27 July, 2011     

Time Zone Change Details Confirmed

The Samoa Tourism Authority advises that the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour has confirmed details regarding the time zone change which will happen towards the end of December this year

According to the release , 'The International Date Line Act 2011 commences at 12 o’clock midnight, on Thursday 29th December 2011'.  This means that after midnight on 29 December, it will be 31 December with Samoa time moving an hour ahead of New Zealand and three ahead of Australia.

The Ministry further advised that Samoa Standard Time will be +13 hours of UTC and Samoa Daylight Saving Time will be +14 hours of UTC.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour
Level 4, ACC House
Apia, Samoa
Telephone: +685 20441
Facsimile: +685 20443
Email: mpal@mcil.gov.ws

  26 July, 2011     

Survivor South Pacific (filmed in Samoa)

Survivor: South Pacific is the twenty-third season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, which will premiere in the USA on Wednesday, September 14, 2011. The season was filmed in the vicinity of Upolu, Samoa, which is the same filming location as season 19 and season 20, and it will also serve as the location for season 24 - Redemption Island, first introduced in the prior season, will return.

This season will feature 16 new players to Survivor, as well as two returning players.

Source: Wikipedia

  19 July, 2011     

Resort gets thumbs up, again

For the third time in four years, Samoa’s Aggie Grey’s Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa has been voted by Australian guests one of the South Pacific’s top resorts.

It was also the only Samoan resort to make the top five, with others in the list being located in Vanuatu, the Cook Islands (two properties) and Tahiti; Fiji had its own separate winners, with ten properties due to its larger size.

Family-travel specialists, Holiday with Kids invited readers of its print and online magazine to vote for their favourite resorts in Asia, Australia, the South Pacific and the USA, and with the assistance of Club Med, Ubid 4 Rooms and Take a Break, reached a database of nearly 500,000 holidaymakers.

Participants registered their votes for the top 10 winners in the larger regions and destinations, and top five in others

Readers who voted Aggie Grey’s Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa into the top five “Rest of the South Pacific” gave it the thumbs-up for its fun and educational facilities for children, including its Dolphins Kids Club that is open from early morning to late at night with healthy supervised activities, and programs that involve children in learning about and understanding the culture and lifestyle of the Samoan people.

The Dolphins Kids Club was also popular for allowing parents quality-time to themselves to enjoy the resort’s many facilities, knowing their children were in safe hands.

For details about holidaying at Aggie Grey’s Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa, that is set within 90ha of tropical gardens looking out to the picturesque island of Savaii, see travel agents.

Source: The Coffs Coast Advocate

  17 July, 2011     

Brilliant Samoa stun Wallabies in Sydney

Samoa dealt Australia a reality check eight weeks out from the Rugby World Cup with a stunning 32-23 upset victory over the Wallabies in Sydney.

Tiny Samoa, population 180,000, out-scored Australia four tries to two to post their first-ever win over the Wallabies in front of almost 30,000 shellshocked fans at ANZ Stadium.

The embarrassing defeat - which reversed Australia's 74-7 trouncing of Samoa in their last meeting with the Pacific Islanders at the same venue six years ago - is a major setback six days before the Wallabies launch their Tri Nations campaign against world champions South Africa.

Springboks coach Peter De Villiers was roundly condemned by Australia and New Zealand officials for sending a second-string team to Australasia for their first two Tri Nations games.

But South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White on Friday said De Villiers' controversial move was designed to have his stars ready for the physical Samoans in the RWC pool stages in New Zealand.

Already, the Springboks look a step ahead of the Wallabies in their World Cup preparations.

Despite resting several stars on Sunday, including playmaker Quade Cooper and flanker turned water boy David Pocock, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was keen to open the 2011 Test season in winning fashion.

With Australia falling behind 29-13 in the 55th minute, Deans anxiously threw big guns Will Genia and Kurtley Beale into the action.

But it was too little too late, with Samoa holding on for a memorable triumph.

Samoa had raced to a surprise 10-0 lead after just 12 minutes following an early penalty goal to five-eighth Tusi Pisi and a runaway try to giant winger Alesana Tuilaga.

From a turnover, after Wallabies flanker Matt Hodgson was caught isolated, Samoan centre Seilala Mapasua tunnel-balled between the legs to Tuilaga, who raced 65 metres down the left touchline and skipped out of Matt Giteau's cover tackle attempt to score.

The Wallabies had spurned several shots at goal from inside the Samoan quarter before being jeered by the crowd when skipper Rocky Elsom instructed Giteau to shoot for penalty from 46 metres out in the 26th minute.

He missed and, two minutes later, debutant halfback Nick Phipps had an attempted clearing kick charged down by Samoan fullback Paul Williams, who pounced on the loose ball to extend the visitors' lead to 17-0.

Australia finally bothered the scoreboard attendant two minutes before halftime when winger Digby Ioane, proudly playing against his people, crossed from a close-range scrum, after Samoan lock Daniel Leo was sin-binned for a professional foul as the Wallabies attacked the line.

Giteau's conversion from in front and then a penalty after the halftime buzzer had sounded gave the Wallabies hope and momentum trailing 17-10 at break.

Giteau trimmed Samoa's advantage to just four points with a second penalty goal two minutes into the second half.But a five-pointer to Kane Thompson while his second-row partner was still in the sin bin pushed the Samoans back out to 22-13 in front after 48 minutes.

The Wallabies found themselves in a deep, deep hole when the TV match official awarded Samoan centre George Pisi a try in the 55th minute after Phipps was unable to gather a Tuilaga chip kick.

Pisi's conversion had the Pacific Islanders 16 points ahead, prompting anxious Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to bring on his big guns.

Giteau crossed for a converted try to reduce the deficit to nine points in the 70th minute, but there was no miracle escape for the Wallabies.

SAMOA 32 (George Pisi, Kane Thompson, Alesana Tuilagi, Paul Williams tries Tusiata Pisi 3 cons 2 pens) bt AUSTRALIA 23 (Matt Giteau, Digby Ioane tries Giteau 2 cons 3 pens) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Marius Jonker.
Crowd: 29,808.

Source: stuff.co.nz

  01 July, 2011     

Sun is setting on a famous Samoan attraction

by Kathy Marks

It was just a rock, at the edge of a fairly nondescript beach, with an view of nothing in particular - just ocean. I was determined to climb that rock, though. How often do you get the chance to perch on the westernmost point on the planet and gaze into tomorrow?

I was at Cape Mulinu'u, on Savai'i, the largest island in the Samoan group. Samoa, in the South Pacific, is the last place on Earth to see the sun set; the International Date Line is barely 30 kilometres from my rock. If you want to experience the giddy but euphoric feeling of standing there, you'll have to hurry: Samoa plans to hop over the Date Line in December, becoming, instead, the first place to greet the new day. (Its close neighbour, American Samoa, will then be the last.)

It will still, however, be worth making the trip to Cape Mulinu'u, a wild, beautiful spot that feels like the middle of nowhere. In fact, the whole of Savai'i - larger, more remote and less visited than Samoa's main island, 'Upolu - is fascinating, with its spotless traditional villages and its varied landscapes, which include rainforest, waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains and beaches.

Mount Matavanu, 402 metres high, in northern Savai'i, has not erupted since 1911, but the destruction it wrought is still visible today. Driving along the northern coast road, you cross the dark lava field. Sale'aula, one of the villages in the volcano's path, is blanketed in black rock, out of which, incongruously, sprout bushes and trees. Its ruined white church, with its thick, cracked black carpet, is an eerie sight.

Driving up the bumpy road to the top of Mount Matavanu, we were greeted by an eccentric bearded character, Seu Api Utumapu, who guards the crater on behalf of its traditional owners and maintains the jungle tracks. "Da Craterman", as he calls himself, led us through a tangle of tropical vegetation, where giant ferns grew and also, unexpectedly, orchids - there are more than 50 species in the area.

Soon we reached the volcano's rim, where I peered rather nervously over the edge. "Anyone Fall Down Sorry No Rescue" stated a sign put up by Mr Utumapu. "Don't worry," he said, cigarette hanging from his mouth. "If you're still alive, I'll throw you a coconut." A bigger peril seemed to be snakes, although Da Craterman - who casually killed one as thick as his forearm - assured us they were not poisonous.

Samoans believe an ancestral spirit dwells in the 200-metre-deep crater. More legends are recounted by a Savai'i elder, Kogo Senitofo, whom I sought out at Cape Mulinu'u. As we walked with him through the forest, he told us about the "half-human, half-ghost" figures who, in bygone days, would hold meetings in a canopy-shrouded clearing, then bathe in a rock pool at the nearby beach. One of them, Vaie, turned into a mountain; his brother, Vaatausili, became enormously strong after sleeping in a forest cave for three days.

For a more conventional insight into Samoan history, I visited the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, just outside the capital, Apia, on neighbouring 'Upolu island. The Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer spent three years wandering the Pacific before settling here in 1889, building a plantation-style villa where he and his wife, Fanny, entertained Samoan chiefs with the help of servants clad in Royal Stuart tartan.

Although the warm climate agreed with his health - he had been plagued by lung problems since childhood - the author of Kidnapped, Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde died just four years later, and is buried in a hillside on his former Vailima estate. The house is now a museum, and a guide takes groups through the airy rooms, including Stevenson's library, where he wrote an astonishing 13 books. You can also climb the steep, thickly forested trail up to his tomb, which is worth the hike, not least for the views of Apia and the ocean. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Savai'i.

Stevenson is still held in high esteem by the Samoans, who called him "Tusitala", or storyteller. He was profoundly interested in their culture, and he energetically championed their independence struggle. Although the Polynesian nation ended up colonised and divided - the United States got the eastern half (now American Samoa), Germany the western portion (now independent Samoa) - his efforts have never been forgotten. "He's one of our heroes back in the olden days, and he's still 100 per cent admired," says Iulai Lesa, a guide with the Samoa Tourism Authority.

Apia itself is a buzzy little town, with good restaurants and some interesting colonial architecture, including the old courthouse and clocktower. It also has a great flea market, selling the best wooden carvings I've seen in the Pacific. One of the capital's hotels, Aggie Grey's, is a landmark in its own right. It started out selling hamburgers and coffee to American soldiers during the Second World War; Aggie, whose heirs still run it, was reputedly the inspiration for Bloody Mary in James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific.

From Apia, you can take a "half-island" tour, which heads east along the coast, climbs through a dramatic mountain landscape, then descends to south-eastern 'Upolu and the beaches of Lalomanu, considered Samoa's finest. This was the area hit by a tsunami that killed nearly 200 people in late 2009; however, the resilient locals quickly rebuilt their fales (beach huts), and there is little sign now of the disaster.

The heavens opened when we were at Lalomanu, so I swam later instead, at the wonderfully named Togitogiga Waterfall, one of several en route. Another popular swimming spot is a cave pool called Sua Trench, which requires a rather vertiginous climb down a swaying rope ladder. Returning to Apia, you cut through the sparsely populated, rainforest-clad middle of the island, passing Vailima.

Samoa's natural beauty is one of its main attractions; the other is its traditional culture, which has survived colonial rule and the advent of missionaries virtually intact. A good place to witness it is tiny, idyllic Manono island, which lies between 'Upolu and Savai'i. You can walk around Manono in a couple of hours, catching glimpses of village life: a woman weaving mats from pandanus leaves, children playing volleyball in front of a whitewashed church. I saw one family cooking dinner - breadfruit and freshly caught fish, wrapped in banana leaves - in an umu, a ground-level oven of hot rocks and coconut husks.

In Samoa, communities consist of a network of families headed by matai, or elders, who sit on a village council. In Manono, I met Leota Tini Leiataua, a local matai, who told me that the two key features of Samoan life are religion and the family. (Samoans are devout Christians.) "Unlike some other places in the Pacific, our culture is still very strong," he said.

Manono has no roads, no cars, no dogs. I had the feeling that little had changed over decades. And I suspect nothing will change in years to come - even when tomorrow becomes today in Samoa.

If You Go

The flight
Etihad Airways (www.etihadairways.com) offers return flights to Sydney starting from Dh6,715, including taxes. Polynesian Blue (www.polynesianblue.com) flies between Sydney and Apia, with prices from A$399 (Dh1,529) one way

The stay
In Apia, stay at Aggie Grey's (www.aggiegreys.com) from NZ$236 (Dh650) for a double room, or at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel (www.tanoahotels.com) from NZ$186 (Dh513) for a double. On the southern coast of the main island, Upolu, a beautiful hotel is the Sinalei Reef Resort (www.sinalei.com) from US$265 (Dh973) for a luxury cabin. Regular ferries, taking both cars and passengers, run between 'Upolu and the island of Savai'i; on the latter, stay at the Le Lagoto Beach Resort (www.lelagoto.ws) from 546 Samoan tala (Dh847). On Manono, the Sunset View Fales (www.samoasunsetview.com) is basic but clean; the nightly tariff of 130 tala (Dh202) per person includes dinner and boat transfer from 'Upolu.

Source: The National

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