Yesterday (Friday) was my first day back at work after a couple of weeks off. My timing could not have been better. A relatively straightforward working day was followed by two work-related social functions that were great.
First, we joined Prime Minister Tuilaepa and Ministry of Prime Minister & Cabinet CEO Poloma Komiti on the roof of the government building to celebrate the PM's recent re-election victory (which warrants a post of its own). The government building is the tallest in Samoa and the view of Apia and the surrounding villages is unbelievable. Pictured here is the view towards Mt. Vaea with the Catholic cathedral in the foreground. Smoke from a few fires can be seen floating upwards in the background.
As the sun set the colour of the sky and clouds changed dramatically, and the number of fires burning in and around Apia increased dramatically. The fires were most likely coming from umu ovens, as families prepared their evening meals.
The PM gave a small, lighthearted speech and everyone had a good time, enjoying some food and drink. I was most delighted however, when Tuilaepa whipped out his ukelele and entertained the assembled with some favourite Samoan tunes. The head of the Press Secretariat accompanied the PM on the guitar and many others sang along. Who knew that the PM likes to rock out on the uke!
After this function reached its conclusion, I joined a small number of Immigration staff in attending a dinner at the Chinese embassy. With a considerable economic, aid and development presence in Samoa, the Chinese are always working with Samoan Immigration in obtaining the relevant entry permits for the various Chinese nationals who come to Samoa. With some new diplomatic staff recently arrived in Samoa, and the new Chinese ambassador due in under two weeks, it was a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other a little better.
The meal we had was great. We enjoyed a selection of Chinese style dishes, some of which featured a degree of local flavour. Chicken and breadfruit stir fried in ginger, huge crabs wok fried with ginger and spring onions, steamed whole fish and amazingly good tuna sashimi were just some of the highlights. They also had a bean curd dish, which I was most interested in as finding tofu in Samoa can be a challenge. It transpires that their chef imports the yellow beans from China and makes his own bean curd. After dinner our hosts turned on their Karaoke machine and we all sang a few songs to conclude the night.
For a first day back at work, it was a good one. Just another day at the office? I certainly hope so.