Category Archives: Vanuatu

Our Trip to Vanuatu

This post is 2 weeks overdue but finally I managed to finish it 🙂

Finally when we landed in Vanuatu I felt really happy. As soon as we got out of the plane, I could feel the humid air against my face. I knew we were going to have a great holiday at this place.

The airport looked very rural. No big walls or modern equipments. Just open fields with a one story building. It was Christmas day but there were no decorations. We lined up to clear immigration and picked up our bags to go to our hotel.

We caught a taxi to our resort. We realised while in the taxi that we should have changed some money to Vatu as the taxi driver informed us that he won’t take Aussie dollars. When we had done our research we had found on the internet forums that Aussie dollar was good but it was different story there. We told the driver we would try to change our money at the resort.  So when we got to the resort a guy came to take our luggage and we asked him if we can change some money. He asked to give him the money and was backed in 5 minutes with the equivalent Vatu. The bad thing was the exchange rate seemed less than the official rate. We paid the taxi driver and checked in. It was when we were checking in that we were told the rate which made us realised that the guy who had seemed to help us change our money has cheated us a bit with a lower rate. Just 5 bucks in Aussie dollars but a lesson learned, never trust anyone easily. We later found he had exchanged the money in a nearby store and we got a better rate there.

When we reached our room I was really happy as it looked comfortable and clean. Lots of flowers were used to decorate the bed. Like any tropical place, it had tiled floor to help keep the room cool. We then relaxed, took a shower and went to explore the place. They seemed to have a nice restaurant, a bar and a beautiful pool. When we got back to our room we were hungry so we ordered room service. While we waited for our food, we watched TV. I was surprised to see many Australian channels available. I felt like I was still in Australia.

It took a while for room service to arrive but when it did it was really yummy. As it was already evening we decided to relax and plan our next few days. There were many brochures we had to go through to choose our activities but most of them seemed similar like island getaway with snorkelling and lunch. We thought it would be fun to start with a round island tour so we went to the reception to book our first tour.

Our tour, the Native round island tour, was supposed to be the next morning but due to a miscommunication between the reception and the tour organisers it was pushed to the next day so we went to the Hideaway Island instead. The place was only 20 minutes bus ride and 5 minutes ferry ride from our resort.

Once we were there I realised why everyone had advised us to take reef shoe with us. Thank god that we did. It was a beautiful island with beautiful blue water but the beach had very coarse rubbles washed out from sea along with death corals. It was near impossible to walk bare foot on the beach.  It was a warm day so I change and jumped into the water. It was just beautiful. This is the place where there is an underwater post office. We put our snorkelling gears on and swam with the fishes. We first started near the shore to get a hang of the waves and later were taken further in into the sea. It was really beautiful with so many colourful fishes.

Compared to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia I found that the corals were dead and brown but there were a high number of fishes and sea animals like sea cucumber starfish and sea-horse. I even got to hold a star fish in my own hands. Thanks to my waterproof camera we managed to take lots of beautiful underwater shots.

Our guide had a great trick to invite fishes. He had a bottle with fish food so when he dropped these food, the fishes came in large numbers to him giving us a great opportunity to take photos and allowing us to be so close to them.

Finally after having lunch at the island, we came back to our resort. We ordered room service again and enjoyed our dinner in front of the TV.

The next day we went for the Round Island tour  which goes around Port Villa to see different villages and their culture. It was a really informative tour as the guide was a native himself and was able to show us the real life in Vanuatu.

That evening we went to the town to have a wonderful dinner in a restaurant call Chill. I had lamb with some mashed potatoes while AS ordered chicken and vegetables. We finished off with a huge chocolate soufflé.

The next day was AS’s birthday which was really a good day for me. I surprised him with a cake in the morning during breakfast and then we went Abseiling. That evening we went and had a Melanesian dinner while the locals performed some traditional dances for us. It rained that night for the first time while we were there.

The day before we left, we went and did the helmet dive. It was a great experience to be with fish and sea creatures up close and personal. It was only for a couple of hours so the rest of the day we just relaxed, visited the local markets and had lots of fun.

Over all, this holiday was awesome. Will love to go back there one day 🙂

Click here for more photos.

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Oceanwalker : Swimming with the fishes

One of the good things about a tropical holiday is that you get to swim in a blue sea with lots of fishes. I love going snorkelling and meeting the locals from deep down in the water. 

During this holiday I got many occasions to do that. When we were on Hideaway Island we were able to go snorkelling in the deep blue water with a guide. We also did some snorkelling by ourselves in Eton Village and other beaches as well. 

I always want to go deeper in the coral but with snorkelling it is not possible, but in Vanuatu, I found Oceanwalker. It makes it  easy to enjoy the view underwater. I had done something similar before in the Great Barrier reef in Queensland but I was excited to try it out again . 

The website describes Oceanwalker as 

Oceanwalker Vanuatu brings you this exciting and innovative tourism experience, allowing you to explore the underwater world of tropical fish and coral reefs up close, with-out even getting your head wet. 

The Helmet Dive is the next step after snorkelling and is a fun way to discover what lies beneath. 

Your adventure in paradise starts with a short walk down a ramp into the water where the purpose-built helmet is lowered on to your shoulders and in no time at all your underwater experience begins spending up to 20 minutes walking on the sea floor to a maximum depth of 4 metres. 

The day of the dive, we were picked up at the hotel and were taken to the dive area by the short boat ride. The day was just perfect with the sun out and the blue sky. At the dive area there were 4 people who were there to help us through this amazing journey. 

We had one more group, a family joining us for the dive. 

First we were briefed by our PADI qualified instructors with instructions about the helmet dive equipment and we were given a form to sign our life away. 

Then the adventure began with a descent to the short ramp in the water, where a helmet is fitted on the head and then off you go. It was really a fun experience because you don’t have to worry about swimming or breathing. Air is continually pumped into the helmet so the water doesn’t rise above your shoulder even when you are 4 meters underwater. 

We met lots of fish down there including Nemo and the zebra fish. It was so cool. One of the instructors was with us all the time so there was no fear of getting lost or anything. He even caught a fish in his hand twice and gave it to me but the fish just escaped from my hand. 🙂 It was really fun experience. I also got to hold a sea cucumber. 

There were so many fish around us that we felt like kids running after it. I really enjoyed the whole experience and was sorry that it ended after around just 20 mins. The memory will live in me forever. 🙂 Click here for more photos.

Vanuatu Round Island Trip: meeting the locals

On day two of our holiday in Vanuatu, we were recommended by the hotel staff to go for a round island trip with the native tour there and it was so worth the tour. 

The total population of Vanuatu is around 200,000 but 79% of people don’t have a job. They live in these villages where they grow their own food and catch fish for living. They don’t have a bed so they sleep on the floor and their house is merely a hut made out of local materials like leaves and the trunk of the coconut trees. There is no electricity and proper sanitation. They seem to be living with the basic minimal but each and every one of them seems to be happy. They all have this smile on their faces and they waved at us when we passed by them every time. Sometimes I wonder if these materialistic things we possess are making us happier or sadder but that will be a whole another post for later. 

During the round island trip we stopped at many villages. The first one was called Eton Village (named by the British of course) and it had one of the most beautiful beaches there. It has this magical place with white sands. The day was perfect for a quick swim and the water was just the right temperature. I am one of those tourists who love to take photos with the locals so after the swim, I asked one of the local ladies who was swimming there if it was ok for me to take photos with her kids. They were just so adorable and I have the photos to prove it. 

After the swim, we were served morning snacks which were fresh papayas, passion fruits, pineapples, fresh coconuts with orange juice and coconut Tim Tam. I ate heaps of coconuts as it was really yummy. 

Our guide Joel was quite an interesting man, as he kept saying; there is only one rule on the tour which is “NO RULE”. He explained to us what has happened to Vanuatu and its people since they got their independence from the British and the French in 1980. 

We stopped over to see the local friendly spider (according to Joel) and the oldest tree in Vanuatu. There were many more villages on the way that we passed through. While looking out the window of the van to these villages all I saw lots of smiles, kids were happily swimming in the waterfall, women were washing the clothes in the river and men were just relaxing by the rivers, a very simple life indeed. 

We stopped at a village called Epau for traditional Vanuatu dance. Joel had warned us that they would be wearing the traditional customs and would come running towards as if they were going attack us. The warning was really great because as soon as we got off there, they asked us to stand in a line facing the gate of the village and suddenly all these men in traditional customs came rushing towards whooping in their own language and brandishing bows and arrows and clubs and spears in a very threatening manner that without the warning I would have been very scared. 

As it was it was quite fun. They gave us hibiscus flowers to put behind our ear and we sat in the shade while they performed their traditional dances. It was really fun to watch that. We also had time to take photos with them.  Then we went to the stall to check the handicrafts they made there. We bought a really nicely carved walking stick. It was AS’s choice and he just loved it. The handle is like the head of an octopus and at the top of the stick is its two eyes and its tentacles are flowing down the stick grasping at an old man’s head with a flowing beard. 

Then it was a short drive to stop for lunch. It was a traditional Melanesian lunch (I am not sure if I could survive with that for a period as they have some distinct taste). They served rice, yam, sweet potatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, beef curry, chicken curry, and carrot and dessert was papaya and coconut. They also served fresh lemon while a band was playing their songs. 

After lunch we had sometime to walk around and the view from the place was just beautiful with the white sandy beaches and blue-green sea. The blue sky added more to the already amazing view. We took lots of photos there and then we were back in the van. 

There were a few more stops to look at native plants and animals. One of them was to look at the Kava plant. The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anaesthetic properties and in proper quantity can even be a little hallucinogenic. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. It is a really famous cultural drink of the south pacific nations including Vanuatu. 

One of the stops worth mentioning during the trip was the stop for Coca-Cola bottle museum. It is not a real museum but a small tin hut. In there was man who has collected coke bottle for the last 30 years. He also has different types of beer bottles from around the world. I never knew that the glass coke bottles had year of manufacture along with the place it was manufactured stamped on the bottom of the bottles. The most fun part was that the man who owns it has a very distinct American accent. He was so into it that he could talk about it for half an hour without stopping. 

From there we were off to the hot springs. When the guide was telling us about the hot spring I was thinking it would be something similar to the one in Hanmer Springs in New Zealand which I really enjoyed and was so relaxed by. I was day dreaming of relaxing here as well but was so disappointed when we reached there. It was just a mud pool with hot water and seemed like no one maintained them as I could see lots of death insects in the water there. The guide was telling us that the water had healing capacity but I was not going to swim in that. I just soaked my feet and found that the water was really hot. Maybe from the next time I should imagine a little bit less. 

Then we were off to our last stop where the guide explained that the Survivor was shot, it was a beautiful beach. We swam and enjoyed the sunset while we were served tea/coffee and biscuit. I really enjoyed the day and it was getting hard to get in the van to go to our resort. One of the best experiences to see Vanuatu up-close was with native the guide. 

Please click here for more photos.

Abseiling

I am one of those people who are really nervous at heart but love the heart racing adventures. I am always scared when I try out different adventurous things but the adrenalin that comes with the adventure always wins over my fear.

I have a long bucket list of things I want to do like Sky diving, swimming with the dolphins, Bungee jumping, Everest base camp trekking to name just a few. I am glad one of the things was checked off while we were in Vanuatu, and that was Abseiling.

When I was researching things to do in Vanuatu, abseiling was one of the things that came up and we decided to do it. I am scared of heights, especially when I know that the only thing that is holding me is a piece rope but somehow I convinced myself that it was going to be fun so I must do it.

Abseiling is a sport that involves climbing down the front of a large rock or a tall building while holding onto a rope. In our case it was more exciting as we were abseiling down a waterfall. The day we were meant to go for abseiling I was a little scared and a little excited. We went to the Mele Cascades and met our guide. The place looked beautiful and I saw so many tourists just walking around the waterfall. The guide gave us some safety instructions and the equipment and helmet. Also, I signed my life away saying I am responsible if anything happened to me during this adventure. We were joined by 2 other couples for this adventure.

Their website says the following about abseiling:

Vanuatu waterfall abseiling Vanuatu is a unique opportunity to experience Vanuatu and the Mele Cascades from a different angle. Anybody can walk to the Mele Cascades Waterfall but why follow the beaten track when Edge offers you the chance to abseil from the top of the Mele Cascades in the amazing rainforests of Vanuatu. While on tour with us you will have majestic views of the island only seen by those who dare to experience the adventure Vanuatu has to offer.

This award winning tour will see you abseil 50 metres down the Mele Cascade waterfall in two 25 metre pitches. You will receive encouragement and one on one instruction from our friendly instructors at the 8 metre practice cliff. After the abseil you are guided through the stunningly beautiful Mele Cascades, so you will see the whole thing from Top to Bottom.

So I was quite excited to start the adventure. But no one mentioned to me in trip advisor that there was almost a half hour long intense hike before we reach the place to start the abseiling. It was a hot and humid day so when we finished our hike all of us were sweaty, hot and tired. Thankfully there was water available on top of the hill for us to drink. The view from the top was amazing as well. There were 4 more people waiting for us at the waterfall. They helped us put on all the harness and show us how things work.

First we did a practice session on an 8m cliff where we were shown how to take control of our decent. It was really good as it gave me confidence to do the real one. They even let us do the practice session twice so that I could practice how to use my hands to control my decent with the rope.

When we were at the top of the falls for the real decent, I looked down and for a second I wanted to back out. I realised then that 50m is really high but I had no choice but to go for the descent. It was not very difficult as I was able to guide my descent with my hand on the rope behind my back so I could get a good position with one leg before I made a move with my other leg. It was really fun and amazing. The water was flowing down from the top as I went down and it was sometimes hard to open the eyes but every minute was such a great adventure. When I got to the bottom of the falls I thought that the first leg was over and was excitedly waiting for more. Imagine my reaction when AS told me that, that was it. I really wanted to do more J

On the way back we walked past the beautiful waterfall where people were swimming and cooling off. Once we reached the bottom, our guide brought us some fruits and juice and we had some while watching our photos which he and his team had taken.

Overall, very beautiful and fun experience. Click here for some photos.

Start of our tropical holiday

Right now I am on the plane writing  this post. I think there is wi-fi in our resort so I can publish it.

We took a taxi to the airport, no traffic due to the holiday. The airport was really busy as everyone else seemed to have the same idea as we did.

We waited a while for check in as the counters had not opened yet. Once it opened ,we got our boarding pass and headed towards departures. This might be one of the few times I fly that I didn’t have to worry about the luggage allowance. Between us we had only 20kgs. All other times it is a very different story, especially coming back to Sydney. I am one of those people who shops until they drop wherever possible so my suitcases are always full and mostly I hit the baggage allowance easily. I even take up space in AS’s suitcases. 😀

Anyway everyone is wishing us a Merry Christmas. Everyone seems to be in good spirits for the holiday. Happy, cheerful and smiling.

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After a quick check-in, immigration and security check we went to have our breakfast. We had pancakes, toasted english muffins, hash browns and coffee. I just love holidays as I don’t need to stress about eating junk foods as my diet is also on a holiday :-).

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Getting on the plane I was very excited to be going on this holiday as I’ve always wanted to go to Vanuatu.It was nice and warm in Sydney so hoping for great weather in Vanuatu as well.

Unfortunately AS and I got aisle seats so we are not sitting together but on either side of the aisle. The flight is full so we can’t change our seats but the plane is not big so we can still talk.

I was browsing through inflight magazine. They mention lots of activities. Looks like our one week will be too short there. Anyway we gonna enjoy as much as possible. I guess if I had longer holiday then I will be going somewhere further anyway. They just served us meals,the choice was ham or turkey with veggies, salad and Christmas pudding. I am not the big fan of on board meals so it was normal I guess. I think everywhere there is Christmas influence including our meal.

There is a french couple next to me right now who are sleeping.Something about French ascent that I really love. I think it sound sexy 🙂

I am so looking forward to go to France next year. I am sure I will fall in love with the country as soon as I land there. I have heard so much about the city of love that I am already in love with France right now.

AS is busy playing angry bird in his new tablet. He seems chilled with his beer and dessert. He just smiled at me(that is one of the think I loved about him.). It feel so blessed to have a husband who wants to travel with me. I think that was one of the criteria on my list for my future husband when I was single.

There is a small boy infront of AS seat who is looking at me for last few minutes. He seems to be around 4 years old .I think either he wants my phone or he loves my new bling bling cover for my phone .He is travelling with his parents and 3 siblings. They seem to be all under 5. Sometimes I wonder how they manage to have so many small children in short time. I am not even ready to have one right now. It always scare me to even think about it. To travel with so many small kids must be hard but then for every parents looking at their little ones must be the best thing in the world.

There are few people around me wondering what I am typing for last half and hour. I thought I will write something when I had some time as I am sure I will be super busy in having fun for next few days 😀

Still half an hour before we land. Pilot just announced that there is turbulence on the way and have our seat belt fasten. I am not very scared but I always wished to have a flight without all those jerks and sudden moments. My worst one has been on the flight to Christchurch, New Zealand. The flight dropped so suddenly for few seconds that I thought I was going to die. Anyway hope this one is not that bad.

Also pilot announced that due to heavy traffic in Port Villa airport, our flight will be 10 minute delayed. I guess I will be seeing lots of holiday makers in Vanuatu then.

Just gonna sit back and relax now.

Vanuatu here we come

One of the main reasons I love Christmas time is that we get time off from work. Normally I take my annul leave and go for a long holiday some where. For the last 6 years, I made sure that I was not in Sydney, if not in Australia at this time of the year. 

This year both me and AS have ten days off so we decided it was time to have one more stamp on our passports. After looking for reasonable deals for months, finally we found a deal within our budget so we will be going to Vanuatu during our year end break. 

Vanuatu is an island country in the Pacific which is three and a half hours flight from Sydney. It has 83 islands so we expect to have a great tropical holiday. They seem to have lots of activates like Abseiling, Parasailing, Semi Submarine, Cruises and much more. It also has the world’s most active and accessible volcano, Mt Yasur, and the world’s largest shore wreck dive the President Coolidge located just off the shore of Espirito Santo. 

So flights and hotels have been booked. Visa has been arranged and bags are packed. I got our snorkelling gears, swimmers, towels, summer dress and the all important sun screen lotion. I am really excited as I have wanted to go there for years. Finally, we are going. Hopefully the weather will be sunny and nice and not too hot. 

I have been looking at Trip Advisors for activities. There seems so many good things so I can’t wait to dive in the water and start having fun. One of the things I want to do is the Ocean Walker, if things work out according to plan. I have already done something similar in the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns and it is one of the easiest ways to be up close and personal with marine life. Ohoo! thinking about all the fun we are going to have is making me giddy already. Can’t wait to get on that plane  🙂

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!