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Published: August 13th 2010
Sunset from the mainland
We departed from Sudima airport hotel in Christchurch at 5.15 am to catch our flight to Auckland, to then fly on to Fiji. We landed by 8am and just had a few hours to kill before the second flight to Fiji. The second flight was a bit bumpy with a bit of a skid on the land, but it was fine and as we walked out of the arm of the plane and into the airport we felt the warmth and humidity again - it was lovely!
I had booked the first night’s accommodation, so knew what we had to do at the airport to get our transfer. Matt followed me as I walked up to the desk (it’s usually Matt that does all this organising, so the roles were reversed!). I was greeted with “Bula” meaning Hello and Welcome then asked who I needed to meet. I told him it was Sun Vacations we needed, a gentleman stepped up and said “Bula Katherine Wheeler follow me please”. He then pulled out 2 shell necklaces and placed them over mine and Matt’s heads (individually not tying us together!). We followed him and stepped into an office - Matt started to
panic, he hadn’t heard the guy saying my name and so thought this was like a lot of Asian airport experiences, where the locals try to take you into an office, make you buy excursions and get into random taxi’s!! No No No Matt - this is Fiji, these are just friendly people. We were then greeted by a lady who knew both of our names and asked us to take a seat while we waited for our hotel driver to arrive! How lovely, how civilised! Lots of people at the airport spoke to us, but no one was trying to get us into random cabs, take our bags or take our money! It was a lovely feeling that made me know Fiji was going to be a great part of the trip.
Jerry arrived and drove us to Mama’s Tropic of Capricorn, on the way he pointed out the sleeping giant and gave us touristy tips. Mama greeted us at the hotel and informed she had upgraded us! Happy Days! It was a big room, with a TV and air-con for Matt, and pool and sea views for me! The first night we took a stroll into the
Our beach bungalow
local area, we met a nice local man and got chatting. He said he had a shop that could offer us advice on what islands to visit during our trip, so we decided to go with him. As we entered the shop we knew we had been fooled! It was actually a gift shop, selling lots of locally hand made wooden crafts. OK so we had been fooled this is not what we were going for, but actually the things were very nice and we were interested in buying a few things whilst in Fiji, so we gave them our time. The shopkeeper (a different guy) said to follow Fijian traditional culture he would like to carry out a Kava ceremony for us…uh ohm here it comes……We’ve been told by both our Mum’s that there is Typhoid in Fiji at the moment, it can be spread person to person (not just from contaminated food) and a source can be in the local water used in the Kava and it is passed on when people join in these ceremonies! So Matt informed the guy early on that we were happy to sit and watch but we would not be drinking the
Kava. The guy was fine with this, so just him, his friend and one Japanese guy drank the Kava. He poured water from a jug into a large wooden bowl, then got the Kava (roots from a plant) and mixed it all around with his hands. The colour quickly changed to looking like mud and I was thankful we had passed on it!! We clapped 3 times before and after each person drank, and the shop owner opened and closed the ceremony with a prayer.
Once the ceremony was over we were invited to look around the shop and browse! We really liked the things there, but we were told it was all made in a local village and the money from things sold would go to a youth programme. The things in the shop were very expensive so we told the guy we were just looking and wanted to think about it, he got a little annoyed but nothing major. We managed to leave though and were not accosted, so we crossed the street and headed to an Indian restaurant called Sati that had been recommended to us. I chose a Goat Fijian Curry and Matt opted for
Our private beach
the exotic Chicken Tikka Massalla! They were both good.
The next morning we had toast and coffee for breakfast, Matt was thrilled not to see fresh fruit arrive, then we went into Nadi to see what the town had to offer. We felt like we were in India not Fiji! So we browsed the shops and got a few essentials then got some lunch at a little café. In the afternoon we made our way back to the hotel and spent the afternoon on loungers on the beach chatting to other travellers. We booked out next 5 nights accommodation on the island of Mololo just an hour boat ride away, with Abe (the co-owner, Mama’s partner we think).
So the next day we headed to Mololo Island and stayed at Walu Resort, we got a special deal with Abe and so were only paying £23 a night each for a beach front bungalow and 3 meals a day! We were not too sure what standard to expect but we were looking forward to it! So we got onto the speedboat, there were only about 9 of us being taken to several different islands by the one boat. It
View from Mamas Tropic of Capricorn
was a small boat and we didn’t have any sickness tablets left for Matt, but we thought it would be fine as it was only one hour away! Well it was definitely the choppiest, roughest, bumpiest ride we have ever been on!!! We were being thrown off the seats it was so rough!! Poor Matt with his wristbands on, focussed on the horizon which was moving up and down constantly and his head over the back of the boat. But, Matt was amazing and didn’t through up - well done Matt, your travel sickness must be getting better because you were not feeling even a little queasy getting off!
When we arrived on the island we were serenaded by the staff with a guitar and singing a traditional welcome song to us, amazing! We were in paradise! We were shown to our “upgraded” beach bungalow, by our new friend Tikko who was a lovely gay guy and it was fab. Really big and right on our own private bit of beach!! Happy days!
The next five days went a little like this….wake up, have a stroll to the main area for breakfast, stroll back and sit on our
hammocks or just lye on the beach in front of the bungalow. A few hours later, we would hear the drum that symbolised lunch was ready! Eat a buffet lunch and then back to the beach! Watch the sunset about 6pm then get ready for dinner, have a few drinks at happy hour, have diner, a few more drinks then retire for the night! We mixed up this crazyness with some basket making, jewellery making and breaking into coconuts during the day! At night they put on entertainment. One night was Crab racing, we put in a dollar to back a numbered crab, Matt picked lucky number 11. The entertainer, Ziggy, put all the hermit crabs in a cup and we stood around the edge of the circle that was drawn on the floor. We all shouted once the crabs were released and the crabs went crazy racing in all directions. We had a couple of practice rounds then came the main event! Ziggy released the crabs and everyone was going wild!!! Most the crabs were now stunned and not doing too much, apart from one tiny little one which went like mad to run away from crazy Ziggy before
Tom and Katsui
he could be picked back up and put back into the cup. This little crab crossed the circular line and Ziggy picked him up and revealed his number…you guessed it number 11!! Woo hoo!! We won $11 dollars!! Drinks on us!!!
Another night we had a Quiz Night which was really funny as everyone got involved, there were about 10 of us now who’d spent several days together. Then this lady had appeared that day and she was a real bossy boots. She was shouting at poor Ziggy and giving him abuse about going to slowly, not speaking loud enough and she was saying “I’ll sponsor a drink for the next person with a correct answer”. Everyone was amazed how this drunk lady was acting, on this remote sleepy, laid back island. It turned out she was the owner and didn’t visit often but when she did the staff were petrified of her and we could all see why she was a terrible lady. The laid back nights were great as we just chilled and got to know the other people, all Germans or Brits.
After the entertainment one night Ziggy offered for any guest to join him
Bye bye everyone, we're off now. Tikko in the orange serong!
in drinking Kava. A group of us went along, and Mum I checked where the water was from, it was bottle water, which told me it wouldn’t be Typhoid contaminated. I therefore had to try it!! It wasn’t the best tasting drink I’ve ever had but it did make my tongue numb! It was fun to try and nice to see the locals doing what they do well - drink a huge amount of this stuff!! Not much happened the next day!
The weather was just perfect we went snorkelling and saw lots of fish and gorgeous coral. Matt played volleyball, with the other guests against the staff. We went kayaking with some people we met and made it to a ship wreck not far from the shore, we explored it for a while and then decided that was enough activity and we all needed to “relax” again. The water was clear and warm, I could have stayed on this island for another 1-2weeks. Matt loved it too, but was ready to move on, there is only so much relaxing Matt will do.
So after our wonderful week, we said goodbye to all the staff, who were the
It's so sad
nicest people. They sang “Ki Serraya” meaning “it’s so sad” that people were leaving, they played the guitar and waved us off. I just loved the staff and was sad to leave, Tikko was so funny - see photos! We left with our friend Tom who we met on the island and all hoped it wasn’t as choppy this time on the speedboat. Well it was choppy again, but not so bad - luckily! We headed back to Mamas Hotel and she was really pleased to see us all (she knew Tom too) we left our things there and headed to the town for some shopping and lunch. After a dose of Indian (culture and food) and with a few purchases made, we were back at Mamas. She was so lovely she gave us afternoon tea and dinner before we left for the airport all free of charge.
Matt, Tom and I all dressed up, in our best travelling clothes, as the boys were determined to get an upgrade for the 11 hour flight to LA. Well it worked, the boys chatted away to the lady at the desk and although she couldn’t upgrade us without us handing over
Shake it Tom!
$1100 each, she put the three of us in the widest isle there was! Result!! On the long flight it was awesome, as good as being upgraded as we could stretch our legs as far as they would go and still not hit the seats in front!! The flight was a funny one as we crossed the international date line, so we left Fiji at 10pm and arrived in LA, after 11 hours in the air, at 1pm the same day!!! Matt and I time travelled!! At LA airport, after going through security and giving finger prints to the passport officers (which I think is a great idea and we should do that in the UK) we said goodbye to Tom and we headed to the other side of the airport to get a flight to San Francisco.
To sum up our week in Fiji - a week in paradise! We loved the people, the place and it was perfect timing for us to totally relax before we hit the big cities in America!
The last country of our trip now begins, watch out at home it wont be long and we’ll be back. Only 7 weeks to
Everyone getting fully into the activities!
go now!!! Agghhhh!!!!
Thanks so much for reading, we’d love to hear from you too.
Love As Always
Kate and Matt
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