Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
One thing I'd read about was the "symphony of lights" show, put on by buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbor. I did a boat tour after the end of meeting. It blows your mind- how tall the buildings are, how many people live there (7 million), the amount of electricity they use. The boat tour guide said parts of Kowloon (across the harbor) have 4,000 people living in a 1 square kilometer space.I was only there 3 and a half days, and was in the meeting for the full two days of Friday and Saturday. Then there were dinners at the hotel, so I didn't eat out much. I did have 1 day to look around. I'll update this blog when I'm feeling a little better with more HK photos and stories.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
We tried to sleep in as much as possible (with all the roosters crowing, earplugs are a definite help!). I had come down with a sore throat and cough, despite feeling fine on the trip from Auckland. We were personally asked about our health before we got on the plane- all the Niue passengers did. However, I am certain it was not swine flu (this is what they were looking to prevent), just a minor cold. I took a couple of a vitamin supplements, one called “Hairy Lemon” and the other from the US called “Emergen-C” I also had some pseudoephedrine/antihistamine with me, so taking that before diving helped keep my ears clear. I’m really glad that I brought along my fleece-lined, wind-barrier boat coat for whale watching on Wednesday.The whale watching trip was in the afternoon, with Dive Niue, who take out 6 passengers after scuba diving in the mornings. We were out on the water for about 3 hours, and we got some great whale interactions. I am really impressed by the operators of Dive Niue, they are professional and kind, well organized and hard-working. As the only dive operators on the island, you really don’t have a choice, so fortunately they are really good.
The weather was very nice- not too hot, so nice for walking around, but warm enough for swimming. The water is nice and warm too. I was concerned that the high surf would prevent us from our whale trip, but it wasn’t bad. Of course, the point of these boat trips is to fall out into the water to either scuba dive or snorkel. And when we got into the water, here is what we saw. This is my best whale photo, taken while it was surfacing to breathe. On Thursday, we explored some more caves. One of them, I won't even call a cave, had human bones in it, obviously very old bones. I didn't see any skulls or teeth so can't verify that they were human. Creepy yes, but in line with the common sight of graves along the road, in people's yards. Some of the graves are lavishly decorated and have roofs over them. These are in contrast to the sometimes shabby appearance of the homes (remember, there was a big cyclone in 2004). Along with the quiet, sparsely populated and rugged environment, the overall effect was a bit spooky. We loved it though. We went to the most excellent cave on the island, Palaha, and had it all to ourselves.Here it is from the water, and here we are inside of it. Early inhabitants used to live in the caves, and this one in particular is huge. We hung out there and read our books in the shade, listening to the surf. Thursday evening we had a dinner out. It was served buffet style and had a really good variety. We got to try the local land crab, "uga".
We had to fly back to Auckland on Friday, which was Saturday in Auckland. We would definitely go back there! It's no beach and sand island, but we loved the slow pace and uncrowded places. As I mentioned before, it is rough landscape, but very unique and special.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Our first dive day was Monday, and we met the boat at the Alofi wharf. As there is no harbor, boats are launched via a winch.
Our second day of diving departed from Avatele ramp, about 15 minutes south from Alofi. The surf was a bit larger today, and so it was good that our dive sites were relatively close. The first was Matavai Bommie, a small coral head, and the second was Snake Gully. Both sites had much more coral than the previous day’s sites, and also a wide variety of beautiful fish. Darin had his underwater video camera with him and got some great footage of the fish. Snake Gully was my favorite, because it had lots of fish and coral variety as well as a gorgeous cave and cavern. Not to mention lots of snakes! They are curious and not dangerous.
For lunch, Darin cut up the yellowfin tuna for sashimi, and I made rice- both eaten with soy sauce. We ate tuna again for dinner with one of the package pasta meals I brought along. Diving really tires you out, and I was coming down with a cold, so we watched a couple movies while here- Hancock, which was good except the ending, and Burn After Reading, in which Brad Pitt totally aced his role.