Interlink Co., Ltd. offers more than 1,000 TLDs. This website focuses on about 50 types of "island domains" such as .cc, .tv, .sx, etc. operated by remote islands in the South Pacific and Caribbean. We will explore these islands first hand and report on the uniqueness and diversity of the islands and the domains they offer.
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).
◆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”.
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.
◆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.
◆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.
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”.
◆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.
◆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?
◆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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
◆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……
I arrived in Tuvalu!! You can take a look at Funafuti airport with the following 360-degree image.
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.
◆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’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!