Published: August 5th 2009August 5th 2009
The Solomon Islands is a developing country so don't expect everything to always work or go smoothly!! This is not a place to travel if you are the type of person that likes everything organised or scheduled. If you are a bit more adventurous....read on!!
When you arrive in Honiara, you will find it busy, slightly derelict, and dirty in places. The people with red mouths from chewing beetlenut can be very offputing. Regardless, they are very friendly and helpful. Still be wary at night as in any other country.
Accommodation ranges from basic to 4 star. Mostly ex-pats live in the expensive rooms in the 4 star accommodation. However, there will still be cheaper rooms available. Every place we stayed was always clean. The hotel accommodation is probably overpriced,though,compared to some countries. This will be the bulk of your expense in Honiara.
We like the Yacht Club for meals, drinks and atmosphere. It became a regular haunt of ours!!
We just spent our first couple of days there while we waited for a boat to travel to Malaita. The boat was leaving on Friday morning so we had
a few days to kill in Honiara (note: if you will be travelling around the islands, you will always seem to have some time to kill in one place or another while you are waiting to get out!) We went on a WWII tour organised by the Visitors Bureau (The Visitors Bureau in Honiara is very helpful. They will give advice, offer assistance, organise tours, book accommodation, etc. Ask for Ellison. He is fantastic!!) Go for a walk to the houses of parliament. Is very interesting and they give a free guided tour. (unfortunately parliament wasn't in session when we were there!).We even got to meet an inmate of a low security prison to the east of the airport.He seemed to be very comfortable and in no hurry for his parole to come up(later this year),even though he had spent 14 years ' behind bars'.
On Friday morning, we left from Point Cruz on the 'fast boat' for Malaita-a leisurely 3-hour trip over a flat sea.The Pelican Express has a 1st class area with arctic air-conditioning and a very loud movie being shown,a highly violent Van Damme at a deafening volume.Entertainment was compulsory!We arrived at Auki about
midday,and went to our hotel of choice,the Auki Lodge.It was okay,and it did serve cold beer and had a pooltable,but no food whatsoever-breakfast,lunch or dinner.From here we enquired about a guide and within the hour a young guy,Silas,knocked on our door and had assigned himself our guide.We agreed that next morning he would arrange a trip for us to the Lau Lagoon,and agreed on prices.
Next morning,a Saturday,we discovered that the ATM to be out of cash(the locals are paid on Fridays and there is a run on the ATMs that night),and our hotel would not take any travellers cheques.The only Chinese trader in town was able to cash a cheque,luckily,and we were on our way!But not,alas, to the Lau Lagoon.All the trucks to that part of the island had left the previous night,and the only ones left were going through the middle of the island to a town called Atori.Though disappointed,we decided to go there and see where we ended up.With the two of us sitting up in the cab with the driver,we endured a rough and bumpy,but totally enjoyable 3-hour drive through the middle of the island.At the end of this trip,Silas found us a boat to an
island only 10 minutes away,called Kwai Island,where the chief welcomed us handsomely,along with his vast family.That evening we stayed in his large house,built on stilts on a small rocky islet overlooking the lagoon,after going fishing for our dinner with some locals on a reef some miles further out.That evening was spent under the stars discussing such topics as politics and the global financial crisis! Next morning after lots of coffees,snorkelling,and another village visit to a nearby island,we left for the long journey back to Auki.This time Mark had to sit in the back of the truck(the chief was going back to Auki himself to work in his position as Provincial Minister of Fisheries)and we arrived back at dusk.That night we drunk lots of Solbrew with the locals at the Auki Lodge,playing pool and meeting another minister-this time Communications and Infrastructure,a guy called Rocket Ronnie,a very enjoyable ,funny guy.
The next day we basically tried to organise a flight or boat back to Honiara,but were told we would have to wait until Wednesday.We later found that Sol Airlines had changed their flights and and we were now booked on a flight the next day.We did a bit of walking around Auki
and other stuff(time passes slowly in Auki),and met Ellison from the Visitors Bureau over brekky on the Tues morning.He was helping an Aussie journo get around the Solomons and we promised to meet up again in Honiara.Anyway,we flew back to Honiara that afternoon,booked ourselves into the Honiara Hotel,and went straight to the poolside bar for beers.Ellison and his wife Barbara asked us around their place for dinner that night.The food was truly wonderful and we got to meet the family-their kids,uncles ,aunts,cousins,even Barbaras father,who was visiting from the Weathercoast.We had a tremendous time and we finally arrived back at our hotel,late,totally exhausted.We planned the next day-to try and get to the Western Province-and quickly.
There are more photos below