“Tourists see the world… Travellers experience it…“
– Some people travelling that took themselves way too seriously
Not gonna lie, I was getting a bit “everythinged out” and tired at this point…
I spent a week in Vanuatu and I didn’t do anything at all. I stayed three nights in a hostel with really nice people and four nights at the Grand Hotel in Port Vila.
I spent the days walking around the town and the evenings reading my book on the balcony in my room and enjoying the sunset. Port Vila was exactly what I had come to expect from a Pacific Island town or city, there was sun, wind, sea, friendly people who pretty much kept to themselves, service minded people working at the hostels and hotels, music that sounded very Caribbean to me and a really chilled out atmosphere.
The week I spent in Port Vila I wasn’t in the best place. Internally, I mean… It was all on me, the people and place of Port Vila had nothing to do with me feeling down and tired. I don’t quite know what happened, but at some point I started getting more and more bouts of what I can only describe as a slight depression. I didn’t really want to do anything. didn’t want to have to deal with new people, tour guides, taxi drivers, or anything. I started retreating into my own space a lot (the fact that this week was Eystein’s birthday didn’t help a lot) – and that’s when I decided I wasn’t doing my Pacific Island Hopping plan. I had tickets to Fiji, but I would definitely try to get myself to Honolulu, to hopefully cheer myself up by staying in one of my favourite places on Earth (and also someplace a little familiar to me), with both the chill Polynesian vibe, but also the vibrance of a city with something closer to my personal preferences.
I’ll sum up this post with some pictures and some notes on what I remember from Port Vila – and would also like to say that I enjoyed my time there. I just didn’t have the energy to travel around Vanuatu and “see the sights” the way I would want. The food was good, the music was good, the weather and the people were excellent. You should go ❤
The first thing I remember from Vanuatu was that as per usual the hostel didn’t have the bed I was supposed to have ready so I got a different one while they “sorted it out” (meaning they overbooked the dorm) – in this case I got a single room so I was pretty happy, though wondering if the bed had bugs cause this place was C.H.E.A.P!
The bed was ok. The shower was C.O.L.D! though. I get cold showers and all, but jeezus… I remember this being some sort of Arctic level for some reason. It might have been because the outside was hot – I can’t really even remember that. I don’t think I was dying from the heat cause I kept walking to the “shopping center” which was about halfway between the hostel and the center of town.
I remember the shopping center being called “NUMBATU”, which I thought was some African inspired name heralding where many of the locals originally came from or something. Turns out it was heralding pronounciation. “NUMBATU” literally means “Number Two” – it’s just in Bislama, the local language of Vanuatu. A language that is primarily English in origin, but the pronounciation is colored by French and local accents. I remember loving this so much when I realized ❤
I remember buying the mandatory Christmas ornaments at said “NUMBATU” – A whale and a T-Rex. Because Christmas. As well as spotting a large shelf full of DVDs that looked “totally legit”… Eh… I swear, someone printed this up in their garage and is selling it here – no joke. The Covers where SO bad I laughed my ass off!
Walking from my hostel into town there was a sidewalk that really suddenly had a hard two meter drop down on your left side. Natutrally, there was no warning, no fence. Your problem.
I remember cooking rice with vegetables in my hostel and putting the leftovers in a cup in the fridge cause I didn’t have a container. It was gone the next day. Whether someone ate it or threw it out to clean up the fridge, I will never know.
Port Vila had way too many cars, of course. Too many of them being mini vans too – some where taxis (we took one from the airport), some where local buses – I never saw the difference so I just walked, seemed easier at the time. And my walks took me past fun things like the sign that was English enough that I got there was something I should be paying attention to, but then as a non-Bislama speaker I had no idea what they were thanking me for doing or not doing… A local, older man asked me if I knew what it meant and I said no, he translated for me, but then I got to talking to him a little so I forgot the meaning…
I remember the two mini-trucks speeding by in the main street both filled up with people on the flatbed in the back. The front one full of women all dressed in red wooping and cheering and the back filled up with men dressed in white shirts and dark trousers. I wondered if it was a wedding party or hen night/stag night going on.
I remember seeing a guy give a performance on stage, I think it was a pre-Christmas party or something… Anyway, he was singing his heart out and jumping up and down and the lawn in front of the stage was full of people… They all sat there just looking at him. No one clapped, danced or sang. They didn’t even rock slightly back and forth. I remember this so clearly because I was thinking of all the times I’ve heard that “Norwegians are too stiff and need to let loose more”… I guess being in the Pacific doesn’t guarantee you a lively audience either 😉
I remember eating dinner and dessert at Rossi’s while listening to “Promise Me” – the same song I used in my travel video from New Caledonia, Vanuatu & Fiji.
I also remember there was some beautiful and cool street art around and this little shop sold various trinkets and also custom decorated ukuleles. Decorated with pens ;-D But they looked adorable though ❤
I remember seeing my room at the Grand Hotel for the first time and being pleasently surprised at how good it was. The hostel was nice, the people great, but I needed some personal space and wanted to be closer to the center of town so I booked my last nights at the hotel. At this point I was like “budget schmudget”… Port Vila was decorating for Christmas too, so I wandered around a lot seeing the palms lit up at night, it looked so cosy. They had a lot of playground stuff for the kids in the little parks and everything so plenty of kids climbing around just tumbling off stuff. It was warm, chilled out and just nice.
All in all Vanuatu was a wonderful place and I only saw a fraction of it and probably the noisiest part too… My heart just wasn’t in it, but that doesn’t really taint my memories of the nice people I met, the smiles, the laughs and the lit up palm trees surrounded by loud and extremely happy kids running off excess energy in the awesome evening temperatures. Maybe I’ll go back some day and see more than just Port Vila and Efate… who knows.