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Sarah and Emily’s Travel Diary

Monday, 25 Jun 2007

Location: Suva, Fiji

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So we finished our New Zealand adventure in Auckland, we hope our avid readers appreciate the diary entries written there as the internet cafe was also a Karaoke bar for the most horrendous singers, so it wasn't the most peaceful setting! But we knew that we were heading to Fiji and we would have all the peace we wanted. So we headed off to the airport the day after New Zealand started warning people about going to Fiji again...danger is our middle name, but also apparently everybody elses middle names as the plane was packed. We were surrounded by kids on the plane - every teacher's worst nightmare but luckily for us we were some of the lucky few who got their food before turbulence kicked in and the serving was abandoned, cue lots of appreciative noises while eating and looking at those without - born winners!

We arrive in Nadi to be greeted by men in loud shirts playing guitars and singing, this is the life! Then we head to Nadi Bay Hotel to share a room with two rather odd boys, one managed to spend half an hour spraying and cleaning his glasses (really think he should've offered to do Emily's as well) whilst talking about cricket while the other one wearing a woolly hot in the hot climate talked about how he wants to do agriculture and is glad he's going home after just 3 months of travelling - you've either got or you haven't, it was clear we had it and they didn't!

We went to the travel desk to ask about getting a bus to Suva, the woman looked at us like we were mad saying "Why would you go there?", wow that woman really loves her own capital. We explained that's where we were getting picked up for our island holiday (yes that's right a holiday, travelling is hard work and we needed a holiday) so she booked us on the 'tourist' bus but it was at 7.30 am (we've not seen that time for a long time). She casually asked where we were staying in Suva and so we said the name of one we'd seen on the internet, her face dropped and she said "Oh no not there", she went on to suggest a more expensive one but when we explained the resort had the name of the first one to pick us up from she soon decided it was fine...we didn't know what to expect when we got there! We had visions of gunmen surrounding the building as it crawled with mosquitoes and cockroaches...

So we got up extremely early to catch the tourist bus which was a lovely coach and we got to see lots of the mainland as we drove along, it's amazing how many speed bumps the country has! We arrived in Suva and couldn't see any guns or army or police or anything that indicated trouble so we headed straight to our hotel to see what wonders would greet us there, well it was absolutely fine just a few ants but hey we had the dorm to ourselves and tomorrow we were heading to island paradise!

We were picked up by a taxi which was to drive us the jetty over a not even near to being completed road...it was a bumpy ride but with lots of people waving as we passed - the people really are that friendly! As we drove along in the taxi we began to get the feeling in the stomach that we had way back in Thailand as we set off from Trang to end up 'in the middle of nowhere', that feeling got worse when we arrived at the jetty and saw the small boat that was taking us across to the island. When we asked if the resort was busy he simply laughed...ooh dear, deja-vu! We were greeted at Naigani by a mad chinese woman clapping and a few staff stood round (no flower or shell garland damn it), we soon realised that as we thought there was no-one else around but we soon realised that these were the best surroundings to be alone in. Epi warmly greeted us and we soon realised the friendly man on the other end of emails was also the campest man we'd met in a long time and we loved him for it.

We had a massive bure to stay in, a pool to lounge round all day, a beach and clear water to swim and snorkel in. Our only problem was the guilt we felt when we said we didn't want lunch or dinner...think the staff were a bit bored and actually hoping for a bit of work to do. Our first night we headed to the bar and discovered there were a couple of people staying there doing scuba diving and fish research but they were leaving the next day. Still we all sat and drank 'kava' - the local drink that numbs your tongue and we had originally thought was dishwater in the bowl (it didn't help that it was brought out in a washing up bowl) and to be honest tasted like dishwater too...but hey these local traditions are what travelling is all about and it is rude to say no!

The next day we discovered there was another couple at the resort, Jan and Peter, they came to Naigani every year and so were island experts, they told us how not to make faux-pas when we went to the village, where the place was for the sun-loungers by the pool and they even left some food for us when they went...resort to ourselves again!

So to experience 'real Fiji' we popped along with our guide Tony to the local village, well the only village on the island actually. We were shown how to wrap our sarongs correctly...so no risk of flashing and we headed off. The village was tiny, has about 60 people in it, there is no school so the children are sent to boarding schools on the mainland from the age of 4 but there is 3 churches and they're building a 4th (think they just need something to do, but really maybe their own school might be more useful). A yacht of missionaries had arrived and so the villagers were cooking a big dinner for them, we saw them building the fire to cook on and scraping coconut out and quickly washing up every plate they had. We didn't really understand how these missionaries could justify cruising round the Fiji islands on a yacht as the Fijian people are already the most Christian people you will ever meet, one lady even has a pen saying "I'm part of God's Team" so really we did feel like telling the missionaries to get back on their boat and try somewhere more worthwhile.

We had a lovely meander around the village taking pictures and saw some staff from the resort we knew. They are ever so excited by their electricity generator and it lives in a hut far superior to anything they live in. They were having a slight water crisis at the time as there wasn't much left so until they got some from the spring it was back to bathing in some muddy pools...lovely! So we headed back for a quick dip in the pool and sunbathe- shameful!

We decided that we must experience a Fijian massage, we're sure you will understand it is just part of our worldwide research into different massages. We knew it would never live up to the 'healing' from Andrew at Golden Springs but maybe this one will feel more like an actual massage and we won't smell of playdough! Ah yes it was an extremely good massage, it is always a good sign when Emily falls asleep on the massage table though that was after she'd had to wake the poor massage lady up who then insisted she wasn't asleep but her mind was black...as long as her hands were still working what was the problem?!

Our week was disappearing quickly, we'd read enough books to start our own library and topped up our tans successfully, luckily you only have to say the word sun and you get a bit of colour. Unfortunately our peace was invaded by a large Australian gentleman called Barry (he tried to shorten it to Baz but come on he was mid 60's it just didn't work) who thought we were hilarious but was clearly more interested at leering at us. Sarah asked Epi if there was a bbq on Saturday night as it said in the 'brochure' there was, so he organised a whole poolside bbq for us. The staff spent the whole day decorating by the pool and organising it and so when we wandered round there was the band ready to play and Barry with his eyes on stalks. A family had also just arrived on the island with their spoilt teenage daughter and they soon left without even acknowledging us...you win some and you lose some.

The band played, the kava came out and Barry was giving us plenty of drinks so that we had to sit with him. Now normally we wouldn't engage in such an embarrassing activity as traditional Fijian dancing but as it was a bit of time away from Barry suddenly we were all for it! So plenty of Kava and dancing for our last night on the island, they will remember us now and as we left the next day nursing our hangovers we were left with the sight of them clapping and playing guitars and then waving like their life depended on it as we sped off on a much bigger boat this time back to our luxury Suva accommodation!