Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hawaii Travelogue - IV - Last Day in Oahu

Sadly, this was our final day of our Hawaii vacation. During the two days(when we did the day trip to Big Island and Maui), we got some time to spend in Oahu's night life. It was always buzzing with tourists. The restaurants, souvenir shops, malls - almost everyone wearing Hawaiian print dress with a lei, greeting everyone with ALOHA. The ALOHA spirit percolated through every visitor in Hawaii.

We started our fourth and final day in Honolulu. Since, our hotel was on Waikiki beach side, we went to the beach and enjoyed the cool morning. After breakfast, we started our drive to Diamond Head Crater. Diamond Head Crater is a crater that has been extinct for 150,000 years. Here's an aerial view of the crater.We drove into the crater and parked in the middle ( the green rectangular place in the middle of the crater in the above picture) and took the 2 mile trail to the summit of the Crater. The trail is a moderate one with paved walkway and also two sets of stairs in the final lap. The view from the summit is breath-taking. You can see Downtown Honolulu and the turquoise Waikiki beaches and adjacent beaches along the West Oahu coast. Take a look at the majestic scenery in the picture below.

After the hike down from Diamond Head Crater, we went to Hanauma Bay. Its famous for the coral reefs abundant with its flora and fauna. It is the one of the most famous spots for snorkeling in Hawaii. It was fun to see small kids with the snorkeling gear splashing into the water to see fishes.

We continued our drive through Oahu's shorelines to stop at different view points to see the majestic rock formations, water-holes, white sand beaches etc. We spent our afternoon on the Makapu beach. I do not have any description for this beach..just serene, turquoise colored water..I am dumb-struck.

We headed back to the Honolulu and went to the famous Pearl Harbor late afternoon. We were shown a documentary video of the attack of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) . It was a sad moment, and we could not imagine that such a pristine, calm island could be attacked by anyone. We visited the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin submarine museum and paid our condolences for all the war victims.

And now it was time to head back to Los Angeles after a fine four day vacation in Hawaii. We thoroughly enjoyed each and every time spent in each of the islands. The experience really rejuvenated us and we bade good bye to Hawaii with the promise of coming back again. MAHALO!

Hope you enjoyed reading the posts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hawaii Travelogue -III - Day Trip to Maui

It was hard to believe that we had already spent 2 days of our vacation in Hawaii. And it was the second consecutive day of our day tripping - day trip to the beautiful island of Maui. It was a 30-minute flight from Honolulu to Kahului, Maui. Maui is known for its pristine, serene beaches with sparkling crystal blue waters and the tropical winds. Most of Maui beaches have white sand but black and red sand beaches are not uncommon. The black and red sand beaches are formed due to the volcanic activity in the area.

We rented a car from the Kahului Airport and decided to drive the 53-mile stretch of Hana Highway. This was the most recommended activity that the local people suggested us to do, since this was a day trip. Hana highway is 53 mile drive from Kahului to Hana, on the rugged terrain of Maui. Mind you, the 53 mile drive is not an easy task. The highway is just a single lane on each side with winding roads (more than 600 curves) and small bridges. The bridges are so rustic that only single lane goes through most of the bridges - one needs to yield to the oncoming traffic. The drive winds its way through bamboo forests, taro plantations, ocean views, beaches, bridges and waterfalls. There are many lookouts marked on the way that offer majestic views of ocean. The end of Hana Highway is the Pools of Oheo, which are a group of seven crystal and rock bound pool bordered by cliffs. We could not complete till end of Hana Highway, since we were running late and we were exhausted after the drive. So, we decided to turn back towards Kahului.

Many places on the Hana Highway and parts of Maui are featured in the movie Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, batteries of our camera died that day after clicking some pictures. So, I just have this picture from the Maui trip. But shows some of the beautiful pictures at each milepost on Hana Highway.
Some of the things that we missed on our day trip, but worth giving a thought when you plan Maui trip is the Helicopter ride to see the "Wall of Tears" and visit to the Haleakala national park.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Incredible India - Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all!

I salute our Father of the Nation, Gandhiji and the fellow freedom fighters for their perseverance and sacrifice.Without their efforts, we would not have seen this Incredible India. I miss my homeland today . My heart is full of thoughts about India.

The following video depicts our dynamic, growing country. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hawaii Travelogue - II - Day trip to Big Island

It was time for the day trip to Big Island, Hawaii. We boarded the Go Airlines flight from Honolulu (in Oahu) to Hilo (in Big Island). After a 45-minute flight, we reached Hilo - luscious green, mountains far and wide, very different from the cosmopolitan Honolulu. It is said that in Big Island, one can find about eleven different climate zones ranging from arid deserts to snow-capped mountains and also the rain forests. Isn't that unbelievable for an island which is only 4000 square miles?? Its about 1/40 of the State of California.

It was drizzling when we reached Hilo, and the smell of the sand and the overcast clouds made me nostalgic - took me back to Kerala, my native place!!

We rented a car and started our drive towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park is known for the active Kilauea volcano. The various craters and old lava flows are best viewed with the 11-mile drive called the Crater Rim Road. The place looked eerie - sulphur fumes all over giving off the smell of rotten egg, black hardened lava on both sides of the road. We witnessed many craters along our drive through the Park, the largest one being the Halema'uma'u crater(See the picture). Halema'uma'u is home to Pele, Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes. Native Hawaiian people still follow the ancient tradition and culture. Legends has it that people who carried away the black sand or rocks from these islands suffered great loss and bad luck at the hands of Goddess Pele.

One can see that all life forms were completely obliterated which came on the way of the lava flow. But it was nice to see that some vegetation growing back after years of hibernation. The lava here flows from the mountains to the ocean and this is clearly seen when the drive takes you from the mountain top to the ocean side. Very hard, black igneous rocks are formed when the molten lava hits the water and sometimes it forms sea arches and other various structures(View picture below). There are helicopter rides over the active Kilauea Volcano which gives an opportunity to view the molten lava flow. But since it was raining, we skipped that part.

The last point of interest was the Thurston Lava Tube. These are underground cave-like structures formed by the lava flow. The trail to the lava tube was damp, with little sunlight, birds chirping and very cool compared to the eerie, black, sulphur smelling volcanic craters. It was really unbelievable to see that these two different climates in just about 5 mile distance.

We spent time till afternoon exploring more places in the National Park,grabbed some lunch from the refreshments area in park and headed back to Hilo.

The next destination was Akkaka Falls (see picture). The drive to Akkaka Falls was along the coastline from Hilo. One the way, we also drove through luscious rain forest, local farms to reach the Onomea Bay. After visiting Akkaka Falls, we made our trip back towards Hilo, visited the Rainbow Waterfalls and the Boiling Pots waterfall.

And then, it was time for bid good bye to Big Island but with the promise of coming back next time for more days. We were awed at the experience that we had during the day seeing volcanoes, rain forests, pristine black sand beaches, waterfalls.... Some things that we missed, but readers should consider while visiting Big Island are watching molten lava from helicopter or by 8-mile hike during night, Mauna Kea, hike through Waipio Valley, visit Kona coffee plantations and orchid plantations in the area.

Next post will be Hawaii Travelogue-III - Day trip to Maui.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hawaii Travelogue - I

I have been thinking to post my Hawaii trip experience for a long time now. Today, I have overcome my laziness and here I am writing my first ever travelogue. I intend to divide the travelogue into each of the days I spent in the beautiful Hawaiian islands.

Our travel to Hawaii was planned more than a month ahead, so that we could get good deals in air tickets and hotels. We googled for the best places to visit for a 4 day 4 night vacation. Since this was our first time visiting the islands, we were in an exploratory mood rather than a luxurious, relaxing one. We also read that the best time to visit is in the month of May since it is an off-season in Hawaii. But I wouldn't think so. There were lots and lots of people in Honolulu where we stayed for 4 nights. The city was always buzzing with tourists.

Now, let me just tell you the geography of Hawaii. Hawaii state consists of six islands- Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Big Island, Maui. Of these, Oahu is the most advanced with modern luxuries but preserving the inherent beautiful nature in it. Honolulu is in the island of Oahu.

On Friday evening, we landed in Honolulu.Before landing, we need to fill up a Hawaii state agriculture department form. This is a way to ensure that people do not get plants/animals which are not indigenous to Hawaii. One of our flight attendants said that there are no snakes in Hawaii and just last week they had arrested a person who was trying to smuggle in snakes from the mainland. I was surprised as well as relieved when I heard there were no snakes. Relieved because, we could go hiking to forests without getting to worry about the snakes!!

ALOHA - Welcome to Hawaii.

The warm, moist but gentle evening breeze of Honolulu welcomed us... The sweet, subtle fragrance of primavera flowers on our lei welcomed us..They also conveyed to us "Mahalo" (Thankyou in Hawaiian) for visiting.

Most of the hotels in Honolulu area are in Waikiki, close to the famous Waikiki beach. There is a bus shuttle, $9 per person, from the airport to the hotels, which takes atleast 45 min to reach Waikiki. We reached Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel for our night stay. Though 6 hr flight from LA was a pleasant one, but the time lag made us weary and tired. Hawaii time is 3 hrs behind the Pacific Time.

Waikiki beach was a small walk from our hotel and we enjoyed the twilight in Waikiki, appreciating the cool breeze and the lights along the beach. Since it was a Friday night, the beach side hotels had an array of music and dance performances from the local artists wearing costumes in authentic Hawaiian prints. We enjoyed the performances along the beach side, with the sun slowly setting and the Hawaiian music blending with the sound of ocean waves.

We had planned a day trip to the Big Island next day morning, so we retired for the day after our dinner. Both of us were eagerly looking forward for our 4 days in Hawaii.

This post is continued in Hawaii Travelogue-II.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Star is Born

I am always amazed by the different aspects of life especially how life is created. Starting from a single cell, it takes different forms during its course and then finally comes into this world bringing its aura to many others lives. My friend recently delivered a baby girl and she was named Arya. Looking at her picture today, I was thinking about the past few months when she was in her mother's womb oblivious of the world outside - its colors, aromas, intricacies and what not. But surely she would have been enjoying her little world of her own. And on 26th June 2007, she burst out into this outside world to start her journey like all of us. I wish my friend heartiest congratulations and lots of love to her bundle of joy, Arya.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How to plant your Garden

I got these instructions from my cousin and I thought it was very thoughful one. So, here are the instructions.

First, you Come to the garden alone,while the dew is still on the roses....


1. Peace of mind
2.Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

1. Lettuce be faithful
2 Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends