5 islands in one day

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April 5th 2009
Published: May 13th 2009
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5/5/09 = The 5 island hop and a church visit.

Got up at the same old early time. There’s no sleeping in at Mana…electricity cuts off at 6am (is only on from 6pm to 6am each day), which means fan cuts off, which in turn brings instant heat that only takes a couple of minutes to smother you and wake you up. Did doze for a little while afterwards, but then got up and got ready for 8am breakfast. Woke Allan and Kirtsy on way and all sat together for food, as usual. First breakfast on Mana so far - having missed it yesterday due to a hangover - and wow...what a breakfast. It was actual, normal food. Pancakes...banana...syrup...bread...even nice little muffin types cakes. Wow. Piled plate up and ate until felt like belly was going to explode; you don't get food like this often on Mana.

Tried to organise our trip out then. Had seen a trip to Castaway Island (from Tom Hanks film) and a group of us really fancied visiting it. Asked and then waited for manager to come over and tell us the cost. An hour later, we were still waiting, then got fed up. Went back to room to get changed for beach. On way back from room, guys came over with 'big news'. 1) Rich told me there were 2 unbelievably cute and tiny puppies playing on island. Didn't much hear what he said after that, went straight over to fuss puppies. So cute and so tiny to cuddle. They belonged to a little girl called Evelyn - who spoke amazing English - and it was as I was chatting to her that Scott couldn't hold in the second piece of information:
"You'll never believe this Natalie, but Daniel is snorkelling naked". He was right, I didn't believe him. Momentarily diverted attention from puppies to see vague outline of a figure that did indeed appear to be naked...right on the shore...right in front of everyone.
"No...he can't be naked...his shorts must have just slipped down a bit".
"I swear to God Natalie, he is naked. Look". I didn't have my glasses on, so there was no way I could tell for sure, but he left me in no doubt as he started to exit water.
"Look, look" (that's Scott getting v.excited and frustrated because I was still fussing with puppies).
"Oh my.....". There it was. Daniel, 100% naked, walking out of the water and onto the main beach...that was full of people, striding confidently along, swinging his snorkel at his side. I was immediatley embarassed and felt the instant need to cover Evelyns eyes. Even Scott had to look away; he looked more uncomfortable than me. What was he thinking? He made his way over to a shady spot and in his own time, put his shorts back on. Well, you can imagine the reaction on the beach. Everybody was laughing and whispering, even the Fijians had all congregated to laugh and point at him. I just stood. He strode passed us and I saw Scott talk to him as he did. He did very well at containing his laughter; I couldn't hide the look of shock. As soon as he had found out the gossip, he reported back.
"I asked him why he did it and he said it was because he saw a sign saying clothing was optional and so he thought 'what the hell'. He also said he really wanted to see himself pee in the water".
I don't know what part of that sentence was more disturbing...actually, probably the second part. Some people are outcasts because people force them out, some people, like Daniel are just naturally different, too different to ever fit into normality. Snokelling naked to watch yourslef wee in the water, in front of a beach full of people...that is too different!

Was still playing with puppies and digesting information - trying to get rid of earlier visual that seemed to be burned into my mind - when Theresa came over trying to organise the day out. The Castaway tour couldn't happen, for some unknown reason, but the trip to 5 islands could. All had a quick think about it and agreed; would be good to see other islands anyway. Was a big group of 10 of us, so poor Theresa battled hard to get price down and ended up paying just $40 each = not too bad. Plus, big bonus was that it included a BBQ lunch. At this stage, we would have all paid $40 just to avoid spaghetti sandwiches! All booked on and paid when leady snuck over to me and Theresa to tell us that the trip, that was called 'The 5 Island Trip', actually only involved visting 2 islands...the number 5 was the amount of resorts we were visting. Talk about false advertising. She also added to this the fact that yes, we would have a BBQ, but we would just be given the equipment and would have to do it ourselves. Stressed over this info for a few minutes, then decided not to tell others and just hope for best. Booked now anyway!

At 10:30, we all got into the little wooden boat and headed off for our first island = Malolo. Boat itself was a laugh. Parts of floor were either missing or loose, with wooden chunks sticking up at random intervals. Were all given our life jackets to sit on just for a bit of comfort. Not exactly a cruise ship, but very Mana. Rich spent whole time singing in peoples ears, us normal people admired ocean view and Alabama spent whole time with his head hung and hands over his ears...sea sick. Don't know how covering his ears helped? Docked into our first resort not long after and followed Freddie through a hotel much posher than the place we were staying, with a lovely pool. All oohing and ahhing, but Freddie marched us on and towards some kind of lookout. We were all following behind when he suddenly turned and said "Turn back". Had he changed his mind? We all turned and followed back the same way we had come...back to the boat. Total time off boat = 3mins. All v.worried now...that was our first island stop? What a joke! Wasn't even worth getting off boat. Clambered back onto wooden boat and sped off for next 'island hop'. Better be more than 3 minutes.

Arrived at next resort on Malolo island = Walu Beach. Pulled into an actual pier this time and Freddie and Joe (driver) got off to feed fish. Loads swarmed round, pretty big ones too. Fed them, then again walked across beach and towards main resort. Was another lovely looking hotel with another beautiful pool. Followed Freddie and climbed up steps to some other kind of lookout. Hopefully we would make it this time. Did get to top and was quite a nice view, although again quite obscured by trees. Managed to get a good group shot of us all though and then wondered back to boat. Me, Debs, Alabama and Rich somehow ended up losing everyone. Good job we had the crazy Argentinian behind us, who managed to make a special jungle call out to his friend Torres and then we all got saved.

Re-united with group, got back on boat and sped off to next island; at least we had 10mins on that stop. Drove passed Funky Fish resort, which looked like a really cool place and had a bumpy ride on to Plantation Island. Looked really nice as we came close. Quite small, but also busy with people on jet skis and riding banana boats...must be posher than our island...our tin boat is as good as ours gets! Looked like a nice place to holiday, with lovely green water and clean, white sand. Jumped off and arranged to meet Freddie and Jo in an hour at a bar at the end of a pier. They were going to do the BBQ afterall; just had to get there in an hour Fiji time = really at least an hour and a half! Walked up beach, laid towels out and got straight in sea. Beach and water full of couples and families; must be a good holiday place. Was no more than waist deep when a little girl and her brother came up to me to show me the starfish they had found. They held it neatly in their hand and were v.impressed with the find. So was I actually...never seen a live starfish that close up. Marvelled appropriately at it for a few minutes, then followed rest of girls over to a float in middle of water. Got a bit scared because had to swim out into deep on my own and also felt pain of things nipping at me in water; must be the mini jellyfish again. Swam quite fast and pulled self up rubbish and mostly non-existent steps to get onto wooden podium. Everyone was jumping in, but after encounter with stingers in water, and because couldn't tell how deep water was, I sat down for a bit.

Guys came over then and did their usual guy thing of pushing, shoving and dragging each other in water, followed by jumping off backwards and back flips. Boys really are a different species. I sat down with Orla and Theresa, steering well clear of the pushing. Watched the antics for a while, then it got too hot and headed back for beach. Deb pushed me in - which was expecting anyway - and then swam quickly off to beach trying to avoid stinging creatures that were impossible to see anyway. Didn't work. Got nipped by a few of them and was glad that Kirsty got nipped too; thought I was going senile for a while. As soon as did get back, me and Kirsty went out for a snorkel. She still wanted some practise and I really wanted to see some cool fish. At least it worked out for Kirsty. Wasn't a single fish in that water...not one. It was crystal clear, but the only thing moving was little fish living in sand at bottom of water. Gave up after 10mins and went back to beach to lounge on towel.

As soon as laid on towel, got instantly hot. Was a really hot day but had barely noticed with wind on boat and then going in water. Closed eyes and could have drifted off to sleep, but we had already been an hour. Stayed another 30mins to account for Fiji time, then made our way over to bar as Freddie had described it. Quite a long walk along the beach and passed another nice resort along the way, until finally got to pier and our bar sat at end of it. Really cool actually; was like the bar was on a mini island of it's own. All congregated round a big table excited for food. Been along time since any of us eaten good food...is amazing what excitement deprivation can cause! Orla got us all even more excited when she went for a sneaky peak and said she had spotted burgers...get in!

Chatted whilst waited for food (crazy Argentinian man definitely in love with Debs and taken lots of close up photos of her to prove it...ha!) then anticipation over as food arrived. Lots of bread and a big jug of juice = normal, but good, then our food came already plated up. Sausages = normal, but still good, some kind of unidentifiable meat on the bone - no suprise there - and tuna steaks. Wow! Not a massive difference, but good enough for us all to be incredibly happy, especially since they had ketchup for sausage sandwiches. All ate silently and finished everything on plate; at least this meat was supposed to have bones! Gave food 10mins to settle, then went for another dip in nice sea. Us girls chatted in water, then when it was time to go, got back onto boat. Guys continued with back flipping and crazy jumps, which they still found hilarious. All got in boat then and headed for last and best island....Sandbank.

Was a really bumpy ride along water...really bumpy. Freddie, sitting at back of boat, got so drenched he could barely open his eyes and Torres, who sat just a little further along, spent the whole time spitting sea water out of his mouth and wiping his face. Glad we sat on the right side of the boat - right in direction and correctness - we didn't get wet at all. Noticed somethinf really cool as we were speeding along; it was 2 people sitting on a lump of sand in the middle of the ocean. From a distance it looked like they were sitting on top of a sandcastle. How cool. Got closer and there it was...it really was just a mound of sand. Couldn't have been more than 30ms long and 10ms wide and less than 1 metre higher than sea level, with 2 people plonked on top of it. Brilliant. We circled round it, all of us in amazement and then to our suprise, we pulled up. This was our last island. Brilliant. Quite gob-smacked by it really; was like something you see in a cartoon you find in the newspaper, but not something you really think exists. Couldn't capture on camera just how good it was; did try though.

Main event on Sandbank, apart from the amazingly small island itself, was the brilliant reef around it. Got our snorkelling gear on and in we went. Gound was really pebbly at entrance to water and quite painful to get over, but coral was amazing once got in. Again, crystal clear water and could see everything below. Loads of different fish and different trpes of coral, + saw a really cool, bright blue starfish. Really enjoying snorkelling these days. Left Alabama on this trip, who was entertaining himself by speaking whale v.loudly or running underwater - strange boy - and flippered off to explore. Nosied at fish and coral for around 20mins, then got back out of water and onto beach. Brilliant place. All girls laid down and tried to keep away from Joe (who had turned out to be a little creepy)
An island for a barAn island for a barAn island for a bar

A brilliant idea.
and got a good photo of us all together. We all chatted and chilled out and boys did their own thing. Allan found something that looked like an egg, but then after the boys chatted, they decided it couldn't possibly be a turtle egg, so he squeezed and it exploded in his hand. It was an egg...and now it was all over Allan's hands and T-shirt. Poor egg. Other boys then took to a shoulder wrestling war; v.boyish.

When it was time to leave, we all rushed to boat to make sure we didn't get sat on the wet side of the boat...somebody had to sit there...but not me. Only took 15mins to get home then and was iin plenty of time for dinner; can't miss these tasty dinners. Sat on our usual front table (v.English) and chatted away until food came out. Chat always ceases immediatley when food comes into view; it's an unwritten rule we all have. Made our usual dash up for best food and were all pleasantly suprised.
*Lots of noodles without tinned spaghetti mixed in = good
*Some kind of bony chicken - come to expect that anyway
*Sausages in sauce - bit of a sausage overdose today, but at least it was edible.
*Bread - always a winner
*Seaweed, but this time in some kind of cheesy sauce - variety is the spice of life afterall!
Writing this now, it sounds shocking, but that was actually one of the best meals we had on Mana island...even the seaweed was o.k. Quite worrying really, doubt the food was improving, we were just getting used to it.

Ate, chatted, then I went off to get ready for a church visit. Some of us girls had organised to go; really wanted to see what it was like in Fiji. Church required me showering, which was something I was trying to avoid, but was inevitable I guess. If I was a boy, would have just been happy with a sea wash, like Alabama and Yurgon, but shoulder length hair is not a fan of the sea wash method! Tip toed into dark shower, closed door behind me and draped towel across it to try and keep it closed. There was still a fairly large slit in door, but hopefully people would see towel and not look...hopefully. They really need locks on these doors. Turned the iron tap and waited as the blast of cold water came running out of the hose pipe. Yep, it was freezing, yep, it was just one shoot of cold water. Shuddered as quickly washed hayr and washed body...wish I was a boy. Whole shower process took 3mins max and involved me making loud noises at regular intervals just so people were sure shower was engaged. Thankfully, nobody did come in. Scuttled back to room then, got ready and met Katie, Orla, Theresa and Kirsty for church at 7:15. Katie = lovely, friendly Fijian lady who spoke to me everyday and always referred to me by name. Really nice lady. All others were staying in hall for quiz night.

Was a long walk in the dark to get to the church and arrived to the sound of drums = signal that service was starting soon. Church was a wooden building with a large cross emblazened across front, like a small church you might see at home really. It had pews down either side as we walked in and we were some of first to arrive. Sat on the right side = ladies side. Was another 15mins before service started and church started to fill up. The lady priest read from the bible (in Fijian) and then an amazing choir, who all sat at front, sang for everyone. They were really good. This same process was repeated several times, with the priest reading in Fijian and us sitting quietly listening to a service we didn't understand. Wasn't quite what I had expected. Imagined lots of singing and dancing and happiness, but instead, was like the boring services I used to have to sit through as a kid because I went to a church of England school...at that age, they sounded like they were in a foreign language too.

1 sleepy hour later a man welcomed us to service in English, which was nice, then another priest got up and started telling a bible story in Fijian. Obviously couldn't understand it, but at least he was a bit more animated. All of ours eyes started to droop, which Katie must have noticed, as she suggested that we leave early because there was still lots of the service left. Felt v.rude leaving as the priest was still talking, but scuttled out all the same, only half awake. Katie said even she thought it was boring. Ha!

When got back, quiz had already finished and everyone had had a good time. We were still a bit spaced out. Got a beer and slotted into group. Hadn't been sitting for 10mins when all had to move to join in with the cava ceremony. Awful cava. Was only then that noticed how many new people had arrived today = a lot. Had to go round table and introduce ourselves and then drink awful cava. 1 cup = just about bearable. As soon as had finished, wriggled away and all re-congregated at usual tables. Sat and chatted to Kirst and Rich for a while, then to Deb, Argentinian and Alabama. All decided it would be a good idea to sign our names on the wall as a token of our time spent there. Even though most of us had another night left, Alabama and Rich were leaving tomorrow = a good part of group gone...would definiteloy be missed. Signed our names, took our pictures and spent rest of night drinking steadily and chatting in different groups. Found out that Yurgon was exceptionally clever; he started talking to me about existentialism - a word I vaguely remember from college - at 1am after a few beers...not your average chat.

Deb was ready for bed at around 1am; walked her back because were lots of dogs around. I was still wide awake so went back to join others. The new Norwegians guys were v.loud at this point; lots of Norwegians go to Fiji, don’t know why, but Yurgon was most displeased with it. Bit by bit, people started to tail off to bed, I was still wide awake; must be all the beach snoozing. Chatted to Rich and Yurgon, then they headed off to bed, so stayed up chatting to Alabama - he wasn’t tired either. He had been quite quiet all night, think it was the shock of going home soon; he only had a few days left. I’m sure I’ll be the same when it happens to me. Ended up staying up until 3am talking away, then decided that really was late and we should go to bed even if not tired. Off to bed to get what little sleep could until morning, morning being 6am when fan cuts off.

*Note* This entry took nearly 4 hours to complete, hence the reason I am so far behind on this blog thing!

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Ladies againLadies again
Ladies again

It's all about the ladies!

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