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News August 2009   (Papeete/Tahiti/French Polynesia, August 28, 2009)

Website statistics:   In July we were able to welcome on our website 29'138 visitors who did 1'041'609 hits.
                                          (June = 32'886 visitors 1'165'979 Hits / May = 35'734 visitors – 1'247'634 Hits)
                                  The visitors are coming from about 156 different countries!
                                  Record day since 12/17/1998 = the birthday of our website: 11/5/2007 = 13'407 visitors and 787'456 hits
Finally we made it to 'advance' with our LandCruiser into the "Center of the Pacific", to Tahiti in French Polynesia. It was  a long
standing wish, which now came true.
While our Toyota made its third voyage with the reliable shipping line "Greater Bali Hai" in the 16th container from Pago Pago in
American Samoa directly to Papeete in Tahiti, we had to fly to our 165th destination via Apia in Samoa and Auckland in
New Zealand due to missing airline connections. In doing so we made additionally a 9-day 'car-free' stop in Avarua on
Rarotonga in the Cook-Islands. Unfortunately the climate there was pretty chilly so that the sojourn on the beach didn't meet our
On August 11th, we flew with Air Rarotonga – which turned out to be an aircraft of Air Tahiti – into the 'South Sea Paradise'
of Tahiti, where the doubtful reputation precedes of being the "world's most expensive place". A small foretaste was already
experienced in Air Tahiti's prop-airplane: Whereas it's in the meantime known that budget airlines don't offer the former in-flight
service – that's why it's cheap – these air fares are rather hefty, probably in the 'business class tariff range'. During the nearly
2½-hour flight, just a small cold snack is served besides a cup of water. Quite the contrary to Air New Zealand's flight on the
ealier sector from Auckland: During its nearly twice as long but half as expensive flight, everybody was genuinely spoilt according
to the "good old manner".
However the private accommodation, found on the internet in the vicinity of Papeete, showed to be a 'gem'. Not only is the room
rate a steal in Tahiti, also its situation on a hill and its outfit don't leave open many wishes at a price of US$ 45/day (from two
weeks' stay). The island of Tahiti doesn't have campsites, and camping freely is extremely difficult due to its dense population and
mountainous topography. The downside of our accommodation lies in the very poor public transport system, although it's only a
mere 6 miles into the city center of Papeete; rental cars are – as are hotels and restaurants – in the lap of luxury, which has nearly
no upper limit. However, shopping in supermarkets, self-cooking and living at locals can be even in French Polynesia within the
borders of a smaller budget – and we have luckily our own mean of transport with us.
Customs was once more without any problems: Stamping the 'Carnet de Passages en Douane' and entry in the 165th country
would have been completed. But it's exactly the subjunctive that is the stumbling block: Because the customs wished us to pay a
formal visit at the licensing department, big worries started to crawl over the horizon. The local lady boss at this office had the
weird idea that we would need to do the complete procedure as every definitively imported car has to go through, even if it
remains not even three months. She insisted so stubbornly on her opinion until an order from the Minister of Transport freed us
from our awkward situation. It was also awkward due to the fact hat we already paid more than US$ 700 of port fees on arrival,
and an inevitably deviation would have cost the same amount again as well as the new freight charges – without having driven one
mile at all. Papeete belongs unfortunately to the trio of the world's most expensive harbors, besides Nouméa in New Caledonia
and Port Vila in Vanuatu. But thanks to the understanding of other Tahitians, our LandCruiser could finally enter as the first tourist
car, even if we personally – apart from our pictures – aren't able to contribute much against the recession of about 30% in the
tourism sector. But every drop helps, and our website receives fortunately many visitors.
Another problem in Tahiti showed to be getting enough cash: While we were able so far in the whole world to find a solution at
an ATM with our plastic card, shortages arise here particularly if there is a need to get larger amounts to pay port fees for
instance. In real development countries, like e.g. Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, where ATM's don't pay out big amounts of
money, it's possible at least to cash-in every day once or twice. But not in Tahiti: Here it doesn't pay out much either (about
US$ 350); but after even a single draw the card remains blocked for a whole week at all the cash-points. This isn't due to the
issuing bank; it's due to the Polynesian banking system. Athough the card can still be used at hotels, restaurants and shops, it isn't
anymore possible to get cash. Nobody knows exactly why: Security is hardly the reason; it's rather to avoid the drainage of hard
currency from the "island kingdom". Certainly it isn't beneficial for the ailing tourism business, at least not for those who don't
cavort in the "super-luxurious-business" that is nowadays anyway already in the downsizing process. The few airline companies
that fly to Tahiti take care that any possible fare is squeezed unrivaledly.
                                                              Tahiti/French Polynesia - 'Climbing' the Taravao-Plateau on Tahiti-Iti (Taiarapu). In the background the main island Tahiti-Nui
The coming two months we shall discover the charme of the South Pacific. That means the islands of Moorea and Tahiti, which
are part of the Windward Islands (Îles du Vent) within the group of the Society Islands (Archipel de la Société). French
Polynesia consists overall of five different archipels (Society Islands, Tuamotus, Marquesas, Austral and Gambier) scattered over
an area of 965'255 sq.mi.; the land area is just 1'622 sq.mi. – the main island of Tahiti even only 403.5 sq.mi., where 68% of the
population of about 260'000 people is living. Regrettably and mentioned already before, the cost of any transports are very high
– the only exception being Moorea – hence every visit of any other island, particularly to the "4x4-group" of the Marquesas
Islands, isn't affordable for our budget, if already a flight is feasible only for the 'big income earner'. But we don't want to
complain, as we are happy and proud to have made it with our LandCruiser with our own means into the heart of the Pacific.
The few corners that we were yet able to discover due to the rather rainy weather, let us imagine the extraordinary beauty of the
South Sea.

New Reports/Pictures
SOUTHEAST ASIA + PACIFIC:                                  mouse over picture shows comments
                                                                                                              click a picture to see details


French Polynesia
Picture Gallery
(Aug. - ....  2009)
Tahiti/French Polynesia: One type of Tahiti's main flower with many names - Frangipani, Plumeria, Tiare Tahiti
Cook Islands (without car)
Picture Gallery
(Aug. 2009)
Rarotonga Island Cook Islands/Rarotonga: Beauty from the South Pacific
American Samoa
Picture Gallery
(July 2009)
American Samoa: View from Pago Pago towards the 1'718ft. high Rainmaker Mountain (Pioa Mountain)
4 Picture Reports:
(April-June 2009)
Island of Upolu: 1st part
Island of Upolu: 2nd part
Independence Day  June 1st, 2009
Island of Savaii
Apia/Samoa: Coat of Arms of Samoa in front of the Government Office Building
3 Picture Galleries:
(Jan.-March 2009)
Suva/Fiji: Guard at the Parliament House
1st part: Island of Viti Levu (Jan.+Febr. 2009)
2nd part: Island of Vanua Levu (March 2009)
3rd part: Island of Taveuni (March 2009)
2 Picture Galleries:
(1st visit: July 2008)
(2nd visit: Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009)
Vanuatu 1st visit (without car)
Vanuatu 2nd visit (with car)
Vanuatu: Boeing 737-800 of Air Vanuatu at the airport of Port Vila
New Caledonia
3 Picture Galleries:
(Aug.-Oct. 2008)
New Caledonia: Nouméa and the St. Joseph Cathedral
1st part: Grand Terre: Nouméa + South (Aug.2008)
2nd part: Grand Terre: North #1 (Aug.+Sept. 2008)
3rd part: Grand Terre: North #2 (Sept.+Oct. 2008)
New Zealand
6 Picture Galleries:
(South Island: Febr.-May 2008)
(North Island: May-July 2008)
1st part: South Island (Febr.+March 2008)
2nd part: South Island (March 2008)
3rd part: South Island (April 2008)
4th part: South to North Island (May 2008)
5th part: North Island (May+June 2008)
6th part: North Island (June+July 2008)
New Zealand: South Island - typically
Philippines (without car) Picture Gallery
(Febr. 2008)

Philippines: Ricefields near Sagada/Mountain Province/Northern Luzon

3 Picture Reports:
(Oct.- Nov. 2007)
1st part: Kaohsiung-Kenting-Taitung
2nd part: Taitung-Southern Cross-
Island Hwy-Siraya NSA (Zengwun Reservoir)-Alishan-Sun Moon Lake -Taroko-Suao-Hualien Hwy-Taipei
3rd part: Taipei-Taitung-Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung/Taiwan: God of War at Lotus Pond
Timor-Leste (East Timor)
2 Picture Reports:
(May 2007)

Oecussi/Timor-Leste: Landscape East of Oecussi-'Town'

Exclave of Oecussi
1 Report + 6 Picture Galleries:
(Sumatra-Java: Sept.-Dec. 2006)
(Bali: Jan.-March 2007)
(Lombok, Sumabawa, Flores: April 2007)
(Sumba, West Timor: May+June 2007)
(Sulawesi:June+July 2007)
(Tana Toraja (-Land): June+July 2007)
(Kalimantan: July 2007)
Sumatra-Java    (= Report)
Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores
Sumba, West Timor
Tana Toraja (Toraja-Land)
Ke'te Kesu near Rantepao/Sulawesi/Indonesia: Traditional Toraja village
Picture Report
(Sept. 2006)
Brunei (Borneo): ’The 'Ali Saifuddien'-Mosque at sunset in Bandar Seri Begawan
3 Picture Reports:
(Sarawak: 1st visit: June-Aug. 2006)
(Sabah: Oct. 2006)
(Sarawak: 2nd visit: Nov. 2006)
Picture Gallery:
(Borneo-Trip: Sept.-Nov. 2006)
Sarawak part 1 Northeast (Miri)
Sarawak part 2 South (Kuching)
Borneo (Sabah, Brunei, Sarawak, Kalimantan)
Sepilok near Sandakan/Sabah/East-Malaysia (Borneo): Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center
Picture Report
(Engine/Body: June-Aug. 2006)
(Transmission: Sept. 2007)

Miri/Sarawak/East-Malaysia (Borneo): Overhaul of our LandCruiser in 'Full Swing'

Report of the first overhaul of 
our LandCruiser in Miri/Sarawak
- the East Malaysian province
on the island of Borneo
Myanmar (South) (without car)
Picture Report
(May 2006)
Myanmar: Waiting for customers in Kawthoung
2 Picture Galleries:
(1st visit: Nov. 1993 - Jan. 1994)
(2nd visit: Nov. - Dec. 2005)
(3rd visit: Febr. - April 2006)
Thailand: Ho Phra I-Suan Temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat
Temples, Pagodas, Shrines

People, Beaches, Nature

Picture Report
(February 2006)

Laos: The ’Patuxai’, the Laotian replica of the French ’Arc de Triomphe’ in Paris

Picture Report
(January 2006)
Vietnam: Two women cultivating a rice field
Picture Report
(December 2005)

Cambodia: The main temple of Angkor Wat with its five towers viewed from the hill of the ’Phnom Bakheng’ - Temple

Malaysia (West)
Picture Report
(Oct. - Nov. 2005)
(May 2006)
Malaysia: The four minarets of the ’Sultan Salahuddin’ State Mosque in Shah Alam are visible already from far
Picture Gallery
(September 2005)

Singapore: High-rise buildings pop up everywhere - here behind the Parliament House

Macao   (without car)
Picture Gallery
(September 2005)

Macao: The ’St. Paul’ ruin is an inspiring sight also at night

Hong Kong
2 Picture Galleries:
(1st visit: September 2005)
(2nd visit: Dec. 2007-Jan. 2008)


Hong Kong 1st visit (without car)
Hong Kong 2nd visit (with car)
Hong Kong: From ’Hong Kong Peak’ we get an excellent view of the ’skyscraper jungle’
The visit of 11 Pacific Islands with and 1 without our LandCruiser

Pacific   February 2008 -

The visit of 13 Caribbean Islands with our LandCruiser

Caribbean   June 2003-Dec. 2004

+ added from the United Arab Emirates:

Fairytale Wedding in Dubai   (March 1999)

+ added from a earlier visit to the USA:

Las Vegas    (Millennium change)

+ added from our Arabian Peninsula round trip:

Pictures from Yemen (May-June 1996)

+ Flashbacks of our Worldrecordtour:

Pictures from "all the continents" (Oct. 1984 - April 1997)

+ Follow-ups about Toyota-Experiences:
Encounters resp. "Ups + Downs" with
Toyota Companies since 1982
On July 7th, 2005, we were able to celebrate after a journey through 150 countries the car's
600'000th Kilometer - very prosaic in front of the post office in Cayenne/French Guiana.
On June 10th, 2009, we were able to celebrate after a journey through 163 countries the car's
400'000th Mile - in a beautiful landscape in the West of the island of Savaii/Samoa.
Are you interested into the LandCruiser History, prepared by Toyota Motor Sales USA and taken over by
Toyota Motor United Kingdom? (after some loading-time please klick "IN LEGEND" and afterwards "HAIR TO MAGELLAN"


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