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 2, 2011

I thought Alexa, Ira, and Brian were really cute together. They seemed very close, and was just like family. In fact, they treated me just like family too, and I felt very welcomed there. I definitely need to go back to visit them some day.
Brian. As you can probably tell, we've had a good number of drinks by this time. I heard a lot of hilarious stories about Brian and Ira from Alexa over the next few days. They are really good people I hope to meet again some day. Since Brian is a builder, I asked if he know Peter, a builder I chatted with in Samoa who mentioned Niue, and amazingly, Peter was at the backpackers working on their bathroom!
Ira and Alexa at dinner at Falala Fa restaurant. Alexa was a photographer who had stayed for a few months in Niue a couple of years ago and was introduced to Ira and Brian through their daughter. She had to leave Niue after having a serious bicycle accident, and is the first time she is back since then.
A nice cove by the backpackers. I had a long chat with Ira and Brian, who gave me very detailed info about what to do in Niue and plenty of drinks while I was there. Most stores were closed today, so I would have to wait until tomorrow to get my own drinks. The hostel itself was great - Ira and Brian lived downstairs, and the upstairs was a huge common room and kitchen with knick-knacks. The rooms themselves were clean and spacious, and amazingly, even though this was a hostel, Ira and Brian never put strangers in the same room, so the three parties staying for the week each had their own rooms! No wonder they book out so quickly, and the fact that she held a room because someone might have shown up made it even harder to get a room. I really appreciate them going beyond what's necessary in their focus on guests, treating everyone like family and friends.
The road in to Alofi. Walking by Niue Backpackers, Ira saw me and invited me in for a coconut to drink. Apparently, she was holding a room for a girl who inquired but didn't show up, so she invited me to stay with them. I wasn't sure if Jim would be happy about it, but she said it wouldn't be a problem as they were friends, so I agreed, but still was a bit uneasy. Turns out there was nothing to worry about! Brian, Ira's husband, drove me to the supermarket for supplies and then over to pick my stuff up and showed me to my room. They chatted about how Jim is always complaining he doesn't get any tourists, and when one shows up, he's not around to take care of them (in a good humoured way)! In any case, I was much happier staying in "downtown" Alofi.
My accommodations about a km south of Alofi. No one was around so Neal let me in. There were mosquitos around and some chickens in the back yard, and seemed a bit run down, but the facilities were pretty complete. I changes into something cooler and spent some time reading about Niue. No one showed up, so I decided to take a walk in to Alofi to see what's there.
As arranged in the e-mail, I looked for Neal from Kololi Resort, who then introduced me to Ira, the owner of Niue Backpacker's who helped me look for a place to stay over e-mail. Quite a few people received leis as they met up with people coming out of the airport. Since Jim from Niue Holiday Homes, where I was to stay, wasn't around, Neal drove me to my accommodations. On the way, we passed a few buildings including the NZ High Commission and some modern public works buildings.
There was some song and dance to welcome us to Niue, and as I was stepping out of the airport, there was someone there to hand out info packs with a hearty "welcome to Niue!"
Niue Hanan International Airport, the only airport in the country. Niue is a self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand, who handles Niue's diplomatic relationships and provides it with aid. 90-95% of Niueans live in NZ after the massive emigration of the past few decades, leaving Niue a shell of its former self.
Crossing over to land now! There are some sea cliffs and jungle below. Wait, that road with a few buildings - that's the capital? A was expecting it to be small since Alofi is the smallest capital city in the world with a total population of under 600, but this still looks smaller than I expected. I'm anxiously waiting to find out more about my home village for the next week.
Descending through the puffy clouds. Almost there! Where's the land? Note - for consistency, the dates for the Niue portion of the trip are listed in the NZ time zone, but since the short flight crossed the International Date Line, the dates are off by one day locally.
Settling in for another inter-island flight in the South Pacific! Niue doesn't even show up on this map. Hope we're not landing in a random patch of ocean. I'm starting to get familiar with the labelled places on the map, and noticed I've now been to more than half of the labelled places at this zoom level.

Waiheke Island in Hauraki Gulf. Officially part of Auckland, it is the third most populated island in New Zealand after the north and south islands, with a population of over 8000. Since there is no water utilities of the island, the residents rely on cisterns filled with rainwater and supplemented by two wells in droughts.
A closer view of the Auckland CBD. You can see Devorport, where I lived by the beach for a few months, to the right of the photo. That was a great commute to work - riding my bike along the beach and taking a ferry to downtown. In the distance, you can see the western shore of the North Island, home to many black land beaches such as Piha and Muriwai.
A view of the isthmus Auckland is situated on, which is home to over 50 extinct volcanoes on the dormant Auckland Volcanic Field. To the south (left) is Manukau Harbour, part of the Tasman Sea, and to the north (right) is Hauraki Gulf, part of the Pacific Ocean. The waters from the two seas come within two kilometres of touching. The next time the seas come this close is over 300km away, at Cape Reinga.
There is only one weekly flight in and out of Niue, and this is the flight. The plane is bigger than I thought it would be considering the infrequent service. Later I found out that I was on a "historic" flight, with the most people landing in Niue in a single week. I also noticed people bringing a lot of duty free items with them - maybe my idea of getting duty free alcohol in the Niue airport wasn't such a good idea...
After an uncomfortably cold night on a partially deflating air mattress, I was out before 6am to catch my flight. After going through security, customs, and grabbing a bite to eat at Burger King (my standard pre-flight meal), I was at the gate only a few minutes before boarding, which I used to call my mom for a short chat. I was very excited to see Niue on the departure boards! I also see some of the flights I have taken previously and upcoming flights I will be taking - namely the JetStar flight to Singapore I will be on in a week or so. It's sad to think I'll be leaving Oceania for good in about a week.