This morning I went to see another ROM-dance and again I was fascinated by the costumes. Here is a pic of Freddie (he is the owner of the bungalow I am staying in) and the village-chief from Fanlan. Fanlan is the village where I saw today’s dance.
Today will be only a short entry. I need to save battery, I am tired and I am busy… 😉 So just a teaser for the reports to come. This is why I wanted to come to Ambrym… I already saw the ROM-dance in one village today but will see it again tomorrow in another village. The costumes are what fascinated me so much…
Since I couldn’t dive any more today (my flight is at 7 AM tomorrow morning) I had booked a tour around the island. There is only one street around the island (meaning you can’t just cut short by going in the middle…). I had thought about going with a tour bus but then I wouldn’t have been free with taking pics whenever I wanted and whenever I saw something interesting. And it was a good decision. The tour guide/driver came to get me at 8:30 AM and then we went to Mele beach first. There is a small market and an older woman approached us. I wasn’t sure what she wanted but it turned out that she had been looking at the shirt from the dive-shop that I was wearing… I somehow had not really checked the number of clean shirts that I still had so I had done some washing yesterday evening but they weren’t dry yet. So I had to wear the dive-shirt. And the guides are mostly from Mele-village so the people were curious if I was a Ni-Vanuatu (meaning long-term inhabitant)… 😀 😀 😀 We went up the hill to ‘The summit’ where I took some of my first ‘Cologne Cathedral’-pics… The idea for those pics is my sister’s but I really liked it so I instead of a duck this time I have my cathedral with me… After that we continued around the island. You can see the destruction of cyclone PAM everywhere. It was one of the strongest ever in the Pacific and it is very, very sad to see that. In the villages they partly still don’t have new houses yet and those who have them have houses in the sun now whereas in the past they were in the shadow. There are some relicts from WWII there. For lunch we went to the Taka Castom Village. Castom dances are the traditional dances with old songs that the villages all have. They differ from island to island. But first I had the buffet-style lunch with rice, sweet potatoes, chicken/pasta salad, some coconut-milk-pastry and citron-juice. It was really good. Since the other tourists had already seen the castom dance the guys did it again just for me. It was just a 10-minute show though which was OK with me. They had the Welcome-dance, the Bird-dance and a Peace-dance (funny that they do a peace-dance when they try to scare you… 😉 ).
After that we continued around the island and found some really nice, white beaches. The ‘Blue lagoon’ (big tourist attraction) to me was not really blue though. It was more greenish lagoon… 😉
But let me show you the pics… On this one you still see a boat that has been thrown on the island by PAM (lower right side)
Behind the cruise ship is the Star of Russia where we went diving yesterday.Monument in Vila I saw only afterwards that this is dedicated to PAM…
This market used to be in the shade…
Shopping Center… 😉
Ladies restroom Home is where the Dom is… 😉
Entrance to WWII museum… not sure which things they are showcasing… but the entrance was funny.
American pool (from WWII)
Taxiiiiii… (over to the islands)
Two more WWII-relicts. Not sure what the first one is but the second one is a helicopter landing area
Thanks PAM… 🙁
I was not really sure if I should trust that bridge to hold the car… 😉
Lunch entertainment in Taka village
And the start of the castom dance 🙂
One of the very old banjan trees… it survived but I assume it lost lots of branches and leaves…
Today I did two more dives on Efate. The first one was on a wreck called the Star of Russia. It is 80 m long and 13 metres wide and in it’s days it was a sail-boat with the 3 masts. It was built in 1874 and sunk in Port Vila around 1953. A lot of parts have disappeared over the years so that it is becoming a skeleton. 😉 Unfortunately the visibility was really bad and since the ship is in around 35 metres there was not a lot of light. So the pics are not the best ones. We did the second dive on a reef again and from the pics you can see that it was actually a very nice dive… healthy corals – which is good of course. Other than that I don’t have a lot to report…
Today I did three dives and they were much nicer than the ones yesterday. We went to dive-sites that had not been totally destroyed by cyclone PAM last year. It was good to see corals that are actually alive and kicking. We started in some kind of cave and afterwards the visbility was incredible. I tried to catch that in one of the pics with the divers. Unfortunately a lot of stuff was swimming in the water so there is lots of backscatters on the pics (the whitish spots). Two of my three co-divers today were… german. 😀 Didn’t really expect that. But they live in New Zealand.
After lunch break we did the third dive and there at the end Luaki showed us the remains of a canon from WWII. Aaaaand at the beginning of the second dive I found an IDIOMYSIS (it is the pic with a little yellow spot 😉 ). Love these little creatures… unfortunately it disappeared when I wanted to show it to Luaki.
Let me start with telling you about dinner yesterday… the restaurant is to the left and the right of the pool. When I went downstairs yesterday I found that on the right where they seated me we were four single women and one guy and the ‘more than one’-tables were on the other side. What did strike me as quite funny was that all women had the same position of chair at the table of four while the only single guy had the position at the opposite side of his table. No idea why all the women somehow chose the same seat at their table… 😉 My order seemed to have been difficult as I said a Rib eye steak with potatoes and pumpkin and a mushroom sauce. What she wrote down was Tenderloin, potatoes and pumpkin and pepper sauce… Yeah, I know it is not easy to remember three things that someone just said… I caught the pepper sauce on time to get the mushroom sauce but I hadn’t heard the tenderloin. But I have to say that the meat from the happy Vanuatu-cows was REALLY GOOD!
OK, let’s start with today… I stayed awake a bit longer yesterday evening but I woke up at 3 AM again anyway and wasn’t able to get back to sleep. So I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea to do three dives when I am tired to the bone. And actually I did only two as I felt slightly nauseous after the second dive. So this afternoon it is relax… At breakfast Rosalyn came to my table to chat with me. She works here at the hotel and is one of the real friendly staff. She told me that she is from Tanna which is the island I will be for more than half of my time in Vanuatu.
The first dive was at angkor reef, only I didn’t see the angkor. 😉 Lu showed it to me but usually I so focused on small stuff that I don’t see the bigger ones. 😀 Diving there made me a bit sad because the impact of the cyclones was quite visible. Lots of destroyed coral. What a waste… but that is nature. On the surface break we went a bit closer towards the coastline and again the impact of PAM is quite visible. So many dead trees… 🙁 The second dive was better, that dive site seems to have been hit a bit less by the cyclones. Towards the end of the dive I started to feel a bit sick so I went ack to the hotel after the second dive. Now I am going to sleep a bit and tonight is BBQ with entertainment at the restaurant… Enjoy the pics… 🙂
Last night I was asleep by 9 o’clock but this morning at 3 my body thought that it needed to wake up… yeah, sleepless in Vanuatu… 😉 I will get used to it. Tonight I will stay awake longer.
Breakfast is a small buffet here and they have pancakes in fish-form. Of course I had to have that. 😉 I wanted a cappuccino and asked for it but the girl looked at me with big eyes and my cappuccio never came. Not a problem. I saw later that they have Tanna-caffee. Tanna is the third island I am going to visit here and I knew that they have a coffee-factory there. So I had some Tanna-coffee instead and it was good. 🙂
After breakfast I got restless and needed to explore a bit. So I grabbed my camera and walked into Port Vila. I am not really far from the city center and Port Vila is not a big city anyway although it is the capital of Vanuatu. I knew part of Vila from my first visit two years ago when I had to wait several hours before going to my resort. I had seen the market on my way to the hotel yesterday and it was good to walk by early as I could still take some pics from the outside without vans. Went to the Digicel-shop because I want to use the SIM-card that I bought at the airport yesterday. Although they had air condition in there a slight sweaty smell prevailed… they are on island-time there so it took me some time to get my new internet-stick. I can use it again next time when I come to Vanuatu… 😉 😉 😉 Just joking, I don’t know if I will come back.
Since the dive-shop was just around the corner I went by there as well and arranged some more dives. I am really eager to get in the water so I will spend the day there tomorrow because there is a coffee shop next to the shop and the lunch-break will be spent there. I had been in that coffee-shop two years ago and back then there were stalls next to it… they have all disappeared. The entire board-walk is under construction. I don’t know if this is due to PAM or if they would have done construction anyway. After that I walked back to the hotel taking some more pics.
Last thing I did was go to a ‘Bon Marche’-supermarket to buy water and I found it a really BIG supermarket. I don’t know if Vanuatu has been french at some point (probably – the french have been everywhere in the past 😉 ) but there is definitely a french influence here. Although the Vanuatu-language is called bislama, everyone speaks either english or french here. And bislama to me looks like a ‘simplified english’. Like internet in bislama is ‘intanet’.
Now I am going to spend the afternoon relaxing some more. I have to force myself to do that as I am really eager to see stuff. Thing is there is not a lot I am interested in here on Efate and I will see most of the normal sights around the island on saturday when I am going on an all-day island-tour. But due to the fact that I am still on antibiotics I have to stay out of the sun so I will spend the rest of the day somewhere in the shadow…
After a looooooong trip I finally arrived in Port Vila yesterday afternoon. While standing in line for immigration I could already hear the music and when I had my bags and left I looked into the smiling faces of these singing women… Georgette, whom I already knew from two years ago, was already waiting for me. I bought a SIM-card for my modem (only to find out later that my modem is not compatible with Vanuatu-SIM-cards 🙁 ) and then we were off to my hotel. Along the way I could already see part of the damage that cyclon PAM left in her wake last year. Normally driving in to Port Vila you could not see the ocean although the road is mostly close to the coast line. Now that the trees are gone you have full view of the water.
Once in my hotel I first took a shower and then just started to rest. It is not really that warm and I was cold when I sat outside for dinner. But I think part of that was lack of sleep too. Whenever I leave my room there the smell is incredible. It’s a pity that I can’t put it in a box to take home. Really good perfume in the air… Below the view from my balcony for the next days. Down at the pool they have some evening entertainment later this week and of course I will go down and take pics. 😉
It is really good to be back in Vanuatu. The big smiles on the faces do make a difference. 🙂
Sitting on the airport in Singapore on my way to Vanuatu. Next stop Brisbane and in about 16 hours I should be in Vanuatu. Can’t believe that the time has finally come to go back as I have been looking forward to this trip for more than a year. I flew the part Frankfur-Singapore in Premium Economy and it was a bit more comfortable but knowing Singapore Airlines somehow I expected a bit more… anyway, I was able to sleep for most of the time and that is the most important thing. 🙂
Yesterday we went on a day excursion to Luxembourg to visit with ‘adopted’ family. We had been promising for many years that we’d come for a visit but somehow we never did. Yesterday was the ‘now or never’-occasion… since the visit was rather spontaneous I didn’t have time to research Luxembourg and I didn’t know anyway if we would see anything at all because priority was seeing the extended family. Therefore I didn’t know what to expect. My italian brother went on a tour with us though and I have to say that I really enjoyed seeing Luxembourg. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate but I did take some pics. Really liked Luxembourg and would like to go back. On the way back we were getting gas for the car as it is much cheaper doing that in Luxembourg than in Germany. I went inside to get something to drink and saw lots of coffee inside. When I checked on my usual ‘Lavazza – Qualita d’Oro’ I found that it cost 3 Euro less in Luxembourg than in Italy – where it is still cheaper than in Germany… so I left with 3 kg of coffee beans. 😉 I am sure that this won’t be my last visit to Luxembourg. Here are a few impressions…
Sorry but not yet ready for posting pics from Sardinia. I really don’t know why the time seems to fly by even faster than usual but that is what is happening these days. Now I am already starting to prepare for my next trip to Vanuatu and Australia. Most dives and excursions have already been booked when I booked the trip nearly a year ago but I still have a few things to do. I just booked three dive days in Sydney and will book a trip to Kangaroo Island on my last day in Adelaide. Other than that I am mostly done with planning. And really looking forward to that trip… 🙂
And it is nearly that time of the year again… it won’t be long now till I am going back to Sardinia like I do every year in June. The difference will be this year that I am a bit later than usual but I will still miss all my dive-buddies from Italy-mainland. The ones from Sardinia like Freddy, Gabriele and ‘il nonno’ are always there (although Alberto, ‘il nonno’ is not from Sardinia) but it won’t be the same with my other friends. We’ve been diving together for 5 years so I am going to miss them – in and out of the water… 🙁 But I will probably going to see other friends again that I haven’t seen for 2 or 3 years. Looking forward to that since our families have been friends since 1980… a lifetime… 🙂
I know that it is kind of crazy to fly to North Carolina for a long weekend but the thing is that we had met there 8 years ago and somehow we decided to do it again. And I am really glad we did. I mostly went to meet friends and we were a group of peeps from all over the US, plus Canada and me. We had so much fun and it was really great to see everyone. Since the main purpose was to meet friends there are not that many ‘tourist’-pics as most of the time we just hung out at the property. Either at the pool or at the owner’s house. But here are some impressions of that weekend…
This saturday I was lucky to have dutch friends whom I met in Norway last year coming to Cologne. We met in the afternoon and I did a tour with them showing them some of the sights and telling them some of the old stories linked to the sights as well. Of course we went to the Glockengasse too where they have rebuilt the 4711-house that has been destroyed during WWII. On the groundfloor there is a shop. My friends asked me how 4711 smells and walking close to the entrance I found that the smell came out the door. Once they went to the door they both said ‘I know that smell!’ 😉 I know it is pretty well know. Then we entered the shop and I have to admit that I have never been inside before. There was some really interesting stuff inside. And when we were about to leave we even found out where the small at the entrance was coming from: a 4711-fountain… 🙂
This weekend we went to the Netherlands. Last year I couldn’t take the pics of tulip fields that I had dreamed of so this year I went again. But since there was a flower corso we decided to go and see that too. I can only say that the floats were awesome. Definitely going again! We found a good spot to watch the parade and then we found some nice colourful tulip fields to take pics… Spent saturday evening in Leiden and after another quick stop at the tulip fields around Keukenhof in Lisse on sunday we went to the Unesco World heritage site in Kinderdijke that hosts very old windmills. Unfortunately for us the Viking-Cruise-ships carried several bus-loads of people there so it was a bit crowded.
The weather this weekend was not optimal but I’d say we could have had it worse. During the parade the sun was shining and the dark grey clouds announcing the rain and the hail made for dramatic lights on some pics. It was VERY cold but I had my warm jacket that I had bought for Norway with me so I was mostly OK… it was a great weekend and I am happy with the pics (the ones below are all like they came out of the cam).
So I had to go back to Paris this week and on thursday I was finally lucky because the weather was cooperating (not that I had seen any daylight all day since the meeting room didn’t have any windows) so I left the office early (meaning 6 PM) and together with one of my colleagues from Dublin took the metro over to the Montparnasse Tower. Going there had been on my bucket list for a while but something or the other always made me not go. The only regret I have is that I didn’t stop at my hotel to get my tripod but I didn’t know if I would be allowed to take it up on the tower. E.g. in New York you can’t take tripods on the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center. Next time I will bring it though!
If you go up the Montparnasse Tower the elevator brings you to the 56th floor where you have a bar and a souvenir shop and a view all around too. But you can walk up three floors to the roof and from there you can see even better (and take pics without any glass in front). We went up to the 59th floor twice and really enjoyed the time we spent up there. Thanks, Kate, for going with me!
Copyright Tour Eiffel – Illuminations Pierre Bideau
Well, I wasn’t really happy about it but this week I had to go to Paris for 3.5 days. If work needs to be done, work needs to be done. Nothing I can do about it. I was lucky to get a room in my favorite hotel again, which is not really a hotel, but a ‘serviced residence’. Meaning that nobody makes my bed, I have to clean up after myself BUT I have a kitchen with water cooker, toaster, microwave and dishwasher. In addition these appartments are usually bigger than the hotel rooms in Paris AND they are cheaper. And this specific one does have rooms with view to the Eiffel Tower. They have already upgraded me several times too so I really like it there. The area is nice as well with lots of shops and brasseries. When I checked in I was curious if I would get a room with view to the Eiffel Tower and I DID! 🙂
Copyright Tour Eiffel – Illuminations Pierre Bideau
This year carnival was a bit different… we mostly did the same stuff as usual but as opposed to prior years I watched part of the big parades on sunday and monday on the street as there were not nearly as many people around as usual. Here are some pics from the events. 🙂