Friday, October 9, 2015

Day 55 (9th October 2015)

A choppy sea today making crystallised salt on our balcony handrail.

One week left of our holiday. We noticed how after three weeks on board the Golden Princess some passengers are starting to become hostile. Not with us but what we are observing. One woman passenger complained about how dry the food was during lunch to the catering staff, one passenger was aggressive towards another passenger because she took out her completed clothes out of the washing machine so she could use it next. Nevertheless, our spirits are high. After today we have four stops across eastern New Zealand with the major sea days behind us. The only complaint we have are the handicapped people on board. Must be at least 10 percentage of the total passengers. Mostly using walkers, walking canes and even hiking sticks that look like praying mantis when in use. However it is the motorised wheel chaired invalids who are the worst. As we were walking through the casino lounge a very, very, very and we mean over 200klg male in one of these machines came past us from behind and nearly took our feet out. Must have been doing at least 15 kph! And no way we could hear him coming – a silent killer, they are! They are mostly Americans and even one couple who have one normal wheel chair between them share this device on a frequent basis – who is the handicapped person we asked? We see some walk around the vessel unimpeded but when it comes to the waiting line they are up front taking advantage of their perceived walking problem. There are legit passengers with handicaps and we help these people when required but those ones who are so obese and need the have a motorised contraption to get from A to B we avoid. We are near Auckland and the seas are rough today. Not much happened today – the usual dancing practice and sharing stories with our four Arizonan friends. Tomorrow we have a city tour of Auckland and during the pm hours hope to update our blogspot once we find a high speed internet cafĂ©. So we hope all our back posts will be on the internet.


Day 53 & 54 (7th & 8th October 2015)

Neil and Anne in our formal dinner rags prior to the evening meal on board the Golden Princess

Jim, Bonnie, Neil, Von, Anne and Ed. Formal dinner night on board the Golden Princess.

Jim, Bonnie, our waiter (Ferdinand) and Von. Formal dinner night on board the Golden Princess.

Golden Princess dancing staff girl – Victoria…..and Neil. On board the Golden Princess. 

Still at sea – however it is calm today. We have noticed that the temperature is cooler now and we must be out of the tropic zone. A quiet day, preparing for the formal dinner tonight. Anne wore her new silk outfit with new jewellery – wow!! We went to another show after dinner, a Kiwi comedian, Simon McKinney. Naturally there were stories about Oz and Kiwi land to stir up the American audience. He was a bit plain in his routine with a few laughs – nothing special. We had a few drinks with our American friends from Arizona and watch the Do You Want To Be A Rockstar. Of course our Elliot (the cool character we mention back a few weeks ago) had to sing. We found out he has a wife (name unknown at this stage) and she is totally infatuated with cool Elliot. A small statured woman who with always glowing gleaming teeth stares at him constantly – an unusual couple! We have another day at sea tomorrow and closer to Auckland NZ. Cheers.

Day 52 (6th October 2015)

There is a rainbow in this photograph – taken outside our stateroom on a bumpy, choppy sea, just on the eastern side of the International Dateline.

Neil is still with the flu. Apparently 50% of passengers on board this vessel has or is suffering from this malady. Whoever the Typhoid Mary was that brought this on the Golden Princess should be keelhauled! Nothing much happened today – just rested in our room. The promenade deck was closed to passengers due to the rough and choppy seas. Outside our balcony there is salt deposits all along the handrail and furniture. With the seas being rough we heard that there has not been any serious seasickness. The Golden Princess’s stabilisers are in good working order and on many occasions we do have the rock-n-roll movement throughout the ship. At 5 pm we did practice our dancing in the Explorer’s Lounge and after dinner went to a show hosted by Davilicious Davidia, a Sydney girl who has an amazing voice with an extensive octave range. In the atrium the Oktoberfest was in full swing, however given the size of the area made it difficult to watch the activities that was organised. Tomorrow is a 48 hour day condensed into 24 hours. We cross over the International Dateline and lose a day. So during the am hours tomorrow will be Wednesday 7th October but at 12 noon becomes Thursday 8th October – confusing? Cheers.  

Day 51 (5th October 2015)

The main street of Pago Pago, American Samoa – am hours

The Flowerpots – one of the tourist attractions along the western side of American Samoa.

Our tour buses and our well-built guide. Located somewhere along the western side of American Samoa.

One of the local houses along then western coastline of American Samoa.

The memorial to the victims of the 2009 tsunami – located on the western side of American Samoa.

The remains of the houses that were destroyed by the 2009 tsunami, American Samoa.

The ex-Governor’s house on the western side of American Samoa.

At the ex-Governor’s house – check out the large Samoan guide in the picture.

View of the rough western coastline of American Samoa – showing the inclement weather we experienced.

American Samoa is full of meeting places such as their structures. Located near Pago Pago.

At the Pago Pago Heritage Maritime Centre – this awesome globe is actually a 360 deg TV screen.

Wooden sculpture along the main street of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Fagotogo Square, Pago Pago, American Samoa – the main shopping mall on the island.

An unknown building in Pago Pago, American Samoa – perhaps an old church?

View of Pago Pago from the high Golden Princess deck – almost departure time.

A zoomed view of Pago Pago, American Samoa taken from Deck 15 on board the Golden Princess.

We arrived in Pago Pago at 7 am. The weather here was terrible, rain and windy. Nevertheless we boarded our tour bus (a local style bus that designed for midgets) and headed west of the island. American Samoa is in USA control using American dollars and the Samoans are huge people. Our tour took us to a memorial where many islanders were killed in the 2009 tsunami. Quite macabre and then headed for the ex-Governor’s house, who apparently was a corrupt official and during his FBI investigation was killed (perhaps by suicide). Now his wife kept the building and died last week – we did notice flags were at half-mast. Why we were allowed to go through this house is rather insensitive, so we thought. Currently their children care for the house and is in slight disrepair. After three house we returned to Pago Pago and had the afternoon to ourselves. The little capitol was crowded with us boat people and all wifi access was ineffective. Basically no messages could be sent albeit trying to download data. We returned to the ship and Neil has come down with Anne’s cold. After dinner it was an early to bed. The Golden Princess left Pago Pago at 5 pm. We think that this place is not a clean place, the locals believe in conservation and the planet’s wellbeing however everywhere we went there is garbage on the ground and unsanitary. Cheers.

Day 50 (4th October 2015)

The atrium on board the Golden Princess – covers three floors and located about midship. This is where most of the duty free shops are located.

Another day at sea. Anne starting to be bored after the halfway mark. Thankfully we hit land tomorrow at Pago Pago (pronounced Pang Pango). Nevertheless today we attended our usual ballroom dance lesson – revision on the merengue and cha cha. And late we kept our practice session at 5 pm. After dinner we attended the trivia Country & Western trivia and even with our American friends we only achieved 4 out of 20 points – basically we suck at this activity. Yes we have been adopted by two American couples from Arizona. They have the same humour as ourselves and share stories regarding our past years. As mentioned tomorrow is American Samoa which lies just on the eastern side of the International Dateline and not far from Fiji – the first point of call on our 2015 holiday six weeks ago. So hopefully we will have access to a wifi on Pago Pago and update the blogspot – cheers.  

Day 49 (3rd October 2015)

Us – practising the Paso la passĂ© in the small Explorer’s Lounge on board the Golden Princess.

The expected bad weather was not rough at all. The seas were choppy but didn’t cause any uncomfortable situations. We slept in today and later attended the Oktoberfest Dance Class. This session is teaching the steps for the forthcoming Oktoberfest in two days’ time. Lots of hand slapping, hopping around to the oompha music – should be fun. Every day at 5 pm we practice our sequence dancing in a lounge dedicated for people like us. We do have a few couples joining us and reinforcing our dances on a small floor is taxing – especially when the vessel is on choppy seas. After dinner we attended a show featuring a comedian name Doug Funk. He is an interactive comedian and rather good. Tomorrow we are still at sea sailing westerly heading towards Pago Pago, American Samoa. So until then – cheers. 

Day 48 (2nd October 2015)

A view of Vaitape, the main port facility on small Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Taken from the Golden Princess.

A distant view of Bora Bora from our ship showing the cloud covering the main mountain.

The main street in Vaitape, showing the Protestant Church, Bora Bora.

A great view of the coastal road near Faanui, Bora Bora.

On the eastern side of Bora Bora, a church with the island’s tallest peak Mt Otermanu.

The “Le Truk”. Anne is there somewhere? Taken near Anau on Bora Bora.

Do you wonder where kapok comes from? This picture is the kapok tree on Bora Bora.

Our “Bloody Mary” guide showing how to put on a sarong during our trip around Bora Bora.

The view from Bora Bora showing the smaller islands “Motu”. Note the different colours of the lagoon waters.

Near Anau on Bora Bora. The majority of private boats are elevated and stored when not in use.

This bungalow is believed to be owned by Jack Nicholson, near Matira, Bora Bora.

 Land crabs everywhere on Bora Bora. The islanders hate them they destroy gardens. I believe they are good eating when prepared carefully.

A typical over-the-water bungalow near Matira, Bora Bora.

There are heaps of first-class hotels (bungalows) on Bora Bora. Most are located near the reefs on Motu(s).

A view of the small lagoon bay near Matira, Bora Bora.

This is the only public beach on Bora Bora – beautiful white sand. All other beaches around the island are privately owned.

A zoomed picture of the outer reef. Rough and dangerous. Taken from Bora Bora.

Our Golden Princess in the Baie de Povai (inside the lagoon) Bora Bora.

Inside the Bloody Mary bar on Bora Bora.

Ahhh – drinking a Bloody Mary on Bora Bora.

The main street of Vaitape, Bora Bora. Mainly tourist stores to cater for us “boat people”.

We arrived at Bora Bora at 7 am and to an overcast day. Bora Bora is exactly what the brochures say regarding the beautiful waters and scenery of the island. Remember this was the scene for the film South Pacific depicting Bali Hai. Unfortunately, there were low clouds covering the tops of the mountains. The island is surrounded by Motu(s) which are smaller islands that circle a huge reef at almost 330 degrees around Bora Bora. There is a small entrance which the Golden Princess has to sail through to reach the inner lagoon. There is also a road around the island, it follows the coastline for 32 klms. Abundant are mango trees, breadfruit, lime trees, banyans and just about every other tropical fruit trees known. The islanders have a happy lifestyle and definitely could not starve. It is also the holiday location of the rich and famous. Jack Nicholson has a water bungalow on the island. Marlon Brando idolised this paradise and lived here during his breaks. About 10:30 am we had to sail by tender boat to the main centre at Vaitape. We boarded a “Le Truk” and drove around the island. The following pictures do not do justice to the amazing colours of the waters surrounding the coastline. Near the end of the drive we stopped at Bloody Mary’s, a drinking hole frequented by many movie stars such as Pierce Brosnan, Keanu Reeves, Cameron Diaz, Goldie Hawn (and naturally Kurt Russell) etc etc. Neil tried the Bloody Mary but tomato juice was not the best mixer with vodka – said he. The amazing aspect about this bar, except that it was named after the James A Michener creation and portrayed in the film “South Pacific” is that the floor is sand. We were certain that our Bora Bora guide looked like Bloody Mary in the movie. After wandering down the short main street in Vaitape we returned to the ship and departed from Bora Bora before nightfall at 5 pm. We guess that this is best to navigate in daylight out of the narrow entrance through the rough reefs. On board we were told by the Captain that we will be experiencing a rough passage tomorrow morning – gale force winds with 10-14 feet waves. So…we need to batten down all loose items in the cabin. The quote of the day comes from….wait for it, an American; when our lovely “Bloody Mary” tour guide rolled her own cigarette, this person past the message through our Le Truk that they must grow “pot” on the island. Cigarettes are already made not rolled! Cheers. 

Day 47 (1st October 2015)

Papeete, Tahiti from our ship – am hours.

Local wahines’ greeting us as we left the Golden Princess, Papeete, Tahiti.

A tour stop overlooking the waters on the northern part of Tahiti. Also site of the 1769 landing of Captain James Cook.

Black beaches on the northern side of Tahiti.

Breadfruit in the Tahitian rain forest.

This fruit is currently under research as a cure for cancer – so our knowledgeable guide told us. The tree is called the soursap.

One of the many waterfalls in the Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

Our four wheel drive, guide and passengers – located in the heart of Tahiti, Papenoo Valley.

Another magnificent waterfall in Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

A sacred old Tahitian warrior site in the Papenoo Valley.  Supposedly where the practice of cannibalism told place.

Mountain stream with waterfall in the Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

And another waterfall in the Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

The high mountain walls inside the Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

The peaceful mountain stream where we could have swam – Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

A local eel – Papenoo Valley, Tahiti.

A pine tree unusually perched on a small coastal location. Located on the northern coast of Tahiti.

A northern coastal view of Tahiti.

The back end of the Golden Princess in Papeete Harbour, Tahiti.

A side view of the Golden Princess in Papeete Harbour, Tahiti.

The local church in the heart of Papeete, Tahiti.

Anne is watching her black pearl earrings being set – in Papeete, Tahiti.

We believe this may be a hotel in the heart of Papeete, Tahiti.

One of the crowded streets in the heart of Papeete, Tahiti.

Some form of infamy regarding nuclear testing – located along Papeete Harbour, Tahiti.

A great view of our Golden Princess in Papeete Harbour, Tahiti.

Local girl selling sarongs in Papeete – Anne bought one just before boarding the ship.

We arrived and berthed at Papeete at 7:30 am and not long after we were boarding a land Rover four wheel drive with six other passengers up into the mountainous heart of Tahiti. It was an overcast day however the temperature was perfect – not hot nor cold. We entered the Papenoo Valley where many waterfalls sheer drop down from the high mountains. Many various indigenous trees abound and the village encountered along the coastal road reminded us of old Penang, Malaysia in the 70’s. The centre of Tahiti is rain forest, many mozzies and many places to swim. At one spot we were invited to wallow in a pool that is a favourite haunt of local eels. Nobody tried to make friends with this large aquatic critter. We arrived back at Papeete at 12:30 pm and ready to join the next tour titled “Undiscovered Tahiti”. We had paid for this and the bus that were to take us was late and we missed out on having lunch. We decided that we were not joining the mass oldies who were preparing to rush for the goods seats and we left for Papeete town on our own. We managed to find a high speed Wifi and updated this blogspot and later walked around the town. Anne bought some famous Tahiti black pearl earrings and a Longchamp bag. We climbed aboard the ship at %:30 pm after an exhausting day and after forfeiting the cost of the tour we were meant to be on was satisfied that we made the correct decision. Apparently the bus returned in darkness at 7:00 pm. We would have been starving and the sites that they presented was not that important for us to worry about. The Golden princess left Papeete at 8 pm for Bora Bora our next stop arriving tomorrow morning. It will be a tender transport affair again and we have a tour around the island. We will not miss out on this one. Bora Bora is famous for the film South Pacific’ and has the famous Bloody Mary Bar. Cheers.