Saturday, March 10, 2018

Day 23 - Sat Mar 10, 2018 Nuku'Alofa Tonga - Crystal Symphony - Sydney to Tahiti

Day 23- Nuku’Alofa, Tonga – Mar 10, 2018

Another beautiful sunrise as we sailed into Tonga, captured while we were walking on the Promenade Deck.  Julie wanted to take a day off, but Bob reminded her that we were taking a bus tour today and wouldn’t be getting much exercise.  It was the right thing to do.

 Nuku’Alofa has a population of 24,500 and is the capital of Tonga.  The Kingdom of Tonga consists of 176 islands scattered over 270,000 square miles in the South Pacific.  Only 52 of the islands are inhabited.

Our cabin overlooks the Royal Palace, built in 1867, the official residence of the King of Tonga.  Interestingly, he does not live there and it is only used for official functions.  We did see his personal house later on in our tour. Tonga is the only remaining monarchy in the Pacific.

The King's personal residence.
Our tour was on an un-air conditioned bus, and it was about 87 degrees F.  Surprisingly enough, with all the windows open it really wasn’t that bad.  

Our tour guide was a returned LDS missionary that had served his 2 year mission in North Carolina.  He said that he didn't like North Carolina. He was happy to return to Tonga and wants to stay here. The Mormon religion is the predominant religion on this island and there are LDS churches everywhere.  Coming from Utah that was interesting and surprising to us.  We certainly are well aware of the large Tongan community in Salt Lake City as well as the fact that the University of Utah and BYU both recruit many Tongan football players.  We just hadn’t made the connection that Tonga is predominantly LDS.  Tonga is a highly religious place with virtually everyone active in religion. Even at the show later, the host, who said he was a Born Again Christian, gave a prayer and sang did a hymn.

There were so many LDS churches.

Wesleyan church with cyclone damage.

We learned that most of the people in Tonga were farmers and they worked on their "plantations." Even the guide said that when he was not "guiding" he was at home working on their plantation. There is no tax on the land or building in Tonga, so the Tongan people work the land. We saw countless small stands outside of homes where they were selling their farm goods.

The Royal Tombs are set in a manicured park that is closed to the public.  Monarchs of the current dynasty are buried here and became a burial ground after the death of the founder of the modern Kingdom of Tonga (King George Tupou I) in 1893.

There were cemeteries everywhere. The people would allocate part of their land to be a cemetery and they would just use that.

Our also tour included Captain Cook’s Landing Place.  It’s hard to imagine them just wandering around in uncharted waters until they found land.  Captain Cook named Tonga “friendly island" after staying about 2 months on the island. 

Two upright coral stones and horizontal connecting stone were viewed on a visit to Ha’amonga Trilithon which is known as the Stonehenge of the South Pacific.  These were erected in 1200 AD.

At Oholei Beach Resort we enjoyed drinking coconut water from a coconut and fresh fruits while the owner and others played Tongan music for us.  Afterward we went into Hina Cave to enjoy a traditional Tongan dance show including the fire dance. 

Tonga suffered damage from Cyclone Gita about 4 weeks ago and is still trying to clean up.  Some buildings collapsed, others tilted, and many had their roofs blown off. Our hearts go out to these kind, gentle people as they recover from the damage.  Luckily there were no lives lost in the Cyclone. As you can see from the pictures below, there were still many power lines down and a big portion of the island was still without power.

We began the evening in the Crystal Cove like most evenings. We decided to look at the drink menu to explore some other ideas. Julie ended up with a Sapphire Martini that she hoped would match her outfit. It wasn't quite right.

We had a lovely dinner in the Waterside with two other cruisecritic members.  It was fun. Julie enjoyed the Lobster Medallion appetizer and WaHoo Fillet with Crème Brulee as dessert.  Bob had the Mixed Garden Greens and Angel Hair Pasta with Sauteed Garlic, Parsley, Chili Flakes and Olive Oil.

The show in the Galaxy Lounge was very great – “Imagine” which is a collaboration with iLuminate (America’s Got Talent).  It is a high tech show of light and dance and done completely in the dark with light up costumes.  As such, everyone must be in their places at the show start.  No admittance one they close the doors. Apparently, one of the dancers was ill, and they discussed cancelling the show.  The Cruise Director (and former dancer) decided to learn the role in the afternoon and fill in.  Lucky us, it was a great show and a departure from the usual entertainment.

Dixieland Jazz was playing in the Cove afterwards and we stopped to listen for a while.

Today we walked 5.14 miles and 12,335 steps and climbed 42 flights of stairs.

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