I arrived to Honolulu, in the island called Oahu, from there I took a flight to Hilo, Big Island, where my friend was waiting for me (Hilo is in the east side of the island).
The first day, I got to know my friend’s family, warm people with big hearts, a mixture of pacific islander culture with american culture. My friend’s little sister and cousin welcomed me with necklace made out of flowers... best welcome ever!
Hilo is the rainy side of Big Island. My friend showed me Kamehameha school, and I was surprised because of its size and quality of the education. We also went to a Japanese garden, Hawaii is heavily influenced by Japanese (historically and geographically).
South of Big Island; next day, we explored the south of the island, my friend took me to a black sand beach and we saw a couple of turtles, we were also able to get closer to the rocks where the those massive waves crash... and maybe, we went too close. This wave caught us:
From there we went to the dessert area, and walked in the hawaiian desert for a total of two hours, it was very tiring... every hill seemed to be the last one, but no, there was always one more hill to go! It was worth it, our destination was a green sand beach, and indeed, the sand had a dark green color, I didn’t do any research on why thou.
The last thing we did that day has been the most intense adventure in my entire trip, I jumped off of a 10m (30ft) cliff. I’ve never done something like that and let me tell you that it takes some courage to do it! you have to step in the edge and decide to jump... but your body is not very convince about it. The scenery there was beautiful, that and my friend’s support helped me jump.
The next days I’ll be exploring the west and the north of the island.
The 3rd day. I visited Shibuya Station, that's where Hachi, the dog, used to follow his master. From there my friend and I went to Kotokuin, and against, thousands of people asking for wishes in the Shrine. There was also a temple where a huge Buda is, on the picture you can see that the Buda is outdoors, it wasn't like that before but an earthquake destroyed the protecting building.
Then, we went to Enoshima, an island. With a really good view of mount Fuji and lots of small stores, very nice place to walk around, very romantic, it reminded me of Venice and some places in Spain. There I ate a Teriyaki hamburger in McDonalds! haha
On our way back I was able to take a picture of one of the most beautiful train stations in Japan, Tokyo Station.
The 4th, my friend took me to the Edo-Tokyo museum founded on March 28,1993, as the place where visitors come to learn more about Tokyo’s history and culture. After spending some time hungry, we went to a tempura restaurant and enjoyed the delicious food that only Japan can make.
Afterwards, we walk around a neighborhood that mimics the old Tokyo, I just have no words to describe how amazed I was... I'm glad that I'm a photographer and at least I have pictures to show.
I arrived to Narita airport on the 1st, with only one mission, get to my hotel. I knew it was going to be difficult cuz Tokyo's railway and metro systems are huge and intricate.
I made it, I got to my first hotel, a capsule hotel. This hotel was special cuz you don’t have a room, you only have... well, a capsule. Bathrooms are shared (Japanese style; everyone naked sitting down in the same room), similar to the previous experience in Seoul. The area where I stayed in the capsule hotel turned out to be the red light district of Tokyo, so, before going out I was advice to take care of myself and be careful with the guys "dress in black" as they were associated with suspicious activities. As soon as I went out of the hotel looking for dinner, one of those guys went straight at me and started a very friendly conversation... A little too obvious.
The 2nd. I met up with an old friend I made in Vancouver, he hasn't changed. Very polite and always concern about me. We went to Meiji Jingu Shrine, a beautiful place where thousands and thousands of people go at the beginning of every year to ask for a wish. Japanese people do this all across Japan in different shrines.
Then, we went to Tokyo tower, similar in shape to the Eiffel Tower but a little big higher and much more lighter. From there I had a panoramic view of Tokyo and its constant development.
The last couple of days I’ve been taking it easy, although I had one of the most interesting experiences of the trip, something that I almost didn’t do, just because I am not used to do... but well, I had traveled all around the world so I opened my mind and convinced myself. I went to a public bathroom; this was the first time I do something like this, the places where I have lived had nothing similar.
So, this is how it works; you go there, pay, get a locker, put everything in the locker and you start walking naked to where the pools, showers and Jacuzzis are. At the begging I had to psychologically prepare myself, but once you are there, everything looks normal and you just enjoy. After you take a shower you can go to a common area where women and men are allowed (with special bath clothes you are given), you can play video games, eat, sleep in the floor, go to a spa, etc. I’ll never forget this experience.
We went to the Seoul Tower, and took pictures from there. I almost lost my right hand because of the cold weather, I had to take pictures of the sunset (the last sunset of the year), but the sun wasn’t going down fast enough! hahaha. I had my hand with no protection for quite some time, at the end I couldn’t feel it nor my feet. I took some good pictures but I’m always going to remember those pictures as the most painful ones I have ever taken.
Something that I really liked about that place, Seoul Tower, is that couples go there and leave a lock locked in a special place, as a symbol of locking their love for ever. It was truly romantic, and I liked the idea, I guess it would be something nice to do with your partner.
For New Years I went to a very special place, Gangnam Station, where the very popular Psy’s single came from. Gangnam area is know for it’s social activity. Me and my friend went there for the countdown. I missed my family but I had a great time with my friend, he made me feel like I was back home.
I’m leaving today to Tokyo, Japan. I’m going to miss these guys...