A Travellerspoint blog

Summary

sunny 33 °C

[*]Best thing about the holiday is that Chris and I are back together! It was so nice to see him and spend time with him and it was great that he also can share some of my travel experience with me and saw what life as backpacker is like :-)

[*]Fiji is as much paradise as you expect and can see in the cheesy holiday brochures thinking it is all been done in Photoshop, but no, these paradise island really do exist.

[*]Would definitely go back, although I think that one week is enough. Have to watch out for the rainy season, as there is not much to do in paradise when it is raining, especially when you are one of the small islands. They basically have one or more holiday resorts, beaches and some dodgy dirt paths to other beaches and that's it. No cars, no streets, no shops, no restaurants/bars, sometimes even no electricity! and mostly not hot water!

[*]It is certainly far more expensive than you expect and the further away you are from the main island the less you get for your money. Would certainly not go back to Sunrise Resort or Coral View, but would go back to Manta Ray and Korovou and Bounty.

[*]Alternatively you have extremely expensive resorts with up to GBP 2000 per night!

[*]It was a very relaxing time, exactely what I needed after NZ and OZ but still did quite a few things like: been to 6 different islands, great cave trip, snorkelling, diving, trecking to the top of Waya Lailai, sea kayaking, jeep safari with village visit, Nadi, Hindu Temple, walks around island and along beaches and the absolute highlight swimming with Manta Rays, which was the most amazing experience ever.

[*]Fijans are really nice, sometimes try to take the piss but with a salary of $70 a week you can't really blame them. They are also quite lazy but very relaxed, as it is always Fiji-Time.

[*]Kava (narcotic drink) looks and tastes like dish water!

[*]Bula! A song I won't forget as I have heard hundreds of times and will certainly be the song for my movie!

Posted by Julia1976 04:49 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Yasawa Islands II

1) Tavewa Island
Tavewa Island was nice. The island was great as all of them. Nice beach, nice vegetation, no roads or streets, no cars, a dirt path and limited electricity. The resort, Coral View, had probably the worst toilets and showers I have ever seen though. I got quite fed up with that because I was so disgusted and you still pay a lot of money for it. Our bure was in a way quite sweet but so tiny, they literally managed to fit ina double bed and that was it. We couldn't have even put both our bags on the floor and opened them at the same time.
So Chris made a deal with them and upgraded us to a delux room which was a new bure with a privat clean bathroom. Still only cold water, but at least clean, so I was happy again. Some of the resorts here are just taking the piss. Our tiny bure with the really dirty shared toilets and showers still cost GBP50 which is a lot of money here considering our tour guide made $20 a week!!! It's so expensive here and it's not much you get.
We just chilled out again for the rest of the day by the beach, had dinner and settled for the rest of the evening with a bottle of wine in one of the hammocks. I love them, they are so comfortable. If I ever have a garden big enough, I am getting one of them. The next day we spend the morning by the resort beach and after lunch went to another beach that was recommeneded for snorkelling. The snorkelling wasn't that great and due to the wind there were loads of jelly fish, which put me off a bit. So I went for a long nice walk instead and left Chris to fight with the jelly fish.
I did find some nice big shells though, my Mum would have loved it and gone crazy. . I bought one, which was cleaned already from one of the local boys. In the evening we had a crazy hat competition. Great! To my surprise, after I was stressing that we would be the only ones without hats, as everyone was working on theirs, I managed to convince Chris to make us some hats and so he did. Have a look at the pics and then it's needless to say that we didn't win. :-) quite funny though! :-) We looked well stupid.
We had quite a few drinks and as a result I couldn't do my dive the next morning... dough!!!
Just relaxing and then on our way to Manta Ray Island!


2) Manta Ray Island

The resort on Manta Ray Island was fantastic! Really nice clean bure, no bathroom but the shared facilities are really new and clean. First time I have actually seen someone cleaning. The food was amazing. We tried to stay for an additional night but unfortunately that didn't work. We went swimming with Manta Rays in the afternoon and that was absolutely incredible. We only saw one but it was so impressive. That is certainly the most impressive creature I have seen. It was about 5 meters wide and swims so elegantly, almost like flying through the water. And they are huge!!!
I felt quite sorry for it though, as it tried to get away from us. I would love to be able to just on the bottom with a tank and watch them. Apparently if you leave them alone, they will come to you driven by their own curiousity, but the dive school didn't offer it, as the owner doesn't want them to be hassled. That certainly was one of the highlights of the Fiji trip and also of the overall trip.
After dinner and a few drinks we had an early night to make sure I am not missing the next dive too :-)
The dive was great, just outside Manta Ray Island. We didn't see much fish, but the coral landscape was just fantastic. Funnily enough the dive site is called "Fantastic"! We swam through deep canyons and gorges, almost like caves, really really cool....
Chris also did his introductory dive and liked it too. Apart from cutting his feet on coral when getting into the water it all went well and he was even taken down to 12 or 14 meters which is quite strange.
After another fabulous lunch we made our way to Waya Lailai to Eco Heavan Resort.

3) Waya Lailai
Eco Heavan is a bit more basic but very clean and our bure has a bathroom which was unexpected. The weather on our first day wasn't great so we just sat on the veranda of the main bure and met some nice people. Will, a Dutch guy and also the tallest man I have ever met - 2.15 meter!!!! Incredible! Also an Israeli guy who is a girls magnet, being a diving instructor, a salsa teacher and a tennis instructor. Quite interesting guy. Strange and scary how different their reality is, war just seems to be part of it. All in all a very nice evening.
The weather was fantastic the next morning and we had an early start as our hike to the very top of the mountain started already a 8.30am. It was a fantastic hike with absolutely incredible views over our island, the resort as well as the whole Yasawa Group. I have never sweat so much in my life though. The sweat was literally dripping into my eyes and running down my legs! Nice! :-)
Good training for Everest Base Camp....
After lunch I had a dive at a place called Coral Garden. Chris came with me on the boat to go snorkelling which wasn't as successful as my dive. The coral landscapes were great, like a garden :-) ha, ha, and I had the instructor to myself which was great. We saw a big boxfish and some great shells and fish and also a Whitetip Reef Shark. That one was probably 1.5 meters, so much smaller than the ones in OZ, so I felt absolutely comfortable with them.
After a nice swim we had some dodgy dinner with sea gras and all other sort of weird stuff, followed by some Fijan dancing, like the night before. Chris loved it.... NOT! :-)
We had an early night and while I went for another dive in the morning Chris went reef snorkelling and saw his first 3 sharks, only about one meter but still.... I had another dive which was nice but nothing spectacular. After I got my laundry back and finally had clean cloth again - Hurray!!! - we went to our favourite island - Bounty Island! Warm showers and nice food here we come...!

4) Bounty Island
Bounty Island was good but not as nice as the first time. We watched the sunset when we got there which was very nice and went for a quick swim before dinner. We then had quite a few drinks and I felt it the next morning...:-(
Chris figured out that the mystery about the original house from Celebrity Love Island, which everyone believed torn down. It is actually still there with the pool and also the bar but it has been modified.
As I was quite hung over, I just relaxed in the hammock, went swimming and snorkelling and in the afternoon we went back to the main island and had our last night in the West Motor Inn again, this time we upgraded to a Deluxe Room though which was much better. And I am no dreading the good bye.....

Posted by Julia1976 05:36 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Yasawa Islands I

sunny 32 °C

1) Nanuya Lailai
The first island we went to is called Nanuya Lailai and was furthest North within the Yasway Island Group.
The islands here really look like paradise, exactely what I was hoping for. Our resort, Sunrise Resort, is very basic to say the least. Chris doesn't seem to mind but I don't feel like this for the next 2 weeks but hopefully the other resorts are a bit better. We only found out after we left the island that the week before we have been here, they had to fly 17 people to the the hospital in Nadi with food poisining. We have seen one of the guys right at the end of the trip and he still didn't look well.
We have a little thatched bure with a bed covered by a mosquito net which is quite cute but the sheets are a bit smelly as we found out later, so that wasn't so good. The toilets and cold (yes, they only have cold water here....) showers are shared and not very nice. The meals are a bit like school canteen with ringing a bell and then everyone is served the same meal, but who cares about food when you are in paradise.
The weather fortunately has changed and it was quite nice already on the boat coming here. So nice, that Chris completely burned.
We just relaxed on the beach and in the afternoon we walked to the Blue Lagoon where the movie was shot. That was wonderful. the path there was quite muddy but certainly worthwhile. All islands are green hills covered by palm trees and surrounded by really turquois water and rocks and reefs. They just look amazing, just like a dream.
It's so nice to just chill out, as I somehow feel that it was all a bit much over the last weeks. I know it's a terrible thing to hear for people who work, but travelling can be quite hard and exhausting too, although it of course is superb and much better than working...:-)
Anyway, I feel really tired in the evenings and mornings, don't really want to do much and don't even want to talk to other people apart from Chris. Really strange, not like me... maybe I just needed a break to properly relax and let the last 10 weeks sink in...

After dinner we had an early night again, which was interrupted by loads of wind and rain.
Today we have been to some caves in the morning which really coold but a bit scary. We took the boat to another island and and walked into a cave which had a huge pool in the middle of it. We then dived into another one where you could swim but hardly see anything as it had very little daylight. It was quite strange to dive into something, whithout knowing how long you had to dive, how deep to go and not to be able to see where you would come up and what would be expecting you there but I am so glad I did. We dived into a second one too which was tiny. From there we had to climb up rocks which was quite dangerous.... not sure what the guide would have done if someone would have slipped on those wet rocks... We climbed up quited high and then had to squeeze through a little gap which was hardly big enough for me and then jumped from there back into the main pool. Really cool experience, but again, Health & Safety doesn't seem to exist here either...
In OZ and NZ they at least make sure you sign away your life before you do something like that but here they don't even seem to care about that. What a place.... But I think a bit of Fiji Time will do me good. Tomorrow I should have my first dive and I am really looking forward to it.
In the evening we met two really nice couples, Matt and Kerri, and Jon and Nollaig and drank the narcotic Fijan drink called Kava. Looks pretty much like dish water served in a big bowl and tastes like it too...:-) It leaves a numb feeling on your tongue but that's all we could feel.

The dive the next morning was great, it was only the dive master and another guy and me. I got a bit nervous when he said taht we are going down to 25-30 meter as I was told within my course that I am only allowed to go down to 18 meters until I do my advanced course. The dive master didn't really care about that, what a surprise, and said it should be fine and to follow him. It was all fine and no problem whatsoever. We saw loads of nice coral and fish, a big school of travelli some baracudas and I have missed the shard he was pointing at which was okay,as they have bull sharks down here... and I am not sure whether I really want to see one of them.
After lunch we went to the next island, Naviti.

2) Naviti
Naviti is so much nicer. I mean there was nothing wrong with the island itself, just the resort wasn't great. The island is again a dream and the resort is so much better. We have a really nice big clean lodge with a veranda, our own bathroom etc. Still only cold water but I don't mind too much, as it is so hot anyway...
We went for a walk along the beach, relaxed and spend the evening again with the two couples and had quite a few beers but it was a real fun evening. Yesterday was another lazy day with great weather. I am so glad the weather is good, as there is not much else to do around here. You can't even go shopping or to a restaurant or cafe, as there is nothing on the islands apart from the resort. We spend the morning at our beach, just outside the resort which we had pretty much to ourselves as most people seemed to stay at the pool. Happy Days! In the afternoon we went to Honeymoon Beach which was just beautiful. On the way to get there I was a bit worried of getting knocked out by one of the falling coconuts but nothing happened... they are really dangerous. Several people die each year from falling coconuts. Not the worst death I have to say....
We had the beach completely to ourselves. It was so wonderful and I really feel how I am recharging. I also finally found some time to read my books, so I managed to finally finish the OZ classic Down Under from Bill Bryson and also the NZ classic the Whale Rider and even managed to start in Tibet preparation with my Dalai Lama book called the Art of Happiness. Well, if I am not happy then, I don't know what...:-)
The evening was with with the 4 guys again. The morning we stayed by the beach again and it was hotter than ever. Really great weather. Today we are on our way to our final stop, Bounty Island, which should be nice too.

3) Bounty Island
Bounty Island was fantastic! A small little island that looks like an island drawn in a cartoon. A few palm trees in the middle, white sandy beach and fantastic blue and turquois water around it. They have filmed Celebrity Love Island here. The island is so small that you can walk around it in 30 minutes. Really cute!
Our bure looked a bit strange from the outside but was really nice inside. Very clean bathroom and we even had warm water, a fridge and A/C. What luxury! Fantastic! It was just by the beach and we had our own hammock outside overlooking the beach and sea! So cool! We got to the island quite late, so just went for a walk, a swim in the sunset and chilled out in the hammock before we were heading for dinner. And I had my first hot shower! Hurray! The food is much better here too. It's a buffet and it is great to be able to choose what and how much you want to eat again, and not just get a plate put in front of you where you have no idea of what it is.
We spent the eve with Jon and Nollaig again, Matt and Kerri had an additional night on Naviti. Very nice couple! I had far too much wine though. Was so happy to be have wine again instead of beer that I went a bit over the top and felt quite rough in the morning, but I was planning a busy programme for that day, so no rest for the wicked!
We watched the baby turtels they are breeding here after breakfast and then walked around the whole island. We investigated the house left from the Celebrity Love Island which was the Love Sheck. Although Chris later on figured out that the bar and pool area are the main house, just slightly modified to make it more appropriate as a resort. So, we have been swimming in the famous pool, which is tiny by the way.
Anyway, the Love Sheck... it was quite fun to see all the places for the camera crews and all that. But there is not much left as most of the stuff has been ripped out and people started writing on the walls etc. so the whole thing is completely vandalised and they just left the shell and the pool.
After that we rented a kayak and paddled around the island again. Ater another delicious meal we went snorkelling which was spectacular! Just off the beach they had fantastic coral landscapes with canyons and a lot of fish. I would say it was a good as Egypt which to me is still unbeaten. Really impressive! Definitely have to book more dives. We are going back to the mainland in the evening. In hinsight we should have booked a 2 week trip to the Yasawas as most likely come back here, but we will see what the options are.

Our hotel this time was very basic but when we checked our options we checked that the islands north east the mainland I wanted to go to have diseases spreading follwoing some floodings, so that was our answer then. Back to the Yasawas which are fantastic anyway, so it would be difficult to beat it. As long as we make sure not to go to the first resort we should be fine.
Our day back in Nadi was spent shopping and arranging our next trip. I was hoping to use the Internet, but the heavy rain (lucky we were on the mainland and not stuck on one of the islands...) shut it all down...:-( so we had lunch and a few drinks instead. We also treated ourselves to fresh lobster but it was unfortunately a bit burned, so not as nice as in NZ :-(

We booked our trip now and are going on 7days / 6 night trip out to the Yasawas again. Apart from Bounty Island they are all diferent islands, so that's great that we at least won't see the same islands.

On a different note, I am completely covered in mosquito bites. This seems worse than NZ!!! Unbelievable! I don't think I have ever had so many bites in my life, even strangers on the boat are talking about them. The worst is, that they only seem to eat me alive, as Chris doesn't have a single bite! Ridicolous!! I really don't understand it.

Posted by Julia1976 22:16 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Nadi

overcast 30 °C

I arrived in Nadi to complete humidity and rain! Great start! It is the rainy season here too! Should have looked at my seasons better!

After being passed through several booking agents at the airport which seemed to take forever and ended up being a complete rip off I eventually got to the hotel Chris booked, called Mercure which was very nice. The whole booking process was really strange, she actually called the hotel 5 times to make the booking and only needed to extend the already existing booking by one day. So that took her about 20 minutes. I thought there was something dodgy but it seems, apart from being over charged, that they are extremely relaxed here.

The hotel is fantastic though. I feel like being in complete luxury having my own room with balcony and a nice bathroom.

So far it seems really nice here and it seems that Chris is arriving already at 5.45 tomorrow morning and hopefully the surprise will be worth it.

So far it seems far more undeveloped than I thought. Have seen some very interesting buses today. I would have more expected to see them in Africa though. Really old and rough and they didn't even have windows but some linen cloth dangling down instead.

It's been pissing down since 4 days, or actually since 3 months as I found out later. Great! I have seen enough rain in NZ and don't need in paradise! Paradise and rain don't really go together that well. I hope it's better for Chris' arrival tomorrow. Maybe not the best start to a holiday if you have just flown to the other side of the world to come to rain!

It looks like paradis though and everything I have read seems to confirm that. The pace of life certainly seems different. The girl who made my booking was probably on the phone to the hotel for at least 10 mins to tell me that the room that Chris already booked for tomrorow is ready and available. So, she just hung up to tell me that and asked me whether I wanted that room. I had explained that already to here here 4 other colleagues seveal times, so you understand my confusion.... Yes, that is the reason I came here so why did you not book it????? She then called them again to tell them that I wanted the room but hung up again. She then told me the room was $185 and asked whether that was okay. I agreed, so she called back to confirm that I would take the room. She then called them one more time to confirm my name which they already had anyway.... - by the way, every time she called she had to be transformed from the switch board to reservations and to then to the person she had spoken to previously, so imagine how long each phone call took... After confirming my name she called yet another time to arrange a shuttle bus for me. Before I could even ask her how long the journey would take, the hotel this time hung up, so she called again to find out what time I would be picked up from the airport. And all that being severly hung over!!!! :-(
By the time we got downstairs there were 2 cars waiting for me...

The same continued here in the hotel. I have been sitting in the restaurant, which is lovely by the way, for 45 mins now and being completely ignored. Everyone smiles at me with the lovely Fijan smile but by the time I signalise that I would like the menu they already look away and continue their way. I finally got hold of one, which I almost had to force to stop and had to wait another 15 minutes before I managed to grab the next one to place an order which she wrote down in her hand. That might explain why they can't take many orders, as there hands are getting full. I was getting worried that they might close the kitchen before I even manage to get a look at the menu....
We found out later on, that whole behaviour is quite normal and is called "Fiji-Time". So, from now on I need to be on Fiji time. Thank God I have been travelling for 10weeks... I am not sure I could have coped with that coming straight from London. Let's hope Chris is coping with it too and not ending up with a nervous break down... ha, ha....
I think I love it here already! It's so relaxing and they seem so warm and friendly here. A country with more than 300 island in total and it is considered rude to wear your bag over your shoulder when you enter a house. You also have to take off your shoes, hat and sun glasses.
They only got TV here in 1991!!!! Isn't that incredible???

I have picked up Chris the next morning and it seemed like a great surprise, so was well worth changing the flight!
We went back to the hotel, relaxed, had breakfast and went into Nadi which isn't very nice. The best was the Hindu Temple, which looked great. So colourful that it looked like a toy house. So different to our churches. We didn't dare to go inside the temple as you are not allowed to have eaten meat the same day which after a full English Breakfast is a bit tricky.
Nadi is quite chaotic with some places that look quite Western but most if it seems to be quite poor. We went to the Tourist Info and booked a day tirp to the highest mountain and a visit to a Fijan village to be followed by a lunch at the Coral Coast and should have then ended at a nice beach with a swim.
We also decided to go on a 6 day/5 night trip to the Yasawa Island Group which is north east of the main island. The rest of the day we relaxed in the hotel, had champagne and dinner in the hotel and had an early night.

Our first day was great! It was a rip off for the tour but still really good! My cultur shock is slowly starting. Unfortunately it was overcast the whole day, but at least it didn't rain. I wonder whether we will have any sun here....
The views from the mountains were great. The "roads" were so bad taht even the 4x4 was struggeling and we weren't sure whether we would get back safe. The atmosphere when we got to the village was really strange. No one seemed to take notice of us, although someone should have shown us around and then give us some Kava, an Fijan narcotiv drink, that we had to bring as a present to the village. There were about 300 people living in the village althoug it looked much smaller. Most the huts were made of corrugated metal without windows. Some were still in the traditonal way called Bure. They had one toilet in the village in a bure without a door. The place was so muddy from the rain taht I got stuck in mud up to my ankles. A girl showed us around and we some of the huts, the church, the chief's house, which was of course was the nicest.It was a proper big thatched bure. Incredidble how the people live there. I don't even think they have electricty. It's so simple and not possible for us to live like that.... but then you see bags of Walker crisps which just not fit in. They all seemed quite happy there. They do a bit of farming but apparently they don't need to work a lot and are also a bit lazy compared to the Indo-Fijans who they share their country with who are very hard working. The Fijans don't let them buy property though and also don't really want to give them a lot of rights, hence the political problems, but apart from that it feels very safe here.
So that village was quite an experience.
Lunch was great. Just by the sea surrounded by traditional bures. We went for a swim, but the water was so shallow there wasn't much to see when going snorkelling. A few nice fishand a lot of the common star fish in deep blue which look great!
With us was a German couple from Dresden who were quite nice.
A few more drinks and an early night as it was a very early start, as it takes 4 hours to get to the first island.

On other thing we noticed and I know I shouldn't be saying this, as it is quite horrible thing to say, but they all look the same, men and women. They all have the same haircut, which is short hair, most of them wear skirts/serongs, it's really strange. First we wondered whether it is possible that the woman working behind reception from our hotel, also works in the cafe next to the tourist information and is also our taxi driver after we realised they look so similar that you think you keep meeting the same person over and over again....

Posted by Julia1976 20:36 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

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