To Tonga We Go!

IMG_9113Like a cheap prostitute, Suva didn’t look any better in the morning. I wanted to check out the city before heading to Tonga, though, so I wandered out into the rain. It’s a typical third-world city with beggars, thieves and rubbish everywhere. There’s a decent market in the main street, so I rolled along and grabbed some food. I’m not one to let a bout of explosive diarrhea turn me off a meal, so I picked up another couple of curry wraps and scoffed them while walking along the waterfront. It was actually pretty nice, looking over the harbour at the boats and the mountains behind them, with storm clouds rolling across. It would’ve been even better if sketchy Fijians weren’t following me around the whole time.

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Alright, who has meat pies?

My walk through Shitsville was a short one, and soon I was checking out of the hotel from hell (a man was pissing in the hallway outside my room when I did) and heading to the airport through a monumental downpour. You can shove those photos of sun-drenched Fijian beaches up your Jap’s eye as far as I’m concerned.

Suva’s airport is about as big as Kevin Rudd’s knob and just as popular with fat chicks, but soon I was strapping myself into a tiny, propeller-powered plane and getting the fuck out of the joint. Good riddance.

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A boat, some mountains, some water… I dunno, clouds? There are some building in the background. Got enough info?

The flight was fairly run-of-the-mill, except for the Indian sheila in front of me who was blasting her curry into a sick bag. She must’ve had the same stuff as me for dinner.

It was really quite incredible flying into Tonga. The place is so small that I could see the entire main island of Tongatupo as we dropped to the ground. I could pick out every town and feature I’d seen on maps. The country is incredibly flat, too – completely different to the other islands I’ve been to – and was almost entirely rural.

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What the hell, no rain?

The airport was basically one room, and once the other 10 or so people from my flight had pissed off, I was left alone. I was supposed to be flying straight to the volcanic island of ‘Eua for the night but, because of a scheduling change from the joke of an airline that is Real (Shit) Tonga, I was stuck on the main island for an extra night with no accommodation and a very persistent taxi driver trying to take me to his mate’s hotel. I thought that sounded as tempting as eating a battery, so I got him to take me to the place where I’d be spending the next two nights anyway – the Friendly Islander Hotel.

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The Saint Anthony of Padua church. Dunno who Anthony, but he sounds like a good bloke

The drive through Tonga was interesting. It’s not neat and beautifully landscaped like Samoa, the cars are rusted out and there aren’t many villages, just endless farms, with rubbish everywhere. I could barely pay attention to it, though, because my dickhead taxi driver wouldn’t shut his mouth.

“You like make dance? You like make fun?” he asked. “I best dancer in all of Tonga. Probably best in all of Pacific, except maybe man in Samoa named Gary, he very good dancer, maybe better. He has move where his foot goes behind head, he does little spin, like ballet person. I has girlfriend once who is ballet person. I no mean she wear ballet clothes all time, but she do the dance sometimes, when she not being lazy and lying around and no get job. I get job, I drive taxi, while she stay at home watching television and eating the lollies and getting fat. She keep saying, ‘My ballet clothes are shrinking’ and I say, ‘No, you just get fat! Stop eating lollies!’ But I must admit, these nice lollies. I not even like lollies, but I eat many of them, perhaps get a little fat, too. You think I fat? I run three kilometres every day. Well, not today, but most days. As long as not rain. It rain when my girlfriend leave me, so I not leave house to chase her. She move slowly, anyway, because so fat from lollies. Hey! Do you like Michael Jackson? My brother Sau not like Michael Jackson, he a idiot. Sau, I mean, not Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson have smooth moves and nice hair. One day I like to meet him and make dance. You like make dance? You like make fun?”

Bloody hell, save me!

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This is one of the most developed parts of Nuku’alofa. There’s a building in the background, see?

When we arrived in the capital of Nuku’alofa – which is basically one street with a few shops – we were swarmed by young people. It was weird, because while the rest of Tonga looked like something from the 60s, the throngs of kids looked like they were straight from the streets of western Sydney, wearing hoodies and with headphones wrapped around their ears. Again, totally different from Samoa.

“Children to day have no respect for me,” blabbered the driver. “Just this morning, young person stick tongue out as I drive by, and it reminded me of my girlfriend. She was horrible, when she not eating lollies, she is sticking her tongue out at me, calling me idiot, saying I stupid. I am not stupid! I am smart like coconut tree, strong like…” And then he ran us into a ditch. At that moment, I wouldn’t have minded if he drove us off a cliff.

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Watch out, it’s rush hour!

The Friendly Islander Hotel is a fair distance out of town, overlooking a little harbour. I liked it immediately, with a foyer full of Tongan artworks and artifacts. The owner, Papiloa – an elderly, sophisticated woman – handed me a key and one of the workers took me to my room, which is surprisingly big and has a nice view out over the garden. It was like stepping back in time, though, with old furniture and fittings. Still, it’s comfortable.

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See that seat? I sat on that!

The rest of the afternoon consisted of little more than lounging around by the pool, and a long walk along the waterfront, looking for something to eat. It wasn’t until I was out by myself that I realised just how quiet Tonga is, despite being only a few kilometres out of the capital. I noticed further differences between the locals and their Samoan counterparts, too. While everybody in Apia wanted to smile, wave and say hello, those in Nuku’alofa are more reserved and private. It took a bit of adjusting.

I found a bottle shop, and bought a couple of bags of chips from a roadside shop, and that was pretty much it for my first evening in the Kingdom of Tonga. Right now I’m sitting in my room, getting drunk and listening to music, writing and watching TV shows. It’s a quiet way to spend a night in one of the quietest countries on the planet.

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