Blog 3/3 of the new posts!
Bula vinaka everyone. Embarassingly, we're writing this from the Beachouse, as we arrived back here yesterday after cutting our islands adventure short.
Leaving the Beachouse (part 1) was a sad state of affairs for the both of us! After having our last supper (the 3.30pm scones ritual), we left behind some lovely people (and some of the contents of hans stomach because she had Fiji belly) and headed off on the 4pm Sunbeam bus back to Nadi. The Sunbeam buses are Express buses and have air-con so we're a big fan of theirs, although they're definitely still subject to 'Fiji Time' regulations! You have to have so much patience here..
Anyway, we ended up renaming this 2 hour bus journey the R'n'B party bus, because the whole time it played R'n'B and hip hop songs really loudly, even when most of the passengers were over 50. It also played Steps, who we've heard quite a lot since being in Fiji! So that's been a blast from the past. We also stopped at Sigatoka for 15 minutes to stock up on Twisties crisps and biscuits. The town has an impressive temple and lots of interesting shops so we're planning on going there tomorrow. That journey along Kings Road was a lot of fun and once again, the views of Viti Levu were incredible.
We arrived into Nadi Airport, where the buses terminate, early evening, and went on a quest to book our trip up to the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands. A lovely lady at the information desk took us to this very dodgy-looking office called 'Margarets Travel Services' which was a sparse room, lots of leaflets, a big stern Fijian lady in a black suit, and her assistant. We were a bit worried about how legit the whole thing once, but we ended up staying there for an hour and a half, and Margaret is one of the best people we've met! She was a very independent and feisty lady, and spent ages comparing prices and helping us out. She also offered us a free lift to Horizon, but we managed to get on a free shuttle as a flight had just come in. We booked 6 nights/7 days travelling the islands (though ended up staying just 2 nights/3 days) and our ambitious 5-island plans were: staying in Nabua Lodge at the very top of the islands, then Coral View, then Wayalailai for two nights, Octopus for one (which we couldn't afford, but it looked amazing so we booked it anyway), then down to Beachcomber in the Mamanucas, and back to Nadi.
We spent the night in Horizon on the Monday. It's DEFINITELY not one of our favourite places, no one ever talks to each other, but it didn't matter because we were excited about our island-hopping adventure the next day. We had to have a really early breakfast in Smugglers Cove in the morning, and caught the shuttle (which was nowhere near as cool as our Sunbeam bus) to Port Denarau at 7.15am. Our Awesome Adventures Fiji boat was one of two big yellow catamarans that they use to island hop. It was already a beautiful hot day at 8.30 so we sat on the top deck and had a great (but VERY WINDY) 5-hour journey all the way to Nacula, at the very top of the islands. The boat stopped off at all of the islands along the way, and some of them really are the stuff of desktop backgrounds, especially South Sea Island and Bounty Island, which look tiny and picture-perfect!
Our first island stop was Nabua Lodge. We stepped off the boat onto a small water taxi which takes everyone and all their bags. We left our main backpacks in a luggage storage in Nadi so that we could travel really lightly around the islands. Nabua Lodge was a very sweet little haven surrounded by beautiful hills and a turquoise reef. We all sat down to island lunch (which are all very basic, rice, noodles and meat sort of meals) and then went to our dorms. We fell a bit in love with our cute room, it had lots of flowers and a double bed for us to share. Electricity only runs at certain times of the day on lots of islands, but the two we ended up staying at did have normal cold showers which was good. Loads of people just hung out in hammocks in the afternoon, but Han really wanted to visit Blue Lagoon (where the film was set) so we took a boat over and hired some snorkelling stuff. That afternoon was amazing! I'd never been snorkelling before, so Han showed me how, and then we snorkelled around the Blue Lagoon reef in the crystal clear waters. The coral was really intricate, and we saw masses of tropical fish (some which looked hilarious, and a few from Finding Nemo), blue starfish, amazing shells, and a black and white sea snake which are fairly deadly so we swam away QUICKLY.. So glad we did that though, there are some amazing things to see underwater in Fiji.
When we got back, we were so happy to see Schnappi (German Matt) was staying there too, so we had a great night with him and a couple of really nice girls from Guildford that we met. That night though, I had a reaction to the chicken we'd eaten for dinner, so I stayed up most of the night sat on the beach. The moon was really bright and the scenery was breathtaking, even if I was being sick most of the time..! :(
I spent the next morning still ill and lying on a mattress in the shade whilst Matt and Han went swimming and looked after me! The Yasawa Flyer came again at 1pm so we had to say another goodbye to Schnappi, and got on a water taxi to Coral View, about 30 minutes away. Han lost her flip flops (and I lost my sunglasses) at Nabua though, after a maid moved them, so she was forcibly barefoot until Nadi..!
Coral View was very friendly and we were all greeted by the staff singing and shaking our hands. We had a relaxing afternoon, but we were both really tired and a bit ill, so lay very low the whole time we were on that island. We slept for a while, and then I walked up to see the sunset from a really scenic hill on the island. During the night there was a crazy thunderstorm with the heaviest rain we've ever seen. It felt like the roof was going to cave in, but apparently that's normal for Fiji.
We got back on the boat the next day for a 3-hour sunny journey down to Wayalailai Resort, singing along to Lionel Ritchie and enjoying the sun. Wayalailai seemed like a stunning island, there's a great summit walk to do there, but as soon as we sat on the beach, we both said how much we were missing the mainland. The islands are so beautiful and very relaxing, but we thought they were a bit touristy and put-on after spending so much time on Viti Levu. So we did a bit of a mad thing.
We persuaded a lovely man who worked at Wayalailai to take us in a small boat back to the mainland that evening if we paid him enough, making up a story that we had to met a friend who'd just flown into Nadi. We met him ten minutes later and started our trip back. It was getting dark already and a storm was brewing amongst the islands so soon it was tipping it down with rain. We were only wearing soaking wet shorts and tees and soon the waves were really high and it was pitch black. We carried on like that (fearing for our lives!) for a crazy half hour. After a while we were freezing and he couldn't see anything so we were forced to stop at an island called Vomo until the storm calmed down. Lucky for us, Vomo island is home to a resort which costs about $1000 FJD a night! So we got off the boat into the sea (which was SO warm!) trudged up like drowned rats and asked the staff if we could use their toilets to dry off and change. All our clothes in our bags were wet as well, but slightly better then the ones we were wearing. The toilets were incredible, so after abusing the posh hand-wash opportunities and stealing a few flannels, we changed and met up with the man at the boat again. They also gave us binliners for our clothes, but I ended up wearing it instead to try and stay warm.
The next hour to the mainland was actually really good, despite me dreading it. The storm and rain had gone, except some lightening in the distance which looked pretty spectacular. All of the stars were out as well and the plankton was glowing in the sea. We spent the rest of the journey feeling tired, but so happy that we were going back to the mainland, claiming it was our home, and watching the lights of Lautoka coming closer.
Getting into Lautoka Harbour, there were three of his Fijian friends waiting for us in a Jeep. We drove back to his home in a little village and sat on the floor in a little room with 15 members of his family. They were so friendly and his wife gave us some banana cake and tea, (that's right Mama, I had to drink tea! thought it was rude not to.. NEVER AGAIN). We also had some kava with Eddie and Dan, and it felt so good to be in a proper Fijian home with all his family. After it got late, they rang for a 'cab', which was obviously just one of his friends, but we didn't mind because they were lovely people and only charged us about £10 for a 35km journey (hardly 222222!), which took us back to Nadi. We spent another reluctant night in Horizon. We've spent 3 nights there now, which is at least 2 too many, but at least it's cheap. Everything we owned was saturated from the boat journey though, so we've had to put all our clothes, towels and sleeping bag liners in the wash now that we're back at the Beachouse for Part 2. After spending a while in Nadi yesterday morning, we got another Sunbeam bus along the Coral Coast and got off here. We found that our friend Natalie had come back here after missing the atmosphere too much. It's been raining a lot since we got here, so we've been planning our first few days in New Zealand, and de-dirtying ourselves and our wet belongings. This morning, seven more of our friends from the Beachouse Part 1 came back, after spending time in other places, and realised they also preferred it here! So we're going to have a great night tonight, DESPITE the awful weather.
Our plans, as mentioned, are to go into Sigatoka tomorrow (we've been told theres a great clothes shop there which sells second hand clothes for about 20p-£1!) and then hopefully we'll go for a fishing trip in the afternoon. On the 23rd we leave the Beachouse (for good, we promise) and go to Nadi for our flight to Auckland early Tuesday morning! Our NZ plan so far is to spend two days in Auckland (hopefully meeting up with our lovely friend Sita), then flying to Christchurch on the 26th ready to meet our campervanning tribe on the 28th haha. We've not booked our campervans as of yet though so we're all going to research it in the next few days.
Hoping everything's well back home, sorry these blogs have all come at once. Love from us in Fiji xx.
Bug-o-meter: a few more creepy crawlies on the islands, and my legs are suffering from lots of mozzie bites. soo itchy.
Tan-o-meter: Not much of an improvement since last post, and very scared we'll drain away any sunkissed glow in wintery NZ..!