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Part 4 - Fiji

1 British Pound (GBP) = 3.4 Fijian Dollars

Saweni Beach | Lautoka | Tavewa Island | Nadi

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). Our wee house ! 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. Blue Lagoon Beach 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. Our hosts 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 ! Goodnight !

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 !

Round the World Journal Index | Pre-Trip | USA (East) | USA (West) | Fiji | New Zealand 1 | New Zealand 2 | Australia | Bali | Lombok | Bali 2 | Singapore | Malaysia | Thailand 1 | Thailand 2 |

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