Monday, 17th March 2003
Both my political and personal philosophies are decidedly 'Contrarian'. My convictions on marginal matters side completelely with minority opinion, precisely because it is minority opinion! For instance if the leader of a *DEMOCRATIC* country makes a decision fairly early in their term, and the (even large) majority think it a very wrong move, it makes me think it must have been the correct decision. My reasoning goes that leaders only priorities are staying in power, which means public opinion. The only possible pragmatic reason a leader would do it If they can see long term benefits (admittedly, for votes) despite short term public disapproval. This argument only really works for democracies, however. This is the clear difference between democracies and dictatorships. Democratic leaders have to be accountable in the short or long term, so sooner or later they are going to make decisions *only* because they are popular - they no longer have the privilege of making unpopular choices that are good for a country. Decisions that are both good for a country and popular are no-brainers. All democratically elected governments do those anyway. It is only the marginal decisions that have a chance of being unpopular but good for the country.
Extended 1987 trip diary
First plane trip - TSV - SYD - HNL. Customs telling me I would need a temp visa to get back in. I remember taking a walk around during our hours of stopover in Sydney. Crossing the dateline as well as the equator. Starting a trend of eating as much as possible during flights, because we didn't know when our next meal was coming. Arrival at Honolulu and the "show me the money" incident at the customs there. Wearing silly ribbon badges to catch a Taxi. Nearly getting run over because I looked the wrong way instinctively when crossing the first road. Checking in at the hotel, noting the free light breakfast from our "host" holiday packager. Staggering around Waikiki waiting until it was time to check into our hotel like the walking dead since we soooo jetlagged. Checking out Waikiki. Me & Sandor tasting our first ever Big Mac (being disappointed). Next day take 60c bus ride to Sunset Beach ignoring all the discounts booklet. Watch the world championship surfing, while listening to the beach boys. Surfing gets cancelled because waves are too big, one surfer coming back in with a surfboard broken in half - we decide to go swimming at Weimea Bay. Quite a serious washing machine action at the surf break, filling your pockets with sand instantly. Noting sunset at Waikiki is into the ocean unlike in Tsv. Taking our tape recorder up to the restaurant on top of the fancy Hotel. Recording the waitress saying we were dressed inappropriately. Returning later we left a large tip but failed to make a clean escape. How everybody we asked for directions either (i) was a foreign tourist who didn't speak english or (ii) offered us marijuana instead. Buying Hawaiian shirts which we proceeded to wear non-stop for the next three months, especially anywhere it was -20 C or less. Going to the top of every hotel we could see along Waikiki. Taking a bus ride to the extinct crater to climb up Diamond Head. Strange incident where I thought I'd lost you guys, but you were just sneakily following me. Balcony incident. Locking some luggage at the airport as we fly to the Big Island. Part of the engine block of the plane looking very wobbly. First day of hitchhiking- almost all uphill. Sleep at the shelter near the National park. Much colder up here - Chris has no sleeping bag. Next day we start out hiking through the "lunar" landscape of solidified lava of a recent (2 yr previous) eruption. We had but a large tin of baked beans (supposedly with pork) between us for food. Listening to "Walking on the moon" by "The Police" appropriately. Saw and smelt the acrid yellow sulphur emanating from the fairly recent crater. Walked through the acid rain desert. Walked up to the ranger's building to check it out. By mistake we walked into this "staff only" room, and saw covering a whole 2*4 meter wall an impressively accurate map of the whole island, with special references to the currently active volcano bits. We sat staring at this map for a good few minutes after we realised we weren't supposed to be in this 'control' room. Restart hiking back along the main road after noting the point where the lava flow had gone straight over it, damaging it irretrievably. Start realising that there is coins on the road ( apparently people would throw out their spare coins for good luck!) Caught Chris & Sandor fighting over a penny. After many long hours, we get picked up by this Canadian woman and a man who claimed to a direct male line descendant of the Hawaiian native Royal family (it was probably true). Being it took a long time to get this lift it was of good quality. They showed us some of the sights. Drove us past the supposedly "green" beach (It looked pretty grey to me), and eventually dropped us off at another beach. Apparently the cliffs near the beach were supposed to be haunted - so we slept there. After looking around, we realised that there was no shops in the beachfront community of Ho'okena beach .being desperately thirsty that night, where we slept on a concrete picnic table, Chris under a string hammock for the second night - and the fantastic way the beach was made up of equal numbers of black and white stones. Therefore, on top of spending a hungry and thirsty night and morning, we realised that we had made a profit of around $1 for the day! The next day's hike back onto the main road, I realised that all these yellow-skinned, pink-fleshed fruits all over the side of the road were guavas. So I ate a couple. My two friends seemed dubious about picking up fruit from the side of the road and eating it. After finding a shop and restocking our food & drink, we started hiking again. We stopped at Cook, and tried to make our way down to the beach where we knew there was a memorial for where James Cook had been killed by natives. Alas, the track was completely overgrown by tall grass and banana plantations, so we headed back for the main road. We decided not to hitchhike up to the observatory on Mauna Kea, because if we were too delayed in catching rides, we may have missed our connecting flights. Next lift was quite quick - quite poor quality. He dropped us off about 1 k down the road and told us to stop there to get a ride because it was a much better spot than where we were. Ten hours later we realised we weren't going to get a ride that night and slept at a church site.While we slept outside the church at Kona-Kailua this car pulled up in the middle of the night and people who may have been cops, or crazed killers, got out and shone torches on us, but we were too tired to care and just waited for them to arrest us or stab us and then they went away. The next day was for me perhaps the defining day of the whole trip. We finally got a ride that morning after deciding to hike if we didn't get a lift. The loveliest Japanese American man you can imagine, who discussed philosophy & family etc. and then bought us breakfast - I had an eggs benedicte, the first of three meals that were bought for us that day! After saying our goodbyes and getting packed again. Our ride from hell was beckoning. Probably the first car that passed us after we stuck our thumbs out stopped. Maybe there was only 4 dogs on the back of the ute, but the front of the ute was full, and the back of the ute wasn't empty, but was flat. Chris remembers quite vividly how high all the people in the front of the ute looked and how even so one of them told me to take off his pack, otherwise he *would* fall off the ute backwards and die. Every roller coaster ride we have been on since then has seemed so tame. We got dropped off somewhere at an intersection back in Hilo. Somewhere along the line we went to the airport to check in for our connecting flight. We learnt that a hand signal similar to the hitch-hiking thumb out + little finger is a kind of greeting. We also changed to a flight that stopped over at another of the islands in the Hawaii chain so we could see more sights from the air. Somewhere along the line, we also went to a macadamia nut factory. That day we stopped for a meal, and some other gentlemen there kindly paid for us. That evening we were considering where to sleep. The place we had in mind near the shore, we were told someone had been murdered there recently. Although, that didn't concern us much, because the people that told us were (concerned), we decided to look around some more. Somewhere along the line, we nearly got run over by a police motorcycle (looking the wrong way again) who checked our passports etc. There just happened to be a beauty/talent contest going on in a building we passed. It was miss America junior or someting like that. Anyway, there was this guy there trying to peek in, but it wasn't as much fun as he'd imagined so he started talking to us. Anyway, he says he would buy us dinner. We were so delighted that he didn't offer us drugs like practically everybody else. I remember having quite a bit of raw fish amongst other Japanese delicacies. Later he offered us a place to sleep for the night. We didn't think anything of the fact that his blue ute looked rather new (with sides as well!), that his furnishings were rather plush. That he thought nothing of buying expensive takeaway food. That his girlfriend was wrapping up some seeds that looked suspiciously like Pakalolo seeds. He said that he had a good relationship with his girlfriend. He grew it - she smoked it. He personally didn't touch the stuff. Next day we flew back to Honolulu, on our rescheduled flight path. I can't remember wether we slept at the airport or on the plane, or on the way to LA. At LA, our plan was to visit Universal studios, and then move on. Our taxi ride took us to a hotel near Universal Studios (Universal Sheraton). Our taxi driver assured us that it was the best value for staying near U. S. It was very late at night and we were flabbergasted at the cost. US$ 120 a night between us. This was going to lift our average dollar a day kind of trip we'd been having so far. Anyway, we dropped off our bags and went to a nearby SUBway restaurant to eat. Nice lady (with big um.... ears) at reception told us she had tucked us in already (it was 3am in the morning), what were we doing still up? Had she ever heard of Jetlaaaag. Anyway, we stayed in the hotel as long as possible to get our maximum value for dollar, and headed off to Universal studios. Ho, hum don't remember anything really exciting - sure there was camera tricks, tunnels, King Kong, fake floods, fake fires, Huuuge backdrops, as we rode a train through the place, but all of this was a step backwards as far as holiday enjoyment went. Back at the hotel, we asked for a taxi to go to the bus station. Limo driver overheard us and said he was on his way there anyway and would give us a lift for about the same price as for a taxi. This was more like it. We were being treated like one of the *stars*. The first bus ride did not go so well, however. After having a few conversations with various interesting people (one who was working on a prototype for a perpetual motion machine!) we forgot that we were supposed to check in our luggage well before the bus was about to leave to Tucson. As a result, we lost our tape player/recorder. Some of Our luggage also got off at the wrong place and it took another day to retrieve some of it. Chris's grandparents etc. were there to greet us. We spent quite a lot of time in Tucson. I remember going ten pin bowling, playing pool, swimming at the nearby pool/Jaccuzi, showing off juggling tricks to friends. Me & Sandor played golf, once hiring a cart, another time playing the turtle course.