Wednesday, November 30
I have been back in Europe almost a week now, and it is fair to say that the happy-go-lucky me that left the Pacific no longer feels quite so sunny. It is grey, miserable, and Europe seems like a depressing place with the continent's economic woes seemingly impacting upon everybody.
I am trying to stay positive but the truth is I wish I was back in Fiji or Samoa. Hopefully, a weekend out with half a dozen of my mates will help me transition back to reality.
I've started adding links to all the blog text. This will enable readers to read more about the people, places and things mentioned in More Than a Game stories. Just click on the link and a new window will be opened with information about that topic.
I have also begun uploading dozens of photos. Many of these are now added to the Fiji pages. You can access previous pages by either clicking on the Archive months (you can find this on the right hand side of this page), or by clicking 'Previous', which you will find at the very bottom of this page on the left hand side.
Over the next few weeks I will continue to add photos, links, additional info about projects we like, as well as redeveloping the website.
With Michael, one of the biggest characters on my trip, still in New Zealand, I thought I would include this guest blog from him (which includes news of a bomb in NZ):
(Tuesday, November 29)
Wellington is pretty nice. By far the best city in New Zealand. Has some really good bars and cafes. But man what an eventful few days since you left. Find out I have job interview with yahoo for a six month contract to work on their client services team, spent some time with the occupy group in Auckland who are camping out against capitalism, and I get the train from Auckland to wellington:
is a really nice journey, amazing scenery, but just outside Hamilton, a girl in her 20's jumped in front of the train and killed herself! Was awful. Delayed for 3 hours while the police investigated and they had to clean all her body parts off the track. Could not get my head around how someone so young could do that, but then when I read about Gary Speed, was shocking sooooo sad.
Partying in Wellington is great fun some really decent bars and restaurants. Though on one of the main streets in wellington I witnessed a man blow up a car in the middle of pedestrianized road!
Nuts!!! One of the girls I know is dating a rugby player who is going to be an All Black one day, he was captain of the under 20 All Black team that won the under 20 world cup, he was actually one of the nicest and funniest people I met out in new Zealand. I stayed with the Irish girl I hooked up with during final weekend she is really awesome. took her to amazing restaurant last night supposed to be best in new Zealand, food was unreal! Had one of best four days in long time, funny how things happen like this. Anyway off to Sydney in few days’ time, if I get this job think I will stay as decent money I hope and also good company to work for and also means can take holidays to the South Pacific as well!!
How things with you back home ok, read your blog - decent journey home it seems. You join the mile high club?? Will let you know how job interview goes.
(Blog by Michael)
Please continue to check out the More Than A Game website in the three weeks leading up until Christmas. I will be uploading dozens of photos on to the Fiji and Samoa blog pages and writing my reflections on the past five months of travel and experiences.
I will also be making some big improvements to the functionality and content of the website...and will bring you news of More Than A Game's plans for 2012.
Many thanks to everybody who has taken time to read my blogs during the past weeks and months. I hope you will continue to follow More Than a Game during 2012.
Thursday, November 24 (Day 85)
Incheon, South Korea – Heathrow, London – Coventry Coach Station
Chimney smoke hangs lazily in the hazy early morning air, unable, because of the sub-zero cold, to escape to higher altitudes. From the tenth-floor window of my hotel I watch jumbo jets descend as they begin their final approach to Incheon international airport from the Yellow Sea. It is crazy to think that North Korea is less than 50 kilometres from here, and not far off shore the South Korean navy are in the midst of playing war games, one year on from the sinking of one of their vessels, allegedly by their northern neighbours.
Briefly, I take a coffee and stroll outside, leaving the warm, cosy confines of the Hyatt Regency. The freezing early morning air hits me with small daggers of pin point coldness. I always think that Korea has a touch of Russia about it. If you take the distinctly East Asian character of China and Japan, and then throw in the wintry grey of European Russia, you kind of have what I mean.
The Hyatt Regency Incheon Seoul gets my vote for the title of the world’s best breakfast. Hands down, I have never been anywhere that has served up such an extensive choice of quality breakfast food anywhere on this planet. There are a dozen different types of cereal and bread, and they even have four different kinds of milk. The décor and the service are also five-star. It was a good move getting up extra early this morning. Perusing the international press, I end up spending two hours in the breakfast room, trying everything from the mango yoghurt with pineapple and cashew nuts, to freshly made chocolate waffles with maple syrup. I reckon most of the weight I lost in the Pacific has just been put back on during my South Korean breakfast calorie fest.
We are an hour late taking off from Incheon thanks to the Chinese temporarily closing their international air space to incoming traffic. One in the air, our route takes us past Beijing, the Gobi desert, Ulan Bator, Lake Baikal and eastern Siberia. Down their below us everything is covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice. Fortunately, the flight is less than half full and I am able to get an entire row to myself to bed down, watch a couple more movies (the Welsh movie Submarine is hilarious), enjoy three more meals (that’s nine on the return leg from Auckland to London) and send myself off to sleep after half a dozen glasses of whisky.
As usually happens when flying long haul into London, my flight is forced to circle high above the capital for half an hour, before landing around an hour late. Two thousand metres down below, the M25 is completely stationary as far as the eye can see, as another 5 o’clock rush hour kicks in.
It is almost three hours later that I reach Victoria coach station after passport check queues (next week this could take 12 hours during the UK public sector strike), baggage control, walking miles through the strange downtrodden labyrinth of Heathrow, and then driving through central London traffic jams. National Express wants nearly 40 quid for a one-way coach journey to Coventry. Option B is Heathrow to Victoria for a fiver, and then Victoria to Coventry on Megabus for an absolutely ridiculous four pounds! With an hour to kill at Victoria coach station, a pint of Hobgoblin across the road at the local boozer costs the same amount of money as my two-hour coach trip. I have only been back in England for a couple of hours but I can see that this country now has both deflationary and inflationary prices kicking in.
If I meet another miserable, rude Polish person today I think I will scream. I would say that half of those working at Heathrow and at the aforementioned pub fit this description. Maybe you should go home if you don't like England.
In the Victoria station convenience shop a spot a very respectable looking middle-class English bloke 'chatting' to a sandwich. I will be back in a minute to buy you. Don't go away!
With jet lag kicking in, I doze off for most of the coach journey to Coventry. I left Samoa at 1pm on Monday and I am finally home at midnight on Thursday. It will be four nights in four different countries after being in Samoa on Monday, New Zealand on Tuesday, South Korea on Wednesday and finally England tonight. I can’t wait to give my mum a hug. There’s also huge relief when I discover that all of my family are safe and well. No time now for my reflections on the trip. I need to get myself to bed.
Wednesday, November 23 (Day 84)
Auckland, New Zealand – Seoul, South Korea
If you’d told me this time last year that on November 23, 2011 I’d be getting up from bed in an Auckland airport motel at 1am and driving to New Zealand’s main airport to meet a bloke called Michael, arriving on a flight from Tonga, I just wouldn’t have been able to work out how and why this would come to pass.
Back at the hostel we swap war stories about Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. Tonga sounds like it is very far removed from the modern world, with plenty of seemingly strange idiosyncrasies that make this Pacific kingdom just as special as Samoa when it comes to being ‘different’. Michael tells me he was evacuated from one remote island on a small speedboat after a hurricane warning was issued. I think that was the same storm that came through Samoa around a week ago. He is due to fly back to London on Friday but might change his flight and hang around to see if he can find a job in New Zealand. I’m laughing because a month of lying on beaches and having a silly amount of time to think has clearly left Michael with more questions than answers about what he wants to do and where he wants to be in life. We crash at around 4am and get three hours sleep before it’s time for me to head back to the airport.
Leg two of my journey back to Europe from the Pacific is a 12-hour flight from New Zealand to South Korea, which over-flies the east coast of Australia, the misty and mysterious mountains of Papua New Guinea and the vast open sea between the Philippines and Guam. It’s daylight all day and I don’t sleep a wink, but Korean Airlines is a quality airline. The stewardesses are absolutely charming and when it comes to politeness it is pretty difficult to beat the Koreans. The food is great, the drinks keep flowing and I manage to catch up with three movies that were released after I first left Europe for Argentina in June. Black Brown White (a road trip movie set in Morocco and Spain), and Wer Wenn Nicht Wir (a political drama set in 1970s Germany) are both well worth seeing.
I am spending the night in Incheon. My Korean Airlines ticket includes a complimentary stopover and hotel here tonight. After leaving South Korean customs and immigration and picking up my free hotel and meal vouchers I step out of the airport and into the open air. You’ve got to laugh. I’m wearing my beach flip flops, a T-shirt still caked in sand, three-quarter length jeans and the temperature is two degrees Celsius. I can’t tell you how cold 2C feels after weeks of it being 23-28 degrees at night in the Pacific. I spot a couple of Koreans, kitted out in long winter coats, scarves and gloves, pointing and giggling at me. You can hardly blame them.
I have to give a big shout to Korean Airlines. Basically, it is 24 hours of flying between New Zealand and London but instead of doing the journey in one long drag, with three or four hours between flights in Korea, I have a 20-hour stopover in Seoul. Not only does the airline provide complimentary dinner and breakfast during this lay-over, but they’ve also put me up at the 5-star Hyatt Regency Incheon.
I’ve got a gorgeous room with a huge double bed that I may well get lost in during the night. Time for my first hot bath in three months. Dinner is absolutely superb – a four-course buffet. I am extremely tired and struggling with jet lag but I’m going to try and stay awake so I can enjoy this luxury for a couple of hours.
Watching the huge LG TV from the comfort of my equally huge bed, I discover that the Occupy movement spread throughout the US and around the world during October and November. The press though are vilifying the movement as being a bunch of Trotskyite and Anarchist type individuals who just want to kick off with the police. They have no clear message apparently. It is convenient for the TV and newspaper morons to paint popular protest with this brush of one-dimensional negativity. Most of society is being depleted by the movement of capital from the bottom to the rich at the top. The capitalism model is clearly broken and democracy doesn’t really exist anymore. In my view the reason this movement looks like it doesn’t have a clear message is because, in some senses, it is not a group of people with one clear set of political ideals. Inequality and political nepotism are two of the many reasons ‘the 99 per cent’ are out on the streets. I think there is some similarity between ‘Occupy’ and Solidarnosc, the 1980s anti-Communism movement that helped topple the communist regime in Eastern Europe.
After sleeping on the ground for much of the past six weeks I’m almost inclined to leave the comfort of my huge bed and lie on the floor.
Tuesday, November 22 (Day 83 continued)
Auckland, New Zealand
It’s not looking good for me. I must apologise to my New Zealand friends for the following diatribe but if, after two hours back in New Zealand, I am finding this place infuriating, then what hope is there for me upon my return to the Un-united Kingdom? Immigration, customs, airport bio-security staff, and the Indian motel staff are all annoying the hell out of me. It is all rules, rules, rules and a thousand and one questions about where you have been, what you are doing and veiled attempts to extract cash out of you in the form of fines for inadvertently breaking New Zealand rules. One of the blokes at the bio-security unit threatens me with a 400 dollar fine for supposedly not declaring my tent. This after another bloke working for the same unit cleared me and told me I didn’t need to declare my tent (which I never managed to use on the tour and have been carrying around with me for 12 weeks!) The immigration officer, spotting on my new visa form that I am a journalist, tries to trick me into admitting I was working at the rugby world cup during my previous stay in NZ. He’s not going to have any joy with his mind games because I wasn’t working here, but being aware that he is pretending to be my mate and then trying to catch me out so I can be arrested for breaking visa rules is more than a little annoying.
At the motel I switch on the TV for the first time in weeks and the first thing I hear is that Iran is apparently a leading country for money laundering! I’m fuming at this shite. Iran?! Try Switzerland or the Cayman Islands perhaps. The news channels are quoting this crap like it’s bible, and just because the United States Secretary of Shite – the war mongering, bags-under-her-evil-eyes Hillary Clinton – claimed this yesterday in some US state department interview. Another war anybody? Want to kill a few hundred thousand Iranians?
The New Zealand news is so naff I can hardly believe it. It seems like a parody of itself. After being in Samoa and thinking that fine country was bonkers, now I’m back in NZ and am finding this country to be naff, clichéd, corporate and - when compared to the Pacific – relatively unfriendly. It is the NZ general election on Saturday and you should hear the rubbish they are spouting on national TV about the candidates. Latest stats, by the way, show that around 100 Kiwis are leaving New Zealand each and every day because of the economic crisis. Most of them, you won’t be surprised to hear, are setting off for the big bright lights of Sydney and Melbourne.
In other news, I hear that the Great Dictator has been ousted from power. Yes, Silvio Berlusconi has apparently resigned. The New Zealand press is also reporting that 133,000 foreign rugby fans attended the 2011 rugby world cup (around 40,000 more than original forecast numbers). 19,100 of these were from the UK and 11,100 from France. According to the NZ Herald, the tournament made 269 million dollars in ticket sales, with 81 million dollars of this coming from overseas visitors.
I’m cold, restless, in desperate need of alcohol, and irritated by pretty much everything around me. Like I said, apologies to my friends in NZ and the cool people I met during my seven weeks here. I had a fantastic time in New Zealand. It’s just that after spending the best part of six weeks in the Pacific, returning to a ‘western’ country is more than a bit of a disappointment and a head spin. This is the motel where I began this tour on September 4, and this is the place where I will spend my final night in the Southern Hemisphere. I want to go back to the Pacific islands.
I buy a bottle of wine and hide in my motel room. I must admit to shouting at the TV and mumbling to myself a lot.
Monday, November 21 (Day 83)
Apia, Samoa – Auckland, New Zealand
On my way to catch the 10am local bus to the airport a 50-something gentleman stops me in the street and asks me whether I have enjoyed my time in Samoa. Upon hearing that I have had a wonderful time here he thanks me for choosing to visit his country and asks me to pop in and see him for a cup of tea should I choose to return one day. This experience, on my way to leaving this country, tells you much about the people of Samoa. As I was when I had to leave Fiji, once again I am feeling gutted to be getting on a plane today.
My only compensation on the departing airport bus is the company of a very pretty Czech girl from Ostrava, who arrived in the country last night. I am the only punter that jumps off as we pass the airport. Passing the driver 2 tala, I wave goodbye to Pavlina and lug my dirty and battered rucksack across to Faleolo International Airport, where Tom and Dorothee are checking in for the same flight as me. All three of us agree that Samoa is a special place; a very special place.
Back 2 the future...Everything we gain we lose. When I flew to Samoa I gained an extra day in my life and now, as I leave, I lose one.
People born on December 30 will have no birthday this year in Samoa. Currently this country is the place where the world’s day ends. As of January 1st it will become the place where the world begins its day. They are moving the International Date Line in five weeks’ time.
On board this flight is one of the New Zealand All Blacks as well as members of the Samoan women’s national netball team (apparently one of the top teams in the world, ranked 13th). One of the ‘girls’ (who is a fa’afafine), is actually bigger than the resident world champion rugby international.
My Monday, November 21st 2011 lasts from when I get up at 7am until 1pm, when my flight departs this brilliant country. The moment we fly out west past the furthest craggy shores of Savaii, Monday instantly becomes Tuesday. And my unforgettable South Pacific adventure is over.
Sunday, November 20 (Day 82)
I might have got home by 1.30am but that still means I was out for 7 hours last night. The hangover isn’t pleasant in this humid little room with the fan churning my sweaty, smelly alcohol breath around and around and around. You spin me right round, baby, right round.
It is noon before I emerge from my bat cave. Outside, a German and an Austrian lad are enjoying a Pall Mall each on the veranda, peering out at the stormy clouds threatening to break the humidity. I really laugh when I discover that they have come all the way to Samoa to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup first round playoff between four of the world’s worst teams: The Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa. The winners of this four-team round robin are rewarded with a berth in the Oceania World Cup group. I seem to recall that American Samoa lost 36-0 to Australia some years ago, the biggest defeat in world cup history. Damn! This mini tournament starts the day after I leave. I am gutted. Watching the world’s worst football teams take each other on is like its own mini World Cup finals. Respect to David and his Austrian friend for coming all the way here to experience this highlight of the world football calendar.
(Update 28th November: Samoa have narrowly made it through to Round Two of Oceania qualifying for Brazil 2014 after a tight 1-0 win to deny close neighbours American Samoa. Tonga finished second, on goals scored, after they defeated the Cook Islands 2-1)
Sundays in Apia really are a write off. It’s like the majority of the world’s population has been wiped out by a killer virus (perhaps they have been) and there are only 50 of us left, aimlessly strolling around the capital city of Samoa along with several hundred dogs. There’s only one supermarket open and all that seems to stock is tinned corned beef, tinned tuna and a vast array of sugary biscuits.
I find myself singing Ghost Town by the Specials as I stroll up the peninsula, but abandon my walk after a couple of kilometres in fear of two mischievous-looking dogs that seem to be following me. Despite my Samoan dog fear, I haven’t experienced a single dodgy incident with the local hounds.
More aimless wandering takes me in the opposite direction to the wharf, where I watch the ferry slip lazily into port from American Samoa. Close to the wharf is the famous Aggie Grey’s. This is a delightful colonial hotel that has seen guests including the British Royal Family overnight. I hang around the cocktail bar for a quick Vailima, pretending to be rich enough to stay here and imagining former guests that include Marlon Brando drinking in this charming pastiche of yesteryear.
Back at the motel I meet the lovely Montse from Spain. She’s just arrived in Samoa and asks me to give her a few pointers about Savaii. Damn, I wish I was leaving for that island tomorrow with her instead of flying back to New Zealand. By the way, Robert Louis Stevenson, the man who wrote Treasure Island, chose to spend his last years on Upolu. I am starting to see what the attraction was.
Saturday, November 19 (Day 81)
Lalomanu – Apia, Samoa
Fact of the day: Pacific yellow-bellied sea snakes gather in swarms at breeding season that have been observed up to 100 kilometres in length.
I don't want to leave. I don't want to leave...
My final night of sleeping in a beach fale is probably the most restless of all my time in Fiji in Samoa. I was always going to struggle, faced with an all-out night-time assault from the fear and my break-up demons, but the crying babies, howling packs of dogs and fruit bats feeding their young, don’t really help me too much either.
This is as far east as I go. When my bus departs here today I begin four days of travel heading in a south westerly and then a predominantly north westerly direction. From Apia it is 2890 kilometres to Auckland - I guess a similar distance as it is from London to Moscow. When you realise that Hawaii is another 3000 kilometres in the other direction, you start to appreciate just how vast the Pacific Ocean is.
Just as I’m leaving Taufua I discover that eight of the All Blacks – those All Black players with Samoan roots – will be here on Sunday. That would have been a rather apt way to finish my 2011 Rugby World Cup trip.
Perched on boxes of ripened cooking bananas and bread fruit, Christmas carol reggae tunes a-playing, I begin my two-hour bus journey back to Apia, bumping into my German friends, Dorothee and Tom, as they jump on a couple of kilometres up the road. The journey takes us through the stunning interior of Upolu, with virgin rainforest, misty rivers and vertical soaring mountains. In our tradition we say that the mountain over there used to be a man before he turned into rock. Do you think that might be possible? My new rugby-mad 15-year-old Samoan friend asks me, pointing out at the strangely shaped distant set of mountains. Yes, why not? I think anything is possible. Maybe it isn’t true but there’s a good chance that it might really be correct.
As we reach Apia I spot my second game of kirikiti since I have been in Samoa. Basically, this is a unique version of the game of cricket that is only played in Samoa. I wish I could film this game because it really does look like a Monty Python sketch making fun of the sport of cricket. I mean, they have three stumps but they are twice as big and twice as wide as in the game we are all familiar with. Instead of wearing all whites, the Samoans are playing in multi-coloured sarongs, and seem to be jumping up and down singing and shouting as the bowler races in to bowl. The ‘cricket bat’ appears to be much larger than we might expect and, if I am not mistaken, it looks from the window of my passing bus like it is made of plastic, not willow. A couple of the fielders also appear to be holding cricket bats out on the boundary line. The ball also seems exceedingly bouncy. Very, very bizarre stuff. Deserving of further investigation when I get back to England next week.
I am not quite up to 5pm clubbing, so a sweaty afternoon lie low, during a thunderstorm, takes me through till the crazy time of 6.30pm. I always look forward to taxi drives here. My young afable Samoan driver purchased the taxi we are in with the cash he managed to save from picking apples in New Zealand for seven months. Now he lives back in Samoa so he can help support his extended family on Upolu. Fa’a-Samoa – the Samoan way of life, takes precedence over everything in this country of 180,000. Practically every day I hear stories of how Samoans have returned home from abroad just so they can look after their parents, cousins and grandparents. These people are driven by family values and concerns for their loved ones, not by the selfish individual greed of that thing we call capitalism.
Y-Not Bar is packed out and, fortunately for me, it is happy hour for another 60 minutes. At just 5 tala (1.3 pounds) for a rum&coke, the hour is indeed happy. Peering out at the monsoon rain flooding Apia’s streets, Samuel comes over and introduces himself:
I can see you are alone my friend so I thought I’d come and join you.
Samuel is the assistant commissioner of the Samoan national fire service. He’s a lovely bloke, aged around 30 I guess, and as well as keeping me company until my German friends arrive, he also buys me a double rum & coke before leaving to see his father. I’ve experienced this kind of behaviour from Samoans throughout my time here. They will come over to you, introduce themselves, buy you a drink, thank you for choosing to holiday in their country and then offer their help should you have any problems during the remainder of your stay. Each and every one of them seems to value their family above any personal desires for wealth and status. You really have got to love the Samoans.
The party might not be as bonkers as it was on my first night on Samoa but it is still pretty barking. Like a scene straight out of Twin Peaks, I glance around the corner of one door to see if the dimly-lit men’s toilet cubicle is free, only for a Chinese dwarf to walk out under the arm I’m using to balance up against the wall. There are girls wearing midsummer’s eve garlands in their hair – something I’ve only ever seen in the Baltic States - and the Samoan fa’afafine (those blokes who dress up like girls but are still boys) are out in big numbers, giggling and smiling a lot. An evening of clubbing in Apia is fun, silly and bizarre in ways that are difficult to explain unless you experience it for yourself…which you should one day if you get the chance. The sign which reads: No smoking till 10pm, sums it all up.
With my German friends down and out by 11pm and off home in a taxi, I nip down the road to V-Bar (the place where I spent much of my first ‘crazy’ night in Apia, two weeks ago) to buy some food. The club is still kicking and I’ve made instant friends with the campest bunch of lads I have met in my entire life. Spotting me glancing at a passing high-heeled Samoan girl one of the lads asks me: Darling, you sure you aren’t checking out the guy and not the girl? No, the girl lads. That’s a shame sweetie. I get introduced to many of the best known personalities in the local Samoan gay scene as well as to a couple of their (apparently) jealous boyfriends. They are good value company this lot. I can even deal with one of the lads telling me I look sexy tonight. I sense though, after finishing my chips, the club kicking out, and one of the lads inviting me to a private party, that it is time for me to get myself a taxi home.
As ever, finding and stopping a cab is as easy as buying a pint of milk. My driver tells me he plays rugby to a high standard in New Zealand but he has come home because his grannie wants him to be nearer to her in her latter years. These people are lovely.
Friday, November 18 (Day 80)
It is all rather predictable. There is only one cloud in the entire sky and that is the dark grey cloud known as the fear. Tomorrow I begin my journey west, and my concerns and anxieties about returning to Europe consume me from the very first moment I awaken.
Jessica, Linda, Ingri and I hire a taxi and set off for the To Sua Ocean trench. This wonderful place is home to a huge sunken waterhole where you can swim in pools of salty sea water that are fed by the open sea. The only way visitors can access the waterhole is if they descend a 25-metre vertical ladder to the hidden grotto below. To say this is dangerous is an understatement. It certainly wouldn’t be allowed in most western countries. If you were to fall descending this ladder, there’s a good chance that would be the end of you. Woos of the day is me. I feel very under the weather today, my knee is playing up and I have a shocking migraine. I peer down from above the ladder into the crystal clear waterhole below and, with my fear of heights combined with the way I feel today, I just don’t trust myself to climb down without potentially having an accident. While the girls enjoy the watery delights of the sea trench, I take photos for them and indulge the stunning coastal vistas from the immaculate gardens set on sea cliffs above this stretch of the South Pacific Ocean. Close by, at a series of blowholes, there is still evidence of 2009 tsunami damage, with some sections of coastline littered with fallen trees and the large boulders that washed up here.
Once back at Taufua, I spend the rest of my day lying around like a lemon. I just don’t feel good today.
As I watch my final South Pacific Ocean sunset I feel like shedding a tear or two, knowing that this chapter of my life is closing. Beer in hand, Cemeteries of London by Coldplay, playing on Taufua’s beach bar speakers, I don’t want the sun to dip below the western horizon, and the night to chase away the day. I have felt so happy and cut off from many of the anxieties of everyday life since I first came to the Pacific in October. I wish I could go home and see my family and then return straight back here for another couple of months.
Next door, I join Linda, Ingri, Jessica and a lad from the Czech Republic (who, aged 30, speaks less Russian than me) to watch my final Samoan Fiafia. To be honest, this one puts me in mind of Russ Abbott. There is even one tune that has a touch of Agadoo about it. Tonight’s fire show on the beach is class, and the slap dancing bizarre as ever and well worth seeing. The rest of the evening’s entertainment smacks of 1980s east coast of England holiday camps. I guess I might expect Samoa to serve up this unusual combo.