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I WENT TO VANUATU - Letters from our community

 From:  Mie
 Title:  Language? No problemo!
 Date:  8/5 to 8/14.
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As it was my first trip outside of Japan alone, I was a bit worried, but the moment I got to Vanuatu, I felt suddenly relieved and became very happy. To start of, as well as Vanuatu's Natural beauty, the aspect of Vanuatu I found most charming was the attitude of the people of Vanuatu. As my english ability is limited to the most basic greetings and salutations, I had not expected to be able to communicate with the Ni-Van (People of Vanuatu) . But I found myself comming back to Japan having improved my English and even learned how to say basic Bislama sentences such as " can you...?", "I would like to ....", "I understand", " and the like. In Vanuatu, not only are the hotel employees and tour guides very friendly, but so the people in the street ! They are always greeting you and smiling at you. They will hapilly talk with you and ask you "i gud" (meaning "is all good?" or "are you OK?"), "Where are you from?", "Where are you going?", "Have you been to...?", " You're going to.... That "i gud"" or "Nabawan"(meaning "number one" as in "all good" or "perfect"). When I asked Japanese people who live there about this, they told me that Ni-Van are all friends as a rule of thumb and seem to think that everybody else are friends too.
I had known that there was a tourist office in which there was a Japanese staff who lived in Vanuatu and could help me if I had questions while in Port Vila but I thought that outside of the main island s, English or French became a necessity. In view of my original lack of confidence in my language abilities, I had given up on going to the very beautiful island of Tanna. My first day in Port Vila however had taken care of all my worries. The people who live in Vanuatu were all so friendly and full of joy I now decided I wanted to go there (Tanna) and made a reservation in a bungalow hotel managed by a Ni-Van. Of course there are resort hotels in Tanna too but I thought it would be more fun to go to a bungalow hotel managed by Ni-Van as it would give me more opportunities to talk with them.
Tanna is famous through out the world for the fact that, of all the live volcanos in the world, it has the volcano that allows you to get closest to the mouth of its crater. (Even now there are Japanese TV teams making documentaries and reports on it).
With virgin nature, and villages that have kept their original culture alive though the generations, Tanna is an island with amazing charm. On Tanna, I went horse riding for the first time and went up hills that no car could have climbed .We had dinner with the women who worked at the Bungalow Hotel, and the Australian and Europeen tourists who were staying there. We spoke a lot, went to see the volcano together and had a really good time. I went shnorkeling and saw a sea snake for the first time. I got scared but when I spoke about it to the girls who work at the bungalow hotel, they laughed and proudly told me "There are no dangerous animals on Vanuatu. Sea snakes and spiders are friendly here." The people of Vanuatu really look so happy when they laugh. When you look at Ni-Van, they may at first glance look a bit reserved, but as soon as they smile, they are so friendly and homely, they really look so cute! Even the cats and dogs are so friendly it is suprising. Without you noticing they come up to you and cuddle up against your leg or sit on your lap.
Vanuatu is made of many islands, each with its own multitude of charms. When I spoke to the Ni-Van who live in Port Vila, most of them told me which island they were from. When I heard what they had to say about their islands, I really wanted to go there. Next time I really want to go to Santo. The island of Santo is very famous and popular for its diving and is said to be the most beautiful island in the south pacific. It is where there is Champagne beach, which is a famous white sand beach. I was also told about the blue hole s the water of which is so pure and transparant you can see all the way to the bottom even though it is 21 meters deep.
It really is a country with beautiful nature, but you will not be able to really understand the beauty and charm of the smile of the locals unless you go there. No words can describe it.
I also went to see our land while I was there. It is really lush and beautiful, gently rolling up. When I think I will be able to live there soon, I am so happy.
I really think of Vanuatu as my second hometown.

I will be at the 9/9 party with all the pictures I took. By all means do all come and see them.

 From:  Miho
 Title:  Fantasy Land
 Date:  August 2007
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Last year in August I went to Vanuatu for about two weeks. Vanuatu made such an impression on me, it has changed my life. Having the opportunity to see such beautiful untouched nature and the local cluture made me feel like I had been given an opportunity to see the origin of the planet and our own, and experienced so many things I find difficult to explain and put into words.
The people of Vanuatu live in symbiosis with nature , eat delicious foods, and are all really lively and happy. Their smile is pure and beautiful, and I really felt like Vanuatu is a country where one can be safe, and live healthily. In Port Vila, the capital, in spite of Vanuatu being a country that spells out nature, there was everything from big supermarkets with everything you need or want, internet cafes, and restaurants that would satisfy anybody, and I was amazed and how I found anything I would need to live happily at hand's reach. Especially in the market, where you can both find really good foods at very reasonable prices and just being there is very exciting.
During my two weeks there, I saw many parts of the country.
I saw caves, hot springs from which I could enjoy a beautiful view of the sea, blue holes that were incredibly blue (large ponds made of sea water andr rain water), Champagne Beach, small rivers surrounded by trees that were so beautiful I thought they may be an illusion, and so many other things, too many to write about them all here.
Using a small airplane we crossed over to an other island (those small planes are lots of fun), where we saw and participated in Mr. Shagan's chief ceremony. The local people did many songs and dances. These were very powerfully beautiful and artistic. I felt I was very lucky to have seen such a performance live. We were also served traditional dishes that were delicious and I was very happy to have been able to experience all of this. We then took a truck, riding on the back and went around the jungle. Every tree was gigantic and each had its own wonderful and special shape. The nature was so pure and untouched, it really felt like a dinosaure might come out at any moment and I was at a loss for words.
Even now when I think back on my trip to Vanuatu I often wonder if it was not a dream, such were the experiences so much stronger than anything I had experienced. It had been a pure coincidence for me to decide to go to Vanuatu. I had wanted to go but had no plans for it and kept on hoping I would be able to go soon without ever being able to find the time. So when I think that by luck, just by having had the chance to go at the right time, having gone with so few expectations, the place Vanuatu had taken in my heart by the time I came back was just amazing. It was the first time I cried when coming back from abroad. There is limit in using words to tell people about Vanuatu. Please do go and see for yourself.
I am really thankfull I could go to Vanuatu, and I will go again!!!

 From:  Satoko K
 Title:  "Turtle Country"
 Date:  December 2006
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Our family went to Vanuatu for the first time last year in March. We liked it so much we went again this year in March, and stayed longer this time.
This time too, we were again amazed by the beautiful and plentiful nature of Vanuatu (especially how pure and transparent the sea is), the delicious food and meeting the wonderfully kind and helpful local people.
On this trip we took the Cangoola Cruise. It is a one day cruise that takes you to see an isolated island and allows you activities such as schnorkling. We were amazed by how clear the sea was. I swam out to where there was a depth of about 5m or more, and I could see the smallest fish on the bottom as well as the details of what was in the sand. I could see so many fish, star fish, coral things and sea life in general.
Until this second trip to Vanuatu, our 4 year old daughter disliked swimming even in the pool reserved for children and would always cry during her swimming lessons, but on this trip for the first time she enjoyed swimming and as long as she was given a swim ring, she was quite happy to go out into the sea on her own and enjoy. For our family this was a big event.
The most exciting part of the cruise for us and our daughter, whom many of you have met at the members' party, was when a very friendly pod of 30 dolphins swam next to our ship both on the way out and the way back in for about 20 minutes.
We strongly recommend this cruise for the next time you go. One can apply for it one of the many counters in Port Vila. We were also amazed by the results of our research on land prices in Vanuatu. Since the last time we were there about a year ago, land prices in Vanuatu have nearly doubled.
This time we home stayed at an Australian friend's house. He and his family (3 young boys) bought last year a house for about 25 million yen. The property is about 2000 square meters and the house is about 100m2. It turns out the property is now worth about 45million yen. The family we stayed with is extremely happy with that and feels both surprised and lucky to have had such an opportunity.
Also there are a lot of Australians that live there now, and they are all extremely friendly. They have built a very close nit but open community and there is a house party to go to most days of the week. Our family went to 2-3 parties every week for 3 weeks.
Both times we went to Vanuatu we used the same rental car services. According to the owner who arrived there 3 years ago and started a business, "If you want to start a business, there is no other country that presents a better opportunity than Vanuatu does now. I won't guarantee that you will be rich as soon as you open up, but I can tell you that your business will grow every year." Also when we told him about where our club's land was, he told us how lucky we were as "They are now constructing a golf course there, and they are about to start building a resort overlooking that golf course, One restaurant is currently also being built there and some more are being planned. There is no doubt this is an area with a lot of potential.
During our stay there we also noticed a lot of new hotels and restaurants have opened. We also saw and stayed for a few days in a new apartment, all set up with a very nice fridge and a washing machine. We found it very comfortable and thought the resort was extremely pleasant.
As last time we left Vanuatu with mixed feelings. We were very sad to leave but extremely excited by the growth of the place and the opportunities it presents for us. As of today, the population there is of about 200,000 which includes about 10,000 Australians.
We had a fantastic time in Vanuatu and we, especially our daughter who still refers to Vanuatu as the "Turtle Country", really look forward to our next visit.

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