After making it through customs, I looked for my hotel driver who’d confirmed the day before that they would be waiting for me. No sign of them. However, plenty of taxi drivers more than willing to take me there. I waited 15 minutes to see if the hotel would show up, and with no sign of them, took one of the taxis up on their offer. They wouldn’t take New Zealand dollars, so changed some at the airport and we were off through the very dark night.
My hotel was near “downtown” Nuku’alofa, and was about a 30 minute drive from the airport. Finally got there around 8pm, rather late, and checked into my hotel the Little Italy hotel. I’d been advised it was the most comfortable option in Tonga, and really didn’t let me down…although the rooms looks like something out of your grandmother’s house:
My room also came with a complimentary pet included:
I was still pretty full from the plane, so decided to head down to the hotel restaurant for a glass of wine, a little dessert, and to read a bit of my book. The tiramisu was surprisingly excellent:
Crashed early, and woke up just as the sun was rising. My flight was relatively early to Fiji, and I wanted to be sure I had plenty of time to explore before then. Breakfast was included with the hotel, and the Mona Lisa was supervising in the restaurant:
The restaurant was all decked out and festive for the holiday season:
Headed out of the hotel for my walk, and there was a nice paved path right along the ocean. Caught this pic of a local pig and one of her piglets next to the hotel…right before she saw me and started charging towards me. I can see the headline now…”tourist killed by pig 30 countries short of goal.”
After escaping, I kept walking towards the city, and saw this car. Clearly they love their country!
Transport ship near my hotel. I later asked the front desk about it, and she said it went ashore years ago during a low tide, and now it’s damaged and will cost far too much to remove so it sits there in the water rusting away.
Walking the path into town:
Passed through a cemetery along the way:
The British High Commission:
The “Greater Nukualofa Tsunami Evacuation Map” …because of course you’ll have time to consult this when the waves come crashing in…
The gates to the Royal Palace:
While looking through the gate, I asked the guard if it would be ok to take pics through the gate. No problem he said, the king’s not home…would you like to come inside the gate to take some pictures? Seriously? Very cool!
As soon as he opened up the gate, the King’s dog Puma came trotting up to me and wanted to be played with. I use the term trotted loosely, because I seriously thought it was a pig and not a dog at first. This thing was HUGE!
After petting the dog a bit I continued on my walk. The local girl guides were all out today, and a were getting an inspirational talk by a local businesswoman. When I started taking pictures they all started staring at me and not the speaker, so I walked away so as not to distract them further.
Bustling downtown Nuku’Alofa:
Walked around the downtown a bit more, and the one thing I noticed was lots of fitness billboards urging Tongans to exercise and be healthy. See, for the last few years Tonga has been named as the most obese country in the world, with nearly 90% of the population over 14 being obese. They were clearly trying to take action on it, but a diet high in important carbs (especially rice and noodles) that don’t agree with Tongans genetic makeup was proving difficult to counter. Stopped in a cafe for a small snack, knowing I was unlikely to get much of anything to eat until much later that evening. Small sandwich and a Diet Coke later, I was ready to start walking back towards the hotel.
Backyard of the Royal Palace. Satellite TV for the king:
Starting the walk back to the hotel:
Selfie on the path:
You might notice I’m wearing black in the picture above. Compared with all the islands I’d been to previously on the trip Tonga was surprisingly pleasant, with temperatures around 25/27 celsius or 80-82 fahrenheit. It was almost nice out!
Got back to the hotel, packed things up a bit, and waited for the hotel transfer which would take me back to the airport for my flight onwards to Samoa!
Too bad you didn’t take one of the ferry’s over to ‘Eua…quite a stunning little island with dramatic cliffs and forests. I quite enjoyed my time in Tonga.
I’m traveling the South Pacific in your footsteps always reading your posts on the flight to any given country.
Therefore I knew beforehand of the Tongan king’s dog and asked for him when I chatted to the Royal Guards. It turned out that ageing dog is still alive and kicking. I asked for the dog whose name, by the way, is Bulba, not Puma, and they directed me to a garden across the street and I went to check.
There Bulba was, still looking like a pig and with the black fur turning grey around the mouth, like a beard on an ageing man
Thanks Bengt for the update! Glad to hear that Bulba is still alive and kicking and you were able to find him! 🙂 Congrats on making it to 181!