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One Giant Learning Experience (Part 1)

Thoughts in my head:

When I first bought the tickets:
What on earth am I thinking??!!
This is Arashi and you only live once!

When I first bought the air tickets:
Am I really doing this?
Yes. How else will you get to Hawaii? and you just spent US$169 on the concert ticket.

After I bought the air tickets:
People who know me will be laughing non stop! Why? With all the excitement, I forgot to check the time of the flight and booked a ticket that departs at 6am! There is no way I am going to get to the airport on time for the flight. I was that desperate that I was thinking of heading out to the airport the day before and spend the night at the airport. However, that is not possible as I have class and will not be able to make it for the last shuttle to the airport. Luckily I had a great friend, Jaret who kindly agreed to send me to the airport. Here is the crunch. To get there in time, he has to pick me up 3:30 am! Yup. He is going to pick me up at 3:30 am, drive more than 1hr to get me to the airport and then drive back. I am going to be in his debt for a long time.

When I bought the ticket for the second concert:
Do I have the money to spend like this? What on earth am I thinking??!!
You have to. The internal flights are notorious for being delayed. What if you miss the concert on Friday? The most compelling reason of all? You already spent money on the air tickets might as well go all the way. You can spend another US$169...

When I realized that I need a place to stay and a ride to the concert venue:
What am I going to do?? Hotels are super expensive. Hotels around the Ko Olina (the concert venue) are mostly sold out. Taxi ride will be US$100 and above.
Thank God for the wonderful and helpful Arashi fans out there. Found a closed Facebook group where fellow fans are helping one another by recommending lodging alternatives (in the end I decided to book a semi-private room at Waikiki Beachside hostel) as well as willing to share taxi rides, arrange for shuttle, and offer carpool options. This is the first amazing act of kindness I encountered through this experience and till now I am still amazed by the people from the group. We come from all over the world and bonded over our common love for Arashi. It is through this Facebook group, that I got to know a fellow Arashi from Texas who is renting a car and is willing to let me share a ride with her for the two days. Yup! What am I thinking when I decided to hop into a car driven by a total stranger and I only know via Facebook for a week prior to the concert? I guess my sense of danger is retarded but I could also be not thinking at all since every brain cells in my head are occupied by the fact that I am going to see Arashi!

The weeks leading to the concert:
Nothing exist but Arashi. Seriously! I still don't understand how I survived those weeks and how did I manage to function in a manner that is expected of a logical sensible grad student. Those days were a daze for me. All I know is that most of the time I was prowling the internet, looking for any information related to Arashi and the concert in Hawaii. Come to think of it, if only I put in as much effort in my studies and research, will I still be sitting here?

The days before departure:
I think people around me must think I am crazy. Why? For the simple reason that I would be grinning to myself and smiling away for no obvious reason. The excitement and joy of being able to see Arashi in concert hit home the hardest during this period. I simply cannot believe that it is going to happen and I am going to use a cliche here but it is really like a dream coming true. In fact, it is better than a dream come through for this is a dream that I did not even think that I could dream. Honestly, my goal of going to Antarctica seems to be more realistic than going to a live Arashi concert.

The day before departure:
I still remember how happy and excited I am. I had to teach in my recitation class as well as attend a meta-analysis class that day. Not sure how I made it through both. I did told my lecturer and classmates that I will not be available over the weekend to work on the project. My lecturer who is a Japanese lady was very surprised that I know Arashi and she wondered how do us international fans get to know a group that does not promote itself outside Japan. All I can say, is how amazing the Internet and the power of Arashi fans are. Anyway, when I get home, I had dinner and finish packing for the trip and guess what? I was so excited that I could not sleep! Frankly speaking, I cannot remember what I did to wither away the time but sleeping was not an option. I was way too excited and still cannot believe that I am going to watch Arashi live.

I am going to stop here. The journey and the concert will have to wait a bit as I think they deserve to have their own entry. :)

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