Hawai’i – just getting there

I’m not sure how to write this post, as I’m not really a traveller, but I’m just going to start. It’s been a few days since I got home, and if I don’t do this now, I’ll have completely lost any travel blogging mojo I might have.

I was going to do one long post, but I think it will have to be a couple of smallish posts. Some things I want to write about will be more suited to the Critical Classroom, but the personal travel tidbits will be here. The posts will also be filled more with images than words. I’ve gone though about 1200 images, to find those that best represent my twelve days away from Australia.

Departing Brisbane
A few false starts. I thought my departure time was 11.30am, but no, it was 11.30pm. So back home we go. I said goodbye to the kids at around 8.00pm, checked-in, but with the flight delayed by four hours, we headed back home. I think the kids were a little “what the hell mum”, when they saw me for that second time. We finally ended up heading back to the airport at around 12.30pm as customs closes right on 2am, so we didn’t want to end up on the wrong side of customs.

The flight ended up departing Brisbane at 4am. We landed in Nadi, Fiji at around 8.30am. I spent the day with Jodie (from Brisbane) who arranged for a day of driving with Francis. We ended up at the Anchorage Resort for lunch. Fiji reminded me a lot of Cairns.

The first Fijians landed around 1500 BC on this very spot.

Arriving in Hawai’i
We gained a day on the trip to the United States. So while we departed Sunday, we also landed Sunday at around 1am. With a quick-ish shuffle through customs, I found a taxi, and headed straight to the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. Unfortunately, when I arrived, LB was not there, as there had been a mix up in the bookings. I walked around the corner to the next hotel and found her.  By the afternoon, the booking kerfuffle was sorted, and we were back at QK for the rest of the week.

Queen Kapiolani Hotel, Waikiki
Queen Kapi’olani (1934 – 1899)

After about three hours sleep, it was time to get up and head to Kapiolani Community College (KCC) for registration. We walked about an hour to the college (opposite Diamond Head Crater), to sort through the registration and get a sense of the venue.

In the afternoon I was keen to get my gifts sorted. Many Indigenous People have gift giving as part of their cultural practice – where there is a set time for visitors to bring gifts for their hosts. I took along a number of tshirts and books, however I hadn’t worked out how to present them. We used the afternoon to head to a shopping centre to find some stationary. If you’re in O’ahu, then you have to get yourself to Ala Moana, the biggest shopping centre in Hawaii, and the largest open air shopping centre (or “mall in US speak) in the United States.

Going postal?
Biggest open air shopping centre in the US.

I know a lot of people are serious about shopping, but I didn’t get any time to look around and do serious shopping for “stuff”. (Who really wants to travel and then just spend their time buying things you can buy at home or online?)


We ended up a Walmart, for our stationary stuff. What they say is true – there is everything in Walmart, including masses of people. I couldn’t get out of my mind though, how little their staff are paid. This feeling stayed with me for most of my trip. The fact that their minimum wages are so small, that they have to rely on tips in order to survive, is just crazy. And I’m 100% positive, that there were times when I completely messed up the tips, or just completely forgot to tip at all! I wonder how many Australian tourists make life hard for US workers – our tipping skills would be completely hopeless. On my last day in Waikiki, I met a young woman at Ala Moana, who does twelve hour shifts at $7 per hour. Her breaks (including toilet breaks) are every four hours and only about 15 minutes each. Needless to say, she had great shoes (she wasn’t allowed to sit down). Absurd.

Celeste, who was also in Hawai’i for the conference, has written about this better than I ever could.