Tonga, the name and its far-flung location conjures exotic images of tropical flora and fauna, beautiful beaches and solitude. This reputation is well earned. The country of 169 islands is scattered liked pebbles over 700,000 square kilometers of the deep blue Pacific Ocean among thousands of other pebble-like islands. From the air at sunset they can look as remote as stars in the night sky. Only 36 of the islands are inhabited so like many of these Pacific islands, it’s a place you can disappear if you choose.
Of course, Sophie the great explorer has no plans to disappear. She wants to engage and visit even more island nations (Fiji and Bora Bora are on her itinerary). It’s a relatively short flight from Australia so she’s ready to hit the ground running.
Giraffes have a difficult relationship with water. Their long legs and upper body weight makes it difficult for them to swim. Sophie doesn’t care because she going to swim with humpback whales. She puts all of her LUC8K handmade leather bags away except for her personalized women’s leather wallet.
The boat was large enough for her to fit comfortably, if a little snug. Once the boat made it to the place where the humpback whales are located she clumsily flopped off the boat and into the water. It was a ridiculous sight but Sophie didn’t care and whales loved it coming close to inspect this most unusual spectacle. They swam around Sophie spraying water out of their blowholes in joy. Even the boat crew couldn’t help but marvel. They had a difficult time convincing Sophie to get back on the boat.
Sophie didn’t realize it but she hadn’t eaten all day so she went to the Talamahu Market buying local fruits and vegetables and paying using money in her women’s leather wallet, which withstood a day in the ocean. She ate very well and slept soundly.
Next stop was Fiji and on the daytime flight over on a low-flying, twin-engine plane the islands looked like jewels on sparkling water. The sky was powder blue, the clouds were few and the golden sun shimmered. Sophie was overcome with a calm, peaceful feeling.
Upon arriving, Sophie was feeling spiritual so she went on a tour of the Nadi Temple, the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere; she then visited a Fijian village nearby.
She then went on a guided tour of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Some people considered this the best kept horticultural secrets in the South Pacific. It has approximately 2,000 varieties of magnificent Asian orchids and Cattleya hybrids, from the private collection of the late American actor Raymond Burr. Carefully tended and well displayed, these fragile flowers reveal a breathtaking beauty in a picturesque tropical rainforest. The walking path cut through the base of Sleeping Giant Mountain that served as a backdrop for expansive manicured lawns.
Finally, Sophie took another plunge. This time it was in a thermal mud pool. She seemed more at home in the mud than in the ocean. But she did have to wash and dry her LUC8K personalized, which shined after cleaning.
Sophie’s final stop was Bora Bora, taking another propeller plane above another perfect seascape.
Unlike the other stops on Sophie’s itinerary, Bora Bora is a single island surrounded by islets emerging from a coral reef. It is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts.
One of its most famous former residents was Alain Gerbault, the famed French aviator and tennis champion, who first visited French Polynesia when he circumnavigated the world as a single-handed sailor. He loved the area so much he returned and disappeared, traveling throughout the Pacific islands, writing books about its culture and beauty, and criticizing the intrusion of the western way of life. He died in 1941 and chose to be buried on Bora Bora. According to legend, his wandering spirit still haunts the island.
Sophie isn’t taking the legend seriously. Instead, she sits outside her hut over the water and stares ahead until the clear blue sky meets the deep blue sea. She considers disappearing.
But not without her LUC8K leather bags.