A Travellerspoint blog

Fiji, Viti Levu, Suva

Monday, 12 November 2012

View 2012 Hawaii Millennium on greynomadm's travel map.

A grey overcast day greeted us as we sailed into Suva, located on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji. Well before we were berthed there was a severe shower which prevented me from capturing the moment. When we finally tied up we were right next to a massive mobile crane but they were able to squeeze in a gangplank. There was however an other obstruction which impeded the setting up of the dockside facilities - a brand new tracked excavator. No-one could find the key to get into the machine and move it so one of the heavy container forklifts picked it up and moved it out of the way. A quite incredible feat given that the load was not evenly balanced.

We went ashore intending to walk into the town, have a quick look around and come back again. As with many good intentions these came to nought. A very persuasive lady convinced us to part with US$25 each for a three hour tour in an air conditioned bus accompanied by a guide. Sounded like good value for money so I said yes and handed over the $50. Obviously, the bus had room for many more than the two of us and we were the 'lucky' first victims. We were asked to wait, which we did and before long there were six of us, then it started to rain again. I suggested we board the bus and wait there and so we dashed through the rain to the 20-seat bus. Time passed and gradually we reached an appropriate number and we were off.

Donald, the driver and June the guide conversed briefly and it was determined that we would travel through some local villages and part of the state forest. There were frequent and generous stops to take photographs of the lush steep country to the North of the city. Along the way we also stopped for a short break at the Raintree Lodge, an award winning accommodation complex just 10 minutes drive from Suva on the edge of the rainforest. We wandered around for about 15 minutes and managed to photograph many of the flowers.

Northward to the town of Nausort where again we had free time to explore the local market. Many varieties of local fruits and vegetables crowded together to create a maze of alleys with mainly older women keeping a sharp eye on the produce. Back on the bus and back to Suva along a more Easterly route arriving in the diplomatic district of Suva. The building and the gates that featured in most of the TV back when the miliary coup took place. The information from the guide was a bit confusing but in any event the place has been locked up since then.

Closer to Suva and we stopped briefly outside the Presidential Palace to take photographs of the soldier on guard duty. The young man emulated these ceremonial guards everywhere and was totally unmoved regardless of our attention. Without warning he shouldered his rifle and briskly marched to the end of the driveway, turned right and marched to the edge, about turned to march to the other edge. Another about turn and back to the midpoint, a right turn and back to his start point then an about turn and ordered arms stood at ease and came to attention again. Quite an impressive performance without any sound or a sideways glance.

Back on the bus and we make our way through the very busy streets of down-town Suva. We are invited to leave the bus and shop for gifts for the family back home at what appeared to be the tour company's headquarters. Jenny and I thanked the driver and guide and told them we'd walk back to the ship as we intended to stock up on some less expensive Coke.

We found the supermarket and made our purchases, returning to the wharf to find the Sun Princess tied up stern to stern. As always seems to happen when there are two ships in port, the other ship is allocated the closer berth !!

A quick lunch and then I went up to Deck 11 to observe our departure at 1300, it didn't happen. Then a coach-full of passengers arrive fully 30 minutes after the 'all aboard' time and we expected to depart within the next 15 minutes. Finally, at 1400, two additional couches arrived and we were finally underway by 1415. The last two coaches received a rousing cheer from the watchers aboard. From unconfirmed sources there is the story that two passengers have been left behind. I'll keep an ear out to hear more - perhaps.

The Cruise Director has arranged a gathering of Veterans at 1400, quite surprising about 30 ex-service men and one woman turned up. We each stated our name and short resume then one of the Australians led us in reciting the ode. Finally we all formed up and a group photo was captured by on of the ship's photographers.

Spent most of the afternoon writing up this blog then we had another great meal in the dining room. We also heard, from a reliable source, that there was in fact a lady unaccounted for. She and her husband went ashore, her husband has returned but she is still adrift. Both are believed to be elderly and everyone hopes she will be found and rejoin us in New Zeeland.

Tonight's show was an amazing ventriloquist, there was no topic left untouched and his jokes could be considered a bit off colour but he was VERY funny. It surprises me that Mark Merchant hasn't been seen on TV in Australia.

Wake-up call for me, I've gained at least 5 cm at the waist so I'll have to seriously address my intake.

Posted by greynomadm 03:05 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

This Day Didn't Happen

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Crossed the International Date Line from East to West so we went from the 10th directly to the the 12th - 24 hours in a split second. Causing lots of perplexed looks on board.

Posted by greynomadm 03:04 Comments (0)

Westward to Fiji

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The seas have abated overnight but a stiff breeze persists making it difficult to open the door onto the deck. The almost total cloud cover has also negated any chance of capturing a sunrise this morning.

Enjoyed our usual light breakfast on Deck 10 and then Jenny watched on the sidelines of the 'trivia' contest whilst I made my way to the theatre for this morning's lectures. First up was Alan Dowty exploring the Mystery of John Franklin's lost expedition to find a Westward passage in the Arctic circle. He was followed by a 'standing room only' presentation by Prof David W Hughes on what is the primary topic of this voyage for many - the Total Solar Eclipse on 14 November.

We made our way to Deck 10 for a cup of tea and decided to stay for lunch. We are still on 'full service' making this the sixth day. Jenny stayed on Deck 4 for 'Battle of the Sexes' while I returned to the cabin to write these words and review yesterday's photos.

During the afternoon I attended Carol Grace's talk on the process of writing fiction and I was surprised to hear that she's been able to regain the rights to her works previously signed over to a publisher. She's retitled them and is now self-publishing them as e-books.

Formal dinner tonight and I created a bit of a stir because I pinned on my miniature medals. They were well received and respected by a number of Canadian veterans who were wearing very elegant poppies. It appears these are sent to them by their Legion (like our RSL)

The 'show' tonight was called 'Boogie Wonderland', a high energy song and dance production featuring three main characters and a 13 member supporting chorus. Many songs from the 70s which were well received by the audience.

Final act before going to bed is to set the date to the 12th as we cross the International Date Line and we jump from Saturday to Monday.

Posted by greynomadm 03:02 Comments (0)

Pago Pago on American Samoa

Friday, 9 November 2012

View 2012 Hawaii Millennium on greynomadm's travel map.

We arrived off the largest of the islands of American Samoa at about the scheduled time. The weather was solid overcast with occasional rain squalls but despite this there were large numbers of people at the ship's vantage points.

At about 07:00 the Millennium docked in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa on the island of Tutuila. Disembarkation was straightforward except for one couple who were denied due to being on Medical Alert. They claimed they had been cleared and I don't doubt they had been but they were stood aside until confirmed. Not that it effected me but I was not aware that the mechanism existed.

We had arranged to join a group from Cruise Critic and soon found others in the same group. With reasonable efficiency we boarded a local bus and headed off on a rather bumpy ride around the bay, past the tuna cannery and up the winding road to cross the spine of the central part of the island. We stopped at two look-outs where we realised just how high we had come in such a short time.

We continued down the mountain to the village of Vatia on the Northern coast. Here we turned around and came all the way back. The narrow steep road made for some interesting encounters with vehicles heading the other way. On reaching the Southern coast we headed East towards the village of Alega our destination being Tisa's Barefoot Bar & Grill.

Picture a cove of white sand beach, overhanging palm trees and a gentle lapping sea. Add to this a ramshackle beachcomber's collection of structures apparently and probably built from driftwood and you're close. There were platforms with tables and chairs, a well stocked bar and the obligatory souvenir shop soon swamped by the 66 people on the tour. Some changed to swimming costumes and other just kicked off their shoes, rolled up their pants and paddled in the water.

Lunch was cooking in the traditional Polynesian manner, a hole dug in the sand, filled with selected rocks and heated for some hours by building an intense fire over them. When the fire burns down the embers are spread out and the pit lined with banana leaves. The food to be cooked is then placed in baskets and containers atop these leaves and the whole covered with more banana leaves. More layers of leaves are added and then sealed with a layer of sand. This is then allowed to remain undisturbed for several hours.

While we waited, we were deluged by a sudden, severe tropical downpour. Those who were caught out were dry again within 15 minutes of the squall's passing.

At the appointed hour the guests crowded around to watch the food being uncovered. The smell was quite amazing. All 66 of us then lined up to be served from the following items; papaya, pineapple, cooked green banana, breadfruit, pumpkin, squid, pork and turkey. Additionally there were two sauces, one based on fish, the other on spinach. All ingredients, fresh, local and organic.

We were given a platter woven from palm fronds and lined with a piece of banana leaf. To be eaten with the provided plastic knife and fork or traditional style, with the fingers.

It was a happy bunch of tourists who returned to the ship where they were assailed by local stall holders who had camped on the dock during a number of showers. We were back aboard just after 1300.

Up on Deck 11 for the departure and then to the dining room for another excellent meal followed by another show in the theatre. Tonight's offering was a shared bill between a very funny comedian, Troy Thirdgill and Vadimir Zaitsed. Both performances were of the highest quality.
Finally, back to the cabin to write this note and view the 140+ images recorded on Jenny's and my camera.

The weather has become less friendly and the ship is more lively than she has been. The motion is gentle and is almost soothing as I write. Another sea day tomorrow.

Due to the continued cases of suspected Norovirus all food and beverage points continue to be on full service. This imposes a significantly increased workload on the staff as even something as simple as a cup of tea has to be prepared by one of the staff. The 'self-service' buffet has now been slowed down to a crawl. While most of us were ashore the ship was subjected to a top to bottom sensitisation, it will be interesting to see how the situation develops. It has now been ongoing for 5 days.

Posted by greynomadm 02:59 Comments (0)

Sea Day - 5

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Good night's sleep and managed to catch a bit of the sunrise. The ocean is mirror smooth but a few rain squalls and storm clouds on the horizon.

Managed a few circuits of the walking track on deck 11 and had a light breakfast on deck 10.

A series of three lectures this morning, Alan Dowty explored some of the facts and fiction of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Dear old Dr Collins bumbled through the wave of colonisation that started with Columbus and covered Africa, the Americas and the Islands in the Pacific. Then the stage was occupied by Dr David W Hughes who explored the composition and function of our star the Sun. refreshing to hear a crisp British voice for a change.

Lunch was a bun-fight as we are still in 'full service' at all food points. Slows everything down as we try to communicate our desires with servers who don't use the same terminology for the ingredients on display. Many of us left with whatever we were given rather than what we expected wanted.

Attended Carol Grace's lecture where we covered the role of journals, blogs and diaries and the use to which they may be put.

Another excellent meal in the main dining room and what must be one of the best shows afterwards. For the best part of an hour we were entertained by the concert pianist Vladimir Zaitsev. His repertoire ranged from the classics to an upbeat medley of Beatles Favourites. His voice was not too bad either and he sang some Russian folk songs.

Posted by greynomadm 02:57 Comments (0)

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