Te Pito O Te Henua -=Round’aWorld 2017=- pt.6: Easter Island

In this journal

A sunrise behind a moai
A puppy follows me to a volcano crater
A view fit for the gods

<— back to Introduction
<— back to Nicaragua

continue to San Diego & Hong Kong —>

Prologue

Welcome to another wonder of the world. Before I begin detailing my 10-day journey in Easter Island, I would like to let you know this is a part of a very long series called Round’aWorld 2017. If you are interested about my motive, you can go to the introduction before continue reading. Do not worry, this journal is not going anywhere. There are many pictures featured on this journal, so if a picture fails to load, please refresh the page. If you want a calming background music while reading through this piece, please click here. (laptop only)

Fhir a’ bhàta
     ‘S tric mi sealltainn~!
On chnoc as a’ bhàta
     Gach àit’ an téid thu…
I’ach ann faic’ id faighna thu
     Gach àit’ an téid thu~♪

World’s Most Remote Land

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cheers, for a fantastic voyage

The LATAM business class flight was very comfortable, especially after dozens of hours in economy earlier in this journey. Seats face forward, and was very roomy. However, this is no Qatar Business Class service, and I did not get too much of time to experiment around, as the flight from Mexico City to Santiago was only 7 hours.

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a flan with fruits

The air hostesses were all very charming, and were very good at their jobs, even offering me both desserts when I claimed I could not choose between them. I had too much pisco sours during the entire trip, so I boarded the flight to Easter Island slightly hangover.

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Easter Island in sight!

I spent the 5-hour flight to the island sleeping, and was woken up by Christine only as we were approaching the destination. It was not a normal destination: this is the most remote airport in the world! In fact, it is so remote that no two aircrafts can even get close to the island at the same time. After an airplane passes a certain point-of-no-return, usually around half way between South America and the island, no other plane can pass that point in case there is an incident, otherwise the second plane would have not enough fuel to divert.

Hanga Roa and Orongo

The plane slowly landed at the most remote airport in the world, and made a 180 degree turn on the runway, then gracefully wafted towards the “terminal”, basically a one-story building with a plaque on it. Do not fret, we were definitely not in a hurry: the next flight would not be due until tomorrow at the same time! Yes, Easter Island only gets 1 flight a day from mainland Chile, plus a once-a-week flight from Tahiti.

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on the back of the pickup truck, in Hanga Roa

Christine and I were welcomed by our Airbnb Host, and she put a lei on both of us, a very island themed welcome that immediately brought us to the tropical mood. Finally, I can say I am lei’ed. (oh my jokes just keep getting better and better!) However, she apologized that her Airbnb was not available at the time, so she would settle us down in a hotel. Well, then that was the deal of the century! She drove us to our destination on her pickup truck, and I gladly hopped onto the back in order to feel the island winds.

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finally on Easter Island!!!

After settling in, we began walking around to explore the “town”. Hanga Roa has turned into a town virtually for tourists. Souvenir shops, restaurants, and specialized cafes occupied the front streets, like a wall of moais facing Atamu Tekena, the main road. We had little interests to dwell, so we took a walk along the waterfront.

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Hanga Roa waterfront, and Ahu Mata Ote Vaikava

It is impossible to avoid the moais while walking in Easter Island, just as impossible as not mentioning its mysterious history that brought the island to its level of fame today. Easter Island is like a mini-world, and its cautionary tale can be a good story for everyone who cares about the world today, and the world tomorrow.

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Christine with the army of puppy bodyguards

The first human settlement is estimated as 7th to 10th century by Polynesians originating from Taiwan hundreds of years ago, and the seed records show that the island was completely covered in green then. Their culture was a classic Southeastern Polynesian, and they preserved connections to the outside world until 1500s. During this period, life on Easter Island flourished, supporting over 15000 people during its zenith. The biggest palm tree species grew on the island, and that facilitated many things. Enormous sea-faring canoes could be built, and large stone statues could be transported to anywhere you wanted on the island. It was then each tribe started an arms race with moai, erecting hundreds of them within decades.

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Ahu Ata Hero and the moai

However, since the islanders were myopic idiots, they had no idea what conservation was. A palm tree needs over 100 years to become large enough for a dugout canoe, yet they chopped them down like brussel sprouts in a garden. It didn’t take long for the entire island to lose its vegetation completely, and by 1600s, the only thing that covered the barren grounds were tiny bushes and grass. Soil quickly got eroded; the microclimate rapidly turned arid and windy; and the ground was leeched so badly that nothing could grow any more. The island was practically dead ecologically: by the 18th century, all 21 unique species of flora and fauna were gone. This also meant no more canoes, thus the island had been cut off from the outer world.

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sunset near our favorite restaurant, Tataku Vave

What ensued was an island-level doomsday event. 50% of the population perished within a few decades. Gone were the days of sculptures, agriculture, or even hut building; by the time the European visitors arrived in 1722, the only people living on the island dwelled in caves, and could only dig roots for sustenance. By utilizing every resource available, these humans led their own downfall.

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lunch at Tataku Vave, ceviche time!

Then, the outsider gave the civilization its final push to the end. The Dutch brought over smallpox and syphilis, and when they came back to check up how the island was doing about a century later, only 20% of the islanders survived. The Peruvian slavers put the nail on the coffin. They took most of these survivors to work the death camps, and that marked the end of all oral history, as all elders were taken away. They were the only ones who passed on the history, and could read the written language called rongorongo, the only written text in Polynesian culture.

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admiring the waves, Ana Kai Tangata

This is why I went to Easter Island. To some extent, this tiny island no more than 20km long is our world. We sit on a pile of resources in a vast space of nothingness. It may appear limitless on a first glance, and we can use as much as we please, but one day it will be exhausted. No matter how groundbreaking our empire once was, eventually it will fall due to a lack of conservation, a form of myopic egotisticalness. For Easter Island, the people’s culture was devastated to pre-Stone age, but on a world scale, it may be an extinction-level event.

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looking down the coast of Ana Kai Tangata

What happened after Europeans’ visit was even more saddening. Sometime after the first Dutchmen recorded sighting the island, the faith structure had an enormous shift. The older traditions of ancestor worship required large amount of energy and resources for the contruction of moai statues, but they no longer had the ability. As a result, the religion turned to a worship of the birdman, some kind of man-bird hybrid that reflected the islanders’ inner most desires: fly far away from this piece of cursed land. Wars were fought between the “long ear tribes” and “short ear tribes”; each toppled their opponents’ moai statues, trying to desecrate their ancestors. By 1860s, no moai was left standing. We choose what we believe in, and all beliefs are as brittle as the population that retain the faith.

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houses in the Orongo village

The birdman festival was the prime demonstration of the birdman faith. Once a year, young men from around the island would congregate around Orongo village, and compete in a very dangerous sport. What they needed to do was to climb down the 300 meter seaside cliff, and then swim to the nearby islands of Notu Iti and Motu Nui, climb up the sheer rock walls, and fetch an egg laid by a migrating bird, before backtracking the whole way. Many died in the process, but whoever was the first to come back would win the glory for all eternity. The person would be worshipped as a demigod, who would take everyone out of this shithole.

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birdman petroglyphs on the cliff near Orongo, you can barely decipher them after centuries of erosion

What can we learn from the rise and fall of Easter Island? In the microcosm of this island smaller than Manhattan, people built an empire that produced stone statues taller than buildings, yet they still could not manage their future and wasted away a powerful dynasty. We humans as a species are also in the same situation, and there is still time to understand: resources are limited. Or, we face utter destruction. Easter Island is a warning story, an experiment of human greed conducted on a smaller scale, and the only thing we have to do is learn from their mistake.

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Motu Nui and Motu Iti in the distance

For our first full day in Rapa Nui, Easter Island’s name in the local tongue, which is also conveniently named Rapa Nui, Christine and I took a hike to the southwest. Easter Island is comprised of 3 major volcanoes, and the Southwestern one is called Orongo, where a giant crater named Rano Kao housed the only wetland on the island.

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feels like a meteor crash site

The wetland down there had a special micro-climate, and was likely how the island lowlands looked like before human and Polynesian rats invaded. View up there was simply spectacular, and beyond that thin wall of the crater, we knew, it was nothing but 3000km of ocean.

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puppies~!

A lot of “stray” dogs also roam this side of the island, and a few simply followed us everywhere. However, they were not eager for food, as they were likely well-fed by owners, but let free every day to just have fun. Every single one of them made for a perfect companion on this trip. We ran; they ran. We stopped; they stopped. We sat down to enjoy a packed lunch; they simply sat beside us and admired the view. That kind of special bond, when you become great friends on the most remote island in the world without uttering a world, is hard for any language to describe, because it is indeed forged without any conversation!

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best girl, 12/10, would sell soul to pet

I have never seen a scenery like this. Its pure beauty aside, the mere thought that everything I see was thousands of miles off the nearest human settlement was quite exhilarating. Coupled with some nice drinks, a few cute puppies, and some of my favorite songs, Easter Island was starting to look like somewhere as epic as Antarctica. Christine also agreed, and we both went to Antarctica together, that is saying something!

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admiring the waves, Ana Kai Tanata

On our way, we also passed by a beautiful cove called Ana Kai Tanata, a cave constantly bashed by monstrous waves. There was a birdman drawing in the cave, but the lighting and erosion had basically rendered it unrecognizable in my photos. A legend details that young girls who were about to be wed would spend months in these caves so that they could lose their tan, in order to become more attractive. Just like the Eastern Asian countries hundreds of years later, whitening the skin means status and power, and also means one does not have to work the fields. It is funny, especially when it is compared to the western society’s tanning culture. We all want what we do not have, eh?

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crashing wave going into a cave

Christine, a master diver, also took the liberty to dive deep into the cold waters around Hanga Roa, where an underwater moai sat silently, waiting for the day it was swallowed by barnacles. According to her, it was not an easy feat, and the cost was not easy on the wallet either.

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underwater moai, PC Christine

Talking about cost, this would be another fascinating topic. It would not take a genius to deduct that Easter Island is insanely expensive. A typical flight from Santiago can set one back a thousand dollars in economy, so our flight in business seemed like a steal. A main course in the relatively cheap Tataku Vave, our favorite restaurant, would cost 20000 Chilean Pesos (about 30 dollars), and as a tourist, one has to pay 100USD in cash upon arrival for the national park fee. A night in a basic hotel would thin your wallet over 150 dollars, in addition to an arm and a leg, while even campsites would cost 20 dollars. As a result, we spent our days in Airbnb properties, which were less than 1/3 of what hotels charge.

The Southeastern Coast

Then came the most painful part for our wallets: car. To truly explore the beautiful, unexplored territories, one had to rent a car or a scooter, since the only other option was to pay a kidney for a guided tour with free transfers. However, most of the Jimny jeeps available in town were manual, and the 16-year-old me would have never thought of the possibility that learning to drive a manual would later save me hundreds of dollars on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere years later. Thus, Christine generously invested 5 dollars for me to get a coffee in a cafe in order to use the internet, and I spent an entire afternoon learning how to drive a manual by watching Youtube videos. If we could rent a manual, we would save at least 200 dollars.

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the ride

Of course, it failed fabulously. While I was pretending confident with a clutch, the cars all stuttered like me on a blind date, and eventually succumbed to a catastrophic transmission failure, before we even managed to get out of the parking lot! After a few trials of angry stares, we eventually gave in and rented an automatic jeep, as I coughed blood for having to pay 120USD a day for a car with no radio. Alas, we were free!

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Ahu Vinapú

We took off by driving towards the other end of the airport runway, as a tiny ahu stands by the ocean. Ahu means platform, and an ahu is only used for more important moai statues, so checking off every ahu was on my to-do list. This one is called Vinapú, and all of them were unfortunately toppled during the war of the long and short ears.

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a lonely hat

Some of the more invested moais have special hats made of a red volcanic scoria rocks from the tiny quarry of Puna Pau, and resemble the topknots worn by chiefs of tribes. These hats, pukao in Rapa Nui, are mostly only present for newer moais.

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the quarry of Puna Pau, with a bunch of unfinished hats

A quick drive took us past hundreds of toppled moais around the coast, where most of them were protected by a barrier set up way too far from the base to appreciate. Thus, no good photos could be taken. However, we soon reached a traffic jam on the island, which barely has 100 cars.

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traffic jam, Rapa Nui style

A horde of wild horses blocked the road, and they could not give a single fuck about our presence. After slowly navigating through the hundreds of horses, we eventually reached the absolute icon of Easter Island: Rano Raraku.

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Rano Raraku quarry

Here lies the most famous moai pictures. Hundreds of statues stood silently, gazing into the azure depths of the ocean. Every single moai was carved out from the rocky mountain sides of this tiny volcano crater. Almost half of the moais are found here, and there are quite a few theories as to why.

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hmmm, would you look at that

One thing to note before the theories, though, was the unusual aspects of these moais. Every single moai faced the ocean, instead of inland, as for almost all other moais on the island. Also, some moais had a prominent neck and chin, unlike most of the moais standing by the shores.

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commuting with a moai

One theory was that there was a special group of people that were professional carvers. The were based in the area and did not farm, so on this island devoid of any form of currency, barter was their only option. You give me a few yams, I will carve you a statue. I need some water, and hey, how about I give you a moai after a year? Delivery included! Thus, this would explain how universal the style is throughout the ages and location.

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the most iconic picture of Easter Island

Another interesting idea was that this place was a demonstration room. Want a moai carved for your father? No problem, come to Rano Raraku, where we have hundreds of them on display. What style do you want? Longer neck? Shorter nose? It is all up for your commission!

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the only bearded moai in the entire world, Tukuturi

Whatever the theory is, everyone seems to agree on one thing: the carving project was abandoned almost suddenly. Some conspiracy theorists simply believed the aliens initiated a callback, but scientists generally would debate that notion. Maybe one day, someone realized the worth of a moai simply was not as much as everyone thought, since there were so many moais already on the island. Thus, the bubble of moai-trading collapsed, and nobody wanted it anymore. Or it could be simpler: people shifted religion and began worshipping the birdman, so crafting moais became heresy.

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a moai half-carved by the mountain side

Or it could be possible that the group who were professional carvers got decimated for some bizarre reason, be it war or famine. Whatever happened, the scenario must be urgent. Not minding the few moais which were almost completed, a dozen or so finished moais were abandoned by the roadside, as if the people just disappeared overnight and let the wood logs beneath the statues to rot.

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almost finished, yet still abandoned

After seeing these giants face-to-face, one must wonder: how do they even erect these statues? This riddle is also solved by looking at the moais in Rano Raraku. Base on the picture above, it was clear that they liked to carve the entire statue on the mountain side, instead of transporting the rough rock block to the site of construction and then carve it out. In fact, about half of the statues’ height is buried underneath the ground. Couple that with the fact that most of these statues face the ocean, it is reasonable to assume that most of the moais were transported horizontally, and then slid into a hole dug into the ground.

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bam!

For the day’s accommodation, we found ourselves a campsite near Anakena beach. In fact, due to laws and regulations, no person should stay overnight outside Hanga Roa, except in this tiny campsite. Because the owner is one of the very few truly indigenous Rapa Nui with ancestry ties on the land, and he vowed to keep the camp sustainable. However, that also means the facilities were less than bare bone.

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Anakena Beach

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chef Young~!

The only other guests were a French girl Claire, and her father. We had a nice dinner that I cooked on actual wood fire using materials brought over from Mexico City, and after nightfall, we started a game of chess. It was a unique feeling to live on a beach that has a few moais standing right across the strip of sand, and also knowing that you are the only group of people living 20km from everyone else on the most isolated island. It was a different kind of spiritual transcendence to see a moai underneath the milky way filled with millions of stars. For the hundreds of years, they stood watch, while the universe slowly and continuously unravels itself. This is why I travel: the words of the thousand languages I hear are my prayer, and the experience like this is my benediction.

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chess game

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Ahu Nau Nau at the beach

At night, on my way back from watching the stars at the ahu, I tripped over the rock stabilizing my tent, and caused it to collapse. Groaning, I picked up that stupid rock, and wanted to throw it. However, my flashlight illuminated an ancient carving on the other side of the rock. I was almost dumbfounded. The rock that was keeping the nails in place for my tent was a petroglyph from a culture that had died centuries ago! It turned out that it was more than common to see rocks here with carvings from a civilization long forgotten, as demonstrated by the owner shrugging it off when I took the rocks to him during breakfast.

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view from my tent, note the giant petroglyph depicting a man right next to me

Tongariki, God’s sunrise

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morning at Anakena

Since we were literally next to the beach, when I woke up to do my morning stroll, nobody was in sight. The only sandy beach in the world with a row of moai gazing over solemnly was all for me to savor, oh I wish I have words to describe this kind of beauty! Then we drove down to the most prominent ahu, an ahu to rule them all: Tongariki. Sunrise here is absolutely legendary, and it is a kind of sunrise that inspires people, instills hope in people, and entrusts people with the world’s purest beauty. This kind of morning is worth thousands of dollars, and even more.

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sunrise over Tongariki

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best companion for the best scenery

I have seen my fair share of insanely beautiful sunrise, whether it is in the heavenly colorful Uyuni Salar, or over the icy shores of Antarctica, but this one is different. This one does not excel in its true beauty. It is difficult for anything to top those two natural wonders. However, the sunrise in Tongariki exudes historical presence, as if the chiefs that these stone statues represent were trying to tell, no, convey something. The crashing ocean waves right at their backs, these moais had watched over this piece of godforsaken land for centuries. Their hypnotic gaze was more of a protective aura, than a threatening stare. On their land, they care for their people, and themselves.

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Young watching the sunrise

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this is what fulfillment looks like

Are they telling me their cautionary tales? These ancient monoliths stood there silently, and watched a civilization rose and fell. Are they here to be the observer yet once again? Or are we going to learn from their stories, and become the first empire that will never fall? When a sunrise provokes emotion, it must be a damn special sunrise.

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do you have a story to tell, the wise elder?

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heyyyyyyy, check this out!

I hate when blogs come up with phrases like “this will change your life” or “be free”, but I cannot help but wish I am able to use these phrases here, because Easter Island is a place worthy of any praise one can shower it with. To call a travel to Rapa Nui life-altering is almost an understatement. I will call it life-transcending. This is the kind of travel that makes one realize there is something bigger than life, something bigger than ourselves as a whole. It is something that persists through space and time, and across all universes…

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breakfast spot

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Rano Raraku under the morning sun

Northern Coast, the forgotten shores

For this beautiful day, I decided to hike towards the northern shore, the ultimate place tucked away from tourists’ touch. The 7-hour hike would take one from Anakena beach to the western edge of Hanga Roa. However, I had to sleep back in the campsite, so I will turn back once I reached the northernmost point of the island.

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following my equine friend

This is truly the edge of the world, as there was no road or path whatsoever, and nothing was protected by a barrier of “tourist control”. It was pristine, unexplored land, and that made me feel like an eighteenth-century explorer. First thing I came across was a moai in the middle of nowhere. Its neck had broken, leaving only the head and a hat on the ground.

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Ahu Vai Tara Kai Ua

This was the first time that I could approach a moai this close. Despite its humble appearance, it had significant scientific value. Multiple human skeletons were found near the site, and it was the first incidence that an ahu altar was used for burial or sacrifice purposes.

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lunch spot

Then there was an enormous petroglyph just randomly lying by the cliffs. It was just surrounded by a circle of rocks, so that nobody would accidentally step on them. It depicted giant octopuses, dolphins and tuna fish, but it had no explanation or guide, so these were only my guesses. Just an ancient glyph, unprotected from sun and rain, slowly eroding away. In 100 years, nobody would be able to gaze upon its magnificence anymore.

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unnamed petroglyph

After another 1.5 hours, I reached an enormous ahu with a tiny moai on top. Unfortunately, it had completely been eroded away, so no feature of the moai was visible anymore. It was clear nobody had passed by in a long time, and if anyone happened to stumble upon this aged altar resembling a pile of rocks, they would not have batted an eye anyway. Just a characterless sculpture from a civilization long forgotten, silently telling its stories to the empty, almost futile, echos of the waves down below.

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unknown ahu

After 3 hours of walk, I eventually reached the northernmost part of the island, and in front of me stretched thousands of miles of ocean. Completely isolated from the rest of the world, I stood quiet. This is what traveling means. Not glorious fame, or beautiful companion, but a nice, epic background with a shadow casted by solitude, and shaped in adventure. This is what a world wanderer sees all the time.

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a local’s altar

I eventually walked all the way back to the beach, where I saw Claire sluggishly enjoying the lazy afternoon. The angle was perfect, with a few moais in the background, so I quickly snapped one of the best person shots in my life. Well, at least I am proud of it.

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Claire on Anakena

We also took a drive around the forgotten places around the main road, where most of the tourists simply speed by without a care. Since Christine and I were on a mission to see everything, we could not skip any point of interest. A strange rock caught my eye. It is called Pu O Hiro, just a normal boulder with a few holes. However, by blowing into the holes, it creates a strange resonance that can only be heard here, so this rock became a focal part of local warfare back in the days. To capture the ownership of this rock was akin to capturing a strategically important fortress, simply because this means the winner could listen to the strange sound that can only be heard here on the island. We define significance in our lives, and to a group of people who lacked everything, even a strange sound could be worth dying for.

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Pu O Hiro

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a petroglyph depicting an octopus, or a giant crab

We eventually reached an archaeological complex, Ahu Te Pito Kura (Navel of Light), which housed the largest moai ever raised, at 15 meters tall, but toppled during the tribal wars. It also housed a strange stone named Titi’a Hanga ‘O Te Henua, a magnetic stone that was supposedly brought to the island by Hotu Matu’a, the founding father of the island and a demigod revered by the people.

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Ahu Te Pito Kura

West Coast, Best Coast

After bidding the owner, Claire, and her father farewell, we began our drive back to town, when we paid a visit to one of the only inland ahus a visit. Ahu Akivi supported 7 look-alike moais gazing towards the ocean. They were the only group facing the ocean besides the ones in Rano Raraku. It was also an observatory for the Rapa Nui people. These 7 moais, representing the sacred Tunupa, face the exact direction where the sun would set on Spring Equinox. They also had their back towards the point of sunrise on the Autumn Equinox. Set up in the 16th century, these moais demonstrated that Rapa Nui’s advanced astronomy was not to be overshadowed by its contemporary Mayans.

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Ahu Akivi, facing the lonely ocean

After returning the car, we proceeded to explore the last standing ahu that we had not visited yet: Ahu Tahai. This compound included a platform of 5 moai statues called Ahu Vai Uri, which had been severely damaged, yet still exuding a sense of mysteriousness, something called mana in the local tongue.

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Ahu Tahai in front of Ahu Vai Uri

The solitary moai next to them was the famous Ahu Tahai. Almost completely eroded, the ahu had barely any feature left. However, this place was likely the first settlement on the island around 8th century. Shallow water provided food aplenty, and a nearby spring was a source of unlimited fresh water.

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Ahu Tahai battling the waves

Lastly beside it was Ahu Ko Te Riku, the only moai that has been completely restored on the island, even including the painted eyes that were supposedly common. With a pukao on top, and an ahu beneath, this moai was as close to real moais as one could get. The archaeologist who was responsible for its restoration, William Mulloy, is buried nearby with his wife.

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Ahu Ko Te Riku in the far right

Interestingly, Mulloy was a fellow adventurer during Thor Heyerdahl’s first expedition to Easter Island, and both had fallen in love with the island ever since. I encountered a museum dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl and his crazy idea during my travel in Oslo during Round’aWorld 2016. What was his crazy idea? Well, he wanted to show that it is possible to sail from South America to Easter Island with primitive technology, so it was theoretically possible for Incans to be the first settlers of Rapa Nui. He sailed 4 months from the South American continent to the Pitcairns on board of a tiny raft with a skeleton crew, a crazy move that promptly made him a legend.

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huh, would you look at that?

However, genetic studies have conclusively proven that the Rapa Nui people were not related to the Incans, but Thor Heyerdahl and his work remained a saga worthy of all prodigies’ admiration. If you want to learn more about him, you can refer to the Norway part of my journal during the last time I traveled around the world, where I detailed his theory and efforts.

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the face you make when you are fat and going to be stuck in a cave

Lastly, Christine and I walked 1 hour towards the best cave on the island, called Ana Kakenga. It was used as a refuge shelter during conflicts between clans, so the width of its entrance was artificially reduced by piling rubble. It was barely enough for one person to squeeze through. The other two openings were on the sheer cliff side facing the ocean, so they were more like windows than accessible openings.

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a cliff cave opening to the ocean

Ana Kakenga was also a place of a tragic love story. A couple fled to this cave when their forbidden love between warring tribes was discovered, and never came out. Legend says they both stood by the opening towards the ocean, married each other in tears, before jumping off to their death. Every culture has its own version of Romeo and Juliet, even Rapa Nui!

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you can say I like cliffhangers

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always on the road

There were many caves on this tiny island, and a lot of them have intricate cave drawings, or artifacts contained within. It was not easy to find some of them, as their entrances were all carefully tucked away or obscured, so that anyone invading would have a hard time accessing.

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entering cave Ana Te Pora

The conflicts that plagued the unfortunate island still continue today. As Chile took control of the island in 1888, all efforts of an independent Rapa Nui were crashed brutally. Then, tourism started flourishing in 20th century, and before long, large American corporations started “buying” land from locals. Now, a lot of the stolen lands seemed to be gone forever, and Chilean government made sure anyone who protests gets shunned by all departments. In 21st century, booming tourism means more jobs that required mainlanders to fill, and the local Rapa Nui culture, people, as well as power have been rapidly diluted.

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locals’ only way to protest: signs

For the last 3 days, we lived in a “local” house via Airbnb, and the friendly owner told me she and her boyfriend were both from Santiago, and only came here recently to work in the exploding tourism industry. She informed me it had become ubiquitous for people from mainland to come here, as here the pay could be magnitudes more if one has the right skill, and is willing to endure the hardship of staying on the loneliest island in the world.

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Hanga Roa Cemetery

Epilogue

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those carefree days

We spent the last day organizing: postcards, souvenirs, last meals, and luggage. We had our last lunch at Tataku Vave, because they were the only restaurant offering affordable lunch set of 5000 pesos. We secretly hoped that the flight got delayed or cancelled so we could stay a bit longer on the island at LATAM’s expense, yet sadly, the flight arrived with no trouble despite the severe storm raging on as it approached. Damn you, B787’s notorious innovative stability!

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Christine by the brand new LATAM 787

We boarded the plane that would take us away from the magical 9 days on the island, and settled into our seats. It was only proper to end our trip to the most remote place on the world with a toast, as there would be no other way for me to say goodbye without a teary eye.

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to the land furthest from land!

What a journey! This is a dream coming true. Ever since the 8-year-old Young got his hands on a copy of the fake Chinese “Mysteries of the World”, I had been wishing to come to the home of moai. And now, it was finally official. Christine and I explored every single nook and cranny of this speckle of earth in the largest ocean, down to the even smallest ruins of those ancients. These days on Easter Island could not be more magical. It is so special that there is nothing to compare it to. No matter where we went, I felt like I was destined to end up here. Be it a volcanic crater teeming with life,
ZFINAL4

or a row of ancient statues telling their stories,

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or the icons that piqued my childhood curiosity,
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or a marvelous sunrise in paradise,
ZFINAL1

I always felt like I was in the center of the world: because it is. You see, even the locals knew they were in the middle of both nowhere and everywhere, but a birthplace of everything, thus, they gave this island its true name: Te Pito O Te Henua, the naval of the world.

—> continue to San Diego & Hong Kong

<— back to Introduction

<— back to Nicaragua

-=ForeverYoung|Easter Island 2017=-
-=ForeverYoung|Round’aWorld 2017=-

LATAM 787 Business Class Grading

  • Ground Service: 90
  • Hard Product: 160
  • Soft Product: 155
  • Food: 155
  • Value: 170
  • Total: 730【OKAY】

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special thanks to Christine, dear friend and an even better companion on a trip

2 thoughts on “Te Pito O Te Henua -=Round’aWorld 2017=- pt.6: Easter Island

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