Anonymous said...

Man, I wish I were in Hawaii, "working"... :)
We want pictures!

Anonymous said...

Oh and that was Ammo btw :)