First out the door

Trip Start Sep 11, 2005
Trip End Dec 26, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Well, everyone who goes on a RTW trip always brings back details of at least one beach paradise-type location. So far nowhere I'd visited quite fit that bill, so when I went booking the flight to Seoul, I decided that seeing as I'm this side of the world, it might be a good experience to cut a few east coast cities out of my US tour and spend the cash coming to Hawaii instead. And it was a good experience... eventually.

I flew first from Seoul to Tokyo (after a night of poor sleep due to now dorm mate who had a snore which sounded like a crying baby). Then I flew from Tokyo to Honolulu overnight (and didn't get any sleep at all - I can't sleep in planes so I watched films instead). When I arrived in Honolulu it was about 07:00 in the morning, and I had been up a full day. I found my hostel no problem, but was feeling pretty sleepy. Not wanting to have a full sleep and wreck my chances of adjusting to the new time zone, I took a quick nap and then got up to visit Pearl Harbour. I went around the Arizona memorial, Bowfish submarine and USS Missouri (upon the deck of which the Japanese signed the surrender document which ended WWII), and by the time I was finished - about 19:00 - I was more than ready for bed.

Holding off for another hour or two, I arrived at my dorm at about 21:00, preparing for sleep. When I arrived, some of my dorm mates were having a few beers around a table in the middle of the room. Nothing wrong with that, I reckoned, I went to sleep.

...only to wake up an hour later with a house party in full swing in the middle of the room. TV playing music, three times as many people squeezed into the room as there had been initially, shouting and beer smell everywhere. I stuffed in my ear plugs and figured I was so tired, I could probably sleep through the din. Not a chance. Eventually, at about 03:00, I decided trying to sleep was pointless so got up and decided to find somewhere else to stay. Luckily there was another hostel down the road which had a space available, so I signed up with them, but couldn't check in until 10:30. So what to do in the meantime? I couldn't go back the Glendalough-style dorm (Glendalough = climbing club trip where freshers get drunk and loud), so I decided that my best chance of sleep was to sleep semi-rough on a deck chair in the outdoor kitchen area like a common bum.

Obviously, I didn't sleep there either. I waited a few hours and went to watch the sun rise over the beach. At 10:30 later that morning I finally checked into the other hostel and got those hours of sleep I needed, adjustment be damned.

The next morning gave me a chance to put my plan into action: seeing as I'd spent quite some time doing passive sightseeing up until now, I wanted to get back to doing stuff. I had three ideas - and thankfully, given I didn't have much time here, I got to do them all:


The most popular hike around Waikiki is Diamond Head. It's not even remotely difficult, or long, but the heat can make it a bit tiring. I got there late, and though the warning signs advised to allow 1 1/2 - 2 hours to complete the round trip, I found I was at the top in about 20 minutes. The walk to the entrance from the hostel took longer and seemed harder. The views from the top were fantastic and were well worth it.

The other walk was just an hour, but took place in the full heat of day and was unplanned for - I missed a bus. It wound it's way along the southeast coast for a couple of kilometers, and the views of the volcanic rock below ere great. The lead me from a botanical garden situated along the sides of an old volcanic crater (itself a nice walk) down to Hanauma bay, where I wanted to try...


As most of you know, my swimming isn't exactly what you'd call good. I can swim and not breathe or breathe and not swim. So isn't it good that technology has developed the answer - with the snorkel I can swim and breathe at the same time! Quality.

My tiny bit of swimming knowledge (learned at Westwood pool) were enough to have me floating along the water, watching fishies nibbling on the coral reef below. The water is very shallow, but even so the fish swim right up to you, and there's loads of them. It's like an aquarium, only better.

Sadly, I went to do this after the unplanned coast hike and ended up having only 40 minutes before all equipment had to be returned for the day. I plan on going back on my last day and spending a couple of hours there seeing as I liked it so much.

Jumping out the back of a perfectly good airplane

Well, I've wanted to do this for quite some time and I reckoned Hawaii would be a pretty special place to do it. I nearly didn't go through with it - in the end I simply made an online reservation and then shut off the rational portion of my brain from that point until I was at the airfield.

At the airfield myself and the three Japanese tourists were asked to fill out the usual disclaimer forms (which stated "YOU MIGHT BE SERIUOSLY INJURED OR DIE" all over the bottom of them) before being fitted with harnesses. Of course, we were signed up to do tandem skydives (and paid a bit extra to have a cameraman jump alongside taking photos), so we would be attached to an experienced instructor at all times.

We all boarded the plane, and the instructor told me something about the order we would be jumping in. I couldn't actually hear him, but I did noticed that we were last boarding the plane and that I was closest to the door. The door was a Perspex shutter, so I could see that whole ascent as we went up. At this point the rational part of my brain was starting to make itself heard again, but I was strapped to the instructor and there was no way I was wussing out.

Eventually the plane leveled out, the door opened and the cabin filled with warm air. The cameraman got up out of his seat and got into position, holding onto the side of the aircraft as I was moved the edge of the door, dangling over the edge. I guess I was going first. I don't remember any "3,2,1!" or anything, once the cameraman is out the door and you haven't freaked out at this point the whole procedure is like a machine that you're strapped to and that you can't control. We jumped from the plane and it was a sensation unlike anything I've ever experienced. I can't compare it to anything else as I don't think there's anything else like it - we plunged down in free fall and I could feel my face making all kinds of g-force distortions. I actually can't remember many details other than the pure sensation of WINDWINDWINDSPEEDWINDSPEEDFORCEFORCEWINDSPEED and the cameraman floating below me, taking pictures as we both fell through layers and layers of cloud, but eventually the chute opened (the deceleration wasn't that sudden - actually quite pleasant), we came through the clouds and I was slowly floating over the North Shore of O'ahu.

From there on it was like gliding in an airplane over the most amazing views - over the coral reefs and surf of the ocean, over the beaches and eventually back to the airfield.

I was quite conscious that I hadn't done anything really special since hiking along the Great Wall, so I'm glad I got in one more cool "only on holiday" activity before the end. Even if it means I have to leave stuff out as the trip comes to an end, I think I can look back on Hawaii as a highlight (once I got some sleep, of course).
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mikeymouse on

Yeah dude, finally we're seein some of the real good tropical stuff. that 'i'm here your not' picture rocks. thats the way the whole holiday should be... even if it means missing out on sleeping in a train next to the big ass russian babuska ;-)

whiskey on

I've said it before and i'll say it again: you're a bastard! Livin it up while the rest of us slave away!

Seriously though Hawaii looks cool. Think i'll have to go there and do a sky dive, and visit pearl harbour of course.

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