Thursday, December 24, 2009

God's Piece of Heaven on Earth... Hawaii!

How does one begin to convey the feelings that get when lying upon the beach, during the winter season at that, and feeling the sunset slowly overtake the sky? How does one describe the feeling of vast achievement at finding their way around an unknown city alone, and completing a trudge up a steep, slippery mud mountain? Along with that, how do you paint the picture of the waterfalls at the peak, and the feeling of utter satisfaction that you reached the top? How does someone share the knowledge that they have been given about a new place and sights, and express the overcoming joy they felt throughout their new journey?

Well… You blog.

Back in July, my brother was fortunate enough to find tickets to Honolulu, Hawaii for around $200 – I know… AMAZING. Well, even though him and his wife decided not to go, I jumped at the opportunity and quickly made some calls to see who might want to make to trip with me. Luckily, my classic travel buddy and friend, Sarina, was as gung-ho as I was about the idea of Hawaii over Thanksgiving break. Now here I am, months after booking the ticket, and reeling in the past weeks experiences in Hawaii. I have been very blessed and fortunate to be able to travel a lot in my life (and I’m only 24), and I must say that my favorite vacation was most certainly Hawaii. Not only was the sun magnificent, the island exceptionally beautiful, and the ocean exquisite, but the island also just carried a certain spirit… It was amazing.

So, let me begin by stating that this came at an opportune time. I was SO ready for a break, and with gearing up to head to Germany, I really wanted to get a tan. Haha! A tan is just not gonna happen in Germany – I’ve accepted my pale, glowing skin. My job has been really tough for me this year because of certain colleagues and student’s choices to be fairly misbehaved at times. It’s just been really stressful this entire year, and I was very thankful for a non-stressful trip.

Now, story time:

When I got off the plane in Hawaii, I was already thrilled by the nighttime air, and how warm it was… but something made it even better. When Sarina and I got to the car rental place, we expected to get an economy car…. But the girl at the front, Stephanie, saw the family before us trying to shove their stuff in the trunk of a convertible and told us that if they couldn’t get it to fit, we could take it. I stalled for time by going to the bathroom even though I didn’t have too, and when I came back they were just deciding that they needed a bigger vehicle. Haha! So, we got the convertible! However, when we were about to get in, Stephanie said, “Well, you could take that one…,” and pointed to her right. There sat a beautiful, bright-orange, Spyder Eclipse 2010…. Um – Yea, please! Haha… We’ll take two! Okay… just one will be fine.

Driving in Hawaii with a convertible = Heaven. Not having to pay the price for a convertible = Celestial Paradise! Haha… I don’t know that I could ever go to Hawaii again and not have a convertible – It was too awesome.

So, Thursday morning (Thanksgiving Day) we woke up around 9am and went straight to the beach. We were staying at the Ocean Resort Hotel, and were only a block from Waikiki Beach – so, it was really nice! We spent the morning soaking up the sunshine and playing the “I’m Thankful for…” game. That was great within its self:

“I’m thankful for sunshine…”

“I’m thankful for traveling…”

I’m thankful for Hawaii…”

“I’m thankful for brown boys…”

“I’m thankful for Michael Jackson…”

HAHA! Oh, how I love Sarina… The game continued on and was pretty classic.

After the game, we wondered around the International Market Place and ate in a tree house – kinda… haha! It was a little tree-house restaurant… with kinda nasty smoothies. Just sayin’… We then proceeded to reel in the joy/luck of our car and took a drive down the H-1, with no direction – just the wind in our hair and the knowledge that we had no time table to abide by.

That’s what I think I loved most about this trip… There were very few time tables we had to follow… For the majority of the trip we simply went with the moment on what we were going to do. We had lists of where we wanted to go while there, and then a basic outline on my cell phone calendar of where we might go on each day, but each night was when we really decided what the next day’s activities would be. As for the evening activities, we only planned ahead once… Otherwise, we just went with it each evening. Haha! I loved it.

Okay, so that night we got back in plenty of time to shower and then headed across the street to the Waikiki Marriott for the Thanksgiving Buffet Feast…. Um. AMAZING! Haha… It was seriously some of the best food I have ever had… a very satisfying meal. Haha! Yea… We were quite happy about it. We walked it off around the beach and then sat and listened to the Tiki Club’s performers – an outside restaurant connected to the hotel next to ours that had AWESOME live performers each night.

Friday we got a little lost…. Haha! We decided to head up to Shark’s Cove because it was a good snorkeling spot. Yea, not so much in winter, but that’s another story. Haha… Anyway, we took off to drive around the coast up to the NW side. Well, it turns out the TWO maps we had were not corrected and showed roads that didn’t exist. Yea… It got a bit interesting. It ended up getting us nice drove and view for the morning, but we didn’t get to Shark’s cove and the North Shore until late afternoon. Kinda crazy… At one point (the second way we tried that failed), we asked a lady in the neighborhood where to go. She said, “You Hollywood girls… what made you think you could drive through the mountains?!” Well, the map SAID we could and both SHOWED we could… It made sense. Haha! I explained the car was a real luck of the draw, and she didn’t buy that. Haha!

So, eventutally we got onto the right path and headed up the H-3 till we reached the Dole Plantation. With how long everything took to get there, we opted NOT to take the whole tour, so we toured around by ourselves a little bit and got our Dole Whips (AMAZING) and that was good enough for us. Finally, we got to Shark’s cove and I tried snorkeling for the first time! It was a bit of a bust – I only saw about ten cool fish – but I didn’t know that it was such a bust. Haha! I thought that was pretty cool until I went later in the week and saw how it was suppose to be. Lessons be taught: You can not go through the mountains in Hawaii, unless you’re going to Laie. Also, there is no need to go to Shark’s cove during the winter. However, Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice is there, and THAT was SOOOOO worth it! The best shaved ice ever! I did NOT eat it with the beans, but opted for the ice cream instead… Sorry.

(I was very proud of the picture above!)

Other highlights of the day were the cavernous sunset watch by Shark’s Cove (AMAZING), seeing the banana trees, driving with heater on and the top down, and our Michael Buble sing along to “Just Haven’t Met You Yet,” my theme song of the trip… and our triumphant poses during the trumpet part – haha! Classic.

Oh, AND we got stuck behind a parade on the way back to the hotel – like RIGHT behind the ending police cars – and people started taking our picture cause we were in a convertible. What the heck?! Haha… It was hilarious!

Saturday was a day I was really looking forward too, and it happened to be one of my most favorite things that I saw/went to on the island… The Polynesian Culture Center (PCC)! We had a friend hook us up with awesome tickets for really cheap and then Amber, a girl Sarina taught in the MTC who works there(who I simply adored!), drew us an amazing map of how to get to each show in one day and see everything. It was really cool! It was fun too because Sarina and I have no inhibitions about talking to people and got to know many of the workers through just saying hello (and cause they were all asking who was winning the BYU/Utah game and it somehow got out I was getting text updates from my dad of the score)! Everyone up by BYU (not just at PCC) was so warm and friendly… It’s just a different feel there. I was kind of in love with it! Haha…

Anyway, fun stories there… We went on a canoe ride and I told my “driver” that I wanted a flower for my hair… He told me to talk to the guy on the shore, so I told him the same thing… He walked over to the trees (too high for me) and picked me one. That simple action made my day – very thoughtful!

During the Canoe Show we were all scorching hot, but Sarina and I were still jammin’ out and the people on the boats kept givin’ us little “shout-outs/point-outs” when they went by cause we were lovin’ it. Haha! Then, when we were in “Tahiti Land,” as I call it, they asked for a volunteer to come up and show off some dance moves. It might surprises you, but I DID volunteer – haha! I was also chosen to go up – awesome. Well, they took the boys off and taught them stuff behind the scenes, but they don’t tell her anything because they have her model the different ways to wear a sarong, to which I asked the drummer on stage to “give me a beat” as I did my best America’s Next Top Model impression… classic. When the boys returned, they had one guy dance first and then I went… I asked my guy partner (a worker is paired with each person and does the actual, native dancing) what I should do, and he said, “Don’t follow me. Just do whatever and I’ll dance around you…” Um. Okay…

So, that’s what I did.

I started with attempting some hip shaking, followed by the “party-boy” move and lots of jumping around and shimmying actions. Haha! It was pretty stupid looking, but people went crazy and it was a lot of fun. I thought I would look even more stupid had I simply stood there. I think that I was right. Haha!

Anyway, this caused me to gain a headband made of dried banana leaves and flowers (very beautiful) and to be noticed by the other audience members and workers throughout the park. Haha! It made for some fun comments… My favorite was an old man telling me I could “work it” and “shake that.” Haha! Oh, how classic… It really was a good memory. I thought it was weird when those running that show talked to me after and said no one had ever been so animated during that… and that no one ever volunteers, when Sarina and I were both totally willing. When asked for volunteers, I say, why not?! Haha… The entire thing was fabulous really… The PCC was definitely a highlight of Hawaii for me!

To make it even better, I saw a little boy with a BYU shirt on when taking seats at the Tahitian show and said, “I like your shirt – you’re cheerin’ for the right team today!” The dad was like, “What’s the score?! Will you keep me updated?” Haha… Then his little daughter goes, “What’s your name? Is it Miss Linze…” It was one of the students from my school that I subbed for all the time in Kindergarten last year before I started full-time employment! It was so cute, cause she got so excited and her family was yelling, “Go Miss Linze!” while I was dancing – haha!

Sidenote: Upon return from the PCC, our car top wouldn’t close correctly without beeping at us each time we started to move. This was fairly annoying, and thus we took the car back on Sunday to exchange it. They weren’t happy about us taking another convertible, but we fought it and received the same car, in silver. Muy bien.

Oh, and just to plug it in there, we did go to see BYU-Hawaii campus and the temple grounds while we were up in Laie. When we got to the temple, one of the sister's serving there started talking to us about where Sarina and I met... It turns out that this sister (Sister Cutler) happened to also have attended the London Theater Study Abroad with our friend, Mitch, and had some connections to us. it's such a small world! We also has a GREAT discussion at the temple about family and the Book of Mormon... I truly know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that was reaffirmed there. I was filled with such strong conviction as I shared my testimony in the visitors center with Sister Cutler and Sarina. It made the day that much better... and I am SO thankful for those amazing experiences.

We got to our hotel pretty late on Saturday, so we slept in on Sunday till like 11am – it was fabulous. Haha! When we woke up, we had planned to do some hiking and nature walk stuff, but we decided to hit up Pearl Harbor instead. We figured that would actually be a great Sunday activity, remembering those who fought for our country and all that happened.

This was another highlight of the trip for me. I really love studying WWII and so everything hit really hard… We paid the $6 for the audio tour and it was the smartest thing we could have done – It gave SO much amazing information and insight to stories I would never have otherwise heard. I would recommend it to anyone going… and now I sound like their celebrity endorsement fliers. They should pay me. Haha! It was really just a GREAT way to spend the afternoon and learn so much… Oh, and that family from the school I work at was there again! Haha… The mom pulled up behind us in the car saying, “We’re stalking you!” Then, she jumped out and we got our tickets together for the tour – very fun and a SMALL world!

That night we walked around the International Market Place and did some browsing in preparation for bartering on Wednesday. We wanted to know what different places were charging and who we could barter the best with when we came back for our shopping session. Haha! I did barter a bit and got matching necklace and earring sets for me and Sarah, plus a flower to wear in my hair for the rest of my time there – haha!

We also ran into Wayne. Wayne was a local artist who puts on a show called “Art in Motion” and uses common home utensils, etc. and spray paint on poster board or canvas to create vivid masterpieces. I was in doubt at first, but his art was INSANE. He would do something with a fork and I would be like, “How did he just do that?!”

Monday was our “Swim w/ the Dolphins” adventure…. Except, there were no dolphins? Um, okay. Haha! We did scuba with a TON of amazing fish and saw a sea turtle, but no luck on the dolphins. They said it was always the luck of the draw to see if you see them, and that the day before they were golden. However, when we were talking to people back in town they enlightened us that it’s unusual to get a chance to swim with them cause they’re on the constant move. So, unless you go to a reserve spot, it’s not likely and is a bit of a scam. Haha…. Well, we did get a free underwater camera out of the whole thing and hopefully got some good pics – I just put it in to be developed last night.

Anyway, after the whole boating/scuba/swimming with the fish thing, we stayed by their local resort on the west side of the island and laid on the beach, took awesome jumping on the beach shots, and watched my FAVORITE sunset of the whole trip. It was good we chose Monday to head that way too because the rest of the island was experiencing rain storms, and oddly enough, we were the only side crystal clear. It was just a very relaxing day!

Sidenote: Funny moment… Sarina and I decided to build sand things on the beach. In other words, she built a sand snowman, and I built a sand turkey (kinda – it looked more like the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters…). Well, just as I finished the tide pulled in and hit my sand turkey, washing away a little chunk of it. Sarina, who was building hers about two feet in front of me said, “You built that WAY too close!” Two moments later, hers washed away and I responded with, “Girl, it’s cause you built that WAY too close!” Haha! We shared a good laugh at our demolished non-masterpieces, now floating away into the sea.

Tuesday we woke up around 8am and decided to go hike Diamond Head Crater Trail! I was excited to see the view from the crater top. The hike wasn’t bad either, but had a LOT of stairs at one point that caused me to exclaim, “I knew that hiking the RB steps at BYU was prepping me for something.” I felt accomplished after reaching the top, as I always do after hiking. I always start out with excitement, and about ten minutes in it turns to dread. Then, when I am nearing the top the excitement returns, and is accompanied with a feeling of accomplishment. This hike was no different – and the view from the top was fabulous! I got some great shots and I felt good after coming down.

Oh! I have to write about this little Asian lady and two traveling buddies who were taking pictures before we went onto the trail. I asked if they wanted me to take a picture of all three of them, and they obliged. Then, we asked if they would do the same thing and they excitedly said yes as well. Well, when we were getting ready, the oldest lady felt we were missing something, so she made Sarina hold her massive snow cone in our picture. Then, they jumped in and we had a little photo shoot with them on both cameras… In which they told us to give the “Happy Asian” in one picture. Hahs – It was CLASSIC! In the words of Sarina, we are somehow always making friends wherever we go! Haha…

That afternoon, Sarina was going scuba diving (she’s certified and everything!) and I wasn’t interested in that, so I took the car and did my own thing! Haha… I know, y’all think I’m crazy for not going scuba diving in Hawaii, but it just makes me too nervous and claustrophobic. I thought snorkeling was heaven, and I could do it every day, but even then I would have moments of panic… and that’s not a good thing when you’re scuba diving.

Anyway, I am proud to announce that I drove around Honolulu area and did NOT get lost! Haha… I was able to follow maps and navigate myself to Foster’s Botanical Gardens and the Monoa Falls Hike. Haha! It’s just a big deal because if any of you know me, you know I really suck at navigation usually cause I get distracted… but I did it all by my lonesome. Haha! Maybe that’s WHY I was not getting lost – cause I wasn’t allowed to be as distracted. Eh!

Anyway, the Botanical Gardens were gorgeous and it was fun to take a relaxing walk amidst beautiful flowers. I was really basking in the beauty, and then I got to Monoa Falls… OH MY WORD! The Monoa Falls Hike has to be in my top three favorite things in Hawaii. Driving there was pretty, but then when you got to the base, you could tell it was going to be like hiking through rainforest lands. That is exactly what it was! I was in SUCH a piece of paradise and it was nice to pace myself and run in some places, and saunter slowly in others. My surroundings were just magnificent and SO beautiful… I found my own little place of peace to think of whenever I am stressed.

When I got to the top of the hike (which was not that steep for the most part, but SO muddy!), I was rewarded with the most amazing waterfall! There were few other people on the hike, but some others near the top, so I had one of them take some pictures of my next to the waterfall. If it hadn’t have been so late, I would have climbed over the fence and gotten under it – just to say I did it! Haha…

Sidenote: My mom says that I know so many people that I know someone wherever I go. Now, aside from the family from Draper (I only knew the little girl technically), my mom was proved to be correct yet again… While on the hike, about 2/3 of the way in, I looked up at someone I was letting cross a narrow part of the path first, and it was a girl I went to HS with! She was a senior at my first HS when I was a freshman, and in band with me. I haven’t seen her since about 2001. Crazy… It really is a small world when you’re with me! Haha…

When I finished my glorious hike, I headed back to the hotel (beeped at the missionaries on the way!) to meet with Sarina, and we got cute and ready for our last night in Waikiki. We really fell in love with this outdoor grill & bar that played live music each night, and so we wanted to do more than listen to the music as we sat outside of the bar. It was “Tiki Tuesday” there, and they gave free valet parking… So, we drove a block to get the free valet parking too- haha! It was always a dream of mine (and Sarina’s) to drop the keys off to someone and walk away. We are so bizarre…

Anyway, dinner there was great and we got some virgin pina coladas to spice things up a bit – haha! We were going to go dancing, but we were tired from the day’s events walked around the beach and local area. It was the perfect, peaceful evening to a long and beautifully exhausting day.

The last day…. Wow. The trip seemed to fly by! I am going to make the last day writing short because this entry is already monster long. So, we woke up and headed to Hamunama Bay to snorkel and it was INCREDIBLE! It was seriously one of the most amazing beaches I have ever been on because of the way the reef shone through the water. The water was a perfect turquoise and blue, and the reef above and underneath was exquisite – no exaggeration either. It was SO fun snorkeling, but I noticed that I could NEVER scuba dive… I was still getting freaked out with the dark holes that were in the reef and would panic and start breathing crazy when something popped out suddenly. Haha! I just can’t handle those underwater surprises.

After that we headed back to the hotel to shower quickly and then head out to do last minute shopping, where we had the most hilarious time with this little Asian lady in the International Market who slapped our butts and grabbed our noses when we bargained “too low” for her tastes. Haha! It was quite the experience and we DID get a picture with our new friend. Haha… Afterwards, we got a final Dole Whip and ate in on the beach while watching the sunset and people-watching. That sunset was SO beautiful too, and the PERFECT ending to a fabulous trip.

After the sun had gone down, we took a few deep breaths, got in our incredibly beautiful car and drove to the airport for our flight. That was the hardest part… parting with the nice car. Haha! Just kidding… I can see how easily pride can seep in though with how many comments we got throughout the week about our rental car. The hardest part was actually getting onto the plane and saying goodbye. Sarina and I slept most of the way back, and then said our goodbyes at the LAX airport, and I flew home to low temperatures and little sunshine. * sigh *

It’s was all worth it. It was worth every second.

Out of all the places I have been, Hawaii was definitely my favorite vacation. I don’t count London because I lived there, but if I had to count that, it would be a complete toss-up. I really, truly fell IN LOVE with Hawaii. I’ll miss the islands…


Song of the Day: In honor of my Hawaii trip, and my personal standpoint on singledom being a positive thing, I must make the song, "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble! It's my attitude about my life right now, and caused MUCH laughter and smiles in Hawaii for Sarina and myself. Enjoy!!!

[HQ][MV]Michael Buble - Haven't Met You Yet - ดูคลิปทั้งหมด คลิกที่นี่

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