Straight Outta Uxbridge

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


What a popular word "Bula" seems to be in Fiji, the entire population seem to be extremely keen on shouting it at any given moment. A smile and a confidently projected "Bula!" certainly go a long way in this country - which is rather a relief when you consider that they were still eating people a hundred or so years ago.

It must be said that our time here was very much a mixed bag. Fiji is ultimately set up for the package tourist - hmmm, actually that's not really fair, perhaps that is true of the idyllic Yasawa Islands off the west coast, but I'm sure there are lots of other nice places to visit if you can be arsed. However, our spirits were initially doused by 10 days of stormy, wet weather that saw us holed-up in our room at Pacific Harbour, venturing out only twice a day to eat. Don't get me wrong, we had a lovely time. I think we read 6 or 7 books, watched plenty of TV (Fiji One is the only channel), slept a lot and learnt most of the Fijian national anthem - in Fijian. The problem is of course, when it's tipping down outside you hardly want to pack your bag and head off on a crappy bus to the nearest harbour to explore other islands.

We consoled ourselves in the knowledge that we were saving a heap of cash and splashed out (literally) one day on 9 holes at the local championship standard golf course. I managed to lose 8 balls in 9 holes, which I maintain was due to the cyclonic weather, and not the tricky course design - anyway, we had a buggy and so had fun regardless.

You might remember me mentioning a shark feeding dive, well let me tell you it was awesome! Predictably enough it wasn't me hand feeding the sharks, but I was kneeling on the ocean floor whilst the expert risked his fingers. Apart from the thousands of other fish interested in his wheelie bin of dead fish, quite a few reef sharks turned up and couple of bull sharks. Word had it that the silhouette of a 6m, man eating tiger shark had been spotted at one point, but not by me so I can't confirm. The dive master said there are 4 of them that are known to patrol those waters, but he hadn't seen - or fed - any of them for a week. One thing is for sure, when you are bobbing about on the surface, waiting for 10 other divers to get on a boat, that is the last news you want to hear.

Eventually the clouds did part and we took the opportunity to move to Suva, the capital. It would seem that our timing as usual was impeccable as upon our arrival it was announced that the military had given the government a week to meet it's demands over something or another, before it forcibly took control of the capital via a military coup. Tensions were high, but I'm sorry to report that there were no tanks on show. Actually, I doubt we would have noticed even if it had kicked off as we spent 8 hours on our second day there playing video games at the local internet cafe - and what a bloody enjoyable day it was too!

With only 10 days left to kill we pushed on round the mainland and hopped on a boat to the tiny island of Nananu-I-Ra. It may have a silly name, but it is located in the Bligh Waters (so named due to Captain Bligh's raft floating this way after the mutiny on the Bounty) and the soft coral diving here is world famous (yes, better than the Barrier Reef). There really is bugger all else to do here other than dive, snorkel and eat - but by now the sun was beating down every day so we had a marvelous time.

After killing 2 more days is a semi-posh resort by the airport it was time to leave for the Cook Islands. Would I recommend Fiji? Well, no - unless you are a) loaded, or b) a qualified scuba diver - in which case it is frigging magic!