06.07.2010 - 17.07.2010 25 °C
We landed at the airport and instantly knew we were in Fiji, Hawiian shirts, finally sunshine and music galore. We had to catch a 'local bus' to the Coral Coast and our hostel and were told it would leave at 6. As we had a couple of hours to kill we went for coffee, but as we weren't entirely convinced that the bus wouldn't appear before six, took turns legging it down the road any time any kind of vehicle appeared leaving us both completely uneccessarily exhasted as the bus stop really wasn't that far away. Eventually we decided the more intelligent plan would be to move with our drinks down to the actual bus stop. We hadn't been there long when an airport steward appeared telling us she recognised us from running after the bus. After about 20 seconds of conversation, we had somehow agreed to stay with her at her house where we could 'sleep together' before we left Fiji the next day. She would even provide us a lift to the airport. Somehow we managed to get out of this rather creepy proposition due to Laura's quick thinking about meeting a friend in Nadi.
We felt in our comfort zone when a dilapidated old bus turned up and hastily grabbed the front seats. At this point it was dark outside which would have been fine had the bus driver been able to master the use of the bus' headlights. Unfortunately this was not the case and every time he switched from beam to dipped, when a car approached in the opposite direction, he ended up turning all the lights off completely. There are no streetlights in Fiji and driving towards the approaching vehicle without any lights on awas unnerving. We stopped for a quick break when the conductor began talking to us, and we were left feeling slightly concerned when he announced that he knew where we were going but was about to jump off the bus. His final shout of 'he will help you!' directed at the completely uninterested bus driver was far from reassuring. The only directions we had for this 2 hour journey were that approximately 40 minutes after this stop there would be a hill and our hostel would be on the right. Unfortunately for us, after every corner there was a hill. Astonishingly, the bus driver lived up to his word and stopped at our hostel...we even got our luggage out of the bottom of the bus.
The Coral Coast was a quiet place which was quite a shock after a very busy time in New Zealand. It took some time to get used to doing nothing especially as we insisted on getting up at 9am every day for the free breakfast. Some things never change. We also refused to spend any money on food so survived on toast and free afternoon tea of scones and coffee until dinner. It was a welcome relief to be somewhere cheap again and not have to cook for ourselves. When it came to deciding what to have for dinner, Laura always insisted that the lady taking our orders tell us what she would have before making her decision. She was not disappointed.
We were back where we wanted to be when we realised how cheap the massages were, and certainly made the most of this rare luxury. They were largely amazing...and in true Thai massage although our first massages were at the same time, they were completely different with Laura realising that literally everything could be massaged. The woman announcing every massage including 'nose massage', 'eyes massage' and 'bum massage'. We were also given a head massage involving them rubbing 'natural coconut oil' into our hair. Laura was not pleased as this always makes her hair hilariously large and mane-like. Ironic no? Considering her favourite song is 'I just can't wait to be King' from the Lion King and for the entire time Donna has know her, insisted that she has the same singing voice as Simba - future King of the Herd.
Although it was slow to begin with and as always, we find it difficult coming to a new place and leaving good friends, we soon settled in and it didn't take long for us to meet some new great people (although nothing can be compared to The Family). We spent a couple of nights with some hilarious boys from Sheffield (one was called Alan, much to Donna's amusement) and after many drinks and the hostel bar closing, they insisted we would see their last night in with a bonfire on the beach. We found a spot in front of our hotel and then announced in a truly feminist way that we would not be assisting in the seach for firewood. The boys disappeared along the beach into pitch black and when only one of them emerged we were concerned...although he, in true boy style, was not remotely worried about his friend. Eventually, he returned declaring he had found no firewood but found a Fijian bonfire at the opposite end of the beach and that we were all invited. We spent an amazing evening talking to four Fijians and Laura was thrilled to see her first shooting star and unsurprisingly insisted that it wouldn't count until she had seen three. All of us thought that the sky was amazing having never seen so many stars. The Fijians were also really entertaining, although we didn't enjoy the conversation on whether or not we went to church...the boys saved us by telling a story about some friends they knew who had once been to church. We both kept quiet deciding it unwise to declare our disbelief in the Creator of All.
Donna was woken the next day remarkably early and discovered something truly horrific had happened; her legs had been raped by sandflies. Unfortunately for Donna, she had taken the earlier shower the previous evening and unlike Laura, had subsequently completely forgotten to put some bug spray on. This was a MASSIVE error, no exaggeration, she was eaten half alive...more of her legs were bites than real skin and she got comments and sympathy for the next four days from everyone we encounted. Donna was thrilled that for once, they were actual bites and not just freckles. Needless to say, the following days were best forgotten and her trip to Suva was haunted by the bites.
Having failed in our attempts to get back to Thailand, and realising we had more than enough time in America, we managed to extend our stay in Fiji...what a brilliant decision. By the last day on the Coral Coast, Donna had almost recovered from her bites and was able to enjoy a really nice evening with our new room-mate Anna and a Canadian girl, Mallory who had just arrived. Once again, the evening was spent with drinks, good conversation and star watching, although Donna refused to go within 20m of any sand. The following day, we head back to Nadi where Anna later joined us and insisted that it was high time we tried Kava. This is a very interesting and traditional Fijian drink and must be served and accepted in a very certain way. It looks like muddy water and tastes like shit, but with a kick. It also makes your tongue go numb and you have to take turns to down a bowl-full at a time. We had a really nice group joining us and once again really enjoyed the evening. We had been warned about Kava and had already had a few bowlfuls on an empty stomach...combined with our beers, we decided it was a good idea that we go and find some food. On our way out, the hostel man who was serving the Kava warned us not to be influenced by too much Kava...this said, he managed to take advantage of our drunken state and somehow convinced us to go to the 'Mud Spa' on the day of our flight after our return from Mana Island. We stumbled across a Chinese restaurant where we were the only people in there and suddenly this made it clear how much we had drunk. Having automatically ordered a bottle of wine the second we sat down, Donna picked up the menu, Laura meanwhile completely ignored the menu that had been placed in front of her and proceeded to pick up the place mat and attempt to open it. Donna looked up at her confused face and corrected this ridiculous mistake. Laura wasn't thrilled to see a rat run through the kitchen towards the toilets, but when she alerted Donna, she didn't get the reaction she'd hoped for, with Donna declaring she couldn't give a shit about rats as long as it wasn't a cockroach. What high standards she has.
The next day, was in fact our first encounter with 'Fiji Time'. Fiji Time is an actual title used by all Fijians as an excuse to be at least half an hour late for everything. We had already said our goodbyes to Anna the previous night as she was due to leave before we wanted to get up. What a surprise then when we saw her downstairs at breakfast more than a little concerned that her boat was supposed to have left 20 minutes ago. She was then informed that it was on Fiji Time, and not to worry. At least this meant we didn't worry when our lift turned up 45 minutes late. We then witnessed the boat that was about to take us out on the two hour journey to Mana Island, but couldn't help but be thrilled that we could finally afford to make it out to a Fijian Island. We were informed that when we left we would be looking at brown sand and when we arrived we would be looking at white sand. This was true. We were both unfazed by the hunched up journed due to two Swedish beauties sat opposite us on the boat. Laura, in true exaggerated style, declared to Donna that she was in love...Donna didn't mind as she too found herself to be falling in love with his friend. When the Fijian boat man made the love of Laura's life carry her rucksack onto the boat, it then became clear to Laura that the feeling was mutual, and she's still bloody talking about it now.
The first couple of days were very slow, especially in the evenings after dinner where everyone (all young people who seemed relatively normal) disappeared...considering dinner was at 6pm, they weren't in bed, however, we explored the other hostel bars and again were greeted by nothing special. We were futher confused by all the marker pen writing in the main dining room claiming how amazing the hostel was and talking about a mysterious Bosco and a suprising number of 'Fuck Yes'' being written on the wall, we had not heard this phrase once. It seemed to us that a lot of people had once thoroughly enjoyed the hostel, but we couldn't understand why considering nothing was happening and the room was more than a little dingy. Needless to say, the hostel staff, much like all the Fijians we met, were utterly lovely...some of the nicest people we've met. We satisfied ourselves by booking a dive where we'd see sharks. The dive instructor, who loved Laura, and didn't try and conceal it with his body language..took us out on the tiniest and flakiest boat in the world. We weren't confident that we were going to get to the dive or back as they really struggled with starting the boat and it often cut out. Having been told by our dive instructor that we would be going straight to the Supermarket, we were both a little confused with Laura asking Donna secretly if we would be required to buy our dive equipment. Neither of us would have been happy and so were thrilled when we were in the middle of the sea and informed that we had reached the Supermarket. It suddenly clicked that this was a dive site. We were happy to be out of Australia's restricting diving rules and so massively entertained when Donna tried her regulator and realised her air wasn't on just before jumping into the water. He replied with a very laid back 'oh yes, I must turn that on for you'. Considering the fact we were anchored in the middle of a very choppy sea which we are unused to, our instructions were to simply dive in and go straight down due to the current whichever side of the boat we decided on. We went for opposite sides of the boat so we could go in together in typical '1, 2, 3 style), only Laura wasn't quite ready and left Donna on her own in the water while she flapped around in the boat before betraying Donna and doing 1, 2, 3 with the instructor, leaving Donna on her own 10m down for much longer than she would have liked. Haha.
We both loved the dive and were amazed to see for Laura at least, not only one but three/four (of course she can't remember exact figures and Donna can't help as predictably she only saw one) grey reef sharks, all bigger than us. Satisfied at seeing them, Laura was not amused when the dive instructore signalled that they should go closer. Donna was struggling with her ears at this point and so could not go down further so he took this as an opportunity to try his moves with Laura underwater...pulling her towards him to ballroom dance. It should be noted that Laura probably accidently initiated this by facing her biggest diving nemesis and nearly swimming head first into coral. The sharks were no problem compared to this. We then swam towards and area that had previously been used as a shark feeding area...a fact we know as our dive instructor (no, we don't actually remember his name) drew a ridiculous picture of a shark and a person. The picture was less than reassuring, but absolutely hilrious and probably good for Laura's interpretation of 5-year-old's drawings. As always, we both got a real buzz from diving and hoped for a more impressive night. This was to be fulfilled as we accidentally discovered Bosco.
Zoscha, an Australian girl caught us walking back from another bar, again disappointed at the show, who told us to join her in the Dive Shop. By Dive Shop, she meant a hut which was full of a mixture of Fijian hostel workers and other backpackers drinking rum and Kava and singing along to the guitar played by Adam. We had a great time although as everyone else filtered off we stayed behind, somehow ending up next to the hilarious Bosco, a 50-year old Fijian...legend to Mana Island. He suddenly grabbed Laura's feet whilst she was taking a power nap and began to massage them. He then declared that he needed oils and jumped up to retrieve some from the Dive Shop much to Laura's amusement. She then proceeded to demand whether or not this was a proper dive shop or just a hut containing a few flippers and some massage oil. Bosco laughed and refused to deny Laura's assessment. Having finished Laura's 45 minute massage he then attempted to grad Donna's legs, just leaving them in his lap and refusing to allow Donna to remove...an uncomfortable half hour before bed. Again, we made some drunken decisions and Laura insisted that Bosco take us Island Hopping the next day. At 9am. This was even after Laura checked that this was normal time and not Fijian Time.
True to their word, which was a massive surprise, considering they didn't get to bed until 6am, Bosco and Adam were preparing the boat when we appeared at half 9. Very accustomed to Fiji Time this was to be expected. Adam insisted on force feeding us breakfast, and kept giggling, presumably because he was still drunk...thank God we had a sober boat captain. We set off and were taken around several islands, encouraged to take advantage of the 5 star resorts. We were also taken snorkling and although we had a very enjoyable time, as it was amazing, forced to extend our swimming by Adam who insisted they would call us when it was time to go. The next thing we know when we put our heads up is they're shouting for us and the boat is approximately 2m away disturbingly close. Laura was thrilled by the snorkling as we saw squid and a lot of pretty fish we hadn't seen before. Laura has now decided she is addicted to pretty fish (but will none the less continue to eat sushi and her obsession, tuna melts) and loves them. We had an amazing barbeque lunch and stopped off at a sand island on the way back. It was a tiny island made up of pure white sand and was an incredible place to be when the Sun was going down. We were also informed by Bosco that because we couldn't go fishing and we were leaving the next day, he would organise a Fijian dance and fire show that evening ending with a bonfire on the beach. This he did, again being true to his word. Earlier on in the day, Adam had overheard Donna call Laura Loz. He was very amused and wouldn't let it go, he even went as far as dragging Donna away just to bring her straight back to Laura announcing "Loz, this is Doz". We were particularly amused in the middle of the dances, during one of Bosco's sincere speeches about Fiji being third world when we heard from backstage Adam's voice calling 'Laaaauuss'. We immediately cracked up, but understand this was not because Fiji is third world. Adam, who was the fittest Fijian dancer, informed us that this had been solely for our benefit and to make us laugh. We were also thrilled when Bosco announced to the entire audience that the show was for us as it was our last night. We felt special, although Laura wasn't best pleased when he announced where we were from...Cambridge and Nor-fuck.
The fire show was amazing, although none of the four dancers got through it without dropping their fire-sticks. Donna later found out that this was because they had all been hammered by 4pm due to the fact that there was to be no fire show that evening, when Bosco appeared from our Island Hopping tour declaring that there would be one in our honour...oops. It was all fun and games until the bonfire when things became slightly hazy for us...when we both accidentally acquired an extremely persistent Fijian dancer. Adam emerged, and refused to give up on his attempts to make us change our flights and stay for an extra three days. His entire tactic involved reciting the days of the week insisting we had enough time to do America until an American girl on our tour turned around insisting 'these girls work on English time, not Fijian time, they can't! They have neither the time nor money!'. Adam's response was that we should speed around America. Nice one.
Laura then went to bed, unfortunately leaving Donna in the difficult position of explaining to Adam where she had gone. She failed in lying, not 3 minutes before Laura had returned to the room and they (Donna being dragged by Adam) appeared in their dorm with Donna giving a sheepish 'I've done something bad'. Adam then bounded into the room and practically picked Laura up returning her to the bonfire. Back at the bonfire, Laura started to wake up and wasn't happy when Adam kept forcing her head onto his lap demanding that she 'sleep now'. Donna couldn't help due to problems of her own, Laura enquiring whether she was really holding her Fijian's hand. 'Yes', she replied, 'I don't know how to get rid of it.'.
Laura was left defeated and letting Adam walk her back to her room, managed to finally get to bed, Donna gave in shortly after. We awoke the next morning, definitely ready to leave Mana Island and the broken hearts we left behind.