“You better have packed sunscreen” said the kind stranger next to us on our flight to Vanuatu after taking one look at my paleness. She was lovely, actually every single person we have met so far has been extremely pleasant and helpful but I am getting ahead of myself. The plane ride was extremely short, once we were served our meal, played some Switch and sudoku, it was already over. The scariest part was the kind stranger chortling and screaming in laughter of Johnny English, I don’t know what was more terrifying, the sounds she was making or that people find that movie funny.
Upon touching down in a field of cows, the omnipresent heat was overwhelming. Customs was a slow but overall smooth process. The lack of technology was jarring, especially after experience the upgraded International Brisbane airport, where everything was automated and digital to an analog environment. Thankfully there was an ATM to withdraw some Vatu and after a bit of hassle with the Airport Transfer we were on our way to our hotel, the Ramada Resort.
The hotel is amazing, friendly staff, modern facilities, private beach on the lagoon, free kayaks, paddle-boards, kitchen, limited Wifi, and best of all, a buggy ride from concierge to your room and visa versa that feels like your own private roller coaster. The room also includes complimentary dinner every-night at the waterfront restaurant. We ordered chicken Maryland on pesto past, lamb shank with dried fruit cuscus and chocolate fondant for dessert. It was far too much food and sent us into a food coma overnight.
We awoke the next day to even more food with the complimentary buffet breakfast. After having our fill, we got a bus into the city. The busses work differently here, more like a shared taxi. You hop on anywhere and tell the driver where you want to go and play a flat rate of 150V, around $1.80AUD. Our bus driver was again very friendly, offering to connect us with local tour guides for a better and more affordable experience. This has been a common theme here, whilst everyone is kind and happy to help, everyone seems to be working an angle to make money on the side. It’s no where near the level of intensity and pushiness of other places like Phuket and Paris vendors, and while I totally understand and empathise with their plight, it can get a little exhausting at times.
As the bus arrives in town, a short ten minute drive from our resort, it started raining and traffic was piling up. The bus driver pointed and told us the markets was a couple of minute walk away and just dropped us off at a petrol station. A little unusual but understandable as walking was faster. but not something you would see back in Brisbane. The raining intensified so we sought refuge at a bar clearly designed for Aussie travellers. Not wanting to be squatters, I ordered a Tusker, the local beer. With my unsophisticated alcohol pallet it tasted exactly the same as a Toohey’s New.
The rain let up enough for us to continue our journey and we headed towards the market. After eventually getting the courage to cross the hectic road we arrived at the fresh fruit and craft markets. Here women travel from remote villages with their wares live at the markets for six days and return home on the seventh. It feels exploitive but it’s a tradition that has been going on for decades and it is full of locals. You have to watch your ankles though, as lining the paths around the stalls are tied up crabs. We at first thought they were dead, but the deeper we entered the markets we noticed they would snip your feet if you got too close.
Picking up some fresh coconuts and fire-baked veggie chips, we next ventured into a super market. The supermarket was fairly typical but quite entertaining to see the variations of the products that we see everyday. With the heavy French influence here, there was an interesting blend of nationalities. All the excitement had burnt off the calories from breakfast and we went to Cafe du Village for a spot of seafood by the water and to refill on the most important resource of all, Wifi.
After lunch we wanted to checkout the casino, a growing industry here to attract the Asian tourist market but only got as far as the lobby before passing out in exhaustion. After resting up we caught a bus back to the resort. Having a proper rest this time back in our room, we ventured out for dinner at the Warhorse Saloon, a famous American-style restaurant/bar. The food was pub quality at more expensive prices and larger than average portion size. The bonus was we could spin a Pokestop so that was nice way to end the day. We walked home and was offered countless lifts by passing bus drivers. When we arrived back at Ramada we took a night buggy ride back to our room to complete a successful second day.