Ian Wright visits the Pacific Islands of Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, once infamous
amongst explorers for head-hunting and cannibalism. He begins his journey in Fiji, where he
is welcomed by a local tribe with a Kava drinking
ceremony. The mild narcotic is often offered to guests
as a sign of friendship, and is also used to seal alliances,
start chiefly conferences and commemorate births, deaths and
marriages. He also goes diving on the Astrolabe Reef, which
stretches unbroken for 30 kms along the east side of the small
island north of Kadavu. With a vertical drop
off of 10 metres in the inside and 1,800 metres in the outside
and a visibility of about 75 metres, it is known as one of
the finest dive destinations in the world.
On the Fijian island of Manna Ian goes feeding
sharks with a local man named Api. Api comes from a family
that believes it has an affinity with sharks, and has been
training the sharks to fed from him for the last two years.
From Mana, Ian flies to Vanuatu a
group of islands christened the New Hebrides by Captain Cook
in 1774 , because its ruggedness reminded him of the
Scottish Islands. On the island of Ambryn he meets with the chief of a tribe that used to practice cannibalism,
and witnesses the traditional Rom dance, where the dancers
pretend to be a spirit which lives inside their costumes.
These costumes are burnt after the ceremony in case the spirit
takes it over and haunts the dancer. He also visits the hot
spring on the island of Sesivi, and Tanna island,
where he climbs the massive Yassur volcano. Its the most accessible active volcano in the world,
and has three large vents which bubble away at a temperature
of 4000 degrees Fahrenheit, constantly showering the crater
with red hot pumice and lava.
Ian continues his journey to the Solomon Islands.
During World War II the islands were used as a battle ground
between the Americans and the Japanese, and thousands of abandoned
ships and tanks now litter the country and the seas. Ian goes
to Gizo, where he dives down to the Tao
Maron, the most intact of all the wrecks, which still
has bottles, typewriters and other everyday items which were
on board when the ship went down.
On Busu Island Ian watches shell
money being made. This traditional currency is still
used for bride prices and for settling disputes. Busu is one
of the many artificial islands made of boulders and coral
by people fleeing the inter-tribal fighting of the headhunters.