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3 days in the Kingdom of Tonga (part 2)

24 May 2011

Staff

We drove around the island and stopped a few times at the main attractions which included stalactic caves, beautiful beaches, Kolovai - a town where flying foxes, bats that have a face that looks like a fox, hang out in trees during the day, Ha'amonga with its trilithon and the blow holes on the south West Coast. The blow holes are amazing. After a few minutes down a dirt road off the main road you witness 100 blow holes in row and they stretch for quite a distance along the coast, and, it's beautiful!

We went back to town that night to experience the Magical Circus of Samoa which was in town - it's the only circus in the Pacific and it's been around for 28 years travelling between the islands. The entrance was only TOP10 (NZ$7) and it was amazing, I felt like a little kid again watching such a variety of acts. No animals, only humans doing amazing things from juggling to trampolining, trapeze, some magic and more. It lasted close to 3 hours in total with an intermission. Well worth it, I would recommend it to anyone!

On our last day we debated between going to Fafa Island Resort for the day, where there is a transfer at 11am which brings you back at 430pm, or going to Nuku'Alofa and exploring the capital a bit more. We opted for the latter, so we walked to the main road and got on a local bus! We flagged the bus, got on and got off when we needed and you pay at the end. It was TOP2 (NZ$1.40) per person. The bus was pretty crowded, but we were lucky enough to get a seat. In town we visited the Talamahu Market, full of fruits and handicrafts, and walked around town. There are a lot of beautiful churches. Tongans are very religious and on Sundays nothing is open except for a few Chinese takeaways! They also have beautiful cemeteries with colourful decorations on the tombs. We had lunch in a Tongan restaurant with the locals who all looked very surprised that we enjoyed their typical food! Boiled cassava and taro are part of every meal with some fish fried or fresh, BBQ chicken as well as lu pulu, corned beef and taro leaves mixed with coconut milk, all are part of the traditional Tongan food. We walked some more around town and then walked back towards the resort and caught a bus back soon after.

One last swim at sunset with the blowholes, it was paradisiac! We had dinner at the resort which was very good, had some more 'Ota Ika and Mahi Mahi fish cooked with coconut milk. Later on we got a ride to the airport via town to pick up a guest who had gone to the Circus. We were on island time, check in closes about 1 hour and 30 minutes before the flight and we just made it, but since we had Premium Boarding there was no line when we got there and we were checked in within minutes! The waiting area in the airport is very basic. There is a little cafe, a few duty free shops and that's about it. Then it was back to New Zealand!

I had a great time in Tonga. I would go back to do some snorkelling and visit the other islands like Eua, very close to Tongatapu, and the Vavau group which is supposed to be quite amazing. Everybody seemed disappointed that we weren't going up there! Also, next time if I go back to Tonga I'll make sure to include a Sunday to witness Tongans singing in churches! It's supposed to be quite something. We also missed out on the Tongan Pyramids on the main island.

I would recommend Tonga to anyone who really wants to slow down and relax. Don't expect anything flash or over the top. It's slowly adapting to the tourists and it feels very rugged and untouched. Accommodation, if not at the Resorts on the outer islands, is very basic but nice, and the Tongans are very friendly!

'Alu a (Goodbye)

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