I'm back home again now and I'll put up some Kiribati photos for your edification and delight! I had a very good visit - both enjoyable and work-related achievements - but it is nice to be home. It's a full two days travel (overnight in Fiji) from Canberra so by the end of that you get a bit sick of airports and planes ... and other people if the truth be known. Humanity is all well and good but I don't particularly like it so much in my face as Fiji Airways would like to believe.
This is over the road from the motel where we were staying. This is the ocean side - there is a reef for about a hundred metres which is uncovered at low tide. There is a lot of rubbish - you couldn't really walk along the beach and I certainly wouldn't swim in the water.
Tarawa is a long strip of islands around a lagoon, joined together by causeways. This is the longest causeway, from Bairiki, where we were staying, round to Betio at the end of the land. We walked there in the evenings - about an hour there and back which was lovely exercise if a bit dusty. The bumps and holes in the road don't stop people going at horrifying speeds, but we escaped without injury. Tarawa is just above the equator, so each day is 31 degrees and the sun sets at 6.30 all year round. On the left is the lagoon, and the right is the ocean.
On the weekend we hired a car and went for a drive - there are a few back roads and unexplored areas that we ventured down. Not many of course, given the geography, but we got to see a few places we hadn't seen before. We followed one road which just stopped at this strange bitumen area and we just couldn't figure out where we were ... until it dawned on us we were at the end of the runway. There's no fence, and the villages on either side use the runway to ride their bikes, chat, as a road and for the kids to play on. There are only international flights on Mondays and Thursdays, and ten minutes before landing a ute with a siren goes up and down the runway to get everyone off it ... but there are a few domestic flights as well and I'm not sure what happens with those. Mind you given the size of some of the island hopping planes if one hit a person it would probably be the plane that got injured...
The next photo is looking back to Betio from the wharf. Almost everything has to be shipped in, there is very little industry or agriculture. Lots of wonderful fish to eat (and I did, and the lobster!) but not much else.
Tarawa was the site of a terrible battle in WWII, where the Japanese had entrenched themselves on the island. It is so hard to imagine because there is nowhere to go or hide - I don't know what the locals did during the battle. Hopefully they all canoe'd out of there and no-one got hurt but I suspect not. I'm not going to google it either, in case I find out. Anyway there are still bunkers and rusting boats and guns, like this one. (Fat Australian included for scale).
Because there are so few international flights the plane landing is quite an event. The airport terminal is basically a shed with an open area in the middle - so after we'd checked in we sat outside for a couple of hours and did some people watching. The ute has gone by in this photo so the plane isn't far off - the kids hung off the railings and watched it land - it's very close and no walls or windows or anything so the noise! Much more exciting than our airports.