Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Port Vila - Part One

We began and ended our holiday in Port Vila.  We weren't so excited to have to fly to another island in the middle, but that's just how it worked.  Brian had already used up quite a few of his vacation days when we visited the US, so we worked around the public holidays of Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day to make the most of what he had left.  That boxed us into specific dates of travel.  Since planes don't fly to Tanna every day, we would've had to travel in the middle of our time there anyway.

The kids are old enough to have opinions on things they want to do, so Brian and I decided they could each choose something within reason - we were allowed veto power.  Nathan opted for horseback riding months ago, so that was one of the first things we did.  Nathan picked the 2 hour rain forest tour, so we saddled up and headed off on the adventure.

Poor Brian's view!
We were paired up and helped onto our horses, given a brief set of instructions, and off we went with our guides.  The kids weren't so sure about the first steep hill we went down, but quickly enjoyed the feeling.  The both ended up being tethered to our guides, as they weren't quite strong - or forceful - enough to keep their horses going the way the boys wanted them to head.  I gave the camera to Brian, since I figured it would be less painful bouncing around on him!

All of our horses had distinct personalities.  Bri and Will's horses just wanted to eat, given any bit of slack on the reins.  Nath's horse was stubborn and had to be fussed at fairly often.  Mine liked to stay on the path and gave me a bit of excitement when he decided to start to rear up on me.  I yanked on the reins hard for him to stop and just clung on for dear life.  Brian swears I'm exaggerating, but it felt scary!

The bush was lovely and the views from the top were stunning - but we don't have any pictures of that because Brian's horse got very fidgety when we stopped.  The boys were exhausted about halfway through the tour and we had to tell them to stop whinging - all of our bums were sore!  They didn't realise that you used different muscles riding.  All in all, they had a good time and are pestering us to go again here!

Nath's sweet face

Looking fantastic in our riding helmets

Will picked riding U-power boats around the harbour.  The boys kept calling them U-boats and not understanding why Bri and I were laughing.  Basically they were two-seater pontoon boats.  The real appeal here is that the boys could drive them as long as we sat behind them.  Off we went behind our guide, with the throttle open and the boys giggling as we wake hopped.  We took a bit of a break in the middle of our hour tour for a swim.  The water was absolutely crystal clear and were surprised to hear that it was 30 feet deep, since we could easily see the bottom.  The boys adored this part of the holiday. Alas, I'm not risking my camera on that ride, so no pictures!

We also saw a fire dancing show at our resort.  When they came out and weren't in traditional dress, I was a bit disappointed.  However, that feeling was quickly lost watching the show.  Here are a few of my favourite pictures.

And now the kids think it would be cool to breathe fire...

Hideaway Island
We also spent time wandering the town and hanging out at the beach.  Our favourite was Hideaway island.  It was about fifteen minutes from Port Vila by taxi bus and then another five minutes by ferry.  Not only was it beautiful, but the snorkeling was amazing!  We saw angel fish, parrot fish (my favourite), puffers, other beautifully coloured fish, and blue sea stars.  The boys were champs with their swimming skills, although we did get Will a life vest so we didn't have to worry too much about him.  At one point we thought we were swimming up to a huge black coral to be surprised when it was a massive school of fish - just like the school in Finding Nemo that form the Opera House.  Speaking of Nemo, we found several of him as well!

Hideaway Island is also home to the world's only underwater post office.  There is a postbox you can dive down and mail postcards in, which we did.  I have no idea when they'll arrive to the people we sent them to, but fun for the kids to do anyway.  Twice a day the postman goes out in scuba gear to man the post office.  The kids thought he was really fun!

The guy with the massive hair?  That's the postman.

My three guys snorkeling

Nath was done

Wills "borrowed" my sunnies for the return ferry!

Back to the mainland - hope to be back to Hideaway Island someday!

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