A Travellerspoint blog

Here we come Alberta...cold weather and snow

overcast 28 °C

Today we are playing the waiting game. Last day and fly day! We leave Tonga tonight at 9:00 (today is Wednesday) and stop in Samoa where it will be 10:00 (Tuesday). Today we lose 24 hours just like that! That international date line is something, isn't it? We will arrive back in Calgary at 8:00 p.m. on tuesday.

So consequently, I have nothing new and exciting to report except that we have enjoyed our short stay at the Heilala Resort and have met some wonderful interesting people here. The staff and ownership has been more than accommodating and I would recommend this resort to anyone.

I would like to thank all my faithful readers who have enjoyed or tolerated my bloggings!! I can see that quite a few people have been checking my blog out and I appreciate that some people were interested in our adventure to visit our worldly son and explore the land down under.

See all of ya soon!

Posted by Bada Bing 17:53 Archived in Tonga Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

A tour of Tonga

rain 25 °C
View Australia March 2009 on Bada Bing's travel map.

March 29

Where do I start? Perhaps at the beginning of the day, I guess! Yesterday was our day trip around the island. Our lodge owner arranged it and all we had to do was jump in the van. Was great to find something to do on a Sunday in Tonga because Sunday is a holy day and everything closes, no one does anything except go to church which could be several times a day (according to Tony, our tour guide) cause usually there is food involved with church and Tongans love food!

We toured with a group of people from our lodge and a neighboring lodge. Little did we realize until striking up a conversation with a couple that she was from Canada, living in New Zealand with her Kiwi boyfriend. Not only was she from Canada, she was from Red Deer! Her father is from New Zealand and the family moved to Canada many years ago. It's a small world!

Our tour guide, Tony was a cantankerous old British hippy! He seemed to know his stuff although who knows what is folklore and what is bs! I snapped a pic of him having a swim...he just dropped his pants and floated in his underwear.

The roads in Tonga are somewhat paved although are much in need of some patching and so we had a pretty spine tinkling ride throughout the day. Initially we thought we had a flat tire and then we realized that it was just Tony's audio system. He had a microphone which he talked into and when he wasn't talking, he just laid it on the dash and therefore we were broadcast all the bumps on the roads.

We started off with a view of the two headed coconut tree which he claimed was the only one in the world...well, perhaps Tonga.

We stopped at a viewpoint where someone (perhaps an explorer) came ashore..nothing too spectacular. Soon, it was lunchtime and we went to another resort on the island where we could swim in the lagoon (cemented off area of calm water from the shoreline) or go in the ocean. Obviously, none of us were too keen to go into the seaweedy water so we sat around the restaurant and chatted with one another. We found that we had some very interesting people staying at our lodge, an grey, long haired, long bearded marine biologist who makes his home somewhere near Sicily; a widowed, retired asparagus researcher, born in Holland and migrated to New Zealand, who has a daughter in South Africa and a son in New Zealand;a 50ish German woman who is travelling the world for a year solo; two British young girls (30ish) who are in their last year of medicine and will be doctors soon; an American couple who really didn't mix with our group. It only took 2 hours to prepare fish and chips for 10 people and they came out of the kitchen 2 at a time, approximately 20 minutes apart. The fish was great but the fries tasted a day old and were cold. I overheard Tony complaining to the young waiter that the preparation time was totally unacceptable and that he needed to pass the complaint along to the appropriate people. Can you believe that we found somewhere slower than Mexico? Good thing that we found interesting conversation!

After our 2 hour lunch, we continued with the tour. Over to the blowholes, there were amazing, it is where the under carriage of the rocks has been eroded way and when the waves hit it, the water with air compresses and blows up through the crevices in the rocks. A giant "whew" with a fountain to go with it.


Then it was on to the underground cave created by the ocean waves. After walking through head high grass, we arrived at a specular view.

On past a graveyard where obviously this young lad had many friends and family and was well known. At this graveyard, the graves are decorated with bottles, but his had seashells and was the hugest in the yard. Unlike Samoans, Tongans do not bury their family in the front yard, here property is sometimes sold and who wants a piece of property with someone's great grandma buried in the front yard! Samoan houses are generally passed down through the generations while Tongans appear to be more nomads!

On to the Trilithon. What is a trilithon, well, here's the explanation (from Wikipedia): Constructed from three limestone slabs, and is about 5m high, 2m wide, 6m long. Ha'amonga 'a Maui was built at the beginning of the 13th century under the 11th Tuʻi Tonga Tuʻitātui (king strike the knee), most likely as a gateway to his royal compound Heketā. One can pass through the portal and walk the short distance towards the ʻesi maka faakinanga (stone to lean against), which served as the king's throne. Sitting with his back to that stone he was safe from assassins from behind and with his long stick he could hit every potential foe from the front on his knees.


In popular myths the Haʻamonga is believed to have been made by the demigod Maui, as the stones would be too huge for mortals to handle. The word haʻamonga means: a stick with loads on both ends, carried over the shoulder. Maui was supposed to have the stones obtained from ʻUvea (Wallis Island) and carried on to Tonga. In reality the stones are of coralrock, which structure matches that of old quarries along the neighbouring coasts.

That was your history lesson for today all my faithful readers!

At this stop, we got to enjoy the wild pig entertainment, watching a too fat pig squeeze himself through an entry that his friends had walked through. It was pretty funny actually! Pigs roam wild here and you have to watch for them on the roads or damage your vehicle!

Over to the Bay of the Fishing Pigs...huh! Sounded weird to us! This bay has wild pigs who live here. They apparently are eating the clams in the sand. Quite interesting.


On to the site of Captain Cook's Landing...another view point, not too exciting.

Arriving home we were in time for our preordered dinner. We have a choice of two meals, one usually fish (snapper or tuna) and usually a german dish. The owner is german and his mother is the cook. And she is one fantastic cook, we have homemade soup with every dinner, they are native soups and some of the tasty we have ever had.

The reason for this lengthy blog is that we awoke today, March 30th to light rain and cloud. We have been lucky with the weather cause this is the rainy season here and we have had two days of fantastic sun and humidity. We have nothing planned, other than book reading, internet surfing, a few cocktails and generally having a relaxing day before tomorrow....our planned return to the dreaded snow and cold!! Only joking, it is time to go home and we are now ready!

Posted by Bada Bing 07:44 Archived in Tonga Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Australian Zoo - Brisbane - Tonga

sunny 31 °C

March 26

Today was Zoo day! Up and at it early and naturally, the transfer bus was late. Didn’t matter, I was like a little kid and woke up early so that I wouldn’t miss the bus…lol Long bus ride out to the Zoo about 60 minutes. During the ride we had a very entertaining and informative bus driver. (Aren’t they all?) Actually, that was good because it could have been pretty boring without his ongoing dialogue about hints of what to do etc. and in what order.

The Zoo is on 23 acres and will be expanded to 100 in the future. They are currently working on the Asian section of it and have Tigers and Elephants presently.

We went to the croc show and watched the trainer feed the croc. Pretty wild stuff. There was also a bird show with parrots and cockatiels flying throughout the stadium. Unbelievable, those birds how low they would dive through the audience. The open air stadium holds 5000 people although weekdays and winter make it much slower than when the kids are out of school or when they have special things going on at the zoo.

We decided to take the bus driver’s advise and take a guided tour so that we wouldn’t miss a thing and would also have more information available to us than one can read on the signposts. It was well worth the money and besides the small fee charged goes today animal conservation projects etc.

Petting a koala

Petting a koala



Tigers In Asian compound

Tigers In Asian compound

The Irwins sculpture

The Irwins sculpture

March 27

Out of internet time so attempted to review and edit some of my pictures. On reviewing our pasts 3.5 weeks, this has been a wonderful vacation. It will be interesting to review my travellers blog when I return home cause it is amazing how many things we have done and how fast one forgets.

Today, we’re on a flight to Auckland and on to Tonga for our final 3 days. As some of you may be aware, Tonga had an eruption of a volcano in the ocean (actually on a small island which apparently now is much bigger). Hopefully, tomorrow we may see some of the steam that may still be rising out of the ocean!

A few musings about Australia:
We found Brisbane to be fairly British in the traveller’s at the hostel and the accents. I think the Aussie people were harder to understand here than in Melbourne.

Australians will turn their vehicles around in the middle of the street anywhere (do a U turn). Doesn’t matter about the traffic, they just do it. In Sydney, out front of our hotel, we watched two people going opposite directions both turn a U turn at the same time!

Some of their slang (just like ours, I guess) is downright funny. “taking the piss” is joking with someone. A Willie WagTail is a real bird..thanks to Rachel for that one! It is similar to a magpie but no long tail and much smaller.

Ring up my mobile….just like it says….phone my cell!

Signs I love: Way Out….Exit! Give Way….Yield!

March 28

We arrived in Tonga at 1:00 AM....humidity 100%, just finished raining. Slept like a log and awoke to knocking at the door. We missed our free breakfast and she wanted to know if we wanted the free tour of the small village that we are very close to. Took the short tour and were dropped off to make our way back.

The weather forecast was for rain....wrong...hot and humid, it is. You sweat just drinking a cocktail! It's all quite wonderful and a real pleasure. These fales are somewhat the same except that this resort has an above ground swimming pool (covered of course) and that will be our next move as soon as I finish my cocktail. Heilala Resort is like living in the rainforest with paths and fales cut into the landscape. It is very beautiful and last night we again heard the crickets and not the city noise!

Tomorrow we are taking the island tour and will discover all the hidden treasures of Tonga. The owners of the resort are very bilingual and very friendly and help the guests with anything our little heart desires. Prices are very good also.

Bay of Fishing Pigs

Bay of Fishing Pigs

Our fale

Our fale



Posted by Bada Bing 17:21 Archived in Tonga Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Up and down the river

sunny 30 °C

March 25

Had breakie at a nice outdoor (what isn’t outdoors here) restaurant and decided to stroll the windy river. Now that John has his north and south figured out, we were on the go. We actually didn’t go that far when we stopped to gaze at the busy river traffic. Brisbane River does at least 3 switch backs on its way through the city so car traffic is fairly heavy in the downtown areas.


After some research (asking the lady at the kiosk), we discovered that we could take the “City Cat” both up and down the river for $5.20 pp and that wasn’t the senior rate either. So off down the river we went, we hopped off at another stop, had some fresh calamari and beers and hopped back on to finish our trip of the river going up stream. It was interesting to get the view of the city from the river and to see what they are calling it BrisVegas. Hammerhead cranes and construction are everywhere. They are constructing at least 2 more bridges, one of which I helped hold up for them. See picture….lol


After our great river excursion, we retreated to our hostel for another drinkie and headed down to Chinatown for supper. Tonight we had Vietnamese rice noodles with spring rolls and BBQ beef. Very scrumptious. Tomorrow is the big day at the zoo so we didn’t do much in the evening except as usual….walk and walk. This backpacking is really shaping us up…well perhaps it would if we would quit eating all the time!!


I have inserted a construction picture for our construction friends from John. This giant backhoe was loading on the “tipper” but down in the hole was another backhoe lifting the dirt up to this pile. About 35 feet down (according to John)!

Posted by Bada Bing 13:59 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Up to warmer weather and sad partings

sunny 27 °C

March 24

Today was again moving day. We packed up and Dean and Rachel came over and we went for breakfast. Rachel left to go job hunting and Dean and us strolled the pier and wasted time just enjoying each other.

Too soon, it was time to leave and it never gets any easier letting go of the boy! He is pretty sure that he will come back to Canada for Christmas so at least it wouldn’t be quite as long before we meet again.

We flew to Brisvegas (as the Aussie’s call it because of its growth) and like Canada, you always have one state that doesn’t do Daylight Savings Time so we had to change our clocks back one hour.

This hostel is another one of great character. From the front, it looks like a small sunken little house but once down the path around the house, it is a hidden treasure….very English! It is about 110 feet in depth and a two storey. The owners have their own living quarters here and are very, very hospitable. We do not have an ensuite but the bathroom is next door and we are the only ones down here (our doors open to the blue sky up above). We have a little seating area down here and it is very private. Very hard to describe but maybe some pictures will help.


We are very close to Chinatown so last night after check-in, we ventured down (only had to stop 4 times for John to consult Orion as to our directions) and had wonderful Thai food. Dean would have been proud and enjoyed the food, I am sure!

Back at the hostel, we had a very interesting conversation with a young lad from Indiana who has his eyes very wide open with respect to his country and their politics.

So, after 12 hours, we are enjoying Brisbane, it is hotter than Melbourne and smaller population wise. And, as I speak, clothes are getting washed in preparation for Tonga which will come sooner than we realize.

Today will be a day of getting to know Brisbane and the wonderful winding river that runs through it.

Posted by Bada Bing 16:06 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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