Brisbane, Australia

February 09, 2015

Today we drove an hour from Brisbane to visit the Australia Zoo home to TV’s late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, and often referred to as the ultimate zoo experience.

Arriving at the zoo, we were greeted by the zoo’s friendly staff. Our first stop in the zoo was the star attraction and highlight of the Zoo, the famous Croc Show. This show was great the Crocodile that they used for the show was huge.  They were feeding him whole dead chickens.  We got a chance to hear the mouth chomp down, and the sheer sound of it made the hair on my arms raise.

The next attraction was the bird show they had huge birds fly in between people which precision it was quite amazing.  We also took pictures with Koala bears and kangaroos.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Sydney, Australia.

John

Maria

 

John

Maria
John

John
Maria
Maria & John – with our good friends Mark & Margaret

Noumea – New Calendonia

February 06, 2015

We boarded our tour bus and drove along the beautiful coast to the FOL lookout point. En route, we passed the Southern Province Government House, Port Plaisance Shopping Center and the Yacht Club.

The cosmopolitan city of Noumea, which is decidedly French. Noumea is known as the “Paris of the Pacific.” We stopped at the Ouen Toro scenic lookout, where we saw New Caledonia’s barrier reef, which is the world’s second longest, the largest is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The lookout is also home to a memorial honoring the Allied troops that protected the French colony of New Caledonia during World War II. Our tour guide told us that they still have US Jeeps on the island from the war and one of the locals favorite food is the hamburger which was introduced to them when our troops were there. The island still has deep ties to France, best expressed with French cuisine and French wines.

We stopped at La Coupole French restaurant. Known for having one of the South Pacific’s finest wine cellars, made the wine and cheese tasting that much sweeter.

After our wine and cheese tasting, we drove back to the pier.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Brisbane, Australia.

Local artist

Notre Dame du Pacifique
Notre Dame du Pacifique

Suva, Fiji

February 04, 2015

Today we drove to Raiwaqa Village where they had a Fijian kava ceremony and showed us how they cook in the ground with banana leaves and the many uses of coconuts. After the show, we had a delicious lunch that the locals in the village prepared for us.

After lunch, we boarded a longboat and cruised on the Navua River for 45 minutes en route to the Magic Waterfall; Navua’s largest waterfall where we went swimming in the chilly water.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Noumea, New Caledonia.

Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Kava Ceremony
Local artist
Local Artist
Local artist
Cooking with banana leaves
Local flowers

Maria
John

Lautoka, Fiji

February 03, 2015 – Garden of the Sleeping Giant

Today we drove through fields of sugar cane en route to the village of Viseisei. The locals greeted us with a Fijian song and dance, and they also had a traditional Yaqona (Kava) ceremony.

Kava is a tranquilizing, non-alcoholic drink which numbs the tongue and lips and comes from the dried roots of the pepper plant. The ceremonial preparation for drinking Kava is the honored rite of the formal life of Fijians, performed for any significant occasion, including births, marriages, deaths, official visits or the installation of a new chief.

After the Kava ceremony, we went to the famous orchid garden called the  Garden of the Sleeping Giant which is set within the backdrop of a magnificent mountain (the Sleeping Giant).  Walking in the garden was dangerous because the wood walkways had moss and it they were wet, and some were steep.  Some of the people from our tour ended up falling. luckily John and I didn’t fall. We also visited an Indian temple called Sri Krishna Kaliya Temple.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Suva, Fiji.

Maria & John

Sri Krishna Kaliya Temple

Apia, Samoa

February 01, 2015

Today we had a scenic drive of Apia, lush green forests, waterfalls, plantations and traditional Samoan villages.  We got a chance to see Falefa falls.  We had a great barbecue lunch served on Tafatafa Beach, with cultural entertainment by Aggie Grey Dance Troupe.  After lunch, John and a few other guests went snorkeling.  The beach was once again beautiful with white sand and crystal clear water.

We boarded our tour bus and drove along Upolu’s southwest coast where we saw another waterfall called Sopo’aga Falls which cascades into an old volcanic crater.  We also visited Sopo’aga Botanical Garden.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Lautoka, Fiji.

Maria
John
Maria & John
Amazing prime rib on the cruise

Tonga, French Polynesia

January 25, 2015 

Today we were supposed to go to Moorea, but due to flooding, our ship had to change locations, so we are in Tonga. Unfortunately, it’s Sunday, and everything is closed, so we decided to get a cab and just have him drive us around the island so that we see what it’s all about. They had this one beach that has little pigs who go fishing on the beach. It was the cutest thing. Nothing more to write about in Tonga since we were there for a short time and everything was closed.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Bora Bora.

Muddy waters that prevented us from docking in Moorea.

A cemetary on the beach

Fishing pigs

Papeete (Tahiti), French Polynesia

January 24, 2015

Today we flew from Bora Bora back to Papeete to board our cruise ship. We ended up getting to our hotel late in the evening so we just went to have dinner and then back to our room to get ready for the next day.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Tonga, French Polynesia

John with a local guy

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

January 21, 2015 & January 26th & 27, 2015

Today we flew to LAX and waited for our connecting flight to Papeete and while we were waiting there was an issue with the plane so we couldn’t fly until the next morning so Delta put us up in a hotel.

Finally the next morning we flew to Papeete and caught a connecting flight to Bora Bora and our Four Seasons Hotel boat was there to pick us up and take us to the hotel.  Once there we checked in, and we were driven to our hut above the water by a golf cart.  We had one of the best huts it was all the way at the end so when we had complete privacy. We loved everything about this hotel except the prices the alcohol no matter what you ordered other than beer it was $21 and up. I always thought that Hawaii was paradise until we visited this island.  Bora Bora is simply breathtaking the water is an amazing blue color, which is crystal clear and the people on the island are nice. We jumped into the water right from our deck, and John also had a chance to go Jet Skiing with one of the locals named Hiro who worked at the hotel while he was jet skiing they stopped where there were stingrays and black tipped sharks and John swam with them.  He said it was the best experience Jet skiing he ever had.  Hiro also made me a little purse made out of palm leaves.

John
Maria

Maria
John

Maria
Maria
Maria

John
Maria

Videos of Bora Bora

January 26, 2015 

Today we didn’t have any tours set up we decided to go to Bloody Mary’s and have lunch and a few drinks. Bloody Mary’s is a famous restaurant where a lot of celebrities have visited.

January 27, 2015

Today’s tour was an exciting one it was an Aqua Safari; we took a short transfer from the pier to the dive site, where we got briefed by a certified diving instructor about what we were going to do.  This unique underwater experience allows us to descend to a depth of 10 feet and walk along the ocean floor with a heavy metal dive helmet.  Once underneath we were surrounded by hundreds of colorful tropical fish and colorful coral and huge stingrays.  I am not a fan of doing things underwater but this was such a great experience I had to do it, and I was glad I did.

Follow us on our journey the next destination is Apia, Samoa.

Maria
John
John

Bangkok, Thailand – Canals & Royal Barges

March 30th & 31st, 2014

Today is our second to last day on the ship we have arrived in Bangkok which is an amazing city full of waterways which give this city character. From the pier, we boarded a river boat which took us along the Chao Phya River through the canals (Klongs). Along the way, we saw floating grocery stores, water taxis, teakwood houses on stilts and some temples. Our first stop on this water tour was at the Royal Barge Museum which houses the ornately decorated longboats once used for royal functions. In the pictures below you will see a picture of the Suphanahonge, gold encrusted swan-shaped barge used solely by the king.

Our next stop on the water tour was Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. After walking up the steep stairs, we had fresh coconut milk which was delicious.

The next day we had a private tour set up where we took a James Bond style boat around different parts of Bangkok which were very cool. From our James Bond long boat, we got a chance to see The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keaw Then in a car we drove to Wat Pho which is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The measurements are 45 meters long and 15 meters high. It’s so big it has to be viewed in sections. From there we went to see, Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya where the Buddha’s head is embedded in a tree trunk. To end our day we had a chance to ride an elephant which was decorated with a red canopy.

Bracelet made out of Tuberose & Orchids
Rose all day by the pool
Chandelier made out of real flowers
Mandarin Oriental Pool
Maria
Made out of flowers

Mandarin Oriental water taxi

One of the Royal Barges

A handmade purse made out of laquer

Maria & John

Maria & John

Maria & John
Maria & John

Maria & John

Maria and John – with our good friends Bill & Deepen

Maria & John

A club we went to in Bangkok

Saigon, (Ho chi Minh City), Vietnam – Mekong River Cruise

March 27, 2014 – Saigon – Mekong River Cruise
Today we had a river cruise scheduled which was once again something I learned about in school. Our tour bus drove us to the delta port of My Tho where the Mekong River begins. The river starts in the Tibetan Plateau and is 2,795 miles to the Mekong Delta and the South China Sea. The river has what they call Nine Dragons that fan out covered with green rice paddies and orchards of coconuts, mangos, pineapples, and bananas.

From here we boarded a motorized boat to get to our paddle boat. We paddled through the jungle which was thick with vegetation you could barely see the sky. We then stopped on a small island and saw some handmade things being sold by locals. It was quite an experience. After a short ride through the Delta, we then boarded a motorized boat once again and went back to our tour bus to the pier.

March 28, 2014 – Saigon – Private Tour
We schedule a private tour today so that we can see more things without having to deal with 40 other people. Saigon began as a small fishing village; then it was rebuilt by the French in the mid 19th century. Modern day Saigon has a population of more than seven million people and is the largest economic center of Vietnam. We visited the Huyen Khong Monastery inside a cave which was cool. After that, we just drove by the beach and visited some stores that sold marble stone statues.

Follow us on our journey the next and last destination on this trip is Bangkok, Thailand.

Maria

Maria & John – with Captain Igor Bencina & F&B Director Adam Martindale onboard Oceania Cruises