“So what did you expect Tonga to be like before you came here?”
After the initial conversation about my nationality, last week’s rugby game and Prince Harry’s visit, this was one of the first things I was asked by my taxi driver from the airport. Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this country. I knew that it is the only place in the world where you can swim with humpback whales, I knew that it was made up of a group of small islands, and I knew that many people had told me how friendly the people are. That was about it.
All these things proved correct for sure, but there was so much more to Tonga than I expected. Firstly, the people are 100% the nicest collection of people I have ever met. Not only the fact that everyone (and I mean literally every man, women and child) says hi (or bye) to you as you pass them on the street, from shops, from cars, many also ask you how your day is going-and genuinely want to know! Further from this, I was so pleasantly surprised to find that unlike in other countries I have visited, no one expects or wants anything from you. In my experiences, many other cultures see foreigners as dollar signs and a lot try to cash in. Tongan people have been continually going out of their way to help me and accepting nothing in return. They simply are so proud of their country that they want you to enjoy it and see everything thing they have to offer.This was evident from the minute I left the airport; every house, car and family was decorated in the red and white of the Tongan flag.
Tonga is actually a much more wealthy country than I expected, their simple way of living may look otherwise however once here, it was very clear to see. There are no homeless, it is clean and the people are happy. Despite opinions that the government does not distribute wealth evenly, the people look after each other, they all “love like brothers and sisters” I was explained by a lovely Tongan woman today.
I think it may be because of this warm reception that there is no use for bartering here. Things are sold at face value to all, Tongas and Palagi (foreigners) alike, the same and fair price. A strong belief in what goes around comes around is a universal feeling here and it leaves you with an amazing faith in humanity.
So now I think I am beginning to understand why the lady at the boarding gate in Auckland said to me;
“ you will enjoy your time in Tonga so much, just try not to get married”.
More on Tonga…
- 8 Things to Know About Vava’u, Tonga ✔️Ultimate Travel GuideThe most paradisal hotels, best places to stay, top things to do and how to travel to Vava’u, Tonga. Here’s everything you need to know about Vava’u!
- ‘Eua, Tonga → 8 Things to Know Before Visiting!There isn’t much information online about ‘Eua, Tonga, so I have gathered everything you need to know about visiting the island of ‘Eua in this one easy guide.
- Visiting Tongatapu, Tonga • Your COMPLETE Travel GuideThe go-to guide for traveling the island of Tongatapu, Tonga. From where to stay, things to do, best restaurants and more inside tips, here’s everything to know.
- A Tongan IntroductionA magical inside to the incredible country that is Tonga. The people, the culture and the landscapes are truly something that everyone should witness!