When I told my boyfriend that Nauru was the next country I was going to write about, his reaction was “Na Who?” But who am I to blame, I had never heard about Nauru either several weeks ago. Also not that strange considering it’s the least visited country in the world. The name Nauru is derived from the Nauruan word Anaoero which means “I go to the beach”. Nauru get’s roughly 200 visitors a year, that doesn’t mean it isn’t special, because it is. It is just so hard to get there from the other countries, for instance it’s impossible for large commercial ships to harbour in the island because it’s surrounded by sharp coral reefs, that could damage the ships. Another reason why it’s not chosen as holiday destination more often is because everything is so expensive!!!! Not that strange considering everything has to be imported mostly by plane from Australia.
The island is shaped like a kidneybean and so small you could easily take walk around the island in the morning and be back before noon. Nauru is famous for its notorious weightlifters.
Once upon a time, Nauru was not only the world’s smallest island nation but also the richest per capita, richer even than the Gulf countries. Why was this BIRDSHIT! Yes, you read correctly birdshit! The discovery of phosphate in birdshit in 1968 has changed the country forever, phosphate makes the soil really fertile. For thousands of years, birds took care of their business all over the island. So you can imagine after this discovery the Nauruans, back then still a British colony start selling their extremely fertile birdshit infested soil. When they gathered enough money they gained independence from Great Britain. The mining companies rush to exploit the unusual natural resources. By 1980 they were the richest country per capita. The Nauruans weren’t yet used to having this amount of money, so they spend it all and they spend it quickly. For inhabitants of the island, almost everything was free: education, healthcare, dental services, public transport, even the newspaper was free. Even if you had a medical condition that was not treatable in the tiny hospital on the island you could fly to Australia at state expense to receive treatment. If you wanted to study abroad in Australia, the state would pay that too. They build state rental houses, whose rent was just $5 a month. As you can imagine this story is not going to end well. Eventually, they ran out of fertile soil to sell, and now the island is mostly barren, only coconut trees still grow on the island. They knew this was coming the minister of Finance said in an interview in the New York Times. They just didn’t care since they have a saying on the island “Tomorrow will take care of itself”
Things you didn’t know about Nauru:
- A 3.9km stretch of narrow gauge railway was built in 1907 for the transport of mined phosphate, the lynchpin of the island’s economy for decades.
- In 2015 it banned Facebook on the pretence of protecting residents from pornography, but really – many claimed – to stifle political dissent.
- Nauru is one of the 16 countries without an army. Australia is responsible for keeping Nauru safe and sound, although the island does have it’s own police force.
- The first Westerner to visit Nauru was the British whaler John Fearn, who dropped anchor there in 1798. He was clearly impressed, calling it “Pleasant Island”. The island is ringed by coral reef, which prevents it from having a port but makes it a perfect for diving and snorkelling.
- It is the only country in the world without an official capital.
Ok guys this one is really easy and child friendly if you leave out the the chilli in the mango salsa. Fruity salsa’s have special little place in my heart! I love the zinginess of the lime and spicyness, the Tilapia however is not my quite favorite fish, but hey that’s wat they got over there. You can definately substitute it for any other white fish like cod or halibut.Read the rest of this entry »
Chances are you have never heard about Micronesia. Micronesia is made up of 607 islands and they take up over a 2.589.988 km² of oceanic territory however, in land surface area they only make up 702 km². These islands are divided into 4 states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. The islands were formed from underwater volcanos.
Culturally the people of Micronesia come from a long line of clans mostly rooted in traditional stories passed down from generation to generation. For instance, there is the legend of a cursed city that the twin sorcerers created; Nan-Madol. Supposedly they had the help of a flying dragon and that’s how the first dynasty was started according to legend.
Nan-Madol is just as special as Easter Island or Machu Picchu just less accessible and therefore less well-known. To even be able to enter Nan-Madol you have to ask the Chief of the clan for protection and permission to enter the site. There are rumors of people who died who didn’t follow this protocol. You have to undergo a special sakau-ceremony to get the approval of the chief: drink a drink made out of sakau root which is mushed by hand to make sure the spirits of Nan-Madol accept you. Only a tiny fragment of the legendary Saudeleurs city can still be seen, mangroves hide what else is covered.
But who were these Saudeleurs? Pohnpeian legend recounts that the Saudeleur rulers were of foreign origin and that their appearance was quite different from native Pohnpeians. The Saudeleur centralized form of absolute rule is characterized in Pohnpeian legend as becoming increasingly oppressive over several generations. Arbitrary and impossible demands, as well as a reputation for offending Pohnpeian gods and religion. All of this naturally sowed resentment among Pohnpeians.
The Saudeleur Dynasty ended with the invasion of Isokelekel, another semi-mythical foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur rule with the more decentralized nahnmwarki system which is still in existence today.
Things you didn’t know about Micronesia
- In Yap, one of the four states, you should never enter a village without anything in your hands. If you have nothing, then it is understood that you have nothing to do there and have ill intentions. Carrying a green leaf is a sign of having peaceful intentions and a good way to occupy your hands.
- Chuuk is undoubtedly the wreck diving capital of the world. There are over 50 shipwrecks that sank in Chuuk Lagoon after Operation Hailstone in WWII destroyed the Japanese base. This is a diver’s paradise with wrecks for all levels and at all depths, including some that can be snorkeled. And there is not much else tod do Chuuk , so exploring the underwater life is a must.
- Although the Micronesian states are made of 607 islands, most of them, especially the larger ones where most visitors stay, are volcanic outcrops surrounded by rocks and mangroves and without any beaches.
Ok so this recipe took me quite a while to come up with. Micronesia doesn’t have a lot of traditional recipes, and since i did’t want to do anything halfway or post a bad recipe. I had to come up with of concoction of my own that highlights a few of the ingredients they use a lot! This recipe is completely vegan and really tasty and also quick to make! So please go ahead and try it. Micronesian readers if you have any traditional recipes you would like to share with please do!Read the rest of this entry »
The Marshall Islands, another country I had never heard of before writing this. Which is not that strange since it has only been independent since 1986. Before that it was under American rule, but they kind of screwed up so when the inhabitants decided they were ready for independence they had to kindly agree to let the Marshallese fend for themselves. What happened you ask?… Well for starters they used Bikini island (Yes guys I know Spongebobs birthplace) as a site for testing atomic bombs. They told the inhabitants of Bikini that they had a calling from God to move away for the sake of worldpeace. For 12 years they regularly bombed the island with nuclear weapons. Nowadays you can take a trip to Bikini Islands (it’s called Nuclear Tourism, are there people who do this?).
The Marshall Islands’s economy is still very intertwined with the US economy, but that kind of makes sense being such a tiny place. The Marshallese call their own country “Jolet Jen Anij” which means “The Gifts from God” The county is made up of 29 coral atolls containing 1100 smaller islands and islets and then 5 solid isolated islands.
Things you did’t know about the Marshall Islands:
- The Marshall Islands provides the world’s largest sanctuary for sharks, which virtually doubled the protected area for sharks worldwide.
- The only indigenous land mammal in the Marshall Islands is the Polynesian rat.
- The trade in copra has been important to the economy of the Marshall Islands. Copra is dried coconut meat. Once the meat of coconut has been dried to make copra, it can be ground or pressed to yield coconut oil. Copra is classed as “dangerous cargo” when in transit as it can spontaneously explode with great force when it is being transported in volume.
- The society is matrilineal and, therefore, the land is passed down from generation to generation through the mother.
- Before the missionaries came, all Marshallese people were tattooed. The ceremony was extending over a month, most painful and held to confer beauty and bring honor; it was a rite of passage to man or womanhood and was believed the only attribute to be carried beyond the grave; partaking of religion, it served as well to confirm ties of family and birth. Facial tattooing, intended to conceal the wrinkles of age, was reserved for chiefs – to whom was permitted the richest and most widespread adornment.
This coconut creme is an amazingly rich and delicious dessert. Perfect for a quick summer dessert!
I’ll be honest… I had never heard of Kiribati! Kiribati is an island nation and consists of 3 island groups: The Gilbert Islands, The Phoenix Islands, The Line Islands. Unfortunately, due to climate change, two small uninhabited islands disappeared underwater in 1999, because of the rising sea levels.
I always try to be positive about countries… but this has got to stop people! The sea level will have risen 50 cm by 2100 and then it won’t be just the uninhabited islands that will disappear in the ocean, most of Kiribati will be largely be submerged! So we really really have to change our lifestyle…Or this vacation paradise won’t be there for long.
Things you didn’t know about Kiribati:
- Kiribati is the only country in the world to straddle all four hemispheres. The islands spread across both the equator and the International Date Line. In 1995, Kiribati changed the date for the easternmost islands, effectively creating an indentation in the dateline. This was done so that it would be the same date and day of the week across the whole country.
- Dancing in Kiribati is more than a form of entertainment. It is used to tell stories and as a demonstration of endurance and skill. Therefore, smiling while dancing is considered vulgar.
- Kiribati is known for a number of traditional martial arts, which were kept a secret within families for many generations. All of them are believed to have been given to humanity by an ancestral spirit. For example, Nabakai was given to a warrior of that name by three female spirits who would manifest in the form of a crab. Another is Tabiang, named after the village in which it originated. It uses speed and accuracy and its principle is “you give me one punch I give you four punches”. The spirit who taught it was called “Teraka”, and legend has it that this spirit also traveled to Asia and taught it to the people there, who gave it a variant of the name – “karate”
This recipe I honestly really went with my gut and sort of made up by myself, I read a lot online about the eating habits in Kiribati and read they use a lot of soy sauce, curry powder, coconut, fish and crabs, and lobsters but really no specific dish. So I heated up my pan and the dish came together, and let me tell you this is one of the best curries I ever made! Since crab is quite expensive (at least where I live) this is more of a weekend thing but it definitely qualifies as comfort food to me! I don’t know what it is about curries but they always have a tendency to make me instantly happy
Guam and Northern Marianas a few tiny dots in the middle of the ocean. Famous for being close to the Mariana Trench which is the deepest part of ocean anywhere in the world! Scientists say there are so many fish and other sea creatures that are undiscovered. Guam’s economy survives on Japanese tourists who come to visit these exquisite dreamy tropical islands!
As Micronesia’s most populous island, Guam is about as ‘cosmopolitan’ as it gets in the middle of the ocean.
Some people are against it since the shopping malls are everywhere and the traditional Chamorro language is barely spoken on the islands. But then again if you think about it it’s kind of amazing, shopping malls in the middle of the ocean!
Things you didn’t know about Guam:
- Guam has the tallest mountain in the world 11 277,6 meters! Mount Lamlam is 1,332 feet above sea level. But thanks to the Marianas Trench (the deepest part of all the world’s ocean), it’s underground base becomes the greatest change of elevation on Earth compared to the height of Mt. Everest.
- Brown Tree Snakes are pests to Guam. They are not indigenous to Guam. It has been theorized that they stowed away on ships from Australia and Indonesia and sneaked their way onto the shores of Guam. Since they are not naturally from Guam, they do not have any predators. Therefore killing Brown Tree Snakes is socially accepted, so if you see someone smashing a snake it is considered normal.
- Guam is part of the USA!!! I never knew this. It’s closer to the Philippines then to US but still it’s part of the USA.
The Fiji Islands, a dream holiday destination for everyone nowadays, but this wasn’t always the case. Before the early 1800 the Fiji Islands were avoided by explorers like Thomas Cook, who named them The Cannibal Islands. Yes the Fijians were cannibals. Not so paradise like now right? Nowadays Fiji is very popular honeymoon destination with it’s white sand beaches and perfect palmtrees.
Things you didn’t know about Fiji:
- Fijian and Fiji Islanders are not the same! Don’t call everyone you see Fijians, as the indigenous Fijians tend to take offence. Fijians refers to a person of indigenous descent, with any other resident being called a Fiji Islander.
- The whole of Fiji consists of just 10% land. Of the 322 islands and 522 islets, only 106 are inhabited. The two biggest islands are Vanua Levu and Viti Levu. 90% of the Fiji territory is water.
- Since the beginning of time, the Fijian culture has always emphasized on strong family values and Fijians have maintained strong family ties even for those who have moved abroad. You hardly see any individuals living in an isolated house in the rural areas.
This fish curry is a perfect midnight meal, done in 30 minutes and delicious!
Welcome letter E! The continents of Asia and Oceania are the home of thousands of some of the most amazing species on earth. Here between these two continents there is an island where this couldn’t be more evident ‘East Timor’. Living it’s first few ages of independence this small territory is located on the far east of southern Asia between Indonesia and Australia, it is the home of an ancient civilization. They are descendents from Malaysian, Polynesian and Papuan people. They have strong believes that everything is connected to the nature in some way. The land changes from high tropical forests to savannah or to the incredible pristine beaches on the coast.
Things you didn’t know about East Timor:
- Over 16 different languages and more than 30 dialects are spoken in East Timor, a lot of them have a strong Portuguese influence.
- There is a legend among people from East Timor that only a man with a bad soul will get eaten or bitten by a crocodile. This why most people aren’t terrified of crocodiles.
- There are a least 9 bird (probably more) species that are exclusive to the island.
- There are places in the mountains where scientists have never been. And it is almost certain that when scientists start researching there new species will be found.
- During the ice age the islands stayed separated from the Asian continent, so there were nog big animals like tigers or elephants. Only the ones man brought for farming can be found on the island.
This is so good the sweet and sourness of the tamarind is really good!
You know the places you used to dream of as a kid. Blue lagoons, white beaches, girls with flowers in their hair etc etc? What if I told you a place like this still exists. On 15 tiny islands in the South Pacific you’ll find a thousand years of Polynesian culture sitting side by side with some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world. And the best thing is, the Cook Islands are not overrun by mass tourism yet. Probably because it’s very very expensive to go there. The Cook Islands is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system in an associated state relationship with New Zealand. Their currency is New Zealand Dollar.
Here are some fun facts about the Cook Islands:
- The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls.
- It is summer year-round in the Cook Islands. The drier months are from April to November with average temperatures between 20 to 26 degrees Celsius. The hotter, more humid months are from December to March with an average maximum temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. (Seriously??!). Oh yeah the ocean is also 29 degrees Celsius so swimming pool temperature! (Is this the actual paradise?)
- The official language on the Cook Islands is English, but many people speak Maori. Still there is concern of the youth thinking that learning Maori language is irrelevant.
- Cook Islanders are very religious (catholic) they have strong sentimental feelings towards their past, traditions and culture.
- Dancing and music is a very important part of the Cook Island culture.
Ika Mata is sort of a ceviche like salad. I absolutely loved it! I felt like I a wizard when the fish sort of cooked in the lemon juice :P. I put in the fridge raw and took it out cooked! TADAAA!! And it was yummy, tasted so summery and tropical. It would be perfect starter or side dish on hot summer day. Really something to impress people with and believe me it is so easy that you could train a monkey to make it! 😀
Ingredients: salt to taste, 1 cup of coconut cream, 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 kg firm fish (I used monk fish), tabasco to taste, 1 red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 spring onion, 1 cup of chopped coriander, 1 cup of chopped mint leaves, 1 cup of parsley.
- Cut the fish into small dice and put into a bowl. Tip over the lemon juice and stir. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Pour the fish and the juice into a colander and drain.
- Return the fish to a clean bowl and add the coconut cream, salt and Tabasco. Taste and add more salt and Tabasco if desired.
- Stir through the onion, capsicum and spring onion while reserving a little of each to garnish. Refrigerate before serving in small bowls. Garnish, adding optional torn fresh coriander leaves
Aaaah Wednesday my favorite day of the week! Love waking up with the thought in my head that I can publish another recipe! “Put another shrimp on the barbie!” I think this is the best known quote non-australian know. That why I of course made shrimps on the BBQ also because the weather is so beautiful that it would be a shame not to eat BBQ. S0 Australia,… The first thing that comes to mind when I look at the map of Australia,is that al the big cities are centered around the coast. This is because the interior of the continent is mostly hot desert. What else’s comes to mind when I think about Australia: Surfing, field hockey, AFL, cricket, crocodile dundee, kangaroos, koala’s, Steve Irwin. And the Aborignals with their amazing art But what about the stuff you don’t know about Australia.
- Australia has the world’s largest cattle station (ranch). At 30,028 km2 it is almost the same size as Belgium. (For me this is kind of a shocker since I was born and raised in Belgium)
- Melbourne has the second largest Greek population in the world, after Athens. (wait WHAT how the hell did they end up there?! I tried to find out why they went to Australia but here doesn’t seem to be a specific reason)
- Apparently the first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per person than any other community in the history of mankind.
- The native people of Australia are called Aboriginals and their art is world famous!
Ingredients: 1 kg tiger prawns,shelled and tails left intact, 4 cloves garlic finely grated, 1 tbsp chilli flakes, 1½ tsp ground pepper berries, sea salt, 1½ tbsp macadamia oil, juice of ½ a lemon, 1½ tbsp coriander leaves, chopped, thumb sized piece of ginger grated.
Place the prawns, garlic, chilli, pepper berries, ginger and a good pinch of sea salt into a bowl, Mix well and refrigerate until needed. Heat a barbecue grill or griddle pan over high heat. Cook the prawns a couple of minutes on either side and arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle the lemon juice over the prawns then sprinkle with the coriander leaves. Sprinkle a little more chilli flakes over, if you wish. Eat immediately.
I did a second recipe this week I am not 100% sure that it’s australian but it might as well could be. And honestly you can hardly call it a recipe! It’s an epic way to use up leftover ripe banana’s!
Ingredients: chocolate chips (as much as you’d like!), a ripe banana
after BBQ cut the bananas as you can see on the picture, add chocolate chips. Put on the BBQ and wait until the banana starts to brown and the chocolate has melted and is nice and gooey!
Here is a playlist with epic music to enjoy while eating or cooking! http://8tracks.com/doe-like-eyes/aussie-aussie-aussie
Oh yes I almost forgot to mention that this week Australia won the Fieldhockey Worldcup! Congrats Australians! Well played! It was painful to watch how my country (The Netherlands) lost!