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.

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.
Before going into the chasm, we walked around for a view of the ocean. Turns right under us is where the chasm connects with the ocean.
Walking among the spires under the emerald cliffs. What a fantastical landscape.
Looking up at the cliffs forming an imposing citadel defending the interior of the island from the pounding ocean.
The waves on the east side of the island seem to be much larger than the waves on the west side.
Following the trail, we descend towards the bottom of the cliffs and the ocean.
Pretty much the same view as the last photo, but with some ocean. Again, sorry for the slightly repetitive photos, but this area is just too interesting :P
A slightly-overhead view of the spires.
A closer view of the cliffs looking like an evil citadel, and the large pounding surf down the shore. Sorry for the somewhat repetitive photos, but this landscape is so unusual I want to make sure to remember the details.
Closer view of the spire formations. They really are like natural knives and bayonets, with plants growing among them. I'm surprised at now many plants are growing on this harsh, rocky landscape.
View of the trail winding through the spires. I can definitely see how someone can get lost in a landscape like this, especially if the way back up the cliff is hidden. Worse, how someone's shoes can get completely cut up within hours if they got lost.
The trail soon reached the edge of the cliffs on the eastern side of the island, giving us our first view of the landscape. It is unlike anything I have seen before. I don't think I've even imagined landscapes like this. Thousands of sharp spires protruding from the ground like knives. I imagined what it would be like to fall off a cliff onto one of those...
Looking back up the trail. other than some staircases, the trail is mostly poured concrete over natural paths on the coral rocks to make it possible to walk over. The landscape contained many surprisingly well-formed natural paths.
Many trails in Niue have rough inscriptions on the first couple of steps with the names of the people who built the trails. An a related note, I decided to be more careful walking around since I slipped a bit on the Vaikona trail and ended up with a small cut and a cracked nail on my toe. Also, I've decided Niue must be the worst place to learn how to walk, since every fall on coral rocks would have pretty serious consequences.
After a quick picnic of coconut bread and spreads, we made our way to Togo. Note that Togo in pronounced "tongo" since the g in many Polynesian languages actually represent the ng sound. Driving to Togo, we passed the other two ladies staying in the hostel driving the opposite direction.