Answers to our Questionnaire for Visitors of Solomon Islands

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Visitor
Sex? male
Profession/occupation? Medical Student
Home country? England
What made you want to go to Solomon Islands? talking to a previous visitor
Did you go alone or in company? in company
Arriving in Solomon Islands
When did you arrive in Solomon Islands? April 2008
Did you encounter any bureaucratic difficulties? no
What was your first impression after arrival? Honiara - noisy, dusty, run down; although very friendly at the same time.
Living in Solomon Islands
What did positively surprise you? How relaxed the people were and willing to accept you into their community and lives.
What did negatively surprise you? There was no running water on Taro Island, so the only source was from rainwater collected in tanks.
What took longest to get used to? Solomon Time! Always expect everything to happen at least 4 hours later than planned.
What did you miss most in Solomon Islands? Cheese.
What should you have brought along? Sliced bread from Honiara - there is no bakery in Taro.
What did you do to prevent malaria? Doxycycline prophylaxis, slept in a mozzy net, and DEET containing anti-mosquito spray. But I still got eaten alive!
Place and province where you spent most of your time? Taro, Choiseul Province
Other places/provinces where you stayed? Gizo, Western Province
Where did you stay? Kiwi House in Honiara; In the doctor's house in Taro (there was no accommodation available on Taro when we arrived); Phoebe's Resthouse in Gizo.
How long did you stay at each location? Honiara - 2 nights (transit); Taro - 3.5 weeks; Gizo - 5 days.
How much did you pay for each? SBD 50/night in Honiara; SBD 0/night in Taro (very lucky!); SBD 70/night in Gizo
Where did you usually eat? Home
What did you typically pay for a normal meal? SBD 10 - 20 (bought everything from market and made it ourselves in Taro)
What local food/beverage did you like most? Slippery Cabbage and Lobster (2 large lobster cost under GBP 1 at the market!)
What local food/beverage did you like least? Taro (very heavy)
Mobile phone services
If you brought along a mobile phone, which services did you successfully use? -
Comments? -
Money matters
Used HSBC and Barclays debit cards to get cash, get cash at ATMs and to pay for goods and services.
Comments? -
Working in Solomon Islands
How did you usually go to work? walk
Where did you work? Taro Hospital - All departments
What was your occupation? Medical Student
What were your working days and hours? Weekdays, 8am - 3pm (lunch from 1130 to 1400hrs though!). "On Call" 24hrs a day, but very rarely are you called.
What was particularly difficult in regard to your work? The inability to admit a patient - many social factors to consider re can the family afford to stay on the island
Did you feel accepted by the locals? yes
What did you usually do in your spare time after work? Fishing, snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing, "telling stories", eating, trips to waterfalls/crocodile hunting etc
Questions for medical trainees of all levels (students to registrars)
How was the supervision? adequate
Comments Left alone to consult own patients and manage them - but if felt at all out of depth doctor was very happy to help.
How was the teaching? poor
Comments Often the doctor and us would go and look things up together - more "mutual learning" than teaching.
Leaving Solomon Islands and looking back
When did you leave Solomon Islands? May 2008
How long was your stay? 1 month
How do you judge the length of your stay? too short
What did you learn from the locals? You don't need to rush to everything, it's often better to take your time to sit back and think things through rather than race into things.
Your advice to prospective visitors? Be prepared for Taro to be very basic - the electricity is only on for a few hours of each day, the water runs out easily, there is very little to do in the evenings - but the people are FANTASTIC!
What did you miss most when back at home again? Being able to say "Morning" / "Hello" to everyone and always getting a happy smiling reply
What did you enjoy most when back at home again? Cold drinks
Would you go back for another stay? Anytime!
Estimated total cost of your stay (including travel costs)? GBP 2,500
Additional comments? Best experience of my life! For those who really want to get into the heart of a community and experience what it is like to live as a true Solomon Islander living with just the basics, then visit Taro! There are virtually never any other "non-locals" who visit so everyone is extremely happy to show you around and help you (and nothing is "geared toward the tourist" as some of the places, like Gizo, are becoming). It truly is still raw Solomon Island culture - fantastic!

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