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French Polynesia/Society islands...
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Gareth
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French Polynesia/Society islands...

I know I should have done a Del style day by day blog of the amazing trip we’re on at the moment, but I get into the holiday mode and keep forgetting! So...

30 years ago, I married the gorgeous Wendy. We went to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon which was at the time quite adventurous, as the island was just about starting it’s now popular tourist industry. We got caught up in Hurricane Hugo (1989) and got a few extra days holiday because the aircraft couldn’t come and get us.

Talking of the aircraft Del, it was an airline called LionAir (not the one that bought the 737 max) but the one that existed for about 2 years, in 1989-91 ish, managing to keep one of the ex Pan Am 747 100 original airframes going. It was a scary flight on a barely serviceable aircraft. For reference read this - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionair_(Luxembourg)

For our 10th Anniversary we managed Barbados, on a cheapo 7 day all inclusive I found on teletext! The reason it was cheap was that the hotel was half built, and the builders were definitely in! We loved it though, and one of my memories of the trip is laying on the beach watching Concorde landing at Grantly Adams airport. By the way, we flew with British Caledonian Airways, from Manchester to Tobago, and onto Barbados on a DC10. Still got the freebie chrome lighter they gave me. Smoking was allowed on aircraft back then.

25th, we went to Australia. Did the east coast from Port Douglas to Bondai Beach, via Byron Bay. That’s on this forum somewhere so find it if you want.

So, 30th had to be special. My wife is interested in art, and recently went to an art exhibition in London that featured a lot of the works of Paul Gaugin. He made his home on the island of Tahiti. This sparked the idea with us as somewhere suitably “off the beaten track and away from the normal tourist trail for us Brits.

We flew with Air New Zealand from Heathrow to LAX. Just as the plane reached the take off hold, the pilot came on and told us that there was a technical hitch with the transponder and we would have to return to get it fixed. So this resulted in a 3 hour delay and thus making our transfer at LAX very doubtful- 1 hour 20 minutes to collect luggage, go through immigration, check in with Air Tahiti, go through security again and get to the gate at the opposite end of the terminal. We just about managed it, last onto the plane.

8.5 hours later, we landed in Tahiti at Papeete airport. Immigration was dead easy, because we are still in Europe and as it’s a French protectorate, we walked straight through didn’t even check the passports! The Americans however, had a very long queue!

Tahiti was interesting. We arrived at dawn and decided to power through the day without sleeping to get over the jet lag.

The resort was lovely, the Intercontinental at Faa not far from the airport, and on the livelier side of the island. The views across the lagoon were stunning. To be honest, we spent 3 days recovering from the flight and took it easy. We did a tour of the island, and whilst very scenic, there is not a lot outside the area we were in.










After 3 days, we moved onto the next island, which had been visible across the water from Tahiti, Mo’orea. It’s a small island, with very dense jungle interior, and one main road that circumnavigates it. The whole island is circled by a coral reef, and this enclosed a lovely lagoon full of life. We did loads of snorkelling and swimming, and saw loads of sea life. Apart from the usual cocktails on the beach and some really decent food, we also went on an organised snorkelling trip, and went swimming with rays, black tip sharks etc. Whilst it was a bit contrived and touristy we enjoyed it.














After 7 days on Mo’orea, we have now moved on, to the real paradise island, the jewel in the crown of French Polynesia, Bora Bora.

This island is amazing. We are staying in a resort on one of the motu’s (reef) that surround the main island, which really is nothing more than a dramatic, extinct volcano! Last eruption was about 2 million years ago. The view from our resort is towards the volcano, and it is nothing short of spectacular.

Mount Otumanu looks very much like Tracy Island from the Thunderbirds! One fact is that according to the local, it has never been climbed. It’s too steep and crumbling rock makes it too dangerous. You used to be able to fly up by helicopter but that’s outlawed now.

There is one road around the coast, and the interior is uninhabited and inaccessible. The views are spectacular.

We are staying in an overwater bungalow, in the lagoon. It’s very pleasant I have to say! Our coffee table is glass, and looks straight down into the lagoon below.

Other than chilling out, we haven’t done a lot here, it’s just so relaxed. We’re off whale watching on Tuesday, that should be fun.












I have more pictures on my camera that I will get processed tomorrow, and will add some more.

One little snippet for the astronomers amongst us. I saw a bright star tonight, and according to my Skyguide it’s Alpha Centuri, which is the nearest star to the sun and only visible in the southern latitudes.
  
Post #208241110th Sep 2019 8:16 am
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RLD
Uncle Ray 


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Post #208241710th Sep 2019 8:21 am
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mark the spark
 


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looks amazing and some great pics

we are heading to hawaii in a few weeks and this has really wetted the appetite

enjoy Thumbs Up
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Post #208241810th Sep 2019 8:22 am
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DSL
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Looks fab, well jell!! Thumbs Up
   
Post #208242510th Sep 2019 8:30 am
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ianm27
 


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Looks like a fantastic holiday Very Happy

We went to Bora Bora about 13 years ago and it is a magical relaxing paradise - enjoy Thumbs Up
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Post #208247110th Sep 2019 9:40 am
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NJSS
 


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Brilliant narrative & photographs- well done; daily updates are, of course, required!

NJSS
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Post #208248510th Sep 2019 10:04 am
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rrhool
 


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Very nice! Thumbs Up
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Post #208248810th Sep 2019 10:09 am
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Gareth
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Evening all. Just had breakfast here and very healthy it was. Nice bowl of local fruit. Pineapple is the main export of Moorea which we were on last week, and of course there is plenty here to. The local pineapple liquor is quite tasty too! (Headache to back that up this morning)





Yesterday we went on a see-faring expedition in a high speed motorised outrigger boat! Why an outrigger? You see them all over here, and initially you presume its because that’s what the natives used to row out, across the reef, to meet the invaders, before killing and eating them, and the tradition has carried on. Not the killing and eating I hasten to add! But the outrigger style of boat. I learned yesterday that the lagoons are very shallow, and a flat bottomed boat is needed. That would give a very unstable ride, and would be impossible to manage. So the outrigger gives stability both horizontally and directionally also.

Wendy enjoying the breeze at speed!



We did a lap of the island, mostly inside the coral reef, in the lagoon, but we did take a venture out into the open ocean to watch the surfers on the most incredible waves I’ve ever seen! The swells are long and deep. We are after all about as far from a major continent as it’s possible to get on planet earth. Just type Bora Bora into google earth and see!

After watching the surfers for a while, we went outside the reef and went snorkelling in deep water, watching the black tip sharks, and also a yellow shark that was about 5-6ft swimming around us. There were some scuba divers on the sea bed, about 20m down, it all looked pretty spectacular!












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After the sharks, we all counted are toes and fingers and moved back into the lagoon.

The next bit is specifically for DSL. It was pointed out to us, in the distance on the shore, one of few relics of the Second World War on the island. A gun placement and a bunker.

Here’s a distant pic, and a savage crop to show the said gun






It’s an American gun. The yanks turned up here after Pearl Harbour was bombed, because of its central position in the Pacific, and Polynesia. They built the airfield that is still in use today, they stationed about 5000 troops here, and it was a supply store for the Pacific fleet. It never saw any action and must have been a dream posting for many American soldiers. So much so, many of them stayed, married local girls and their descendants are here today!

Next stop lunch! But no ordinary lunch. We were taken to what I can only describe as a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ island. There was a coral garden to explore, and whilst we were diving with more sharks, rays, and millions of fish, an authentic Polynesian feast was prepared, and eaten from plates made from palm leaves! Raw tuna fish, marinaded in lime, chopped onion and tomato added, a generous helping of coconut milk (fresh from the nearest coconut tree of course) Absolutely delicious! We eat this on benches in the shallow water. I have to say it’s very entertaining having fish rays and sharks swimming around under your table like an expectant dog!


















After lunch there was the obligatory demonstration of how to strip and crack a coconut, drink the water. Then the host showed us how to scrape out the coconut meat, into a bowl. I really wish I had a picture of this, but my camera malfunctioned at this point, so missed it. I’ll describe as best I can! The implement in question is like a flat piece of wood, with a metal scraper attached. The curved scraper is about 7 inches long and has a bulbous end, with small serrations on. This bulbous end is attached to the plank, on which the host sits, legs either side of this bulbous end (you know where I’m going here! )

Anyway a suitable female is selected from the audience, and asked to crouch down between this guys legs, and hold a bowl to catch the descending shaves of the white coconut meat. It gets worse- much worse!!

After his meat has been scraped into the bowl, the female is encouraged to grab a handful of this ‘meat’ and, extending her thumb towards her mouth, put her head back and squeeze hard, thus causing white coconut milk to dribble of the end of her thumb and into her mouth! Shocking but well demonstrated by the unsuspecting French woman he picked on. She didn’t notice the men had all started writhing in embarrassment next to their wives, some really trying hard to muffle their childish sniggers. I just laughed out loud, it was so funny!

Back to the snorkelling. Here was a beautiful coral garden. Unspoiled and very much full of marine life. There were some scary things though. Sea urchins the size of a cheer leaders pom-poms! Step on one of those and you in trouble we were warned.


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So that was that, time to head back to our resort. It was a fabulous day out and one that hammered home how lucky we are to be here.
It is genuinely an unspoilt paradise in many ways, and because it’s so far away from anywhere, it really hasn’t been invaded too much by the tourist trade.

More tomorrow, our final day here. We are going out into the deep ocean, to find humpback whales! Can’t wait.

Here’s a video of the diving.
  
Post #208318711th Sep 2019 11:19 pm
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RLD
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Post #208320012th Sep 2019 6:39 am
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DSL
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Looks fantastic, though SWMBO is a little concerned re the number of uses of the “s” word, shark!
   
Post #208320612th Sep 2019 6:46 am
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Gareth
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I got a real buzz from swimming with those! If I hadn’t been prepared beforehand that they were harmless, and had just come across them I’d have Censored myself!

That yellow shark (the one with the white pilot fish in the picture) was very big!
  
Post #208322212th Sep 2019 7:28 am
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Gareth
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This bad boy!

Click image to enlarge
  
Post #208322512th Sep 2019 7:32 am
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DSL
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As long as they know they are harmless, and your identification skills are working! Laughing
   
Post #208322612th Sep 2019 7:36 am
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Gareth
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Hey! There’s no identity skills from me, don’t rely on me to keep you safe. If id seen that unsupervised it would have been Jaws and I’d be wishing for a bigger boat!

Thankfully the dive master was happy to go down and scatter his chum to keep the bitey sharks happy!
  
Post #208322712th Sep 2019 7:40 am
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DSL
Keeper of the wheelie bin 


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This should deffo go in the Chrimbo pressie list. Thumbs Up

   
Post #208322812th Sep 2019 7:45 am
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