Monday, November 14

day 10574: more incredibly fantastic travel tips by a mainlander

4. what to do-do-doo…hm… part two…

Stargaze. Starlight, star bright, first hundred stars I see tonight… oops… I meant thousand. Mauna Kea (at just over 13,000 ft above sea level) has got to be one of the best places in the world to stargaze. All the lights on the Big Island are a dingy orange so that all the observatories on top of this mountain can have clear unobstructed views of the heavens above. And, because of the proximity to the equator, we could see the stars in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. Mars on our right, and Venus on our left… of course Venus was brighter, and much more sparkly. If you rent a car… go with the 4x4. It snows up on Mauna Kea.

Snorkel. Yeah, I know I already talked about it. Don’t save it for your last day. You’ll kinda regret not doing a lot more of it. Looking at fish while you’re swimming in a crater with the fishes… it’s like being in a giant aquarium owned by aliens. Turtles, dolphins, flying fish, sharks… oh my. (Gotta save something to see during my next visit!)

Hilo. Skip it. It rains a lot. Base out of Kona if you’re on the Big Island, rent a car and meet up with your lava touring adventure group somewhere else. Trust me on this one. There’s really not much to do there except going to the farmer’s market, which btw is not open on Veteran’s Day. “I never liked the rain ‘til I walked in it with you.”

Buy a vacation home on Maui. I’ll be your BFF. I promise…

5. wildlife

“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…” Ok, don’t feed the birds. Nene are some goose-type bird that’s supposedly highly endangered. It’s no wonder… given that they just walk around the mountain roads aimlessly and get run over by the lemming tourists. Why did the birdie cross the road? It didn’t… it just sat there. According to Posie, all birds are nene. Dumb birds.

Deer. No joke. There are actually deer crossing signs in Wailea. Apparently, someone (a whaler, trader, adventurer?) brought over five deer for some king way back when. Well, these deer were really prolific, and now Maui has over 5,000 of those things that randomly jump out on roads just to surprise people. Boo!

Cows. Watch out for the cattle guards on the road. Cattle guards are weird metal grates that go from one side of the narrow winding road to the other. I have no idea how they’re supposed to guard cattle, but it’s a weird sensation to drive over… especially if you’re going pretty fast. Yeah, there are cows wandering the roads too. I don’t think Maui has fences. Oh, and beware the invisible cow.

Midges. Some type of flying bug that dies when it lands on your car (I’m not sure why). It’s pretty gross when you get back from the beach and your car is covered with thousands of them. Thank goodness it only happened once. Ew. *shudder*

Sharks. Apparently, you only have to worry about the tiger sharks. Hammerheads and reef sharks will swim up to you when you’re kiteboarding or surfing and all you have to do is punch it and it’ll go away. They only feed at dusk and dawn. You don’t usually have to worry about sharks unless the water is cloudy and there’s little visibility or you’re doing something stupid like swimming through chum or swimming where a bunch of sharks are feeding off a dead whale. I say just avoid them altogether and don’t believe everything that you hear from your kiteboarding instructor who is trying to placate you after your anxiety attack brought on by your close encounter with a shark (ok, so it might have been a rock… who knows…).

Locals. Most are friendly to strangers and they don’t bite. At least, I don’t think they do, except maybe into your bank account. Give them a friendly “Aloha” and go on your merry way. Most of the time, they’ve already pegged you for a tourist so they’re all set to fleece you anyway.

TIP… TIP… TIP… (remember this if nothing else)… locals get DISCOUNTS on EVERYTHING (as high as 50%)... if you tan really nicely on your first couple of days there, and you tell them you’re from Oahu or some other island, and they actually believe that you’re a local without ID’g you, you’re golden. Billabong, Roxy, Quiksilver for 50% off MSRP… wicked. Apparently, I look like a local. But no, we didn’t try this. They just assumed… must be the hair… and the billions of tan lines… wicked cool…

6. all that and a bag of chips…

Photos. Take lots of pictures. A hundred pictures of the same thing (from a slightly different angle) is probably good enough to start (hence, bring the extra memory sticks or portable hard drive). Don’t forget to look up once in a while so that you’re not run over by a car, or you don’t drive over the edge of a cliff (photoing and driving don’t really mix). Don’t be afraid to climb up on things to take pictures if you’re too short to see over the heads of the other lemming tourists. Old white men don’t like it when a girl is standing on six foot high lava rock walls, and will offer endlessly to help her down (even if she is a climber). Then again, sometimes climbing up on things doesn’t necessarily give you a better picture… it just lets you see what’s going on because you weren’t aggressive enough to push to the front of the line. Game time: find Posie in this sea of lemming tourists…

ps… learn how to use your camera before you get there… thus avoiding… “How can I take a picture of those stars?” and “Damn, these pictures look washed out!” and “Argh! Why is my horizon always slanted?” Most often times, though, it’s not the camera. It’s you.

Lemming tourists. Finally… the definition… There is a phenomenon called Lemming Tourist Syndrome. This is when you’re driving along and you see a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the road with tourists taking pictures of some unknown object, so you stop your car, get out so that you can see what you would have missed if you hadn’t seen the bunch of cars on the side of the road. Just because you didn’t want to miss anything. (FYI, this term was coined by someone else in relation to lemmings that hurl themselves over a cliff just because the one in front does it.) Chances are, you’re not really missing all that much. Yes, we were guilty of it too, but we caused our own fair share of it as well. ;)

7. "did you know that in hawai'i, aloha means hello and goodbye"

Yo, I don’t know what else to say. There are a billion stories and a trillion details. It was a fab trip and I'm glad I went with such a wicked, awesome, cool travel buddy. I have a ton of pics that I have yet to weed through, maybe someday I’ll post a little more.


1 comment:

teahouse said...

All I can say is Wow.

I've never been to Hawaii. And I'm in awe of those beautiful photos.