Published: August 5th 2008August 1st 2008
Well I am back in the land of the long white cloud now, or should that be long grey rain cloud. This is my final installment on Tonga.
Just off the coast of Tongatapu is the island of 'Eua, it is a quick 10 minute flight across and easily visited in a day trip. 'Eua is amazing in that it is completely different from Tongatapu, and yet is so close. It is a hilly volcanic island, in contrast to the completely flat, highly cultivated Tongatapu.
The flight over to 'Eua was great because we flew over a pod of 5 humback whales cruising between 'Eua and Tongatapu. We landed at a tiny runway on the island where I was picked up from the airport by the Hideaway Resort and taken to the resort for breakfast. It was a neat little backpackers resort where I had breakfast in their restaurant looking out to sea and saw the humpback whales cruising by no more than 100m off shore.
From here I did the Tongan version of a 4WD tour, which was actually just a small truck with some wooden planks laying across the back for seats. The tour
was a great way to get around the Island and see most of the sights in one day.
Our first stop was under a pine forrest to see part of the Royal Coffee plantation, where some of the Royal Coffee beans come from. Then we went on to some high cliffs with a great outlook North, it was the sight of a former palace that had been blown away. From here we drove through the centre of the island and visited a giant banyan tree, several sink holes and a waterfall cave. Our driver climed up some coconut palms to get us a drink. After this we went to see how the traditional mats were weaved, then out to the South Coast to see the Liangahu'o 'a Maui stone arch and a rock garden. Our final stop was at Ha'aluma Beach for a swim. It was great to see the highlights all in one day.
My last remaining days in Tonga were spent on Tongatapu, where celebrations for the Kings coronation had really got into swing. There were even more banners, flags, balloons, newly painted fences and shops and newly planted palm trees. Several super yachts came into
the harbour and private jets at the airport. It was a truely exciting time for the Tongan people.
I managed to see the Tongan version of the coronation on the Wednesday, where the village leaders present food to the King to signify the fact that they acknowledge him as their new leader. This of course includes a LOT of taro and many pigs. I watched about 1 hour of the ceremony where there was a lot of singing, chanting and required EVERYONE to be sitting down when the King appeared. The people involved in the ceremony were dressed in amazing traditional clothing of white with ornate mats wrapped around their waists. The event ended with a Kava drinking ceremony with the King drinking first.
For my last day in Tonga Dad took me on a tour of the eastern side of the island. Here I got to see the amazing water pigs that seem to be fishing for food out in the sea. We also visited an ancient stone structure and Captain Cooks landing site.
Captain Cook got it right when he named Tonga "the friendly islands". The people a truely friendly and willing to help. I
look forward to heading that way again some day.
There are more photos below