Oceania and South Pacific

Hawaii 5-0: I’ve now karaoked in every U.S. state! (plus Washington, DC)

Me enjoying a Mai Tai at a restaurant in the Waikīkī section of Honolulu.

Since 1959, the U.S. has consisted of 50 states; in that year, Alaska and Hawai’i became the most recent jurisdictions to gain statehood. Just visiting all 50 of the states in the sprawling nation that I call home is a mammoth undertaking. In the final hours of 2018, I completed my project of karaokeing in all 50 of those states (as well as the national capital city of Washington, DC, which does not itself belong to any state).

For a more detailed background on the quest that I was pursuing, see my prior posts recounting my karaoke appearances throughout the U.S. in 2016, 2017, and the earlier part of 2018. Between July 2016 and July 2018, the number of states in which I’d karaoked increased from 20 to 49. That left only one state to check off: the archipelago of Hawai’i. I felt it was fitting that the 50th state to join the U.S. would become the 50th state on my American Karaoke Tour.

Blue Hawaii: saving the best for last

Geographically, Hawai’i differs greatly from any other state in the U.S. Consisting principally of 8 main islands (7 of which are inhabited), its territory also includes numerous additional islands, islets, atolls, and reefs. Did you know that Hawai’i is actually composed of 137 total islands of various sizes? Those islands, stretching from Hawai’i (often called the “Big Island”) in the southeast to the Kure Atoll in the northwest, extend for roughly 1,500 miles. But you only ever hear about the octet of main islands — such as Oahu, home to the state’s capital city of Honolulu.

That capital city lies over 2,500 miles southwest of Los Angeles. The Hawaiian state is located in the Tropics, the zone between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In fact, the main Hawaiian island chain forms one of the corners of the Polynesian triangle. (That triangle’s other vertices are Easter Island and New Zealand.) Such an exotic setting seemed the perfect locale for the culmination of my American Karaoke Tour.

This image shows the complete Hawaiian archipelago.

My first stop in Hawai’i was the island of Oahu. Continue reading

Categories: Oceania and South Pacific, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Places that captured my heart: the top 5 cities that I long to return to

8079727_mWhen I venture forth from my home base of New York City, I tend to prioritize visiting destinations that I’ve never been to before. It’s my goal to explore as many different places on the planet as I can (and, along the way, to sing karaoke wherever in the world I can find it). If I had my druthers, I would travel as often as possible to the spots that I most enjoyed in the past, while constantly adding new locales to my itinerary. Due to time constraints, however, first-time destinations tend to win out when I’m planning my next holiday. There are few overseas cities that I end up getting to more than once. But some metropolises have made such an impression on me that I’m fervently hoping to find a way to spend more time in them. This post is about the five global cities that I would most like to return to.

Note that in compiling this list, my focus was on international travel, and accordingly I only considered cities outside my native United States. I’m certainly always up for going back to American locations such as San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami Beach, and Seattle; but that’s a discussion for another day.

This post was written in response to a challenge by Arnab of the blog Travel Andy. Anyway, here are my top 5!
Continue reading

Categories: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and South Pacific, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday photo, week 22: an erupting geyser in New Zealand

Happy Friday! We’re getting further into the spring season here in the northern hemisphere. But this week’s featured image comes from a place where it’s now autumn: New Zealand. In the city of Rotorua on that country’s North Island, I saw erupting geysers.

Thar she blows!

New Zealand, which sits astride the Ring of Fire, is a geological hotspot; for example, no fewer than 48 active volcanoes can be found within 20 kilometres of Auckland’s city centre. Geysers tend to predominate in areas of significant volcanic activity, and Rotorua (situated within a region called the Taupo Volcanic Zone) is no exception. Within Rotorua, the particular location of the geyser seen here is a field called “Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao,” meaning “The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao.” Here’s the sign to prove it:

Damn long place name

In the days before email, filling out envelopes addressed to that particular “gathering place” would not have been fun. Anyway, Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao contains at least 65 different geyser vents, although some shoot up their water vapour more frequently than others. It’s one of three places in the world where I’ve witnessed geysers in action; the others are Iceland, and the northern California town of Calistoga. I’ve not yet visited what is probably the most famous geyser on the planet: Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park in the American state of Wyoming. I hope to make it there at some point.

The photos in this post were taken during my visit to New Zealand in January 2010.

Have you ever seen a geyser in person?

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Categories: H-Bomb's Friday Photo, Oceania and South Pacific, travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, Week 13: Australia’s Three Sisters

Hey there. Last week I missed a Friday in this weekly photo series, on account of I was on the road in Istanbul. But now I’m back, and it’s time to once again relive a moment from my past travels!

Today’s featured image comes from the Blue Mountains in the Australian state of New South Wales. (The Blue Mountains start about 50 kilometres west of Sydney.) The photo is of a rock formation known as the Three Sisters:

The Three Sisters

Each member of the Three Sisters tops out at over 900 metres above the Jamison Valley below.

This photo was taken during my visit to Australia in January 2010.

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Categories: H-Bomb's Friday Photo, Oceania and South Pacific, travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 6: Man over New Zealand

Hello again as we get ready to kick off the weekend. Today’s featured photo is of a man doing the “Sky Jump” from atop the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Sky Jump works as follows: first, you’re suspended for about 10 seconds outside the Sky Tower’s observation deck, so that people inside, such as myself, can photograph you. Then you’re lowered to the ground, 184 metres below, in what has been described as a controlled free fall. (Your descent is regulated via the cables to which you’re harnessed; this makes it different from a bungee jump.) Needless to say, I wanted no part of the Sky Jump. It was scary enough just to watch other people doing it. 🙂

Measuring 328 metres to the top of its mast, the Sky Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere (although the Sydney Tower in Sydney, Australia has a higher observation deck).

This photo was taken during my visit to New Zealand in January 2010.

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Categories: H-Bomb's Friday Photo, Oceania and South Pacific, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 5: horsin’ around on Easter Island

Happy Friday everyone! Today’s featured photo comes from the South Pacific paradise of Easter Island, also known by its native name of Rapa Nui. Easter Island is universally known for its moai, the giant stone statues that were carved by a society that lacked complex tools or technology. Less heralded are the roughly 6,000 wild horses that roam the island. And just like everyone else, those equines enjoy having their picture taken in front of the moai.

This photo was taken during my visit to Easter Island in September 2010.

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Categories: H-Bomb's Friday Photo, Oceania and South Pacific | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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