Answers to our Questionnaire for Visitors of Solomon Islands

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Visitor
Sex? male
Profession/occupation? medical student
Home country? UK
What made you want to go to Solomon Islands? browsing the web
Arriving in Solomon Islands
When did you arrive in Solomon Islands? June 2004
Did you encounter any bureaucratic difficulties? no, said I was a tourist
What was your first impression after arrival? Why have I landed in an Australian military base?
Living in Solomon Islands
What did positively surprise you? If you try very hard and have free accommodation then it can be very cheap.
What did negatively surprise you? took over an hour to get to a swimmable beach in Honiara
What took longest to get used to? in Honiara everything becomes black and sooty from the pollution
What did you miss most in Solomon Islands? eating raw tuna
What should you have brought along? Marmite (Vegemite is rubbish) [bread spreads]
What did you do to prevent malaria? mosquito nets, spray and Larium
Place and province where you spent most of your time? Honiara, Honiara-City
Other places/provinces where you stayed? Gizo, Kolombangara, Uepi, all Western Province
Where did you stay? Kiwi-House, Phoebe's, rural health centres, Uepi
How long did you stay at each location? Honiara - 6 weeks, Gizo - 1 week, mobile med. centres Kolombangara - 1 week, Uepi (holiday) - 1week
How much did you pay for each? Kiwi - free, Phoebe's SBD 55/night, Kolombangara - free, Uepi - SBD 1,000/night
Where did you usually eat? home
What did you typically pay for a normal meal? at home SBD 20, eating out SBD 50 - 150
What local food/beverage did you like most? ice cold coconuts when thirsty, a few special brews and a Larium on Friday night
What local food/beverage did you like least? snake beans - inedible which ever way you cook them
Working in Solomon Islands
How did you usually go to work? walk
Where did you work? NRH - 3 weeks in paeds, 3 weeks surgery, Gizo - male/childrens wards and OPD [outpatient department]
What was your occupation? student / junior doctor
What were your working days and hours? NRH: 8am-4pm, Gizo: 9-5pm, mobile clinic: when patients arrive until everyone's seen
What was particularly difficult in regard to your work? Ill? Take some Septrin and come back in a month...
Did you feel accepted by the locals? yes
What did you usually do in your spare time after work? read books, sleep, go to email shop, drink
Leaving Solomon Islands and looking back
When did you leave Solomon Islands? August 2004
How long was your stay? 3 months
How do you judge the length of your stay? just about right
What did you learn from the locals? how to open a coconut with a stone and sharp stick and how to trawl for tuna
Your advice to prospective visitors? No amount of energy will change staff's relaxed attitude towards a severely ill patient
What did you miss most when back at home again? The uncomplaining and brave patients and staff.
What did you enjoy most when back at home again? Sweating less.
Would you go back for another stay? maybe
Estimated total cost of your stay (including travel costs)? GBP 2,200: 900 flights, 200 insurance, 650 living expenses, 450 - 1 week holidays
Additional comments? Good - Mataniko Falls, war memorial tour, Bonegi 1 and 2, Tulagi (take local boat over), fresh fish, breath hold diving, scuba diving, kayaking around Uepi, just spending time at Uepi, mobile medical clinic (awesome).
Bad - being in Honiara at weekends, totally disorganised internal flights (expect delays of up to one or two days), snake beans, total lack of transport apart from locals, outrageous politicians.

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