Visitors Guide V
VanAir is now part of Air Vanuatu but was once the country’s domestic airline. In the past it was often in a state of organised chaos with the government deciding to merge or de-merge it with the international carrier. In simple terms, a merged air body means more efficiency and saving through shared offices, computers, staff etc. However, de-merged means two boards and more staff and everyone likes a job – especially those who have the perk of being on the board of directors.
VANUATU DAILY POST
While mentioned under ‘newspapers’, we’ll give Marc Neil-Jones’s rag another plug here. Journalistically speaking, you’ll find occasional typos and grammatical errors but the paper gives a ‘feel’ for Port Vila. For your 150vt you’ll get local gossip in Mi Harem Se (‘me hear and say’), editorials against political graft and corruption and, in some articles, you can test your knowledge of Bislama.
You could well find something like this in Mi Harem Se… Which inebriated Kiwi in a skimpy red dress left hubby at home for a sojourn to the Voodoo Lounge to give the visiting NZ navy boys a warm welcome? According to one of the smiling sailors, “she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.” You can also get the paper online at the Daily Post.
VAT (VALUE ADDED TAX)
This is the only tax in Vanuatu (12.5% on goods and services). It’s actually quite a fair tax. Expatriate residents and tourists spend more and buy bigger ticket items than the locals so they indirectly support the ni-Vanuatu.
Since TV is, well, shall we say limited, a lot of viewing comes in on video or DVD. Cinema release movies arrive on video often before they open in Australian and New Zealand theatres. Ask if the DVD copy you plan to purchase is good quality. Ni-Vanuatu shop assistants never lie!
This charming restaurant (isn’t Chaumières French for ‘charming’?) is a must for couples having a romantic break. Food and service is good, but it’s the setting that makes it magical and memorable (evenings with the lagoon reflecting under spotlights and small fish flitting about). There’s also boutique, basic, comfortable accommodation.
For stays not exceeding 30 days, visitors from countries including USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, the UK, Norway, Switzerland, EU countries and Fiji do not require a visa. Permission is usually granted for an extension of up to four months simply by applying while here. Visas are only obtainable from The Immigration Department, Port Vila, Vanuatu. PMB 014, Tel: 22 354, Fax: 25 492. The automatic entry visa is not a work permit though.
VOLCANO POST OFFICE
As well as the Underwater Post Office, there is also the Volcano Post Office located on the rim of the Yasur live volcano on the island of Tanna. Spectacular views and the opportunity to mail volcano postcards from a live volcano with volcano stamps on them.
Mt Yasur on Tanna is the volcano for tourists – it’s accessible, exciting and it won’t let you down (unless it’s closed for being particularly angry). It is an amazing experience from crossing the ash plain to being able to go right to the rim
There are nine active volcanoes in Vanuatu including two on Ambrym (Mt Benbow & Mt Marum), Aobo Island (the whole island!), and Mt Garet on Gaua Island. The volcanic activity actually raises Vanuatu about 2cm a year while other Pacific nations like Tuvalu are sinking. For more information see the Vanuatu sections of Volcanoes Live and the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program. If you do decide to visit the volcanoes of Vanuatu it may be handy to know How To Cook With Lava.