Keep On Truckin

I spent most of today just doing logistical stuff: getting my ransom ticket refunded and getting my tickets to Rarotonga and beyond, moving to the hostel, and taking care of some stuff online.

Yes, that took most of the day.

I assumed that I would be leaving French Polynesia on Friday, but I found there was a flight leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. I had a decision to make: leave now (Tuesday) or leave later (Friday).

I really haven’t seen much of French Polynesia. I haven’t even seen much of Tahiti. I was here last week in route from Hawaii to Easter Island, and today. Part of me really wanted to go to some of the other islands, but another part of me, the logical part of me, figured it wasn’t really worth it.

French Polynesia is flat out expensive. There is no getting around that. Its expensive to sleep, eat, and move. On Rarotonga, I can get a room for about $20 a night, or 2.5x less than what I’m paying for a night in my current hostel. That $20 gets me a place on the beach, while here I’m on the outskirts of town.

What would I do in French Polynesia this week? I’d probably move to Moorea and try to visit Bora Bora. That’s about it. I wouldn’t dive. I wouldn’t eat out much. I’ve set some budget limits for myself. I knew before I started that the Pacific was probably going to be the most expensive leg of my trip, which is why I’m doing it first. I’ve been over budget so far, but not by a lot and I hope to make up for it in other countries (Cambodia, Thailand, etc). This is ridiculous however.

The fact is, I can spend X amount of money and Y amount of time on a beach here taking photos of stuff, or I can do it some place else and get 1.5-3x as much for the same amount of money.

Staying here wont bankrupt me. That’s not the issue. I have a lot of time, but my time isn’t infinite. Would I rather spend a week here, or use that week in Australia or China? Easy choice.

So, tomorrow I’ll be in the Cook Islands, speaking English, drinking relatively cheap beer and, hopefully, hitting on Kiwi girls on vacation.

Imagine A Hotel Mini Bar, Inside a Movie Theater, Inside an Aiport, Inside Disney World

…that describes how expensive it is in Tahiti.

I’m at a cafe right now and a CAN of Diet Coke costs $5. I’m staying at a hostel in Papeete which is as far as i can tell the absolute cheapest place to stay on the island, and its still about $50 a night.

The only thing I really want to see in French Polynesia is Bora Bora. I think I’m going to see if I can hit that and then look into leaving ASAP. I originally wanted to visit some of the other islands, but we’ll see. If I have to stay here for a few days, I’ll probably visit Moorea also at a minimum.

I’m off to go and get my money back from from hold up last night.

I’m definitely going to reserve my tickets for at least a few weeks in advance for as long as I’m in the Pacific.

My Kafkaesque Almost Nightmare in Tahiti

I was held my the immigration police in Tahiti for almost an hour. Here’s why:

To get into Tahiti you need to show proof that you have a ticket to leave Tahiti. I guess the place is so expensive that they know there is a good chance you’ll be broke by the time you leave, so they want to know you have already paid for it.

When I was here last week, the ticket office at the airport was closed, so I couldn’t get my ticket to Rarotonga for when I’d get back from Easter Island. I figured I’d buy it online while I was in Easter Island.

Well, I tried to buy a ticket online only to find out that they don’t offer e-tickets on Air Tahiti. The only way I could get a ticket is if they sent the physical ticket to my address. Clearly that wasn’t going to work with me on Easter Island.

So I was placed in the situation of needing an exit ticket to get into Tahiti, but I could only get my exit ticket if i could get into Tahiti.

Please read that sentence again.

That was the first thing that made no sense. The second thing is what really showed the stupidity of the rule…

I was sent to the Air Tahiti Nui offices (their international branch. I need the domestic branch for Rarotonga) to buy a ticket to Las Angeles. It cost $1,400, BUT, as the ticket agent was quick to point out, it was fully refundable. I asked if I could get my money back tomorrow, and she said “yes”. That means the requirement for an exit ticket is a total sham, because if I can refund the ticket I was forced to buy, then in the end, I have no exit ticket. All I was forced to do was lend Air Tahiti Nui $1,400 for 12 hours.

I’m really looking forward to Rarotonga. If I can get a flight to there earlier than the 19th, I very seriously might take it and leave French Polynesia behind.