Believe it or not, but I’ve been in Hawaii for a week! It was one of the best weeks in my life! I met a lot of new amazing people and we did a lot of things. When I found out I could do a trip with Belo travel I was really excited. AFS allows their exchange students to do a trip with this organization. I could choose between a couple of different destinations, I chose for Hawaii.
Saturday March 28th I finally left to Hawaii, where I would stay at the island O’ahu. First I flew to Dallas together with Diane (Switzerland), Ivanka (Chile) and Ilka (Belgium). From here we said a quick goodbye to Ilka who would fly with another flight to Honolulu. Diana, Ivanka and I got some food and we went to our gate where we met Ruth (Norway) and Celina (Germany). We flew together with them to Honolulu, Hawaii. The flight from Dallas to Honolulu was about 8 hours. Diane was sitting in front of me and Ivanka was in front of her. We all had a window seat. Arrived in Honolulu we found out that Benji (Norway) was in our plane too. We went all together to the baggage pick up and got our bags. After this we all walked to baggage pick up H where we had to meet up. Here someone from Belo was waiting together with some others who did the trip. We all walked together to the bus. Here we had to wait for a while before we left to our hotel. When we arrived there we had to choose a color group (I was in Orange) and we had to fill out some papers. Then we got our roomkey. I was together on the room with Patricia (Switzerland), Tomasine (Norway) and Tina (Argentina). At 9pm we had a quick orientation where Belo explained some things about the rules, what we would do and that sunscreen was really important here. That night I didn’t sleep really good. I think it was because of a jetlag.
O’ahu from the air
The next morning we had to leave at 8am. We walked with the whole group (99 people from all around the world) to Waikiki beach. Here my group (Orange) started with some free time. I went into the ocean and got a subway sandwich for lunch. At 11am we started with a catamaran tour. Here we had an amazing sight on Honolulu and the Diamond head. From the boat we saw a sea turtle and dolphins. Our group was the only group who saw this.
Catamaran tour. Diamond head in the background
When we came back at the beach I went together with Ellie (Switzerland) and Paul (Austria) to a man who had parrots where you could take pictures with. These pictures where really cool! It took longer than we expected so after we took all the pictures we had to run back to our group to go to our surf lesson. It was a lot of fun to try this. We had to paddle every time back and an instructor helped us to get enough speed. I think I did pretty good. I stood the first time and only fell 1 or 2 times. After surfing we had some free time again. I went to Denny’s together with Patricia, Ellie, Bas (Thailand) and JJ (Thailand) to Denny’s to get some food and a refill for my water bottle. At night we went into Waikiki again with the whole group, we went to a pizza place to eat. After dinner we had free time in Waikiki. We saw a show of street artists and went to a super cute market where you could buy all small souvenirs. At night we had a meeting again where we got information about the next day.
With my Hawaiian parrot friends
Shaka!! Hang loose!
With Ellie (Switzerland)
With Paul (Austria) and Ellie (Switzerland)
In front of the Duke Paoa Kahanamoku statue with JJ, Ellie, Patricia and Bas
Monday morning we left from our hotel at 9am. We went first to a kind of Pineapple garden. Here I got a change to crack open an oyster to get a pearl. My pearl was black, which means wisdom. At that place they also had the best pineapple whip. This was really good, normally I don’t really like pineapple. But the pineapple at Hawaii tasted different I think, it was sweeter. After we went there we went to North Shore. They have the biggest waves here and people from all around the world come there for surfing. We went to the town there to eat some lunch. I ate together with Ellie, Patricia, Bas, JJ, Ploi (Thailand) and Baitong (Thailand) at Kua’aina, this is a Hawaiian burger place. I also bought a surfing shirt in North Shore. After lunch at North Shore we drove further and we drove by a lot of beaches where our amazing busdriver Rwanda explained things. We stopped at Sunset beach. Here we could make some pictures. It was a really pretty beach. We just stayed there for like 30 minutes. After that we went to the Polynesian culture center.
In front of Kua’aina
Group picture at Sunset beach
We started at the Polynesian culture center with a Hula dance lesson. It was fun to do. No one could remember the dance. So when we had to do it alone we just started laughing because we didn’t know how the dance would go further. After that we split up in 3 groups to do another activity. I couldn’t find the group I wanted so I went with another group. Here we didn’t stay that long. I just walked around with Ellie, JJ and Baitong. We first found a boat where we could do a quick ‘tour’ we did this. After that we walked around a little longer and we decided to go to a theater to see a 15 minutes movie about Hawaii. When it ended we had to meet up with our group again. At the place where we had to meet up was a show. Here a man showed us how to make fire, how to get coconut milk out of a coconut only with your hands and someone climbed in a palm tree. When the show ended we went to dinner. Here we could try out some Hawaiian foods. I got everything. It was a lot of food and I couldn’t finish it. We had some free time after dinner. In this time I met up with Jerica. She is a skater who lives in Hawaii and works at the Polynesian culture center. Brandon knew her and told her I would be there and that’s how I met up with her. In the evening we had a show there with all kinds of Polynesian dance styles. It was a lot of fun to see! I think I lost my camera bag here. But l luckily had my camera in my hands. It’s only the bag that’s gone. On our way back in the bus we watched the movie 51 first dates. This movie was recorded in the area we saw that day. That was pretty cool to know! 🙂
Polynesian culture center
Polynesian culture center
Polynesian culture center, meeting up with Jerica
We had a beachday on Tuesday. We went with the whole group to Waimanalo beach. They say this is one of the nicest and cleanest beaches in Hawaii. On our way there we made two stops. The first one was at a place where you had an amazing sight. Here everyone made a lot of pictures and we also made a group picture. I think a fun fact from Hawaii is there are chickens walking around on a lot of places. These chickens blew away once with a storm and made the place where they landed their new home.
The chickens walked everywhere!
With Patricia (Switzerland), Mateus (Brazil), JJ and Bas (Thailand)
Enjoying the view
After we enjoyed our view for a while we went to a place where we could buy our lunches. We couldn’t buy food at the beach where we were going. Ellie and I bought together a normal bread and nutella, also some grapes, a pineapple (which we couldn’t open) and some animal cookies. We shared our food with others and we could get their food too at the beach. So we had a lot of food total. We knew it wouldn’t be possible to open a pineapple with a plastic knife. But we used our pineapple for some pictures. At the beach we went swimming, eating, playing football and volleyball and later Ellie and I made sand angels. It was a fun day at the beach. The waves in the ocean took me a few times down and one time was painful for my back. After that I didn’t go into the water anymore. But it was still a lot of fun and I don’t feel my back anymore! 🙂
Doing groceries with Ellie for our beachday
With the pineapple at Waimanalo beach
Doing ‘The lion king’ with Ellie and the pineapple
Chicago girls at Waimanalo beach
Look!! A Hawaiian pineapple!!
Picnic at the beach
AFS in Hawaii!
Making sand angels with Ellie
After a long day at the beach we went back to our hotel. We stopped by a place where you can sometimes see whales on our way back. We saw a few times water going up into the air far away. It could’ve been a whale, but I’m not sure. At night we ate at the Hard Rock Café. Here I bought 2 shirts and that night in the city I went to the nice market again where I probably bought some more small souvenirs.
Hard Rock Cafe
With some random tourists from California
On Wednesday we broke our big group up in two groups. My group went hiking on Diamond Head and the other group went snorkeling. It was really pretty on Diamond head. From up there you had an amazing sight on Honolulu, the island and the ocean. Of course we made a lot of pictures up here. A lot of us took the flag (I brought mine too) and this was really nice for the pictures. After we were up there for a while we went down again to the bus. The bus dropped us off on Waikiki beach. Here I went stand-up paddling with my Belgium friends Marlies and Celine. This was one of the extra activities that we could do. We went on the ocean. This was harder than in Giethoorn on the lakes, where I did it before. I also had my camera in my hand so it was sometimes hard to balance. I fell twice of my board. During standup paddling we saw a sea turtle which was really close. That was so cool!! I wanted to make a video of it. But my camera decided to die just before we saw the turtle. Luckily Marlies was able to make a picture of the turtle. After standup paddling we walked to a soccerfield. Here we did a game. We arrived a little later, so I only played the second half. I think my team lost.. But it was still a lot of fun. In the evening we went to Ala Moana Mall. This is the largest open air shopping mall in Hawaii (maybe even in the world). I didn’t buy stuff here, I was kinda proud of myself! 🙂 Well didn’t buy stuff…. I bought some stuff at Bubba Gump, the place where we ate. But I didn’t buy that much there. 😉
Being international at Diamond Head
Amazing view on Honolulu from Diamond Head
It was just a perfect tree to climb in….
Stand-up paddling with Celine and Marlies
We played soccer on this field
Ala Moana Mall
Thursday was a day to learn something about the history. We went to Pearl Harbor. This is a memorial center for the ships that sunk on December 7th 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona ship is still there in the water. We could see this. This ship is also the resting place for people who died on the ship during the attack. There were so many names on the wall, it was sad.. There was also a survivor from the attack there, he will turn 98 in June. He was really nice and we took pictures with him. We also got a sign. I bought his book that he wrote himself with a sign. 🙂 Some survivors want to be buried with their mates from the ship when they die. So there will be special funerals there where they put the body into the ship, this is impressive I think. The attack killed a lot of people and changed a lot of lives. This was also the day that the US came into the World War II.
With the Pearl Harbor attack survivor
I bought his book!
Memorial place USS Arizona
So many people who lost their lives during the attack…
USS Arizona memorial
After Pearl Harbor we did a city tour. We drove around on a cemetery which was I think to remember special people like a memorial. After that we went to the Capital building, this one had a different form than the normal capital buildings have. This one had like a volcano in it which stands for the volcanos that made the island. It also had like palm trees in it. Here the group made a picture of all the girls. Unfortunately I missed this picture because I had to go to the bathroom. I found out 10 minutes later that they made the picture.. 🙁 We walked further to the palace of the queen that Hawaii had a long time ago. We also went to the palace of king Kamehameha, the guys made here their guys picture and we made some more pictures here. This was our city tour.
In front of King Kamehameha
When we came back in the hotel we had some free time. I went together with Bas, JJ, Ellie, Ploi and Baitong into Waikiki. We made pictures in a photo booth, it was a lot of fun but it was hard to fit all of us in the picture. We didn’t really fit all together in the photo booth. Then we went into some shops, we didn’t buy stuff but at one shop we started talking to the person who worked there. About being exchange students and doing this trip and about Hawaii. He (the person who worked there) also learned us some more sentences in Hawaiian. The pronunciation is pretty hard.. After our Hawaiian lessons we went further to a place where we could buy shaved ice. This is really popular in Hawaii, I had it once or twice before. Those times the taste was really sweet. The one I had now had really the taste of the strawberry and the mango. It was really good and so much better than the times I had it before! We also went again the super cute market, which I really loved. The people there really want to sell and were sometimes a little pushing until you bought something. All the souvenirs they had were nice. And luckily they didn’t do that with me. When we walked back to our hotel we saw a really nice sunset. I made an awesome picture here! In the evening we went eating at Mac 24-7, it was good food but I’ve had better that week. In the evening we had a beach party with the group. It was fun to go into the water at night and to see the City at night. Also to hang out with the people ofcourse! 🙂
Some Hawaiian words/sentences
Eating shaved ice with Bas, Ploi, Baitong, Ellie and JJ
Then it was Friday already. Time went so fast.. On Friday we had to get up early because I would go snorkeling!! 😀 We left the hotel at 7am to Hanauma bay to go snorkeling. This bay was really pretty! For snorkeling we had ‘buddies’, my buddy was Haya (Yemen). I took pictures and videos with my HD SJ4000 during snorkeling and I took pictures with an underwater camera that a friend from NL gave before I came to the US. I don’t know yet if those pictures turned out. But I will see if it did soon I hope. Haya and I went once up the hill of the bay to get some food. There was like a car who drove people up and down. We got a daypass for it, that wasn’t that expensive. After we came down again there wasn’t much time left. We stayed a little longer and then we went up to go back to our bus. Snorkeling was really fun! We saw a lot of different kinds of fishes. Those fishes weren’t afraid, so you could swim really close to them. It was beautiful!! When we walked back to the bus I also made a really nice picture of a white heron where I’m really proud of! 🙂
Snorkeling with Haya (Yemen)
Snorkeling with Haya (Yemen)
The Hawaiian state fish: Humuhumu Nukunuku Apua’a
Amazing picture of a white heron
When we came back at the hotel we walked a little towards the city. I bought Spam Musubi to try to eat, some friends back home (Illinois) said I had to try it, this was pretty good. I heard some people don’t like it at all. But I thought it wasn’t bad. We didn’t go that far into the city and not too long. Back at the hotel we could make a fresh flower necklace, like the ones where you think of when you think of Hawaii. On our last evening in Hawaii we went to a Luau on the West side of the island. With being here we’ve seen all sides of O’ahu. Here they had some Hawaiian activities to do. You could get a temporary tattoo (which was really easy to wash of) and I got like a ‘crown’ with flowers. Don’t know this quick a better way to explain that. From here you should be able to see the sunset really good, I thought I had seen better the night before. The sun wasn’t all the way on the ocean like it was the night before. At the Luau we also ate dinner, and during dinner we saw a hula show. We got a card which was $8 worth at the shops there, so during the show I went to the souvenir shop to get a souvenir. I got an Hawaiian license plate which says ‘ALOHA’. After the show we could make some pictures with the dancers and then we had to go back with the bus for our last night.
With our amazing busdriver Rhonda
Getting a Hawaiian tattoo (With a kind of pencil. You ruined it easily)
At Luau with amazing people
With Ploi and Nona (Finland)
Picture with some of the dancers in the Luau show
We had a meeting when we came back at our hotel where we looked back on things we did and with information for the next day where we had to fly back. After that we had free time in a room. Here the most of us let others sign our trip shirt or flags. I also looked over some pictures during this night and I said goodbye to some people that I wouldn’t see anymore. It was sad to say goodbye. 🙁
On Saturday April 4th we had to fly back to our host states again. I had to leave the hotel at 10.30, so in the morning I had time to say goodbye to other people. I also sort some pictures to see which ones I would put on facebook. At 10.15 I had to go to the bus. Saying goodbye to the last people who were there and then we really had to leave. Arrived at the airport we had to check in, go through security and wait until our flight would leave. The security here was different than other airports. They took random people out of the line and checked their hands if there are no illegal chemicals on, I think that was the reason. They like went with a paper over your hands and then they put it in a machine which would check it. And with the scan you didn’t have to take of your shoes or put your laptop apart from your other stuff. Normally at airports they always say that you have to take your laptop out. But I had to put it back in my bag. Everything was good so we could go further to the gate. I flew my first flight to Los Angeles, California with Diane, Ivanka, Ilka, Suvi (Finland) and Hana (Slovenia). Diane made a sign with ‘Belo Travel USA’ when we were waiting in our gate in the hope someone who would arrive for the next week would see us and then we could meet them. Unfortunately no one came to us. Our flight was good and we arrived in time for our next flight. In LA we had to say goodbye to Hana and Ilka and we were with four of us left. Diane, Ivanka, Suvi and I went to a burger place to eat at 1am, it was really early but we needed to eat and this was one of the cheaper places. It was really expensive there…. After eating and waiting we finally could board to our plane. We had to say goodbye to Suvi who had to wait for a couple more hours.. In the plane they announced that the flight was delayed for at least 40 minutes. Luckily it was one of the best planes I’ve ever been in and I could watch a movie and charge my phone and laptop. The flight was good and I arrived around 8am in the morning at O’hare. I picked up my bag and said bye to Diane and Ivanka, who I will see for sure again because they live close to me.
Back at the airport
Hanauma bay, the place were we went snorkeling from the air
I will miss you!!
Back in Chicago
My hdad and Hannah picked me up from O’hare. That day I just tried to stay awake. I went to church with the family and in the noon to my hgrandparents for an Easter dinner. Monday I had to go to school again, I was really tired. Tuesday I felt horrible and sick and today (Wednesday) I stayed home because I’m still not feeling good. I hope I will feel better soon. I’ve had an amazing week looking back on this week. I’ve had a lot of fun and I met so many amazing people! I miss all of them and I miss Hawaii of course. If someone would offer me a ticket back right now I would go!! I hope I can meet up with a lot of people who were there later and I hope I will get back to Hawaii once. It is amazing there!!
Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for reading this blog! I hope you enjoyed it!!
Aloha from Illinois!! 🙂
For people who were on the trip:
Mahalo nui loa for being such amazing people!! I had an amazing week and I hope I will see you guys again in the future!!!! Love you!!
Right now I’m ‘homesick’ to Hawaii with you guys!