Honiara and the Solomon Islands First Impressions
With very little research about the Solomon Islands, except about the history of Guadalcanal we don’t have many expectations as we fly from Port Villa to Honiara today. The airport is crowded with people loitering, presumably waiting for arrivals. We negotiate a good rate to our hotel, about 15 minutes away, and hope that everything in this city is this much cheaper than Port Villa.
We pull up to our guesthouse, which we booked in advance based on advice from other blogs. The city itself is not that touristy, and rooms apparently sell out. The two ladies working here take our bags straight to a room, before we even tell them our names. We must be the only white people checking in today. The room is basic, clean, and has a view of the harbor.
We go for a walk to get familiar with our surroundings. Its Sunday, and everything is closed. There is an ice cream stand and a few Chinese convinence stores that have people lingering in them, but every other store front is locked with bars and chains.
Some first impressions of Honiara, as we wander:
- Its dirty. There is litter everywhere, and the ground is covered with shells and red-stained spit from betel nuts, which people chew here like tobacco.
- There are no crosswalks. People wait anywhere on the side of the road, wait for a small gap in the steady traffic, the dart across the street. The cars don’t seem to slow down at all.
- It seems sketchy. People aren’t smiling at us, and those that acknowledge us at all stare a little too long for comfort. We keep our valuables close at all times here.
- Maybe related, there seem to be no tourists, or westerns at all, on the streets. When we decide to look for some cold drinks, we realize that the tourists are all in hotel cafes, and not walking around.
- Its hard not to compare the city to Port Villa, another island capital. We are amazed at the difference in friendliness of the people of Vanuatu vs. the people of the Solomon Islands. The people at the hotel have been very nice as well as the taxi driver, but when walking around, nobody says hello or offers any advice. In Vanuatu, we were waved at and said hello to by almost every single stranger we passed. I don’t want to generalize the whole country based on one day, but it feels almost as if unless someone is being paid to interact with us, they want nothing to do with us.