Fiji, Western Samoa & Tonga
From our travels, Pacific Islands Overall, 1 Nov-10 Dec 2007,featuring Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, such fun, travel to many parts on numerous islands,including 250 images being a summary of the much larger individual islands video now broken into 5 parts in nov2020, , covering plus a whole lot more the following,Savaii, aggie grey, apia, savusavu, atata island, alofaaga blowholes, my tongan driving license issued by the king (smile), captain james cook, sewaka platform, airports, harbours, town, tropical flowers, markets, music, outriggers hotel, insel fehrman hotel, vatu the dog, buses, ferries, auala harbour, salealonga, bougainvillea, boxing, fishing, breadfruit, pelehake, tongatapu main tongan island, nadi, cocktails, coconuts, cruise ships, cyclone daman, earthquakes, Richter scale 8.2, fale shook, nuku’alofa, traditional dancing, museums, cannibalism, hibiscus, local beers, water salination stations, festivals, carnivals, hot springs, Houma, tonga 5th most corrupt nation on earth signs, international dateline hotel, jean-michel cousteaux resort,kaati-ni, vunu road, kava, halafuolafa beach, upolu, seabreezes resort,banyan trees, 3 sisters café, labasa, sugar cane, lorries, conflicts, rocks, princess tui (yuk!), vailima, Robert Louis Stevenson, lovo meals, taro, kings palaces, lava rocks, garlands, vanua levu, miss pacific islands competition, maota, mapu'a 'a vaea blowholes, mongoose, urata, sopu, ports, orchids, pinapples, mangoes, guava, banana bread, samosas (best in the world), paradise cove, cross island road, outriggers boats & hotel, motootua, Savaii lagoon beach resort, pigs, restaurants, Roy & Lisa, music, black rose, roseiloa, peter the keyboard player, royal sunset island resort, rugby, leper colonies (sad!),strelitzia, bird of paradise,princesses & kings 7 palaces,traditional dress, straw skirting, viaola,waterfalls, xmas greetings 2007, coral quays, reefs
Use the Dropdown to go to each of the 3 Pacific Islands
NOTE all words in ITALICS were either written on the trip or before
UPDATE 13/11/2007 Now left the lovely Vanua Levu
We took the bi-plane Sun Pacific flight FJ105/106 from the main island (Vito Levu) to Savusavu on the southern coast of the second island (Vanua Levu) where we stayed in Sekawa Beach Cottages for 12 days (2/11-13/11/2007) Excellent local Fijian beer and we had 2 sessions on the grog, 'mind expanding' local Kava.... Juicy in the Sky with Diamonds..with Roy & Lisa (our hosts)...comes from a pepper plant root which is poundered to a powder which is rinsed in a muslin bag with water into a trad wooden bowl with 3 legs . Although 'ceremony' is common to all South Pacific Islands the bowls are different Contact phone was 011-679-822-0460 and Anne's mobile worked only for Text 2 Wifi Internet cafes in Savasavu Hired car for 3 days Went to Labasa (capital....Very Indian) , Jean Michel Cousteau (JMC) Dive resort and part of the Hibiscus highway. Rained a fair bit but managed 3 swims.
HIGHLIGHTS Roy & Lisa's company, Biplane flight (absolutely the best views ever), Tropical fruit, Trip to Vanda & Tukai's children's schools, Savusavu bay , Sugarcane Express, Banana cake and samosas at Nadi Airport
LOWLIGHTS None although JMC a little overated even if it is in the 1000 places to see before you die
My most vivid memories are of those clear blue skies, humidity, the rattle of thunder, greenery, fresh fruit delivered daily by Roy & Lisa, Fijian music especially Black Rose (Rosiloa) who we still listen to today and the lovely view from our balcony.
Day 8 - Friday 2nd November 2007, Land in Nadi,Fiji then to Venua Levu
Arrived fairly tired in Nadi, Viti Levu, Fiji at 6 am. We really didn’t sleep that well. Main meal served early was chicken frizzled (very dried up) but the breakfast of turkey/cheese croissant was most welcome. DePlaned and waited in the airport on some wonderful leather sofas after having some coffee/ tea (very oz.flat white, tall black etc etc) and cakes. FJD$1.50 (i.e 50p) for the most gianormous wonderful banana cake which they warm. Very very Humid.Had 2 showers today in freezing cold water. Checked in 10am. No boarding cards you just choose your seat. Sat about 18 half full. Great great journey across the mountains of the main island, then over the coast to Savusavu. Most memorable experience
Oh just so much words fail me. The view from the De Haviland was SPECTACULAR. Clear skies, crystal blue seas and an abundance of coral reefs. Taxi driver from Paradise Cabs took us to the supermarket and Roy & Lisa (cottage owners) He is from Hawaii (Chinese origin) She is from California. They are most friendly Left a bowl of garden fruit for us.pineapple, guava, lime , bananas and chili peppers. Most kind.I cooked teriyaki lamb with onions/green peppers , rice and salad whilst listening to Sting and drinking well water, loved taking pix from the bi-plane flight from Nadi on Venito Levu (Main Island) to Savusavu, Venua Levu on the second largest island
Day 9 - Saturday 3rd November 2007,2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Got up about 6-ish having been to sleep (knackered) at about 10pm after cooking lamb & rice. Had a fine breakfast on the verandah - frosties & fresh local banana, papaya and lime (given by Roy from his garden) and local bread (whole meal with a hint of onion) topped off with local pineapple juice.Walked down track to Sewaka beach looking at the tropical vegetation and bananas growing (still green). Downhill there but hard walking uphill and very hot on the return. Cooled off in the Pacific and sat on beach for couple of hours. Sound of gentle waves on the shore was very relaxing and beach was deserted, although there were two Fijian women fishing. Had picnic lunch on beach and then returned to cottage for a siesta as very hot and humid. Woken by tropical downpour, including thunder and lightning, which lasted about an hour. The temperature reduced and the wind was very refreshing. Just as well the verandah had a deep roof overhang. In the early evening Roy and Lisa invited us to their home for a traditional kava ceremony and told us all about how it is made. It is a root from the pepper plant family that is ground into a fine powder and then mixed with water into a muddy looking liquid. It is drunk from small coconut shells. It has a mild sedative effect and is not alcoholic. On our return to our cottage we had dinner (chicken teryaki, rice and vegetables) and watched the DVD of Savusavu tourist board. Met Jeff, American from New Jersey who has lived on the beach here for 6 years. He and his wife, like Roy & Lisa do holiday cottage rentals and after purchasing the land built both their own house (on hardwood stilts – maybe bark shed coconut palm?). Jeff had just been stung by a hornet whilst gardening so was healing it with ice. He suggested that taxi may be better and cheaper than hiring a car. Also do not stop in villages without first being invited as it is not good karma and visitors must remove any headgear. Plus tried snorkeling but just too unclear to be of use.
First tropical rainstorm, thunder and lightning. Woke us from our afternoon siesta. We fed Vatu their (R&L) dog on our left over scraps of last nights meal. He is now a friend for life, even if he barks at everyone else. Roy & Lisa are Jehovah’s Witnesses and going to an all dayer in Lebasa The main town which has a massive Indian influence. Saw a mongoose, alas a little too quick to photo
Day 10 - Sunday 4th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Anne rose about 6.15am, Keef about 7.30. Alas K has developed a cold and sore throat from somewhere, maybe the plane with all those folks sneezing. Did various things on laptop, getting ready to email contact the boys tomorrow when we catch a taxi into Savusavu. In the afternoon we were so chilled we just relaxed and read our books, Chart Throb by Ben Elton is ace. So cooked fried chicken, mash & creamed sweetcorn for T and had one of the gardens fresh pineapples for pud, it was just so sweet (Yummy). In the morning we walked up the track to Roy & Lisa’s upper garden. Beautiful tropical plants, including hibiscus, orchids and a flame tree in bloom with big red flowers. On the top of the hill and flattened garden area there was a spectacular view of the bay and Pacific. They had built a wooden deck to sit on. Saw dragonfly but nothing else. Back on the cottage verandah Keef saw an orange dove flying among the trees. We could hear parrots squawking occasionally.Despite the thunder in the distance it did not rain but we had a sudden 10 minute power cut which Lisa said could happen at any time. Sometimes they may have a couple of power cuts a month and others can go for a couple of months without one. The water system does not work when there is a power cut but if it is long lasting then there is a back-up generator. Luckily we had already cooked our evening meal and washed up when the power went and were just admiring the sunset
Day 11 - Monday 5th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Went in by Taxi to Savusavu town past one of the best named villages Jerusalem. Used the Wireless Internet from the Computer shop (FJD$4 per hour) as opposed to café Bule Re which is FJD$10 per hour and you end up sitting in the café anyhow using the internet. Tis a bit slow but not complaining. Updated website , read and responded to email. Savusavu is based alongside an inlet/ harbour with lots of yachts. Most relaxing sitting in café on the waters edge. Had lunch there as well Very good. I had beef kebab and Annie had chicken escalope. We were impressed by cooking and have booked there for Weds eve for the Lovo meal (cooked in ground pit in banana leaves, trad Fiji) Booked car for 3 days from 2moro from Tanda. She is gonna pick us up and drive us in to collect. Saw the town and waters edge. We met Tanda and Tuklea , german lady (from Munchen area) and her Fijian husband. Both very nice. They own Bula Re and he is the chef there, having recently returned from cooking at the South Pacific games in Samoa which he says is safer than Fiji.Interesting because we feel most welcome and safe in Fiji, everyone says Bula to you whether you are walking thru town or out in the country. These folk have 2 adopted Fijian children, very friendly. They are also Roy & Lisa’s closest neighbours at Sewaka. It was Guy Fawkes Night,not surprisingly not recognized here in Fiji but all supermarkets well stocked with fireworks which are for Diwali (this Friday 9/11)
Day 12 - Tuesday 6th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Got up early and got picked up by Tanda and her husband and two children who took us into town. She dropped her two children off at school and then we picked up our hire car from outside her restaurant. Drove down some graveled roads and even some of the tarmacadam roads had lots of pot holes. Saw some tourist resorts, some of which were still being built, the ferry dock and went past the airport and saw some small planes land and take off. Saw a lot of coconut plantations along the coast. People waved at us and shouted ‘bula’ (hello). Saw the Hot Springs Hotel and then had lunch at the Copra Shed where the yachts are moored at the jetty. Did shopping in supermarket and then returned to cottage for siesta. No breeze at all. Went for cooling swim at Sewaka beach just before dusk and we were the only people there.They are the family who own the Fijian restaurant in Savusavu. We saw the school where the children were dropped off.It was extremely hot from 1pm onwards and swim at the beach was very refreshing.. Heard on Fijian radio in hire car that some people had been arrested for a plot to assassinate the interim Prime Minister of Fiji and were being charged, including inciting mutiny.
Day 13 - Wednesday 7th November 2007,Car trip to Labasa
Mostly rained today, so they do get bad weather in Fiji!!! Took our hire car to Labasa the main town of Vanua Levu, 30k residence and in the north of the island. About 75 miles from where we are staying. Much sugar cane production indeed we visited the factory on the outskirts of town and saw the hordes of farmers waiting to have their cane weighed / paid and processed.would love to know what they get paid for a cartload , bet its not much! Labasa itself has an amazing Indian influence, for me it could have been India. Very busy town with lots of Indian shops. Weather turned very hot and we were glad of air conditoning in car.Worth noting that was a good road with asphalt surface (although slightly destroyed in places with deep potholes) so journey took about 1 ½ hours. Much of this island at least is unmade roads. Went over some dodgy looking bridges over rivers. Lots of lorries traveling to Labasa loaded up with sugarcane. Saw pine forests, farms and sugar cane fields and very mountainous in distance. Saw a mongoose run across the road in front of our car. Later on we saw one foraging at the side of the road and Keef took a photo.Met Roy in Savusavu outside the pie shop (Hot Bread Shop) after we had returned from Labasa. Started raining and continued all afternoon. Village funeral of an elder. The whole village were out in force and we saw his/her grave adorned with flowers. As the procession wended its way back alas rather embarrassingly our car was caught in the procession. The village was Urata. In the eve we are going back into Bula Ra for a Lovo feast, although the rain still persists. Note we have car hired for 3 days which is enough, air conditioned Suzuki Jiminy, small but perfectly formed. Lovo meal was lovely – we had chicken, beef, mahi-mahi fish, pumpkin with prawns, tara leaves wrapped with creamed coconut filling, tara (bland vegetable), plantain for dessert with chocolate sauce. Keef had two tropical fruit drinks as he was driving and I had a maitai cocktail, plus coffees all for £9 each. Drive back to cottage after dinner was dark and misty (low cloud in mountains) but at least the rain had stopped. Difficult to see where the potholes were in the road in the dark.Took these memorable pix,Trip to Labasa and sugar cane photos. Also mongoose and photos of lovo meal. Labasa, route back from Labasa and Urata village with pig and mongoose And Lovo feast in the evening.
Day 14 - Thursday 8th November 2007,Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Nr Savusavu
Vist to Jean-Michel Cousteau resort. Eventually went back into SS to use the Internet café and hand car back into Tanda and Tukea. Enjoyed the use of the car and the freedom it gave us but 3 days is probably enough @ FJD$92/day i.e 276 (i.e £96) went swimming for the 3rd time at our private beach, easy when you have the car, a hard climb in humidity otherwise. Not that impressed by JMC resort however the colour of fish off the jetty was immense. Big blue parrot fish, travaille and 2 huge blue fish (which I have no idea what they were called). Driving with 4 wheels for first time ever down very muddy track to JMC It was raining and very churned up, having slid there in the first place used the 4WD for return journey, very stable. Resort was very tiny with long jetty for dive boats, small swimming pool and grotty beach which was very rocky and unsuitable for swimming. Did not stay long and weather rainy. Went back into Savusavu and had drink at the Copra Shed by the jetty and looked at the boats. Saw cloud of steam and realized that this was where the hot springs came out of the ground. Found out that the Saturday South Pacific music festival starts at 7pm and is held at the Hot Springs Hotel. Went for swim at Sekawa beach. Torrential downpour pm. Decided to go back into Savusavu to internet café, hand back hire car and then got a taxi back to the cottage at dusk. Fijian lady (can’t remember her name) at Sekawa beach who was baby sitting the Czech couples baby. She had heard of Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood in history at school! Czech family are buying on beach front, wow, plus 4 Russians in Bula Re last night for Lovo feast. Us Northern hemisphere folk are taking over!
Day 15 - Friday 9th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Nothing to report, day spent locally
Day 16 - Saturday 10th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Relaxed in the cottage and then got a taxi at 4.30pm into Savusavu to the South Pacific Music Festival held at the Hot Springs Hotel. Noticed that the ferry from Vitu Levu was in dock (comes to Savusavu 3 times a week).. Arrived at the hotel just at the end of the talent contest where prizes were awarded for the best acts. The compere was either Oz or NZ and she was very patronizing and bossy towards the Fijians. Had some drinks and a meal of fish, chips and salad before the main music concert. We had been told it would start at 7pm but in fact it did not start until 8.20. The best act was a troupe of singers and dancers from the University of the South Pacific, Suva who had come over on the ferry. Their singing was very melodic and dancing was also very expressive and South Pacific. There were some other acts that were more pop group style and the Australian musicians were the worst. The concert was very amateurish and the PA system was also bad with feedback. We had booked a taxi back to the cottage at 10pm so had to leave before the concert ended.
Day 17 - Sunday 11th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
A day of chillin. Did a few bits of video editing on laptop after last nights Music Festival at the Hot Springs Hotel and read the Fiji Times that Roy & Lisa loaned us. Anne did washing, not the greatest machine in the world and if the programme goes wrong it sucks all the water from the well dry. Oh dear! We then watched a whole stack of movies on DVD loaned by R&L who had once again left us with treats fruit (pineapple & bananas) and diwahli snacks (sweet not savoury). Watched Casablanca, Bourne Identity and About Smidt (3rd time but we love it!). MetVatu, R&L’s dog when I returned the paper. They are in Labasa all day today on a Jehovah’s Witness meet.
Day 18 - Monday 12th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Nice sunny day, got up around 7 -80 degrees plus humid but gentle breeze Had tea/ coffee and breakfast and read out on the verandah I am reading Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1851 Wow devastatingly anti Slave book. Apparently Abe Lincoln claimed it started the Civil War Otherwise apart from reading and watching videos didn’t do a whole lot Had to pack late eve. Saw Capote DVD about Truman Capote and then Dances With Wolves.Managed to supposedly send first TXT messages on Anne’s phone to the boys, we will see. Also rang Parmgeet to ensure Paradise Taxis all set up for 2moro to go to the airport. Had a huge tropical storm at 1.30 with thunder and lightning. Roy and Lisa invited us for more kava and wine as a farewell in evening. They told us about a hurricane which they experienced in the cottage in 2001 where they had 10”of rain and also told us about clearing the rainforest to build the cottage. Said that quite a few Fijian villagers had died when trying to save their animals during the hurricane. There are no hurricane shelters on the island and no tidal wave warning sirens either. Luckily as they are 250 feet above sea level they would not be affected by a tsunami. Offered to copy some music from our laptop for them on their blank CDs which they were grateful for. Rang Mum at 1am, created DVD.
Day 19 - Tuesday 13th November 2007,Leave Suvusavu and Fiji and journey onto Samoa
Back to the Future or Ground Hog Day We had 2 days today one Leaving Fiji..One version of the 13/11, the other Arriving Samoa. See details under Samoa
Summary: FIJI 12 days , Day 8-19, 2/11/2007-13/11/2007
NOTE all words in ITALICS were written on the trip.
Talofa Lava Folks!
Western Samoa not American Samoa for us.......
UPDATE 28/11/2007 Now left Samoa Alas!!!
Final pictures for Samoa posted We are sad to leave but 15 days of this heat 90+ at night and humid, boy humid...is taking its toll We stayed 1 night on Upolu in the 1848 (that old?) Princess Tui Inn in Apai (13th) We had booked 2 but it was bad so stayed 2nd day in Insel Fehrman hotel (note previous big German influence in people and architecture) where we had lunch (if only) with the Ms South Pacific pageant, then we hired a car for 15 days and went by ferry to Savaii where we stay in the Savaii Lagoon Resort, Beach fale (idyllic). This was a beachfront cottage with its own private beach lagoon with snorkelling on the doorstep plus swimming with turtles 15mins away. 10 nights in paradise and a chance to tick off two of the top1000 things to do before you die! (RLStevenson House on Upolu, (ace) , Hotel Safua Savaii (crap). Take a look at Savaii Lagoon resort to get an idea....Then we came back to the main Island of Upolu to the Outrigger hotel for another few days and saw the whole of that island. The hire car enabled us to travel around all of Savaii & Upolu, we have seen more of it than most Samoans now (alas...they can't afford to travel) Because of the international dateline on our travels we have had no 1/11, 2 13/11's and only a smidgen of the 28/11. Our 16.5 hour epic at Falealo International Airport (45 mins from the capital Apia pronounced 'R-PEA-A') was a delight in how to get no sleep The Samoans sure know how to treat a family members arrival at the airport as a party...
HIGHLIGHTS Savaii Beach, Lava flow and blow holes, Ms Samoa, Villages and their gardens (fine if not immaculate) and Robert Louis Stevensons House
LOWLIGHTS Long wait at Apia airport in the heat & humidity for a 1hr flight to Tonga
Walking outside our beach fale for a private dip in the sea lives on as well as the pineapples growing there and the short hop to the restuarant next door for freshly caught fish with chips, yummy! oh and the taxi driver who ripped us off, git! can i say that, guess i just have, trying to drive us to the other side of the island to a hotel when insel fehrman apia was just down the road, oh and hot being able to close the window in our red jeep, luckily no tropical downpour at that time.
Summary: SAMOA 16 days , Day 19-34, 13/11/2007-28/11/2007
Day 19 - Tuesday 13th November 2007,Leave Suvusavu and Fiji and journey onto Samoa
Back to the Future or Ground Hog Day We had 2 days today.Leaving Fiji..One version of the 13/11,Arriving Samoa.Is another.Got up at about 8 and had breakfast in Princess Tuipapaya, brown banana in sugar and toast, not bad.however Anne almost left me if we didn’t get out sharp.and agreed it was a S**T hole; the sheets don’t bare descriptionanyhow we got a taxi and went off in search of a hotel for day 2, Aggy Greys (£200/night) full luckily, then Herman took us on a magical mystery tour of various places then started driving to Aggy Grays beach resort (near airport) Keef caught him out and got him to turn back into Apia and a car hire place as well as Insel Hotel still he ripped us off at $WST80 (about £16) for only 25 mins taxi ride. If I’d had my wits about me I would have argued but we did get booked in and got our car (less than £24 / day) and essential on Samoa especially travelling to Savai’I as the 2 supposed car hires didn’t seem to exist when we drove thru Have to say our stay at Insel was ace (if a little expensive £85) but we swam, did lunch with the Ms South Pacific Pageant (see the pics lads!!!) and had an ace evening meal as well as air con and 2 double beds, v relaxing Also called in to checkout Outriggers that we are staying in after Savai’I , very good, pool, rooms, i/net etc.Chatted to young guy from California who was in transit at Nadi from Auckland where he had been studying wine production in NZ as part of a college course in USA. He said that a sparking white wine from kent had won the top wine prize in the world as being the best wine which surprised us. He recommended Raglan beach as an excellent long sandy beach where surfing also was good there. He said that South Auckland area was not a good area at night as young people got drunk and congregated in the main street area and had to be dispersed by the police in riot gear. He also said that Queenstown and Milford Sound and area were beautiful and told us that there are kea parrots in the glacier which tourists are warned will chew on your leather shoes if left outside. These are the largest parrots in NZ. Keef and the yank talked about music and he recommended a band called Tool who were similar to Pink Floyd. On Samoa met Dutch couple (who will pop up again later) that have been traveling RTW for 6 weeks in reverse direction to us plus a oz lady from Brisbane in the legal profession who had been on Vanuatu for 4 months. Sounds a v interesting place, the Happy isles. Said goodbye to our hosts in Savusavu, Roy and Lisa. Lisa gave us a guided tour of her garden and we saw pineapples, limes, lemon grass and papayas (also known as paw-paw) growing. Weather was really hot and humid – sweat was running down our foreheads. Got taxi to ‘airport’ early – just as well we did as the plane left 20 mins early with 8 passengers. Pilot told us that we would do a stop at Labasa to drop and pick up people. Then had 9 passengers on plane. Got good aerial view of mountains, rainforest and sugar cane fields and farms near Labasa. Quite cloudy at times and some turbulence in little biplane.when we went through a rainstorm and clouds. Then we saw a full rainbow from above which was spectacular. Good views of the coral reefs but some mist from clouds. Arriving at Apia, Samoa at 1.30pm and had lunch - banana cake, vegetable samosas and my first true Indian curry (vegetable). The banana cake was the best we have ever had and so were the samosas. We had to hang around the airport until our flight to Samoa at 10pm. As we had our heavy bags we did not go into Nadi town but read books at the airport. Keef posted his DVD to his mum cost about £1.Flight to Samoa was with Air Pacific which was a good airline. Captain was Scottish and his landing in Samoa was hardly felt. We had a snack meal on the plane and sparkling NZ and red wines. Flight took 1hr 50 mins and we landed at 12.17 at night still on the 13 November due to crossing the international dateline. By the time we got through customs, baggage claim etc we saw our name on a blackboard so we could be directed to our courtesy bus. Keef had got some Samoan money from Westpac bank at the airport and by then it was 1.30 and we were very tired. He also had to pay 12 Samoan Tala for a piece of paper to allow him to drive in Samoa as we said we wanted to hire a car.Anne was presented with a flower lei of yellow flowers. Very hot at night. was. international dateline thing again. So we seem to have had no Nov 1st on our journey but two Nov 13 days very strange!! First impressions of Samoa although late at night was of a modern airport, good roads – drive on the rhs of road, wild dogs roaming on roads, private houses looked quite well built with cars and not shanty villages like Vanua Levu. Dropped off some other person at another hotel and then us, a Dutch couple and an Australian woman from Kiribati were dropped off at the Princess Tui after a long drive from the airport. We were given a coconut to drink and then shown to our room. It was dire – dirty, small and the shared washroom facilities were awful. Very disappointed as we had booked this place over the internet. By now it was 2.30am. Keef got to sleep but Anne was awake until 5am. Decided to leave this dump ASAP even though we had booked in for 2 nights. Worst place we had ever stayed in – campsites are cleaner than that place. Will give it bad feedback on internet to warn other travelers. Hope Ian Wright from Lonely Planet did not stay here. Oh and frightened lady in Insel office when Keef wanted to get i/net connectivity via their modem, alas they said no so rather frustratingly no i/net until we get back after Savai’i. Note Nadi is pronounced Nandi.
Day 20 - Wednesday 14th November 2007,Upolu to Savai’I, Samoa
Got up early-ish (7.15am) and had the Tropical buffet b’fast at the Insel. Ace cooked full English with eggy banana bread. Anne had pancakes with maple syrup plus a banana muffin. Then checked out with some degree of hassle, machine didn’t print our visa docket so a whole rig-ma-roll about no charge vs being charged twice. No worries from our side but Steve receptionist was stressed. I am sure it will be fine. Then drove the 45 mins from Apia to Ferry side. Called in at Aggy Gray beach resort to take some piccies as early for ferry. Then had to have car washed before queuing for ferry. Good journey by ferry (1 hour 15mins) although a little disappointing that you are not allowed up on deck to take pictures. Then same time was to drive up to resort. V hot as window wouldn’t go up, but sorted when we arrived.Excellent Samoan villages on the coast road on Upolu. Lots of smaller Samoan islands passed by the Ferry. Jumping fish in our Fagamalo beach, coral lagoon and breakers on the edge plus hints of what will be excellent sunsets later in our stay. Met Lady samoa 2 (the ferry) and Ini (35 year old mother of 7, and married to mr lazy 54 years old) who is one of our host at Savai’I Lagoon. PS the kiwis who own it didn’t seem to have let the Samoans who manage it know we were coming. Notable - Ambulance with number plate of NHS, fascinating. Samoans sleeping anywhere and everywhere on ferry crossing. It was 32 degrees today, hot and humid!!! Waiter in La Legota restaurant trying to rip us off for a cocktail, Keef caught him out. Maybe we are getting paranoid about being ripped off but it is beginning to feel like more than a coincidence However that said the Fish and Chips were great. Deep fried snapper in spiced batter, quite superb but v filling. Ps believe it or not Anne & I are losing weight
Day 21 - Thursday 15th November 2007,Savai’I Lagoon Resort, Savai’I, W Samoa
Met young woman who was a uni student from Houston in internet café who was using her own laptop. Her research was about an ant and its interaction with a specific plant and its affect on biodiversity. She said she was in Samoa for 8 months – nice place to study. Went to toilet at 3.45am and cockerel from next door Samoan family started crowing!! We thought it should go on the barbecue! Rain at breakfast time but then sun came out. Breakfast was delivered to our door at 7am – papaya, coconut, 2 bananas, bread, jam and butter and cereal. There was so much food that we saved some for lunch. Drove hire car to a village further along the bay and bought some food supplies from small shop and petrol for car – half a tank cost £5.50. Also we found internet café in village called Manase run by young German woman. They only do e-mails from their own computers so we could not use laptop to update website. Met American uni student in internet café. Returned to our resort and spent rest of morning in the sea and relaxing on the beach. We saw some small fish and keef did some snorkeling. Had lunch and then it was so hot that we had a sleep from 3pm until 4.30pm. Anne had a dicky stomach, first time on travels. Read our books until sunset. Keef took some good photos and we had a stroll along the beach.
Day 22 - Friday 16th November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Fagamalo,Savaii,Samoa
Not that much happened today. Anne very ill overnight with Samoan Stomachwe have guessed at what caused it but not really sure. Could be any number of causes. Started boiling the UV water since but as Keef fine and the whole village probably not that Keef went to Raci Beach internet café, 1 of only 2 on Savaii. Caught up on mail wrote to Craig/Doug/Brian/Linda & Jacky, plus put words on website. Sati (german lady who owns it with her husband) will now allow me to put pictures on from memory stick after virus check so although very slow via dial up should be able to get the website done on Monday. Sunday is a big religious day of rest here.Re-met Dutch couple Rolf & ? whom we traveled over on plane from Fiji with and up to Princess Tui in Apia. Great to see them again. Had a very long chat – they had been in 6 weeks NZ (North Island only), Cook Isles, Samoa, and were on to LAX and driving to San Francisco before KLM flight back into Amsterdam. He is some sort of pilot and they both disliked Princess Tui as much as we did plus Sati, been here for 3 years but she goes off for 4 months a year as finds Samoan way of life somewhat restrictive, but loves having travelers to talk to.
Day 23 - Saturday 17th November 2007, Trip to the west of Savaii
As the weather was very breezy and overcast skies we decided to tour round the north of Savaii. There were lots of villages near our resort along the coast but when the road went inland the habitation was rather sparse. Each village had its main fale meeting house and pigs and chickens wandered around and across the road. Some of the houses were like lean-to shacks and others looked more substantial. Many had lovely gardens with colourful shrubs and plants. Asua was an interesting village. As we left the coast we came across a vast area of an old lava flow from a volcano which Keef had read had erupted in 1911. The volcanic soil is very good for plants but some of the black volcanic rocks were huge. Because the weather was cooler and it was a Saturday we saw villagers walking along the road with machetes collecting bananas and breadfruit, mowing the grass, sweeping up fallen leaves from the overnight winds and the teenagers played volleyball in some villages. Keef stopped by a traditional fale where the wife was selling pineapples at the side of the road. He bought a huge ripe pineapple for 5 Tale (£1). The Samoan lady did not speak much English and her daughter was with her. Also as we were about to drive off for the day we met the New Zealand lady who owns the resort. She said that her and her family come over to Samoa about 3 or 4 times a year. After returning from our drive we had a late lunch and then sat on the beach as the breeze was very warm even though it was cloudy. The NZ family were doing a barbecue on the beach and they very kindly asked us to join them As we already had food for dinner we politely refused as it was a family barbecue. She then brought over some crisps for us and we had a chat about what we had done today. She said that she had asked some Samoans for plant cuttings from their gardens. Meeting Bruce & Margaret McCullen, from NZ. She was originally from Glasgow some 35 years ago. They are the owners of Savaii Lagoon resort despite their protestations that they have leased the land off the Samoans and handed it back to them they are the ones making the money, witness the 4 holidays a year to here . Lava gardens, and phenomenally good produce / growth i.e. the pineapple which will last for at least 5 meals Pictures of a day out west, some of lagoon resort and plants, others of coastal and inner land areas especially Auala on Asua bay with communal swimming /washing pools and lava gardens, plus fishing .Samoans with major tattoos, kids trying for breadfruit and the most bizarre church made of lava stone and painted white.
Day 24 - Sunday 18th November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa
We had a relaxing day on the beach although it was very breezy and overcast, although the wind was very warm. We walked along the beach to the next resort and discovered that the sea water was deeper for swimming nearer the Le Lagota resort. We went to their restaurant for dinner in the evening and had yellow fin tuna and chips which was delicious. Then watched Miss South pacific on the TV in the evening. Miss Tonga won with Miss Cook islands runner up and Miss Australia & Torres Strait Islands in 3rd place. Interesting to see the traditional costumes of each country which featured exotic headdresses and shells and feathers everywhere. We also saw a fire dance as part of the show by Samoan men which was spectacular,
Day 25 - Monday 19th November 2007, Trip south to Salelologa
After breakfast it was very overcast again so we went to the internet café but unfortunately it was shut. Decided to go along the coast to Salelologa to visit the supermarket. Road goes through an old lava field where the now black lava had flowed towards the sea and went past a place where you can swim with turtles which we will investigate another day. Torrential rainstorm just as we went into supermarket. Choice of food was very limited but managed to buy some canned food, noodles and sausages. Driving through villages we had to avoid dogs and pigs wandering across the road. Lots of houses had very nice gardens but some were just shacks. Also lots of Samoans were asleep in the fales along the beach and in one village they were building a church.Retuned to our resort for late lunch and then went swimming and read our books on the beach. Weather was still cloudy and breezy but pleasantly warm and not humid like Fiji. Had G&T and R&C as the sun set!!! Ace. Met Staff in the Hotel Safua, one of the 1000 places to see before you die and the only one on Savaii. Actually it was probably one of the 1000 places to help you die, Annes words,excruciatingly aweful
Day 26 - Tuesday 20th November 2007, Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa
Nothing to report
Day 27 - Wednesday 21st November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa
Beach day, as heading towards a full moon very low tide first thing and very high tide last thing. Spent the whole day, 8-7 on the beach topping up the tan and reading. Probably the best day weather wise since we have been in Samoa. Saw some tiny electric blue fish in some coral a few yards odd our beach plus a black and white striped fish. Keef saw an eel poking his head out of some coral – moray eel.Met an Indonesian girl who is studying in NZ who showed me the coral reef with the eel and brightly coloured fish. Took pictures of them but none really came out, Now discovered the UNDERWATER setting on the camera so gonna have another go on Friday.
Day 28 - Thursday 22nd November 2007, Car trip all the way round Savaii, Clockwise
Gorgeous blue Pacific which looked turquoise in the lagoons. Drove along the coastal road all round the island. On the south and western sides of Savaii there were breakers coming ashore in the sea and there were cliffs, lava flows and coconut plantations. Met Lonnie, his wife and baby both at the Alofaaga blowholes and at the beach BBQ fale. They had (coincidence) lived in London in Wimbledon in 2001 working initially for a Kiwi in a pub on the common. Its in their DNA. He works for Bruce and Margaret McCullum (owners?) as well as the Maori guy whom they call their adopted son. Had a good chat with them all things UK & NZ. Looking forward to arriving now, They live 1 hour north of Auckland and said don’t be put off by the airport and lack of public transport. For them to get to Samoa it is only a 3hr flight from Auckland.When we were chatting to the NZ people at Savaii Lagoon they told us that they had seen dolphins in the bay this morning but as we were driving round the island we missed them. Hope to see them tomorrow. Coastal road in south and west of island was very interesting and weather was hot and sunny in the morning when we set off at 09.15. The blowholes through holes in the lava were spectacular as the plume of spray went up 30ft in the air.. Drove down a long track to get there and paid 10 tala fee (£2 ) but the scenery was worth it. Took lots of photos and video of blowhole and waves breaking against lava rocks. Skies suddenly filled with storm clouds so walked quickly back to car. Had snack lunch in car whilst downpour took place. Got back to our resort at 3.15pm. Keef went swimming and Anne had a siesta then we had a cup of tea on the beach and chatted to the NZ crowd.58 pictures taken on our trip round, Savaii. The south side of the island has a spectacular coast line and the blowholes especially
Day 29 - Friday 23rd November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa
Spent the day chillin on the beach, well at least in the morning. Had a rather broken nights sleep with torrential rain at about 3am which continued through until about 10am. Took A & I ages to return to sleep after closing (slightly) shutters to prevent rain coming in All Pacific windowry (if that’s what you call it) is fitted fly screen on the outside and louvred glass slats (in 2 shutter sections) on the inside, idea with fans is to keep you cool whilst keeping the pesky insects out.Went out at low tide to take pictures of coral and the bright blue fish, alas the eel wasn’t to be seen again. Met again Bruce/ Margaret/ Lonnie, wife & baby and Suvisuvi (Part Maori guy Margaret likes to call her son) All Kiwis , nice folk. Gave us their food leftovers Cheddar cheese/ chutney and pineapple, v kind. Bruce has good sense of humour a good sign for our Kiwi visit Plus he suggested I could go up the water tower to get better pictures, now that is a good sense of humour from a nation who are into their extreme sports. I.e NZ weather said a ‘great weekend for taking your granny skydiving’.Lots of rain plus we checkout (alas) of Savaii 2moro. We have both found it most relaxing.
Day 30 - Saturday 24th November 2007,Ferry trip back from Savaii to Upolu, Salelologa Wharf to Mulifanua Wharf
Waited in terminal building (if you can call it that) and got a passenger ticket for Annie. Lady on desk at outriggers who was v friendly. Ini gave Annie and I a frangipani etc garland as a leaving present (ah bless) car fine this time, no problems with windows not shutting. V hot on ferry. Took some video off the back of the boat. Nice to be back on main island, smooth run into Apia (about 45 mins) 3 cars overtook when they shouldn’t near the wharf. As Annie said they mooch around all day but once behind the wheel they drive amazing aggressively (Note Updated later; the Tongans don’t maybe that’s a difference between races)
Day 31 - Sunday 25th November 2007, Outriggers Hotel, Apia, Upolu – Trip around Upolu
Saw everything drove all the way round the island in about 7 hours See the photos There are lots, albatross island, the leper colony, beach fales you name it, delicious day.Briefly met a Samoan band at the Coconut Beach Resort (by 2013 now called Coconut Beach Club) at the south end of the island. Hot and sultry day. Ate (expensive) in the restaurant on the beach front. Classy Burger and then Anne had a chocolate truffle desert, yummy. At the end of today we have been away a whole month. The big thing for us was the way the Samoans treat Sundays. It may be a day of rest Mon-Sat but Sunday is for Church and Sunday best. Mostly full white clothing,shirts for the men, white lava-lave/sarong, full dresses for the ladies
Day 32 - Monday 26th November 2007,Outriggers Hotel, Apia, Upolu
Got up early and went to the Robert Louis Stevenson house in Apia. Excellent in every way. Guide good, info good well worth the visit .Visited soap factory(?), this samoan guys house. He was married to swiss lady and showed us around his garage and the process of making his handmade soaps from coconut oil, caustic soda (help!!! But OK) and a myriad of scents. Frangipani etc etc Lovely, Anne bought one of each and v cheap they were to $WST8 each about 80p.Kiwi backpackers who had been to Manolo and stayed with a samoan family in the village. No roads on that island. The guy reckoned he messed up big time on most of the village customs (seated when elders present, point toes away etc etc). Swims in the Outriggers pool to cool off and finally finishing Uncle Toms cabin, gr8 book used Wifi at CSL and had a shake and meal at MCD (bad eh) but we are on so much fruit at the mo we are definitely both losing weight
Day 33 - Tuesday 27th November 2007,Outriggers Hotel, Apia, Upolu
Last day in Outriggers Bit of a cockup on no of days stay (my fault) so had to pay and extra day so we used the room to store baggage and have some cold showers. Doesn’t really work in that humidity cos you are dripping again the moment you have finished drying yourself. Security guard helped us load bags in car (but only when it looked like Anne might collapse).Returned car at 3.30 full tank and joked with the lady (who I’d teased when we got the car) that it had seen more of Samoa than she had. She told me that she had never been to Savaii in her life. Caught taxi to airport arrived about 4.30 (in for the long haul16.5 hrs wait, 1.5 hrs flight to Tonga) Bizarre. Made sure this time I told taxi driver what the price was i.e $WST55 (about £11). Excerpt from letter to Brian & Gina that Anne put together and sent from our Lavaspot Wifi session in CSL (Computer Services Ltd) shop (air con) opposite McDonalds (also air con) .guess how we kept cool.96 deg .” Greetings from Samoa. Temperature here is a very hot 90F plus at night time and even hotter during the day. Craig e-mailed us to say there was snow in Nott’ham! We found the Samoans very friendly and when we tell them we’re from Nott’m they all mention Robin Hood! We have seen the contestants for the Miss South Pacific and now the Commonwealth & Oceana Games – Weightlifting is being held at the moment in Apia. We are looking forward to moving on to Tonga as hopefully it will be cooler there. Considering we are in the wet and cyclone season we are glad that the weather is not too bad.It seems strange to hear Xmas music & see decorations in the shops. Trust you are all well as we are (albeit very sweaty!)
Day 34 - Wednesday 28th November 2007,Faleolo Airport
Plus the day that didn’t exist (again) except up until 6.45 am (another International Dateline oddity). Spent waiting for our flight in the Samoan airport. No air con, no open shops, no water, no nuthin except parties , immense humidity (was over 95 degrees at night) and 2 flights to Auckland (one Air NZ, one Polynesian Blue) And heard.all night long the sound of cellotape being twined and ripped plus black bin liners being taped up round boxes of produce.coconuts, bananas, papaya, breadfruit, flowerswho knows what else.and you may ask why didn’t they prepare these in advanceand probably more importantly with NZs hot customs rules and foodstuffs and wood are not allowed, so dumb question how does that work, surely it will all be dumped on arrival in Aucklandoh and they have to pay excess baggage for it. Met 3 Tongan US marines, who had flown in from Pago Pago (US Samoa) who had to wait longer than us. Spoke to a few of them especially the big guy (linebacker with US passportwhose parents and child lived on Tonga) so they were getting a break from duty for home visit. Mark my words you wouldn’t cross him (although he was most pleasant with US accent) he was the size of the proverbial ‘brick s..house door and then some’.Went into main store (CHOWs) in Apia. I got flipflops and water, Anne some very nice material . The blue bit which is 3 yds long was only about £1.50 English Free almost.Various Uk & Kiwi med students doing ‘time’ in local Samoan hospitals and staying in Outriggers fales around the pool.
Excerpt from standard letter sent to Friends and rellies on arrival in Tonga (29/11 due to IDL).We had the most amazing 16.5 hour wait in the Samoan airport last night before our short flight to Tonga, no open shops in airport i.e no water, so I had to get a taxi to take me to a village 'shop' where they had no water and didn’t understand me but i was able to buy 4 bottles of coke and sprite (with no top opener) to at least stop us expiring in the immense humidity that was Samoa....about 95 at night...met a load of Samoan US Marines from Pago Pago (US Samoa) who had been waiting longer than us...still each plane that arrives in Samoa is a huge 'event' wow at 3am truck loads of large families would arrive, to greet one of their extended family returning from NZ, party time, so no sleep all night. We both loved Samoa, very different from anything we have ever experienced before....whilst being almost 3rd world, they are great people and 'village' life will stay with us forever....pigs, cockerels, amazing gardens, getting up at 5am, church frying pan gong, mooching - a national pastime, and boy what views....still we are now in Tonga and have 24*7 i/net so intend catching up with a few folk. Alas Fiji & Samoa i/net is sparse and costly...so please write, we would love to hear from you. We are in our 'exec' fale (trad cottage) listening to Black Rose (our fave Fijian band at the mo) and thinking of family and friends....but not too hard.We have noticed throughout the South Pacific islands they are all extremely religious and very very family (extended and we mean extended) orientated. They all have loads of little kids and seem gobsmacked that we only have 2 children and this is the norm in Europe. 7-10 is not unusual here and village chief mentality rules. So as a big fella I’m applying for a ‘leadership’ roleAnne now calls me King (or elseshe has just told me to remove this bit) In most cases feudal rights rule and as education has to be paid for if you are poor you remain so and learning which we all know changes life and cultures /opportunities are just not available, many kids don’t go to school. Robina the Kiwi (Tongan/Japanese dad....Tongan/German mum) who owns this place is most friendly and interested in tourism (as such it is) in Samoa so she can implement stuff here in Tonga. Its early days but they seem to be a much more reserved race than the Fijians & Samoans and the climate is 10 degs less that those 2 and although this is unfair Anne & i remarked on arrival England with Coconut palms....there is a lot of green grass (cultivated) still more when we have to report....proud to say i now have a photo of the Rose Cottage Tshirt in all the places we have been....watch out for further additions to the website
NOTE all words in ITALICS were written on the trip.
The Friendly Isles - Malo e lelei
UPDATE 10/12/2007 We have now left Tonga. Grim last day with cyclone and quake, plus we saw on the news from NZ some sort of coup/riot, we are investigating. Anyhow even though we enjoyed it pleased to have got out. Last day at 8.45pm house, tables and everything shook. seems to have been a quake nearby, deep underground , no tsunami warning, storms raging. Cyclone Daman. But apart from that things we did were,visted Atata , idyllic desert island, hired a car on the mainland (Tongatapu) for 3 days and leisurely went round everything over 2 days (i guess you could do it in a 1/2 day) and on the 3rd day went to the Cultural centre. Saw trad outrigger boat, Houma Blowholes (ace), National Holiday procession for King Tupou 1st on 4/12, village traditional dancing and a cultural dance eve at the International Dateline Hotel. Tonga is slightly different from Fiji and Samoa....All the ladies wear what appear to be mats over their skirts, and sometimes the chaps as well. Plus visible signs of protest against goverment in the streets. Great inequality , see some of our pictures! In Nuku'alofa town we saw the Kings Palace, had lunch in the 2 Sisters (often, its ace!) and Robinas Express cafe. She is half tongan/ quarter japanese and a quarter german and is gr8 (forceful business lady with 'high' connections) generally the town is not that inspiring but the market excellent
HIGHLIGHTS Atata Island, Blowholes, 2 Sisters restuarant and village dancing
LOWLIGHTS cockroach, rat, tongan tummy, dead sea krate (the worlds deadliest snake) on atata beach, cyclone daman & earthquake
HISTORY Boy most of the reviews we have read of Tonga denegrade its infrastructure and believe it or not their people...bad stuff...we keep an open mind and are really looking forward to it....We will be staying at Nukuma'anu cottages Vuna Road Sopu (check it out on Google Maps below, near the Black Pearl appartments, it may well be closed 2020 but there is still an internet listing) on Tongatapu (the main southernmost group of islands) in the Executive fale cos guess what they have 24*7 internet....no water (joke)....now thats not bad for reports of a decaying infrastructure...more when we arrive. We are there 11 nights 29/11 to 10/12 ...have just found Nov is close of parliament and last year at this time there was civil unrest, fires and looting....Oh dear, let's hope no repeat this year....
Remember the Fale, Robina, Nuku'alofa market - coconut drinks, Black Rose (Rosiloa) album bought in market, New Eagles album downloaded, outsized washing,tonga's stonehenge,Captain Cook monument, cockroaches, earthquake & cyclone and getting out alive.
Summary: TONGA 11 days , Day 35-45, 29/11/2007 - 10/12/2007
Day 35 - Thursday 29th November 2007,Arrival in Tonga, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Flight over quick and easy. Good NZ plane. Odd to see some 150+ people have to deplane in Samoa even though they were going on to Auckland, plus they would have to do the same in Tonga.Very little sleep. We had to have a 3 hour kip when we arrived to recover. Fale here at Nukama’anu is ace, Air con Inet 24/7, Sat TV etc.Met Silva, Margaret (PA) , Robina (owner) and handy man , who I had a chat to about Rugby and Hard Rock Cafes plus v friendly taxi driver who took us to 2 supermarkets and a stall for provisions and bananas.I drive a hard bargain and got a whole tree for $TOP4 (£1p) The currency is Pan’anga although for our benefit (I wish they wouldn’t) they call it a dollar.Plus lady in shop around the corner where we got bread, water and cheese (fondue style) who was having her kids talk to her ex in Stockton in California on a mobile, hoot or what! Most memorable: Christmas decs outside our cottage
Day 36 - Friday 30th November 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Morning spent on laptop catching up, bank stuff with Craig (our hero) and sally jacks (Barclays), website redo, audible book download (savage garden) research on Tonga and associated islands. Both feeling a little jaded and oh I hope not but experiencing Tongan Tummy.Anne ankles bad and she is resting whilst I catch the daily diary up as haven’t done it since we returned from Savaii to Upolu.Just chillin will get a car for 3 days. Researched beaches and roads / places of interest. Very laid back here. Most ladies (married?) wear black and a mat skirt over their skirts. It is warm but not humid here and sea breeze and air con a big plus Lovely cottage Sat TV which we haven’t tried yet but will .Silva gave us 4 bananas (with mine we could overdose on them if we are not careful) plus returned our washing (along with her underwear) Very cheap $TOP10 (about £2.50) - the bananas not her underwear! Walk along beach to shop to get more water and bread. Coast is v interesting as inner coral reef but not advised to swim in. Taxi driver and Robina said they collect fish/ crabs/ all manner of marine life to eat from there. It was covered in folk at low tide doing exactly this. Plus kids all playing rugby by the side of the road. No posts , in Samoa each village at least had wooden tree stuff for posts
Day 37 - Saturday 1st December 2007, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Went by taxi into town and walked around. Saw market and bought tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, peppers and a small pineapple. Keith looked at cotton shirts but none his size. We saw taro, yams, kava root, ginger, garlic and other vegetables which we did not know the names. Very interesting. Internet café had a lot of NZ backpackers and Europeans. People were friendly and helpful in the shops. Bought a map & postcards. Some Tongans were in western clothing and others in sarongs with pandanus mats wrapped round their hips, both men & women. Saw local youth band singing & playing music in car park.Saw King of Tonga’s official residence (one of six) which was a colonial white clapboard building along the seafront. Town had a huge tree near the Westpac bank called a rain tree. Had lunch in restaurant, by then market was closing and traders were going home in pick-up trucks with unsold fruit & veg. Saw a pig in a wooden cage in back of truck being driven down main street. Weather was warm, sunny & cloudy & temp was 79F. Town looked very small considering it is the capital of Tonga – unremarkable buildings with colonial flavour – wooden with tin roofs but a small arcade with some modern shops and café. Got taxi back to our fale and then wrote postcards which we will send on Monday as the PO was shut. Watched ‘Around the bend’ on Sat Tv quirky family/road movie with Christopher Walken and Michael Caine (briefly before the cheque ran out!) – good (plus best quality picture since we started traveling) Tonga contribution to Broadcasting is a few local (hammy) adverts for beach resorts! Had interesting walk around market and town. Had lovely lunch in 2 sisters restaurant – chicken escalope in lime sauce with fried potatoes, garlic bread and side salad. For desert we had strawberry and chocolate gateau slices and nice coffee.
Day 38 - Sunday 2nd December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Chillin.alas Keef has Tongan Tummy so he is on water only all day, which should sort it. Reading, listening to music, researching facebook, laptop not much really. Waiting to get the hire car 2moro for 3 days so we can travel. Researched map also for islands worth visiting (Atata & Fala).Nuku is the uninhabited one where shipwrecked was filmed (teen reality show) Gentle walk left out of cottage along Hake Vunu (hake is road), our road.Robina and her 2 children dressed smart presumably for church. Note all ‘married’ Tongan women seem to be dressed from head to toe in black. She paid tribute to the Tongan customs of mat or belt mat with long ‘dangly’ bits by wearing an equivalent in silver. Met no one – Sunday is a very family/quiet day here in Tonga, Margaret and lady in 2 sisters said they slept as tired. Have to say as temperature is about 80, i.e 15degs less that Samoa folk here are far less ‘moochy’.Whilst writing our postcards we had a long chat with the Tongan gardener who was sweeping up leaves outside our fale. His name was Alex and he said he had been to France by cargo ship in 2000 and went via New Caledonia & Suez Canal which took over 2 months. Said he is going to visit his brother & family in NZ before Xmas for 3 months.
Day 39 - Monday 3rd December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Sent email to D&P-here is the extract which tells something of our day ,interesting one as first day of 3 with hire car***Hi Doug & Phoenix,Alas we didn’t get your text msg, both our phones don’t work here in Tonga and the only texts I have got are when i email phones and they respond...I’ll try l8r. Good stuff here in Tonga although i've got a rather bad dose of 'tongan tummy' at the mo, probably via water on salad but who knows, mum is ok. Got hire car 2day and saw LHS (left hand side) of the island, blowholes at Houma ace, plus saw surfing beach at Ha'atafu beach where we were talking to 4 ozzie surfers when a coconut that dropped narrowly missed all of us and the car (luckily). Gonna do the RHS 2moro. King died recently 84 and 33stone, fattest monarch in history, so being large (although we are both loosing weight a bit) is seen as good in Tonga. His main palace is just down the road from us, we saw his son (ex PM, King elect....its a bit / lot corrupt here I would suggest) drive past this a.m with police escort and blacked out bullet proof windows, public hols 2moro for his birthday and plaques everywhere celebrating what seems to be each of the previous kings 84 b'days (bizarre!) have to say not really enough to do here for 10 days, its very small We both preferred Samoa, still not complaining We will (if we can work out how) get to 1 or 2 of the surrounding Islands....Nuku is apparently where they shot the TV reality show Shipwrecked (never heard of it!) Still in answer to your quessies, bag 59 has dougs rucsac in it, i guess your tent is probably in that (unless we bought it over to you) ...no probs mum & i will get you a mattress and 2man tent when we get to NZ...not long now. Saw England result (did Beckham play?) , blimey that’s a heavy group, no I am not interested either....bet Craig’s mates who pre-booked tickets are pig sick bye love M&D/K&A.***saw 3 beach resorts(?) that you would really question, 2 ripoff taxi merchants and 1 resort ripoff, but apart from that a fairly good day!!! Houma Blowholes (ace), King elect Tupou V.Alex bought us 5 more bananas, we could open a shop, pity no blender cos banana milkshake is gr8. we did find out that 2moros public holiday is to celebrate King Tupou ,we more or less followed this route by car over our 3 days
Day 40 - Tuesday 4th December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
National Holiday in Tonga to celebrate birthday of King George Tupou 1st – he died in 1893 having reigned for some 48 years and was single handed credited with reforming Tonga,needs an update now from new King George Tupou 5th. Went round the right hand side of the island in the hire car (see pictures for details) Reasonably overcast day and about 79degs. The island isn’t that large , guess about 20*10 miles. After a few false starts getting out of Nuku’alofa down backstreets to avoid the town procession (after we had seen it) all roads from which seemed to lead to Queen Charlotte’s wharf we finally got out on our way, spend about 4 hours slowly traveling around. Memorable was Village dancing, protest banners against corruption, strip light (in our fale which was on the blink). Loved float procession thru Nuku’alofa , Captain Cooks monument, Paepe ‘o Tele’a (300 year old burial mound, started like pyramid (well 2 layers) – most UNIMPRESSIVE, Tonga’s Stonehenge (Ha’amonga’a Maui) , Lots of coconut/banana plantations, appalling roads, airport , Tongan boys college (red including mat uniform), dancing in village in SW Tongatapu,amused by Robina who said that the Princess regent came to her restaurant for a worship breakfast at 5.30 am (and she had to be up at 3.30 to prep for it) plus the father of her youngest child (boy) who has been visiting is returning to Oz 2moro.
Day 41 - Wednesday 5th December 2007, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Last day of the hire car so went to the Cultural Centre ($TOP3 each) which was very interesting, lunch @ café express then market to buy Rosilea by Black Rose and then chilled (reading / laptop/ music) whilst the builders removed the stones outside our door and put up ‘police tape’.talk about holidaying by a building site, I will ask for a rebate, and Keef did some DIY to try and fix the light tube/ starter motor.Visited cultural centre, had tapa, saw outrigger boat, andsome great old tongan photos, especially those of the royal family. Called into International dateline hotel on vunu rd opposite wharf (empty) to see about the cultural show, it is tonight so we are gonna go. 9 pm UPDATE it was ace and cost us zip, mixture of tongan, hawaian and moari dances and a great band. See videos and pictures. The Tongans seem better at this than the Samoans (or maybe we just happened to be in the right place at the right time here). Met Ozzies on Queen Charlotte wharf who were waiting for their ferry to Fafa. They had just flown in to Tonga and were in transfer. We asked about ferries as it is so unclear and we want to go to Pangaimotu 2moro 10/11 trips out and 4/5 return, Robina reckons $TOP15 that you pay on arrival at island but as always its not clear. Will consider! Had to move the car parked in the shade outside the cultural center when some tongan guys shinned up the coconut tree and started machetteing off the fronds and nuts One almost landed on the roof (and that would have cost us) Went to Café Express (Robina’s) in Western Union Funds Mgt building for lunch. Chicken and pineapple toasty for me (my first food for 2 days and touch wood I seem to be over Tongan Tummy), Chicken and lots of things panini for Anne, plus 2 chocolate milkshakes (best so far on trip) and banana cake/ coffee cheesecake.
Day 42 - Thursday 6th December 2007,Trip to Atata Island
Took our hire car back this morning. Took boat to Atata, a small island north of Tongatapu at 10 am where there was a resort called Royal Sunset. Boat was very small with 7 tourist day trippers and open sea was very choppy due to wind. On arrival at 10.25 we were greeted by a Tongan lady on the jetty who gave us all an orange juice. Our day boat trip included lunch. We walked through some paths past some of the tourist fales and came upon a small village, then walked back to the resort along the lovely sandy beach. Some village children were sitting on the beach & greeted us and there were quite a few fishing boats and nets along the beach. Was very hot. Sat down for a rest on the decking in the resort and then got changed to go for a cool off in the water. Sea was only knee deep in the sandy bit but stiff offshore breeze. Keef still had Tongan tummy.One of the American ladies told us that she had seen a sea snake which put us off going swimming. There was an option to go out in a boat snorkeling but Keef did not go. Had lunch (Keef had mahi-mahi fish with sweet potato chips and salad and Anne had a burger). Relaxed and read our books and sunbathed. By now there was a pleasant sea breeze. Noted that the resort swim pool was very dirty and had never been cleaned so we did not risk going in. Also more dogs and puppies wandering around as well as hens, even in the restaurant bit. We were the only tourists on the island as even though there were 26 fales, they were empty. Lady who had greeted us asked us if we wanted to stay on the island in a fale but we said no. Would not like to spend more than a day on the island. Had a brief dip in the sea again and then walked a bit further along the other side of the island but saw a dead sea snake on the beach .aargh! Did not get too close to investigate but it was as thick as Anne’s arm and black and green.. Anne ran away. Tongan lady confirmed that it was a sea snake. Got boat back at 4pm and trip back was just as choppy – small boat was like a roller coaster at times and lots of sea spray over us. When we arrived back at the pier we got a taxi back to our fale.Boat trip to small island Atata. Saw dead sea snake. Saw unusual coloured circle round sun and took photo.
Day 43 - Friday 7th December 2007, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Chillin..got up about 8 had breakfast (slowly) Peanut butter on toast, fruit juice and T Did stuff on laptop whilst listening to music Avoided taking ITunes and Ipod software updates. Will wait until NZ and faster line. Just too slow here and would maybe based on fragility of s/ware mean we ended up with no music. Did DVD for Mum of Samoa/Tonga. Sent lots of e-xmas cards and e-birthday cards to Doug & Nikki. Not much, some sun whilst we sunbathed. 84 degs.Met Margaret to pay the bill. $TOP1200 for remaining 8 days.Chatted to a young couple from the UK who were waiting for a boat to another island where they were staying. They were traveling round the Pacific, NZ, Vietnam, Thailand and India. On our boat trip to Atata island we met 5 sisters who were all born in Tonga but now live in Alaska, Sydney & NZ & all sounded very American. One even gave me her business card. 2 bits of lovely chocolate birthday cake courtesy of Suki, Robina’s 8 year old daughter. Sent lots of Xmas Greets email card from Tonga
Day 44 - Saturday 8th December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Caught taxi into town. Went to Friendly Islands bookshop to get envelope for DVD for Mum. Alas post office closed (or never open) before 11 so will have to take with and post in NZ. Hope it gets there for Xmas. Had coffee in Friends café, walked around looking for tropical shirt for K, none his size however. Lunch at 2 sisters (we seem to be their only customers) They even send the chef out to say thanks for eating there. Then argument with taxi driver who tried to charge us $TOP7 (its only 4) we let him know in no uncertain terms he was trying to rip us off!!! Then back to sunbathe and do I/net research for NZ. Overnight real storm, maybe something to do with cat3 currently hitting Fiji.Bit of sun during sun bathing. Lady in trad costume in town. 102 Dalmatians (film with Glenn Close on kids TV channel) FOX News TV (crap-US).Tongan married to US guy (Stockton,CA) in shop where I went to get water and bread. Plus Corinne (previous Ms Tonga) in 2 sisters restaurant and her sister Andrea who chatted to us for a while as she was keen to try out her English and told us she had never been outside Tonga. Chicken escalope in lime sauce , herb pots and salad (again). Our fave Tongan food at 2 sisters restaurant followed by spaghetti ice-cream (Anne) and strawberry cake (kef) yummy. Alas Keef still had Tongan tummy, which is tricky to shift
Day 45 - Sunday 9th December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu
Last day on Tonga before traveling to NZ. Not much really. I/net catch up, backups, reading, scrabble, listening to music. Pack. Thought not much happening and then bang, Cyclone Daman and a quake. The quake off Raoul island some 355miles SSW of Tonga was 7.8 on the Richter scale (8.40pm) but luckily some 93 miles below ground under the sea so no real risk of a Tsunami. Tonga is so flat if it got hit you would definitely be a ‘gonna’. Cyclone had narrowly missed Vanua Levu (Fiji) but was arriving at pace on Tonga. Big winds/storms. Filled in visitors book for Robina.Felt Cyclone Daman.Alex and Robina called to mention the Sunday eve bread run to get fresh hot bread and cakes. A little too stormy for us outside so gave it a miss and watched Lethal Weapon 1 with Mel Gibson instead. Then they kindly bought us back a loaf, 2 cream buns and 3 choc donuts Had a real feast that eve as had pasta and fresh pineapple planned anyhow. Left a bit of food for them as you cannot take it out of the country.Pack, pleased to leave Tonga now. 10 days on reflection was probably too long. It is not big enough. Main town only really has as many shops as Sandiacre PLUS quake Was sitting on sofa which started to move. Bizarre, didn’t last long but it was big. I thought the walls of the fale had moved and jumped up to grab hold of them. To glasses on table at 45degs and liquids came out. Anne thought she was ‘having a turn’ in kitchen but then realized the clothes cabinet in bedroom was swaying. Amazed that the tiles on the floor didn’t split. Bit panicky after that especially with the howling gales outside so packed immediately and placed stuff reasonably high up. This happened at 8.45 pm. By midnight although it was still stormy it was a little calmer. Checked on Inet for quakes (recorded) and Daman, which it said had dropped to Cat2 tropical storm and cyclone warning for Tonga removed as it had veered off to the south west (thank god) After Jamaica and Ivan we vowed we wouldn’t get involved again .
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