Travel Notes

Mon Feb 18 22:54:18 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: Suva, Fiji
We're back on net again. Pretty quick in between there. Since the last blog we flew to Nandi Airport in fiji, a quick 1.5 hour hope, and rode into Lautoka, where we landed a very nice, very cheap AC room in a local hotel. We proceed to look around, and found a very bustling, densly populated city. It was much more alive than Tonga'tapu. We had Bahajas and Samosas a snack, very good. The downside came at dinner time, pretty much only fast food was availible , but the place we ate at was cheap and really quite good.
The next day, it being sunday and since nothing happens on sunday, we took the 6 hour bus ride around the island to suva. Suva is the capital, biggest city, and obne of the transport hubs. We figured it'd be a good place to figure out what we're doing. The bus ride was a great way to see country. We saw huge bamboo clumps, stories high, the first time for me and very cool they look like gigantic bushes from afar. We also saw rafts made from the same bamboo, road side fruit seller, forest and bays and mountains an oceans, all very pretty. Amzing really. We also saw 2 prirated dvds, the mummy2 and doctordoo little 2. It was a good bus ride.
That night we saw and amazing sunset over suva's harbor with palm trees in the foreground and mountian's in the background with the harbor in between.
Yesterday we saw the sights around here and hit the local U and the Fiji Museum. Also a good day. What we have not done is figured out what we are doing. That 's today. [we did get a lonely planet, which should help.] Actually that's NOW.

Mon Feb 18 22:36:04 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: Suva, Fiji
Brandon is visiting! He's landing in Melbourne a few hours before we do, and leaving a couple of days before we do. This should be fun!

Fri Feb 15 01:44:06 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: Australia Rough Guide
Location: "Technical Info on the Blog"
So today we posted a few entries (don't miss Rachel's on NZ). Anyhow this is just a few tips on using the blog.
You can mail us from the link on the right hand side.
You can navigate back through all historical entries using the calender on the right, our itinerary is in december.
Also the pages are all reverse chronological for 1 month. So the last entry for your current month is on top, the first on the bottom.
Finally, you can add your guest/guest username password combo [in IE at least], to your password list (there is usually a check box underneath where you enter the password) and never be bugged by that dialog box again.
Hope this makes it easier for everyone
thanks for reading
Nathan and Rachel

Fri Feb 15 01:37:21 2002 (rr)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: Tonga at night
The best star-gazing on the trip so far has been in Tonga. Best viewed from the beach or from floating on one's back in the ocean. Orion is almost straight overhead in the sky. I think Orion may be upside down as well. The Southern Cross isn't all that thrilling. A lot of the stars seem unfamiliar, but I may also just be forgetting what the night sky looks like.

Fri Feb 15 01:19:07 2002 (rr)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: Tonga
We spent four days out at Fafa Beach Resort. Tiny island - takes about 20 minutes to circumnavigate. Takes about 12 minutes to get very sunburned. We would go swimming for 7 to 10 minute stretches, snorkelling the same. I love my prescription snorkel mask. I like swimming with it on so I can see underwater. They also make great (although rather un-stylish - or is haute couture?) sunglasses. Except for the whole can't breathe through my nose thing which makes the mask a bit impractical out of the water and sans snorkel.
Did a lot of reading at Fafa. That took up many hours. Games of chess. (My turn to win, although I think we are even in the score so far.) The food was good although perhaps too fancy for our tastes. A sample dinner: start with an amuse bouche of toasted coconut or crispy chips that aren't potato. Next, some sort of starter - avocado soup (somehow avocado and mayonnaise can taste veyr similar sometimes - tasted a lot like mayonnaise soup) or perhaps squid rings, but my fave were the samosas. The bread was good. The main course was either lobster or fish or various red meats. The salad dressing was great. I was reduced to drinking chardonnay because Nathan didn't want to drink wine. (he's in love with the Tongan beer Ikale. He's even pasted the label into his award-winning* journal.) The chard was actually decent. (or cold, same thing).
The resort was run by a German couple and there were a number of Germans staying at the resort. I noticed they liked to claim beach chairs with their towels and leave them there at night so as to keep their chairs the next day. They were also very sunburnt. Two French families were vacationing as well, and they would snorkel and play in the water all day long. I was impressed at how much time they could spend in the sun. they were incredibly tan. There was also a honeymooning couple from Sydney that we ate dinner with our first night there, Craig and Angie. They were staying (rather appropriately, of course) in the honeymoon fale (basically, a fale is a hut - bungalow might be a nicer word for it). The fale was not heart-shaped. Whenever someone asked what room they were staying in, they would have to say "the honeymoon", which always gets lots of smiles. They too were originally thinking of going to Vava'u, in the northern part of Tonga, but had to change plans cause of the cyclone that hit there. Divers themselves, they told us it would be a crime to go where we are going and not learn to dive. We'll see.
After Fafa, we went back to the "mainland" of Tongatapu and headed out to the western tip of the island and stayed at 'Otuhaka beach resort. It was much more laid-back than Fafa. Some Aussie surfers were staying there as well. We pretty much had the place to ourselves.
We rented some bicycles and spent a day bicycling around part of the island. We rode past lots of young children who all say bye-bye (sometimes hi as well), through sun and pouring rain, under trees with flying foxes, and down to beaches with blowholes. The next day I got sick - I had gotten something minor on previous days but this was all-out sick. Not fun. It sucked more than usual because of the fact we couldn't cook our own food or at the very least heat up chicken broth, and were nowhere near a store or restuarant besides the one at our place. However, since this is the one that made me sick I wouldn't eat there. Its all over now, but as a result we are staying in town tonight at the International Dateline Hotel.
Footnote: *award-winning journal - if you casually glance at a page in Nathan's journal, it might have some drawings, or pasted pictures amongst the illegible scrawls. It looks like it will win the Best Travel Journal award. My journal is not a journal so to speak as much as an Account book (with occasional notes that are journal like, but mostly it makes sure we don't run out of money next week)

Fri Feb 15 00:51:08 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: "nuku'alofa, Tonga"
So we're in Tonga, actually leaving tonga for Fiji tommorrow. Tonga has been interesting and pretty cool. The first day we landed and crashed at a local place, that at first looked pretty lame , but by the time we left the next I was starting to like it alot. It was comforatable, had hot water , convientant, [particularly to the communist chinese emabassy], and woman running is a pretty cool.
As it turns out Tonga has changed a good bit since our Moon guide was published , nearly 2 years ago, and even quite a bit since the LP, we bought our last day in Auckland was publish last year. Many new places have opened , old closed, it made finding a place that first day a bit tricky.
We also had a little trouble finding a place to eat later and the next morning, but that morning we ended up a Sulinana's and I had amazingly good pancakes, on this trip I have been loving pancakes. In NZ we bought some mix and had them all through the south island after the catlins. Also Sulinana's has apfelsorl, apple juice concentrate mixed with mineral water. I love it ( and make it a home, but didn't know it had a real name)
Since then we've stayed at 2 beach places, Fafa island and offshore island and a fairly nice resort for the next 3 days and then 'otuhaka which is out on the western shore of the main island tonga'tapu. At fafa we mainly hung on the shore, avoided the sun between 11 and 4 when it is unbearable and got mildly sunburned. It was fun. We went for night swims and watched the stars from the sea. There are a lot of stars out there and they don't quite look right. Also palm trees are really cool looking at night. During the days we watched the clouds drift by, literally pulled along by the "trade winds". Very cool to be watching the trade winds.
Then on monday we headed in from fafa, bought some essentials like a snorkles to go with our masks and headed out to 'otuhaka. It was a very nice place , basic accommodation, excelent beach, amazing snorkling 10 feet offshore at high tide, not really swimmable at low tide, unfortunatly. {As a side note, again, at fafa we found that my snorkel mask had been smashed somewhere in transit and a little plastic piece had been broken0, but all was well after a quick fix using some shoestring saved from the Hawkes Bay wine tasting. And snorkleing here is great fun, even with the very tide dependant beaches } The next day we rented bikes in town and rode back, via blowhole beaches and a really cool botonical gardens. A 45+ k ride and also An Excellent Day. Since then we've felt a little under the weather (or perhaps a little worse than that), so basically did the same old, hung out, slept, read (but no biking etc). Snorkeled this morning, very cool neon looking fish, mainly blue , but a few green ones, very neon tetra looking, very cool. Also many large fish some ugly other I think might have been banana fish. Very cool. Today we're back in town, feeling better, and staying in the International Dateline Hotel, before moving on the Fiji, which I am looking forward to, for one.

Fri Feb 15 00:51:07 2002 (rr)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: Tonga
Tonga Tidbits, by Rachel
1. Hot
2. Humid
3. Lots of ocean
4. cool fish
5. awesome huge starfish (cobalt blue, too)
6. palm trees
7. pigs
8. blowholes
9. cool t-shirts - Nathan's has a fish pattern, mine a surfer-flower pattern
10. eating at a restaurant the night it is also catering a party for the Princess.

Fri Feb 15 00:46:36 2002 (rr)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: New Zealand
A few last notes on New Zealand before I forget:
The drive to Milford Sound was very scenic - scenic winding one way roads (the kind where traffic could possibly being coming from the other direction), scenic dark claustrophic dripping tunnels with big buses filling up the tunnel in front of you forcing you to stop and sit in d.c.d. tunnel, and of course the requisite curves. After this road the curvy roads of New Zealand were no problem.
Rental car notes: on the South Island we had a lovely little Ford Ka, probably the smallest car Ford has ever made. It was cute and zippy and easy to park. It came with a CD player. We purchased four CDs in New Zealand: Bjork's new album Vespertine, Radiohead's live album, the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, and an album of Nina Simone songs. We listened to these albums many many times. Many times.
On the North Island, we drove a Toyota Corolla, which looked Saab-esque. I must say the Corolla spoiled me and I may not be able to go back to the Ka again in the future. Also, the Corolla had a tape player so we could play our own music via tape adaptor to the mini-disc player. Very nice. That's all I really care about in a car on this trip - it needs a tape player.

Wed Feb 6 00:21:41 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: Auckland
Since the last entry in Picton we have done a few things.
First up, with in hours of the entry we took a very stormy 3 hour ferry trip to the north island, with much slamming against waves and sudden changes in altitude. I am very glad for dramimine.
Next we rented a car(and got an upgrade 'cause the car we rented hadn't been cleaned) and headed up the east coast to napier.
Napier was much fun. On sunday, our first day there, we learned of the wine festival going on and got a day pass for a winery bus. We did a vertical tasting to start the day out , and then just sort of bounced around from winery to winery. It was quite pleasant, with bands and food and many locations, and most of the wineries are on very nice spreads. It seems to be very much a rich man's hobby, starting wineries, and spacious ground and grand villas are de rigure.
The next day we did an art deco walk in napier, which was very very cool, some amazing buildings . The city was destroyed in 1931 by a earthquake followed by a nasty fire. Very Very bad, but the entire city was rebuilt over then next few years, at the high point for art deco, so now it is just buetiful.
Then for the next day we headed up to the cormandel, which was very pretty, nice beaches and much of the original forest is preserved, which is cooler up here than in the catlins , 'cause the climate is much warmer almost subtropical. We did some, short walks and saw the place, it was nice . On of the walks was up a maori fortification called a 'pa', supposedly you hike up it again seven years after, you first do the walk. We shall see, there certainly is enough to do here and I would like to come back.
Then there is today in auckland , doing chores, and then tomorrow in Tonga!

Fri Feb 1 02:38:24 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: "NZ, the south Island"
So since Dunedin (Do Nee Din) we've done a total circle of the southern south island, the highlights being the Otago Penisula, the Catlins and Fiordland ( their spelling not mine).
So first the Otago Penisula, this is a little pennisula just off of Duneidin , and it has a bit of cool bird life. There was the 'only mainland albotross colony' which was faily impressive, those a very cool very big birds, and there was a privatly run peniguin reserve. It seemed to be run well. This was incredibly cool, we got very close to some yellow eyed peniguins , and they where pretty dang amazinf, and waddled just like they should. It was the middle of molting season for the you ones and they looked pretty funky , but the adults where very very pretty.
Next we drove down to the catlins which is the coast between Dunedin and invercargill, this has some of the last untouched forest coastline in NZ, and it was quite cool. We also saw a petrified forest here which was suprisingly uncool, but was probably 'cause it was mainly submerged and you couldn't really see and thing cool, just sort of imagine it.
After that we drove to Te Anau, and Milford Sound. This was an amazing drive in and of it self and a beutiful area, mountains, lakes, and fjiords carved up by the galacers. We camped near the lake the first night up by Te Anua, and that was cool , even if the 'skeeters did get us. The next day was down in miford sound, and the next day we did a Great sea kayaking day trip. We basicaly cruised around the sound (which is really a fjiord) and looked at the moutains and forest and waterfalls from the water. It was THE way to do this. We also got a really view of a fur seal basking in the sun, and pretty good upper body workout.
Other than that we've been driving from place, to place. Doing only the scenic routes staying in the small towns, and it has been long but very nice.
Tonight we are off on the ferry to the North Island, for the last week in NZ before we leave. We could have spent a lot more time here, but this will be enough, i think.

Fri Feb 1 02:15:41 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: "General Trivia"
So in this mornings news was a little ticker Item that Goran Ivanisevic , who won this years wimbledon is retiring, this is less than a month after we stood in a customs line (for NZ) behind him. I recognized him, it was rather cool, and my favorite celeb sighting, probably 'cause most of the people in line wouldn't even know who he was, and I recoginzed him.

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