Sunday, 28 June 2009

Fiji: Sea, sunshine, tropical islands….and a military coup

As Easter is a long weekend, decided to make the most of it and go somewhere, so me and Al went to Fiji. You can’t do that at Easter back home! Flew into a place called NadI, which is a 4 hour flight and two hours ahead, so by the time we arrived there wasn’t time to do much so we sat on the grey beach, had a few beers and enjoyed the afternoon rainstorm.

Next day we got a boat out to Mana Island. Fiji is made up of lots of small islands, many of which aren’t much more than some beaches, trees and a few places to stay. Pretty nice. Went kayaking in the afternoon and much like when I did it in Sydney, my inability to paddle consistently resulted in me going round in circles and ultimately the toys coming out of the pram again. Really must learn to kayak properly sometime. But as usual, the main objective was to try and splash as much water into Al’s kayak as possible.

There was one slightly hairy moment. A plane was coming in to land and we assumed it was just going to the airstrip on the island, but it seemed to be coming in a bit low. As it got closer realised it was a sea plane and it was heading straight for our bit of water. With my kayaking (lack of) ability there was no way I was going to get out of its way so it was a case of hoping it wouldn’t land near us. It obviously didn’t land near us as I probably wouldn’t be writing this, but it was looking interesting for a bit!

The hostel we were staying in was right on the beach so it was nice in the evening having some food and drink and generally just chilling out. The hostel put on a bit of a show where we got to watch various Polynesian Island dances and some bloke juggling fire,and we chatted to some of the other people in the hostel there were two Scandinavian looking girls. The conversation went something to the lines of “So where are you from?” “Norway.” “And what do you do in Norway?” “We’ve just finished high school.”

Next morning we went out with the hostel’s dive boat to a reef and while others dived we snorkelled. Saw a few sharks which was pretty cool. Were slightly worried for a bit as the boat disappeared and there are stories of snorkellers and divers just getting abandoned in the middle of the ocean.

After snorkelling for a while I started feeling a bit queasy, and this got progressively worse until I ended up treading water while being sick. Lovely. Still, I’m sure some fish would have ended up eating it. Probably would have made a nice change from normal plankton.

Felt much better but on the motor boat back to the island started feeling a bit iffy again, so ended up having round 2 hanging out the side. Anyone who has ever done this will know that it sprays upwards so I was hanging out as far as I could without falling out to avoid spraying it all over one of the aforementioned Norwegian girls. I managed this just, and amazingly according to Al nobody in the boat seemed to know what I was doing!

The moral to this story is obviously don't go snorkelling at 9 in the morning, nothing to do with alcohol consumption the night before.

We decided to head for another island after one night on Mana. Annoyingly because everyone wants you to go on their boats nobody tells you anything else, so we got a boat back to the mainland, then found another boat to take us to Bounty Island, but on the way stopped off at Mana Island about 100 yards down the beach from our hostel, so we ended up wasting 4 hours or so. But never mind.

Bounty Island was similar to Mana - small and not much there, but nice. The water was warm and clear, so did some swimming and snorkelling (where I managed to avoid being ill).
That’s pretty much all we had time to do though as we had to head back to the airport. Did have time though to buy some awful Hawaiian style shirts. They seem to be the only thing Fijian blokes wear, so it only seemed right to buy a couple. I’ve only worn one out in public once, but do wear them round the flat a bit, much to Nadia’s disgust!

At the airport, we saw the headlines on some of the newspapers and it turns out that the day we arrived there was a military coup of sorts. What happened was something like...a couple of years ago there was an actual military coup, and some General had been Prime Minister ever since, but the day we arrived the Judiciary had deemed it illegal and said he should no longer be in charge. The President’s response to this was to re-instate the General, sack the Judiciary, dissolve the Constitution, censor the press, and cancel any elections until 2014. Australia and New Zealand were threatening sanctions and calling for Fiji to be booted out of the Commonwealth. So Fiji was in political turmoil and we were completely oblivious the whole time we were there! Tourism just seem to carry on as normal.