"Not until 2017 has Hawaii held for me even a vague temptation. The 50th state has always seemed to me a meretricious luxury product whose visitors bring happiness with them in the form of money. I am not constitutionally geared for paradise. I am not one for cocktails containing patio equipment, for lazing on talcum-soft sand, eyes gone to pinwheels, grinning madly at the sun.
Hawaii is notoriously nice, and unremitting niceness is what I do not want out of a vacation. This is because I’m cheap. I want a maximum memory harvest for my travel dollar, and a trip rarely sticks in my long-term storage cache without the sharp edges of mishap and discomfort to snag on. I do not, for example, remember nice meals I have eaten so clearly as the wet duckling I disgorged on a street in the Philippines, and the delight this brought the locals. I cannot recall the nice hotels I’ve stayed in half so well as the New Zealand jungle cabin where I inadvertently slept on the rotting carcass of a rat and woke up with a heart murmur."