17.10.07 - Arrived in Fiji still wearing our winter woolies from NZ and got a terrible shock as the full force of the Fijian heat hit us as we stepped off the plane. The Fiji experience begins in the airport with all staff shouting greetings of "Bula! Bula!" and all wearing brightly coloured clothes with flowers round their necks and in there hair.
Our first destination was the 'Nadi Bay Resort' - two swimming pools, two restaurants, three bars, a beauty saloon, cinema, games room…and this was the backpacker resort!
Spent our first evening by the pool, and of course it rained, as it has rained the first night in every country we have arrived in so far, but at least it was warm.
The next day we set off to the Yasawa Islands after purchasing a 14 day "Bula" pass on the Big Yellow boat which travels up and down the islands each day so you can hop on and off as often and to as many islands as you want!
We decided to go straight to the top of the islands and spent one evening there - which was enough as we were the ONLY people staying on the entire island - which was idyllic, but a bit spooky! (for those of you that have seen "I still know what you did last summer" it felt a bit like that!) That evening a group of people who were staying on a neighbouring island got a boat over to join us for the evening buffet, which consisted of all sorts of wonderful foods from chicken and fish to sea weed and sea grapes (delicious) and wonderful fresh fruits from the gardens. The group of people were doing missionary work on one of the other islands and one guy who sat with Ed told him that the spirits were telling him when we return to England we are going to have a baby boy?! So that freaked Ed out for the rest of the evening!
The next 10 days were spend exploring different islands, chilling out in hammocks, snorkeling over some of THE most beautiful coral, getting massages, participating in jewellery making classes (against Ed's will, but he seemed to enjoy them), taking long walks on all the different beaches, collecting shells, meeting loads of awesome people and obviously enjoying a few drinks each evening!
Each day at every resort they either beat a drum or blew on a conch (those of you who did 'Lord of the Flies' in school should know what that is!) to alert us to meal time. Typical breakfast was pancakes and mountains of fresh fruit, lunch was either a rice or pasta dish and the evening meals were more like banquets than buffets, with loads of different dishes and some nights all the food had been prepared in the lova, which means 'earth oven' where they heat up stones in a fire until they are red hot, dig a hole in the ground, place the stones in the bottom, then the food over them and then bury it all for about an hour….we have never tasted anything like it! Truly amazing…the chicken just fell off the bones and melted in your mouth, it was sooooo good! (Bob - it was definitely better than Morrisons or Waitrose!)
After the evening meal all the staff did a show for us usually consisting of the Bula Dance (which then you have to take part in and we are now experts!) knife throwing, fire dancing etc……then we all get involved doing the dancing and doing the limbo and snake dance! And some nights ended up with a Kava session!
KAVA…..is a drink made from plant root and water, basically looks and tastes like muddy water, truly disgusting, but its like a Fijian tradition to sit in a circle with one guy mixing a large bowl of the stuff, another handing it to you in a coconut shell then you have to clap three times, say "bula" and down it. The Fijians treat it like a drug and some say they hallucinate on it, other says it just gives them energy and keeps them awake...either way it didn't affect us much after several beers (as they always started doing it late at night) Kate hated it and Ed thought it was great, one night he drank about three liters of the stuff and was named named the Kava Chief!!
None of the islands have any electricity, but generators that run for a couple of hours during the day so they can cook our lunch, and a couple of hours at night so they can cook tea and usually stayed on until about midnight so we could stumble back to our burres with some light. Although most nights after the generators had been turned off we would just sit on the beach, by a fire and the moonlight provided enough light for us to see, it was magical!
The worst thing about no electricity was NO ice cream!!! But the beer was always cold so it wasn't all that bad! Plus the big yella boat sold ice cream so each time we moved on to another island Kate would have a little competition with herself to see how many she could eat before they had to get off again - Ed never wanted to play!
The best thing about Fiji was - FIJI TIME - a wonderful invention! Basically whatever time someone tells you the bus will be leaving or dinner will be served it will always be about 20 minutes later, everyone is on Fiji Time basically meaning they are all so chilled out and relaxed from all the sun and Kava they drink there is never any stress or rushing about - it's just so damn laid back, these people are almost horizontal.
After leaving the islands we returned to the mainland for three nights and took a trip down the Coral Coast to another "5 star" backpacker place, where we went horseriding on the beach and spent many hours playing on the rope swing over the sea (as you can see from the pictures)
We were seriously sad to leave Fiji, the people, the islands, the crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, laid back Fiji time...its just paradise!! And now its time to go to Sydney and find a job!! BOOOOOO!!!!