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January 1, 2009...Happy New

Two weeks today I leave old Blighty for 9 months--God willing!! It's been a long time since I travelled like this and I'm continually plagued by doubts. Time will tell, I keep telling myself. Thailand, Oz, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Vancouver and then back to jolly old England

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Location: Yasawas Islands, Fiji

Sunday May 24The 24th of May, the Queens birthday , if you don’t give us a holiday we’ll all run away!!! Now where did that come from?? In any case I’m on the island of Kuata in the Yasawas In Fiji. I’ve been here for 2 days and it has bucketed down rain and blown up a storm and still she blows. I arrived in Fiji about 10 days ago. Stayed overnight at the Smugglers Cove in Nadi and caught the boat the next morning for my “Awesome Adventure”.
The Yasawas are a string of islands to the north of Fiji –volcanic in origin—they are breathtakingly beautiful . There are thousands of beaches—the water is warm but not too warm, the sea is full of fish, and coconut trees are plentiful. Each inhabited island has its own little plantation where they grow pineapples and bananas, mangoes, oranges and all the vegetables they need for themselves and for the tourists that come to their backpacker resorts . I stayed my first night in Nadi on what they call the mainland. It was filled with under 30s and mostly just over 20s. . I stayed my first night in Nadi on what they call the mainland. It was filled with under 30s and mostly just over 20s. Yes, I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least. One young man came up and talked to me and invited me to join him and his girlfriend but I begged off when I saw they were in a dark corner in a hammock. I had no wish to intrude.
The next morning I was up at 6:30 had my breakfast and was waiting for the bus at 7:15. It finally arrived at 8 am and we were off to the marina to catch the boat to the Yasawas . The boat was a large Catamarran, painted a bright yellow and blue –the colours of The Awesome Adventures group. The boat cruises up the islands stopping periodically to drop off and pick up passengers. The boat would stop and small boats from the various resorts would come racing out filled with people who were going on to another resort and picking up people who were heading for their resort…and so on. Going south they wouldstop at the same resorts picking up passengers going south and arriving back in Nadi about 6:30 pm. I was by far the oldest on the boat and I found the transfer from one boat to another rather frightening but the Fijian staffs practically lifted me bodily from one boat to the next ..no mean feat. They were very patient with me but they weren’t having any old fart fall overboard…not on their watch.
Seven of us disembarked at Nobua Lodge resort on the island of Nacula. One English Canadian—that’s me--- a german girl Natalie, a Belgium girl, Magali a French couple and a finnish couple. The staff were terrific and seemed to favour me …and started to jokingly call me chief which I later found out was because of my age…they show a great deal of respect for their elders. So unlike the Western young. Natalie and Magili and I sat up until about midnight polishing of my bottle of gin and getting to know each other. The next morning we took a trip over to Blue Lagoon to another resort but of a much higher class. It is right next to Turtle Island Resort which is apparently a very exclusive resort. We just stayed on the beach and went snorkling. The fish on the reefs were plentiful and beautiful and there were more of them than I saw on the Barrier reef. There was also a restaurant serving coffee so I topped up my caffeine level and had a great lunch. When we got back to the Lodge the boat had been and deposited at least seven more very young people…4 English and 3 Swedes. My heart sank when I heard they were football crazy—all guys—2 from Liverpool and 2 from Manchester—I conjured up my image of the typical lager lout and despaired.. I apologise guys in case you ever get around to reading this because I was totally wrong …you turned out to be a joy…raucus but a joy---always arguing and laughing especially about football but open minded, funny, interesting and interested. They reminded me of you Adam and your friends and my heart lifted considerably. The 3 Swedes were 2 guys and a girl(woman) who had all gone to school together and if I remember correctly came from a fairly small town. When they walked into the dining room I was stopped dead in my tracks the woman was something else. Not at all the stereotypical Swedish woman she was tall and slim and brunette and she took my breath away. She was lovely and I found her very beautiful. That’s you I’m talking about Roxy in case you ever read this. Her 2 friends, Robin and Nick were very different from one another—Nick with his baseball cap perched at an angle and an almost perpetual smile on his face and his guitar in his hands talking almost non-stop and Robin who sat and watched and often seemed on another planet. I was fortunate enough to be sitting opposite Roxy for most of the evening and we talked and smoked and drank Tequilla. I think we became friends….then there was Eric who joined us and we argued and joked and discussed everything under the sun. All the boys had just graduated from Uni .and were loving their new found freedom and independence. Anthony was very forward and under other circumstances could have been a bit overpowering. He knew everything and was always right---oh, you know somebody just like that , but I found him very likeable and warmed to him—he reminded me a bit of my younger self..
That night Eric and I sat and talked and argued til about midnight and he repeatedly said apologetically I know I’m only 22….finally I said. ‘..and how old do you think I am?’ I believe he said . ‘…oh about 56 or so’ ‘Noooo I said I’m 73 and his jaw dropped 73!!!! I was probably older than his grandfather and he was talking to me as a contemporary. The next day 2 Law graduates from Manchester arrived… they looked more like models but they were Law graduates and had all the answers. Very confidant . I love young people…they take me back and as I said remind me of my own kids and of course myself when I was younger. It was a recipe for lively discussion and , dare I say it , argument ….Me playing Devils Advocate. Needless to say I loved it and was saddened when time came to depart. They were all going to one island and I was off to Botaira on a different island. On the boat they started asking for my e-mail address and my blog address. I do hope I’ll hear from one or all of them as I’d like to know where they get to. I disembarked first and it seemed to come up rather suddenly and as grabbed my stuff to hurry to my boat about half a dozen young men and women stood up and shook my hand except for Roxy she gave me a big hug…I was overwhelmed…as I made my way to my boat some young lady looked up at me and said, “My God, your popular!!!” I was speechless.
Botaira, my 2nd resort, lived up to its name “Beautiful Sunset”
It is a very beautiful place and the resort is a bit more upmarket. I had to pay a supplement to stay there but it had been highly recommended and I was greeted by a trio singing Bula songs. Bula means hello and welcome and seemingly a multitude of things…but it is the greeting of the islands…..BULA!!!!!!!!
There were very few people there when I arrived ….two women on there own—1 English and 1 German. Francis , the Englishwomen , was very pleasant but the other was a know it all and seemed to insist that everybody knew she was a know it all…nobody could complete a sentence without her interrupting or trying to correct you…there were times when I thought Francis was going to drop her in mid interruption with a punch to the nose. To be fair, Francis was not like that and I’m probably just projecting my own feelings on to her. There was also a pair of English newlyweds, Aaron and Esme. At first they kept pretty much to themselves but one late afternoon I went fishing with them. The first place we went was barren so our boatman upped anchor and took us to another spot in what he said was about 30 meters of water. We started getting bites right away. We were using handlines and for bait it was pieces of frozen herring. I kept losing my bait and then on 3 occasions I lost my hook too. Esme was the first to haul one in…a lovely snapper and a good size as well. She caught the 2nd one two and we realized why we were losing our hooks---it was a long , silvery, evil looking barracuda. Poor Esme was terrified when told it was a barracuda a…and as if on cue it fell off the hook into the boat. I think Esme was ready to abandon ship except she must have realized that there was only one barracuda in the boat but a helluva lot more still in the water. Our boatman then started pulling them in as well…everyone but me…then Aaron got a hit and reeling it in found half a barracuda hanging from the hook----another barracuda had bitten it in half as Aaron was pulling it in. I was convinced—they ARE dangerous bastards. It was getting pretty dark and I was the only who hadn’t caught a fish. I didn’t really care. I wasn’t to keen on landing a barracuda in the dark…and the stars were putting on a stupendous display the skies were clear and the stars were out in all their glory and then I got one…it was a lovely big dark red snapper---and with that we wound up our lines and headed back to the resort. It was dark—very dark and the sea was filled with reefs and we had no lights at all—Yes I was a bit concerned. When we were about a half mile away from the resort the boatman,Knox, asked Esme if she had a cigarette lighter-she did and he held it aloft and started flicking it repeatedly and a few moments later another cigarette lighter started flicking from the beach and sure enough we were guided in by a Bic cigarette lighter. Satellite navigation?? Who needs it if you’ve got a Bic. For the next couple of days –fish-dominated the menu and bloody good it was too. ALL HAIL !!!!! MAN THE PROVIDER!!!!!
I wrote more than this but thru my own ineptness I lost it. I'll be back soon

Monday, 04 May 2009

Location: Taupo, New Zealand

I am presently sitting in a nice warm motel room overlooking Australasias biggest lake--Lake Taupo.It is an incredibly beautiful setting----but I get ahead of myself. It's been 2 weeks since I last wrote ---for those of you who are following this it is very difficult to keep this writing up and running . 'Specially as I have been driving daily and collapsing into motels in the evening. By the way there is a payoff story to the Viet Nam Hero and the Medical Dame.
I think I was in Aerlie Beach when I last wrote. Queensland is lovely, and Aerlie particularly so. I went out on the reef twice in two different boats. The first one was enormous..a catamaraan that took us out to a large pontoon moored permanently at knuckle Reef. We moved onto the pontoon and from there we snorkled --some dived', other just went on the semi submersible sub or watched from the under water observation room on the pontoon. I just snorkled as I haven't dived for over 30 years. The snorkling was lovely...I've wanted to swim on the reef since I first heard about it some 60 years ago. There were oodles of fish of all colors and giant clams and turtles and coral of all sorts...it was a marvellous day. Two days later I went out on another trip that included about 2 hours on Whitehaven beach snow white beach that goeas for miles and no people...gives you a sort of desert island feeling and then we went to another location and snorkled for a couple of hours. The snorkling was not as interesting as the first trip but I'm glad I did it, The next day I started back to Brisbane to meet a friend of Peters. It was uneventful but enjoyable. The countryside is nice and the towns as pretty as anew penny. I stopped at a motel in a place called Caboolture about 35 minutes from Brisbane. I was sitting outside my door having a smoke when the man who was staying next door ambled over to chat. And he was telling me about his life in Oz and how great it was and he' just brought his wife in from their home to see the doctor and so on when I suddenly felt compeeled to recount my meeting with the Viet Nam hero, come millionaire etc etc. By this time the mans wife had joined him and as I was saying "This guy was professing to be a millionaire but he was wearing brown jeans that had a shine on them so that they looked like they needed a good wash" The man looked at his wife and they both smiled and he turned and said knowingly "It sounds like you were talking to Colin" "Who", says I. "Colin",says he"Colin Ubergang" Who's Colin Ubergang? I ask. He's one of the richest men in Australia. Does he own his own plane I ask----Yep A Hurricane - which ties in with him telling me he had to fly alone in his plane....and on and on, Curious and curiouser, I'm tired. Goodnight.
May the Fifth.
Still in Taupo. Leaving tomorrow for Rotorura and then north to well, the north, I've forgotten the name but will tell about it when I get there. NZ has been pretty uneventful, I haven't struck up any long conversations with any Kiwis, That's not to say they are unfriendly--far from it --they are the most friendly obliging people I have ever met. The first place I stayed at--a motel in a village called Mocau--I asked if there was any place I could do my laundry. I'll do it for you said the lady--I have some of my own to do --I'll put it through the drier for you as well. Sure enough when I opened the door next morning there it was all washed and folded and packed in a carrier bag. I went around to her door to thank her and ask how much I owed her. You don't owe me anything she said -I was doing laundry anyway. When I persisted saying I must owe her something she refused again looking embarrased so I let it go. I went from there to a cafe/restaurant just below on the hillside. I was in the middle of my breakfast when one of the staff came to my table and asked if I had stayed at the motel the previous night . When I replied that I had she said that the lady had just phoned to tell me I had left a sock behind. I thanked her and when I finished breakfast I left at least a 10% tip behind. I was standing out side having a fag and reading some notices when the waitress came out tapped me on the shoulder and said you left this on your table and held out her hand and proffered the tip that I had left. I left that for you I said --was it not enough? She smiled and said that they didn't work for tips but because they liked working and that I should keep it. I was amazed--there was no sarcasm or anything untoward--she just smiled and popped back into the restaurant. And then I went back to the motel and collected the errant sock. And so it continued --the Kiwis are very pleasant people.The next day was all driving-along coastal roads --so lots of Ks but not much over all distance, I ended up that night in a bit of a dump motel..cheap but not too cheerful and stsrted thinking about my progress. I got out the map and figured that if I wanted to cover South Island I wwould end up spending all my time drivfing and racing to get back to catch my plane and not really seeing anything. Sooo I scratched the idea of going to South Island and would stop over at interesting looking places and make my way back up north. One week for North Island and one for South Island would be rather insulting NZ. As it is I beginning to realize I could happily spend a month or more exploring the nooks and crannies of North Island. Well that's about it, I'll let you go now but I'll try to send off another missif before leaving this lovely land.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Location: Whitsunday, Australia

Well I finally got it all on to the internet I hope you enjoy reading it more than I enjoyed living it. Don't get me wrong I've warmed to OZ it's QANTAS that is giving me most of the static....I got Brisbane on the overnight train thinking I would see some of the country.HAH!!!!! By about 6:30 pm it was like the bloody blinds had been pulled down and they weren't opened until 6:00 in the morning...lovely compartment all to myself but I wouldn't do it again. Sitting around the railroad station at 6 in the morning is not fun. The weather was good but there is so much of it!!! The thought of dragging my butt around Brisbane with my bags in tandem is not a good thing to think about early in the morning. I asked about hiring a car and in another hour I was in one doing the double circle of Brisbane before finding out I was going in the wrong bloody direction!!!! I blame it on the country being upside down---before I go on when you see me ask me about this as I have been trying for days to think of a way to put this into words. As I was sitting on a rock outside the station I heard a voice sayFound a place to smke eh. and on he went in well modulated voice how pissed he was at these people trying to tell him where he could or could not smoke. That was the start. I have no idea about the truth of what he went on to say. HE WAS A CAPTAIN IN THE aIR fORCE AND A FORMER Vietnam war here who won a DFC and was paid 75,000 AUD per year because of it. and he was up to lecture at a nearby Airbase and how he made millions by flying into Russia and buying things for 4,000 AUD and selling for 71/2 million Aud. And he was travelling with his lady friend THE DAME, the only medical dame in Australia. He pointed her out sort stumbling around the coffee shop and my jaw fell...Honest to God she looked like a bag lady. More like dame Edna without the glitter.I'll continue this later I've got some emails to reply to.


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Recent Messages

From Doran
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TONY for 28th JUNE 2009
Response: Thank you darlin, very much
From
hey dad. tried to call you earlier. i left a message. i dont know whether you will get it. hope to hear your voice soon. xx
From Ads
Good blog dad glad to hear uhad a good time. Remember wrote it in word save it then cut and paste it in. We don't want be losing the stories. Love u dad spesk soon.x
Response: ^Thanx son a bit more to come glad you enjoyed it.
Dad
From doran
hooray!!!!! wonderful report from Fiji,so good to read & learn about.Why are you so surprised to be popular? You are loved,just look at the longevity of many of your friendships(40yrs us!)as well as your family!!!!Glad you met Nick in NZ.Enjoy Canada & all your old pals!!! Have you got a birthday coming up??? Loads of love....DorrieX X X X.
Response: Thank you my lovely Dorrie I think of you often and hope you are well..birthday on 28th
Love Tony
From sara
whoop! good tofinally here somthing from you. i have been checking daily. Will try and call you soon. give my love to Canada. big hugs dad. Jacob sends cuddles too. xx
Response: Sorry to keep you waiting so long hope you enjoyed it
Love Dad
From Kim
Where are you my old friend?? - keep on looking for you but nothing day after day? Hope all is ok with you - just be nice to hear a word or two from your lips!!!
Take care, all love, K
Response: I'm here ..alive and well thanks Take care
From Ads
Hey dad now ur in one place give us an update of ur adventures.
Response: its there son
From sara
hey dad what you up too? you must be in Canada by now. have you set up skype? ella said she sent you an email telling you how to do it. be nice to have your fujian experiance to read soon. let me know a number to call you on when you get the chance. love and hugs from all of us. xx
Response: I'm afraid I didn't get that one try again
From Ads
Hey dad drop my a line when ur gonna be in the same place for a few days.leave a number and il call u. Would be nice to finish our conversation. Love u old man.
Response: I'm At Corys
From Ad
Hey dad.not sure why my phone got cut off.it's so nice to speak to u. Il try and call u later on when I get in to work. Love u so much I'm so happy that u are enjoying yourself. The trip certainly seems to be exactly what u needed. Speak soon.
Response: my phone ran out o f money Love you son,
DAD
From ads
hey dad hope all is well drop me a line when u get a chance, it would be nice to hear how your island hopping has gone.
love you old man.
x
Response: Hi son ..got back yester day and will try to finish up my blog today. The islands are breath takingly beautiful
Talk soon , love dad.
From doran
just thinking of you on this sunny,warm bank holiday & hoping to hear lots about Fiji !!!!! Finished chemo treatments,radiotherapy next...fell over & broke my right wrist last week...all jolly stuff. Love...Doran.
Response: Glad to hear from you ..sorry about the wrist...is anyone looking after you?
Your friends in Auckland were terrific..we got on ever so well. love tony
From doran
where in the World are you now? X
Response: I just got back from two weeks touring the Yasawa islands in Fiji..blog to follow soon love tony
From Kim
Hello out there,

Where are you know - whats happend to my lunch time reading??
Hope all is well - you really sound like you are having fun and enjoying yourself - so please. Try and talk soon, stops the worrying from this end
xx
Response: My blog on the islands will follow soon ...it was ..out of this world.talk soon Love Tony
From Su
Hi Tony,
It sounds like you are having a wonderful time - I'm so happy you got to do your travelling. Love reading your updates, makes me want to pack my rucksack and fly off again - maybe when the kids have all grown up and left home.

Keep having a great time, Lots of Love Su (and Mike and kids) xxx
Response: Thank you for boarding the Ovaltine Express all passengers are welcome ...Mind the Doors!!!! Love Tony
From ella
Loving reading your entries Tony, keep 'em coming..
Response: Thank you ella. Comment is really appreciated. I sometimes feel like I'm wearing my fingers to the knuckle for nowt.
From
hey dad. sooooo good to hear from you. i see you have made it to new zealand then. what are you plans after this? Fuji? Hawaii? well at least the guy was real but still a little lost on the story!
We all had a lovely time in Israel. if you get a chance you should go there, i think you would like it and i am pretty sure you will get on well with Ellas dad. will fill you in on the trip via e-mail or somthing. miss you and love you dad. keep the stories coming. Mwah
Response: Fiji. Fly there on Wed 13. stay for 18 days, Have a lovely plan worked out . I hope it works
love
From Jaimie
Hi Tony, So great to hear you got away to travel some... lucky you. Sounds like your having an amazing time, i'm really pleased for you; and very jealous of course. Sara just gave me this web address to read about your travels and to leave you a message. I hope you are safe and well and continue to enjoy your adventures. Take care Tony love James x (ooo and Morgan!)
Response: Hellloooo! Jaimie. What a surprise. Welcome aboard the Ovaltine Express. Try to stay awake as I'm going to ask questions later, Take care
From ad
hey dad, glad your enjoying NZ i thought you would. its a shame you cant make it over to the south island, i guess that means you'll have to go back some time to do it justice. drop me an email so we can arrange a time to talk on the phone. , my international sim has been a bit funny, so you might have to phone me on my normal number.
let me knoe old man, love you very much am so pleased that you are enjoying yourself.
P.s Sara Ella and the little man are safly back in the country. just though id let you know. x
Response: This is a very lovely country I wish I could afford to live here but got a great plan for Fiji
Love
From Kim
Not all of you has moved but I have people coming to stay and I need the space!!
How are things going - another long gap with no words?? - Its hard work keeping these things going isn't it - but it is lovely to hear from you when you write - where are you now??
Write some more please
K xxx
Response: It is hard work keeping up,especially when you have been driving most of the day and can't find a motel with internet. I'm at Lake Taupo, central N.I. in N.Z. Take care I'll write, Tony
From Flo
Hi Tony
Had lunch with the group last week. they are enjoying your trip and looking forward to your visit.
We had a wonderful train trip from Cairns to Brisbane a couple of years ago, also visited Alice Springs, etc. did an ATP tour, much easier to have someone else look after you. We also had an incident with Qantus, but did get it sorted out in the end.
Enjoy your journey.Cheers
Flo
Response: Flo gently Sweet Afton? or some other.? My readership has sure expanded! Welcome aboard the most recent cure for insomnia. String up your hammock and hang on!!!! Tony
From Chuck Davis
Hi, Tony: It's been years! Had lunch with Norm G today, and he says you're coming to Vancouver in May or June. Really like to see you. Norm or Betty can keep us posted. Have a look at my web site www.vancouverhistory.ca

Chuck
Response: Hi Chuck..see you in the summer
From sara
hey dad, that was a wicked read. really enjoyed it. keep them coming. though i have to admit that i did get a little lost on the story bout the guy and the dame. you will have to tell me that one when you get back. what are your plans from here? when do you leave for new zealand?
miss you and love you. xx
Response: That's the thing Sara- I got lost too...I couldn't decide whether the guy was the real thing or not
From Kim
How lovely to be able to sit and read all this - nice to know you are still in one piece and alive!!
Response: I hear I've moved. Glad your still reading any way
From Kim
Hi,
How is Australia - you have gone very quiet and no pictures at all - are you ok as I think some of us are getting a little worried??
Let us know please
Response: ON THE MOVE AND NOT FINDING INTERNET OUTLETS WHERE i STOP
sORRY I'LL EMAIL
LOVE TONY