This is a compilation of journal entries during my stay at Ha'apai. Internet was often patchy so I wrote stuff down hoping to send them later - this is it.
I stayed at Fins'nFlukes at Pangai, Ha'apai - Fins and Flukes! I'm not sure why but there seems to be a negative vibe about this place.
It might be that the island still has not recovered from the devastating cyclone which destroyed it in January... or maybe its my imagination...
The previous owner - an Irish expat tried to commit suicide when his business was ruined by the cyclone. His girlfriend whom he dearly loved also broke up and left him. The trip's organiser V said that Irish dude was wonderful with the whales but he had issues - OCD - example - if some guests wanted to change their scuba diving to whale watching - he wouldn't allow it even though it would have been much more efficient and easier if all the guests went whale watching.
He also punched one of the guests in the morning - apparently when the guest was meditating in the garden with his crystals. Irish dude had alcohol problems.
I'm not feeling so well. I caught the flu when I got here. The weather has been unseasonably colder and windy. Temperature is around 23C. In the water its about 20C.
To be honest I felt miserable being in a wet cold wetsuit for up to 6 hours a day. I kept myself warm thinking about hot chicken soup, hot chicken porridge, hot tomato soup .... and when its really really cold - ice-cream. Trying to associate cold with something I like or distract my mind makes a some psychological improvement.
I also try and distract myself from my misery by thinking about some of my photos like the sunset photo at 'Eua I took of the Japanese nurse - the one with the orange ambient light. And I had to think - wow, those sun beams which could have fried everyone on Earth - had we been closer to the Sun like Mercury, Venus - come at just the perfect optimum temperature the garden and everyone is cloaked in this beautiful orange ambiance. Which begs the question: "Why Life" - why is life so beautiful, so splendid - filled with fruit trees, vegetables, amazing coral reefs and forests and thousands upon thousands of creatures while we as human beings sit at the top of the spectrum.
We had a funny dinner discussion two nights ago. We were talking about the organizer's back problem. I mentioned seeing a Chinese medicine doctor - but she said she tried everything already. And then Michael's wife said, "BUT NOT SEX!!!" hahaha
Poor V has been celibate for over 4 years following a bad breakup with an abusive bf. Anyway the rest of the dinner discussion was centered upon plans to get V laid or hitched. I was touted as one of the potential candidates - lol. (I've only just met these people!!!!) Then this total stranger - a random American tourist who had been sitting behind us - a woman in her 50s - leaned over and lectured V on the benefits and joys of a "good bang" and why she shouldn't delay and waste her youth. lol. V is 35.
Lol, I might get lucky :)
Funnily enough when she was telling me about her back problems - I wanted to tell her I cured mine after a good fuck. I suffered from lower back problems - and my "chi" started flowing properly again after I had good sex.
My cold has worsen due to the cold windy weather we've been having. The whale swim today wasn't all that fun as a result - besides we only saw a shy mum+calf.. I'm going to fix up my camera now then straight to bed. Its 11.30pm I have to wake up at 7am .... I should have stayed in bed today but that's such a wussy thing to do.
I'm eating alone today. I just have the knack of not getting along with the group lol.
The whale swim has been pretty fantastic with close encounters with the whales on all occasions. But I got into trouble with the whale swim guide (a husband and wife team) because I kept on getting separated from the group. The current is pretty strong and unless you are constantly fining you're going to get moved away. I also didn't want to stick close to the main group because sticking close means most of the photos are going to be of people's arses or fins. You get in each other's way. And its bloody annoying. So the whale guide kept on yelling at me to stick close. But I couldn't hear the guide because my head is under water and I'm looking at the whale + I got my scuba hood on.
I also don't want to stick close to the group because you end up getting in each others way. You end up with photos of people's arses and fins.
And i also can't help if the whale approaches me and wants to check me out. I'm sorry that the whale doesn't go close to them because they are constantly fining. Sigh... so the whale guide and captain threaten to cancel the rest of my whale swim if I didn't stick close to the whale guide. At which point, I refrained from saying - how fucking far up her arse do you want me to be?
I refrained of course and blanked out.
Meanwhile the whale guide is rushing ahead with his/her small little camera to take the photos. If she wants to take prime position and take the shot she can jolly well do it on her own damn time - not when I'm paying $3000 a week for the swim. The whale guide should be helping his customers take the shot - not taking personal photos!!!!
Visibility was appalling at time - 10 - 20m - and the guide wanted us to keep to a 10 -20m distance.
We were also suppose to move away when the whale was coming up. But it gets frustrating cos sometimes the whales do turn towards you and you are in a prime position to take the shot - but then I hear the guide yelling at me to get back.
The end result if we had to follow the rules to the T would be I would get photos with the back of the whale fins, only side shots of the body or mostly out of focus shots - or photos with other swimmers' asses and fins in them. Sigh...
I'm also damn annoyed that they are wasting time chasing down the occasional "illegal" - Tongans who are out on their own swimming with whales without a permit. I'm sorry for them that this is happening. But they should report it to the authorities when they are back home - meanwhile concentrate on looking for other whales. Its a pretty damn big sea. But nooo... he has to go and confront and eyeball the Tongans angrily for 20 minutes. Again, wasting my time. I brought along a (waterproof) MP3 player so that I can sit at the back of the boat, listen to my music and stare into that gloriously blue sea and sky (and look for other whales) - and AVOID being soaked by the whale guide's negativity and ranting.
The other group sympathetically listen to the dude's complaints. But I so wanted to interject and say, "Y'know - this is Tonga - the brothers here have been doing this for generations. Its only one or two boats that are doing this - and the sea is pretty big. How about we go elsewhere and find some whales to swim with and NOT @#$#$$$$ WASTE my time????"
Seriously if they want to do business here in Tonga - antagonizing the locals is not going to help and will lead to problems in the future. Each time we go back to port - I see the Tongans staring at our boat - those aren't kind eyes looking back.
Mid-week.... Onto other topics - Nah, V isn't interested in me - although she jokingly said a couple of things about marriage and about me being an ideal partner. Let's see - I cook, I bake, I do grocery shopping, I houseclean, I love to travel, I love photography, I love the sea and whales + I got property. She also loves my scones. She told me the last time she was held was (awhile) ago. I immediately felt great sympathy for her - I know how it feels to lack physical intimacy for long stretches of time. Her friends were suggesting a one-night stand in front of us lol. (Who are these people????) But I don't think she wants to go there. There were no visible signs of affections.
The whale swims have been tiring. Its tough spending 1 hour - 2 hours swimming in the cold 20C choppy sea and another 5 hours in a cold wet wetsuit. I developed some blisters on my calf-pits :) due to being in a wet wetsuit for 6 - 8 hours a day. You know, like the arm pits but in the legs.
While the rest of the whale swim group go out to have dinner - I'm going to stay in and have my supper at the resort. I ordered the meal before we left and its not polite to do a last minute cancellation.
Getting towards the end of the tour and its like walking around egg shells with the whale guide. There was a social faux pas when a trip to the guide's island was organized and we didn't get the memo. Then he may have got upset... then we had to fumble out an apologetic response.... HOLY COW!!!!! I came here to swim with whales not play office politics!!!! I think these people have been living on a beach island for far too long.
There seems to be a dull oppressive, negative vibe to Pangai. I don't think I will return.