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Thursday, December 24, 2015


I learned I had 24 stays at Starwood properties this year, and 25 are needed to maintain my Platinum status.  So, here I am at the Waikiki Sheraton.  But earlier today, I walked the Ala Wai Golf Course:

The Sheraton is at the coastline, right of middle.  This might well have been the best golfing day of the year:  slight trade wind, cool, sunny.

You ask why do I bother with continuing Platinum status with Starwood?  Well, I paid Kamaaina rate and was given a fabulous suite.  This is a corner room so I have two views.  First, towards Diamond Head:

My room is right above Waikiki Beach, and my other view is of the Halekulani Hotel:

I'm on the 9th floor, and even with all the doors closed, I can still hear the pounding surf.  I had a free glass of white wine with blue cheese and a piece of chicken in the Leahi Club, located on the top of the hotel.  It was dark when I got there, so I'll show a photo during breakfast.

I made an attempt to have dinner at La Mer, (second floor--view from House Without a Key), for that is where Pearl and I usually celebrated our anniversary.    It would have been our 53rd, but the earliest sitting was at 9PM, so I decided to walk around Waikiki and have my pick of restaurants.  

I strolled by Marukame Udon on Kuhio, but the line was 40 yards long.   I wouldn't have bothered if there was any line...but 40 yards.  They now have a restaurant in downtown Honolulu.  I actually went into Kentucky Fried Chicken for take-out, but changed my mind when asked what I wanted.  

I noticed that Waikiki had almost no Christmas decorations.  I'm not sure if this all that bad, but here is the absolutely best of almost nothing, from the Royal Hawaiian Arcade next to the Sheraton:

Compare the above with Orchard Road in Singapore:

And these are only a small part of the over the top extravagance during the holiday season.

So, anyway, I then went by the Cheesecake Factory, and it had a long wait list, not that I would have seriously considered going in, stood in line for some curry, but ended up with a Mexican bento, which I brought to my room:

My first Mexican meal in many months.  With the sound of waves, Hawaiian music from below into mostly Christmas carols and a free Japanese beer provided by the hotel, I had a satisfactory international meal.

In that middle photo above to the top left is a star (there were many others to the right)!  Should have been no big deal, but during my 65-day Grand Around the World Adventure, I never saw even one star.  The major world cities have serious air pollution (Air Quality Index):  today--
  • Honolulu  22
  • Tokyo  85
  • Seoul  135
  • Hong Kong  76
  • Singapore  68 (it was up to 150 when I was there in October)
  • Bangkok  50
  • Dubai 175
  • Istanbul  65
  • Amsterdam 54
  • Huangcunzhen (south Beijing)  522
Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health ConcernColors
When the AQI is in this range:..air quality conditions symbolized by this color:
0-50 GoodGreen
51-100 ModerateYellow
101-150 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Orange
151 to 200Unhealthy Red
201 to 300Very UnhealthyPurple
301 to 500HazardousMaroon

I stopped by all the above cities, except for Beijing.  I will never again go there because of the horrendous air pollution.  It will get worse next month.  It is reported that worldwide 3 million die each year from this growing problem, and China is responsible for a third of them.  Here are two photos when I was there last year, the first at Forbidden City and second from my hotel room:

I might add that Honolulu suffers from severe natural air pollution from that still erupting volcano on the Big Island when the winds blow from the southeast.  Here is a quote about Kilauea from this blog 2.5 years ago:

It was exactly 30 years yesterday that I was golfing on the Volcano Golf and Country Club on the Big Island of Hawaii when on the tenth hole we felt the ground shudder.  Soon thereafter, we saw fountains of lava a couple of hundred yards high only a few hundred yards from where we stood.  This was the beginning of the current Kilauea eruption, which has now continuously gone on for three decades.


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