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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Solomon Islands Newbie Guide: How to meet people in Honiara

One year ago today, I arrived in Honiara.  I was alone, weirded out and hot.  I slept for about 32 hours straight, after flying from Paris, and when I woke up, I realized that I didn’t know anybody.  I was stuck in a hot hotel room, by myself, watching episodes of Battlestar Galatica and X-Files (I played video games too.  Sid Myers Pirates, Monkey Island and Civilisation Four are personal favorites).  Oh feel sad for me!!! Ha!

I digress…. Anyway it wasn’t very fun not having any friends and not knowing where to meet people. 

So…here is my list of how and where to meet people.  Expats and locals alike are pretty friendly.  

Occasionally you run into the snobbish types or the ones who have just been here WAY too long and won’t make friends.  But don’t take it personally, it’s not about you, it’s about them. 

  • Diving: Diving is a great way to meet people.  If you aren’t a diver already, take a course.  I HIGHLY recommend Tulagi Dive.  The boys will look after you and you should meet people.  Done the course and still no friends?  Get some gear and go out to Bonege 1 on Saturday or Sunday mornings.  There are heaps of divers who will probably buddy you.
  • Solomon Islands Poker Association. I loves me some good Texas Holdem Poker.  And this group is a lovely, social, fun bunch of folks that will make you feel welcome whether you want to or not.  Their meetups are on Facebook, so friend them and enjoy the mayhem.  These guys are all about poker and having a good time.  Don’t feel bad if you are a newbie, the players are friendly and always willing to help.  There are also tutorial nights as well. Here’s hoping you get pocket aces or a flush on the flop.
  • Ultimate Frisbee-These guys play at Woodford School on Tuesday evenings. I’ve not been but I hear it’s pretty fun
  • Okay, I love HASH but I don’t find the time to go very often.  It’s a great place to meet people, run your guts out and drink, all at the same time (Why don’t I go more often? The mind boggles…).  Anyway, Hashers are a friendly and generous group of people.  Lime Lounge often has information re: meetups.  These guys, both expats and locals, run every Monday night in rain, shine or cyclones. 
  • Church.  Church is a great way to meet people even if you aren’t that churchie.  Solomon Islanders love church and you get an instant social network out of attending. So give it a go.  I recommend the South Seas Evangelical Church just for their singing and social stuff but its up to you.
  • Lime Lounge.  If you are keen on checking out the local expat scene, this is a great place to come and enjoy a nice lunch or coffee.  People often come alone OR in groups but starting up conversations is pretty easy.  Lime Lounge is in Point Cruz.
  • International Tea Group.  Yes, there is an international tea group.  These lovely ladies (and a few gents) meet weekly to discuss all things tea.  I’ve been before and I highly recommend this group to partners of people who are working, as it is during the day around 10 a.m.  These ladies are probably the most friendly bunch of women I know and they will graciously assist you with any questions you may have.   Meeting times and location information is available at the Lime Lounge.
  • Mommy’s group.  There is a group of mommies who have play group.  You can find out their meeting schedule through the kindies.  I know  a couple of ladies who are a part of these groups, so email me if you can’t find this information out.
  • Rain Tree CafĂ©.  This is a place to chillax and meet people…I love it there but make sure you have enough time to sit back and enjoy.
  • Extreme Night Club. Okay, this is a probably the most decent and safe place to dance at in Honiara.  Granted, Extreme has a certain Yuck factor about it.  I won’t lie, the music sucks and you occasionally get groped by some drunk guy. I don’t often frequent Extreme but you can meet some interesting people there.  Just watch your bag and those weird old expat men who sit alone in the corner with their beer chatting up 17 year old Solomon Island girls.
  • The Yacht Club.  It’s a nice relaxed atmosphere with a bar so if you are into sailing, boats or drinking, you should be in. 
  • The Iron Bottom Sound Hotel (IBS).  This place is a nice setting overlooking the ocean.  The pizza is pretty edible and you can always find groups of friendly people there.  Just walk up and start a conversation, you should be fine.
  • Yoga and Pilates.  There are classes every Wednesday and Friday at the Heritage Hotel.  I haven’t been but I hear its worth going.  Its about 50 bucks per class.
  • King Solomon Hotel Karaoke Fridays.  This lasts till about 12 midnight and usually pretty fun.  Great place to meet people and sing your heart out.    
  • Aerobics.  At St. John’s school.  Now I love this class. Its filled with locals and expats alike who want to kick it 80s style.  There is lots of hooting and hollering and people are very friendly.

Okay, there are a LOT more clubs and activities here.  The Coconut News is a great place to get all your information, ask around and you can get on their email list.

If you are STILL stumped and lonely, email me and I can send you some contacts of friends who like helping newbies out.  Once you meet people, you will start to get party invites and you are off.