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Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, June 19, 2000

Diary of a
summer vacation

IF not for the kiddo, I'd never leave this island. As one of Hawaii's few resident who absolutely hates to travel, I'd rather spend my vacation blissfully at home than living out of a suitcase. That's because the plane ride to and from the mainland inevitably brings trauma.

Last week's summer sojourn and first-time visit to Seattle for the kiddo and me was no exception.

We had zero complaints about the takeoff from Honolulu. But what is it about those crazy layovers in California?

Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping after a five-hour "red-eye" to San Francisco than checking the terminal's departure monitors and seeing "CANCELLED" next to your connecting flight.

That meant consequent jets to Seattle were all full -- great for the airlines but grueling for "bumpees" rushing from gate to gate, waiting to reach the pinnacle of the stand-by list.

Handy travel hint: Do NOT plan a visit to a state, say Washington, on the day before graduation ceremonies at the state's biggest university. Trust me on this.

After reaching our final destination, along with the other sardines packed into our 737-sized tin can, the vacation got better. In fact, it was fun.

Especially enjoyable was roaming around Pike Place Market, the city's main tourist shopping district. Street-level stalls offered bright, brimming displays of fresh flowers, produce, seafood and funky clothes.

Downstairs was an amazing variety of shops, including a feminist bookstore. Some of my purchases at The Women's Hall of Fame, owned and operated by Adrian DeCoster (who, like everyone we met in Seattle, has relatives in Hawaii) were:

Bullet A coffee cup with the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

Bullet A magneted-back button saying, "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

Bullet A T-shirt with the 1913 Rebecca West observation, "I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."

Also on the vacation itinerary were buying binges at Nordstrom (which the kiddo described as a "Seattle Liberty House") and FAO Schwartz, fiddling and fussing with the hands-on displays at the Children's Museum in the Seattle Center, and hanging out at the futuristic Gameworks super arcade.

IN general, Seattle was a nice place to visit, but Oahu it's not. Imagine choosing between frigid weather and balmy skies. Unsmiling people wearing black clothes and dark trenchcoats vs. aloha-shirted dudes.

And, while restaurants like the Flying Fish and Wild Ginger were good, I'll take a table at Alan Wong's or Sam Choy's any day.

So with both excitement and trepidation, we repacked our bags and took off for our San Francisco stopover where, sure enough, the air-conditioning at the airport didn't work because of a city-wide heat wave, the flights were late or non-existent, and returning islanders looked antsy as they awaited the call to board.

Then, on getting back -- and with no more incessant talk from the kiddo about a trip to anywhere -- I relished the waning moments of my vacation by reading a week's worth of Star-Bulletins, still running off the presses like it has been for the past 118 years. Now THIS is bliss.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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