Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 42


Day 42: (24 June 2011):
- Wake up for early lunch @ 8am, due to Caves tour @9am.
- Picked up after 9. Had to pay extra $5 as he had no change. Glad to see 2 others in boat. Bring only snorkel mask & camera, glasses string & bandages in dry sac (no shirt). Stop on another island to pick up more.
- 30-40 min ride. Dodging waves, splashes. Some nice islands in lagoon with palm trees & hills. Dramatic cliffs start appearing.
- Land on beach. Stairs over rocks to cave. Quite a polished experience.
- After ducking head under some rocks, enter cave. Steps down to water.
- Cavern with vertical calls. Sky exposed at top.
- Water is quite deep: 5-10m?
- Apparently cave has eel & snapper: fresh & salt water respectively. Someone saw an eel.
- When guides arrive, go into next cave. Low tide, very easy. Not even fully under water. Opening is actually quite large, goes to bottom.
- Duck under, "swim towards the light." Bob up in a small tunnel, swim up a bit & large cave opens up.
- When everyone through, continue swim in cave. Reach a second opening: a vertical shaft. "Spitting cave," as spit in the opening & can near splash. When return, hotel person told me they recently found opening to sea. "New cave."
- Hang around a bit in cave & water outside before boarding.
- Stop coral view first, long wait as he gets fuel. He eating lunch?
- Coral View looked nice, jet skis & diving available.
- Keep meeting people from boat.
- New very red wound on leg.
- Dropped off last, just in time for lunch. Just me, say a couple arriving "so far."
- Walk to Blue Lagoon. Parts of trail quite overgrown. Problem for wound on foot. Beautiful views of blue lagoons, islands, palms on hills.
- Arrive in bay with big boats. Asked a person handling small boat of tourists about snorkelling. He said all OK, just don't go into Blue Lagoon Resort property.
- Water a bit murky: particles. At least no stingers.
- Lots of fish, coral has damaged sections (as LP wrote about).
- Clown fish. Try touch with foot. Looked defensive. Bite toe. Giant clams. A boat arrive, snorkel in pairs. HS group? "Bula" from a guide in water.
- Slow/long walk back. At least sun is less strong now.
- Shower, wash. String rings on beach until dark.
- Go to dining place with electricity: only one place setting! Turns out the couple decided to go to Safe Landing.
- Write & charge electronics.
- Dinner was just pineapple, cassava & sausauges & veges. Insect in gravey.
- Chat to dad of family: 2 generations, ~40 live on island. Complain of Awesome Adventures taking 30-50% commission. Special relation with Coral View? Bailed out of bankruptcy & take high commission? Complain that fuel is expensive, especially when people change their minds such as the couple.
- Also complain people on Bula passes just eat & sleep, while people from travel agent like me who do tours & activities. Also, my money goes straight to them, where Awesome Adventures takes a while to pay them.
- Talk about how running the "resort" is not too bad, as most building materials & food comes from the forest & gardens.
- Grab a beer & sit / lie on beach to watch stars. Unfortunately, layer of clouds around, but saw a shooting star & distant lights on Viti Levu (Naid & Lautoka?).
- Sit, write, read under the small lamp they provide. Quite cozy.
- Try to go get another beer @ 8:30, but generator was off, so assumed all went to bed.

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