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krisek Lalomanu - A travel report by Krys
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Lalomanu,  Samoa - flag Samoa
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krisek's travel reports

South Pacific Extravaganza. Samoa. \'Upolu.

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Dogs, shirtless guys, churches and houses without walls. That was my first impression of \'Upolu. Samoa was a bit strange. It changed the side of traffic from right to left and moved the International Date Line eastwards to be on the same side as Australia.


Lalomanu beach
Lalomanu beach
Alternatively known as Western Samoa, the independent state of Samoa, is a collection of small islands in the middle of South Pacific, just east of the 180 degrees. Yet, in 2011, Samoa pushed the International Date Line east of the ‘Upolu island, which means it has since been on the same side of the date line as New Zealand and Australia, leaving the American Samoa on the other side. This created an interesting phenomenon. While there is 9am on Monday morning in Apia, Samoa’s capital, it is 9am on Sunday morning in Pago Pago, the American Samoa’s capital, just few miles aways.

Samoa figured that there had more business to do with New Zealand and Australia rather than with American Samoa and the USA. Hence the change of the date.

A couple of years earlier, in 2009, Samoa switched from driving on the right to driving on the left. This was to facilitate an import of cheaper motor vehicles from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. However, there are still many cars on the islands with the steering wheel on the wrong side, as there was no garage to make the switch.

My flight to Apia left on time. Just like the flight from Tongatapu, this was Air Pacific's B737-800. Having travelled a bit already on hundreds of aircraft, it was the very first time that I was on B737 equipped with two large rafts attached to the cabin's ceiling. The containers were located between rows 26 and 30. I did not know that commercial jets like this had such equipment available. Aircraft on which I previously flew had detachable rafts attached to emergency exits at the doors.

Favourite spots:
Faofao Beach
Faofao Beach
I liked to relax on my private terrace overlooking ‘Upolu’s loveliest beach - the Lalomanu beach. It was badly damaged during 2009 tsunami, so I thought it was a good idea to stay there and support the local community. 42 people from Lalomanu died in that tsunami and many families subsequently moved up the mountain, and re-built their homes there. Apparently, the first wave that hit did not cause that much damage. It however bounce off the giant wall of the mountain only about 50 yards from the shore, and met with the second wave. They collided right in the middle of the main road and with a combined force, which distributed itself if many directions, demolished people homes and caused death. The Lalomanians had no warning whatsoever. I heard reports that people saw the ocean withdrawing dramatically exposing the coral reef. And the giant wave followed soon after. People did not have enough time to climb the mountain.

What's really great:
Fales at the beach
Fales at the beach
Many houses on my route across the island seemed not to have any walls. Just columns like the ancient Greek temples. So, one could see what was inside them, all the furniture, beds and people going about their business there. They might have been churches or meeting halls, yet people inside them looked too comfortable on the couches and armchairs. I later found out that they were in fact people’s homes. They called them open houses and if they were near a beach, they called them ‘fale’.

Some of the fales, right on the beach, were being rented to travellers and visitors for up to 100 tala a night. WST (Samoa tala) is the local currency trading at WST1 = GBP0.27 or EUR0.34 or USD0.44.

Sights:
Sopoanga Waterfall
Sopoanga Waterfall
In the early afternoon, it was time to explore the southern tip of ‘Upolu. I walked all the way from Lalomanu to Salepanga. It was about 9km and it was hot! In Salepanga I just took a taxi and I went to see the Sopoaga waterfall. I am not into waterfalls this much, but this one was rather nice. It was a single fall, dropping amongst impossibly lush foliage. The viewpoint, right by the main road, was perfect. The local botanic garden that was there charged 5 tala for the privilege to see the waterfall. A local person would normally be there to collect the fee, but otherwise there was an honesty box, where people could deposit the money.

Lalomanu had no other sights, apart from an ocean trench, amongst very attractive grounds (charging 15 tala for a privilege to see it and swim in it). The capital of Samoa, Apia, on the northern coast of 'Upolu had some sights, which included the parliament, a few German colonial houses, churches and very large Chinese-built administrative buildings.

Accommodations:
Litia Sini Beach
Litia Sini Beach
I stayed at Litia Sini Beach for 180 tala (£49) a night, which included buffet breakfast and dinner. Not bad, although it had a potential to be much better. The fale, a small hut, was very basic. It had a fan on the ceiling, a bed with a mosquito net, a small coffee table and nothing else. There was enough room for a shower cabin and a toilet, but management preferred the guests to take a hike to communal showers and toilets. They were not too bad, but not terribly clean or comfortable. The main quality of the place was its location and the fact that the beachfront fales had terraces overlooking the ocean.
One thing I did not like about the place was the fact that they overcharged for airport transfers. A private taxi cost 150 tala, but the hotel charged 220 tala! That was not cool at all.

Nightlife:
Samoan night at the Taufua
Samoan night at the Taufua
The Taufua Bar & Restaurant in Lalomanu was the only nightlife venue in the vicinity. And it was great. Its staff and the villagers put a great show in the evening, performing traditional dancing and dancing with fire, which was rather elaborate and risky. I saw burnt arms of one of the guys. The great thing about the show was its authenticity. These were not trained dancers, actors, performers. But simple villagers, who had their regular jobs, but who enjoyed dancing and playing, and if that meant a few extra bucks in their pockets at the end of the day, then why not? I noticed a small local boy sitting on the stairs of the Taufua terrace as the guys danced away, and this little chap knew every single move! I knew then that these dances and moves were real. Taufua had friendly staff, who served ice-cold beers (7 tala) and a selection of decent spirits (20 tala). The venue had a dozen of very basic fales on the beach as well, which they rented out to travellers and visitors.

Hangouts:
A new cafe in Apia
A new cafe in Apia
Fales at the beach were the perfect hangouts in Lalomanu and on the entire 'Upolu island, although Apia, the capital, had also a few waterfront drinking holes, which also served the purpose of hanging out. The great thing about the beachfront fales that they were used by the locals more than by the tourists. It was the Samoan way of life. They were the best spots to meet the locals and hang out with them. Mainly in the evening at sunset, but also during lunch breaks. I met a group of guys, who were building a house near the beach on a very hot day. They took several breaks in the shade of the fales catching the soothing ocean breeze.

Restaurants:
A Samoan guy
A Samoan guy
The Taufua Bar & Restaurant was the only other option to eat in Lalomanu. I did not eat out there, since the room rate at Litia Sini, where I was staying, included meals (and that is typicaly how they do it in Samoa, I heard), but I saw them putting out the buffet dinner for their guests there, and the food looked great. There was a proper menu as well, so one could simply drop by at any time of day and order. The list featured fish and chicken, mainly.

A few miles west from Lalomanu, Faofao Beach Restaurant also had a restaurant, attached to a group of fales, so one could try their food, too. In fact, Faofao was a bit cheaper than the places in Lalomanu proper.

Between the Lalomanu beach and the Faofao beach, a resort was being built, slightly more upscale, so they will have a restaurant as well. I heard that they planned to open the doors in early 2013.

Other recommendations:
An ocean trench
An ocean trench
'Upolu had two airports. An international one, called Faleolo, a few miles west of Apia and a small domestic one, in Apia's eastern suburbs. Both were served by rather infrequent flights, although the small domestic one had 'international' flights to the American Samoa. Daily.

If you want to take a taxi to take you to the southern coast, full of beaches and places to stay, then pay attention. Since Samoa changed the side of the road they are driving, many vehicles still had the steering wheel on the wrong side. There was no garage on 'Upolu that could handle the shift of the wheel to the right hand side, so the situation was unlikely to change quickly. And since the lanes and roads on the island were not very wide, it was much safer to be steering the vehicle by sitting on the correct side.

Published on Monday November 26th, 2012


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Fri, Feb 01 2013 - 05:56 PM rating by bootlegga

Interesting photos and report, thanks!

Tue, Dec 11 2012 - 03:46 AM rating by shervin19

Thank you my friend for your activity in the Globo, many of the members forget Globo sapiens. My friend same as before your report is perfect and useful!!

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