Lost in paradise
“Mi hop se trip blong yu I go gud” - Pleasant journey!
What I love about Australia, except that most of my family lives there now, is the proximity to paradise.
Wherever you turn your gaze, palm trees and white beaches are looming, and you don't even need to leave the country, you're already in paradise.
You should have respect for the distances though, it takes a couple of hours from north to south, and even if you're thinking about flying between Melbourne and Sydney, you can count on one and a half hour of air time.
Thanks to my dear sister I've had the opportunity to visit this country at several occasions and I feel that I've visited most of the places I wanted to see in Australia, so on this journey, I was thinking of exploring something else nearby.
Finally we booked a trip to Hong Kong to thereafter travel to Melbourne some days later, you can read about my trip to Hong Kong here.
Very luxurious to decide where the journey continues on the spot, but freedom typically comes with a higher cost if you only have a few days to play with.
I remember the feeling when we sat in the Australian afternoon sun, planning. Many countries close by was on the list, but the time you want to spend flying usually cuts off some alternatives.
We had the obvious alternative in New Zealand. Just 3,5 hours away and a place I haven't
prioritised during my previous trips, maybe it's time? We realised when we read more about the country that we would have to travel by car quite a lot, and we wanted some chillaxation after a stressful ending of the year and removed the country from the list once again.
We had heard mixed reviews about Fiji, I wanted to go to Samoa, and Eden wanted to go to Cook Islands. But when we planned those trips, the price, as well as the flight hours, got the best of us.
We puzzled, calculated, googled and pondered, a luxury problem once again!
The more trips we looked for, the brighter the route became, and a land popped up that none of us even heard about, namely Vanuatu.
I had never heard about anyone who's been to Vanuatu, which made it more exciting and after long planning, we figured out the route Melbourne – Vanuatu – Fiji – Melbourne.
In Melanesia in the eastern Pacific ca. 1700 km from Australia you will find a group of islands called Vanuatu. Around 300 000 people share a bit more than 70 islands, and Bislama, English and French are the languages spoken.
The trip started early with a flight to Brisbane, and after almost two hours in the air, we landed. We spent an hour at the air lounge to fly yet another two hours with Air Vanuatu.
The airport in the capital Port Vila reminded me of a smaller airport in Ghana or some Caribbean island, can't remember which one.
Big signs decorated the arrivals hall where the country announced that they are welcoming new inhabitants and as long as you have an income of around $2000 a month that you bring to the country you are welcome. Vanuatu have neither income nor property taxes, and are according to themselves "The happiest place in the world", well I don't know, up to that point I wasn't completely sold.
When we were looking for a place to stay on Vanuatu we quickly realised that it wasn't due to us being late, it was merely sparse with accommodations. At the same time we thought something was wrong with the page when the prices were presented, could it really be this cheap?
Eventually, we chose a place on an island called Erakor Island that according to the pictures was a drone friendly spot and at the same time, price worthy. When looking at my own drone pictures, it was exactly as expected, at least from above ;)
At the airport, we were greeted by the hotel staff, and the minivan steered us to the hotel.
Vi drove through Port Vila and like many capitals in the Caribbean or on "paradise islands" in general the poverty is widespread and evident. You like to believe that you are contributing something to the people through tourism, but it's hard to know if it hinders more than it helps.
After about 20 minutes through the city and jungle, we arrived at a dock where a small boat was waiting to take us to the island.
I caught a glimpse of crystal clear water, sun, palm trees and the white beaches from the boat; in some ways, it felt like I had discovered a secret paradise.
Five minutes later, we arrive at the island, umbrella drinks were handed out, and we got a quick walkthrough of the estate before being shown to our beach bungalow.
At first glance, our house felt nice, but a bit wore down. Our room consisted of a large bed with mosquito nets, a bathroom, a small hallway and a large terrace with an outdoor jacuzzi and shower. You understood from the beginning why it was so cheap, and it would have been a top resort if you only took better care of the greenery, the beach and the houses.
Still thought of the place as quite charming, a bit worn due to time, but still the vibe of a paradise and the stress seemed to be non-existent on the island.
I also liked that the hotel hadn't cleaned the sea of corals, just for the tourists to dabble around in the water. Instead, you have excellent snorkelling with loads of colourful starfish just a couple of meters out in the sea.
After unpacking the bags we took a walk to the restaurant for some lunch, unfortunately, the food turned out to be pretty dull and tasteless in general, got full, sure, but a taste sensation wasn't found on the plate.
The life on the island could have been a lot better with great food, the only thing tasting as it should according to Eden was the coconuts, of course, I don't eat the only thing, tasting great haha
We had some great days, we chilled in the sun, read books, went snorkelling, and took walks on the beach. During the evening, we were mostly at war with the mosquitos that roamed free on the island... I thank higher powers for the mosquito nets over the bed!!
Vanuatu is a place without stress where I really found peace. Especially remember an afternoon, after a couple of glasses champagne, a bit tipsy I put up the camera, turned to the sunset, put on the time-lapse function and started to record. At the same time, we sat down by the shoreline, watched the sunset, listening to the waves and enjoyed the moment. We didn't talk much; the spectacle in the sky did its part; the warm water and the soothing breeze was like medicine for the soul. In moments of stress, I still think about when we sat there by the sea, I can still hear the sound of the world where waves, swaying palm trees and birds meet.
Good conversations are something I really do appreciate, but with my BFF Eden, no small talk is needed, quiet moments don't need to be filled with prattle. Instead, the silence or the sound of the world is enough. These moments might not be prevalent, because I like the sound of my voice or the shattering from my camera quite a lot hahaha, but when it does happen it sticks with you, and it's something you hardly forget.
Vanuatu might not be the place where you spend your honeymoon, or where you go directly from Sweden, but absolutely a place that you ought to visit if you're ever in the region. I guarantee you that it's a price worthy trip and as close to the paradise as you can get on a tight budget.