Schlagwort-Archive: backpacking

Gizo – above and below the surface

When we arrived in Gizo by ferry from Honiara, it was in the middle of the night, around 1am. Let me tell you – do ask your accommodation to pick you up from the pier if at all possible, since it is not easy at all to find the smaller guesthouses in the dark! We were walking along the road already for a while, searching for Cegily Guesthouse, when luckily I asked a passing men about it, and it turned out that he was from the guesthouse and came looking for us since they were worried we would not find the way. So sweet! And very lucky that we asked him, for there is no way we would have been able to spot the small trail leading up to the guesthouse otherwise, with no sign or anything. We desperately needed a shower of course, and then just fell into our bed!

Next day, we wanted to get our bearings of Gizo. We headed into „town“ (or shall I say: village) and wandered a bit around the market. Then we made our way to Dive Gizo, the only dive shop on the island. We booked 2 dives for the next day and rented some bicycles for the rest of the afternoon to explore the little island.

It was lots of fun cycling through little villages with kids screaming „helloooo“ to us, and seeing some pretty little beaches along the way. Unfortunately they don’t really qualify for swimming, as there is lots of coral and the water is shallow. So we just cycled further and further, with many photo stops along the way, taking in the beautiful green nature of Gizo and enjoying the total remoteness of being the only tourists around.

We didn’t bring enough water though and there were no shops along the way, so at one point we decided to turn around, instead of cycling all the way to the western point of the island and end of the road. Too bad, I would have loved to do it all the way! But at this point I felt very exhausted and energy-depleted, probably because of dehydration, and struggled to make it back to town. While I would very much recommend renting bikes from Gizo Dive and exploring the island, it would have been better to do it as a full day trip, take our time more, and go all the way to the end. And take enough water and food!

Next day, we got up early to go out diving. The dive sites we visited were the wreck of Toa Maru, a really cool dive of a beautifully eerie wreck where which we could penetrate at different points, and Grand Central Station. GCS is a famous dive that can have strong currents and therefore, large pelagics showing up. We were lucky the current was decent but not too strong and saw lots of grey reef sharks and schools of other fish. At one point, it was like diving in a fish soup! There was a huge group of barracudas which stayed with us for a while as well at one point. Two really cool dives!

Between the dives, we had lunch on a tiny picturesque island. The lunch was a fish bbq which tasted delicious and around the island there was some good snorkelling where we spotted a turtle! All in all, a great day out with Gizo Dive, highly recommended.

Originally we had planned to visit the island of Kolombangara next, however accommodation there was pricey and we were not in the mood for camping with lots of rain at various parts of the day. Everything was rather muddy, and we didn’t want our first camping experience like that! Also, the trails probably would have been too muddy to make it up to the crater anyways. Wow, and it’s „dry season“ here. Really wouldn’t want to visit in rainy season! So we decided to stay a day longer in Gizo while trying to figure out our program for the next few days. It was a grey and rather rainy day, but we still opted to go snorkeling at Imagination Island for a couple of hours – a good decision, even in the rain! Their house reef is surprisingly beautiful, lots of healthy coral and smaller reef fish – and a couple resident black tip reef sharks, which we kept spotting here and there.

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27 hours on the MV Anjeanette

As described in my post about Honiara, we spent most of our time in the city preparing for the ferry ride. Buying the tickets in advance is not actually necessary, you can buy them also on the boat, even once the ferry has already left the harbour. However, the crucial part is getting on the ferry much much earlier than the 9pm departure time (think noon-ish), in order to secure a spot for your sleeping mat. More about that in my Honiara blog post.

The MV Anjeanette leaves Honiara every Saturday evening at 9pm and arrives in Gizo around midnight the next day. I took the time from when we left Honiara (9.45pm) to when we arrived in Gizo and it ended up being pretty much exactely the announced 27h. And it was a rather loooong ride! We were super lucky with the weather as the sea was often so calm that we were unsure if we were even moving. However, the temperature in our „1st class room“ (as big as an average living room) was way too high for us to sleep comfortably! I think we managed about 2-3 h each during the first night and maybe an hour more the second night before arrival in Gizo. Everything else was fine actually – our mats were rather comfy, the cabin light on our side was broken, thus it wasn’t too bright, and once settled, most people dozed off so it wasn’t too loud either. But because of the lack in aircon, we were just sweating and it felt like there was not enough fresh air coming in. So we took turns to get outside into the fresh air… The best would actually be to sleep outside, if there was any space. It’s only corridors though, so people will be constantly stepping over you, not to forget all sea sick people who might wanna stand next to you to throw up (hopefully into the ocean then). So unless that aircon is usually working better, I doubt there is anything we could have done better to make the trip more comfortable! There is another boat, MV Fair Glory, which leaves Sunday morning and arrives Monday noon in Gizo – a couple of people have mentioned to us that this one is to be preferred over MV Anjeanette.

The day-time part of the ferry ride was actually quite nice. There are quite some stops where you can see a bit of the local life, offloading and loading of the ferry etc. and also part of the trip leads all the way through Marovo Lagoon which was beautiful to see! The day was rather grey, but still all the little islands were amazing! So much green, so much nature, and in between some little simple huts, people on small boats going there way etc. On one of the stops (think it was Gasini) there were lots of sharks circling the boat, hoping for food waste!

And Mathijs saw some dolphins at one point. In Ughele, there seems to always be a small market popping up when the ferry comes in – and they are even selling fully cooked meals! This would have been a good one for us to know, since we realized it too late and didn’t get to buy anything anymore. On the ferry itself, there is a little shop which sells cookies, crackers, cup noodles and some soft drinks. It’s not even overpriced, pretty much the same as shops in Honiara, but just doesn’t offer a lot of choice. We had bought some bread and jam in Honiara, bananas and boiled eggs at the market and got some cup noodles along the way.

The ferry runs along the following route: Honiara – Bunikalo – Gasini – Chea – Seghe (Marovo Lagoon main gateway though one of the smallest stops) – Ughele (Rendova Island) – Noro (transfer to Munda by bus) – Ringgi (Kolombangara Island) – Gizo. The part Honiara – Bunikalo was during the night, and then it was dark again from between Ughele and Noro onward. The last part was dragging the most of course, since we really could not sleep in our „1st class non working aircon living room type of cabin“ and we were kind of done with just chilling and reading. Also, the toilets became smellier and smellier and the boat dirtier and dirtier. More and more cockroaches came out (wasn’t as bad as expected though). So in the end we were counting every minute to finally arrive at our destination, Gizo!

Honiara – welcome to the Solomon Islands!

Brisbane – Honiara. Mathijs and my first flight together this year and the official start of our trip around the world!! 🙂 We couldn’t be more excited. Immigration was rather quick when we landed in Honiara, and then we were out in the tropical heat of the Solomon Islands! A girl on Couchsurfing had offered to pick us up and drive us to our accommodation in Honiara, together with her „Solomon mum“ – very sweet! The drive from the airport took longer than expected and there was quite some traffic and construction work going on. Finally, we arrived at Chester Resthouse where we were lucky to get upgraded to a much bigger room! Good start – and the views from the large terrace over the city are good as well (even though the city as such is not really pretty).

For the first evening and most of the next day, we had quite some organizational things to do: Buying a local SIM card, getting our ferry tickets to Ghizo, and… most importantly: reserving our spots on the ferry! The ticket guarantees that you get on the ferry, however there is only so much floor space in both 1st and 2nd class. Come first, serve first! The rest of the people has to somehow squeeze in, often also laying in the corridors or outside on the floor. The ferry MV Anjeanette which we took, arrives Saturday noon already in port, and if you already have your ticket, you can then get on and put your mattress down to secure a spot (and hope no one moves it – block more space than you need, since it will definitely get squeezed a bit).

 

While the locals all sleep on very thin straw mattresses, Mathijs and I had our camping mats to secure the spot, then covered in the beach towel so that hopefully no one would see that it’s expensive sleeping mats. We also made sure to spread out some personal things like clothes, books etc. to make sure people would see this spot is already taken. Lol. In hindsight, this would have not been necessary, mat and beach towel or even just beach towel is probably fine. You DO want a proper mat though, since even in 1st class it’s directly on the hard floor, so you need to be able to sleep on there. We booked 1st class tickets because it has aircon (which didn’t really work though) and because we thought it would be less full as less people would pay the 50 SBD compared to 2nd class. I guess in the end, it was a good decision, even though in 2nd class there was more proper luggage storage space and well…aircon didn’t really work anyways. And 1st class was also crowded for the majority of the ride. We (well… more just me) then spent the rest of the afternoon worrying about our stuff on the boat, if someone would move it or take something. Unfortunately I was a bit right to worry, because my little toilet bag with essentials to freshen up during the ferry ride, had disappeared when we checked back on our stuff later. Annoying, but of course not the worst thing to have stolen. It did make me feel a little less safe on the ferry though, so during the ride Mathijs and I always made sure that one of us was with the bags while the other one could go use the bathroom, have a walk around and look outside etc. At least no one had (significantly) moved our mats and we had a good corner reserved for ourselves. More about the ferry ride in another blog entry though.

In Honiara, we walked around the city for a bit, but as mentioned…it’s not very pretty or should I say rather ugly and lacks in sights. Except for – and don’t miss this one – the central market! Wow! Mathijs and I always like markets a lot, but the one in Honiara is especially colourful and nice. It was also good as a first check, how much things cost and what all you can buy. We got some bananas and boiled eggs for the ferry and a fresh coconut to drink immediately.

 

That was it for our start in Honiara! We boarded the ferry already shortly past 6pm, even though it was only due to leave at 9pm (and actually left at 9.45pm). A good decision! That way there was still some space for our big backpacks to put and we could make sure to be there and actually block our „beds“. We saw some mats that locals had put down, where another mat was being laid over it half-way, thus reducing the space by 50%. Our camping mats might have helped to avoid that since obviously you can’t easily lay something over them given that they are air-filled and much thicker than the straw mats of the locals. Haha. 27 hours to Gizo! A loooong ride. More about that one shortly.