Aloha State: Commuting Around Honolulu and the Kindness of Strangers

Aloha friends!

It has officially been 3 weeks since I landed on the island of Oahu. Did I mention we got a brand new car? Daring, crazy, stupid move I guess? But you can’t go without a car here in Oahu. If you really want to experience all that Hawaii has to offer, going around the island in a car is probably a good option, despite the headache inducing traffic. Yes, I guess you’ve heard time and time again about the terrible traffic in Hawaii. The stories are true (surprise?), especially in town. I remember being stuck on H1 (one of the 3 freeways here) on our way back to town during rush hour, which is around 5PM. Good thing you get a nice view of Hawaii Kai, and the fresh air to keep you company. Unfortunately, my days of being driven around are soon coming to an end. (Insert wailing noise here). I have actually already treaded the murky waters of commuting. Well, murky mostly because I am unfamiliar about getting around with the bus. I lived in Japan for about 10 years, and thus commuted for all the years I lived there. I am not afraid of going on an adventure, but it is always nerve wrecking to commute for the first time on your way to an interview!

First challenge: Where is the bus stop?! 
Thank God for Google Maps! I was running a little late that morning, and was a bit under the weather due to an oncoming cold (ugh), so I had no time to research the routes and times the old fashioned way. But with Google maps, I just put where I am going, the time I want to arrive there and change the car symbol to the bus one. And Presto! It tells me where to go, what time the bus arrives, if it is late or early and gives an estimated ETA. It is so traveler/tourist friendly in my opinion.

Second Challenge: No Change for my 10!?
The App does tell you about the bus fare, too, but I wish it mentioned the “no change given” part! I only had $10 with me, no singles or change when I mounted the bus and I saw the sign. I mildly panicked because I had no other form of payment available. The bus driver gruffly told me to ask someone in the bus. So, there I was, sweating for I was wearing a jacket (interview attire), looking like a dummy asking for a kind person to break her bill. A lot of the patrons were rummaging through their bags and wallets. One of them was quick enough and broke my $10. I was so flushed and nervous that I think I forgot to thank her properly.
But the great thing about the buses is that it is affordable, and they also give you a transfer ticket which can be used I think within 2 or 3 hours. It will tell you on top of the ticket. A more detailed account of fares is on their website.

Third Challenge: I think I’m lost.
After the interview in Waikiki, I decided to head to UH Manoa campus mainly because I can’t go in our place. We had our locks replaced and we haven’t made a copy yet. I have been planning to stop by UH anyway to ask about admissions and whatnot. I knew which bus to take thanks to the App. I also was able to use the transfer ticket since it was within the allotted time. Whew! But I did not know exactly which bus stop to get off at. The campus is huge! Way larger than my college in Japan. Asked the driver where to get off, and he was very helpful. I got off the bus, but I still had to find the building in which admissions was located. I saw a bunch of students seated on benches in what it seemed like a bus stop. I did not feel like getting lost, for the 4th time that day, so I asked someone for directions. She was so helpful, and even went her way to walk me all the way to the building. I was surprised cause I never expected such kindness. I would have most definitely have gotten lost in that campus. Sure, I would have found the building, but maybe like 15 to 20 minutes later. But then again, with the supply of good-natured souls in the island, someone would have probably done the same thing that she did.

It was an eventful and adventurous day that I will never forget. If I learned anything, it would be to have cash handy at all time. And make sure to have my phone fully charged before leaving the apartment!



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