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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Honeymoon to French Polynesia -- Moorea 12.24 - 12.27.07

Christmas eve morning, we woke up with a downpour of heavy rain. The weather looked pretty miserable, definitely not a good day for the beach. We decided to rent a car to tour around the island. There was only one road in Moorea that circled the island for 37 miles. It was funny that they gave you "unlimited mileage" on the car rental deal since you can circle the island within an hour. We were a bit disappointed that the "must visit" juice factory was closed because of the holiday and the visibility of the famous Belvedere lookout was not all that great either because of the weather.  The rainfall was on and off throughout the day. We prayed that the weather would get better for the rest of our trip. However, it was still fun to visit the island, saw the locals, sat in the cafe, and walked from shop to shop in Maharepa village. Fortunately, we never again had such a heavy rainfall lasting that long throughout the rest of our honeymoon.

Sheraton required a mandatory buffet dinner/entertainment for all the resort guests on Christmas eve. (Of course the fortune that we paid for the dinner would not cover the beverages... those blood suckers!) It was a strange Christmas for H. Instead of white snow, we had inches of rain on a tropical island. The Hawaiian shirt replaced the sweater. Polynesian island music was playing in the background rather than the usual Christmas Carols.  There was tons of seafood. It is probably all we ate on this trip. The night ended with a Polynesian dance performance which was rather provocative. In fact, it was banned in the early 1820s by the missionaries. What we saw was a washed down version of what it once was. By 10 PM, we were ready for bed again. 
Before we returned the car on the morning of Christmas day, we were hoping that the sky would clear up and we could drive to the Belvedere lookout again to watch the sunrise and head to the village for breakfast. No such luck. It was windy, gray, and cloudy when we woke up. Nonetheless, with the "unlimited mileage", we decided to drive up to the lookout. The heavy rain and wind tore down some trees, and both bays turned dirty brown because of the mud that was washed down from the mountains. We drove back to the village, and all stores were closed except a few restaurants. It was very quiet.  We went to an outdoor restaurant "Snack L'Anana Bleu to get some eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast. H saw a few crabs slowly crawling on the ground and tried to take pictures of them. As soon as he got closer, the crabs suddenly ran away and disappeared into the holes on the ground.  Ah-ha! I was already wondering why there were so many holes in the ground. The roosters and chickens were wondering around from table to table. The roosters were everywhere on this island, like wild dogs. They practically woke us up every morning, except some days, Andrew's 6 a.m. phone calls beat them to it.
After we returned the car, we stayed on the resort beach the whole day. Fortunately, the weather cleared up and sun finally peaked through a few layers of clouds.  We went snorkeling and took the canoe out around noon for 20 minutes.
Before the trip, all the guide books I read stressed the strength of the sun near the equator and the importance of a lot of sunblock. I brought expensive sunblocks with high SPF & PPA (European UVA blockage rating) and even SPF clothings recommended by skin cancer foundation.  (Okay, it might sound like an overkill, but who knew, they turned out to be quite useful actually!) The first few days of our trip has been cloudy and we were barely exposed to much of the sun rays, although I did get some decent color. H and I always stayed in the shade when we lay out on the beach. When we went canoeing, the sun was pretty strong. H and I applied sunblock, except that I purposely left out the part of my legs below the knee and above the feet. (My theory was that tan on hands, feet, and knees made them look dirty, dried up, and aged. And tan on the rest part of your legs actually made you  look slimmer.)

So getting back to the day. It was warm and windy. We applied sunblocks regularly, even though H was reluctant to do so. When we felt the heat, we went snorkeling or swimming in the pool.  That afternoon, H picked a coconut from the beach in an attempt to open it. Watch the video, it was quite hilarious. I was reading under the shade most of the time.  When we returned to our villa after sundown and took our daily bath, H already looked like a lobster and the part of my legs that were sunblock free turned red and sensitive. Not a good sign, this was only our 4th day on the island. For the remaining of our trip, H applied the sunblocks religiously, and my brilliant suntan theory left me a pair of multi-color legs. (Yap, very smart....)

The next day on 12. 26, it was the best weather since we got there. Sunny, blue sky, bright and hot. H had a headache and an upset stomach. It was minor discomfort, but enough for him to stay in the dark A/C room sleeping through the whole day.  The symptoms lasted for a few days. We weren't sure if it was the food, the sun, or the combination of the both. I ended spending the whole day on the beach by myself, reading books, napping, swimming in the pool, and snorkeling around the lagoon. Around sunset, there was a couple having a Polynesian wedding on the beach with Polynesian musicians playing the music and dancers dressed in bright colored costumes. The sun shined on the happy couple's faces and casted a radiand glow.  It was a rather beautiful ceremony.  After sunset, H was able to come out and spend some time in the pool with me. We saw a beautiful rainbow across the sky.

We decided to go out for dinner that night and picked Le Sud, a southern French restaurant. The restaurant was airy and charming. It had this Long Island New Hampton chic feel to it. We ordered a grapefruit salad to share. I had Almond cod and H had grill king prawns for the main course. The Almond cod was such an excellent dish that my mouth started to water just thinking about it. By then, the geckos on the ceilings are the norm in the restaurants. At Le Sud, we saw another interesting sight: a crab walked across the dinning room and caused quite a stir. We finished the meal with this French pastry dessert that our waitress recommended. It turned out to be cream puffs with Vanilla ice cream filling and chocolate sauce, which was good, but ordinary. 
We had quickly settled into this comfortable routine by then.  Waking up around 6 or 7am by either Andrew or roosters, having breakfast at the garden balcony with birds sitting on the fence staring at us and waiting for bread crumbs. Our days were involved around the water. We swam in the swimming pool, snorkeled around the lagoon, napped on the beach chairs under the umbrellas and took bubble baths after the sun went down. The contrast between my tanned legs and my pale butt became more and more obvious as  the days went by. There was rain here and there after the miserable Christmas eve, but nothing that hindered us from any of our activities. Besides watching the only English TV channel (International CNN), which we probably could memorize by heart towards end of the trip, we made a few attempts to watch some DVDs (thanks to Andrew) that we brought with us should we have the energy to stay up past 9:30 PM.

  I loved how the locals made flowers their main accessories for both men and women. And every night when we went out, I started to remember to pick a Tiare and put it behind my left ear. (It meant that I was married. There were many different ways to wear your flowers, which also meant many different things.) I loved the subtle fragrance of the flower, how accessible they were, and when wearing them behind your ears how it was both innocent and flirty at the same time.  I imagined what it would be like if I would wear flowers walking on the streets of New York, shopping on the Madison Avenue, or dinning out at some trendy restaurants? H and I both burst out laughing picturing it. 

It was our last night in Moorea, and we had seen enough. We were ready and curious to discover the famous Bora Bora.

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