Exploring Nadi Fiji – Going to a Local Village

So we had spent about a week in Suva and had a blessed time together and with family.  We decided to go to Nadi where the international capital was and spend the remaining couple days before I have to fly back to work in North Carolina.  We passed lots of interesting sites along the way, such as this container business. It appeared from the sign that people were using converted units for office space.



Lots of greenery along the way.


Houses were not far off the main road and you could see people cooking and hanging up cloths,  Living daily life.


Once we arrived and had checked in to the hotel we both felt the hunger pangs and decided to go get some food.  Here we are eagerly waiting for out lamb curry.  yum!


We stayed at the Tokatoka Hotel Fiji  Which was a really nice place, not far from the airport.  Pool, Waterside, Restaurant, Spa, all in house.  Or you can also get a taxi and go to town where there are plenty of shops and restaurants.


We were asking the hotel taxi driver about local villages and he said hey you can go on a village tour its only $5 fijian.  So we decided to do that the next day.  We drove around the valley and got a really nice tour by car.  Then we headed to the village.


Here we are in one part of the village.  Surrounding houses in the outer area of village was home to about 1000 locals.


The village church.


Memorial stone with different names of I believe pastors that had served in that church.


This is the village drum, the is what was used in olden days to summon send messages through the valley, the sound carries very far.


Holding the wooden drum clubs.


And our tour guide is getting worried that I might be getting ready to summon the village. No worries I didn’t beat the drum.


We walked back around the church and went and bought some handicrafts that the local ladies of the village had made and then we left the village and went back to nap during the hot afternoon.


So we had a blessed time and then the time came for me to get back to work again.  Us together before I went through security.  Till we meet again my God hold you in the palm of his hand.  Love you Dear.



Los Angeles a little over 10 hours away.  Strong tailwind of 117 km an hour helped push the plane over the pacific.



Exploring Suva Fiji – Beautiful Weather

Taking one of the many taxi rides to get around Suva.  They had multiple roads under construction at the same time so was tough to get around some places.


Here a couple fishermen either heading to fish or selling there catch along the harbor. Boats would go up and down the wharf and people who wanted fish would flag them down to buy  fish.


Some nice trees along the wharf.


One of the many bus stops throughout the city.


View of some of the different boats in the harbor.


Glassy water.


A cruse ship briefly stopped in and the passengers were able to get out and shop.


Park in Suva by the McDonald’s.


View accross one section of Suva.  You can see the Ocean below if your at the right vantage point.


Getting some fried rice at the MCHH Mall food court.


Here we were at the new Taiwanese Restaurant that just opened in Suva.


Family Crossing the street, holding hands and making a group trek across the road.


Demodar City Shopping Center, always busy and full of cars and a popular destination.  MHCC and Demodar City two very popular shopping centers in Suva.


Hanging out at Gloria Jeans Coffee at MHCC.  Good to be together.


3 Months of Apart -Time For a Reunion!

I had been in the USA about 3 months, it was January, work had temporarily slowed down and My wife was in Fiji with her extended family. So thankfully the opportunity arose to go see her.

CLT to San Francisco.


Flight to Nadi On Time! Oh Yeah!


Selfie before taking off. Buddy behind me was participating in selfie too and I didn’t even know guess he was happy to be going to Fiji too.


Arrival in Fiji. Captain set the plane down so softly could hardly tell we even landed.


And with my dear wife again. Hanging out at MHCC mall in Suva Fiji.


Waiting on Papers – Takes Patience!

Back in the USA felt good,  Being able to get back to work and earn some cash was really nice.  However its tough when your best friend is halfway across the world. Can’t wait till papers are finalized for her to come to the States.


Back to video calls for a while!  not as good as in being together but its nice to see your dearests face vs the old fashioned phone call.



Enduring the distance, cant wait to be together again.

Goodbye Niutao – Back to the Capital

We had been on Niutao for about 8 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed it.  For me getting to experience the culture people and food was a very unique experience, and for my wife it was a familiar world.  The day came when we headed back to the main capital Funafuti. my wife’s parents needed to work on some paperwork in the capital and I needed to get back to the North Carolina for work, and to work on a visa so my wife could come to the USA.  So we all headed to the capital together. IMG_20170922_135519

We waited for this cargo boats to fully load with our traveling companions.


Last minute selfie.


Lots of supplies going to Funafuti,  Mats, empty fuel drums to be refilled, and a brand new handcrafted outrigger canoe, maybe for a relative or or possibly for sale headed to the capital.


A few minutes after the ship had secured the people, cargo, and transport boats we headed south.  Niutao is about a mile across and it began to grow smaller and smaller.


Till all you could see was a faint line just sticking up about the blue water.  Oral history goes back about 7 generations which could be 350-600 years. But its possible that people lived here long before then as well.  Choosing to make a home on this small oasis in the vastness of of the pacific ocean.




Various Pictures – Around Niutao Island

Here are some various pics.


Ducks being raised in safety in a cage before being getting larger to let loose and roam.

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Large Corral and rock wall heaped up by last major storm event.  From where I standing its about 6 ft tall.  Some typhoons can heap up rock and coral walls 12-15 ft.  IMG_20170810_161612

As the corral is heap up and thrown ashore vegetation inches further out  and the island land mass can actually grow.


Some beautiful corral pieces.


Picture of the lagoon center of the island, is not 100% fresh but is much less salty than the ocean water.  It rises and falls with the tide because the pressure from the ocean flowing through the porous coral rock that makes up this island.


Gravel paths going by the lagoon. No cars on this small island, only motorbikes and a couple tractors.


weaving a hand fan out of painted coconut leaves.


Going to a event, wearing a traditional skirt made of long thin leaves from a pandunus tree and a hand made garland of fresh leaves and flowers.


Time to go to a feast.



At the one of the feasts with dad. While we were there we must have gone to at least 12 different occasions.  Plenty of feasts, it was part of the culture to have lots of community events and speeches.  Sitting on hand woven mats made from the long thin leaves of the pandunus tree.






With a auntie.


The 2 cargo and passenger ships that make circuits around he 9 islands that make up Tuvalu are the lifeline of the county,  Bringing goods and taking people to and from the capital city Funafuti.  Depending on the schedule of the ships, a ship could come once or sometimes twice a month.  Loading and unloading usually took 6-10 hours and then the ship would depart.  This particular morning the ship arrived I walk the couple hundred yards it took to get to the beach and as I stepped out on the the beech from the trees this site greeted me. It was high tide and a stunning view, the sky and sea looked like they were melting into each other.  gave the appearance of the ship floating in the sky.


Harvesting Pulaka – On a Very Hot Day

So during some preparation for a feast my dad in law needed to go to the pulaka pit and harvest some big roots that had been growing for awhile.



Deciding which ones to harvest.


Grandson watching grandpa.


Fun for everyone!


This is what the harvested roots look like.  The leaves of the plant look like a sweet potato leave but obviously much larger and the plant doesn’t vine it grows as a stalk.  Especially when the plots of pulaka are in the forest and are competing for light, some of the stalks can reach 8-12′ in height which is really amazing.


Video of the harvest.

Tour of the Island – History and Legends

One day my wife’s uncle Vaguna took us on a short tour of the island, They have several interesting stories about the history of the island.  One of which was the legend of the giant that was buried there.   You can see the size of the grave below about 12 ft long. they said in olden days there were 3 giants that protected the Island and could make the island invisible to invading forces through witchcraft.


Here uncle is showing me the largest pulaka pit on the island,  there oral tradition says that they made a invading enemy force dig it out with slave labor once they defeated them.


Was quite large, unfortunately there was some saltwater intrusion which was making the bottom of the pulaka roots rot in some places.


Here is a memorial to one of the first missionaries to Niutao island,  The chief didn’t like his message and hit him over the head with a local club killing him.  They said it was a Samoan man that first came to Niutao 100 years ago with the Gospel.


There was another story of how the chief of the island wanted tobacco and through a trance saw a ship carrying tobacco from America to Australia and put a spell on the captain to make him go off course.  Well they said that ship got caught in the reef off of Niutao and the crates of tobacco were thrown off the ship to lighten it and floated ashore.  They said there is a large anchor covered in coral on the ocean floor just off the island.  Had a lot of fun taking the tour and hearing the history and legends of the area.


Here driving through the bush to get to the largest pulaka piton the island.

Going To Church – Sharing a Devotional

So we Had been to the largest local church several times and before we departed they asked me to share a devotional on there Fathers day which I accepted at the encouraging of my dad in law.  Not a father yet but I figured I could share some wisdom from the Bible.  My biggest question was “do I need a interpreter?” they said no, enough people understand English.  Well ok then lets get started! Got dressed up in a traditional sulu and fathers day candy necklace.


Decided to share a devotional on the the Father of Faith,  Abraham.   Touched briefly on three topics, His Calling, His Obedience, and his Legacy of Faith.  About 15 minute devotional.  Final quote,  “I can think of nothing greater that could be said of the Fathers in this room by future generations than what was said of Abraham,  that he, “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness”  Rom 4:3


After several speakers shared we stood up front and different people from the congregation walked up and gave us many more candy necklaces for fathers day.


Beautiful acoustics with high ceiling.




Some Local Foods – Taste and See

So if your ever in the small pacific country of Tuvalu and you get a chance to experience local foods this is what your may have. Below is a buffet sample, this was in court just after a wedding vow between a couple, they broke out some food and had lunch immediately after.  bread, cake, eggs, salad, and local black birds bottom left are a few of the things on the menu here.


Here I am with my wife and am munching on what they call a Pandunus fruit.  Its like a huge pine cone with the individual fibrous pods filled with very sweet juice that you kind of chew / suck out of it.  Also wearing traditional handmade garland.


Pandunus Fruit.


My wife with a big delicious coconut crab.  Very good flavor to the meat and is a delicacy in many countries.


This is Breadfruit, extremely versatile fruit.  Can be boiled and has a squash / pumpkin like  taste,  can be deep fried to make breadfruit chips which hare similar to plantain chips, and can be baked and tastes somewhat like a potato.  And if you let if ripen it has a passion fruit sweet musky quality to it.


So before we left the island Uncle Vaguna wanted to make me a feast, He is a Seventh Day Adventist so he doesn’t have pigs like many of the other islanders, but he has chickens and ducks. So he made me a duck feast.  In pic below you can see counter clockwise Roast Duck, Juice in bucket, Raw Tuna Fish with cucumbers and onions and mayo and salt, Cucumbers,  Rice, Duck Sauce, local Papaya’s, Baked Breadfruit, and Fried Breadfruit chips center. This on top of the spread Banana leaves.  It was for me they said, so they wouldn’t eat at all until  I was completely finished.


Food at a wedding,  Raw fish, Rice, Cake, Local Fried Donuts. Pork, Chicken, and Fish.


This is Pulaka, its like a super big tough Tarro root. They grow these in special plots and it is a staple mainstay food, especially before modern food like eggs and rice and flour began to be imported.  In olden days Fish, Pulaka, and Coconuts and Pork were the core food survival items.


And don’t forget about the Fish, If a skilled fisherman is in the family will have this quite often.


Bananas, Lots of these, some were plantain like very starchy and there was another variety smaller and very sweet.  They mulched the banana trees with leaves and scraps from the yard and also planted them right behind the pig pens, the refuse from the pig pens made the banana trees grow very nicely.


Every family had at least a couple pigs, some had more than that.  They would butcher them for special occasions. Weddings, Funerals, Birthdays, Farewells, etc


When they would butcher the pigs they would start a fire with coconut cook them in a pit.




And lets not forget about the coconut, So many uses, they used the nut and the juice to make many dozens of types of foods and combinations.


Here squeezing coconut milk out of a grated coconut meat.


The people in the pacific have survived for many thousands of years by using sustainable local food in many unique and creative ways.

To Niutao Island – 65 Hour Boat Ride

We spent a couple days in Funafuti Tuvalu and then boarded a small vessel doing a loop to 3 of the other islands that make up the nation state of Tuvalu.  Niutao was the last island on the loop before the ship came back to the capital city Funafuti which made our journey quite long. IMG_20170801_085947.jpg

Waiting for people and supplies to finish boarding.


And Off we finally went, many many hours of blue water ahead. There wasn’t much to do except watch many miles of beautiful blue ocean wash by, here is this pic enjoying instant coffee while there is a thunderstorm in the distance. After a few minutes you could feel the large energy waves from the storm pass under the boat.


When the sun was out it was the most beautiful sparkling blue ocean.



This is where you could get a great view of the ocean,  lower level access point,  It was close enough to the water that a occasional large wave would send some over spray into your face.



Video of the view!


After the half day and overnight travel we arrived at the one of the Islands along the way.  The island did not have a port like Funafuti so the only way to load and unload people and cargo were 2 boats that ferried them back and forth.  The process was slow and so the ship would hang out on the island side protected from the waves while the boats went back and forth hour after hour with people and goods.


Unloading concrete blocks and concrete  headed for a construction project on the island.






People coming to get on the vessel, likely headed to the capital. When people came to board they had to time when to get off based on the swell of the wave, get off to late and your boat would dip to low and you could lose your footing.  Unfortunately one person fell off when a larger wave came at the wrong moment and had to be pulled out of the water.




Unloading frozen Tyson chicken from the USA!!




Locals enjoying talking while we all wait for the ship to finish loading.



Elderly Grandma with hand fan to help keep cool in the heat.


A lot of interesting sights and sounds along the very long journey,  most people were going economy and bringing there own sleeping mats and food and simple finding a place aboard the lower, middle, or upper deck to claim and lie down. We had a first class room aboard the ship with air conditioning which was nice, Nancy was most comfortable lying down or she would start to feel seasick.  So I ventured out To get her food and drinks and take a break and see the different activities going on at different stages of the journey and talk to people on the ship.

Then we finally arrived.  Niutao Island Tuvalu.



How To Travel in Taipei – A Guide 

If your visiting the scenic city of Taipei Taiwan chances are you will want to get out and see the sights. Figuring out how to get to these wonderful destinations can be a challenge. Don’t get stressed out! Reading this will help you get a better handle of what to expect.
Here are some popular and fun methods and modes of transportation for tourists.

One of the most fun and effective ways to get where you want to go! Here we are after a journey back from a long day out and about exploring. You can buy credit for specific trips or use a pre loaded metro card that you can purchase at the closest metro access terminal office. The metro trains arrive and depart in regular intervals.


Someone you have to get on a bus to get the the metro, or you want to hop from one place to another and can’t use or don’t need the metro because the route or the distance. To go from Taipei to a nearby village Wulai requires a bus ride because unfortunately the metro doesn’t extend that far! Wulai is known for its hot springs and is quite popular so you may have to stand for the first 20 minutes of the trip before a seat opens up.


When it’s raining cats and dogs and you don’t even want to risk walking a couple blocks to get to the bus stop or station you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do! Flagging a taxi may be your best option in moments of crisis like a sudden downpour, or coming back late and not wanting to wait for a bus.  Depending how far you need to go it varies in cost but to go a short distance is not to bad and is a life saver in the moment.   If you don’t speak Chinese that’s ok as long as you have a picture of your address and or or hotel name to show the taxi driver,  they will nod excitedly once they understand where you want to go.  Not the cheapest mode of transportation but it works and works fast.


Renting a scooter and having the ability to zip around to various sites and markets is a really enjoyable.  (I wrote a whole article about E-Scooter rentals because it’s so fun.)  Below is us on a super empty road, hence the stop by the side and selfie! However, most roads will require your to be more nimble in your balancing, breaking, accelerating, merging, and not getting crushed by a larger vehicle.


Rentals for bicycles are also available, you can rent on a hourly basis or daily.  Single and tandem bikes area available many places, bike and scooters allow you to explore a several kilometer radius comfortably and get back in good time when your done visiting popular tourist destinations and street food vendors.


And lets not forget, Walking!

No matter what mode of transportation your using you will be doing plenty of walking in between. And if you would like you can simply walk through parts of the city.  As you walk along especially the food markets it’s very enjoyable to take your time and taste samples of the different foods and look for nice gifts and trinkets you might like to give to someone you know.


In short, any mode of transportation you choose will work, and it may take several modes to get to where you want to go.  Make sure you enjoy the journey and don’t get frustrated and ruin the destination by stressing about the transportation!

You can always stop and ask for directions,  but be aware,  If pedestrians don’t know what your asking or where your intended destination is, they may just point down a random street and say, emphatically,  “That way!” which serves the purpose of politely allowing you to part ways friends with no embarrassment to them of not knowing where you want to go. But all that does is help you get more exercise after you walk 4 blocks and realize your not closer to where you want to go. If your lost, ask several times along the way so that you know your directions are accurate until you see the landmarks your expecting.

No Licence Required! – E-Scooter

One of the fun things to do if your in Tamshui Taipei is rent a E-Scooter and zip around town! Some of the shops that sell bubble tea also do bike rentals, all you have to do is get a photocopy of your passport, leave them a 1000 NT ($30 USD)  deposit and depending on how many hours you use the bike it they will deduct from the 1000 NT, if you use it all day for 8 hours they charge the full 1000 NT.

Driving break in the park

While no licence is required you had better have some scooter skills in the busy sections and keep the impromptu traffic rules, number one rule being don’t cut out suddenly to the left or your likely to be hit by a very fast passing car.

A unusually empty section of road, perfect for a selfie!

For some reason I don’t know why we didn’t fit the stereotype and got a lot of quick glances as pedestrians noticed that this foreigner guy with a white helmet hat trying to drive a scooter, I was fine at high speeds but a little wobbly at low speeds on sidewalks. (Yes, you can drive slowly on sidewalks with the E-Scooters no fines)

Ready to rock and roll!

I wouldn’t have known that I could drive one of these without a licence except for Nancy’s expert and familiar guidance around town.


I think she was tired of my scooter skills and ready to take back the controls!

If your wanting to zip around and have a lot of fun these E-scooters are great, you don’t have to go on the main roads where there are larger vehicles if you don’t want to, you can just go up and down the wharf at easy speeds and enjoy it thoroughly!