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'Bula Fiji'
Fiji - July 2003
'Show me the hammocks'
Sunday 6th July 2003 Lautoka, Viti Levu

Arrived pretty much on time at 8 pm but it was absolutely pouring down and very humid. Passport control was also very slow and we didn't make it to a hostel , the Cathy Hotel, until about 10. I was really struggling with the humidity so the first thing we did was buy a bottle of lemonade and sit in the hostel lounge to relax for half an hour. Fortunately the 2nd series of Black Adder was playing on the DVD so we managed to sit through a couple of episodes before crashing out on our bunks. Sarena didn't even bother to get undressed.

The journey was pretty hairy due to the amount of turbulence so i was pretty pleased to get onto Fiji soil. It was another really long que this time to get through passport control but luckily the taxi man from Octopus resort was still waiting for us to take us to the hostel for the night. It was a pretty grim place and it was very busy due to the South Pacific games being held but we managed to find a couple of beds for the night. We dumped our stuff then went up to the lounge and watched some Black Adder DVD's which was a fab ending to a very long day.

Monday 7th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

The hostel even had a restaurant. It was actually a pretty old hotel that included some dorms. It is currently the South Pacific games and the Soccer tournaments are being held here so there where several island teams running about the hotel in the morning. We got some cereal for breakfast and then waited around for the Octopus Resort bus to pick us up and take us to the harbour. I waited by the side of the pool and listened in to Team Tahiti's football tactics. My french isn't that good but I think I picked up more than I thought I would.

We got to the harbour by 10:30 and where soon on our way across to Waya Island. The rain had stopped but there was still a strong wind and our tiny boat struggled for two hours making everyone on board feel a little sick. I had heard some horror stories about this little boats breaking down without life jackets or radios, ours seemed to have both though, the crew did keep looking at the motors with a concerned look on their faces which didn't instill much confidence in our arrival. We did make it to Waya Island just as the clouds where clearing.

The Octopus Resort has been recommended to by several people. It is in a great location. The tourist Bure's (fijian houses) all sit under a canopy of coconut trees and look out across the fine sandy beach and azure pacific ocean. Just exactly how you would image a tropical island resort to look like. Unfortunately we can't afford the rates for a Bure so we found a spot on the edge of the beach next to the sewage tank to pitch our tent. I was hoping to meet up with Gary and Sarah as soon as we arrived but they where no where to be found. Reception told me they where in tent 5 so I ended up hanging around the tent shouting 'Wolfie'. I could here someone still in the tent so also added 'Get up you lazy buggers' - it was1 pm after all. Not getting any response I gave up as people where looking at me as though I was a weirdo. I decided to take a walk up the beach whilst Sarena went for a lay down and was just clambering over some rocks when I noticed a tiny boat coming in and bouncing off the big waves. There was no mistaking Gary's cheeky head from a distance so I ran over to meet them at the beach. Everyone nearly got knocked for 6 as they jumped from the boat and fought the aggressive waves. Apparently Gary and Sarah had been enjoying a romantic picnic on a private beach around the next point. I helped carry their palm leaf basket full of empty champagne bottles and glasses back to the resort and it didn't even click...

... We sat around the afternoon drinking up and catching up on Lockerley life. After 2 years of being away nothing much has seemed to of happened, although there seems to be a general consensus that everyone wants to go traveling so maybe there will be no one there by the time we get back home. We then got onto the subject of how long Gary and Sarah had been together. 10 Years!!! far too long. Sarah couldn't hold it back any longer. Gary had taken her to the beach earlier to propose. He'd arranged the picnic and written 'will you marry me' in the sand. How romantic! Obviously this news called for more drinks.

Congratulations Gary and Sarah on their engagement.

Before dinner all the new arrivals are invited to sit with members of the village and drink Kava. This is basically a root found in the mountains that is ground down and mixed with water. It tastes just like dish water but gives you a tingling sensation in your mouth. Several bowlfuls would probably induce further sensations. Dinner was great everyone sits on a long table and eats together, We had fresh fish which was to be expected and we got to meet Hamish and Beth who had been on the Resort for the past week. The evening was very warm and the wind had now blown the humidity away. there was even any mossies or sand flies to pester us - Paradise!

After a quick b'fast of fruit and cereal we walked to the bank to get some cash out of the hole in the wall but unfortunately Toby's card didn't work - worrying.... he used his other card which luckily worked then walked back through the market which to my surprise was full of Indians. The taxi picked us back up at 10am and took us to the ferry which turned out to be a very small tin looking boat. There were about 10 of us all going over, we climbed on and then had a terrible trip over because the sea was so choppy. I was so pleased to see our resort and to get off the blinkin boat! i got soaked up to the waist getting onto the beach due to the rough sea. The island looked lovely - sandy beach and palm trees, a little bar/restaurant shack, typical thatched cottages called Bure's and some really big tents.

After a quick pep talk we were shown our space to pitch our tent which was a little tricky because the wind was so strong, when we did finally get the tent up we realised there was no room for our backpacks - oh dear, but then we did have a big mattress in there as well.... still a bit of a worry though. We took all the stuff out we needed then dumped our bags in the office for the duration of our stay. The resort had some really big tents already pitched for guests which they were charging to same price to stay in as for us to stay in our small one, unfortunately they were all booked out for the week. Toby went off to find Gary and Sarah who were also staying but it was their last night. Gary and Sarah live in the same village as Toby back in the UK so he was so excited about meeting up with them again. I went for a quick lie down as i was so tired but 30mins later Toby came back with Gary and Sarah who had been out on a pick nick for the day. Hugs all round!!!! I went for a cold shower - didn't have hot ones but soon got used to that. The others had booked up a group massage so i went and had an hour of back rubbing, we were all laying down in Gary and Sarah's tent as they had one of the big ones. The ladies who were doing our massage were so funny, they seem to laugh all the time and seemed such happy people. Had to have another shower because of the coconut oil, didn't want to attract all the ants in the night! We then all went to have some cocktails at the bar and joined another couple called Beth and Hamish who were really nice. We started talking about marriage etc and how Gary and Sarah had been together for 10 years when she piped up how he had asked her to marry him on the pick nick early on in the day!!!! how fantastic is that. He took her on a private beach with a bottle of bubbly and proposed - very romantic.

So it was more cause for cocktails before Toby and I were dragged off for the Kava evening, something they always do for the new arrivals. Kava is the local alcoholic drink derived from a plant which is ground down then sieved through a cloth with some water and tastes like shite. Looks like muddy water and really isn't very pleasant but after a couple of cup full's and some clapping your mouth becomes numb because of the natural anaesthetic so it does get better the more you drink.

Didn't have a late one as we were both so tired so after dinner which was fish, and as everyone knows i'm not a fish eater but i thought i would try. Needless to say Toby had 2 dinners then we crashed in the tent which was now being blown around everywhere.

Tuesday 8th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

The night was a little stuffy cooped up in our tiny tent, but at least Gary and Sarah where looking after our back packs in their tent (which happened to be Tent 4 and not Tent 5) which gave us some extra room.

We where up by 7:30, Sarena had a battle with a crab that was trying to bury itself under the front of the Tent, we met up with Gary and Sarah and went for breakfast. We then found a spot on the beach. I bagged the hammock which wasn't that comfortable but was at least in the Shade. The sea was still a little choppy but was starting to calm a bit. This lazy morning finally gave me the opportunity to start the latest Harry Potter book. We grabbed some lunch at 1 and then had to say our goodbyes to Gary and Sarah. It was great to see them and didn't want them to go at all. We then heard that the motor on the boat we caught yesterday had blown up so Gary and Sarah had to walk over to the other side of the Island to catch a different boat. We waved them goodbye as they disappeared into the jungle.

I took my mind of them leaving us by getting straight back into The Harry Potter book which kept me busy until the light had faded. Tuesday night was crab racing night. Hamish and Beth had been here last week so offered some tips on how to find the Hermit crabs. With some insider knowledge we had no trouble getting a feisty little crab that I could not stop attacking my fingers. I registered my crab with the official who painted the number 6 on its back and put it in the bucket at which point it started picking fights with all the other crabs. Looks like I have a winner.

I was very tense at the start of the contest. 30 crabs where entered and everyone had their strategy on how they would win. I choose a small feisty crab as I though it would be a good sprinter. One guy got a massive crab. They where all tipped out into the middle of a circle drawn in the sand and the race was on for the first 20 to cross the line to get into the next heat. My one had either expelled all is energy on me or in the bucket, or had been beaten up himself as all his feistiness had deserted him. I was very pleased to see that the biggest crab didn't move once in the whole race. Hamish managed to get in the first 20 and into the next heat. He even qualified in the first 10 to get to the final and was just about to win the final when his crab turned around and ran the other way. Bugger!

It was all very exciting and the entertainment was extended with some Limbo dancing and drinking games. Sarena won the girls fastest drinking competition and we one the couples balloon dancing although only due to my tactics of losing control and knocking everyone else's balloons out (all by accident of course) A free bottle of sparkly added to our duty free meant we ended staying up pretty late.

didn't sleep so well due to the wind and the heat but at least there wasn't insects flying everywhere trying to eat you alive - in fact haven't seen one mosquito yet.

Did see a lot of crabs in the night when getting up for a wee, one tried to crawl under the tent but i dragged him back out again before we accidentally squashed the poor bugger in the night. Went and met everyone for b'fast which i passed onto Toby, not feeling hungry. The weather was still quite choppy and the sun wasn't really showing it;s head just yet so we all sat on the beach for a while before having some lunch and then saying goodbye to Gary and Sarah who were catching the 2pm boat back. Unfortunately the boat didn't come due to blowing up on the way over - probably because the sea was so rough so they had to stay for a few hours extra before having to walk to the next village where the sea was more sheltered to catch another boat.

We sat in a hammock for the rest of the afternoon then went and did some crab racing which was an event they hold every tuesday - good fun but we didn't win. We sat with Beth and Hamish over dinner and then we all joined in with the drinking games they had on the beach accompanied by a bonfire. I of course won the drinking game which involved kneeling down with your hands behind your back and drinking a bottle of beer out of a straw as fast as you can then putting the empty bottle on your head to show you have finished - the others didn't stand a chance! takes me back to the days of having pint drinking competitions with Toby and his mates in Richmond and winning all the money - twice in a row........ ahhh the glory. Toby and I also won a balloon competition which nearly ended up with us killing each other because Toby was just pushing me into people an i was knocking all the opponents balloons out, he couldn't understand why i was shouting at him to stop pushing and to just stand still. Anyway it nearly ended in tears but we did win (cheating) and got given a bottle of bubbly which we all consumed pretty quickly.

Stayed up till midnight drinking the duty free we had bought with Beth and Hamish then crashed into the tent for some sleep which was pretty hard because it was like a sauna in that tiny little thing.

Wednesday 9th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

Sarena and I had a healthy breakfast and then joined one of the villagers , Tom, on a hike up to the top of a mountain peak. My hiking boots where locked in reception so I had to struggle the volcanic boulders with my dilapidate sandals. They where slipping all over the place and to be honest I found the hike very hard. It was well worth it though, the views where fantastic. I declined to take the last section around the boulder at the top and waited for the more agile to return before we all headed back down to the resort.

We where both pretty hot and sweaty when we returned so we went straight out for a snorkel. The sea was now nice and calm and we had clear visibility to the seabed and all the marine life living within the coral that went right up to the shoreline. Sarena is really starting to enjoy swimming in the sea now and was getting right into the marine life, Swimming with the squid and cuttle fish and diving down to take a closer look at all the amazingly colourful fish in the coral.

I am determined to finish Harry Potter as I don't want to carry it off the island. So I spent the rest of the daylight hours hanging around in my Hammock. Sarena even went for another snorkel with Beth.

Got up early and had some b'fast before joining the rest of the group going on a 3hr hike up the mountain/cliff thingy.......Found the amount of rubbish in the forest quite disheartening but the island on the whole was bloody beautiful the weather was now very hot so it was quite hard going and i was finding the walk uphill really hard. Near the top we had to climb up rocks and boulders using all fours which was a challenge and there was an older lady in our group who kept up with us all the way - did better than me in fact. The views were amazing and well worth the sweat, when we got to the top there was a fire coming over from the other side so we didn't stay for long before scrambling back down which was just as hard - Toby fell over quite hard again but didn't hurt himself this time......

We didn't have any lunch but just sat around for a couple of hours then went to get some snorkel gear and went for a dip. I did really well and didn't even get scared when confronted with a shoal of squid, saw loads of lovely fish but was a little disappointed with the lack of colour on the sea bed - a lot of coral seemed pretty dead and what was alive was quite natural looking. Did find some patches of pretty and interesting things though which were great to investigate - and the fish were so varied and brightly coloured. We then sat on the beach to read for a few hours, Toby was trying to finish the Harry Potter book before the end of the holiday. I went out for another snorkel with Beth in the afternoon and i saw what i thought was a jellyfish but turned out to be a plastic bag..... not very bright.

I went and watched a coconut demonstration, how to cut one down from the tree and how to drink and eat the thing - very very tasty. After dinner had another early night - still very hot.

Thursday 10th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

Had a very hot night in our tent. The wind has now died right down, but at least it was not too humid. I was was kept awake by crabs burying themselves under the tent.

Sarena and I went for a walk around some rock pools in the morning. There where hundreds of crabs scuttling everywhere, they had obviously had a good nights sleep under our tent! Even managed to catch a glimpse of an octopus which was probably the same Gary had mentioned seeing.

Spent the rest of the day alternating with reading chapters of Harry Potter and snorkeling. What a life! although I am starting to feel a little trapped in the resort.

After dinner we sat around the Kava drinking villagers with Hamish and Beth and several people played guitars and sang. It is nearly a full moon too so the whole resort was lit up by a bright blue light.

After b'fast we went for a walk along the beach and had a poke around in the rock pools - just saw lots of crabs whilst Toby saw an octopus. Spent most of the day reading on the beach and soaking up the rays then went for another snorkel but found our flippers were hurting our toes and causing them to blister so went back in and fell asleep in the sun for a few hours - starting to get a nice tan even with factor 30+ on

Hamish couldn't find his shoes which he had left somewhere on the resort (it's all sand) so i helped for a little bit but they didn't turn up - he thinks a local has now got some nice sandals. After a cold shower and some drinks with them both then sat on a huge mat under the stars and played on the guitars singing and enjoying the whole atmosphere. There was a Kiwi girl who could sing and play really well and was very confident. Beth also played and sang for us, she was fantastic and it turned out Hamish could play the guitar as well!!! gosh everyone is talented round these parts.

 

 

Friday 11th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

Didn't get on with Sarena in the morning she seems to be intent on interrogating me on everything I eat or don't eat during breakfast. Its very annoying. We decided to extend our stay at the resort for another 2 days to make it a whole week (we didn't want to miss out on the sunday BBQ) and then joined Hamish and Beth for a snorkel.

It was Hamish and Beth's last day, so we waved them goodbye from the beach with the villagers all playing guitar and singing their farewell song. It was great to meet these two, we promised to meet up with Beth in Newcastle when we get home. Hamish will soon be going to spend 12 months doing marine biology in the Antarctica so we don't know when we will see him again.

Dinner was a buffet that night. There was loads to choose from. Needless to say we all ate too much.

That night was the stuffiest ever and I ended up getting up in the early hours to the brightest moon I had seen in ages. I spent 10 minutes swinging in a hammock to cool down and then ripped the fly sheet off the back of the tent in a hope a breeze would seep through and sneaked into the tent very carefully so as not to disturb Sarena. I was just dozing off and was startled by Sarena also getting in the tent. foolishly I admitted that I didn't realise that she wasn't in the tent. This statement meant trouble, Sarena got a bit huffy that I had noticed she wasn't there and said that I should be able to sense her presence. yeah yeah yeah i was just tired and wanted to get back to sleep.

Toby woke up in a foul mood - oh joy so had a quick and conversation free b'fast before hitting the beach and book for most of the morning with Hamish and Beth. They had to catch the 2pm boat back so we all had an hour of snorkeling then had some lunch, said our goodbyes and swapped email addresses.

The locals all came down to sing a song and wave goodbye, they also do that for new arrivals which i think adds a nice touch. Had a wonderful sunset in the evening which everyone came down to sit on the beach and watch before finding a seat for dinner which was now becoming hard to do because of the amount of people they had staying on the resort - far too many. It was buffet night tonight which meant standing in line for ages and i wasn't feeling so good so just left them all to it and went to bed. Toby got up at 2.30 to get some fresh air because it was so stuffy in the tent - no breeze could get in. I got up after him and went to sit on the beach thinking he had gone for a walk, the moon was full and it was soooo beautiful just watching the waves and being so alone. 1/2 hr later and still no sign of Jones so i thought i should go back to the tent to see if he was looking for me, he was sound asleep in the tent and when i started getting back in i woke him. He thought i was already in the tent! didn't notice i wasn't lead next to him, he just went for a wee then went back to sleep unawares of my non presence next to him.................. Toby and his bubble world.

 

Saturday 12th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

Spent pretty much the whole day on the beach reading. I managed to finish Harry Potter in the morning which came as a relief.and pretty much started a new book straight away.

We thought we should be doing something a bit more active than sitting around and reading, so we hired out a sea kayak. The wind was starting to pick up again it was actually getting quite rough out at sea so we battled for half an hour and gave up as we had hardly got anyway against the wind.

In the evening the Fijian staff put on a small dance show which included the Kiwi bosses two young children whom managed to entertain everyone as they tried to copy the Fijians.

After b'fast we sat in shade all morning as i was starting to get prickly heat... not nice. Toby managed to finish the Harry Potter book which he was overjoyed about so we celebrated with a cold pineapple drink and a packet of crisps. I had also finished all my reading material so went in the library in the office to see if they would allow me to swap 3 of my books (including the new harry potter) for one of theres' even though they have a sign saying they don't. The Kiwi couple that own the resort were in the office at the time and she was fine about it saying that was more than fare but he got really quite funny about the whole thing and said he already had the HP book in paper back (don't do it in PB) and made me feel like i was stealing the crown jewels - she let me take one anyway so i quickly left the office to the safety of the beach to read my new book. Hired out a kayak in the afternoon but the wind had picked up again and the water got really choppy so went back in after 20mins the weather didn't improve and got quite chilly so i went and had a shower and sat on beach to play gameboy then all sat around to watch the locals put on a dance and singing show for us, this also included the owners 2 kids who were very funny. Met a lovely couple from OZ over dinner who were very nice then had another early night.

Sunday 13th July 2003 Octopus Resort, Waya

Had a really breezy night which managed to get some air circulating in the tent and keep us cooler than usual. The weather was a bit overcast for most of the day. It was still pretty warm though. In the morning I took a walk over to the neighbouring village to attend a church service (wot me!!!) apparently the fijian choir go mad and are worth seeing. They were a little sedated though and I managed to sit through an hour and a half of the vicar blurghting fijian before I managed to pick an opportunemoment to sneak out. The best bit was some old guy with a big cane that kept hitting and poking any kids that where not sitting still our didn't bow their heads low enough.

Got back to the resort in time for lunch, very handy, and then spent the afternoon finishing another book - The Magic Cottage. Sarena told me it was good. but in actual fact it was crap.

Sunday night is BBQ night at the Resort. For once we managed to get a good spot at the table and where first in line to get the food. There was Massive amounts of meat and salad. I piled everything I could on my plate and really struggled to finish it. After food we played cards with an Irish guy, John and his american girlfriend, until the beach games started, Limbo, and drinking games mainly. Sarena had disappeared early as she wasn't feeling too good and I wasn't long to join her.

I gave all our washing to the launderette in the morning then realised i had nothing to wear that covered my shoulders for church later that morning so stayed behind and read whilst Toby went off and prayed for the both of us...

I didn't go snorkeling again as the amount of sea lice from the time before put me off a bit ( they bite) so just laid around all day. Looking forward to leaving Monday pm though as i'm starting to find it a little claustrophobic being confined to this small area, not allowed to walk without a guide over the rest of the island, or so they say and i'm struggling to do nothing all day. but sit and read.

It was BBQ night at the resort which turned out to be a really good night - we sat with some funny people and played cards for a while before loading our plated up with wonderful food and diving in. 30mins later though i had the most terrible stomach ache and had to dive to the loo where i then spent the rest of the evening thinking i was going to die, went straight to bed without saying goodnight to anyone.

Monday 14th July 2003 Lautoka, Viti Levu

There was a nice breeze most of the night so we both managed to sleep reasonably well. We where all packed up and had settled our bill by 10 so spent the rest of the day lazing about in hammocks waiting for our 2 pm boat back to the main island. The boat back was even smaller than the one we had taken out, but the sea was extremely calm and it ended up being a very enjoyable 2 hour trip. Mike (the mathematician from london) was also heading back to the same place as us so we arranged to go out for a pizza in the only decent restaurant in town. This gave us a couple of hours to catch up on our diaries, No power at the resort meant that we were a week behind. I Thoroughly enjoyed a warm shower too.

We met up with Mike, John and Tamarin at the Pizza place at 7 and had a very enjoyable evening. John (the New Yorker) and Sarena spent most of the time taking the mickey out of each others accents between stories of traveling and how we all hate the French!!!

I feel instantly asleep when we got back a combination of a breeze from the overhead fan and a nice comfy mattress now dought helped.

Had stomach ache all night but there was a breeze getting in the tent which made it more bearable. After an early b'fast we packed up our bags and the tent and checked out by 10am - both looking forward to getting back to some normality and not laying around anymore. Wonderful place to get away specially for honeymooners and for a relaxing break but i don't think you could do more than a week (well i couldn't) beautiful island, bright blue clear waters, palms and sand......

Caught the 2pm boat back which i wasn't looking forward to after the trip over but the water was calm and the journey enjoyable. The taxi dropped 3of us back to the Cathy Hotel, where we stayed the first night in fiji. Mike whom we had made friends with was heading our way and staying in the same hotel so we made arrangements to meet up for pizza later on that evening. We booked ourselves into a double room for a couple of nights so that we could do our diary and have some space - can't swing a cat in our small tent so it was nice to have some room to put things. Met up with Mike in the Pizza place, he was also meeting up with an American couple and their baby who had also been staying at the Octopus resort, so we all got together and had dinner and i really enjoyed myself - they were so much fun and had lots of interesting stories to tell.

Fell into bed and slept like a log - luckily the ceiling fan gave us a bit of breeze.

Tuesday 15th July 2003

Lauotoka, Viti Levu

Had another shower in the morning, just because I could. then I went to check my emails whilst Sarena did her diary. We then swapped roles, It took me a good few hours to get the last 7 days of diary updated. In the afternoon we headed out for a walk around Lautoka in the afternoon. Ended up doing grocery shopping again. Aaaarrrgh all we seem to do is buy food, I know we need to eat but it just drives me mad. This time though the food will be for a day in a lodge in the Highlands at Abaca which we will be going to tomorrow. It feels very good to be moving around again. Staying at the resort was great in a way, but I feel much better when we are organising our own trips and being more active.

That evening we went for a very cheap chinese, the food was really good and we ended up ordering far too much as we didn't realise the size of the portions. We ended up taking a load back to the Cathy Hotel and spent the evening there.

Had a lovely hot shower then had some b'fast, i stayed in and finished my diary whilst Toby went up to the internet place to check his emails. We then swapped and i went to check mine, mother of course was now starting to worry....

Had left over pizza for lunch then went into town to get some groceries for our next couple of days in the highlands which of course caused Toby to get into another one of his strange moods when entering a food shop.......... as always we ended up having words because of his attitude to shopping - and just how are we going to eat if we don't buy stuff? Anyway just bought some noodles and b'fast bars and some fruit ready for our couple of days hiking up in the mountains.

We then went for a mega cheap chinese meal in some dodgy looking place - got warned for the 3rd time about not walking the streets at night time, this time by a white guy. This time though i went out with my knife just in case......... have been warned 1 to many times for my liking so not taking chances.

Wednesday 16th July 2003 Abaca, Viti Levu

A 4wd truck arrived at 10 and we where joined by Mike and Jane who where also staying at the Cathy. Together we rode the very bumpy track for 40 minutes into the countryside to Abaca Village. Mike and Jane are from Torquay and where just spending the day at the village to take the 2 hour walk to the Sauivone waterfall. We joined them and had a great time in there company. Funnily enough the walk took 2 hours plus some extra time for some sit downs. The waterfall wasn't too impressive but the views from the grass plains across the pacific and Yassawa group of islands was pretty cool. It started raining towards the end of our walk and we sheltered in the lodge together until Mike and Jane were picked up at 4. It was sad to see them go as they both had a very good sense of humour. Mike and Jane are also just off to South America, so I lent him my iPod walkman whilst we where in the lodge so he could listen the spanish classes on there. But he kept losing them and getting Red Hot Chili Peppers instead! Between conversations of travel experiences we had to keep chasing mice of our food and backpacks.

After they had gone the Lodge seemed pretty lonely. There was another couple staying with us there. We couldn't guess there accents and they weren't very sociable (probably French then!). It rained most of the evening so I read and Sarena attempted to learn spanish, although the book I bought ages ago in Australia doesn't seem very good. It gives you excersises like trying to buy an art dress with loads of pockets for all the brushes - as if we need to learn that as a beginner.

It rained pretty heavy most of the night. The Mosquito's where also pretty rampant, they where these funny black and white stripped ones. We where also disturbed of a peaceful sleep by the sound of mice scurrying around in the roof cavity. I still slept pretty well considering, not so sure Sarena did though.

Got picked up at 10am in a truck so we clambered into the back with our bags with another couple from the UK and we were then taken up into the Highlands. The journey was pretty rough due to it being a stone track but it was nice to be taken out of the town and into the countryside and villages. It was certainly green and very pretty away from the hustle and bustle, very much like some parts of India. We passed through one village where i got out and took some photo's, very traditional with friendly people - hard to think they were cannibals just 100 years ago.

We then got dropped of at the lodge we were staying at right at the top of the track, we had paid down at the tourist place whilst on the way up. The lodge was fantastic and much better equipped than i thought, had beds and cooking facilities and a proper toilet. Mike and Jane who shared the trip up with us wished they had made arrangements to stay after seeing the place. They were a nice couple and seemed easy to talk to so after dumping all our bags we all set off to do the 3hr waterfall loop trail - really very good and very widernessy, felt like being in a lost jungle somewhere..... when we got back we all had some lunch that we had bought with us - Toby's glad i bought some food now!

We then all sat for a few hours until they had to be picked up at 4pm - ended up having a really good afternoon just chatting and having a laugh, Mike was extremely funny and kept us entertained doing some of his Spanish listening to Toby's Spanish learning Audio thing he has. They are off to South America very soon so he is trying to learn like we are - not very well

After they had gone we just had some dinner of instant mash and beans then had a really early night. Unfortunately the mice then woke up and were running all in the ceiling making a right old racket - they had already got into our food bag and eaten some of our stuff. We had mosquito nets covering our bunks luckily as they were quite a nuisance, so i got onto my bunk only to find it was damp due to the humidity and had mice poo over it. Oh well...... i tucked in my net so it was like being in a cage then just fell asleep fully clothed.

Thursday 17th July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

The weather was clearing pretty rapidly in the morning which took us a bit by surprise. We set out on a 4 hour walk up to the top Mount Batilamu just before 9 and it was still pretty cloudy. It took us a good 40 minutes to actually find the start of the track, by which time the clouds where clearing. The walk up the mountain was mainly on grass lands with the sun beating down on us we found it very hard work. The rain overnight made it pretty humid too and there was very little wind to cool us down. We struggled slowly for 2 hours and managed to get to the base of a very steep part of the track. There was some shade there so we sat and admired the view. We were both feeling very uncomfortable about continuing so we agreed that the view from here was good enough and we could always tell everyone we made it to the top (no witnesses). We worked out our feeble alibi and turned tail back down the hill. On the way down we passed a Kiwi with his mate who seemed to be caught in the same trap as us, except he had wore a shirt and work trousers and shoes and didn't seem to have any drink. I wished him luck and told him the climb was worth it (sucker). Getting back to the lodge was still very hard work. I was boiling so I took a side track to the bottom of some small waterfalls, I stripped to my underpants (enough to scare the natives) and jumped straight into a pool of chilly water. It was very refreshing. I only had a quick dip though before meeting Sarena back at the lodge.

It was only about midday by the time we had showered and packed all our stuff up ready to leave. I tended to my bite ridden legs and arms with after bite cream and we sat and read until 3 when the truck was due to return and pick us up. It didn't arrive at 3 though - Fiji time, instead the Kiwi guy we had met on the mountain side crawled up the track. He was dripping with sweat and gasping for a drink so I made him and is mate a cup of lemon tea which seemed to revive them a little. They had been walking for hours. The truck ended up arriving at 4:30 and gave the 4 of us and two Frenchies a lift back to Lautoka. I ended up talking to the kiwi guy, Chris, about getting a bus to Nadi, The Frenchie heard this and offered a lift there in his car. Cool we got to Lautoka though and he said he would just give Chris a lift and not us as his car was too small. Bloody French. Sarena and I ended up getting dropped of at the bus station just as a bus was leaving for Nadi. It was very strange, the bus was packed and totally run down as you would imagine but it had a massive TV in the front which was playing the XXX movie. We got to see most of it on our hour long journey 33km south to Nadi.

We got dropped of at the town centre and walked straight to the Sunseekers Hotel. It is pretty run down, but cheap and Tom the owner is cheerful enough so we booked a night and grabbed another cheapy chinese in town. Spent the evening on the Hotel verandah listening to Tom and his band playing Bob Marley tunes (and a few other classic sing-a-longs). Tom was a pretty good singer and the guitarist had some talent but I don't think the guy on Bass had ever seen a guitar let alone heard music before. He seemed quite happy to bang out some notes here and there and puff on a joint. every so often he played a note in tune and looked up at his small audience to see if anyone had noticed!

Had the weirdest dreams about when my mum and dad split up when i was 8yrs old - never had dreams about that before?

We both were up early and ready to do our big 4hr mountain walk, unfortunately we then spent the next hour looking for the beginning of the trail and ended up going up and down the main track looking for it - very frustrating. We did find it in the end thanks to the locals but by now the sun was shining down and draining us of any energy we had left. I was already exhausted and we had only just started so by after 30mins of climbing straight up and trying to just breathe because of the humidity and hot sun, i was ready to turn back, especially as all i could see was dots in front of me cause i was so hot. Toby said to carry on for a bit further but even he was feeling rough. To be honest i was finding it so hard a bloody meteor could have dropped in front of me and i would have just stepped over it and not noticed, i was really feeling bad. We got near the top and had a sit down and some fruit and decided the view was just as good from where we were and started walking back - thank god.......

I was nearly running back but once across the river we then had to walk back up hill to get to the lodge - by now the sun was blazing and my legs would not walk any more but with the last bit of life i had left in my little body and somehow made it back, ok it's a bit dramatic but frankly that's how i felt!

Toby went off for a dip in the nearby natural pool whilst i just headed back and had a very cold shower taking in all my clothes for a wash as well. Spent the afternoon chilling out and waiting for the van to pick us up. Said they would come for us at 3 but didn't turn up till 4.30 - that's fiji time.

They dropped us down to the bus stop and we caught the bus into Nadi which took and hour and even had a TV and video playing XXX, the bus was knackered but had a film showing? It was now dark and we were both really tired and quite hungry, we got off in town then walked for a while to find a place called sunseekers. Hotel come hostel which is all we needed, so we got ourselves a double -very basic and definitely not a hotel..... then walked up into town again for a sit down Chinese recommended by someone who said it was cheap - it wasn't. Went back to Sunseekers and i had a quick shower in the communal bathroom, the shower was a pip sticking out of a crumbling wall nicely framed by the sink hanging off the wall. After a very quick shower we went and sat outside to listen to the local guys having a jamming session. They were quite good apart from the bass player who was awful - went back to room and did dairy.

Friday 18th July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

Got up nice 'n' early to try and finder a better hostel, check our emails and book some 'Feejee Experience' tickets. Yep that's right. After all our sounding off about never wanting to get an Oz or Kiwi Experience bus we have decided we should really try it our before we turn our noses up at it. There isn't much else in the vicinity in way of hostels so we decided to stay another night at Sunseekers, the Feejee experience bus will pick us up from there tomorrow morning. After sorting that lot out we went out in hunt for postcards and a little souvenir of Fiji. Nadi is the tourist capital of Fiji so it wasn't too hard to find things. The hardest part was getting a decent price. We ended up finding a small cafe for breakfast and was joined by Bob who said he could help us and we should visit his shop and join him in some Kava. We were both aware of this tactic of getting suckers into shops and ripping them off but we still went for it. At first it seemed like a good deal as everything they sold was far cheaper than anywhere else we had seen. So we ended up buying a few trinkets. Bob then sold us some weed for which we had to travel around the back streets of Nadi for half an hour in the back of a truck to earn it. We then posted all our new things (and some old) back to the UK. Sarena then pointed to a market that we where meant to go to before meeting Bob. Bugger, all the stuff we bought was here as well and some of it was more less than half the price we just paid. You would think we would of learned by now. Never again!

We then bought some food for our journey tomorrow which obviously got me and sarena a bit stressed out with each other. I find it hard spending time and money on food when we will always find some wherever we are going, but to be fair to Sarena's argument, what else do you do in a town like this. Not a lot else. we grabbed some very cheap fried rice for lunch. Sarena took this opportunity to quiz me about my lack of enthusiasm. I couldn't really answer her. I am a big worrier when it comes to money and we are really getting pretty low now. Fiji is not a cheap place to travel and French Polynesia will be even more expensive (Bloody French) and I am spending most my time flinching with every dollar spent which just isn't enjoyable for either of us. Have I really turned into a tight ass! I am also very conscious of my fitness and weight at the moment, I just don't feel that comfortable and confident at the moment and need to get off my fat ass and do something about it... The huge plate of fried rice was very good though! We then headed back to the hostel to sort some stuff out for our trip and write out some postcards.

Sat out on the balcony in the evening and listened to Tom and his band again. The guitarist hadn't turned up though so it was just him and the very bad bass player. We didn't stay long.

Both were awake at 7am so just got up, booking another night at sunseekers then heading off to the internet cafe to catch up on all the goss, mother had sent out the search partied cause she hadn't heard from us for a week.

We then walked around the town looking for some new trousers for Toby as he had mislaid the bottom half of his trousers in the last Hostel we stayed at..... and he worries about money.

Had some b'fast at 10.30 and was joined by a guy called Bob (local guy) who said to join us for some Kava and have a look in his shop, needless to say we did and ended up buying what we thought were some bargains to send home. He even made us pay for the Kava at the end after saying it was free and just used for a welcome 'getting to know one another' we then said we would buy some weed as he said he could get some and ended up driving all over Nadi finding the guy to get it from. And yes once again we were ripped off left right and center.........

Just to top it off after sending all the stuff home from the Post Office we went for a look in the market only to find all the same stuff we had just purchased for a 3rd of the price, now that will teach us not to trust anyone!

We then bought some fruit and dry biscuits for our bus journey - Toby didn't see the point even though it was really cheap. I then wanted to have a walk around to take in the locals etc but Toby was by now getting really stressed, just doesn't like doing any of that kind of stuff so we went in a little cafe and had some lunch for £2.80 each - my choice as it was cheap and really very good, he still didn't seem happy so we walked back to the hostel.

No Toby you haven't turned into a tight arse and yes i understand your worries but surely the money is something that we can't change, we aren't staying in hotels or nice places and we are not having expensive dinners but just living from day to day and doing the best we can - it's not worth worrying about and even if we (when we) run out of money then we just go home - simple so try to enjoy everyday where we are at the time and stop trying to plan all the time for our next leg or the journey and not taking the time to look around you and enjoy yourself - who gives a shit if you have put on weight cause when we are homeless and destitute back in the UK then i'm sure you will lose it all again

Wrote all our postcards when back at the hostel and just chilled out for the evening - dinner was the wholemeal rolls i had bought earlier.........

Saturday 19th July 2003 Korotoga, Viti Levu

The FeeJee Experience bus picked us up at 9:30. It was pretty full (about 30 people). We found our seats whilst our Guide Thersea introduced herself and 'Pops' the driver. They then took us for a drive to Denerau harbour and around the 5 star Sheraton complex. After that we stopped off at the Experience office in Nadi to pay the balance and sort out all the paper work.

Our first main stop was Natadola Beach. which was an hours drive south of Nadi and along the Old Queens road which was a dirt track that led through some typical fijian villages and over some rickety old bridges. Natadola beach is pretty stunning, most of the group lazed around sunbathing and swimming, whilst Sarena, an american girl and I helped prepare food for a BBQ (brown noses!!!) got to meet a few of the others in the group whilst we sat around cooking and eating. Everyone seems really nice, so things are looking hopeful for our 4 day tour around the entire island. Most of the group is female which makes sense really when your traveling on your own.

A few BBQ'd chicken, lamb and sausages later and we packed up and jumped back onto the bus to head to the south of the island to the Coral Coast. The advertised Sigatoka sand dune surfing has now been cancelled and the site has been protected as an historic landing site for the early settlers. I was looking forward to it but didn't mind that we couldn't wreck the sand dunes. We stopped for the night at a place called the 'Crows Nest' in Korotoga. It was just getting dark but the resort looked really nice and was made up of individual villas. We where both looking forward to a hot shower. Bad news though. We where grouped with 4 others and where the only people to be allocated a cramp dorm room with no shower or toilets whilst the rest stayed in villas. I didn't mind staying in the dorm but the fact that we where charged the same amount as the others and denied things like towels wound us all up. Sarena spent the rest of the evening trying to negotiate with managers and staff for some kind of compensation, but to no avail.

We spent the evening getting to know our room mates though. There was a welsh couple, Billy and Emma, an English guy, Ian, who has spent the last year in NZ with his Kiwi flat mate, Toni who had come on holiday with him as they are both heading back to the UK.

The food was pretty good at the resort, the locals but on a great show of dancing and singing and we all had a few Fiji Beers to help us get over our accommodation issues.

Got picked up at 9.30 by the Feejee experience bus which just turned out to be a normal coach as opposed to the normal green one they use.

Our wonderful guide, Theresa introduced herself and the driver, Pops then took us for a quick tour of the rich area of Fiji - the Sheraton etc and basically showed us how the other half lived! We were then given a quick brief the next few days whilst driving onto Natadola beach along the Queens road. The beach was amazing and very unspoiled, i wasn't interested in sunbathing so i volunteered both our services to help out with the food preparation and really enjoyed doing it. Got talking with a local guy who told us jokes about big balls which was hysterical because you could only catch a few words now and then - had us in fits but the rest of the group didn't seem to 'get it'........The bus was swapped for the proper green Experience one whilst we were eating

I just had some salad for lunch whilst the rest pigged out on meat and bread and salad and fruit. I went off for a stroll along the beach to leave them all to it but within seconds of me stepping onto the beach i trod on a rather sharp rock which cut the bottom of my foot, but being the soldier that i am i carried on with my stroll and found myself on the most wonderful golden beach with crystal clear water and palm trees. When i got back they were packing up so i just cleaned the bottom of my foot as best i could but couldn't get the sand out, just stuck a plaster on and hobbled back on board.

We were then supposed to go dune surfing but Theresia explained the land had been put under protection due to finding some bones from the first settlers on the island. So we went straight on to the 'crows nest' where we were all staying for the night, Toby and i were near the back of the bus which meant we got the shittiest accommodation. There were six of us who ended up with the dorm room over the bar whilst the rest of the group shared villas which had showers and jugs of hot water for tea and coffee, TV and towels etc whilst we had no sheets no towels and the shitty toilet and cold shower was situated downstairs round the corner at the back of the restaurant. We weren't happy about paying the same amount of money as the rest of the group and the fact we wouldn't have paid£20 for any dorm room anyway....... i did complain to the manager and to Theresa but didn't get anywhere.

We did end up making friends with the people who shared our dorm with us - Ian and Toni who were flat mates and Emma and Billy from Wales, they were all really nice. The evening was spent drinking and getting to know everyone before having a quick dinner and then entertained by some local dancers

Sunday 20th July 2003 Suva, Viti Levu

Had an early start and everyone was back on the Bus by 8:15. This meant that we didn't get any time to see the area in daylight. The weather had also closed in and it had rained most of the night and was drizzling in the morning.

We drove along the south coast towards Suva at the east side of the island. On the way we stopped of to take a 3 hour trek through the rain forest. By now it was pouring down (as you would expect in a rain forest). We where taken to the start of the trek in the back of trucks, 3 of them got stuck trying to get up a slippy hill so some of us had to help push them up. It was a pretty muddy job. I had elected to do the trek in my sandals at first I regretted my job as we traipsed along a very slippery track and I struggled to remain standing but as we got into the jungle I found I had the advantage as I could wade through streams and rivers without the worry of ruining my footwear. One poor guy also chose sandals but his strap broke right at the begining and did the whole trek bare footed. The trek was brilliant, the rain mud and streams really made it, we all felt very remote scrambling around. I also met another really great couple from Adelaide in Australia, Rory and Anna. As for Sarena she buddied up with a new friend, Rebecca, and didn't do the trek due to a nasty cut on the bottom of her foot which she had gained on the beach yesterday. The had taken a long boat ride up the river and met us at the end of our trek.

When we got to the river we where all issued rubber inner tubes and spent the next hour floating back down the river. It was all pretty gentle. Sarena and Rebecca seemed to find the whole thing hysterical though, and some had real trouble trying to steer their rings. An Irish couple completely missed the landing beach and had to be rescued and towed back by a long boat. By the time we had finished the tubing we where all very wet and very cold. So we piled into the long boats and to take a long ride back to the bus. unluckily our boats engine packed up and we spent another 10 minutes sitting in the cold whilst they tried to restart it. We did eventually make it back and where all invited into the boat managers house to change into dry clothes and get a much needed hot drink. Sarena made me a Milo from the supplies she had bought and made sure I was grateful that she had bought some - I was!

That evening we drove into Suva and checked into the 'Pennisula Hotel' we where promised rooms with a double room separated by a room with two single beds. We paired up with two guys from the UK, Paul and Elaine and went to our room to find a double bed squashed next to a sofa and a camp bed that hadn't even been made up. Sarena stormed straight off and between hers and Paul's complaints managed to score a couple of private rooms each. At least that made up for the night before. I had a well deserved hot shower and then we got dressed for a night out in Suva.

We went to the Bad Dog Cafe for some pretty ordinary food. It was Toni's Birthday today and Emma's the next day so we started some celebrations. This was overheard by a Guy on leave from the US Navy who ended up buying our whole table a round of Tequilas (about 20) this set us right up for the evening so we ventured to the bar next door to find it backed with the rest of the Navy boys all taking advantage of their rare shore leave and probably very grateful to find a bus load of holidaying girls arrive. Sarena obviously took advantage of the situation and got several drinks bought for her during the night. My compensation was that she had to do my bar runs for me. We ended up staying at O'reilly's and Wolfhound's bar till 2, Thersea then guided us to a black market where the more hard core of us bought some more beer to take back to the hotel. The night ended with about 8 of us sitting poolside and playing drinking games. We submitted by 4:30 though which gave us a couple of hours of sleep...

Had to get up for a wee in the night it was pissing down outside so ended up getting wet and slipping up in mud - not happy. After a very quick b'fast we all got back on the bus, this time we sat near the front!

It was still raining and looking grey and miserable, my foot was extremely sore to put any weight on because it had now swollen which meant i couldn't do the trek. I was really looking forward to doing the walk but knew it would be impossible so opted to catch a lift on the long boat and meet them at the end. Rebecca who also wasn't keep due to just not enjoying walking, volunteered to keep me company for the afternoon something i shall be eternally grateful for because as it turned out we ended up having a blood great time!

We were plonked into the long boats and given opened up plastic bin liners to wrap around ourselves because of the rain, then taken on a 40min boat journey up the most wonderful river surrounded by lush green jungle either side. We didn't really appreciate the scenery though as we were huddled close to each other hugging the bags as best we could whilst making jokes all the way up. The boat man was trying to scare us by driving towards rocks and other obstacles a bit like 'shotover jet' in NZ but the difference was we were only going at a snails pace which made it even funnier. By the time we arrived at our destination which was a little stone beach, we were both quite soaked. We set up an ingenious camp with our bin bags then decided to get stoned to pass the time, ended up discussing how we never laugh so much when you smoke it as apposed to eating it, then started laughing hysterically for the next few hours. At one point we thought we were special mushrooms (we sort of looked like them with out bags on.......) anyway we were on our mushroom island and had to greet the others with a special song which we promptly made up ready for our guests. 2hrs later the other started appearing on the other side of the river slipping and sliding down from the top of the very steep cliff. We were put in the long boats and floated across to the other side which was even more hysterical because we said we couldn't walk due to the fact we had no legs (we were mushrooms) so tried to shuffle across to the boat but eventually did walk. As we arrived on the other side to greet the rest of the tribe we started to explain we were fungi and couldn't get out of the boat because we had no legs..................... the rest of them just looked at us and could not understand why we were crying with hysterics whilst looking cold and wet.

To get back down the river we had to all jump in some inflatable rings and just float down - once again very funny due to us talking absolute shite all the time. I kept separating from everyone else and heading towards the rocks and small rapids, why i just don't know? We then all had to get out near a small waterfall which was very difficult because you would get trapped in the circle of water and end up going round and around, Rebecca thought this was what you were supposed to do and just had this inane grin on her face whilst the rest of us were desperately trying to paddle to shore. For some reason (i have yet to find out) we then were told to get back in the rings and carry on floating down the river, which we did. Toby ended up pulling 4 of us in as we had now linked up with Emma and was knackered by the time he got us into shore....

Anyway we were all cold and wet by the time we got back to the coach after a 20min boat ride speeding along in the rain so rushed to get changed into some warm clothes and have a milo using a organisers house as a warm up stop.

Stopped in Suva for the night and after a bit of a barny with the hotel staff we ended up with a double to ourselves, whilst sharing with 2 other single people who had another room but we were all in together, they even had camp beds. We were lead to believe we would have a room to ourselves this time, anyway ........ we did in the end.

After a lovely hot shower we got dressed up and went out for dinner at the Fat Dog - wasn't impressed with the food but the company was good. It happened to be Toni's b'day so we all sang the song which was over heard by one of the American Navel guys at the bar so he bought 20 shots of Tequila and wished us all a happy evening, how generous is that! Emma's b'day was the next day so we sung the song again, she had some more shots provided by the bar then a big group of us headed next door to the Irish bar.

Well spent the rest of the evening having a bloody great time, and got talking to a great guy called Jo, also from the bus, He is from London and had a wicked sense of humour. Anyway i had a great time having shots bought for me every time i went to the bar. Seems the Navy guys always do this when they come into port - well thanks guys!! some of them were so sweet and i got chatted up by a 22 yr old who was wasted............so his friends kept reminding me, yeh thanks. Theresa joined us later in the evening and didn't get off the dance floor, she was a fantastic dancer - where did she get all her energy from?

Left the club at 2 then dropped the light weights home whilst the few of us left went and got more booze from the black market and sat up until 4.30am, Jo, Billy, Emma, Tom, Ben, Theresa and us two ended up playing some very funny drinking games which were all painstakingly spelt out to us by Jo, we were all so wasted we just couldn't get it at all and just ended up laughing all the time, very funny. We said our goodbyes to Billy and Emma who were staying on for a couple of days in Suva and promised to keep in touch.

Monday 21st July 2003 Nananu-i-Ra

...I was out like a light and fortunately woke again feeling like I had slept for ages. We where all back on the bus by 8. First stop was a supermarket for some supplies for breakfast and lunch. I wasn't too hungry and was quite happy nibbling on crackers for the day.

We then headed up the east coast and the Kings Highway which hasn't yet been tramac'd. We stopped of at a village school and all invaded a class to find out how the kids study. I found the experience pretty uncomfortable and felt like we where peering in on these kids as if they where some kind of attraction. It also felt that we where a bit on display. I was glad to get back on the road though and we stopped a bit further up to visit the village and sit in on a Kava ceremony. This was much more relaxed and we all had several rounds of Kava in between dancing and hokey-kokeying around the village bure. When the ceremony finally finished (they would probably go all day if they could). the local men took us to the river and ferried us across to a small beach on bilibili rafts which where pretty crude and wobbly bamboo rafts. We spent half an hour playing keepsy upseys on the beach with a volley ball and rugby ball and then had to race back to the other side of the river to the bus. Everyone ended up getting very wet and muddy again.

I didn't bother changing my clothes and sat straight back on the bus for our drive to the northern point of the island to take a small boat across to a backpacker resort on a small island. It was pretty dark by the time we got there but the place looked pretty cool. It was run by a Kiwi family who had a mad boy who ran around telling everyone strange stories. By 7 dinner was served so to avoid queuing I asked the mad boy if he could get my dinner. He said of course and rushed of and soon returned with the Dog's bowl full of Spaghetti Bologneise. I couldn't exactly refuse it so hoped the the dogs bowl was clean before he filled it.

Spent the evening drinking more Kava and trying to decipher 'Pops' (the bud driver) random stories. He spoke very laid back english with lots of Fijian mixed in. I managed to work out that he was talking about Mick Fleetwood in one story and then gave up. The Mad Kiwi Boy ended up running around the resort in pink Pyjamas at which point we realised he was a girl. Lack of sleep soon caught up with me though and I retired to bed by 11.

Two and a half hours later we were up again, in the shower and on the bus for 8am. Just had dry crackers for b'fast then stopped off for some supplies on the way for our lunch etc we weren't hungry just thirsty....

It was then a long couple of hours on the Kings highway which was muddy and slippery and very bumpy. We stopped off at a rural school so we could say hello and introduce ourselves, found out what they were doing etc. All very nice but very difficult with a hangover and lack of concentration... Hopped back on the bus an hour later and went to a rural village for a kava ceremony and some dancing with the locals which was bloody hilarious. They then took us down to the river where we had to sit on some bilibil rafts and get taken to the otherside for some beach games. I really couldn't get into running around after the ball specially as most of the time they were in the river so just sat that one out. We had to race back and i was on the same raft as Rebecca so of course we won!

Had to dry ourselves and get changed again on the side of the road - getting a bit fed up being wet and cold and muddy all the time now.

Caught a small boat across to an island a few hours later to stay the night in a backpackers, we had the choice to stay a few days but because of the weather we declined. We landed in the dark so didn't get any view of the island which was annoying. Had an early night after dinner and spent a couple of hours sitting on the bed with Rebecca in her dormitory having a good old laugh - realised we don't need grass to talk shite.

 

Tuesday 22nd July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

Had a great nights sleep. It poured down all night and was pretty wet in the morning. We didn't have to leave though until 11. But just a few minutes to it started to pour again and well got soaked on our boat journey back to the main land. Again we jumped on the bus soaked and cold whilst Pops drove us along the north coast to Ba and entertained us with his stories which where broken up with farting noises every time he used his microphone hand to change gear.

We stopped in Ba at lunch time and had a slap up curry. It was of the traditional Indian variety rather than the westernised version of curries but was surprisingly good and very cheap and plentiful. I was stuffed and felt pretty drowsy for our journey all the way back to Nadi. We where meant to visit some hot pools just outside Lautoka but no one was too keen on getting wet again so we carried straight on to Nadi. We where dropped of at the Nadi Bay Hotel, but wanted something a bit cheaper so ended up having a pretty stressful time with Sarena trying to get our way to the Aquarius hotel. In the end we probably spent just as much if we stayed at the Nadi bay with the others.

We checked into a dorm which had 3 other Brits in. I managed to get the last hot shower of the day which really pissed Sarena off and we spent the evening chatting to our room mates. One girl, Vicky, was very chatty and was asking questions non-stopped. It ended up being quite amusing as she turned out to be a bit of a hypochondriac. It was a bit nasty of me but I was telling her about whitetail spider bits, dengue fever and ross river fever which where all illness she could of contracted in the countries she had been in. The poor girl ended up having panic attacks. Sarena had enough of this by 10 though and asked to turn the light out so I wouldn't scare her any more.

slept like a log in the dorm thank goodness.

Had our b'fast using the supplies i had bought then sat around for an hour waiting to get back on the boat and leave. Rebecca had changed her flight home so now didn't want to stay on the island for a few days, then Jo whom we had also made friends with decided not to stay. This seemed to annoy Theresa a little but was cool about it in the end. House on fire - Rebecca had decided to go home early as she had had enough of traveling and needed her own bed so she was like a kid with a new toy! so excited.

It was once again raining so we all got very cold and wet on the boat journey back so once again had to get changed into some warm gear on the coach that was waiting for us. We stopped off for a curry for lunch which was bloody lovely then were supposed to go to some hot pools but nobody was interested in getting wet again! The coach dropped us off at the Nadi Bay hotel but we decided to find the Aquarius Hotel which we had fancied for days. The leaflet we had seen told us the wrong prices so we were unpleasantly surprised when we did arrive at the cost. We were so tired though we just took a couple of dorm rooms and relaxed in our room for the rest of the evening. Toby took the last of the hot water which i was most peeved about so had a go at the lady on reception then sat in my room and sulked

This was hard to do due to having a girl called Vicky in our room who thought she had every disease going, Toby didn't make it any easier because he kept coming up with new tropical diseases to get........... within the first hour she had gone from being pregnant because she was eating marmite, to having been bitten by a white tail because she had a brown spot on her leg, Toby had told her the story of Jess who got bitten and started rotting away....... she then thought she had dengue fever after he told her about the black and white mosquitoes that carried it and so it went on. She then started having panic attacks thinking she had picked up something awful and had to be placated by a bloke she seemed to be friends with. She would be quiet for about 5mins then start asking what we thought her brown spot was and what were the symptoms again? Jesus freeking Christ the girl was a complete loon!! I had to stick my ear plugs in and go to sleep cause i really would have just poked her eyes out if she had carried on.

Wednesday 23rd July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

The Aquarius hotel turned out to more expensive than I had expected and is in the middle of no where which forces us to eat in their restaurant. So we decided to head back to the very cheap Sunseekers hotel on the edge of Nadi town. This will now be our home until Sunday when we fly to Tahiti. We spent the rest of the day emailing and catching up with our diary. Grabbed a pretty good pizza for dinner and got a pretty early night as Tom and his band wasn't playing.

Had some fruit for B'fast then caught a taxi back up to the Sunseekers hotel where we had stayed first of all, the dorm beds were only $8.80 each as opposed to the $22each in the Aquarius. Toby caught up with his diary in the afternoon whilst i just read and relaxed in the peace and quiet. Went out for dinner, just had some pizza then a hot shower and early night

Thursday 24th July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

Spent the morning in town looking for a present to send home for my mums birthday. Found a few fijian crafts that where worth the air freight so I packed them up and posted them home. Spent the afternoon reading and listening to my iPod. I have run out of interesting books to read so have now resorted to reading one of Sarena's girly ones about a woman going through her menopause!!!its not too big though so hopefully I can finish it before any one spots me!

I decided to go down to the festival in down that evening. Sarena wasn't too fussed so she stayed at the Hostel. Apparently it was Fijian night so there would be loads of dancing and singing. I didn't find anything like that though and just wondered around the fair ground watching the rickety rides spin round. They seemed to all have customised gearings though as even the meri-go-round seemed to be pulling some G's and scaring the hell out of the kids. I only stayed for about an hour as I didn't fancy any of the death traps.

Grabbed a cup of Milo before going to bed. We then had a couple of American students arrive in our dorm. They seemed to of bought a rat in with them though as the rest of the night was disturbed by the little bugger jumping from one bed to another. One girl couldn't stand it and spent the rest of the night sitting in reception. Sarena too gave up and left the room for a few hours. I was quite happy to let it run amok. It didn't seem to want to come near me, as my snoring was probably scarring it off.

Slept like a log! went shopping in the day time in town and bought Toby's mum a birthday pressie and i bought a T-shirt and went to the market to get some fresh veggies for a salad. Had a quick lunch then i went back and did my diary which took bloody hours. Left Toby to go out to the festival later in the evening whilst I read and just enjoyed the quiet time.

Much later on after Toby had got back we had a couple of students come and join us in the dorm, they went back out for Pizza and came back in around midnight. At 3am i was laying awake and noticed one of the girls on the top bunk was also awake and seemed quite fidgety so i sat up to turn the fan off which does make an awful racket so i thought that was keeping her up. I asked if she was ok with that and she said it wasn't the fan but the rat that had just landed on her pillow waking her up....... it was now running around the room and having a lovely time. She just got up and went upstairs to do some reading and catch up with her dairy which left me lying awake listening to the darn thing, Toby and the other girl seemed oblivious! I eventually turned on the light and ran around the dorm with a shoe in my hand trying to get it out of the door, i was hoping it was going to be a mouse, but nope it was a big fat rat. I suppose it was quite funny at the time but when i went to move Toby's rucksack i was then leapt on by a big fat cockroach which completely woke me up so i just grabbed my book and went upstairs to join the other girl and leave the other 2 to slumber. It was now 4.15am and i sat up till 6am then decided to try and get an hours snooze in but when i went back in the dorm the rat was still making a racket by chewing on the metal grill we had covering the windows so i ended up leaping from one top bunk to another with a shoe in my hand again trying to scare the poor blighter, Toby was still asleep and the other girl was just laughing!

 

Friday 25th July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

The American girls checked out sooner than I could say 'Good Morning'. They have decided to travel down the coats a bit. This left us with a room to ourselves again. The other good news is that the weather is bright and sunny again.

Not being able to afford much in the way of entertainment (we will need our cash for Tahiti) we took a walk up to a huge Hindu temple at the top of down (the Swami Temple). Then Sarena went second hand browsing whilst I entertained myself by giving all the con artists some stick. After a few days in Nadi I have learned all their tricks so had great fun catching them out. Sarena ended up buying yet another top, but to be fair, it was very nice and only a dollar.

It was Pricilla night at the festival tonight and even Sarena was tempted to go down. We spent an hour walking around the fair ground and buying various snacks from all the food stalls. We then discovered that all the shows are at the soccer stadium behind the fair ground. It cost us $3 to get in and we spent the next hour watching transvestites doing a super model show all bidding to be Miss Pricilla 2003. It was pretty funny, but got a bit repetitive after a while so we headed back to Sunseekers to sit with Tom for a while and chat on the verandah. When we got back to our room we found the beds all covered with rat shit. bugger.

Weather is looking good again which is good news!

very tired due to rat chasing all night but otherwise ok, so after some bran flakes and coffee we went for a walk through town to go and have a look at the HIndu temple. It was a beautiful temple and so bright and colourful just like being back in India. I then went around some second hand shops which gives me a huge amount of satisfaction, much to Toby's dismay i did find a top for a dollar - about 30p and was very pleased with myself. I even treated myself to an ice-cream then both went for a coffee and a piece of cake.

We went back to the hostel and i cut and redid my new top to suit me better - gosh i'm clever. I donned my new head scarf and we went into town to the Pricilla evening at the festival. It is how it sounds basically, Its a gay and drag queen evening and they all get dressed up, then have a beauty contest. We went down early to check out the rides - and stalls which were all food orientated. The rides were like cheap Meccano creations and didn't look very sturdy so i declined the chance to get in one for fear of my life! We did however sample some Indian treats for a couple of dollars not knowing what we were eating but they were all very tasty, i then had a dish of rice and we went to the show which was being held in the stadium. Toby went to purchase some tickets whilst i waited around listening to some Christian group who had a loud speaker and were showing some weird films about the devil and the good guy in a western bar? anyway some American bloke started blabbing very loudly on his microphone about how being gay and lesbian would send you straight to hell and how jesus died on the cross for us and how smoking pot would mean you wouldn't get into the pearly gates bla bla bla. All the while some other people were handing out leaflets to passers by about Christianity - i o course told them to bugger off and not preach that crap to me. It was quite funny though, as they were shouting off all this crap some of the gay men all dressed as lovely ladies just tottered past on there high heels and having a lovely time - good for them!

We entered the outdoor Soccer arena and struggled to find a decent place to sit as the place was packed. But we plonked ourselves down and enjoyed an hour of first watching a Miss 2003 contest held by females then the best part was the Miss Pricilla 2003 where 12 lovely looking men/females pranced around on stage and then said a little speech some of them sounding very feminine. The crowd absolutely loved it and were cheering and screaming when they came on stage - it was such good fun.

We went home after an hour and sat up drinking with a couple of others for a little while chatting about traveling etc

Well got back into the room and was lovingly greeted by rat poo all over my bed and all the others apart from Toby's........mmmmm something not right about that.

I changed the sheet and settled down for the night........

Saturday 26th July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

We could hear the rat scrapping about for most of the night. I still managed a pretty good sleep though. I did some laundry and my diary in the morning. A little fijian boy decided to help me do my diary and was fascinated with my web camera so we spent half an hour making faces on the screen. After lunch we went for a walk along Nadi River before watching the festival floats pass up the high street. Basically it was just local shops driving their vans up the street with a few flowers tied to the mirrors. Each one had their Miss Bula nomination so I got to see my favourite 'Miss Bargain Box' again (although Miss Cleaning Services is pretty good too). Today is the last day of the Festival so they are crowning Miss Bula. My favourite to win the crown is 'Miss Bargain Box' or 'Miss Nadi Town Council'!

Tom from Sunseekers needed some help to use email and I was meant to give him some lessons, but 'Fiji Time' got in the way for him so I ended out typing a message to his friend on his behalf. As we where in town we stopped by the Fair ground again for some cheap nosh. We tried a Lovo meal. which is tradional, cooked in the ground, fijian food that is served with a potatoe type root plant... It was pretty nasty, so I had a kebab as well.

An early night we have to be gone by 5 am. Good job we have now moved into a rat free room.

 

Well what a wonderful nights sleep i had - not

The darned rat decided to keep us up all night by constantly chewing on the metal grill again and making a right racket - bloody thing made a huge hole in the solid bloody metal mesh thing, must have teeth of titanium.

After some b'fast i went into town to buy some soap leaving Toby to wright his diary, when i got back he had a lovely looking child sat on his lap making faces into the camera on the laptop. We finished the rest of the salad off for lunch then Toby went into town to watch the big festival floats drive through town whilst i did my dairy.

Last day of the festival so everyone is in town and having a great time.

Sunday 27th July 2003 Nadi, Viti Levu

got up very bloody early to get the hotel lift to the airport, only to find that the driver was still in bed. Someone soon got him up though so we spent a good 3 and a half hours sitting around Nadi airport. The Plane was then delayed for another 40 minutes as 6 passengers where running late. Fortunaley we where sat next to a mad Kiwi girl who kept us amused for the flight.

I had a preminision today that one of us would lose our backpacks in flight. This was partly due to that fact they have flown quite a few times since our journey has begun, so the odds of it happening must be pretty high by now. the other factor was that we where changing airlines in Auckland, from Air Pacific (fiji) to Air Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia) and I expect 'Fiji Time' tp have some bearing on wheather the bags are transferred across before our flight leaves (especially now there is a delay).

We landed in Auckland with a good 30 minutes to wait before we boarded the Air Tahiti Nui flight. This plane was great is was actually a long haul flight to LA so we had the luxury of our own TV screens and choice of films and games. I ended up watching the awfull DareDevil and then the midly amusing Kangaroo Jack and before I knew it we where landing and it was Yesterday... Yep the dateline really confuses one, I have landed a day before I took off.. Cool an extra day in Tahiti... Can't be bad.

Alarm went off at 4.30am and we were in reception for 5am waiting for the bloke to take us to the airport as we were told he leaves at this time most mornings. Not this morning obviously as someone had to get him out of bed......

We were at the airport in plenty of time though and were soon sitting in the lounge for our plane. Not long after we were joined by Richared who had also been staying at the hostel so he entertained us for a while before we boarded the plane at 9ish - it was running a little late. It was running even later after sitting on the tarmac for another 40mins waiting for some lost passengers who did finally turn up.

Two and a half hours later we arrived in Auckland where we had a quick transfer and boarded the plane to Tahiti. The plane was lovely and probably the poshist one we had been on so far. Watched 'Dare Devil' which was apsolute tripe then watched Kangaroo Jack which was quite funny. 4hrs later we landed in Tahiti at 8pm feeling very weary, my previous nights sleep didn't have a rat thanks to changing rooms but i had a bloody awful bed...

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