Fiji

Fiji is my happy place. All time top 3 (alongside Bali/Laos since you asked).

It’s like everything fell in place here; the weather, the food, the scenery, the mood, the people. Like everything collides so that only good things happen. Cliche fest, but true. I feel like I’ve been living in a montage of my own  best bits for the last fortnight, and it doesn’t even need editing. Life feels sped up here, it all starts to blur. Days are surreal, like being that nice tipping point when you’re drunk.  The day before can feel like a lifetime ago, as everything’s flown by in a giddy bubble from when I ricocheted off the plane to back on it.

I find it strange that I’ve met nothing but the nicest people continually. Only one complete idiot (James, Beachcomber – yes I hate you enough to name you – he had such a chip on his shoulder about me being 23.)  Or maybe you just meet people you like in places you like. In exactly the right place at the right time sometimes. I’ll stop gushing now. But what can I say, I’m in love and am gonna be raving about here for a very long time.

Love Love Love:

1) Bula – The word, the songs, the dance. It’s all one contagious good mood.

2) Beach chic. Shoes and shampoo are a dim and distant memory.

3) Bounty Rum. Mmm.

4) Speedboats. The only way is seabound.

5) Desert Island Syndrome – stir crazy/cabin fever is super fun in a weird way.

Hated: Nothing of course! but disliked:

1) Cava – hell no to tradition, it tastes rank. Plus wannabe hippies that sit crossed legs pretending to be chiefs. Have a word with yourselves.

2) Prices – Paradise is a little on the steep side, but I’m so in love with here I’ll let it off.

3) The slight bastardization of tourism here and the whole Catch 22 of tourism in developing countries. The whole all inclusive ‘resort’ is kind of different to backpacking.

Isa Lei (Fairwell) Fiji x

Where I stayed: Horizon, Smugglers Cove/BountyIsland/Beachcomber/Rata Kini, Manu Island, Bamboo, Nadi.

Nadi Town, Fiji

Back to the mainland for a day before my flight. I had such big plans here. I really wanted to see Suva (Capital) the Coral Coast, the famous Beachhouse (Rob never stopped talking about it.) I even hand drew a little map out of Thea’s Lonely planet, which I’ll never get to use as I fell in love with the Islands so much and ‘stayed one more day’ for two weeks and ran out of time.

Nadi isn’t really all that spectacular, after everywhere else. Not that I notice. Yesterday I spent 10 hours straight binging on facebook/internet. I was in friend mourning too, so decided not to speak to any new people all afternoon. I had a lovely time. Revealed in it.

A day of rest and I was feeling social again, managed to pick up two randoms, Québec (his name escapes me) and Wolf (You can’t really forget that monstrosity can you, English too.) We get chatting on the beach. Next thing you know a guy with a horse trots past. I’m straight over there asking if I can borrow it, he magics two more out of no-where, and we spend the morning galloping wild horses along the beach. How can you not like a place where things like this happen. 

The afternoon takes an interesting turn. We return from Nadi town where shopped till we dropped for souvenirs. We also buy cheap toiletries like they’re going out of fashion, as I’ll probably need to re-motgage my house for them in Oz. Then, completely unplanned (Easterenders drum roll) I run smack bang into Andreas (off of yesterday.) We’re in the same hostel. Course we are. Obvs the speedboat wasn’t that good/far a getaway after all.  And two mins later Rob and Tom waiting for a bus. We have our third goodbyes in two days. Soo incestuous. Maybe it’s time to leave after all. Ahh, no I take that straight back :( Sob sob.

 

 

Mana Island, Fiji

Come for one night, stay for five days. Heart.It.Here.

I’m a little sad for 5 mins on arrival, having just had a melodramatic goodbye with Gydo, (Dutch) my Beachcomber boyf of two days. We stood on the shore waving into the distance like loves young dream. Hilarious. 

Unlike tiny Bounty and Beachcomber, Mana is takes a whole 2 hours (gasp) to walk around. It has a village, school, church, and everything else that comes with a small community. Er litter/stray dogs. It’s a perfect slow ease back into civilization again. The dorms are yellow thatched huts, set back in the village across a square palm tree grove. Everyone’s colourful washing blows in the breeze. Kids all trot around shouting ‘Bula.’ It’s peaceful, and more authentic. I have never so instantly liked somewhere as much.

Quick intro’s: Rob and Tom. Our entertainment. Tom got through to filming of this series just gone of the Apprentice. He dropped out to come to Fiji instead. Unbelievably, he’s actually a lovely/funny guy. Their casting guy must have been having an off day. Rob on the other hand has no such claim to fame but you’d think he did. He’s definitely the Stuart Baggs character. If you’ve done something, he’s done it with bells on despite the fact he’s only 21. He’s like our enthusiastic golden retriever. Bit annoying but you love having him around. Thea (BF of the week) and I share a joint passion for spending our mornings in a mountain of old Heat/Closer mags, pretending we’re on Shipwrecked and playing Snog Marry Avoid with the daily 11am boat of new arrivals. Don’t hate us for being shallow, you know you’d get involved. Andreas (Germany) is my new Island boyf. Don’t look at me like that, it’s a different island, it’s tots allowed.  He and I bond over a shared hatred of New Zealand/love for South America. The two of us have Bolivia night and wear our llama jumpers in 25 degree heat talking about the glory days. People take a wide berth for a day, but we think we’re hysterical.

So.

Sunday: Medicine walk. Locals talking you through all the flora/fauna etc. Bit dull but I was inspired by my Bounty ankle miracle (it’s mended btw).  That’s an Ozzy Dr’s bill bullet dodged. Phew.

Monday: Thea and I basket weave. Is this what people did before facebook? We make palm tree clutches and totter around all week carrying shells and our trash mags. We look a bit spesh but we love um. We continue the arts and crafts theme with jewelry making in the afternoon. An hour off my life, and nearly a finger, lost to chiseling away at a coconut with a nail file. Gutting enough, but more still when I lost my ‘F’ pendant within the hour in the sea racing to a buoy and back. Silly flimsy fishing wire.

Tuesday: Hermit crab racing AND the Fiji quiz. They even confiscate our Lonely Planets yet we still win. Wa ha ha. Then, (this next bit is gonna disgust you. It does me,) we spend all afternoon mooching around singing/playing guitar. Yes I’ve become one of those. Oh the shame. Desert island madness kicking in. It won’t happen again.

Wednesday: Worried we’ve gone slightly stir crazy,we pay Moses the local fisherman (Local Samual L Jackson Character in Pulp Fiction fix-it man) to get his cousin’s brother (you know the type) to take us to ‘Tom Hanks/Casterway’ island. Nice snorkeling, but alas Wilson was no-where to be found.

Thursday: I actually manage to leave. It’s an emotional bloodbath. Tom/Rob being the wheeler dealers that they are blag a ride on a yaght. Thea and I sing the goodbye ‘Bula my Zula’ song for the last time and board the snog/marry/avoid boat to face the karma of being judged by others. Andreas has one more day of PADI diving so he stays to pose about in his wetsuit some more. He loves himself rather. Which leads me to the second melodramatic exit of the week, as we cross speedboats mid-ocean and wave ta-rah. Love swanning about on speedboats, it makes for such a cool exit. It’s a total soap opera round here.

Bounty Island, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji

Bounty is actual Celebrity Love Island (soo 2006 I know, but it’s still the most exciting thing to ever be filmed here. If you discount Tom Hanks in Castaway, which is round the corner.) Yes, that’s right our pool is one and the same once graced with Z list celebs like Callum Best, Abi Titmuss, Rebecca Loos. God, I hope they’ve cleaned it.

And despite the fact that the camera’s are gone, Island life really is like a reality TV show here.

You have the daily boat of new arrivals, you have evictions (well, ok technically they’re not voted off, they choose to leave, but it feels kind of the same.)

I roll off the boat and within a couple of hours know the names & life history of my new 20 – 30 Bounty companions. I meet my new BF Sandra over a game of Uno. She’s 21 and lived about 10 lives already. I cannot wait to see her in Sydney in three weeks. Then we have our gang of German boys; Stephan, Andreas, Kishan, Hanas, Stephan 2. We also pick up a few strays like Scottish Lindsey who knows all of the words to every Phoebe Buffet song – an absolute talent let me tell you.  We give nicknames to the ones who aren’t in our gang, like Baywatch girl – American Shannon that runs everywhere in slow mo, avec a tiny Bikini. As you can imagine the boys appreciated this. Us girls less so. Hussy.

There’s also the staff; The Chief, Big Mama, Matias. They sing 23 out of 24 hours everyday, and serenade the boat at least 5 times a day as people check in/out, singing & dancing the ‘Bula’ and Bounty Islands song. After five days Sandra and I know all the words and have it DOWN.  Matias takes one look at me hobbling off the boat and immediately becomes my personal GP in campaign ‘fix Kim’s ankle.’ He bandages magic leaves around it nightly (as in he wraps them round, I don’t ingest/smoke them you’ll be glad to know.) He does get a bit angry however the day that Kishan and I decide to play leapfrog, and grade each others cartwheels on the beach. I think I undermined all his hard work. It was worth it for my 9.7 into the pool though. In your face boys.

We pass our days, in a haze of eating, laughing, singing. Stephan has a birthday. Big Mama makes him a cake and the whole island throws him a party. We have so many in-jokes it feels like we’ve been in our Bounty family for ever. Life is just like the happy bit in The Beach. And then boom. We get a boat full of 40 new arrivals. I totally have a new appreciation for Big Brother now when they throw the Makosi’s/Kinga’s to mix it up and change the dynamic. It all goes a bit Survivor, and us a bit territorial. We have to queue for our afternoon cookies and sunlougers for gods sake.  Some newbies sit on OUR favorite hammock. It’s all a bit too much for us. We reminisce about the simpler times (err yesterday) when it was just us and life was so happy.  Then of course we adapt, get over it, mingle with some new people, and make new playmates. When one of us leave we stand on the shore and wave sadly into the horizon watching our close ones fly the nest. It’s an absolute microcosm of Traveldom with drama, attachment/detachment, extreme highs and lows, and an all round anthropologists dream.

Beachcomber Island, Fiji

So turns out even paradise is a bit of a faff. I know, I know, it’s tough when the decision of the week is which amazing Fijian island to stay on, but it’s really quite stressful. Ok, I’d hate me too. After a morning of trying and failing to make decisions, I pluck for the Mamanucas Islands.

There are two choices really of how to ‘do’ Fiji. 1) The ‘Feejee Experience.’ Package tours of regimented fun, circa Fresher week, for the Sloane ranger/pearl earings/get your dirty blond roots done brigade. No thanks. Or 2) the boat + island = wing it approach. Which is how I find myself here. Of course either way, once you are on a desert island the ball is very much in Fiji’s court. Paradise really does come at a price here; $35 – 45 a night.That’s pounds too (Despite the Fijian keyboard fail.) And wipe that picture of five-star bliss out of your head, it definitely isn’t. That buys you a cold shower and a bunk in a 180 bed dorm! Rough and ready. You do get fed 4 times a day though.  All of the supplies are boated in from the mainland, no restaurants, no shops. You can walk Beachcomber in 3 mins flat, 2 if you get a wriggle on.There is however surprisingly high-speed internet. It really is heaven.

Here it is. The Fijian simple life:  Wake up, breakfast, snorkel, sunbathe, kayak, play cards, swim, lunch, volleyball, afternoon tea, biscuits, play chess, basket weaving, get massage, eat coconut, hammock, sunset, shower, write in journal, eat din dins, happy hour, limbo.

Beachcomber itself is the ‘party island’ of the set so maybe insert a few more happy hours, more limbo, louder music, and a couple of all night sunrises in there too.

Previous Older Entries

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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