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This weeks “Where’s Johnny Jet” newsletter, travel tips and news is sponsored by "The South Pacific for a song, Tahitian music for your ears! Fly Tahiti with the Pearl Resorts and Air Tahiti Nui are offering their best rates yet for this time of the year. The ultimate setting for honeymoons, anniversaries or better yet wedding proposals. At this price Tahiti, Raiatea and Bora Bora are yours. Once distant dreams should become your memories"

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Greetings from the South Pacific!  After last week's newsletter I received a bunch of email asking, "Where in the world is Tahiti located". That kind of surprised me.  I figured everyone knew where paradise was, but I was wrong.  Therefore, we begin with some background info about one of the most beautiful places on earth.  This  map shows you where Tahiti is located, but this map does a better job of detailing.

As you can see from the maps, Tahiti is located in French Polynesia, which is almost exactly halfway from  Australia and California.  It is made up of 118 islands in 5 archipelagoes (island groups) with each having their own character.   Those five archipelagoes consist of the Society Islands, Tuamotu, Gambier, Australs and the Marquesas.  Most visitors go to the Society Islands, which are home to the popular destinations of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and ....  French Polynesia covers an area of 2,000,000 square miles which is about the same as Europe, except here it's mostly water, not land mass.  The actual land area is only 1,370 square miles.   

Since we don't have time to write for weeks and weeks like we did for Australia, we will give you the History of French Polynesia here.

The largest island in all of French Polynesia is Tahiti, which also hosts the capital city, Papeete. Tahiti gets the most visitors not because this is where they want to be, but because the major airport and port are located here.  Most people, or at least they should, quickly go from Tahiti to the outer islands.  Why?  Well, the island of Tahiti is a lot different than what you most likely imagine.  It's a bustling city.  Let me give you this statistic so you know what I am writing about:  If the whole population of French Polynesia is 245,405 inhabitants (2002 census) and 150,000 of those inhabit the island of Tahiti...  Well, than you see what I'm talking about. 

Don't get me wrong, it's good to know that everything you would ever need (including a major hospital) is a short flight away, but trust me; you will want to visit the other islands. 

Okay, put on your seat belt, I'm about to give you a lot of information:  According to the latest census, French Polynesia is made up of Polynesians (83%), Europeans (12%), and Asians (5%). The religion is broken down as follow: 55% are Protestant, 30% Catholic, 6% Mormon, 2% Seventh-day Adventist, and 2% are Buddhist and Confucians.   The Government is described as an overseas territory of the Republic of France, so naturally most people speak French, but the first language here is Tahitian, which is a dialect of French.  Here are some translations to help you get by:  
  • ia orana (heeyah- orah - na) hello
  • nana  (nah-nah) good bye
  • parahin (pah-rah-hee) farewell
  • ia orana ite matahiti api (ya orah-na itay mah tahiti api) happy birthday/happy new year
  • fare (fah-ray) house
  • fare-moni (fah ray-monee) bank
  • fare pure (fah-ray-pu ray) church
  • fare toa (fah ray toah) supermarket
  • fare rata (fah ray rah tah) post office
  • fare ma'i (fah-ray mahi) hospital
  • pia (hinano) beer (hinano local brand)
  • tane = man
  • vahin = woman
Don't worry as most locals also speak English.  And they should, since Americans are their number one visitors followed by the Japanese, Australians, and French.  Tahiti relies on two major industries.  As you probably guessed, the first is tourism, but did you know pearling was the other? (I wish Amber Airplane didn't know that).  
The big question?   How to get to Tahiti and how long does it take?  Well, from Los Angeles it's 4,150 miles and the flight takes 7 1/2 to 8 hours.  From Honolulu, it's 2,796 miles away and it takes 5 hours to fly.  Paris is 10,630 miles (17,100 km) away and you have to go via Los Angeles for a combined flight time of 18 hours and 30 minutes (ouch!).  For those of you who live in Santiago, Chile it's 4,660 miles (7,500 km) and you will have to fly via Easter Island for a combined flight time of 10 hours.  All of you from Auckland (New Zealand), it's only 2,423 miles away (3,900 km) and the flight takes a mere 5 hours.  For our mates down in Sydney it's 3,542 miles (5,700 km) away and you will need to fly via Auckland for a combined flying time of 8 hours. Last but not least our friends from Tokyo and Osaka, you are 5,468 miles (8,800 km) and the flight time is 11 hours.

The average temperature in FP (French Polynesia) is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 27º Celsius, and the water temp is just about the same at 26º C/ 80º F!  No matter what time of year you should bring summer clothes, beachwear, and sports wear and boating clothes, all preferably in cotton. Some evenings might get cool, so bring something warm.  We did not need to wear any of our light sweaters, but if you are on the lagoon side or on a boat or maybe in the mountains, then you might need it.  Most people wear sandals, sneakers, boat shoes or nothing.  Would you believe this place is so laid back that on one of our inter island flights the Tahitian man sitting next to me was in his bare feet!  He didn't even check shoes because I watched him walk right off the plane into a car and he didn't have a bag.  Now how many times will you see that?  I am not a fashion expert but most men wear aloha shirts and women wear pretty printed sundresses.  Bring lots of bathing suits, sunglasses, a hat, sun block and mosquito repellent, those suckers can get evil after the sun goes down.  BTW: The restaurants are casual.  
The tap water is supposedly safe to drink only in Papeete and Bora Bora, but not in other places.  We didn't take a chance so we drank bottled water everywhere.  If you are planning on plugging in electronic devices then bring a French adapter because electricity is either 110 or 220 volts depending on the island and type of accommodation.  Connecting to the internet is expensive through your hotel room, but if you use either one of the hotels computer's or find a cyber café, then it's quite affordable. For all of you who have international cell phones, they work, but like most people who go to FP, I didn't want to be connected to the world.
One of the first bits of info Amber Airplane looked up after we landed was what time the shops open.  Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 11:30 am, then they close for lunch and reopen from 1:30 pm to 5 or 6 pm.  Some may stay open ‘til 8:00 pm. On Saturdays from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and maybe later depending on the shop. Most places are closed on Sunday.

Entry Requirements:  Each visitor to French Polynesia must have a return airline ticket to their home country or to at least two more continuing destinations, sufficient funds to support themselves while in French Polynesia, in addition to the following:  For U.S. and Canadian citizens:  a passport is required that is valid for six months beyond the date of departure from French Polynesia. No visa is required for stays of up to one month.  For more info, check out the  French Consulate.

Everyone wants to know how friendly the locals were, especially the French.  The Tahitians are very friendly, laid back, and peaceful people.  The French transplants I met were mostly hotel managers or chefs and they too were friendly, they just weren't as laid back as the Tahitians.  We did encounter a few French tourists.  Some were very friendly and some had that stereotypical negative energy towards Americans.  There were times when I could feel their "Stupid American" attitude.   I'm not sure if it was because of the war or not, I didn't really care to find out.  It's the same mixed attitude I get when I ever I go to France and I am sure it's the same the French get when they come to the U.S.  I think its just people in general, no matter what race or nationality. Some people are cool, some aren't.

Being in Tahiti and especially not speaking the French language, you didn't hear much about the war or SARS.  There were only 3 TV channels (at least, in our two different hotels) and all were in French.  I didn't hear any American radio stations and the English newspapers all came in a few days late.  It's the perfect escape from the world.
Now for the good stuff:  We left off last week on our 5-minute flight to the most beautiful island I have ever been to; Moorea. The pictures you are about to see do not do it justice.  You really need to come down here and see for yourself.  The tall lush green mountains and the colors of the water are breathtaking.  When we landed in Moorea, there was a lady holding up a sign with Johnny Jet on it and she grabbed our bags and took us to our hotel.  If you were with us for our 10-minute drive, you too would've been sticking your head out the car window to witness one of the most unbelievable skies in the world.  It was incredible to see so many stars; I bet you never knew there were so many.  Our mouths were wide open with disbelief, which wasn't the smartest idea because a mosquito flew right in.  The roads were dark, there were no street lights and we only saw a few cars.  It was just Amber Airplane, the driver, her 8-year old child, the palm trees, the stars, and the world we were about to see when the sun came up.

I can't tell you how ecstatic we were when we checked into the new Pearl Resort.  Everything was so new, open air and clean.  The lady at the front desk told the buff Tahitian bellhop to grab our luggage and take us to our “over the water bungalow”.  That's right, OVER THE WATER BUNGALOW!   We only dreamt of one of these rooms and now we were about to experience it first hand. How happy were we? Our room was amazing as we anticipated.  I will show you around our hut in the morning when the sun comes up.  But did you know the over water bungalow was created here in French Polynesia? It was actually the idea of three California guys (Jay, Muk, and Hugh) who built the first one in 1968, on the island of Raiatea.  Now you will find them all over the South Pacific.

The next morning, we were like kids waiting to open our presents from Santa.  We could hardly wait for each to share the moment of opening the curtains for the very first time to see what was really  out there.  It was 7:30am and I guess I shouldn't have screamed when we opened the curtains, but I couldn't hold it in! Besides, it just came naturally.  Unfortunately, the pretty lady sun bathing in the cabin next to us must've thought I was a pervert, because she immediately put her top back on and went inside. Okay, I got a little excited. The view was one of the best I have ever seen, oh and the beach was a mere thirty feet away!  We couldn't wait any longer to jump in the beautiful ocean and feel the warm water.  The water was crystal blue and so relaxing and invigorating.  Now, check this out, every bungalow has their very own private deck and outdoor fresh water shower. How nice is that?  

After our swim, we sat and stared at the beautiful  mountains and coconuts floating by as we waited for our room service.  Having room service delivered by boat is a fantasy.  After dining on our porch, we went for a little walk around the hotel property, to check out the goods.  The pool was inviting, the lobby was open air and the staff was friendly.  What was ironic was that I really did not want to leave our over the water hut, but Amber Airplane wanted to go out and explore.  But I am so glad she talked me into renting a car for US$60.00 for four hours and driving around the 36-mile island.  It was a great time.  Except our car wasn't really a car, it was so small, I don't even know what they call them. I think it was a Moke, which is actually a type of Mini.

The island basically has one main road and they appropriately call it "Round Island Road,” which is a good explanation because it goes around the island and usually hugs the ocean.  There are a few side roads, but not too many.  It turned out to be of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken, especially when we drove past  Cook's Bay and seeing multi-shades of blue water and the rugged green mountains in the background. Did I mention there aren't any street names?  Our first stop was to Belvedere Lookout. So the directions were, “Look for a road after the bridge by the beach. Take the paved road up through Moorea's central valley through pastureland”.   They actually were perfect directions.  As we drove on the road to Belvedere, we saw some familiar surroundings.  Have you ever seen the movie Love Affair with Annette Bening and Warren Beatty? Well it was this field that they walked through to get to his aunt's house.  How beautiful is that?  

Near there, you will also see some  horses out grazing.  We continued up the hill.  Here is where we were told, "When you see a phone booth pull over and go buy some amazing homemade jelly's".  It turns out that the French lady there is marrying a guy from California and they are both really cool and their jelly is tasty.  When we reached the top of this narrow and windy road, we were at Belvedere Lookout, and the views from there are supposedly unmatched in the South Pacific and I believe it!   They had a bunch of wild chickens running around and if you are quick like me you will catch one... yeah right.  Look closely at the trees and you will see all kinds of fruit in them. We saw everything from Papaya's to Banana’s.

There are only 4 major hotels on the island of Moorea.  Pearl Resort, Sofitel, the Sheraton and Inter-Continental.  The latter two are pretty close to each other.  We checked them all out to see how they compared to ours, and well; they didn't.   Ours was the best and newest.   Except Amber Airplane really liked the fact the Inter-Conti was the only one to have a  spa (figures) and dolphin quest.  That's where you can swim with the dolphins (not for free), but the best part is you don't have to be a hotel guest, you just need money, money, money!

We continued on with our drive.  Of course Amber made me stop at Kina Maharepa shopping center to check out the islands number one tourist purchase,  black pearls. Those suckers are expensive. After dragging Amber Airplane out of the store we went to go look for the Atiraa Waterfall.  Check out these directions: "About a half a kilometer (1/4 mile) beyond the town hall, opposite an A-frame house on the shore, an unpaved road runs straight between several houses and then continues uphill.  Then you have to walk up a steep, slippery, and muddy trail for 20 minutes."  Sounded good, but we heard it was dry and besides the local kids weren't being too friendly (they wouldn't get out of the way as we drove up their road), I guess I might be sick and tired of a bunch of tourists invading my property too.

The color of the water here really is breathtaking.  It's hard to concentrate on driving but luckily there's not a lot of cars or pedestrians around.   We drove past the  ferry's, a tasty fruit stand that I had to stop at to buy one of my favorite fruit's, lychee, only 300CFP (US$2.80).  But didn't buy any of this little kid's catch of the day.  Our last stop was a doozy called Plage Publique, it's supposedly Moorea's best stretch of public beach and it's right next to the Sofitel hotel (except the beach here is not raked).  We didn't think it was anything better than our beach, so we went back to our hotel for swim.  

The whole drive took just over 4 hours. It was hot, sweaty and so worth it.  Yes, it was expensive to rent a car but the good news is that it only cost couple dollars to fill it up.  If you don't want to rent a car or moped, you can rent a bike.  If that's too much exercise, then take an Albert bus tour (tel. 56.13.53) or the Moorea Explorer (tel. 56.12.86) half day round island tours cost about US$19.00 per person.

It was Saturday night and we had a few options.  Should we stick around our hotel and see their free weekly Tahitian  Tiki Show or take a bus for 45 minutes to the other side of the island for the Tiki Theatre Village ?  We didn't want to get back in the car so we watched the show at our hotel. It turns out the other one was much better, but hey, this one was more convenient and free.  The entertainers at our hotel were all very nice, in fact too nice.  After they took pictures with us they gave us their sweaty and smelly head pieces and lei's.  We tried to decline, but they wouldn't take no for an answer.   

What's cool about Moorea is that most restaurants will pick you up and drop you off for free or pay for your taxi or at least half of it. If you want a taxi, plan ahead because they are hard to come by.  The only restaurant that was still serving at 9pm and willing to pick us up was  Le Mahogany.  It serves combo of French and Chinese food.  I had Kun Pao chicken and Amber Airplane had the Filet Mignon.  It was moderately priced but not our favorite meal here.

The following day we dined at our hotel for an incredible breakfast buffet. It was pricey at US22.00 per person, but the French Toast (made with French bread) was the best I have ever had. After our tasty breakfast, we hung out around the hotel, snorkeled, and relaxed.  When I woke up from my nap on the deck, Amber  Airplane was no where to be found.  Guess where I found her? That's right at the hotel shop buying jewelry. Busted! 

That night we had dinner at the only restaurant open on Sunday night on our side of the island, Alfredo's. We didn't want to go to an Italian restaurant in Tahiti, but it was either that or have the seafood buffet at the hotel (We don't like seafood).  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  The food was okay, but the atmosphere was great.  There was a bunch of people from MTV’s Road Rules TV show dining and they kept getting up to sing with one of the best karoke singers around.  Within an hour everyone knew one another and people kept chanting for each table to get up and sing.  We knew it was time to leave when the whole place starting chanting Johnny Jet, J-o-h-n-n-y J-e-t, A-m-b-e-r  A-i-r-p-l-a-n-e.  There was no way we were getting up! 

Next week see our adventures of three airplane rides, three boat trips and five islands all in one day.  I know it sounds crazy, but come along with Johnny Jet and you’ll see.  Safe travels.

P.S. If you want to go on this same trip contact, they have great specials going on right now!

Johnny Jet

  • Talking about books, the internet phenomenon that is Johnny Jet proudly tells me that he now has a book published. It is called You Are Here Traveling with - he is sending me a copy and I'll report to you about it once I've received it. The Travel Insider
  • LISTEN TO JOHNNY JET....LIVE FROM CHICAGO. Tune in Saturday between 9am-10am in Anchorage on KFQD radio (AM 750). It's the Alaska Travelgram Radio Show! We'll be hearing from our favorite frequent flyer: Johnny Jet. Oh, he's famous. Oh, he's got the inside track. Oh, he wants an upgrade! HA! We'll ask him about the Windy City, about some of his favorite airports and of course--we'll ask him about the lovely and talented Amber Airplane! Hee-hee. Check the website--it's SO COOL
  • If you heard about us somewhere else please reply to this email and let us know where!
  • Cool website JJ.  Adrian - LAX
  • Congrats on the book, newsletter is looking great. cheers, Mark - Hermosa Beach, CA
  • Just wanted to let you know I registered and voted for your site!  Good Luck and keep up the good work! Take Care, Kim M - California
  • Hi, mate!  Geez, you're late with the news about your book!  I've already ordered it and it is in transit from!  Can't wait to read it.  Maybe when I'm done you'll be kind enough to autograph it for me so when you're rich/famous I can say I "knew" you way back when....  John - Atlanta
  • First of all.....CONGRATULATIONS buddy.....I am so happy for you and not completely surprised as I knew you have been working very hard on this website and your name...and you definately deserve it! I remember when you were just starting this site and I was telling friends and wearing your shirts!   I want a signed copy of the book.  Congrats bro...I'm so happy!  Steve - NYC
  • CONGRATULATIONS on the book.  I'll try to help promote it anyway I can.   I have to tell you that I live for the details of your travels.  As a workaholic, a mother of two and my fears of flying, you make me think about traveling all the time.  Your writing is great!  I'm definitely buying your book.  Melissa - Miami
  • Congrats!  My friends neighbor is Jed the Fish from KROQ.  I'll see if he can plug your book. Matt - Los Angeles
  • Congrats to you Johnny! We look forward to purchasing one as well and using it to help us with our travel needs!  Julie - California
  • Big Vin from NYC here again! The flight attendant on the Tahiti trip looks a linttle bit like J-Lo! Or is it just me?  Vincent-  Staten Island, NY
  • You know we love your site and it is great to see you have written a book.  You are really making a good name for yourself out there in the industry.  Keep up the great work. Don from
  • Read your article and glad you are swell.  Congratulations on the book, how exciting. Chris K. San Francsico
  • I enjoyed your story about Frank waking up back in LA, gaining a day and wondering if he'd actually ever been to Australia.  I could relate to it for two reasons.  I took a soccer team Down Under several years ago, and on the return flight one of the players said to another, "I like that necklace.  Where'd you get it?"  "Oh, in New Zealand tomorrow," he replied.  Pretty funny.  Also, I planned the return flights so we would arrive in Hawaii at 7 a.m., spend the day relaxing on the beach, then take a 7 p.m. flight back to Connecticut via LA.  Near the end of that l-o-n-g journey -- after a long day frolicking near Waikiki -- a player asked me (seriously), "Dan, were we in Hawaii today?"  You can't make this stuff up! -- Dan Woog
  • THANKS and KUDOS to you my friend, I am way proud of you!  So you are not just a pretty polo're a great writer and entrepreneur.  
  • Lucky Amber, if she got Tahiti for a b-day, I can just imagine an engagement or a wedding/honetmoon!  Just keep telling us the adventures
  • Dude, you wrote a book! How very cool is that. Will be ordering my copy next week! I hope all has been well. Enjoyed following your exploits down under. Was in Honolulu two weeks ago, having a drink at the Halekalani and I saw Peter Greenberg sitting right across the patio. I went up to him and introduced myself, said I enjoyed his work and mentioned that he and I had a mutual friend- you of course, and he said, yeah, I'll be seeing John next week.  Marc- Los Angeles
  • Congrats on the book...Fantastic! Sidne - Florida
  • Congratulations, Johnny! That is really impressive!  And you must have been chomping at the bit to tell everyone for some time.  Way to go.  Sam - Darien, CT
  • Congrat's on the new book!  Sounds like a hit!  You certainly deserve it after all the time and effort you've put into this. Mike M - Michigan
  • Johnny Jet......congratulations on your book!!!! I'm sooo proud of you!!!  Even on are really some go-getter and I hope you sell a zillion copies so you can always fly first class and not economy even if there is a bulkhead.  Great pictures, too.'s a link to our website in case you ever need an insert in your trustworthy little publication   one
  • never knows when they need a buckle or a box to take on a trip for a gift of just to add a little fanciness to their, now have TRAVEL ITEMS made in Florence...the land of  Italians...we have travel frames, CD/DVD cases, brag books to brag about your trips!

  • *Please note that we reserve the right to post excerpts, perhaps edited, from your message on the Johnny Jet website and newsletter. We will not use your full name without your express permission. If you'd rather not have your message posted on the website or newsletter, just say so and it won't be.
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This is not a tip, but it's funny. Obviously, we didn't make it to the Kentucky Derby this year but one of the funniest emails I received this week was from a reader who found our picture on some dude's website. Click here to read his April 30, journal entry

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  • Flight attendants want more respect
  • Traffic controllers warn air over Chicago unsafe
  • No more early boarding?
  • Concorde may get extension
  • Airlines to allow cell phone use during flight
  • United Airlines passengers will be able to check in for domestic flights at starting in late June if they don't have bags to check. The airline will also add self-check-in kiosks at 26 airports by September. And, coming in early 2004: a roomier business class on United's Boeing 777 wide-body jets. It will increase seat recline to 14 inches from 12 inches and seat pitch to 55 inches from 49 inches. Pitch is the distance from the back of a seat to the back of the one behind it.
  • United Airlines is scheduled to resume daily nonstop service between San Francisco and Paris/DeGaulle using Boeing 777s configured with three classes.
  • On time: SkyWest Airlines' flights arrived on time just over 89% of the time in March, the best rate among the 17 largest U.S. airlines, according to the Department of Transportation. American Airlines was second best at about 87% and Southwest Airlines, with 86% of its flights arriving on time, was third. Airlines with the worst arrival rates were Atlantic Southeast and Atlantic Coast, 72%, and ATA, 75%. Atlantic Coast also had the highest rate of canceled flights — 4.9% — while JetBlue Airways had the lowest, 0.2%.
  • Bus and train fares in New York rise to $2 a ride on Sunday (May 4). The city is also phasing out the token on that day. Commuter-rail fares from suburban New York and Connecticut destinations rose about 25 percent today (May 1).
  • Paper cuts: American Airlines has stopped issuing paper tickets for domestic itineraries that are eligible for e-tickets. U.S. and Canadian travel agents will charge $50, instead of $25, to issue an American Airlines paper ticket for itineraries eligible for e-tickets. American will charge $50 to issue a paper ticket for an international itinerary that is e-ticket eligible. American's e-tickets are transferable to 10 other U.S. airlines.
Save the earth and money, too By Zak Patten, Smarter Living Staff

With the 33rd annual Earth Day celebrated on April 22, we are again reminded of how precious the natural world is, and of the power humans have to either protect or destroy our planet. At the same time, the coming of spring turns our thoughts to planning summer travel. It is the goal of environmentally-concerned travelers, or eco-tourists, to make their adventures more responsible in order to preserve the places they visit for future generations. To help you learn more about eco-tourism, we've compiled a list of "green" travel providers, both domestic and international, as well as other ways you can help save the earth while continuing to save money on travel.
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