I've finally found internet that is relatively cheap so I can update you on my Fiji travels! We arrived in Nadi airport on Friday 7th May - as we walked off the plane and into the customs area there were 4 guys playing guitars to welcome us - it was a nice little welcome into the country. We stayed at the Nadi Bay hotel for the first night - it was a great place. Our room was big - 11 beds but most of them were single beds and we had air conditioning so it was very nice. We decided to have dinner in the restaurant as a bit of a treat - the restaurant was on a decked area overlooking the big swimming pool. It was sunset as we ordered and the setting was beautiful - it really did feel like we were in a tropical paradise. We all had a delicious dinner - which was made all the nicer by another little guitar playing band starting up while we were eating.
The next morning I parted ways with Claire and Majella and headed of on the Feejee Experience bus. It picked me up at the hotel at 9am and we headed straight into Nadi city. The city was mad! It was market day - plus the shops had all been closed the day before due to a public holiday - so there were big crowds of people everywhere! The markets were amazing - just fruit and vegetables - and most of the produce was sold from mats on the ground. The produce was displayed beautifully - big pyramids of oranges and bowls of chilis. Kate (who I'd met on the bus) and I wandered on through the town to the handicraft markets - they sold some nice stuff but we couldn't browse in peace - every time we went near a stall they asked us where we were from and started trying to get us to put on bracelets or necklaces in the hope we'd buy them. As a result we only had a quick look through the markets - though I did stop long enough to buy a beautiful wooden carving of two faces - I think it stands for peace and friendship. By this stage it was time to get back on the bus and head to our next destination.
Next stop was Natadola beach - we had a lovely long stop here (3 hours) and also had a BBQ lunch. The beach was beautiful - really blue water and white sand - and lots of coconut trees! I went for a walk along the beach to take some photos and on my way back to the rest of the group a little local boy came up to chat to me - he was such a little scammer - wanted to walk me to the top of the beach so that I could take good photos, or sell me some cheap bracelets or a horse ride - I was surprised at how good he was at selling things - he would only have been about 7! When I got back to my towel I saw that an impromptu market had sprung up around Kate - there were about 15 kids all around her, each trying to sell her their bracelets/necklaces.
After the beach we went to a local village called Malo-Malo. When we got off the bus we all had to put on our sulu's (sarongs) as it is a custom that you cannot enter the village without them. The girls also had to wear a top that covered their shoulders. The Chief of the village welcomed us as we got off the bus and then every 2 people were adopted by a little kid who acted as our guide. My guide was called Seelee - and she was 8. She was a very chatty kid - though half the time she chatted away in the local language so I had no idea what she was saying! We were guided to the main building in the village - called a Bure. It was a very impressive building - it was built solely of wood, coconut fibre and flattened bamboo - no nails were used at all and it's managed to withstand 7 cyclones!! After we left the Bure, Seelee showed us around the village. It was an eye opener to see how the people in this village lived. The houses were basically huts that were falling apart, there was not much furniture in the houses, they got all of their water from one well. All the kids who were showing us around were barefoot and had ripped clothing. As we left we were asked to make a donation to help build a new community centre and a school - which we gladly did. The Chief thanked us all personally and then all the kids waved goodbye as we headed off.
Our last stop of the day was the Sigatoka sand-dunes - it was a huge big sand-dune that people could sandboard down. I was too chicken to try so I just watched everyone else!
It was quite late when we got to our hostel for the night, but there was still one more activity for the day. After dinner we got to see a cultural show of fijian dancing. It was brilliant! The guys were all dressed up in traditional warrior costume and did war dances - which involved pretending to stab the audience. They also did a sitting down dance that was so fast it was unbelievable - times like that make me wish I'd bought a video camera so I could show you what it looked like :) It was a long day but it was fantastic!