Bar/fly: Samoa

By Amelia Wade

At 6 tala ($3.10) each, Vailimas hit the right spot.
At 6 tala ($3.10) each, Vailimas hit the right spot.

In Rome, do as the Romans do - in Samoa embrace Fa'a Samoa, the Samoan way of life. And that means Vailima.

And more Vailima.

The evening started gently enough with a couple of beers at a small bar in the Apia marina at sunset. The need to numb the reddened, crispy skin on my shoulders was a welcome excuse to keep the bottles coming. And at 6 tala ($3.10) each, the 4.9 per cent Vailimas, brewed just down the road, hit the right spot.

Two brews deep we headed down the road for dinner at Paddles, a local favourite which specialises in seafood and Italian cuisine. The clash of cultures is a point of difference from other eateries on the island and helps draw locals and tourists who are great fun to watch.

Two of us had Oka, a traditional dish of fresh tuna marinated in coconut milk and diced with onion, another two had fresh tuna sashimi and the fifth went for pork belly - a bravely heavy choice when the air felt like soup.

As the rounds kept coming, Rachel and I struggled to finish our meals for all the beer bubbles. Not to worry, the other three cleaned the plates before the waiter took them away.

On to the cleverly named bar next door, Y Not? - because, why not? It was a Tuesday and we were on island time. We picked a leaner by the patio that was close enough to the bar so bartenders could see our international gesture for "another round".

The bar has a good selection with local and overseas beers, wines and spirits, but we stuck to Vailima. The crowd was a mix of locals, tourists and expats back for the Teuila Festival and it was surprisingly busy.

It was soon Pili's turn to play the local teens at pool. No one expected much. As it turns out, Pili, in his 60s, was quite the pool shark and if not for an ill-placed eight ball, he would have done it. But the loss was quickly shaken off and the never-empty glasses kept chatter light, if a little repeated and shouted.

At some point, maybe around 9.30pm, but I can't be sure, Fasitau came back from the bar with yet another load of Vailimas and announced: "Upstairs is open." We trundled up the steep staircase and swiftly worked out this was the nightclub area - the DJ booth and dance floor gave that away.

With an outside table overlooking the marina, the cold beers were right on the money and very refreshing in the warm air. Appropriately, their name means "water in the hand".

The music got louder, the dance floor filled and memories got hazier. Yelling, "You live in paradise" is one of the few flashes I have along with dancing in my jandals to an island version of Gangnam Style called Samoan Style.

The next day might have been easier had the group of visiting Samoans next door called it a night when we did. At 6.30am, one of them stormed up and down the lawn outside yelling to his mates to "look upon the sun".

I did. It was bright. And I needed coffee.

Amelia Wade travelled in Samoa as a guest of the Samoan Tourism Authority.

- NZ Herald

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