Something a little different this week–very different actually! Haven’t written anything lately and have barely even thought about writing. Instead I went to Vanuatu to see my son married on the beach at Erakor Island.
Vanuatu’s not all that far from Australia and the flight, if you’re lucky enough to get one that goes direct, is about the same time as the trip across to Perth, around 4 hours. We went that route on the way over, arriving in Vanuatu at 2am, but on the way back we had a stopover in Sydney for around 3 hours.
Arriving at 2 am we were very glad we’d arranged an airport pickup and were met at the motel by the night watchman who showed us to our apartment. After a lot of research we opted to stay at the Coral Motel and had no regrets–it’s a budget priced motel, not a resort, and the whole experience of staying there, on the main road of Port Vila, was a very different one to that of staying at a resort. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle, sitting on our balcony watching the locals heading off to work and the mini buses going to and fro picking up passengers.
We had a good look at a couple of resorts as well, visiting other family members. Erakor is spectacular but the one room I saw inside was very small compared to ours and more than twice the cost. It’s all about the beach of course and that, and especially the water, is just beautiful. The wedding went off without a hitch and the meal was delicious; the chef, coincidentally, is from our part of the world and the resort is owned by Australians. A lot of the businesses are owned by Chinese, we were told, and I’m not sure many of the locals actually own very much. They are employed though, in every area that we saw.
Possibly the most surprising thing about Port Vila was the abundance of mini buses–if you walk anywhere along the main road a bus will stop for you. They’re more like taxis than buses, in that they’ll take you anywhere, but there are taxis as well, and they charge a lot more. The mini buses charge 150 vatus (around $1.50 USD) to take you just about anywhere–we had only one driver who demanded more, saying it was 150 vatus only for black people and we had to pay 200! We didn’t argue–well, not much, but were careful after that to make sure the fee was sorted and paid up front. No-one wears seatbelts there and you often see small trucks with people loaded in the back and even perched on the sides.
All in all, it was a fascinating experience and one I can certainly recommend. If you plan a trip there make sure to go out on a glass-bottomed boat to the reef and go prepared for a swim!