A nice (very quiet) Sunday drive

Trip Start Oct 14, 2012
Trip End Mar 11, 2013

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Flag of Fiji  , Viti Levu,
Sunday, February 17, 2013

Waking to the sound of rain lashing down outside, feeling a little more well slept, we started to panic that today would be a day stuck in the mud somewhere on the Kings Road (the road running from Suva along the north of Viti Levu). The lonely planet outlined how at 'the time of research' a section of road was still unsealed, and became impassable when it rained a lot - gulp, should we turn back?!

We mulled it over whilst becoming further confused over another email sent from the boat company, and responded yet again, and also indulged in the best home made bread, lashings of butter and jam with fresh coffee for breakfast - the simple things are the best! Waving goodbye to Raintree we set off along the Kings Road towards Korovou, disregarding the fact we might not be able to drive it - damn it we hired a 4x4, we're going to USE the 4x4!!

As it turned out, the road BEFORE Korovou was unsealed for a short distance which we didn't expect, but it was fine, and then the section AFTER was all new - typical. The new road from Korovou ran along the Wainibuka River all the way to Nanukuloa, and we took in the river gorge sights and villages, where children flagged us down to sell us vegetables and bananas, and the closer we got to the coast the more giant fish were on sale as well. Unfortunately with the new road came new signs, strange speed limits and POLICE. Yes, we were stopped for doing 66km/h in a 50km/h, but the speed limit sign was on a corner arrow sign, which in NZ and Oz and anywhere else would mean advice for that corner alone! Coupled with the very sporadic speed signs at best, I hadn't a clue what speed we should be doing short of 80km/h (the national limit), and being that it was the best road yet, 60ish kms seemed pretty reserved!! So we were stunned when we had to give our details, but the very kind officer did in fact give us a break, and just warned us - phew! 50-60kms/h it was from here on... For now.

We then took the Kings Road further along the coast, west along the north of the island, where the climate became slightly drier and the islands off shore could be seen; including Nananu-i-Ra, a popular tourist destination. We didn't have time to dawdle though, and we needed some lunch badly as we'd been driving 4 hours straight. Arriving in Vaileka we hoped to find something to eat, but our growing suspicions were confirmed about the amount of things open on a Sunday; the best we could find we're some Nice biscuits and headed straight back on the road!! I guess there is a reason people tend to just visit the islands for tourism...

The next two towns / cities were Ba, and then Latouka, where we hoped to find something to eat and maybe have a rest. Along the way we continued to appreciate the Fijian life in villages next to the road, locals walking back from church along the roads everywhere, and the rolling hills and landscapes along the coast - all lush and green in colour. Unfortunately though, Ba and Latouka were like ghost towns, and after driving around Latouka in the pouring rain we decided to bite the bullet and head straight back to Smugglers Cove in Nadi, check in early, and get rid of the car - Viti Levu had been beautiful and an eye opener, and a taste of modern Fijian life behind the tourism.

After 7 hours of constant driving we, or I, were exhausted and we stumbled straight into the restaurant and wolfed down some food at 4ish, hoping to check in and take the car back before happy hour ended!! The weather caught up with us from Latouka though, and the heavens opened to give us a proper view of a Fijian thunder storm - lightning within a mile out in the cove shook the hostel! The car had to wait.

Finally after it passed we were able to drop the car off, hop on the shuttle back to Smugglers, and try the local brew, Vonu! In the evening they put on a 'fire show' which amounted to 5 minutes of fire and 2 hours of bad dancing and some audience participation - our cue for an early night in prep for a 6am start journey to the Yasawa Islands tomorrow, Amen.
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