IX. HONOLULU, Hawaii, USA 2008

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IX. HONOLULU, Hawaii, USA

September 4 – 6, 2008: Honolulu
September 6 – 13, 2008: Cruise aboard NCL’s Pride of America

When we think of Hawaii, we think of an island paradise, blue skies and crystal clear waters, as well as pretty sun-tanned girls with long flowing hair dancing the hula to the sound of ukuleles and slack-key guitars. It is not surprising this reunion attracted more than 300 participants from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and the United States of America – the largest number of participants ever.

In his welcome address, Chairperson Richard Danyo (Nio Bie Seng) of Vancouver, Canada, reminisced about the passage of time since the first TFI reunion in Las Vegas, 21 years earlier. Richard thanked Steve Kristedja, the first TFI Reunion Chairman, as well as all preceding Reunion Committee members for initiating and organizing these reunion gatherings so successfully, over the past two decades.

Richard was backed by Vice Chairperson Anthony Tjan (Poo Gwan) of Honolulu. He travelled to Indonesia to promote the Reunion and the Cruise, and to entice friends in Asia to join. For many, a visit to the fabulous Hawaiian Islands is “a dream come true”, and as Hawaii is closer to Indonesia, it was hoped that this Reunion would attract more TFI friends from Indonesia.

As Vice Chairperson, Tony coordinated the preparations for the Reunion with input from Richard and his Committee members. It was not an easy task, not only because of the cost and distance involved in travelling between mainland U.S.A. and Hawaii, but also because the many Committee Members who live in the United States, live quite a distance from each other. If it had not been for modern technology, the Committee would have had a much more arduous task coordinating the preparations for such a massive undertaking. What a difference twenty years make since the first TFI reunion, when most people did not have computers.

Richard and Tony were supported by two secretaries, two treasurers and 12 other Committee Members responsible for Hospitality, Entertainment, the Gala evening and Cruise. Five persons were responsible for Photography, Documentation and DVD production, as well as Web Maintenance. There were three Masters of Ceremony from the United States, Canada and Indonesia. Because of the extraordinarily large number of participants, the Committee appointed 14 Regional Coordinators and 16 Group Captains, some of which also did double duty as members of the Committee.

As was done in Ottawa, Richard only asked Steve Kristedja, the pioneer of these Reunions, to say a few words for the Hawaii reunion booklet. Steve considered it an honour and enthusiastically complied. He noted that the fleeting time is hard to comprehend, if you think that 20 years are five Presidential Terms in Office! Steve was hopeful that many new energetic younger faces would bring forth the crop for next leaders. He urged participants to cherish each moment during the Reunion with your old and new found friends and enjoy their companionship, since you don’t know what will happen to you before you meet again.  As in his previous welcome letters, we are reminded of the passage of time and how precious each moment of togetherness with our friends is.

Unlike previous reunions, the TFI Reunion in Hawaii was the first time a reunion was held at sea, as well as on land. It was a wonderful idea that was eagerly accepted by all, but that meant that the Committee essentially had to handle arrangements for two different venues. Although the cruise was handled by Selly Liem of Lake Oswego, Oregon, Tony and Richard still had to travel to Hawaii, at their own expense, to check out the ship when it was docked in Honolulu. It was important that they knew what facilities would be available to accommodate a private group of more than 300 participants for the different reunion programs.

The first two days of the reunion were spent at the Sheraton Princess Ka’iulani Hotel in downtown Honolulu, on the Island of Oahu which is described as “The Heart of Hawaii.” The Princess Ka’iulani Hotel is strategically located within walking distance of the beach, the market, restaurants, and the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu.

On the first day of the reunion, participants were presented with leis made of beautiful purple and white phalaenopsis orchids. They had their pictures taken with good-looking Hawaiian natives, before attending a vibrant Polynesian dinner show entitled Creation. The show was held in the Ainahau Dinner theatre of the Hotel. With the aid of pyrotechnics and laser lighting for visual effects, the producers of this fabulous show took the audience on an epic journey of song and dance from the time ancient worlds were forged by the ocean, and Wind and Fire came to life across the enchanting islands of the Pacific.

The next morning participants were taken on a guided Island Tour around Oahu. They visited Hawaii’s cultural sights, its world-famous beaches, lush greenery and tranquil beauty. One of the highlights of the tour was Nu’uanu Pali with its steep cliffs where, according to history, hundreds of Oahu’s warriors were thrown to their deaths as they made their last stand from King Kamehaha’s conquering troops. Today, Nu’uanu Pali provides visitors with a stunning view of the windward side of Oahu. Another stop on the tour was the breathtaking Halona Blowhole. A blowhole is a lava tube under the water. As sea water rushes into it, the water is compressed, causing the pressure to increase and forcing a stream of water to shoot up to thirty-feet into the air. The tour concluded with a lunch at Mandalay, a well-known Chinese restaurant in Honolulu. Back at the hotel, participants had the opportunity to socialize, take a nap and get their luggage ready for the following morning’s transfer to the cruise ship.

After breakfast, participants boarded buses to the Port of Honolulu, where the Pride of America, one of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ ships, awaited them. After checking in and consuming lunch on board, participants could attend the ship’s evening entertainment, while the ship sailed to Kahului on the Island of Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island known as The Magic Isle known for its rugged beauty.

Upon arrival in Kahului, participants were able to arrange their own off-shore tours or participate in tours offered by the cruise line. Participants had a chance to visit the Haleakala Crater, a cool, cone-studded reminder of a once-active volcano located in Haleakala National Park.  Others rented cars and explored the island on their own, or with a group of friends.

Those who preferred to stay on board could gather in the Hospitality Room provided for TFI participants, participate in programs such as arts and crafts, hula dancing, or just sit on deck and relax, or do whatever they liked.

On the fourth evening of the Reunion, the Committee organized a social evening and a FUFU (From Us For Us) talent show. Participants were asked to give a performance that reflected the countries they came from. The delegation from Indonesia put on a batik fashion show to the delight of the ladies, while the Canadians sang Canadian songs. Participants from the Netherlands gave a line dancing demonstration, and the Americans wore masks and dressed up as American symbols. One of the ladies was dressed as the Statue of Liberty, while others dressed in clothes that represented the different ethnic minorities living in the United States. People sang and danced, and had great fun.

After two days in Maui, the ship sailed to Hilo. Located on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii, Hilo boasts dramatic waterfalls, fertile rainforests and blooming gardens. From Hilo the ship cruised to Kona, on the west side of Big Island. Kona is famous for its beautiful beaches against a backdrop of the Mauna Kea that rises more than 13,000 feet above sea level.

From the Big Island of Hawaii, the ship sailed to the Garden Island of Kauai, a tropical paradise of towering ocean cliffs, pristine forests and cascading waterfalls. Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and the oldest and northernmost island of the Hawaiian chain. Anywhere the ship went ashore, people had a chance to arrange their own offshore tour or join an organized group tour with a guide. Some visited Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,while others visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of the most fascinating biologic landscapes of the world, because of its volcanic significance.

Cruising certainly is relaxing. It allows everybody to do as little or as much as they please, alone or with whomever they like. Guests can have dinner in any of the ship’s restaurants, any time of the day or night. The choices are endless. There are buffets, Italian, Pan-Asian food, steaks and an upscale French restaurant to choose from. On a cruise, guests can also attend evening shows of their choice, as offered on board of the ship.

The Gala Dinner Dance took place on the eight evening, when the ship was docked in the port of Nawiliwili, Kauai, where it stayed two nights. The Committee had reserved the Liberty Restaurant for this event between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. There were speeches, sing-songs and celebrations for couples commemorating their golden wedding anniversary during the year of the Reunion. The oldest participants who reached their 80th and 85th birthdays in 2010 were also honoured and presented with gifts.

Organizing a reunion on a cruise ship takes the worry out of organizing separate dinners and entertainment, as almost everything is available on board, practically any time of the day. The cruise ended on day 10 of the Reunion when it arrived back in Honolulu. Participants could go back to the hotel and spend another couple of days in Honolulu, or continue on their journey home or elsewhere.

The Hawaii TFI Cruise reunion booklet lists 335 participants. It was the biggest number of participants in the history of TFI Reunions. The largest contingent came, as always, from the United States of America with 181 participants. The Netherlands came in second (58), Indonesia third (57), Canada fourth (20), Germany fifth (7), Hong Kong and Belgium tied for sixth place with four each, while Australia and the Philippines tied for seventh place with two participants each. This was the first time we had such a large number of participants from Indonesia.

                                                 Web design: Kim Han

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