Today is Day 9 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012. The past 8 days had been very fun, eventful and exciting. I had a great great time here in Hawaii with my DSG family and as our adventure in Hawaii was drawing to a close, I confessed that there were a bit of sadness in leaving Hawaii. After our breakfast at Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel, we gathered at the hotel lobby for our morning trek through parts of the city towards Mount Le’ahi (Diamond Head), Hawaii’s most famous and most recognised landmark, for her historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history.
We were led by Wayson from our hotel through the sub-urban neighbourhoods, walking through a tunnel under the mountain and reaching the entrance whereby we started our trek up the mountain towards the summit of Mount Le’ahi (Diamond Head). Hawaii State Parks has information on the Diamond Head Summit Trail, do check out their site for more details! The trek up wasn’t too difficult for us, the route was winding along the contour lines. As we trekked further up the trail route, the view got even more beautiful along the way. Close to the summit of Mount Le’ahi, there was a steep looking staircase (like a stairway to heaven), this was a bit of huff and puff given the inclination and gradient of the staircase. Once we huffed and puffed our way reaching the top of the staircase, we were greeted by a small lighted-up 225 ft tunnel inside the mountain. Slowly walking through, we reached an old spiral staircase and continued our trekking upwards. The spiral staircase was a short journey and when we saw light and the ocean! We arrived at a observation post built inside the mountain, climbed out of the small opening between the rocks and I tumbled my way out because the exit was too small for my frame. In another short trek up, we finally reached the summit of Mount Le’ahi and we now know why this is Hawaii’s most famous and most recognised landmark, for her historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. The coastal views were stunning and we were able to see the bunkers on the crater rim, besides that, there were many people there crowding around the small summit area, all taking panoramic photographs of the Southeastern Oahu coastline.
After a good rest, enjoying the cool ocean breeze, breathe-taking sceneries and taking many photographs, we trekked down and back to our hotel, stopping by for lunch along the way back. The afternoon was a free and easy rest time for the DSG boys and girls, preparing for the farewell dinner later in the evening. I went back to my hotel room, showered and rested for a while before continuing with the photo video montage to be shown during the farewell dinner later in the evening. The photo montage video clip was done by Janice and Guan Ying, who were our DSG Ventures. I just provide my Macbook Pro, iMovie and photographs from Wayson and myself. It was a production by the DSG boys and girls for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012, I just pop in a few pointers and allow them to have control of the production. My room was joined by more people later in the afternoon, we were all doing some last minute gifts, the key chain boy scout figurine and doing the photo video montage and photographs slideshow.
In the evening, the DSG boys and girls gathered at the hotel lobby. Our various Hawaiian hosts drove us in their individual cars to pick us from our hotel lobby to Maple Gardens, a restaurant nearby our hotel. This farewell dinner was kindly hosted by Wayson and Edwina, thank you very much for the warmest hospitality and kindness! Before dinner commenced, there were short speeches by Sterling and Wayson. After that, Eugene took over the proceedings, like what he always do during the meal times at DAV campsite dinning hall, the DSG boys and girls collected their buffet food and waited for all to come back and tuck into their meals together as one DSG family. While they were eating, they were shown parts of the photo slideshow from our 8 days of adventure, we had a good laugh there during the dinner!
During the dinner, DSG presented gifts and appreciation to our kind Hawaiian hosts that took great care of us during the time we were here. We would like to say a Big Big Thank You to Sterling, Wayson, Edwina, Betsy, Nancy and Thomas. The boys and girls from each patrol also showed their own appreciation to our Hawaiian hosts, with their own gifts and appreciation for them. During the appreciation time towards our Hawaiian hosts, the scene and atmosphere was very heartwarming, epitomising the spirit and bonding of Scouting movement worldwide. Suddenly, we were interrupted by Wayson coming with a big birthday cake! DSG and our Hawaiian hosts were celebrating my DSG senior, Hongliang’s birthday in advance! This was a surprise for Hongliang and I am sure he’s very happy deep inside him that DSG and our Hawaiian hosts were celebrating it for him!
My DSG senior, Hongliang, gave a thank you speech to all at the farewell dinner. He shared a lot about the history behind how DSG and Hawaiian Scouting established their friendship and relationship, dating back to 1992 when both sides first met, the first exchange was in 1994 whereby the Hawaiian Scouts first came down and in 1995, DSG went over to Hawaii. This was followed by December 2006 when DSG went over to Hawaii and in July 2007, the Hawaiian Scouts came over. This time in 2012, it’s our third exchange and we would be looking forward to more exchanges in the future! I can totally relate to the speech that my DSG senior, Hongliang, when he was talking about this because I was there when Sterling first came down to Gan Eng Seng School and visited Dragon Scout Group, the first exchange in 1994 and how the friendship and relationship between DSG and Hawaiian scouting blossomed over the years. The Dragon Scouting blood inside Hongliang and myself, we probably had a stronger and deeper understanding of what this meant, the Scouting friendship and relationship between Dragon Scout Group and Hawaii Scouting since 1990s and growing stronger into the future. I also wrote some more in-depth personal thoughts here from my DSG Hawaii Exchange Program and my photographs for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program can be found here on Flickr!
During the dinner, there was a short video clip presentation for Mr Kevin Kung, one of the teachers-in-charge of DSG and the overall coordinator for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012. This was to show appreciation to Mr Kevin Kung for all his hard work and time, over the years with DSG and this particular 2012 Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program. To end it off on a high and joyous note, Hongliang led a traditional 3 cheers of Yum Sheng and a group family photo taking! The time has come, for us to return back to our hotel, for a rest and packing up for our return back to Singapore the next day, our adventure in Hawaii was coming to an end soon.