So...after a long few months Andrew and I finally met up in Fiji! :)
Andrew had flown out from bangkok and I had flown from New Zealand. Andrew had arrived a few hours before me in Nadi, Fiji on 10th Jan so he had gone and found us a hotel etc. He met me at the airport in Fiji when my flight landed later that afternoon, of course immigartion and baggage collection felt like it took forever!! We had no working simcards or anything so had arranged if he wasnt at the airport when I landed I would get the bus to Nadi town, poor Andrew got to the airport and thought he had missed me (my flight was delayed) but the lovely wee hotel bus driver guy Mohammed (who subsequently took great interest and glee in our relationship story!!) told him to 'have faith' and after waiting for ages I walked through arrivals -horray!! Happy reunion to say the least!! Andrew had found us a great wee cheap hotel called 'Horizon' in Nadi, so we headed there and cracked open the cheap bottle of champagne that I had bought in New Zealand airport ha! Of course we were staying somehwere budget so had to improvise and use some water in the sink to keep it cold and use mugs as glasses, the joys pf backpacking!! That evening we enjoyed a posh (for us!) meal over at the partner hotel 'Smugglers Cove' by the beach...was just perfect.
So on 11th Jan Andrew & I headed off on the first part of our Fiji adeventure. We had decided that as we were there for 18 days, we wouldnt be able to do a solely touristy experience (as the islands are expensive) and so we decied we would do half our trip more non touristy and off the beaten track and then the second half we would do the tourisy trail. So we headed off on the bus, up the coral coast to 'The Beach House' which was just lovely! Right on the beach, massive big swing from the palm tree, free kayak use, free anoon tea and scones! We had a great day and night there and went out kayaking in the water. Dinner was a georgeous buffet selection and we became well acquainted with the 'Fiji Gold' beer that evening while eating dinner and watching the sunset. Was just stunning :)
After the beach hoyse we headed a few hours on down the coral coast to 'Suva' which is the capital of Fiji and where we needed to catch a boat from the following day. Suva was a disappoitment -a busy dirty bussling capital city with very little to see or do. We found it really hard to find reasonable accomodation here and walked around for around 1 hour in the heat with our bags, as lots pf places were just too pricey! Finally we found a cheep and cheerful (ish!) place called 'Sunset Hotel' - believe me it sounds much nicer than it was!! We made the most of it though and found somewhere doing happy hour pizza and drinks and had a good feed for very cheap, that always cheers us up!! Then we literally walked around for hours trying to find out ferry times etc. We quickly learnt that getting any info from the Fijians is near on impossible!!! For a country based on tourism they are so so vague! Unless you are paying out right for tourist packages they really are very little use on giving you info! Very starnge!
So we headed on the overnight Ferry with Goundhar shipping to the town on Savusavu...advertised as Fiji's best kept secret, Savusavu is a natural, lush and beautiful paradise on Vanua Levu, Fiji's other big island. The town of Savusavu is the centre of a wonderfully diverse range of accommodation, activities and adventures. Hmmm....we would beg to differ!! We stayed at a lovely hotel called the 'Hot springs hotel' and made the most of it but the town itself was nothing spectacular and there were NO BEACHES!! Gutted, turned out to be a basic docking town. But we got a bus out to a place called 'Oniva' where the beach was proper Fijian and it had an amazing blue lagoon...so when the tide went out the wtaer stayed in this lagoon area, amazing really. We swam and snorkelled there for a few hours and caught the local bus back to town, we love the local buses!! They are all open sided and the buses seem to be used as a postal service too-people handing things out the windows to little towns as you drive through etc, quite funny really!! There was a nice wee place to eat called top deck cafe and we had local fijian food of fish in coconut milk served in a coconut shell, was yum! We decided that we would move on asap and head up to a further north island of Tavenui, the real Fiji and' Garden Island' as its known. So 15 Jan we got a long bus ride to join another ferry to Tavenui. The bus ride was mental, so so many people on there, we ended stood up at the back for a full 3 hours on the bumpiest dustiest road ever!! Hadnt even enough room to move our feet a few inches and when Andrew went to move a cardboard box at our feet to try and give us a little more room it clucked at us - there was a chicken inside haha!! When we eventually arrived over on Tavenui, we got a taxi and asked advice on wher to stay. He took us to 'Beverleys Campsite' near Matei and it was unreal - literally just a beach shack right on the water, only 2 hrs of electric a night, no hot water etc - we loved it!! So cheap too, about 6 quid a night each. When we arrived we heard the sad news that the owners father had just passed away the day before, we werent going to stay as we wanted them to have space but they were insistent and glad of the business I guess. Immediately they invited us for a massive family lunch over at their decking; turned out to be a lunch to pay respect to their relative and even at the sad time for them they made us so so welcome and fed us so so well, it was very kind and touching.
We spent 3 nights on the island and really did see the 'real Fiji'. We went to visit the town of Waiyevo where Andrews sister had worked in the hospital there and we visited the hospital and local area she stayed in which was good to see. The town has the offical Meridian date line passing through it (in a random playing field!) so it is where each day starts in the world! Was quiye good to see!
Our highlight on Tavenui island was our dive!! We did a sea dive out on Rainbow Reef which is supposed to be one of the top 3 dives in the world. We had very little training really, just 30 mins in a classroom and then 15 mins skills and then they took us out! We had 2 dives, first lasted 25 mins and the 2nd nearly 40 mins. The dive master was great and luckily it was only us two doing the dive that morning so we had him to ourselves!! I found it quite nerve wracking to start with and was convinced I wasnt getting enough air from my regulator! But I managed to go down, with the dive masters help! Andrew was great and could amange all the breathing etc really well, but he had problems with his ears and the pressure was causing him awful pain on the way down. So between is we were a right pair!! We didnt see any sharks unfortunately but did see amazing coral, lots of tropical fish lots fo nemo fish, coral, massive shoals going over our heads, angel fish, king makerel, giant sea slugs etc. Plenty!!
After our dive they left us off at the port where we wre going to catch another overnight ferry back to nadi.
We made the most of our time in the 'Real Fiji' but are looking forward to having some more touristy time now with hopefully some electricity!!