Welcome to my personal travel journal! If you don't know me, that's OK! I hope you'll enjoy reading about some of my adventures and misadventures, and hopefully learn something new about a corner of the world.

Recent updates:
2015-10-06: Day 8 of Niue in 2011.
2015-10-05: Day 7 of Niue in 2011.
2015-09-29: Day 6 of Niue in 2011.

For list of trips, see TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I didn't take a photo of the back, but this is a copy of the map of Alofi I found online. Since I relied of these two maps quite a bit for the week, it triggers very fond memories when I look at these maps.
Here's my trusty map for a week - it definitely had the best info of any of the other maps I've seen - I guess Niue is just a bit out of the way and not very well covered by a lot of the other resources. I added a few interesting annotations to the map as I learned more about Niue, such as "Tapu in centre, beyond ancient wall" to Huvalu Forest.
On the flight back, I was amused to see Shortland Street and Rugby listed as "genres" in the Air New Zealand entertainment system. Arriving back in Auckland, I grabbed a quick dinner at Mentatz Ramen, which I'm a fan of, and went over to Logan's apartment. He was quite startled when he came back and I was in his apartment, since he apparently forget I was coming back that day and I didn't have my phone to contact him with. What a nice guy for having me stay with him for a while.
I thought it was cute that as you left the holding pen to board the plane, a few people from the tourist agency were there to see you off. They hand you a brochure with a farewell message, a few coupons, and a area where with a few signatures.
There was a gate and a propeller as a sculpture at the airport.
The outdoor holding pen for departing passengers. I chatted with a few people who I've become familiar with seeing them around the island for the past week. There was also some music, and the musicians/dancers set up to welcome the incoming flight.
Eventually, we were ushered outside as the indoor area was converted to a pre-customs arrival lounge. We had a surprisingly long wait here, and the plane just suddenly materialized silently out of nowhere as it landed.
The airport was pretty relaxed. Made it through security and to the waiting area pretty easily. Apparently next week is going to be busier in Niue, with 220 arrivals and only 160 departures on this weekly flight.
At 12:30pm, with one last look at the ocean, it was time to head to the airport :(
I spent the rest of the morning reading over the Lonely Planet book about Singapore/Malaysia/Brunei from 2001 on the bookshelf. Soon, there was a big bustle of cars and general excitement in the streets. Today happens to be the day the monthly cargo ship docks, and the weekly flight arrives, so the entire island nation is in a frenzy of activity.
I also enjoyed the view of the ocean at the Crazy Uga. I also wrote and sent a postcard to my parents. Apparently Alexa did not make the 10am cutoff for when the mail on this island nation is collected for the week.
Thought I'd grab a hearty breakfast at the Crazy Uga Café to nurse away the hangover and to commemorate the completion of my visit to Niue, and thus the South Pacific. I ate leisurely and sat around recording my thoughts in my journal.
View of the backpackers from a bit north on the road towards downtown. It's in a great location and has a great setting.
I thought I'd drop in one last time to the tourism office and police station to see if anyone found my phone, but no luck. Oh well, it was a cheap phone, and I guess I'm leaving NZ anyway so probably won't need my NZ SIM card that much.
I woke up and and realized I completely forgot about the morning market - I wanted to see Ed(?), who apparently sells magnets - I like getting my parents a postcard and a magnet everywhere I go. Oh well, probably for the better, since I stayed up so late drinking last night. I picked up a postcard-like magnet at the tourism office instead. The commercial centre had an amusing recycling bin I though I'd take a photo of.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A picture of the Niue Yacht Club below the hostel (with bonus cat). They don't own any yatchs, but have lots of visiting members. Even Lucy the dog is a member and has her own member card. I am really going to miss the warm and carefree people here. I think this is one of the few places in the world I will absolutely try to return to some day.
We also made the poumere seeds we collected earlier. They tasted a bit like peanuts, and had the texture of popcorn kernels. Ira mentioned that huhu grubs taste like peanut better. We ended up chatting and drinking until 1am, while Alexa stayed up until 3. I know I'm going to miss this very special place and the people here already. I was feeling a bit sick near the end of the night - people sure do drink a lot in Niue.
Coming back to the hostel, Alexa and I squared the car expenses - she asked for more than I thought, but I thought I'd pay it since I wasn't sure if there was a misunderstanding and I wanted to support her anyway. I always feel welcome coming back to the hostel, as Brian immediately called me to join him for some drinks when he saw me returning, but I decided to take a shower first. Coming out of the shower, I was treated to beautiful singing coming from next door and this wonderful sunset view. Brian and Jim were happily drinking on the deck. What a great life. Alexa told me a great story about how Brian was supposed to drive some backpackers to the airport, but got drunk enough to fall down the steps, much to the dismay of the backpackers, but Alexa was there to drive them instead.
For reference, here is the inferior Palm brand corned beef that is also everywhere in the South Pacific. I took photos of the cans back at the hostel since I was getting sentimental about leaving the South Pacific in the next few days :( I ended up not needing the corned beef as Ira made us some delicious dinner from some leftovers, consisting of taro, real corned beef, and various other delicious South Pacific foods.
On the way back, we stopped at the well-known Israel Mart, where a man with a heavy Israeli accent serves up ice cream. Depending on his supply, he also has fresh and freshly-smoked fish sporadically. He said that he was making up a batch of honey-lime smoked fish for tomorrow, but had no fish today, so I picked up a can of Pacific brand corned beef -widely recognized as the superior brand. I was disappointed my can was made in Australia ..."to New Zealand recipe."
Our last stop of the day is Tamakautoga, where we went for a swim. The sand was rough, and there was not much to snorkel around, but I did see a bunch of small fish swimming around and a well-camouflaged flounder that had taken up the purple-pink spotty pattern of the rocks. It was surprisingly hard to see when it was not moving. Sadly, it left when I went to get my camera. Apparently Ira and Alexa found skinny-dippers here one time.
Driving north, we passed by one of the various churches on large tranquil lawns. During mass, one can hear singing coming out of the churches and see people in dresses.
There was a clear view of Tepa Point, which is tapu. Avatele is just to the north of the point, past the left edge of the photo.
The steps were constructed quite curiously - the top part actually overhangs the bottom part, which made it quite a tight squeeze without railings.
On the way back, we stopped at a sign that said Pofitu, which Alexa also has not been to. A short trail led to a secluded cove with a beach.
The trail going up a natural slope in the cliffs that ring the island.
More interesting rock formations covered in plants.
Look at all of these rock spires! I can imagine how getting lost in these would be bad.
A close-up view of the foliage, rock formations, and lush cliffs in the background.
Starting back up the trail. You can see how if follows a natural part and slope in the cliffs.
I can't get enough of looking at these weird rock formations.
You can see the Togo Chasm nestled in the surroundings in this video, and where the trail leads back to the main road down the eastern coast.
The trail wraps around this landscape following natural ridges and valleys. That's a section of the trail below. My foot's in the photo to give it at least a bit of scale.
One last view of this crazy landscape. Everything about it is interesting and unusual.
Thought I'd get a quick photo with this crazy landscape. I don't really like that photo, but oh, well.
Another slightly different view of the chasm. Again, sorry for the repetitive photos, but I think this place is unusual enough to deserve it.
View of the chasm tucked in to the surrounding landscape.
Time to leave the chasm. One last view of this memorable place from the top of the ladder.
View of the rock cliffs around the sunken Togo Chasm.
It was pretty exhilarating watching the waves churn and flood the cave while surrounded by the amplified roaring and booming of the ocean.
Once in a while, a particularly large wave would break and the entire cave mouth would look like it's filled with the incoming torrent. This reminded me of the Earthquake ride at Universal studios, including how quickly the water seems to die down.
I got a bit more comfortable after watching the waves for a while. Even on larger breaks, the wall of water settles down surprisingly quickly is is reaches the cave. I felt that as long as we didn't slip off the rock into the churning water, we should be safe.
It was also a bit intimidating, since you can't see when the waves are going to hit, only as they break. I'm hoping there aren't any freak waves that flood the cave.
Watching the dynamic churning waters outside the cave was pretty hypnotic.
Watching the waves crash just outside the cave was quite intimidating, especially when the sounds are amplified by the cave. Particularly large waves would force the water through an opening in the rock just to the right of us in a way that causes a deep-sounding boom like cannon fire.
Another quick video so you can see the layout of the cave. There was water dripping from the cave ceiling - water seems to drip in caves everywhere in Niue, and the sounds of the ocean were amplified to a deafening roar inside the cave.
Soon, we reached the opposite opening of the cave, which is directly across from the small sea arches we saw the waves breaking over just before entering the chasm.
Coming back near the ladder, there is a small cave to the right (facing the ladder). Soft ocean sounds can be heard through it. Entering the cave, we had to wade across a few pools and climb from rock to rock. There were occasional openings overhead letting light in. As we went deeper, the sounds of the ocean became louder and sharper.
The back of the chasm tapers off in a narrow line of palm trees, palm tree debris, and a stagnant pool.
After clambering over some very sharp coral rocks, we were at the "back" of the oasis-like part of the chasm. There were a few weird slimy things on the rocks - they looked kind of like crushed slugs, but I could not identify what they were. Maybe some kind of slime mould? For orientation, note the access ladder visible in this photo.
Another not particularly good video, but help you get a sense of where everything in the chasm is. It's so calm in here, with the ocean softly audible in the background.
Looking back at the ladder, the only access point to the chasm. What a hidden paradise. I wonder how the palm trees even got here.
Exploring the chasm.
Alexa making her way down the ladder.
Finally, it's time to go into the chasm. Access to this little oasis is by a tall wood ladder.
Here is a quick video to give you an idea of the sounds and surroundings. Not a particularly good video, but might help with orienting yourself with respect to the photos. The trail is visible at the beginning of the video.
After each wave break, the mini-waterfalls from the rocks was pretty to watch.