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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : The Kingdom of Tonga

Duration of the stopover: 2 days

Our last stop-over before New Zealand is in the heart of a Pacific Kingdom : the Tonga. We are stopping in the south of the country, in the archipelagos of TongaTapu. There is indeed 170 islands in the Tonga, that belongs to 3 archipelagos : TongaTapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai.

The capital of the Tonga is Nuku'Alofa, localized on the archipelagos of TongaTapu. We will indeed visit it.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga

The visual aspect of Tonga
The flag may look like Switzerland but there is nothing more in between those two countries. The landscape itself doesn't reallylook like the Swiss Alps ! Our arrival by sea allows us to have a better idea about the relief of Tonga. The archipelagos of TongaTapu is made of many flat islands and we are sailing between them on the Bay of Nuku'Alofa. Also, we have the chance to spot those huge mammals : the whales.

I missed them in South Africa, in Ecuador, but this time I can see them in their natural environment. The morning we arrived, I can see those huge vertical line of water going in the air from the sea level. They are breathing... Impressive.

We arrive a saturday, but we crossed the International Date Line during the night, so this is sunday when we step on land. The Kingdom of Tonga is situated near this famous Line so they are also the first to celebrate New Year every january 1st. This Line is a touristic attraction, even if invisible, as the Ecuador.

A hotel use the name of this invisible but important Line

The Sunday in Nuku'Alofa, everything is closed. As a religious day, every activity stops. The Tongans are usually very religious. There are indeed many churches built in the capital of the Kingdom.

There are around 23000 inhabitants in Nuku'Alofa, which is the biggest city in the country. However, I don't think that this city is a reason to come for itself. Nuku'Alofa, except for the name, is not very charmful.

A street in the center of Nuku'Alofa

Some buildings have an interesting architecture though, like one of the many churches of the country. However, as I said, I don't think this city is a reason to come. The Kindgom of Tonga has much better things to offer.

Some building in Nuku'Alofa have an interesting architecture

The cultural aspect of the Tonga
It is not untrue to say that the Tongans are proud to belong to their Kingdom. On our sailing boat, we were able to hear the military band that was repeating for the birthday of the King, which would happen one month later.

The Palace of the King is unmissable, even from the sea. Many former Kings are also possible to see on the Tongan bills.

The Palace of the King is unmissable

The national sport is Rugby. The team of Tonga is regularly qualified for the Rugby World Cup. By the way, Tonga will play France in the next World Cup happening in New Zealand. It is quite easy to find a rugby field in Nuku'Alofa.

It is quite easy to find a rugby field in Nuku'Alofa.

I often wondered how a country with so few people can have a team able to compete with the bests. I think that part of the answer must be genetic. Indeed, most of the Tongans are at least 30 centimeters and 50 kilos more than me. In some words, they are born to play rugby !

Here I am with Wesley (or «Uesitalingi-Nau » in Tongan), our guide in Nuku'Alofa

In only two days, it is of course difficult to have a proper idea of a country. I can only have some glimpses without fully understanding it. I remember for example the traditional clothes that the locals were wearing. The men wear a « tupenu », which is a kind of dress that remind the Malaysian « sarong ». The Tongan culture seems to be part of the daily life. Maybe that the geographic situation of the Kingdom of Tonga helps to keep its own culture without being touched too much by the globalization of the world.

In many ways, Tonga gave me the desire to come back one day to know more about the way of life of the locals. Another place to rediscover !

From now on, I am ready to start the last leg of the TransPacific. Let's go to New Zealand !

See you soon,

Jeremy



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