Grand Pacific Cruise :: Part 3

Alooooha! I’m now back home safe and sound… maybe not so sound, as the washing machine’s been non-stop for the past day and a half with ALL THE LAUNDRY to go through! (We packed enough clothes so we’d never have to use the on-board laundromat). Speaking of the laundromats, there were rumors about people getting kicked off the ship in Rarotonga. Apparently someone had left their clothes to dry in a dryer in the laundromat and took off in the meantime to do something more productive than watch the spin cycle. However, when they were gone, along came another passenger, who whinged (“winj”– Aussie talk for “complain”) about that dryer being occupied, so what do they do? They take out all that other person’s drying laundry and throw in their own. Original laundry person comes back, sees clothes on floor, is not pleased, etc etc– a fight or two broke out over this matter (one among women, one amongst guys, and I didn’t know guys ever did laundry). Crazy shenanigans on board the Sun Princess!

Despite those stories, I had some enjoyable days at sea, which consisted of  a simple daily routine:

Wake up. Eat breakfast (consisting of salmon lox in a bagel, ‘yoghurt’ (from NZ; how many yogs did they have to hurt to make this yogurt, I wonder?!)), “Melon in Season” (a bowl of 5 tiny cantaloupe balls and a millimeter-thick slice of  honeydew) and tea.

Nap. (Hey, I was on vacation! CalArts veterans reccomend sleeping your entire Summer away so you’ll have enough sleep for school).

Go walk a bunch of laps around the Promenade Deck. Gawk at the Bitter End, or all the anchor equipment, if you can’t see the Bitter End.

Lay out on deck; tan. Chill to the band (Pinnacle) and wait for the Cookie Girl to deliver cookies at precisely 3:30. Mmmmm!

Hit the buffet, grab more cookies, sneak them down to the room and eat them on the balcony.

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Clean up.

Go to dinner, wrassle over who gets which bread and take all the butter when no one’s looking. 😛

Attend the show, if it looks non-embarassing*.

Draw all over the breakfast order form**.

Sleep!

And that’s it for the daily routine at sea.  Now to explain the asterisks!

* Australian entertainment is indeed a different animal from American entertainment– the whole way performance is given and the audience interacts is, well, that of another culture! At times it felt like attending church: Neil Diamond is a well-loved musician Down Under, and we had a couple of impersonators who sang and dressed like him. The crowd would often start clapping and waving their arms in the air…. kinda felt like church a little? I had no idea how any of their songs went, but A-Waltzin’ Matilda was probably the most popular song the whole time. Audience interaction also involved singing into a mic, which would lead to confused behavior (“I don’t know this song!” in a Californian accent) and embarrassment. Thankfully that never happened!

** Breakfast order forms have way too much white space to draw on. So along with the usual “Salmon Lox”, they’d get a visual just to make sure they got the order straight:

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Yes, the bagel’s important.

Oh but there’s much more space for art than just that, so every night Mom and I went all-out on the front and back of these. Here are a few of the best breakfast order forms; one night we didn’t get to the whole thing and the delivery guy the next day complained that it wasn’t completely covered in drawings! hehe!

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Enough of the breakfast drawings! (Though I CAN’T get enough of them, and apparently the breakfast crew and the galley couldn’t either)… I last left off blogging after Bora Bora, so you may be wondering if I ever made it into that crossing-the-equator ceremony. Fortunately, my name was not amongst the ‘chosen ones’, who were all on trial for doing such lowly acts as stealing cutlery, drinking all the gin and telling really bad jokes. King Neptune and his Queen were not impressed by those on trial.

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As part of the jury, we all yelled “GUILTY!!!” when the victims were prosecuted. What a wild party! After lining up all those deemed unworthy of Neptune’s presence, they had to go through the cleansing (!) ceremony, which consisted of meringue, spaghetti noodles, chocolate and egg yolk. But first, the Queen wanted them to kiss her pet fish… On the lips! eeeyuck!

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After those accused were well-“cleansed”, the cruise director was up for telling bad jokes and making silly comments all too often. They did surgery on her, pulling out her intestines and splattering guts everywhere. (aka, link sausage and Jell-O).

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Naturally, one would jump into the pool after all that fun!

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WHAT A MESS! Later on some officers stood at the rim of the pool, looking down and shaking their heads, clearly thinking, “tsk tsk tsk, we have to go through this every 100 days? Cleaning out the pool is absolutely not worth all this tomfoolery…” Best [interactive!] show on the ship, hands-down!

I even got a certificate saying “MISS. GEHM B736 has crossed the equator”, blah blah blah…. Very official, B736 was my room number 😛

Crossing the equator the first time is a big deal, and mine happened at 4:30 AM… apparently in the Navy and on other ships they do a much more brutal ceremony; my grandpa was a merchant seaman and he had a fake certificate made up so he didn’t have to go through the ceremony!

The next day we did scenic cruising past Christmas Island (Kiribati), which may have made some cool photos if I had this telephoto lens.  But what’s going by Christmas Island without some Christmas carols and SANTA??? It’s the middle of summer, what better time to have Christmas?

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That was about it for our days at sea before Hawaii. I thought it was funny that the Exit signs have a picture of a running guy, looks more like an Escape sign to me:

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Honolulu, Oahu :: Hawaii

As soon as we hit US ground, we had to go through Customs, and being an American, that meant I got to go first! That required being at a lounge at 7:30 AM to show my passport. 7:30’s so early, why would anyone want to be up at that hour during vacation? So I went in my PJ’s. And everyone else was dressed. And a lot more people were up and walking around than I ever would have suspected. (At least I had cute Mutts PJ’s on, I just wish I had fluffy bunny slippers to go with the whole theme). Honolulu was just as I remembered it: a beautiful, tall city (yet not as densely packed as Sydney or Auckland, but definitely more spread out than the latter)–palm and coconut trees grew alongside skyscrapers. After a trip to Hilo Hattie’s for some edibles (namely getting my mitts on some green tea, specifically with honey, lemon and hibsicus! Really delicious stuff), we headed off to Waikiki Beach for a spot on the sand and a days’ worth of floating aimlessly* on a bright inflatable raft. And guess who paid us a visit? Mr. Sea Turtle! At first I saw a moving shadow, then later heard a girl on her cell talking about how no one sees this sea turtle out there, yet she kept spotting it. Upon returning to the water we had quite a few visitations; people congregated in his general hang-out area, and every few minutes he’d pop his head up above water, say hello and dive back under and disappear with the water. At one point he was right under my mom and me, we thought he’d pop up and give us a ride! After he checked out our lack of footwear, he swam on and didn’t give us any swimming lessons. After frying a good long time we hit the International Marketplace, where prices were much more tangible than at French Polynesia. And hey, we were back in America! Strange how an island soooo far from the California Coast felt like being at home. The American culture is what made it feel that way, that and the people. On the sidewalks were artists: airbrush artists, a steel drum player (wrong ocean! Generally those are found in the Carribean, this was my first Pacific encounter), men painted up as silver and gold statues (plenty of those in San Diego, and I worry about their poison intake levels, being completely covered in metallic paint) and even a guy with a bunch of birds! He let me hold a pretty green parrot 😀

Here’s Diamondhead’s silhouette sailing by at night:

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And I did some experimental ‘zoom’ photography on the city, as well.

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Lahaina, Maui :: Hawaii

So I’m eating my breakfast, enjoying the view of Maui and some fresh air from the balcony when FLAPPITY-FLAP! a BIRD (of all things) lands in the balcony!

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Speaking of which, a bird had landed on the ship the night before in Honolulu and was perched on the top deck a good half-hour to an hour after leaving port. I wonder if he stayed on for the entire night, and was island-hopping as well?

As usual, the great banyan tree was there….

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BUT THE OVERLY RELIGIOUS YELLING GUY WHO SCREAMS AT ONCOMING CARS WASN’T THERE!!! Rumor has it he died 2 years ago, but I *know* he was there 6 months ago, proof in that photo.  (I’m amazed Google doesn’t know anything about this legendary screamer). Someone resembling him was sitting at a bench by the Banyan, but I didn’t want to stare and wasn’t under the impression it was him, but I didn’t get a good enough of a look to tell either. //regret!

One of the shops on Front Street had… *GASP* shadow puppets and wayang golek Indonesian theater puppets! HOW COOL IS THAT! They were pretty big and if I could have afforded one (both in price and luggage room) I’d probably be admiring it now, isntead of writing this blog.

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Wraaaaak?

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As per usual, a trip up and down Front Street to see all the shops and ART GALLERIES was mandatory! I’ve already forgotten the names of my favorite artists I spotted, but it was a great show all around– some of the same paintings hung that I remembered from before, and there was certainly some new material to gawk at, as well. How cool would it be to have a gallery where you could stare at all the artwork all day? I’d make a horrible salesperson, because I wouldn’t want to sell anything…. Just hang onto it all so I could muse the gallery every day 😛

On the way back to the tender, there was a pretty flower on the ground. looks like it’s on the moon!

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Hilo, Hawaii :: Hawaii

READY? SET?? I rode a HILOCOPTER over the active volcanoes!!!

…GO!!!

Go nuts with all these macadamia trees:

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Thar she blows!

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Check out the texture…

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Blue smoke, the road to the big one at the end…

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Saw these glowing holes everywhere:

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Here’s the lookout house, which has been really fortunate in not getting melted away.

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The Hawaians have their goddess, Pele, who’s the creative (and destructive) force that controls volcanic activity. She takes many forms, sometimes as a beatiful young lady, some say, and other say a haggard old woman. Or… is she really looking out from the deep here?

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Wow…. the smoke/steam was wafting up in such a perfect billowing cloud at an unbelievable pace.

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You could see masses of broken rocs exploding out:

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Believe it or not, people actually build houses out on this desolate landscape! Our pilot was saying he was interested in buying a house, but it burned down just the other week…. But this is the cheapest real estate in the country, however if your property burns, it’s government property!

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These once were regular roads, I suppose…

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And in contrast to all that lava-ey goodness, here’s a waterfall for a change.

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What a ride!!

Sailing Home

The most notable thing on the way home was the talent show. Being I hadn’t touched a piano key in about a month, I figured that would be out of the question– i missed the deadline for the photo contest but still wanted to do something, and I remembered that for Pictionary they had a massive drawing pad, so I figured I’d draw caricatures. After asking for a volunteer, the audience went silent, but one brave man came up to the stage… and the drawing turned out well!

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I didn’t know how much time I had to be on stage and how much I’d already chewed up, but the audience wanted more, so I drew one of the social staff.

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That went over really really well, and for the remainder of the cruise, people knew me as that artist who went onstage and apparently drew pictures really fast 😛

The entire trip went WAAAY too fast.

It’s strange being back home, being back around all the smells that were so familiar when I left… it’s nice having a bathroom to myself (my first thought: WOW the mirrors are tall!),  it’s nice having a big bed that I can stretch out in, but I’m still in lazy vacation mode and haven’t quite found the motivation to start up on all the projects that need to be finished before summer’s over.

All in all…. what an amazing trip!! Hope to take more like this in the future.

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