So its been just over 5 weeks since I boarded the plane out of ol’ blighty and headed head-first into the unknown or as its otherwise known; the Southern Hemisphere. I promised myself I’d be more on the ball with the blogging but due to issues involving prehistoric wi-fi, writers block, the fact that laptops don’t work underwater and some pretty excessive abuse of alcohol, food and the odd other thing this has not been the case. I understand if you never trust me again.
Travel from my limited experience is a strange beast and an ever-changing one as well. In the last 5 weeks I don’t think my mood or mind set has sat still for any longer than a few hours at a time. Kind of like kids after they’ve had Skittles, Pepsi or ecstasy. The initial flight was a real brute; Manchester to Dubai, Dubai to Melbourne, Melbourne to Auckland. Then after a 23 hour layover which involved getting steaming drunk at the harbour with some friendly Americans, a German and a fellow Brit a further 4 hours to Nadi. Its in Fiji.
The first thing I noticed about Fiji upon touchdown and spoken like a true Brit was; f*ck me its hot! Now I’m sure any flamboyant, dreadlock wearing, guitar playing seasoned traveller with a double-barrel name who reads that would greet it with a scoff and tell me how its nothing on Thailand or India or North Korea but I’ve never been to those places and I was hot so kiss my arse. Also; I don’t care about your spirituality but I’d be happy to discuss how your drug habits are directly affecting the infrastructure of every city you’ve ever been in when you have time.
The second thing I noticed about Fiji and this one came as no surprise was that, when compared to back home, its different. No better, no worse just different. People move at a slow pace. Sometimes even a little irritatingly so but mostly the change is quite refreshing. My first few days were spent lounging on a beach drinking Fiji Gold (very nice) and then getting even more hammered in the night with humans from all corners of the globe and honestly I didn’t feel the smallest bit guilty about it.
As already mentioned though travel is a strange beast and maybe a person with more experience can enlighten me on whether or not this is normal but the blues began to set in quite early on. I missed home, I missed family, I missed not sharing my bedding with the animal kingdom, I missed personal space, structure, talking about Football, Boxing and WWE and showers that work with rather than against you. I was sunburnt from the sun, I was head-burnt by some of the insufferable yuppies I’d attempted to make small talk with and the repetitive music at the hostels was on its way to turning me into a serial killer.
Alas as they say persistence is key and persist I did. Not because I’m brave, courageous or even likeable but because 3 weeks is a long time if you have know one to share it with! Sure enough on a fateful day I met a crowd and we clicked. I always thought that my ‘crowds’ would be full of novices such as myself who lacked the balls to hit up some of the more daring countries but I was wrong. The people I travelled with had been all over the place. They were seasoned travellers but they WERE NOT bell-ends; simples! They were great in fact and through them I met a bunch of other great people to. We got drunk (obviously), drunk Kava with locals (something I really feel honoured to have had the chance to do), skinny dipped (there were girls involved I swear!), drove into town in a ride with no backseats that couldn’t go over 50mph and that smoked more than the Marleys and learnt the true meaning of the term Fiji Time when we were given strict instructions to be at Suva Dock for 4pm to board a ferry and were still sitting around at said dock drinking rum and Kava at 11:30pm!
Speaking of that bloody ferry, we had a close scrape that taught me the importance of time management along with the fact that their genuinely are some good people in the world. After 16 hours aboard a freighter that, and I say this with all due respect to the owner, was a toilet that floated and was packed out to the rafters we docked at Savu-Savu for a breather. We had spent the journey sleeping on a bed bug ridden floor, eating rubber chicken and hanging out with a massive Fijian-Indian family on our deck; I actually really liked that last part but Christ the kids had energy. Couple this with the fact that another lady who we got friendly with had a 3 year old son called John (who currently holds the title of Cutest Kid Met on My Travels and is going to take some beating) who decided I would make a good pillow and I didn’t have the heart to move him and we NEEDED to stretch our legs so we hopped off for a stroll in Savu-Savu. When we asked the ferry staff how long we had before departure we got 3 different answers from as many staff members. Referencing the delay back in Suva we decided to go with the biggest time span we were given, how wrong we were.
Sure enough we left the restaurant at Savu-Savu just in time to see the ferry drifting off into the distance. Maybe instinct took over but I still find the fact that we tried to run after the thing for almost a minute pretty amusing on hindsight. Sure enough panic set in; the ferry was gone, our luggage was on it but so were the previous mentioned family who had given us there numbers. So we got hold of them and they assured us that they had the luggage in there sites and would make sure it was safe. What lovely people, you ain’t read nothing yet.
So the luggage was safe but we needed to get to it and Fiji’s ferry systems don’t exactly run every 30 minutes, more like every 3 days. Taveuni was the island in question by the way and it was only accessible via sea so we were well and truly screwed by all accounts or we would have been in any other place. Sure enough we get talking with a lady at a fish shop opposite the harbour and a mere 10 minutes later we had a ride to Taveuni via a speedboat going to the island to deliver oysters that would not only get us to the island but get us their BEFORE the ferry. After picking up the drivers assistant, stopping at his village and meeting the chief who also owned the dock and assured us that all was okay and that ‘In Fiji you will always be taken care of’ we hit the water. My God that speeder was fast and its lucky that health and safety isn’t really a thing on the islands because after picking up a German couple we were rolling 8 deep! The rain pounded us, the waves were big and we cheered as we passed the ferry and out-ran it. What an experience it was.
At Taveuni we drank, went camping, had more Kava, I got my PADI (story for another day) and met some other pretty awesome human beings from all corners. Like all good (and bad actually) things though it came to an end and a week and a half ago I left Fiji for Auckland and its Auckland where I sit right now.
I’m aware that this post is dragging worse than the Queens Speech and needs wrapping up like the Xmas presents I won’t be getting this year but I can’t really find a point to it all, kind of just been ‘key-styling’ it so to speak. Auckland is cool but I’m glad to be heading to Wellington for Xmas as its a little soulless. Leaving behind things in Fiji was tough and New Zealand is like starting all over again, I’ve already made some good buddies that I’ve had to say goodbye to in Auckland and the lack of stability isn’t always easy to cope with. Sure enough the previous mentioned travel stereotypes are present and correct and on-hand to drive me up the wall and judge me but what the hell have I just done to them in this post? Was this post a love letter to Fiji, a list of travelling pitfalls and symptoms or just a recap of a crazy five and a half weeks? You know, I think its a bit of all the above.
Travel isn’t for everyone and I’m starting to understand why. Is it for me? Too early to say but I’ve had some good times and I pray they continue and that the other stuff gets easier over time. Over and out!
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.