We have reached the last station of our epic journey. In Dubai now and spending the day shopping, eating, drinking, having a majestic shower and sleeping in heaven's own bed at the Airport Hotel. We decided to take this break here to soften the stress of long journeys and i must say, it does work wonders.
When we took off at Auckland Airport i pushed the stop button on my watch and measured the time until we landed in Dubai. 19 hours and 54 minutes. Needless to say we were wrecked. I watched four movies, loved everyone of them but can't remember at all. So i can watch them all again sometime and enjoy them a second time !!!
In a few hours its off to the last leg, home to Durban. We are dreading coming home after a full month travelling. We have a lot of divers and a lot of bad weather waiting for us. Apparently Karen and the staff lost many days of diving to bad winds and large waves. It looks like the base in Shelly Beach was closed more often than open.
Typical for this time of the year, which is why we took such a long break.
We tell all our guests to plan extra time if coming in August, September and October to Protea Banks. Great diving this time, but lots of lost days.....
We will see what awaits us at home now.....
We are in New Zealand now. Were supposed to stay three days before heading on home. But when we got to the airport we took a chance and asked what a change of flight would cost so we could stay another extra three days. The friendly lady at Emirates did it for free...how cool is that !!
We then drove an absolute horror road up north to the Coromandel peninsula. The landscape is sensational but the road was narrow, curvy like hell and often did we barely keep the wheels from going over the cliffs...honestly. We managed 50km an hour. Coromandel is just like a picture book. Very South Pacific with plenty of islands. But green like Austria, spotlessly clean and orderly, freezing cold.
The New Zealanders are the most friendly people i have ever known. Just like the islanders in the South Pacific. People everywhere just greet you. How absolutely nice. We really feel welcome in New Zealand and one of our next trips will definitely be to this amazing country. Most likely in a camper van.
The prices here are shocking for us. Compared to South Africa everything is about 3-4 times more expensive.
But such is travelling. We learn about other countries, see their beauty, meet their people and in the end we come home richer and more content....
We left Eueiki Island this morning with a heavy heart. Just loved this little crazy place and its magnificent people. At the airport in Vava'u they charged us a couple of bucks for allegedly 23kg overweight. We did have a lot but 23kg is impossible. Lucky it doesn't cost the earth here in Tonga.
We had a good flight to Tongatapu, the main island from where we took a raggedy boat to the next island. Here we stay at the Royal Sunset Resort. In it's days it must have been a splendid place...We have a nice chalet less than 5m from the water's edge. Brilliant.
As i am writing this we sit in the bar area and listen to a live band playing typical South Pacific music. What an amazing atmosphere this creates. These islands and their people may be poor and run down to a degree, but they have something very few people have.
We are going to chill here for another five days, reading , going for long walks, taking photographs and talking a lot. We have a lot to catch up on...
We are still on Eueiki Island and enjoying every minute. The plan was that we would join our Japanese colleague Masa on monday for a week on his live aboard boat. We were supposed to swim with whales and dive giant caverns. But nothing ever goes according to plan...When we arrived in Tonga we heard on all corners that Masa is having trouble. Apparently he never received a whale swim license. We tried to phone and mail him to find out what was going on but got no reply. So we decided to stay a few days longer in paradise rather than being left standing on the pier...
Tomorrow we are flying back to Tongatapu and take a boat to another island resort for five days before we fly to our stop over in New Zealand.
But when i close this computer just now we will be on our way by canoe to an uninhibited island nearby where Beulah and i will have a little pic nic...
Such is Tonga !!!!
Thursday today.We arrived on Monday at Treasure Island which is true paradise. To this hour we still don't have our luggage. But when one wakes up on an island like this, many things don't matter anymore. It is a pain for sure when an airline like Emirates looses your luggage and almost 10 days later you still don't have it. nobody cares, that's the problem.
So we can't dive but we spend the days reading, taking the most amazing photos and walking around the island exploring. This place is truly a treasure. it has caves, amazing corals, all shades of blue water, white beaches and romantic grass huts.
We really find peace here and recharge after a busy year to date.
As we are scheduled to go with our Japanese colleague on his Liveaboard next week, we are not too worried about not being able to dive at the moment. It's just such a waste to look at the six cylinders standing outside our door...
So our usual luggage overweight problem was solved for the next day. With barely anything we checked in at Air New Zealand Tonga bound. The plane was minute. Could not understand how these Tongan people fitted into these tiny seats with only a bit of legroom. They are big people for sure !!!
After a short two and a half hour flight we came from rainy, cold NZ to sunny, warm Tonga. Brilliant.
We were well on time for our connecting flight to another island group from where we were supposed to get the boat to Treasure Island.
We arrived at the domestic hall half an hour before the time and were told that the plane is leaving right now. there she goes….without us. No way !!! it was saturday and we know that Tonga shuts down on sunday. So we won’t be on our island before monday. What a complete disaster. How can a plane leave before schedule ??? Every useless airline in the world is always late !! But who on earth is early ??
Later we found out that there were two important rugby games on this saturday…and the pilot was not going to miss a single minute of either !!! This is how everybody should live !!!!!
We got taken to Nuku Alofa, the main town and seat of the Royal Palace of Tonga.Here we were accommodated at a nice hotel to spend the weekend. It turned out quite okay. Sure we lost two valuable holidays but we also got to know the locals and the main town. The local Tongans are absolutely friendly. wherever one passes a local they give a friendly greeting. Absolutely amazing people.
Tomorrow the epic journey continues…..
We slept well and went for an exotic breakfast at the airport before we made our way to the departure gate. In the meantime the gate was changed and we had to take the train back to the other building.
When we finally boarded the Airbus A 380-800 it was a majestic feeling to be in such a giant plane.
How much longer will we have to wait for a Spaceship Enterprise ??
We got to our seats and found that we were not that lucky this time. the plane was completely full. Beulah had the window seat and i had the aisle seat. In the middle we were joined by an elderly gentleman who did not want to sit at the window while i simply could not sit cramped up. tried it briefly and felt panic rising immediately…
As our scheduled departure time came and went we were told that there was a problem with the luggage system at the airport. An hour later the plane’s computer system shut down. Another hour later the complete power system shut down and this is how it continued. we were really very grateful that all this happened on the ground….
Almost 4 hours late we finally took a chance to see if this thing can fly. And fly it did. A whole 14 hours to Sydney. I almost read an entire book which usually takes me 3 weeks.
In Sydney we had to leave the plane and waited at the airport to be checked in again. Then the last leg for the day, Sydney to Auckland.
When we arrived at Auckland we were told that our luggage didn’t make it. Great !!! No clothes, no dive gear, nothing and we still had very difficult travels ahead of us until we got to our final destination.
Everyone felt really sorry for us and we got NZ$ 380 as compensation to buy some basic clothes. Our bags are not expected to get to our island before 4-5 days.
So off we go in the cold New Zealand rain to the nearest shopping centre and bought essentials. It is no fun when you are in a hurry, tired and frustrated.
We then took a taxi to our hotel in downtown Auckland. This lightened our mood immediately. The Rondevoux Grand Hotel is definitely a grand address in AKL. What a pity we only got to enjoy this magnificent house for such a short time…
Oh yeah, and it was Beulah’s birthday as well…So she got all the presents from the supermarket and to complete the day we went to the fine Japanese Restaurant in the hotel. Magic.
After a couple of night caps in the foyer we went to bed completely exhausted and lost consciousness before we hit the pillow……at 2am we were wide awake again…..wonder why. J.
So we arrived pretty well in Dubai. I managed to sleep a number of hours. We have booked the airport hotel for the day and the night so we can break the journey and relax nicely. As is tradition we made our way straight to the Heineken Lounge at 6am
After two beers the lights went out in my head and it was time to go to our lovely room. On the way we checked in for the next flight to Auckland tomorrow. We rather didn't mention my 'problem' with claustrophobia .....really didn't feel like getting stuck in the old desert here.....
A bit later we will have a lovely shower , make our way down to the duty free area where we will do some fine dining. A night cap with Jack is a must before we come back to our hotel room to chill for the night. This € 150 is well spent money.
Tomorrow we will be travelling for 14 hours to New Zealand and we will definitely do so in style, fresh and happy.
Where are you when you hear something like "Hüsema, hüsema nsnda hüsema shukran " ??? Yes, you are either in Egypt or on an Emirates plane. It is time again for us to see some more of the world. This time we are en route to Tonga, South Pacific. But it wasn't easy....
I do suffer from claustrophobia in certain cramped situations and was dreading this extremely long flying. So i thought i was clever and got myself an official script from my GP confirming my condition. Secretly i was hoping to get a lovely upgrade to business class where really nobody could ever be uncomfortable. But i shot myself in the foot because the guy at the counter immediately called his supervisor and that one said, i cannot be allowed onto the plane if my condition is so bad that even my doctor issues a script. Oh damn.... So the case went to the duty manager who wanted a written confirmation from my doctor that i can fly safely, else i can go back home. Oh dear, oh dear. Try to be clever...!!!
Of course my doctor was not available and it took me some time and sweat to convince them that i only get claustrophobic if a fat dude sits right on top of me...
In the end the nice guy at the counter agreed to block off the middle seat in our row of 3 seats and so the two of us travelled comfortably using three seats in an almost fully booked plane.
We arrived in Dubai and went straight to the Heineken Bar. Beautiful.