A WEEK IN FIJI Alex:
After all the activities in New Zealand it has been lovely to get some rest and just chill in Fiji. The Anchorage Beach resort was more luxurious than the cost justified with a huge comfortable room with easy access to the pool and beach. George and Ruby met an Australian boy called Fisher, and spent several days exploring the beach mangrove swamps with him and playing in the pool. They got on so well, and we hardly saw them for hours on end, it was great! We got to read and swim, and chat with Fisher’s mother Misha and her friend Lucinta. In the evenings there was usually entertainment laid on, usually in the form of the house band playing cheesy classics. I had a few Fiji Bitters which disappointingly turned out to be lagers. While there we had to try and find another place to stay in Fiji, which was quite tricky given our limited budget. We found a place affiliated with the YHA (we claimed our members discount which amounted to about 35 pence!) called ‘Tubakula Bungalows’. The resort is right on the beach, and the coral comes right up to the shore,
which means it’s a bit tricky to just go swimming in the sea, but you can go snorkelling, and see all sorts just a few yards out. Carla:
I have to say that May has been a whirlwind of good and sad. I am not just writing this to excuse the birthdays that were forgotten in that month, although I hope to be let off, just this once. Sorry to Kerstin, Kim and Dashiell for missing their important days. Travelling temporarily won the battle of organisation I think but we are not defeated! Al had to sort out lots of work admin at a distance which was quite a faff and there was sad news from home about my Gran. Fiji has helped us chill out and catch up a bit which has been lovely. Fiji isn’t without its darker side as I’m sure some of you are aware. There is no democracy here at the moment, there is a military government who took charge forcefully after an election didn’t meet with their approval. There is a political split along racial lines between Indian-Indians, Fijian-Indians and Fijian people of African origin. Bill in NZ told us that the trouble
had arisen when an Indian-dominated party got elected and the army didn’t like it so they took over. Now all the ministers mentioned in the local papers are Colonel this and Major that. Fiji was subsequently suspended from the Commonwealth and from the Japan-Pacific Forum in response to its lack of democracy. However martial law was lifted in January this year and the government have promised to hold democratic elections by 2015. Let’s hope they do. TUESDAY, Ruby:
We got in the car and drove to the gardens. We saw the Sleeping Giant. We saw flowers and trees then we got back in the taxi. Then we got there and our hotel is called Tubakula. Then we went in the pool. Carla:
We left the Anchorage Beach Resort and made our way to the Coral Coast of Viti Levu via a botanical garden in the hills known as “The Garden of the Sleeping Giant” as the hill upon which it is grown looks a bit like a giant lying down for a snooze. The orchids and general exotic foliage looked like something out of Jurassic Park (have we said that about somewhere else already?). We journeyed on to the
Tubakula Beach Bungalows on the Coral Coast. This is about an hour’s drive from Nadi and into more changeable weather, more abundant rainforest and a wilder coral sea. Al had found our accommodation on a website called Fijiforless.com earlier in the week – the Tubakula doesn’t seem to believe in advertising so it was quite hard to find online but if there’s a bargain to be sniffed out, he’ll find it. It’s a very quiet and peaceful place (probably due to the lack of advertising) and it’s set up for backpackers and self-catering types. There are ranks of bungalows facing the beach and the coral sea beyond with some set round a small swimming pool. There are also dorms and communal laundry and kitchen areas for solo backpackers. Our bungalow was a dormer with a three-bedded room for George & Ruby in the eaves, a double bed downstairs and a large kitchen / diner / sitting room. All this cost £65 per night. This is similar to the rate we were getting through Laterooms.com at the Anchorage (which included breakfast and Wi-Fi) but at Tubakula it was much more peaceful and we could cook our own food. I know George
and Ruby would happily have stayed at the other place for our whole time in Fiji, but one more night of the in-house band might have sent Alex and I round the twist. So we sacrificed our unlimited Wi-Fi for a bit of pure relaxation. Of course this terrible hardship meant that we were forced to visit the ‘Outrigger on the Lagoon’ 5-star resort up the road in order to get our emails – life is tough like that! George:
We leave the Anchorage. Ruby and I don’t want to leave at all because it is the best place ever
! We get the taxi that we got yesterday (when we popped into Lautoka town for shopping). He takes us down to the bottom of the main island to a hotel called Tubakula. We have a beach bungalow. It’s called that because it’s right on the beach. It’s AWESOME. There is a pool there. WEDNESDAY, George:
Today we go to Sigatoka. It is the town near us. We get into town on the Coast Liner Bus. We go into the market to buy vegetables and fish but the fish is all sold out so we have to get fish from
the supermarket across the road. In the evening we go to a wildlife park. At the beginning I get to put two iguanas on my shoulder and I feed turtles. I freak out when the iguana start running on my back. Carla:
In Sigatoka we also bought a Fiji-souvenir ukulele to take with us to the States. We’ve been able to pick up some ukulele playing tips here as it’s a popular instrument. The wildlife park is just across the road from the bungalows. It is called the Kula Eco Park after the national bird of Fiji, a small and brightly coloured parakeet, called a Kula. We all got to handle the banded and crested iguana native to Fiji and George and Ruby fed the Hawksbill Turtles. Most of the wildlife at the park was from the outer islands and the staff was doing a lot of hard work to build the populations of certain iguana and the Pacific boa (which don’t live on the mainland) as they had been threatened by goat grazing. There are other exhibits of bird and marine life in Fiji and a brilliant elevated rainforest walk returning by swing bridge to the park. THURSDAY,
Carla: The day was rather overcast and breezy, we took the opportunity to go for a reasonable walk in the Sand Dunes National Park just the other side of Sigatoka. The park is there to protect the dune ecosystem and it is a beautiful moonscape with touches of forest and flowering sand plants that snake across the ground, their roots seeking all the moisture they can find. We walked the 4.5km track up the dunes, along the beach and back through the mahogany forest. It felt more, as walking through sand is blinkin’ tiring! Ruby:
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Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/> When we went to the sand dunes we rolled around in the sand; it was really fun. Then we went home and me and George played for a bit. We went to the Outrigger and had a chocolate cupcake and George had a muffin. Mum and Dad had a coffee. FRIDAY, George:
We have to get on a bus to the harbour because we are going on a one day cruise. The bus journey is an hour-and-a-half long. When we get to the harbour we are instructed
to get on a ship with a mast and sails. It’s called Ra Marama which is Fijian for ‘old lady’. It was built in 1950. We don’t use the sails to get around, we use the engine. We sail to an island called Mystery Island. When we get there, there are all sorts of activities to do like snorkelling, canoeing. In the afternoon we go on a glass bottom boat and we see all types of wonderful coral. When I go snorkelling I hold a piece of coral and the fish come swimming to me. Ruby:
We got on a boat and it took us to the Mystery Island. We did canoeing and had a BBQ lunch with chicken and sausages and Mahé Mahé fish, mmmm. Then we went snorkelling, I saw a stingray, a clown fish, a blue star fish and loads of squid. One man had taken a fish bone from the barbecue out snorkelling with him and all the fish were swimming around him. When we got back to the resort we had some spaghetti. Alex:
In terms of snorkelling, the best we saw in Fiji was on this day trip. The island was called Vitua
Island (but the signpost says Mystery Island when you arrive). It was a brilliant day cruise to the island; while we were there we did some snorkelling, kayaking, a bit of beach volleyball, a kava ceremony (a local drink which makes your face go numb apparently if you drink enough, I just had a bit) and a barbeque. The snorkelling though was fantastic. We went often when we lived in Bermuda (Carla more often than me as I went to work) but I had forgotten just how brilliant it is. The sea around the coral was packed with all sorts of colourful fish, hundreds of them swimming right up to your face mask, and then flashing away as you stretch out your arm in front. I was happy to finally see a ray and then saw another a few minutes later, but there were also huge bright blue starfish, clown fish (now called Nemos by everyone) and a school of squid. And it was all so clear, the water was a perfect blue. SATURDAY, Alex (imagined by Carla):
I awoke early to the sound of a tropical breeze tinkling through the coconut palms. How my heart sang and my
skin tingled at the prospect of leaping out of bed to make coffee for my beloved. I skipped into the kitchen in a merry mood putting down my knitting which I had been working on the night before until the early hours. Who would have thought I would take up such crafts – and my quilts are coming on a treat too. Twiddly-dee I thought and whistled the entire oeuvre of Beethoven until someone threw a plate at me. (Of course not! We relaxed at Tubakula Beach Bungalows until Sunday night when we flew to LA, crossing the dateline and arriving on Sunday afternoon! Odd that!) Carla’s Postscript:
Now a digression to inform you of the state of yeast extract in the Southern Hemisphere. I know you’ve been dying to ask about it. Well, of course I had supplied myself with a jar of Marmite to see me through India and SE Asia. Surprisingly there was a supply to be found in Laos and in Cambodia and we bought a top-up jar in one of those countries (although no-one can recall which now). This lasted until New Zealand but unhappily we ran out there and had to go on
to Vegemite (which everyone knows is not the same!). In NZ, Marmite-wise, there was a state of panic going on due to the earthquake having put the country’s Marmite factory out of action, causing a shortage. On one occasion whilst we were there, people queued up for hours to buy some Marmite which became available; a charity stunt but nonetheless indicative of the deprivation being suffered. However, in a supermarket we found a small jar of ‘black gold’ branded ‘Our Mate’, made in Australia by Unilever to the correct UK Marmite recipe (with celery extract etc.!). We bought this and it tasted right, hurrah! When we reached Fiji in the Anchorage hotel I was excited to see little sachets of NZ ‘Marmite’ available at breakfast (it’s made by Sanatorium not Unilever). I was keen not to run down my little jar of ‘Our Mate’ before going to the Marmite desert of the USA. However NZ ‘Marmite’ turns out to be nothing more than yucky Vegemite in disguise and not like the proper job at all. So we are clutching our small jar of Unilever recipe spread and dreading its demise now! Wish us luck as we venture forth.
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