So it's a scorching sunny afternoon in Fiji and Han, Francis and I are having a PROPER POOL DAY just relaxing and swimming around. At the moment we're staying at a place called Volivoli (we've been here two nights now and we've got one more before we carry on with the last bit of the Feejee Experience Hula Loop). It's so picturesque here; we adore it. We're surrounded by the sea, masses of palm trees (standard in Fiji) and little mountainous islands.
There's so much to tell you all again, I'm sorry we've been so awful at updating this. We PROMISE little-and-often posts will materialize soon. But for now, I think we'll go chronologically for easeeeeeee. The rest of our stay at Uprising was so much fun. We were lazy and stayed there for eight nights in total (getting four of them free, so it worked out about £7 a night for luxury! And the best breakfasts we've had so far, they even had peanut butter and fruit cake) and we met some fantastic people. The staff at Uprising were soo friendly and knew us all by name (especially one, whose gender is STILL a mystery to us, even though we were trying to work it out all week… But yeah, one of the nicest people we've met!) The Australian guys that we'd met one night invited us and the two girls from Eastbourne to a house party at their holiday home, owned by Nick's dad. It's basically a shack, but with a few mattresses and hammocks, lots of bottles of Fiji Bitter and whatnot, LCD Soundsystem on repeat, and a big corrugated tin roof that we were sitting (and dancing) on most of the night. So we had a really great drunken night. After little sleep and copious amounts of 2-minute noodles for breakfast (something which we've vowed to live off once we reach a hostel with a kitchen), we all went out on a boat, belonging to Mala, a local Fijian and friend of the Aussies. Us and the surfboards just about fitted on, and we dropped the Australian guys off at a surf break a while offshore for a couple of hours, whilst Mala and David (who had an obsession with taking photos of himself, he's the guy with the Carebears top) kept us entertained, and fed with mandarins and bananas. The bananas that they grow in Fiji are seriously good by the way. Later, Mark and co. got back on the boat, and Mala dived down to try and catch the GIANT clams that live on the (pretty beautiful) reef below. At one point, about three clamped themselves onto our anchor, but they are so heavy that even with four of the guys pulling, we couldn't get them aboard. Anyway, it was a really good day and Nick drove us all back in his 4x4 later that night. We were sat in the trailer which was a fun ride, and all the people walking along the road shouted 'Bula!' as always. We're definitely going to try and bring that back to the UK, along with 'Far out!' which the Aussie's say all. the. time. It was a pretty treacherous ride at times though; the Fijian roads really aren't made up too well in places!
We spent the next couple of days swimming and kayaking in the sea, as well as eating like kings in Uprising. As well as the breakfasts, all of the snacks, mains and drinks were so good there too. On our various kayaking ventures with Francis, we paddled along the coast, in pristine clear water, stopping off on little deserted beaches, and exploring a river/lagoon/creek with little flying fish and mangroves. We also had a few (ridiculously hot) walks along the main Kings Road, to get to Pacific Harbour, where there was a bank, little shops and a small supermarket where we'd buy Thumbs Up spicy crisps and ice lollies.
Royal Wedding night was soon upon us, and we were excited to see that the bar was showing it and a fair few people were watching (I guess Fiji is part of the Commonwealth, but still, we were surprised at the turnout). There was a table of about six of us Brits (along with French-Canadian Francis but we weren't going to leave him out!), who all watched the Royal Wedding together. Coverage started at 8.30pm for us, so we sat down with our beers and cocktails etc. and lasted pretty well..! We were sat with two brothers, Jozef and Alfie, and Natalie, another girl from our dorm. We've found that it's really easy to get patriotic when you're so far from home! Away from all the hype leading up to it, which was definitely getting on our nerves, we thought the wedding was actually a really good watch. We are also missing really British things, like a ROAST DINNER, proper tea for Han (or hot Ribena's for me, like you can't imagine!) but not really the hellish P'town roadworks, or the weather..! Later Francis, Jozef and I played pool (me = shockingly bad) and went swimming under the stars again. Jozef had to fly home the next day, which was annoying, but we had a lovely time together beforehand.
So that was our Uprising week or so. We were so sad to leave, especially the abundant beanbags, free wifi, and gorgeous setting. It felt like home, and we've definitely got used to cleaning our teeth outside and drying our clothes over the railings of the wooden thatched dorm. But we finally hopped back onto the Feejee Experience bus on the 2nd, and we'd been at Uprising so long that hot Kay was our guide again (much more pining over him and his torso was done that day..) Monday was a day full of kava and smiles! We finally got round to tasting the famous kava (a traditional narcotic peppery drink that looks and tastes like a muddy puddle) and it's fairly disgusting..! I'd tried a couple of bowls with Kay and Willy the previous night (whilst Willy told us some drunken stories, he's a very funny old man), but Han was trying it for the first time in the Fijian village we visited - pretty braaave. In the morning, we drove around Suva, the capital of Fiji, and onto a small town where we bought lunch and had a look around. It was so hot there, and the toilets (which I had to pay for) were very very suspect. We bought two sausage rolls each from the Hot Bread Kitchen which worked out at about 66p and they were really tasty. I also bought some chocolate (Milkybar!) because we'd been craving it ever since getting to Fiji, but it's soo expensive here which sucks. They grow a lot of cocoa and sugar cane, but Kay said that because they export so much of it, chocolate in Fiji is quite rare and very expensive. They even put it behind the counter in one supermarket we went to! After that, we travelled for ages down the unfinished part of Kings Road, crossing some bridges that looked VERY makeshift, and arrived at a traditional Fijian village called Nasautoka, where we would visit and drink kava. After being formally welcomed by the villagers, signing our names in the new guestbook, and taking off our shoes, we were allowed to walk in and sit with them to take part in a proper kava ceremony. Francis was made temporary chief and had to start it off by clapping, saying 'Bula!' and drinking first. It's a bit like a drinking game (that makes your tongue go numb) because you have to keep passing the bowl around until THEY feel like stopping. A few bowls were had…
We were overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality we experienced there. At one point, we all had to introduce ourselves and then go round and shake EVERYONE'S hand, one hundred plus people, whilst all of them were smiling, saying 'Vinaka!' for visiting their village, and kissing us. After that, the locals took us through their village to the River of Fire, as it's known (bit worrying, and Han saw a couple of water spiders, so even more worrying) for some bilibili rafting, on two big rafts made out of bamboo. We got off half way and played lots of games in the river whilst the local children jumped in from the riverbanks. David (one of the locals who took a shine to Miss Smith) gave Han his grass skirt (which suited her down to a T) and she punted us down the rest of the river. I had a go too; we were really bad at it, but still won a race. It was awful saying bye to the villagers, because they'd been so sweet to us, and wanted to show us all of the crops and fruits they grew. We went back into the hall, where they sang us a goodbye song which translates to 'Please don't forget us, because we will surely never forget you', before pulling us up and making us dance around with them. One of the women was very taken with Francis which was hilarious to watch, and the chief kept saying that we needed to come back to the village again and bring our families to meet them.
We're travelling to Nadi tomorrow with the next lot of Feejee Experience. It will not be Kay and Willy this time, so we're a bit heartbroken, but it should still be a fun day. We're going to be visiting an Fiji-Indian village for some curry, driving to some natural hot mud pools near to Lautoka, and then finishing the day visiting an orphanage in Nadi. We hear that Francis will (again) be the only guy in a bus full of girls, but I'm sure he won't mind too much.. We're also booked in to stay at a hostel in Nadi that's working out at about £3.50 a night with breakfast included, so I think we're expecting awful and grimy, but it'll be an experience… Anyway, we will update little-and-often soon hopefully, to avoid essays such as these! Hope everything's good back home. We're missing you all, thank you so much for the messages and updates and things. They is great to hear! Love from the other side of the world… xx.