Hi All! Hope everyone is well? Its my first time writing the journal, so bare with me, I might waffle on but here goes!! Hope you enjoy!
We arrived in Fiji at 5.30am after a long night flight travelling from Cairns to Brisbane then on to Nadi. To make things worse we had booked no accommodation, so feeling tired and grouchy we headed straight to the Fiji experience office where Tanq and Carl took lead and booked us our trip to Beachcomber Island where we would spend 1 night before our 4 day Fiji experience began.
We had a bus and ferry ride before we reached Beachcomber island where we were greeted by the staff singing and dancing! We checked into our rather large 80 bed dorm room before hitting the beach where we played and snoozed and sunburnt! Beachcomber Island is your stereotypical tropical island which took a whole 10mins to walk the circumference; it wouldn't look out of place on a bounty advert. It is also rumoured to be the party capital of the Fijian Islands, so we were quite surprised to find only one small bar but after weeks of travelling with these I discovered that "the champagne backpackers" (as they like to be called) didn't live up to the reputation they had perceived to us on other journal entry's.
So after a few local beers we were "bulla bulla" dancing with new found friends for the TV crew who were filming for a Australian holiday programme. I couldn't control my urge to jump on the table and shake my thing to "shakira, shakira", when the camera crew came over and asked me to carry on, so to everyone's chants and cheers and probably embarrassment I did!
The following day we caught the ferry back and got to see a few more of the other islands including the one where 'Castaway' (Tom Hanks) was filmed and checked into a hostel where we would be picked up the following morning for day 1 of our tour.
The Fiji experience was a tour around the main island called "Vita Levu" on a bus where we stopped off to do different activities and learn about the Fijian history and culture.
We were took to the Nadi markets where we were told we all had to purchase a sarong, including the male species, as we would have to wear them when we visited the villages. However Moulder became quite attached to his and many a time made weak excuses to not take it off! After a while it became apparent he thought there was a resemblance between himself and David Beckham!
We barbequed on Natodola beach before heading to the first village of our trip, where our leader Miri spoke about their beliefs and way of life and explained to us the cava ceremony's that take place which we would also get to experience in a couple of days time. After saying goodbye to the local children we headed to Sigatoka sand dunes where we did some very steep sand boarding. Big man Tanq was the first in line but soon regretted it when he flew down the hill, gambolling off the board, landing at everyone's feet with his face and mouth covered in sand, he managed to repeat this about three times!
Our first night was spent on the Coral Coast at a resort called Mango Bay. We were entertained by Fijian dancers, enjoyed some good food and drink and us girlies then headed to bed, as we had a 3 hour trek to complete in the morning. The lads however decided to stay up playing drinking games and stayed up till 5.00am to watch the FA cup final.
Picture the lads faces when the alarm was going off at 7.00am and they were reminded of the trek! The trek consisted of a 3 hour walk, mainly uphill through the Namosi highlands. After around 20mins the weather deteriorated and it started pissing down. So what was already a hard walk turned into a nightmare with everyone slipping and sliding on the clay like floor. The rain also didn't help our descent downhill where we reached a river which we had to walk through waist high water for 40mins. The worst was still to come, as we reached the end we had to walk down an extremely steep, rocky hill with a sheer drop to our left and to the right our only piece of safety equipment.......an anorexic skipping rope hung loosely around small even thinner pieces of wood!
It was such a relief to reach the bottom, and after searching for sandwiches we headed down the Navua River in our rubber rings. What should have been an enjoyable, relaxing time WASN'T! We were absolutely freezing, soaked through. Still raining we shivered our way to the bottom of the river where we were picked up by Watson (our coach driver) in a long boat where we still had a 45 minute journey back to the coach! Even though the weather was miserable it made our whole experience slightly more fun as we laughed at each other soaked through, looking like drowned rats!
Our stop over that night was in a place called Suva, the capital city of Fiji. We enjoyed a lovely meal with the whole group then had a well deserved early night.
On today's route we first visited a typical Fijian Secondary School. We were greeted by all the students as we departed the coach and were all introduced to our individual leaders. The average age of the children was around 14 years old yet they seemed and looked much older and mature. They showed us around their very simple classrooms and bedrooms which were equivalent to our boarding schools at home. They enjoyed answering our questions and we were quite surprised to find out that all their school work was done in English. They were only allowed to speak Fijian outside of school hours. I was also quite surprised to read some of the rules written on the wall of the computer room as one stated "No coughing or sneezing in the computer room - Reason: To stop the computer catching a virus!"
After thanking the children and taking a few photos we said goodbye and headed to our second village visit where we took part in a traditional Sevu Sevu ceremony. Ginge had been chosen to be the chief and Tanq was chosen to be the spokesman. We sat in a large circle ready to taste the dreaded Cava! Cava is a root from a plant which when crushed and added with water creates a drink which supposedly makes you feel sleepy. It's the only gift the chief accepts that will allow you into any village. Everyone had to drink from the same cup and couldn't refuse as it was really disrespectful. It may have been slightly easier if it had contained some sort of alcohol but unfortunately it tasted of warm muddy water. The ladies only had to drink 2 cupfuls (which believe me was plenty!) but unlucky for the lads, they had to drink 5 each! As Ginge was the chief he had to drink the first, followed by Tanq with the second.
We then headed inland to the Wainibuka river and did some billi billi rafting. The chief (the real one, not Ginge even though now he loved to be addressed as chief!) joined us on our raft down the river where we spent a short while playing ball games in the water.
We then started our journey to Rakiraki, where we would be spending our last night. However 20 minutes into our journey we had problems with the bus which eventually broke down. Luckily we were in a small village with a city not far away, so Watson set off to get some help, meanwhile we seemed to be causing a lot of attention to the locals and before we knew it we had all the villagers and their children trying to help. With the Granny's collecting buckets of water to fill up the bus, mothers knocking cocanuts from their trees and the children distributing them to us after they had been deshelled (if that's a word!) To pass the time the children were playing football with the lads which then turned in to a very competitive volleyball match with the fathers! After 2 and a half hours the bus was back on the road, so after waving goodbye to our new friends we carried on our journey. We all agreed that the bus breaking down was a really good experience and recommended that it should be part of the tour!
As it was our last night in Fiji we decided to make the most of it and get involved with the games including crab racing and silly party games. We also had a bonfire on the beach where we sat drinking and relaxing whilst watching the amazing view of stars, spotting a few shooting stars too!
We enjoyed a lie in and a chill on the beach as we didn't have to leave until 12:00 noon. We stopped in the Ba District for an Indian lunch then to the Sabeto Valley for our last activity in mud and hot pools. The mud pools were quite amusing and as you can imagine were very messy.Everyone covered themselves as we all new it was very good for our skin.Ginge was informed that it might make his hair grow and was found secretly massaging it into his sexy bald head! We then hit the hot pools which where a little too hot but helped wash it all off.
It was then time to say goodbye to our group as we were dropped off back in Nadi ready for our flight. We all thoroughly enjoyed our time in Fiji and wished we could of stayed a while longer. Oh well, off to our next destination HAWAII!
Hope I haven't bored you all too much with my version of events in Fiji. We love and miss you all and look forward to your messages on the message board.
Take care, Julie, H and the Lads xx