Gill and her friend, Louise, were admiring the tropical flowers on display at Fugalei markets when the subject of orchid varieties sparked up a conversation with Dear Tourist.
Gill the flower enthusiast is a V.S.A worker from New Zealand who currently resides in Samoa but she was adamant that we speak to her friend Louise and her two boys who were visiting her for the school holidays.
Louise was very excited to talk about her experience here.
“It’s been wonderful,” Louise said. “It’s a very beautiful country, I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the greenery, the flowers, the colours, the villages and the gardens. Driving around has been really interesting and quite an adventure.”
Her son, Oscar, agreed with mum.
“I like how everything is so green and there are all different plants and different fruits. My favorite thing to eat was the papaya,” he said.
Louise was impressed with how easy it was to move around and that Samoa exceeded her expectations on many levels.
“It’s a lot more than I expected, much much more,” Louise said. “I’ve been really overwhelmed with how beautiful it is and just how easy it’s been to travel on our own. We’ve travelled around on our own here, I hired a car and we drove and everyone was really helpful here – it’s just really safe travelling here. It’s very child friendly here. The boys have had an amazing time.”
A highlight for the boys was going to see the To Sua trench. Louise’s son, Charlie, was the only one with the courage to go down there.
They are also big fans of the turtles in Savai’i.
“I liked staying in the fales and snorkeling, swimming with the turtles and going down To Sua trench”
For Louise and the boys, staying in the beach fales was an experience that they wouldn’t forget and one that they recommend every one do at some stage during their holiday in Samoa
“We stayed at Matareva fales and it’s been one of my highlights staying there and they had boys the same ages as my boys and they all just played on the beach and went swimming at night.
“I loved sleeping so close to the ocean, there was this beautiful, beautiful view. You get up in the morning and there was the ocean right in front of you. Also it was a really good beach for snorkeling and it was wonderful.”
While staying in a resort is lovely and luxurious, Louise felt that you can get that kind of experience everywhere and that if one really wanted to get as close to living the culture as possible, its best to try something much simpler.
“We also stayed at Saletoga Sands Resort which was vey nice as well but a different experience. It’s good to do both. It’s good to go experience the beach fale and not just the resort. You definitely have to stay in at a beach fale for a couple of nights to really get the feel for what its like here and be a part of the family experience. The food was great, very, very good – I highly recommend them.”
Louise told Dear Tourist that the authenticity of Samoa really resonated with her and her family,
“We’ve travelled a lot and what I really, really loved is that there are still parts that are very, very authentic. You just get a sense that you’re not one of a hundred tourists. You are kind of getting more of a unique experience but also the opportunity to stay on the beach – where else can you do that?
“You can stay in a resort in Mexico or Thailand or wherever, a resort is a resort, they have a similar theme and a similar feel but the beach fales were just fantastic. Particularly for kids, to give them that kind of experience, its really good.”
As well as checking out the sights, Louise and the boys got a chance to tag along with some of the VSA volunteers and other ex pats here on the island, the experience she said was very rewarding and best thing was that her children got to experience all of that with her.
“We’ve already talked about coming back and I feel sad to go home, really sad.” Said Louise, “It’s been lovely and its been great to see Gill and also see all the expat community here who are working and living here. Its been good to see the great things they are doing here as well so that’s been really interesting for my kids to see that.”