Hear about cruising the islands of Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu) as the Amateur Traveler talks to Sherry Ott from OttsWorld.com about an unusual expedition cruise.
In response to the question “Why should someone go to Melanesia?”, Sherry says:
“There’s a few reasons. One is culture by far. If you are into visiting places with culture that is vastly different than our own that is very remote and untouched. But yet open to tourism that right there is for me, number one, and why I went.”
“It’s also a part of what they call the coral triangle. It’s where all the coral grows. I think they said 75% of the world’s shallow water reef building. Coral is located there. So that means really great snorkeling, like beautiful snorkeling as well as diving. We stuck to snorkeling though, so if you are an underwater enthusiast, this is a great place to go.”
“If you are a birder, This is a wonderful place to go. I am not a birder, but there were a lot of birders with me, and I find them fascinating. That’s an interesting culture in and of itself. But they’ve got hundreds and thousands of unique bird varieties there, and they are hard to find because of the dense jungles on remote islands. So very rare birds to be found there.”
“And then finally, you go there if you wanna learn more about World War II history.”
Sherry was traveling on an expedition class ship with Heritage Expeditions from New Zealand and they were stopping at small remote islands, some of which had not seen tourists in years. Their visit would often start with a ceremonial “welcome” of people running out to their boats with spears and war chants. Of course, not too long ago, this would have been more than ceremonial.
Then the people of the island would usually put on a cultural presentation of song and dance known in the region as a sing sing. Each village had its own unique costumes, dances, and even musical instruments. One village had an electric bass while many had drums and bamboo instruments. One village used the ocean itself as an instrument. A village tour would usually follow the sing sing.
The villages don’t do this sort of elaborate presentation every day so sometimes hundreds of other locals would trek for a day or so to come and see or to present their crafts to these strange-looking visitors.
Along the way, Sherry learned more about WWII history including the siege of Rabaul, JFK and PT 109, and Admiral Yamamoto. They snorkeled where you could see shot-down fighter planes and went to Million Dollar Point where the U.S. sunk millions of dollars of equipment out of spite.
They say rare birds including one whose feathers were used for currency on these islands that had no access to metals for coins.
This episode is a dive into the deep end of cultural tourism. Even if you never go to a sing sing, I think you will find it fascinating.
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Papua New Guinea
Tevau (red feather currency)
Tetepare Island Ecolodge
Patrol torpedo boat PT-109
Million Dollar Point
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