Do it the Fiji way...no shoes
17.05.2010 - 26.05.2010 27 °C
We arrive at Nadi airport at 5.30am local time with no clue about what we are going to do or where we will stay. Therefore we were perfect meat for the predators at the airport....after a little searching on the Internet we had to give in and let the lady (Lucy) take us away to her office. She seems to be very friendly and very passionate but also very bossy/forceful about how she believes we should spend our time in Fiji!!! We are both pretty dazed and confused but eventually decide to book a boat and stay at the resort she suggested for three nights. Undecided still if this was a good idea as we were overcharged by F$45 a night which is crazy!!!
Meanwhile another guy who works for the agency appears for work who was very camp and very funny. We sit bemusedly watching him and Lucy bossing him around to clean the wall which he soon grew bored of and asked to play Kristian's guitar. For some reason people all over Fiji are fascinated by this small guitar and we were met with many a request to play it! And so we had our first experience of a Fijian song! A man came to pick us up at 8.30 to catch the Mana flyer which we had to wait for two hours on a beach for - our introduction to the infamous "Fiji time". Seventeen of us eventually got on the tiny boat which took about an hour to reach Mana. We were welcomed by the "Bula" song (not the best version we would hear!) which was an eye opener in itself. The apparent owner, Bosco, seemed to be a proper character and seemed to be stoned/drunk continuously. After a wait and some lunch of rice and sandwiches we finally got shown to our room where we realised that we had been fleeced because it was really rather grotty. As for the bathrooms they had a lot to answer for; Jo spent the first couple of days avoiding the toilet!!!
We swiftly changed into our swimwear and took a walk along the beach. We couldn't get into the sea properly because the tide was out and it is very shallow for quite a lot of the day. The rest of the afternoon swiftly passed by as we wound up napping at different parts of the beach. We also very nearly managed to miss dinner because we'd fallen asleep in the room! The rest of the evening was reasonably chilled and involved a walk down to the next hostel which seemed to have a much better atmosphere than ours. While there we met a guy and a girl and passed the remainder of the night chatting, playing cards and being shown magic tricks as you do.
On Tuesday we woke up and enjoyed some stodge for breakfast - carbs carbs and more carbs! After breakfast we took a walk down the other way on the beach where we managed to go for a swim finally in the sea. Practically as soon as we got in the sea Jo managed to stub her toe and consequently spent the following couple of days hobbling around!! The sea was so lovely, warm and clear it was almost like being in the bath. In order to avoid getting covered in sand while we were wet we decided to climb a dead tree which was comfortable for a wee while.
Once dry we took a walk further along the beach to near the airstrip where Kristian continued his exploring and Jo lay down to sun worship. During this period some Japanese tourists very kindly came along and took photos of Jo just lying there - very bizarre!! After heading back for a lunch of bread and curry (it doesn't change our whole stay there....the curry is also pretty bland and rank!) we walked for another supposed five minutes - it was more like 20 with Jo's foot - to the other side of the island to "Survivor beach". This beach was wonderful and soooooooooooooo peaceful - over the few hours we spent there we saw just one person and three dogs. Twas pretty magical.
We got back to the hostel in time to get showered before dinner but they had run out of diesel meaning no electricity and therefore no showers. To call them showers would be an exaggeration, however, as they were literally just a pipe from which you got a dribble of water out the top!!! After several attempts to shower we finally managed to get clean with the help of the $6 bottled water from our room.
That night we had a party Mana Lagoon style with some interesting tasting punch, some weird half-hearted dancing and some pretty rubbish fire dancing....they tried I guess!! Wasn't very exciting on the whole though. Think they just did it because they felt they ought to!
When we got up on Wednesday, we hobble over to "Sunset beach" although stupidly not for the sunset! The tide was in when we got there which meant we were able to go in the sea without destroying our feet. We did see a baby shark though about a metre away from us!!! The water is just so unbelievably clear and after a little swim we dried off in the sun with even Kristian managing to sunbathe! We stayed for about 2 hours before heading back for our staple lunch of rice.
The journey back to the hostel was certainly interesting as we foolishly decided to walk across the airstrip instead of the 15-minute diversion around it. This would have been fine had we been wearing shoes but we were both out Fiji style and the ground was covered in spiky seed things which felt like very painful splinters. Kristian ingeniously decided to fashion us shoes with our towels, Jo's t-shirt and our White Stuff bag for life! As a result these items wound up filthy and we had to pick all the splinter seeds off them...lesson learnt for sure!!
The afternoon was ridiculously relaxed with us spending the time in a hammock reading and resting poorly toes. The relaxed feeling followed into the evening with our attempt to pack thwarted by us falling asleep before 9.30pm!!!
Thursday meant that it was finally our last day in Mana; although the island was completely beautiful, we were certainly not sorry to be leaving Mana Lagoon!! Such a dive and full of idiots....just like being back in Loughborough. The boat back was less painful than before (a bit used to it now) and we booked into a dorm at Mama's (Tropic of Capricorn) back on Nadi. This place was luxury in comparison and so cheap at $36 a night for both of us. Plus the staff are ridiculously lovely. Jo's tummy started to feel dodgy after dinner which wasn't helped by the entertainer making our ears bleed by butchering a handful of famous songs!!
After a blissful night's sleep in the dorm we were packing again and preparing for another adventure on the Mana flyer! This time we were headed for Walu Beach resort on Mololo which turns out to be a beautiful resort but not such a good island. The staff at the hotel are so happy and friendly; the food is good and the lodgings are really great. We spent our first night in one of the lodges with our own facilities and a great view of the ocean. Unfortunately, otherwise the day is a bit of a write off as Jo is pretty poorly by now and spends most of the day curled up on the bed :-(. We spent the evening with the girls from Mana playing Uno and showing each other all the weird and wonderful things we can do with our bodies.
We slept in quite later before hitting breakfast. After eating we decided to go and sit in the hammocks down by the beach which is where we were when the receptionist came to find us; they were upgrading us to a beachfront bure - score!!!!! The bure was amazing, so spacious and we even had our own living room. A man called Moses helped us down from our room in the lodge and he, like everyone else was fascinated by Kristian's small guitar so asked if he could borrow it! Such a random country...they are all obsessed with music.
After lunch we attempted to take out a kayak but they only had one oar so we had to wait a short while. Eventually we were off (much to Jo's disgust) and we kayaked round to the other side of the island in search of better beaches. Mololo is so much bigger than Mana so we couldn't really go exploring by foot the same. We dragged the kayaks up onto the beach - they're heavy - and went for a little explore along the beach. Unfortunately we couldn't stay too long because the tide was low which would make getting back out to sea quite hard. Getting the kayaks back into deep enough water was hard work but Kristian managed it and so we headed back with plenty of moaning from Jo!!!
The rest of the afternoon whiled itself away and we stayed out to watch the sunset. Kristian sat next to and leant on a mound which turned out to be an ant's nest - that was a nice little surprise for him! The evening passed in conversation with the girls to the theme tune of "the fish and chip" song - a Fijian classic! We also tried some Kava which is nasty tasting stuff but a part of traditional Fijian culture where the men explained to us a little about their culture.
We slept well in our new room! After breakfast we went for a coconut lesson where Sonny and Ziggy showed us how to open a coconut, weave hats and baskets and also explained all the different uses that they have for the tree - not a single bit of it goes to waste. There was also a tasting session with green and brown coconuts - it was goooooooooooood!! The rest of the day was very lazy and it was spitting with rain for most of the afternoon. Jo was feeling ill again so she headed back to the room to nap while Kristian set off to try and reclaim his guitar. He then got mocked by some of the staff for not knowing many songs and so spent the remainder of the day trying to learn some with the help of his iPod. After dinner Kristian and Stacey played table tennis while the rest of us started a strange game of trivial pursuits with scrabble letters to decide on which question and to keep score. The questions were so hard....don't think that it helped that it was an Australian version that was at least 10 years old!! The evening also had crab racing which was fun and Jo's crab won the first race - winning us $10!! Better than we managed in Vegas....
We properly sun worshipped on our last day at Walu Beach which of course meant that Jo got sunburnt!! Stacey left in a mix of chaos with the boats and that was about the most excitement the day had to offer. It rained really heavily from around dinnertime and after being sung our farewell song we got absolutely drenched heading back to the room; we literally looked like we had just stepped out of the shower!
After breakfast on the 25th we went for a jewellery-making lesson - yet more things to do with coconuts! Jo made a bangle as did Kristian to start with. However, he kept trying to make his thinner and in the end it just snapped. It is quite a time consuming process as you have to sand down the coconut until it is black - to start with we were using glass to do this so we are feeling lucky to still have fingers intact! Kristian moved on to make a ring, an activity which entertained him for the remainder of the day; he's very proud of it though. Humorously when he takes it off his little finger won't meet his ring finger so think he may he may have to whittle it down a bit more yet!
We got on the Mana flyer (again!) and were very sad to be leaving our beautiful hut and the lovely staff. As per usual there was some confusion about who was getting on what boat and we were on again and off again like we were standing on hot coals! Eventually we all got on the same boat and we headed for Mana. After a wait at Mana it turned out we had to return to Walu Beach (they were very apologetic at least) and because the boat was pretty full we had to ride on the front of the boat! It was an experience and the face burn showed it... We moved inside for our final Mana flyer voyage as it was so choppy we probably would've fallen off! We returned to Mama's where we got a refund for earlier in the week from Lucy and had a bit of a sorting out afternoon. The sunset was really beautiful that evening and the rest of the night was spent packing ready for our flight the next day.
Both of us slept really badly - the time seemed to go on forever. Jo had a really funny turn in the shower where she passed out and then walked back to the room in just her t-shirt (showing everyone her naughty bits!) because she was still so dazed and confused. Jerry came to get us at 9am and we headed into town to attempt some souvenir shopping. We went to Jack's where they didn't seem too keen on us since neither or us were wearing any form of shoes and a lady followed us around the store the whole time. We couldn't find a satisfactory "Fiji Bitter" t-shirt so we got back into the taxi to the airport. Thank god we got there early because what a palaver we had...
They were refusing to let us board the plane because we hadn't sorted out our Australian visas (yes we were heading for Auckland and yes that is in New Zealand!) and so we applied online at the airport. Jo's went through straightaway but there was some sort of issue with Kristian's. This resulted in a bit of an argument with the airline staff who were point blank refusing to let us board without it going through. This was despite the fact that there was nothing more we could possibly do except apply! They offered to do it for us at a cost of $100!! This just heightened tensions further and they became even more insolent and so Jo went off to find Qantas in order to change our flights out of Sydney. Kristian came running in just as it was changed to say it was fine the lady had tapped something in on her computer (we can only assume that this was what they wanted to charge us $100 for) and so we ignored the changes. What a relief it was to go through security and be on our way to New Zealand finally :-)