BULA! On the 28th June we set off for Fiji. Upon arrival at Auckland airport we were faced with a four hour delay. Both of us were weary from watching England lose against the Germans the night before at an unearthly hour of 2 am. We shall not dwell on this. Our spirits were lifted slightly when a kind lady from Quantas handed both of us a ten dollar food voucher (compensating for the delay) which was spent on two foot long Subways. Yum.
Within ten minutes of stepping off the plane in Nadi Luke was sweating, despite it being 7 pm it was still a very sticky thirty degrees, however neither of us were complaining after spending 5 weeks wrapped up in woollies battling New Zealands winter. We made our way through passport control into the baggage collection hall, little problems were had actually retrieving our bags, exiting was the big challenge. We were yet to adjust to Fiji Time where everything runs ten times slower than it would elsewhere. After a very long, sticky, irritable hour queuing we finally made it out of the baggage hall.
A good nights sleep later in a 34 bed dorm at our hostel in Nadi we woke up bright and early to catch the bus to the docks at 7 am to begin our week of island hopping. We headed for the Yasawas, composed of about 20 sparsely populated and surprisingly barren islands. There are no roads, cars, banks or shops and most of the locals live in small, isolated villages, surviving on agriculture and tourism for their livelihoods. In other words we were to spend the next 7 days lazing in the sun, swimming in the sea, reading and sleeping with a few activities inbetween.
Island number one on the list was Nacula, one of the biggest islands in the Yasawa group with a population of around 3,500. Our accommodation for the night was at Nabua Lodge, we were shown to our Bure - the Fijian term for little thatched dwellings - just a few metres from the white sandy beach. I think it was at this point I realised I had fallen in love with Fiji. After a bland lunch of rice with tinned vegetables it was time to cool down in the turquoise waters. The rest of the day was spent on the beach before we were called to dinner at 6 pm. Slightly more appetising than lunch we had tuna steak with boiled potatoes. Later that evening we were taught the Bula dance and drank Kava. Locals love the stuff, I was not so keen. Tasting of mud, the brown liquid made me feel pretty sick after a few glasses, which weren't actually glasses but half a coconut shell. Luke and the rest of the team at Nabua Lodge managed to get through many more coconut shells full. With just four hours of electricity a day from 6 pm to 10 pm, once the lights went out there was very little to do but to sleep. We woke up on day two at 7 am to the sound of the sea. Breakfast was not very interesting, consisting of cold toast and tea. With our tummies still feeling a little empty Luke went on a excursion to the Sawa-I-Lau Caves, I decided to give this a miss, instead I caught some rays on the beach. Luke returned from the caves very excited and eager to show me his photos. He explained that Saw-I-Lau is an odd limestone island amid a string of high volcanic islands. The under water limestone is thought to have formed a few hundred metres below the surface and uplifted over time. Shafts of daylight enter a great dome shaped cave, 15 metres tall above the water surface - where Luke swam into a natural pool. His photo's looked very cool.
That afternoon we jumped on the Yasawa Flyer (a big yellow ferry which takes you to and from the islands). Island number two was Tavewa, just 3 square kilometres it's one of the smaller islands in the Yasawas. We stayed here for two nights at Coral View Resort. This resort was a little more technoligically advanced in comparison to Nabua Lodge. We had 24 hour electricity, a snooker table, a bar, we even had a TV. This made Luke very happy because it meant he could watch the football. As we were getting off the boat at Coral View we were greeted by the staff singing a welcome song in Fijian. We ate lunch and were taken to our bure. Again we were right by the sea. The remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring the beach on the other side of the island. I attempted to climb a palm tree unsuccessfully. Luke found a coconut (which he later managed to open and eat, all with his trusty pen knife) and we both spotted a dead sting ray. After a satisfying walk we returned to our resort as dinner was soon to be served. Luke was especially pleased to find that meal times here were buffet style. Of course he filled his plate sky high everytime, and always went back for seconds. Dinner was good, however we sat on a table with a really annoying Norwegian girl who Luke didn't take well to. He also did not hide the fact that he didn't like her. Not to worry, she was annoying anyway. After dinner events consisted of crab racing and turtle feeding. I was especially excited for the latter. Crab racing was fun. We decided to ditch the English and became team Finland. Sadly we didn't win. I can't remember who did, probably the Germans. After two sunny days at Coral View we hopped back on to the big yellow boat and headed for our next island, Nanuya Lailai.
Nanuya Lailai was a lot smaller than the other islands we had visited, when we arrived there was a problem with where we would be sleeping. We had booked into a bure but were told that all were full. Reluctantly we accepted to stay in a dorm as we were only there for one night. The food on this island was the best so far. Dinner that evening consisted of three courses (very privileged!). Main course was crab which Luke enjoyed very much. I think he finished his meal with more crab on his hands and shirt than in his tummy! There was no electricity on here at all, the only source of light available was a dim lantern, without any mean of electricity we decided to hit the hay at about 9 pm. This was actually a Friday night which made as feel even more rock and roll. The next morning we were up bright and early after our extra long sleep. After breakfast we headed for Blue Lagoon Beach, described in Lonely Planet as the celebrity beach of Fiji, it did not disappoint. The beach itself was beautiful and the snorkeling was equally as good. We managed to spot lots of Nemo's with one, two and three stripes. We saw lots of colourful fishes and coral, after diving in Australia we were able to identify some of them which made us feel semi-professional!
Our fourth and final island was Korovou, my favourite of them all. Slightly bigger with more of a resort feel, but still on a personal level with the staff, we had a great time here. The beach wasn't the best, still very pretty but not the nicest we'd seen. Instead we spent our time around the pool. On our first night we watched a greeting performance by The Bula Boys. They performed some Fijian dances before getting the crowd involved. We were taught the Bula dance, played musical statues and a few other games. Luke and his dance partner managed to reach the final but lost on the last song. We met some really nice people and spent the rest of the night playing Uno and chatting around a camp fire on the beach. Day two on Korovou was a Sunday. We were invited to church by the owners of the resort. We decided to take up the offer. Both a little sceptical we entered the small church where three local Fijian women were singing on a small stage at the front of the church. The service was really enjoyable, a lot different to any kind of church service either of us have been to at home. Lots of singing and dancing, it was a good experience. After church Luke went snorkeling with Mantarays. The previous day a group from Korovou failed to spot any so Luke left hoping he would see at least one. The first 45 minutes didn't look promising, everybody was losing hope and the boat was debating whether to turn around when they spotted one. From the way Luke described it, it sounded amazing. With a wing span of two and a half metres and the way it swam gracefully through the water made me slightly jealous. After spending the afternoon in the sunshine, we were told there would be no activities that evening as it was a Sunday. However, whilst we were eating dinner we heard a group of locals singing outside. Once our tummies were full we strolled outside to see what it was all about. A young Fijian man was being baptized in our swimming pool by the priest who had taken our church service earlier that day.
Monday was a sad day. It was time to board the big yellow boat for the last time and head back to the mainland. The next two days was spent in Nadi. There was very little to do or see here, the town is used as a hub to get out to the islands. We went into town a few times to book hostels, car rental and to plan our time in the US. The rest of our time was spent on the beach enjoying the last bit of Fijian sunshine before heading to LA.
We have been in the US for just over 4 weeks now and have had a fantastic time so far. With just under a week left of our adventure we will try our best to blog at least some of our time here. However we have both come to the conclusion that we are rubbish with posting the blog on time. We hope that when we have got round to posting it you have enjoyed reading about what we've been up to.
Hope all is well back home. See you all in ONE WEEK :) x x x x