I am of Japanese and Filipino descent, but was born and raised in Kona, which is on the beautiful island of Hawai’i. You might be wondering what its like to grow up there, as many people always ask. Well, to be quite honest with you it was great! But the grass is always greener right? Or is it?
There were so many times as a child that I sat and stared out into the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. There were questions I always asked myself as I drifted into curious daydreams. What’s out there? Why are we in the middle of nowhere? Why is Hawai’i so beautiful, yet so claustrophobic? When will I get to leave this place? If I leave, will I ever come back? What will happen if I do leave?
Well the truth of the matter is that I left. Will I ever move back? Yes, but not anytime soon. It has now been 16 years since I moved away from my beloved Hawai’i. I’ve managed to make Denver my first stop before moving on to Chicago. And now I’m living in New York City. I’ve been to a handful of major cities in the US, and have recently started traveling outside of the country. With a bug for travel as well as photography, I’ve decided to start photo journaling my travels and life as much as I can, which leads me to this blog. I want to share with you my experiences of living in and traveling to different cities all over the world through the eyes and mind of a small town island boy from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My journey has brought me far and continues to culturally enrich my life and open my mind to what the world has to offer. And at the very least, I hope to be able to give other people who wonder what’s out there, the motivation and courage to stop questioning the horizon. I want people, especially the young ones, to realize that there is a whole world to see and that it’s possible to do so.
I always get the same question when I tell people that I’m from Hawai’i. “Why would you EVER leave paradise?!” And as always, I answer with the same reply. “It’s different when you grow up there.”
While Hawai’i is, in fact, paradise for many people including myself, growing up there has many advantages and disadvantages. This, of course, is like anywhere else. The difference, though is that many people don’t realize how isolated we really are out there. Many people think that we can travel from island to island via boat. Some even ask me if we can drive to the other islands. Of course, I graciously inform them of our mode of transportation when “island hopping”, which the only way is by plane. I also inform them of how ridiculously expensive it is to take a sometimes 30 minute plane ride from one island to the next.
It hasn’t been until recently that plan fares to the west coast from Hawai’i have finally become a little more reasonable. But back when I was growing up, the thought of even going to Disneyland, for many families, was out of the question. I consider myself to be very lucky that before I left Hawai’i at the tender age of 18, my family was able to bring my siblings and me to the “mainland” to see what was out there. I believe that because of this, I was able to motivate myself to continue my exploration of the world. And while it has taken me longer than most to finally travel outside of the country, I’m glad I finally did because it changed my life.
My first experience with travel was at the very young age of five. I was sent from Kona to Honolulu every summer to see my father. I’m sure the “Unaccompanied Minor” regulations on flights back in the early 80’s were a little more lenient than they are now, as well as security regulations. But everything seemed so seamless and easy to me as far as getting on and off the plane. Family on one island would stay with me at the gate until I boarded, while family on the other would be at my destination gate when I arrived. I remember always being able to sit up in the first row with a flight attendant sitting next to me the entire flight, keeping me entertained. I would stare out of the window and look at how vast the Pacific Ocean was, and see Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i as we flew over them. The pilot would always come on the speakers to remind us to look out, and sometimes give you a brief synopsis of the island’s history.
Travel has always been something that I’ve loved since I can remember. I love the act of traveling. I consider it an art form when it comes to traveling efficiently and with style. I love sitting in airports and watching people, and the excitement of knowing that I’m going somewhere fun and exciting. I love the smell of jet fuel and hearing the engines power up and power down. All of these sights, smells and sounds have been in my sensational memory bank for what seems since the first flight. Perhaps, these sensations are what gave me the “travel bug”. And now, I want to share my experiences with you.
**Please note that all images are from my personal collection and may not be used without my permission.**