Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 18

Day 18: (31 May 2011 (-1 in time zone)):
- Got up ~8:30. People talking outside. Ate bananas for breakfast. Didn't get a chance to find something else, as decided to join the Canadian & Dutch (& German girl) for cross-island trail.
- Bus to town. Buy bottled water (just pasteurised rainwater?). Lost once, but eventually find trail. Schools. Slight rain.
- "Done half of the hike before starting the trail."
- Before trail: Grunting pig. Taro fields. Power plant in lush settings. Starfruit tree.
- Steep climb for a long time. Tree roots form steps. Hut. Happy it's not summer.
- Branch area: chicken: gave piece on banana. Follow trail to base of needle.
- Trip up needle: chain & steep drop below. Then ropes with knots.
- See north & south coast. Mountains in fog. Valley
- The trail up is rope with loops. Some broken. "Re-tied at least twice." Frayed. "tied to thin branch"
- Rest a bit photos. Back down. Spanish: avoid Suva. Nice views of south coast. Close.
- Trail continues along a narrow ridge, steep forested drops on both sides.
- Large ferns (mostly cut down) & small waterfall. Slippery, fall.
- Stream crossings. Hill covered in ferns.
- Swim in waterfall at end. Mosquitos. Moquitos attacking bag.
- Abandoned Shearton. Great setting. One corner has construction activity?
- Bump into person. Scooter trips. I get dropped on beach for snorkelling.
- Snorkelling: good amt of coral, but variety was amazing! In for maybe an hour, feel can keep seeing new things. Sea urchins holding pieces of coral to hide. Sea urchins with long spikes waving, glowing blue joints on plates. The colour changing coral & sand imitating tight schooling fish. Giant boxfish. Stonefish? Long ribbon-like fish, one with bad wound. Active sea cucumbers. Tube worm. Fish nipping at toes. Touch fish. Fish swim up to goggles. Startled when find large fish school circling me. Aro'a beach is a ra'ui area.
- Shower, can see fish even from beach.
- Walk back to hostel, rest, talk.
- Internet. $2.60 for 10 min. No local booze. Food. Meet the older English here.
- Take & eat back at hostel. Ride with Canadian for beer. Gave beer in return. "Beer for ride offer."
- Cooks Lager pretty much terrible. Like flat malt liquor.
- Drink. Talk with English. Many others head into town. Write.
- Just one station with Polynesian music again. Sleep ~10:30.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 17

Day 17: (30 May 2011):
- Wake up 6:30, along with Logan's alarm. I leave 6:45, Logan still in bed.
- Airport @ 8am. Slightly overweight bag again. Shove stuff in pocket. No problems again.
- Still 2hrs until 10:30 flight. BK sausauge croissant combo. Write. Coffee. By window.
- Nice views of Auckland. Plane rainbow/shadow. Turbulence most of the way. Very pretty clouds on landing (best I've seen). Only see mountains just before touchdown.
- Mountains in clouds & palm trees. Typical polynesian stereotype. Old man playing ukelele in airport for welcome.
- Warm. Invisible fans. Long queue for customs. Bill pick up. Meet English traveller. Thought of buying duty free, but decide not to. Turns out should have.
- Dinner from leftover food of other people who left. Play Yaniv (?). One radio station? Polynesian music. Banana vodka. Peed on by Gecko.
- Tired & bored, sleep at around 11 - 11:30pm. Wash socks & boxers. Lump on leg bigger: felt when swatting mosquitos. Worried about no doctors for 4 months. Dreams about teeth.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 29, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 16

Day 16: (29 May 2011):
- Get up just after 10am. Bit cloudy, but was partial clouds. Some organisation, breakfast, give Logan detailed dates.
- Bus to town, ate @ Atrium @ my favourite Malasian (?) place. Very tired (hangover?).
- Walk to tower. Lots of tourists. Skycity complex always pretty cool. Underground entry.
- Lifts with glass floor & windows.
- Main deck: glass floor, window to watch skyjumpers. Display to show upcoming jumper.
- Up to the highest deck: the viewfinder pointers. See the skyjump & walkers.
- Very beautiful views. Boats, ferries, islands, mountains, city. See both harbours. Planes, some small ones.
- Ask a person to take photo & take theirs. Tourist from Sacramento, just arrived today. Going to South Island next day. Only 2 wks for South Island & Sydney tour. A bit later, we talked a lot. I gave advice & answered his questions. Tell him where to find good sunset shots.
- So beautiful, made me want to cry for leaving Auckland & NZ.
- Haircut. Batteries. Toilet paper & washing powder.
- Laundry when back. Realise problem with connectors in lamp. May have thrown away good batteries.
- Organize. Trip to supermarket with Logan. Burning kettle base twice. Sit out with beer to wait for smoke to clear. Cook & dinner.
- Cut nails, shower, etc.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 15

Day 15: (28 May 2011):
- Breakfast, was driven to airport. Offer 5kF, take only 2kF of diesel. Nice views of mountains on drive. Airport far: no flat land close. Runway is evenly slightly uneven!
- Call mom. Give SIM card.
- Take off: see lagoon edge & islands below.
- Nice views on landing too.
- Immigration card with world cup question.
- Back to Logan's place. Rest until Logan return. Drink in Ponsonby. Shouting music. Hear about situation in office. Back at 2am? Some rain when @ Logan's. Strangest association of this trip: Price Tag song.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 27, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 14

Day 14: (27 May 2011):
- Meet 8:30am. Go to Tjibaou Centre. Looks nice from across bay, like a pine forest.
- Center very modern. < 50% space for exhibitions. Mosquitos.
- Mostly art gallery displays. From around the islands & PNG & Aus. Aboriginals.
- Area with 3 typical houses. Lots of kids's stuff inside. Kids (school trip)? Bullitin board / project boards inside?
- Brunch at cafe. He try to find a video on display.
- Difficult to find observation spot. Really nice view of culture centre & good neighbourhood across the water.
- The statue of Tjibaou standing in the green, overlooking the centre & city.
- Dominique seems to be walking very slow. At this point, we part ways. He go to town, I go down other way.
- Some buildings that are round, not sure what they are.
- Kanak walk. Plants (some cool, tree with square fish poison). Boat replica. 2ppl from Melbourne.
- Bus to town, Musee de Nouvelle-Caledonie.
- Spent long time in Museum. Look at things in detail.
- Some photos before seeing no photo sign. Although they probably won't care.
- NC items, hut posts, etc. Combs. Phallic & breast clubs.
- Upstairs: other islands. Tapas, illustrated story books. Money (bones, etc), clothes, weapons.
- 2 huts: one inside, one out. People shouting some Japanese word, "Konichiwa"?
- Bus back to Anse Vata. See the islands. Phare Amedee in distance. Cater is warmer than north, as Sarah indicated. lots of people. Sports. Sunny golden glow.
- Kava place. "21." Lots of dark alcoves. Abalone. Lose horribly.
- Bodega del Mar. 30 yr olds. Nice view as restaurants over water.
- Easy to bump into friends.

Pictures available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 13

Day 13: (26 May 2011):
- Wake up 6:10 for ride at 6:40. Too much water on the "bridge", no cross. Dominique: wait for less rain. Can pick me up other side if I wade across. "Will never leave a foreigner!" Didn't want to put him in danger of slippery roads.
- Sit & wait. Ask Joseph if taxi available, he said no (or not sure, I can't tell).
- The people talk to Charlene, who say possible. They say go to bed, but a bit later, they say they attempt a passing, just when I say OK to 2kF for taxi to a new guy here (husband?).
- Girl afraid, so walk across. The man help guide car across.
- Road muddy & wet. A bridge or two covered in high water.
- Dominique pick me up @ info center. Go to his place. Talk, apple bun, tea, papaya, OJ, he pack. Say maybe Noumea tomorrow, as not sure of flights. I say I go today, he offer go today.
- Drive south, more cliffs, got on highway. Cascades. Beautiful mountain pass with peak in clouds.
- Drive through Kone. Pass part of road to Christelle's house.
- Lunch at Bourail. Giant panini, which seems popular here. Juice.
- Talked lots about NC & life. "colonial economy" Told me of simple life on Guadaloupe, French pessimism, problems.
- Talked about happiness, some travels, lots subjects for the long drive.
- Drop in Anse Vata. Say will pick me up @ 8:30 tomorrow for Cultural Centre.
- Back: tired. Clean plates, etc. Invited to "date."
- Ate Flammekeusche (tiny bananas in the dessert one), 2.5kF for all you can eat. Had taster (beers) @ Les 3 Brasseurs. Girl from Ouvea, speak Faga Uvea. Some Chines. Total: 4.4kF each: Paid separately. Return just before 1am. Tired, sleep

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 12

Day 12: (25 May 2011):
- Woke up & ready just in time for breakfast. Bread, butter, jam, hot drinks.
- After: Go straight with the older woman (couple have left), to Hienghen to see some dance. Two kids come too. "Same notefook" when see my moleskine book.
- Pick up a woman & child, drop in town.
- Go to Ouegoa (?). Lots of scouts camped by church & Catholic school.
- No one knows when dance will start, but think later, so go far walk. Dance is to welcome president of Red Cross France. Dance from Ouegoa & Tiendanite & (other?) tribe.
- Walked to a beach area. Building, people bringing leaves to weave & use to cover(?). Bingo hall. Once in a while, a bus takes all the locals for Bingo here! Heard in Poingnam that bingo is very popular with Kanak.
- Back from walk, heard people talking by bullitin board. See a schedule there. Dance is at noon! Since lunch is at noon, decide head back. Stop back, but no electricity. Go to store.
- Return: Look at (Laura?)'s lodge: A traditional mud & stone & stick building. Cool.
- Charlene thought we eat in town, so did not prepare bougna. Lunch will be ~12:30 instead of 12, as she needs time to prepare.
- Walk back & rest. See Jean-Marie Tchjibou's grave/monument. Totem with conchs on it.
- Wash bag.
- Lunch: chicken with the traditional starches (non-traditional bougna).
- Walk after lunch, but terrain terrible. Muddy, poop, slippery. Calabash tree. Fruit trees. Viewpoint a bit overgrown. Short.
- Take cold water shower. Rest. Go to eating area & write / converse a bit with woman & children.
- Compare cameras. Give her site for grabaseat.
- Three people arrive & set up tent. They say they are backpackers to NZ. In campervan (?).
- Although earlier, no electricity in Hienghene, now there is electricity, but none in my section!
- (Laura?) say she saw me walking yesterday when she returning from Koloune village for Internet. She way I waved, which I did. I vaguely remember seeing her in a car that passed.
- Dinner. Chicken, fried bananas (heard frying all afternoon!). Pomelo.
- Listen to French conversation, involved in it a bit. People folding their tent.
- Arrange ride tomorrow: some going to drive. Still no electricity.
- Lamp running out of battery. Horses in way of bathroom. Roll as I approach.
- Horse by cabin when I come back from dinner.
- Mosquito problems again. Spray throughout the night.
- Electricity return during the night. Pee off steps of cabin.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 11

Day 11: (24 May 2011):
- Wake up at 4:30, still night. Pack up tent, get ready. Boris help, say he usually wake up @ 5am.
- Ready at 4:45. Wait by rock for bus. Friend come join us ~5am. Stars.
- Some rain, so walk to a simple shelter. For selling simple things. Rough branches hold up sheet metal roof. Tree trunk segments as chairs.
- Bus come @6am. Wave down. No luggage area, so take stuff on board. Five Boris 1kF gift.
- As bus goes on, it gets fuller. Eventually completely full! I shove all my stuff on top - notice poop & bad smell on small bag! Now also a bit on shirt.
- Beaches, palm trees sun rise over water. Get off bus, Mountains with tops in clouds lit softly by rising sun. Very pretty. Can't take pictures as am pinned in by my stuff. Cascades. Tiny bridges.
- The crossing on barge. Get off bus. Drive on.
- Get off Hienghen a bit early, by town hall. Ate bread & cheese. Walk to info centre. See poule & sphinx as approaching Hienghen. Take my time, sit & read map/book some time.
- Town centre, once again, is surprisingly modern. Small.
- Make arrangements with info centre: OK to stay in Tiendanite. No 3 day notice required! Book bounga as well.
- Get info. Small map of area. (Photocopied sheet).
- Walk along road to a viewpoint of poule & sphinx. No one there after a Kanak woman & kid leave.
- Good that stomach returning to normal: no bathrooms either. Sit for long time. Eat some sweet fried dough.
- Decide not hike up mountain for view.
- Continue to Lindaurique. As Christelle indicated, it looks like some pictures of Asia. Cliffs very dramatic, interesting formations. Playa de billet de 500F, sign with can attached to pay. Didn't go as didn't know: Sign seemed to indicate I need to ask permission first. Walked to bridge to Koloune, sit & watch small fish.
- Coconut fall ~10m in front of me on road. Loud. Hear more fall in forest. Scared now. Coconut grove.
- Guppies in beach puddle.
- On walk back, some tourists ask if I visited caves. House with "grottes" on cooler, but no one there.
- Walk a bit & sit to read. Maybe some clue.
- Car stop & ask if can help. Say caves closed due to tribal dispute. Signs blocked out.
- Ask for lift to Hienghen. Dominique from Guadaloupe & French Guyana. English teacher. Help buy lunch & stop by tourist info, but they closed for lunch. Go to his house on Koloune. Give beer & tea.
- Intimidated, but mostly probably because lack of sleep. Rough with cat. Very dominating personality. Lisp. When I ask if can clean up, "oh, you don't know what's going to happen next <laughs>." Seem to know a lot about me: English (although I greeted him "Hello-Bonjour"), from NZ: probably told him, but don't remember due to tired. Beer is Leffe. Was afraid he was going to drug me! But countered fear as know get paranoid when tired & if he was bad, tribe will probably know.
- In any case, relieved when start drive back to town.
- Said Hienghen is wettest part of NC.
- Mistake @ booking: Next 2 nights, not these two! But they say is OK for these two nights.
- Dominique offer drive me there. Road through mountains. Some paved, some not. Small, slippery bridges. Bridge that is just a flat-ish barrier with water flowing over it. Site of the massacre.
- Arrive, help ask about car. Realise I go straight to Noumea on Thursday, so offer ride. Will call each other Wednesday evening to organise.
- Start to rain. Ground covered in horse poop. Small cabin at back of village, as full here.
- Simple. Mattress on floor. Mats (plastic woven). Covers & pillow. Same but neater than house in Tchamboene.
- Meet woman from Paris, studies @ McMaster in chemical engineering in early 2000s.
- Electrical problems start. Flickering, sometimes off, sometimes on.
- Called to dinner. Meet husband of the girl I met earlier. Another girl (dad found anti-cancer plant here). An older woman (2 yrs contract, here 5 months so far. Set up school for teachers.).
- Chickens. Dogs (fat dog). Cats (one with bad eyes & open wounds (?) on back.
- Cabbage & carrot salad (good, oily, fragrant). Deer meat (soy sauce & onions?). Rice, manioc, banana, yam in coconut milk?
- Dessert: soursop, (notice there is a tree just by the eating area).
- Toilet also no seat. Ask for paper.
- No electricity. Lamp problems (at toilets too). Later, lights return. Write for a bit.
- Rat eating my fried dough when enter, so place outside. Rat poo & pee.
- Mattress wet from humidity.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 10

Day 10: (23 May 2011):
- Wake up, give 10kF. Tell her to get something for Sophie as well. 3kF for dinner, 1/3 of 7.5kF for groceries (although some might be for family), + petrol, + niceness.
- Photo together. Pay. Sarah buy salt/oil combo. Sophie's mother gave us niaouli/eucalyptus oil combo as gift.
- Boris drive to Koumac to pick up friend. We go. I pack: bit late, missed sandwich making.
- Cows on drive.
- Arrive just when Sarah's bus arrived. (11:30am). Sarah give me lunch, juice, pomme canale. Find there is bus for Puebo at 1:15.
-Sarah going to attend some kind of traditional wedding on Ouvéa. I wish I could see.
- Boris find friend after a while. The spraying urinal. Arrive after bus does.
- Go to snack, they buy lunch. Drive to park to eat. Sandwich with stale bread & spiced meat/fat. Good, large bone. Grapes, cake. Talk to Boris's friend about video games. Games also expensive in NC. Broken English & French.
- Arrive back, prepare bags, bus arrive in a while. Bus much older this time. All others Kanak. Understand why Christelle surprised I take bus.
- Bus pretty full, use middle folding seats. Eventually, completely full. Sea of people inside.
- Some rust, upholstry peeling, sweat smell, even with open windows. Cracks on window.
- Up mountain: Niaoli forest. Vallies, see far. Bus struggle on steeper roads.
- Very small roads. Like hiking in a bus. Detours to pick up people from seemingly random places. (Drop off too)
- Descend after Ouegoa: see large lagoon & long vast coral barrier in distance. Learned this is supposed to look like a shark head.
- Pass a village with church. Puebo? End of line. Driver say Puebo was behind. For sleep, recommend to hitchhike ~10-15 km down road to a campsite.
- Lots people around. Say hi. Ask one who say hi if there is place to sleep, recommend same as driver.
- Some kids. Ask. Some recommendation. Walk slowly, no cars. Decide look at map. Kids walk past as I look at map. Walk along with kids. Slow conversation. They decide help me hitchhike. A few cars past. They told me to put stuff down on simple shelter.
- Chat, ask Qs about China. One opened a sprouting coconut for me to eat.
- Show me river. Mountains. Pictures with me. Invite me stay if no car stop.
- Eventually, decide stay with them. A car stop, told them they offered, so let them go on.
- Walk to their place, they help me carry things. Guava. Mandarin orange. Meet more.
- Show them how to use chopsticks with grass. "Yokohama" capital of China?
- All help set up tent. Dance down the road. Short kung fu demo. Clap. Chopsticks.
- Tour me of tribe: Tchamboene. Football field, petonk, church, etc. Mosquitos, back to change.
- Sit on rock by road to wait for store. Many Qs about China, etc.
- Say hi & introduce to some. A car drove by, thought is store (?). Run.
- Later: store late. Store arrive, stop (flagged). Van with shelves. I get in, told to get off. Bought Baguette & cheese. Stars wonderful. They not know name of galaxy. Show Southern Cross.
- Sat in house. Got pop. Share bread & cheese. Put bread on floor. House for the kids! Simple, one bed, one mattress, kitchen sink area & bathroom. Kids very responsible! Dim flourescent bulb. Some mats. Kanaky flag. Some dresses? Windows. Charge phone. Kids play with my shoes.
- Tear tent down. Raining. Bread put away, use bag of reef shoes. Kids play with.
- Prepare sleep. 4:30 wake up set. Bus: 5am? 6am? 7am? Sleep @ 8:30pm.
- Mosquitos & rooster. Boris's (Bobo) mom come in. Ask if ate, offer food. Shake hand.
- See stars outside window. Uneasy sleep. Mosquitos.

Pictures available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 9

Day 9: (22 May 2011):
- Wake up. Have breakfast at hotel place.
- Juice, hot drinks & crisp toast bread & jams. Green papaya, honey & unknown (banana?).
- Go back & ready for hike, but "friends" ditched us!
- We walk, eventually catch up. Two dogs there. Resevoir. Guava & noni trees. Niaouli.
- Hill with nice view of islands. Salt drying area. No salt due to rains.
- Wild horses (lots of droppings). Dogs chase away. One horse did a semi kick at dog.
- Hill with white opaque quartz with pink veins of rock.
- We go with friends to Boat Pass. 6 in car. Sarah later tell me her friends hesitant to ask driver, so she had to ask, even they only met last night. Talk about French/white culture. Closed.
- Boat Pass northernmost point of main island. Had to get out a few times due to overload & bumps.
- Very blue water, but cold. Reddish island across.
- Look for snorkelling: walked all around a large sandy shallow area.
- Someone says there should be a dugong here.
- Try go find sharks, as is shark congregation season. Abort: water murkey. Surprising, as water looked clear from outside. Murkey: sharks may mistakenly attack. Supposedly in the deeper channel, and of very big size.
- Rest on beach a while. I air dry. some sunbathe.
- Walk along beach & mangroves. Beach end, me & Sarah continue, they return.
- Wait in a curve of road as Sarah realise forgot a bag.
- Walk a while, a car drove up & offered us a ride, so we take. He's up from Noumea with family, knows Sophie & family. Polynesian (?).
- Grab a piece of bread, decide do other walk. Turns out it just loops up to the telephone hill at start of 1st walk. Went until the muddy section & returned. Difference: eucalyptus forest, a few dozen species, imported from Australia.
- Back ~ 1:30. Going to cook, but Sarah fell asleep. I read then also nap.
- Walk on beach. Try to walk to where waves break, looks possible to walk to nearby island, but gave up mid way. Crabs, sea cucumbers, sea stars. Green coast, used a patch of coconut trees as guidance. Going to sit on beach to write, but decide too sunny.
- Sit at Sophie's house, they chat with father.
- Sophie's house open. Attached series of rooms, open to covered outdoor area. Sophie's room is separate shack. Boris build his room with dad. Mystery shooting.
- Shower, write. 7:15pm go to dinner, since we've reserved two spots.
- Cocktail. Mother recommend hitchhiking & ask about tribe. No tribal contact from her.
- Pig roasting over fire: slowly turning spit. Sit at the big table, meet people from Wallis & Futuna, other vacationers, chat. They say Samoa, Savaii is very good. Bus & guesthouse available.
- Fish cerveche, roast wild pig with shredded & spiced green papaya, poupier sea vegetable, sauce with garden herbs. Guava torte with fruit coulis. Lemongrass infusion. Very good. Bordeaux merlot.
- Sit on grass, show southern cross. They chat, I pictures of stars.
- Settle money: "give what you want" "African way."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 8

Day 8: (21 May 2011):
- Woke up, some going to toilet problems. Food poisoning?
- Talk, Sarah say doctor specialists visit once a month in these communities.
- Go to Kone market. Christelle afraid to go by self before due to perceived Melanesian distrust of whites, but very welcoming, fruits, vegetables, food, music. She realises silly to be afraid.
- Difficult to recognise & large avocados.
- Chou Kanak. The island cabbage stuff. Expensive.
- Spent rest of time writing, talking, TV on, she surf forumns. Breakfast my pate, lunch veal schnitzel w/ pasta & sauce. Talked a lot about NC culture. Some stories of her first encounter with Kanak when she arrived. (Go to toilet in front of car, etc.)
- Sarah say arrive 2-3pm, finally here at ~4:15.
- Transfer in town. Sophie & Boris(?) Beuriz (?) siblings -> drive car. Car very full. Much faster than bus.
- Pass by Vavuto mine site. Large factory under construction. Site preparation, etc.
- Stop Koumac for buy food. All towns surprisingly small for population. Pop. counts region & hidden tribes?
- Buy ~7500F of food. One large bag. 1/2 cabbage was ~500F!
- Small road, potholes. Falling apart. Turns out this goes to Poum: buses go here! Niaouli trees.
- Turn off to unpaved road. Stop on a crest: last chance for cell phones.
- Descend, at Relais au Poingam. Sophie's parents own it!
- Get small room w/ 2 beds. Camping toilets: no paper or seat, find paper in room closet.
- The coconut tree stump table. Cut due to falling coconut on house.
- Met some other "friends" & friends of friends. Have cocktail. Selling salt & soap. Chat with the mom.
- Talk about tribe stay. Say Tourist Beaureau organises OK trips, but artificial. She offer call tribe & see if anyone will be able to take me & provide transport.
- Niaouli soap smell very good.
- Hotel eat/bar area fancy, in front of water.
- Wood lampshades on path: cozy.
- Cooked, but issues, took long. Old ovens requiring manual lighting.
- Outdoor kitchen. Staff & family area in house of grass & leaves.
- Kiba & Miami (?). Very close: watch eat. Attention hog. Feed bones & leftovers. Floppy ear & straight ear. "donne le pate" "doucement"
- Lizard under unfinished grapes.
- Bright moon, but cloudy, no stars.
- Ask for massage for shoulder problem. I started with what she called "sensual massage" and with increasing force, became "you're hitting me."
- Sleep, windy, very loud rustling.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 20, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 7

Day 7: (20 May 2011):
- Woke up early, but Jerome found he no longer has to go early as overnight rain made equipment unsafe.
- Decide take tent.
- Get to city centre ~7:40. Drop off mail for Jerome. Buy ticket. Bus @ 9:30, not 8.
- Find ATM: Society General not work (not clear, wait ~1,2 min to make sure money does not come out), find BCI & use that. Auto change machine not working.
- Bought giant ham sandwich & ate at bus stop. Wait ~1hr. Bit less.
- Some luggage strange: Broken electric fan. Put luggage in & get on bus. Poum with stop in Kone. In future, decide take passport out of bag.
- Bus surprisingly modern. Like Greyhound in the US. - 2 Non-Kanaks (white).
- Some towns look pretty. Follow with my map. Sit by (across) from the tattooed person who talked with me last night. Said hi & shook hands before bus. He play reggae music.
- Loudish radio/music all way. Bus seems to stop at random places to drop off.
- Stop in Bourail(?) for abour 1/2 hr.
- Arrive Kone, surprisingly small. Before Kone roundabout w/ Kanak stuff. This is where provincial administration centre is. Bus stopped here (some people get off)!
- Get off bus. No one really here. Call Christelle, she come in town in 1/2, offer me place to sleep.
- Tourist info: no one there. Go to a small exhibit about UNESCO designation. Surprisingly modern & professional. English translations booklet. ~2pm arrive.
- ~5-10 min drive to house. Small development with modern but simple houses. Modern inside.
- They lived in NC 2yrs, move to this house only 3-4mo. ago. Nice view of mountains from house.
- Christelle found out she pregnant earlier in day. Go to town to confirm. I go to market to get bread, pate for morning, was going to get beer, but get (imported) fruit (from NZ) instead due to pregnancy. Small selection of fruit.
- Back: spend time seeing pictures, talking, planning, etc.
- Say there are wild horses here. See droppings in street.
- Repairman, nails client. Talked a lot about life. I asked Q's.
- Hubert back home ~8pm. Beer, talk. Leftover lasagne for dinner.
- I had a mattress in a room on floor.Own bathroom. Windows with metal blinds.
- Realise may not be able to rent car. License & manual. Too much money? Will convert to Euros.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 6

Day 6: (19 May 2011):
- Wash clothes in sink. Sunny, only partly cloudy. Shower, etc. Jerome to work ~6am.
- Go to tourist info in Anse Vata to get info about north, try find SIM card, but need go to OPT. Found a post card to mail home. Go twice. Bought cheap sandwich & cookies at a store: Asians. First exit: Driven out by fire alarm. Test/work?
- ~noon, take bus to museum, next to OPT. SIM cord ~6.2kF w/ 3kF credit. All in French.
- Call Jerome to give number. Says field work cancelled by rain, will pick me up ~4:30 - 5.
- Huge walking tour of town centre. Partly with Lonley Planet: surprising lame tour!
- Highlights: Library: cool old style buildings. Old "colonial" houses -> not really much. Place de cocotiers: Nice parks/series of parks. Tricked by "tourist office 100m" building.
- bus station: few paved areas & small shack: should be open, but closed.
- Cathedral: loved the stones on outside. Giant clam shell bowls. Viewpoint with run-down building, graffitti. Near youth hostel. "Chinatown." Shopping district with many small stores & snacks.
- Old temple. French Republic building. Plaza with war memorial in front of official-looking building with French flag. Can't figure out what it is.
- Surprisingly many banks. Looked for change, rate around same as ATM, with commission.
- At before 4:30, settle in close to city market, as run out of things to see. Write in book.
- Jerome arrive ~ 5:30. When walk over to met Jerome, guy with poor tattoos: quick chat with me.
- Called Sarah. Discuss.
- Jerome go practise, I pack & plan.
- Restaurant meeting with friends. At bar (same as before in BD). Chat with his friends.
- Return: dinner with steak, pasta.

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 5

Day 5: (18 May 2011):
- Morning: weather is better, but not best. Camera crew set up to interview owners.
- Camera crew head out ("to justify their trip," according to owner). We have breakfast. Breakfast just tea/coffee & juice & bread with butter & jam. Settle account, 5kF each.
- Try catch early plane when some people leave & tell us. Called airport, but no answer.
- Go to airport, told is too late. Hitch to Fayaoue. Lunch from store (I get a simple fried dough circle), ate on beach. Partly cloudy, weather improving.
- Walk to OPT, but closed for lunch. Want SIM card and post card.
- Decide go to Lekine to try see cliffs. Hitchhike, gendarmes stop & give us ride.
- Drop us off & tell us walk for ~1km down small road. Jerome go pee. A car pull up: the cameraman! Offers us a ride down. Then left after drop us in front of a tree felled to block remaining short road to beach. Jerome say cameraman is also disappointed at weather. They cancelled some activities, such as a boat ride with fisherman, etc.
- Go to beach, see cliffs across water. Very long open cavern with large "stalagtites" and "stalagmites," & connecting posts, but does not look typical. Very large. See Mouli bridge in distance.
- See some people in cliffs, wave say hi. Jerome talk. They say OK for us to go there & tell us where to cross & enter. The tourist info say need guide for caves (of incidence, which turned out to be in other direction of where we walked). Jerome later told me when I asked that the gendarmes told him is OK, but be careful, especially around old teenagers, as there are many sacred areas around. Also said there is still some tension between locals and gendarmes. "sleeping" but can awake.
- Over trip, learn a lot about the politics of separation here.
- Leave bags on beach. We cross water at closer point & find a way up in a patch of "oasis-like" greenery. A bridge between below & caves. Difficult in jandals.
- Walk for long time along cliffs. Small coves. Large poles. Black powdery mold.
- Past a crude ladder, a patch of trees, behind, a cave with Christian symbols, candles, etc. Maybe the incident cave? No, asked, and told incident cave is in other direction, but similar size.
- Try to go to east coast, but just slightly too high to jump off at lowest point, so ladder.
- Strange round coral (?) formations in water near ladder.
- Walk along bottom of cliffs. (Notice 3 levels of "caves," middle in the big one.) How formed? Erosion & geologic events?
- Small cavernous area. Cool coral rock formations. People fishing for aquarium. Put catch in small pools in the coral rock.
- Walk through clear flowing water to close to the waves. Once in a while, water comes from waves. A few fish, but much coral. Like wading through an aquarium. Felt bad for stepping on coral. Rain & sun. Start heading back.
- Wade across where others are wading. Rest on beach. Jerome ask others about the event.
- Many holes (medium-sized) on beach. Crabs? Great views of cliffs. Boat: low tide. Was concerned a bit we might be trapped by the tide before crossing back.
- Strange cloth strips on beach: signals? Jerome says the red flag he saw yesterday at beach by hole is similar. Tied on tree.
- Long-ish wait, picked up by pilot for another inter-island flight company.
- Decide not stop at OPT. Turns out was quite early. Very long wait ~2hrs at airport. Felt bad I was afraid we'll take long time to get here, so always ask time during hike.
- Jerome had me ask about tickets. Very slow-moving queue. "Island time" - Jerome.
- Very bumpy flight back. Cold & rainy. Small luggage belt. Ticket on car: share.
- Jerome practise cancelled. Ate crepes & drank rum & honey. I do research on north.
- Was going to go to nakamal, but Jerome didn't feel like it anymore. (before)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 4

Day 4 (17 May 2011):
- Rain and wind stopped in morning. Ate our breakfast in main area.
- Film crew go to Wadrilla, we not go with as we have not ate yet.
- Easy hitchhike. Back of truck to Wadrilla then back of van (on floor) to St. Joseph.
- Saw memorial to killed Kanak during the cave siege events.
- St. Joseph area more natural. Smaller road. Seaweed. See small atoll islands close.
- Guide show us church, graves, previous generator plant.
- Long walk along beach. Some interesting plants: eyedrop, for fish poisioning, mucousy plant for skin, hair.
- As tour in Fr, difficult to understand. Film crew working hard.
- Lots of weathered, twisted wood. Guide: "Expensive decoration in Noumea," illegal to export?
- Talk about problem with rubbish. Shrinking dunes & rising water due to warming? Island tilt?
- Shark nursury: Tai Tapu. Sand bar, shallow, blocking preditors. See shark when crossing.
- Crossing quite deep, up to thighs. Another shallower crossing before (?).
- Get to end of island, see next island across channel. Typical tropical scene, but no sun.
- Low tide, very fine sand. Large beach. Phantom crab.
- After a small rocky area, reach a bay: outlet has cliffs on both sides.
- Quick snorkel, a few fish, but murky. Smelly water again. Return: swim into interview?
- Crew did quick interview with me, but I did poorly. English. Looked @ camera a few times.
- Crab(s). Try to hide under feet.
- Needed car, a French couple living in Kone took us in.
- On way back, stopped at 2 places. 1: Hole with turtles. Rubbish. Walked through a field to see ocean, Jerome went to see beach. No one else went to path, I didn't like the idea of walking through the field. Jerome dissappeared as not told anyone. Look for when leave. 2. Hole, more blue & see start of cave. Pandanus, some roots dangling down. Turtle & baby turtle. Fish. Less rubbish. By abandoned (?) under construction (?) tribal gites (?). Gites seem overgrown, but very nice. 2 dogs.
- Jerome no longer feels like windsurfing, so try go south. Turns out the couple is going to Mouli, so go with.
- Bridge: very windy. Blue water. Cliffs in distance. A few sand islands, typical tropical scene. Wavy.
- Snorkel: much more clear. Deep. Careful, as other side of bridge: no swimming.
- Lots of small fish near shores, some large fish (barracuda. etc) in deeper water. Not smelly.
- Jerome convince Christelle & Hubert to continue south: Go to south end of Mouli.
- Diving club say here is best snorkelling, so we try. Strong current & shallow. Some fish & coral, but not much. Jerome say club described a wall (most fish)? But not found.
- Coast has lots of coral rocks. Some mini cave networks with water & waves in it.
- Look for snack/beer, local recommended a store.
- Go back to our campsite. No one there, when they about to leave, owner return.
- Told them we would like dinner, not too late. Have beer & tea. They tell Jerome I can stay in Kone. They chat in French.
- We play some more African game. Take shower. Wait for dinner. Moved out of rain blowing in from the sides. Dogs around again.
- After dinner, sit for long time. Blowing rain. Sometimes a bit wet.
- Everyone in their tables sit, chat, etc. Dogs. Cat in basket & around.
- When late enough, go to sleep.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 3

Day 3 (16 May 2011):
- Get up, have breakfast & drive to airport. No parking, so park on divider. Others do the same.
- Jerome say be careful with sacred-looking things, as some years ago, a (crazy?) person killed a Japanese tourist for standing on a sacred rock, but no witness.
- Check in, but say need pick up ticket, even when they have all our info.
- Make check-in last minute, but then wait for late plane: "island time."
- No assigned seats, but we didn't know. Ticket was red paper with hand written number.
- Short flight. As with prop planes, take off very steep and strong.
- See Noumea & Ouvea when below clouds. Shaky but surprisingly gentle landing.
- Pick up bags from outside. Found forget guide, so get tourist brochures.
- Start walk to main road, but found was few km, when reach a read branch. Thought only one.
- Hitchhike to chez dydyce: 1st car stopped for us. sit in back of pick-up.
- Weather not as clear as we would like.
- Recommend set tent close to fence, but windy, so set next to main building.
- Modern toilet blocks. Ate lunch. The camera crew from plane is here. They make doco about world heritage site, and ask if ok we get filmed.
- Jerome was going for nap, but then changed mind. Called dive centre. Closed due to trip to Noumea. Walk to aquatic activity centre.
- Walk along beach. Very long, fine sand, blue water, but overcast. Can only imagine colour when not overcast.
- When see buildings, go to road. Many disused buildings. Old large churches. One had plaque saying certain missionaries came on island there.
- Aquatic centre closed. Open tomorrow. Go far swim, water smell. Jerome nap in rain.
- See Kanak graveyards on walk back. Gendarmarie with small monument.
- Store: bought water & food for breakfast. Baguette & cheese/cream thing.
- Played the African game Jerome got in Senegal for a while.
- Sent to store with one of the people who lives here to find SIM card. Jerome not go (read book, "French practise"). They have only recharge card.
- Jerome read book, I Write in trip journal. When slightly more clear, test camera & Gorillapod. Beach looked like daylight!
- Dinner: fish. 1900F! Expensive, but Jerome say cheap for NC! Treat Jerome to dinner.
- Talked. Cold & rain. Go to sleep relatively early.
- Wet tent, closed rain flaps. Hard ground. Loud wind. Earplugs useful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 2

Day 2 (15 May 2011):
- get up, weather is good. Warm, only some scattered clouds.
- Go to city market. Drive scenic. A few different pavilions with different things: fruit pavillion, fish, crafts, etc. Jerome get shrimp, I get oranges (large green).
- Drive back, Jerome cook shrimp. Eat.
- Drive to Riviere Bleue: Pass Mont Dore. Read to right = spring. We take left road.
- Jerome familiar, as he is working field work in area. Look for something, secret.
- Explained geological significance of things. Colours great: red ground, green plants, blue sky.
- Windey road with many big potholes through vallies and mountains.
- Get to park, have 4hrs before close. 2 sides, didn't go far side, need shuttle.
- Stop 1: viewpoint of the artificial reservoir. See the "drowned forest" in distance.
- Lots of lakes in vallies and mountains. Jerome explain is big nickel deposit, but protected.
- Stop 2: some viewpoint/hike, but didn't really find it. Some interesting plants.
- 3: Hike to see large endemic tree. Path with wooden "stepping stones."
- Hike continues to a tree with another growing through it.
- Back and to a viewpoint: Good crepuscular rays.
- Continue drive to a creek. White river? Help the family with dead battery car.
- Return to park entrance and small museum. Nice small all-around display. Learn about cagou. Disappointed didn't see real cagou.
- Drive back and stop for milkshake. NZ cup. "merci jeune homme."
- Back. Shower. Eat oranges: very dry, but like navel oranges. Jerome warn oranges may be poor.
- Jerome make some pasta and rest of shrimp.
- Go to "the sphinx" nakamal, play games with friend and random person. Chat (tired). Person passed a joint around.
- I get talkative, but talk slow,
- Back early to pack bags: chat, etc. Sleep.
- Drive back: pass Pacific Pearl. People on board (leaving?). Explain the Casino supermarket chain across from ferry terminal sells many Australian products.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 1

Day 1 (14 May 2011):
- Woke up 4:40am still drunk. (Before alarm).
- Pack and leave as quietly as possible in ~10min. Bye from sleepy Logan.
- Walk under the stars and caught 5:30 bus. Near perfect timing.
- Really bus sick on bus. Worried about flight.
- Airport, check-in, etc. Still feeling sick.
- Selected for pat-down. Short chat with agent. ("Getting old." "Have a good trip") from agent.
- Go to bathroom. Surprised didn't throw up.
- Ate BK breakfast croissant and water, felt a bit better.
- Talk to mom. Board, realise did not take photo of plane when walking down glass lined couseway to jet.
- Drifted in and out of sleep the entire way. Filled out customs form during landing, some incomplete. Worry no address.
- Notice runway is not on level terrain!
- Customs easy, look return ticket. Biosecurity also easy. Looked at form and let through. I was too tired to complete anyway!
- Exit to concourse. Jerome not there. After 5-10 min of re-packing and looking for money, etc, walked outside and Jerome drove up in a small blue Citroyen? Peugeot?
- Got in, goin to Boulouparis, a deer, shrimp & ? festival.
- Lots of Polynesian dancing. Saw the end of deer getting butchered.
- Ate deer sausauge and brochettes, shrimp brochettes.
- Other CSers, but spoke French, etc.
- Leave, stop on way: tent, reef shoes. I took 80kF to use from ATM (around 1.2kNZD).
- Driving tour.
- Nap: Was dark when woke up. I wake 6pm, Jerome at 7pm, after getting back at 4pm. Jerome was originally planning on taking me to a rugby game after the nap.
- Good we didn't go to game, as we were both tired from drinking too much last night.
- Jerome made quiche lorraine. I bought 3500F pomelo ("pamplemousse").
- Pomelo very juicy and fragrant.
- Met Jerome's friend in BD. He go study in Quebec later in year.
- Beer: 500F for 0.30l. "Normal price."
- Bar district cool, like mall of small themed bars.
- People drinking in parking lot. Jerome say lots of money concentrated in Noumea.
- Lots of roaches at Jerome's. 8th F apt in Anse Vata. Paid by employer. Forgot exact number, but rent only slightly less than Ben and mine's place in the Mission.

Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Prologue

In notes, trip titled: 2011 Post MDS Tri-Continent Extravaganza!!!

Preface (13 May 2011):
- Slept for just three hours day before, thinking of everything that needs to be done.
- Pack, found a bit overpacked for everything, but will have to do.
- Catch 1:15pm ferry over, lots of stuff.
- Check in at MDS, drop stuff off and buy final items: small 2L dry sac, pick up glasses, pick up ponamu.
- Talk to tutors and head over to Logan's.
- With map, easy to find, surprisingly far from town.
- Head back in town at 5:30, get air mattress and pump. Text from friends, still in town.
- Meet and drink at Bluestone room. Get out of hand. Shot with Jager and Lindauer and cherry syrup?
- Go to 1885. More drinks, White lady. Perhaps had 7 drinks that night.
- Walk back and get ready for bed.
- Sleep at around 1:30. Logan get back, say just went to bed, then I was confused at why I said that.
- Know will be tough next morning as set alarm for 4:40am to walk to town in time for bus, as Link does not run that early.