Thursday, July 1, 2004


man, is it cold here! our first day here was a perfect fall-like day, maybe 65 and sunny. but that was short lived, and we spent day two at the auckland museum (excellent) and the night watching harry potter. anyone understand what happened at the end? we feel like we need the cliffnotes.

we then left auckland on monday and headed up to the "winterless" north and wound up driving straight into a subtropical noreaster, whatever that is. this is what it isn't: nice. where is my fiji? my fiji has gone. we managed to survive the cold and rain and visited the historic village of Russell, formerly known as the hellhole of the pacific (lahaina was a nice family town compared to it). these days it is quite a bit less exciting but there's some old buildings to see. we spent most of the day in new zealand's oldest hotel (1847) warming by the fire and drinking mulled wine. we also saw this really neat limestone cave with these bright blue iradescent glowworms all over. we had a great maori guide who showed us stalagmites and stalagtites (stalagtites hang "tight", stalagmites "might" reach the ceiling some day, he explained) and with the flashlight off the cave looked like a planetarium.

next day the rain stopped and the sun even poked out for sunrise and we headed across the peninsula to an ancient forest filled with these giant, native kauri trees worshipped by maori. the most interesting part of the day wasn't in the forest but in a campervan down by the river. sound sketchy? it's worse: all we can say for sure is that marco makes a mean cup of hot chocolate, though the website flaunts his other skills. we caravanned with them the rest of the way back to auckland, through beautiful rolling green hills, sheep, cows, and even a rainbow!

we stopped north of the city in hopes of visiting this open bird sanctuary we had seen on tv, but the weather was too rough for the ferry to run. after we got over our disappointment, it was back to the 1984 one-speakered corolla for another 3 hour ride further south. this time our luck finally changed and the skies cleared and we had our first taste of what the new zealand countryside is supposed to look like. this is what it is: nice. we arrived in the geothermic capitol, rotorua, early this afternoon to the not-so-sweet smells of sulpher (although some of us claim to actually like it). it's a small city built right in the middle of all this crazy yellowstone-esque volcanic activity. tomorrow we will head up into the surrounding hills for some hiking and a look at some mountain lakes, maybe even have a mud bath, then check out some of the maori cultural activities.

so new zealand is best summed up by the 2 tv channels they have here that show all the hit american shows back to back: take everything that's good and filter out anything that's not the best. unfortunately, you pay extra for it, and things cost as much here as they do back home, which we're not used to when travelling. also you can get whatever you need whenever you need it, which takes some of the fun and adventure out of it. but we are staying at places with shared bathrooms, and that's helping to keep it real.

hope all is well, thinking of you,

Thursday, June 24, 2004


greetings from fiji! we're down to our last few hours here in the tropics... had a great time.

last week we were in a remote part of the country, the yasawa islands, site of the infamous lagoon where brooke shields lost her innocence. it was only a 2 hour ferry ride to the small island but we felt much further away than that when we were there. there was literally nothing to do but lay on the beach and play new zealand edition of trivial pursuit. even the kiwis couldn't answer most of the questions. the place was a very low key resort (our room was a "luxury" tent complete with mattress), the reception office had sand for a floor and the communal dining area was a big grass shack on the beach. there were one or two activities each day ranging from learning to tie a sarong to traditional song and dance show and a visit to the local village for fijian church services. we had no idea what was going on but we understood when
to put our money in the collection plate. at the aussie beach bbq there were party games with big ticket give-aways. we won a bottle of champagne after a blindfolded russell was able to identify rachel's knees in a lineup. party indeed. the snorkeling was absolutely incredible just right off the shore, beautiful reef and coral like we've never seen, nice tropical fish and a family of squids.

we spent the last few days in the southern "coral" coast of the main island. we rode the local bus to get down here, passing fields and fields of sugar cane. there's a fringing reef here about 100 yards offshore that breaks up all the waves and makes a tranquil bay-like lagoon for miles. underwater is a different story (a more appropriate name might have been the "dead-creepy-get-out-while-you-can-was-that-a-sea-snake?" coast) but from the beach you'd never know it. for whatever reason the resort we stayed at was virtually empty and we had the place all to ourselves.

today we went to a fijian zoo and saw endemic birds and iguanas, but the highlight was definitely the two fruit-bats getting it on. i think we might be permanently scarred.

tomorrow we're off for new zealand where it won't be 85 and sunny, but we're very excited. more adventure to come...

hope all is well with you all. happy summer!

much love and bula,

Thursday, June 17, 2004

about those indians


all is well here in fiji. starting to remember what it's like to be in travel-mode... it's fun and your back hurts and you drink lots of cokes.

so the indians here are the real-deal indians (red-dot and all), they came over 100 years ago as indentured workers to farm the sugar cane and are now indo-fijian. they speak hindi and english. then there are the real-deal fijians, they are the ancestors of the original fijians and they speak fijian (similar to hawaiian) and english. every village has a "chief" and if you don't ask nicely for something the chief eats you. yesterday we went on a great hike in the highlands and visited one of these villages. when we arrived we were greeted with a traditional kava (fijian "grog" made from kava root) ceremony. we asked nicely for everything and learned how to count to 10. then a woman swatted flies away from us as we ate lunch. rachel accidentally ate some tuna that was
mixed in with the taro and claims to have liked it.

just kidding.

today we took our driver moona on a trip up to fiji's "second highest city" as he kept telling us. it wasn't so high, just crowded. that must be what he meant. there was a big market there with lots of spices.

tomorrow we're off for the yasawas, a group of slightly remote islands known for their white sand beaches and good snorkeling. we'll be at "the octopus resort" (, tel. 666 6337). castaway was filmed near there. we'll be on the lookout for wilson.

how did your award cermony go? wish we could have been there. congratulations again!

ok, much love, be in touch again in a few days,

Monday, June 14, 2004


so here we are in fiji! the flight out wasn't too bad. rachel actually slept this time. it's a lot like hawaii here only less people and more indians. and they say bula here instead of aloha. we had some tasty curry for lunch at an indian temple (but no challah or forks), now our hands smell like sujith's basement. the hotel is great, it's a whole bunch of huts on the beach. it's like a deserted island. with lots of indians. and we think satellite cable too so we can see game 5! go pistons!

it's unfortunately really expensive to call but there's tons of email cafes, minus the cafe. plus lots of indians. so email will be the best way to communicate, we should be able to send messages for the next few days, then maybe not for a few days when we get out to a more remote location, then again after that.


much love,

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


very happy to report that i have begun learning the ukulele. i'm taking this ridiculous community class, the teacher is this hawaiian-chinese self-taught 85-but-not-a-day-over-60 year old man. he told me about this friend of his who didn't speak any english when immigrating, so he just pointed to the guy in front of him when coming through customs. turns out the immigration officer was asking him his name, and the guy in front of him's name was greenspan, so the immigration officer just put down greenspan. so now there's a "greenspan's dry cleaning" in san francisco. my long lost chinese brother. sorry, i digress... man the class sounds bad, but it sure is fun to be learning hawaiian songs. whenever i pick up the guitar now it seems ridiculously big. rachel's even learning to hula. we're in.