• Barbara Murphy-Shannon

Waikiki Day 1- Pearl, Pineapples, and Public Bathrooms

Updated: Mar 15

This is not what I thought this trip would be like. I had visions of lying on the beach in my bikini catching rays listening to the waves crash on the shore feeling all Zen and chillaxed. Escaping life.

Not sitting on a bathroom floor thinking about my past and playing the “what if” game in my head. What if I didn’t get married? What if I told someone sooner about what he was doing to me? What if I didn’t leave that day? It’s a dangerous game that can become self-loathing and put you in a very dark mood.

Ready to go?" Beth says as she slowly stands up.

"Yes, my ass is killing me," I said as I groaned getting up off the floor.

We load up our 30 lb backpacks using the sink to balance before we strap them on our backs. We take our small pack and put our arms through the straps so it sits on our chest. It feels like you're carrying an elephant.

"What's in here that it's so heavy?" I ask myself.

We went straight to look for the bus to go to Waikiki and check into the Youth Hostel. We finally found the bus going to Waikiki and started climbing the steps when we heard.

"Hey, you can't come on the bus," he shouts.

At first, Beth and I didn't know he was talking to us so we kept going.

"Stop and get off," the bus driver demands.

"Why??? We are trying to get to Waikiki," Beth announces.

"No BACKPACKS ALLOWED on the bus," the driver yells.

As I said, there is some conspiracy against backpackers.

"How are we supposed to get to Waikiki?" Beth asked the driver.

They went back and forth for some time until the driver gave in. I'm not sure what she said but it worked. I'm so glad she's here and I think her persuasive talents will probably be a very good asset as we manage our way around the world.

Riding on the bus heading to the hostel, I suddenly started to sweat, my hands were getting clammy and my stomach ached. What's wrong with me? What's happening? Did I catch something sleeping on the gross bathroom floor? There can be plenty of bugs lying in wait in public restrooms, including streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli, and shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.

"Oh, God."

I realized my anxiety was causing this discomfort. I was nervous about staying at the youth hostel. I had never stayed in a hostel. Will it be fun or scary? Will I be able to sleep in a room with strangers? Is it safe or will someone rob me in the middle of the night? OMG…OMG...now my anxiety is off the roof. Will I be able to go....to the bathroom? Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a tough time going #2 in a public bathroom. I would hold it for hours rather than go in a public bathroom. The thought of having to cover the toilet seat with paper then sit down as strange women outside my door are coming and going would put me in a cold sweat. It was all too stressful so I would rather hold it as long as I could. It's actually a thing called shy bowel...look it up.

I can see the HEADLINE in the Waikiki newspaper —"Women dies from being full of shit.”

When we arrived at the hostel it was pretty busy with people coming in going. It's a mix between summer camp and boarding school (not that I know what it’s like to go to boarding school, but I have been to summer camp), all the girls sleep together in one room and all the guys in another. The beds are twin bunk beds stacked 2 high. There is a communal kitchen and you guessed it, a SHARED bathroom.

Here's a little history about Hostels:

Hostels were started in 1909 by a German teacher called Richard Schirrmann who had the idea of turning a school closed for summer vacation into a cheap dormitory for young travelers on a budget. A few years after that, the Youth Hostel was a big success all over Germany and Europe.

Schirrmann really believed that young people should travel, to form character, learn discipline but also open their minds and build a better world.

“Thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other” Richard Schirrmann

To stay at American hostels, you need an American Youth Hostel card to book a reservation.

(Don't you love the 80's hairdo and that neck, I look like a linebacker. Oh...and I color coordinated my attire for the trip. I figured if you're limited to the space in a 50L backpack then everything better match. I went with the black and white theme).

The back of the card reads.

· Hosteling is traveling simply and living simply, in a spirit of fun and friendship. Hostelers observe local customs and laws both at home and abroad

· Motor transportation may be used to travel to hostels, but hostels may restrict such use and may give priority for accommodations to those arriving under their own power.

· Make reservations in advance and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope for Hostel Manager’s reply. ALL RESERVATIONS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AT LEAST ONE FULL NIGHT’S DEPOSIT FOR EACH PERSON. This requirement is applicable to group reservations as well. See handbook rules regarding cancellation of reservations without penalty and reservation deposits applicable to specific hostels.

· MAXIMUM LENGTH OF STAY at any one Youth Hostel is three nights unless special permission is obtained from the Hostel Manager.


· GENERAL HOSTEL DUTIES, as assigned by Hostel Manager, are shared by all hostelers.

· SHEET SLEEP SACK OR LINEN USE is required at all hostels. Rental is required when the hosteler does not carry his or her own.

· NEITHER HOSTELS NOR HOSTEL MANAGERS, NOR AYH assumes any responsibility for loss or theft of personal property.

· SEE CURRENT YEAR HANDBOOK for a full explanation of hostel customs.

There is a very diverse group of people staying at the hostel from all over the world which makes it feel like I’m already in a foreign land far... far... away.

We got settled in and took a bus trip around the island. It was dirt cheap, 66 cents. It was fun but long….4 hours long. Waikiki is a forest of tall buildings and asphalt, rows of shops selling trinkets, and cheap souvenirs (T-shirts for $2.25) to the tourist. A lot of honeymooners from Japan and old fat couples.

"Where are all the young people?"

The next day we visited Pearl Harbor and Doyle Pineapple Plant. After lunch (peanut butter sandwich and pear…on a budget. I've got to make my $ stretch if I'm going to make it until next summer traveling) we spent the day at the beach. The beach was crowded with lots of tourists. The water is crystal blue, warm, and the waves were just the right size which makes it fun, not scary.

I kept forgetting it was November.

My favorite place we went was Hanauma Bay. Just an incredible underwater park with blue/green crystal-clear water. It’s on the southeast coast of Oahu, 10 miles east of Waikiki. Hanauma (or curved bay) Bay is a former volcanic crater that became a protected marine life conservation area in 1967. Since then, it’s become an underwater park for snorkel enthusiasts, swimmers, and anyone desiring to see more than 400 species of Hawaiian fishes including Hawaii’s state fish the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, (try to say that 3 times fast).

Someone had told us to bring frozen peas to feed the fish. What they didn’t tell us was when you dropped a hand full of peas in the water, hundreds…maybe thousands of fish would surround you like a swarm of bees covering you. It was freaky as hell and incredible at the same time.

The next day we took a bus to hike Diamond Head. The hike itself is 1.5 miles round trip and the summit is 760 feet. There are some steep sections including narrow stairs. Beth and I danced up the trail listening to music on our Sony Walkman’s, laughing and having a great time. We arrived at the top in about 30 minutes. Not bad. The gorgeous 360-degree views from the top are breathtaking!

“What do you think of Waikiki?” Beth asked me.

“The beaches are beautiful but it's way too touristy for my taste,” I replied.

“Oh, I’m so glad to hear you say that. I was thinking we should head to New Zealand on Friday instead of Sunday. That way we would have more time in New Zealand”.

“Sounds great to me,” I said with excitement.

I came on this trip to discover new lands, have new experiences, and hopefully find myself along the way. Waikiki just wasn't it. I hope New Zealand will be different.

Journal Entry

Summary of Hawaii:

People are very nice and polite

Lots of Japanese tourists

The city is clean without much pollution but too many buildings

Beaches are beautiful. The ocean water is clear blue, warm, and salty.

Hostel people are very friendly and real (no phoniness). It’s very easy to make friends right away.

Beth and I are becoming close friends and I feel very comfortable with her.

Pooped in the shared bathroom and to my surprise, I wasn't shunned, kicked out, or excommunicated.


This is a true story that chronicles my rebellious journey when I was 24 years old backpacking around the world looking for solace after the end of an abusive marriage (ok to escape). An intensely graphic and heartfelt memoir of self-discovery is about how getting lost can be where you belong, how traveling to new cultures and meeting new people helps you heal (they don't judge), how to find your voice and remember who you really are, and want to be. It is certain to inspire anyone who has ever woken up in a life they don’t want to be in. Many life lessons and some bad decisions (sorry Mom) along the way. Buckle in! It's going to be a bumpy ride.

xoxo, Barbara

Barbara Murphy-Shannon, Psy.M. is a Breakthrough Business Coach. Love to hear your thoughts. Reach out at Barbara@barbaramurphyshannon.com