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5 Month Scorecard

Me and the kids, Rennell Island - Solomon Islands

Yesterday was my birthday.

On this black day in history, the following happened:

  • Rome was sacked. (410 AD)
  • Mount Vesuvius erupted burying the city of Pompeii (79 AD)
  • The White House was burned (1814)
  • Windows 95 was released
  • The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurred (1572)
  • The Bank Panic of 1857
  • Pete Rose was banned from baseball (1989)
  • Pluto lost its status as a planet (2006)

My birth is really just the cherry on top…..

I have a few updates on things I’ve written about before:

– I’ve been contacted by officials in Kiribati about my incident at the airport. I think they are genuinely apologetic about what happened. Given what happened on the ground, it was clearly one guy who was responsible for the whole affair. My incident just might spur them to make some changes so something like that doesn’t happen again. I think Kiribati needs all the tourism they can get.

I’d strongly suggest that Kiribati rethink their entire visa system. Given the realities of being a tiny country in the middle of the ocean, they should create an open visa policy. In other words, unless you are from a small list of countries they are concerned about, anyone can enter on a 14-30 day tourist visa. If you want to stay longer, work, or immigrate, you need special authorization.

Island nations have an advantage over larger nations in this respect. If someone enters are large country, the concern is that once they pass through immigration they can disappear into the country and never been heard from again. On an island, especially an atoll like Tarawa, disappearing is impossible. There is no where to go and outsiders will stick out like a sore thumb.

Also, the smaller the nation you are, the more difficult it will be to process visa applications. If they want the revenue stream that visas offer, just switch to an exit tax which is what most nations in the Pacific have. Or, they could do what PNG does and have a process for getting a tourist visa at the airport. If they just rethink what they need from their visa system, they can make changes that will encourage travel and probably reduce administrative costs for them.

– I think the Solomon Islands moon rock has gotten to the attention of people at NASA. I don’t know what will be done, but at least it has been brought to the attention of someone who can bring it to the attention of someone else. I believe the best spot for it would be somewhere in parliament building which was paid for by the United States in the early 1990s.

– I fly to Guam tomorrow and I hope to do a lot of SCUBA diving the next few weeks in Palau, Micronesia and the Marshalls. I haven’t been diving since Fiji when I got impetigo. I’m hoping to dive in Chuuk lagoon and the jellyfish lake in Palau at a minimum. I believe Palau will be one of the highlights of my trip. (One of my impetigo sores was at the base of my fingernail on the middle finger of my right hand. It cased the fingernail to sort of die, so over the last month or so I’ve had a weird nail growing under the former nail. I had a weird fingernail on top of a fingernail. Anyway….its finally all normal and doesn’t look like I have a mutant finger nail anymore.)

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Here is a list of my top experiences and disappointments of the first five months of my trip, in no particular order:

Best

  • Easter Island
  • Milford Sound
  • Queenstown, NZ
  • Blowholes of Savai’i, Samoa
  • Green Sand Beach, Hawaii
  • Rennell Island
  • Diving in Fiji
  • Noumea
  • People I met in the Yasawas

Disappointments

  • Getting denied entry to Kiribati
  • Not going to Bora Bora
  • Cost of everything in Tahiti
  • Skipping Tuvalu
  • Not spending another week in New Zealand
  • Only getting one hour in Nauru
  • Getting rained out on my flight to Tanna Island
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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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