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One Giant Learning Experience (Part 2)

The journey to Hawaii:
The flight from Indy to Atlanta was uneventful. Seriously a flight at 6am, what do I expect? I am just glad that there is no changes to the flight time and I reached Atlanta on time. The flight from Atlanta to Hawaii was a totally different story. The flight itself was just as uneventful and I am glad that there is personal entertainment system available on the flight which definitely helped. I thought I should try to sleep on the 9 hours flight but I was still too excited. Although I did managed to doze off for a couple of hours but I digress. What was interesting was about the flight actually took place while boarding the plane. I saw a mother and daughter carrying the Arashi Blast tote bag. My friends who know me, will tell you that I never speak to strangers. Some will even tell you I don't speak to people I know. It is not that I am an unfriendly person but it is more like I don't like spending time making small talk. Hence, even I was surprised when I turned to the mother and daughter asking them if they are going to the Arashi concert. They were so happy and excited in meeting a fellow Arashi fan that I am sure the noise and excitement level in the aircraft increased by several levels. They were on their way to Hawaii for the concert but they did not arrange any rides to and from the concert venue. They were wondering if I would like to share a ride with them. As I have already arranged for my ride, I told them I will check if there is space in my ride. Bear in mind that this is taking place while we are boarding the plane; so in a couple of minutes we will be leaving Atlanta. I immediately texted my friend whom I am riding with and let the mother and daughter know that I will let them know her reply when we land in Hawaii. Honestly, this is not the first time I pick up strangers along my journey but this is definitely the most excited strangers I picked up. Anyway, there is nothing I can do till we land in Hawaii.

Airport to Ko Olina:
Luckily, my friend replied that there is still space for 2 in the car and I got to spend a wonderful time at the airport with the mother and daughter while waiting for the rest of the party to get in from various parts of US. M (daughter) and K (mother) are from New York. What I remember most about M is that she is very fluent in both Japanese and English. Not surprising since her mother is Japanese and speaks only some English. Both of them are fans of Ohno and it was just nice talking to them about Arashi. This is another great thing about the whole Arashi journey. That I can finally talk to people about Arashi, giggle over the guys' cute looks and funny antics, share websites and facebook pages on information about them, without having rolling eyes or blank looks looking back at me. The one hour we spent waiting for J(my friend who rented the car) and A (another friend we made over Facebook) went very quickly. When everyone meet up, the first thing we shared (besides introducing ourselves of course since this is the first time all of us met each other) is who is our favorite member in Arashi and which pairing is our favorite. Mine is of course Nino and Sakumiya, M (Ohno and Ohmiya), K (Ohno and Yama), J (Sho and Yama), and A (Nino and I cannot remember which is her fave pairing). For those who are reading this and have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, now I am sure you can understand the joy I feel that I met people who are speaking from the same page.

Anyway, the drive from the airport to Ko Olina was good once we figured out how to set the car in auto (it is one of those car that you can set either in manual or auto). We started blasting Arashi music in the car, sharing our favorite Arashi stories and singing along the songs at the same time. Again my close friends back home will be so surprise since I am not a person who sings and if I do go karaoke with them I am usually in charge of the system and keying in songs. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, I have NEVER partake in any singing with any of my friends back home. I tend to be a passive observer. Hence no one is more surprise than me when I found myself singing along to the songs that I am so very familiar (after all, I spent 2 semesters listening to them while working on Stats) with even though I do not know all the words.

2014-09-19 17.20.53

Ko Olina - THE Concert:
The first thing on our mind when we got to Ko Olina? Are there still any concert goods left? The Facebook group I was on was very helpful in posting the availability of concert goods at the Arashi shop at Ala Moana. Basically things that are a must have at a concert are sold out. Hence when we reached Ko Olina, we immediately made our way to the concert goods stall and grab everything we need. The key word here is NEED! I definitely NEED a Uchiwa, a penlight (or two), a tote bag (it is reversible!), the towel, and the hair tie of course. As J mentioned, that is the fastest $100 over she spent and all of us paid cash too! Total damaged from my pocket? around $140? Will I do it again? In a heartbeat!

After grabbing the concert goods, we head over to the queue for entering the venue. The line just opened (5pm) and I can see people moving in rather orderly into the venue. We are near the back of the line and were concerned if we can make it into the venue in time. Around 5:40pm, we are still outside the venue but getting closer to the gate when we could hear the helicopter arriving. At this point, the security just open up the whole section and everyone just make a run for it. Sad to say I was still in line for checking the tickets when Arashi landed and started their performance. I only managed to get to my section (D1) during Lucky Man. Not going to make the same mistake tomorrow!

All in all, the concert was GREAT! Everyone was singing to parts of the songs. Sho was fantastic in getting the fans to sing and move to the music. I am truly amazed by his energy and passion throughout the concert. I am not a big Sho fan to begin with but I think I love him a bit more after watching him in action. Another highlight was seeing the famous Matsujun's moving stage. It is really cool to see them singing and dancing on the stage as it moved above the audience. The section I was in was next to the one that is underneath the stage, which meant that we get to see the members who are on the stage really close and of course, this resulted in plenty of screaming, shouting, and waving in trying to get their attention. At this point, I began to understand why the fans took so much effort in making their own uchiwas and putting on them so many personal messages. The members truly looked at the audience and see us. The uchiwas was really good in grabbing their attentions and a smile and a wave from any of the members is a reaffirmation of the fans' presence in their world. At this point, I know. If I have a chance to go to an Arashi concert again, I am making my own uchiwa!
If I have to identify a downside to the concert, it will be the fact that Nino was not feeling well that day. Based on most post concert reports, it was due to the Hawaii heat. He was away from the stage for a long period of time during the dialogue session and although he did make it back, he was certainly less energetic than the rest. The good thing was that as the concert continued, I could see that he was getting better and his energy level improved. However, he did not spend much time near my section. Well, there is still one more concert tomorrow and I will be in a different section so maybe I will have more luck then.

Post Concert:
Getting out of Ko Olina was a long long long wait. It took us around 45 min to get out of the carpark. However, none of us were complaining as we are still running on the concert high and were singing away to Arashi songs in the car while sharing tidbits of the concert.

Hostel and fellow Arashi fans:
I am not going to say much of the hostel as I will likely be doing a review of it on Tripadvisor. As for fellow Arashi fans, it was great meeting up with them after the concert and talking to them about the concert and what they should look out for tomorrow.

All in all, it was a wonderful first day in Hawaii and although I did not see anything about island. After all, I am here for one reason and one reason alone... to see Arashi!

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