Part 4 - Fiji
1 British Pound (GBP) = 3.4 Fijian Dollars
Saweni Beach |
Tavewa Island |
Saweni Beach - Wednesday 30th September
Not much to say about today really as we missed most of it due
to crossing the international dateline ! We were glad when we
arrived in Nadi airport after the long 10 hour flight - I don't
know how I managed last year when I flew to New Zealand on business all in one go (about 30hrs including stopovers !).
We caught a taxi to Saweni Beach Apartments which I'd booked through the internet for our first two nights. It's a quiet
area, 6km south of Lautoka, so we thought it would be a good place to relax and unwind before doing anything else.
When we arrived, the staff at the hotel were really friendly
and the apartment basic, clean and reasonably comfortable
with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining area. It's far
from the high standards of the American hotels we've been
staying in for the past few weeks but as long as it's clean
I don't really mind !
Just before going to bed we sat outside for a while and watched
all the lizards scurry about on the ceiling above our patio
area and then managed to lock ourselves out of the apartment.
This was a little embarrasing, especially since I was wearing my
nightie and Gav his boxer shorts ! Luckily Gavin managed to find
someone to let us in again. Two guys came along with a spare
key and opened the door, having a good laugh at us ! We fell
into bed at around 11.30pm, 20 hours ahead of California where
it would be 3.30am.
Saweni Beach and a visit to Lautoka - Thursday 1st October
We woke up today around 7am, wide awake, our body clocks still
4 hours ahead the day before and headed off to find some breakfast in the small family restaurant round the corner.
Bacon, eggs, toast, coffe and juice for around F$5 each - you
can't complain ! We had a relaxing morning by the pool, but never
actually went in as it was full of floating scum.
By lunch time we were pretty bored,
so we walked the kilometer or so to the road and caught a bus
to Lautoka for 50c.
Lautoka wasn't really much to look at - just a small town with
a market, a few shops and restaurants and nothing to do.
We'd already decided from reading the Lonely Planet to spend
a night at the Cathay Hotel then set off to a backpackers
"resort" in a small island called Tavewa in the Yasawas, so
we stopped at the hotel and reserved a room for tomorrow night
and our four nights on the island. After that we went to the
Old Mill restaurant on the harbour for some lunch, changed some
travellers cheques at the bank (the only air-conditioned building
I've been in in Fiji - heaven!). We stopped at the supermarket
for some pasta, tuna, tomatoes, water and Dairy Milk chocolate -
brilliant after all that Hershey nonsense in the U.S. We then
took the local bus back to Saweni - bumpy ride and a cold breeze
through the unglazed windows !
At 6pm we decided to have a quick lie down in the apartment. The
next thing we knew it was 10pm - we'd been asleep for 4 hours.
Must be the jet lag kicking in !
Lautoka - Friday 2nd October
Got up early today, without even feeling tired ! Must have been
the 12 hours of sleep that did it ! Had some toast for brekkie with
our Philadelphia which had frozen in the fridge - yum yum. Paid
our bill for the apartment of F$82 for two nights and ordered a taxi, which came around 45 minutes late - Fijian time I think !
We arrived at the Cathay Hotel around 11ish and checked
into our room which was being cleaned - thankfully as it stank
of sweat ! The rooms are quite small & shabby but there's a private
toilet/shower, a ceiling fan and a couple of single beds for F$38
a night ($1 off each if you have a YHA card). You can also stay in a dorm for less money or an air-conditioned double for a bit
more, but we didn't want to get used to air conditioning again,
then suffer in a fanless bure on the island. The hotel's also got
a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a pool and the staff
all seem nice and friendly.
We found out today (as we did yesterday) that there 'aint much
to do in Lautoka. I think most people must use it as a base for
exploring the Yasawa and Mamanuca island groups. We had
a look around the market, which sold all kinds of fruit and veg
then wandered the streets for a while. Some guys cornered us
on one of the streets being all friendly, then trying to get us to
buy some painted bits of wood with "Welcome to Fiji" on them.
A firm "No Thanks" got rid of them quickly enough. I don't think
there would have been any room in my backpack anyway.
We changed some travellers cheques at the bank afterwards
and the bank clerk was about to give me double the money I
should have been given. He was pretty thankful when I pointed
out that it was a US$50 cheque I was changing, not $100 like
Gavin's. Robbing a bank wasn't one of the things on my agenda
for this holiday !
We spent the afternoon by the pool as there wasn't much else
to do and I swum a few lengths in a half hearted attempt to
burn off all that Dairy Milk I've been scoffing. At night we went to
a pizza restaurant next door to the Lautoka Hotel, which was quite nice, and air conditioned too - an added bonus ! Gav had
a Scotch steak and I had the Spaghetti Marinara.
Tavewa - Saturday 3rd October
Today we rode in a speed boat to the island of Tavewa in the
Yasawas, which are north-west of Viti Levu (the main island).
It took around 3 hours and we shared the boat with around 10
locals and 7 other travellers going to the Coralview Resort like
us. They were all from England and seemed friendly. The boat
journey was OK at first, but got really rough for the last hour or so , swaying from side to side, water splashing everywhere.
When we arrived at the island the resort staff were there on the
beach singing to greet us, with a guitar, which was just lovely !
We were showed around and told the rules, which mainly
consisted of "Don't steal coconuts off anyone else's land"
It's costing us F$80 a night for our double bure, including 3 meals a day. You can get an older bure for $66 or stay in a dorm
bed for $30. There's also camping for $22/25 per person (price
depends if you have your own tent). The boat trip to Lautoka
is $90 per person return and you get a 10% discount off the
whole lot if you book directly (at the Cathay Hotel).
We took a walk round the island and passed another couple of
backpackers resorts - David's Place and Fanny & Otto's place.
The beach has really white sand and the sea is a lovely clear
blue colour - apparently good for snorkelling and diving.
The bure is quite
basic, with a double bed, chair and a couple of tables. Unfortunately you don't have your own toilet, you have to go to
the shared toilet/shower block which is pretty grotty and stinky !
I'm sure I'm bound to come across much worse when we're travelling round Asia !
Dinner was 7-8pm and quite sociable. The food was Pumpkin Soup, then some sort of Spaghetti and meat concoction - a bit
bland. Unfortunately there is no chocolate to be found anywhere
on the island, so it's gonna be cold turkey for the next four days !
We chatted to a girl from Japan and a guy from New Zealand at dinner, then they went off to bed early and we sat with some people on another table for a few beers. There was a girl called Lynne from Pitlochry who turned out to be Gav's friend Rob's cousin's best friend - it's a small world ! It was good fun and probably the most drink we've had since we left Scotland (not to mention conversation with other people apart from ourselves !)
Blue Lagoon Beach - Sunday 4th October
We set off to Blue Lagoon Beach today after a breakfast of
sultana bread and coconut cake. Last night we didn't sleep too well as it was so hot and sticky in the bure. There's no fan, so all you can do is leave the windows open and even then there's not much of a breeze. Oh, what I'd do for an air-conditioned room ! Blue Lagoon beach was gorgeous - more stretches of white sand and really blue, clear, warm sea water.
We were going to hire snorkelling gear from the dive shop but unfortunately they'd just run out when we arived. We managed to borrow some from a nice Japanese girl (who's name I won't even attempt to spell !) and went for a quick snorkel and said hello to lots of nice fish. I don't think I've been snorkelling for years and that was in the hotel pool in Spain when I was 10 or something !
We spent the rest of the morning sun bathing and reading in the hot hot sun, then there was a barbeque for lunch, more sunbathing and back to Tavewa on the speed boat. I
initially thought that Blue Lagoon beach was where the film "Blue Lagoon" (with Brooke Shields) was filmed but it actually
took place on a nearby island called Nanuya Levu, otherwise known as "Turtle Island". According to Lonely Planet this island has one exclusive resort and "no singles, kids or gays allowed -
guests are limited to straight, English speaking couples only,
'who can communicate and enjoy each other's company and humour' !" -all for the bargain price of F$640 a night !
Dinner tonight was a pretty non-descript piece of fish which not
many people at our table enjoyed and some beef which resembled
doggie food. Yum ! After that there was a Kava demonstration
(this is Fiji's traditional drink, made from a root of some sort
and seems to make the locals very happy ). There
was more beer drinking then and some travel story swapping.
We shared a table with Jenny, Rachel, Paul, David, Jenny,
Crispen and Dom who were all good fun. Some of them are almost
finished their travels and are off to America then back home
and a couple have just begun like us. Most people seem to have
been to the places we are about to go to or are planning to go
there with the exception of Vietnam and China.
Another Day in Tavewa Island - Monday 5th October
Today the trip was to long beach, so Gav and I thought we would
go and hire our snorkelling gear early. Unfortunately by the time
we got to the dive shop and hired the gear ($5 for the day) it
was almost 9am and the speed boat was leaving for long beach at
9am so we decided to stay on Tavewa.
We spent the morning lazing about on the beach, reading
and soaking up the sun. Gav did a bit of snorkelling, but the tide was too low and all the reefs were sticking up out of the water, so it wasn't that great. We returned for another lovely
lunch (not) at noon, then it was back to the beach again - it's
such a hard life ! Gav did some snorkelling with a lady from New
Zealand for about an hour, then I borrowed her snorkelling gear
and went in with Gav. We went pretty far out to get to the reef
which was really amazing - blue starfish and lots of brightly
coloured shiny fish. The water was really choppy and I kept
getting all the salty water in my snorkel and mask and swallowing
it, so I ended up turning back after about 10 minutes or so.
It was quite difficult getting back to the beach against the
tide - I didn't realise just how far I'd swam out when I was swimming with the tide.
Later on we went to Fanny's place (the owner of another backpacker's place, renowned for her cake !) for some pancakes
and tea, then it was back to Coralview for another cold, salty
shower which left me feeling sticky and not very clean. One
thing I'm looking forward to when getting back to Viti Levu is
a shower with regular water (instead of filtered sea water)
and a sweet smelling toilet !
Tonight was much the same as last. Dinner was sweet and sour
pork without the sweet and sour and the usual soup which had
a flavour only after adding salt and pepper ! We drank more Fiji
Bitter which I've acquired a taste for now and chatted with
the usual crowd until the bar closed. As usual we were amongst
the last few people to leave the bar. The staff did a bit of
singing and guitar playing which was lovely, then we trundled
off to our Bures for another hot and sweaty night of sleep !
Tomorrow is our last full day on the island...
Long Beach - Tuesday 6th October
The trip was to Long Beach again today, lucky for us since we missed it yesterday. Today was pretty much similar to the last
couple of days - sun bathing, reading, swimming and generally doing not much ! I'm getting quite tanned now, but Gavin has burnt his back and it's come out in lots of little blisters.
It looks pretty sore, but he says it's just itchy.
Paul the baker made some lovely chocolate cake for afternoon
cake which was especially good as I've been deprived of chocolate for three days now.
There was more beer drinking and chatting to
the folks we've met from England after dinner. Our conversation
ranging from most embarrasing moments to worst toilets encountered while abroad.
There was more kava drinking and singing by the locals and then off to spend our last night in
the bures. I've had a great time here on Tavewa island in the last four days - I think it was just the right amount of time to spend there to go on all the trips, relax and see everything.
After a while the hot nights and getting covered in sand all the
time takes its toll.
Highlights: The beaches, the view from the top of the hill on the island, the singing from the Fijians, meeting the other travellers, the choccie cake (and Gavin of course !).
Low Points: The toilets, the showers, the small portions of food,
the humid nights.
Nadi - Wednesday 7th October
We're in Nadi now - pronounced Nandi. The boat trip to Lautoka
was pretty bad, made worse by the petrol fumes and the fact that
all the windows had to be closed due to the splashes of the waves. However, we survived and my sea-sickness improved as we got nearer to Lautoka, where the waters are calmer due to the
long coral reefs. From Lautoka we took the local bus to Nadi for
$1.36 (to be precise!). This was quite an experience as the space between the seats is barely wide enough to get a person through, never mind one with a bulky backpack and a daypack.
It was quite a task not to hit anyone with my backpack.
In Nadi we got a room at the Nadi Hotel (not to confused with
the Nadi Town Hotel, which is described as a rock bottom dive
with smelly rooms and dodgy stairs by Lonely Planet !). Our
twin room cost us $40, rather than $28 as quoted by LP, but
when you think about it 4 pounds isn't really that much. Our room was pretty shabby as usual, but it had
a hot shower, clean unsmelly toilet and a fan - bliss !!
We wandered around Nadi for a while, which wasn't very exciting,
looked in a few tourist shops, where Gav bought a wooden mask for
his mask collection and got hassled by the usual touts on the
street - "Come into my shop/restaurant/bar ..." etc.
Tonight we had a lovely lovely lovely Chinese meal. Hot and Sour
soup, chicken and sweetcorn soup, Lemon Chicken, Chicken Satay,
beer - absolutely gorgeous ! It cost us less than $30 which
is under 10 pounds as well ! Maybe the taste of the food was
enhanced by the fact that we'd been eating very plain food over
the last few days, but the Lemon Chicken was the best I've
tasted since Ping On in Edinburgh - suberb. Anyway I'll stop
raving now (the restaurant we went to was Sheung Wong Stylish
Restaurant on main street near the civic centre)
We finished the night off with some much needed sleep under the
cooling fan, not even disturbed by the lizard I saw earlier on, sprinting across the floor to rest under the skirting board !
The Day of the Airports - Thursday 8th October
Nadi Airport - 1.5 hours, plane to Sydney - 4 hours, Sydney
Airport - 6.5 hours, plane to Auckland - 2.5 hours, Auckland
Airport - 0.5 hours. As you can see, today was dominated by
airports and aeroplanes - not my idea of a fun day ! We couldn't
get a direct flight to Auckland on our BA/Qantas ticket which was rather annoying as a flight from Auckland to Nadi is only
three hours or so !
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USA (East) |
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Bali 2 |
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Thailand 2 |