Friday, 27 September 2013

Long Beach

Looking East, the "Long Beach" to your left. To get to the "Blue Lagoon" you would go out that way, and head left (North)

Looking South, across the bay.
On the catamaran I stocked up on 2 x 1.5 litres of water as it is cheaper to buy there than it is at the resorts. I was also not sure if I would be getting lunch when I arrived at Long Beach due to the time, so I had a couple of the cheap yet delicious curry wrap things they sell on the boat.
Turns out I did get lunch when I got here, and enjoyed a great conversation with a honeymooning American couple from San Francisco. First thing I asked them when I discovered where they were from was the result(s) of the Americas cup, but they were in the dark as much as I was. They told me the snorkelling is fantastic here once you get out far enough, which is the hard part. I subsequently attempted it myself later in the day, but didn't seem to get far enough out.

I was the only guest last night, was had its pros and cons, the pro being I got a bure to myself, including having a double bed, which was a nice change from the hard wooden slat beds in the last two places. From what I can tell, I have the room to myself again tonight.
Lunch on the Second Day, rather delicious.
The down side was that it means I have missed out on going to some caves as they need at least three people to do them. They said to talk to the people running the boat, who are also the package people for a refund or something. So this morning I did quite a bit of reading, I finished "Danny Wallace and the Centre of the Universe" (good, easy to read and get through, but not as good as his other works), started and finished Paul Reiser's "Couplehood" (he was the writer and star of "Mad about  You" on TV in the 1990s with Helen Hunt - ok book, and obviously easily readable, but not a good choice when you are single and lonely on an island... - I actually bought it so I had a book I could swap in a book exchange) I also polished off this weeks NZ TV guide, and a Women's Health magazine I picked up for a dollar (just like a Men's Health really, just ignore the bits about PMS)
Other books I have recently devoured include - Danny Wallace's "More Awkward Situations for Men" (good and readable. Better than the first, but nothing compares to his "Yes Man" and "Friends like these". )
- Dom Harvey (from the Edge radio station)'s "Bucket List of an Idiot" (readable, but random and seems to lack cohesion.
Adulting - a sample, about being an adult, interesting but not sure ill commit the $17 required to get the full iBook.  
I have read the last five books pictured here - I read "A Bit Mental" even before I went away, and "Adulting" was a Sample book (ie 10 or 20 pages of it)
Some of the Books I am yet to read on my iPhone - these were all free, being old books (out of Copyright)
Still to read are the iBooks on my phone (pictured) and "Sales Dogs" which is part of the Rich Dad (Poor Dad) Advisor's series, but isn't motivating to read, I seem to have lost enthusiasm for those books. Just before now I walked down to the other point of the beach to see what was there and have a bit of a swim. On the way back I got talking to one of the locals who actually lives in Wairoa, so we had a good chat, and then he invited me to have a cup of tea with his extended family group, so I did. It was nice to do the local thing, but not in a contrived touristy way. I had to smile when, while we were all sitting on a tarpaulin cross legged having a cup of tea and cake, along came a dog, (not sure if it was a pet or a stray, there seems to be less of a distinction here,) it still had it's man bits - could tell as it came and sat with us, almost cross legged as well, with a look of "can I have a cup of tea too please?" Anyhow the guy next to him gave him two pieces of cake. I've seen a smaller dog who when he saw me yesterday got excited and followed me around. I told him to sit, and considering he didn't understand that, I've treated him with caution as I assume a pet would be vaccinated etc, and would understand that instruction. (The German couple that arrived before I left nick-named him Wilson, after the ball in Tom Hank's "Castaway"
This is facing West, to get to the good stuff you have to get out of the shallows and out to in line with that set of rocks in the middle.
Following that I went for a snorkel - attempting the channel again, this time I started further out so didn't have to swim as far and took a slightly different direction. I was rewarded this time, finding the reef, and subsequently seeing either two white tip reef sharks, or the same one twice (I believe it was the latter). A little bit scary admittedly. Unfortunately my camera had run out of battery by that stage, so I don't have a photo of it, but at the same time I wouldn't want to have my attention focussed on anything but the shark either.
The good thing about snorkelling at the time I did is I could use the sun set as an indicator of time, ie sunset is at 6 (dinner at 7, and time to head in before it gets dark).
Usual routine, dinner (pictured above) read etc, power goes off, sleep, wake at 4 or 5 in the morning, snooze a bit, get up, breakfast.

This morning after breakfast we did a boat trip up the coast to the blue lagoon, made famous by the movie "The Blue Lagoon" starring Brooke Shields. The highlight was snorkelling with the fish and feeding them leftovers from breakfast, which they went metal for, so I may try sneaking some bread away next breakfast.

Hopping on the boat south shortly after lunch.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

White Sandy Beach

The further north you go, the dodgier the boat it seems...

We were welcomed at the next resort with a drink, which was ironic, as after that the only free drink was at breakfast times. Shortly after we got there, it was lunch time - lunch was savoury mince and noodles, which I devoured as it was the most normal thing I've eaten this trip, not that the other stuff isn't nice, just it isn't as familiar. On my boat with me was an Australian girl, which has been a lot rarer than I expected, so far I have only encountered one other Australian, and no other kiwis, bar the hens party that made up a portion of our yacht trip. Anyhow, she didn't eat all her lunch - to be fair, the Fijians give us huge servings, especially the carbohydrate portion - and it took all my self control not to ask her if I could finish hers.

After lunch I read and slept, and later had a snorkel, although it took a bit of effort to get out to where it was decent.

The next morning after breakfast we went to swim with the manta rays. We spent virtually the whole morning snorkelling, but unfortunately did not see any. The quality of the snorkelling was ok, but not the best so far.

We returned to shore for lunch, and then due to getting a bit burnt I wasn't in a rush to get back out in the sun, so I just slept and read for the rest of the day.

The next morning I had hoped we would have the chance to try to see the manta rays again, but it became apparent that that wouldn't be the case, so I went for a walk over the hill to Honeymoon bay and had a snorkel there - which was actually very good snorkelling. I couldn't muck around there though as I needed to catch my boat north at 11:45.

Naqalia Resort

The next morning got up, had breakfast and ready for the boat to take me to the next destination.

I said farewell to the people I'd met, some of which had been there the whole two days as well, and in the case of a particular hot Dutch girl, had been on my yacht cruise as well. I'm happy to say I got a farewell hug from said hot woman. What happens is a small ferry boat takes you out to meet the big catamaran. On this day the catamaran had broken down, so it was about an hour late, so they had taken me out, then returned me back to shore to wait again, before eventually going and meeting the catamaran. At the time I was sad to go, as at that point that was the Fiji that I knew.

Anyhow, a short time later we arrived at the group of islands where my next destination was located. I transferred into the ferry boat, which was less substantial than the last - the last had a roof and stairs etc like what I remember  of the Whitianga ferry, whereas this boat was a glorified whaling boat. It was also a reasonable distance to my resort.

Since my boat had been delayed, I didn't have to wait too long before lunchtime, and until then, the Fijian guys were watching a Super 15 game - which just happened to be the semi-final I had gone to watch with Graham at Waikato stadium this year - the Waikato Chiefs vs the Crusaders. 

I read, slept, and later had a big snorkel in the bay in front of the resort. Later that evening I played cards with some of the others staying there - it was a reasonably small place, low key, and quiet.

Over night there was a storm, but it had died off by morning. After breakfast we went out on one of the boats to a reef to see and swim with some sharks. Unfortunately, due to the storm the night before, the sea was quite choppy, and once I got out there I vomited several times before I could get into the water. The sharks weren't particularly scary, they were maybe a metre long and not so interested in humans.

We headed back in for lunch etc. As part of my package I had another activity to choose from, I would've preferred to have done a kayak, but with time constraints etc I decided it was easier to join the others climbing the hill. It was a bit of a mission, mostly probably because of the heat. The guide started to piss me off a bit too, as he was a little bit pushy and kept asking questions like how much do you weigh etc, when all I wanted to  say was shut up, let me do my thing and we'll be sweet.

Once we got down again I jumped into the shower, clothes and all, as my shirt was soaked with my sweat anyway.

So again, dinner, cards, and bed. The next morning I had a quick snorkel before breakfast, and did a bit of a walk after, before boarding the boat again.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

South Sea Island

This is the moon, about the time of Sunrise - approximately about 5am.
After an early getup I got picked up and taken to somewhere else, and hopped on a big bus destined for the port. I ended up being seated to a hot Ecuadorian girl named Jessica, and had a fantastic chat with her. Unfortunately we weren't heading to similar places. 

After checking in at the port, it was a short boat trip out to South Sea island. By this stage it was still only 9am, and all the day trippers with their kids arrived at the same time. I went hard and did the free activities that were on offer - first off was a glass bottomed boat, which was a good concept, but didn't allow great photos. Straight after that I did a snorkelling safari, which was basically been taken out to a similar location and snorkelling along the reef.

By this stage it was roughly 11, and therefore lunchtime. Lunch was nice, a BBQ, including fish, chicken skewers and a sausage, plus some pineapple and melon and rice.

I followed that up with a sleep, and later did a snorkel right around the island - which isn't very big - before happy hour. Met some of the other people staying there and tried out some of the tropical cocktails. This was then followed by dinner, again delicious and in great portions.

The following day was the yacht trip. First we had to catch the ferry to Mana island, where we boarded the Sea spray. They took us to Castaway island - where Castaway starring Tom Hanks (and Wilson, who they made a big deal of) was filmed. The island was complete with "HELP ME" written with coconuts - which I thought would've not been allowed as a plane might take it as a genuine plea for help. We got to hang out there and snorkel for about an hour while they prepared lunch for us.

Lunch was awesome - barbecued fish, chicken and sausages.

We then moved onto the next island which had a village, where we had a kava ceremony. The guide asked who would like to be the "chief" of our group - I noticed at this point there weren't many males in our group, so I offered. We walked into the village, which was interesting, it reminded me a lot of when I play "Pirates" on the computer, sailing around, entering towns etc. anyway, we had the ceremony then went to have a look at their stalls where they sold necklaces etc. despite some cultural significance, To be honest I'd have rather sailed somewhere else and made better use of the afternoon.

We then sailed back to Mana island (whilst making use of the free bar as much as possible without making myself sick) at Mana we transferred back to the catamaran and back to South Sea Island.
Sunrise, as mentioned above

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Lots of Adventure, not so much travel...

Since my last post, I started and finished the ibook on my phone that I mentioned "A Bit Mental" by Jimi Hunt. I wanted to read it because he Lilo-ed the length of the Waikato river, I want to kayak from Cambridge to Port Waikato, so figured it would have some good pointers. It did, in terms of distance/manageable daily chunks, but I also got a lot out of it from a mental health perspective. Medically I wouldn't be classed as someone who has been depressed, but there have been times where I have been really frustrated, and half expected the white coats to come and get me. It's a fantastic book and I totally recommend it.

Any, as promised, this is a far more interesting post as it involves international travel... Eventually...
Retired: Passport #2 - July 2004-September 2013
On Tuesday I headed to the airport with dad. He was tying it in with a visit to our paper supplier. I got there nice and early, however once they finally opened I was told my passport wasn't in a fit condition to be used for travel, due to the water damage it had received 3 years  ago in Paris. I had however been to Egypt, and returned to New Zealand via the Usa in that time, so was a little surprised they were fussy about it. Of course, it ended up looking worse because they played with it. Anyway, in the end you win some & you lose some,& getting a new passport and tickets etc didn't end up being too difficult or expensive (at least I could still go). I got dad to run me into town while I sorted it out, & I ended up staying with my old school mate James for a couple of nights, which worked perfectly as the first day he was working in town, allowing me to catch a ride into town, look around, and collect my passport. The day of my flights he was working at the airport (as he works for Air NZ) so conveniently he dropped me off too. I have to give NZ internal affairs a big ups, as they had my passport ready for me in 24hours. Made me proud to be a kiwi.
Enter Passport #3, Pretty Flash aye.
So, at the airport I had to wait till the check-in opened, so I had the obligatory McD's breakfast. Once I checked in I went through and did some duty free shopping.
Flight FJ410 - Fiji Airways Says Relax, You're on holiday bro.
On the plane they fed us a chicken burger and some shortbread biscuits.

Once i got to Fiji I went through customs etc. I saw SIM cards were free, and u could buy packages, so I got the cheapest one with data.
My resort for the first night was nice - whole room and double bed to myself. Had a little walk, one of the staff was walking the dogs so we walked together. Afterwards had dinner, sampled the local beers, and had a nice swim before bed.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Making Sense and Redemption.

So here we are again! catching up like old friends, at least ones that listen. My life isn't as fun and eventful as I'd like (you) to think it is, so catching up since June probably won't take too long... 

So, Since the Fielddays, I had a few more rehearsals for my play, one night I went out on the town with some of my castmates, and Scott came back from Kuwait - so we subsequently caught up at the rugby, when the Chiefs played the Hurricanes (and won). Most of the reason I know that there isn't much to tell you about in the two and a half months since my last entry, is because July was pretty much taken up with my play performances - of Footrot Flats, by Ball, Hall et al... the exception in July being invited to Luca's 4th birthday dinner at the start of the month, and his party proper at the end of the month.
 I enjoyed performing in Footrot Flats, it was nice to be in something so iconically Kiwi, the opening song to the second act was "Slice of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn & Herbs, and everytime it made me want to put my hand on my heart - next to the silver fern... Artistically too I liked it, in the first act I was Boris the Boar, and didn't have any offical lines, so it was a nice challenge portray a character with limited means (including costume), and then in the second act I appear near the end as the new owner, with lines. It is probably the first role I've had as the bad guy, which is a nice change.

 The First weekend in August I took the Friday off and went to Auckland on the Thursday night. I went up mainly as there was a Family History Fair on, but also to cut loose and relax after my month of performances. Unfortunately I didn't get much out of the fair - I had gone with great expectations, as the one I went to in 2011 I got a lot out of, however that was when my tree was in it's infantcy, whereas now it is at a stage where any progress is marginal, especially without spending much money. To be honest, it also ended up taking second place behind my social agenda and sight-seeing.
 On the Friday, I decided I wanted to go there (to Manukau) using the train, which I did, but ended up taking a bit of time. Once I got to the events centre, they were having technical issues with the internet being down. That night I went to a ceroc evening which was fun, yet also gave me feelings of inadequacy, not because I dance badly, but more because I'm from Hamilton. 
The following morning I went to the Otara markets, as it was something that I have intended doing for years. Too be honest, the markets themselves weren't any more spectacular than the Frankton markets. I met a friend there, so we went to a local food place, and I got to try a bit of Pacific cuisine, which was my main goal. From there I went and visited Jan and Alan in Papatoetoe. Jan is in the process of selling off her father's stamp collection, and well, I'm in the process of tidying mine up, so I made a few purchases, and had a good catch up with them. I ended up not bothering with the fair that day, so headed back into town and caught up with someone. Following that, on my walk back up the hill I went and caught some comedy at the Classic. Problem is, they always put you up the front if you are by yourself, and the front is not a good place if you want to maintain a low profile.

 The rest of August included catching up with a few mates, and some terrible dates... enough said. I went to another Family tree thing, had not a lot more success, but the following week I went to a talk in Matamata on using which was alright. What I also enjoyed was before I ventured over there I had just been to the Red Cross book fair and got some books, and a CD by Anthony Robbins - which made really good listening on the way over there. What he was saying was that your experience is governed a lot by the vocabulary you use, ie, you choose the strength, and it becomes habit. The evening before I had gone back to Riverlea to watch "The Producers", which I wasn't sure about, but I'm so glad I did, as it was totally funny. I guess my reservations were along the lines of being more of an on-stage person than a watching person. Two positives that have come out of August were my promotion into Accounts Payable person - my workmate and long-time family friend Heather retired, so I have taken on her responsibilities. The other thing was finally getting my holiday sorted - there were various factors that were obstacles to my decision-making, but they cleared up, and admittedly with a bit of help from Suzanne, I sorted out a trip to Fiji, a tour of the Mamamuca and Yasawa islands with a whole lot of snorkelling - something I had researched last year, but decided against then because I would be returning to unemployment. 

So, here I find myself in September. Mum and Dad are currently away in the Gold Coast, and I am home alone, which is nice- nice to be responsible for myself again, in charge of what I eat, etc - and not in the "eat all I want" sense, more the "control of input" sense. 

On Saturday I went across to Rotorua to use up a night in a hostel that I had pre-paid for this time last year (I had bought a 5 night-pass, but only had used 4.) It was nice to have a change of scenery, and enjoy the hot pool, however it didn't live up to the hype in my head, as a shooting gallery I had been to last year wasn't open (you could shoot at a can for example, and if you shot it down from the string you won a can of drink), and by the time I'd walked back to the hostel bar, and watched the All Blacks vs. Argentina game, I was a bit tired and not in the outgoing state of mind, so I went to have a lie down to see if I regained my energy, which I didn't, so I slept. 

In keeping with tradition, here I get to share my pearls of wisdom with you. The title of this post relates to the victories of the past few months: redeeming myself on stage despite some challenges; finally feeling like my career is roughly back on track after a four year detour; booking my trip; redeeming myself with the travel agents in doing so - I felt bad last year when I had huge plans to do this and that, such as going to England again, and then changing it to Fiji and Melbourne, then facing reality and sticking to the South Island, I felt that they thought I was a tyre-kicker and full of shit, so it was nice to come back and say here's my money, lock it in Eddie! On top of that, its nice knowing I didn't take the easy road and hide from them because I was embarassed. I guess also, I like to think of myself as a travel blogger, and yet this is my first international foray in nearly 2.75 years. 

Along those lines I have had a random thought recently - I remember the careers advisor at school (who also happened to be my tutor teacher in 7th Form) saying that in our life times we would have several careers, some of which wouldn't have been invented yet. When I apply this to my life, I certainly have had multiple mini-careers, and in the case of my most recent job, emails had bearly come into being in 1997... 

I have also gotten into TradeMe in a bigger way lately. I initially opened an account in November 2008, prior to going to the UK - which was a great idea, as then it gave me 2 years credibility by the time I came home, without having to do much. I bought the odd thing initially in 2011, but lately have bought books and a rugby jersey... Lets start with the Rugby Jersey... recently I came to the realisation that most of the "cool" clothes I like are in fact clothes Scott gave to me in the UK, when he headed to Kuwait, (and admittedly they are on the slightly small side now, at my present weight.) One of the items I paid forward (like the movie pay-it-foward) before I left was an old Irish rugby jersey, which I would've liked to have kept, but I had to draw a line somewhere, so I gave it to my Irish mate. So it was a no-brainer when I saw a 2007 RWC Irish Jersey in my size on Trade me. What I love about that jersey is that the seaming of it is quite flattering - makes you look like a rugby player, rather than just a fat bastard. That and the homage it pays to my Irish ancestors. Of course Suzanne and Bevan were a little bemused in my sudden desire to spend money, so Bevan forwarded me a link to buy a modern All Black's jersey - without the AIG logo which now appears on it. So, I ended up buying three jerseys in quick succession (including the Waikato one at the fielddays).
In terms of books I discovered New Zealand and TradeMe have in fact discovered Danny Wallace and his books. I used to look forward to Thursdays in London when I could pick up a Shortlist magazine from the tube station and read Danny Wallace's column. I later discovered he was the author of Yes Man, which at the time was in the height of it's popularity as a movie (starring my man, Rhys Darby) Last year I read Yes Man the book, which was different to the movie, as it was actually Danny's own experience as opposed to the fictionalised movie. I enjoyed it, and admittedly cried a little at the end when he got the girl despite the odds (to be fair I had recently lost my girl in a similar odds situation). Anyhow, this round I came across a book he had written called "Friends Like These".
Basically it is about Danny reconnecting with his childhood friends, whom he has lost contact with over the years. Now I have always been partial to trying to maintain my relationships with people, and while I was a student, was doing quite a good job keeping email contact going. Admittedly Facebook, Laziness, and other priorities such as travel has made me drop the ball a little. Anyhow his book totally struck a chord with me, reminding me of the value of those you grew up with - and I grew up with some awesome people. One of his mates had died in the time they were out of contact, which I can relate to, (although we were in contact) - again reminding me of something we were told at Primary school - that statistically in 20 years time, one or two of us would have died. When you are 11 that's a scary thing to be told, especially when you are in a class of only about 10 kids. If you have been following me since the beginning, you may recall this post - at the time of the London 7/7 bombings. One of my mates had recently beaten meningitis, and only by chance had not taken the bus that had been blown up. I later found out that his brother's workplace was in one of the archways under the track that would've contained the train that wasn't blown up, and he fortunately wasn't at work that day also. I don't know what else to say here. I guess the moral of the story is stay in contact and don't be scared of expressing your love for your friends.
 So, other than that masterpiece, I also read "Join Me" and "Awkward Situations for Men" (also written by Danny Wallace), and have purchased several Bill Bryson books to read, and a Haynes repair manual for my Honda Civic, which is looking mint by the way, after I fixed the trim on the passenger door, and sewed a green gearstick sock. I also have made a few iBook purchases on my iPhone to read in Fiji - including "A Bit Mental" by Jimi Hunt - he travelled down the Waikato river on a Lilo, I intend to go from Cambridge to Port Waikato on a kayak.
 So, hope you have enjoyed my honesty with you, and myself. Thanks for reading this far. Keep an eye out for the next adventure - Fiji baby!