Archive for the ‘Fiji’ Category

WP_20130914_002After a day on the water at Frigates Passage I decided that I needed a day off everything and I couldn’t be in a better place to relax than Waidroka Bay Resort, where I am staying.

Almost everybody else went out to sea today and I feel like I have the Garden of Eden to enjoy by myself.

WP_20130914_027Unusually for here it absolutely chucks down with rain for three hours in the morning, but the air afterwards is beautifully cool and I can take a stroll around the grounds in the sunshine.

There are so many funky plants and trees, which all seem to have flowers even more exquisite than the one previously viewed.

WP_20130915_015This is my place set in amongst the trees. It is lovely to have my own space for a little while and being able to unpack everything and spread out even just for a few days is a joy I so rarely get to savour on the road.

After a great lunch and a chat with one of the other guests I even have time for a pleasant afternoon nap. It is such a relaxing day.

WP_20130915_011It isn’t long before everybody else is returning back to dry land from their various adventures during the day.

As becomes my custom here the evening is spent talking with the other guests, enjoying the great food served to us all around a large dining table, and washing it all down with a bottle or five of the local Fijian beer.

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WP_20130913_013By the time I arrived at Waidroka Bay I was running on auto-pilot so I was delighted to be told that a boat was heading out to the famous break called Frigates in the morning because it avoided any decision making on my part. It is named after a gap in the coral reef that was big enough to get the old warships through, called Frigates Passage. 

The waves peel beautifully off the edge of the reef, however it is not accurate to say they break off the island of Viti Levu because it is a surf spot that is 16 miles out to sea and requires an hour boat trip just to get there!

FrigatesI was joined on the boat by a group of surfers from Australia and a couple of divers because it is also a great spot for checking out the marine life.

Upon arrival at the passage we were delighted to be met by head high waves which were almost mechanical in their perfection and not a breath of wind. This wave was for Peter Kraus, and it might well have been the perfect wave he was always looking for. Just a shame it was a left Pete!

DCIM100GOPROWith him in mind I decided I had to try and charge the waves today, without holding back. There were only six guys in the water so my efforts were soon rewarded and I was quickly into a few beautiful rides.

I was once more wearing the boots and helmet to give me some protection from the reef because this was a very serious wave. Everyone had been warning me that the sun here in Fiji was particularly powerful too, so I also added enough zinc sunscreen to have galvanised a frigate!

DCIM100GOPROThere was no wind to start the session but it picked up steadily through our time out on the ocean, which made conditions increasingly challenging. You can see me here dropping into another monster, and also the other surfer ducking through the clear water on the left of the shot.

After a few hours I was tired and went back to the boat for lunch, only to be told by the divers on our boat about how many sharks and other marine life they had seen swimming around underneath us. Great!

However it was the wind rather than the angry fish that was the reason for me not getting back in the water here. The morning had been a perfect session and I wanted to treasure that for my friend, preferring to watch the other surfers and enjoy a bit of fishing. By the time I had got back to dry land I had been on board for almost eight hours and can freely admit to almost walking off the side of the jetty due to still being on my sea legs!

 

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Fiji AirwaysI have a ridiculously early flight from Sydney to Nadi in Fiji and of course get the usual surcharges for daring to travel with a surfboard. However I should say that with Fiji Airways it was at least done with a sympathetic tone and a smile.

I manage a two hour kip on the four hour flight too, but end up being the very last person off the plane due to waiting for the lady sat next to me and her elderly mother, who wasn’t at all mobile, to be able to get up and slowly make their way into the terminal without holding up the other passengers.

MapI didn’t mind too much because I have learnt that travelling anywhere on this trip, is a non event of a day, so there is no point rushing it.

That was until I saw there were only a handful of immigration desks open and I had to wait in line for over an hour, which was tad tedious.

Fiji is no further from Australia than New Zealand, and with it’s close ties to both I had high hopes of my phone working for a change when I get off a plane. Par for the course on this trip though, I don’t get a working signal when I switch my phone on upon arrival.

WP_20130912_008The trip around the island of Viti Levu to get to the Waidroka Bay resort  on the southern coast where I am staying for the next few days takes hours. As a consequence my driver suggests we stop along the way to get a bite to eat and a drink at his friend’s restaurant

Raju’s is run by Rakesh Singh who you see here posing in front of his bar, which is adorned with pictures of his sporting family. He used to be a professional boxer although I couldn’t understand if he had actually retired or not despite being in his forties. Like everybody I meet in Fiji he was incredibly friendly, and if anything in his case it was too much so. He couldn’t have known anything about it but after recent events I wasn’t really in the mood to hear every gory detail about how he had found his father after he had killed himself in the first five minutes of our conversation. 

WP_20130912_001It made me incredibly uncomfortable and that he wanted all my contact details in the UK and to know how long I would be away was a bit weird too, so I passed on the address of my old flat and just said two weeks!

The food was great though and the beer was cheap so I left on good terms after me meal. Once back on the road I arrive at the resort, after a few hours looking out the window at the local countryside and sugar canes crops .

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It is time for me to head for another of the world’s rugby loving nations. Thankfully it will be one of the warmest. Fiji have been enthusiastic about the game since they played British soldiers in the nineteenth century, and today every village there has a team.

The British were also responsible for bring many Indians here to work in the sugar plantations, and there is a huge Indo-Fijian population and culture, reflected in the spicy curries enjoyed by all. However the clash of cultures has not always been an easy marriage, and because Indo-Fijians are still not entitled to the civil liberties of indigenous Fijians more than a hundred years later has largely been responsible for the four military coups which have taken place on the Island in the last twenty years.

FijiI am going to be in the islands for just over a week, and am looking forward to enjoying another tropical paradise.

Fiji has starred in a number of films, but that it’s islands were used as the location to shoot Cast Away (the Tom Hanks version, as opposed to the Oliver Reed one) and The Blue Lagoon should give you some indication of what I am hoping to see here.

There is also a history of cannibalism on the islands, with vanquished foes regularly being eaten previously. So much so that when the mutiny on the bounty took place Captain Bligh sailed straight through the gap between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu after having been set adrift, in fear of being consumed by the locals. The channel has been named Bligh’s Strait as a consequence.

Fiji SurfThe waves are the real reason I am visiting this nation, and it is another stop on the ASP world tour, with the Volcom Pro taking place annually at Cloudbreak.

There is a huge coral reef that largely surrounds the archipelago, which results in some epic surf. All of which is breaking in warm and beautifully clear water. I can hardly wait!

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