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Western Samoa Diary


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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