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News November 2009   (Nuku'alofa/Tonga, November 24, 2009)

>  Due to problems in Tonga the News of December 2009 and January 2010 will be merged.
Website statistics:   In October we were able to welcome on our website 46'467 visitors who did 1'596'484 hits.
                                          (September = 36'691 visitors 1'229'110 Hits / August = 33'217 visitors 1'115'318 Hits)
                                  The visitors are coming from about 162 different countries!
                                  Record day since 12/17/1998 = the birthday of our website: on 11/5/2007 = 13'407 visitors and 787'456 hits
Since three weeks we are in one of the last "real" kingdoms of the world   – in Tonga. However, also this won't work anymore
much longer as an "absolute" monarchy, because King George Tupou V announced three days ahead of his coronation on
August 1, 2008, that he will relinquish much of his power to the prime minister, once the parliament gets elected for the first time
in 2010. Yet we had the chance to see His Majesty already "live" during our first week in Tonga, when he laid a wreath at the
Cenotaph in honor of the victims of World War I
Tonga is in a way unique: As already mentioned it is (still) an "absolute" Kingdom – by the way the only in the Pacific – that
consists of 169 islands of which only 36 are inhabited; then the rather small main island of Tongatapu (100 sq.mi.), where the
capital of Nuku'alofa with about 23'000 people sits, is completely flat and peppered with innumerable coconut palm trees under
which a lot of vegetables is grown on a very fertile soil; until 1995, Tonga was the first place to greet on New Years Day the new
year, because it is situated a bit East of the International Dateline (GMT +13); but afterwards this feature was taken over by the
Republic of Kiribati, its island of Kiritimati (Christmas Island) that lies even more to the East (GMT +14"); Tonga produced
during the 1970s and 80s huge oversized coins (Pa'anga >2½ in.) and the Tongan stamps featured the strangest shapes (e.g.
forms of hearts, bananas); furthermore Tonga sold passports for US$20'000 to wealthy foreigners as a source of income,
amongst others to Chinese from Hong Kong, who were afraid of the upcoming takeover by China; the former ruler – King
Taufa'ahau Tupou IV – who died on 9/10/2006 – was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "world's heaviest
monarch", weighing 434 pounds; Sunday on Tonga is a strict day of rest – all commerce and entertainment (even sport events) is
prohibited during 24 hours, which is even stipulated in the constitution for ever; hence there are no planes flying and ships sailing,
there are neither buses driving nor shops, restaurants, internet cafes and gasoline stations open; and last but not least, Tonga was
never colonized – it became from 5/18/1900 just a British protectorate for the following 70 years.
But unfortunately not everything was always peaceful, although the Tonga island group was called formerly also 'the Friendly
Islands': Already during the 12th century, the Tongans consisted of a "net of seafarers, chieftains and adventurers" and had from
the 17th to the 19th century always their feuds between different clans. Obviously this wasn't the end, as on 11/16/2006 riots
and violence erupted in Nuku'alofa, when around 70% of the city was burnt down, some casualties were mourned and over
US$60m of damage was counted for. According to the "Pacific speed", still today – three years later – the destructions are
visible clearly everywhere in downtown: Besides some new buildings and construction sites, there are still many gaps.
The more than 100'000 Tongans are genuine Polynesians and look partly "tanned". As already their previous King, they tend to
"obesity", speak Tongan and mostly also English. They are strictly religious Christians, the majorities are members of sects
(Wesleyans, Mormons, etc.). As a change, driving in Tonga is once more on the left side, according to the British tradition.
Hence we had to move for the 22nd time from the right (on Tahiti) to the left side in Tonga, which thereby became our 45th
country of "driving on the wrong" side.
Again we were lucky concerning accommodation. Located 6 miles out of Nuku'alofa on the South coast we found a small resort
hotel. Like on most of the previous Pacific islands, camping is not only discouraged but even explicitly forbidden. Thus, we
rented once more a bungalow with cooking possibilities on a monthly basis (US$40/day), because the next vessel of the "Greater
Bali Hai" shipping line will arrive only shortly before Christmas. Whether we book for this opportunity, or whether we take the
following one in mid-January due to the elevated higher airfares over Christmas/New Year, is not yet cleared.
Because Tongatapu doesn't have a reef, the prevailing Southeast surf pounds pretty heavily on the coral limestone; otherwise we
enjoy the quietness and nature around us. Even if initially there were some difficulties with internet, it works now sometimes
amazingly well, but also amazingly slow; but we have to keep in mind where we are situated.
                                                              Tonga/Tongatapu: Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa
We are sure that we shall know more in the December "News", where and when we shall end up after Tonga.

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


Picture Gallery
(Nov. 2009 - Jan. 2010)
Tongatapu Island Nuku'alofa/Tongatapu/Tonga: Royal Palace
French Polynesia
2 Picture Galleries + 1 Report
(Aug. -Oct.  2009)
Tahiti/French Polynesia: One type of Tahiti's main flower with many names - Frangipani, Plumeria, Tiare Tahiti 1st part  Picture Gallery  (Aug.-Sept. 2009)

Tahiti 2nd part Picture Gallery  (Oct. 2009)

Moorea Picture Report   (Sept. 2009)

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 13 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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