Category Archives: Fiji

A quick trip to Fiji to sort out my Australian visa leads to an amazing holiday I won’t soon forget!

Traveling: Reflections from the Road

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Life on the road happens fast. One day you’re at McDonalds happily hogging their free Wifi and chomping chicken nuggets ….

OK, I can't afford all of the nuggets! (Image: WanderingEarthLost ©)

Image: WanderingEarthLost

And the next day you’re in the bush being terrorized by little blood-sucking fiends (bugs, mostly), wishing your mobile phone had just one more bar of signal to allow a connection to Facebook.

While traveling, a good chunk of each day is spent finding a place to sleep (and maybe a shower), assessing the cleanliness of underwear, figuring out how much vital stuff got left behind at the place you stayed last night, and divining feasts from random food stuffs. Picture this: toast, baked beans, wilting broccoli and half a chocolate bar. Yum! (Don’t get me wrong, I do love wandering the world despite the lack of creature comforts and hollowed out writing time!)

While I have settled in one place for months at a time during my travels, something distinct I have noticed about my lifestyle is the development of a spectacularly distorted sense of time much like a Dali painting:

That's what All the clocks look like!!!

What happened to all the clocks!  (Photo courtesy Google)

Days feel likes weeks, weeks like months, and months like years. And 2  years abroad still feels like a 10-day holiday that is about to end soon.

Truthfully, so much can happen quite quickly while travelling, and, in effect, a week can hold more upsets and triumphs than some people experience during a normal year of life.

The silver lining: the steaming pile of shit life has offered up today will likely be wiped away by a positively amazing experience tomorrow:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing -- a moment/place I visited in my lifetime that is truly unforgettable.

Tongariro Alpine National Park, NZ — Just an example of one of the truly unforgettable places I have visited so far in my lifetime.

The trouble is: while there is always comfort in knowing the struggles of yesterday will pass, the thrills of today can slip away just as innocuously ….

Yet still, as a traveller I keep moving forward in hopes of living the dream that guides my little heart.

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

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First things first: what is the Sleeping Giant? And does it remain at large, potentially swatting small aircraft out of the sky and terrorizing tourists?

After thoughtful investigation, my best hypothesis: the Sleeping Giant is a dinosaur, most definitely a T-Rex, which has survived for millions of years, hidden in the lush jungles of Fiji. It is the best kept secret of the nation, and for a nominal fee, you too, can be terrorized, chased and eaten by an ancient creature.

Yeah, that's it!

Yeah, that’s it! (Image courtesy Google)

While I didn’t see the T-Rex per say, I did hear strange grumbling noises that clearly emanated from the hungry belly of this prehistoric beast … or at least something creepy, large, and somewhat mutuant-y like Ninja Turtles, that was eagerly awaiting a human Happy Meal.

OK — I actually have no idea what this infamous Sleeping Giant is, but I did spend an afternoon exploring a lovely botanic garden which, despite its ominous name, is nestled in a tropical mountain valley and is home to an extensive collection of orchids.

Pretty Flowers

Pretty flowers ….

Orchids

It’s an orchid extravaganza, really!

Tadaa!

Tada! No, I am not an orchid or a Sleeping Giant.

And this is my final Fijian adventure before braving the airport to head back to Australia.

That’s right: my student visa was granted while on holiday, amazingly enough! So, it’s time to begin a new chapter in Byron Bay!

The Blue Lagoon

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boat

A little fishing, anyone?

We’ve all heard of the Blue Lagoon and its reputed monsters, oh wait, that’s the Black Lagoon…. What’s actually scary: some of us watched the original film, “The Blue Lagoon,” in 1948, or worse, the remake with Brook Shields in 1980.

No matter how you feel about the films, the Blue Lagoon is spectacular and I was pleased to have inadvertently saved the best for last: Nacula Island.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

yeah, it's Blue

Hello, gorgeous!

I can also now proudly boast that I have swam in the Blue Lagoon, and I have splashed about in the nearby Sawa-i-Lau Caves — another spot captured for all time on film.

Sawa-i-Lau Caves

Sawa-i-Lau Caves

The Sawa-i-Lau Caves are on par with the experience of swimming in the freshwater Cenotes of Mexico. Except here, there is graffiti etched into the limestone walls and other saddening tell-tale signs of people.

However, this adventure is the perfect end to my island-hopping  journey in the Yasawas. One more night of 5-star bliss back at Octopus Resort (and maybe one last crack at the hermit crab races) and then it’s back to the mainland!

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Mermaid.

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Fishes

A Piece of the Reef

OK: when I was little, I was obsessed with the Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid.” I wanted my parents to change my name to Ariel, and I hoped that by spending heaps of time  in the local swimming pool, I might actually grow gills and a fish tail.

Aside from just being a weird kid, I was actually drawn to the mysterious world that exists underwater. How could you know for sure if there weren’t half fish/half human creatures swimming about singing show tunes without seeing for yourself? And how could you? No gills means no air supply….

It comes to me as no surprise that, as an adult, the Great Barrier Reef quickly became a fundamental reason why I had to be in Australia and absolutely had to live and work in Far North Queensland. It was when I snorkeled the Reef on a brief holiday that I connected with something  — a sense of peace, wonder and excitement. And I had finally gotten a peek at life just below the ocean’s surface.

After spending 7 months in Carins, I had snorkeled the reef a handful of times but only decided to try diving not before leaving the place — I blame irrational fears of drowning and shark attack for this. Anyway, I immediately regretted not attempting an introductory dive sooner as well as not having the means to learn to dive and get an open water diving certification before continuing with my travels.

Why is all of this relevant?

Well, everything happens for a reason — one of my closest friends often reminds me of this when I call her from time to time to ask why my life is so bizarre. So, let’s return to my adventures in the Yasawas, Fiji:

At Mantaray Resort on Nanuya Balavu Island, I went for a snorkel — from the beach, no less, — and experienced the most spectacular reef and marine life I’ve seen to date.  I knew in my gut I was meant to get my open water certification then and there. It just made sense. I was ready to set aside any lingering fears, and ready to discover the world’s singing fish.

So, I marched into the dive shop and signed up for for the open water certification course, and mentally stomped all over my “why-did-I-stay-in-Cairns-so-long-and-not-learn-to-dive?” regret. Six dives later, having witnessed breathtaking reef sites (no pun intended), I passed my snorkel test (chugging a beer through the snorkel) and the slightly more important written exam.

While I wish I had been able to record every bit of coral and every sea creature I saw while achieving my open water certification to somehow share with the world now, it just wasn’t possible. But I can at least share one of the highlights, a happening not to be forgotten as it may be a once-in-a-lifetime event: seeing a 4 meter manta ray glide through the crystal-clear water just ahead of me. (Photo below is form the Web, but you get the idea!)

Gigantic manta ray with snorkelers. Image courtesy Google.

Short of growing gills, I am slowly exploring the world’s Oceans. And, in a way, I have succeeded with my strange childhood ambition of becoming a mermaid when I grew up.

Future goals:

1) Dive Julian Rock in Byron Bay since it’s in my backyard, so to speak.

2) Dive Nigaloo Reef, Western Australia, and swim with the Whalesharks.

Waya Island: Let the Games Begin!

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Waya Island, Yasawas, Fiji. Home of Octopus Resort. *

Waya Island, Yasawas, Fiji. Home of Octopus Resort.*

The name of the game: hermit crab racing. Seriously, this is where the action is in the Yasawas, Fiji, never mind the the gorgeous four-strar resort I stayed at on Waya Island after leaving Southsea. Or the reef I snorkelled from the beach.

Maybe it’s because my Dad took me to the race track when I was little, but animal racing — horses, rabbits, frogs, crabs or whatever — has massive appeal. Calculating odds, placing bets, the short-lived thrill of the win, and the energy of the crowd is intoxicating. (I don’t agree with animal cruelty, but this is an area where I get caught in an ethical tug-of-war. To my knowledge, no hermit crabs were harmed or mistreated during the races.)

It is serious business picking a winner. You can scope out talent all day, but my advice is to just go with your gut.

A Contender?*

A Contender?*

And as the sun set, it was time to turn my attention to serious matters — cocktails and registering hermit crabs for the races.

The Coconut Bar*

The Coconut Bar*

I’m pretty sure they host crab racing events to entertain kids, but I was placing bets at every opportunity while island hopping in the Yasawas ….

The arena.

The Crab Racing Arena*

And this little fella won two sparkling cocktails for placing second in the races:

Lucky #30 - Triple Chocolate Mousse-Cake.

Hermit Crab 30 — Triple Chocolate Mousse-Cake.*

Thank you very much, Triple Chocolate Mousse-Cake!

Perfect mid-morning beverage!

Perfect mid-morning beverage!*

*Images courtesy Anja Buccheim.