24 hours and I’m already sick of this place….
It was only 30° yesterday and even cooler today
The Indian buffet for dinner last night was too big and I couldn’t make much of a dent.
Same at breakfast …I could only eat the muesli with yoghurt, pears & pawpaw, then barely half of the other stuff, settling for beans on toast, bacon, sausage and an omelette, then finishing with marmalade on toast with a coffee.
I had tried to work up an appetite by going for a 25 minute walk around the resort, then a 20 minute kayak and 10 minutes on a cross trainer …but I think that only helped work off dinner!
We hired a car for the afternoon and tomorrow morning to check out resorts in the area for Mu’s wedding next year. The plan there was to head back to Shangri-La (the wedding venue) then see what alternative accommodations are like as the Shangri-La is quite expensive. On the way there though, the plan changed to just check-out the venue, then look at the Outrigger.
The Shangri-La is huge, utilising about half of the 200 acres it is set on (Naviti is a reasonable size and only 21 acres). It has a large conference centre and the marquee that can be used as an inclement weather alternative can cater for up to 800 guests …like I said, it’s huge and pretty damned tidy ….just a pity about the price. We were able to have a good chat and look around with the wedding-planner man and that was all good.
We had tried to get into the Outrigger for this trip, but there were no vacancies and that’s pretty damned big and about 20 minutes up the road compared to the 40plus minutes to naviti.
So that was that, we returned to the resort, had snack, had a read, went for a latish dinner, which was a seafood buffet, but it didn’t look that appealing or have tht many options that I’d be into ….plus not being very hungry from the snack, I just had a burger and Ann had tomato soup.
Finished off the day reading ….It’ll be tough but I will survive!
The tedium continues, but this morning I had a plan!! I ate too much yesterday so this morning I decided to drop the toast & marmalade and the sausage.
Scoffed the muesli but with yoghurt, peaches and pawpaw, then slipped the toast in prior to going for eggs. (a change in strategy here as there's a wait for eggs to be cooked and the other stuff cooled yesterday so I had a fix).
Bread did it's first run through the machine, but I hate raw toast, so in it goes for the second of three runs and at that point I happen to notice the length of the egg queue!! (Thinks Oh FFS). I put raw toast in for third run. Then continue a scan of the dining area (sort of like scanning the road ahead, as a good biker does) and notice a cute wee boy licking a spoon ....nah...it was a damned big ladle stuffed stuffed down his gob!! ....and then he put it back in the peach bowl!! (Double FFS) (I knew it was the peach bowl because he started scoffing them by hand as he headed back to his table). I go back to the table to scoff the toast (with marmalade) and second coffee as I come up with a new plan.
By this time Ann had finished her muesli etc and was heading for eggs, offered to get some for me and I was all, ‘nah she’ll be right, I’ll just give it a miss and have the other stuff (also thinking there was no way I needed eggs!) So off she goes and I’m sitting there thinking she’ll be getting scrambled eggs …that’s good because I don’t need or want a full omelette ….or maybe I should go for a cheese omelette?? ….nah, scrambled will be good. Then as she gets to about forth in the queue, I go up and make the toast ….then she gives me my full omelette!! Bugger, I think, Oh well, can’t waste it so I get the bacon and beans and a third coffee!!
Came out of that a little fuller than I should have been and we head for the car to go for a wee drive towards Suva, but Ann suggests, “Why don’t we go all the way?” so that’s what we did!
I was thinking it’s only about 80 Km, so should only take about an hour or so …yeah right.
Max Speed Limit all over Fiji is 80kph, the roads are narrowish and potholed. The drivers drive at 80kph and brake for most / many of the corners. They don’t have yellow or double-yellow lines as in NZ, they just stick with white paint ….but mostly it’s a double-white. The towns / villages can be 60 or 50 kph ….but most tend to have a proliferation of humps (definitely at each end but often a few in the middle as well) and any faster than 20kph could do damage to the undercarriage. I mean, I say humps, but one gets the impression that they were cast using a forty gallon drum cut in half!
….and more on the potholes! Sometimes they been fixed and the road surface is a little rough, other times they are just potholes, but every now and then, you can’t see the bottom!!! I mean, you see a pothole up ahead, you swing one way or other to avoid it, then you find yourself heading for a series of ever-enlargening, bloody great gaping holes and wishing the car was a rubber-tracked vehicle!
….and back to the drivers! I mentioned they are brakers, but they are also tailgaters, double-yellow (or white in this case) passers and generally totally spatially-unaware. ie. They sit in the right lane on passing lanes ….and don’t pass; they pull out, take off, then slow down; even if they don’t want to pass, they still tail-gate to prevent others from passing ….and there aren’t slow bays or much room for trucks to[J1] make room ….but I suspect they wouldn’t anyway and it’s nothing to have a truck with a queue of twenty odd vehicles following …at 50-60 kph in 80 zones!!!
So we went for a drive to Suva ....and I won't be doing that again!!
We got back, went for a swim in the pool …..ok, we hopped in the pool and chilled out, then later Ann went to the gym while I went kayaking for 45 minutes and tonight went to the Chinese Restaurant rather than overindulge in the lovo evening meal …..and I’ll finish the night with a read. (Mark Twains – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court ....since I saw the Bing Crosby movie as a kid and don't recall much of it)
A few weeks ago I got a nudge on fb that some of my old mates from the ‘70’s were gathering at
Ohakea/Bulls for ANZAC day.
The Air Force is/was a classic place for nicknames, to the point that one often didn’t know the real name of close friends and on more than one occasion, I recall turning up at home with mates and saying, “Hi mum, this is …..??...... TK!!” So I get this message, “Greek, there’s a bit of a Ohakea get together this coming ANZAC day in Bulls. It would be a good ride from where you are. Just saying.....” and that led on to, “Yep it’s Punjab !!! There’s about 20 or more of us gathering in Bulls for ANZAC day this year. I can give you some names, Pedro, Bob and Nuts, Cookie, Gerrie, Snow, Lee Parts, Taiters,” …and so on. “We will be settling in the day before then off to the Dawn parade next day, most of us are there for a day or two more. (Probably recovering) There is rumour of a tour on base and maybe a couple of quiet ones at the Sgts Mess It would be nice if you can turn up but no pressure. It’s a bit of an Ohakea reunion.”
I looked at the names and thought, “Bloody hell, could be dangerous, ….. I’m a bit busy but how could I not.”
I did 20 years service, ended up in Wellington, exited in 1993 and stayed here. Shelly Bay closed down a couple of years later and from that point I had very little contact with any of the old mates. In fact, I’ve only been back on two bases since then to attend an Avionics Reunion in Auckland about 20 years ago, then for the Ohakea Air Show in April 2012. I mean, I have caught up with mates from time to time, but just not that often.
So I figured I really should make the effort. A week ago I dropped the bike in for a service and was planning to take that, possibly even leaving early enough (0430’ish) to make the Dawn Parade, but as it transpired, I needed a new rear tyre (mumble f…. after only 6500km ….although that did include two fairly spirited 1600km rides). Anyway, Easter delayed the order, then shonky couriers that took three days to provide an overnight delivery meant that I didn’t have the bike and had to take the Merc.
The other problem I had was that I’d left the mobile on the counter at the bike shop and told them to put it in the top box (expecting to get it back the next day) so I never had it. Punjab had given me her number so I could contact her to find out where I needed to go once I got there and I wrote her number down on an old envelope (as you do) …..and I forgot to grab it with my stuff, so I get to Bulls about 0800, go to the RSA and find nobody there, go back to the car to get Ann’s mobile and the number ….and find out what an idiot I am!!
After a bit of faffing around (because I couldn’t ring Ann since I had her phone) I eventually get the number and get hold of the group to find they have just gone on base, so I make my way there.
I finally catch up with them and as I’m walking up to the group I comment, “Bloody hell, I came to meet up with my old mates, but all I see is their grandparents!!” to which a dry response comes back, “Go look in the mirror.”
The rest of the day was great. We watched a couple of relics and a few trainers take-off, went for a wee drive around base, had a couple of photo-ops, then settled down in the Sgts Mess to reminisce.
I’d run into Pedro on a TT2000 about 8-10 years ago, Fish when I was on a Uly ride about 13 years ago, Dawn around the time I got out (25 yrs) but the rest I hadn’t seen since before my eldest son was born, so that’s over 40 years. That’s a bit scary really.
The other very Kiwi thing is how small the country is. I asked Gerry where she was living and she said, Nelson and that she’d been working at the Alliance Works. I said, “One of my boys had been working there.” And quick as flash she replied, “Lance is your boy? I thought he looked a bit like you. …wait till I see him” she says. Then talking to Taiters, who has been living in Taumarunui and I mentioned how we had been stopping there to visit a couple of young boys with Muscular Dystrophy on our Uly MDA run. Turned out that she was good mates with their mum and that both boys were now deceased. Bloody sad to hear, but it’s so 2 degrees to be Kiwi.
I didn’t drink at all because I figured if I had one, who knows how I’d end up and I had to drive back to Wellington, so we finished the day (or at least my part) with a visit to the scrub under the Bulls Bridge, where, back in the day, we used to go for ‘bridge parties’, then headed back to their motel. Bridge parties used to involve drinking until closing at the ‘Baggies bar’ then cruising down to the river and lighting a bonfire under the bridge to continue partying until breakfast. On occasion, the fire has been known to get so big that the tar in the seal on the bridge was melting!! It wasn’t exactly approved behavior at the time but wouldn’t be PC nowadays and no doubt some minority group or other dickhead would be up in arms, but such was life in the ‘70’s! …but it wasn’t any worse than a group of officers at the time, dragging a piano down from their mess and throwing it off the bridge! …probably because it was out of tune. I think they called that high-spirits.
After chilling (literally) at the motel for a bit, I headed off at about 1730.
Many thanks for the nudge Eileen! ….sorry, …Punjab! What a great catchup.
As usual with a family bereavement, it was really great to catch up with the whanau and see cousies, nephews and nieces that I hadn’t seen for ages, but with mum’s passing I lost a few days at work and found myself in the precarious position of running out of time to get renewals done at a time when it is near impossible to see clients.
Fortunately we had no plans though as Ann’s new salon is a 7 day affair so she had to work through the holiday period and the same happened in my office.
We ended up having a very pleasant Christmas though with family and our resident migrants meaning we set for 12, then we just chugged on with no riding on the radar.
I say ‘chugged’ but there was a bit of huff & puff in there as well because on Friday 12th January, we were off and I had to ensure I was up to date by then …and I only just made it!
Ann’s salons use predominantly Joico hair products and as well as that, the good folks at Joico also provide us with in-salon training for our staff on a regular basis. This training is a major part of our salon’s culture and has resulted in a very good relationship with our major supplier, so over a year ago (when we only had one salon), we were invited to attend the Biennial Joico Destination Education. At that time Ann approached the staff and made the really tough decision to close the salon for a week and a bit to take the staff to Punta Cana, which is in the Dominican Republic!
So on Friday morning 12/01/18 we settled down in the Wellington Koru Club lounge before embarking on one of those really crappy two day scenarios of planes and airports. Yep, 23-24 hours in the air and about the same in layovers! Starting with Wgtn-Auckland via Air New Zealand, then a 3 hour stint from Auckland to Nadi on Fiji Airways for a 4 hour pause there.
I’ve written a couple of blogs about Virgin (here: https://longjohnbiker.weebly.com/old-blog/virgin-sux-again ) and I have to say this experience wasn’t a lot better, although to be fair, apart from the lack of legroom, Fiji Airways were pretty good, but transiting via Nadi was a joke!!
Normally, one can fly into an airport on an international flight and walk from the arrival gate to the departure gate and depending on the airport, taking in whatever food or other entertainment that is available. eg At Changi Airport in Singapore, one can take a monorail between international terminals, check into a hotel, have a workout in the gym or swim at the pool or just shower up, go shopping, watch a movie, have a few beers and a feed, or just lie down and have a sleep on the carpeted floor at the gate …but Changi is a bit nicer than most!!
At Nadi we hopped off the airplane, then found we had to pass through a security check on a single machine that seemed to keep stalling and that also meant that we had to dump the water and any food we had bought in the Auckland departure area?? Well that wasn’t too bad, but when Julia, who was travelling with us had to dump the duty free Moet she had purchased at Auckland, I was gob-smacked. What a bloody joke!!!
11 hours later we were alighting in LA for a 13 stopover, so we had arranged a couple of rooms close by for that one, then checked in on United Airlines for a 3 hour hop to Houston, another 4 hour layover, then our final 3 hours to Punta Cana, arriving at about 1600 on Saturday 13th, at which time it was 0900 on Sunday 14th in Wellington.
Punta Cana is a very under-developed airport, but Melia Caribe, the Club Med resort where the event was held was something else. There we over 1,000 people from 28 countries attending the event and we didn’t go near filling the venue, not to mention the more family oriented resort attached ….and then there was just resort after resort stretching over a Km along the beach! In Kiwi terms the scale was just off the charts.
The big trouble with this event was that being a club med, we had paid for all the food, booze and sailing before we got there and we tried about 8 of the dozen or more restaurants …I did try very hard not to make a pig of myself!
It was very much a Yank type scenario where they existed in the sheltered environment without leaving the resort, but we managed to organise a trip to Santo Domingo to check out how the locals were living and that was a culture shock in itself, especially when strolling through the local market and a decision was made not to eat local. After a week of absolute luxury we were winging our way back to Houston, on to LA for another lengthy layover, then on to a week in Hawaii, where are currently doing our time. So far, that has involved a bus tour around Oahu on Tuesday and a doors-off helicopter ride Wednesday, and by the end of the week we will have toured Pearl Harbour and done the museum thing.
I am sort of keen to get home and have entered the TT2000 in February so I just hope I can manage to get away for that.
*Sigh* ….another big gap in my wee blogosphere! …so I will try to fill in the gaps.
I’ll start with my mum. She was the third of four sisters plus a half-brother and sister, all orphaned when mum was three and that landed them into an orphanage in Upper Hutt. The reason I mention that is to explain that a lack of good nutrition, in particular milk, led to osteoporosis in later life. That in itself also isn’t of much consequence because the old girl just accepted it, took any shitty outcomes without complaint and still got on with life and that probably pretty much describes much of that generation, born in the 1920’s & 1930’s.
A great example of this was that in November, they were having a bit of a fling in the retirement home where mum was staying, which of course involved a bit of dancing and twirling, which I might add, the old girl was into, however on this occasion, the twirling resulted in a very painful string of minor fractures opening up in her spine …..Bugger! She ended up in Masterton Hospital for a few weeks. She healed up pretty well and was probably within a week or two of being released when a dose of Noro Virus went through the hospital and resulted in a lock-down.
At 91¾ Mum survived that but didn’t recover and passed away on 11th December. She was amazing, just taking it all in her stride, no complaints, no regrets and no doubt, now that she doesn’t need sleep, she will be doing double time on the prayers that all her kids need.
That buggered up December a bit, but did result in a few rides over the hill when I was visiting her ….and riding the Rimutaka Hill never gets tiresome. I must say though, the multiple trips did reveal a full compliment of Kiwi Drivers!
I encountered people who were very spatially aware, would see the bike coming well before I was there and couldn’t wait to slide across as soon as possible, with one chap even slowing significantly on a passing lane to let me catch and get by.
Then there were the ones that would realise they had a bike up their date after a corner or two and would pull over when they could…..
And then there was a smattering of idiots, incompetents and absolute-and-utter-arseholes!! Let me elaborate. I encountered twats that thought their suped-up cars could go toe-to-toe with a 1300cc motorbike in both power-to-weight and handling!! ….pfft!! (In some ways it was sort of amusing) Then there were the spaced-out junkies or whatever that had no idea of what was on the road except for anything up to 25mtrs ahead of them. The ST is a relatively big bike with a bit of presence and twin headlights, which positioning the bike can place them in the car’s mirrors and passes on the message to make room, but these saps are oblivious to anything behind them. …and they have no idea about the existence or purpose of a slow-bay, although why pull over if you aren’t aware there’s anything behind …and then there’s the arseholes!
After a hundred thousand Km or two on a bike, one gets quite good at reading the body language of vehicles, so it’s generally quite easy to identify who’s on their phone, who is going to turnoff or change lanes and although it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the incompetents and the arseholes with things like slow-bays, there are generally a few indicators. …Like easing to the right when most drivers would slide across to the left, staying in the right lane on passing areas, but not overtaking anything, sitting up the date of the car in front in order to make an overtaking manouvre just that bit harder ….and I came across a couple of these guys!! Fortunately though, those sort of drivers are very much the minority.
And so it was that Christmas came and I was totally unprepared and up to my eyeballs in work!
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.