About a week into my Hawaii trip, I was feeling a little underwhelmed with Oahu. I guess I wasn’t expecting the levels of beach trash and homelessness, and I thought it was particularly jarring right next to the boutiques and resorts of Waikiki. Also, my work turned out to be 7ish hours of English instruction, plus an additional 60 or so hours of child-wrangling. I wasn’t having a bad time on Oahu, it was just kind of underwhelming.
So on my first day off, I took the bus down to Chinatown and walked up to Foster Botanical Gardens. Honolulu Chinatown is pretty great, too, all my familiar sights and smells, with the gorgeous weather and natural beautiful of the island. The botanical gardens are right beside the temple of Kwan Yin. I didn’t spend too much time there, because it’s an active temple, and there were worshippers praying and lighting incense.
You guys, this part is how I imagined Hawaii. Tropical flowers and strange trees, arranged with quiet benches and meandering walks. Entering felt sort of like Central Park, when you walk a little bit in and the traffic sounds fade.
The flowers, you guys, are just a riot of colors. One of the reasons I can’t bear New England winters is the lack of color. Every winter, I force hyacinths indoors to get some color, and every spring I’m newly delighted by the return of warmth and color. It’s just grey for so long in Massachusetts, without color to break it up. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, in January, the frangipani trees drop their bright blooms at the perfect stage to pick them up, and tuck them into your hair. That’s the everyday frangipani trees, next to the sidewalk, not even the special ones in the gardens.
With the scent of incense drifting across from the temple of Kwan Yin next door, my walk in these gardens was the absolute dream of a tropical island.