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Wojciech's Travel log

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You can lose everything, but nobody will take away what you saw and what you experienced...

Log entries 1 - 10 of 2142 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Jan 20, 2019 12:00 AM Holy Sunday on Haapai

Each Sunday is holy on Haapai and the rest of Tonga. No flights, no ferries, shops and other busineses are closed. Since 5 am the bells and drums of different churches are ringing and drumming, calling to pray.
Even if you do.not pray it is worth to go and to listen how nicely they are singing...
As a first I visited Free Welseyan Church of Tonga. People came in traditional toavala skirts. Also ladies. The service was 1,5 h long and beleve me I was not bored...
Then I was in the old and poor Free Tonga Church to see the big Polynesian drum they use instead of the bell. Less people here but yhe ladies in the fancy hats.
AT 5 pm the were the mass in the catholic church also with a powerful singing. I had a nice talk with the father and local people after the mass. We also took souvenir pictures. Well, tomorrow I am leving Haapai going to another remote island - Eua. Keep the fingers crossed for the good weather, please! :)

Jan 19, 2019 12:00 AM Birthday party on Haapai

As on other little islands in the Pacific the shops belong to the Chineese. -No bread today! Nobody knows why... One shop, second one... the third one was hardware shop and maybe that's why I found there a loaf. Passing by the way the only open air restaurant I saw that they decorate it in blue... -What is going on? We will celebrate the birthday. You are invited! At 5 pm! Wow, this lady made me happy and excited...
I spent most of ths day exploring the East coast of Lifuka island. After heavy rain in the night the roads were muddy, but I managed to reach the coral rocky coast offering nice views and little blowholes. There are also lonely little cemeteries on that coast - why they do not grave the people around churches?
By excident I saw also well hidden His Majesty Prison.
I returned home in the afternoon to take the shower and to went to the restaurant. Can you imagine all noblemen of the island in one place: 11 heads of different churches, principal of the police and more... Finally I also saw a person, who was celebrating the birthday: 1 year old boy! It is local behaviour to make huge celebration for the 1st birthday of every child. No more...
There were music, dancing, buffet dinner with cassava, raw fish and more. A lot of speaches, wishes and birthday cake. But I enjoyed most the traditional dances performed by one professional lady and by local kids. Just great!

Jan 18, 2019 12:00 AM Did you hear about Fakakakai?

Haapai group consists of 62 islands - big and small - only 17 of tjem are inhabited, only 4 largest islands has elactricity...
Today I wanted to visit one of this a/c free islands - Haano. Not easy if you travel on a budget. I found out that inhabitants of Haapao are coming for shopping with their own launches to the little jetty in the village of Faleloa on Foa island. I went there walking/hitchhiking in the morning. Nobody was on the jetty near the huge, shaddy tree... Only wandering pigs... -Be patient! After an hour waiting 7 people arrived with goods and a little launch. They took me for free! It is very important to be open to the people in such a situations.
The ocean was not rough. We la ded in Fakakakai - one of tje 4 villages on Haano. Soon I started a walk to the other villages. There is only one gravel road without any traffic. Nice little houses surrounded by bananas and flowers... The owner of the tiny shop where I was buying water offered me for free more than a kilo of sweet bananas. In the Pukotala village they have beautifuly decorated church of Tonga. In Haano village the men invited me to drink with them kava. It was 1.30 pm when I reached a little beach on the northern tip of the island. The return was harder due to the heat. 1 km before Fakakakai I experience d short tropical storm, but long enough to became completely wet. :)
One more kava sip with the men sitting at the beach and I was already sailing back. This ride was only for me so I paid 60 TOP... Honest price, I think. Rain again when we were sailing the ocean. Uff.. I am already in my guesthouse making laundry and resting. What a day!

Jan 17, 2019 12:00 AM Walking to the end of Foa Island

From island to island on Haapai Archipelago you can travel by rented motorboat, but this is expensive way - friendly Tongans treat foreigners like a milking cow... One hour sail on a junk boat can cost you 100 USD.
But Lifuka and Foa are so close yhat they build a causeway - like a bridge o coral rocks to connect two islands.
I decided to walk today to the other end of Foa. Before tue causeway I made a detour to the monument erected where Tongans attacked ship Port au Prince on the wild beach. Then I passed the causeway and few villeges on Foa with their churches. The most picturesqud part of the caast is at the dead end of thd island. Two lodges are there: "Sandy beach" for the rich - 208 euro per a/ c chalet and Matafonua - 100 paanga per room with mosquito net but shared bath. A?l meals extra.
The views to the next - Nukunamo island are great and you can swim there through the passage at low tide... It is 14 kms each way from Pangai to this paradise, but it is worth the effort!

Jan 16, 2019 12:00 AM Here I am: Lifuka island - Haapai Archpelago -Tonga

After 7 hours sailing on the rough, dark blue ocean I disembarked yesterday on Lifuka Island. The daytime journey gaveme opportunity to enjoy the variety of many li?tle islands and reefs passed by.
Lifuka has an interesting story: Abel Tasman and Cpt Cook were here, then the mutiny on the "Bounty" took place just in front of the island. Than the Tongans catch and burned the ship "Port au Prince" killing all crew except 15 years old Will Mariner, who lived with them 4 years before return to Europe.
HOT, HOT, HOT... Palms, papayas and tropical flowers around. Poor internet - I cannot upload pictures... One German traveller and me... and 3000 smiling locals...
Welcome to the tropical paradise!

Jan 14, 2019 12:00 AM To the Kingdom of Tonga...

To the Kingdom of Tonga... It is 6 am local time and I am waiting in the Nadi airport to be taken to the Nukualofa - the capital of the last kingdom in the Pacific. I was there already in 1999. Now I want to explore the most remote group of the Tongan islands - Haapai.
The plan is to go directly from the airport to the port expecting that there will by a boat today going that direction. But who knows? I am also not sure about the internet access on the remote islands. So it sounds like the big adventure awaits there. Please keep your fingers crossed!
Later: landed in Nukualofa! An American expat from the same plane gave me a lift to the port - 22 kms- no public transport!
No ship to Haapai today! The next will sail tomorrow at 6.00 am. I already have a ticket -with negociated senior discount 25%. I paid 90 TOP one way.
Tongatapu Island is flat, full of palms and flowers.. I will stay overnight in Lose Lodge for 60 TOP in the room with fan and shared bath. So far nobody knows where is the king.... :)

Jan 13, 2019 12:00 AM Navala - what a scenery!

Navala - what a scenery! I am still on Viti Levu island - on Fiji. In the north of the island, in the mountains they have preserved old-style village with traditional bures - thatched houses. They have a church, the school and are happy to show how to prepare and how to drink kava. Tourist agencies offer tours to Navala charging 275 FJD per person.
The budget traveller can make it on a cheap: I took the public bus from Nadi to Lautoka (2,75) then next one to Ba (3,00) Then.... Ouuuu.... It is Sunday. Nobody told me that on Sundays public buses from Ba to Navala located 28 kms inland do not operate... But near the bus station in Ba the pick-up drivers are waiting to take you there (fot much higher price). Only first 5 kms od the road is paved, then it is bumpy gravel. check the tyres if you go there by rented car). The scenery is extra ordinaire!! Imagine black, volcanic mountains covere party by luch green... With my crazy driver it took me only 40 min to the point where you will see the thatched roofs of Navala on the other side of the river with picturesque mountains in the background. Then we crossed the river and I experienced big surprise. The village is fenced. Just because they charge 25 FJD entry fee and 10 for obligatory guide. I wanted to talk to the chief of the village to ask for discount. aThey took me to such a bure. -Mr chief, I spend too much money for the pick-up to pay you full entry fee! No mercy! But the place is really great!

Jan 12, 2019 12:00 AM Walking in the warm rain -Fiji

Walking in the warm rain -Fiji They are returning smiles, they greet you -Bula! But they are like a big kids: local lady in the tourist info desk in Nadi airport told me that it is 4 kms to the central Nadi. It was raining in the morning (it is very warm rain here) so I decided to walk anyway... The public bus cost only 1 local dollar, but I like to stop every corner, to meet the people, to take a pictures of tropical flowers...
OK, but it was much more then 4 kms - probably around 7 kms so I was completely wet when I reached Nadi (locals pronounce "nandi") downtown. Huge, covered market is the main attraction for the tourists - you will find there tropical vegetables, fruits, flowers but also the stalls where they sell dry roots of kava - used to prepare national drink - a kind of the soft drug... In the dark corners the groups of men are sitting and dinking. I tried kava in the past - it is tasteless so for me it is hard to understand why they like it... Nadi changed a lot since my first visit 30 years ago. I saw today many new buildings, supermarkets and elegant luxury shops... A loaf of bread costs 2,60 FJD, 1 l of coke - 3.80. Many local gent' s still wear sulu skirts :)
To get back to the airport area where I live I took the bus. They just introduced magnetic cards to pay the fare. But where to buy the card worth 5 dollars if you will travel just for 1? After welcoming -Bula! The smiling driver of the junk bus became very friendly and tolerant - I handed him one dollar and went to the back of the bus. Now the sun in shining in the late afternoon. My wet clothes are drying on the string and I do hope that there will be dry weather tomorrow on Fiji. Bula!

Jan 11, 2019 12:00 AM Fiji - 12 hours ahead of Gdansk

Fiji - 12 hours ahead of Gdansk At the beginning of my long flight I was talking with the chief steward showing him the ticket of my cancelled flight and complaining. And... - he upgraded me to the business class! So I was flying in the unknown comfort...
It was 8.20 local time (12 hours ahead of Poland) when we landed in Nadi - the only Fijian airport big enough to receive such a big planes. First time I have been here in 1989, during my first round the world voyage. Last time in 2007. Not many changes.... Two guys were singing for us the welcome songs in the arrival hall. -Bula! Hello!
They installed in the customs area big screening machines - all luggage is screened! That's because they do not want you to bring any food to their paradise. But there was a crowd and I went through widhout any hassle. Welcome to Fiji. Money changers pay 1,99 Fiji dollar for one USD. Hot and very, very humid outside!
It was 30 minutes wallk from the airport to Westfield where I booked basic room with fan at the little pension. The price is rather high - 30 USD per night with breakfast included, but this is the Pacific!
Finally, after 4 flights I can take a shower and rest!

Jan 10, 2019 12:00 AM Flying to the Pacific

Flying to the Pacific My chair in Singapore airport was comfortable, but I did not sleep much - Asian around were talking, kids were crying... At least I had a chance to stretch the legs and use wi-fi. To get wifi password for 3 hours connection you have to have local mobile phone or to go to info desk of a kiosk to scan your passport... Works good!
At 3 am the herd of the police checked all people sleeping in the lounges - they woked me up asking for passport and boarding pass for the next flight....
Today in the morning I shaved myself to feel more comfortable and took carpeted corridors to the sky train - they changed my gate to C1 in T1.
It will be 4 hours flight to Hongkong...
And here I am - with the boarding pass for the next 10-hours flight to Fiji. What a marathon - never in my life I was flying so far without the stopover!

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