Thursday, 17 September 2009

Bula Fiji!

Fiji is exactly what you imagine it to be, sunshine (mostly), white sandy beaches and the friendliest people we have met so far.

We had 2 weeks in Fiji, which we divided into 5 nights on the islands, 6 nights on the “Feejee Experience” and our remaining days on the main island of Viti Levu.

Around 330 islands make up Fiji, of which we saw a grand total of 3. The smaller islands are true picture postcard places (see Dan in the photo above), with the majority of your time spent on a beach wondering exactly how you are going to go back to accountancy.

The “Feejee experience” is a bus tour around the main island and was a bit of a revelation, being full of interesting activities, lovely people and not being the quasi 18-30 holiday we expected. Highlights included visits to a school and a village, sandboarding and jungle trekking, as well as the obligatory trips to the beach. Highly recommended.

The final word on Fiji however has to go to our hostel in Nadi, the “Drift In”. The Drift is basically a family house, with a small dorm and a couple of private rooms bolted on, and was probably my personal highlight of Fiji. All guests are made to feel part of the family, with your breakfast cooked for you when you get up and your dinner on the table when you get home at night. During the evenings everybody sits round and drinks Kava (traditional Fiji drink - and a mild narcotic), has a chat and maybe even watches a cheeky episode of prison break with the neighbours who have turned up to say hello. On our final day one of the more eccentric neighbours, the wonderful Sarah – self titled “Big Moma”, turned up with her mini bus and drove us all (family and guests alike) to the beach for the day, where she and the family cooked us a barbeque while we messed about in the sea. Simply the most kind and generous people we have met on our travels.

We were made to feel welcome by everyone we met in Fiji and I’m sad to be leaving so soon. If the Australian people are half as warm Oz will be a pleasure, if not I’ll remind them about the cricket..

Vinaka Fiji.


- Deed Pole - Our “family” at Drift gave us Fijian names on our arrival. I was christened (phonetically) “Chone-ay” while Dan was the somewhat more embarrassing “Daniella”

- Fiji Time – Fiji runs on “Fiji time”. Nothing is ever rushed or worried about in Fiji.

When are we leaving for the beach? 10 o’clock - Fiji time. This means sometime before lunch, unless you’re tied then we can go in the afternoon, unless you have something to do then we can go tomorrow. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

New Zealand to Fiji

I wrote my last entry from the southernmost point of the south island. In the week that followed we piloted the Sunny up the east coast, taking in a couple of national parks and spending a few days in Dunedin before reaching Christchurch, our final destination in New Zealand.

Essentially this was a lot of driving through some very pretty places, the three of us now seamlessly alternating between the roles of driver, navigator and DJ.

First on the list was the Catlins national park, through which runs the “southern scenic route”. This is the south east tip of New Zealand and as such is all windswept coastline, rocks, sand dunes, lighthouses etc. Very Cornwall.

Having been in the wilderness for a few days, we had some “city time” - euphemism for a beer and a lie in, in Dunedin. Our time here included such highlights as a brewery tour, a game of over sized chess in the square (which I lost) and an ill fated attempt to watch Lord of the Rings. When in Rome and all that.

We also made a short trip into the Southern Ocean to have a look at some albatross. I only mention this as the things are huge – like giant hip-high seagulls. If one of these tried to nick your chips you’d simply be glad it hadn’t taken one of your children instead. Truly massive.

Recharged we set out for Mount Cook, Australasia’s highest mountain at 3,750m. Cue lots more driving and taking photos of mountains. Cook itself is predictably spectacular, although we finally ran out of luck with the weather, resulting in it being wet, grey and spectacular.

Post Cook we drove to Christchurch for our final few days in New Zealand. A day trip to the coast and some city time later and that was just about that for New Zealand.

All that remained was to bid farewell to Simon and the Sunny, both of whom will be sorely missed, and catch our flight from cold New Zealand to tropical Fiji.

Roll on the beach...