Some time ago I had the chance to meet and spend some time with a fellow barefooter from New Zealand whom
I got acquainted with on "a.l.b." (the barefoot newsgroup). We had been corresponding via email and it was a pleasure to
finally meet each other in person. He and his family stopped over in Hawaii for 3 days on their way back to New Zealand
from visiting other countries. He is the only avid barefooter in the family, although his wife and 2 children have also
gone out barefoot on occasion in New Zealand where the prevelance of barefooters is quite high.
The first day we met I went to his hotel, from where we went out to walk around
in Waikiki (where most of the tourists on Oahu stay). He and I were of course,
barefoot; his 11 year old daughter started out barefoot as well but later on she
decided to wear sandals. We went into several stores and the "International
Market Place" where we had lunch at the food court. We saw a few other
barefooters but it's hard to get one's soles dirty walking in Waikiki.
Later I drove them around the island a little bit and stopped by the "Pali
Lookout" where you can see a gorgeous view of the windward side of the island;
on the parking lot there were lots of small pieces of broken glasses which made
me cringe but to my own surprise, my feet didn't get hurt at all walking on
them. The many years of going barefoot has toughened my soles. Then we went to
"Safeway" since they needed to buy some groceries. In there we saw 2 little kids
and a girl in her 20's barefoot as well.
A side note: the Safeway stores here are all barefoot friendly (no signs posted,
and no hassles); and as some of you probably know, their employees are required
to be extra helpful and friendly to the customers (this was brought up on
"20/20"). In my early days of barefooting in public, I would get really nervous
when a Safeway employee approached me to ask if I needed help with anything. I
wished they would just leave me alone. But now I've gotten used to it and in
fact appreciate it 'cos they're still helpful and friendly despite the fact that
I'm barefoot :)
My friend commented that he was surprised that "Denny's" and "Pizza Hut" in
Hawaii don't have "the sign" posted at the door, 'cos the ones in New Zealand
The following day they went on a tour to the "Polynesian Culture Center" (a
popular tourist attraction on the island) which took pretty much the whole day
(including meals and shows). My friend carried his thongs in his backpack, just
in case. He said there was a sign saying "shirt and shoes required" posted there
but he ignored it and never got hassled even once. One person asked him if he
lost his shoes, and he just said: "No, I just don't like wearing them!". He also
saw another person barefoot there. Jokingly he said to me that "the sign" was
posted to distinguish the visitors from the performers (who are all barefoot).
The third day (new year's day) I went to church (where I have to wear shoes) in
the morning. As soon as service was over, I changed into T-shirt and shorts and
put my shoes in the trunk of my car and drove barefoot to Waikiki where my
friend invited me to join them at the pool, since they just wanted to relax
before flying back to New Zealand in the evening. He bought me a little
souvenir: a brazen bookmark with a little bare foot at the tip and the words:
"Barefoot in Hawaii Feels Good" inscribed on it. :)
Below are excerpts of my friend's email sent to me after he left,
relating his observation and experience on barefooting in Hawaii and on his trip
[written in Hawaii]
From a barefooting perspective, thanks to having conversed with you,
you were right--barefooters are more prevalent in NZ than it is here, but
rubber slippers (flip flops) are more prevalent here. However, out of the
places we've been to here, I've seen a few barefooters; and not much resistance
stares about it; which I would still consider barefoot friendly.
[continued on the flight on the way back home...]
We had to re-pack our suitcases in order to fit my running shoes in.
Otherwise, I would have had no choice but to wear them. Thank
goodness I didn't have to. I left the hotel barefooted into the six-windowed
limousine, which had trouble turning around corners (not bad for US$20 + tips). I got to the airport, went to pick up my stored luggage,
checked in the stuff; went through security, boarded the plane--not a single
problem, not a single stare.
Somehow, we ended up in an Air Pacific flight (Fiji Airline). It's
some joint service with Canadian Airlines. Our boarding pass says flight
FJ861 "sold as CP6121". I don't know whether it being a Fijian airline has
anything to do with it, but I did not anticipate too much problems
even on a real Canadian Airline flight from Honolulu to Auckland, both barefoot
friendly destinations. I had my flip flops in my carry-on, just in case nonetheless.
Going through the gates, that was the first time in the
whole trip that they asked me to open my carry-on to turn on my notebook PC
to see though.
I don't anticipate any problems landing barefoot in Auckland as well.
I've done that before. So, basically as soon as I landed in Honolulu,
I've been barefoot full-time again. Too bad it rained when we went to Polynesian
Culture Center. My feet would have been nice and black otherwise.
Surprise, my wife put her sandals in the bag and landed in the Auckland airport
barefoot along with me.
So, will you be barefoot on your next vacation? You should also read about
going barefoot in Hawaii which details my
personal experience while living in Hawaii.
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