Saturday, June 15, 2013

Honolulu, Hawaii: Death in Paradise

In the last five days, I had spent 34 hours in the passenger seat of an airliner, crossed 19 time zones, ridden my folding bike in North America, The Middle East, Asia and now Polynesia. Other than being kidnapped in Bangkok, everything had gone according to plan. Unfortunately, I was beginning to realize that my plan had holes. My goal was to travel completely around the world in one week and see and do as much as humanly possible. I quickly fell in love with traveling and found eating and sleeping to be a drag. Hotels became a place to take a shower and nothing more.  If I ate anything, it was an aircraft meal or something from a roadside stand. I decided to travel Eastbound around the world, that way I could leave each night, catch a little sleep on the plane, and arrive at a new destination each morning. Sleeping on an airplane is easier said than done and I spent more of my time reading than sleeping.  By the time I got to Hawaii, I was half dead.  I was sleep deprived, starved and delirious from jumping time zones like a kid playing hopscotch.

I'd had big plans in Hawaii. I wanted to take a small single engine plane over to the Island of Molokai. Most people don't know this, but there is still an active leper colony that exists on the Island. It's only accessible by airplane or a long winding donkey trail from the cliffs above. The second thing on my list was to hike the Stairway to Heaven, a dangerous trail that has been closed for years.  To get to it, you have to get past a security guard and jump a barbed wire fence. The trail is nearly vertical in some areas and takes you to one of the island's peaks and the most amazing view imaginable. The last thing I wanted to do in Hawaii was to ride my folding bike on the West Shore of Oahu, an area nearly free from tourism and as close to the real Hawaii and one can get. Known as a local's only area of the island, I knew that I would be unwelcome there solely based on my pasty skin.

Stairway to Heaven

I'd been looking forward to this part of the trip for months and I had a busy schedule ahead of me, so it was with foggy bewilderment that I found myself biking around Chinatown at eight in the morning. I'd had huge plans but the most I could muster was to hop on the bike and ride and now I'd ended up in one of the worst parts of the island! Chinatown is a dingy part of Honolulu filled with drugs, poverty and homelessness. At that moment, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going to make it around the world unless I ate and slept. I had to scrap my plans for the island Paradise.

A Spam Musubi and two Spam Rolls

After riding my folding bike to the local car rental agency, I filled by belly with a local delicacy of spam sushi and drove to one of the most pristine beaches in the world and slept. I awoke many hours later with just enough time to take a short bike ride along the beach, shower and catch a flight to Denver. As I boarded the plane, I couldn't help but feel that my stop in Hawaii had been a failure. The point of my adventure was to see the world from my folding bike but my bike had spent most of that day in the trunk of a rental car. The rest of the way home, I felt depressed about the way my trip had finished.

A Place to Sleep

After Denver, I caught a flight to Florida completing my round the world trip in exactly seven days but it wasn't until weeks later that I realized my day in Hawaii wasn't a failure. During that week, I had taken the folding bike with me on airplanes, cars, trains, a bus, a boat, and even a tuk-tuk. On the trip, I'd proven that you can take a folding bike anywhere and ride it but perhaps the best thing about a folding bike is that you can take it anywhere and not ride it. I was able to fit it into the trunk of a compact rental car that wasn't even designed to fit a full size suit case and forget about it. The magic of a folding bike is that it gives you the flexibility to do whatever you want. It was a refreshingly new way to travel that gave me unbelievable options. So, as strange as it sounds, perhaps the best part of the folding bike is that you don't have to ride it.

No comments:

Post a Comment