Samoan Buses 101: A fanny numbing experience
When one becomes a qualified local you will learn that prolonged periods of bus riding on Samoa’s famous wooden contraptions will leave your rear end with almost zero sensation. However, they are iconic and a must experience when you step on Samoan shores. With that comes bus riding 101 from a frequent user’s perspective and observations:
1. If cabbing or car-pooling is not an option then catching the local wooden bus is ideal and your only other option of public transportation.
2. As a passenger you must accept the fact that you will possibly lose your seat irrespective of whether you were on first or not. The younger you are the higher the chances of losing the seat.
3. If you are coming off the Savaii ferry you will need to be pretty quick in order to secure your seat and it can sometimes become a mission impossible.
4. You must pretend to carry all the nearby luggage in order to further ensure the seat is yours.
5. You must accept the fact that as a female who is preferably young and light, that you would be carried on the lap of a fellow passenger and held tightly as if by the end of the ride a relationship will ensue.
6. You must accept that all notion of personal space is non-existent (please catch a taxi if your personal space is valued).
7. You will need to expect that a free massage (however unwarranted it is) comes as part of your fare.
8. You should understand that constant rubbing of potentially no go zones of the human body is highly normal and unintentional (see free massage point).
9. You must accept the loud music with all its level of bass and treble on high.
10. You need to accept that your feet will be placed in between pigs (cooked and live ones) and local produce.
11. Bus riding in Samoa is really like playing a game of Twister.
12. You need to follow the instructions of the bus navigator (known as a supakako) who is artfully skilled in packing the bus like a sardine can to maximise turn in.
13. You must accept having part of your body hanging out of the bus if you are the desperate last passenger on (highly recommended for the thrill seekers).
The Samoan wooden buses are a great way to see the beautiful coastal sides of the island and allows for great conversations with the locals who will provide you with an up-to-date analysis of both local and international news. So when you are in Samoa jump on the buses and have a laugh.
Writer Leilani Kelemete moved with her family to Samoa from Brisbane 5 years ago and hasn’t looked back. She is loving life in Samoa and observations of her ‘culture shock’ within her own culture is what she loves about living in Samoa. “Our family much to the dismay of our children are on a fun Polynesian adventure full of cultural discoveries and shock, but fun is our employment and that is what keeps us sane here in the islands.”