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The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific

a travel blog by Amber

One winter I bought a Circle the Pacific pass and decided to while away the cold months backpacking around the South Pacific and South East Asia. The exact dates escape me as this was done in the winter of 1999, therefore the dates are approximate.

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Where it all began

Cincinnati, United States

Back when I really did my travelling I was living in the midwest and when I moved here from Hawaii I was promised that I would never spend winter here. He actually held true to that and every year we'd leave around December / January and return April/March.

Cincinnati is actually quite a fun city in the summer time with all its festivals, parties in the park, concerts on the river etc etc. At any rate I'm assuming that we probably partook in a few libations at the Village Tavern before venturing off to the airport the next day to begin this winter's adventure.

permalink written by  Amber on January 9, 1999 from Cincinnati, United States
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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Back in the Islands

Pahoa, United States

Typically all of my winter trips would begin with roughly a month spent back in Hawaii visiting family and friends. A typical day would involve laying around doing nothing on the black sand beach. Or perhaps going to Luquin's for Mexican food. Or simply talking story and spending time with my family. Occasionally, if the lava was flowing near the surface we'd hike out to see it. It all depended on how much energy we had.

permalink written by  Amber on January 9, 1999 from Pahoa, United States
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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Party time

Honolulu, United States

Typically, I'd spend the last week in Hawaii on Oahu with friends and also celebrating our anniversary. Usually it would be Waikiki Beach by day and Moose McGillicuddy's by night. Moose's has by far the best happy hour in Waikiki and the spinach artichoke dip is quite yummy (provided of course they remember to put the artichokes in it.) If you ever stop in ask Sean to play your favorite song and tell Tats I said hi :p

permalink written by  Amber on February 5, 1999 from Honolulu, United States
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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What happend to Rarotonga???

Papeete, French Polynesia

Well I'm a little bit upset because it wouldn't let me add Rarotonga, capital of the Cook Islands, as one of my travel locations. Hmmmph! So I'm going to devote the first bit of the Tahiti blog to the Cook Islands.

First of all the Cooks are absolutely gorgeous, very serene, quiet, friendly, and cheap (or at least it was almost 10 years ago). I had a blast staying at Vera's which was a hostel right on the lagoon. We made some friends with fellow travellers and all ventured out for our last night. Found the local hot spot and proceeded to imbibe, especially since Steinlager 40's were $2NZ, or roughly $1US, with shots running the same, and Jack was around $2US. The only problem we ran into was attempting to have a lime with our tequilla, but by that point we didn't really care. We all piled back into the cabs and ventured back to Vera's. Someone in the group decided it would be grand to go skinny dipping so off we went. As we frolicked in the lagoon, all of a sudden a huge wave (well for the lagoon it was huge, normally the maximum wave in the lagoon was an inch or two, this was a good 4-6 feet). One girl lost her bra, the other a shoe, but all in all no one was injured. The next morning we wake up and are attempting to get the bus back to the town. It's taking forever and when one finally shows up we learn that there had been a tsunami the night before and the north side of the island had to be evacuated. So now I can say that I have been in an earthquake, a tsunami, lava flow, forest fire, and I want to say there's been another one or two natural disasters. It will come to me later.

At any rate onward to Tahiti, we arrived at around 3 or 4 am -- at any rate the ungodly hour that international flights like to drop you off at. And rather than try to find a hotel at that hour we curled up on the airport seats and attempted to catch a few hours sleep. Then around 6am ventured off towards the port and caught the first boat over to Moorea. Found a place to stay and rented a "fun car" which I wish I had a picture of to post, but alas this was back in the day of print and 35mm cameras so it will have to wait until I can get one scanned. After zooming around in the car at the top speed of about 15 miles an hour with the sound of a small airplane, waving the baguette out the window as there was no room in the trunk after we stowed both camera bags there. After a few days of this, as well as swimming with the sharks, we ventured back to Papeete and flew to Bora Bora.

There I saw the most beautiful sunset of my life and narrowly avoided being arrested for attempted murder.... Just kidding, but there were defnitely homicidal thoughts running through my head as we were kayaking in the lagoon and couldn't manage to stay in a straight line to save our lives. The only thing that saved him was the fact that if I had bopped him over the head with the paddle and knocked him overboard I would of had to paddle all the way back by myself. The next day was spent biking around the island and visiting a few beaches.

We flew back to Papeete and spent 17 LOOOOOOONG hours at the airport... btw there is absolutely nothing open in Papeete on a Sunday -- just be advised. Almost got stuck there again, but managed to change flights and arrived in New Zealand almost on schedule

permalink written by  Amber on February 9, 1999 from Papeete, French Polynesia
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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Second visit to Kiwi Land

Auckland, New Zealand

As we had just spent 3 weeks in New Zealand the winter before, this was just going to be a quick 3 day jaunt to hit a few spots that I didn't get to see on the first go around.

Ventured down to Rotarua to check out the thermal areas and wanted to see the likes and differences between the lava flows at Kilauea and those in New Zealand. You don't get to see the active flow like you can in Hawaii, instead it's much like the blurping mud pits in Yellowstone.

Also spent some time driving around the north east side of the island -- absolutely gorgeous. New Zealand is one of the prettiest countries I've ever visited and highly recommend it.

permalink written by  Amber on February 17, 1999 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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Visiting the Aussies

Brisbane, Australia

Well it's back in Australia again (spent 6 weeks the winter prior travelling all over the east coast). This time confined my visit to Brisbane. Friends took us to a rugby game -- no clue who was playing but drank lots of Bundy.... one has to love the Bundenberg. I also remember adoring the water taxis, as the friend we were staying with lived outside the city so it was a simple walk a few blocks down to the port and catch the water taxi down to the city.

Also as friends were busy with work for the week, scheduled a second visit to Napier and Frazier Island. This time our guide liked to play with poisonous sea snakes and we just missed being able to watch a feeding frenzy of tiger sharks due to a late start. Alas the rest of the week is a bit of a blur (time does that to you).

permalink written by  Amber on February 20, 1999 from Brisbane, Australia
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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The Presidential suite and the Monkey Forest

Denpasar, Indonesia

After the brief stop over in Brisbane, we collected two of our Aussie friends and brought them with us to Bali. Checked into the hotel, and discovered the key difference between American hotel rooms and Indonesian hotel rooms. In America when you ask for two beds you will usually have 2 double or queen sized beds in the room. In Bali, it's two twins. So much for our idea of sharing a room with the boys. Also as my parents were arriving the next day, the 2 hotel rooms we had reserved just wouldn't cut it. Spent the day lounging by the pool and then ventured into the city for dinner.

The next morning, after talking with the front desk they managed to give us the Presidential Suite for the rest of our stay for the equivalent of about $50 each, think the total was $300 for the two nights, but typically rented for 500-1000 a night. Very good deal. So I ventured back to the airport to meet my parents' flight from Hawaii and brought them back to the suite. They had a blast exploring the suite -- we had two bedrooms, one for my parents, one for werner and I, and then Ian had a bed we rolled into the dressing room, and Doug either folded out the couch or we brought in another bed for him as well. There was a huge jacuzzi on the private upstairs deck that all 6 of us relaxed in, while gettting over the jet lag.

The next morning it was time to get ready to explore the wilds of Bali. So we got bus tickets up to a lil mountain village, home of the Monkey Forest. After getting off the bus, we were swarmed by people wanting to take us to their guesthouses. Dad did the evil glare trick and all backed off as we donned our backpacks and ventured down the road. Eventually we found a guesthouse that we liked and that had room for all 6. The boys and I went out to find the Monkey Forest and when we'd ask for directions were told oh it's 10 minutes from here. So we decided to walk... and walk and walk and walk. Everyone we asked would say oh it's just 10 more minutes. Personally I think that's the only english number they knew cause it sure was a lot longer than a 10 minute walk. About 30-45 minutes later we arrived at the Monkey Forest. Here you cna pay your fee and go wander in and get mugged by the monkeys. Well not really, but they do swarm looking for food. Got a few pics and then headed back to the guesthouse in order to collect the parents. Needless to say we took a taxi back. I had an excellent pineapple fried rice for dinner.

The next morning the boys and I wandered out to figure out what the next step was and we located a car rental company. Ended up choosing a land rover and all piled in (mind you there's pretty much room for 5 adults and luggage in a land rover, not 6 adults + luggage). So Dad alternated between sitting in the back with the luggage and having Mom on his lap. Let's just say getting out of town was interesting, complete with attempting to go down a one way street, not only the wrong way, but that was closed off for a festival. Just what we get for following a moped around. Attempted to find this guesthouse that had gotten rave reviews in Lonely Planet -- obviously things had changed a bit since publication, as Mom and I took one look at the bathroom and declared "We are not staying here," so we piled in again and off we went. Stopped at the temple where the boys all had to don sarongs, and we were forced to buy prayer sashes from the locals before we could enter. They wanted us to buy sarongs, but Mom and I rummaged around in our luggage and managed to come up with enough for everyone.

Eventually ended up in Lovenia, which apparently is the dolphin capital of Bali, and is located on the northern side of the island. We were all tired and extremely cranky and found this hotel on the beach. Checked in and all fell asleep almost immediately and woke up almost immediately thereafter. Unfortunately the mozzie nets did no good, it was sweltering and honestly I think there were bed bugs. Spent the entire night absolutely miserable and got in a huge fight with Werner. The good news is he hired a driver and went off by himself to do the photography thing, leaving the Rover for the rest of us to use. Ian and I ventured into town and did a bit of sightseeing and shopping, although things did get a bit hectic when we turned a corner and then all of a sudden were boxed in by 3 flatbed trucks, complete with soldiers toting M-16's. We'd accidentally gotten in the middle of a parade for the presidential elections. After travelling a block or two with the parade, we managed to exit stage right and continued on our merry way. Back at the hotel we managed to arrange for air conditioned rooms and the next night was much better. We all got sleep. Found some lovely hotsprings and eventually ventured back to Ubud and located another set of guesthouses. Unfortunately, while going to inspect one set of rooms I slipped and fell down several stairs, landing at the bottom with a jammed thumb and a VERY bruised derriere. As a result I got to choose the place for dinner and we ended up back at the pineapple fried rice restaurant. The next morning we took the bus back to Denpasar and then the rest of the group went to go see another temple and I stayed behind to have a massage. The next morning Werner and I flew to Thailand, Ian and Doug flew back to Brisbane, and my parents stayed for another two weeks running around Bali and the neighboring islands.

permalink written by  Amber on February 27, 1999 from Denpasar, Indonesia
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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No chewing gum allowed

Singapore, Singapore

A fast and furious visit to Singapore... They say it's clean, but you really can't imagine how so until you arrive. We flew over the ports and even they were clean. Arrived at the airport, got the shuttle to the hotel, ventured out for dinner, and then made it an early night. Spent a bit of the morning in search of shot glasses and then back to the airport for our flight to Phuket. On our way to the gate passed by a shop that sold MatsJonassen pieces. Werner bought one or two and I bought one, making arrangements to pick them up when we came through about 10 days later on our way back from Thailand, that way we wouldn't have to carry them.

permalink written by  Amber on March 7, 1999 from Singapore, Singapore
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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Island hopping through Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Arrived at some god awful time of the night -- I swear it's a conspiracy -- At any rate Werner made arrangements with some cab driver and off we went. Checked into the hotel absolutely exhausted and then he ventured out for food, I decided sleep was more important. Course I got abruptly woken up by someone crashing into our sliding glass door. Wasn't sure if they were trying to break in, got thrown there in the fight, or just fell cause they were too drunk. Needless to say the next morning we went looking for a new hotel. Found a nice travel agent who proceeded to book us into a new hotel, tickets on the boat and hotels to Ko Phi Phi and Railay Beach. Basically spent the week in Thailand ferrying out to other islands, spending 2 nights there, renting long boats and doing photography sessions around the islands, and eating Thai pancakes. Fairly relaxing. Also took a day trip out to James Bond Island and Koh Pannyi (the Sea Gypsy village) in the Phang Nga Bay.

permalink written by  Amber on March 8, 1999 from Phuket, Thailand
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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The day my toothbrush turned blue

Pekanbaru, Indonesia

Will spend more time elaborating on the joys of public transportation on Sumatra

permalink written by  Amber on March 16, 1999 from Pekanbaru, Indonesia
from the travel blog: The Day My Toothbrush Turned Blue and Other Tales from the South Pacific
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I'm an ex-bartender turned librarian who adores travel and doesn't tend to stay in one place for very long. I've lived in 4 states and 2 countries and visited many more. A nifty little widget at another site had calculated that I've seen 12% of the world so I better get off the computer and out...

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