Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Samoa

Samoa again

by on 8 May 2010, under Uncategorized

Just to quickly completely finish the chapter about Samoa, I want to mention three irrelevant and uninteresting points which I forgot to write about the first time around.

1) One of the reasons that I had an easy time deciding to go to Samoa was the fact that I would have to renew my visa anyway in order to stay here until July. Since I’m not officially studying at the university down here (I’m not paying any tuition fee this semester) I was not able to apply for a student visa. Also, since I’m not getting paid to write my thesis down here (besides the wonderful government grant (SU) everybody in Denmark gets for studying) I wouldn’t be able to apply for a working permit either. The easiest thing to do was to simply leave the country, return a week later and get three extra months as a tourist in New Zealand. This way I also avoided paying the about $200 it costs to apply for such a visa. This just made Samoa even more attractive. Even though I had been by the immigration office before I left, to get a confirmation that this would be a perfectly legit thing to do, I was still nervous when I came back to the airport in Auckland. There was NO problem entering the country though. They just smiled and let me in. And to think I have to be held back for an hour in Chicago, just because I want to visit my sister.

2) When you walk through the villages in Samoa all the locals (especially the children) screams “bye” after you. I don’t know if it is because they can’t tell the difference between “hi” and “bye” or if it is because they just want you to disappear as fast as possible which results in an immediate farewell.

3) In Samoa they drive on the left side of the road. They used to drive on the right side, right up until 7 September 2009 where they changed. The reason was that it is economically better to drive on the same side of the road as the majority of other countries in the area. A lot of people still drive around in cars with the driver sitting at the left. It is now illegal to sell spare parts to these kind of cars.

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They have arrows everywhere on the roads to remind people which side to drive on.

I do feel I had warned about the above points being uninteresting. I will therefore disclaim any responsibility for the boredom that might have originated from reading the above. I have also chosen not to write the quotations from my Samoa trip since I have concluded that it will be extremely uninteresting for the people who haven’t already heard about the stupid things especially Max chose to say during that week.

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Samoa

by on 4 May 2010, under Uncategorized

Normally I would probably start off with some nonsense like “it has been a while since I last wrote something on my blog but a lot has happened since then and now I think it is time for an update”. This would most likely be followed by some weird excuses for why it has taken such a long time, like “I have been busy with the discovery of muggle quidditch and air guitar”. But I won’t do that this time. Instead I will go directly to the essential part of this post: My Samoa trip.

A week was spent on Samoa. We were eight people on the trip: Øystein (Norwegian), Tor (Norwegian), Helle Kristine (Norwegian), Max (French), Jocelyn (French), Richard (English), Regina (German) – and then me, the only Dane. I have come to the conclusion that the trip is best described through photos.

Random guy ready for the ferry to arrive at Savai'i, the west island of Samoa.
The first day we took the ferry to Savai’i, the most western of Samoa’s two main islands.

Every night we slept in fales (huts) like these, right next to the beach
Each night we slept in fales (huts), placed on or just by the beach. Amazing experience. These fales are build without walls so you get cooled by the wind during the night. This was also needed with 30 degrees (Centigrade) day and night and about 80% humidity (except for when it was pouring down).

Sunrise the first morning in Samoa
Sun rise my first day in Samoa.

"Paradise in He(...)" - try guessing the name of the bus before going to the next picture. People tend to get it wrong.
We chose to continue by bus the second day. The bus was filled with locals who were all returning from the biggest town in Savai’i with their newly bought groceries which were spread all over the floor of the bus. They were extremely nice and friendly, squeezing even closer together to make room for us tourists. Try guessing the full name of the bus (people are often wrong).

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Jane’s Beach Fales where we stayed a couple of days provided some entertainment the first night. They postulated it was “traditional” Samoan dance. Here they are dancing to the sound of Grease Lightnin’ (also note the gigantic speakers in the background).

We went to church Sunday. Everybody seemed grateful that these Europeans had chosen to visit their church. Here two girls are posing at the entrance
People in Samoa are very religious. Every village (which can easily consist of just a couple of houses) has its own church. At some point we considered renting bikes to go around the island on a Sunday. We were warned that people on especially the northern part of Savai’i didn’t like to see people doing any kind of exercise, including biking (that I, as a Dane, see biking more as a means of transportation is something completely different) on a holy Sunday. Sunday morning we went to church to get insight into what the locals spend their Sundays on. They were extremely grateful that we had bothered to visit their church. They all thanked us after the service, which was partly held in English so we could understand it.

Tree growing inside the a church covered by lava about 100 years ago
To complete the Sunday we went to another church, this one of a somewhat different kind, though. It was overflown by lava about 100 years ago and is of course not used any more (except as a tourist attraction).

Me, not posing
The Lonely Planet book about the Pacific contains only about 20 pages about Samoa which probably says a bit about how few tourist attractions are actually located in the country. The Samoa experience is mostly about relaxing at beautiful beaches, perhaps with a bit of snorkeling. Which I am not going to complain about. The guide book does mention a few places worth visiting, though. One of them are these so-called “blowholes”, special rock formations which makes the water splash meters into the air when the waves hit against them.

Richard swimming around at the Afu Aau Waterfall
We also went to the Afu Aau Waterfall. Here Richard is seen swimming around.

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We spent a single night at “The Author’s Choice” from Lonely Planet from a couple of years ago, Virgin Cove. It was by far the most expensive place we stayed and seemed a bit too “touristy” and “protected” for my taste. Of course it did not help that it rained constantly the day we had there. I was rather productive, though, as the photo above proves. The day did not become a complete waste of time, after all.

Me and my new pet crab
From the most expensive place we could find in Samoa, we went to the cheapest one. In the village Tafatafa we stayed three days at some fales owned by a woman who had spent about 40 years in New Zealand but had now returned home to enjoy the relaxed Samoan lifestyle. She seemed extremely happy to have visitors from Europe – apparently, we were the first ones to visit from that part of the world. The place had been hit by the tsunami about seven months earlier and they were still rebuilding. Since tourism is a big part of the Samoan economy, the family had been promised money if they quickly rebuilt the facilities so they could keep attracting tourists. Seven months later they still had not seen any money from the government. Oh, and the photo is one of me and a crab.

Me enjoying coconut milk
Accommodation for three nights and eight meals ended up costing about 55 NZD per person. Not bad at all. Among other things we were served coconuts, as it can be seen on the photo above.

Me presenting Robert Louis Stevenson's house (the guy who wrote Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Richard, Øystein and I went past Robert Louis Stevenson’s house which is now a museum. Robert is probably best known for two books: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island. He spent the last five years of his life on Samoa.

To make it feel more like home, Robert had a fireplace installed. It was obviously never used (there wasn't even a chimney) since Samoa is way too hot
In order to feel more at home, Stevenson had a fireplace installed in the living room. Of course it was never used (there wasn’t even a chimney) since it is way too hot in Samoa to have any kind of fire lit inside.

Richard with his new battle axe
Before we went back to Auckland with the plane we visited a market in the capital Apia. Rhichard invested in a giant battle axe.

Me and colors
”Me and colors” – after a week without shaving.

I appologize for this very “fact”-based post (“then we did this and then we did that”) but I hope some of the nice photos can make up for it. As always, all my photos from my adventures in New Zealand (and now Samoa) can be seen at Flickr. I also have some quotes from the trip which I will probably put up at some point. I think they might only be funny if you know Max in particular – but I’ll still put them up. Also! I will tell you about quidditch soon (see, that is an excellent teaser).

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Irrelevant update

by on 9 April 2010, under New Zealand

As my previous post probably insinuated I don’t really travel around a lot at the moment to “experience New Zealand”, when I have time to sit and watch a one year old Danish standup-show on a Friday night. It is of course because I don’t feel I need to rush to see a lot of stuff this semester (I apologize for using “a lot” twice and “stuff” at all – they are such vague terms – but it is late and I really don’t want to spend too much time formulating proper sentences). I was pretty efficient last semester. Obviously that doesn’t mean that there aren’t numerous other places I still want to see before I leave, and that is definitely also the plan. However, sometimes it is nice to just have a relaxing weekend at “home” instead of going on a 22 km hike across mountains, jump from planes from 15000 ft and celebrate the end of the week by cutting your foot on a surf trip. My wallet agrees. Øystein, Tor, Laura and Stefani will know that this is not a description of a set of random events but I didn’t join them for that trip so I really don’t have anymore to say about that.

The above does of course not mean that I will spend my entire semester in Auckland. Tomorrow I will leave for Samoa, one of the islands in The Pacific. It is placed in the middle of nowhere and I assume it just lies there, looking gorgeous with its tropical climate and nice beaches. It will be fun, although we still don’t have any idea about what we are going to see or do on the island during the seven days we are there. I’m sure we will figure something out, though. I also plan to do a couple of hikes before too long; the hiking boots I invested in last semester needs to be used again soon.

Now that there doesn’t happen too much exciting stuff I feel is worth telling about on the blog I might as well explain a bit about the project which I have gone to New Zealand to write (hm, even when I translate it it is an extremely bad sentence). Unfortunately I have chosen to finish this blog post just minutes before I have to go to bed in order to be “ready” (if that’s possible after less than five hours of sleep) for the Samoa trip. The story about my project will therefore have to wait for another time. That’s twice in a row I have posted a blog post without any pictures. I will make up for it next time, I assume. Anticlimatic endings” tag achieved once again.

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