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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Travel Diaries: Honolulu



Out of all the places on that are on my itinerary, this is one place that I was more ecstatic to visit than the rest.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my love for this place stemmed from a rather unusual place.

In 2002 I was 10 years old and Disney released a film that swiftly became one of my favourite films ever. 

Lilo and Stitch. 

For some reason I absolutely fell in love with the character Stitch. My parents would argue it's because me and him have a lot of similarities. An over active, aggravating, angry little monster with a heart of gold.

I don't see it. 

However I still couldn't get over my obsession for this film.

Whenever we visited Disney in Orlando, I would come back with copious amounts of Stitch themed memorabilia. T-shirts, hats, cuddly toys, pins, mugs, shoes, footballs, baseballs, literally anything that has Stitch's face printed on it...I either had it or wanted it.

Something that this film did for me was not only cause my parents to spend a ridiculous amount of money on Stitch memorabilia, but it also sparked my interest/love for Hawaii.

I do find it odd how a Disney film can spark my love for a place halfway across the world from me but I guess that is just the beauty of art.

So we arrived. 

Finally after thirteen years of me wishing I could somehow get to Hawaii I was suddenly stepping foot on to one of these Islands. 

Honolulu. Situated in the island of Oahu. 

Here I was. 

At first when you think of Hawaii, you think of tropical beaches, palm trees, surfing, lei necklaces, tiki decor, you think of everything that western civilisation portrays Hawaii to be. Which is exactly what I expected.

I was wrong.

It's a city.



Sky scrapers, busy streets, shops, traffic etc to me it was like New York City on a different island.


I was a bit underwhelmed if i'm completely honest.

I think part of the reason I was underwhelmed is because I had been blessed with seeing the beauty of the French Polynesian islands and they are in a completely separate league to anywhere else.

But I was determined to see the Hawaii I wanted to see.

So we rented a car and drove to the famous "North Shore" of Oahu. Famous for it's ridiculously massive waves and a hot spot for surfers all around the globe. The North Shore also plays host to some of the most renowned surfing competitions.

This was what I wanted.

Me and the people I was with bought some beers, some food and pulled up in our car to a popular beach and just watched the surfers out practicing their craft as the sun set.

It was bliss.


However, this was not my favourite experience of Hawaii....that's next to come.


Next Stop: Lahaina, Hawaii


-Harry 


Sunday, 20 December 2015

Travel Diaries: A Farewell To French Polynesia





I never thought in a million years that I would ever have the opportunity to visit some of the French Polynesian islands.

I mean granted part of the reason is because I never actually knew they existed until I saw my itinerary for this contract ( I never was any good at geography) however, I would never have pictured myself there.

And so to not only have to have found myself exploring some of the most phenomenal islands but to simultaneously be doing my dream job is completely mind boggling.

My experiences around some of these islands were my first experiences off of the ship.

They were the first islands I had visited where I felt like I was in a completely different world.





They were the first places I realised that I was doing exactly what I had set out to achieve.

They hold some precious memories for me.

When we eventually sailed away from Moorea, which was our last port in these islands, I struggled to not get a little bit emotional.

For two reasons.

1) I was gutted to be leaving islands which not only held extremely fond memories for me but were also partnered with picture perfect idyllic natural beauty

2) I was extremely excited to be heading towards our next destination.




A place I have always wanted to visit ever since I was younger.

Hawaii.

My love for Hawaii came hand in hand with my love for a certain disney film and character.

Lilo and Stitch.

I know it sounds ridiculous, how could I possibly love an island I had never visited just from a Disney film?

Well to be completely honest I have no idea.. it just kind of happened.

And so to be on my way to somewhere I had always dreamed of visiting was surreal.





Initially when I got my contract through, I saw the word "Hawaii" on it and was instantly sold to the idea of taking it.

That's how much I have wanted to visit. I kind of didn't care about anywhere else we visited, I simply just had to see Hawaii.

The day we were due to arrive I was like a child (or like I still am to be honest) before christmas. I could barely sleep I was so excited.

We docked, I did my duties and I got off.

I had arrived.

Next stop: Honolulu, Hawaii


-Harry





Monday, 14 December 2015

Travel Diaries: Moorea




My day in Moorea was an unforgettable experience.


Before we had arrived, I had heard talk amongst several of the passengers on board who have visited these south pacific islands before hand saying that Moorea's beauty was incomparable to that of Tahiti, Papeete, Bora Bora, Rangiroa etc.

In my last posts about those islands I expressed how amazingly picturesque and stunning all of those islands were, so I found it hard to comprehend how something could possibly top all of that.

I woke up to the sound of the anchor plummeting several thousand feet to the ocean floor.

We had arrived. 

Due to rehearsal period still being around, I had to be back on board at a certain time and so I got up extremely early to make the most of my day here.

This port was a tender port, meaning we had to catch a tender boat (or smaller boat) from our ship to the island.

Before hand however I went up to one of the top decks to try and take in the panoramic view of this island.

I was blown away.

In the centre of my view was this gargantuan mountain. Mouaputa, which translates to "Shark Tooth" in the Polynesian language. This mountain is most famous for having a hole straight through the centre of it. According to the locals, the hole was formed when the demigod Pai tossed his magic spear from Tahiti to prevent Rotui (Mountain) being carried off the island to Raiatea (another island) by the god of thieves known as Hilo.



So it's a pretty spectacular mountain with a pretty spectacular story to go with it.

And so I eagerly rushed to get changed and got off the ship.

I was blessed with the company of our female singer and her sister, who was visiting her whilst going around these islands.

We walked towards a local market that was just on the shore and a lady approached us asking if we would like to take a tour of the island.

"The Lady in Blue" she called herself.

I'm guessing it's because everything she was wearing was blue and the majority of the interior of her taxi was blue.....but I could be wrong?


As we whizzed around the island, she gave me valuable knowledge about the island, it's history, how they prepare for monsoons, the local trade industry amongst many many other things.

She explained to me how the island of Moorea and in fact the majority of the south pacific islands such as Bora Bora, Tahiti etc are sinking.


Sinking? I'm currently on an island that is sinking?

She explained how it was happening mere millimetres per year and that it will take many many thousands of years before it had all disappeared.

However, the fact that I have set foot on an island that eventually will cease to exist....is kind of cool.


The lady in blue took us to a local jam farm where we tried to most tastebud tantalising jams that were made from local produce.

She then took us too a place called O Roto Nui or "The Belvedere".




This place provided the most mind blowing view of Moorea and the most incredible view I have ever seen period.

Way up on top of this mountain there was a chain link fence that had padlocks, much like the famous bridge in Amsterdam, where couple who had ventured up here put a padlock to signify their love.

My day in Moorea happened to fall on the day of my four year anniversary with my boyfriend.

I had no padlock.

So I improvised and made a makeshift padlock.






I wished for nothing more than to have him here beside me the entire day and so, to show my love and respect for not only our relationship, but for him as the boy who makes me feel complete, I left a makeshift padlock on top of the belvedere in Moorea.

A little piece of our love is thousand and thousands of miles away from our home.


But to me, It shows that no matter how far away we are from each other our bond is still strong.

Strong enough to stand on top of a mountain that overlooks the shark tooth mountain of Moorea and be present forever more.


My day in Moorea was so special to me.

I will never forget it.



Next Stop, Honolulu - Hawaii

-Harry

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Travel Diaries: Raitea



am being completely and utterly spoilt right now. 

The places that I have visited in the past week alone have been absolutely stunning. 

Nothing I have ever seen quite amounts to the natural beauty that is in the French Polynesian islands. These places are so remote with little to no industrial areas that the beauty is able to be experienced from wherever you go on the islands.

Shortly after we departed from Bora Bora we went to another island called Raitea. 

A relatively small island with cascading mountains, stunning scenery and very little industrial areas.

There was a very small marketplace with a couple of bars, I saw one supermarket and one fuel garage and that was about it.

However, even with the lack of commerical things to do, I was eager to get off of the ship.

I popped into a local bar in order to get wifi just to update my loved ones that I was fine and well and then shortly after I was looking for an adventure.

I find it strange how some people are able to visit these exotic places and only appreciate them from either:

the view from the pool deck
the view from a window
the immediate surroundings that you encounter when off of the ship

In every port I have visited so far, I have tried to venture out and have some sort of adventure.

So that is what I did. 

Myself and two other members of my cast booked on to a snorkelling tour.

A local man and his wife took us off of the mainland to a completely remote small island just off shore. 

As we stepped off of the boat on to the dock, a giant sting ray swam right by us and a group of other passengers from the ship were pointing him out to us.

We circled about half of the island and then set up a base and got changed into our snorkelling gear.

We swam around for hours admiring the absolutely picturesque coral, fish and various other wildlife that was dwelling within this part of the ocean.

After a couple of hours swimming around one side of the island, we decided to venture to the other side. Whilst we were swimming around, we encountered a giant stingray that sauntered on past us as if we were fellow ocean dwellers that he needed to pay no mind too. 

Once we had finished our snorkelling expeditions we came back on the small amount of land that this island provided for us and sat by our base whilst the ocean waves gently washed back and fourth over our legs.

The island had many many coconut trees on it, but unfortunately most of them had grown so high that there was no way we could get to any fresh coconut unless we climbed.

However, fortunately for us we managed to find a smaller tree with several coconuts growing on it that we were able to reach.

And so, in true "stranded on a desert island" mode, we tore them down and launched them at a rock in order to smash them open. We them drank the fresh coconut water and ate the insides.

I tell you now, no coconut water that you can buy in a shop will ever compare to the taste of a fresh coconut from a deserted island that you have smashed open yourself. 

It was absolute bliss. 

Just like with all my adventures so far, the time then came for us to venture back on board and set sail for our next port.

Or as I like to call it, the next location of my next adventure. 




Next Stop, Moorea

-Harry

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Travel Diaries: Bora Bora







An island I had heard so much about.
An island who's natural beauty could bring a tear to the eye.
An island that will always hold a special place in my heart.

The beauty of my job at the moment is that I can go to bed in one exotic location and by the time I wake up I am in another stunning location somewhere else in the world.

When I wrote about my experience of Papeete in my last post I expressed how I didn't think it would be possible for a place to have natural beauty that could surpass that of Papeete.

But that was until I stepped off the boat in Bora Bora.

We were fortunate enough as a cast to be given some time off to recooperate our minds and bodies from an exhausting rehearsal period. 

It just so happened that we were in Bora Bora for this period. 

And so we stepped off the boat into another small boat that took us to this magnificent island.

As we approached the island there was an island local who was in a canoe boat. As we trailed through the ocean towards our port, this local used the waves that our tender boat was causing to gain speed and ultimately do less rowing. 

Then finally our feet felt something that we hadn't felt for a while.

Land.

We stepped off on to the island of Bora Bora. 







With no idea of what to do or where to go, we spoke to some locals who suggested that with the time that we had off ship, we should visit a nearby beach and also swing by the world famous restaurant "Bloody Mary's". 

And so we did just that. 

The beach was simply one if the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life.

The water was crystal clear and you could walk for miles out into the ocean without the water rising above your chest. 

We swam, we snorkled, we drank the local beer "Hinano" and we appreciated every single second because it was one of the first times we had stepped off of the ship since being on board. 

Woefully we eventually left the beach and headed back towards the ship. But we briskly visited Bloody Mary's just so we could achieve the bragging right of being able to say we had been there.








Shortly after our day off in paradise, we were headed back to ship, ready to tackle the remainder of our rehearsal and install period. 

But with each new day is one new place, one new adventure, one new memory and one less day until I am re-united with my boyfriend.

Next Stop: Rangiroa

-Harry