Fiji Holiday – day 4 & 5 & Home

Day 4
We got up, there was no dish washing liquid so had to try and rinse things until we found housekeeping. At 8:30 we were picked up to go out on a caving tour which included a village visit, a hike, and a Kava ceremony.
The trip out was an hour to Sigatoka where we were dropped off for 30 minutes to look around. Whilst we looked about the van went off to pick up other people from other resorts before coming back and picking us up. Our van had 2 familys, ours and another Australian couple and kids.
Our tour guides were a couple of transvestites who were very knowledgeable. From Sigatoka township we went onto dirt roads and travelled another 50km up into Sigatoka Valley where the temperature was a good 5C higher than it was in the low lands.
It was a bouncy trip with some major pot holes in the roads, however the views were fantastic in several places. We stopped briefly to wave to some boys who must have been about 5-10years old gathering firewood, and also to look at a wind farm and resort in the middle of nowhere.
We managed to see several farmers using ox to plough the land on the way, a stray pig on the main road, and cops with guns.

When we arrived at the village the other van behind us had another couple of people. The houses that the Kava ceremony was in better condition than the usual ‘barely staying together’ look most had, so i presumed it was a community building or church as these seemed to be consistently slightly better than the houses.
The porch area was large and the poles of it covered in some reflective metallic yellow wrapping. Apon closer look i realized it was covered in chip packets! Clearly going all out to impress the tourists.
The other guests had clearly never read up about Fiji and none had covered their knees or shoulders. Apparently this is common so they had some Sulu (Sarongs) in the vans for those people. Paul (my hubby) was the ‘chief’ in our group so went first with the Kava. He managed to forget the fijian words but was able to repeat them when they were yelled by our guide. I was next, and then several others including my youngest son Quantum. The girls were a bit scared for some reason, perhaps worried they were end up drunk 😀
We got a vague numb tongue afterwards but nothing major. It was clearly a weak mix for the tourists, however I did see they left 5 packets of extra Kava for the village. I needed to use the toilet whilst there, so decided to make use of the only flushing toilet for 50km. Lets just say it was probably more hygienic to go outside in a long drop, nobody had clearly explained that a flushing toilet needed to be cleaned!

After the ceremony we went down to the river where a couple of bamboo rafts waited for us. By ‘raft’ i mean a large bundle of bamboo tied together with rope. Several locals swam across whilst pulling the raft, at which point we got out and went up a bank. We hiked for about 30 minutes whilst the guides showed us local trees, fruit, vegetables. The knowledge the guides had was incredible, they knew almost every tree and fruit and how it was used. Children learn the farm whilst growing up so apparently this knowledge is normal for most Fijians.
Eventually we arrived at the Caves. To enter them we had to walk through a shallow river (no biggie since we had already walked through several and were all wearing sandals). The second cavern was only accessible by crouching low with only a gap of 30cm out of water to get through.
The second cavern was large and had a waterline about 2 mtrs up the wall, where in winter, the cave was inaccessible. The Third and fourth caverns were also large, and all of them had fantastic rock formations and things like ovens where they cooked those they killed. Apparently the hunters would eat the muscle, sailors used the bones for needles and parts, the chief would eat the brains and other internal organs.
We discovered why islanders have the large horn when they blew it. Cockroaches ran everywhere trying to get away from the noise (and they were HUGE and plentiful).
We left the cave, walked back to the river. By this time we were hot so half us jumped into the river and helped swim the raft over. We then played in the river and ate fruit for afternoon tea until we drove home. The van had a plentiful supply of beer to drink on the long trip home which was fantastic, plus a lot of stories. After arriving home we went to the ports and had Indian and watched a show of fire dancers

Day 5

Today we went out to the ports, and took a cruise around all the Islands. We stopped at the South Seas Island which was about 200mtr x100mtr and had free food/drink etc and use of snorkelling gear. We stayed for a couple of hours and snorkelled the reefs. The fish were amazing, the reefs were a little worse for wear after recent bad cyclones. We got back on the boat and for the next few hours just looked at all the Islands as they went past. Beachcomber Island was the only one with a Wharf, the rest had run abouts that picked people up off the Sea Cat and took them inland. Some of the beaches were amazing, as was the coral.

After getting home we crossed the road and picked up a coconut. They were plentiful and free for anyone who wanted them. We opened it up and it tasted great! Since it was Sunday and our last night, we hired a babysitter and went out to dinner. Husband and I spent a relaxing 2.5 hours eating and sitting back relaxing talking about everything.

Day 6

We pretty much cleaned up, swam, and checked out. Checkout was 11am and the plane pickup was 5pm so we had several hours where we had nothing to do. We were aloud to hang about at the resort still and use it so we left our bags there and took the Bula bus around the other resorts. We decided the one we were at was by far the best, especially if you had children, however others had some decent things going on.

At 5pm we got our ride to the airport, and left Fiji at 8pm. We arrived in NZ at 10:55pm, got all our gear through customs ok (was a bit worried about the wooden crafts i had and shoes from the hike).
Overall the holiday was a mega success , we are already planning on going back again and staying at perhaps a different place.
South Seas Island looks like a good spot to perhaps spend a day or two next time since its only $110 per week or $25 a night and that includes food and drinks (yes, including booze!). And that cost is Fijian so its even less in NZD (about $20 a night!), and we can perhaps do some diving as well as the snorkling!

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.