New Feature: Use the search box below to find stuff in this blog!
Saturday, December 28, 2002
We just returned from our 4 day trip to the coral coast. Here a first report with some pictures, but more and better pictures coming shortly
We packed our stuff and drove again the 120 km stretch to the coral coast. Our place to stay for the next 4 nights would be the "outrigger" resort. This place is much bigger than the Hideaway or the Tambua Sands and they offer a nice rate for local residents. Since Ritsu's parents are staying there and my Dad is close by, we got rooms for us and for a friend of Ritsu, arriving the next day.
Before we arrived we stopped by the Tambua Sands and said "hi" to my Dad and Merih. A bit later we checked into our room which was quite nice ... ground floor, "partial ocean view", nice AC, the whole bath seems to be the shower, one can walk through the closet into the bath :) We did not waste much time to get ready and check out the pool.
Other places we have seen have space for about 50 - 70 people .. THIS place seems to have over 500 beds (they have 207 hotel rooms and 47 bures). Thus the pool area is pretty big and was very crowded ... especially loudly squealing kids were the main populus. But we took over the spa and just enjoyed bubbles for a while.
Not much time left after shower when we got ready to return to Tambua Sands to try their dinner. Ritsu's dad and brother joined us. We checked out how much a cab ride between the hotels would be, and after we laughed about the price (tourist rip off area) we just took the car. When we arrived we were treated to a really nice sunset.
Since it was still christmas, the menu was quite restricted, one selection of each course (Soup or salad / Fish or beef / Icecream or pumpkin mousse). The group dynamic was especially interesting since we had a multitude of languages on the table. And not everyone understood all of them. The food was pretty nice ... I really enjoyed the beef. The spongecake came first without any icecream, but we got that corrected.
We finally got the ball rolling and people were talking to each other, when at 8 PM a village choir showed up for a "meke" .. which is a sing and dance affair to amuse tourists I guess ... Fijians are great singers .. but it seems they are lousy dancers .. or just too lazy ... most of the dances were done sitting, just using hands .. some dances looked like some tribal war dance ...
As nice as it was, it was loud, which killed the conversation, and it made the whole dinner thing even longer (service has been quite slow, but now it came to a stop) ... I was a bit edgy / tense since I still had to drive back, through the dark dark night ... on a street where you could easily run into a stray dog, or cow, or horse ... so I could not enjoy it as much as my dad and Ritsu's dad did ... I saw both joining the general dancing activities ...
At 10 we got finally back to the hotel and in our room we noticed some strange beeping noice ... it sounded like an alarm went of in some adjecent room and no one bothere to turn it off ... we called reception twice, but it seems nobody really cared. Then around 11 PM the kids from the room party next door got loud outside .. and I just opened the door half naked and yelled at them .. I was in a really good mood by then ... and while we could still hear the beeping ... we finally went to bed just before midnight ...
We noticed that we forgot something rather important back home, so I hopped in the car and drove the 120 km back to Suva ... since I was alone in the car I did not care much how fast I was in the curves .. in general I just about safety and not being caught by the police .. I dodged 3 speed controls and the usual 2 hour trip was done in 100 minutes. Once in Suva I was tempted to stay to watch the new Lord of the Rings movie, which started in Suva today. But I could not get hold of the showtimes (there info phoneline is 2 weeks behind) and I was not sure about parking around the movie place .. there was also that fear of a huge crowd full of kids ... So I just drove back and arrived at 1:40 PM
I met Ritsu and her freshly arrived friend Utako at the restaurant where they had lunch. I joined and ordered a hamburger ... the service was as usual: pretty slow. The burger was ok, but came with a slice of beet-root, which I think is one of the weirdest things to put on a burger.
Though check in time is noon, Utako's room was not ready yet (and would not be ready until 5 PM) so she napped in our room while we visited the pool again. Poolside they had some silly dancing and karaoke activities, but we stayed in our spa until the sun got too hot. The thing with Utako's room and other annoyances like "no towels" and rude staff on the phone led us to discuss options. I checked with the Tabua Sands and they had bures available. So I went to have a discussion with the manager on duty, that we want to check out earlier than planned and for certain reasons and he apologized and then settled the bill with me without any penalty for leaving early. So, we will be moving again tomorrow.
For dinner we went to their small open air bistro / pizza place which was also located closest to the beach. We had a nice table where we could watch the stars and wait and wait for our pizza. They offered some very interesting combinations, all in "single serving" size. We settled for garlic-shrimp and prosciutto-olive, 2 pizzas were enough for us. While we were eating they started a "beachparty" downstairs, a couple of silly games organized around a mini "bon-fire" ... games included 8 ladies had to show their legs for being judged, the several guys had to reveal their chests (tummies) for just the same (why they never do that in reverse ?) and then at the end they let the kiddies do limbo. And the all of a sudden the "party" was over.
We were tired enough to just return to our rooms and say goodnight.
Morning hours are the best to take a quick dip in the pool before all the kiddies show up.
After the refreshing pool time, while I started packing, the girls went to have breakfast. I got a call from the dive place I was talking to earlier, and to my surprise they were flexible enough to start diving (for us) at 11 AM. So we left the "Outrigger" with no further ado, saying quickly bye to Ritsu's family.
We dropped Utako at Tambua Sands and went to "Mike's Divers" and after the usual paperwork we boarded a small boat (probably the smallest Ritsu has ever dived from) and with Daniel, our crazy diveguide and our captain whose name we did not get, we were zipping 5 minutes to reach our first dive site. Backroll entry and then down to 130 ft. We worked our way up on the wall to around 60 ft. We encountered a 7 ft. shark which looked like it likes small japanese ladies, and a turtle. The ride back from the divesite again only 5 minutes.
We used the surface interval to go back to our hotel and have lunch. Ritsu and I had Beef Curry, Utako had the Kokoda. We found out that the very same dive shop would offer free pool lessons this very afternoon and Utako signed up, while we returned for the second dive. Again a very nice dive along a wall. Saw tons of nudibranchs. Ritsu fell in love with the dive shop's dog "Rocky" who was a cute little lazy fellow.
Upon return we had time for a small nap before I started the shaving / showering routine and then I picked up Ritsu's family from their hotel and I dropped them at the Sunset Bar of the Tambua Sands, where Utako waited already and a bit later my Dad and Merih came. It was a very funny scene to watch Merih, in her turkish way, greeting the family by hugging and kissing, which for the japanese people is very uncommon, even within the family ... especially the mother's and brother's faces were priceless.
Ritsu and I went back to change. We had some fijian style outfits made for us. We just strolled back barefoot on the beach until the rest of the family spotted us and came out to take pictures in the sunset.
The following dinner was very nice too, Ritsu had the great idea of creating one big square table (instead of one long one) and the communication went very well. Food was good, drinks were plenty. I had a lobster soup and then grilled walu in crayfish sauce, Ritsu had a seafood medly. Ritsu's mom had also something served in half a papaya, towards the end she just shoveled out the fish leftovers to eat the papaya, which she liked best it seems. Not too late we officially ended the dinner and got a taxi for the Morino family back to their hotel. The taxi driver was immediately ok with 10F$, while days before the "Coral Coast Tours" guy asked for 20F$ one way.
We had some final drinks at the bar and then it was time for bed.
We left for the diveshop at 8:45 and were in the water by 9:15. Utako came with us to do a shallow dive with Peter, the Dive Instructor, to practice what she had learned the day before ...
Our dive went down to 81 ft. We found again a pretty big shark, this time sleeping. Also, something I have never seen before, one bright pink and one crimson red anemone ... very interesting ...
I drove Utako back to the hotel in between dives, while Ritsu played with Rocky and wrote log-book. The 2nd dive was nice too, the boatride back felt more like a bull-ride, but since it was only 5 minutes, it was actually fun. We returned and had lunch, me a steak sandwich, Ritsu had beef chow mien (which was a bit salty). Dad and Merih joined a bit later. I spent some time with my dad then to get all of his pictures from his camera to a CDR to take home. And then I took a very nice nap (Ritsu was napping already).
When we got up it was already time for happy hour and then dinner: Most of us had walu soup, roasted leg of lamb and icecream with pineapples. Very yummy. Around 8:30 it was "meke" time again, pretty much the same performance as 3 days ago, but this time I could enjoy it a bit more and took some more pictures. I had a good night drink with dad at the bar and then me, Ritsu and Utako spent some time star gazing (still not being able to spot the southern cross) and then it was time to say good night. A bit later a security guard knocked on our door, asking us to take our dive gear inside (which we had left outside for drying) .. very good security :)
Monday's highlight was that Ritsu's family came over to Suva to see our place (still without furniture mind you) and then they all went to town to have lunch and Ritsu showed them around.
I stayed writing xmas emails and did some general grocery shopping. For dinner I made us some pasta with a tomato/veggie sauce.
Today the city is somewhat chaotic ... I needed to do a lot of driving around to get all the things we need over the holidays. Later we will make some Buta No Kakuni (japanese pork dish) as our xmas dinner :)
We had a pretty nice weekend on the Coral Coast where we stayed at the "Hideway Resort", later we met my dad and his wife at the "Tambua Sands Resort" and then on sunday I got to meet Ritsu's parents and her brother at "Outriggers" ... I will type up a more complete report ... but for now, here are pictures ..