Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Pearls in the Pacific, Hawaii

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Canan SEZGIN

If you ask many people what they would like to see the most? Most of them say Hawaii. This is not only because it is so beautiful and exotic, but also because it is so far away that it is difficult and expensive. So, for most people, it is a difficult dream to realize.

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places I have visited thanks to my profession. It was ruled as the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1785 and 1893, then became an independent republic until it became a colony of the United States in 1898 and joined the United States as the 50th state on August 21, 1959. Consisting of 137 islands in the Pacific Ocean, the state’s capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu. At the southeastern tip of the archipelago, from northwest to southeast, there are eight main islands: Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, Oahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui, and Hawaii, also called Big Island because it is the largest of the islands, which gives the state its name. It hosts many tourists throughout the year with its active volcanoes, beaches, unique vegetation, and dances.

We went to the island of Oahu with the winners of a shopping mall’s lottery and saw the locations where the popular Lost TV series was filmed. Since the series ended 3 days before we arrived, we didn’t get to see the filming and the artists, but we had the chance to see most of the locations used for the sets.

I took a five-hour flight from Miami to Los Angeles and from there I took a 6-hour flight to Honolulu. The group made a longer journey from Turkey and I arrived earlier than them so I met them at the airport. We boarded our bus and arrived at our hotel Ohana on Waikiki beaches. Ohana, which means family in Hawaiian, was the second word we learned. The first one was Aloha, which means both hello and goodbye, as you can guess. The Americans named each state also called Hawaii the Aloha State.

At breakfast, we started the day very cheerful with the waiters’ excellent service and friendly behavior, most of whom were from the Far East. On the first day, we were going to visit Lost movie locations with Hummer Jeeps. Our local guides arrived and we started to visit the island by jeep. Honolulu looked like a big city with high-rise buildings and luxury hotels built around the Diamond head crater, which we saw on the plane. The places we visited were mostly deserted beaches and nature parks. The young guides driving the jeeps showed us the pictures of the places used in the movie series from the photo album in their hands and explained which episode was filmed. Those who watch the series know. In the first episode, a plane crashes on the island. Mokule’ia Beach where that plane crashed was among the places we visited. We couldn’t see the plane’s wreckage because the filming was over, but as we looked at the beauty of the beach, we remembered that Jack, Sawyer Kate, and the other characters lived there. We had our photos taken in the same pose as them. The plane wreckage stayed on the beach for a long time, but since it was impossible to sunbathe and swim due to the interest of the crowds, the local government asked the film crew to remove the wreckage.

There was a famous Turkish journalist and a TV producer among us. This trip was later published in newspapers and on TV. We also had the chance to see the locations of other movies shot on this island, including Pearl Harbour, Jurassic Park, Blue Hawaii, Karate Kid, and 50 First Kiss. The waterfall where Kate and Sawyer swims is in Waimea Falls Park. The waterfall in the movie was digitally enlarged, the original seemed small to our eyes. Some of the group swam in the lake where the waterfall flows. Kualoa Ranch, where we had a lunch break, mesmerized us with its vast greenery. The golf course and Dharma stations were located here.

We visited Kyoto, Japan, where Jin and Sun got married. They had built a replica of The Byodo-In Temple. At Papailoa Beach, where the survivors set up tents, we saw the makeshift shelters used in the movie. The scenes in Nigeria, it was filmed in Waialua Sugar Mills. The famous Diamond Head Crater was the location for Sayid’s Iraq scenes. After a very nice tour, we returned to our hotel in Waikiki and went to dinner. We chose the ocean fish called Mahi Mahi on the menu. There are many Japanese restaurants in the state where Far Eastern cuisine is predominant. You see so many Japanese around that you think you are in Japan.

The next day we all traveled together by bus. After our local Hawaiian guide welcomed us, he first taught us the Hawaiian Shaka sign made by hand. When you want to say “Relax”, “Go ahead”, “Thank you”, “Everything is great”, or “Calm down”, this sign expresses all these friendly messages and more. To make the shaka, you curl your three middle fingers while extending your thumb and little finger.

The local guide who gave us information about the island also showed us the hospital where President Obama was born. As you know, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese army launched a surprise attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The US pressured Japan to stop its military expansion in Asia and the Pacific. Japan believed that by attacking Pearl Harbor it could seriously cripple the US fleet and buy them time in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. It could then launch its attacks without US intervention. In retaliation, the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Interestingly, on the island that the Japanese had once bombed, their descendants bought houses and increased the Japanese population. Although the official language is English and the second language is Hawaiian, it is possible to see writings in Japanese as well as English everywhere you go.

The Pearl Harbor naval base, which was the grave of 2403 people in the Japanese attack, is now a museum. We visited the USS Arizona monument with the names of the martyrs on the wall and got historical information about the raid while visiting the Utah and Oklahoma monuments.

We then went to Lolani Place, the only Royal Palace in the U.S. Built by King Kalakaua in 1882 in the American Florentine style, it was used as a government palace after the end of the monarchy in 1893 and during the independent republic until 1898, it was listed as a national historic site in 1962 and has been a museum since 1978.

On our third day in Honolulu, we went shopping and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Swimming was difficult because of the big waves. The waves were very good for surfing, so there were a lot of surfers around us.

We visited the shops along the beach and bought seashell necklaces and souvenirs. We mingled with the people watching the sunset with Hawaiian native dances and music,

One man from the group had prepared a surprise wedding for his fiancée. We all knew about it, except the bride, and we were helping the groom with the arrangements. It was hard to organize secretly from the bride, but it was fun. Hawaii was a place like Las Vegas where you got married fast.

The next morning, the groom arranged for the marriage license, arranged for the registrar to go to Makuleia beach, and revealed the surprise by giving his fiancée the wedding dress he had hidden in the suitcase. When we got into the limousine that took us to the beach where the wedding was to take place, the bride said “I was angry with all of you, you were talking among yourselves and when I arrived you were silent. It turns out you were making these plans,” she said. We arrived at the beach with our necklaces made of Hawaii’s famous Lei flowers. The beach where the plane crashed in the TV series Lost had been the wedding venue for our bride and groom. In the ceremony on the TV news, the wedding officer, who had a crown of Lei flowers on her head, made a heart shape by arranging Lei flowers on the sand and asked the bride and groom to enter into this heart. Then she gave a beautiful speech about marriage and asked the bride and groom the famous question. After they both answered yes, I do, she handed them a small teddy bear and said, “I want you to put this little toy right next to the door at home. Whenever you argue with each other and want to leave the house, you will see it just as you walk out the door and remember this day. So, you will not be able to leave your loved one. Also, according to Hawaiian tradition, every 5 years you have to come here to renew your wedding vows.”

We piled into the limousine and went to the restaurant we had arranged for dinner. We were entertained with music and dancing. We watched dancers performing Hawaii’s famous Hula dance. Hula is a religious dance dedicated to kings and gods, but today it is performed as a show for tourists. A luau is a traditional Hawaiian party or feast, often accompanied by entertainment. It is an exciting event that captures the essence of Hawaiian culture, featuring live music, hula dancing, and a delicious array of food.

So, we had come to the end of the trip. We visited the whole island of Oahu. We had seen Lost movie locations, Honolulu, and Pearl Harbor. We witnessed Hawaiian entertainment and a Hawaiian wedding. Swimming on Waikiki beaches was an unforgettable memory.

At the airport, our suitcases were x-rayed at the exit as well as at the entrance. It was forbidden to bring plants from outside the island or to take the island’s plants outside. Therefore, the suitcases were searched every time as if they were coming or going from abroad. It was a surprise to see Terry O’Quinn, the actor who played John Locke in the TV series Lost, at the airport even the famous journalist among us interviewed him while waiting for the plane and later published it in the newspaper. After seeing my group off to Turkey, I returned to Miami.

I set my clocks 6 hours ahead for Miami and Turkey is 13 hours ahead of Hawaii. Japanese influence is very evident in Hawaii. We saw plenty of Asians on the streets. Many Japanese settled in the Hawaiian Islands which are 8 and half flight hours away from Japan. There is a ferry between the islands but there are not many small boats because it is very wavy. Islanders and tourists generally prefer to travel between the islands by plane, so we researched to go to Maui. Private planes are available at affordable prices, but we gave up because one day would not be enough. We added it to our dreams to go to another island next time. Hawaii is waiting for those looking for sea, sun, history, nature, and culture as a tourism paradise. Tourism is the number one source of livelihood in these islands lined up like pearls in the Pacific, with around 10 million visitors a year.

The state’s motto is Hawaiian. “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” means “The life of the land is sustained by righteousness”. In the Hawaiian language, which has 12 letters in the alphabet, the word Mahalo means “Thank you” and “See you again”. So, let’s all make the Shaka sign and say “Aloha Mahalo”.

Hope to meet you on the next trip,

Your travel-loving friend Canan

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Çok güzel yazmışsınız, okurken gitmiş gibi oldum. Havaii
    gideceğim yerler listesinde üst sıralara çıktı sayenizde.
    👍

  2. Harika bir çırpıda okudum keşke bende görebilsem dedim. Inşallah bir gün olur. Yazı dilin gayet akıcı. Gezmeye ve yazmaya devam arkadaşım.🧿💐🍀🐞💝😘🙋‍♀️😻

  3. Canancim harika bir makale olmus basarilarinin devamını dilerim güzel arkadaşım kalemine eline güzel yüreğine saglik

  4. .gitmemizin hayal olduğu yerler.guzel gezi yazıları sayesinde tanıyoruz.tesekkurler arkadasim

  5. Çok güzel bir yazı. İçinde her şey var.Hawai de güzel. Umarım bir gün gidebilirim.Kalemine sağlık Canancım…

  6. Çok teşekkürler
    Güzel bir anlatım ile kendimi adada hissettim.
    Ve çok ta keyifle okudum.
    Takibe devam ediyorum.
    Sevgiyle

  7. Kaleminize sağlık , keyifle okudum .
    Güzel yazılarınızın devamını okumayı diliyorum.
    Hawaii bekle bizi 🙂

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