Comments on Honolulu
I’m on my first trip to Honolulu. I find it an interestingly juxtaposition of a city for several reason.
First, there are the natives. The overthrow of the Hawaiian Royal Family is either seen as another example of American Capitalism backed American Imperialism, or an successful attempt by the natives themselves to throw off the shackles of Monarchy and join Democracy. All the history signs in the city on statues talking about the last Royal Family, simply state that there was an revolution. I’m looking forward to visiting the Dole Plantation (supposed seat of the American Capitalist forces behind the overthrow,) too see what is said about the revolution there. My guess based on literature so far is that little to nothing will be stated, and the focus of the Plantation will be 100% about the crops they grew.
Except for at Pearl Harbor itself, there is no mention of WWII anywhere on the island. The USS Arizona Memorial was interesting, and brought tears to not just my eyes, but quite a few others too. It was almost exclusively Americans there, most of who were seniors. A few Japanese people were about, and the few Hawaiians I saw all seemed to be employees.
Natives are very much a minority in town. Most people here are mixed race, or pure Japanese. Native Hawaiian culture surrounds us, but it’s all watered down and touristy. Nightly Hulu Shows on the beach, lei’s on all the statues. But most interestingly, not in the food. Everything is either Japanese inspired, or WWII short ration inspired. Lots of rice, cheap meat with teriyaki sauce, brown gravy. Few vegetables or salads on menus. And, much fewer fish options that I expected.
Japanese people are everywhere. At least 3 to 1 compared to everyone else together. Those working with public contact speak English very well – usually with very little accent. I also noted that employees will be primarily one race or another. Dining is also staffed along racial/cultural lines. Places geared towards Americans, (Cheese Burger in Paradise, Margaritaville, Planet Hollywood, etc,) are staffed by Americans with a Japanese or Hawaiian employee or two. The Hello Kitty Seafood Buffet (seriously, even has a “licensed by” logo near the name) is 100% Japanese. I’m assuming Hello Kitty herself is also Japanese, but I’m not sure how you’d tell.
The main strip along the beach is definitely geared towards affluent tourists. High End dining (not always good dining though,) high end shopping, high end high-rise hotels. Sidewalks are paved with flagstones and meander back and forth around water features. Gas lit tiki torches cluster under palm trees. It’s all very serene, and somewhat surreal at times.
But two blocks in the scene changes. Lower end dining (and somewhat better tasting,) lower end shopping – IE Three T-Shirts OR Two Bikinis for $20.
The big hotels all double as shopping malls. The first two or three stories are completely devoted to dining or shopping. This caused a bit of problem at check in, as I was confused walking in – the signs said “Front Desk,” then they changed the nomenclature to “Reception,” so I spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out where to even check in.
Another thing I never saw in the tour books – prostitution. First night here I didn’t get into the hotel until near midnight local time. The hotel’s restaurants were closed, so I walked along the street looking for something, anything open and edible. There was a group of three girls standing on the corner right across from the police station. A bit further down the street, a fairly pretty, but VERY thing blonde accosted me in the middle of the side walk and flat out said “Wanna come to my room for some fun.” Two blocks down further, another blond, quite a bit chubbier this time tried to talk to me. I politely said “No Thank You,” and walked by. As I was coming back (not able to find anything edible that direction,) she started getting mad that I was walking by again, and demanded for me to come over to her! Still further on, another girl physically blocked my way and moved to block me as I tried to get around her, even after I said “No thanks,” twice.
There were a few Japanese girls working too, but they would only approach Japanese Guys, and even then, only the young ones, mid-twenties and younger.
I asked a police officer about it, and he said that as long as they don’t make trouble they let them do their thing because it helps bring in the tourists. He did ask me to describe the one who blocked my way and said he’d go talk to her as that was going too far.
Scenery wise, I’m having a hard time getting into things. I don’t find the ocean that interesting in general. What scenery there is in the immediate area is covered with huge blocky hotels. The beach scenery is non-existent. I’d try to talk more to some of the Japanese People, but my Japanese is pretty much limited to “Ready the forward laser gun! FIre!,” and “Good Day, do you speak English?” Two phrases that will only get me so far.
I’m looking forward to discovering the rest of the Island. I’m hoping that things will be different once we get further away from Honolulu.