I knew, of course, that Hawaii is the "Aloha State". But, until I experienced Hawaii, I didn't fully understand what that meant. Following are some examples of situations in which I encountered the Aloha spirit during my short stay on the island:
- Betsy, a Honolulu resident who sat next to me on the long flight from Chicago to Honolulu, dedicated hours during the flight helping to fine tune my itinerary. She recommended some great photography locations, interesting stops, events and restaurants throughout Oahu. Without her help, I would have never experienced the Chinese New Year Parade in Honolulu's Chinatown or the Hawaii Plantation Village--two of the many highlights of my trip.
- While visiting the Hawaii Plantation Village, I met one of the long-time volunteers who has conducted tours for more than 40 years. She is in her 80's now. After my tour, she insisted that I sit down inside the visitor center and eat a home-cooked dinner that she prepared. She kept saying how much she enjoys cooking for people. She even packed some desserts in zip lock bags to go--so I would have something for later at the hotel. This worked out perfectly as I enjoy eating food that's prepared by others! The meal was excellent.
- Gary was my tour guide at the Hawaii Plantation Village. When I arrived at the Village, I was the only one there. So, I received a personal tour. Gary told me that we could do the 2 hour (long) or the 30 minute (short) version of the tour. I told him that maybe we could see how it goes. The tour lasted 3 hours! His goal was to make sure that I gained a better understanding of Hawaii during my stay.
- While shooting a sunrise at Sandy Beach in Honolulu, I met Chantel, a talented photographer currently working on a 365 project. As part of this project, Chantel is photographing every sunrise of the year! Throughout my time on Oahu, she kept in touch and provided me with recommendations for the best sunrise and sunset locations. She helped me immensely by steering me to locations where I had the best chance of success. Specifically, I learned to stay further south to avoid the cloud covered areas of the northeast portion of Oahu.
- Many people went out of their way to help me get my pictures throughout my trip. I photographed 5 churches. In some of those churches, someone stayed after hours to allow me to capture photographs without people in the frame. And, they lit the church to my liking. One historic church was closed for renovation, yet I was allowed to enter and shoot alongside the construction workers to get my pictures of the interior.
- The employees at the Hawaii State Capitol helped me gain access to capture images inside the House chamber. This was particularly challenging due to security surrounding the opening of the legislative sessions that week.
- A man introduced himself to me while I was taking photographs of the Laie Hawaii Temple. He is living with his wife in Laie for the next several months as part of a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Specifically, they volunteer their services at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I ran into him again while visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). He showed me around the center, introduced me to some of the performers and joined me for dinner at the PCC's luau. My experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center was enhanced greatly by this.
- The drivers in Honolulu were courteous. As a tourist, I often needed to make late lane changes to get over to an exit. Never once did I hear a horn blow. Never once did anyone not let me into a lane.
In my next post, I'll share some of the unusual things that I experienced while on Oahu--some good, some not so good and some very trivial.