Day 65 Or is it Day 66?
We all manage to grab some sleep on the flight, which although long is bearable. On landing we are told to set our watches to Sunday 5.30 a.m. We know we had a long flight but surely not that long! Ah, we’ve crossed the dateline and so lost a whole day. Mark asks when we will get the day back, we won’t but it’s hard to get our heads round.
As forecast, it is raining (wet season from November to April) but it is very warm. The airport is tiny and we are quickly through passport control. Mark is asked to stand to one side for a random bag check. Luckily, he’s not carrying any food, plants or drugs!
The taxi drive to the hotel takes over an hour on poorly kept roads. I’m glad I’m in the back and cannot see where we are going. The driver keeps overtaking on very twisty, narrow roads and I’m a nervous passenger.
Pulling up outside the hotel we are greeted by the loudest ‘Bula’. The view which is presented to us on walking into the reception is gorgeous. Lush, green gardens facing the sea. Waves lap at a breakwater which is created by the reef about 100 yards out from the shore. Unfortunately, our room is not yet ready but there are day beds available on floor 6. Mark and Marcus go off to explore the resort while have a bit of a snooze.
The grounds weave around bures which have one or two bedrooms and thatched roofs. The stream meanders through the gardens to a huge, lagoon-style pool. The main restaurant is thatched with a high hand-painted masi ceiling as is the pool bar and restaurant.
On the beach there is an activity centre where we are able to kayak, paddle board, snorkel and reef walk. We walk past the adult only pool and bar and under a bridge. This leads to the other side of the road to the golf driving range and putting/chipping greens.
Walking back, we sit at the pool bar and order cocktails of the day; some brightly coloured vodka-based drink. The staff are so friendly and very pleased to meet people from England; most visitors are from Australia or New Zealand.
Eventually we are able to check into our room at 12.30. We change and head down to the lagoon pool. The sun has come out and we sunbath for a while. We move onto the adult pool which is a little quieter. I find a bed and Mark and Marcus sit in the pool at the bar. The restaurant is being set up for a wedding party which is taking place this evening. What a lovely setting. I swim out to join the other two for cocktails.
Back at our room we are brought canapes and champagne at 5.30 p.m. by our butler! We are informed that this will happen each evening. The evening is spent eating seafood and crepe suzette in the main restaurant, after which there is a Polynesian floor show. This includes women and men in traditional costume dancing to the beat of drums followed by fire dancing on the beach. We all really enjoy this, but are ready for bed after last night’s flight.
Day 67 Fun on the Water
I’m up at 5 a.m. and decide to catch up on the journal as I’ve got a bit behind. Mark and Marcus are up in time to go down to the beach for 7 a.m. to catch the high tide. We choose to go out on Kayaks; Marcus in a single and Mark and I in a double. The water is very clear, nevertheless we are given instructions to stay within the breakwater, caused by a fringing reef. Immediately we all spy bright blue star fish and multi-coloured fish of all sizes. Once we have paddled further out, we float so that there are few ripples in the water. Our kayaks drift further than we think and an announcement demands that the two kayaks over to the left come back to the white buoys! We’re well and truly told off.
Looking inland we can see the hotel in richly vegetated hills, with the spa perched on top of the hill. Horses are being walked along the shore to the point where they will be available for horseback riding along the beach. We are also able to see the Sigatoka Sand Dunes to the north in the distance.
Mark and Marcus want to try paddle boarding next. Both have good balance and quickly get the hang of it; kneeling and then standing. When they come back in Mark says the experience is preferable to kayaking and I should have a go. He holds the board steady while I kneel on. Once I feel balanced, I begin to stand up. Oh no, in I go with a splash! This isn’t as easy as I was told. I manage to get on and paddle out into the lagoon. I really enjoy the experience and Marcus comes to join me; we see some really large fish.
To get a clearer view of the sea life we grab snorkels, face masks and reef shoes. Marcus absolutely loves snorkelling once he gets the hang of it. We are able to swim through seaweed where there are shoals of small green fish which are invisible when kayaking or boarding. The water is shallow enough to stand up in and it is easy to see the bottom where there are sea cucumbers, anemones and shell fish. The coral looks to be swaying in the current; it’s beautiful.
It has started to rain again so we make our way back to our room to shower and dry off. I lie down and fall asleep. Although everyone back home thinks we are on holiday this break is needed by us all (the travelling is exhausting, honest).
Mark comes back to the room and wakes me so that I’ll be able to sleep tonight. We walk down to the pool bar for lunch. Premier league football is on the TV so we are kept entertained for the afternoon.
While I read, Mark and Marcus go out for ‘happy hour’ before our champagne and canapes arrive at 5.30 p.m. (this is the life). For dinner we walk a few minutes to a bar and grill on the coast. It is very lively and we are sat near the open front of the restaurant. There are a number of very large Australian parties in the large room next door who are quite rowdy nevertheless the atmosphere is great, the food tasty and we have a great evening.
Day 68 Sigatoka
Although very warm the rain has set in for the day. The local dollar (36p) bus runs to the nearest town of Sigatoka every 15 minutes so we decide to make the trip. Leaving the hotel, we are offered three large umbrellas by one of the staff but accept two. The bus arrives just as we reach the bus stop and we jump on. I sit on a torn, ragged seat which collapses under me and move to sit next to Mark. The road is the main road that circumnavigates the island but this does not equate to well maintained. The journey is bumpy, stopping to pick people up along the whole 30-minute route.
The bus station is next to the daily market. What a fantastic sight; the colours, smells and sounds attack our senses. Women have set up stalls selling a huge variety of fruit, vegetables, spices and herbs; many of which we have not come across before. A number of stalls are selling what looks like a root. Enquiring we are informed that this is Kava which is ground into a powder and added to water to make a potent drink.
We are badgered by stall owners to look at their trinkets; beads, wooden and carved goods. We look but politely decline to buy (we have been warned that many of these items are not genuine and will not be allowed through customs).
Exiting the indoor market, we pass many goods for sale which are spread out on the street. The ‘Bula’ welcome can be heard everywhere. The Fijians are so welcoming and cheerful. This is a lovely way to spend a showery morning.
A forested banked river runs through the centre of the town. Walking on the river bank we head to see the Hindu temple. This is a highly decorated building on a hill at the back of the town. It is definitely the biggest building in the place. Fiji is a very religious island and we also pass a Baptist church which is full to the brim with a singing congregation.
We eat brunch which just happens to be chicken curry, sticky rice and salsa for Mark and Marcus (not my cup of tea, wrong time of day!) and some type of mango cake for me. Wine is bought in the supermarket as it is much cheaper than in the hotel.
The bus journey back is even more colourful than the one to town. The bus is full with people perched everywhere they can find. I feel I have got to know my travelling companions very well as we are in such close proximity.
The day has cleared up somewhat but there are still showers. Marcus doesn’t feel too good and goes for a lie down. Mark and I sit on the balcony reading. It’s just nice not having to rush about and being able to relax.
Men are lighting a fire in the little theatre area under our balcony in preparation for the fire walking demonstration at 5.30 p.m. We are all able to watch this from our balcony whilst eating our canapes and drinking our champagne. The fire walkers go through a ceremony, drinking the kava drink we learnt about in the market earlier today. This is supposed to put them in a trance so that they will not feel the heat of the fire. Amazingly they don’t just run across the fire but dawdle and spend time walking around in it.
Dinner is at the Bar and Grill shack again, such a good place for food and very reasonable.
Day 69 Gourmet Dinner
Up early, we leave Marcus to sleep (he’s been up during the night and feels unwell) and head down to the beach. The day is brighter as there is a wind (warm) which is blowing any clouds out to sea. There is however stronger currents and the water even in the lagoon is choppy. We kayak for an hour and then Mark has a snorkel. Walking down the beach we pass beach huts and bungalows right on the shoreline. We are completely alone and see no one; it’s like our own paradise island.
The sun is out and once showered and checking on Marcus we make our way to reception to be picked up for our spa massage. A golf cart takes us up to the spa which is perched on the top of the hill above the hotel. As we enter, the view takes our breath away. We are able to see for miles along the jungle covered coastline. The coral in the lagoon is much clearer from this height and the waves can be seen crashing at the outer edge of the coral.
The wedding chapel is up here with views looking right out over the lagoon and coastline. How fabulous to have this view while taking your vows. Staff are preparing the room for a wedding later today. After a relaxing massage we are able to sit, eat fruit and relax looking out to sea.
After checking on Marcus we go and relax in the sun by the pool. He joins us for happy hour as the maid has come to make up the room, but he decides he would like to go back to bed as he still doesn’t feel too good (it’s just a heavy cold, which rest will help to cure). He doesn’t want to go out to eat and says he’ll order room service if he’s hungry.
Mark and I have dinner in the hotel signature restaurant, the ivi. The food is to die for; scallops, prawns, belly pork and beef medallions. For dessert we have crepe Suzette prepared and flambéed at the table. This is an entertainment in itself with a demonstration of sauce making, orange peeling with a massive knife and flaming orange liquor. This has been a lovely evening and we make our way back to our room well fed and content.
Day 70 Lost Wallet!
Marcus still isn’t feeling his best so decides against messing about on the lagoon. We kayak and paddle board. Both are difficult due to the strong currents which I decide is good practise for when we go to Milford Sound.
Returning to the room Mark cannot find his wallet. When did you last have it? He doesn’t know and as this is a cash free resort, he hasn’t used it. He searches the clothes he had on yesterday. No, it is not there. We search the room and cannot find it anywhere. He goes to ask if it has been handed in at reception. The duty manager comes to speak with him. Apparently, there is CCTV all over the resort so they need to know when Mark last remembers having his wallet so they can narrow down a time to search the film.
I go back to the room to search again, if the wallet isn’t found we won’t be able to pick up our car in Australia, as Mark won’t have a driving license. Packing might kill two birds with one stone. I might find the wallet and even if I don’t, we’ll be ready for our early pick up in the morning. Marcus packs his bag and when Mark returns, he starts to pack too. He picks up a pair of shorts and eureka the wallet is in the pocket. We let reception know we found it and heave a huge sign of relief.
Picking Marcus up we make our way to the adult pool for breakfast. This is where the wedding receptions are held and there are couples being shown round. This would be a really lovely setting for a wedding.
This wind has become stronger at this pool which is at a higher elevation so we make our way to the lagoon pool to spend our last day lounging in the sun. Marcus goes for a lie down (still not feeling his best). A wedding party comes down to the pool party; the bride, groom and all the guests are dressed in white!
Marcus feels well enough to have dinner, which we have early, as we will leave the hotel at 5 o’clock in the morning.
This has been a restful five days in paradise and we are all now ready for the next instalment of our world trip. Australia here we come!!