It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything, so I figured that I needed to catch up.
We went on a family vacation to Honolulu over the holidays, and were there during the post-Christmas island-wide blackout, which was pretty crazy. Power was out for about half a day, but the outage continued to have an effect well into the next day – for example, many restaurants and coffee shops didn’t have baked goods or food produced off-site the next morning, because their suppliers were unable to make it without power! Honolulu was fun and interesting to see, although it definitely felt quite touristy – outside the city, though, that feeling diminished and it was much easier to enjoy the sights without feeling oppressed (for lack of a better word). It was interesting that most of the tourist infrastructure is fairly old – 60’s era – and some of it is starting to show its age. Unlike Vegas, however, developers are reluctant (or unable) to rebuild or drastically renovate their properties. I’ve read descriptions of Honolulu personified as an “aging star,” which seems pretty spot-on to me.
Another interesting observation was how dependent Hawaii is on Asian tourism, in particular the Japanese. In California, and in many other areas of the country, we’re accustomed to seeing Spanish as the standard second language on signs or paperwork. In Hawaii, that second language, at least in tourist areas, is Japanese. It will be interesting to see how the Japanese (and worldwide) recession affects Hawaii, but I can’t imagine that the tourism industry there will be doing well over the next couple of years.
We stayed through the New Year, and as a result, got to see what the holidays are like in an area where fireworks are legal. Practically the whole island was shooting off fireworks in a constant barrage that lasted about an hour. It was definitely pretty impressive, and, because we were watching from the 39th floor, we got a great view of much of the island celebrating. The funniest thing for me was that there were some people out there who were shooting off flare guns, including a simultaneous 5-shot finale at the stroke of midnight.