Oh no, it’s over ;(

August 23, 2007 - Lihue, Hawaii, United States

A few readers asked about our last journal. You mean someone is actually reading this stuff? Well here it is... We are back in the States. We spent our last day in Tonga just hanging out. We had dinner with Ricky at Aquarium’s and chatted with Ben and Lisa some more. Leaving Tonga the next morning I knew our tour was over. I mean I felt it. We did have a 10-hour layover in Nadi, Fiji. So we ate at two restaurants that our friend Wendy suggested, Chef’s and The Royale Thai. At Chef’s we had a local Fiji dish called Kokoda (pronounced “kokonda”). Kokoda is dice fish in coconut and lime sauce.

Since we thought the shock of returning to a “normal” life might be enough to kill us, we decided to take it slow ;-) Hawaii is a great place for that! So we are enjoying, as if part of our vacation, two weeks back on Kauai before returning to Arizona. [Terry: I am glad we are back to Hawaii instead of... anywhere else, because we would have been soooo sad. We are already sad and only thing that keeps us going is the fact that we have a few weeks in Hawaii before facing back to real life. Mark and I still haven’t done our 2006 taxes yet.] We are staying with our Mahjongg friend Anne and spending our time visiting the beaches we love, dive the sites we didn’t have time to visit, spending time with friends and just winding down. Every morning we walk Teddy, Anne’s Corgi, and the three of us sit outside enjoying coffee. The other day we saw Harrison Ford’s plane flying over Kauai. He is filming the next Indiana Jones film on the island of Hawaii and is filming another film – Thunder-something-or-other – on Kauai. We finally made the time to dive Niihau and our friend Wendy joined us. Niihau is a small island North of Kauai with spectacular wall dives that reminded me of scenes from the second Tomb Raider movie. The huge rock formations underwater looked like the pancake rock we saw in New Zealand. And of’course Niihau is where to go to see the #1 endangered marine mammal in the US; the Monk Seals. First time Terry and I ever dove with Monk Seals. I got a chance to attend a K-9 search and rescue training and say “Aloha” – not really sure if I was saying goodbye or hello – to every one. We hiked Sleeping Giant a lot, hiked the Napali coast, BBQ’ed with friends on the beach, played Mahjongg – and even joined the Rummy Tile game group for a few nights, and had lunches and dinners with friends. It has been a great two weeks.

One night Anne invited us to a private reception thrown by the botanical gardens on the North shore mostly for contributors. This was the highlight of our two weeks in Kauai for me. We first stopped at a friend of Anne’s house where scenes from the movie South Pacific were filmed. We are embarrassed to admit that neither of us have seen the movie or the play. Anne was horrified to hear this and so tonight, our last night in Kauai, joined by Wendy, the four of us will be going to see the local production of South Pacific. On the huge property where parts of South Pacific was filmed, Hobey, his wife Nancy and their grown children all have houses. The gardens are a botanical version of Noah’s ark. Kathy, one of Hobey’s daughters, loaded up the back of the car with figs, two types of avocados, star fruit, lime, two types of papaya, guava, and two types of mango. In addition they grew bananas, lemon, plumeria, hibiscus, ginger I have never seen on the island before and others. And we weren’t even at the botanical gardens yet! We swam in their pool, built from the Hollywood money received for allowing filming on their property. The pool water constantly recycles from the mountain water flowing through their property. Their property is simply gorgeous. The botanical gardens reception was also great fun. We have never visited the gardens before – and didn’t have time this visit either since we only attended the reception – and were invited for a private tour when we return by the local director. Smack in the center of the gardens is about ½ an acre of private land on which a beautiful house stands. This is where reception took place. The history of the gardens and the property is fascinating but out of the scope of our tiny travel journal. We met a few interesting guests who were divers and avid travelers. One woman just finished a documentary on the receding glaciers in Antarctica and the effects of sea level rising on Hawaii. It was all very interesting.

Budget

Before leaving we budgeted the entire trip as best we could. We had a projected budget and a maximum that we were willing to extend to. Once on the road our trip changed considerably and the actual budget looks very different. My plans to spend 2 months in Thailand to take the dive instructor course changed. We only spent one month and spent the remaining month in Fiji which is much more expensive than Thailand. The other big change was the 4 dive liveaboards we did. All 4 were unplanned and liveaboards are expensive. We went over our original budget but still made sure we remained within our agreed maximum. I thought it might be interesting to look at the top expenses which are listed below.

26% Dive liveaboard costs
21% Flights
14% Intrepid Tours (Cambodia, Viet Nam, China)
12% Hotels
10% Meals
5% Excursions (All non-diving entertainment fees)

Thank you!

Now we have come to the end. I thought this trip would accomplish two things. Answer many of life’s questions and finally satisfy my unquenchable desire for travel. Wrong on both counts. The 6 months has raise more questions than it has answered and I seemed to have increased my desire to travel and see more of the world. My list has gotten longer, not shorter. Terry and I had great fun and thank all our friends that followed our journals, made comments, and rated our photos. We always looked forward to checking our blog for new comments and ratings. We thank our homeland “support staff” allowing us to ship packages to various homes on the mainland, and allowing us to crash with them while in this last transition. Miki and Shintaro and their families for putting us up a few nights, driving us to Nagano, and for the wonderful birthday party they threw for me. Also to Nakajima and the “mabudachi mujin” for meeting up with us and all the fun birthday presents and gifts. To Mari, my Japanese mother, for her usual and limitless warmth and kindness. Anne for the wonderful two weeks in Hawaii and all of the Aloha she has shown us. We also thank Wendy for synchronizing her trip to Tonga with ours so she could show us around. We would not have had the same experience without her. And hello to all of our new friends we met on the road. Thanks for helping making our experience the best it could be and for all the useful travel tips. Thanks to Peter for the free medical treatment of my finger – it seems to be healing well. Finally thanks to all of the people who encourage us, gave us that little push we needed, to take the first and scariest step toward making the trip a reality. Especially Kevin and Stacey who fit us in their schedule when they were busy with a move and travel of their own. And to Wendy who shared her extensible knowledge of Indonesia, Fiji, and Tonga. Sincerest thanks to you all! Mahalo, Arigato, Cam on, Xie xie, Khawp khun, Vinaka, Malo, and Thank you!

Pictures

Sad it is all over...
... but happy to be back
Wendy & Lani at Shipwreck
Sleeping Giant
 
 
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