The Place where Time begins

Pearl of Persia
Andrew Lock
Sun 9 Jun 2013 03:04
Lat 17:28.0S Long 177:25.9W
The Kingdom of Tonga is the first country west of the international dateline
and therefore calls itself the place where time begins. It popped up over
the horizon when we expected it to and we made our way to the small town and
anchored. Tonga is also known as the Friendly Islands, a name given by
Captain Cook. However, evidently when he arrived they were friendly just to
keep him at anchor as they were planning to kill him but couldn't agree how
to divide the spoils. But nowadays the people are delightfully friendly and
always have smiles on their faces. Tonga is the oldest and last remaining
Polynesian monarchy, the king is famously fat, and the only Pacific nation
never brought under foreign rule. The country comprises three groups of
small islands spread over a vast area of the ocean. We came just to the
northern group...Va'vau.. and have spent 8 wonderful days getting to know
the people and the land.
We managed a tour of the interior on a kind of Go Kart which was a lot of
fun. Off the road we roared through undergrowth and small villages, people
waving and smiling at us and stopped off at some amazing view points to look
across the ocean which we had just crossed.
Cruising around the islands was a pleasure. Every anchorage a delight with
wonderful coral and snorkelling. Provisioning for our departure was quite
interesting. Tonga is one of the poorest Polynesian islands and the
availability (or lack of) food in the stores was very obvious. Very little
selection of anything at all. The best part was the daily market in the
town where women would bring their home grown fruit and vegetables to sell,
so we bought what we could and yesterday set off for Fiji, a 48 hour sail.
Presently about half way, the wind is good and we are flying along
Discovered the battery on our camera has gone mad so we can't take any
photos at the moment or add any to the blog.