That was my third mistake …….


Solar Powered Hula Dancer

Story by Emmjay

Yes, mea culpa for imagining that Hawaii was the same as Disney portrayed it in the days of my youth and that it would be all Hawaii 5-0 like the 1970s.

Come on, that’s how you probably see Hawaii in your mind’s eye too.  Wafting palm trees on white sandy beaches fringes by lovely coral reefs, turquoise waters and cloudless blue skies.

On the beach there’s a stand of long boards that rely on the fact that despite the reef, there is somehow surfable waves.  Did I mention the lovely dusky grass-skirted wahines with their floral garlands and surprisingly comfortable half coconut shell bras ?   And the politely seductive hula.  Yes – that too.  There’s the hypnotic sound of ukulele and slack key guitar music, transporting one into dreamland.


Over the way is a benign volcano, waterfalls and lush tropical jungles interspersed with pineapple, banana, sugar cane and coconut plantations – the stuff of many many daiquiris.

The Late Great IZ

…. The Jetstar silver bird touches down gently at Honolulu International.  It is a state-owned and managed airport firmly trapped in the 1960s – a concoction of dark timber and naked concrete.  The customs people are surprisingly friendly and we are whisked to our taxi, chauffeured (by a former veteran from Texas) through an industrial landscape not unlike Mascot.

Down the Nimitz Highway and into downtown Waikiki to the Ilikai Hotel.  The Ilikai was where they filmed the start of the original Hawai’i 5-0.

We arrived exhausted after an all-nighter at about 7:30 am, Hawaii time.  “Sorry sir, the room isn’t available until 3:00 pm.”  …. Thinks  (what – there’s no other room that’ll do for a shower and a quick kip in the mean time ?).

“OK – so can we climb into our swimmers, put our bags in storage and go and snooze on one of the banana chairs by the pool ?”  “Certainly, sir.”  So that’s what we do – grab a quick shower in one of the 1960s change rooms and set up as described.  Towels provided free !

But you see, dear reader that this is Hawaii in the Winter time – which is not on paper so bad since the daily temperature range year round is 27-28 degrees.  But there’s a rider.  In Winter, it rains – hardly worth the name, but 15 or 20 sun showers per day can play havoc with a sooze outside.  We huddle two banana chairs under a large pool-side umbrella.  But apparently the Hotel does not allow the guests to MOVE the chairs.

This turns out to be a bad omen (sniffle sniffle).

We persist and eventually our upgraded room on level 23 becomes available and we score the shower, a snooze on a Hawaii Corrections Department discipline bed (honestly I could have slept on a concrete floor with a bed painted on it – and  that may have been preferable.

We rouse ourselves in time for dinner and fortunately “Claire” and Australian girl from Narrabeen who visited “Cinnamon” – the Ilikai’s casual in-house noshatorium – a few weeks ago recommended it unreservedly on TripAdviser.  I can see now with hindsight that “unreservedly” meant that she didn’t have a reservation.

Red Velvet Pancakes.JPG

colour is accurate but may vary with the proportion of lead oxide, chromium hexafluoride, uranium oxide and cadmium oxide in your recipe.

I would describe the food as nouveau Long Jetty with Pasadena accents.  I ordered the red velvet short pancake stack – not because I expected a fine dining experience, but because, by late afternoon tea time I was famished.  Now those of us unfamiliar with red velvet pancakes may benefit from a description.  Imagine a circular computer bag capable of protecting say a 12” laptop – made of fire engine red velvet, stacked on top of an identical twin.  Both of them topped with a cheeky lattice of white chocolate extrusions.  Note the above picture is a long stack, but lacks the essential half a kilo of white chocolate lattice on top.

I suppose you’d also want to know what it tasted like.  I’m not so confident I can help you here, but do you know that an average Australian adult (not completely sedentary) male needs to consume 8,700 kilojoules per day ?  Two big Macs will blow that out of the water just about.  Considering red velvet pancakes ?  Consider your baggage allowance first.

Sorry, where was I ?  Oh yes, the food thing.

Now I don’t want to get you upset by what I’m going to say.  We all know I’m not ageist or sexist beyond what would be considered approximately politically correct at an RSL prawn night, but the most alarming thing – that was to be repeated over and over during our stay on the formerly-pineappled isle, was that the waitress (goddess bless her cotton socks) – was, as the British like to say “extremely fit”.  I would like to add “ … for a person in her 70s.

She was / is a fantastic waitress, but it made me sad that I was supporting a society so ignorant of appropriately civilised norms that Americans think it’s OK for people the same age as our Nan to work shifts waiting table for slave wages.

This put FM and me in the invidious position of having to tip Nan (one was actually called “Babette” – I kid you not) 20% just so she could pay her electricity bills.  That meant that a couple of short stacks of red velvet pancakes, a couple of “weak as piss” coffees* and a pineapple daiquiri (to steady my nerves) ran out at about A$70.  Goddess help us when we had to set down to proper food.  This fortunately only happened twice in ten days – excluding breakfasts we made ourselves.

…….. next up, the 10% discount, the 20% surcharge, the $15 per day hospitality fee, the $150 discount with strings attached and the $50 Neiman Marcus voucher… subtitled “Come in sucker”

  • Tom Waits in “Night Hawks at the Diner” tells a story where he was sitting in a diner and his pork chop “got up off the plate and beat the shit out of his coffee.  Well, the coffee was too weak to defend itself, heh heh.”