FIJI, Mostly VANUA LEVU
NOTE all words in ITALICS were either written on the trip
UPDATE 13/11/2007 Now left the lovely Vanua Levu
We took the bi-plane Sun Pacific flight FJ105/106 from the main island (Vito Levu) to Savusavu on the southern coast of the second island (Vanua Levu) where we stayed in Sekawa Beach Cottages for 12 days (2/11-13/11/2007) Excellent local Fijian beer and we had 2 sessions on the grog, 'mind expanding' local Kava.... Juicy in the Sky with Diamonds..with Roy & Lisa (our hosts)...comes from a pepper plant root which is poundered to a powder which is rinsed in a muslin bag with water into a trad wooden bowl with 3 legs . Although 'ceremony' is common to all South Pacific Islands the bowls are different Contact phone was 011-679-822-0460 and Anne's mobile worked only for Text 2 Wifi Internet cafes in Savasavu Hired car for 3 days Went to Labasa (capital....Very Indian) , Jean Michel Cousteau (JMC) Dive resort and part of the Hibiscus highway. Rained a fair bit but managed 3 swims.
HIGHLIGHTS Roy & Lisa's company, Biplane flight (absolutely the best views ever), Tropical fruit, Trip to Vanda & Tukai's children's schools, Savusavu bay , Sugarcane Express, Banana cake and samosas at Nadi Airport
LOWLIGHTS None although JMC a little overated even if it is in the 1000 places to see before you die
My most vivid memories are of those clear blue skies, humidity, the rattle of thunder, greenery, fresh fruit delivered daily by Roy & Lisa, Fijian music especially Black Rose (Rosiloa) who we still listen to today and the lovely view from our balcony.
Day 8 - Friday 2nd November 2007, Land in Nadi,Fiji then to Venua Levu
Arrived fairly tired in Nadi, Viti Levu, Fiji at 6 am. We really didn’t sleep that well. Main meal served early was chicken frizzled (very dried up) but the breakfast of turkey/cheese croissant was most welcome. DePlaned and waited in the airport on some wonderful leather sofas after having some coffee/ tea (very oz.flat white, tall black etc etc) and cakes. FJD$1.50 (i.e 50p) for the most gianormous wonderful banana cake which they warm. Very very Humid.Had 2 showers today in freezing cold water. Checked in 10am. No boarding cards you just choose your seat. Sat about 18 half full. Great great journey across the mountains of the main island, then over the coast to Savusavu. Most memorable experience
Oh just so much words fail me. The view from the De Haviland was SPECTACULAR. Clear skies, crystal blue seas and an abundance of coral reefs. Taxi driver from Paradise Cabs took us to the supermarket and Roy & Lisa (cottage owners) He is from Hawaii (Chinese origin) She is from California. They are most friendly Left a bowl of garden fruit for us.pineapple, guava, lime , bananas and chili peppers. Most kind.I cooked teriyaki lamb with onions/green peppers , rice and salad whilst listening to Sting and drinking well water, loved taking pix from the bi-plane flight from Nadi on Venito Levu (Main Island) to Savusavu, Venua Levu on the second largest island
Day 9 - Saturday 3rd November 2007,2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Got up about 6-ish having been to sleep (knackered) at about 10pm after cooking lamb & rice. Had a fine breakfast on the verandah - frosties & fresh local banana, papaya and lime (given by Roy from his garden) and local bread (whole meal with a hint of onion) topped off with local pineapple juice.Walked down track to Sewaka beach looking at the tropical vegetation and bananas growing (still green). Downhill there but hard walking uphill and very hot on the return. Cooled off in the Pacific and sat on beach for couple of hours. Sound of gentle waves on the shore was very relaxing and beach was deserted, although there were two Fijian women fishing. Had picnic lunch on beach and then returned to cottage for a siesta as very hot and humid. Woken by tropical downpour, including thunder and lightning, which lasted about an hour. The temperature reduced and the wind was very refreshing. Just as well the verandah had a deep roof overhang. In the early evening Roy and Lisa invited us to their home for a traditional kava ceremony and told us all about how it is made. It is a root from the pepper plant family that is ground into a fine powder and then mixed with water into a muddy looking liquid. It is drunk from small coconut shells. It has a mild sedative effect and is not alcoholic. On our return to our cottage we had dinner (chicken teryaki, rice and vegetables) and watched the DVD of Savusavu tourist board. Met Jeff, American from New Jersey who has lived on the beach here for 6 years. He and his wife, like Roy & Lisa do holiday cottage rentals and after purchasing the land built both their own house (on hardwood stilts – maybe bark shed coconut palm?). Jeff had just been stung by a hornet whilst gardening so was healing it with ice. He suggested that taxi may be better and cheaper than hiring a car. Also do not stop in villages without first being invited as it is not good karma and visitors must remove any headgear. Plus tried snorkeling but just too unclear to be of use.
First tropical rainstorm, thunder and lightning. Woke us from our afternoon siesta. We fed Vatu their (R&L) dog on our left over scraps of last nights meal. He is now a friend for life, even if he barks at everyone else. Roy & Lisa are Jehovah’s Witnesses and going to an all dayer in Lebasa The main town which has a massive Indian influence. Saw a mongoose, alas a little too quick to photo
Day 10 - Sunday 4th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Anne rose about 6.15am, Keef about 7.30. Alas K has developed a cold and sore throat from somewhere, maybe the plane with all those folks sneezing. Did various things on laptop, getting ready to email contact the boys tomorrow when we catch a taxi into Savusavu. In the afternoon we were so chilled we just relaxed and read our books, Chart Throb by Ben Elton is ace. So cooked fried chicken, mash & creamed sweetcorn for T and had one of the gardens fresh pineapples for pud, it was just so sweet (Yummy). In the morning we walked up the track to Roy & Lisa’s upper garden. Beautiful tropical plants, including hibiscus, orchids and a flame tree in bloom with big red flowers. On the top of the hill and flattened garden area there was a spectacular view of the bay and Pacific. They had built a wooden deck to sit on. Saw dragonfly but nothing else. Back on the cottage verandah Keef saw an orange dove flying among the trees. We could hear parrots squawking occasionally.Despite the thunder in the distance it did not rain but we had a sudden 10 minute power cut which Lisa said could happen at any time. Sometimes they may have a couple of power cuts a month and others can go for a couple of months without one. The water system does not work when there is a power cut but if it is long lasting then there is a back-up generator. Luckily we had already cooked our evening meal and washed up when the power went and were just admiring the sunset
Day 11 - Monday 5th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Went in by Taxi to Savusavu town past one of the best named villages Jerusalem. Used the Wireless Internet from the Computer shop (FJD$4 per hour) as opposed to café Bule Re which is FJD$10 per hour and you end up sitting in the café anyhow using the internet. Tis a bit slow but not complaining. Updated website , read and responded to email. Savusavu is based alongside an inlet/ harbour with lots of yachts. Most relaxing sitting in café on the waters edge. Had lunch there as well Very good. I had beef kebab and Annie had chicken escalope. We were impressed by cooking and have booked there for Weds eve for the Lovo meal (cooked in ground pit in banana leaves, trad Fiji) Booked car for 3 days from 2moro from Tanda. She is gonna pick us up and drive us in to collect. Saw the town and waters edge. We met Tanda and Tuklea , german lady (from Munchen area) and her Fijian husband. Both very nice. They own Bula Re and he is the chef there, having recently returned from cooking at the South Pacific games in Samoa which he says is safer than Fiji.Interesting because we feel most welcome and safe in Fiji, everyone says Bula to you whether you are walking thru town or out in the country. These folk have 2 adopted Fijian children, very friendly. They are also Roy & Lisa’s closest neighbours at Sewaka. It was Guy Fawkes Night,not surprisingly not recognized here in Fiji but all supermarkets well stocked with fireworks which are for Diwali (this Friday 9/11)
Day 12 - Tuesday 6th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Got up early and got picked up by Tanda and her husband and two children who took us into town. She dropped her two children off at school and then we picked up our hire car from outside her restaurant. Drove down some graveled roads and even some of the tarmacadam roads had lots of pot holes. Saw some tourist resorts, some of which were still being built, the ferry dock and went past the airport and saw some small planes land and take off. Saw a lot of coconut plantations along the coast. People waved at us and shouted ‘bula’ (hello). Saw the Hot Springs Hotel and then had lunch at the Copra Shed where the yachts are moored at the jetty. Did shopping in supermarket and then returned to cottage for siesta. No breeze at all. Went for cooling swim at Sewaka beach just before dusk and we were the only people there.They are the family who own the Fijian restaurant in Savusavu. We saw the school where the children were dropped off.It was extremely hot from 1pm onwards and swim at the beach was very refreshing.. Heard on Fijian radio in hire car that some people had been arrested for a plot to assassinate the interim Prime Minister of Fiji and were being charged, including inciting mutiny.
Day 13 - Wednesday 7th November 2007,Car trip to Labasa
Mostly rained today, so they do get bad weather in Fiji!!! Took our hire car to Labasa the main town of Vanua Levu, 30k residence and in the north of the island. About 75 miles from where we are staying. Much sugar cane production indeed we visited the factory on the outskirts of town and saw the hordes of farmers waiting to have their cane weighed / paid and processed.would love to know what they get paid for a cartload , bet its not much! Labasa itself has an amazing Indian influence, for me it could have been India. Very busy town with lots of Indian shops. Weather turned very hot and we were glad of air conditoning in car.Worth noting that was a good road with asphalt surface (although slightly destroyed in places with deep potholes) so journey took about 1 ½ hours. Much of this island at least is unmade roads. Went over some dodgy looking bridges over rivers. Lots of lorries traveling to Labasa loaded up with sugarcane. Saw pine forests, farms and sugar cane fields and very mountainous in distance. Saw a mongoose run across the road in front of our car. Later on we saw one foraging at the side of the road and Keef took a photo.Met Roy in Savusavu outside the pie shop (Hot Bread Shop) after we had returned from Labasa. Started raining and continued all afternoon. Village funeral of an elder. The whole village were out in force and we saw his/her grave adorned with flowers. As the procession wended its way back alas rather embarrassingly our car was caught in the procession. The village was Urata. In the eve we are going back into Bula Ra for a Lovo feast, although the rain still persists. Note we have car hired for 3 days which is enough, air conditioned Suzuki Jiminy, small but perfectly formed. Lovo meal was lovely – we had chicken, beef, mahi-mahi fish, pumpkin with prawns, tara leaves wrapped with creamed coconut filling, tara (bland vegetable), plantain for dessert with chocolate sauce. Keef had two tropical fruit drinks as he was driving and I had a maitai cocktail, plus coffees all for £9 each. Drive back to cottage after dinner was dark and misty (low cloud in mountains) but at least the rain had stopped. Difficult to see where the potholes were in the road in the dark.Took these memorable pix,Trip to Labasa and sugar cane photos. Also mongoose and photos of lovo meal. Labasa, route back from Labasa and Urata village with pig and mongoose And Lovo feast in the evening.
Day 14 - Thursday 8th November 2007,Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Nr Savusavu
Vist to Jean-Michel Cousteau resort. Eventually went back into SS to use the Internet café and hand car back into Tanda and Tukea. Enjoyed the use of the car and the freedom it gave us but 3 days is probably enough @ FJD$92/day i.e 276 (i.e £96) went swimming for the 3rd time at our private beach, easy when you have the car, a hard climb in humidity otherwise. Not that impressed by JMC resort however the colour of fish off the jetty was immense. Big blue parrot fish, travaille and 2 huge blue fish (which I have no idea what they were called). Driving with 4 wheels for first time ever down very muddy track to JMC It was raining and very churned up, having slid there in the first place used the 4WD for return journey, very stable. Resort was very tiny with long jetty for dive boats, small swimming pool and grotty beach which was very rocky and unsuitable for swimming. Did not stay long and weather rainy. Went back into Savusavu and had drink at the Copra Shed by the jetty and looked at the boats. Saw cloud of steam and realized that this was where the hot springs came out of the ground. Found out that the Saturday South Pacific music festival starts at 7pm and is held at the Hot Springs Hotel. Went for swim at Sekawa beach. Torrential downpour pm. Decided to go back into Savusavu to internet café, hand back hire car and then got a taxi back to the cottage at dusk. Fijian lady (can’t remember her name) at Sekawa beach who was baby sitting the Czech couples baby. She had heard of Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood in history at school! Czech family are buying on beach front, wow, plus 4 Russians in Bula Re last night for Lovo feast. Us Northern hemisphere folk are taking over!
Day 15 - Friday 9th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Nothing to report, day spent locally
Day 16 - Saturday 10th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji
Relaxed in the cottage and then got a taxi at 4.30pm into Savusavu to the South Pacific Music Festival held at the Hot Springs Hotel. Noticed that the ferry from Vitu Levu was in dock (comes to Savusavu 3 times a week).. Arrived at the hotel just at the end of the talent contest where prizes were awarded for the best acts. The compere was either Oz or NZ and she was very patronizing and bossy towards the Fijians. Had some drinks and a meal of fish, chips and salad before the main music concert. We had been told it would start at 7pm but in fact it did not start until 8.20. The best act was a troupe of singers and dancers from the University of the South Pacific, Suva who had come over on the ferry. Their singing was very melodic and dancing was also very expressive and South Pacific. There were some other acts that were more pop group style and the Australian musicians were the worst. The concert was very amateurish and the PA system was also bad with feedback. We had booked a taxi back to the cottage at 10pm so had to leave before the concert ended.
Day 17 - Sunday 11th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
A day of chillin. Did a few bits of video editing on laptop after last nights Music Festival at the Hot Springs Hotel and read the Fiji Times that Roy & Lisa loaned us. Anne did washing, not the greatest machine in the world and if the programme goes wrong it sucks all the water from the well dry. Oh dear! We then watched a whole stack of movies on DVD loaned by R&L who had once again left us with treats fruit (pineapple & bananas) and diwahli snacks (sweet not savoury). Watched Casablanca, Bourne Identity and About Smidt (3rd time but we love it!). MetVatu, R&L’s dog when I returned the paper. They are in Labasa all day today on a Jehovah’s Witness meet.
Day 18 - Monday 12th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Nice sunny day, got up around 7 -80 degrees plus humid but gentle breeze Had tea/ coffee and breakfast and read out on the verandah I am reading Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1851 Wow devastatingly anti Slave book. Apparently Abe Lincoln claimed it started the Civil War Otherwise apart from reading and watching videos didn’t do a whole lot Had to pack late eve. Saw Capote DVD about Truman Capote and then Dances With Wolves.Managed to supposedly send first TXT messages on Anne’s phone to the boys, we will see. Also rang Parmgeet to ensure Paradise Taxis all set up for 2moro to go to the airport. Had a huge tropical storm at 1.30 with thunder and lightning. Roy and Lisa invited us for more kava and wine as a farewell in evening. They told us about a hurricane which they experienced in the cottage in 2001 where they had 10”of rain and also told us about clearing the rainforest to build the cottage. Said that quite a few Fijian villagers had died when trying to save their animals during the hurricane. There are no hurricane shelters on the island and no tidal wave warning sirens either. Luckily as they are 250 feet above sea level they would not be affected by a tsunami. Offered to copy some music from our laptop for them on their blank CDs which they were grateful for. Rang Mum at 1am, created DVD.
Day 19 - Tuesday 13th November 2007,Leave Suvusavu and Fiji and journey onto Samoa
Back to the Future or Ground Hog Day We had 2 days today one Leaving Fiji..One version of the 13/11, the other Arriving Samoa. See details under Samoa
Summary: FIJI 12 days , Day 8-19, 2/11/2007-13/11/2007