Watch Out for the Sightseeing Spots of Samoa!?

After spending 40 hours one-way to get to Tuvalu, it was now off to the fifth stop on the Domain Island Tour, Samoa.

I say Samoa, but there are actually two Samoas; the Independent State of Samoa and American Samoa. As these are two different countries, the Top-Level Domain Names (TLDs) are also different. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) for the former is “.ws”, and for the latter is “.as”. This time I visited Samoa (The Independent State of Samoa) which is “.ws”.

The “To Sua Ocean Trench” image by: Shutterstock.com

◆Where is the Independent State of Samoa?
Discovered by a Dutch explorer in 1722, the Independent State of Samoa is located on the west side of the 171° longitudinal boundary, and American Samoa is located to the east. The Independent State of Samoa is often called Western Samoa, and American Samoa is called Eastern Samoa.

Table of Contents

◆Watch Out for the Super Sightseeing Spot, To Sua Ocean Trench!? !
◆Go, go! Underwater drone!
◆Lunch at the Popular “Sunrise Restaurant”
◆A Ride on the Only One in Samoa!
◆How to Purchase a SIM Locally & Test of Samoa’s Internet Speed
◆A Visit to the Japanese Embassy in Samoa
◆Rumored in Samoa: Putting Gum on your Face and then Chewing it again? –
◆Fun in Samoa in Spite of Lousy Weather
◆The Town Overflowing with “.ws”

◆Watch Out for the Super Sightseeing Spot, To Sua Ocean Trench!? !
The Independent State of Samoa (hereinafter: Samoa) is made up of two main islands, Savai’i Island and Upolu Island where the capital city Apia is located. This time I went to Upolu Is. to see the To Sua Ocean Trench, often called the “Blue Grotto” of Samoa.

The sound of Samoan music welcomed me when I arrived at Faleolo International Airport. When I asked the airport staff about it, they said it was just local volunteers. Sounds peaceful.

After passing through customs and immigration, I took a taxi to the blue grotto. The weather was sunny.

So, I thought. And then a sudden squall hit. It was not a good start.

It took 90 minutes from the airport. Finally, I arrived at the To Sua Ocean Trench on the south side of the island. Along a coastal area, its maintained like a park and costs 20$ Samoan (about 900 Yen) to get in.

There’s a billboard as soon as you get in. I see, this is the blue grotto?

Going further in I could see it at last.

What!?(Top: As advertised, bottom: reality)

The “To Sua Ocean Trench” image by: Shutterstock.com

Where is the pretty blue…?

Unfortunately, it was turned into a muddy swamp due to rain. Too bad.

Well, since I had come so far, I decided to go all the way down. The wooden ladder is very steep, giving the impression of descending straight down.

As I was fighting my fear going down, a mysterious landscape had opened up before me. The To Sua Ocean Trench is a natural pool formed in a rocky area that connects to the open ocean under the water.

Going into the water was a bit cold thanks to the lousy weather. Although the color of the water was disappointing, there was a kind of beauty that can only be felt by being there in person.

The “To Sua Ocean Trench”1 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Flying a drone is prohibited at the To Sua Ocean Trench. Please keep this in mind!

Click here for a 360° Camera photograph.

The “To Sua Ocean Trench”2 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

◆Go, go! Underwater drone!
I wanted “everyone to experience the beautiful seas of Samoa”, so we used the latest underwater drone on this tour.

This is the underwater drone”CCROV”. With a cable connected to the main body, it has a built-in camera, and is operated by a radio-controlled transmitter.

With the assistance of the “Pure Ocean” dive shop, I headed to see a gorgeous coral reef.

The dive point was only five minutes from the shore.

The time to get the drone into the water has come at last. What’s under the water?

A handsome rock and some coral were there to welcome us.

Found some fish.

Some fish are interested in our camera! How sweet.

All kinds of fish were swimming around. Once I got used to working the drone, I went a little further.

And, oh dear, I bumped the coral here. My apologies, fish and corals.

Some small blue fish came out of their coral den. Very cute.

As humans don’t dive down, the fish come to the drone.

Lastly, I took a picture of diver who took me to the dive point. Thanks for your help.

What did you think? It was my first time operating an underwater drone, so I it didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I was satisfied with seeing the fish swim gracefully.

Click here for video taken with little skill!

◆Lunch at the Popular “Sunrise Restaurant”
If you are looking for a popular restaurant in a local area, you had better ask a taxi driver.

This time, the driver recommended the “Sunrise Restaurant” in Apia.

Since it was lunch time, many people came to get something to eat.

Apparently, the style is to choose whatever you like from the dishes that are laid out behind the glass.

Many kinds of food were displayed, including garlic toast and chicken wings.

Checking out what the local people were buying, I ordered almost the same things.

Since purchased items can be packed in lunch boxes or paper plates, takeout is ok. This time, I had lunch in the eat-in corner.

This is the eat-in corner.

The space was small, but what I was concerned about was the leftovers on the table. There was no trash box, and it was in such a state that I couldn’t clean it up by myself.

Well, pulling myself together, I tried to eat what I bought.

I chose three kinds of food, but they were all served together on one plate. Prominently on top; it’s fried chicken. Not overly spiced up chicken, it had just  the right amount of salt. Adding just a little ketchup made it even more delicious. It was crispy fried and juicy.

Then stir-fried lamb with vegetables. Although the wild flavor peculiar to mutton remained, it was delicious and somewhat similar to Japanese fried vegetables, so I happily ate it all up.

Last came fried rice. I was relieved to find the flavor similar to Japanese fried rice. Sometimes when eating overseas, the rice can be crumbly and dry, but this shop got it just right.

These three large items cost 17$ Samoan (about 760 Yen)

With the newfound expectation that “anything served here may be delicious”, I went back and ordered noodles. There were beef and vegetables in this dish and the soup was a clear “Pho” broth. The noodles were very thin, but they suited the richness of the soup. This was also a satisfying dish, 16$ Samoan.

It turns out that, the taxi driver did know a good restaurant. I was able to have a very enjoyable lunch.

By the way, when I was talking with the local people in Samoa, they often asked: “Have you tried the beer?” As there was a period in time when Samoa was occupied by the Germans, their local beer is quite famous.

Especially recommended was “Vailima”. In the local shops, you can buy it for about 4$ Samoan (about 180 Yen).

This is a lager beer, it was reasonably sharp with a bitter taste, very refreshing. I think it’s best to drink it to cool down when it’s hot out.

Please give it a try when you visit Samoa. T shirts etc. with Veilima’s logo may also make good souvenirs.

◆A Ride on the Only One in Samoa!

The Only One is located in “SSAB” store. There you can buy various things other than food, from stationery to home electronics.

Before entering the store, there is a sign to take notice of; it seems I have to leave my bag with the clerk.

After checking my bag with the clerk, I got a tag in exchange. When you are done, you present this tag to get your bag back.

I roamed around the shop in search of the Only One, and I found an escalator that goes up to the second floor. Yes…!

This is it! The one and only escalator in Samoa that I was looking for.

Rugby is popular in Samoa. Maybe it’s because the players strong legs are due to always having to take the stairs!

◆How to Purchase a SIM Locally & Test of Samoa’s Internet Speed
Although Wi-Fi rental services for going overseas are on the rise, certain areas are not covered. When that happens, you can buy a local SIM. I tried checking out where to buy a SIM.

In Samoa, communication companies “bluesky” and “Digicel” seem to be popular. Both can be found in the Faleolo International Airport building.

This is the “bluesky” shop.

The cheapest deal from “bluesky” is a 24-hour / 50MB plan. It sells for 2 $ Samoan (about 90 Yen.)

The cheapest deal from “Digicel” is a 24-hour / 500MB plan. This is 3 $ Samoan (135 Yen.)

Neither had strict conditions for purchase, and I did so with only simple English.

I used “Digicel” right away in Apia (the capital.) It felt fast enough, and I was able to search for restaurants. Actually, I measured the speed at an Internet Speed Test Fast.comsite.

It was a standard speed of 4.0Mbps. So, some applications may not work as well as you think.

Next, I changed to “bluesky”. It was 7.9Mbps. It felt faster than “Digicel”.

Both of the companies I tried this time were not problematic, but “bluesky” might be better if you want a better connection.

By all means, give them a try.

◆A Visit to the Japanese Embassy in Samoa
If you lose your passport abroad, you need contact the local, or the nearest, Japanese embassy. However, most of us haven’t had a chance to do that. That’s why I decided to look for the location of the Japanese Embassy in Samoa.
When I went to the address from the website for

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I found a complex with a supermarket and restaurants.

The embassy is in a three-story building, and the first floor is a lively area of eating and drinking establishments. Climbing the stairs to the embassy on the second floor.

There it is. When I see the word “Japan” while overseas, I always feel a little relieved.

This is the main entrance. Different from my image of an “Embassy”.

This is a picture from inside the embassy, that I took with permission. At the back there is a reception area where embassy staff wait, and next to it are Samoan and Japanese flags. It was not a big space, but compact and cozy.

The Embassy of Japan in Samoa was newly established on January 1st, 2017, and seems to be mostly dealing with visa issuance for Samoan people visiting Japan.

Using this opportunity, I hope that the relationship between Japan and Samoa gets better and better.

◆Rumored in Samoa: Putting Gum on your Face and then Chewing it again? –
Before visiting Samoa, I had questions about a couple of things.
So, I asked a hotel employee and the taxi driver some of these questions.

“Question 1” Do you know the “Song of Samoa”?

Do you know the tune for the “Song of Samoa”? I think that everyone in Japan remembers singing it in elementary school. So, when I checked in its home country how many people recognize this song, I found that all six people I asked told me they had heard it. However, the lyrics are not about Samoa, and they were unsure about the song title. Some said that it was a song sometimes sung in church.

“Question 2” Do Samoans put gum on their faces before eating a meal, and then chew it again after the meal is over?

This is what was described in the Wikipedia article about Samoa, and it was said to be the “common sense of Samoa”. Meanwhile, a woman in her twenties said that she had never heard of such a thing. Samoa’s common sense  must have changed a little.

However, when I asked a man in his thirties, I got a different response, he said: “I know about that”. But he told me: “That culture was around fifteen years ago and we don’t do it anymore.” I was a bit surprised that it was such a common thing before. Maybe somewhere in Samoa yet….

“Question 3” Are Samoan mothers obese and reigning in the house like queens?

This was also described in Wikipedia, but to summarize, it seems that “Due to being a maternal society, until they leave home children are expected to look after their mothers.” I thought the way it was written in Wiki was quite harsh.

I thought it might be rude to ask a question like this, so I tried to sort of gently ask a hotel employee (male). Then he told me, “My mother is reigning indeed.” In addition, it seems that the problem of obesity is regarded as a problem of all Samoa (for both men and women). The government is placing ads in the local areas to raise attention to the risks of diabetes and high blood pressure. On the other hand, as plump women are considered beautiful, it might be difficult to find a solution to obesity.

Some rumors turned out to be somewhat correct, but, some habits and so called “common sense” have weathered away.

This turned out to be worth investigating!

◆Fun in Samoa in Spite of Lousy Weather

“Polynesian Dances” are traditional in this region, including in Samoa. Hotels hold dance shows every evening, you can check it out.

The coastal area of the To Sua Ocean Trench. There’s a boardwalk, and if it’s sunny, a superb view.

Street stalls around town.

In the market, you can purchase colorful ethnic clothes.

In the same area; “Vae Moa”, which means “chicken drumstick” in English. Fried chicken was sold in many places (about 113 yen = per piece).

A unique style of garbage bin. There are many stray dogs in Samoa so it may be that these are built off the ground to prevent dogs getting into the garbage.

◆The Town Overflowing with “.ws”
As I mentioned earlier, the Independent State of Samoa is located on the west side of the 171° longitudinal boundary, so it is called Western Samoa in English. Therefore, the ccTLD was designated “.ws”.

The “.ws” domain is rarely seen in Japan, so I tried walking around Apia to see whether it is being used locally in Samoa.

A colorful bus caught my eye. These buses are widely used by locals as a means of transportation from Apia to other villages.

I found an Internet cafe. Unfortunately, they use the “.net” domain for the store’s email address. Such so-called “legacy” domains (.net, .com, etc.) are widely used all over the world.

Although the shop was small, it was full of people. I wondered if they are using it for work, or if they are just coming to watch YouTube etc.

Finally, I found the “.ws” domain. It seems to be a local provider. It was written clearly in the office window.

After this I found many “.ws” domains so I will mention a few of them.

Jewelry store

Travel agency

Real estate company

According to what I found in town, there seem to be a variety of industries using the “.ws” domain.

The “.ws” domain has a newly acquired feature that allows emoticons to be used.

The following is an example.

Up to ten💩emoticons are already registered, oh boy, what a popular emoticon!!

Of course, there are other emoticons you can use to acquire a domain name.

If you want to see what kind of emoticon can be registered, try searching here.

■For access to Samoaclick here

◆”.ws” domains used without the💩emoticon

Although I was distracted with the 💩emoticon, because “emoticon can be used!”, I tried to check out other web sites without the 💩emoticon. All web sites picked up here use an emoticon domain. I like the impact-based feel.

🦀🕹.ws 👓.ws
🇬🇧🌩.ws 😛🍪🏀👑🖋🍆🍉📺.🍕💩.ws 🖥️📱🕹️.ws

■For Domain details, Click here

The True Colors of the Virgin Islands, Tax Haven Islands; and Surprising Uses of the .vg Domain


Rows of PO boxes out in the open. Look at that!?

I went to the British Virgin Islands, which are tax haven islands, in hopes of getting some hints on how to get rich.

The Virgin Islands consist of about 160 volcanic islands and reefs located in the West Indies, Caribbean Sea. The western half (about 50 islands) are U.S territory, while the eastern half (about 60 islands) are British territory. But all these islands use U.S. dollars.

There was a free real estate brochure at the airport.

A luxurious villa for about a hundred forty million yen (1,285,000 US$) was listed.

All the other properties were over a hundred million yen (about 1 million US$)!

Are only millionaires living in these tax haven islands? I am going to head downtown right away and find out.

The road from the airport is bumpy, and I bounce up and down in the car.

I arrive at the Tortola Pier Park after about a 30 minutes shaking.

Tortola Park had souvenir shops, and tour agents, and a small shopping mall.

The toilet is so nice that it surprises me. The toilet is made by TOTO, a proud Japanese company. I think I can live here.

As I walk around downtown I dream of running into rich Arabian oil barons.

But actually…. I see decrepit used cars pass by one after another!

The parking lots also have many cars with broken windows and broken lights.

And the people of the island seem to be, …what? …hitchhiking!?

Something must be going on…

I decided to seriously investigate these supposedly mysterious tax haven islands.

①Investigating at a Sushi Bar
I found a sushi restaurant in the Virgin Islands! I expect there will be Japanese people there, and I can ask them about the tax havens.

However, inside, the staff members were gentle Jamaicans and there were no Japanese in sight.

As this is a tax haven island, I wonder if the high-end sushi is sprinkled with gold powder? Here is the menu.

I was relieved, there was reasonably priced sushi as well. Apparently, the owner is a Filipino. This must be why the sushi rolls are colorful and somehow tropical.

I ordered the mango dragon for 13 dollars. An original sushi roll came made of shrimp tempura wrapped in vinegared rice with mango on top. The sweet mango goes unexpectedly well with the vinegared rice and crispy shrimp tempura.

The sushi was delicious, but I was not able to get any clues for my tax haven investigation. In the restaurant garden, there is a Western style statue, completely opposite to anything Oriental.

②Investigating at a Chinese Restaurant
Near the sushi restaurant I find a Chinese restaurant, so I decide to do some spying here as well.

This cute entrance is at the end of a narrow alleyway.

This is the interior.

Many items on the menu.

Sweet & Garlic Shrimp $17。 It tastes like sweet & sour pork. The shrimp is succulent.

Yakisoba and fried rice, 8 to 12 dollars. There was a lot, but it was good, so I finished it up.

The shop owner here was Chinese, and very kind. There seems to be Chinese people in every country. But here too, I got no information on tax havens.

③A visit to the Electronics Shop
I got a bit down because I couldn’t get any information, so I decided to go back to basics in my investigation and headed for the electronics shop.

This is the shop.

There were plenty of video games and related items, such as PlayStation, Wii, Xbox etc.

The also sell Mac Book Air and iPhones.

I tried buying an Iphone connector, and I could do it without paying any taxes! The receipt has 0 tax.

It seems that some people travel to the British Virgin Islands for the express purpose of buying tax-free items, such as Iphones. Later, when I went through customs in the airport in Puerto Rico, the customs officer was quite persistent when asking if I had made purchases beyond the tax exemption limit.

④Investigating at an Internet Cafe
As I now had confirmation about things being tax-free, I decided next to infiltrate an internet cafe.

Electronic devices are sold in the front, and at the back there is an internet cafe. I searched for addresses of tax haven crime scenes, but I couldn’t find anything…

◆The plot thickens!

While searching for various tax havens on the Internet, I found the address “AKARA BUILDING; 24 DE CASTRO STREET WICKHAMS CAY 1; ROAD TOWN; TORTOLA; BRITISH VIRIGN ISLANDS”, so I decided to head there directly. There’s a building at that address with AKARA written on it. Are these the offices of a shell company!?

And, the mysterious PO boxes are nearby!


In the Virgin Islands, as of June 2016, it became necessary to register tax related personal and corporate information in a government database, making it difficult to establish a shell company. (Source: ZUU online

It seems that the PO boxes I discovered are the ruins of what once belonged to a shell company.

■Near the Airport, Beef Island Beach
Only 5 minutes’ drive from the airport, this is a superb beach. There’s no one here, so I can enjoy it all to myself. However, you can’t rent a beach umbrella, so you must be sure to put on sunscreen.

Some students I met downtown

Staff of the Old Government House Museum

A taxi driver who took good care of me. It was a wonderful visit and everyone was so kind that I got a little teary when it was time to say goodbye.

But, looking at the coast, there is a container ship, so maybe…

Maybe some kind of business deals we don’t know about are happening. Container information was also posted in the real estate catalog distributed at the airport.

■Hurricane Irma

On September 7th, 2017, Hurricane Irma hit the Virgin Islands. Even though a year has passed, there are still scars. I wish full reconstruction for them.

So it turns out that many of the people living in the Virgin Island are African immigrants, including Jamaican people, I couldn’t find any of these rich folk using the tax havens. The local people were gentle and law-abiding, but I often saw run-down second-hand Japanese cars, and some hitchhiking. The beaches are beautiful and excellent for marine activities.

The True Colors of the Virgin Islands; once tax havens islands, but now with an atmosphere a bit short on luxury.

■How to get to the Virgin Islands Click here

By the way, “. vg” is the ccTLD domain (top level country domain) assigned to the British Virgin Islands. With that spelling, it is often used for video game sites.

SEGA
http://www.sega.vg
Impeller Studios
http://itb.vg/
Gamers
https://www.gamers.vg/
MUSH
http://mush.vg/
Play.vg
http://www.play.vg/
LEET
https://www.leet.vg/

Doesn’t it seem a bit unexpected for those living in the Virgin Islands, that their domain is used this way?

■For Domain details, Click here

 

Can iPhones Be Used on Tuvalu, the Islet Disappearing into the Sea? I Traveled 40-Hours One-Way to Find Out!!

To get to Tuvalu, the “country disappearing into the sea” due to global warming, I first had to travel to Fiji, to connect to Tuvalu. Getting to Tuvalu is not easy. There are only three direct flights a week between Japan and Fiji, and the same between Fiji and Tuvalu. The total travel time is more than 40 hours each way, and the flight costs more than 250,000 yen round trip, which is not cheap. So, few Japanese people visit Tuvalu because the access is so bad. As a result, the kind of life people live in Tuvalu is still very mysterious, although the Internet is a normal part of everyday life.

I think many people might be wondering, “Where is Tuvalu?” So, let’s check the location on Google maps. Tuvalu is here!

Zooming in ……

This is Tuvalu. There are a few pictures of the Federal Government buildings etc. But, mostly the pictures are of the ocean, so you really can’t really tell what kind of island it is.

So, I went to Tuvalu to check if iPhones can be used on the island, and to see what kind of life people have in Tuvalu, etc.

Table of Contents
◆More than 40 hours to Tuvalu
◆Can iPhones Be Used in Tuvalu?
◆Looking For an Internet Cafe
◆Food – What do People Enjoy Eating in Tuvalu?
◆Do People in Tuvalu have TV at Home?
◆Representative of the Tuvalu “.tv” Domain Name Registry

Got to Tuvalu!
In order to get to Tuvalu from Japan, first, I needed to fly to Nadi, Fiji on a 9-hour direct flight from Narita Airport (Japan), which started from July 2018. Then, from Nadi, I traveled to Fiji’s capital “Suva” by air on a 30-minute flight and stayed overnight. Finally, the next day, I caught a flight from Suva to Tuvalu’s capital “Funafuti”. In all, it took more than 40 hours to get to Tuvalu from Japan because the lack of flight options poor transit connections. This is the airplane in Suva.

A small propeller airplane with four seats per row.

This is my seat. Only one pillow for 2 seats. Since the people of Fiji have a strong mindset about sharing, this might be a message to “Share Your Pillow!”

About 2 and half hours from Suva to Tuvalu’s capital Funafuti. As a light meal, I enjoyed an egg muffin-sandwich.

Flying over the wide empty ocean ……

I can see an elongated island or a long, narrow sandy beach.

Right over the residential areas……

Landing!!

I arrived in Tuvalu!! You can take a look at Funafuti airport with the following 360-degree image.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

This is Funafuti town, where there are mainly one-story houses with tin roofs. I can clearly see the beautiful sky because there are no high buildings at all.

People in Tuvalu are so friendly!! I wonder “is there no evil in this world?” “Talofa (Hello)!!” Everyone greeted me with a smile, and because I usually spend my time in front of my computer, my cheeks cramped up trying to smile when returning greetings.

In addition, the peaceful condition of Tuvalu is evident by the fact that the airport runway becomes a playground for all in the early morning and cooler hours of the evening. Grown-up teams play soccer, and nearby ……

Children put their heart into rugby.

Please check out the following video to see the airport runway become a soccer field.

The runway of Tuvalu international airport becomes a soccer field – YouTube

This is a video filmed from the air using a drone.

People are playing rugby on the runway of Tuvalu Funafuti International Airport – YouTube

People’s houses are about 10 meters from the runway, they enjoy talking and relaxing in the evening.


The waters off the beaches of Funafuti are not so clear, but the more isolated islands have beautiful clear water where you can enjoy snorkeling.

Underwater near the isolated islands of Tuvalu – YouTube

Can iPhones Be Used in Tuvalu?
Tuvalu Telecommunications Corporation (TTC), which is the state-owned company, is the only company which provides communication services in Tuvalu. So, let’s look for TTC! In high spirits, I left the airport and asked someone where to find TTC. He said “Over there, by that broadcasting tower!”, pointing out a building near the airport.

Just 10 minutes on foot from the airport.

This is the TTC building.

Opening hours are from 9:00am to 15:00pm on weekdays, from 10:00am to 13:00pm on Saturday, and from 14:00pm to 17:00pm on Sunday.

Going inside ……

Wow, 4G LTE service is available!

So, that means, I think that the internet environment here is pretty good …… Going to the next room, I stop at the service counter ……

Oh, there are several plans; plans with data communications, and plans with voice communications. I asked at the service counter if I could purchase a SIM card. He said, please talk to the person in charge over there.

It seems that SIM cards can be used with some devices, but not with others. So, the staff first check compatibility, then the customer can purchase a SIM card.

I handed over my device, OnePlus 5 ……

A SIM card is inserted to my device to test it out, and he checks if this SIM card is compatible or not.

A SIM card is inserted to my device to test it out, and he checks if this SIM card is compatible or not.

Back to the service counter, and I’ve got a SIM card. Then, the service staff inserts the SIM card into my device ……

I checked the communication speed in front of the TTC building, it was 1.4Mbps, pretty quick. This time I purchased the Lagoon 10 package (10 AUD / about 830 yen) with 15 days / 700MB. There are other packages, such as the Lagoon 5 package (5 AUD / about 410 yen) with 15 days / 250MB, and the Lagoon 20 package (20 AUD / about 1,700 yen) with 30 days / 1,000MB.

So, how about an iPhone? A little excited, I asked the staff about an iPhone. To my surprise, he said “No, you cannot use an iPhone.” In Tuvalu, a 3G communication network was used for a long time, and just recently switched to 4G. So, TTC is still waiting for permission from Apple. How about a 3G SIM card? Unfortunately, out of stock. The staff said, “Next month, you can use a 4G SIM card with your iPhone!” But actually, it seems that the staff have been saying “Next month!” since May of this year. So, mobile users may be able to use an iPhone in near future, but as of July, 2018, visitors cannot by SIM cards for the iPhone in Tuvalu.

Then, what can I do if I want to access to the Internet using an iPhone? The staff suggested purchasing a “Wi-Fi card”.

This is a Wi-Fi card. Actually, this is a piece of paper, which the lady at the service counter cut off for me. There are many TTC Wi-Fi hot spots in Tuvalu, so I can use the Internet if I am near one these Wi-Fi hot spots. The cost for this card is 5 AUD (about 410 yen) for 50MB, 10 AUD (about 830 yen) for 100MB, and 20 AUD (about 1,700 yen) for 215MB. At night, I tried to connect to the Internet near a hot spot ……

“Cannot connect”, shows up on the screen repeatedly, and the data communication speed was 3kbps. Sending and receiving messages via LINE took several minutes. I purchased a 100MB Wi-Fi card and I initially thought, “There won’t be enough data!” And, “this is so expensive!” But quickly realized that I won’t be able to use 100MB of data.

I tried to use this Wi-Fi card at different times of the day, and I found it was not possible to connect to the Internet by Wi-Fi card particularly at times of the day and night when many people access the Internet. But, the speed of data communication in the early morning (when many people are asleep) was max 270kbps, so if you carefully choose the time to use the Internet, it is possible to communicate with people in other places.

Looking for an Internet Cafe

During the day trying to use the iPhone was too hopeless…, so I tried looking for an internet cafe. According to the search I did while in Japan, there are several internet cafes including one called the “Coconut Wireless Internet Cafe”. I asked some locals, who told me it was “near the post office”.

Going to the post office and walking around…

Behind the post office was an Internet cafe.

It was not the “Coconut Wireless Internet Cafe”, instead I found an Internet cafe called the “TPL INTERNET CAFE”.

I went inside.

Desktop PC were lined up inside.

When I asked the staff, they said there were no Wi-Fi services, only the desktop PCs. The price was 10 cents AUD per minute (about 8 yen).

I measured the speed, it was 670 Kbps. It’s faster than TTC’s Wi-Fi, but slower than the Android smartphone.

I was able to open GIGAZINE.

It seems that the printer can be used for 30 cents AUD (about 25 yen).

I asked the TPL staff and they told me that TPL is located on the south side of the island, but that there are Internet cafes in the center and on the north side of the island. So, in search of the remaining two Internet cafes, I take a walk through the airport and along the road.

However, even on a small island, it’s a fair distance to go on foot ……. The violent sunshine here has 17 times more UV rays than in Japan, so my energy was quickly exhausted.

The sunlight is so strong that no one swims during the day, those who go in the water do so with a sun umbrella in hand.

Since I only had rough information about the locations; “around the center and in the north part of the Island”, I found a place called the “Media Center” near the Federal Government buildings and went in to ask more details.

What is this media center? It was a Radio Broadcasting Station. It seems that “in Tuvalu you cannot watch television”, so radio is an important source of information and entertainment.

However, when I asked the Media Center staff about the location of other two Internet Cafes, they answered with: “We don’t know” …… Also, the Coconut Wireless Internet Cafe has already closed.

I thought that the only option for getting around was on my own two feet, but… Oh! A nice surprise,… a couple in a car saw me walking and offered to take me to the Internet Cafes. I felt that the people of Tuvalu are the personification of kindness. Several times walking along, I would suddenly hear a voice asking “do you need a ride?” The reason for this kindness maybe connected to their roots in Christianity.

Many of the cars are secondhand cars from Japan, so when the driver backs up, you can hear “bakku shimasu, go chui kudasai” (I’m backing up, please be careful in Japanese).

They took me to the Internet Cafe in the center of the Island.

However, a sign saying “CLOSED” is posted in the window. Actually, this cafe was managed by the ambassador from Taiwan, but it seems the ambassador went home and the cafe was closed.

And the north side internet cafe…

Oh boy, closed here too.

Two ladies were taking a nap in front of the building.

As a result of my investigation, in spite of the local people not knowing much about it, it seems there are several Internet Cafes that have closed, including the Coconut Wireless Internet Cafe. As of the end of July 2018, the only Internet Cafe open for business is the “TPL INTERNET CAFE”, Tuvalu / Funafuti islet, Fongafale Is. It’s a tough place for net addicted iPhone users, but a great place if you want the opportunity to disconnect from the outside world.

What do People Enjoy Eating in Tuvalu?
Only 5,000 to 6,000 people live in Tuvalu’s capital city, Funafuti, but they still manage to have a prison. In spite of seeming to be such a friendly and crime free country, as of July 2018, there were 9 people locked up in the prison, mainly for drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

“TUVALU PRISON”

Tuvalu’s prison has a relaxed atmosphere, and the inmates are often outside.

An inmate collects palm sap from a bottle on a palm tree.

This whitish liquid is sap.

When I asked: “Can I try some?”, The inmate answered, “Ok!” And was kind enough to bring a cup and a strainer from the prison to give me some sap.

After I drank it, I wondered, did this really come from nature? It was so incredibly sweet. Earlier I drank a “Fanta, Pineapple” drink, and I thought that drinks in other countries are very sweet, but this was even sweeter. Because it was fresh, the temperature was tepid. I thought if it were chilled and ice cold it would be nice to drink when you feel too hot.

In addition, there is a hammock in the prison, and it seems that the guards are only there a few hours a day, so you can’t help thinking “Is this some kind of training camp?”

Then, I wanted to know, what do normal people usually eat? I was kindly taught about that.

Ladies cooking a meal. The woman on the right seems to be the niece of former President Anote Tong of Kiribati.

So, this is dinner.

It looks like this on the plate.

The main dish is Skipjack tuna (bonito) and vegetables, stir fried. The seasoning is a bit Chinese style, and it goes very well with rice.

The side dish is chopped raw fish, dressed with coconut milk, onion, lime, red chili peppers etc.

I discovered for the first time that coconut milk tastes like mayonnaise when mixed with lime and salt. There’s something tangy in there that gives it a bit of a kick, I felt like it would go well with salad.

Also, in Oceania, the popular taro potato is dressed with coconut milk. Due to its sweet flavor it seems like a dessert. The combination of the light taro texture and the sweetness of the creamy coconut milk reminds me of sweet potatoes.

Also, the palm sap that the inmate gave me turns into liquor after leaving it outside for 2 or 3 days. A slight sourness is added to the sweet, and it becomes a little fizzy. Although the alcohol content is fairly high, it’s easy to drink, and could easily become a habit.

I had breakfast at a different house.

It seems that drinking juice is more common than drinking tea, even at breakfast they drink juice. It tastes a bit like old fashioned candy or the syrup of shaved ice.

Although the island is small, I heard that there is a bakery, so I got some sort of fluffy bread slathered in canned butter.

As a lot of the food is imported from overseas, even the bread at the hotel tended to be stale and hard, so it was a relief to eat this soft sweet bread.

Then there are some food stalls under the big tree….

Then there are some food stalls under the big tree….

There’s plenty of lamb curry on rice and raw fish with coconut milk. This was about 7 AUD (about 580 yen.)

Tuvalu has elementary, junior and high schools, as well as a university. There were some small shops in front of the university…

You can find food and daily necessities.

Also, some light meals for the students.

On a container in front of the cash register “MUSUBI” is written.

It looks like this. One costs 1 AUD (about 170 yen.)

Rice and spam covered with seaweed, a real “Omusubi” (rice ball.) The rice is a little salty, so it’s true that you can eat Japanese food even on an isolated island. I was little touched.

This shop has a kitchen, so…

You can have hot, freshly-fried chicken & chips. This was 4 AUD (about 330 yen.)

Then I went to the elementary school. Children were playing in a spacious school yard.


They seemed to be buying something, so I went to investigate…

It was juice in a plastic bag. This was nostalgic for me somehow, in that unique orange color, tastes like “amedama” candy and powdered juice, the price was 20 cents AUD (about 16 yen.)

There are several restaurants, but not for local cuisine, two restaurants were Chinese cuisine.

The first one is “BLUE OCEAN”. This one is on Google maps, but the location is off somewhat so I had to go around the block looking for it.

I ate Chinese style Yakisoba (fried soba) here. It was pretty authentic Chinese taste, but they used instant noodles. It was an interesting dish you wouldn’t be able to find easily in Japan. In Tuvalu farming is difficult and leafy vegetables are rare and valuable, so it’s good to go to a restaurant sometimes to eat vegetables.

The second restaurant was in this kind of building.

This is inside. “3 T’s Funafuti” is the most famous restaurant in Tuvalu, and the only one on the island registered on Trip Advisor. When state or official guests arrive from other countries they are entertained here.

The “RESERVED” sign has a rustic handmade feel to it.

Chinese style stir-fried meat and fish…

Stir-fried vegetables with plenty of leafy greens.

And fried rice etc. The taste was also authentic. Because this restaurant is the most famous in Tuvalu, when asking local people “Where can I find a restaurant?”, they almost always bring you here.

Do People in Tuvalu have TV at Home?
There is no television station and there are no terrestrial (ground) waves in Tuvalu, which floats alone in the South Pacific Ocean, so I was told that “You cannot watch TV on Tuvalu.” But as I walked around I found an antenna.

And when I asked for a look inside the house, I found a flat screen TV placed as you would anywhere.

“As a matter of fact, they have TV!” I was somewhat disappointed, but the lady pointed out a Play Station 4 under the TV. Actually, this TV is just for video games and movies. The antenna that I found outside belonged the house next door, this house has no antenna so they cannot watch TV. In Tuvalu, flat screen TVs like this are used exclusively for video games and movies.

“Come to my cousin’s house if you want to watch TV!” she said, and took me there on her motor bike.

When I arrived at 9 o’clock in the morning, it was TV time at the cousin’s house.

This house has no antenna, he seems to be watching satellite broadcasting with a decoder.

More unusual, I found a big house with two stories, not just one. There was an antenna installed there.

There was a TV inside, and it was possible to watch TV without a problem.

These two own the house. Tuvalu also seems to be made up of both rich and poor, in the big house near the Federal Government buildings there was an antenna for satellite broadcasting and I could watch TV, but when I went towards the edge of the island there were no more TVs. Nonetheless, the answer to the question “Can I watch TV on Tuvalu?” is likely to be “Yes” at least for some.

Representative of the Tuvalu “.tv” Domain Name Registry
Anyways, the purpose of this trip was to descend upon the Representative of the Tuvalu “.tv” Domain Name Registry without an appointment, so I decided to do that. One the way, I encountered boys on their way home from school.

When I gave them Interlink Co., Ltd. domain “.moe” stickers, a battle for the stickers ensued…

In the end, they were playing with the stickers on their faces.

The “.tv” domain name registry was once under the control of TTC, but since the American company dotTV bought the exclusive right to register domains from Tuvalu in 2000, it now comes under the control of the Ministry of Works, Communications and Transport. So, my destination is not TTC, but the Federal Government buildings.

Down a narrow passage way…

Mr. Falasese Tupau, Assistant Secretary of State was kindly waiting for me.

I also gave him “.moe” stickers.

After the ‘.tv’ domain was bought by dotTV, in 2002 Verisign, Inc. acquired the entire enterprise including the company that has the usage rights. According to Mr. Tupau, the contract does not allow the government of Tuvalu to access the domain data, which is quite unfair, but in 2021 the contract will be finished. So, this was good timing for Interlink Co., Ltd. to visit! Here’s to the success of future business!

■Access to Tuvalu – Click Here

■The Tuvalu “.tv” –Click Here

Not Yet Closed! The Arecibo Observatory Floating in the Sky

What is a Domain Island Tour? Focusing on about 50 island domains such as “.cc” and “.tv”, Interlink actually explores these islands first hand to report on the uniqueness and diversity of the islands as well as the domains they operate.

After St. Martin, the island where a plane flew directly over my head, I went to Puerto Rico.

■About Puerto Rico
In the northeast of the Caribbean Sea, this Island is now an unincorporated territory of the United States. In Spanish, “Puerto” means “port”, and “Rico” means “rich”. It seems that this name comes from when Christopher Columbus landed on November 19, 1493, and shouted, “What a rich harbor!”

■Welcome to the Vibrant Old-Capital
“San Juan” is the biggest city of Puerto Rico and also the seat of government. I headed straight for the Viejo San Juan (old town) to see its original 16th century buildings.

Made it to the old town. The temperature is about 30°C and the sunlight is very strong.

I can feel history among these ordinary homes. What lovely colonial style architecture. The contrast between the sky and the colorful facades! There is a great shot in every direction I point the camera.

Next, I’m off to “La Puerta de la Bandera” (The flag gate.) Modern art drawn on the wall of a vacant house by a local artist, now one of the most Instagram-able spots in San Juan.

The historic cityscape of the old town, which is designated as UNESCO World Heritage, can be viewed from a free trolley.

ビエホ・サン・フアン(旧市街) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

■Waiting for a Reply from Outer Space, the Arecibo Observatory Floating in the Sky
On the outskirts of Puerto Rico there is an “observatory with a huge astronomical telescope”, so I take a taxi from San Juan to go see it.

After about an hour riding in the taxi, we arrive in a city called Arecibo. We head down this local road. It seemed alright for a while, but the road got narrower and narrower until only one car could pass, we were completely lost.

There’s a local man in that pickup truck. When the we explained that we were lost, he said “follow me amigo!” and lead the way. Thanks to him, we were put back on the right path. Gracias!

Then we arrive at gates manned by security guards. Although photography is prohibited, we were successfully able to penetrate this mysterious facility.

There are various things written on this board, is it possibly a warning to intruders? Adults 12 dollars?

They try to destroy the spirit of those trying to discover the truth. With a long stairwell and then a never-ending hill.

I resolutely decided to make it to the top, and soon, some vast object loomed before my eyes. Yes, it must be an unidentified flying object!

A UFO floating in the sky, held up by 18 strong cables. This is 5 of them.

More warnings against intruders, “Cellular Phones Prohibited.”

I feel a crisis arising in my life; “no food or drinks permitted!”

…. “Enjoy Your Visit!”

So, I arrived at the area 51 of Puerto Rico, woops, no, it’s a joke, but the “OBSERVATORIO DE ARECIBO”. Built in 1963, its famous for having the world’s largest radio telescope.

Apparently, they are communicating with aliens via this radio telescope. To find out the truth, I entered the visitor center (Admission 12 dollars.)

The visitor center is 2 stories, and has a theater.

You can enjoy discovering what things have been studied at the Arecibo Observatory, and exhibits related to physics etc. Well, I’m off to see the much talked of radio telescope.

Outside I can see a mysterious object hanging from thick cables. There it is!

wow!!!

Amaaaazing…! This is a radio telescope. It is 150 meters above the ground.

Zooming in, it looks like this. Oh boy, one of the world’s largest telescopes, I am impressed. Some people might be thinking “haven’t I seen this somewhere?” Yes, the Arecibo Observatory is well known as the location for filming “007, Golden Eye” and “X Files (Season 2)”.

The reflector under the radio telescope. There’s some conspicuous dirt and stains there. Maybe due to damage from long-term deterioration.

In the X-Files, it was the setting for an episode called “Little Green Men” where a signal was received from extra-terrestrial life forms at the Arecibo Observatory.

This was related to the Arecibo message. It looks like pixel art, but it is a radio wave message that contains information such as the population of the Earth at that time. In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, in 1974, it was sent from the Arecibo Observatory towards M13 (a globular star cluster) 25,000 light years away.

However, it may take 25,000 years to reach M13, and there is no reply from the universe yet.

Although the facility is aging, I realized that the Arecibo Observatory is still waiting for a reply from outer space.

I came a long way to get to the Arecibo Observatory, so I decided to have a snack while looking at the radio telescope.

An Arecibo style hot dog with potato chips on top. It was delicious ($ 1.75 cents)

This is a ride-for-play, you can enjoy what its like to ice skate. Positively intoxicating (the experience.) Best done before eating.

There is also a souvenir shop at the visitor center. It’s called the Galaxy Shop.

Goods that are available only here. If you visit, you must it check out.

Actually, the Arecibo Observatory was scheduled to close in 2011. In November 2007, the annual budget of 10.5 million dollars was reduced to 8 million dollars from 2008, and the scheduled closure in 2011 was announced.

However, by changing its management to an SRI-International centered organization, the Observatory avoided closure. Although it escaped closure once, in April 2017, it was announced that the current annual budget of 8 million dollars will be reduced to 2 million, oh dear …

When I visited, nevermind Japanese tourists, there were almost no tourist at all in the Observatory. But if a reply comes from the universe, it will surely stay open.

Aliens, if you are reading this, please reply as soon as possible.

the Arecibo Observatory – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

■Mofongo: over a 100 Different Flavors
Puerto Rico has a kind of cuisine called Mofongo. Generally, it refers to plantains, fried and then mashed, and then shaped into a ball to which condiments are added.

However, because the condiments differ according to the restaurant, if there are 100 restaurants, then it is no exaggeration to say that that there are over 100 different flavors of Mofongo.

Now, after having seen a flyer with a picture of Mofongo, I want to experience by taste what gave me such a visual impact, so I head to a restaurant called “Raíces.”

It looks like a movie set.

Mofongo was introduced by immigrants from Africa, so the paintings on the restaurant walls depict those roots.

So, I showed the waiter the picture of the Mofongo that I wanted and my order was complete. It was not listed on the main menu.

The first item to come out was a Banana Chips appetizer. These bananas are not sweet, they are deep fried plantains (like a green banana) dipped in a garlicy sauce. They look like damp potato chips and are very tasty.

A few minutes later. Here is the item I was hoping for, beef and shrimp Mofongo. What a beautiful sight! (About 30 dollars)

The Mofongo is packed with beef harami steak slices, covered in a rich mushroom and onion sauce that suits it perfectly! Tender shrimp is placed on top, leading to various textures in one dish.

In Puerto Rico there are many opportunities to eat Mofongo, but this shop was exceptional. Also, there was a lot more volume than expected, so be careful if you are used to eating small meals.

■Circus Style Festival
After my stomach was satisfied, I heard that the circus would be coming to a square in town. So, I quickly decided to go.

By the time I got to the square, it was already dusk. The audience was overflowing.

It was fully dark when the main events started. First, two volunteers from the audience were given instruments. As is common worldwide, I thought that the event would start with performances for the audience …

But it didn’t. Actually, the first performance was audience volunteers being asked to make sounds with the instruments. The circus man put a bell on his head to ring in rhythm with the music, and gave signals to the audience volunteers to play their instruments. The whole square was filled with laughter at this Latin-style rhythm performance!

There was nothing like you’d find at a usual circus, no bear riding a motorcycle, no-one getting stepped on by an elephant, no watching tightrope walkers with bated breath. I guess this is more like a “Circus festival for local people to gather for fun.” Although it was not what I expected, I enjoyed a local experience that cannot be found in any guidebook.

“If you come to Puerto Rico, you must have fun at night!” says the head of the Circo Fest.

ビエホ・サン・フアン(旧市街) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


■Discovering the Birthplace of the “Piña Colada”
Have you ever heard of a cocktail called “Piña Colada”? It’s a cocktail based on rum, made by mixing coconut milk and pineapple juice. It feels good in your mouth with a very fruity taste, I think it has many fans regardless of gender.

The birthplace of Piña Colada is Puerto Rico. This “Piña Colada” shop is genuinely the original “Barrachina”.

I was seated and then immediately noticed the beverage dispensers. Whoa, they are all full of Piña Colada! I felt like “I want one of these at home too.”

This is the Piña Colada. It even comes with a pretty tropical parasol and a cherry (7 dollars.) Its been partially frozen, so it cools you right down from the heat of the day. Also, you can get it without rum, so even people who don’t like alcohol or children can enjoy it.

By the way, the restaurant where I ate Mofongo “Raíces” also served Piña Colada as a welcome drink.

Outside the shop, there is a plaque to commemorate the original shop. With such an entrancing name “Piña Colada”. Why not give it a try one evening in Puerto Rico?

■Welcome to ICANN!
During my stay in Puerto Rico, the 61st meeting of ICANN was held between March 10th and 15th, 2018.

What is ICANN?

It was held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, close to the Old Town, an exhibition hall that holds approximately 17,000 people.

The opening ceremony. The speaker is ICANN CEO Göran Marby.

There were simultaneous interpreting booths in the venue, and Internet providers from all countries gathered. I could hear the conference in several languages, but not in Japanese.

As an introduction to Puerto Rico, a traditional Salsa dance was performed. A burst of exotic splendor.

After the opening ceremony, there’s a 5-day meeting with a specified program.

Once in the morning and once in the afternoon there is a coffee break. This is the drink corner.

Next is the snack corner. Fruits and pastries are lined up. Such breaks are common at overseas conferences, somehow it reminds me of Japanese carpenters.

Some people return to their accommodations, others go to check out the sponsor booths. There’s a relaxed atmosphere.

■The “.pr” Domain Booth of Puerto Rico

There are several types of domains (ccTLD) in Puerto Rico, such as “.pr”, “biz.pr”, “com.pr”, etc. I visited the booth of the “.pr” domain name registry, the host of the 61st ICANN conference.

Two staff members in charge of the booth. While talking about the domain, a man with a smile came from behind …

It’s Pablo Rodriguez, vice president of “.pr” domain name registry. “The price of the “.pr” domain is high, but it is a safe domain that is rarely used in spam!” he says.

By the way, our registrar, Gonbei Domain, offers “.pr” domain registrartions at 162,000 yen (tax included – for 1 year).

At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, I heard the “.pr” registry extended the renewal deadline to prevent expiration of the “.pr” domain as a relief measure to users in Japan, which suffered so much infrastructure damage.

Also, the “.pr” domain, which was registered in 1989, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019. It is “.pr” which is often used as a domain to appeal to PR (public relations), so I’m looking forward to what sort of PR there will be.

■Access to Puerto Rico –Click Here

■The Puerto Rico “.pr” – Click Here

Have You Ever Felt the Force? -The Ocean Blue Beach Legend-

As we get older, there are less opportunities to get gifts.
During childhood, Santa Claus would bring us gifts, but those days fade. It’s a harsh reality for a grown-up child.

The origin of the word “Santa Claus” is said to have come from father “Saint Nicholas” around the year AD 300. “Saint,” abbreviated “St.”means sacred or holy, is often used in region names or holiday names.

“St. Martin” is one example.

■Where is St. Martin?
St. Martin is an island in the Caribbean Leeward Islands.
This island was discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 11, 1493, coincidentally on the “Saint Martin’s day”, so, this island was named “San Martín”(Spanish).

Today, half of this island belongs to France, and the other half to Netherlands — very unique! Each country has a different name for this island:

・France: Collectivité de Saint-Martin
・Netherlands: Sint Maarten
* English “Saint Martin”


Have you ever seen this photo?

■The World’s Most Dangerous Beach
A special spot in St. Martin is “Maho Beach”.
It’s a familiar sight to see airplanes passing just above the people enjoying the beach.

I arrived at “Sunset Bar and Grill” on Maho Beach — just a few minutes by taxi from Princess Juliana International Airport.

Mr. Morgan (who looks like Captain Hook) welcomed us!

The restaurant is full of cheerful and happy people. First, I ordered a meal.

The pizzas on the menu are named for the airline companies that arrive and depart from St. Martin. Funny! Caribbean jokes!

After a few minutes’ wait, my meals came, two pizzas and an extra large-size plate of nachos.

And, a crispy shrimp sandwitch! All together just about 60 dollars (way too much food!)

I did my best and managed to eat the pizzas up, then took a walk on the beach.

Look! I found a surfboard with airplane arrival times.
A Royal Dutch Airline (KLM) plane should be arriving soon.

More and more people accumulate on the beach.

Then, we hear a thunderous roar from the distant sky.

Oh my —- !! A huge airplane just above my head!! I thought there would be a strong wind, but there was no wind at all!!

You can’t experience anything like this in Japan, what a thrill of fear and excitment! I strongly recommend experiencing this! By the way, this is the view of the beach from the airplane.

Be careful, as there might be strong winds depending on the airplane.

“We’re waiting for you!” a waitress from the Sunset Bar and Grill

Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

■Hurricane Scars
After the excitement of Maho beach, we continue to the “Great Bay Beach”.

There were many souvenir stalls at the “Philipsburg Market Place”, I couldn’t take my eyes off all the vivid colors.

But the beach was very calm. Not many people on the street.

Actually, not only St. Martin, but many Caribbean islands suffered a lot of damage due to a hurricane in September last year.

Many of the shops in Philipsburg, next to the Great Bay Beach, are still partially damaged, I think that is why there are not many tourists.

The Cartier shop has damage to the windows, maybe the strong winds caused something to slam into them.

This is Tiffany’s. All the goods are gone, and the clean up is still going on.

A few shops are open, but there are not many people.

As Japan is in the middle of recovering from the great earthquake, I wish a full recovery from the hurricane for the Caribbean islands.

■May the Force be with You
As I continued walking around Philipsburg, I found a suspicious building.

Who is “Yoda Guy” …. ? 

Curious, and with a firm tread, I went step by step up the stairs.

Straight off, there was Darth Vader, ready-for-battle. I told him: “I am not your enemy”.

Inside, Master Yoda and a man with nice smile welcome me. His name is Nick Murray.

His story was amazing. Nick was in charge of special make-up for the original Star Wars Trilogy! What a surprise! It made my day! !

This is a museum called the “Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit”, and Nick is the director. Admission is $10.

Memorabilia and costumes from Star Wars and various other movies are on display.

Oh, Finn! Memorabilia and costumes up to “The Force Awakens”.

And, Sand People!

Han Solo frozen in carbonite! I wonder if it was actually used in the movie…

Actually, Nick made Yoda’s puppet for the Original Trilogy. That’s why he is called the “Yoda Guy”.

Although the appearance of the building was simple, it was a wonderful museum, don’t miss it if you are a Star Wars geek!

“May the Force Be with You” from the receptionist

■Something a little strange in St. Martin

A photo at Maho Beach. DANGER sign “Be careful of the jet blasts of airplane engines” It can result in death.

A McDonalds where it seems I can buy only ice cream. Special marketing maybe.

Above the Sand People, you can see the air-conditioning!! Something strange in their world!!

Men who danced out the sunroof, probably tourists, with their music at max. A taxi driver shouted, “What a bunch of crazies!” Very strange.

■New Hope
The country code top-level domain (ccTLD) of St. Martin is “.sx”.
Properly, the code should be registered as “.sm” (Saint Martin), but the San Marino Republic already uses “.sm”, so “.sx” was selected instead. “sx” is derived from the IATA airport code.

I visited the management company (domain name registry) without an appointment.
I searched the address in advance, and arrived at a construction site on the beach.

Looking around, I found what seems like an office. I checked around cautiously, yes, bingo! An office!

This is Mr. René Lepine, of the “.sx” domain name registry. He said that relative to other domains “.sx” still has many great domain names available for registration. Please get yours now!”

Thank you so much, Rene! I deeply appreciate your kind welcome even without an appointment.

The “.sx” domain is not a widely used country code top-level domain (ccTLD),
so you can still register many good domain names. In that sense, the demand for “.sx” domain names may increase in the future and become a source of income for St. Martin as well as for Maho beach.

For St. Martin, damaged by the hurricane, this domain will become a “New Hope” for the future.

■Access to St. Martin – Click Here

■The St. Martin Domain “.sx” – Click Here

What is a Domain Island Tour?

Top Level Domain Names (TLDs) such as “.cc” or “.tv,” may not be mainstream, but there is no doubt that most people have seen them in use online or in print advertising.

Domains such as these are available for registration by anyone and often originate from islands in the South Pacific or Caribbean. For countries operating these TLDs, selling them is a valuable means of acquiring foreign currency and even supporting the finances of islands that are disappearing into the sea.

Interlink Co., Ltd. offers more than 1,000 TLDs through its website Gonbei.jp. Interlink will be focusing on about 50 domains from these islands by actually exploring these islands first hand to report on the uniqueness and diversity of the islands as well as the domains they operate.