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Posts tagged ‘sunsets’

Vietnam: 13~Night time arrival in Hoi An

After the morning at Cu Chi, a few hours on the bus, and a short flight, we arrived in Danang. From there it was a 45 minute coach transfer to our final destination, Hoi An. Read more

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Raro last hurrah: day of the scooter

And so the inevitable last day dawned. Thanks to Air NZ rescheduling we were leaving at the convenient time of 1.30am. On the plus side, we had a full day to enjoy; on the less awesome side, we had to stay awake for longer than we’d managed on the whole trip to date.

After checking out and leaving luggage in the lock-up we nipped over the road to the Budget office. Before long we were the owners of temporary Cook Islands licenses – sufficient for a one day hire – and ready to unleash our two wheeled fury.

Easy Rider

Easy Rideress

No helmets required provided we kept to the slightly lower speed limit. It had been ages since I had ridden a motorbike and while these were humble scooters it was so much fun.

We spent a few hours just scootering around, stopping here and there on a whim for photos.

I'm a sucker for ruinous buildings

The flame trees were striking with their gorgeous flowers and distinctive canopy

One of many churches on the island

On the way into Avarua with its rugged backdrop

The large police station, no doubt funded by all the driver licenses they process

Near the mouth of Muri Lagoon

We nosied around the ruins of what I guess was a church

Across the road was this church

Lunchtime deluge

A nearby building

Raro dogs at Muri Lagoon

Somewhere on our scooter travels

Back of the abandoned resort from the road to the island's waterfall

More rustic buildings along a random inland road

An old roadside shop I think

We reluctantly returned the scooters to give ourselves time for a final snorkel back at the resort. After a big dumping of rain in the middle of the day it had cleared up nicely and we still had a few hours to kill. We enjoyed a cocktail by the pool and later found our last bottles of beer (not cold but drinkable) to keep us hydrated while watching our final island sunset.

Mike on the hunt for fishes

Found some

First cocktails of the trip, finally, though not from lack of trying

Enjoying the last Raro sunset

We miss this!!

Between dinner, internet and reading we hung in there til the shuttle’s arrival at 11.30pm. At the airport, the customs and security officials seemed a touch officious and once through that, we realised we had forgotten about the $55 departure fee (ouch) and so joined the hefty queue of similarly disinclined fellow travellers.

But waiting for the boarding call we could only look back on the past few days with a great deal of fondness. It was a fantastic holiday. With so many other travel plans we may not get back to Raro in a hurry which makes this trip all the more memorable.

Raro day 5: exploring!

We had two full days yet before it was time to tootle back to reality. Lacking any real agenda we decided to make use of the half day of hire remaining on our bikes. So after the usual breakfast and checking-the-fish-off-the-deck routine, we prepped for some sightseeing accompanied by mild physical exertion. It shouldn’t be too much hard work with that battery assist, right?

Fishies waiting for some breakfast of their own

Off we went, zooming in the direction of town. At warp speed 5 the k’s ticked by quickly and I realised it wasn’t going to be a big deal to cycle through to Avarua. Mike’s bike had an indicator of battery life remaining and we felt pretty confident that there was enough juice.

Of course there was the occasional obligatory stop for photos.

A well cared for and colourfully adorned cemetery. Graves are mainly above ground here.

A less well cared for cemetery - apart from the white grave to the left which had a path cut through to it

Port of Avatiu, the main port of the Cook Islands

Our bikes along the top of the island - remains of a 1916 shipwreck (actually the ship's engine block) are visible in the far background

I was keen to complete the loop around the island but Mike didn’t think there was enough time. Luckily Mike won that conversation as not long after we had turned to begin the return leg, my battery ran out. I was dismayed to put it mildly but there was nothing else for it but to put in some good old fashioned leg work. It was a long hot slog especially given it was a heavier sort of bike anyway. I was happy when a few kms later Mike’s battery also expired, and I was even happier when we finally made it back to the rental shop.

After lunch we turned out attention to the water, starting with kayaks. Concerns that I would either paddle in perpetual circles, or somehow jump the reef and get swept out to sea, were unfounded. Skimming across the water with clear views of coral and fish was a really enjoyable experience.

A great way to view the lagoon through the amazing clear water

My, er, natural kayaking pose

It was time to move on to the next activity so we ditched the kayaks and Mike went to get some snorkelling kit. In a fit of reckless abandon I grabbed a set as well. Not being much of a water fan I hadn’t snorkelled before so I was a touch apprehensive. But I figured the resort area was fairly safe, given it is a lagoon and they sweep it for stonefish, so I stopped being a wuss and gave it a go. It was great!

Mike had bought an inexpensive underwater camera so taking photos gave it another dimension of fun.

The view underwater, or at least it was when one's mask wasn't fogged up

A whale in the lagoon, who knew?!

Late afternoon when it was time to start thinking about refreshments it began to rain. Not heavy but enough to throw a dampener on the wedding taking place at the beach gazebo just along from us. Instead of our usual place on beach loungers we settled for enjoying our bubbles and salt and vinegar chips from the covered patio just outside our room.

Yet another wedding

To our surprise, after the rain stopped some of the cloud cleared and we were rewarded with a pleasant wee sunset. Cue Hayley dashing back and forth along the beach with camera…

So we got an ok sort of sunset finally

Dinner was in Captain Andy’s Grill at the resort where we listened to the same drum and dance performers from the wedding two nights before (we didn’t pay to watch them again) and observed a teeny local scurrying near our table.

Only about the second critter I saw on the island and thankfully one I could cope with!

Only one day left – time was going way too fast.

Raro day 4: bikes, beaches & bubbles

Another relaxed morning in the tropics turned into a comparatively busy afternoon. The newlyweds were hosting a drop-in at their house and we had a bit of a quandary which I lazily pondered: how would we get there?

It was Sunday which meant a reduced bus service and an inconvenient one at that. It was too far to walk. Didn’t want to hire a car. We were saving a scooter rental until our last day. That left one cunning plan: bicycles. Mike was keen and there was a rental depot a) just over the road; and b) open – so off we went.

There was a little surprise in store for us. Push bikes actually transpired to be hybrid electric bikes. We initially weren’t sure about this but figured ‘what the hey’ and shelled out the $19 each for these power assisted pedalling machines.

Side note: no one wears helmets here. There are a ton of scooters (though nothing like the congested cities of Vietnam etc) and 99% of riders are lidless. If you wear a helmet you can ride 10kph faster – up to the speed limit of 50kph – but the preference far and away seems to be for the cooling effect of the wind through one’s hair…

So we declined the extra $1 for a helmet and got going. It was great! We fair zipped along with the battery adding a lot more momentum than if was just our own pedal power. The hot walk to the supermarket yesterday took only about 10 minutes on the bikes.

About the same distance again brought us to the beachfront house that Sally and Michael were renting where, in our perspiring glory, we joined the few people already gathered.

During our few days in Rarotonga I marvelled at the lack of bugs and nasty things. Didn’t even really get bitten. BUT since getting back home I have learned that Raro has its fair share! Oh yes, and particularly nightmare-inducing are the huntsman spiders and coconut crabs. Omg. I am so glad I was blissfully ignorant about these beforehand. Outside of the ‘sanitised’ resort I would probably have been paranoid visiting a private house as we did this day!

We partook of a sausage, checked out the beach and gawked at the lady exercising her arms while walking along the sand with her dogs. There are a lot of dogs here, some mangy but some lovely ones too. One of the girls was determined to open a coconut but eventually conceded defeat. It began to rain and we all scuttled under cover. It continued to rain, a respectable tropical downpour.

It cleared and the afternoon was marching on so we said our goodbyes and mounted our metal steeds for the brisk return trip. We wound them up to warp speed 5, about 30kph, so not too shabby. Back at the resort we squeezed them into a parking space amongst the hoards of fully motorised two wheelers.

It’s easy to cool down with the lagoon all around. I didn’t swim as such but at least got in the water. There was time before the activities hut closed for the day so Mike grabbed some snorkelling gear while I supervised from my lounger.

We had a couple of appointments to keep that evening. Sunset watch, ultimately futile, but accompanied by one of our duty free bottles of bubbly. Bubbles at the beach is one of life’s simple indulgences. With not much happening in the evening sky we headed along to the resort’s buffet roast night. We ate our money’s worth while the solo entertainer crooned along with his backing tracks.

Resort life winds down early so with full tums we retired for another dose of sitcom repeats.

The resort parking bay, scooters galore and two electric bikes

Out for a stroll in the lagoon

A sea slug - yickkkh

Snorkelers in front of the reef

Their turn today; our turn tomorrow

On sunset watch in between twilight bubbly and tottering off to dinner

Though this was about as good as the sunset got

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