Saturday, 27 July 2013

Trip to Samoa

Well the day finally arrived when Chelsea and I head to Samoa. We had been waiting to go on a trip for a long time and the last couple of days really dragged.

We are sitting at gate 1 waiting for the call up. Chelsea is a little excited but also nervous, hoping she won't get sick while in Samoa.  

It was a great flight with just a little bit of turbulence coming into Samoa. A great view out the window and the lightning flashed all around the cockpit.

Arrived at Coconuts. Tala was driver ...

It was a bit of a restless sleep for me as I was so hot and didn't drink enough on the plane. 
The morning came around and I had to resort to a painkiller and back to bed. By 8.00 I was feeling better and we headed down for breakfast. Chelsea had the pancakes and I has the American full breakfast. Both were nice and a great way to start the day. 
We headed to reception to finally check in and sign up for the meal deal. It gives us our breakfast, lunch & 3 course dinner as well as as much drink as we like for 250tala. 

We didn't do a whole lot today but that's the whole point. 

First day comes to an end and its been amazing. Great food and very friendly staff. Our dinner staff was full of wonderful ladies who kept our drinks fill and were always checking on us. One of them, Lei took the time to stop and chat with us.  

A wonderful end to the first day

Day Two:

Today we felt like we better understood the running of things and we were going to 'do something' today. After another yummy breakfast; pancakes and waffles, we set ourselves up around the pool and read some of our book. A quick swim later and chat with the helpful poolside bar lady and we decided what our adventure for the day was-snorkelling. 

The reception recommended a tour of the island taking us to the hole in the rock and a lovely snorkelling beach. They organised us a packed lunch and a whole lot of drinks as part of our lunch deal. The trip is costing 200tala for the both of us so I think that's a pretty good deal. 

Returned to reception ready for our adventure and were told we would be joined by another family. Had a lovely chat with the receptionist while waiting for the family who were typically late. 

Jack was our driver for the afternoon and he was great. He has a super sense of humour and an even better knowledge of the area. He told us all about the different areas, church's, schools, and rebuilding efforts. I was able to learn an lot from him. 

We arrived at To Le Sua 

It was a beautiful spot and we made the slow climb down into the water at the bottom. After about 30min we headed back up as we were getting hungry. 

Another quick drive and we arrived at our final location for the day. It was a beautiful beach with the softest sand I've ever been on. 

We ate our picnic lunch that was really nice under the shade and I enjoyed what was not my first or last Vailima for the trip. 

Now that lunch has settled its time to hit the water and explore the marine life. 

After a beautiful swim with some very colourful fish I headed back up the beach to Chelsea. Again we had a great chat with Jack and then headed home. 

We were constantly reminded of many beach movies with huge coconut trees growing everywhere. It was a great day wonderful way of seeing the sights of Samoa. 200tala well spent. 
Ended the day with another wonderful dinner and even tried the 'captapult' cocktail. Boy did it launch me into a great night. I had NZ steak for dinner and it was amazing. Mixed with a few more Vailima and we had another perfect night. 

Day Three:

Today's plan is to relax and have a spa so that's exactly what we did. 

Had a little bit of a sleep in before heading down for waffles. Popped into 'The Spa' and booked in for 2:00. We headed back to the pool where I finished my book and soaked up some more sun. 

Looking forward to 5:00 when happy hour starts at the 'Three Stools Bar'. 

We had another wonderful lunch and headed to our spa treatment. Wow it was amazing. A beautiful salon and calming atmosphere soon had Chelsea and I on the edge of sleep. Really enjoyed the back, neck, head and arm massage came out very relaxed and feeling good. 
Headed out for another snorkel and another Vailima. 5:00 rolled around and we headed to the bar for happy hour. Chelsea enjoys her Vanuatu virgin while I keep the Vailima flowing. 

I think that the staff now know to keep my drink fill as I get halfway through a Vailima and they come and fill it back up. Endless sun and beer, what a great place. 

Day Four:

Today we collected our car and well that's about where the fun ended. To cut a very long story short, through a lack of communication we didn't know to pick up our ferry tickets the night we arrived and Samoa Scenic Tours cancelled our car transfer. 

We spent a long day travelling trying to locate our tickets and eventually ended up at Aggies Beach Resort. The rep there put me on the phone with the manager who was very apologetic and informed me of the new arrangements. SST had booked us to seats on the 2:00 ferry. They would pay for a car hire on Savii and had book the return car hire aswel. It felt good to get all that sorted but had put a little dampener on the trip and made me get a restless sleep. 

Day Five:

Woke up pretty early today as I wanted to get all the tickets and stuff sorted. Packed up our room and headed down for our last breakfast. Stuck with what I knew and got the pancakes again. I will definitely miss the friendly faces and great food. After breakfast we sat in the reading room to finish off our books. Check out we quick and easy and the staff were so nice they forgot to charge us for the 'meal deal'. I'm an honest man and after the 2,000 tala was added to the bill it was settled and we headed for the ferry. Looking forward to heading back to Coconuts Beach Resort and getting our complementary upgrade and 20%off next time we visit. 

We arrived with plenty of time at the ferry 11:00 as we were told that at 12 we would meet a person with our tickets. 12 rolled by and with me getting a little stressed again we decided to head back to Aggies where Samoan Scenic Tours is based. The guy there was super helpful handing us our return tickets and ensuring that we were looked after. 

Dramas over and when our rental car was picked up I was told that because we returned the car 2 days early that his manager said to email them and discuss a refund. Looks like everything is working out. I love karma. 

The trip over on the ferry was let's just say long. It was a case of first on first seated. We didn't know this and Chelsea was lucky enough that someone moved over for her to sit down.  The view back to Upolulu was impressive as we slowly made our way to Savaii. 

I got talking with the people around me who were from Australia and New Zealand. Seems like everyone we meet is from oz or NZ. Is anyone actually Samoan?

2 hours it took to cross to Savaii. A long time for Chelsea and her small bladder. 

We managed to pick up the car easily and there was no dramas on that front. It was a beautiful drive on very good roads (a change from Upolulu). Before we knew it We arrived at Stevenson's @ Manese

Day Six: 

Today I headed up Savii to the cater rim for an amazing view aswel as collecting the required info for an Earthcache. It was an interesting drive and ill never complain about NZ roads again. 

On the way down I was intercepted by a local who claimed to be the caretaker of the land. He said that I was up very early to which I told him he was just late.  It coste 20tala which I didn't really mind as it was for a cache and I hope for the area    
I returned to the fale at 9:30 to find Chelsea relaxing in the sun. We gathered up our stuff and headed to explore the lava field and swim with the turtles. 

Our first stop was the lava field and they were very impressive. The different textures and directions the lava took was thought provoking. We couldn't help but make comparisons to custard or heated milk. The Virgins Grave was to be unimpressive. We didn't really understand the location as the name doesn't indicate what was there. However the church and fale were remarkable. Looking at how the lava flowed into the church with its thickness and texture was memorable.
After the church we went out to a fale that was constructed on the lava flow. Sitting amongst the vastness and looking at the plants struggling to grow in this desolate wilderness was sombering. We often complain about the position we find our lives in and yet these people have chosen to return to their land, which is infertile, because its better than any other option

Total cost 5tala each.

Our next stop was to be the highlight of the day. Despite its lack of signage and look of organisation the 'swimming turtles' were amazing. Now it's another case of its not what the sign says. What it should say is "swim with the turtles-7tala"  or something similar. 

We ended up following a dusty road for about 800m before we came to a sign pointing is into the parking spot. The lady's were very manor of fact saying it would cost 7tala each and after we paid simply saying "follow path"

There was another family already there with their taxi driver who was more help telling us about the turtles and that we were able to swim with them. 
It's hard to put into works how cool it was holding, touching, & patting these beautifully peaceful creatures. 

And all this done before lunch. 

We headed back to our resort for lunch and to lie on the beach, snorkel, and relax. It has been a really nice time at Stevenson's and we will do it again next time. 

Day Seven:

Our last day of what has been a long and relaxing holiday. We have made an early start to the day so that we have plenty of time to get around the island to see the blowhole and waterfall into the ocean. Apparently there are only a handful of waterfalls in the world that go directly into the sea. 

We have enjoyed our stay at Stevenson's and would come back again but only for a couple of nights. The accommodation is very beautiful on the waters edge and we enjoyed the sound of the water lapping at our door. The beds were a little less impressive with a few finer details letting the experience down.  This is a very quiet resort where relaxing was easy to do. The beaches were soft and white with a huge amount of coral. 

Seven days away from home and we feel relaxed but are missing our family and pets

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