Cruise days 17,18 – Jan 21,22
Visit Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga –
Missing our stop in the Cook Islands meant that we got to spend two days at Tonga, so we took advantage by joining an impromptu bus ride to a beach resort after our arrival on the first day. Nothing special, but a good way to look around and get a feel for the island during the drive. We spent less than two hours hanging out at the beach, then returned to the port for a little shopping before re-boarding the ship.
Along the way, we learned another cemetery story. Each village here has one or more “community” cemeteries, although homeowners are allowed to bury loved ones at their home if they wish. Graves are constructed in such a way that they can be re-opened later to add additional deceased into the same grave. Sorry, but that’s just plain gross!
The ones we drove by were obviously well cared for and had colorful flowers all around:
On the second day we took the included walking tour of the port city. It was better than the one in Tahiti because it was much smaller and not as busy/noisy. Our guide was knowledgeable but not very organized. She told us that since this is a kingdom they are ruled by a King and have a Prime Minister and parliament that is voted into office. But the King has the final say on whether laws proposed by parliament will be approved or not.
When the King dies everyone is required to wear black and do no work for some time. They are also expected to give their best animals or products to the new king as a welcome offering. How sad that these poor people with hardly anything must part with their most valuable belongings to a king who has more than he knows what to do with!
The major source of income for many island residents is earned through seasonal work in either Australia or New Zealand, where they harvest agricultural products for several months each year. Some women create “tapa cloth” from tree bark, or weave mats and baskets from several varieties of pandanus leaves. Handicrafts are a large part of the Tongan culture, and selling those products to tourists like us is another source of income.
Our guide took us to the city’s main market where root crops are sold. These crops are both a staple of the Tongan diet and an export crop:
Interesting post again! I’ve been doing a lot of reading about cuisines around the world becoming less indigenous and more westernized, and it seems Tonga is the perfect example. According to Wikipedia, their diets in former centuries were very healthy but “Togans now consume large quantities of imported flour and sugar” and Togan bakeries and soft drink bottlers have multiplied in the last century. What a shame 😦
And we have seen some big and fat folks walking around the city 🙂
How cool is it to be the first country in the world to see a new day…everyday! I love the dancers “costumes”and their beautiful smiles. Gay
The color of the water contrasted with those red tugboats is very pretty. I don’t care for their gravesite practices either! Yikes! And ruled by a king? Hmmmmm. What are those root vegetables, and did they make an appearance at the buffet tables? I think the picture of everyone waiting for the dance performance shows the most people in one place that you’ve posted so far!
Oh you missed my other picture during the Equator crossing ceremony, I think that was the most I have seen of everyone on board. Those root crops did not show up on our buffet 😦 but I have tasted them when I was growing up. We grow those too in the Philippines.
Yeah, the cemetery practices seem yucky … but when you live on an island with limited land space, I guess you do what you have to do. I love the color of the water in that photo with the tugboats.
Thanks, I noticed the perfect lighting when I stepped out from our veranda.
The king sounds greedy. :-(( He should be thinking about how to improve life for his people, not taking the best of what little they have. I enjoy seeing the traditional cultural performances and the traditional foods that you’re sharing with us. Did you get to try taro root or cassava? I sometimes see them for sale in grocery stores in Florida.
I know, he still seems to live in the middle ages. I have tasted the cassava and taro root in my hometown but not here ib Tonga, besides we did not have time to stop by grab a bite.
When you get to Fiji go over to see Treasure Island if you have time… we took the ferry over from Fiji to the Island… best snorkeling ever!
We have a very short stop in Fiji 😦 and the snorkeling excursion was sold out!
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