from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #50: Ten Days in Hawaii

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Nice vacations are wasted on me. I’ve been in Hawaii for ten days and I haven’t seen anything and it’s fine by me. Last night, Sang and Annie and I went up to Manoa where Ian and Yoko are house-sitting for a septuagenarian professor whose house has a wood-burning stove just inside the entrance and monstrous piles of hoarded junk downstairs and litchi and avocado and some kind of indigenous apple trees outside. As the night went on and guests came and went, Ian and Mano were vying for the rights to my Sunday, to take me to Kailua Beach or to take me to a Hawaiian Vietnamese birthday party. I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, opting out of those plans on an excuse that will probably not materialize but was useful nonetheless.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m not much of a tourist. Seeing the lava fields on the Big Island or hiking up to Diamond Head crater are somewhat appealing but I know that in that moment, I’ll think “This is nice” and maybe I’ll take a picture and then I’ll never think of the place again or look at the picture again. Although I once prided myself on my photography, I know that I can open up Google Images and find dozens of pictures which capture the beauty of those places better than I can and putting myself in a picture with my fingers in a V has never meant anything to me.

The experience has always been much more precious to me and so I enjoy unique experiences that aren’t packaged in tours and make pretty pictures. I enjoy waking up in the morning to the sounds of the half-Indian kids playing next door, the oldest sister making games for her younger brothers and sisters to play. They’re home-schooled and their playground is the walkway that surrounds Sang and Annie’s house. I enjoy walking out to the street for a smoke and hearing the barking of the neighbor’s dog as it approaches and allows me to scratch behind its ears and pet its back through the gap in the fence with the sign that reads Beware of Dog. I enjoy waking up and the sun is bright and there is no humidity but frequent sprinkles that seem to come out of nowhere and from nowhere in particular.

I’ll remember playing football with Sang’s friends in the middle of the day and not being able to walk for four days. I’ll remember the barbecue we had at Ala Moana, worrying about whether we could get the coals to light and sneaking beers in plastic cups. I’ll remember the house party at a different professor’s house where Hiroki left early and took home two beers and the outrage Sang expressed for days afterward. I’ll remember Ian stealing a chair from a little girl. I’ll remember heading to the high school fundraiser in the morning with Annie and coming home with a box full of very reasonably priced used books. I’ll remember watching the NBA finals with Sang and sometimes Ian and it was a good series. I’ll remember going to Little Seoul and having drinks, our tabletop loaded with banchan and jeon and odengtang.

All these memories are things that aren’t necessarily specific to Hawaii but they are specific to my experience in Hawaii. Of course, the palm trees and the beaches give the experience setting and I try to go out to the beach when I can or walk along the streets with no specific destination. The people here also give my memories setting, with their tanned skin and many tattoos and general friendliness to a complete stranger, a tourist in the more general sense of the word. I have only four more days in paradise and I know I’ll miss it when I’m back in the chaotic, self-centered streets of Seoul but I also know that I won’t have any regrets that I didn’t do or see more.

Walking back to Sang and Annie’s on Piikoi


Written by Young

June 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

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