Fiji Trip – Day 3

Woke at 5am again, decided that waking at 5am sucked on holiday so went back to sleep (took a while but i managed it!). Got up again at 9am and made some pancakes for breakfast. There was no maple at the shops so we only had fruit on them. By this time hubby had been up a while and taken one of the kids down swimming already and picked up todays alotment of towels.
After breakfast we decided to take the bus to Nadi town instead o the taxi (Bus is like $5.70 total vs taxi which is $12). The bus is how all the locals get around who dont own their own car. Right after it left Denarau it took a right onto a single lane gravel/rock road. Now, ive seen some bus driving in my day, but this guy was all but drifting a huge bus down a single lane road with rocks the size of heads on it. How he was able to keep it on the road i have no idea, we just held on tight and i took photos of the houses as they went past. The bus had no windows, and did not seem capable of idling or using half the gearbox either, it often stalled .. usually when somebody walked out in front of it and he had  to stop fast.  Nobody else seemed very phased by this all so we assumed we would arrive in one piece and just enjoyed the ride.

The bus went down to some villiage that seemed even more poor in some respects to others with homes that I would have expected to be condemed. It was easy to see the churches or community places as they were a lot more ‘normal’ and about on par with a shitty state house in Otara vs  an abadoned place.

We noticed there were very few pets or animals around other than the odd bull. We have only seen a single cat on Denarau, and I think that was a hotel cat.

Nadi town itself has non of the usual skateboarders at all, its just lots of dust, dirt, and grime. We walked from one end to the other and back. We found  the markets which had much better souvenirs for cheaper and were willing to bargin with the sellers. They did not let us go and were extremely pushy however. We ended up leaving it up to my youngest son who just loved to argue and bargin with them. Finally having the ADHD pays off for him!

“How much is that wooden turtle?” he asks

“It normally $45 but i give to you for $25” replies the man at the stall

“Oh, the guy over the other side has the same thing for $10, only he has a better one thats black .. do you have a black one? oh you don’t … oh ill go check the other stalls then”.

There was a bowl i have seen around everywhere but the cheapest i have seen it was $50, which was a little out of my budget. Most other places have the same thing for $150-300. I suspect that some people are making a mega profit off tourists! My only worry now is that half the stuff we bought makes it back through border control. It was all treated wood and i made sure it was stamped, but im still a little wary of it all.

We decided to skip doing lunch in town because the heat was just insane and we were all geting seriously dehydrated. We got the bus back, but unfortunately it went straight back and had no cool detours this time. Once back the kids had noodles for lunch, and i just nibbled on some chips. After a break we hit the pool for another hour or two then headed back to lay about in our room for an hour or two. I sat on the deck with a large glass of wine and a book again whilst the others watched tv, played on the computer etc. It was good to have some downtime.

I dashed out to get photos of the sunset at 6pm, the  sunset was spectactular! I only hope the photos i took look good when i download them from the camera, my photography skills seem to have deserted me since arriving. I have a ton of blurry shots from being on busses etc. Everyone is going to bed early tonight since we are going on a day trip tomorrow. Also I noticed the younger ones seeming very over tired today, getting a little grumpy

I have to admit, after being on the bus with the locals, and going to the real town rather than the pimped up tourist town at the ports, i felt like a dirty white tourist. I do wonder if they resent all the rich white people coming into their place, messing it up, then leaving. The way some of the guys at the markets treated us was more like a wallet than anything else. They see us coming and their eyes lit up.

We saw one well dressed indian lady with a child asleep in her lap,, she was begging for money for her child who apparently had a heart problem and needed to  go overseas for surgery to fix it. I just said ‘sorry’ and felt real stink. I have no idea if she’s legit,  and i suspect that its probably a con, but i still feel stink that to them i’m so friggen ‘rich’ when i’ve never thought of myself that way.

I  tried the adults only pool today, it was the exact same as the other pool only boring because of less people. I also decided around the same time that beach loungers facing the pool was a bad idea, especially when larger females lay on them with their legs open :O

We took a swim in the sea today, it was a little choppy but the ocean was actually warmer than the swimming pool. Both are easy to get into without being too cold at all, so must sit at around 28C or more.

That’s all for today, heading to bed for an early night.

Fiji holiday – day two

We were so tired last night we went to bed at some ungodley early hour. I think it was barely dark so around 7pm. Then we woke at about 5:15am with upstairs moving chairs. We dozed in bed for another 30 mins reading and playing with phones then i got up, made a cup of tea and sat on the deck watching the workers.

Its interesing seeing how many people it takes to make a resort this size work. Whilst i appretiate the pools looking like large rock pools with beaches, they all need too be cleaned daily taking a fair number of people. Some swept the sand back out of the pools, other racked the sand back flat, and another set picked up all the garbage and fixed plants etc, plus the odd one or two keeping an eye on the lot.

We had breaky about 6:30ish or so since the kids got up, then we went down to the local shop and grabbed some postcards and stamps. After doing that we decided to go to the pools and look around. My son, oldest daughter and I decided to go canoeing out in the sea to see the coral but we couldnt see much, my hubby and other daughter went swimming. After getting back we all jumped into the pool to waste a couple more hours.

The girls wanted to book in and get braids since everyone else here did and it was $2 per braid. I said they could but only if it was out of their own money, which they worked out was fine. The older one got a half head of cornrows for $20, the younger got similar but shaped in a cool way for $32. The odd thing about the money here is that the exchange rate is in our favour, so that works out to be cheaper in NZD than Fijian dollars. The ladies who did the braiding were lovely to talk to, however it turned out they only made $3.50 an hour, plus whatever tips.  Also, work was a 3 hour round trip away! We made sure we tipped them each well! i know what things cost here!

We took a trip down to the Ports on the local Bula Bus, which was another excellent experience, and then went to Mama’s Pizza which *everyone* told us to go to. Once we had eaten there we realized why! the ‘Large’ pizza fed a famliy of 8 nicely, it was a good half mtr round at least! We got 3 medium pizzas and over ate. We had a gormet chicken and garlic one, and the other was half meat lovers, half hawaiian (bit of a bastardisation since we were in fiji!). Boy did it taste fantastic however!

I picked up a couple of other items at the shops there, and a bottle of wine. The one in my room had been calling my name, however it cost $50 if i drank it. Turns out they had decent NZ wine for $25FJD (about $18NZD) which was excellent, plus the makings of pancakes for tomorrows breakfast. No maples syrup or cream or anything like it at all however!

After getting back i sat next to the pool (it was 8pm by now) with my bottle of wine, and a good book, whilst the others swam for the next hour. Everyone went to bed late, we plan a decent sleep in tomorrow.

We booked in a couple of day trips for the weekend since everything here is closed at that time. On Saturday we plan to head on out to a Cave trip which includes some tramping, a visit to a local village, a kava ceremony and some other great things.  Sunday we are doing a island hop and stop over cruise involving some snorkling over coral, a submarine thing, glass bottomed boats etc.

Monday is our leaving day so we are gonna hang around the resort.

Overseas to Fiji for the first time!!!

A year ago i won tickets for 2, to Fiji for a week from Mr Vintage. I was totally stoked since I had never been overseas before (and im 36!). Heck, I’d only ever been in a plane a couple of times. Because I had my kids young i was never quiet out of the ‘always broke’ cycle, dispite hard years of working.

Anyway I decided because i loved my kids, and i wanted them to have broadened horizons, and not be 36  when they first go overseas, i wanted to take them. Luckily Mr Vintage was really awesome and said ‘sure that’s fine’ so we organised that I would pay for the kids , and the nice guys at Flight Center booked it all up.

It took a year to get the finances straight, and even still it involved selling my beloved iPhone, and some other geeky gadgets we didn’t really require due to other various financial bullocks that went on (gearboxes breaking down etc).

Then we had mega passport  hassles with it being declined multiple times which ended up costing us an extra $450 in the end to get urgent ones (and a birth certificate change). It was not entirely unstressful, but totally worth doing. We asked for it to be booked on ‘Easter Weekend’ so we didn’t have to take much time off work. turned out the guy at Flight Center didn’t know what weekend that was and managed to book us in for the weekend after. We ended up going with those dates because of the passport issues among other things (just easier and less hassle to change it all).

We drove to Auckland Tuesday night and stayed with my awesome Big brother for the night. I don’t think anyone slept much, i know i only slept from midnight until 3am myself. At 3:30am we got up, got into our clothes and got into the car. We had cheated a little and worn T-shirts and underwear to bed so we only had to put on our pants and shoes and go. Took a bit to find the park’n’fly place to leave the car at since they had moved and failed to update their website, but we got there in the end.

We must have timed it right, we got in right before the rest of a large crowd, checked in, then headed to McDs for breakfast. We finished breakfast around 5:30am at which point it was time to head through customs etc.  It was great going through it all for the first time, and boy is there a ton of duty free booze on the other side !

The flight was uneventful, we had a second breakfast somewhere around 9am in the air and the kids happily watched movies and played games. We landed just after 10am and boy was it hot. We had warned the kids but they were just stunned by it.

We were then greeted, and gifted a shell necklace each, and got a lift to our hotel. Along the drive our driver showed us sights, leaning over the passenger seat and not  looking where he was going whilst swerving all over the place just to point things out. It was both scarey and awesome at the same time! He often tooted his horn at people and was seen yelling out the window. When we asked why he was doing this he replied that most of the area were related or knew each other, they were always that friendly!

It was during the drive I was really glad I took the kids with us, they realised what’s in the pictures and brochures has nothing to do with the real Fiji life style! Most of the houses if they were in NZ would have probably been condemed, they had missing windows, rotten wood, dirt roads and driveways etc. It wasnt in a bad way at all, it was just a very different lifestyle to what they were used to, and even in the hotel, it was impossible to get away from the greetings every 2 feet they took.

We had a swim whilst waiting for our room to be free, once we got it we left the luggage, and got a taxi down to Nadi Town to get some food. We had already established that some food was really insanely expensive in the resort area!

Getting into town cost $1 per person by bus, but the Bula Bus was $6 each just to get around the corner to the ports. We decided on the taxi because we were unsure what supermarket to go to and where it would be, also we figured since it was only $8NZD it wasnt to hard a bargin.

We  found a brilliant chicken place which had great chicken and chips for a 3pm lunch (since we had already done 2 breakfasts and been up since 3am!)

We had a look at all the shops, found some really cheap souvenirs to take home (not the overpriced garbage at the resorts), and the Sulu (sarongs) were as cheap as $6 FJD vs the resort prices of $30FJD. The supermarket was an interesting experiance. They had no lollies at all really to speak of, there was a small selection of seriously overpriced chocolate in the fridges (theres no way you can keep that out of them in that heat), cheese was stupidlly expensive, as was anything imported from NZ because of the dollar conversion. A simple packet of breakfast cereal that normally is $4 in NZ cost up to $21FJD. We found however things that usually cost lots in NZ were dirt cheap in Fiji, so we just got local brands or american brands which were by far cheaper.

I did notice the meat section had a lot of lamb, and some chicken and pork, and i dont think i saw any beef at all. I suspect this is related  to the fact that nobody does cattle farming and 50% of the country is Indian and probably dont eat beef (I could be wrong!). This is not a bad thing since we have been living on beef for the last month since i bought a partial beast at home! Totally sick of beef!

We grabbed quick easy and cheap meals, 2min noodles, some milk, bread, chippies (which btw are really pricey also!), and biscuits. Also a good selection of drinks etc.

The taxi ride home was good, its almost 6pm, i suspect dinner will be almost non-existent, maybe something quick to snack on, however this is dependant on when everyone gets back from swimming again. I was to tired to be swimming, and im about to sit out on the balcony with a glass of wine and some chips to finish off my first night in Fiji!

Please excuse any crappy english, ill re-read/edit when i get back to a real laptop at some time.