SOOOOOORRRY - We hadn't realised that the blog didn't upload properly! This is the whole post, it's a lot longer.. Also, new post coming soon about our 'shack' shannanigans..!
Bula from Fiji! Sorry we've been rather elusive so far. We've got free wiji at Uprising Resort this week so it's easier for us to sit down for a while and write this. Sorry if this (inenitably) turns into a very long entry. We're having an amazing time in Fiji so far.
The second flight (LAX to Nadi) was't a pleasant one but at the airport we were greeted with a group of Fijian men singing everyone into customs. It was about 5.35am local time (about 6.35pm back home) and already 23'C outside. We definitely took a while to adjust to the heat and humidity! It's usually mid-thirties most days here, which turned us very lazy for the first couple of days, but now we're getting used to it, and afraid that NZ winter will be a shock to the system!
Our first two days were spent at a hostel called Smugglers Cove. It's quite lively there with a 32-bed dorm and was right on the beach as well, so we had some gorgeous views. We met a VERY strange local, probably called John, though he kept saying that he forgot his age, name etc, so we're not sure of anything he told us! Anyway, he carved coconuts and taught us how to weave bracelets from the leaves.
Saturday was the first day of our Feejee Experience adventure! We were sharing the mini-bus with a great bunch of about 10 people (5 from the UK) and our VERY hot guide called Kay (and his funny older driver, Willy). Straight away we had probelsm with the van; the axel snapped on the trailer with all our bags in, and Willy lost the keys to the next one we were given. There was a fair bit of waiting around ('Fiji Time!'), but it was A-okay once we got a replacement and I guess it's all adding to our crazy experience.
Our first stop was Nadi town centre, a bustling city on the west coast of Viti Levu. Han and I went round the town markets buying water, watermelon and sulus with our lovely new friend Sita, whose from Indonesia. It was soo hot so a nice break to get back in the mini-van. Next stop was Natadola beach (which Kay said was in the top 25 beaches in the world!) and it was b-e-a-utiful. We all went for a long swim in this clear turquoise warm water and then sat and had a BBQ on the sand.
Next stop was supposed to be a traditional Fijian village, but once we got there (after a crazy bumpy journey down so narrow roads- we were suprised the van stayed in one piece and we definitely won't compain about UK potholes ever again!) we found there was a village funeral, so we had to rethnk our plans. Kay and Willy taught us hilarious little Fijian songs and took us into a jungle area (full of mosquitos, but not seen many spiders yet..) to hunt from crabs and get coconuts to husk and eat. Loads of mozzies got into the van so for a while after there was a group effort to squat them with flip flops and bat them against the windows. We think almost everyone on our bus fell a little bit in love with Kay as we watched him scale palm trees and twist the coconuts off with one hand whilst balancing off branches with the other.
Our last stop was Sigatoka sand dunes, an absolutely stunning landscape with amazing views from the dunes. We took bodyboards and went sandboarding which was a lot of fun.
Our accomodation that night was called Mango Bay. Besdies the toilets and showers being pretty disgusting (spiders, lizards and cockroaches on the ceiling etc), it was a lovely place. There were lots of palm trees (they're everywhere you look on the main island) and we could see hundreds of stars. We ate another BBQ there and watched some traditional meke dacing performed by the locals- then they got us all up from out seats and made us dance to some songs by the Vengaboys with them, that was fairly surreal At night, there were frogs all over the grasses and paths so you had to be careful not to squish them- we've only had one casualty between the two of us so far..
After a not-very-good nights sleep and breakfast (continental breakfasts are included with your dorm bed at pretty much all hostels), we all headed onto the bus again for our 3-hour jungle trek. It's so difficult to convey how beautiful and green it is EVERYWHERE here (there's little bright tropical flowers on the side of the road, and sugar cane fields etc). The bus took us some of the way, and then we climbed into the trailer of a van to get to the starting point (such a bumpy ride, we've no idea how someone didn't fall out!). From there it was a long trrek through thick dense jungle to some waterfalls. Most people started with walking trainers and ended up barefoot squelching through the mud and grasslands because it was so hot. There were a couple more Fijians to help us all through the jungle unscathed, but we did really well. We got to a series of waterfalls which were really refreshing, and had about an hour there climbing the rocks, swimming around and jumping into the pools. We were really scared at first, but after watching a few people, we took the plunge ourselves and it was reaaaally fun.
The rest of the walk was hot and muddy, and Kay spent a while teaching Han and I how to walk through the jungle without slipping. There was a long-boat waiting for us all which took us speeding through some creeks and past some more lush scenery, to a beach where we got back on to the bus, very wet and tired.
Our accommodation on Sunday was where we are still staying today. Han and I made use of an offer which means that we're staying in Uprising Beach Resort for about 7 pounds a night, and it's soo good here. We're right next to a gorgeous white sandy beach, and our dorm looks a bit like a traditional raised wooden bure, with a balcony and beanbags and really lovely (mainly hot) showers. Sometimes you have to pick your shower time wisely because if more that two people are doing the same, it'll be either very cold, or just a dribble coming from the shower-head. We all freshened up etc and had a great afternoon/evening together (so happy, I had a lovely plate of fish and chips because I was craving something English, and Han had a massive beefburger). We got taught all about coconut trees and how important they are to the people of Fiji, and what's made with each of the parts. Then we sat around drinking and chatting all night. Han's being more adventurous and trying various spirits and mixers to try and find a replacement for her beloved Morgans Spiced which they don't have our here- whereas i'm being pretty boring and sticking to the Fiji Bitter and Gold which are our new local beers.
That night, we met some Australians aswell and a few of us ended up doing some midnight swimming into the early hours because the sea was so warm! Also, the stars that night were insane, we've never seen so many, so it was great to stay out and we'll be doing more of that for sure.
We've had a lazier couple of days recently, whilst most of the Feejee Experience clan went off to complete the loop of Viti Levu. Because Han and I have got a month here, and it's such a great place (plus we were dangerly clsoe to becoming besotted with Kay), we've decided to stay a few more days along with Francis (a charismatic French-Canadian) and two girls from Eastbourne. We've been sunbatheing (not got too much to show for it yet, but hopefully in time) and walked down to the local supermarket to get some cookies (as we were missing chocolate and Eastery things).
There was a tropical storm two days ago and the rain, though it was warm, reminded us of home! I've definitely been getting bouts of homesickness (but it's like paradise here to we're having a fantastic time) and Han's been getting quite a few mosquito bites so we're sharing out the bad between us! Thinking of getting kayaks out today (or even a catermaran if it's windy) and will probably carry on with the Feejee Experience on either Friday or Monday.
Sorry this is such a long post! There's a lot to tell I guess. But still, well done if you've bothered to read til the end. We really hope everything's going well back home. Thank you for the various messages and updates about you all, it's lovely to hear from the opposite side of the world and definitely makes us feel closer to you! Please keep them coming. Love from Fiji.. xx.
Bug-o-meter: 9/10 for Han vs mosquitos, but otherwise pleasantly suprised!
Tan-o-meter: Poor, very poor! But we're working on it..