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'How Much!?!'
French Polynesia- Jul/Aug 2003
'Mosquito Beacoup'
Saturday 26th July 2003 Faa, Tahiti

Landed at 8:30, it was still 75 degrees so pretty stuffy although it didn't feel as humid as Fiji. We were greeted off the plane by some singing and dancing Tahitians and given a flower each. My bag was even one of the first to appear on the carousel. This couldn't get much better, beautiful Tahitian women serenading me and no wait at customs. (Maybe the French have got it all right). So I went outside the airport to see if I could arrange any accommodation whilst Sarena waited for her bag... Nothing, there was no information desk and no one willing to help so I ended up standing around waiting for Sarena, and watching all the wealthy tourists getting picked up by their luxury tour guides, eeeeergh. Sarena didn't appear and I couldn't get back through the doors to check on her. It looked as though my premonition had come true about losing one of our bags in flight. Eventually she did turn up, but without her bag. It had been left at Auckland and will be arriving on the 11:30 flight. I knew it was all too good to be true (I blame the French).

After phoning around we ended up finding a guest house opposite the airport. it was very extortionate but conveniant so we booked a couple of beds and walked out of the airport to try and find. After walking a few fruitless roads in search of the guest house a Tahitian couple pulled up and offered to help us find it. So we jumped in their car and they drove around and asked people until we had finally found it. They where amazingly friendly, Rama and Sabastian, and even offered us free tickets to a show put on for Jaques Chirac visit to the islands tomorrow. Cool.

As well as being extortionate it was also very grotty but owners where very friendly, the beds where surprisingly comfy, we had a dorm to ourselves and there was very little sign of Mossies so it looked like a good nights sleep would be in order. We walked back to the airport to pick up Sarena's backpack at 11:30 and then ended up chatting and playing guitar with the owners until about 1 am. They where both very very drunk and the owners wife kept leaning over to throw up. The best bit was when they confessed to hating the French. We managed to escape them and get to bed, but they continued to sing and play just outside our window. They then forgot how many of us there where sop kept coming in our room and asking where the other where and had we paid. They then disturbed a couple who had a room to themselves and started a big row as they where now so drunk they thought that nobody had paid them. The other couple where surprisingly calm at being pulled out of bed at 2 in the morning. This is all great I really feel that we are back traveling again.

Well landed and then waited and waited and waited for my bag, Toby had got his and had gone through to find us a cheapy hotel. My bag wasn't on the turntable - not a nice feeling so i went to the lost baggage office where they told me it had not left Auckland and to let them know where we were staying so they could drop it off. Problem was i didn't know so had to go and find Toby then come back and sort something out. So we spent the next 20mins trying to phone up all the cheapy hostels to no avail. Did eventualy find one and booked 2 dorm beds then informed the baggage people that we would come back and pick up my bag as we were only staying opposite the airport.

We then spent another 30mins trying to find the place and i was so tired and hungry...... lucky have it, a car pulled up and a lovely couple asked if they could help, they then spent ages driving us around to locate the darn place. We did get there eventutally and we couldn't thank them enough. They said they had some tickets to a big concert/festival being held in honour of the President, Jacques Chirac who was in town the next day. They said they would drop us off some tickets Sunday afternoon and take us in if we wanted. Now how bloody good is that? only been in the Country a couple of hours and we were being looked after already by some lovely people.

The place where we had arranged to stay was like something out of a film - more of a comedy/horror as it was very run down and was basically a room off of a house. The couple who owned the place seemed very friendly so we sat down with them to have a broken conversation whilst they steadily worked their way through a bottle of whiskey getting drunker and drunker by the minute. We went back down to the airport at 11.30pm and sat around for 30mins to wait for my bag which thankfully did turn up. We then went back to the hostel where on inspection of my very sorry looking and squashed bag i found my shampoo had burst and gone everywhere - fantastic.

We decided to sit up with the couple for a bit longer whilst i had some noodles which i had bought with me from Fiji, just in case...... i'm so glad i did as there was no chance of getting any food that time of night. The couple were now blindly drunk and kept asking us if we had paid and how many of us were staying in the room, we thought it best to now go to bed and leave them singing to each other. The room had no glass in the window so all the mossies were in having a party. I didn't put my ear plugs in just so i could hear if the mossies were around my ears which meant i could hear him still singing right outside our window and her chucking up in the garden - nice. About 30mins of us being in our room trying to sleep they both kept staggering in intermittently to ask if we had paid?? yes we have paid so bugger off. They obviously got bored of us and went to pick on a poor Spanish guy staying in the house who was getting equally pissed off with them which in turn sent the drunk gut into a rage thinking he was having a go at his wife, poor bugger got dragged off outside and accused of not paying even though the Spanish guy explained that they had picked him up from the airport and he had paid then! they started a big row with the poor guy who just wanted to go back to bed as it was now about 2am.

Sunday 27th July 2003 Faa,Tahiti

The owner of the guesthouse left us some french sticks for breakfast in the morning I gobbled these down with a bit of Jam. They slunk off very early to go to church and nurse there hangovers. Sarena and I caught a 'Le Truck' into Papeete to try and find some information about getting around the islands. Everything was shut so we ended up wandering around for a few hours. Papeete has a very nice feel to it. You can tell there is a huge French influence here and it gives the place some depth. Seeing as we couldn't organise any ferry trips we decided to organise food, again everything was shut in town so we jumped on another 'Le Truck' and headed to a Hypermarket. unfortunately my lack of french and a few wrong decisions led us to a Agriculture Market full of plants and veggies. We did get some tomatoes and HUUUGE bananas though and then sneaked into a very posh hotel down the road.

The Hotel had a private beach with crystal clear waters that stretched 20 km out to Moorea island with its huge lush green mountains. It looked like paradise. There was even a show on in the hotel grounds to entertain all the guests having lunch. How they can eat with these beautiful Tahitian women girating around them I will never know. I can see myself getting into lots of trouble over the next two weeks!!!

It was getting late so we caught another 'Le Truck' back to our guest house and just met up with Rama and Sabastion who had dropped our tickets in. They said they would pick us up in 30 minutes so I jumped in the shower for a mid afternoon cool off. They arrived back just at 3 and first took us to a supermarket right next door to the agriculture market we had ended up at earlier. then they took us to the local stadium which was absolutely packed. Sebastian does native warrior dancing and he was in the show for the Prime Minister, so we left him and found a place to sit in the shade within the stadium. Rama also met up with some friends who helped hold her puppy that she had holding constantly since we met her yesterday. She even bought the dog into the show.

We had lots of singing and dancing and flag waving whilst everyone waited for Jacques Chirac to turn up. He eventually did and gave a very long speech which I didn't grasp at all, and neither did anyone else around as as they where talking all the way through it. After the presidents speech the lights went out and a really cool show started. It was basically the local dances and music from different groups of islands, so first we got to watch amazing videos of the islands. It would be great to visit them all. and the we got to watch very sexy women (and also men) dancing around. This went on for about 2 hours and although I had a very numb bum I didn't want it to stop. The ending was typically signaled by a flurry of fireworks and everyone magically disappeared from the stadium.

Rama and Sebastion gave us a lift back to the guesthouse, during the drive we discovered that all Jacques had said was that French Polynesia was nice and thank you to everyone that was there. We also found out that the police had blocked all the roads to Papeete to prevent too many countrysiders from turning up who apparently hate the French (something I can't believe) and still have major gripes about the nuclear tests that the french carried out in this area (the bastards). Anyway Rama and Sebastion dropped us off and said that if we weren't doing anything tomorrow they would take us to the beach. How great is that!

Found a new room mate, Michelle, who had just arrived in Tahiti to spend 1 month working in the hospital as part of her medical degree. Not a bad spot! We were all pretty tired though so it wasn't long before we hit the sack.

The Spanish guy left early in the morning, funnily enough...

The now hungover couple were all dolled up for church in their best whites and drinking gallons of water and looking quite sheepish. They did show us where the tea and coffee and French bread and Jam lived so we could help ourselves to some b'fast which was a blessing as we didn't have anything with us. We then went down to catch the bus 'Le Truck' into Papeete to the information centre which was shut as was everything in town because of the Sabbath. We then went to find a supermarket to stock up but ended up going up and down on the truck trying to find something open but seemed to turn up 10 mins too late as they shut around lunch time. At least it gave us an opportunity to sight see around the area and found it to be a beautiful place, lots of money obviously and the size of some of the yacht moored up on the harbour were the size of a small island! It was clean and full of colour, the weather was gorgeous and the scenery spectacular. The French influence was obviously very strong, the buildings etc and the cost of everything!

Well we didn't get to the supermarket in the end but did end up at a market mostly dealing with fruit and veg and livestock. It was nothing like our markets as it was so clean and full of colour, they decorate everything with flowers and palm leaves. Actually that was one of the first things i noticed when arriving in the airport was the most wonderful smell of flowers everywhere,everyone was wearing the garlands of franzipan flowers and they were selling hundreds of them. We purchased a couple of bananas and some tomato's and i had a lovely ice-cream.

There was a very posh hotel just opposite the market on the sea front and i was desperate for a wee so we popped in and checked the place out and went out the back outside to find them hosting a dancing and singing group who were really good, the women were stunning especially one of them who had hair down to her knees.

When we got back to the hostel we just caught Rama and Sebastian who had been dropping off a couple of tickets as promised for us. We arranged for them to come back at 3 to pick us up so we rushed in for a cold shower and to put some half decent clothes on for the occasion.

They came and picked us up as arranged and we stopped off at a supermarket which was open and happened to be the very same place i said we should try but Toby had said it wasn't a shop.... mmm not listening to him any more. We all stocked up on some grub for later on then got dropped down near the arena where Jacques Chirac was going to drop in for a visit. Sebastian was one of the many dancers so he had to go in through another gate so we went and found ourselves a piece of ground to sit on and sat there for a few hours watching and listening to Tahitian singing and dancing all of which was amazing. I especially loved the huge group of drummers who were just belting it out all evening, you just couldn't help but move to the beat.

The man himself turned up and did his speech then buggered off again at the end when there was a big fireworks display etc. Seems Jacques isn't so popular with the Tahitians and i can't say i blame them - French didn't treat them so well, in fact they were awful even preventing them to learn their native language and school and what with all the nuclear testing......... well, i wouldn't be a happy bunny.

Rama and Sebastian dropped us off and gave us their telephone number so that we could give them a ring after we get back from the island and arrange to meet up- bless em. The owner bloke just showed his face to say hi and said his wife was out cold in the bedroom from consuming a bottle of whiskey! When we got in our room we found we had been joined by a girl called Michelle who had just flown in from the UK as she was going to work in the hospital, she had 1yr left before becoming a doctor and she is only 23. Luckily she speaks fluent French so she isn't finding the language barrier a problem. We didn't stay up late and dived into bed.

Monday 28th July 2003 Papeete,Tahiti

Found it particularly hard to drag my ass out of bed in the morning. The owners had laid on some baguettes, jam and coffee for petite, then Michelle joined us and we caught a 'Le Truck' back into Papeete.

Our plan is to book a space on cargo boat to Bora Bora. So we all got off the 'Le Truck' outside of the Tourist Information center and got the details of the boat. I then spent the next 30 minutes walking in the intense heat to the shipping port to book us some tickets whilst Sarena guarded the bags in the shade. At the ticket office I surprised myself with my french but unfortunately the boat is booked out all this week. Bugger! I walked back to Sarena and the tourist office to find the details of the more expensive high speed service. Its gone bust - no wonder the cargo ship is booked out! I even tried a smaller ship but that was booked out until the 19th of August. Looks like our Bora Bora trip is going to have to be postponed until where rich and famous. I had a quick rest in the shade whilst sarena attempted to hitch a lift from the posh yachts in the harbour. No Good.

We decided to stay in Papeete tonight and then spend a few days on the island of Moorea which is just 20km off the coast. We checked into the only hostel in town, Teamo, to find Michelle already there. The check in process was a bit scary as the old lady who runs it seemed a bit mad and very inhospitable. The rest of the day was spent cooling down. We went back down to the sea front and had a well earned beer (that broke the bank) then walked to the supermarket where I bought myself another beer and a few bits for tea.

The Hostel only turns its Gas on for 2 hours from 6 pm where we can do some cooking, If we have bought all our own equipment, and have a shower. Met up with a very jolly Irish man, Rob, and an Aussie who had sailed over, Johnno. I cooked up some disgusting beans and sausages and we where all in bed by 9.

Didn't get up as early as we had planned due to sleeping very well, but after another b'fast laid on by the owners we packed up and said goodbye accompanied by Michelle who was also going into town. We went straight to the tourist information place again and then i stayed there whilst Toby went off to book up an overnight boat to Bora Bora. 30 mins later he came back and said the boat was all booked up for the week and so it seemed was the cargo boat after trying that. Now seemed we weren't going to the islands, both were a little disappointed and were sitting there thinking what to do. I had a walk around the harbour to see if i could ask anyone who had the big private boats if they would take a couple of stowaways but all the people were either shopping or sleeping down below and didn't get to talk to anyone not that i think for one minute they would take us onboard their big fancy boats.

We decided to just catch the ferry over to the big island opposite for a few days and do some snorkeling so with that decision made we then went off to find a hostel in town that we had found in the Lonely Planet. It seemed to take ages and it was really very hot so i was relieved to finally stumble across what seemed a decent place to bed down for the night. We couldn't find a sole around for ages so just sat down and had some pre-bought lunch of bread and tomatoes and waited for someone to turn up. We did get someone in the end who turned out to be a grumpy old lady but we did get a couple of dorm beds. After dumping our stuff we walked back down to the sea front and treated ourselves to a well earned beer which cost the earth but tasted very good. We then took a few photo's of the yachts then went and found a supermarket and bought some supplies - very expensive.

Went back to the hostel and met a guy in our room from Ireland who was really nice then we were joined by Michelle who was also staying in our room. Just did the diary in the evening and Toby cooked us some beans for dinner to go with some bread. Hard to sleep as the room was stifling and the mosquito's were hungry.

Tuesday 29th July 2003 Hauru Point, Moorea

Caught the 10 am ferry to Moorea. It was the slow cargo ferry that was only 50 cfp cheaper than the express boat and didn't actually leave until 11. It took an hour to cross and we where accompanied some of the way by dolphins. We arrived an Vairie harbour to a complete absence of buses, but a French guy gave us a lift as he was heading around the island anyway. It turned out that this French guy ran a dance show at a place called Tiki Village which was just down the road from Moorea Camping where we were staying. He was very helpful. We had to wait an hour before the office opened so that we could check in and set the tent up. The place was fantastic. It was set right on the beach overlooking the natural lagoon which has been formed all the way round the island by a reef atoll. There was a tiny island with a beach hut on just out in the lagoon and loads and loads of Mosquitos.

Spent the afternoon swimming in the lagoon and walking around the few shops in the area. We got some supplies for tea and breakfast and even splashed out on a Magnum ice cream each. We met up with two Bournemouth lads in the evening, Josh and James. who very kindly shouted us some beer whilst we taught them the quintessential backpacker card game... Shithead. The lights went out at 10 and we soon headed off to bed in our mosquito free tent.

The Moorea ferrry was supposed to leave at 10am so we got some tickets and boarded the boat only to sit there for an hour waiting for the ferry to leave....... The journey was really nice and managed to see some dolphins.

The Island looked beautiful as we approached the shore line and i was eager to see more, when we did get off the boat the bus was not it sight but luckily a man with a big van was going our way offered to give us a lift to the campsite. He turned out to be a dance teacher who had come over to the island 22 years previous from Paris to start up a Theatre Village on the island which does all the evening entertainment etc. We wished him well after dropping us off and we got checked in and set up our tent under the shade of some trees before investigating the rest of the set-up. We walked through the kitchen onto a wonderful beach and lagoon with the bluest water you can imagine, so it didn't take us long to stick on our beach wear and head off to the sea for a quick dip in the warm water.

We then headed up to a shop to get some supplies for a couple of days as the kitchens had some big fridges for us to leave some food. Then we met up with a couple of guys from Bournemouth called Josh and James - gorgeous couple of lads in their 20s who seemed very friendly, so we taught them how to play shit head and settled down to an evening of cards. They even lent us a couple of beers to see the evening through then we went to bed at 10 when the lights went out.

Wednesday 30th July 2003 Hauru Point, Moorea

Woke up to find a mosquito buzzing around my nose. The bastard, he didn't last very long against my cat like reflexes though. We intended to get up early and hire out a scooter for the whole day to tour the 60km circuit around the island, but we didn't end up leaving the campsite until 11. French Polynesia is proving to be much more expensive than we had imagined and as we can not get to Bora Bora we have decided to move our flights forward a week. This means that we can have one quality week rather than 2 mean weeks. We moved our tickets with no problem but now have 10 days on Easter Island and then walked right past the scooter hire shop which after an hour left us very hot and sticky. It was a huge relief though to get back to the scooter shop and head out on the open road. We ended up hiring it for 24 hours, and it was great to get a breeze blowing around us. I started driving with Sarena on the back and it was pretty nippy and managed to keep up with the local traffic. Our first stop was at a lagoon at the top of the island, and then we headed inland to Belvedere lookout. The lookout is stunning, to big for any photo to do it justice, from the top you can see two bays which are separated by massive green peaks. Even better was the sandwich shop at the top. I got myself a tuna roll and Sarena had an Ice Cream. We then free-wheeled back down the hill stopping briefly at an old Marea site (ancient ruins) It was probably very interesting and had information boards in English but we couldn't stand there long enough to read them without getting devoured by mossies. Sarena took over the driving at the bottom of the hill and took us along the coast to Cooks Bay and then to a lookout back across to Tahiti. All in all it took us just about 2 hours to go right around the island including a supermarket stop (naturally).

I had another swim when we got back and then had some tea. That evening I gave an American, Neil, and an Israeli, Nadav, a lift on the back of the Scooter to the Tiki Village show (it was a lot further than I had imagined). We then decided to take the two Bournemouth lads to the local posh hotel to see if we could catch a show for free. The bike started to rapidly run out of petrol so I ended up with 3 of us on the bike in one go. We all went to the Beachcomber Royal. It is very posh and is made up of beach houses linked via sand islands in a massive lagoon. Unfortunately we had just missed a show so we ended up walking around the grounds. They had one lagoon with some dolphins in which the guests can swim with. It was amazing, the beach houses all had ladders leading down into the lagoons and some where overhanging the part with the dolphins in. Sarena tried to blag entry into the dolphin lagoon but the security guard was having none of it. So we decided to head back to the campsite as everything was dead.

I managed to fit the 4 of us in 2 runs and the bike was just starting to splatter with lack of full at the end of it. On one run I had to dodge a few massive crabs that where crawling across the road. The rest of the evening was spent sitting out by the beach where we met up with a shark enthusiast and conservationist, Paul, from Essex who was very chatty.

Walked down the road to find the scooter place but ended up walking past it, way past it in fact which was a bit of a pain as the sun was blazing down and it was a hard walk. So we walked back and found the bike place, handed over the cash and went off on the bike around the island - it was great fun and i loved driving it. The whole island took about an hour to get around and it was a wonderful drive. We went up to the look-out, the view was breathtaking so we took a few photos and i had an ice-cream then we went back down again and stopped off at an old settlement which unfortunately had zillions of mosquito's so didn't stay for long.

Going around the island on the bike was wonderful and we could really get to see just how beautiful the place was. Green lush mountains with wonderful multi coloured sea of blues and greens, full of brightly coloured fish and other sea life. I thought it was going to be like Fiji but to be honest Fiji was like a pair of old Y-fronts compared to a silk negligee of French Polynesia. So clean and bright colours wherever you looked, whether it was the flowers growing in the trees or the multicolored clothes the Tahitians love to wear with the flowers behind their ears.

When we got back to the campsite Toby quickly drove Nadav and Neil down to the Theatre village where they were holding a dance, we couldn't afford the entrance fee so declined. The 2 Bournemouth lads wanted to do something a bit more exciting than sitting and playing cards all evening so we decided to pop down the posh hotel - Beachcomber Hotel which is 5star and very very very wonderful. Toby though there might be a dance thing going on so Toby took James down first then came back again explaining that he was running out of fuel so took both me and Josh down at the same time which was fun! Unfortunately the dancing had finished so we just had a stroll around the whole complex which was out of this world. The beach houses were all on clusters on separate islands all joined up by bridges and surrounded by crystal clear lagoons. They even had a lagoon with 4 dolphins swimming around - all ex pats dolphins so they couldn't be let out to sea as they would just come back again which made me feel a little better as i was all for setting them free!!!

The beach houses had ladders going straight down into the water so they could just get up and go for swim with the fish then lounge around by the pool then eat in one of the many restaurants .......... oh how the other half live.

We stayed there for a little while taking in all the sights even though it was dark then went back to the campsite for another evening of cards and made friends with a bloke called Paul, a shark conservationist who showed me some video of the sharks he had swam with earlier in the day, it looked so good i thought i might give it a go.

Thursday 31st July 2003 Hauru Point, Moorea

Made the most of our scooter, and drove back up to Beachcomber Royal in the morning to explore the place in daylight. It was amazing, there where people in the dolphin lagoon, where we discovered that these dolphins where ex US military and had never been wild, that's why they don't leave the lagoon as they could easily jump out if they wished. We spent a good few hours wandering around the place and taking loads of photos.

We then went on a random ride on the scooter just to make the most of it before we had to give it back. We ended up taking an old dirt track over to Cooks Bay and back again. I then took Paul back over to Cooks Bay as I had offered him a lift there the night before. It was dead on 1 pm by the time I dropped the scooter back. It was sad to see it go, but everything is so expensive here that we couldn't keep it any longer. In the afternoon our jolly irish friend from Papeete turned up. He had missed his flight and was now on the same one as us so had come to spend his last few days on the Island. He entertained us all evening with is myriad of ditties and stories.

Ended up having a pretty big crowd playing games until the lights went out

Went for a drive up to the posh hotel - Beach Combers to go and take some photos and see the dolphins in action, swimming around with a group of people and jumping around. We then drove onto Cooks bay just to kill some time then went back to the campsite. Paul wanted a lift back to Cooks Bay on the back of the scooter so Toby dropped him off back there then went and took the Scooter back. I had a bit of lunch - noodles.

Didn't do much in the afternoon as usual but sit and read in the shade - don't sit in the sun as i found it far too hot for me. Played some cards and drunk a couple of precious beers in the evening and finished my book.

Friday 1st August 2003 Hauru Point, Moorea

Popped to a hotel down the road in the morning to hire out some snorkeling gear. Then I returned our beer bottles back to the supermarket to reclaim our 60 CFP per bottle deposit. By 10 we where on a boat and heading out into the Lagoon to swim with a load of sharks in a feeding frenzy! The water was crystal clear and not too deep, there was no signs of a shark until the skipper threw half a fish in and all of a sudden 15 or so black tip sharks appeared and started to churn the water in their frenzy. Everyone then jumped from the boat with their snorkel gear on watched the sharks from no more than a metre away. It was amazing, we didn't feel threatened at all and even Sarena loved the experience. They weren't massive sharks, probably a metre and a half at most and didn't seem interested in us at all, although I was told later that one of them went for my foot after I had drifted underneath them. We spent about 10 minutes with the sharks and then jumped back on the boat to be taken to a sand bar that is inhabited with sting rays. Again there where loads of them and the water came to just above waist height so we could stand there and let the rays swim around us. I jumped in from the other side of the boat just so I wouldn't land on a Ray but was immediately covered by a huge smooth slimy ray that came straight up to greet me. The where all very tame and friendly and where constantly rubbing along the side of you. They where everywhere so you had to concentrate not to tread on one. We where given some bits of fish and they would come right up and suck it out of your hands. The skipper was even getting towed around on the back of one.

By lunch time we were dropped on a beach between 2 islands for some local fruit and an hour our so snorkeling in the lagoon between the islands. The snorkeling wasn't too great but apparently there was a barracuda living in their somewhere. Even Sarena was feeling pretty brave by now so we went out to the deeper channel to look for it. Didn't find it but saw a few more rays and many different kinds of fish. On my way back to the beach I put my hand on a rock and a Snowflaked Moray Eel jumped out at me and gave me a fright. He came right out of his hole and laid on the rock watching my every move. He wasn't very big at all but looked pretty angry so I swam around on the other direction.

The evening was spent around a big table listening to music and playing Black Jack with nut shells as money.


Got up earlyish and went to the office to pay for the swim with shark excursion which i said i would have a go at! yes me swimming with sharks and Sting Rays. All the gang apart from Paul were also doing the excursion so we all sat together until the boat was ready. The boat was quite busy but not too many people thank goodness, the shark man drove us out to some deeper water but not beyond the reef. The water was so clear and beautiful and it was the colour of spearmint mouthwash, the shark man soon got some fish out of his bucket and started to throw some of them into the water and within seconds there was loads of Black Tip sharks fighting to get fed. I was awestruck and not a bit frightened so i didn't hesitate to get my snorkel on and jumped straight in. Being under the water with them is amazing and they weren't scary at all, mind you there were quite a few people who really weren't happy. They came really close - at least arms length and were very inquisitive. After about 20mins doing that we all got back into the boat and moved around to another part of the water near another island and anchored the boat. Once again within minutes there were a huge shoal of Sting Rays swimming around the boat and people were getting in the water with them. The water only came up to your waist so it wasn't too deep but i was feeling a little cautious by now as they were very touchy feely. But i thought what the hell and jumped on in, they come right up to you and come right out of the water up onto your chest to see if you have any food. You can touch and feed them and they were sooooo beautiful and soft to touch. I was really quite uncomfortable at first when they swim up and flap their big wings up against you and around your legs but i soon got used to them and loved every minute.

After 20mins again we got back in the boat and went to have some lunch on one of the beaches - fresh fruit and coconut, wonderful. We had an hour to go off and do what we wanted so we went back into the water and did some more snorkeling to look at the lovely pretty fish.

Got back to our campsite about 1ish and had some bread then just chilled out for the rest of the day then played cards again in the evening and having a couple of beers and a laugh with everyone.

Saturday 2nd August 2003 Papeete, Moorea

Was up, fed, and packed away by 9. I took the last of our beer bottles back for a refund and then we caught a bus back to the ferry terminal. Nadav also came back with us as he flew out to LA in the evening. And we where even joined briefly on the bus by a couple that we had met a few weeks back in Fiji.

We went straight to the Teamo hostel to check in and then had a quick walk around town for some food. Then we started to catch up on our diary and charge up the camera and ipod e.t.c. We met up with Michelle again and I helped a guy, from Hull, out with some cash that will last him for his journey home. That evening about 5 of us went into town to watch a dance show that is being put on for a month long festival. Papeete comes alive at night, with loads of mobile food stalls and tress light up with thousands of lights. The show was pretty good too. We got back to the Hostel at 9 to find we where locked out so I ended up crawling through a hole under the verandah to get inside and open the door.

Got up early and had a quick b'fast of bread and jam then said our goodbyes to the lads, Josh and James and the rest of the gang we had made friends with. We then went and waited for the bus which turned up at 9.45am, Nadav was also catching the same bus so he hooked up with us. We the all caught the quick ferry over to the mainland which only took 30mins then made our way back to the hostel we had previously stayed in and dumped our bags. I made a quick lunch of more bread and some tomatoes then we went out and bought some cat food for the couple of skinny strays that hang around the hostel and have the sweetest nature, needed a damn good feed.

Went and checked our emails quickly as we only had 5mins left to use on our ticket thingy so didn't have a chance to write to anybody. Went back late to the hostel and caught up with our dairy which was a week behind and met up with an English guy who didn't have any money left or couldn't draw any out so Toby gave him some dosh to help out.

Michelle said there was a free dance and singing festival down at the harbour so we gathered a few others and made our way down. They had lights everywhere, all over the trees etc - looked lovely, and the singing and performance was fantastic. Didn't stay late as we were all feeling tired so went back to the hostel for a beer and a chat outside on the veranda. A late flight came in and we were joined by a lady called Emma who i liked instantly - very sweet and had also been on the road for 2 yrs, she was off to Easter Island on Thursday so we said we would meet up.

Sunday 3rd August 2003 Papeete Airport, Tahiti

Have to leave the hostel by 10 as the old dragon that runs the place won't let us stay. Our flight is not until 1 am in the morning so we hid our bags in a cubby hole and spent the morning down by the quay side reading. We met up with some other travelers that where also staying at Teamo all of them where having trouble getting money out, It seems like the mastercard network was down. Sarena suggested that we might as well sit and wait at the airport as at least they have chairs there. So we sneaked back into the Hostel at 1 retrieved our backpacks and caught a Le truck to the airport.

The next 8 hours sitting and reading was pretty hard, The seats weren't too comfortable, it was pretty hot and sticky and the constant droning of people clattering around the cafeteria made your head go numb and dizzy. Things were relieved by 10 when our Irish friend Rob, and two girls from Kent that we kept bumping into, Fran and Catherine, turned up for the same flight. A quick game of Shithead and we where ready to check-in.

The Lan Chile plane was also pretty smart. As soon as we took of we where given a roll and drink. Then I fell asleep for the rest of the flight.

Got up early and popped down the market before it shut at 9am, with Michelle and a couple of other guys. Bought some fruit for us and some bread for one of the guys back at the hostel who's cash card also didn't work and had no food for the day.

We checked out of the hostel at 10am but hid our backpacks in the hostel so we didn't have to pay for storage then walked down to the harbour front and sit there for about 4 hrs reading in the shade. We then decided to make our way to the airport thinking there would be more comfortable chairs. So went and got our bags and caught the Le Truck to the Airport.

Sat there for hours and hours and hours getting really board and fed up and were really happy to meet up with Rob and Fran and Catherine who were also on our flight. So we sat down and played a couple of games of cards then checked in - thankgod.The Flight wasn't until 1am so we were all pretty knackered by the time we finally took off, Toby fell asleep straight away whilst i stayed up and watched a couple of films. The plane was really nice but the service seemed a bit crap so we were thrown our b'fast in the morning which i was pleased to see as i was wanting to get off the plane, once again the turbulence was terrible.


< FIJI JUL 2003


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