This is part of the fourteenth section of our around
the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Vanuatu
12/8/08 After a four hour layover in Nadi we arrived in
Apia, Samoa at 2am and after a long day it was still the 12th as we had crossed
the international date line going backwards, so we get to have the day again.
Phoned for accommodation from the airport and found a cheap place for the
few hours we had left of the night and slept late. Expecting to be spending
a bit of time in our hotel room for the next week waiting for the motorcycle
and writing the book we moved to an air-conditioned hotel, a little above
budget but great value compared to the last few countries. On checking
with the local Air New Zealand office we discovered they still fly directly
to Tonga from Samoa. Their web page didn't show this sector so we had booked
with Polynesian Airlines via New Zealand, an expensive mistake. Bought a
temporary local driving license, a formality, a revenue raiser, just a piece
of paper. Checked out onward shipping, a couple of hundred dollars to Tonga,
quite reasonable, cheapest sector for a long time, and sitting around the
hotel pool, by early evening, and after a little red wine, we crashed early,
a long two days in one.
13/8/08 I know the banks are doing it tough around the world but I
don't feel like paying for their mistakes. When we started travelling we received
the mid rate for electronic currency exchange and had no currency exchange
charges on our credit card or debit card. Then the card companies introduced
a conversion fee, between one and two percent of the transaction. And recently
we have been charged that fee and are now receiving the normal, across the
counter bank currency exchange rate, not the inter bank rate we used to receive,
plus an international ATM charge. Perhaps it is just my Commonwealth Bank
in Australia that is doing
this but they tell me it is the international Cirrus and Maestro Networks,
a virtual monopoly on international electronic money exchange. It has become
so expensive to use their ATM's overseas because of this bad exchange rate
and fees that carrying cash and travellers cheques and changing locally has
become cheaper than using an ATM. A great step backwards for international
travel. Whether this poor electronic exchange rate is just in the islands,
I doubt, or more wide spread I guess we will see when we get to New Zealand,
but we changed Australian cash at a local money change place today and received
a 10% better rate than on our debit card.
14/8/08 Visited the shipping agent, again a different port procedure.
Goods are delivered to the port but inspected at bonded warehouses, one for
each shipping agent and as our import agent is different from the outbound
one it would have meant moving the crate. Generously the import agent will
allow us to clear the goods and have them sent directly to the onward shipping
agent saving this freight. Mr Richard, at Customs, offered to assist us with
customs clearance which can't be done until the motorcycle arrives, and with
an onward quote of $US 200.00 for Tonga, we
had achieved as much paperwork as possible. In the evening we sat on the
waterfront and watched the training of futasi (long canoe) crews for the
up coming Teuila festival. About forty paddlers, a drummer or whistle blower
to set the pace, paddle out nearing sunset for the practice.
15/8/08 Robert Louis Stevenson lived his last four years at Villa
Vailima, a lovely home he built overlooking Apia. He died there in 1894, having
long suffered from tuberculosis. During the last four years though he wrote
thirteen more novels, making over 40 in his short life. The villa fell into
disrepair until an American philanthropist leased the property and restored
it to open on the 100th anniversary of Stevenson's death. Stevenson is buried,
on his request, atop a hill a steep walk from the Villa. We visited the impressive
museum and building and walked to the grave for its views.
16/8/08 Apia is a quiet city, strung out along the bay and our accommodation
allows for evening strolls along the foreshores. We have been moving up in
our liking of countries, Vanuatu better than Solomons, and now Samoa
better than Vanuatu. The people here are a little more reserved, a little
less English spoken, but the place is tidy, easy to move around and the shops
have what we need. Purchased a new battery for the motorcycle, the old one
dying between shipping, not holding its charge. Also purchased a turn signal,
the left rear one broke off in PNG and we thought we might need one to get
into American Samoa, as we have booked on the local ferry which goes weekly.
Just on dusk the Bali Hai ship arrived, and started unloading, so we hope
our motorcycle was part of its discharged cargo.
17/8/08 Sunday morning and quiet. The Bali Hai has sailed, but we
won't be able to get to see the motorcycle till tomorrow, Monday. The streets
remained empty till evening, barely a shop open. We walked for a few kilometres
from one end of the sea wall at the port to the other, midday, hoping to find
a drink, a soft drink, no luck but a lovely walk in the sea breeze.
18/8/08 Paid the motorcycle's port fees, a cursory quarantine and
the helpful customs officers completed the release documents but it all moved
at island time.
The 8.30 start time easily extends to 9.30 before anyone is comfortably
awake enough for business and things progressed steadily but relaxed. BBE
shipping company agreed to store the crate for us for the motorcycle's three
week stay, and carted it to their warehouse where we unpacked the motorcycle,
installed the new battery, and a little after 1pm rode it into its 191st country.
A ride to town and repacking for living out of the motorcycle filled the
rest of the day. In the Solomons and Vanuatu we stayed almost entirely at
the one accommodation but in Samoa there are three easy islands, including
American Samoa to visit, and reasonable distances, well at least for the Pacific
islands, so we will be accommodation hopping.
19/8/08 Ready to find a beach and be away from Apia we headed east,
the road following the coast for much of the time. The first thing we were
surprised at was the extensive use of tropical plants in the locals gardens
and the effort they go to maintaining a pleasant living area. Each family
has a fale, an open building, meeting place, where they sit in the evenings,
or sleep in a cool breeze. The island is made of volcanic rock, pretty young
it has lava flows and large rocks rather than soil most places making growing
food difficult other than the high rainfall and high fertility. We stopped
at a group of tourist fale, small semi open beachfront shacks, for lunch,
some were a little crammed into the small beach area, and most were full
with travellers, from a lot of countries but Australian and New Zealanders
were in the majority. Travelling along the south east coast we found a more
relaxed, better spaced bunch of fale, for the night. With dinner and breakfast
usually included in the price, and a bar to sit and chat in the evening,
a great atmosphere.
20/8/08 A morning snorkel, nice semi local breakfast, fruits, coconut,
and toast, a short ride to look at a few more beachside locations had the
morning disappear, and by the time the siesta, and an evening swim had passed,
along with a bit of sunbaking the day was gone. Most of the island doesn't
have white sand beaches, just pockets, as the volcanic rock reaches down
to the coast, occasionally revealing an interesting coastline, blowholes,
arches, but a fringing coral reef has built up around most of the coast with
a shallow lagoon for safe, although shallow, swimming.
21/8/08 Said goodbye to the fale on the beach and rode back to Apia. The boat to American Samoa leaves at midnight, but we had to undo the motorcycle's import paperwork for export during working hours. Customs was easy and incredibly helpful again, but quarantine wanted to spray the motorcycle and used an industrial strength concrete water blaster, and while I was away from the motorcycle, they blasted off large amounts of the stickers, destroying many that we have collected over the years, removed paint from the licence plate and damaged one of the speakers. Obviously we weren't happy particularly as the topside of the motorcycle, the area they damaged, was already clean, while they had left a lot of dirt on the underneath side, an area their machine would have caused little damage. Following complaints to the lady in charge we also wrote a letter to the Minister for Agriculture, seeking compensation for the lack of care they had taken. The whole process took all afternoon with the motorcycle being loaded at 5pm, but we had to wait till 10pm before boarding time.
Move with us to American Samoa
or go to our next visit to Samoa
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,