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Photographer's Note

When I posted some photographs from Kiribati in July – the only ones from this isolated country that have been posted to Trek Earth to date – I forgot to include this aerial shot of Tarawa which was taken from my plane as we were coming in to land. This is looking west along the southern arm of the atoll over Temaiku and Bikenibeu. The southern arm of the atoll is about 25 km long and the northern arm is about 45 km long (but the latter is broken up into many islets so you cannot drive very far along the northern arm). Tarawa’s two main towns - Betio and Bairiki – where about a third of Kiribati’s 90,000 population live, are at the far end of the southern arm (they are in the top left hand corner of this photograph where the atoll disappears into the haze). The reason for the difference in water colour on either side of the atoll is that the open ocean on the left of the picture is quite deep, whilst on the lagoon side it is shallow.

The complex of buildings with the bluish green roofs in the foreground is not a resort – it is the local hospital. The only accommodation on Tarawa is the Government-owned Otinaai Hotel (grossly overpriced at AU$80 a night), the six-room Mary’s Motel in Bairiki (very basic) and a couple of small guesthouses. There is also a two-room ‘resort’ at the northern end of the atoll called the Mauri Paradise Ambo, but it involves a one-and-a-half hour ride in a 40 ft outrigger canoe to get there from where the road ends on the northern arm of the atoll, so I didn’t get a chance to check that out.

There are two Air Nauru 737 flights into Tarawa each week (it flies from Nadi in Fiji and then onto Majuro in the Marshall Islands), and before landing the plane has to circle the airport to make sure there are no obstructions on the runway. In the three days I was in Kiribati I saw people sleeping on the runway, playing football and riding bikes, and there is a constant stream of people walking across the runway because it cuts between two villages, and people see no point in walking around the runway when planes land so infrequently.

I had to do quite a lot of post processing on this (levels, curves, colour balance) as it was shot through an aircraft window. I then put it through Neat Image to remove the noise before straightening, cropping and sharpening.

zuccar9, Facsi, capthaddock, MLINES, anney, linask, ryno has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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