Fiji – time to really unwind

Fiji. What can I say about it? Well… oh hang on… I’ve missed a bit…

I left Canada after a dangerously hot (despite me having the ‘wimpy’ version) Ghost Pepper burrito, so I was a little nervous about the long flight to Fiji. Fortunately, my insides held out, and I had a fairly uneventful flight to LAX. So, I was waiting for the connecting flight to Fiji, and a voice came over the tannoy: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the flight is overbooked, and we’re looking for volunteers to stay in LA for three days – we’ll provide accommodation and $600 compensation’. In the past, I’ve never been able to take advantage of this sort of offer, and even this time I had to weigh up various factors (pre booked car hire in NZ, reduced holiday time in Fiji) – but I decided to play it safe, and remained sat down. Ten minutes later they announced that they were looking for one more volunteer, I decided to take a chance – three days in LA with $600 spends wouldn’t be a terrible thing – so up I got, and after a quick word with the people on the departure gate, I headed off back to check-in to collect my cash and get the hotel details. When I arrived at check-in, I overhead a conversation about a delayed flight, and the magic words ‘business class passengers’ – so instead of three days in LA, I got a business class upgrade 🙂 Fold-flat seats, proper glasses and cutlery, and a full dinner menu – happy days.

So, on to Fiji… Simply put, possibly one of the best holiday destinations in the world. I had picked a resort – the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort on Lacuna Island – far out in the Yasawa Islands, a long chain of small islands stretching out to the north-west of the main Fijian island of Viti Levu. Far out meant a long four and a half hour trip on the transfer boat – and I didn’t think of applying any suntan lotion, so I managed to get burnt before I even reached the resort – never mind, I’m representing Britain abroad, so the lobster look is de rigeur 😉 The resort itself was gorgeous – long wide sandy beach, toasty warm water, a reef right next to the beach, friendly staff, and a beautifully presented dorm. This was the first time I’d slept in a dorm since boarding school, and I may has been spoilt with the quality of this one. They put on a variety of good evening entertainments – crab racing, volleyball (which became more competitive as the night wore on and the drinks flowed), and a Survivor night where my team won a Champagne breakfast. While I was there, the local village was hosting an inter-island rugby sevens tournament – I had no idea who was playing at any time, but these guys definitely meant business. The weather wasn’t as advertised, and was often overcast and it rained a few times too – no problem though, as the rain was warm and you could still get a tan through the clouds.

My main reason for coming to Fiji was to learn to dive, and over the week I spent at the resort, I successfully managed not to drown, and attained the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Sadly, I didn’t have an underwater camera so couldn’t get any photos of some of the amazing fish and reefs – however my first proper dive was recorded (indirectly) by Graham who runs the dive shop. This was a shark dive – swimming down to a fixed rope 18m below the surface, then a dive master empties a wheelie bin full of fish-heads into the water. White-tip, black-tip, grey and bull sharks were soon swooping around grabbing bits of fish and shaking them about. I thought that it would be scary, but it didn’t take long to realize that they were only interested in the assorted fish guts, and not with the line of bubbling figures to one side. It was a great experience, and a perfect end to my stay in Fiji.  To see the videos, lookup the Vertical Blue Dive School on Facebook and check out the videos posted around the 12th of October.

So, farewell to Fiji – you were everything that I’d hoped for. Suntan, diving, and new friends (particularly Ben and Fiona, also on a RTW trip, who I’m sure I’ll bump into again). I do differentiate this from the rest of my trip, as a holiday – I definitely wasn’t ‘travelling’ in Fiji. Meh – who cares 😉 Now off to New Zealand – Air Pacific gave me an exit seat with extra legroom, I must be in their good books! PS. I have picked up a travelling companion, so I’ll have a wise guide to help me on my journey. He’s on the left of the picture below, with a friend he met at the bar…

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