Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hunga Island according to Robert Bryce

A bullshit artist's impression of life on Hunga Island


Someone must've believed his stories because they even brought their own electric washing machine (didn't they know there's a laundromat just down the jungle track? ☺):




The first one to spot the washing machine in the above picture wins seven nights' free accommodation on Hunga Island. Bring your own tent and lots and lots of mosquito repellent. And have a decent meal before you come - it may be your last!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Stóra Dímun or Hunga?


I've been to Hunga, and for my money it's Stóra Dímun any day! It's home to just nine people, accessible only by helicopter or boat, and remains largely untouched, save for an organic farm which is its only settlement.

Where is Stóra Dímun? In the Faroe Islands which are halfway between Iceland and Norway and, bearing in mind that the Faroese language has thirty-seven words for fog, you may expect a less than tropical climate. Interested? Start learning Faroese!



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

More words from the wordsmith par excellence


As a long-time admirer of the wordsmith par excellence Robert Bryce - or, as he calls himself on the South Pacific Real Estate facebook page, Brian Johnson - , I preserve here for posterity another one of his gems (with a sprinkling of my own photographs):

"Looking for a place to settle in the South Pacific that is a little storybook, with perfect weather, white sand beaches, uninhabited islands galore and a sense of humor? Try our Kingdom, right out of “Alice in Wonderland.” The Mad Hatter is alive and well here. Nothing is very serious, life is a cool breeze with a cold beer–or just plain soda.

We live in a funny place, “fun” being the root word. Full of characters and scenes from Alice’s memorable trip, Tonga is a full length feature with a real King and a very Royal family. Pomp and ceremony, ancient culture and with a grin of the fat Cheshire cat.

Unlike Alice’s encounter with the Queen, this Royal family is the epitome of why Captain Cook dubbed the place; “The Friendly Islands.” Freedom abounds here, maybe to a bit of a fault, as some have complained who are used to a regulation for every thing they do and even think. We are very unrestricted in our personal and business affairs. Unenforced fair play and good will prevail, with very minor exceptions. Their law is English and has a British citizen ruling in their highest court, but the country is an Independent, Constitutional Monarchy with a soft heart. No guns or threats, no terrorists, just tourists.

The leading hotel's receptionist at rest

A major factor is choosing your next homeland is; can you qualify to live there? Some equally (almost) nice places may exist, but the requirements to reside will take a piece of your hide. Tonga’s rules for qualifying for a residence type visa are affordable and easy to live with. A non-working visa can be obtained by showing as little as $6,000 USD per year in “assured income.” To get a business visa, one need only invest as little as $27,000 USD in a business. Try that in St. Kitts.

This bargain entry residency program won’t last forever. Tonga is emerging and suddenly getting the attention of the world; thanks in part to a little political demonstration that turned into a full on painting of the roses red. Now that is put to bed, thanks to Fred (our Prime Minister) the culprits are eating bread—and water.

We, the wife and I and our child of three years, have lived nearly six years in the Vava’u Island Group of this marvelous place called “Tonga.” We may live in what is considered an undeveloped country, but undeveloped or underdeveloped has a new and wonderful meaning to us. Not only does it provide opportunity, but inexpensive living with a home at a small fraction of the price of anything back home that can boast of being on the water overlooking the pristine harbour spreckled with sailing boats and assorted native craft that traverse these reef protected waterways. Twice monthly the cargo ship with all of our imported goods passes by our house where the green islands narrow to the entrance of the Port of Refuge Harbour. The main town is three kilometers away and our business, the Internet cafe is right on the bay. Life is as good as it gets surrounded with an ambiance of “azure seas, blue skies and emerald isles,” to quote the brochure. We say we haven’t “worked” since we got here, even though we head out most every day to what we playfully call the “office.” Work is play and everyday is play day. Friendly, loyal and competent staff tend to everything in our Internet cafe and its many subsidiaries. I broker land and business sales/leasing, part time or as needed. We invented the broker concept out here. Imagine living where there has never been a real estate broker. We never did that before either, so we are untainted and good at it with no greed and no problems.

The local library's assistant at rest

Our typical day is like most anyone’s that has two or three meals per day and sleeps at night. The difference in living here might be the perpetural scenery and the laid back pace and what we routinely do and how we get around and where we go. In these things we may have a differential gap. We use boats as much as we use cars to transport people and things. To get to work here you might use either since many houses and most of the business are located on or near the water. At this writing, today is Sunday, a day of required rest, relaxation and no business. We took one of the boats, a whaler type with a canvas roof and headed out in the inter-island waterways with the intention to stop in at one of the resorts on an island for a meal and a little socializing. It was Mala Island Resort today. The island group is small in population, under 20,000 people, so you get to know every resort owner pretty well. The welcomes are genuine and there are always some staff to help tie up the boat. Greetings and warm receptions are the norm, then a sit on the veranda with friends while overlooking the big sandy beach below where wife and child would meet up with same of another for a swim in a bluer lagoon than Technicolor could ever imitate. The scene is never tiring with several different hues of blues and greens in the sea below. The placid pools reflecting puffy white clouds stand there waiting for the afternoon trades to freshen and give them a ripple. The picture will distract you trying to engage in a little conversation with friends and visitors. Don’t look out the window at this bliss and expect to carry on an intelligent telephone conversation either.

The leading hotel's porter at rest

When it is BBQ time more folks arrive. The food is good and the wine is fine. No TV, so we provide our own entertainment. Interesting conversations abound with topics about everything and from everywhere in the world. Our ride home took us by a cave that we could enter by boat. The late afternoon sun put a ray of light into the prism of water inside the cave, lighting it up from the bottom 100 feet down. The caverns below matched those above. A light show produced and directed by nature with a cast of thousands; all free and just for me. The waterway through the reef protected islands assures a safe and lake like ride home. We decided to out run a rain cloud for fun and planed swiftly through the islands to the right and to the left carving out a curved path through the placid sea within the sea that left the trail of white water on blue. I know, it is too good to be true.

Tomorrow we will take another boat to an island where some folks visiting from Atlanta want to buy/lease some land. With four native boys with bush knives leading the way, we will land on the lee beach in the calm lagoon and cut a trail through the jungle to the raging ocean on the islands windward side. A regular kind of adventure with no fear, for there are no snakes, nor any ugly critters that can seriously harm. Tonga was blessed with only the benign.

The ever-ready police's pursuit vehicle at rest

These are scenes of many a day in our new homeland, safe and far from the fears and uncertainties of where we came from. No Malaria, no mental hospitals, no welfare systems necessary either, and where “big brother” just means a helping hand; where the police are unarmed and in reserve, not out creating trouble and where people and boats don’t need registration numbers—you are free.

For more on Tonga, just ask Alice. If she is at tea, then ask me ... glad to help."

Makes you want to go straight away, doesn't it? My advice which is free, abundant and probably totally useless: think twice before you join Alice down the rabbit hole!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Duped again?

All that's left of the Marquis de Rays' utopian dream: a millstone in the jungle


'New France’ was a utopian society founded in 1880 by the con-man Marquis de Rays on the island now known as New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago of present-day Papua New Guinea. He launched this scheme in 1877 and soon hundreds of investors poured in money, and altogether 570 would-be utopian settlers joined up. The marquis deliberately misled the colonists, distributing literature claiming a bustling settlement existed at Port Breton, near present-day Kavieng, with numerous public buildings, wide roads, and rich, arable land.

Instead of finding this Utopia, the colonists, mostly French, German and Italian, found a swampy, malarial-infested wasteland, surrounded by cannibalistic neighbours. Some were killed while others died of disease and starvation before the survivors made their ways to Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific islands, or back to Europe. For the full story of Marquis de Rays’ audacious con, read "Utopian Fraud: The Marquis de Rays and La Nouvelle-France".

All that's left of 'New France' today is the above millstone which is on display in neighbouring Rabaul and whose inscription reads, "This Mill Stone was landed at Port Breton, New Ireland, by settlers brought out by the Marquis de Rays Expedition in the year 1880. Salvaged and brought to Rabaul in 1936. Survived the Japanese occupation and Allied operations in 1942-1945".



I was going to show you a fantastic photo of a state-of-the-art washing machine standing forlorn and unconnected in a jungle clearing but was not given permission to show it here. To take in this incongruous sight, click HERE and move down to the 9th photograph. The text is in German but the photos speak for themselves.


All that's left of Robert Bryce's utopian dream: a washing machine in the jungle
For more photos, click here (it's all in German but the photos speak for themselves)


‘New France' is arguably the biggest fraudulent utopian scheme ever perpetrated but, as they say, history repeats itself and the dream of a life of ease on a tropical island lives on unabated as evidenced by such phantom paradises as Robert Bryce's "Cocomo Village" in the Kingdom of Tonga. Since 2009 it has attracted close to a hundred dreamers from all over the world, none of them living there yet. And perhaps never will, although one young family has just moved into the jungle, complete with washing machine. Wife and kids have since left again, leaving hubby behind with the washing machine.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Lifeboat 'Cocomo'

Which one is it to be? Monty Python's or Alfred Hitchcock's lifeboat?


"As the world continues to melt down for all the reasons people are talking about, and just in case they are right, you will need a lifeboat that is not chained to the sinking ship. Cocomo is just that, your life-boat, and is the real 'change’ you need to live happily ever after ..."

That's how spruiker and raconteur par excellence Robert Bryce extols his Hunga Island real estate lots on his website,

It's the latest reincarnation of an always changing website which has ranged from 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' to now 'lifeboat'. Mind you, it's a rather unfortunate metaphor. Isn't a lifeboat supposed to have oars, flares and mirrors for signalling, first aid supplies, and food and water to last long enough until rescued?

Cocomo Village has nothing, absolutely nothing, not even a single resident, after more than eight years of everchanging marketing. Perhaps just as well as it saves us the cost and effort of a rescue.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Paradise is an island. So is hell.


The dream of an island paradise is often a myth. Rather than idyllic, they are frequently the settings for border conflict, prisons and broken dreams. The reality of island living is much more like hard work.

Living on an island does not measure up to what most people's expectation of living on an island is. People buy with the dream, the aspiration that they're going to sit on the front verandah drinking pina coladas at 4 o'clock in the afternoon when they realise, 'Hang on, I've got to go and turn the septic system on. Hang on, we've run out of milk.' Right? It's those sorts of things that people forget.

The kind of people who want to go to an island that is cut off, think they can escape convention, or they won't be so influenced by society's conventional mores, and they've got more freedom to do what they like. In reality on a small island everyone is on top of each other. And all those strong personalities have to get on together. It's a challenge.

That small town surveillance is what people love and hate about small island communities. People look for isolation, a refuge, but what they often find is the opposite. If you share a small island with other people, it's hard to avoid them.

Listen to Radio National's Background Briefing here (and read the whole transcript here).