Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Tuesday, 9th April.

Our tour of Pearl Harbour was paid for before we left New Zealand. It was good to have no worries about buying tickets and getting there on time. This was our only prepaid tour/activity in the whole four weeks. I cannot recommend pre-paid tours but sometimes they are the least stressful, best way to go, and we did appreciate having a knowledgeable guide.

We both remember the years of WW 2 which had a profound effect on our lives though we were very young children. John’s father was away for more than 4 years in Egypt and Italy. I was four months old when war broke out, 6 years later I remember VE Day, (victory in Europe) and VJ Day, (Japanese surrender) and September 1945. Our lives revolved around war news, family members overseas in the armed forces and the fear of invasion. New Zealanders acknowledge the huge debt we owe America for keeping our part of the Pacific safe even if it took the great tragedy of Pearl Harbour to fully activate their might.

Sadly this tour is overwhelmingly touristy. More than 4500 people are ferried to the Arizona Memorial on any single day. It’s not that the solemnity and sacredness is spoiled but the sheer number of people who visit make it almost impossible to spend a few moments in quiet reflection. There are other places for that such as the National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific with it’s quiet green lawns, shaded trees, and thousands of graves and plaques laid out in the grass. This place is higher up the mountain in the punchbowl, therefore cooler and uncrowded since tour buses do not stop, they are only allowed to drive through.

Our tour bus driver was also our guide and looked after us well. We appreciated him and he did well keeping us ahead of the biggest crowds. Pearl Harbour is an active Naval Base and the visitor area is also under tight security. We had been warned in advance not to take bags. My handbag was put in a locker immediately we arrived on the base. We carried our small water bottles, and in our pockets tissues, passports and wallet. This is also a National Park with co-operation between the Navy and Rangers so I was able to get another stamp in our National Park passport book.
For the rest, let the pictures tell the story.

I found it emotional and had to switch off my thoughts many times before I ended up a weeping mess. The memorial to the Oklahoma with a white picket for each life lost: Driving past the airfield where the planes were lined up like sitting ducks on that awful day, 7th December 1941: Seeing the Arizona still leaking oil under the beautiful memorial: Looking across to the tiny hospital where they tried to turn chaos and brokenness into some kind of order: Standing on the deck of the battleship Missouri where the formal ceremony of the Japanese surrender was signed. We had seen old news reels, we’ve seen the movies made and now we’ve stood on hallowed ground.

Thank-you Hawaii and thank-you America for preserving this part of world history as sensitively as possible.

We were ready and waiting for our bus at 6.15 am after a quick cup of coffee, a few rice crackers and cheese in our hotel room. We did not expect to have much to eat during the tour and were happy to buy a brewed coffee, an icecream and a small bag of bacon rinds at the snack shop. We sat on the lawns looking out toward the various memorials and had our small picnic
We got off the bus at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre and went up to Longi’s Restaurant for a late lunch. It was lovely relaxing over a meal with a view out over the Ala Moana Park to the sea.

I had an antipasto salad and John had something with clams which looked light and delicious. Then we went and ruined it all when I ordered dessert. We shared a wedge of coconut pie and another of strawberry shortcake. Both were light and delicious. Neither was food we needed. We ate for the pleasure of eating something decadent and delicious. This time I looked in Sears and Macys and a top end outlet shop. In the finish I went back to Sears who are having a closing down sale, ….. I wonder where they will go after this, and bought 3 pairs of pants. I’m kind of wishing I’d bought something classy in the outlet mall but I was put off by their prices. It was definitely easier to shop in Hilo than here in Honolulu.
Somehow we were hungry enough to eat again by evening so we went to the Steak House at our hotel about 9.30 pm and ate again.

I am finding the humidity and heat difficult. I am right on the border of being able to cope and still do things. My feet are very swollen. I might need to see if there is a pharmacy which has an over-the-counter diuretic. The temperatures are not really too high especially out of direct sun so it must be the humidity. I’m trying to keep my feet up while I write.

Yesterday there was an article by another New Zealand visitor to Pear Harbour, Here is the link 
I would go to Pearl Harbour again but not on a tour bus. That was right for us his time but with better information and the tour experience behind us we would have a better time as independent visitors next time. There was a lot more to see and experience than we realised.


  1. I found this a touching post. I've seen photos, movies and the like. But to be there in person... I can only imaging the "reality" of it all. And maybe it's emotional for me, too, because we have been hearing all the news the past couple of days on the bombing and deaths at the Boston Marathon. Yes... remembering the cost of peace. Thank you for sharing such beautiful and touching photos.

  2. What a lovely post, and don't worry about the dessert, you were there to enjoy yourself and if that meant the odd desert or so, so be it :)

  3. Hi

    I love reading your blog...you should be an author!




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