Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hawaii People

While in Hawaii, I did have a few conversations that stood out.  Because the shuttle ride to Waikiki took so long, there was another guy and me for a long time.  He turned around and stuck out his hand as he introduced himself. 

Turns out he had just come from a conference in Maui (Hawaii is a popular location for conferences involving Asian countries.)  and was looking forward to spending a few days in Honolulu before going home.  He was from Kuala Lumpur and it took him one layover and about 34 hours to get to Hawaii.  I told him I've never travelled that long before and cannot yet imagine such a lengthy journey.

As he was quite well travelled we compared favourite places, best travel deals and visa requirements.  Such a polite man.  Shook my hand a second time upon his stop. 

In Maui, I met a really sweet older gentleman (80s?) who ended up sitting beside me one afternoon.  It was the only lounge seat open as there was temporary maintenance of the grounds.  He promised he would not bother me (I was journaling up a storm) and that he was going to take a nap.  I told him no worries.  His nap lasted about 2 minutes before he asked if I was writing a book.  I told him no, I was just thinking on paper. 

We ended up talking for a couple of hours and he concluded we were definitely "cup half full" people.  He lives in Phoenix and travels whenever he can and warned me he can talk my ear off about travel if I'd let him.  We spoke about the pleasures of solo travel and how underrated it was.  I told him I did my best thinking when I was alone, especially amongst beautiful scenery.  He told me I will love Bergen when I get there.

Because of his age, he has had ample opportunities to return to many places over the decades and was able to comment on the changes in cities and countries.  I was really interested to hear about it.  And since he was such a frequent guest, he got a lot of perks.  One of which was free drinks at happy hour of which he could invite a guest.  So I got an invitation.  I declined politely though I did get asked if he will make it into my journal.  I guess he has.

Remember how I seem to get mistaken for being local when I travel?  At first D thought I was pulling his leg.  Now that he has personally witnessed the phenomenon twice in Amsterdam and once in Florence, he doubts me no more.  The trend continued in Lahaina at a local gelato spot.  I was too impatient and warm one day to wait in the long line for their "famous" shaved iced so I went for ice cream instead. 

The gelato place had a good number of non dairy choices (I have 4 more months of avoidance before I can stuff my face again).  I had a scoop of coconut - vanilla - cinnamon (deliciously creamy!) and Lilikoi (Hawaiian passion fruit).  The fellow who served me asked what part of Maui I was from?  I told him I wasn't but considered being mistaken for Hawaiian as a complement.  He said I look like I could be from there. 

Never dawned on me I could possibly be mistaken for anything other than what I am.  D thinks it is because I give off a confident "I belong here" vibe when I am in a new place.  I've never been mistaken for an Icelander.  Now that would be super cool. 

So the list has gotten longer:  Italian, French, Russian, Dutch and now Hawaiian...


  1. Hi MW
    I do remember a trip to Hawaii when I was 18, so long ago now.

    The beloging there thing happens to me too. I have dark brown hair and sort of pale olive skin but I get mistaken for local in all sorts of places. Also mistaken for working in places so have had discount in airport bars etc on my travels. Maybe it is a sign that we settle in wherever we are?

  2. Hi Lizzie!

    Discount at airport bars?! That's fantastic! Hasn't happened to me yet.

    I do believe it is a great advantage to be able to blend in and settle wherever we are.

    Looks like we are both women of the world.

  3. Now I'm starting to think our vacation styles are not so different after all. Superficially, there are big differences, but striking similarities at the core. My whole family is suspected of being locals on every trip. This includes our kids when they talk to other kids.

    I suppose you are right that some of it is confidence. Lack thereof probably makes one look like a tourist. But I think real confidence also comes from actually having some true familiarity with your surroundings. Wherever we visit, we absorb ourselves in everything around us. We walk everywhere we can, we use the local services, we explore every street, and above all, we talk to everyone. So it's not too much of a stretch to be considered locals because we act a lot like them.

  4. Perhaps it's your confidence of a lot of solo travel. When I travel, I work hard at being unapproachable - I really like my space - but once I get where I'm going I'm more relaxed. I was mistaken for Czech once and then German (!), but that was a long time ago. I think you have the whole travel experience down pat - you're doing exactly what travellers should do: meet people and exchange stories and just add to your experience overall.

  5. @ S.B.

    You are fortunate your family are all on the same page. Makes things much easier especially when you go to countries where learning a new language may be required to fit in.

    I've always believed one of the main joys of travel is to be able to try living like the locals while there.

    To me that is the point. It is why we prefer to rent apartments because you get real locals as your neighbours and you get to learn their rhythms of life and often, get to practice speaking to each other.

    @ Northern;

    I think I give off a "neutral but approachable" vibe when I travel and in all the years I've been doing it, I've probably only initiated a handful of conversations.

    It is usually the other party but I'm almost always willing to chat. I like to give others their space because I don't know if they are there for quiet or not.

  6. Yes, we always rent houses. It's a much different experience than hotels. Usually they are in a different part of town as well. We prefer small towns, which each have their own daily rhythm.

  7. I can't say we've ever rented a house per se. The closest we've gotten was a houseboat.

    Having said that, we tend to travel to Europe where apartments are what people live in.

    Whereas when we travel to the States or within Canada (usually for less than a week), we'll seek out a historic inn for the architecture, history and great breakfasts.

    When we make it out to the east coast of Canada or US again, I'd love to rent one of those beach houses.

    We too are fans of the small town. You do them so well in the US. They can be so quaint and friendly and diverse depending on where you are.

    It is a big reason why we enjoy New England and Eastern Canada so much.