A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

Flitting between today & yesterday

by Kt

Back in Tuvunnunu, we went out for the day with Rafa and Johnny on a little excursion. We started at the international date line. It was basically a beaten up old sign at the bottom of the island's rugby pitch. We went all Marty McFly and jumped between yesterday and today - cheesy but had to be done!!
We then went to the natural water slide. We had to trek through the jungle a little - only 5/10 minutes but it was scorching so was a killer. We reached this mad place, where up on a slope, in the distance, was a small waterfall and basically the water came down from there to reach a small pond at the base. We climbed our way up, about half way - apparently you can go to the very top where there's been more rain and it's fuller - but this was good enough for some serious sliding fun! You basically sat in the middle of a kind of long half pipe that has been carved out of the rock over the years, by the flow of water. You let go and zoom down into a pool at the bottom. It really was the MOST fun thing ever. We were literally like kids - going 'again, again' as soon as we'd done it each time. I can't imagine ever getting bored doing that. There was another 2 levels on the way down where you could do the same.
The water was very cold which was lovely in the heat and it's so clear and pure.
The local kids jumped into the not so deep pools from up high and most impressively, they kind of skiied down the waterslide, stood up, sliding on their feet. God knows how, but was so cool, like walking on water. 

Afterwards we made our way back to Tuvununu, which took forever as it was by way of the post office, the place to get drums of diesel, town for the ATM(theres only 1 on the island) and the supermarket, with various other random stops for chats and who knows what else. Basically, whenever you go out anywhere with people in Fiji there is always a bunch of diversions and random stops. Mark, having been out diving for 2 days has met half the island from going here there and everywhere. It's just the Fijan way and is just quite funny, but at first it's odd to get used to, you're just baffled as to what is going on. Once you get used to it, you expect everything to take twice as long and you just go with the flow and take the opportunity to have a nose around wherever you are.

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Posted by KtandMark 15:27 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Meeting people and saying goodbye

By Kt

We've not been travelling long but already I realise the nature of meeting people is very intensive and very short.
Tuvununu, being a small hostel, means you are all in close proximity and eat dinner and  often breakfast together. So, you tend to gravitate to the people you click best with. The differences in types of personalities, nationalities and ages is interesting to observe. 
We've had a mixed bag, of mainly nice people here over the last few days and over Xmas.
Firstly, the young'ns. All in their very early 20s or late teens.
We have the Danish guy who was  nice, if a little bullish but who had an incredibly offensive Tshirt (we're talking the 'c' word here) was bad enough but he didn't take it off when the carol singers were here - that cannot be forgiven frankly. 
Becky 1 from Sevenoaks didn't speak to much, but was down to earth and sharp witted (in a good way). 
Becky 2 from Canada - funny, lively, sang and played guitar and had a not so subtle crush on one of the Fijian guys.
Alex from northern England, a sweet, slightly gangly lad with a good, dry wit.
Joey from Chicago (by way of DC and St Lois), a funny, charming lad with a sparkling white smile and always with something to say, unless hungover.
Megan from Hereford, a sweet, slightly kooky girl with a warm and fuzzy personality.
Karen from Brittany, older, probably in her 40s and works on a scientific ship in between Samoa and Tahiti who we will meet again at our next destination which will be nice.
Then finally, Australian Todd. Well what can I say about Todd? In his early 30s, I would say. A carpenter, who has apparently being travelling for 9 years (no-one believes him). He was, for want of a better description, a bit mental. I'd clocked some of the odd convos he'd been having with the group of young'n (they'd all been on the island macgai together so knew each other), so I had realised that giving him a wide birth was probably a good idea. Not so Mark, after a couple of beers, who thought it was a good idea to befriend him and then to try to help him with his issues. I tried to get him out if it, early on, but he was oblivious to what lay ahead. So Mark spent HOURS listening to Todd harp on and on about his abandonment issues. He'd been adopted and was in the orphanage for a month before he was adopted. Some would think him lucky to have a new home so quickly - but oh no, not Todd. Apparently this month, at a crucial stage of his development, has shaped his life ever since and no-one could possibly understand what he had gone through. Mark tried to make a few useful suggestions, along the lines, of moving on, but realised that this really was a one way conversation and perhaps ge wasn't the first to have been subjected to this diatribe (apparently, mild mannered Alex had been driven so mad he ended up shouting at him to shut up about it).
Luckily, after a few hours, Mark escaped and Todd went onto to harrass Mark, who runs the place and some of the Fijian guys over the cava bowl (which he then apparently threw up next to, later still. I could tell you so much more about Todd, but I will spare you. He went yesterday luckily, but he has bought up another dilemma of travelling. It is a small travelling world and you're very likely to meet people again that you've met along the way. This is of course, welcome, in most cases, but Todd has highlighted the downside of this. All of us are terrified of ending up at the same hostel as him during our remaining time in Fiji. It is, of course, funny though, if it happens to someone else and not us ;)

So, today, the last 2 (our favourite 2, Joey and Meg) left and Mark and I are the only guests at Tuvununu. It feels a bit odd. It has made me realise it's going to be like this a lot and worse. Bitter sweet. 

Posted by KtandMark 00:04 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

What's bugging me?

By Kt

Despite my towny tendencies to not liking the outdoors much and not really getting down with nature, my early formative years were spent in the country and I am therefore not squeamish about much. I know where meat, dairy and vegetables come from proper and know there's essentially lots of excrement involved. 
Bugs and insects, in particular, have never really bothered me. In fact, mum and I lived rather happily for a while sharing our Taunton front room with a rather large spider who we named either Harry or Henry, can't remember which. He'd come out in the evenings - to watch tv maybe - around that time mum and I were very keen on Soldier, Soldier (ask your mums kids), so maybe there was some spider love for Robson Green. Anyway, I digress. Point is, I'm not really bothered by them or the thought of them on our trip. I mean, I don't especially like them crawling on me, but who does?
There was a particularly large spider,  loitering around our corridor in Suva, that Mark took issue with that didn't bother me in the slightest. I just (an hour ago) crossed paths with a rather large and boisterous cockroach, who I gave way to (he seemed to stomp with such purpose), but I didn't shy away. I'm not relishing the time, that undoubtedly will come, when I am sharing a room or a train carriage with more than one cockroach and may have one sit on my shoulder or scamper down my hair. Not nice, but I am mentally prepared for that. 
However, there is one insect, friend to no-one, deadly enemy to many, who has already become my nemesis. He has scarred me and sent me into various states of paranoia. God, damned MOSQUITOS!!!!!!!! within the first few days they'd left their mark and when you're not ferociously scratching the many bites, you're marvelling at the leprosy like effect all these bites are having on your skin. It's not helping me achieve the sun-kissed 'I'm travelling around the world, don't you know' look, that I'd been aiming for. Luckily, looking around, all my fellow travellers are in the same situation. And at least in Fiji they are not that dangerous. There is Dengue fever but only in pockets and if we're clever with the bug spray we can contain the assault. But still.
All it takes is to know that one of the blighters is in the room somewhere for me to turn into a mad woman trying to track it down. I'm practically in camouflage, hiding in the bushes. It's at night when you're sleeping that they do their worst of course. They are like the anti-Santa!!! So you've got to get to them before they get to you. 
My usual peace loving demeanour is dropped when I obliterate one of them - it's blood curdling satisfying. 
I'm not sure I'm going to be able to avoid them much over the next year or so. Maybe I'll reach some kind if eutopian state where I don't think about them anymore. Till then, the battle continues against those little forces of evil. Wish me luck.

Posted by KtandMark 00:03 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Tuvununu

By Kt

This place is lovely. There are issues obviously, the fan doesn't work in our room, not that the electricity is on for more than a few hours a day. And it seems v spoilt moaning about that but my god it's hot.
There is no choice of meals, just veg or not, but it turns out that the cook here is a genius. Food is just delicious.
We have to go out to get water n beer etc, but they'll do a shop run at least once a day.
It's a chilled, happy environment. I like the quirkiness of the building. It's got an odd character and a likeable one.

One of the Fijian guys plays guitar beautifully and as ever all their singing is harmonic.
We finally got to drink cava, the root concoction which gives u a little high, or low rather. It's mainly tingling lips and boy do u sleep well!

There's chickens about the place who are entertaining, a couple of local dogs who frankly look like dingos.
The lagoon out front is rocky and have seen some massive fish.
On the taxi journey down Mark pointed us out to some dolphins but I said straight away they looked like sharks, backed up by the wildlife expert from Cambridge we were travelling with. So, so far, the rocky lagoon has been a great excuse to stay well clear of the water.

Today is Xmas day and although have no idea what it will entail, are looking forward to our feast.
I have treated myself to some wine as an Xmas treat. Crazy me!

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Posted by KtandMark 22:31 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Suva and the never-ending journey

By Kt

So, well a lot has happened in the last few days. 
Tuesday: We left the gorgeous beachside tranquility to catch our ferry from the capital city Suva, only when we got there the ferry was fully booked. Only happens at Xmas apparently but hadn't realised with many assurances the ferry would b no problem. Luckily we hadn't traipsed into Suva via bus, we'd jammily got a ride in with the bloke who runs the Beachouse and a coupla people that worked there. So an entertaining coupla hours with one speeding ticket later, we discovered our rate booked a ticket for Thursday and they dropped us at a cheap hotel in Suva which we didnt question as he was the man in the know. A funny, almost wonka-esque Australian who Mark is very jealous of because ge wants his job/life! 
So the South Seas hotel was unbelievably cheap. Seemed pleasant enough until we were shown to our cell, I mean room. It was down a narrow corridor with big old school (possibly literally) doors. The room was more Ryan sparse. The bed was in middle of room and there was an odd built in unit with hooks but not a thing else. It was like they'd taken out anything u could hurt urself with. The hospital floors didn't help - all the better for cleaning up the blood maybe? Gulp. The fan was positioned so it missed the wallaby about half a centimetre. The pillow smelt of stale toothpaste. Thank god I'd packed a pillowcase. We decided to head out into Suva while it was light as alcohol was only way we were gonna sleep through the night there!! 
We were walking distance to town and my fantastic (if I do say so myself) sense of direction, got us quickly into town based on remembering things from our car journey there. Suva is a funny place. Lots of shops and a big cinema but not much in way of night life - restaurants or bars. We had a few beers and a Chinese (yes i know but there really wasnt much there) and got a taxi back with a man playing the loveliest, most relaxing music ever. We slept quite well considering and no one burst in with Victorian medical instruments as we had feared. 
Next day, we began to feel much more comfortable in the hotel (if not the room). It's funny how when you're tired and somewhere new that it can seem way worse than it is. We did a bit of shopping - the cruises come into the port and apparently on that day the prices go up everywhere, luckily that wasn't Wednesday. We did fall for a good con. This old guy chatted to us while we sheltered from the rain and said he knew us and asked where we were staying and when we said, he told us he was the security guard. Of course our sense of 'we have been and touristy and ignored the local old man in the corner' set in and we were apologetic. I was thinking that I didn't think we had a security guard but I hadn't ventured out much around the hotel. Anyhow, to cut to the chase we ended up following him to some store where they'd 'do us a good price'. We didn't give him any money, I guess he got from the shop keeper - it was all a pretty mild con, but a very good one I thought, preying on our sense of over-privelege. And I bought something cheap as chips that I wanted anyhow. We do need to step up our game and not be such easy targets though.
We bought some food in the supermarket for that night. I LOVE foreign supermarkets - they give an interesting insight into things you might not see otherwise.
We popped out to the best western around the corner for a couple of drinks and that was an experience in itself. It was a 60s style building with a water slide which was something of a death trap but which the kids, obviously, loved. Within 10 minutes of being there we were surrounded by a bunch of woman of various ages, singing some beautiful song, in what seemed like some kind of practises session. Turns out these were ladies from New Caledonia, which I'd half guessed due to the French speaking. A New Caledonian girl was marrying a Fijian guy and they were to be singing at the wedding. The old ladies in particular, were just having a ball, dancing around. Our entertainment after that came in the ratter large shape of fruit bats, sweeping between the trees. 
We hung around the hotel most of the next day, careful not to drink so we felt 100% before our 14 hour ferry journey. We were definitely not relishing the prospect.

The ferry journey from hell......
So, it was never gonna b easy and am sure there is a lit worse out there but I think on the whole we should have thought about it more. 
We 3 (by this time we had buddies up with a guy from the USA, Aaron) found ourselves seats on the wooden benches outside, figuring the stuffy plastic, plane like seating inside would be worse, bit that there were any left and definitely not enough room for our stuff. 
So that's were we sat, covered but not greatly sheltered for what ended up being 20 hours on the boat, 18 moving (just) and 2 hours waiting to leave. It was so busy there was no lying room, it was sleep sitting up or leaning slightly. An early rain storm meant we and our bags got quite wet and as evening turned to a cold night, we could add being frozen to our joyless experience. It was tough but it's tolerable when you see an end in sight. The first 10 hours were ok. You just couldn't think about it. 
Over night it was easier to get pockets of sleep. Despite the person playing odd 70s tunes on their phone. Abba? Really?then the sun came out. Just water and more water.  Then we finally reached Savu Savu, the 1st and only stop, and said goodbye to Aaron, we were pleases as the number of people reduced by at least 50% and it was only another hour or so onto our destination, Taveuni. Except it wasn't. It took about 5 hours. I really can't express how desperate we felt at this point. Oh, hadn't I mentioned that pretty much the whole trip, the boat smelt of urine and the toilets were beyond rancid. I has managed to hold out about 12 hours before had to go in and try not to gag. So towards the end of the journey, add in some fish bones lying about the place from discarded lunches and ... no I won't go on ... you can imagine. Big lesson in mind over matter. Mark made a friend, palo, in the last part of journey, a smiley lad of around 9 I would think. They would go off around the ferry and look at things. They didn't really understand each other but it passed the time and was v sweet. We were bored so he must have been multiplied by 10. Speaking of which, I was amazed by how good the kids were - there was babies up to teens and they were just so tolerant. Very little crying let alone whinging. 
I was practically crying and definitely whinging. 
When we finally hit shore it of course took forever to dock. We wandered aimlessly looking for our ride, who luckily found us. Then once in the van, we headed for the hostel, 20 mins away, but this being Fiji we stopped off about 15 times and talked to various people - Mark and I were considering a massacre. Then we arrived at the hostel. I couldn't remember the details of the place but had thought there was a bar. Nope. It's on a lagoon but no beach. Our hearts sunk. I asked Mark if he was disappointed and he bluntly said yes. The lovely lady who runs the hostel took us to the shop to pick up some beer. We sat back down on the decking and looked at where we were. Again, tiredness (and in this case crazy, uber tiredness) had clouded everything and we'd focused on the negatives because ww just wanted it to be easy. This place, in fact, with eyes only a couple of hours later, is blooming awesome!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by KtandMark 22:29 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

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