Mumpty and her extended family (a group of 15) recently enjoyed an AMAZING holiday in Samoa to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of our parents. We were there from the 26th of September to the 7th of October (Mumpty’s birthday, btw!) – the “dry season” runs from May to October, so we were pretty disappointed (aka grumpy!) to see this on our weather app:
Ugggghhhh. But never fear! Because despite the app predicting relentless rain, thunder and even lightening for our entire visit, we ACTUALLY got HEAPS of sun. Sure, it rained every now and then (mostly at night) – but it was warm and refreshing and within 20 minutes it had buggered off!
But anyway; I digress. Herewith Mumpty’s Top 10 Tips (in no particular order – in fact, in a completely random order) …
Tip # 1 – Get cash out in New Zealand and exchange it when you get to Samoa. That’s assuming you’re from New Zealand of course – if you’re not, don’t come here first to get money – that would be silly – and expensive. Although, New Zealand is a very beautiful country, so you probably should consider it. Anyway, we got money out in New Zealand and when we got through Customs in Samoa there were three options outside the airport to exchange money. The ANZ booth had the biggest queue and that was because they had the best rate, so we waited 20 minutes or so for them to change our money for us. There is an ANZ ATM 5 minutes down the road at The Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort if you get stuck – I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you got cash out there – apparently the ANZ ATM’s exchange rates are pretty good too. Do your research though because Lord knows Mumpty is no financial expert. But that is what worked for us. Oh – and get a decent amount out at a time because you get charged a foreign currency fee every time you use the ATM and that can get expensive. I got out $NZ500 and that exchanged to 894 tala if that helps. You don’t really need that much cash though – just enough for entry fees and the like. Most of your expenses will get charged to your room anyway and you just pay when you check out.
Tip # 2 – Expect your hair to be a nightmare. Obviously this is an extremely important travel tip. Unless you are blessed with hair that turns to glorious ringlets in the presence of salt water and humidity (like my daughter’s) or hair that returns itself to sleek and glossy (like my niece’s) then you must be prepared for THE FUZZ. Uggghhhhh. As vain as this may sound, there aren’t many things that make Mumpty feel less glamorous and more frumpy than fuzzy hair. But fuzzy hair I had for the entire holiday and really – I pretty much got over it in the end. It may have even cured my need to have access to power for my GHD while camping – but shhhhh – I’m not admitting that yet – in case it’s simply not true. Anyway – this was Mumpty’s hair reality in Samoa:
Suffice to say, Mumpty does not “do” beach glam and so there was a lot of hat-wearing in Samoa (which caused hat-hair problems, but they seemed pale in comparison to THE FUZZ.) Also, did you know pigtails are TOTALLY appropriate for a 48-year-old in Samoa? Because they are.
Tip # 3 – Take Immodium and an assortment of other drugs – and when I say drugs, I mean the totally innocent stuff you get from the supermarket/chemist back home. Obviously. OK, so we were told not to trust the water; don’t eat the salads as they’ve been washed in water etc etc, but really, I reckon nearly everyone is going to get some level of stomach upset in Samoa, no matter what you do. It just happens. Well – it happened to our whole family anyway! You could say we all “lost our confidence” for a while there – and by that I mean we lost confidence in our ability to be too far away from the toilet. Sorry if that’s TMI – in fact I know it is – but #sorrynotsorry
Immodium (or whatever else they call it) is pretty much a necessity I believe – particularly if you have to travel or fly that day. It helps to avoid any potentially embarrassing or messy situations! Also … Panadol is handy in case you get a headache from dehydration – it’s not always easy to find medication over there.
Handy tip: the bigger resorts seem to have a little stash of things travellers need: Panadol, ear drops (lots of travellers get sore ears from swimming apparently), Immodium etc.
Also take Zovirax if you ever get coldsores; the sun will bring those suckers out and you want to avoid them like the plague if you can. And maybe an antiseptic cream – any little cuts you may get from the coral and stuff seem to get infected really easily.
So yep – pack the drugs! Mumpty bought a little arsenal of stuff, thinking she wouldn’t need it, and lo and behold … we used pretty much all of it! Disclaimer: its best to keep any medication in its original packaging and make sure you declare it to Customs.
Tip # 4 – Go to the To-Sua Trench. Because … AMAZING. Seriously.
There is, of course, the not-so-small issue of the 20 metre ladder to get down there. It blows Mumpty away that she did it without crying or falling off (although in fairness, the death grip I had on those rungs was so strong it would have taken a hurricane to dislodge me!) But once you’ve survived the ladder and you’re in the water; the place is phenomenal. It’s 30 metres deep in parts and is crystal-clear and absolutely beautiful. I’m not really even that much of a swimmer to be honest, but I stayed in there for a good hour or so – probably longer. It cost 20 tala each and it was worth EVERY cent. Visit their website here.
Tip # 5 – Be careful, because there are no H&S rules in Samoa! (As you can tell that by the ladder at the To-Sua Trench!) If that was in New Zealand there’d be a safety briefing first; you’d have to sign a waiver and you’d be wearing a harness! Well, maybe not all that, but you certainly wouldn’t just all fire over the edge and off you go like you do in Samoa! And speaking of being careful … you know how I said there are no H&S rules in Samoa? Well as a result of that, we experienced probably our most scary parenting moment EVER. Our 12-year-old daughter misjudged her footing; slipped and fell off a 3.5 metre (unfenced) deck onto small but sharp little rocks. And survived – intact – and without injury. Apart from the 15 minutes where she couldn’t move and we thought she was paralysed. Yeah – that. Ugggghhhhhh. But all’s well that ends well – we are very grateful she’s OK and there was a doctor on hand to check her out and ensure her spinal cord was OK before she decided to move.
Of course, there was also that one time (at Band Camp!) that we heard a little “pop” and wouldn’t you know it, our brakes completely failed at the top of a hill with 13 of us in the van. But that’s another story, for another time!
OK … so I’ve just realised this post has got looonnnnnnng. Too long to add another 5 top tips, so I’m going to cut it here and make another post with the last 5 tips. UPDATE: I’ve linked it here.
Soakin’ it up in Samoa …