My Thoughts on the South Pacific

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After seven weeks on the road and at sea, I am finally back home in New York and enjoying the conveniences that come with being back in the States. Although the heat and humidity in New York City make me think I may be back in the Pacific sometimes! Seven weeks, 17 countries and 30ish flights later I have had some time to reflect on my time and experiences and I wanted to share a few with my readers.

First, it was an amazing experience. Amazing in both a good and bad way. It was a tough trip with a lot of downtime, many places with nothing to do, some serious illnesses and sweltering heat. The first half of my trip was excellent and I visited some truly amazing places.

Guam, Micronesia, Palau and Midway are all on the top of my list for places to visit. All were excellent and had a lot to offer travelers. Palau especially with the extraordinary diving may be at the top of my list although the Midway experience was something I’ll never forget. (You can go back and read my blog if you are new to my site by just scrolling down)

Then came the well documented Tokelau disaster and it was easily the worst travel experience of my life and really put a damper on the rest of the trip for me in some ways. I got very sick afterwards because of the horrible conditions on the boat and the stress that ensued and for days afterwards, I had a lot of anger about the trip and toward the awful company I booked with. Additionally, I had serious, sometimes awful stomach issues for the next few weeks.

It didn’t help that I was visiting some of the most isolated and boring places on Earth such as Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Wallis and Futuna that had little to offer visitors in terms of things to do and see while I was forced to spend multiple days on each because of the flight schedules. That said, I was glad I still went but was unable to really explore as I normally would have because of my illness.

The trip ended very well with Fiji, New Caledonia (I know I never posted on NC but it was great) and a night in Brisbane, one of my favorite places. The I spent a few great days and nights on the west coast of the US before finally heading back home to New York. I hope to have some forthcoming news about my time and meetings in LA soon, so stay tuned.

Here are a few things, positive and negative, I have learned and concluded after this trip:

-Trust other travelers opinions about tour operators, transport, etc. such as my Tokelau experience
-Open ocean small yacht cruising in a bad storm really sucks
-Going to the bathroom on such a boat is a nightmare
-Seasickness can be overcome by relaxing and by time
-I will never do a 7 week trip again myself
-I will limit any future alone trips to 2-4 weeks because after that it can really wear on you and you lose serious momentum and excitement if you are alone and have too much time to kill on small islands
-I have an even more extreme appreciation and admiration for the United States armed forces and the history we have in the Pacific region; the region would not exist in freedom and as we know it today with out the US during WW2
-The Pacific is like Africa in many ways; everything moves very slowly and nothing can be counted on for certain
-Planning for the Pacific is very difficult with airlines, boats and timetables all subject to change and cancellation
-The Pacific is very, very expensive
-All roads in the Pacific lead through Nadi, Fiji and Auckland, New Zealand so you will connect through those cities often
-You will get sick in the Pacific; much like India or Africa, it is pretty much unavoidable
-People are extremely friendly in the Pacific
-It is ungodly hot in the Pacific
-The best diving and snorkeling in the world is in the Pacific; especially Micronesia and Palau
-It can be very difficult to find a television to watch the World Cup in the Pacific!
-The International Date Line is confusing and will screw you up a few times if you are there long enough!
-The Pacific is not a true paradise; there is a lot of poverty and suffering on many if not all of the islands
-The beaches in the Pacific cannot compete with the beaches of the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean in general; there are of course some gorgeous ones but not as you’d imagine and not in the same volume
-The history of the people and the culture of dancing is very interesting in the Pacific
-Tonga is the only Pacific nation never to be colonized and they are very proud of this fact
-There is a lot of corruption in the Pacific nations in government
-I look forward to going back and finishing up the other Pacific nations I have left on my list; perhaps in multiple trips as opposed to one large one so I can stay fresh and focus on a few places next time

My readership has grown significantly over the course of this trip and I have received so many emails and questions. Thanks for your support and I will be updating from time to time now that I am home and changing some things about the site as well. I will be planning some new adventures soon. Take care and email me anytime.

Comments

  1. Good recap. Sorry the weather is pretty much identical in NYC..HAHA

    Thought I’d pass this along from today’s news.

    Libya Is Ready for Tourists
    By HILARY HOWARD
    July 13, 2010

    For the first time in more than four years, Libya is granting tourist visas to American citizens. There is one caveat: travelers must apply through a handful of Libya-approved tour operators.

    Jerry Sorkin, the president of one such company, TunisUSA, said that the United States Embassy in Tripoli told him a few weeks ago that he was the first to be granted a visa under the new system, allowing him to take tourists to the country. “As Libya is essentially governed by one person, decisions frequently come without warning,” he said. “In the case of the visas, the change that resulted in the new policy was based on a real change” (the United States Embassy opened a visa office in Libya last year for the first time since 1980).

    The move came as part of a trade and investment pact in May. For years, the North African country has been attempting to make amends with the West (paying billions of dollars to the families of the 1988 Pam Am Lockerbie bombing victims, renouncing its nuclear weapons, condemning the attacks of 9/11). And while Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, is still prone to, say, declaring “jihad” against Switzerland (for its ban on mosque minarets) and arresting Swiss citizens, his son and possible successor, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, has emerged as a Western-friendly face of of the country.

    “Real change is taking place,” said Mr. Sorkin, who visited Libya last month. “The pace of building in Tripoli is amazing. One would think it is Dubai. Cranes and construction are everywhere, with numerous top hotel chains opening within the next 12 months.” Full of Roman and Greek ruins, Libya is the home to five Unesco World Heritage sites.

  2. I have just found your website and have gone back apparently a few years on your trip blog. Thank you for sharing and I cannot believe all that you have accomplished in such a short time and at a young age. I also enjoy your pictures, plus your candid and funny way of writing and explaining things. It is both entertaining and informative. It really allows me to see these places I will never go through your eyes and as I feel I would see them as well. I have traveled a little and have always been amazed how different foreign countries can be. Thanks for the honesty and great reading and good luck lon your quest.

  3. Lee (also) says:

    4. Airport stopovers are acceptable for counting but not encouraged

    amazing site, i’m very envious that youve done so much by your middle 30s. ive gone thru alot of your posts on your recent trips like south pacific and africa and seems like you have several stopovers. is there a limit? do you really enjoy that?

  4. Hey Lee, I actually do not have many stopovers as I try my hardest to get at least a night or so in each place at minimum. I have some places where I may stay just a day and sometimes its plenty of time, sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes I am subjected to difficult time schedules or flights. I never schedule a stopover for the purposes of it counting on my list. It has occasionally happened as it does for all travelers and in truth sometimes youd rather spend an hour or two in place than wait an entire week for the next flight on a small island with not much to do. As for preference, obviously I prefer to spend the amount of time I feel is sufficient. Sometimes a day, sometimes a few weeks, depends on the place. I believe it’s important to make yourself happy with your stay no matter how long it is. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Hi Lee, I have just been turned onto your blog and have been occupied for the last several hours. What a comprehensive and honest account of your trips. I read many travel blogs but not generally from someone as accomplished as you. So I just wanted to say thanks for keeping me busy and I am glad I wasn’t on that boat to Tokelau!

  6. Hey Alex and yes you are fortunate not to have been on that boat. Thanks a lot for your nice comment, I appreciate the note and am happy you enjoy my site.

  7. Thanks for the great website! Did you ever make it out to the Marshall Islands? We were thinking of going there and interested to hear your thoughts…

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