Paradise Islands

Trip Start Dec 07, 2008
Trip End Aug 09, 2009

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Flag of Fiji  , Central,
Sunday, May 17, 2009

It wont come to much of a surprise when I tell you that when we landed in was of course without our bags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Honestly I give up!!!!!  I do actually pack a pair of knickers and a toothbrush in my handbag now as I just expect our luggage to be lost now.

We arrived into central Nadi, (a bit of a scummy hole!!) to a Cava welcome ceremony.  This is a local tradition, in which you have to clap your hands, drink the Cava and then clap you hands again.  Did I mention Cava = mud.  Its vile!!  I done it once and never again :-)   Its supposed to put you to sleep but our jet lag had kicked in and the two of us were awake all night, waiting for daylight so we could move to the beach.

We checked into a cheap beachside resort and counted the hours for Jo to come....It wasn't too hard to do though as they had local Fijian men dance for us (and woman for Phil)  See picture below of local men and you can see why we loved Fiji!!!

The day did arrive when I sat at the airport waiting for Jo and I was between crying and laughing, we squealed so much we she came through the door.  Backpackers re-united in Fiji...not bad eh!!
Needless to say we didn't stop nattering for the whole seven days and Phil lost the power of speech preferring to hit the hammock n leaving us girls to it. 

We managed to get a 7 day island hopper pass which included all your transport, accommodation, food and entertainment all for about 230...bargain!!  I cannot begin to tell you about these islands!!  Think of the best beaches in the world and multiply it by ten!!  White sand and blue blue waters!!  One of the best things about Fiji is the welcome they give you!  All the staff, every single day, come down to the beach to welcome you off the boat with a song and echolalia.  They shake your hand and introduce themselves.  I've never met nicer people in my life.  When you are leaving the island they sing a goodbye song and wave you off the boat.  Its so personal and yet they do it day in day out and still seem to love it.

The first night we spent a Bounty Island aka Celebrity Love Island!!!!!!!!!! OMG  I couldn't believe that we were there after watching it every night on TV!!  (See video below)  Jo and I spent hours walking around trying to figure out where everything had been, it was just so exciting. And probably the most beautiful island we were to visit!!

The next day we were off to Nabua Lodge (about 10 people staying) were we stepped back in time to a more rural Fijian life, where we ate amazing masses of food, learnt the Bula dance  (Fijian equivalent to Maccarana dance) and danced our way round the buildings.  We had also got a lot of drink in from the duty free to save us money and we did a cheers to Carla on her wedding day!!!  The next day we went to the village Mass which was wonderful, all the kids singing, the women in all the pearls and finery and the men bellowing the hymns, it was a great insight into village life.

"Another day, another hammock"  (that was our saying to replace the 'working mans' term of "another day, another dollar!"), which meant we were destined to another island and another hammock.  Can I just say the weather was just blissful too??  So off we went to Coral View, a much bigger resort than the others and a beautiful room too.  More amazing food and Jo even ventured to do something!! She did a dive which I know took all her might to get out of her hammock and do he he :-)  When she got back we all had to go for an afternoon siesta as even her telling us about it made us knackered.  When we got up we had a banquet of food to get through and the entertainment for the night was the village school children,  it was soooo sweet.  Unfortunately that night the duty free bottles took a bit of a battering and we woke up never wanting to see vodka or gin again!!

Bay of Plenty was next and this was just hilarious!! There was only six of us on this island, us three, two people Jo met on the Oz experience and another girl!  As there was no beach on this island they do lots of activities for free, one of them was to take you to another island to sunbathe and swim.  Naturally we didn't have to be asked twice so we all jumped in the boat and headed off to the island, or sandbank should we say!!  He just dumped the 6 of us and drove off and left us on this pile of sand in the middle of the ocean!!  Not a tree, nor a hammock in sight....just a round bit of sand!!  I never thought when someone said before " if you had to bring three items to a desert island, what would it be?", that this would actually ever happen.  I asked Phil while we were sunbathing and he said "my ipod, my wife and her friend"  Very apt ha ha.

Now if this wasn't weird enough the blinking tide started to come in making our little island about 3 metres wide by 4 metres long. A few other boats passed us and must've thought what the heck are those 6 people doing in the middle of the ocean????  A seriously surreal travelling moment. 
We all had to huddle together and not so much out of choice, Jo and I even did an SOS sign in stones for a laugh and to ease the panic of when the man would eventually turn up again!!!  But he did and just in the nick of time. 

Naturally all this excitement called for an afternoon siesta until we were woken again by the sound of drums (on every island drums means food is up!), and after another Fijian delight we were actually entertained by ourselves rather than the locals.  They got some of the villagers and children in to show us the coconut swing game and left it to us to make buck eejits of ourselves.  Can I just say that Jo and I suck at this game!!!!!  (Video of proof...although you wont have to look too hard at Jo cheating!!!!).  I've never laughed or squealed so loud in years, mind you I've never had to pelvic thrust a coconut before!!!

After sorely losing we then all danced the funny Bula dance to the best moonrise I've ever seen!!  A memory that will always stick with me! much activity!!!

The next day we were taken to Blue Lagoon (were the movie was shot) and deservedly gets its name!!!  This is up there with Bounty Island.  I never want to go to  any other beach again, apart from Fijian ones, honestly nothing compares...If you can ever afford it..go, go, go!!!

I'm not the best swimmer (to put it mildly!!!)  and so when we went snorkeling I had a mild panic attack and swimming teacher Jo had to take my hand and guide me through the coral (I'm always afraid of standing on them!!) We seen just about everything out there, but the best was definitely the nemos and some coloured blue fish who actually looked like they were playing and swimming with us! 

After the mornings snorkeling we caught a boat to our last island, Kuata...this one was tinged with sadness as it was Jo's last day, but it was as if the island knew it so they put on Fijian banquet that had to be eaten (messily) with your fingers...and then they put on the piece du resistance...Fijian men dancers!!!  Phil said that Jo and I were on the edge of our seats while everyone else was sitting back ha ha!  The Chippindales have nothing on Fijian men!!  They are all sooo toned from labour work on the island and they were little skirts to cover themselves naturally, but then they go and put coconut oil all over their bodies along with war paint.  The dancing is fantastic, especially the fire dancing.  But definitely the highlight for me was when Jo got taken on to the dance floor by the one she fancied, to do the Bula dance and grab on to his hips and dance around the floor.  We were all behind her, but I swear the look on her face was priceless and he shook his booty by her face!! Hilarious....she was covered in coconut oil by the end of it!  Unfortunately there were no women dancers for Phil but as he got to do the Bula dance, which he loves, he was a happy man!!

But then, here comes the weepy part!  Jo left us ahhhhhhhh!!! Man did I cry, I cried when we said goodbye, I cried when the locals sang their goodbye song on the echolalia, I cried when she got on the little boat, I cried when she got on the big boat and I cried even more when the big boat disappeared out of sight :-(  We had an amazing week together but most of all we have both realised the value of friendship when your travelling and who your friends really are!  Love you Jo....still missing you xxxxxxxxxx

Dinner wasn't the same that night!!  We just ate outside and then went to our room to read ( no dancing could cheer me up that night). The next day, however, certainly made me feel alive again!
We went SWIMMING with SHARKS!!!!  Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!

Kate and Mike bought us this amazing wedding gift! Although I can only say it was amazing now, on the boat ride out to the ocean I was thinking the money might have been better spent on nappies for us both!!  I always know if its bad if Phil gets nervous too and he was bricking it!!.

Just jumping off the boat with your snorkel is enough to give me a heart attack!!  When I seen my first ever shark I was wishing I had those nappies again!!!!!  OMG the moment you realise that you are swimming with a shark is a truly unforgettable moment!!!  The more we swam, the more we saw.  There were beautiful fish as well but they were really overlooked by the fact there were five sharks about my size swimming around me.  Three of them actually swam around me at one point and I was  brave enough to stick out my hand and actually stroke one of them!!!   After that I was screaming I just touched a shark, I just touched a shark, through my snorkel!!

After about an hour we were hauled up on to the boat and everyone relived their stories!!  I still couldn't get over that we'd done it.  Phil and I did the best high five!!  So after another big feed we hit the hammocks for the last time and then the paradise story came to an end as we got on the big boat that would take us away from it all.  I nearly started crying again as the staff sang  on the beach shore and waved us off.  It truly has been a magical experience, full of lovely, friendly happy people and lots and lots of laughter.

So that's paradise well as the heat....bye bye sun!!!  Hello freezing New Zealand grrrrrrrr..

Strange things about Fiji we've seen:

* Pelvic trusting a  coconut...says it all really
* The moon rises in Fiji, just like the sun would rise at home.  Very very bizarre but extremely beautiful!
* Fijian people  just laugh and laugh.  No idea what at but they are always laughing...why can't we be more like that?

Till next time

Lots and lots of love
Katrina and Phil

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