Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
157Trip End Ongoing
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Its been ages since we were last on air we know but there are numerous excuses that we won't bore you all with so here goes for Chapter 20 and just a couple more to go.
On Saturday 13th September we landed at Nadi Airport on Viti Levu - Fiji. Our first impressions were that we had taken the wrong flight and were back in Sri Lanka. As soon as we walked through customs we were besieged by many Indo Fijians touting us to come to their hotel/resort/taxi/tour/handicraft shop, you name it they were hassling us with it. The memories of those days back in December 2002 came flooding back and it felt good to be able to deal with it after having a break from it for after 6months or so.
We spent the first couple of days in Nadi itself. There's not an awful lot going for this small city except for the 'swanky' Sheraton/Hilton Resorts and a handful of souvenir/handicraft shops. This stay was long enough for us to do our homework and decide which direction to head. The next day we made our way to the top of a stunning group of islands known as The Yasawa's situated on the west coast of Viti Levu.
We opted for a different mode of transport too and went by way of a 6 seater Sea Plane. Amnesia had obliviously set in since the experience of Laos Aviation and we booked a flight with Turtle Airways. Questions such as "is our Will up to date"? And "does our insurance cover this"? were soon forgotten as we experienced one of the most amazing beautiful scenic flights ever. We cruised smoothly at 1500ft and saw so many spectacular islands surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and perfect beaches. And the landing on water well it couldn't have been smoother. Thankfully!
Our first island was called Tavewa. The resort was run by a very friendly family who sang to us in Fijian on our arrival. Our accommodation was in a traditional 'Bure', which is best described as a cosy wooden hut type house with a straw roof. We spent the next 5 days swimming, snorkeling, eating, and walking up the huge hills to enjoy stunning views of the neighbouring islands. We went diving off the beautiful coral reefs (where we found our fist Octopus) and used the exact same boat that Tom Hanks had used whilst filming Castaway. One day we spent on the island where Blue Lagoon was filmed and it has to be said it's even more beautiful in real life. In the evening we would watch the sunset from our hammock, after so many sunsets we still never tired of them.
It was on Tavewa that we experienced our first 'Kava' ceremony. Kava in a traditional drink made from water and ground Kava root mixed together. This mixture resembles used washing up water and tastes just like it too! The ceremony itself consists of everyone sitting in a circle then you are handed half a coconut shell full of Kava, which you drink down in one and everyone claps. Well after 4 cups the effects one experienced is a strong numbness of your tongue, gums and teeth just like having several injections (all at once) at the dentist. Kava is definitely an acquired taste and not one we are rushing to achieve either. It was good to experience such an old Fijian custom and it has to be said we took part in a few more after that evening.
After 5 days we took the conventional catamaran boat and sailed south to our next island of Naviti. We spent 2 days doing similar things to those of Tavewa only to have our activities interrupted by the banging of Fijian drums, which summoned us to meal times. Oh life was so hard!
Next Island was Waya where we spent 4 days on a lovely friendly island. We took walks into the remote village of Yalobi where we helped the young children on the beach, find Gen Gier, which is a type of shellfish found living just under the surface of the sand. We blew bubbles for the children which they found fascinating. Something we find so simple but they had never experienced before. We were invited to people's houses for fresh lemon juice and with their limited English and our Fijian we managed to communicate very well. We watched them making brushes and fans out of palm leaves ready to sell at the local market. They lived a very basic life but appeared so contented with what they had. To be surrounded by beautiful beaches and stunning mountain scenery on hot sunny days, who wouldn't be happy?
After nearly 2 weeks of island hopping we returned to the main island of Veti Levu. We stayed in Loutoka where we joined in the fun of the annual Sugar Festival. Fiji being the major exporter of raw sugar cane for the whole world. The Gay Beauty Pageant was a scream and the huge fun fair would have made any Health and Safety Inspector scream and close the whole scene of excitement down immediately. It was great for people watching even though we declined to put our lives into their hands!!! Laos Aviation eat your heart out!
Next destination was to head south (still on the main island) to the 'coral coast' where we stayed at Pacific Harbour near the island of Beqa. The attraction here for us was the fantastic diving especially with 'man-eating' sharks. Yes it had to be done. We joined 10 other 'nutters' and descended to 30 meters to watch Black Tip, White Tip, Silver Tip, Nurse, Lemon and 12 HUGE Bull Sharks as well as million other slightly smaller tropical fish come in for a feed. We stood there with eyes wide open whilst a man with a chain-mail glove dived into a 'wheelie bin' and fed the sharks by hand. It was what can only be described as 'organised chaos.' A truly awesome experience!!
Pacific Harbour was also being used for the filming of Anaconda II. A film that by all accounts would be going straight to video/DVD, its that good! We got to know some of the lighting crew as they happened to be staying at our resort. It wasn't long before we had 'blagged' our way onto the film set rubbing shoulders with stunt doubles and other yet to be discovered 'stars.' It was all very interesting stuff and we got to find out what happens in the end too.
Before saying goodbye to Fiji we made a quick visit to the capital, Suva which is a huge busy harbour/port and the usual government buildings and not much else. It did mean we got to have our fix of McDonalds before flying off to the Cook Islands - Raratonga where we arrived on the 4th October 2003. Until Chapter 21 take care folks
Lots of love from The T.V.B's Caroline and Martin xx
P.S A BIG hello to all those lovely fellow travellers we got to know whilst staying in Fiji. Chris and Debbie who we had great fun snorkelling with and watch out for the "Boeys". Stabbs who gave us a great laugh playing 'spoons' and told us amusing tales of his personal accidents, you should write a book mate! Paddy and Wilma who drove 35,000kms around Oz in 4 months, which begs the question Why? And all those who are now on one of 2 email lists as we still wish to stay in contact with you all. Thanks for all the memories xx
Where I stayed