Arriving in Fiji was everything you'd expect and more from a pacific island getaway; the blast of tropical humidity that hit us in the face as soon as the cabin doors of the Boeing 737 swung open, the welcoming upbeat tunes of the band in the terminal who were sporting the traditional shirts with colourful wreath garments and the lovely smiling customs lady who sympathised with our unfortunate New Zealand robbery and then blessed us both to have a great stay in Fiji. Now that’s what I call a welcome!
After picking up our bags and surf board we were met in the arrivals area by Harry our eccentric taxi driver who would take us on the two hour journey down the coast from the main town of Nadi to ‘The Beach House’ resort in the village of Korolevu on the south coast, also known as the Fiji coral coast. The sticky plastic interior of Harry’s taxi matched the colour of his shirt and because it had trouble accommodating the surf board, Jane sat in the back and I had to ride shotgun in the front with Harry. This meant two things;
1. I would have a great view
of all the extremely large potholes coming towards me at an average speed of 70kph (the majority of the time over 70kph).
2. I would have to do the thing which most people dread when sitting in the front seat of a taxi, make small talk.
And small talk it was, as Harry had a very strong Fijian accent and I did what any polite Englishman would do when they don’t understand…..say things like ‘ok’, ‘ha-ha’, and ‘excellent’ to anything he said and whenever he laughed I heartily joined in, even though I didn’t have a coconut what the guy was taking about.
I did establish that the national speed limit was 70kph which was “verie slo man…verie slo” and that everything was “Fiji style…Fiji style” whatever that meant?! Harry also seemed to know everyone on the island and went past beeping his horn, smiling and pointing at them, a bit like that guy used to do in that car DJ booth at the Hull nightclub LA’s(Tiffanys to the more mature reader) on seventies night, just without the tight flares and dodgy wig. On route Harry also stopped at the
local post office owner’s house to pay his speeding fines because 70kph was quite clearly “verie slo man…verie slo”. The island was very tropical and there were quite visible scars of the recent Cyclone Evan which we caught the rear end of in NZ at Christmas, wooden buildings in bits and battered and bruised palm trees scattered everywhere.
After checking in and dumping our bags we were quickly ushered to the restaurant for the evening meal, an Indian buffet selection of different curries with rice and roti. Fiji has a large number indo-fijan’s originally brought to the islands by the British colonial rulers to work the countries sugar cane plantations and the as a result, excellent Indian food. After washing it down with the local Fiji Beer it was time to head to our budget but luxury beach hut. The hut was more of a boutique house than a hut, with crisp clean white linen, Venetian blinds, a hot shower in a private outdoor tropical garden and electricity 24 hours a day! Such luxury compared to some places that have had the pleasure of our company.
The next morning after a great continental breakfast of cereal, toast and
fresh fruit we set out to explore what would be our home for the next two weeks. The Beach House is billed as a backpacker place but it’s oh so much more than that, it’s more like a four star resort. Famed by the TV programme ‘Love Island’ in 2006 (thankfully Calum Best and Bianca Gascoigne would not be gracing us with their presence and happy childhood memories of how Daddy came home drunk again and slept in the fish pond).
The resort has 200 metres of private palm fringed beach, a lovely pool, cheap beer, a free pool table, free use of kayaks, numerous comfy hammocks, spectacular sunsets and three lovely resident dogs; Diesel, Oscar and Lucy. The Beach House also has a daily activities board that has a whole host of fun things to do if you can ever prise yourself out of your hammock:
11:00am Fishing Trip
12:00 Paddle boarding
1:00pm Free use of kayaks at high tide
3:00pm Free fresh homemade scones and tea
5:00pm Horse riding on the beach
7:00pm Sunset Cruise
our daily routine would usually be something like:
10:00am Browse Internet
11:00am Sunbathe in hammock
12:00pm Walk down beach collecting shells
1:00pm Sleep in hammock
2:00pm Read book in hammock
3:00pm Free Scones and Tea
4:00pm Sunbathe in Hammock
7:00pm Watch sunset from Hammock
8:00pm Dinner washed down with Fiji Beer
One day we did decide to break our routine and head to Sigatoka the nearest town about a forty minute journey on the local bus. Once there we had a nice cheap Indian curry for lunch, did a bit of shopping and then because of the heat and all the excitement we got a bit tired and got the next bus back to the comfort of the beach house. We were only there about an hour!
On another day we really exerted ourselves by hiring some surfboards and heading out to the reef to where the surf breaks. Now that bloody reef was a lot further away than it looked and by the time we got there we were both knackered and the waves were pretty big, even for our amazing skills! We
were also the only ones out there and Jane got a little bit scared and decided to paddle back to the beach. I stayed out and caught a couple of good waves but then as I was so far out and alone I started to think about sharks and could see the headlines in the newspapers: ‘Man gets eaten whilst surfing at the end round the world adventure’. I caught one more last wave and then quickly headed back to the beach.
So in a few hours we will be back in Harry’s taxi for a Fiji Style 70kph journey to the airport, from there we will board our plane to LA, spend a couple of hours there and then board another ten hour flight back to Heathrow to complete our amazing long holiday, hopefully the snow will not delay our return back to blighty. But for now I must head back to the comfort of the hammock…..
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