Sorry folks, I didn't mean to drop off for a week, but was out contact with the world for a week, thanks to a last-minute opportunity to go to the Solomon Islands on a media famil thanks to the Solomon Islands Visitors' Bureau. I have just had such an amazing, relaxing, exciting week checking out Honiara and some of the small islands nearby.
The islands felt so welcoming, it was a real novelty to travel somewhere and feel so safe and unhassled. Which is a little ironic, considering they had a coup a few years ago and Australian RAMSI peacekeeping forces are still in the area, although that's probably partly to thank for the mood, but mostly it was just that the locals were friendly and everyone would say hello to you as you walked through the town or around a small village.
It reminded me a little of Ecuador, one of my favourite countries to travel in, as they both share that friendliness, but also because there was so much to see and you don't have to cover great distances to see something entirely different. They also have both managed to avoid being overrun with tourists, instead it feels much more like the locals are still in control and gaining some benefits from tourism without having it change their way of life. Like any country it has its problems, mainly race tensions, but it was an incredible place to visit. I've never been to any Pacific islands before, so it was also a novel to travel such a short distance but be somewhere so different from home.
The bustling market in Honiara. Everything is laid out very neatly because of council rules, but it's quite stunning visually to see such artistically arranged bright fruits, cloths, seafood and more. (Apologies for a not great quality photo, I don't have as many of people as I'd like, so I need to hold the decent ones I have back for the story in the mag.)
A lei to welcome us to Maravagi Resort, about two hours boat ride from the capital, Honiara.
The beach hut we stayed in for a couple of nights at Maravagi. You could snorkel just a couple of metres off shore and be swimming with rainbow, angel, and other tropical fish over coral.
The view back to our little hut and beach.
Stunning bright foliage. The islands were so lush and green - it's always such a treat to see such a verdant place after years of drought in Australia.
And what would a trip to a tropical island be without sipping from a coconut on the beach.
All up, I felt so lucky to have this opportunity, even if now I'm coming down with a thump to the real world of the end of semester essays being due!