Saturday, 20 March 2010

New Zealand So Far

We'll finish Oz later and have got a whole wedge to write about Fiji so that'll come soon too! Anyway, we arrived in Auckland on the 11th March and have since spent a coupe of nights there, been in the hot springs and smelt the volcanic geothermal stinkiness of Rotorua and been to a Maori feast/song/dance/party. We've seen NZ's biggest volcanic crater - Lake Taupo, a lake bigger than Singapore, the LOTR's Mt. Doom, and been into a cavern full of gloworms that lit up the ceiling like a starry night. We're now in Wellinton and have met our friend Gill from the trip around Asia, and seen the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship dock in the harbour and got a photo with its "Captain" Paul Watson which was funny because it's the first time i've met someone who South Park have taken the mickey out of. It's been incredible so far and the Kiwi's are a lovely bunch!

Right, we'll do some more asap!


PS have slotted Fiji in below so it makes sense!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Fiji Time!

Miles late as always, here's what happened in Fiji! We spent a night on the mainland before heading out to the Yasawa islands to the North West on an island hopping pass. This meant we could pick and choose where to stay, and jump on and off the "big yellow boat" as many times as we wanted for the duration of the pass. We started with a full 5 hour journey as far North as possible, so as to hop back every day. We stayed on Nacula, which had a beautiful beach, hammocks galore and our hut (bure) was overlooking the ocean. I achieved the impossible, opening a coconut with a swiss army knife and Sara loved the sea which in the shallows was warm, almost like a bath! That night we learnt some Fijiian dances from a big man called Loulou. Then we did the conga and musical statues. It was like a kids party! A German girl said Sara was her inspiration as we danced, while I ended up at the head of the conga, and everyone had to copy what I was doing. After 5 minutes I was out of ideas and the pressure got to me, but the German chap that took over had us skipping around fast. If we had been in lederhosen we wouldn't have looked out of place!

Next we were on to Nanuya Lalai Island and Sunrise Lagoon resort, probably our favourite, where our bure was metres from the sea which was crystal clear with soft sand underfoot. Magic. There we trekked over the top of the island to the Blue Lagoon - a film was made there apparently, we haven't seen it! It was baking hot, and we managed to take the wrong "path" twice, but arrived eventually without mishap. I snorkelled in the lagoon for a while, but the reef was very shallow, and while the fish were beautiful, I didn't want to wreck any of the coral so didn't go too close! We walked back around the beach as the tide was out, and crossed three or four deserted beaches, seeing no-one apart from a man with a machete and a few dogs running about. That night we had Kava, a Fijiian traditional drink that makes your tongue numb. Made with rain water and a plant root, it tastes like a puddle and doesn't look much better. Sara gave up after two "low tide" cups, while I polished off a few Tsunami's, to go and play with a little baby.

Next morning was my birthday! I woke up far too early to see the sunrise, and sat in he dark for at least an hour! We spent the morning swimming and relaxing before getting on a boat to head to Bay of Plenty resort on Matacawalevu. It was different to everyhwere else, surrounded by mangroves with the accommodation up on a hill. There was no water, which we didn't mind until we realised that we couldn't flush the toilet. Always a problem. There were only 4 of us staying there that night, another couple called Heather and Phil were our company and they bought me a beer and made me a card from an old Christmas card of snowy York they had. Random. The family running the place sang us some Fijiian songs that night, their two children were particularly good! The youngest gave me a little seed necklace as a birthday pressie, and they sang happy birthday and "happy long life to you" which was different!

Next morning, with the water still off, I went to the loo down at the bar/dining room, only to find a rat doing the breaststroke in circles around the toilet bowl. Our hostess was swiftly in with a stick, whacked it on the head and threw it in the sea, and then came back to serve us tea. We then went to the local village which had a boarding school for the children of the islands, and met some of the children and one of the teachers. He was teaching both Year 5 and 6, running between the two classrooms to make sure they weren't up to mischief! We walked back through the mangroves which was a stinky experience, and I spent the afternoon looking at fish and chasing crabs, finding ratty on the bottom of the lagoon and steering well clear. We were then off to Naviti at Korovu Resort. We had a pay a little extra but were rewarded with a brilliant dinner which made it well worth it, and we ate and watched the sun go down.

The next day we bumped into the chap who ran our hostel on the mainland, Junior, the boss of Drift In. He was buying a resort just further down the beach, and was well into his 8th beer of the day when he saw us and got me involved. An hour later, he was asleep on the big yellow boat as we made our way to Wayalalai. We had a lovely room there, an spent the evening watching a traditional Fijiian dance show and fire show. Then they made us dance, with a variation of the conga/snake dance ending with a fellow dancer putting his bum right on Sara's arm - she swiftly did a runner.

Our last island was Kuata, where we had dinner with Moses. Next morning we managed to sunbathe and get ourselves burnt on the last morning before heading back to the mainland, and we arrived back at Drift In that night glowing. We spent the next couple of days relaxing there and shopping in the town. We had no idea how many Indo-Fijiians there are in Fiji, and Nadi was more like India than what we'd got used to on the islands.

We had an amazing time in Fiji, it's just a shame it's such a huge flight away otherwise we'd be back there every year!