french polynesia, tahiti, Travel, Uncategorized
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Tikehau days 2 through to 6

So here we are, just a couple of days in to our trip and sunburnt, relaxed and time is almost irrelevant. It would be compeltely irrelevant if meal times weren’t so specific.
(to catch up on our previous days check here Sydney to Tahiti to Tikehau and here Tikehau day 1 and 2)

The sun and time is different on Tikehau. It is daylight and hot sun right up until, at most, 60 minutes before the total darkness of night. There isn’t much of an in-between. It is either day or night here. Well it would be if the moon wasn’t so full and bright. The light from the moon keeps the night a nice shade of ‘I can still see’. Out of the water and keeping out of the harsh sun we head to the pool for a cool down and then as the sun starts to set, knowing we have about an hour of daylight left, we get ready for dinner. It is about 6pm and dinner doesn’t start until 7pm so we decide to head for a walk out to the ocean along the reef/rocks/sand that we have been staring at since our arrival.

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Thawrted by a river between the rocks and the reef wall.

Currently the sky is bright for our walk out but the sun is setting. We know the light will dim very quickly very soon but the path is farm more treacherous than we imagined. It is slow going. A walk we expected to take more more then 15 minutes there and back, allowing time to take in the waves, has taken us 30 minutes to get most, not all, of the way out there and the sun is now behind the horizon. We have to rely on moonlight to get back.

Moonlight wouldn’t be bad, if the walk was not full of ankle twisting boulders, sharp and discarded coral, rocks, shells and the hermit crabs. Hermit crabs aren’t going to hurt us but we really don’t want to kill any. The ground is crawling with, itty bitty, teeny weeny, hoping not to die today hermit crabs.

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Full ish moon from the rocks.

Insistent on making it to the edge – we had come this far and it has taken so long, we should keep going so we don’t need to do it again – we press forward. Arriving at the end of the rocky outcrop we have been navigating, we find there is actually a deep river between us and the lagoon wall. The waves are closer to us now then when we are in our room but they seem much farther away in this moment. All this effort, no reward, and now a walk back in moonlit darkness. At least dinner will be ready by the time we return. Happy to have gone as far as we could but disappointed it was not as far as we thought, we head back.

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Raw ham Bruschetta

Dinner tonight is beef tenderloin for TW and Carbonara for myself. I enjoyed the lasagne so I decided on pasta again. Both were really enjoyable. We had a starter, bruschetta. It said raw ham and cheese on the menu. I wasn interested to see what that might mean. Was it a translation error or did they really mean raw ham. What we received is unlike any other bruschetta I have eaten before. It was quite nice, not at all what I would expect.

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My carbonara, steak in the background.

Worn out, we again are asleep shortly after dinner. Our bed has mosquito net hanging from it. The first night, it would touch me in the breeze and I would get annoyed awake from it tickling my skin. Tonight, I have tucked it in so it is taught and won’t touch me in the breeze. I am also reasonably badly sunburned on my arms and back so I have to sleep with my arms out. Usually I sleep with an arm under a pillow but to have anything press on my skin is painful which puts that out of the question. I do wake up many times because I am uncomfortable, in pain or in my sleep I have put an arm under the pillow and the pain of that has woken me up.

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Almost full moon.

I am restless and trying my best to sleep. A huge storm blows in. My mosquito net is billowing in the wind, even though I tucked it in nice and taught, the whole net is moving so much that at times it is free to touch me. Currently, I am too tired to care about the storm but I am bothered by the net touching me so I get up. We have all of our cabin windows open, both doors to the balcony open and it is raining sideways. Trade winds. These are strong winds. I close windows, TW brings the items we have on the balcony inside and closes the balcony doors. Lucky we got up because the wind was strong enough to blow our stuff away and it would be a shame. Not to lose the items but we wouldn’t want our stuff polluting an area like this.

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Standing on the very edge of our balcony looking over to the resort restaurant.

With the wind tamed, the net calms down and I settle in for more of the same uncomfortable, not quite sleeping. My restlessness keeps TW awake so he offers to put some cooling gel on me, in the hopes I won’t continue to keep him awake. The gel is nice and works well but I am too uncomfortable so do not return to sleep. It was about 3am that I woke up properly. 4am for the storm and at 5:30 I lie in bed and watch the sky dance with colours as the sun begins to rise. I tell TW it is a pretty sunrise. He opens one eye, agrees and rolls over.

Breakfast this morning is at 7:30am we were told, at dinner last night. At 6am, I can no longer take pretending to sleep and the morning has already been so pretty so I mutter to TW about going droning, before anyone is awake so we don’t have to worry about accidentally having people in the shot. The wind has completely died away after the storm, the water is still. This is the first time we see the water still. It has always had a tide or breeze ripple in it, not that we have been here that long. We are amazed. The water is almost one with the surroundings, it is so clear, so calm.

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I set up the drone and flew.

We decide to walk out where we had last night and drone over the wall. If we couldn’t walk that far due to the river, we can at least film what is going on so we can see it. We set off on the walk. Drone in hand. Ready for the new and wonderful things we might come across from the air. About 20 minutes in to the walk, we give up on that idea and drone from a spot on the way. There is a hard and decently flat surface to set the drone down on. We decide this will be the best spot as there is sand and rocks and small coral pieces the rest of the way and with the force of the air from the drone these things can fly up and scratch the camera. Mine is a Phantom 4 so the camera is not easily replaced. Phantom 3 has the ability to have a go pro attached, mine has an inbuilt camera and because of that I can see where I am flying while flying very easily. It is a great little camera. I am careful not to break rules with it.

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Tw took photos of everything on the walk and while I was busy.

The flight is out over the water, just a couple of minutes flying. Right on queue the wind picked up and while my drone can handle winds, I have a very small landing spot. I need to land the drone on the box it came in. This is a challenge in wind. My flight was about 12 minutes, 8 or so of those were bringing her in and lining up to land. Not a whole lot of interesting footage in that flight but it was nice to actually go out and use it. We usually bring the drone when we go away and we rarely find a spot, or time, to use it. Usually it is not finding a spot that meets the rules and also has parking or other challenges in getting there but sometimes it is not having time or not having charged the drone so now we don’t have time to charge and fly it. This trip we did and it it possibly one of the more interesting places to fly over that we have been to, and we are pretty happy about that.

Drone landed and safely put away we head off to see if there are any spots for a trash the dress shoot. We walk over the rocks, away from the resort. We find a path through different deep water channels, so that we don’t need to get wet to get to a beach away from the resort. The plan would be to use the drone. Set it to hover and we want the beach and water in it so we need to find a way to walk to a beach, away from everyone. Away from the hotel. A place we can get to without having to go in the water as we can’t get the drone wet. We find a way, it seems like it will work and we head back in for breakfast.

Breakfast is all the same buffet items as yesterday. We ate. I had resolved to not let the sunburn take away from my holiday. We had creams, gels, sprays, tablets. Everything you might need to have a productive day so I use a combination of those and suggest going for a snorkel now, right after breakfast, before the sun is too high and hot. My arms have been very well covered with sunscreen and I ask TW to do my back. He says how about I wear a shirt in to keep it covered. Not having grown up on the coast, or ever concerned with being tanned, I have not been sunburnt too many times in my life. I enquire if I should still put sunscreen on, to which I am told the shirt ‘will be right’ and we head out.

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This is an atoll so there are more rocky patches than long sandy beach but this is more than enough for usl

We set off from the sandy spot on the beach, the same spot as last night and head along the shade to our bungalow. That is the plan. I see so many new and cool things that I get a bit distracted following things. I end up in the sun more often than not. TW is sitting on the sandy patch under our bungalow for most of this. Not snorkelling, just sitting, relaxing in the water. I am exploring. Eventually I end up over there.

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Nice deep, soft sand launch spot

I got in trouble for going in to the sun and TW said the shirt was basically see through so now he wondered if it was working at all. That was great to hear, given he had said not to worry about sunscreen. Anywho, we decide to go sit on the beach that is on the other side of the water from the hotel. We will sit in the shade of a palm tree or any other tree offering decent shade over there. This was a new spot for us. There were new reef spots to explore, I got distracted by those and lost the pace a little. I was again in the sun. TW came over and I told him I was now stuck, the reef was shallow and I didn’t know which way to go to get to the other side. I could get back out of this spot but I couldn’t see a way forward, without walking and we don’t like walking on the reef. There is so much down there, best to float over it. He went first. He made it through the spot directly in front of me and I was about to head through as well when I had my doubts and I thought about the sharks and how my back felt like it was burning even though the water was cooling it so walking in the sun to a tree seemed like a lot of pain to me. I kind of just got scared and decided to head back and sit in the shade on the hotel side. At least once I was out of the sun there, I was out of the sun. I wouldn’t need to swim all the way back. I would be done with the burning for the day.

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Big formation

TW was at the other side as I arrived in the shadey spot of my swim back. I waved. He had the camera. I tried to wave him back but he was sitting on the sand. I wanted to take some more photos. Without the camera, I loitered less, so it was a good thing I didn’t have it. Back on shore, I keep out of the sun and 10-15 minutes later TW arrived back. He says I look like my sunburn has been sunburnt. Great news. It feels like it, I don’t doubt that it has happened. To the room. My creams, sprays, gels and tablets. I need to drink as much water as I can. I don’t want heatstroke or dehydration to go with the sunburn.

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Atoll and ocean

We decide we should rest as much as possible and stay out of the sun. Burn on burn is not great so we don’t want to burn it any more. It is about 10am now and it isn’t too long before the wind drops again, the water is calm, glassy. I say, lets stay out of the water but lets drone again. The sun was rising before so the water was black, in shadows, this morning and now the sun is up you can see all the hues of blue.

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The sail boat stayed for the days

On the way back from our walk this morning, we found a short cut. We did not need to walk over as many rocks, we could walk along the beach, past the beach bungalows and overwater suites that are on the other side of the hotel from our room and past the spa. This would technically be a staff area, I think, we came from the staff side not he way back so didn’t see any staff only signs – but I think if you want to walk from the hotel through that spot it does have one. Going past the spa isn’t staff only but we are walking past a barge. A tiny barge. I think this would be a staff area.

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Itty bitty barge

Our plan is to go all the way over to the beach that we found access to this morning but we get to the barge and see 3 sharks circling in the water. I want to try and film that. We should have used our cameras but they were so close yet so far and I thought it would look cool from the air so we set the drone up and flew it off.

It is a bit loud and taking it close to the water disturbed the water so I didn’t hover low for too long. I could’t see the sharks in the water or on the screen so I flew it off to capture some of the beauty of the atoll we were on. There was a sailing ship in the water near the resort. I had to get far away from the resort, to make sure I didn’t breech any general or local drone rules so I flew towards the sandbar we had canoed to. At this point the drone was over 200m away. I couldn’t hear it, I could barely see it. I had told it to stop flying but looking at it and looking at the screen I thought it was still going further away. A little bit of panic set in. I know I can fly it further away than that but maybe the GPS isn’t great here and if it looses signal it should return home (to the launch spot) but what if the signal is mess up. I launched on the edge of water. I have a bit of a panic so I turn the drone, I want to see if it is responding or not. Eventually I see a response to the remote and I panic a little less.

This flight is 15 minutes, though only the first 8 were recorded. We did fly it out over the ocean but none of that footage was saved. At one point my phone fell out of the remote holder, not long after this the footage cuts out so I may have hit the record button to stop filming when I was putting it back in. I am not sure. The file could have been too large for my phone or it might be saved in a spot I can’t find it but for now there is only footage by the barge and out to the sandbar and back. Over the ocean is currently lost. I bring the drone back from the open water and land. Happy that I have managed to land it on its original case. It is difficult but I don’t want the camera to scratch and we haven’t come up with a better solution for when we travel, yet. Packed up, we take the drone back to our room and head to lunch. Lunch is 12-2. We get there right on 12.

It has been a big day already. Drone, snorkel, sunburn. I have the hamburger. TW has the margarita pizza. Both are fine.

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Hamburger with chips and a pizza.

More tablets, more aftersun, more water. My skin is hot. Very hot. Burning. The breeze comes and goes, it isn’t consistent today so we again go for a snorkel. This time, I do only stay in the shade. I take a shirt but a different shirt. It is a bit more hardy. We sit under our bungalow. We don’t really snorkel. We don’t take flippers, just reef shoes – because thongs don’t do well when swimming and I don’t want the soles of my feet to burn. It feels like 10 minutes, it was closer to an hour. I start to get cold in the water. I don’t want to stay in the shade of our bungalow or go in the sun. Too cold, too hot. I need more water, possibly more tablets. The resort does have a pool so we decide to head up there and sit in the shade in the pool. The pool water is warm and I will probably still be cooler than our room but not tempted to look at fish. Also, the pool area has a little bit of the limited internet so I play on my phone on the internet while we wander around the shade in the pool.

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The water is far clearer than my foggy mask plus foggy case give it credit for. It can be hard to see if you have taken a photo of anything. We tend to point and hope for the best.

Eventually we head back to our room. On the way we ask about diving for TW. The pass is one of the reasons we came here so I think he should dive it. We ask about the bird island tour also. It is mostly selling at the full day tour and I would want to do the half day tour at most. We book diving in for the next morning and the bird island tour the day after. We aren’t committed to going on the full day tour because on a boat, in the sun, for a full day won’t be fun for me at the moment but if I am ok in two days time we might go. We will assess closer.

TW has steak, but a different steak. Prime Rib. I have the bolognese. Yes, sticking with pasta, did I mention the do them really well?

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The big dipper visible above our bungalow

Today has been a big day. It was meant to be a stay out of the sun and relax day but we ended up in the sun more than any other day. I got my sun burn more burnt, we flew the drone twice, walked over the rocks and now safely back in our room, after dark we decide to try and take better photos of the night and stars.

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Our night time view with the moonlight.

While I get the tripod and camera ready TW ties up the mosquito net. If I couldn’t handle it touching me last night, you can guarantee I will not be ok with it tonight. We set the timer for 8 second and 15 second exposures and test it out. TW doesn’t like the 15 second, he thinks it looks like daytime and why do I want a night time photo to look like day time. We play a little more and then pack up. I put the chip in the laptop so we can see what they look like on a normal screen when I notice something weird with the fan. TW is sitting on the bed, so I point. I say fan. I don’t really have the words. The mosquito net has somehow caught itself on the fan. The fan isn’t moving so I asked if it had been on and is now stuck or if it was off. TW isn’t sure but he thinks it was on so quickly checks to turn it off. A gust of wind has blown our tied up mosqtuito net on to the fan where the moving fan has twisted it and wrapped it around it. TW untangles it. The net is not broken, the fan works when turned back on, though we leave it off to let it rest. We don’t want to over work the motor. He ties the net up again, better this time. I am in too much pain to sleep so I sit up a while longer and take tablets. I set the alarm on both phones. TW has diving and meeting it 8:15am. His phone is notorious for the alarm not working and I have mine set but I set his as well anyway. Just in case. Eventually, I have another terrible sleep and before I know it I am watching another pretty sky during the sunrise.

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Large moon, unobstructed – illuminating our surrounds.

I wake TW, he is mostly awake anyway as the light is hitting him in the eyes, and we sit on the deck, in the shade, and watch the rest of the sunrise. We have breakfast as early as we can and TW gets ready for diving. He is a little stressed as he has only been on 5 dives and it has been a number of years since his last one. The signals and procedures are all a blur and he is hoping to re-learn everything in the 20 minutes before he leaves for the tour. I tell him to stop. He will confuse himself, just identify himself to the instructor and ask for help. We have been told the dive is full, maximum is about 12 people but when we arrive at the meeting point (our hotel reception, which is also the boat dock) the instructor says the afternoon dive is full. This morning dive is just him and 3 divers. One of the divers is a dive master, one is highly experienced but might not be certified and the other is TW.

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On the way to the pass

Diving is best in pairs, the instructor says that he and TW will be buddies. Everyone is a little surprised that such an inexpereinced diver is on board. It seems that most people coming to Tikehau are experienced divers or those who will not dive at all and just enjoy the snorkelling and serenity of the atoll. My mind is put to ease, the instructor will be TW’s dive buddy and he will be well taken care of. He has booked on two tank dive experience. This is two dives in one trip. They offer different experiences and I think the others had signed up for 10 tanks, over multiple days. The diving itself was cheap compared to what we remember the pricing being in Australia. We have only paid for the PADI course and we were going to pay for a dive at Reef World on the great barrier reef but we did the Reef Sleep instead and at that time, one dive each was included. During the PADI course it became clear I was not compatible with diving so I was not able to dive at reef world or here on Tikehau. I probably could do it but more than likely I would drown so it is put in the ‘not for me’ basket and no one has to worry about death.

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It is a massive wall of reef, not a floor but wall. The steepness of the wall changes and this was relatively flat.

TW, being inexperienced and out of practice, sucked the air back like Homer Simpson eating a hot dog. The instructor let TW use some of his air. His one tank per dive ended up about a tank and a half per dive and his dives were still over 10 + minutes before the others. He really sucked it back. With more experience you don’t waste so much air or energy but he isn’t at that stage yet. There were two different dive spots. The boat went through the Tikehau pass and the first dive was outside. Down at about 20m TW said if I think there are hundreds of fish at the hotel there must be millions out here near the pass. It was more fish than water.

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Turtle

Trying to take photos proved to be a challenge. There is so much gear and he was not confident. The camera was tied to his belt and he could not get it to his face to look properly so he just kind of pointed and pushed the button and hoped he got a photo of what he was looking at. There was a turtle and manta ray, one shark and more fish than he could count. At one point a large school of barracuda swam in and the dive crew hid. He was told to hold on to rocks and keep as low as possible. Hiding from fish wasn’t something he was expecting to do so he found that fun. Later he asked if they are really so dangerous that you need to hide. In a group, probably not but on your own, with a school that big, you are safer to hide. As a tourist group though it is better to be safe and hide. Starfish that looked like rocks and black fish, blacker than he thought black was possible. He doesn’t really remember if he was diving through the pass or just once out and once inside of it. Either way, all the fish were there. Not many sharks and not many rays but all of the fish.

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Eel

While TW was having the dive experience of a life time, I was sitting in the bar area, avoiding the sun, using the internet. The hotel doesn’t have internet in the rooms and the common area internet is slow as soon as more than one person uses it. Having said that, on occasion we managed to get internet in the room, it was slow but it worked. Generally we haven’t used the internet much nor watched tv. We have watched the waves, sharks, fish or sky but not tv. The discussion was, I would do nothing because I needed to let the sunburn settle and that is what I am doing. Nothing. I enjoy the view and breeze. I write up the blog post from Sydney to Tahiti to Tikehau and manage to add photos so I post it. There are a few mistakes, most of my posts have some, and I notice a couple straight away but the internet is now too slow to edit them. It takes a few hours. I spend longer looking at photos than I need to. I enjoy it, I wonder where certain photos are. Things I thought we captured are missing, are they on my phone or TW’s or had we missed the moment. I wasn’t sure so I searched my phone for a while. It is easy to get distracted when your only job for the morning is ‘do nothing’.

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Barracuda that they hid from.

Sick of the internet, I head back to our room and stare out in to the expansive nothingness that is our view. Reef, lagoon wall, ocean and sky. Never ending ocean and sky. Less than 10 minutes later TW is back in the room also. I am surprised that it too me the whole time he was diving to do one thing, the blog post and happy he is back, alive and unscathed. He then tells me about the trip over lunch. We can’t decide if he should tell me then show me the photos, tell me with the photos. Let me look through the photos on the laptop. So we start with him telling me and then he gets distracted looking for a photo to show me that goes with his story. Then he tells me to look at the photos and he will just tell me the story while I look but I find one and ask about it. Lunch arrives. We try again. He tells me what happened. No photos. We look at the photos later and he tells me other stories and I see some photos that he told me the story for and I ask is this when that happened. Yes. Ok. Dive relived. lunch enjoyed. My lunch was a sandwich and TW had the pesto pasta.

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View out our windows

We have an after lunch nap. My tiredness is either from the tablets or boredom. Today has been boring for me compared to the others. TW is worn out from excitement I think. My nap is longer, hours in fact. I do feel better for it. My burns are hot but as long as nothing touches me that aren’t burning. We put the aftersun gel on as often as I need it. I feel my core temperature rising and drink as much water as we have in our room and take a tablet. Last think I want is the boring, non activity day for me to be the one I get heat stroke on. We decide to snorkel so I can cool down. After days at the hotel we have just found the spot where we can get in to the water from the bungalows. Not our bungalow but the boardwalk for the bungalows. We don’t have to walk all the way to the beach, we can launch in over the water so we decide to give that a try today.

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We found the steps in to the water.

I swim straight to the part of the boardwalk where the ice machine sits and take photos of the fish. TW thinks I am recording so he swims through them, rather abruptly. They dart away, usually they would make a slight break and then reform around you but this time they more than just avoiding being run in to. With this sudden movement of fish, two sharks break out and swim off. It seems the fish had been harbouring some shark fugitives and it is a little funny to watch. I swim after one to try and get a better photo than we have already but it is gone too quickly. They both went the same direction. I try to flip the camera to record but it is more difficult than you would think. By the time I am finished playing with the camera settings one of the sharks comes back around. it appears to have done a loop. So I wait and hope to catch one of them on their next loop. I am in the sun. Not the best plan.

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r shark, hanging with his fish friends. I call him Bruce. He has looped back around after the big scary man made all the fish move out of the way.

I film the shark and some fish and then find TW. I tell him he should have let me know if he was going to swim in to the wall of fish because I would have filmed it and I didn’t get a chance, the camera is difficult under water to change between camera and record. He thought I was filming not just taking photos, thats the whole reason he did it. Oh well. It surprised us all including the fish and sharks. We try our best to sit in the shade but there is always something new to see so we end up in the sun more often than not. This time it is TW that gets burnt. A slight burn on the back of he ankle. He feels it getting hot and it is late now, after 6, the sun is going down. With the daylight fading we head back to land and to the pool. The pool is fresh water so it is nice to cool off in here after a swim over the reef. We rinse off under the poolside shower before hopping in to the pool and hang out for about half an hour. Not really doing anything but sometimes you want to be in the water without reef and fish and sharks.

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Swimming in to the fish. The only photo of it I managed to get. Most of the fish have already moved. It needed to be filmed but I wasn’t ready.

Below is a video I took after. It is a different wall of fish, yes the resort had many walls of fish, but I was so sad about missing it when Triston did it I filmed it from the first person before we got out. We are in love with this place. My day by day run down may make it sound boring, we really didn’t do a lot and not much that was overly exciting. We spoke to hardly anyone, no guests, rarely staff. So there isn’t much to report on that front. Everyone was friendly but the reason we went here and not somewhere else was the pink sand (debate sill raging about what shade of pink or orange you might call it) and the abundance of fish. I didn’t expect to see walls of fish or swim through them ever let alone every day.

Tonight dinner for me is the lamb shank. It is very tender. Served with pasta and napolitan sauce. I enjoy it. TW has the steak, the same as his first steak. He enjoyed the first one better but this is better than the second one. It’s the kind of steak he prefers of the two options we have.

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TW no longer waits for food photos. His steak still looks nice in the background.

On our way back to our room after dinner, in the water we see 4 or 5 sharks. There is definitely four sharks as we see all four at once but one of the sharks looks as though it has come from a spot none of the four had swam off too so it could have been a fifth but we aren’t sure so we call it four. One is really big compared to the others. I don’t know if we have seen this one before, I feel it is the one I saw under our room on the first night. The others all look ok sized when on their own but with this big daddy around they all look like babies. There is a second largish one so it might be the mumma shark. I would say one large, one medium and two or three small. The small ones, I am sure, are what we are usually seeing in the water.

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Long fish, just hanging. I liked these ones. Though I say that about almost all of them. Some of these fish look small from the side and when you get above them they are really wide!

We watch for a long time because they are interesting. They aren’t eating, just swimming back and forth and around in circles. Large circles not burnout circles. They aren’t circling and getting ready to eat something, though I really want to see one eat something. Our assumption has been they are well fed but I haven’t seen one eat anything yet so I really can’t be sure. Maybe they are starving and just want to take a bite out of us is we give indication that we are in trouble or vulnerable enough to be good prey.

I have always been afraid of sharks, without ever seeing them. I don’t believe in culling sharks on the coast though. We often hear of a shark attack in Australia and then a shark cull. It is becoming less common but it was happening a lot and I really didn’t like it, even though I was afraid. I just don’t go in to the water. If I don’t want to risk a bite or shark attack, I don’t swim where they live. Simple. I knew these sharks were here and was hoping not to be attacked but was still adventuring in tot he water so if I was attacked it was my fault and that would be it. I wouldn’t want any of the animals killed because of it. Seeing these 4 sharks swarming, circling, I do get a little more afraid. The big one looks big and they are refusing to let me see that they eat. How can I be sure they are well fed if I never see them fill their bellies?

I don’t remember what happened after we watched the sharks. I feel it is likely – apply lots of cooling gel, drink water and take tablets. We have been boiling water in our room to refill the water bottles. I really hate plastic water bottles so try to cut down on our usage of them. It wasn’t too long ago that I decided, and TW agreed, glass or can, no plastic. Here we have very limited choice and rather than buy more and more water in plastic bottles we boil tap water, cool it and then fill the same couple of bottles we already have. We end up with a new bottle each lunch and dinner time but this feels less bad. We did boil and clean the kettle first. I have read of people using the hotel kettle to boil their underwear, in an attempt to clean them. Like putting their dirty undies in to the kettle. I just don’t understand. If you wanted boiling water, surely you could pour boiled water in to the sink and using some soap – possible even before the boiled water goes in – wash them that way? Why do you need to boil them in the kettle. Anyway my guess is, I was gelled and TW boiled some water and I drifted in and out of sleep all night. It wouldn’t have been anything too interesting for me to have no memory of it, it’s not like we were kettle boiling undies.

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Calm clear water.

When we get up the water is dead calm and I have a dress with me in case we have time and were able to do a trash the dress. We try to work out if we should go now – 6am or after breakfast. Endless stuffing around means it is 7:08 before we are ready to go and at this point breakfast is open, 7am today so we have breakfast first. As we go to breakfast TW says, all we need now is a breakfast shark, right on cue a shark swam in to view. We sound shark obsessed, I get it. They are cute though. Anyway, we head to breakfast with camera gear and dress packed in a carry on bag. TW is happy because nutella is back on the buffet. It was on the first morning and he hasn’t seen it since. I say the may have run out and just got it back in, or maybe it is only there on certain days a week. The reason doesn’t matter, he is happy.

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So pretty.

We walk to one of the spots we have sussed out. It takes a lot longer then we thought. We get about half way there and I say lets take some rocky photos. The landscape is a bit unexpected so we may as well take some here while we can. I don’t know if we moved slowly or if time sped up but everything takes a lot longer than you would think. We change in a hidden spot in the bushes. I pull the dress over what I am wearing and then undo my swimmer top so you can’t see the straps in the photo. My change of clothes was easy, I didn’t really change I guess. TW is butt naked when I turn around. I was like what the hell. He could have taken his shirt off and put the other on then changed his pants with the long shirt hiding his shame but no, he decided the best way to change his shirt and shorts was to be completely naked in the middle of this rocky outcrop. His shirt had been removed first and then pants, he then replaced his pants. So he had no shirt on while he took his pants off and put new ones on. I just don’t understand the logic. What. The. Hell. Did I really marry this guy? I ask him why he didn’t change his shirt and then pants. Confused by the common sense, he says he will take that on board and look to implement such processes in the future. I am not sure I want to take photos with this guy anymore. What is wrong with him.

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Looks like sand but its rocks and coral.

So we take the photos. Nothing is ever what you hope or plan. There are photos, we were there, they aren’t great. I tried to explain what we would do and TW didn’t understand. The wind was strong and blowing the dress so I told him to hold the end of the dress, have his feet far away and lean forward like he is about to blow away…

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Oh no, its so windy. I might faint. Or as TW called it – it looks like you just threw sand in my face.

With that over we head to the water for the more traditional trash the dress photos. This will be interesting. 10 second timer, water, heavy wet clothes and trying to look stylish. I don’t like the water so underwater photos will be interesting. It is starting to get hot and the only thing we managed on the list is the 10 second timer. The camera was set and it knew what to do. The rest, what can I say, we have photos of us being hot angry fools sometimes in the water, sometimes not, never looking good or like we enjoyed it.
IMG_0525As we get to the beach area that we have decided on we see in the water a fin, on closer inspection it is a reef shark. I don’t manage to get a photo and the water is extremely shallow. He swims off, he was heading that way anyway I don’t think we had anything to do with that decision. I said to TW I was worried that a shark might mistake my dress for a jellyfish, go to eat it and get stuck in the dress. It had netting so I was also worried about “going fishing” in the dress because it might act like a big cast net and I really didn’t want to upset it. We tried to quickly get a photo with the shark, I pretend he is still there and take it, just in case he is and we can’t see him.

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Is Brucette still here?

We try different spots, we take photos of each other because, while I had initially said I would, I didn’t want to put the tripod in the water. When we left our room the water was clear as glass and now it was a bit choppy. Not choppy like actual choppy water you see but there were small ripples and waves. A current. I didn’t see a way to anchor the tripod in the water in such a way that the camera would stay underwater – it likes to float – and the tripod would stay in place. There may have been a way, not without damaging something and I didn’t want to damage the reef.

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Trying not to get knocked over in the tidal flow.

It doesn’t take long for us to be over it and decide to pack up. It is in this moment that TW has a look back over some of the images we have captured and he says to me that I really shouldn’t puff my cheeks out when I go under water. So, you know when your learning to hold your breath, I think toddlers do it. You jump in the pool and hold your breath and you have your cheeks full of air, for no reason? I never grew out of that. If I get me head wet in water, my eyes have to be closed. If my eyes are closed and my face is wet, my cheeks are full of air. I don’t really understand how not to do it. I don’t consciously do it. I would have to focus very hard not to do it. So, he looks back at the photos and I am doing it in every single one. We are both, hot, angry and tired, we aren’t going to reshoot them. Even if we tried I would still do it, it isn’t something that I can just snap out of.

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Fish at the top of the water. I like those fish. Always hiding in plain sight.

We pack up and get changed back in to normal clothes. TW takes his pants off and puts a towel on, then undies and shorts before standing around for a while, then changed his shirt. A slight improvement. I tie my swimmers back up. Take the dress off. Put a sarong on and we walk back. A long, long, boring, too tired to talk track back to our room. It feels like we were in the water for 20 minutes and if that was the case this walk back was over an hour. We left breakfast around 7:30am and get back to our room at 11am. I have no idea where the time went. Maybe the walk back took 2 hours. Maybe we were in the water for 2 hours. It is hard to say. I guess I could check the time stamp on the camera but it is set to Sydney time.

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Trash the shirt and pants.

As we pass reception we are asked if the carry on bag is our drone. Word has made it back to reception that we were flying one yesterday. He mentions that we must go far to fly it. It isn’t, it is a giant sopping wet wedding dress. He also enquires about TW’s dive yesterday and did he enjoy it. With a monotone voice, convening less interest than intended he said it was interesting and he did enjoy it. He sounds bored and sarcastic. He did enjoy it, really he did. I assure the staff member as he was the one who booked it in for TW. He really had a great time.

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The best we could do without a photographer.

It isn’t long before lunch will be open. We take the dress out of the bag and slide it over one of the deck chairs. The chair sits inside the dress as if it were me so that wind can blow through it. The dress is too large and heavy to hang on anything. This seems the simplest solution to get it dry before we leave. We can only hope that it will be dry before we leave. Did I mention it is massive, 15 layers or something. It is a proper big wedding dress with a decent length train on it. Not the best dress to take on holidays, not a great dress to try and dry quickly after swimming in it.

Lunch is uneventful. Lasagne for TW and pizza reine for me. Both are nice.

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Lasange again. Nom nom nom.

We let lunch settle and plan to pack as tomorrow is the day we check out to go to Bora Bora and Easter Sunday and our 1 year Easterversary – married Easter  Sunday 2017 – but we aren’t in the mood for packing so we go for a swim to the beach on the other side of the resort. This is a swim. Directly there, very few distractions. We take the snorkels but don’t really stop on the way over. The plan is to explore because I have not yet been to this spot. It isn’t what I imagined so I lose interest in any great exploration of the spot very quickly and would rather be in the water. I don’t want to be out in the sun. Today has been the first day my sunburn hasn’t been constant pain, it is calm. This sandy spot is a bit dirty. The only spot at the resort that I have seen litter and there are ‘stink pools’ – water trapped in the sand formation and now sitting smelly and stagnant. I head back and snorkel over reef and rocks that I had not previously seen. TW follows.
IMG_0783.JPGPast the puffer fish and on our way back to the over water launch spot, I see one of the sharks. I always think it is the small one, it could be the larger one. Hard to say when you don’t have the others around for scale. I try to take a photo. I try to follow as they do seem to be on a loop. TW doesn’t see the shark or the puffer fish. Good thing I had the camera. We see the wind pick up and then a storm coming in. With the cloud cover settling over the water it becomes difficult to see and the waves get a bit choppy so we call it a day. Rain when in the water isn’t an issue but when the conditions turn and you can’t fully enjoy it or you can’t see anything, I don’t think there is much of a point to stay in the water.

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I finally made it to the other side of the hotel.

Snorkelling is basically all we have done since we arrived so I am surprised and happy when I see a fish I hadn’t seen here yet. I call him a puffer fish but I really don’t know if he is or not. TW explores the reef differently from me. This stops us crashing in to each other. As we get closer to our launch spot, past the puffer fish and on our way back to the over water launch spot, I see one of the sharks. I always think it is the small one, it could be the larger one. Hard to say when you don’t have the others around for scale. I try to take a photo. I try to follow as they do seem to be on a loop. TW doesn’t see the shark or the puffer fish. Good thing I had the camera. We see the wind pick up and then a storm coming in. With the cloud cover settling over the water it becomes difficult to see and the waves get a bit choppy so we call it a day. Rain when in the water isn’t an issue but when the conditions turn and you can’t fully enjoy it or you can’t see anything, I don’t think there is much of a point to stay in the water.

The storm is big and feels like it is going to blow furniture off the deck. It doesn’t, we get the dress inside, it is now dry, before any rain hits. Everything from our balcony or front porch is brought inside and windows and doors closed. The room gets hot quickly without the breeze. From experience we know that the strong winds won’t last long, the storm won’t last long and we can open everything up and air it out again soon. Rain hasn’t hit yet but it looks like it is going to. Near 7pm and on the horizon we see the rain coming. Dinner being at 7pm and the restaurant was very busy last night we discuss if we should head to the bar and use the internet before the rain hits or be stuck in our room until it passes. We had to the bar. So did everyone else. No one is drinking, just waiting for dinner and making the same choice as us to arrive before the rain.

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Mini samosas, olives and coconut.

TW orders two cocktails. Insistent I would probably like one. I test. I don’t. He drinks two. We get an olive, samosa and coconut snack platter with the cocktails. I enjoy that. The storm has some of the heaviest rain we have seen but it lasts no longer than half an hour. Wind arrives first and leaves last, the rain goes hard and fast and leaves just as abruptly as it arrived. It’s like your alcoholic friend, showing up drunk to your party, vomiting profusely everywhere and then disappearing in to the night without cleaning up after themselves. They showed up and you should just be thankful they did. The rain has come and gone, but at least it rained?

Dinner, we have a special spot, the special chairs. A table reserved for us and decorated. Tonight is our last night and this was a very cute way to say goodbye. TW chooses Bolognese. We have enjoyed the pasta. I have Carbonara again. Every night we had planned to get their chocolate molten cake desert, a chocolate fondant if you are more used to that term. The meals were so filling we had not been able to. We made the conscious effort not to eat the bread rolls but we still couldn’t fit it in tonight. I say it is probably ok, it says ‘Pearl Beach’ not ‘Tikehau’ and our next hotel is also a Pearl Beach hotel so we can probably get it there.  When we sign the bill, there is one for food and one for the bar – as it has been any other time we ordered drinks with out meal – only this time the bar one says $0. Confused TW looks up and he is told it is right, he wasn’t sure exactly what she had said but he thought it might have been our leaving gift. He understood the part when he was assured the total for the cocktails was nil and beyond that he tried but failed to hear properly. What a nice surprise. Especially for TW, he drank them both.

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One of our special farewell table settings. We had it for our last dinner and breakfast.

Again, we have said we will pack but don’t. The water is still, the storm has passed. We stare in to the water and watch all that is happening in the light of the full moon. Time stops or speeds up when you are mesmerised by the water and the creatures in it. We are ready for bed by the time we stop snooping on the lives of sea creatures. TW moves our open, ready and waiting suitcases out of the way so we have a clear path to the bathroom, should we need it during the night or in the morning.

Easter Sunday, our Easterversary. Yay, our clothes aren’t packed and we aren’t organised. Double yay, our bill and check out instructions are under the door. Yay, we don’t want to go. Don’t make us go. We don’t want to pack. Don’t want to leave. Don’t want to go to Bora Bora, even though it is world famous and TIkehau isn’t, please don’t make us go. How could it possibly be as good, or better than here. Don’t make me leave. Noooo. Mini freak out. We don’t pack. We do watch sharks and eat breakfast. Today is the first day, our last day, that I realise we could have ordered eggs from the kitchen as part of the buffet. I don’t know if I would have their pastries were really amazing and I tended to stick with those and I have already finished my breakfast when I realise so I am too full to do that today. It is good to know though, that you can order an omelette, fried eggs etc should you wish to have eggs a certain way, as part of the buffet breakfast. I tell TW. He asks if I wanted any or would have ordered if I knew days before, he says he might have. Neither of us do today. We need to get back to the room and pack. TW had left the room after me and I saw our breakfast shark so we stop on the way back in the hopes he will also see it. We don’t see him.

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A little bit of the room. We were packing up to leave, forgot to take room photos on arrival.

We should pack, so we get ready to start packing and touch everything we own and decide we should get in the water instead. The overwater steps is where we head. Lots of fish hang around me. I am still unsure if they are hoping to be fed or if I smell like sugar because I drink too much coke and pepsi. They tend to like me more than TW and so do mosquitoes so maybe I do smell sweet. We decided to go barefoot. The flippers are our own and we don’t want to pack them wet. We could borrow some from the hotel but it is the other direction from the launch spot and well the extra 10 steps to it just seem unnecessary. Barefoot and snorkel mask. Our snorkel masks were with broken or missing, mine was missing, when we went to find and pack them at home. We borrowed masks from the hotel which meant they didn’t need to be dry for us to pack but our reef shoes or flippers would need to be packed. Items we need to pack we would rather be dry so we don’t take anything we don’t need. We do wear swimmers and hope we are in and out early enough for them to dry before we need to pack them.

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The water is so clear and sometimes it is so calm

Lots of fish, some fun with fish. I get swarmed and circled by some fish. A couple keep running in to the camera so I hold it closer to my chest. They just swim closer to me. I change the camera to video in the hopes that I can record them circling me. TW is somewhere else and he isn’t seeing this or being circled. Just fish, no sharks, I don’t think they are getting ready to feed. I get a little panicked because so many fish and getting so close. I feel trapped. Then a big fish joins the crowd. Wow, these cute fish have managed to intimidate my by swimming in loops. The little fish, I was almost ok with but once the big fish (still not a shark) joins in, that’s it. I am unsettled and head back to the stairs. TW meets me there. I tell him about and say he should go. Now that I am away from it I think it might have been fun so he should try. I swim him over to the spot. No fish are around. A few show up but it isn’t the same. It is close to pack up time so we go back to the stairs.

One of the others guests is also using these stairs to get in to the water. He has a lounge floaty and has tied it to the stairs by some string. I start to get out of the water but slip on the bottom step. It is covered with sea grass and algae like green stuff which is a bit slippery. The floaty is blown off the stairs by a strong gust of wind. As I fall my hand reaches out and I somehow catch the string for the floaty. It wouldn’t have gone too far. TW is still in the water, it isn’t like I just saved a falling baby from a burning building but I am amused by the timing. I hand the string back. I have to climb up a few more stairs because I can’t yet reach that high. He ties in on a bit better this time and once we have room to get out of the water we do.

This time we pack. Swimmers are out to dry. Everything else is packed. We mope about. When it is time to head to the marina for our transfer, we pack the swimmers in a couple of plastic bags and say our final goodbyes to Tikehau.

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The boat is ready to take us away from this paradise. Pretty and sad at the same time.

 

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