A Travellerspoint blog

May 2006

Matt's Dad goes bush!

Matt’s Dad, Peter, came and spent 11 days with us in Vanuatu. Peter pretty much experienced the full spectrum of what Vanuatu can offer the tourist, including; resort life, a touristy overnight trip on Tanna, and the cultural exchange of 5 days on Ambrym island.

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(Glass bottomed Kayaking at Le Lagon)

We stayed with Peter at Le Lagon for a few nights, and fitted in plenty of sports including golf, tennis and kayaking.

After a few days of a relaxed resort life it was time for a bit of adventure. We had heard that the Tanna volcano was an amazing experience…but the weather wasn’t looking good!!!! The thick cloud we flew through to reach Tanna confirmed our suspicions that the weather might not be the best to view the volcano. By the time we arrived at our bungalow accommodation, Jungle Oasis, rain looked imminent and after an hour of exploring the beautiful bungalow surrounds we were forced inside by a heavy downpour. It’s quite an investment to get to Tanna and as we were there for only one night we hoped for the rain to stop. By 4pm it had and we set off on our adventure!

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Matt and his Dad infront of Mt Yasur, Tanna Island

We had been hearing explosions from the Volcano all afternoon, and were eagerly anticipating getting up close to see the source of all the commotion. We decided to go on foot as we all felt like a walk and Jungle Oasis is only around 1 hour walk from the Volcano summit. The walk began well but by the time we got to with in 300m of the Crater a huge cloud rolled in and rain pelted down at a 45 degree angle totally drenching Peter and giving Matt’s raincoat and Pippa’s umbrella a good working over. However a great explosion turned our heads and we were amazed to see pieces of lava, some the size of a human, flying up into the sky. They seemed to move in slow motion as the lava lumps hung in the air before they fell back down out of site into the crater mouth. We all knew we had to see more of this!

The final push to the top was tough through the driving rain and as we got closer to the top the wind became even more furious forcing the rain against our faces and dampening our spirits. Once we reached the top there was no boiling cauldron of lava as we had imagined but a moonscape with clouds and volcano smoke whizzing by partially blocking our view of the crater. We huddled together and waited. After a cold wait of around 5 minutes (it seemed much longer) a small explosion sent streams of lava flying into the air. It was quite exciting but the rain really was cold. During the next wait we wavered between heading back to our cozy bungalow and staying in the rain, but before we could make our final decision there was a great flash of light, a huge explosion and the sky lit up as great chunks of man sized lava filled the sky. After that we were like druggies waiting for the next hit. We ended up staying for more than an hour in the cold wind and rain (Matt was shivering) but were able to experience some of the most amazing sites we had ever seen.

In the end our guide Charlie had to make us promise that we would head back after the next explosion. We reluctantly agreed…and not long after doing so were rewarded with the biggest explosion of the night.

Although the conditions were not ideal our Tanna experience was certainly unforgettable. We managed a little video and a few dodgy photos in the rain. The best one is shown below.

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(The dodgiest photo ever taken of a lava explosion)

After Tanna we had a night back in Vila and then headed to Ambrym. Peter had a great time and was able to test out a few tours for us including the survivor tour, the kids tour and the revamped Rom tour. He also got to meet many of the great friends we have made and enjoyed himself thoroughly. He left saying it was his best holiday!

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(Peter was quite a marksman. He hit a bulls eye from about 10 metres)

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(All on Ambrym are so warm and welcoming, but the kids really make it special)

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(The High Chiefs of Ambrym Magic danced the Rom sending tingles down our spines)

Posted by pippamatt 13:33 Comments (3)

Marathon journey

We had a marathon journey trying to get from Ambrym to Vila. The boat driver told us we would be departing Ranon at 5am to get to the airport by 8am. We had to pick up a woman along the way but when we arrived at her village, she was no where to be seen. The boat driver walked up the hill to her village to find she was still asleep! She took her time packing her bags and 45 minutes later moseyed down the hill to our boat.

By this stage we were fuming and super stressed we were going to miss our plane. When we finally arrived at the airport, it was all closed up…the plane was 2 hours late…on island time!

When the airport opened up, we found they didn’t have our booking that we had made over the phone. The flight was all booked up but they just managed to squeeze us on a later flight. We spent 5 hours in the airport (which is more like a concrete building with no toilet, shop, drinks, etc). Pippa had a headache the whole day just to make the journey that much more pleasant. Our flight took us via Santo Island where we had to wait 1 hour for a connecting flight to Vila. We finally arrived at 7pm that night!

While in Vila, we were lucky to have a beautiful place to house sit for a week overlooking Vila bay. Matt spent the week working at Live and Learn while Pippa spent her time in meetings, running errands and stocking up on supplies for Ambrym.

Last weekend we trialed one of the tours a Youth Ambassador volunteer has been developing with the local community. The tour was of the some cultural sites of a respected high chief called Roi Mata. He died 400 years ago and was buried with his multiple wives and family members of which some were buried alive.

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As part of the tour was a tour of a beautiful cave with ancient rock art.

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There were also some beautiful handicrafts to buy.

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Pippa and Lisa showing off some of their purchases!

Another highlight of our week in Vila was the news that our Rom Dance article was published in the Virgin Blue In-flight Magazine. We got a 2 page colour spread with our names mentioned in the bi-line! You can check it out on their website.

Go to:

http://www.virginblue.com.au/products/voyeur/may06/?section=Song%20and%20dance

Posted by pippamatt 22:02 Comments (0)

Where ever, When ever

We have had a busy last few weeks. We had a great Easter, Matt had a wonderfully unique birthday but besides that it’s been work, work, work. We have been running more tour guide training workshops, English Training, meeting with the local council and yesterday had a meeting with all the chiefs to sort out some tricky political issues regarding our work. We’re also continuing to test tours and also seem to have a lot more little requests that seem to take up our time….’can you print this letter out?’, ’can you take a photo of…’
We are heading into Vila on Saturday and are looking forward to having a whole weekend off!

In amongst our busy month there have been a few classic moments that we think are pretty unique to our time here on Ambrym Island.

Where ever, when ever ….

Would you use a sea shell to scratch out the inside of a banana, wrap it in leaves, stick it into the fire, pour coconut milk on top and eat it (this is the famous lap lap that we have mentioned before)?
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Would you see a cat desperately hungry for some coconut scratchings?
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Would you see a birthday boy so happy with some of the simple pleasures in life?
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Would you be able to buy a hand carved canoe for $25 AUD?
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Would you be able to sit on a black sand beach and watch incredible sunsets every night?
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Would you see mammas in their colourful island dresses walking for an hour to a church service in the next Village?– Recognize the mamma on the left?
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Would you see a lunch spread of starchy vegetables such as taro, manioc, banana laplap and yam?
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Would you see a bunch of such crazy advanced tour guides?
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Would you receive as thank you presents a yam, a chook and a home made mat?
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Would you find a 7 year old boy expertly butchering a chicken? He saw Matt struggling to pluck the thing and soon took over. The butchering was amazing. A very specific process was used to gradually cut the carcass into bite size pieces. He didn’t gut the thing…but instead butchered around the guts. Although the end result wasn’t your chicken wings and drumsticks, it was an effective way to butcher a chicken using only a sharp knife and no chopping board.
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Posted by pippamatt 15:23 Comments (1)

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