Three weeks in the US just flew by. Like always, social life there is more hectic than here thanks to my sisters huge circle of friends who are almost like family to us now. Not to mention the huge range of restaurants, much to Hds delight. Since it was Antus first trip to the US, for the first time Utbts duo and my duo had a blast. Luckily, we were also able to attend Chulas birthday party and it was so much fun. Met Sundar, San and the girls too. (where are all the boys?) Asaaan was kind enough to drive all the way with her four kids to meet me and my sis. I was thrilled to meet her. Though I had followed her blog earlier, I had stopped reading after she moved to a new domain. So once she mailed that she wants to come and meet us, I hurriedly read her blog and updated myself with her life! Thanks S for being so sweet in spite of that! :)
Now about Hawaii. Where do I begin? It was the best vacation ever. Just perfect in every way. Since Sis and Bil planned the whole thing, I did nt know anything except that "we are going to Hawaii" until I landed there. Add to that that only Sis and Bil were registered drivers for the rental car, so we were literally chauffeur driven everywhere! :D Now tell me, who gets this lucky? Only me, for sure! :) I also did nt hesitate to pull the SAHM card every time I could and left both the kids either with HD or my mom! So who got to do the Diamond Head Crater hike in Oahu and go on a submarine in Kona and go snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay? Me. Me. Me.
We landed in Honolulu with the usual Lei welcome. Stayed in the 25th floor of Aston with a fantastic view from our room. Checked out the Waikiki beach and the girls had a blast. Then lazed at the hotel pool some more. The next day, we went to the beach again and in the afternoon, leaving the girls with Hd, we 4 did the Diamond Head Crater hike. Though its supposed to be a moderate hike and takes 30 mins to reach the top, it was like climbing Mt Everest for me. My moms fitness level was better than mine and only the thought of my girls made me not fall from the cliff and kill myself! That night we caught a Hula dance performance at the beach. It was really beautiful though the men sure wished for some coconut shells instead of a top on the hula dancer! ;) The next day we took a plane to Big Island.
We landed in Kona mid morning. Picked up our rental car and drove to our condo. It was fantastic. The vast ocean was just out there from our balcony and we could nt wait to get out. Seeing Big Island, we sure felt we wasted our time in Honolulu. While Big Island still looks pure and untouched, Oahu is slowly becoming a concrete jungle. We got some lunch, looked at the gorgeous sunset from our balcony and called it a night. The next day after breakfast, mom, sis, Ashu and I went on the Atlantis submarine. While the whole experience of going in a submarine is very thrilling, we did nt see that many fish nor was the reef that beautiful. I got sea sick to boot. Ashu (and my mom!) enjoyed the whole thing though. We all went to Hapuna beach later. It was the most awesome beach ever. I ve not seen such soft sand before anywhere. Antu was covered from head to toe with sand. Ashu was like a little monkey hanging from her Perippa or Appa in the ocean. Sis and I nicely sunned at the beach.
The next day, it was moms turn to baby sit while we four went for snorkeling. The whole experience was so thrilling. We drove to the harbor and from there, in a small raft which can hold around 20 people, the captain took us to Kealakekua Bay. It takes around an hour and a half to reach the bay. And the ride was just mind blowing. You just grab a rope, literally hold your life in your hands while the raft goes super fast, spot spinner dolphins, Manta rays, even whales, and stop and pee in the ocean if anyone wants to go! ;) Its as close to nature once can get, Im sure. The captain stopped and showed us the lava tubes, sea caves, entertained us with the Hawaiian folklore and history. It was amazing. Once we reached the bay, we were given snorkeling gear and ordered to go, jump! Literally. Thank God for my sis and Bil who have already snorkeled a few times. Otherwise I was sure I was drowning even though I was wearing a life jacket and was very much on the surface! Once I firmly told my brain to breathe through the mouth and not the nose, I was fine. It was a surreal experience to swim with the fish. The reef was beautiful and even a reef shark was kind enough to make a blink and miss appearance! After an hour, we got back to the raft, ate lunch which was included with the package and got back to the harbor with a heavy heart. It was pool and jacuzzi time once we got back to our condo!
The next day we left early in the morning for Hilo to visit the Volcanoes National Park. On the way, we checked out the Place of Refuge temple at Honaunau. It is the most complete restoration of an ancient Hawaiian religious sanctuary in Hawaii. The location was out of the world. We also went to the Black Sand beach and saw two huge turtles which were sunning at the beach. They were so carefree and did nt care a bit that we were there and photographing them like crazy! I almost felt like one of them is going to look at us and go "duuuuude" like the turtle in Finding Nemo! We reached the Volcano park in the afternoon. Hd immediately started wheezing coz of his breathing problems! One can actually feel the difference in the air and the strong smell of sulphur. Thankfully, he had the inhaler handy. We went for a drive and checked out the steam vents, the view of the Kilauea Iki crater, the lava tubes,... We went only on the short hikes. Walking inside the lava tubes was scary to the say the least. Hd stayed back with Antu while we all checked out the sulphur bank trail. Later, we checked out the Kahuna and Rainbow waterfalls before leaving back for Kona.
The last day in Hawaii(boo hoo hoo!), we went to the Waikoloa beach after breakfast. We swam in the ocean to our hearts fill even though there was a shark alert! We caught a late night flight back to SFO. And the next four days went in a buzz because I shopped like crazy so that I don't have to buy a thing in this expensive Swiss for the rest of the year. If you saw a woman shrieking, "its so cheap" at Target,, "is this also one dollar" at the dollar store and "is this denim skirt really for 3 bucks" at Kohls, theres a good chance that it was me! Dragging Ashu who wanted to live in the US forever and Antu who was stuck to my Bil like a leech and me who hated to come back to the freezer(there goes my new year resolution!) was an uphill task for Hd even though he caught a cold as soon as he landed here. hmph! It was a beautiful vacation thanks mostly to my sis and bil. Mahalo guys! Hang loose! :)