Friday, October 28, 2011

Biking in Vaitape

Oct 25, 2011 - we had originally planned on doing an introductory dive today followed by a 2 tank dive tomorrow. The afternoon dive was all booked plus it didn't seem worth the money so we decided to go biking instead. We booked a bike tour thru our hotel concierge. They work with Avis (yeah, the car company but they rent bicycles here). Note: its better to ask for bikes with baskets while making the reservation. We didn't get bikes with baskets and that would have been very useful when we shopped for things along our bike ride. After the usual hearty breakfast at the hotel we headed out by boat to Vaitape. A car whisked us off to the Avis office which is close to Matira beach. After signing the requisite papers, we started off on the bikes (no gears, no brakes...these r beach cruisers) towards Matira beach and Vaitape downtown. A single road runs the loop around the island and the entire loop is about 32 kms. Downtown Vaitape was about 10-12 kms from our start point. We stopped on the way to buy a tee for DS & DH and an island necklace for myself...then onto Matira beach. Its as beautiful as I'd heard it to be, with soft white sand, picturesque views of the blue water till the horizon. I really want to be here for sunset. Hopefully tomorrow. After the usual picture-taking, we headed on. Stopped at a pearl shop while it suddenly poured, saw pearls worth $500...quickly made an exit and biked on. :-) we soon reached downtown Vaitape. We were hoping to exchange some dollars here coz the exchange rate was almost 10% higher here than the hotel. But alas! We forgot our passport! Note: all banks in Vaitape need your passport to exchange money and it is better to get money exchanged in town than in the hotel. After pointlessly going around a few banks we went to a supermarket, got ourselves water, a bottle of wine for later, some snacks to go with it and some beer n a vodka drink for lunch. We then grabbed some pork or beef (couldn't tell what it was!!) Fried rice at this shack called 'snack roti' and biked on. Past downtown we found a spot to park the bikes and sit by the beach to have the rice and drinks! Impromptu was brilliant! The rice was yummy and it was one of the cheapest meals we had! ;-) Got some cool snaps of the place and of us swinging on a tree! Was a lot of fun...the rest of the bike ride wasn't as picturesque but we rode past many mango trees chock full of mangoes. Of course i had to stop to take pics prompting an exasperated sigh and comment from DH....something to the effect that i was forgetting that i grew up in India among mango trees! matter, i got some snaps of a local house, mangoes and had a local woman offer me a mango... score!!!! :-) ...I packed the mango for later and we biked on...We hit a steep hill past the dock for four seasons resort. The hill was a bit$h for me but DH made it uphill all the way riding on the bike. Then it was downhill with crazy speed, no gears and no real brakes! Was a roller coaster ride! We made it back to the Le Meridien dock just before 2pm, which was the time we had to turn in our bikes. After heading back to our room, we swam/snorkeled near our bungalow, I sun bathed for a bit and took a restful nap on the deck, then got ready, sat on the deck while enjoying our wine and snacks. The view was very good...tried taking some sunset time pics from the deck but because the sun sets behing Mt. Otemanu, Le meridien does not get good sunset views. Nevertheless we enjoyed the moment. We had dinner reservations at La Bounty. Food, wine and dessert turned out to be excellent. We had tomato & mozzarella with cabbage slaw in olive oil as an appetizer. It was good. Then we had tuna marinated in coconut milk (apparently island specialty)... we decided tuna doesn't really go well with was just OK. Dinner also consisted of tuna tartar and tuna sashimi...all good but certainly not the best. I had the dessert sampler which was totally worth it but also might be a good option for sharing ( it had samples of creme brulee, tiramisu, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and mango sorbet).... When we got back to the hotel there was a Polynesian dance show going on. We watched it for a few mins, I tried taking some shots but without a tripod proved a bit tough. Then we headed back to retire for the night. Tomorrow is need the sleep! :-)

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