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Published: December 24th 2008
We awoke early as we do and went for another bread and jam breakfast, we had the company of an old French guy and a Polish professor who was interesting to talk too. At 8.30 Walter drove us to the wharf so we could catch our ferry to Moorea, the tickets cost about $14 each, the ferry was large, modern and very similar to those in the Greek Isles. The crossing took only about 30 minutes but that was more than long enough to cause Ruth some queasiness, on debarkation we decided to catch the local bus to our pension which took about 20 minutes. The trip was pleasant the island is beautiful and the weather good for the first time on the trip, unfortunately the driver didnt stop at the pension and after banging on the window between the passenger section and the cab to no avail, Ruth pressed the stop button which I was unaware of and we got out about 200 metres down the road from the pension.
The girl at Pention Motu Iti was very friendly and helpful and we were soon sitting on the porch of our vila looking out across the beautiful crystal clear
water of the lagoon. On dumping our bags we went straight out to the small pier with a cabana on it, to look at the incredible number of colourful tropical fish swimming in the shallows around the coral this also gave me a great opportunity to practice using my new camera and its telescopic lense.
We then went for an exploratory walk along the main road from our Pension after an hour or so we realised there were no shops that close so we wandered back to our pension watching the land crabs scurrying about and checking out some of the stunning houses. While Ruth was napping I was having a beer on the balcony and playing with my camera when I saw a Moray Eel stick it's head out from under a coral formation only a few metres off shore so I put on the telescopic lense and yelled out to Ruth and started snapping away, I never expected to see one of these in the flesh especially so close to shore, it was between 4 or 5 feet long I reckon.
After that we sat on the pier and peered into the sea for well over
an hour, it was incredible, there was something to see everywhere we looked including Octopus, huge Hermit Crabs, and a multitude of sea life which was capped off by the sea birds fishing in the shallows all around us. We also watched a large crab hunting a little one in the rocks it was like something out of David Attenborough. We had dinner in the restaurant, the food was great and the views over the water as the sunset were superb.
The next morning we woke at about 6 am as we are off on a lagoon tour, the weather is magnificent and the skies blue, the lagoon looked just incredible. We had a continental breakfast on the waters edge, the meal consisted of fruit, toasted french stick butter and jam. The tour group picked us up at the pension at 9.30 am and took us to the Club Bali Hai where we boarded the boat with the other 20 or so people from a variety of nations. The guide was a dreadlocked Tahitian who new a spattering of languages and was really quite funny as he pointed out a number of landmarks and recited some local legends. Our
first stop was to feed the fish and reef sharks, the anchor was dropped in about 7 metres of water and we donned our goggles and snorkels and went over board hanging onto the anchor rope to watch the sharks feeding below us, unfortunately some of the idiots on the boat were "blind" or just plain stupid so after being jumped on a few times I had had enough, so I followed Ruth back onto the boat it was a pretty thrilling thing to do though some of those sharks came within metres of me.
The next stop we visited was in shallow water over a sand bar as we approached we could see the dark shapes homing in on us through the water, we clambered off the boat and proceeded to feed these big gentle rays, I must admit initially I was a bit paranoid after the demise of Steve Irwin but there was no need, the rays had no obvious problem with be touched and felt much like rubbery velvet. I was actually more wary of the dozens of black tip reef sharks circling us than the Sting rays, this experience was one of the most amazing
of my life and probably the reason we chose to come to French Polynesia.
After regrettably moving on we headed for the the isle of Motu Moea spotting an Eagle Ray along the way, we dropped anchor in a pleasant bay and had a great lunch under the coconut palms. After lunch we grabbed our masks and waded out into the bay, fish were visible from above the water, yet it was like another world when we broke the surface, I totally understand why people go diving now, it was a magical experience which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Soon it was time to go back, most people were dropped at their hotels along the way, unfortunately the boat couldnt land at our accomodation so we had to return to Club Bali Hai and be driven home from there, easily one of the best days ever.
While eating breakfast we had an exciting start to the day as we saw a large octopus swimming in the shallows off the restaurant for about 5 m inutes or so he swam from coral outcrop to coral outcrop before finally disappearing. I then went off to Avis to get a vehicle, it
really is the only way to travel here as public transport is rare and doesnt service many of the sights, always a bit unsettling driving on the right side of the road though. We then drove around the island checking out the sights, it seems we walked about 8km the day we arrived, it was a lot further however to any shops. The island is truly beautiful the flora, the bays the beaches all really wonderful, our first stop was at a woodcarving shop where I was looking for that elusive ukulele, but still no luck, we did stop at some souvenir shops and will return before we leave as we did see a few bits and pieces we liked. The rest of the day we just drove around the island which is much larger than Raro stopping here and there to eat or to check out the views, I am getting used to the car finally. At about 5pm we took a couple of sea kayaks from the pension out into the lagoon, it rocked it is so much fun paddling around, looking into the depths at the huge numbers of fish we even spotted a few giant clams,
its amazing to sit there looking out one side and seeing water a few feet deep while the other side drops into the murky depths it was just a brilliant end to the day. When we arrived at the restuarant a little later for dinner we bumped into the Dutch couple that we met at our accommodation in Papeete and had a great chat till our waitress came over and sent us all to bed. Another great day in the pacific.
Again up at 6am and on our way out into the lagoon at 7, I am seriously thinking about buying a couple of these kayaks, the silence was deafening and the water like glass, 40 minutes of paddling again rewarded us with some great views of the sea life including a stunning Parrot Fish. It was then off to breakfast where we offered to take the Dutch couple (Peggy & Mark) with us when we went to visit the Marae on the island, unfortunately Ruth and I have to leave today as there was a misunderstanding with the booking so we had to pack our bags and load them into the car first.
Our first stop was
the cluster of Marae near Opunohu Bay which include Marae Titiroa, Marae Ahu-o-Mahine and a few smaller ones. They were all quite impressive and are dated around 800 years. The walk through the tropical forest to the Marae was sensational and we took many photos, then it was off to Marae Afareaito which had an archery platform which we havent seen anywhere else, it was then on to Belvedere where we were able to look out across Cooks and Opunohu bays, just magnificant. We then returned to the souvenir shops at Le Petit Village before going to the only place we could find with a vacancy (we return to Papeete tomorrow), it was expensive but nice enough I suppose.
We then circumnavigated the island again to get to the waterfall here I frightened everyone by cutting a corner and nearly hitting someone, they seemed to be on the wrong side of the road or was that me? Unfortunately after hiking inland for a few kilometres we couldnt hear or see any waterfall so we turned around and walked back to the car. The Dutch had offered to pay for half a days car hire we refused of course, but
they insisted on shouting us lunch so we accepted eventually, and headed to the Club Bali Hai as almost every other place was shut (Sunday) and spent the afternoon eating and drinking by the water, it was really great just to sit back chat about anything while getting a little drunk on Hinano beer. We dropped off our new friends about 4.30pm and continued on to our lodgings at Hotel Hibiscus, all the the bungallow was ok the place had the feeling of a caravan park which is disappointing. During the night Ruth had either a wierd dream or alternately visited by one of those ghosts who stand at the end of your bed and then sit on it making the covers contract across your body, having been through the same experience myself once it can be quite frightening.
We visited a little patisserie and had crepes for breakfast before driving back to the ferry port where we left the car, shame to be leaving I loved Moorea ghosts and all, we boarded the ferry at 10.30am Walter was waiting for us when we disembarked to returnus to our room on arrival we had a quick feed before heading
back into Papeete taking a few shots along the way. We visited the Pearl Museum which was suprisingly good before visiting the local market where I finally found the ukulele of my dreams it is shaped like a Manta Ray. On the way back to the pension we stopped for a beer or two at an outside bar, when Ruth decided she had to have a silver Manta Ray and Black Pearl necklace she saw in the market, next thing I know she is running off up the street, so I drank her beer and ordered myself another, it was damn hot after all.
On return to the pension we met a bloke called Igor from Slovenia, he had worked in Oz for 3 years and was keen to chat to some Aussies over a number of beers so we did that for the next 2 or 3 hours. It was then off to bed as we have to be at the airport at 6.30am. Unfortunately Ruth's dog died during the night, when she woke me with her cries I thought the ghost had followed us from Moorea. We arrived back in Raro at a little after 12 noon
and I went across the road to hire a car for the trip back to Muri Beach, amazingly the wind has finally dropped so we headed down to the beach for a long walk.
We vegged the next morning, taking our time packing up and then drove to town just after 11am, on arrival we visited a bar on the beach front and enjoyed a few beers, leaving there at 2pm for the Gourmet Burger shop before dropping of the car at the airport around 3 pm, after a bit of duty free shopping we boarded the plane back to Auckland. Arrived in Auckland at about 8pm where we were picked up by our Hotel, the room was fine and cheap so we didnt complain, my parents were in the room next door. We returned home to Adelaide at 8am the following morning. It was a superb relaxed wedding and honey moon and we are both pleased that all went so well, the decision not to have the traditional wedding was vindicated and the whole trip cost half what it would have cost for a cheap wedding and we had a much better time.
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