Saturday, 15 October 2011

Fiji Waya Lai Lai - days 40 - 44

Days #40 - #44

We get on the boat to take us to the next resort and head to the upper deck, when we’re joined a by a Fijian band. Theres about 10 of them, and they sit on the floor and pull out massive containers full of food. They then proceed to invite the whole deck to join them for lunch! Everyone declines politely at first, but they keep on at everyone to join them. Once I saw the huge fish being handed around, I didn’t need to be asked twice! They spent the rest of the journey playing guitars and playing current music that’s been following me around the last two months – namely that horrendous Bruno Mars track, and Jessie Js “Price Tag”. Was kinda fun to have a soundtrack while we were driving through the islands in the blistering heat.

We get to Waya Lai Lai and almost immediately you can tell the difference in operation. The resort is run by the village, the boat that picks us up is tatty and old, and the organisation getting checked in is pretty vague to say the least. But the setting of the resort is pretty incredible. Again it’s set right against the beach, but behind the resort is a massive rock outcrop that looks like something out of Close Encounters. I get on the boat, meet a young British couple (chatted to the girl while the boyfriend sat in silence – typical young british dude!), and a group of Aussie girls (with a Brit guy in tow) that I met on the cave dive a few days earlier! On arrival at the island, I get a “HELLO!” shouted at me from a beach hammock – turns out its Redhill Girl from the boat three days earlier.

We check in, and my room definitely isn’t up to the high standard of Blue Lagoons – although it does have its own shower and toilet. I ask someone why all the dorm bedding next door is out on the lawn. Apparently they have bed bugs. Great. I spend the next three nights sleeping on top of the sheets, sweating like a pig (cos the generator goes off at midnight, so the fan stops working) being kept awake by lizards in the room. As the Americans say – “eeewww”! As it turns out every day the dorms get turned out and people are moved cos of the bed bugs. By the time I leave three days later, I’m totally paranoid I’ve caught them too!

Once I’ve checked the resort out, I decide to grab a beer and watch the rugby. The whole village has turned out to watch the Fiji game against Wales, so decide to join them. Apart from myself and one other british dude from the boat, were the only non-Fijians, so we stand at the back and have a quiet chat. Some old Fijian dude decides he’s going to hang out with me, and spends the whole time he’s in the room hugging me. To be honest, it gets a bit much after a while, but don’t know whether I should tell him to bugger off or not. The other fella with me keeps turning round and laughing – it’s all a little uncomfortable, but he disappears after a while. I spot him later wandering round the resort smacking the girls bums!

Activity-wise, we did a summit walk to the rock outcrop behind the resort and a shark dive. The summit walk was hardcore (for me). It was a good hour long hike through rainforest, climbing up massive roots and rocks to get the top of the outcrop. When we got there, you had to clamber over a 10 foot ledge to get to the very top summit. It was pretty hairy, but everyone managed to do it, and the view from the top was incredible. We sat there for a while taking photos and checking out the surrounding islands, then we took the easy walk back to the resort around the back of the island. Was sweating and knackered when I arrived back at my room.

The shark dive (or shark snorkelling) was another pretty full on activity. The boat basically took us 30 minutes out to the middle of the sea. Was a fairly windy day, so there was a nice swell going on, which meant the boat ride was pretty uncomfortable (I ended up with bruises all over my bum where the boat would slam down after hitting another wave). Once we got to the reef, we all jumped over the side of the boat. The view under the water was a total shock – the visibility was crystal clear and the amount of coral took your breath away. I had no idea I was gonna be seeing this when I jumped in, and was pretty gobsmacking. Bobbed around with my snorkel for about a minute when I spotted the first shark. Ok, to get this straight, this was a white tipped shark, billed as “friendly reef shark” and were only about 4 foot long. But it was still a shark. It still had teeth and the “cold dead eyes”! Once we hit the main reef, we were joined by about 5 others, and the Fijian guides swam to the bottom of the reef and started feeding these dudes, which made them swim around the area and gave us all a good view. I’m not ashamed to say it was pretty freaky stuff, and really didn’t like them getting too close. Then one of the divers grabbed a shark and started tormenting the thing, dragging it to the surface and throwing it about. Not cool!!! It didn’t look friendly anymore, that’s all I can say. Once they started pissing about, I just wanted to get out of the water, as did a few other people in the group. Was funny watching Will and Carole though – they had a video camera and spent most of the dive swimming down to the bottom of the reef, getting as close to the sharks as possible. Rather them than me! Was still a brilliant experience though, and was another thing I’d never have seen myself doing. Oh, and halfway through the swim, a face popped up out of the water and said hello – it was the british girl I’d met on the boat the first day arriving at Waya Lai Lai. How random.

On the last afternoon, I arrived back at the resort to bump into Jenny (the LAX girl) and Jeannie from my first day in Fiji. Hung out with them most of the afternoon seeing what they got up to, and was cool to randomly bump into people I’d already met. They stayed for one night, as did most people. Waya was a strange place, because people seemed to only stay for one night, so the vibe of the place changed daily depending on who was there. You never really got to know anyone as they would be gone the next day. However, if you were with a good bunch of people, then you generally had a better time and weren’t too worried about how naff the place you were staying at was. Luckily for me, Will and Carole stayed the entire time (although we wished we’d moved on elsewhere by day 3), and we had a fun time and made the best of Waya. Most afternoons we mooched around the beach then headed for Happy Hour as soon as it was time. On our final days here we were joined by another couple of single travellers – Rachel from the Lake District and Guro from Norway. Rachel was pretty quiet, but she got on well with the three of us and soon came out of her shell. Guro was nuts. Another single traveller who wasn’t entirely sure she was doing the right thing, she had me laughing most of the time she was on the island. Another European who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and didn’t care what she said – I wonder if this is a trait that Europeans have? I know the dutch can be pretty direct, so maybe.

The last day at Waya seemed to go on forever. We’d all basically had enough of the place, and we definitely outstayed our welcome by a day too many. Unfortunately the boat doesn’t turn up to pick us up until 3.30pm. Even worse, its an hour and a half late. Between torrential downpours and watching the locals take apart their boat engines (and wondering if we’ll ever get off the island), we never really get to do much, apart from hang around, and it’s a total waste of a day. Guro had left the island to go north earlier at 10am, to head up the coast to the Korovou resort, another place on my list. She’d asked me to go along too (it was everyone elses last day, but I had one more day to go), as she’d basically been doing her tour on her own and was sick of missing all the other tours by one day (she’d arrive at an island as the tour ahead of her was leaving). I must admit, I thought about it for 30 seconds, even though I had one more night booked at Bounty (which was south). I guess this is the beauty of being a single backpacker/traveller – you can go where you want, when you want. However, I did really want to go to an island I could walk around in 20 minutes so I declined. In hindsight, I probably should have gone.

We finally get on the Flyer, and head south, into what looks like the worst storm EVER. Will, Carole and Rachel are going to Smugglers for a couple of nights before heading off to NZ, and I’m going to Bounty Island for one night. But the weather is horrendous and it’s getting worse. Eventually I change my mind and switch my booking from Bounty back to Smugglers. There’s no point spending one night on an island that’ll be dark when I get there with the bad weather we’re having. Would much rather hang out with people I’ve met in a comfortable environment for my last two days. Turns out this was the best decision, as the dark clouds didn’t move from Bounty for the two days I was on the mainland.

A woman also gave birth on the boat, and the baby was shown around the passengers like some kind of prize. You don’t see that everyday!

Spend my final two days in Fiji back at Smugglers Cove in a wicked double room in the posh part of the resort. Was so happy with my room, and was great to be able to unpack properly, sort all my stuff out and get some washing done. I also did some work on this blog, sorted out my photos and booked some accommodation for Australia. Took it easy for the two days. Would spend the eves with Will, Carole and Rachel, having a decent meal and a few beers. Didn’t do much else during the day as it rained on and off the whole time. First night back we got to see some fire dancers, which was pretty cool. We’d been threatened with this a few times on the resorts, but this was the first time we’d seen some guys do it. I guess the resorts are worried about setting the thatched bures alight!

My final day arrived, and I was ready to go to Australia and hopefully say goodbye to the vagueness of Fiji. It had been brilliant, but the whole “Fiji Time” thing had got the better of me by the last few days. Was looking forward to a bit of normality. That was only a minor thing though. Fiji had been brilliant, I’d met some ace people and I’d definitely love to come back to Blue Lagoon, and check out some other resorts that I missed, like Manta Ray and Octopus. And I still want to stay on an island I can walk round in 20 minutes.

Got a cab to the airport and boy, was I glad to get there. It was the scariest cab ride ever. The cab dude kept falling asleep and skidding across the road!! He didn’t even quote me a price for the ride. I gave him 10 dollars, no way was I paying more for that death trap. Got through security at the airport quickly (its Fiji, they don’t really have security), got quizzed about my tattoos and my favourite music by the immigration guy, then had a beer while I waited for the plane. And randomly bumped into Redhill Girl – who’s name is Gemma and shes ridiculously chatty. Turns out shes going to Brisbane as well, but to catch a connecting flight to Cairns. This travelling thing is nuts. Its so bizarre meeting these random people in random places.

Next stop – Brisbane!

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