Bula!

Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
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Trip End Jun 15, 2005


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Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Tuesday March 1st 2005
Caught the shuttle to the airport..a little late and I didnt realise how far away it was, but made it to check in, was robbed by having to pay $25 departure tax, and caught my Pacific Airlines flight to Nadi, Fiji.

..Its a little bit warmer here than NZ - and massive humidity, and am met by a few guys playing their guitar - which becomes a bit of a theme for Fiji - they guys (possibly even the same guy?) are everywhere you go struming away!

Stay at the Nadi bay Resort - nice backpackers / hotel, with excellent swimming pool and great facilities, and have nice airconditioned room.

Have absolutley no cash, so wander into the local town for a cash machine, all with no success, until I was finally pointed in the right direction, wandering down dark lanes to eventually get cash.

Wednesday March 2nd 2005
The Yasawas! - a string of islands of Fiji's west coast, and my home for the next seven days. Booked with Awesome Adventures, who apear to have the monopoly in this area, and catch their bright yellow catamaran to the furthest island, Nanuya Lai Lai, and Sunrise Lagoon Resort - small boat picks us up from the Catamaran, and then move into very spartan Bure, or hut, overlooking the sea (after of course, the obligatory guitar player greeting us of the boat). Learnt a new word - Bula - which means hello/greeting



The journey from the mainland took four hours(and numerous stops),past idyllic small, and yet smaller islands (one, South Sea Island, you could walk around in about 2 minutes), and past the island used as the setting to the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway.



The island we are staying at was also the setting for the 80's movie the Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields, but the effort of walking around it would be far too much today!

So settle down to a wek of laziness - swim in the crystal clear blue waters, lounge in a hammock, and eat!

Thursday March 3rd 2005
Wake up to hear the waves gently lapping the shore, little birds chirping away, the sun beamng through the window....its tough I know, but I have to get up for breakfast at 8am.

Take a short boat trip to the Sawailu Caves, past yet more idyllic islands, with their coconut trees along the beach, and the blue/green water, with coral beneath.



The caves were amazing - down some steps, and then jump into the deep water, which is just a little bit cooler than the seawater, which is always lovely and warm. After swimming around in the cavernous caves for a while, we go to the next cave, underwater, as its the only route - only a short underwater swim, but excellent to enter the new cave, now only lit by the guides torch. and quite a small cave.

Guide gives us the story of how he would not want to enter the cave with other Fijian's because of their ancestors carrying out cannibalism around here...

Swim back through, and then climb up to another set of caves, again back down into water, but this water is bright blue, lit by light from the adjoining cave, which again we have to swim underwater to get to - I could spend all day doing this!

Return to the resort, where I spend the rest of the day reading my new book, "Magellan, Over the Edge of the world" - I will be there in a few weeks so figure I should know what I'm talking about, and gently fall asleep in my hammock

Friday March 4th 2005
Have to check out of the Bure by 10am, though the boat doesnt collect us until 2.00pm. so, decide to do the 20 minute walk to the other side of the island to the famed blue lagoon - very nice coconut tree lined beach, with sand bank at one end extending right out into the sea - very nice and pretty, but that isnt unusual in this area of the world, so force myself to stay, snorkel in the nice coral, and play in the water.

Brooke Shields didnt turn up. but that really didnt matter..



Boat onto the next island, Naviti, staying at the Korovou resort, which is a little better quality as far as accomodation/meals are concerned, and even get ensuite bathroom!

There was a Fijian show in the evening, but the fakeness of it all didnt interest me at all, and so, yet again, relaxed!

Saturday March 5th 2005
Hardest part of my life at the moment is having to get up at 8am for breakfast.

Weather continues to be very sunny, and very warm.



Went Manta Ray hunting this morning - hunting to find them that is, not to catch them, but after a lot of snorkelling around, we failed, but then the boat took us to a coral reef that was stunning - quite shallow, and the most amazing pinks, reds, blues etc all over the place - the bright sun and the shallow water helped, but it was so stunning - I just wish I had an underwater camera with me.

Sleep most of the afternoon in my hammock, and then catch the boat to Kuata Island resort on the Island of Kuata.

Sunday 6th march 2005
Its a Sunday, and Fijian's are quite religious, so nothing happens - no trips, nothing - only a church service.

So, entering into the spirit of thins, I also do nothing, other than of course laying on my hammock, reading, swimming, sleeping, drinking and eating - I dont think you realise how hard life is on a tropical paradise!




Monday 7th March 2005
A bit more ative today - walked to the summit of Kuata island - hard work in the heat, for good views of the neighbouring islands and beaches, though en route we pass the pigs pen, where evidently the islanders throw all of their rubbish - horrible!

After lunch, Kayak around the bay, jumping in occassionally.



Catch the later boat to Bounty Island, by far the most modern resort, and close to the mainland - the rooms even have electricity! Have a great steak dinner, again far better than the food served on the other islands (which wasnt bad, but this is so much better)

Tuesday 8th March 2005
Yet another lazy morning - lieing on my hammock and reading my book, followed by a nice lunch.

Its at this point I discover my rucksack missing...they have packed it on to an earlier boat, and assure me it wil be recovered!

Extremely hot day, sapping all of my energy. but do later recover my rucksack on the mainland, and return to the orginal hotel I was staying in Nadi

Wednesday 9th March 2005
Have a lie in, for the first time in ages, and then visit the town of Nadi.

Pretty small place, with major Indian influence, and very much reminds me of Asia - taxi drivers trying to pick you up al the time, shopkeepers tryng to persuade you to come into their shops, and people stopping you in the street.

Walk down to the Sri Siva Subra Manya Indian temple - very impressive, and very similar to the Indian temples in Malaysia



Thursday 10th March 2005
Incredibly lazy day - apart from moving to the side of the swimming pool, swimming, and just lieing there, did nothing!

Friday 11th March 2005
Went on a tour today, so got picked up at 7.00am, in a shockingly good quality bus, and then the long drive to Sigatoka, after various pick ups, along the southern Coral Coast - clearly evident why it is so called, as you can see the waves breaking about 500m off shore on the coral, leaving the beaches calm.



Reach start point, life jackets sporting some Chinese jet ski club logo donned, and up river in the motorised long boats, to a "genuine" Fijian village, and met by very authentic musclebound tribesman, and taken to the main village meeting room, where we have a Kava meeting ceremony.

Kava is a local drink, that tastes horrible and slightly numbs the mouth. Clearly this village does well out of the tourists - the meeting hall and everything about the place is very organised, clean and slick, and their lives well explained in perfect english (English is actually the official language of Fiji) - and whilst its clear they dont quite live their lives like that now, it was a very good representation.



So you see the pre-school children sing, the local women making crafts, the men making boats, and our dinner being cooked in an underground oven - and the buffet dinner served was very good!

Then onto Fijian dancing, where they pulled all the tourists up to dance with them...except one guy who I know well who was pretending to photograph it all!

Overall, very good presentation and well worth the money!

Then, back on the boats along the Nevua river, to see some waterfalls - waterfall number one was nice enough, with a strong flow preventing you from swimming all the way up to it - you could only approach it from the side, where a rope hung, to enable you to climb the waterfall to enable you to see waterfall number 2, which was truly stunning - waterflow was even stronger this time - you could only approach the flow by dragging yourself along rocks by the side.

The guides were jumping from huge heights into the water, and I was persuaded to jump, perhaps higher than I normally would, and it was a sensational dive (even if I did touch the gravel at the bottom) - cameraman missed me though, so I had to do it all over again! The gap between jumping and hitting the water seemed a long time....but exhilerating.



Back down the river, partially on a bamboo raft, and then longboat

Saturday 12th March 2005
Quiet day again - other than a little shopping in Nadi, relaxed around the pool

Sunday 13th March 2005
Hired a car for two days, to drive the entire main island of Viti Levu. Car, an estate Toyota Corolla, was not as bad as I had expected, so set off in search of some supposed hot pools - the only problem being the roads turn bad, very bad, as soon as you get off the main road.

Numerous horrendous scraping sounds on the underside of the car, rocks bouncing all over the place - this is 4 wheel drive country really!

Perservered - even picked up a very funny villager and gave him a lift home (which would have been a long long way on foot in the sun). Past the sugar can fields, horsemen and little villages. Dropped him off, and gave up on the hot pools - the car couldnt take any more.



Drive next to Lautoka, bigger and nicer than Nadi, but as this is Sunday, nothings open, and drive on.

Carry on along the winding, and at times very patched up road, to RariRaki, which I expected to be bigger - basically a shop, petrol station, and a few houses, and then the road turns to gravel, and then to mud, and then to rock....this is the main road around the North of the Island and its appalling - at times single lane, and big potholes and boulders everywhere - which I kept hitting, causing damage to the car.



Pass through mountain villages - they are all Fijian, the Indian population (about 40% of Fiji) havent come this far into the Island), where we are a bit of a novelty - clearly not many western tourists come this way! Cross precarious road bridges, some roadworks that serve to make the road worse, not better, plus pass many of the "standard" Fijian women - fat, with curly thick brown hair, wearing a colorful dress.

Car has taken a real battering, but eventually reach OK roads, and Suva, the capital, which is a lot nicer than Nadi

Monday 14th March 2005
Drive along the south coast is much easier, passing through the towns of Pacific Harbour and Sigatoka, as well as many smaller villages.



Other than the villages, there is not a lot to see here - stop at one beach, but no waves because of the distant reef, and some strange coral growing, with rope like attachments - very weird, and so stayed out of the water in the main.

Drove back to Nadi, felling a little guilty about the car...

Tuesday 15th March 2005
Nice lie in, for my last full day in Fiji - well that was the plan, but had to get up at 8.00am as they car hire guy was coming to collect the car - do I own up and lose at least $200?



Still undecided I meet him - he was waiting, and tell him how bad the roads were...and he happily drives off - I feel guilty, but then again, they made a lot of money - the car hire was more expensive than New Zealand, and Fiji is a lot cheaper country.

Spent the rest of the day next to the small pool next to my room
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