July 17, 2004

Hawaiian Nights

Waikiki Palms
Photography By El-Branden Brazil

Where to begin? Last week, I went to Hawaii. I had never been particularly attracted to Hawaii, as the "beach thang" is just not my idea of fun. However, I must say that Hawaii went beyond all my expectations. Yes, it is cheesy and tacky, and the island is not the most beautiful I have ever been to (that would be Ko Pgnan, Thailand), but the combination of American lifestyle, beautiful weather and exotic views, certainly helped me relax. Something I haven't done for some time.

Hawaiian Yachting
Photography By El-Branden Brazil

I arrived four days before my friends, so I was able to get some quality time alone. Immediately after my arrival, I realised that this was going to be a fun place to hang out. My hotel, The Ohana Waikiki Surf, was excellent value, with large rooms and a good location on Kuhio Road.

On the third day, I took a trip to Pearl Harbour, where I saw the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona. Having lived in Japan for eight and half years, I suppose I have a fascination for the events of World War II. It was very poignant to stand at the spot that would begin one of the most tragic periods in history for all sides. Also, in the harbour is the USS Missouri, which was the battleship on which the peace accords were signed by the Japanese, at the end of the war. It was a fascinating day, and somehow emotionally contemporary.

In the evening, I went to the movie theatre to watch Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. The cinema quickly became packed with curious patrons. The energy extremely tangible... and then the film began.

I am the first to admit that Michael Moore has become an albatross around the Leftwing Liberal's throat. He has been guilty of meshing various strands of thought into convenient packages for the Left, and this has unfortunately weakened the valid arguments that he is fighting for. However, while there are a few tenuous links to be found in Bowling For Columbine, the message remains very solid, relevant and urgent.

On Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore has employed a huge team of lawyers and political researchers and advisors to research fully every claim presented in the film. Of course, there will be the usual detractors, but the footage of Bush, often NOT edited for long periods, presents irrefutable proof that Bush is not a man to be re-elected (not that he was elected in the first place). Another four years of this man's "leadership" will be disasterous for us all.

The footage filmed in Iraq is grisly, uncensored, raw and an insight into the horrors and dangers that our troops have to, and unnecessarily, face daily. This is the brutality that every news channel should be showing, rather than the sanitised fantasy that is broadcast. The human suffering of war MUST always be in our consciousness, and the flag-waving glorification reduced. But, the government doesn't want this to happen, because while war remains palatable, the bucks keep flowing into the coffers.

There are so many avenues that the film explores. I can't recommend it strongly enough. As David Letterman said on his show: Of all Michael Moore's accusations, only 97% are true. He may not have got everything right (perhaps, he did), but there is enough material here to produce valid questions about the motivations of this administration.

Yachts At Waikiki
Photography By El-Branden Brazil

When the closing titles finally came, after an outstanding two hours of fascinating presentation, the audience gave a rapturous applause, as well as cheers. I felt honoured to be in the US to share this unifying feeling of camaraderie. It really was beautiful to behold. It was like a call to arms, and it really restored my faith in the good American people. When November comes, the right decision will be made.

Well, after that fantastic holiday, it is hard to settle back to work, knowing that I will be off to Thailand in two weeks time. I am currently deciding whether to return to Cambodia for the fourth time, or to head into north Myanmar (Burma) to visit a place that seems to have a hypnotic attraction for me, Kengtung. It would be an interesting journey. I'll let you know what I decide upon.

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Travel Guide - Travellerspoint