Bula! Welcome to Fiji Paradise!
Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
110Trip End Jul 14, 2012
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On Monday we were really sad to leave Jon and Laura behind, but ready to explore another country after over 7 weeks in NZ. If only they could come with us! They took us to the airport where we grabbed a full fry-up brunch before we boarded the flight to Fiji. It only took 3 hours and we were greeted by the rep from Beautiful Pacific, who we booked our package with.
The first night, Monday 24th, was pretty uneventful as we stopped off at the Raffles Gateway Hotel, literally opposite the airport, before we transferred to the Yasawa Islands the next morning.
On Tuesday 25th we got a bus transfer to Port Denarau and jumped on the ferry to Long Beach Resort, our first stop on the Bula Combo Pass, which was an Awesome Adventures package where you can island hop as much as you want
The weather was warm and sunny and we were looking forward to some sun bathing, swimming and seeing some beautiful Fijian Islands. We weren't disappointed! From the larger ferry we transferred into a small boat which took us to the shore to Long Beach. A guy called Ruben played us some welcome songs on the guitar and we were greeted by another lady onshore. Ruben turned out to be a real gem! He worked really hard to keep us entertained throughout our whole stay, including singing, fire dancing on the first night and introducing us to the Fiji version of 'cava' the second. 'Cava' is a drink made from the dried root of a plant which when mixed with water gives you a 'relaxant' drink.
After an introduction on meal times and activities we were shown to our room and luckily we were upgraded from a double with a shared bathroom to an en-suite unit. It was very spacious and had a double and two singles... Perfect for putting our back packs on! :0)
We went for a walk along the beach to explore a bit and do a little bit of exercise. We'd eaten so well and drunk so much with Jon and Laura
On Weds 26th we decided to do the Village tour, which was a 2 hour round trip seeing the local village, church, school and general area. It was a bank holiday (Diwali) so the school was empty but it was so sweet to look around and see their work. Everyone we came across said 'Bula' and made us feel welcome, not like tourists at all. One of the most memorable things was seeing two very young boys walking through the jungle with machetes! Ruben explained that all young Fijian boys are given machetes to use as all of the men do physical work at some point, so it's practical as opposed to scary or intimidating. It's surprising how quickly you become used to seeing them all around!
We really liked the island, the resort and the food were great so we decided to stay another night. On Thursday 27th we did a basket weaving class in the morning which was fun! I spent most of the time giggling at Andy. He did learn how to plait though, which was new to him! We chilled and read all day... I've got Andy into the Stieg Larsson books!
On Friday 28th it was time to try out a new place. We tried to book Nabua Lodge but they were full so we went to Safe Landing, and luckily the accommodation was actually better there! Weirdly as we turned up we saw a gigantic pig running around the place......as you do in Fiji - we thought that India has cows, perhaps Fiji has pigs! We found out that it was actually their pet, but it was a little strange and very funny!
Typical Fran stylie, I got sick. Well, it was bound to happen! Even if I was in London I would have caught something as my belly is just so darn sensitive! I think it was the milk I had for breakfast. I spent all Friday in bed (and the bathroom) and Andy nursed me better. He took really good care of me and by Saturday I was feeling better.
On Saturday 29th, after pancakes for brekkie (yum yum) we decided to kayak. It was free with Safe Landing resort which was a massive bonus! To be honest I was a little nervous as I'm not good with the sea anyway, but I decided to suck it up and got stuck in. It was choppy out there and much harder work than both Andy and I thought! We went to check out the reef in the bay but the water wasn't clear enough to see that much as it was so choppy so we headed back! I don't know how professionals do it to be honest... I didn't like it very much! But hey - at least I tried something new!
After lunch we had a go at darts with Michael & Trina, another Brit couple we met - there are a lot of Brits out here! We were absolutely terrible... definitely not our game! We then went to a 'coconut demo' where you can drink and taste fresh coconuts which was fun
(This is a particularly long blog entry so I've now tagged Andy in)!!
After afternoon tea (never thought I'd say that while staying on a remote Fiji island) we chilled for a bit and waited for dinner. There were by now a few more people at the resort - James & Sadie, a couple we'd met at Long Beach, and three lads named Shane, Ike and Ed who the night before had being staying just down the 'road' (I suppose I should say 'beach' really) at Nabua Lodge. Over the next few days we got to know these people well and had a good old laugh.
So at dinner it was a big group of people. The owner of the resort, an Aussie guy was the one doing the cooking because he'd recently sacked the chef. His cooking was good but couldn't be classified as 'authentic Fijian'. After dinner we played a few team games, which included crab racing (class), some of which we will definitely be taking back for the obligatory family games during Christmas-time next year
On Sunday 30th October, we chilled out and read in the morning. After lunch we decided to play the card game called sh*thead. For those of you un-initiated in the game, basically the loser has to do all the crap jobs in a game of cards like shuffling, dealing, wiping the table etc etc. We were still playing sh*thead until mid-afternoon and were craving afternoon tea so one of the local Fijian boys ended up doing a run to the cake shop for us for our afternoon tea....awesome.
We'd made plans earlier that day to have a game of volleyball in the early evening when it would be a bit cooler. Let me tell you there are no cool evenings in Fiji and so I was duly reunited with my old buddy, sweat.
After an awesome Top Gun style game of volleyball there's nothing better than a dip in the cool turquoise blue South Pacific sea with the sunset reflecting off the water. Truly picturesque. Afterwards it was time for an obligatory cold shower, to be honest there's no option for a hot shower here, and then a quick change for dinner
Again we had a big group dinner, which Dave the part-owner cooked. Afterwards we couldn't think of anything better than a few more games of sh*thead late into the night. James ended up being the last person to lose and so we made him and thus called him the 'sh*thead' for all of Monday! Poor James, but it was hilarious. Afterwards we crashed and burned to sleep.
On Monday 31st we had a chilled morning (this is a running theme you'll find here) mainly because the blue lagoon trip we were going on was cancelled. The Blue Lagoon is where they shot the film with the same name. Instead, after lunch a few of us decided to go fishing. Fran had never been fishing and was excited at catching her first fish! On the water Fran caught one big fish but I was the king fisherman with 6 fish (4 big'uns and 2 little'uns)....you beauty!! Later on I was awarded a free beer for being the champ......good times! It was addictive fun and we stayed out longer than expected, missing the scheduled volleyball match at 6pm.
During dinner sh*thead (aka James) got his own 'special' table to eat at and afterwards we all chatted and played some more games
On Tuesday, we didn't know which Island resort we wanted to go to but knew that we wanted to see the Blue Lagoon before we left, which was on the island of Nanuya Lai Lai that had been recommended to us by one of my old work colleagues Toby. We were told that you could walk to the Blue Lagoon from Gold Coast or Sunrise Lagoon resorts. Sunrise Lagoon had closed down so Gold Coast it was! Michael and Trina actually decided to go to the same resort too. So Safe Landing wasn't the last we'd see of them, haha.
We arrived at Gold Coast and the first thing we noticed was the fantastic beach - turquoise blue sea and golden sands - we were the only four guests on the resort too which was awesome. We were shown to the rooms and let's just say they were authentic - a thatch roofed buré (room), with no electricity, no fan and no sink! At least there was a mosquito net, albeit one that we had to patch up the holes with duct tape
The beach was secluded but there was nothing going on so we just chilled out sunbathing and swam in the clear blue water. We wanted to go snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon the next day and tried to explore the track before dinner to see if we could get there ok but after 15 mins we came across a fork in the road and didn't know where to go. We didnt particularly want to get lost on an isolated island so we headed back.
After a nice dinner we took our lanterns so we could see in our rooms and headed to bed - not before I'd seen a mahooosive spider pelt it across the floor mind......I'm sure I'll get used to them one day, hmmm!
The next day, Wednesday 2nd November, we got up and had breakfast - now the 5th day in a row we'd had pancakes! Afterwards all four of us got our snorkels and asked directions to the Blue Lagoon - this time taking careful note of the left and right turns at the forks on the track. It was a 30 minute walk and we'd decided to leave for another island that day and so we asked what time we needed to be back for lunch. The lady said not to worry about that she'd bring our bags on the boat together with lunch before we headed for the next island. What fantastic service!!!
The walk was hot but picturesque and gave great views over the island from the top of the hills. When we arrived at the beach we headed straight into the sea. The snorkeling at Blue Lagoon was beautiful, the reefs were so colourful and they were teeming with marine life. I think the blue starfish were the strangest thing I saw
After a couple of hours the lady from Gold Coast came in the boat dropped off a lovely potato curry lunch, after which we got in the boat and headed for the Yasawa Flyer to go to the next island resort, Nagalia Lodge, on the island of Waya Lai Lai.
On the Yasawa Flyer we bumped into James, Sadie, Ed, Ike and Shane again. Hilariously we all decided to head to Nagalia Lodge!
On the small boat to the island we were chit-chatting about what we'd been up to, it was good to all meet up again! When we arrived we were shown to our lodges. The lodges were a lot less basic and roomier than the last resort and we had a sink!!! The luxury!!!
Nagalia Lodge was lovely, it only had 4 burés and a small dorm. The Safe Landing Crew were the only ones there plus another couple, Joe and Rickelle who quickly fitted into the group. After our volleyball escapades the other day, as soon as we saw the resort had a net there was no other choice but to have a game. So all the guests together with the local Fijians set about having a game of volleyball. Afterwards us lads went to cool off in the sea surrounded by the pink clouds of the setting sun.....stunning.
After a shower and getting changed we headed for dinner....freshly caught fish....nice! After dinner the Fijian staff sang us a few Fijian songs. Honestly it's like every Fijian knows how to play the guitar, they love it!
A few rum and cokes and shooting stars later we headed to bed. We were greeted by an even bigger spider than the one last night.....nope still not used to it!!
On Thursday we had a chilled morning (standard), had breakfast, chatted and read. I ended up finishing the second book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy - I can't believe he ended it like that, oh well onto book 3 of 3!
We were told that we'd be having a traditional Fijian dinner that evening which began cooking at 5pm. During the afternoon we watched as the food was prepared - its amazing to see how resourceful the Fijians are. This way of cooking was called "Lomo" which basically means they cook it in the ground. First they dig a hole in the ground and fill it with dried palm tree logs and kindling from dried palm tree leaves together with rocks that retain their heat. It's basically a giant BBQ (braii if you're a Safra). Once the food is prepared, some of it after weaving what I can only describe as 'cooking baskets' out of green palm leaves, it's all put in the ground with just the hot stones, covered with soil and a blanket, and left for 2 to 3 hours to cook underground
While it was cooking we had a game of volleyball, UK vs rest of the world (ie Fiji), which we duly lost 5-0......all that practice and we were still rubbish!!
After a post-match dip in the sea we got dressed for dinner and then went to watch the Fijian men actually dig up dinner!
Before we ate, the staff performed a traditional Cava ceremony in full Fijian dress. Then came the food and it was delicious and we enjoyed it more knowing how much effort had gone into it.
After dinner it was back to a game a sh*thead, a few Malibu and cokes, and bed.
On Friday (4th Nov) we were leaving Nagalia Lodge to go to Manta Ray resort on the island of Nanuya Balavu. We were sad to leave Nagalia as it was a fantastically friendly place with genuine staff that made you feel so welcome. I have to say it's my favourite so far. So after breakfast we said our goodbyes to the staff and the Safe Landing crew and got on the boat
After a short journey we arrived at Manta Ray Island Resort on the island of Nanuya Balavu which Matt Newbon had recommended to us. We were warmly greeted with a welcome song from the staff singing to us whilst playing a couple of guitars and a ukulele. As this was our last night on the Fiji Islands we decided to go to a bit more of an expensive place than the previous island resorts. We weren't disappointed. The room was spotless and the facilities were lovely so we were both happy after 10 days of strange noises in the bedroom at night! I was particularly happy that there were no massive spiders!
We just chilled out during the day on the sun-loungers, a luxury for us after the previous weeks island hopping. There was coral just a short swim into the sea which supposedly was better than The Blue Lagoon and so we went for a dip with our snorkels. Unfortunately our snorkels kept steaming up and the current was pretty strong which meant it wasn't as relaxing or enjoyable as Blue Lagoon, it was still very good snorkelling mind!
Afterwards, we sunbathed some more but it was pretty hot that day so we went back for an early cool shower, got changed and treated ourselves to a cocktail each while we listened to some Bob Marley in the chill-out area overlooking the sea
Afterwards we had dinner and then there was some entertainment from the village across the water where they showed us some local Fijian dancing, including a war dance by the men (although I'm not sure that wiggling their hips would strike fear into their enemies....or maybe it would I don't know!). They also sang a few songs too.....guitar and ukulele in hand.
Then we just hit the hay in our spotless room - which had a fan to keep us cool....luxury! Haha!
The next day again was spent chilling and reading whilst we waited for the boat to arrive. We got the obligatory 'goodbye song' from the staff on the island - it's a lovely tradition! We got on the Yasawa Flyer and headed to Port Denarau. Funnily enough on the way back we bumped into some of the Safe Landing crew - haha! After a catch up they all got off a couple of islands before the port so we said our final final goodbyes and carried on to port.
We arrived back at the airport hotel quite late
We decided to spend the evening with a couple of sandwiches (we didn't have many dollars left!) and polished off the remainder of the Malibu whilst watching a couple of movies....nice.
We really enjoyed our time on the Fiji Islands and particularly the Yasawas. Fran and I both spoke about it during our time on the islands and we both agreed that the Safe Landing Crew made our time really special on the islands. We had such a laugh and made some good friends. It definitely wouldn't have been the same without them there. Thanks a heap guys!
Thanks again also to Newbie and Toby for their recommendations! Spot on!
We're not too disappointed to be leaving Fiji though as tomorrow we head for our 2 month adventure in the land down-under - Australia!
So vinaka (thank you) Fiji......and g'day Australia!!!
Mr. & Mrs. Mahoney