I pretty much have been holed up in my hotel the last two days. Other than a trip to Apia on Saturday and today, I’ve just read and tried to recover.
I think the boils have stopped spreading. Now it’s just scabs and sores. I think my attempted at bandaging it made it worse, because the area underneath where I had the tape now looks like a wound. Taking the tape off hurt more than getting my tattoo.
Thankfully, I had a the very large book “Ancestors Tale” by Richard Dawkins to read.
I went to the Tokelau Apia Liason office today to see if it was possible to visit Tokelau. There is a boat leaving on the 23rd, which they said was booked (actually, I think there was a spot left on the form). I can get on the July 4th boat, which I think I’ll try to do.
I’ll try and take the time from now until July 4 to visit American Samoa, Tonga and Niue…and actually see more of Samoa than my hotel room.
I’m excited about being able to go to Tokelau. I can’t explain it, but going to Tokelau is one of the things I’ve really been looking forward to on the trip.
My guess is that most of you have never heard of Tokelau. There is good reason for that. Of the ‘countries’ of the world (I use the term country loosely. Click on the link in the scorecard window on the left to see why) Tokelau is one of the smallest and one of the hardest to get to. Tokelau only has about 1,500 people living on three atolls. There are more Tokelauians living in New Zealand and elsewhere than live in Tokelau proper.
There are no flights to Tokelau. None of the atolls are big enough for a landing strip. No seaplanes fly to Tokelau. The only way to get there is a ship from Apia which leaves about once every two weeks.
Tokelau is technically a “non-self-governing colonial territory of New Zealand”. They took a vote last year on becoming a territory in Free Association with New Zealand but didn’t get the 2/3 required.
Tokelau also has their own top level domain name: .tk. You can get a .tk domain name for free at www.dot.tk. I have www.everything-everywhere.tk. Actually, click on that link if you can. You need to have 25 visits a month to keep it active. You can make your .tk domain name driect to things like eBay auctions and MySpace pages. Money from the .tk domains go to help provide internet access to Tokelau. Believe it or not, they have broadband.
I suppose one of the reasons I want to go to Tokelau so much is precisely because it is so isolated. So far on my trip, most of the places I’ve been have been big tourist destinations (Rarotonga, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fjij, Hawaii). Tokelau is about as far from that as you can get.
To give you an idea of how few people go to Tokelau, this is the list of ‘places’ from the most traveled people website. These are people who make me look like a homebody. Of the close to 3,000 people registered, who have collectively been to every speck of land on the planet, only 15 have been to Tokelau.
Going to Tokelau would definately be a feather in my travel cap. They are also supposed to have some of the best weavers in the world.
My priority right now is going to see a doctor about these sores. I haven’t had access to a mirror in a week and my right underarm is really bad. Some sort of boil is appearing on my hands and arms and I might have one on my leg.
Why this appeared simultaneously on both of my underarms is beyond me. I guess maybe I had the skin break at both points and then I got something while swimming or something.
None of the private doctors are open on weekends, and on the advice on every person I’ve met on every island I’ve been to so far, avoid the public doctors at all cost. Likewise, the Tokelau office is closed until Monday. I did check out the notice on their front door and the last boat came in on June 14, so another might be leaving soon. We’ll see.
I’ve tried uploading to Flickr, but so far no luck. It will stay on the upload page forever, then in the end, nothing appears.
I’m guessing I may be in American Samoa on Monday unless the boat to Tokelau is leaving immediately or something.
I’m at the airport in Nadi waiting for my 1:30am flight back across the International Date Line to Apia, Samoa. I figure I’ll upate the old web site.
I have a lot to say, but I’ll save it for when I can post from my laptop, where I’ve been writing all week. I’m leving Fiji with a very very different view than I had one week ago. I didn’t know what to think before I came here. I knew they had a military coup recently, but not much more.
I leave having met tons of people this week, made lots of friends, sores all over my body, tired and in a pretty good mood. I’m going to sleep in while in Samoa (I get to redo Saturday, so why not), check with the Tokelau Office to see when the boat leaves, and try to get good internet. What I find out about the Tokelau boat will determine where I go from there.
I’m also woking on some big picture posts about my travels, but I’m not going to post anything till I get more places under my belt. I’m not sure I have a big enough sample size yet to comment.
I met THREE people from the Twin Cities in Fiji and two more from Iowa. Those were the only Americans I met on the islands (a big group from the University of Georgia was on the boat). I met people from England, Scotand, Northern Ireland, Ireland, France, Austria, Switerland, Germay, Finland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Netherlands, and I’m probably forgetting a few.
If I’m luckly, I’ll have my Fiji photos up tomorrow sometime and know what I’ll be doing the next few weeks.
Just a quick update before I leave Fiji tonight. I will traveling a day into the past. I have 24 hours to undo everything I’ve done today. I will be issuing updates every hour in video format. I’m calling it “24”. I think the idea will fly.
I have some great stuff from Fiji and I had a blast. Met lots of interesting people. Can’t upload anything from here. I might make it to an internet cafe in Nadi tonight. I don’t know.
My next few days are totally up in the air. Once I reach Apia, I have to check with the Tokelau Liason Office to see when the boat leaves. I might be on a 48 hour boat ride tomorrow, or I might just be in Samoa….or American Samoa. I don’t know. It’s sort of out of my hands right now. My schedule should get more set as I finish this part of the trip in the next 2-3 weeks.
Here in Fiji, I got to visit the local village yesterday, meet some kids, watch a local rugby match, went diving today (3x in Fiji), and the night before got to take part in some Kava with the men in the village. Not too shabby.
I’m seriously considering getting a world ban cellphone.
Ok, I have a very limited amount of time to write this and the connection sucks, so it is going to be short. I have a much longer update on my laptop, but I can’t get that onto here as this computer has no USB slots (which gives you an idea of what I’m using).
In summary. I’m at my third resort in the Yasewas. I’ve met most of the United Kingdom. I’ve met the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I’ve gone diving twice and snorkeling over a reef several times. Had pretty good food. Have a wierd armpit sore which makes it hard to move my arm. Haven’t worn shoes or sandals in several days. Haven’t showered in several days either (I’m sure you didn’t want to know that). Had a blast getting drunk with some Irish guys.
Taken several nice photos and panoramic photos of the places I’ve stayed.
I didn’t know what to expect in Fiji, but it has been well worth the trip. I’ll probably be online tomorrow a bit, but there is a long line to use the net here.
To everyone who has sent me emails, I’ll try to reply later when I have more time. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be getting any better internet access than I’ll get in Nadi over the next few months. If anyone would like to do me a favor and research places I could get wifi or free wifi in Samoa, American Samoa, or Tonga, that would be super. I need several hours on my laptop to get get photos up and my longer posts.
Likewise, If anyone knows how to get a Citizen watch replaced or know what the warranty is, I’d love to know. The “water resistant” to 10 bar or 100m claim is total bullshit.
I leave Taevwa in about 3 hours, and I still have no clue where I’m going. Such is my life. I purchased a pass on the Yasawa flyer which is a boat that goes up and down the Yasawas every day. I can get on and off where I want for a week. There seems to be lots of vacancies, so I’m not worried about getting space.
Yesterday I climbed the highest point of the island to see the sunet and managed to get a photo of the green flash. It was much more impressive lookign at it through then lens that it is in the photo, but it’s still pretty cool. This is the first time I’ve unambigously saw the flash. I think I may have seen it in Hawaii once, but its hard to tell without a telescope, binoculars or a zoom lens.
In fact, I took enough photos at the last moment of the sunset to make an animated image of the green flash. I just need to figure out how to do it.
Had some very interesting conversations last night with a Kiwi couple who arrived at the resort and a Fijian woman who lives in Sidney. The Kiwi man is a lawyer who seems intent of fixing all the plumbing problems of the resort before he leaves. I wish him well.
I’ve met so many British on my travels so far I swear to God they are trynig to recolonize the Pacific with kids in their late teens and early 20s. I think the people on these small isalnds never have to leave to see the world. It comes to them on a daily basis.
I think I’ve come down with a cold. I got it either from the airplane or airconditioning in my Nadi room. My lymph noes have swollen and my armpits are really sore.
In addition to watching the sunset, I also managed to snorkel for the first time on my trip yesterday. I literally had a whole beach to myself and managed to undo some of my farmer tan.
Oh, and due to a miscommunication with a barber, I’m pretty much bald now. I’m a millimeter away from Kojak. Maybe less. I normally leave some stubble, but this guy made me look like Mr. Clean. Thank goodness hair grows back. Looking on the bright side, it will increase the total surface area on my body to create vitamin D.
I’m off to book my accomodiations for tomorrow and pack my stuff.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I have internet on the island of Tavewa on the northern tip of the Yasawa Islands in Fiji.
This place is probably as close to the idealized south pacific life as you can get. I am staying in a Fijian bure. It’s bascially a thatched roof hut about 20 feet from the ocean at high tide. I have a hammock right outside my door. I have never seen stars so bright as I have here. There are very few lights, and there is no electricity where I’m staying between 6pm and 5:30am. (I had to go across the island to find this internet terminal).
The boat ride here was about five hours. The boat stops at most of the islands on the chain and small water taxis come out to pick people up and drop people off. I’ll be staying here one more night then working my way down the chain back to Nadi on Saturday.
I might try and upload some low res photos quickly just so I can give you a feeling for how awesome this place is. i don’t think words do it justice.
The family that runs the lodge I’m staying at also provides all your meals. For breakfast we were all served bacon, three donuts, and paypaya.
I have no idea where I’ll be staying on Wednesday, but the whole island chain is pretty amazing.
(Oh, by the way. From the previous Fiji post. Bula = hello)
Other than some obvious things like driving on the left, I’m amazed at how easy it is for an American to fit in, in New Zealand. As I was driving around the country, I could just as easily have been in any number of US states. As I’d drive around, I’d say “this is just like the Pacific Northwest”, “this is just like the Rockies”, “this is just like Kentucky”, or “this is just like Northern California”. The people are nice, its very clean (very), and there are tons of things to see. Here are some things that stuck out in my mind:
Everything I’ve purchased so far had the tax included in the sale price. If you see something for $2.50, that $2.50 includes the GST. I have no clue what the GST here is. Its very well hidden. I spoke with an American working in a sporting goods store in Auckland who said it was like 12% and there is another 12% on imported goods. Many things here are pretty pricey. Not ridiculous, but more than you’d expect.
One thing which is cheap is lamb. Its dirt cheap. I purchased 3 nice sized lamb chops for dinner tonight for about NZ$5.50. That’s about US$3.50. Fish is also pretty cheap. I’ve been eating lamb almost every night, because why not? I’m in New Zealand. One night I also ate smoked roe….smoked fish eggs. It wasn’t bad.
Driving around, I saw farms everywhere. Until I reached Wellington however, I didn’t see a single bit of cultivated land. No crops. Nothing. Everything was grazing cattle and sheep. Granted it’s winter here, but I didn’t even see any barren land. In the Midwest of the US, when you see dairy farms, you usually see fields of corn, alfalfa, or hay. Here, it seemed all the dairy farms had their cows just graze on grass. I did see some hay bales so it must be grown somewhere, but I didn’t see any. The only major cultivation of anything I’ve seen so far are vineyards on the South Island (Marlborough Region).
Their smallest coin is 10 cents. They have recently phased out the 5 cent coin. All purchased I’ve had with odd numbers have been rounded. This is a good case study for getting rid of the penny in the US, and probably the nickel too.
Their paper currency is almost plastic. All the bills do have a transparent bit of plastic on them (two in fact). Edmund Hillary is on their $5 note, which I think is very cool. Their coins go up to $5 and the $1 and $2 coin are very common. There are no bills smaller than $5.
The three most popular sports in New Zealand are rugby, rugby and rugby. The big New Zealand team are the All Blacks (actually, legend has it the team got its name from a typo in a UK newspaper during a trip in 1905). Ruby is huge all over the Pacific. Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands produce great rugby players. I got to listen to the NZ/France test match on the radio while driving.
You might not know it (and you would if you visited Auckland) but the Rugby World Cup is happening in about three months. I did a bit of research and it turns out that the USA is playing in the World Cup. I’m guessing that most Americans don’t know that. I’m also guessing that when the World Cup happens, it will get zero media attention in the US. (FYI, the US team are called the Eagles).
Any American that watches rugby will get it immediately. Its really similar to football (called “gridiron” here). The ball is sort of the same. The field is pretty much the same. The object of the game is similar (get the ball into the endzone). Unlike football, its more fluid like hockey or basketball. You move the ball forward by running and you can only lateral the ball. Its obvious watching rugby where American football got its roots. You can even see why the forward pass was such a big innovation. The big difference between rugby and football are 1) football has plays where as rugby action is continuos, and 2) rugby has no dedicated offense and defense.
I think the USA could put together an awesome rugby team by just taking a bunch of washed up college and high school football players. Rugby players are built like brick shithouses. Get former fullbacks and linebackers and they’d do great.
The reason why American Football will have a hard time gaining popularity overseas is because of rugby. Rugby is cheaper to play (no expensive pads and helmets) and you only need half the players.
I have encountered one sport here I’ve never heard of before: Netball. I don’t know much about it other than what I’ve seen on TV, but it seems like basketball without dribbling or a backboard, and it looked like you play with a volleyball.
Netball is REALLY stupid. Women don’t need a special version of basketball. They can play basketball just fine. What is really stupid about Netball, is that all the players have to wear what position they play on their jersey. That is like Bret Favre having to have “I AM TEH QUARTERBACK” on the front of his jersey, least he forget.
NZ is also in the finals of the America’s Cup right now. Its getting a lot of press because the team they are facing is pretty much made up of Kiwi’s. In fact, most of the boats had Kiwi’s in major positions.
Current Events and Culture
The big story while I’ve been here was a woman in Auckland who was on oxygen who died when her power was cut off. This sort of gives you an idea for how small the country is. Things which would only be news at a local level are national here.
I saw some sort of current events “comedy” show on TV and it was horrible. I forget the name, but the actors had exaggerated faces of political officials. While I’m not up on NZ politics, I know funny when I see it. I can watch shows from the UK or Canada and laugh even if I don’t know everything. This was not funny, however.
All the toilets here have two flush buttons. At first I didn’t know why. I assumed (correctly as it turned out) that they were for full and half flushes. The thing is, I don’t really notice a difference between the two buttons when you use them.
Before coming here, I sort of assumed that a Kiwi accents was just sort of a watered down Australian accent. It sort of is in the south island, but its really closer to an English accent. Some people I talked to seemed to have accents more British than the British.
The populations of the North and South Islands seem different too. More places in the north have Maori names than in the South. The north has more Maori, and Auckland in particular has a very big Asian population. I saw almost no Asians outside of Auckland.
NZ has had a bad history with Maori/European relations in the past, but they’ve delt with it better than the US did with Indian relations.
A great example is the All Blacks. Before every match, they perform the Haka, which is a Maori war dance. It’s very cool:
There is a high school in Texas with a big Tongan population that does this before football games.
I find it interesting how doing the Haka (and singing the NZ national anthem in Maori) are done as a sign of respect to the Maori, but in the US, if you name a sports team after an Indian tribe or did a dance, it is considered offensive.
I’m staying in Nadi tonight (pronounced Nan-di). Tomorrow I catch a boat and will be traveling the Yasawa Islands. If you look at a map of Fiji on Google Earth or something, you’ll see an island chain on the west of the island that goes up like the arm of a spiral galaxy. That’s where I’m going. I’ll take the boat up to the north and work my way south.
All the lodging there have meals included and the Fiji dollar is about US$0.62, so its pretty cheap. Diving should be cheap too.
Don’t expect much in the way of updates this week. I don’t plan on having any Internet whatsoever. If I manage to get online, I’m sure I wont be uploading any large photos.
Here is an outline of what I’ll be doing the next few weeks:
I’ll be a week on Fiji mostly diving and being a bum.
From Fiji, I’ll be flying to Apia, Samoa where I’ll say for about 3 days.
From there it is a bit up in the air. Apia is the only place you can take a boat to get to Tokelau. I really would like to visit Tokelau, but the boat only goes about once every two weeks. If I’m not close to getting the boat, I’ll go to American Samoa and visit the National Park and try to stay with a Samoan family for a few days. Depending on how long I have to wait for the Tokealau boat, I might go to Tonga and/or Niue.
If I can get the Tokelau boat somewhat without a long wait, I’ll go to Tokelau right away then do the other places I listed.
After this part of the Pacific, I’ll head back to Fiji and then go to some places in the west: New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Then I’ll go back to Fiji one more time and visit the nations to the north: Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribiti, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Guam, Palau, and CNMI.
This part of the world is just a big pain in the ass to travel in. That is why so few people visit and it is not on the list for most people doing trips like mine.
I don’t plan on long stays in most countries in the pacific, because they’re small and there isn’t much to see. I might spend more time in Micronesia/Palau just because of the diving.
After all of the above, I think I’ll head to Okinawa and then up through Japan and jump over to South Korea. That should give me plenty of time in the colder parts of Asia before winter sets in. From there I’ll work my way south to Australia.