Sunday, October 30, 2011

Akaroa, Walking Tour

Originally the ship was due to stop in Christchurch. Unfortunately the town was hit by the earthquake we all heard about, and the town seen some damage. Instead the ship stops in Akaroa. Its about 100km away from Christchrch. You can take tours into the city, but Akaroa proved to be pretty impressive.

We tender into the port, it’s a pretty long tender ride. It’s about 15 minutes away from the dock. I ended up with a walking tour. I was put on that because when I was picking out my tours, Akaroa’s booking form wasn’t included yet. I don’t generally care for walking tours. I can’t seem to get that interested in them. It’s always historical, I don’t mind that, but its usually always about the architecture. I’m not that into architecture, but I have seen some cool houses, into them or not.

Akaroa is really pretty though. My first stop was Auckland, I got to see the cities that New Zealand Has to offer, but to see the hills of Akaroa was really something. I loved seeing the greenery. Everything outside was very pleasant to the eye. It’s kinda the place where you feel like doing a watercolor painting. Or sitting down on the dock and drawing. Bar Harbor, Maine made me feel similar feelings.

The tour started out … well late. Lol. I hate when they’re late it means less time for me on my off time. Walking tours usually mean that I will be trailing behind because I stop and get all these shots after the person does a lil talking. But in the end I always lose their face while there. So, the lav mic is vital. Well, No dice. She had an old country dress. Usually there are these straps that wrap around where I can hook the mic. Her dress didn’t have it! I had no place to put the mic, I’m not gonna make the chick hold it. lol.

I wasn’t too worried about the audio. Not the end of the world. She talked crazy. Lol. The town was settled by the French, than the English were like …”um yeah were taking this shit yo.” Lol. It was also a big whaler town. She talked about the big iron pots they have in town. Those were the pots that the whale oil was heated in, and distributed out of to the town.

After that portion of the tour I lost interest because we go to the house portion of the tour. That’s pretty much the rest of it. lol.

Thankfully the tour was only two hours. I had time to roam about the small town. The place made me want to get a good coffee. Lol.

The town has a lot of flowers everywhere. It looks really nice. I did find this cool house though, come to find out it’s the oldest house in Akaroa. Walking along the beach is right there. You can see all the people, and kids just enjoying the beach. It’s still cold for the beach though…at least I think so. Lol.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh I couldn’t WAIT to get to New Zealand!!

Ever since I lived in Australia, New Zealand was always on my list to visit. It was a main reason why I decided to join the ship. I didn’t have enough money after traveling around Australia, so I left the area with a lil bit of sadness because I never knew if I was going to ever make it back to this part of the world.

Auckland was the first stop for the ship. I was so excited! Now It wasn’t the sunny, warm New Zealand everyone was expecting. I knew it wasn’t going to be because they are just starting spring. It’ll be like we are back in Alaska. Lol.
The ship docks right in downtown Auckland which is awesome. Right now the rugby world cup is going on. The security is really strict too.

My tour started out with a really friendly guide. We headed to the west coast of the north island. Auckland sits on the east coast. You could see the hills in the distance, and we were headed to them.

Our first stop was in one village, not to far from Piha Beach. It was a small hike to see this really cool waterfall. Like I said before waterfalls are kinda getting old, but I always like seeing them regardless. Lol.

We headed to Piha Beach. I loved it! Really Soft sand! Nice views. It was a bit chilly, but it didn’t matter. Massive waves too! I loved shooting there, some of my best video composition for me. It looked a lot like my still photography. It’s where I kinda realized that I need to start shooting video like I do with the still camera. The wind was blowing something fierce, so it made the sand sparkle, and the patterns that it blew across the beach were just so cool looking.

After, we headed to a national park where they have Kauri trees. Now, these trees are really desired. They grow really straight, and they don’t have branches so, the wood produces nice grain with no holes in it. When the Europeans came to New Zealand back in the day, they cut all these trees down because the wood was so great. They cut down trees that were about 2000 years old, allegedly. The live tree that I saw was only 80 years old, that one was massive! I would have loved to see an tree that is 2000 years old. I gotta make my way to the parks in California to see the redwood trees. Yeah, I don’t know, I have a thing for trees. Lol.

We headed to the Arataki center. It was basically a center for the nature in the area, and describes a lil bit of the culture that is there. It wasn’t my favorite stop. Nice view though.

All in all, I liked the tour. Good, first impression of the people and area. After, I got to go about the city a lil bit with Joe. It was a good day. ☺

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Suva, Fiji!

There was this one girl I went to Uni with while I did exchange in Australia, and she went to visit Fiji on her Spring break. ever since than I always wanted to go there. I remember thinking..."aww I wanna go." lol. Now, when you hear of Fiji you think of Tropical paradise. I was so happy to be able to visit Fiji.

I went out to go on my tour. Another Island drive! Hooray! But we also were going to a village. It was an hour drive to get out there. Before boarding the bus, the air was cool, the sky was cloudy, and the locals weren’t what I was expecting. I don’t really know what I was expecting to be honest. They were light skinned with really course curly hair. Afros is the best word to describe it. They all had this certain look. The eyes were very distinct looking. Needless to say it wasn’t the Fiji I was Expecting, but at the same time I enjoyed what I was experiencing, and seeing.

The guide was cool, she kept it real for us. She told us about the dangers, and they people they try to rip you off, and all that. Who to buy from, who to avoid. The houses in the city are all fenced in by electric fences. If that doesn’t tell you something about safety - nothing will. Lol. Most locals that you encounter working in the city are coming 3 or 4 hours commute to sell their produce. Our guide included.

We were told that they had to stop for lifejackets. Now, there was nothing in the tour booking form about a river cruise. The passengers had no idea either. I was just as surprised. We all got into these small boats heading to the village. By this time it started to rain. Light rain that wasn’t too bad.

The boat ride wasn’t long. What was long was the waiting for everyone getting into a boat. They only took 4 at a time. We had two busloads of people.

I was finally headed to the village. It was raining full on now. The river ride was really quick, only a few minutes.

As soon as you reach the village, you see this big church. The guide told us in a village the biggest building must be the church. She wasn’t lying. There were houses, and a school, all in one spot. All the kids were really nice. I had one guide me, I wasn’t really expecting that either. Everyone was really nice. Inside the church there were some drips, some repairs needed as well. It wasn’t like a pristine building. It had character. We gathered there for a few minutes to hear some woman talk-where not a soul heard her except the person right in front of her. Lol.

The school kids started singing, and that’s where Amber started rolling. I hate picking from our music folders. It’s such a pain finding a good song, so I used the kids singing. It's way better than the music we have. Plus, it adds a little something when you have music from that day. I do it whenever I can.

We were there to watch a Kava Ceremony. It was pretty much the same thing like the Ava Ceremony. The kids did the ceremony though. The kids did a few dancing things. I was stuck shooting in the rain. It was really heavy at this point.

It got cut short because of the rain. So, the long bus ride, and the long wait to get into the boats, was for a short visit. I didn’t have much material for an edit. So I bothered the kids. Lol. I was asking them about their life. It was good.

After my tour I went out with Joe. Let me tell you, I felt like I was back in India! Joe kept saying how it felt like home for him. We had fun going through the markets. We went to a bakery, and got the best homemade swiss roll(ya know the kind you buy in the stores…like little Debbie) ever! We exchanged money so I got some Fijian money for my dad. We had a good day out. Oh, but it still was pouring out. Lol. I remember when I went to buy a postcard and stamps at the post office for my niece and nephew, how cold it was going into the building. The ac was blasted. We were wet, and I was freezing!!!

Joe, and I heard about what other crew were saying about the port. No one liked it. Needless to say we didn’t see many people from the ship anywhere we happened to be hanging. They were all scared. They kept saying how unsafe it was, and how scary it was. We just laughed at them. I guess since I’ve been to Bombay nothing intimidates me now. I guess I have to see reeeeeal bad to be scared. Suva was not bad in the least. It was crowded, but clean. The people were nice too. So, I wasn’t bothered at all. Some people were pissed it was raining, we were on the wet side of the island though, that’s why everything was so green. Joe and I got soaked, but I didn’t mind. My hair has been soft ever since!! ☺ I left Suva being a fan of Fiji!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pago Pago-American Samoa

I, yet again had another Island drive. The bus was a funky made up short bus. Ya know, the kind you had to take going to kindergarten.ok, Maybe you didnt but my school had those busses for the really young kids. It was made up cool though. On the inside it was - well the sits were barely there. Lol. Everything on the inside was colorful. Open air, not to bad. It didn’t bother me. Pleasant passengers.

Our first stop was Fatima Futi. It is a pair of rocks in the ocean that’s really close to the shore. I thought it was cool. You can swim right next to them. The story behind it: The king of Western Samoa at the time restricted people to this one island. This one couple wanted to leave. Once the king found out that they left, he turned them into these giant rocks before they got to the other island. There’s more details, but that’s the jest of it.

We than headed to the ava ceremony. Now, I didn’t know what to expect about this Ava ceremony, but it was interesting. All the Ava ceremony is, is this peppery plant they make into a drink, and they present it to the head chief, than others at the ceremony. You can do a blessing and this drink gives you power. Its good for the body the locals say. It was really hard to shoot this ceremony. It was a giant place, but it had these giant pillars around the whole area. I got what I could. Wasn’t that bad, but the pillars were a pain. Add the crazy amount of passengers that attended and I had a real challenge picking out a spot to shoot.

After the ceremony they did a few dances. I like the dances. I am always a fan of seeing them. They had such energy. The guys dances were awesome. Very nice dudes. They also loved the camera. Lol. They were hams. I wasn’t expecting that.

Afterward, we headed to the first church that was built in American Samoa. Nate ended up going to the same spot, so I didn’t put it in my edit.

All in all I liked Pago Pago, American Samoa. The guide was really nice. Oh! I cant forget this: ya know how they say the Samoans are big people? Well they weren’t lying! Lol. Big peeps, the kids too. Crazy! It was very clean there, I noticed. Some islands you don’t see it being very clean and organized. Oh, something else I noticed, they have no cemeteries there. They pay no taxes on land. All the land you own is yours, and it can't be taken from you. So, when a family members dies they bury them in the front yard. I saw some elaborate graves too. The higher the status the family member has in the family, and in the village the bigger the grave.

This port was what I needed after dreadful Tahiti. Lol

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bora Bora-Most beautiful Place in the World?

I had another island drive in Bora Bora. Now, “they” say that Bora Bora if not one of the most, but the most beautiful place in the world.

From the ship Bora Bora looked really nice. I got going to start my tour. It was an open air bus, with very little room. Nothing like my last tour, sadly. Lol.

The guide was better than my last tour thankfully. She was worried about her English. The first stop was this church, the only thing good about it was the mountain that you got to look at. No one was really concerned about the church. Lol. We than headed to our next stop was a demonstration with sarongs basically. They call them something different. I forget. But it was cool, the chick showed us like 5 ways wear it. Than they did this tie-dye demo, and showed us how they got the shapes on the cloth. They had fresh fruit, and coconut! Ever Since I had shaved coconut that Joe gave me, I love fresh coconut! I had like three pieces. ☺

We made our way to the beach. Nice Scenery, a good look at the mountains. Very nice spot. We had to do a quick stop at this look out, I guess the famous pricey resorts were there. They have the huts there. They look like they are small poor huts, but up close they are massive! They’re like million dollar condos. They are really cool looking, and they are right on the water.

We headed to this other beach, which was called Maitra Beach. I’m pretty sure. It was called that after this young girl, called Matilda. I guess the Tahitians couldn’t pronounce the name correctly, so, thats what came to be, Maitra. Gorgeous Beach. Beautiful Water. Nice white sand.

Our last stop was a famous Bar and restaurant called Bloody Mary’s. A ton of famous people have been there, they have all the names displayed outside the place. I pretty much was like… “whats the big deal?” Well you go inside and you have to take off your shoes, and there is no floor. Just sand. I thought it was really cool. It looked awesome.

Across the street was a dock. A nice look at the water, we could see the ship as well. I loved how the water was so clear.

Now, I’ve been a lot of places. So, is Bora Bora the most beautiful place in the world? I haven’t been everywhere in the world, But I have been to many great places. A beautiful place doesn’t have to be a tropical place. I mean Alaska is pretty beautiful. I will say it ranks high in top most beautiful places in the world....That I've encountered.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The overnight.

After we Sailed from Moorea at 7pm, we got to Papeete, Tahiti at 9pm.
Every one of the crew members was acting as if it were Christmas day. It was crazy, people cheering in the corridor, yelling and screaming. Than came people dressing up, and getting the pre-game on.

Joe and I had planned to go to the club. It’s rare to get to do anything at night while on ships. I understood the excitement. It was kinda hilarious though. We go to the crew bar- got a couple drinks before we left the ship. I heard about everyone having all these plans to go to the beach and partying and the whole nines. Joe, and I walk off the ship ourselves, than as we keep walking not 200 feet from the ship there are all the people…drinking right on the harbor. Lol. All the plans we heard and they just get drunk right on the pier. I don’t know it was just funny to me. People just get bent out of shape about getting of the ship….than they just plop themselves right next to it. lol

The club was alright…ok I’m lying…there is more to it than that. I loved the fact that me and joe were out having fun. That the atmosphere had changed….right? def wrong. The place changed, but it exactly like being back at the crew bar!! All the people from the ship went to this club. There were less Philippinos excuse, sorry. Lol. But you had the dancers there staring at everyone like they were idiots. You Had the Indians dancing like crazy, and the regular ppl talking away while holding the bar up. The same ol’ people same routine just a different setting. The music was good though-one thing I did enjoy. Yeah a couple of passengers I had on tour in Lahaina were there. They recognized me before I did them. I thought that was weird. They are way younger than all other passengers so it makes sense they were in a club.

Special Note: Its my Nephew's Birthday!!! He's turning 3 :-) Happy Birthday Dylan!

The first of many island drives.

I had a tour the next morning in Papeete. An island tour. The guide was … very soft spoken, to say the least. He would start a story about whatever we happen to be looking at than just kinda cut himself off, and said “well you know a lotta history behind it.” Which is kinda frustrating for me since I use the commentary that they provide for my edits. I really had to use his audio creatively.

The tour wasn’t bad. The bus…I was most impressed with. I had so much room! I actually got to stand my camera up. Normally the busses are so crammed. The camera is a pain to stay in place, and I have to have a hand on it at all times. This time it was able to be placed right up with room.

We went to this place called Venus point, a park that the locals go to. They had a lighthouse there. The park was right near the water. There were kids playing soccer, or something. Lol. Lots of people there.

We headed to a beach, with a blowhole nothing really I was excited about, but the beach was really nice. I went near the blowhole, and it was different. The water went vertically, instead of up in the air like the blowhole in Kaui’i. On the rocks there were these things, they looked like fish, but insects. I thought they were cool. I wish I knew what they were though.

He than went to see a waterfall. It was a small hike. I wasn’t really expecting. I thought to myself “it better be a damn good waterfall. It better be massive.” I take a few steps further, and it was massive! Lol I was happy to see something good to film. Usually I see waterfalls that kinda look the same. I liked it because it was soooo high.

Than we stopped at one last place where the tomb of the last king of Tahiti was located. It was in just a normal park like where families hang out on weekends. There were kids there too, a few nice one that pretty much posed for me. I put a few shots of the locals in my edit.

The over all feel of Tahiti, I wasn’t impressed with really. They have this snobby thing going on especially if you don’t speak French. Oh and one more thing to add, EXPENSIVE! I tried to buy two post cards, and two magnets, she told me $19! Yeah right. Amber walked right out. Lol. I spent no more time in the city I went on the ship and was looking forward to the next port.

Special Note! Its my Sister's Birthday today!!! Happy Birthday Jen!!! :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My French Polynesia adventure?

The first stop in French Polynesia was the island of Moorea. I was due to take a Sail and Snorkel tour by catamaran.

I was excited at the snorkel part because I haven’t done it since the one time in Alaska.

I had to do this one for the web shorex project…that’s never going to end. Lol.

The guy that ran the tour was French … of course. He barely talked. The other guide didn’t either. Lol. When he did his accent was too thick to really understand him. I haven’t really been exposed to much to the thick French accent. I found myself really concentrating to try and get what he’s saying. It was like my first time in Australia. Lol.

First I have to say Moorea is beautiful. I enjoyed the scenery. The mountains were something I haven’t seen before. There was one that sticks out for sure. It stood on its own really. I liked how it looked so isolated. I enjoyed what was around me.

Now, I loved what I saw, what I felt was another story. The seas were a tad bit too rocky for me. Oi. Sea sickness like a champ. The guy said we were just gonna go down the coast. It was a down and back kinda thing. In the back of my mind I was like I can not do this trip twice! We got into this bay, and thankfully it got calmer. I got my bearings back. Saw a humpback whale too. It was nice. We made our way back the same way we came. Still rough. Blah!

We finally stopped to snorkel. It felt weird to get in the water. I don’t know why though. I had my underwater came, I brought the GoPro for some stills too. It was nice to snorkel though. We had to go pretty far from the catamaran to get to the reef. I liked it though. Really clear water. Lots of coral, and fish! ☺ I liked the tiny bright blue fish.

I don’t remember how long I was out, but we only had an hour. I got back once I saw the crowd go back in. Once on board started talking to Passengers, and got a drink. I love the juices they give you on tours. Some type of liquor was involved as well. Amber was a happy camper at the end of it all.

I got a cool magnet, the people were nice, and I had fun, with decent passengers. It was a good first day in Moorea.