From the hills of Austria to the mountains of Samoa

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 16 January 2018, 12:00AM

When Mathias and Markus of Austria introduced themselves to Dear Tourist along the seawall, it was only natural that we ask after the famous town of Salzburg in Austria where it seems everyone’s childhood movie, the Sound of Music was filmed.

“Really?” said a surprised Markus. “Not many people know that it was filmed there. We live two hours from Salzburg.”

Mathias added: “Awww I don’t think it ever looked like it did in the movie.” 

He joked: “Oh actually yeah, the town still has some buildings still standing and the bridge is still there and the Von Trapp’s house still exists and of course lots of rolling hills alive with the sound of music.”

We see what he did there.

 The two travellers have been backpacking all over the world and have found themselves in a region that they only ever heard about as existing at the end of the world.

“The Pacific just seemed like a faraway fairytale,” said Mathias. “Like we didn’t even know that Vanuatu existed.”

Markus added, “And it’s just that idea of the tropical island paradise, like if you mention Samoa or Fiji in Europe everyone is like oh wow, they will be jealous that you get to go and visit.”

Wanting to discover the world’s best kept secret in the Pacific, the friends had their eye on the islands as they were planning their itinerary. 

“We thought about what Pacific countries we could visit,” said Mathias.

“We were really interested in the Pacific cultures like the different cultures there are and the similarities that there are between them,” said Markus. 

“For us, very, very externally - the languages sound kind of familiar just the vowels and the sequences of letters sometimes and syllables.

“We just came from Vanuatu and Fiji and then last year we visited New Zealand which I think that technically counts as South Pacific.”

The friends had only been in Samoa two days and so far their impressions have been kept to just the town area of Apia, 

“Compared to Vanuatu, Samoa seems fairly well off and it just seem like there’s more money. Vanuatu seems like a poor place in comparison.”

“My general impression before coming here was that Samoa was that it was a luxury resort-y place and that if you’re wealthy enough, you can come and stay here.”

“And that’s the impression that most people in Europe would have of the Pacific anyway. Because it’s so far away and it’s hard to get here and it’s so far away. Of course you have seen all the fancy resorts that Fiji and French Polynesia market online.”

The two Austrians were staying at Olivia’s but were heading to Lalomanu yesterday hoping to catch the next bus out. 

Planning on staying two weeks, they hoped to see more of the “old Samoa” outside of the capital city township and they were looking forward to spending some time in Savaii where they heard was more of the slow pace they were looking for.

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 16 January 2018, 12:00AM

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