May 27, 2003

There are Only 29 Hours in a Day, Y'know!

We were married on a cool, gray, damp Sunday before Memorial Day - I don't mean to make it sound like a downer, because it was a lovely ceremony and reception. We actually got lucky as the day prior was pouring rain and the day after was positively monsoonish. I distinctly remember driving to return the tuxedos and not being able to see the road ahead of me. Our wedding day was a long day, as we had two ceremonies and, well, everyone's wedding day is a long affair. So waiting a day before flying out was a very, very smart decision to say the least. We were able to pack and clean up the apartment and best of all, prepare a nice, fat wedding gift bank deposit to help fund our trip. So to many of you reading this, thanks again for making this honeymoon possible!

I had been to Hawaii once before as a 15-year-old Boy Scout on my way to Australia for the World Jamboree. (Laugh all you want - and I'll just repeat: I went to Australia for 3 weeks when I was 15 years old. What were you doing? Working at Carvel to save a few bucks for a weekend at the Jersey shore with your parents? Thought so.) I spent 3 days on Oahu in a true monsoon but still only had fond memories. Hoang only had the memories of various sitcom Hawaiian specials; Sanford and Son, Saved by the Bell, The Brady Bunch, etc.)

I knew the flight would be long, but I also knew it would be well worth it. As I've mentioned before, Hoang couldn't care less about long flights as she just sleeps the majority of the time. I don't remember anything remarkable about the flight out there - or should I say flights? I know we had to change planes in Cincinnatti and at LAX, which I actually like as it breaks up the monotony. I thought about pulling the, "We're on our honeymoon!" trick that supposedly gets you a free glass of champagne or even First Class upgrade, but didn't bother. After landing in Honolulu, where the vast majority of travelers disembark and stay for a spell, we instead hopped on another plane to island hop over to Kauai, the Garden Isle.

Our Sheraton at Poipu Beach

Kauai is the northernmost populated Hawaiian island and arguably the most beautiful. It's small and only has a few roads on it. There are two "cities" with resorts and a few towns in between. The entire Northwestern quadrant is more or less uninhabited mountains and cliffs and canyons - unspoiled wild beauty. There are lots of hiking trails and outfitters offering sailboat, helicopter, and horse rides. Blah, blah, blah... Upon arrival we were only interested in getting to our hotel, getting some food in our bellies, and getting to bed.

The sun was still up after our taxi ride to the Sheraton at Poipu beach which gave us a little extra jolt to get through the evening. Well, that and the fact that we were checking in to the nicest hotel/resort either of us had even been to in our lives. (My previous Hawaiian acccommodation was a Salvation Army campground.) The Sheraton is huge, airy, and beauiful. I've come to learn that all the nice resort hotels on all the islands follow the same formula - but the first time at the first one was pretty darn cool for both of us. Everything was just so green and lush and perfect, no matter where you turned. The main dining room was entirely open to the beach which was a smooth ribbon of white sand. Birds flitted about the main space and no one seemed to care. In fact, we quickly learned, no on on Kauai really seemed to care about much of anything.

The view from our room

The bellhop guy asked if he could take our bags to our room and me being the cheapskate I am said no thanks. The poor kid looked incredulous and Hoang and I trudged off with our bags, uncertain of where we were even headed. Hawaiian resorts aren't like the Red Roof Inns we were familiar with. They are sprawling and disjointed, interspersed with gardens and pools and terraces and all sorts of confusing walkways. And so we cluelessly clanged our brand new luggage (wedding gift!) over the stone walkways in order to save a few bucks of a tip. (The truly funny thing is I think I had about 800 bucks cash in my pocket at the time.)

We found our room, and made the decision to immediately grab some dinner, lest we fall asleep first and totally miss out. It was about 9PM local time and we were starving zombies.
Unencumbered by luggage, we walked out onto the beach and quickly realized that Poipu beach is perfect. Seriously, there's nothing wrong with it at all - and I'm hardly a beach person. The best part of Kauai is that nothing is crowded at all. When you glow as white as I do, being alone on a beach is a good thing. We also noticed that there were not many people our age around at all. My theory is that Kauai is cost-prohibitive for young people to get to and stay on. (The utter lack of nightclubs, bars, and shopping may have something to do with it as well.)

After our quick frolic, we decided upon the hotel's in-house sushi place and sidled up to the counter. And thus began the first of a series of head-scratching meals on our honeymoon; okay, you're on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Japan is not too far away, and Hawaii has as many Japanese tourists and American. You'd immediately think that the quality of the seafood and sushi would be top notch. Think again. I'll be discussing this odd phenomenon as I write about our 3 island adventure - as it vexes me to this very day.

Anyway, our meals were okay, but we'd had better sushi back in Connecticut to be honest with you. And at least back at our local joints they don't have the audacity to pawn off a raw giant clam on us and pretend it's edible. Hoang and I began chewing our respective clams at generally the same time. Five or six minutes in, I gave up and spit it out into a napkin. (Keep in mind we were at the sushi bar, right in front of the chef who was making small talk all night.) Hoang soldiered on as she turned a few paler shades of gray. Ugh, it was awful. (She couldn't get it down either.)

Hoang checking out "our" beach on Day One

To be fair, the rest of the meal wasn't bad at all and we were so tired at this point, maybe our minds were just playing tricks on us and the clam was actually good. We had a little chat at dinner with a couple from the mainland just finishing up their honeymoon. They seemed totally jealous, with our full slate ahead of us, and essentially told us to be sure to enjoy every minute of every day. Looking out at the last gasp of a fiery sunset over the beach I thought to myself, "What kind of moron wouldn't enjoy every minute of every day out here?"

Around 11PM local time, we realized we had woken up back in Connecticut about 29 hours earlier and yet the calendar said it was the same day. Talk about a long day, eh? And the best part was, due to my ingenius planning, we had nothing on our slate the next day other than lying around, catching up on sleep, and luxuriating on the beach. And the best part for you, dear reader? Since we literally did nothing, I can't imagine my essay will be any longer than a few hundred words!

The happy couple with a full Honeymoon still ahead...

Continue on to Day 2
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