Travel Into Tonga on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Tonga on a Harley (17/9/08 - 6/10/08)
Distance 207 km (509728 km to 509935 km)

This is part of the fourteenth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from Samoa
 
18/9/08 With most of the 17th disappearing over the date line we touched down in Tonga mid morning, having transited via New Zealand. Walking in Tonga, for me, it is the last of the world's countries to visit, as I had already visited New Zealand a few times, but for the motorcycle, whose trip we say this is, it still has to be ridden in Tonga and New Zealand before it can claim to be the first vehicle to have be ridden in every country of the world. With little sleep overnight we had a slow afternoon walking around the capital of Nuku'alofa, a small city of about 20,000 people, less modern than Samoa, poorer and with older vehicles, but with pleasant local produce and craft markets. 

19/9/08 Another day of logistics. Customs generously waived any import bond or requirements and pre approved the motorcycle's temporary import. Quarantine, without seeing the motorcycleBlowholes along the limestone coast accepted Samoa's certificate of cleanliness and we paid the port fees so providing the motorcycle arrives on Friday the 26th before 4pm when the port closes for the weekend, we should get to ride it for the weekend and have it shipped out on Monday the 29th, but it is still a big if. Luckily we found there are two boats out to NZ, one on the Monday and another one on the Friday so if we miss the first there is a good chance for the second one, but as we are meeting people in NZ any delay will be inconvenient.

20/9/08 Toni's is a cheap, comfortable accommodation place located in the suburbs but with regular shuttle minibuses to town, and is a convenient place for us to wait for the motorcycle, with other travellers passing through. We joined an enlightening and humorous island tour with five others, visiting royal tombs dating back to the 13th century, the landing spot of Captain Cook, beaches, blowholes, and the trilithon, a Pacific version of England's Stonehenge, although much smaller in complexity. An interesting day encompassing what the small island offers in one tour. The evening was spent with a similar number of people over Toni's kava bowl, lasting well into the night with the relaxed conversation thatToni and Liliosa preparing the kava for drinking drug provides.

21/9/08 A slow start to the day. The kava doesn't actually give a headache but we had a slow thick head, and had a slow thick day, perfect for a Sunday as little happens here, apart from church. The Mormons are making a large impact, having seen over a dozen modern new temples (church complexes) yesterday, it feels like, and we were advised as such, it is their aim to have Tonga the first Mormon country of the world. The Saturday worshippers here (Seventh Day Adventists), for whatever reason, don't recognize the international date line, choosing the official Sunday as their Saturday? Everything, even taxi's, are closed, but resorts are still functioning, and benefit from other closures, tourism obviously the greater power. We didn't leave our comfortable accommodation. A house with three rooms, only ours and one other occupied, we share the kitchen, lounge, gardens and cool veranda. 

22-24/9/08 We had spent a couple of days not leaving our accommodation house, book writing, but ventured out on the 24th back into town to buyPlastic flowers and beer botles decorate cemeteries some more food and check on boats. Luckily the arriving boat is scheduled to dock on Friday morning at 9am, so assuming it is on time we will have the motorcycle cleared and will be riding by that afternoon, and for the weekend. We also managed to arrange onward shipping, and do the paperwork for export, leaving on Monday, but at this stage we don't know what time that ship will arrive, but if it arrives Sunday night, they will start loading after midnight so we will need to have the motorcycle down at the wharf at that time to crate it, and place it in a container with vegetables heading for New Zealand, but we are hoping it will arrive during daylight hours.  

25-26/9/08 It is always great to see the expected boat at the wharf and just two hours later, after the smoothest of unloadings and unpackings, we were riding the motorcycle in Tonga the 192nd and second last country in the world, just leaving New Zealand to have ridden it in every country. The wharf, port and customs staff all assisted with the smooth unloading. It looks like we will have three days to ride about the small island before onshipping to New Zealand. Taking the opportunity of having wheels we frequented the local Friday evening party scene but we took an earlyThe now regular airport photo retirement, a privilege of age. 

27/9/08 Tonga, like a few other Pacific Island nations has had recent unrest and less than two years ago rioters and looters burnt out much of the city, killing a number of people and  leaving just concrete slabs where buildings used to stand. The city was cordoned off for a couple of months while things cooled down and many businesses had to move out to surrounding suburbs. The Kingdom of Tonga is ruled by royal decree, but will soon be slowly handed over to democracy according to the latest King, recently crowned, meaning the island is likely to undergo significant change in its culture and government. Having the motorcycle at our disposal we rode half the tour we had previously taken in the car, an airport photo to add to the collection, tombs of past kings, and the trilithon, plus an oil change to get ready for real riding in New Zealand.

28/9/08 Our plans to ride the other half of the island were severely drowned out by rain, all day, so another day was spent at our house accommodation, the loss of one of our only three days with the motorcycle. LuckilyAncient monument, the Trilathon we had word that the ship taking the motorcycle to NZ is a day late so we will have the motorcycle until Monday afternoon, making it easier, paperwork wise and crating. 

29/9/08 A sunny morning so we headed out to see the other half of the island early, past the important tourist sites of the "only coconut tree in the world that has forked," and not just once, but twice, wow! Back for a second look at the blowholes, a pretty impressive line of 100 small to large holes in the limestone that erupt as the Pacific Ocean swell rolls in. By the time we had returned to wash the motorcycle, New Zealand has a frightening reputation for quarantine, and dirt can result in needing fumigation at great expense, it had again started to rain, and by the time we were back in town, after riding a couple of dirt roads, road spray and coral dust, the motorcycle was again covered in loose dirt and required a pressure hose clean. In wet weather, the task of keeping every grain of dirt off the motorcycle, and still getting it to the crating area proved impossible, still the tyres were wiped down along with under the mudguards. Back in its crate, it should have been placed in a container by late afternoon with the ship arriving early evening and sailing for New ZealandCoastal scenery in the middle of the night.

30/9/08 Back at the shipping office we collected the Bill of Lading, the ship had sailed early morning, and should be in Auckland on the 9th October. Spent the rest of the day milling around town, planning a bit on the internet.

1-6/10/08 We have been meeting a surprising number of travellers passing through the hostel. Mostly Europeans on around the world airline tickets or students doing an overseas semester in New Zealand, and Tonga is their Pacific Island destination, and most are a little disappointed by the lack of beaches and tropical feel of the place on the main island, and the expense of getting to the other islands. A cheaper flight destination than Samoa is the attraction but what is saved on the flight can easily be eaten up in extra transport on arrival. We ended up feeling like house mum and dad by the time we left, being the ones firmly cemented in the house, knowing the workings and quirkiness of working the television, stove and hot water, and were pleased to have this last respite before a more hectic pace in New Zealand. Still the days started to drag out and the TV movies had all been seen before, the book writing became tiresome all before we left on the 11pm flight.             
 
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