Is Anguilla, the Island Behind Google’s “Domain for AI” a High-tech Island?

It tookAfter a 40-hours one-way trip to get to Tuvalu, in and meeting fishing pigs in Tonga I met fishing pigs, and now it was off to the seventh stop on the Domain Island Tour, is Anguilla. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) is “.ai”.

◆Where is Anguilla?

Anguilla is a British island in the Caribbean Sea (West Indies). The shape of the island is like an “eel”
so it was called “Anguila” (Eel in Spanish) or “Anguille” (Eel in French).

Table of Contents

◆Domain “.ai” Also Short for Artificial Intelligence, is Used by both Google and Microsoft
◆The Most Beautiful Beach in the Caribbean!
◆The Most Dangerous Beach in the Caribbean! How to Climb Down?!
◆Modern Art and an Expensive “Buddhist Statue Made in Japan”
◆The Oldest House in Anguilla
◆Satisfied by the Caribbean Cuisine of a Popular Local Restaurant
◆Anguilla and Artificial Intelligence

◆Domain “.ai” Also Short for Artificial Intelligence, is Used by both Google and Microsoft

Artificial intelligence is being talked about more and more. Websites related to artificial intelligence are beginning to use the domain “.ai”. Since the domain name is the abbreviation for “Artificial Intelligence”, it has become popular as a domain name to directly express a connection to AI in a URL or e-mail address.

For example, I found some artificial intelligence related websites that use the domain “.ai”.

Microsoft Artificial Intelligence (microsoft.ai) Google AI (google.ai) Intel AI (intel.ai)
Albert (albert.ai) NDR (ndrconf.ai) Insight (insightdata.ai)
Luminovo (luminovo.ai) x.ai (x.ai) Recast.AI (recast.ai)

It is used by well-known companies like Google and Microsoft, that invest large amounts of research money into the development of artificial intelligence.
So, the people of Anguilla are possibly living in close quarters with AI, don’t you think?
With this expectation in mind, I start off to investigate the island.

◆The Most Beautiful Beach in the Caribbean!

The island of Anguilla, floating in the Caribbean Sea, has many beaches. Of these, I visited “Shoal Bay Beach” where Hollywood celebrities hang out.

It is approximately ten minutes by car from the capital “The Valley”. The sea is already visible when I get out of the car.

This is Shoal Bay Beach. Idyllic blue skies and sea, with white sandy beach.

I have to agree that this is the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean.

I took videos of the beach using a drone. You can see that the gorgeous coast line goes as far as the eye can see.

I tried searching for Hollywood celebrities, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any.

When you get tired of playing in the ocean, you can take a break at the hotel bar. A Hollywood star might sit down beside you.

Click here for shots with the 360° camera.

Beautiful Shoal Bay Beach (Anguilla) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

◆The Most Dangerous Beach in the Caribbean! How to Climb Down?!

On the island of Anguilla, I used a taxi to do some sightseeing. The beloved car of the driver, Mr. Conner, is a Toyota Vellfire.

No way, this car is the Japanese model!

After leaving the popular Shoal Bay Beach, we head for a beach recommended by Mr. Conner. I see the hull of an old ship out the car window.

We come to a stop on a grassy cliff. “Here we are. Just go down this road” says Mr. Conner.

“Road”… What road? I’m quite bewildered.

Finally, I spot animal track that I walk down a few minutes. The sea appears before my eyes.

This is Mr. Conner’s favorite beach “Little Bay.”

The clarity of the water is true Caribbean.

As far as I can see from the top of the cliff, there is not a single person. A perfect private beach!
Let’s head down to Little Bay. Looking for the stairs, I spot a yellow rope.

There are no stairs. There is no other way to get down this near vertical cliff than to hang on to this rope and climb down. In other words, only those who want the thrill of descending the cliff can reach Little Bay.

Of course, you have to climb back up the rope on the way back. No wonder there is no one on the beach.

360° camera

The beach I couldn’t reach, Little Bay (Anguilla) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

◆Modern Art and an Expensive “Buddhist Statue Made in Japan”

Along Route 1 (the main road) near Meads Bay, you can find shops selling modern art and antiques.

First, “Cheddie’s Carving Studio” which uses driftwood from the islands to make art.

The inside of the store has an open space utilizing natural light, where creative works are on display. You can even buy these things. They might make good souvenirs.

This is probably a cat. I was able to enjoy Anguilla’s best modern art to my heart’s content.

“The GALLERIA World Art & Antiques”, a antique specialty shop is nearby.

The Caribbean makes me think of “pirates”. Surely, “Antiques” equals “loot wrested from pirates”. What kind of hidden treasures can we find?

I enter the shop and antiques from various countries come into sight. Yes, definitely a pirate.

There were some relatively old Buddhist statues. When I asked the owner of the store, he told be the Buddhist statue from Japan is worth more than 2 million yen. However, when questioned closely, it came out that the things that are exhibited and sold here were bought by the shop owner in various countries. They were not “treasures wrested from the pirates of the Caribbean”, but “treasures bought by the connoisseurs of the Caribbean”. The shop owner also happily told me: “My niece is studying Japanese in Shinjuku.”

◆ The Oldest House in Anguilla

In 1632, Anguilla was taken over by England and became a colony. While I was exploring the town, I found a remnant of the colonial period.

“Wallblake House”, built in the late 1700s. It’s the oldest house on the island.

The stone monument states that this mansion was built by slave labour, and that sugar and cotton were cultivated on the plantation.

Next to Wallblake House there is a church that was built a few years later, it was full of the voices of people who came to pray.

◆Satisfied by the Caribbean Cuisine of a Popular Local Restaurant

What kind of dishes come to mind when you think of Caribbean cuisine? In Japan there are few such specialty restaurants so I had no idea. So, I went to a popular local restaurant called “Tasty’s”.
There is a bar counter at the front of the shop, and a dining area arranged at the back.

First, I ordered Bahamian cuisine, the renowned Conch fritters (16 dollars.) The conch shells that make natural jewelry were also used to elegantly decorate the interior of the restaurant.

An abundance of springy conch snails encased in crisp coatings of batter.

Next, a dish well known in Hawaii, “Mahi-mahi” (or dolphinfish.) Sprinkled with a kind of bean sauce (24 dollars.) Light and easy to eat with no fishy smell.

This one is “Shrimp sauté” (24 dollars.) Many dishes use seafood.

However, the meat dishes were not to be left behind. The thick but soft “Pork sauté” went wonderfully well with a sweet salsa-like sauce (24 dollars).

If you visit Anguilla, be sure to get your fill of delicious, locally sourced Caribbean cuisine.

◆Anguilla and Artificial Intelligence

Freshly picked coconuts on sale in the supermarket.

Instead of having a lot of traffic lights, there are “speed hump” zones. The size of these “humps” is much bigger than the ones in Japan, so be careful if you are driving and talking.

I stayed at the “Easy Corner Villas” equipped with Wi-Fi and TV. Unfortunately, I could not use the Wi-Fi or TV, so I spent a very quiet night ($180 / per night, / per person)

Mr. Conner honks his horn loudly when passing other cars and people. When I asked why, he said he was: “Greeting friends”.

Since Anguilla provides the “.ai” domain, I thought that the people living here would be living in close association with AI, but as you can see, AI is in no way a part of their daily lives. From now on, “.ai” will continue to grow as a domain for artificial intelligence, and more people will know about “Anguilla”. But, as the people of Anguilla themselves have no idea of such a thing, they are left to the quiet flow of life.

■For access to Anguilla click here

■For Anguilla’s Domain “.ai” Click Here

The Kingdom of Tonga, Where Pigs Go Fishing

After spending 40 hours traveling one-way to get to Tuvalu, I’m now off to the sixth stop on the Domain Island Tour, the Kingdom of Tonga. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) for Tonga is “.to”.

◆Where is the Kingdom of Tonga?

A nation made up of about 170 islands floating in the South Pacific, the Kingdom of Tonga is part of the Polynesian region of Oceania. The capital city Nuku’alofa is on the largest island of the Kingdom of Tonga (hereafter: Tonga.) This time I visited Tongatapu, the largest island.

Insert Map
◆Remote Cliff Drop Off! “Hufangalupe” a Scenic Spot Created by Nature
◆The Start of my Vacation
◆Pigs Go Fishing
◆A Tour of Tonga with Mr. Lata and Family!
◆How to Purchase a SIM Locally & a Test of Tonga’s Internet Speed
◆Sayonara! Out of Radio Range at the Internet Cafe
◆No Mention in Wikipedia of Volleyballs on Sale in the Market
◆Tonga, a Paradise for Dogs
◆Walking Around Nuku’alofa
◆The Wealth of the “.to” Domain

◆Remote Cliff Drop Off! “Hufangalupe” a Scenic Spot Created by Nature

I arrived at Fua’amotu International Airport, which is about a 15-hour flight from Japan. The local time was past 7:00 pm.

After deplaning, I walked to customs and immigration. The arrival gate looks like a golf clubhouse.

After finishing up with immigration, I took a taxi to the capital city of Nuku’alofa, about 40 minutes away. By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was getting to be nighttime, so I went to bed.

The next day, the weather was good. I decide to go sightseeing right away.

About 30 minutes from Nuku’alofa by car, I arrived at the southern coast of the island. Although I could hear the sound of the ocean, all I could see was a field.

Going through the maze of green, suddenly a “hole” appeared in front of us. It had a diameter of about ten meters.

Looking straight down into it was terrifying. It was very deep and there seemed to be water at the bottom.

The whole picture. This is the Hufangalupe scenic spot. You can see that part of the cliff has been eroded by waves and a bridge like structure remains. Translating the name into English, this place seems to be called the Pigeon’s gate. Depending on your viewpoint, it could be considered a gate.Depending on your viewpoint, it could be considered a gate.

Looking from this view point it seems like there’s a hole under the cliff. Here the water flows into the gate of the cliff.

Using a drone, I was able to shoot Hufangalupe from directly above. It’s an amazing sight, something that can’t be seen anywhere in Japan. I was keenly aware of the power of the natural forces that created this spot. Note that Hafangalpe has no fences etc., so please be careful when you visit.

It’s a place where you see a beautiful view and get a bit of a thrill at the same time.

 ■Hufangalupe

 ■A Magnificent View of Hufangalupe

Hufangalupe, Tonga

 ■Fua’amotu International Airport by Daylight

Fuaʻamotu International Airport, Tonga

◆The Start of my Vacation

As on other Polynesian islands, Tonga has plenty of resorts and marine sports activities. If you are interested in such, Ha’atafu Beach is a beautiful beach, and very popular with surfers.

I went to Kanokupolu Beach, which is near Ha’atafu Beach.

I was welcomed by brilliant Hibiscus flowers.

Kanokupolu has an accommodation facility called the Vakaloa Beach Resort, but it seemed deserted when I went to check it out. Well, let’s go straight to the beach.

A lot of clouds, sadly, but the white sand beaches are gorgeous. Some people were snorkeling in the distance, but it seemed like my own private beach.

I discovered a dog who also seemed to be on vacation. Where did you come from?

When the sun came out, I went under the shade of the trees. How relaxing.

There were no crowds of beach goers, and it was a great place to fully unwind both in mind and body. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have a leisurely vacation here.

  ■Kanokupolu Beach

There is a Flying Fox Sanctuary located in an area called Kolovai near Kanokupolu. Relying on the map, I find a vacant field with a big tree. The area is fenced-in.

I gradually zoomed in the camera…

Obviously, some objects are hanging suspended in the tree. These are flying foxes.

Zoom-in more. They are having a peaceful sleep. They are very big, more than 2-meter wing spans, but they only eat fruit (thank goodness.) For that reason, they are also called fruit bats. Around Oceania, Palau etc. they are considered a food source. However, because in Tonga they are considered a sacred animal, these reserves are set up.


◆Pigs Go Fishing

The island of Tongatapu is not so big, but sightseeing on foot is difficult. This time, I made an arrangement with a taxi driver named Mr. Lata to see different places on the island.

Here is Mr. Lata who is rocking an EPSON polo shirt. He’s a bit shy and doesn’t want me to take his picture.

At the “Blowholes” on the south coast of the island, we can see sea water being blown through a vent hole in the limestone rocks. The water column reaches up to 20 meters and is very impressive.


Mapu 'A Vaea Blowholes, Tonga

On the east side of Niutoua, you can see the ancient Polynesian ruins of Ha’amonga ‘a Maui, build around 1200 CE. A fence is set up around the area, making it park-like.

Unfortunately, it was Sunday, so the ruins were closed.

Many of the people living in Tonga believe in Christianity, and Sunday is said to be the “Sabbath”. Therefore, with a few exceptions, most small shops and restaurants are closed on Sunday.

I recall that there used to be Tongan wrestlers in some sumo stables, but there was some trouble over cultural differences such as the Sabbath.

The taxi stopped along the coast near the ruins. Mr. Lata says there are “Fishing pigs” here. So, I get out of the car, and see a dog catching something in the tidal pool… wait, not a dog!

There were real, genuine, fishing pigs.

Nearby, I found a sign about the “Fishing Pigs”. Apparently, they eat shellfish and seaweed etc. Many people in Tonga keep pigs, so this is an ordinary sight for them.

Pigs raised this way will be roasted whole for the Sabbath.

There’s no taste in the portions without skin, and they are a bit rubbery so watch out.



◆A Tour of Tonga with Mr. Lata and Family!

After leaving the city center, I see many plants with similar leaves.

This is a plant of the Taro family, like yams. In Tonga, this kind of potato is a staple food. The leaves are big and they look healthy.

Along the way, we stop at a house. I was confused because this was not in the schedule, but Mr. Lata says: “It’s my house!” I want to learn how to be spontaneous like this. He got out of the taxi and went into the house.

Some children were playing on the terrace. They noticed me in the car …

I was raided!

After stealing my bottles of water – Look at that face! The three kids of the Lata family, …a naughty gang.

It seemed to me that he looked like Takashi Okamura (Japanese comedian) so I shouted “Okamura-kun!”, and he said Okamura!” while turning and laughing. Maybe he thought it was some kind of Japanese greeting. It seems they don’t know much about Japan.

The dog looks exhausted, being teased by these mischievous kids all day, every day.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lata returned and invited me to have lunch in his home.

Three items for today’s lunch. First, cucumber slices. They were just plain, but they didn’t have that grassy vegetable smell. Since the kids were playing and putting them on their faces, I couldn’t dismiss the thought that maybe they were in fact, originally for a cucumber facial mask.

Next, a steamed dish of salted pork wrapped in yam leaves. In Oceania there a traditional style of cooking called “Umu” (earth oven cooking) and this dish seemed to have its origins there. Although it was simple, I could enjoy the flavor and texture of the pork.

Lastly, a cream chowder using locally harvested shellfish. It’s made with coconut milk, so the distinctive ethnic flavor comes through. It’s the Lata family way to eat this chowder garnished with steamed yam. The yam has a kind of natural earthiness followed by a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Mashed taros made an appearance as well. They make your stomach puff out a little quicker than white rice. It was a delicious meal.

With Mr. Lata’s help I was able to visit various places around the island, and have this wonderful experience of tasting real home cooking.

Many thanks to Mr. Lata and his family.


◆How to Purchase a SIM Locally & a Test of Tonga’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. This time, I decided to conduct a little investigation in Tonga.

In Tonga, communications companies; “Digicel” and ”UCall” seem to be popular, and both can be found at the Fua’amotu International Airport. This time, I decided to check out “Digicel”, the same company I tried in Samoa.

Digicel has big store in town as well.

I bought a plan of 500 MB for one week. It was 5 T$ (Tongan pa’anga) (about 280 Yen.)

After taking the SIM out of the package and then putting it into my smartphone, I had to change the settings according to the instructions on the back.

It was a bit of a pain to have to activate it by calling “122”.

Right away, I tried using it in Nukuʻalofa (the capital.) It felt pretty speedy and there was no problem searching the web. Actually, I measured the speed at an Internet Speed Test site (Fast.com).

Pretty fast at 6.9Mbps. Faster than the speed in Samoa. However, in a different location…

The internet speed suddenly dropped drastically, making it virtually unusable. The same situation persisted and it was difficult to use the internet comfortably.

The conclusion of my investigation is that it seems “Digicel” has problems with stability that make it difficult to use depending on the location. I wasn’t able to try “UCall” but maybe it’s better. By all means, give it a try.


◆Sayonara! Out of Radio Range at the Internet Cafe

With the local SIM card not working as expected, and the hotel Wi-Fi unusable too, it looks like I am a full-fledged net refugee. At such a difficult time, I discovered a cafe in Nukuʻalofa where I can use the internet. As my situation was somewhat desperate, I went there early in the morning.

At this cafe, called the “Friends Cafe” you can use their Free Wi-Fi.

The interior is done in muted tones and the atmosphere makes me feel as if I were somewhere in Europe. At the back of the shop there is also a souvenir corner set up.

It seemed they have a breakfast menu, so I decided eat here too. By the way, “MALO ‘E LELEI” written at the top of the menu means “Hello” in the Tongan language. I made my order, and sat back with high expectations for net surfing while eating.

A regular sized cafe latte, which came out immediately, was 5 T$ (about 280 Yen.) Matching fragrant espresso with foamed milk using a special machine is something all the world universally loves.

Next, my breakfast plate. Two fried eggs with ciabatta toast topped in olive oil was 13 T$ (about 730 Yen.) Ciabatta is a bread that comes from Italy, so I felt that special attention was taken with this menu. All set with breakfast, I finally proceed with the internet connection ceremony. I told the clerk “I’d like to use the Wi-Fi”, so they gave me a receipt.

The receipt has connection information such as the user name etc. I select the target ESSID from my smartphone settings and enter the password… but it doesn’t connect. Looking closely, I found that this connection information is valid for 61 days from April 11th, 2018. This date is no longer valid.

So, I notified the clerk about the situation, and received a new receipt with a valid date. However, it still wouldn’t connect. So, I couldn’t use the internet after all… All this searching for what can’t be found, no net surfing for me, but I will quietly look at my smartphone anyways.

Note that the “Friends Cafe” is open from Monday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 22:00 pm. Net refugee or not, this is still the best place to take a break. In spite of not being able to surf the net, I enjoyed a peaceful morning with a delicious breakfast.


◆No Mention in Wikipedia of Volleyballs on Sale in the Market

The Talamahu Market opens on Monday mornings. Here they sell only vegetables and fruit, and this is where you can buy locally grown produce.

Staples like potatoes. The thinner ones look like Japanese yams.

Colorful chili peppers and cucumbers bigger than zucchini.

Chinese cabbage is about 170 Japanese Yen. Nice looking cabbages as well.

More familiarly sized vegetable were also on sale. Eggplant (per bundle), also about 170 Japanese Yen.

In one corner of the market, I found Kabocha squash. It seems that in Tonga there was no custom for eating Kabocha, but some Japanese companies thought that the climate would be suitable and imported the seeds, now they are very common. In fact, Wikipedia says that Kabocha squash exports are now a pillar of the Tongan economy. So next time you buy squash, check if it came from Tonga.

I’m not sure if these were grown in Tonga, but apples and oranges and other fruits were also sold in the market. Outside there’s a shop that can make juice from your favorite fruit.

Local crafts corner. It seems like a good place to buy souvenirs.

I discovered volleyballs that remind me of “MIKASA.” No need to worry, if you suddenly feel a desperate urge to play volleyball, you can buy a ball here.

Lots of clothes available. After mentioning Kabocha, Wikipedia goes on to say that the minimum size of women’s shoes in Tonga is 26 cm. However, there are in fact all kinds of sizes on sale. There was a good selection of sandals, in the Polynesian style of course.

The Talamahu market did not sell meat and fish, but it was nice and had almost all the daily necessities you could. Stop by if you are in the area sightseeing.


◆Tonga, a Paradise for Dogs

I saw a lot of dogs on this island; I’m not sure if they are all escaped pets or if they just have a freestyle way of keeping dogs. Of the islands I have visited so far; the dog encounter rate has been the highest here. So, I’ll present a few of the times they made an appearance.

First, doggy on the beach.

Doggies crossing the road.

Puppy dog.

Finally, sunset doggy. In town, dogs often jump out onto the road. And if you meet one in the dark of night on a lonely road, you might feel nervous, so be careful.

◆ Walking Around Nuku’alofa

The weather is nice, comfortable in the morning. I decided to walk around Nukuʻalofa a bit.

Salote Road. There are many houses and its pretty quiet (I can hear a dog bark).

At the National Reserve Bank of Tonga, I found Japanese flag. The Japanese Embassy of Tonga seems to be in this building. However, because of the bank the security was pretty tight, so I couldn’t go in and check it out like in Samoa.

As a tropical country, Tonga has a lot of coconut trees (palm trees). Even though the weather was nice, it was a little chilly, I couldn’t go without my jacket.

Going to a pier called the “American Wharf.” At the end of the pier, there were some young couples, or people alone listening to music etc. It seems to be a bit of an oasis for the people living nearby.

The clarity of the water was amazing, I could see the fish swimming around.

On Takaunove Road. There’s a large parabolic antenna set up. It may be communicating with the Arecibo Observatory.

Nearby the Mini-Arecibo I found a bakery called ”A.Cowley & Sons”. I was curious because the sign said “Bread for the Kingdom.”

In the shop, there were many locals stopping by, as well as tourist and workers that came in to buy bread.

Handmade sandwiches and pies lined up under the glass.

There was also an abundance of sweets, like doughnuts and muffins etc.

Torn over all the temping choices, in the end I bought an Earl Grey muffin and a berry tart. The texture of the muffin was very moist. Although the tart was small, it had a lot of berry sauce and the taste was outstanding. They were both fairly sweet, maybe this is the preference of the King. Both together were 3.5 T$ (about 200 Yen).

One of the few restaurants open on Sunday is the “Kimiko Chinese Restaurant”, located on Vuna Road. I went before business hours and the place had a sort of abandoned feel to it.

When its open you can order from the menu at the cashier, or from the dishes under the glass. I decided to try the fried rice and yakisoba, and some mysterious deep-fried food.

It’s fair to say that fried rice is my standard order on the domain island tour (this one was approx. 280 Yen).

The yakisoba seems a bit drowned in oil and oyster sauce, some people might have a hard time getting it all down (approx. 450 Yen).

Here is the mysterious deep-fried food. When I tried it, it turned out to be some kind of sausage fried in batter, a sort of American hot-dog type of food (per hot-dog approx. 60 Yen). The clerk serving ketchup took pride in their work.

Its open from 9:00 am to 21:00 pm every day, so no problem to visit on the Sabbath. However, I was satisfied with going once, I didn’t go again during my stay.

Besides this, I saw cars without door handles, and DVD shops that I couldn’t tell whether they were open or not. There were a few shops that sold everyday items, but the assortment was basically the same.

Tonga has many scenic spots, but I discovered all kinds of interesting things just by walking through the city.

◆The Wealth of the “.to” Domain

After making my on-site investigation, it seems that the “.to” domain is frequently used by companies that provide services for visitors, such as spas and regional airlines.

A hand-written sign at a relaxation spa.

In the domain name of the “RealTonga”airline company.

Domains have changed from merely being an “internet address” to being a sort of business card, expressing the contents and services of the company.In Japan, there may be a lot of recognition of the former, but I think there could be more effort to do the latter. To use domain names as a sort of strong partner to convey business culture and services as is done in Tonga.

Tonga is the only Kingdom in Polynesia. It was fascinating to experience the warmth and enthusiasm of the people living there.

■access to TongaClick Here

■For Domain details,Click here

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