Day 9 Lalomalava, Savaii – Salamumu, Upolu
We left Lalomalava quite early 9.30am – the ferry wasnt until 12 and headed for Salelologa – we filled up with petrol as we knew there were no petrol stations on the route we were taking to the south coast once we hopped off the ferry. We went to the new markets on the loop road at Salelologa and bought a bowl, lavalava and a pawpaw. We went to another shop by the wharf and bought a table runner with Samoan designed fabric. Then we lined up for the ferry – it wasn’t as clear where to do this as at Mulifanua wharf so we hoped we had parked in the right place – we still had a while to wait so we popped over the road to get a drink instead of just sitting in the car waiting. I chose a banana flavoured soft drink just to try something different – a little bit sweet but still thirst quenching. Although we were 3rd in line we were 1st on board again. This time it was the driver’s side against the side of the boat but the only way I could gt out my side was for the sliding door of the van next to us being open and me opening my door into that gap and squeezing out. I climbed back into our car by squeezing in rear passengers door on driver’s side and climbing over the seats to get back to my front passenger seat. The swell was less than the first crossing only 1/2 to 1 metre but the ferry was rolling more so it must have been the way we caught the swell – still not seasick thank goodness!
When we hopped off ferry we headed down the west coast road – it was very pretty driving – going up over the hills between Faelatai and Savaia was particularly lovely and showed a different aspect to Samoa – it was a bit of a surprise to have to cross a reasonably deep running ford at Faleaseela. Navigating around Samoa is quite hard because sometimes the names on the map differ from the signposts and turnoffs and road names are not marked clearly. I was in charge of navigation for the whole trip – OH just drove and turned or stopped when I told him to and I tried to warn him ahead of time when such a turn would be but we overshot them sometimes.
Thankfully the turnoff for Salamumu and the Sa’Moana resort was clearly marked and we arrived about 3.30pm. Sa’moana is a very good-looking resort. The Frangipani fales that we stayed in have showers outside with rocks walls with creepers and ferns growing on them. We had a swim in the saltwater swimming pool and a shower before cocktails and dinner. Dinner was Samoan buffet of whole pig, chicken, taro breadfruit and salads. After dinner we played pool and although I havent played for close to 30 years OH was surprised how tight the games were.
We had hoped to snorkel at high tide this morning but the sea was very choppy even inside the reef because the weather was raining and high winds – we had leisurely breakfast then decided even though the weather wasn’t great to drive down the south coast. We managed to get breaks in the weather to see Sopoaga Falls from the gardens overlooking them. 5 Tala entry fee was worth it as it also had drum and cooking display and plant names in Samoan, English and Latin (botanical). We also got a break in the weather at To Sua Ocean trench. spectacular holes in the ground, see my album for pictures. Holes joined by underwater passages to the sea – if you are adventurous (we weren’t that day) you can climb down ladder and swim between them.
Drove down to Lalomanu at far eastern end of the south coast – It was the eastern section of the south coast that bore the brunt of the tsunami in September 2009 and it was obvious that there was still a lot of rebuilding to be done. You can still see the destruction caused by the tsunami, the areas have a scoured clean look to them and even things still standing show signs of the damage caused. There used to be beach Fales all along that stretch of coast but only 3 outfits have rebuilt with another being built at the moment – the rest of the coast is bare. We stopped for lunch at Taufua Beach Fales’ restaurant – one of two groups of fales rebuilt at the far end of Lalomanu.
When we arrived back to Sa’moana we played another couple of games of pool – then cocktails and dinner again – a la carte menu this time. At Sa’moana you need to be aware that they don’t like you self catering even drinks,snacks etc. You need to use their bar/restaurant for all your needs – it is quite good food though.
Day 11 Salamumu – Apia
We snorkelled before breakfast in slightly choppy lagoon – definitely calmer than yesterday though. Unfortunately I swallowed some saltwater early on which developed a tickle in my throat which spoilt enjoyment somewhat – the coral and fish populations slightly different to the underwater scene at Fagamalo.. the tide was still incoming and there were lava rocks as you were coming into the beach – too shallow to swim over. As I went to stand up the incoming tide pushed my foot still in the flipper into a rock – unfortunately the flipper folded under and my big toenail caught on the rock and got completely folded back to the base (it was suffering dieback due to chemo to about 1/2 way but the rest was still attached prior to this incident). I managed to hobble to shore and wait for OH to come in – trying very hard not to cry with the pain. When OH came into shore he noticed straight away the slight graze on my knee and thought that is what I was referring to as I pointed downwards and said look what I’ve done. When I pointed out I was actually pointing at my toe he was surprised I had waited so patiently when he saw what damage I had done. When we got back to the fale he got out our little first aid kit and managed to push it back to flat after cutting it off about half way down and hold it in place with band-aids. The codeine tablets I had packed came in very useful for the pain.
We had breakfast and left after having quick chat to Sa’moana’s new onsite manager T who just happened to be ex St Stephens school boy from Bombay and NZ Steel refractories – we all thought it was very small world that on his first days on the job one of the guests would have been someone from the same locale/work as him.
We headed off up the middle Cross Island Road and stopped at Papapapai-tai falls lookout – a very tall waterfall into a gorge – unfortunately it was raining with low cloud so we didn’t get the full effect. Once we got to north side of island the weather was wonderful – the rain clouds had obviously stacked up along the south side of the mountains as the prevalent wind is a south-easterly.
We reached Apia and turned East along the Main East Coast Rd stopping just out of Apia at Letogo on the side of the road in the grass by the water to eat our lunch of pawpaw, peanuts and potato chips. We had picked up pawpaw at Salelologa markets and got T at Sa’moana to cut it up into slices for us so we could eat it for lunch easily. ginger ale as a drink and my beach towel to sit on made for a pleasant picnic. We carried on around to Piula Cave pool which was a little different from what I had expected – I had expected to go down into a cave to the pool but the pool starts in the open and goes into a cave.
We then drove halfway through Le Mafa Pass. The mountains at this Eastern end are quite dramatic – knife-edge jagged and rugged and look quite spectacular. We turned up the road that leads to the Eastern side of Fagaloa Bay where T (of T&T that we had met at Savaii Lagoon Resort ) was born. That it was a narrow winding road is understating the case – the road although marked with two lanes is in most places definitely closer to one lane clinging to the side of the mountain but we were rewarded for OH’s white-knuckled driving with spectacular views at the lookout both down into Fagaloa bay and back down the valley we had just driven up. After stopping at Falefa Falls on the way home we drove back to Apia hoping to catch the carwash still open – but it was shut when we got back at 4pm so the rental car company is just going to get their car back quite dusty and sandy (the roads although mostly sealed have a few potholes and the car has got quite grubby over the time we have had it)
We arrived at Aggie Grey’s hotel and OH unloaded the car as by this time my toe was throbbing a lot. We were on the 3rd floor of the main (front) building facing the garden and pool area. After taking some painkillers and settling in to our room we did a little exploring and decided to watch the sunset from the cocktail lounge – yes , cocktails do work as painkillers too LOL.
Of the restaurant options at Aggies we decided the seafood buffet at the ‘Old Fale’ was the best option. Great selection of seafood and other meats and salads although the dessert bar was a little let down by its fruit salad being mainly canned fruit.
I went to sleep very easily due to the combination of Cocktails and painkillers but I had set OH’s alarm on his phone to wake us up at 7.30 am so we could pack our suitcases properly for the flight home but I forgot his phone was still on NZ time which was 23 hours ahead or 1 hour behind depending on how you look at things
Day 12 Apia – home?
Despite waking up later than intended packing didn’t take us as long as we thought it would, so we were on time to have breakfast at the buffet in the ‘Old Fale’ . We had a leisurely breakfast then a final wander around Aggies looking at the historic photos on the walls.
After we checked out we explored a few streets of Apia that we hadn’t been down before and found Farmer Joes, a more western style supermarket than the ones we had gone to on Beach Rd and just down the road from that Marketi Fou where we picked up last-minute souvenirs for the girls and had a look around. Half the stalls were shut with it being a Sunday morning and so was most of Apia. Because my toe was still throbbing a lot we didn’t want to do a great deal of activity so ended up back at Aggies at the coffee lounge to kill a couple of hours – we had a couple of snacks and read and as it wasnt busy they didn’t mind us staying. later on we drove along to the end of Mulinuu point and just sat on the seawall for a while – we saw the same kite-surfers we had seen at Lalomanu a couple of days before so spent a bit of time watching them. But we also saw a school of smaller fish being hunted by some predator fish which was quite interesting to watch – the small fish were herded into a circle and you could tell where it was and track it across the lagoon by the ‘boiling’ motion of the water – every so often the circle would get so tight the smaller fish would actually jump out of the water. We probably spent an hour or so just watching the sea from the seawall.
We headed for the airport slightly early and soon after we arrived we got a call on OH’s cellphone saying our flight was delayed 4 hours – originally leaving at 8pm Samoan time it wasnt going to be leaving til after midnight. As we had arranged to meet the car rental people at the airport at 6.15 we were sort of stuck at the airport now. And so began what I call the comedy of errors that was our trip home.
Unbeknownst to us another passenger on the same flight had been in touch with the rental car company to say the flight was leaving late so they had assumed we would want our car later as well – unfortunately we were already at the airport waiting for them and didn’t know this. So after waiting til 7-15 for them to show up we rung only to be told this and that they wouldn’t be out until 8.30. (we didn’t have any option other than to stay at the airport unless we went all the way back into Apia for something to eat which is approx 40 minutes away). In the meantime we had checked our bags through – so we waited… an announcement came through that all passengers that had checked in should make their way through the departure lounge – we couldn’t until the car guy came so OH checked that we could go through when that had been sorted – no problem they said…when the rental car guy came he was amazed that we had managed to rack up 630 kms in a week – but we had basically circumnavigated both islands – he said maybe he should have left us with the black one because of all the exposure/advertising we would have given them… when that was all sorted we then went to complete our departure requirements to get to the departure lounge … went through the first desk where they stamped our boarding passes and sticker to show we had paid our departure tax and got told to wait at the next desk – the immigration desk for our passports to be stamped…..we waited for an hour at the immigration desk lucky OH found a plastic chair for me to set on so my toe didn’t start throbbing too much… one of the security guards suggested we leave our passports with him and go through to the lounge but we thought that was too risky, the immigration officer finally came to the desk when more people checked in for our flight at about 9.30pm… about 10pm or maybe a bit later OH and I were surprised to hear our names being paged – I’ve never had that happen in an airport before – they said that OH’s bag had been put aside because it needed a special tag on it to say that if it had a gun in it the gun had been inspected and made sure it was unloaded and it has to be carried separate to other luggage The airport guy that paged us was the same guy that had checked us in and he had thought they had been mistaken (there was a shooting competition on in Samoa so some people were travelling back with gun cases) but he just wanted to recheck that we didn’t have a gun in our bags so that OHs suitcase was put back with the regular bags. We reassured him there was no guns and he said he would sort it…the plane finally arrived, we got on 12.10am Mondayand we arrived back in New Zealand at about 3.40 am Tuesday morning (losing that day we had gained going there crossing over the international dateline)… guess whose bag didn’t appear on the carousel – OH’s was there but mine wasn’t… the baggage area guy realised that we were one of the last looking at this carousel and came over to help us. He checked out the back and then just when we thought it had been left in Samoa, I mentioned the whole misunderstanding about the gun episode – he went off and checked and sure enough my suitcase was at the police counter where all the competition shooters were collecting their guns. All we can think of is that when it went through the xray that someone mistook a snorkel as a gun … finally got home and to bed at 5.20am
Holiday over – but OH and I are definitely hoping to make a return visit – Especially to Savaii
see my facebook album for these days here