Tag Archives: Beaches

Down Along The Great Ocean Road!

The Great Ocean Road…

The name of it alone sounds like something I needed to see!

My Australian friend Alison is the key reason why I’m able to experience a photographer’s dream known as the Great Ocean Road. I met her while backpacking in Laos, completely fascinated by how many countries she’s traveled to and how she’s able to work all over the world. Interesting fact, Alison is the one who taught me how to ride a motor pad for the very first time ever! We managed to get out of a little trouble then, thanks to her quick thinking. She’s unfortunately away in Dubai on business but still she kindly offered her home to me over the weekend in Torquay. Her house is large enough to have just a handful of guests, so I invited a few notables to come along with me, much to their delight. I used some of my points from my travel credit card (I have tons of points to spare) to rent an SUV to drive along the road. Luca and Mahid would join us using their camper van.

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I picked up Mychaela, a fellow Michigander, from her au pair job in Melbourne along with a couple of others and off we went! The drive down to Torquay was about an hour and a half south of our hostel. Once we pulled up, we were floored by just how spacious the place was! Alison’s mom met us there to welcome us and gave a brief tour of the house.

“If you need anything, I live just ten minutes away,” she said. “Plus, you have my number.”

Upon entering, I told my comrades, “Everything needs to look like we weren’t even here when we leave on Sunday night.”

My friends were amazingly respectful. I knew they would be, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought them along.

Now, as far as food is concerned, the whole plan was to buy groceries and cook our meals at the house. As a group, we all went to the nearest Coles to stock up. Grocery shopping for a large group at once was not as easy as I thought. Everyone had different ideas and had different tastes. I already knew I wasn’t going to cook anything, so I let the others choose. Mychaela is a huge fan of tacos (as am I) so we got stuff to make those. Luca had a pasta dish he saw from tasty.com that he wanted to prepare for everyone. I was happy that I had a few good cooks among the group because the world knows that I can’t cook without a YouTube tutorial at hand. Even then, it’s risky.

It was Friday. We planned on feasting and hanging out at the house and setting off early the next day down the Great Ocean Road.

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Chef Luca hard at work on his pasta dish…

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With Tara helping out. I was glad I had a crew full of capable cooks.

I invited another traveler I met in Vietnam a few years ago to drive with us down the Ocean Road. Her name is Tara and she lived just 20 minutes away from where we were staying. Nicolas hopped in her car and they followed us as we made the driving journey.

The road is twisty and curvy as all heck, but absolutely stunning. We had the Pacific Ocean to our left and rain forests along thundering mountains that towered above us directly to our right. We had plenty of good music at hand. To describe the feel as a driver, it was hard not to keep looking at everything. This had to be one of the most scenic routes in the world.

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We stopped in Lorne upon Tara’s suggestion because she knew of a place with a few cool waterfalls. We easy trailed to Sheoak Falls, the first of a few waterfalls in the region.

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Upon arrival to the second waterfall, Luca and Mahid’s camper van began to smoke from underneath. They bought the van over near Perth on the Western Coast and drove all the way along the south. Maintenance issues were bound to happen but they were able to fix it…I think?

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Luca and Mahid aren’t mechanics, but they were sure they could solve the problem.

The second waterfall led us along a trail into the forest. The girls stayed behind while the guys trekked deeper until we eventually decided to go back as not to keep the girls waiting all day.

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That night, Tara left back home to visit a friend but Debbie came to join us for the next days drive to the Twelve Apostles.

As a group, the nights back in the house were quite entertaining. We played random games where both Mychaela and Luca both lost to my bets and had to suffer the consequences. Mychaela had to take in a spoonful of Vegemite while Luca had to take a shot of Sriracha sauce.

Video evidence below.

 

I introduced a few other social games I play with friends back home in which they all enjoyed.

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Tarek and I were full of dabbing attacks.

The plan for the next day was to drive all the way down to the Twelve Apostles further down the Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostles is a group of  limestone formations off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park. Currently there are eight apostles left, the ninth stack having collapsed in July 2005. The name remains significant and spectacular especially in the Australian tourism industry. (Wikipedia)

We took a shortcut through the backwoods instead of going along the coast to cut our driving time in half.

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IMG_0170.jpgL to R: Myself, Debbie, Mychaela, Nicolas, Tarek.

Further down the coast, we dropped of Nicolas in Warnanbool, where he volunteered over the week. Later on we returned to the house in Torquay, spruced up, packed our belongings, and drove up back to Melbourne.

As great as the weekend was, this would be my last night with all of my Melbourne cohorts. Mychaela would stay in Melbourne for several more months continuing her au pair job. I’m sure I’ll see her back in Michigan seeing as how she lives ten minutes away from my mom. Debbie and Tara both returned to their respective jobs, while the backpackers I spent so much time with the past week all continued to look for jobs for their working visa. Luca, Mahid, Tarek, and Jules all landed farming jobs together the day after I left them. Good luck guys!

This is what they sent me a few weeks later.

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As for me? Where was I going? I had an early flight the following morning all the way to the west coast of Australia in a place called Perth.

There I met a friend who took me to one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to…along with the happiest animals on Earth!

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A Visit To Tasmania: An Unexpected Wonder

 

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What do I know about Tasmania?

Not a damn thing.

The only thing I do know is that the island is the native home to the most feisty marsupial in the world: the Tasmanian devil. I would love to see some of those guys in the wild if at all possible.

Besides that, some Melburnians jokingly told me to check the necks of any Tassie I meet. They said I should find a huge scar from where their second head used to be attached. The running joke here is that the local  Tassies are inbreeds since they’re all “stuck” more or less on a relatively small island. It’s kinda like how the northerners in the States poke fun at the people in the deep south; harmless and pure buffoonery.

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The 26th largest island in the world, Tasmania is an island state part of the Australian Commonwealth. It’s located just south of the main big island. There currently as of today (2016) just a little over half a million people populating Tas (which is a popular shortening people may refer of the state). I was fortunate enough to cross paths with two very welcoming Tassies early on in my Quest to the Seven Continents.

While in Fiji, I met two volunteers who hailed from Tasmania. Their names are Denika and Karissa, two full-on Aussies, born and raised from Tasmanian scratch. They both invited me to visit them during my trip through Australia when I found the time. At first I was reluctant. It wasn’t on my mind and it’s kind of out of the way, but then I figured, “Why the hell not?”. If anything the timing was perfect, return flights to Tasmania were cheap, the weather for the weekend predicted desirable forecasts, and I knew two cool people who wanted to show me the true guts and bones of Tasmania.

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Karissa on the left. Denika on the right. I think this photo accurately portrays how they are!

Just like that, I booked a flight to Launceston from Melbourne; an easy flight that took just under an hour.

Little Denika arrived and scooped me up from the airport and from there we made the two-hour drive to the northwest part of the island called Burnie. I briefly met her family before we headed to Boat Harbour Beach, one of Denika’s personal favorite spots.

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Later that day, I met up with Karissa near the Parklands. She mentioned to me that she reserved us a table for tea later in the evening.

“Who makes a reservation for tea?” I thought to myself. But hey whatever, I was down for some tea! I’m more hungry than thirsty but I’m sure this tea place had to have some grub.

In the meantime she showed me a little more of the surrounding area. So far from what I’ve seen, the roadsides of Tasmania reminded me of New Zealand; a perfectly cut, grass ocean as far as the eye can see. Oh and lots of cows and crops with mountains and hills in the wayside.

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We pulled up to an Italian restaurant, where we had the reservations for…tea?

“Wait, you guys call dinner, tea?” I asked Karissa. “I thought we were having actual tea.”

“Yeah that’s normal.” she responded laughing. “We are going for tea means food. How would you say it back in America?”

“Dinner!” I replied with a chuckle. “Supper, if you’re a weirdo.”

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That’s not the only difference I noticed. I’ve been hearing Denika say the word “shivers” in substitution for what should be the word “f*ck”. Like for example, something would go wrong and then she would blurt “Oh, shivers!” in her little Aussie accent. I couldn’t help but to laugh whenever she did that.

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Another pretty big thing I noticed is that, everyone knows freakin’ everybody on this island! There’s not a place we went to where Denika and Karissa didn’t know someone. The ice cream shop, the convenient store, the restaurants we ate in, the park, the parking lot, wherever! Living in Tasmania is equivalent to living in the world’s largest soap opera. Everyone is gonna know your business and there’s no hiding from it.

The next day, both girls took me on a short trail just above Sisters Beach. It was a linear hike that presented us with views of the aforementioned beach and of the Indian Ocean.

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During the trail, I noticed strange flora that resembled figments of my childhood. A prickly, pine cone thing that would have been a Furby if it had the googly eyes and also this bush tree thing that resembles a little jungle tribe warrior man. I can’t unsee them.

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Continuing on with my personalized tour of Tasmania, the girls took me to a waterfall in the Crown Reserve and through Stanley to the top of the Nut State Reserve. Amazing, amazing, amazing stuff!

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That same evening, while Denika went to work, Karissa took me to one of the coolest local waterfalls in West Ridgley that people could spend their summer days to swim in. I would have but it wasn’t warm enough yet for it.

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We also managed to find baby penguins back on the Parklands. Don’t shine your lights on them, it’s bad for their eyes. Instead, we were able to use lights with a red filter which don’t startle them. This may be a bit naive on my part but I wasn’t aware that Australia had native penguins. All I hear about are the kangaroos and koalas.

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We had a big weekend planned so for the next day, Karissa baton passed me back to Denika. (They both have steady jobs and have been passing me back and forth to each other to make sure I was always occupied and exploring their great State. They’ve been doing a great job!) With Denika, she had plans to go along the east coast of Tasmania along with a few of her friends and spend the night over there. When she pulled up, I met her friend Jack who was coming along with us, and together we went grocery shopping for the long ride to the East coast. Two other friends of hers met us there and would join us.

The drive was almost exactly like a drive through the country of New Zealand, except it felt like Tasmania had a lot more trees. Along the way, we made a destination stop at Bicheno. A coast influenced by giant orange-colored boulders and a break between conveniently placed crevices of stones where water shoots up through it every few seconds, aptly called the Bicheno Blowhole. I’ve got blown on a couple of times when I wasn’t paying attention.

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Our base was in an area called Swansea. Swansea is home to fascinating places like The Ugly Duckout takeaway restaurant and The Horny Cray takeaway restaurant.

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Swansea is also home to Loontitetermairrelehoiner Track.

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That’s a real thing folks! The reception lady said there was free ice cream for whoever could pronounce it correctly. The key words being FREE ICE CREAM. Believe me, I tried my hardest to figure out how to pronounce it. It was impossible, however.

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Continuing on with our east coast trip, the focus was to visit as many beaches as we could. First up, Friendly Beaches!

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Then this cool spot where we were the only ones there.

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Later onto Freycinet, to a place called Honeymoon Beach. It’s here where the water is so calm and the wildlife so peculiar, that it’s become a popular spot to snorkel.

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Freycinet also hold spectacular lookouts into the sea from various advantages along the coast.

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And then finally, Coles Bay has a postcard worthy lighthouse that overlooks a couple of much smaller islands harbouring seals just a short distance away.

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Did you see how amazing Tasmania actually looks?

Every single one of these locales were absolutely stunning and was the most “nature” I’ve gotten in Australia yet! The only bummer that it was not the right temperature to go for a dip in each of the beaches we visited. Regardless, it was still amazing to visit.

I had no idea Tasmania had such a diverse coastal line to explore. I had no idea about anything! It was literally one neat spot after another after another.

I gotta hand it to Denika and Karissa. They went way above and beyond to show me as much as they could in as little time as possible. A+ ladies 🙂

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See ya back in Melbourne!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I Love (and Didn't Quite Love) About Fiji

I’ve been in Fiji for a few weeks now and I can safely say that when you come to this tropical island paradise, expect to chill like you’ve never chilled out before. Fiji’s got the whole relaxin’ thing down!

The Things I Loved:

The People Are Refreshingly Friendly

Not a day went by where I didn’t receive a welcoming “Bula” greeting from a local as I strolled by them. Armed with cordial head nods, big islander style smiles, and cool Fijian handshakes, it’s easy to strike up a good conversation with anyone on the streets. I found that many wished to learn about me and were interested in my thoughts about their country. I also came here thinking I would get heckled and hassled to buy things on the streets like in many countries, but not here. They left me alone in that regard for the most part. Fiji, you are friendly.

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World Renowned Shark Scuba Diving

I went shark diving in Fiji, not once but twice! Both times near Beqa Island, one of the most renowned and sharkiest places in the world to spot a whole range of beasts from the elusive tiger ones to the motley crew of bull sharks. Scuba diving has always been one of my favorite activities, but scuba diving with sharks upped the ante quite a bit. If you are an avid diver, I highly recommend you check it out.

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Those Rotis and the Samosas

The local delicacy in Fiji didn’t really jump out at me. As a matter of fact, there is a heavy Indian influence on the cuisine, specifically in the capital of Suva. However, I did come across two glutton heavy, savory morsels straight outta heaven–rotis and samosas. The version of a roti I had is a concoction of warm potato chunks and minced veggies wrapped in a thick floury dough, lightly fried. A samosa is similar but smaller, kind of like a pizza roll but in a triangular shape and baked. It’s the perfect snack, breakfast, brunch, dinner, and lunch. I’m not sure if these are strictly “Fijian” foods, but you can certainly find them almost anywhere on the main island.

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Put the potato curry inside the roti bread and then you’ll find yourself in a tasty heaven.
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Samosas. Photo courtesy of Asiancuisine.com

The Beach-side (Budget) Resorts

Not the expensive ones, I’m sure they’re nice, but I’m talking about the budget ones like Fiji Beachouse and Uprising, both located along the coral coast far AWAY from the backpacker heavy party hostels in Nadi. I’ve been to a whole bunch of resorts during my time in Fiji and do you know what the main theme is at these resorts? Chill the heck out! Really, it was just pool, beach, billiards, hammocks, beanbags and booze. What more could you want?

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It’s Relatively Cheap

I was a straight up baller in Fiji. The US dollar equaled about two Fijian dollars, but still most things were cheaply priced (aside from the excursions). Opt for the bus ride that costs less than $10 USD to get from one side of the island to the other. Accommodation was popularly priced and the food and beverages were easy on the wallet. Just stay away from the western restaurants, bars, and the chummy resorts and you’ll find the dollar stretches quite far. We found a bar where you could buy-one-get-one free of absolutely anything you ever wanted! Two pitchers of beer for $5 USD? Sold! By the way, the bar with the BOGO is called Traps. Go there for Ladies Night on Wednesdays.

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Kava Ceremonies

I ranted on a previous post about how much I disliked the taste of kava. Despite the stolid taste, the kava gatherings were simply something I’ve never experienced before. It’s entirely social, where groups of people sit cross-legged on mats laid out on the floor with everyone drinking kava out of a single wooden bowl. Each person that takes a drink receives a quick burst of attention filled with double claps and “Bulas”! The locals pride themselves on sharing the experience with foreigners such as myself and will never hesitate an opportunity to gather around to drink kava with their family and friends. Literally you just sit there, converse a bit, and drink kava. It’s pretty neat!

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The Buses With the Music

Whatever country I’m in, taking the local bus into town is typically flat and ho hum. Usually nothing special. However, every single freakin’ city bus that I rode in Fiji played funky tropical island beats that made me kinda sorta look forward to the ride. From reggae, to island remixes of modern songs, to zippy numbers I’ve never heard of in my life, the music was always bumpin’ and on point. So much that a good portion of those songs are now on a custom Fiji playlist on my iPhone, thanks to the Shazam app. These tunes will forever and always remind me of my chilled out time in Fiji and of all those awesome people I met.

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And then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum…

Things I Didn’t Quite Love

Lack of Diverse Activities

If you ask some of my Fiji housemates, they will tell you that I was consistently bored out of my mind. Besides beaching and diving, there is barely anything else to do! Yes there is white water rafting, zipling, sky diving, but it’s either complete crap, ridiculously expensive or both. There is surfing too I suppose but it’s not really my thing anymore. With Fiji, you’re trapped on a small island with no where else to go. Yes you could go island hopping to do more beaching and boozing but I already beached and boozed a hundred times over on the main island. Now I have to pay $150 for a boat to take me to another island to do the exact same thing? No thanks. Make sure you have your Kindle ready for Fiji.

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Bored…Photo courtesy of Joshua Smith

 

Lack of Beer Choices

You have two choices of beer in Fiji: Fiji Gold or Fiji Bitter. There’s also usually some random third choice and then a handful of imported beer that I can get back in the States. Fiji is not the place to try local brews because they only got two…maybe three. By the way, don’t let the name fool you, Fiji Bitter is so much better than Gold.

Resorts Lost My Reservations ALL THE F*C%ING TIME

Here’s the best piece of advice I can give you if you ever decide to visit Fiji. If you book ANY accommodation here, even if you get your confirmation email, call them to make sure they have your reservation because not once, not twice, not even three, but four freakin’ times I showed up to a resort to find out they “never” received my reservation. Even when I proceeded to show them the confirmation email on my phone, there was still “nothing” they could do about it. Fortunately, most of the times they were able to re-book me except for one instance where we had to find another more expensive accommodation because everything else nearby was already booked. That was SO annoying.

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This is us after battling two different hostels/hotels for our reservations and finally finding a place to crash.

“Fiji Time”

There’s this thing on the island called “Fiji Time”. Basically, if anyone (specifically Fijian locals) is late for anything, instead of blaming it on their lack of punctuality, they can usually get away with it by the excuse of simply saying “Fiji Time”. Fiji time is basically a way of saying that you were so entranced with the chilled out vibes of the island, that the importance of time became second fiddle to the sensation of island style relaxation and hanging loose. “Where’s the bus that was supposed to be here at four?” Oh sorry, Fiji time. “Where is the main teacher for this class because I can’t handle 47 kids by myself?” Oh sorry brutha, Fiji Time. “Where’s the meal I ordered like an hour ago?” Oh, Fiji time.  Most of the people I was with kinda enjoyed the concept of Fiji Time. As for me, I absolutely hate being late for stuff…so it was something I had to accept and get used to.

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Besides all of that, I’ve built a couple solid friendships during my stay in Fiji and I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about them soon on here. I’d have more to report about Fiji but there is only so much I could write about when it comes to sittin’ on the beach and drinking a beer.

The island life. 🙂

Things I Love (and Didn’t Quite Love) About Fiji

I’ve been in Fiji for a few weeks now and I can safely say that when you come to this tropical island paradise, expect to chill like you’ve never chilled out before. Fiji’s got the whole relaxin’ thing down!

The Things I Loved:

The People Are Refreshingly Friendly

Not a day went by where I didn’t receive a welcoming “Bula” greeting from a local as I strolled by them. Armed with cordial head nods, big islander style smiles, and cool Fijian handshakes, it’s easy to strike up a good conversation with anyone on the streets. I found that many wished to learn about me and were interested in my thoughts about their country. I also came here thinking I would get heckled and hassled to buy things on the streets like in many countries, but not here. They left me alone in that regard for the most part. Fiji, you are friendly.

IMG_2840.jpg

World Renowned Shark Scuba Diving

I went shark diving in Fiji, not once but twice! Both times near Beqa Island, one of the most renowned and sharkiest places in the world to spot a whole range of beasts from the elusive tiger ones to the motley crew of bull sharks. Scuba diving has always been one of my favorite activities, but scuba diving with sharks upped the ante quite a bit. If you are an avid diver, I highly recommend you check it out.

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Those Rotis and the Samosas

The local delicacy in Fiji didn’t really jump out at me. As a matter of fact, there is a heavy Indian influence on the cuisine, specifically in the capital of Suva. However, I did come across two glutton heavy, savory morsels straight outta heaven–rotis and samosas. The version of a roti I had is a concoction of warm potato chunks and minced veggies wrapped in a thick floury dough, lightly fried. A samosa is similar but smaller, kind of like a pizza roll but in a triangular shape and baked. It’s the perfect snack, breakfast, brunch, dinner, and lunch. I’m not sure if these are strictly “Fijian” foods, but you can certainly find them almost anywhere on the main island.

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Put the potato curry inside the roti bread and then you’ll find yourself in a tasty heaven.
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Samosas. Photo courtesy of Asiancuisine.com

The Beach-side (Budget) Resorts

Not the expensive ones, I’m sure they’re nice, but I’m talking about the budget ones like Fiji Beachouse and Uprising, both located along the coral coast far AWAY from the backpacker heavy party hostels in Nadi. I’ve been to a whole bunch of resorts during my time in Fiji and do you know what the main theme is at these resorts? Chill the heck out! Really, it was just pool, beach, billiards, hammocks, beanbags and booze. What more could you want?

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It’s Relatively Cheap

I was a straight up baller in Fiji. The US dollar equaled about two Fijian dollars, but still most things were cheaply priced (aside from the excursions). Opt for the bus ride that costs less than $10 USD to get from one side of the island to the other. Accommodation was popularly priced and the food and beverages were easy on the wallet. Just stay away from the western restaurants, bars, and the chummy resorts and you’ll find the dollar stretches quite far. We found a bar where you could buy-one-get-one free of absolutely anything you ever wanted! Two pitchers of beer for $5 USD? Sold! By the way, the bar with the BOGO is called Traps. Go there for Ladies Night on Wednesdays.

IMG_0097.jpg

Kava Ceremonies

I ranted on a previous post about how much I disliked the taste of kava. Despite the stolid taste, the kava gatherings were simply something I’ve never experienced before. It’s entirely social, where groups of people sit cross-legged on mats laid out on the floor with everyone drinking kava out of a single wooden bowl. Each person that takes a drink receives a quick burst of attention filled with double claps and “Bulas”! The locals pride themselves on sharing the experience with foreigners such as myself and will never hesitate an opportunity to gather around to drink kava with their family and friends. Literally you just sit there, converse a bit, and drink kava. It’s pretty neat!

IMG_1473.jpg

The Buses With the Music

Whatever country I’m in, taking the local bus into town is typically flat and ho hum. Usually nothing special. However, every single freakin’ city bus that I rode in Fiji played funky tropical island beats that made me kinda sorta look forward to the ride. From reggae, to island remixes of modern songs, to zippy numbers I’ve never heard of in my life, the music was always bumpin’ and on point. So much that a good portion of those songs are now on a custom Fiji playlist on my iPhone, thanks to the Shazam app. These tunes will forever and always remind me of my chilled out time in Fiji and of all those awesome people I met.

fiji local buses

And then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum…

Things I Didn’t Quite Love

Lack of Diverse Activities

If you ask some of my Fiji housemates, they will tell you that I was consistently bored out of my mind. Besides beaching and diving, there is barely anything else to do! Yes there is white water rafting, zipling, sky diving, but it’s either complete crap, ridiculously expensive or both. There is surfing too I suppose but it’s not really my thing anymore. With Fiji, you’re trapped on a small island with no where else to go. Yes you could go island hopping to do more beaching and boozing but I already beached and boozed a hundred times over on the main island. Now I have to pay $150 for a boat to take me to another island to do the exact same thing? No thanks. Make sure you have your Kindle ready for Fiji.

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Bored…Photo courtesy of Joshua Smith

 

Lack of Beer Choices

You have two choices of beer in Fiji: Fiji Gold or Fiji Bitter. There’s also usually some random third choice and then a handful of imported beer that I can get back in the States. Fiji is not the place to try local brews because they only got two…maybe three. By the way, don’t let the name fool you, Fiji Bitter is so much better than Gold.

Resorts Lost My Reservations ALL THE F*C%ING TIME

Here’s the best piece of advice I can give you if you ever decide to visit Fiji. If you book ANY accommodation here, even if you get your confirmation email, call them to make sure they have your reservation because not once, not twice, not even three, but four freakin’ times I showed up to a resort to find out they “never” received my reservation. Even when I proceeded to show them the confirmation email on my phone, there was still “nothing” they could do about it. Fortunately, most of the times they were able to re-book me except for one instance where we had to find another more expensive accommodation because everything else nearby was already booked. That was SO annoying.

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This is us after battling two different hostels/hotels for our reservations and finally finding a place to crash.

“Fiji Time”

There’s this thing on the island called “Fiji Time”. Basically, if anyone (specifically Fijian locals) is late for anything, instead of blaming it on their lack of punctuality, they can usually get away with it by the excuse of simply saying “Fiji Time”. Fiji time is basically a way of saying that you were so entranced with the chilled out vibes of the island, that the importance of time became second fiddle to the sensation of island style relaxation and hanging loose. “Where’s the bus that was supposed to be here at four?” Oh sorry, Fiji time. “Where is the main teacher for this class because I can’t handle 47 kids by myself?” Oh sorry brutha, Fiji Time. “Where’s the meal I ordered like an hour ago?” Oh, Fiji time.  Most of the people I was with kinda enjoyed the concept of Fiji Time. As for me, I absolutely hate being late for stuff…so it was something I had to accept and get used to.

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Besides all of that, I’ve built a couple solid friendships during my stay in Fiji and I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about them soon on here. I’d have more to report about Fiji but there is only so much I could write about when it comes to sittin’ on the beach and drinking a beer.

The island life. 🙂

Happiness Is Everywhere in Fiji…Except At The Bottom of Waterfalls

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I just made my most costly travel error in my whole traveling career and I don’t feel good about it.

If I had known I was going to drop my relatively newly purchased 128GB iPhone 6s Plus in the bottom of a 15 meter deep pool of stupid dirty water, I would have declined my invitation to join a group of volunteers to Colo-I-Suva, a National Park nearby. Or at least I would have left my phone at home.

It’s a well-known fact that iPhones aren’t cheap. That’s why I also bought a waterproof protective pouch that I could hang around my neck with it.

This will take some awesome waterfall pics!

However, the day was crappy and the waterfall that fed into the pool was even crappier. The water was an ugly olive-brown and cold to the touch. There was dead foliage piled up in clumps near the dirt walls which added to the unpleasantness of it all. The only saving grace here was the big rope swing you could leap off from.

I’ll try it with my iPhone hanging around my neck!

My gut was telling me it was a dumb idea because I’ve snapped waterfalls a zillion times more impressive than this bull, but still I thought I should document it at least.

(The photos from Colo-I-Suva are from my fellow volunteers and not mine.)

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On the way to lose my phone! Photo courtesy of Johannes.

I climbed up to the rope swing with the other volunteers and locals on looking. I grabbed a tight grip and swung out into the open. When I reached the end of the swing’s momentum and jumped into the water, I could feel my neck pouch slipping off my neck and over my head, throwing itself somewhere into the water nearby. It was like slow motion. I landed in the water and immediately surfaced. I saw the other volunteers vigorously pointing at my phone.

“Daniel your phone! Your phone!!” they shouted and pointed all in a huddle. They looked pretty scared for me.

I looked and looked. My phone wasn’t on the surface. It sank somewhere. I dove underwater but there was no point of trying to see. The water was so brown that I couldn’t see a thing, so I had to rely on my hands aimlessly feeling around. I even dove as deep as I could and every time I tried, I still couldn’t touch the floor. Other volunteers attempted to find it. I even offered locals money for whoever found it. They tried but with no success.

My phone was gone forever at the bottom of Colo-I-Suva.

I kept it cool on the outside, but man I was upset. The realization of “there is nothing I can do about this” kept me sane for the time being.

Thankfully, most of my pictures and notes were backed up on cloud storage. However, all of my music was gone. I just bought this thing a couple of months before this trip began. What a waste. I ended up biting the bullet and bought an identical phone in the city center. It was way more expensive than at home (more than $1000 USD) but I needed to have a phone for all intents and purposes. But now it’s done. I shouldn’t think about it anymore because it will just depress me. I’ll have to be more careful.

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This was taken after I lost my phone. There was nothing else I could do but not freak out. Photo courtesy of Leah.

I’d have sweet pictures to pair with this tale but now you understand why.

Thankfully, Fiji had other offerings to keep my mind of my costly error. One of our coordinators was part of a local Rugby team and invited a few of us to come and watch him play.

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We planned another trip for the weekend to one of Fiji’s budget resorts called the Uprising Beach Resort. It’s located about 45 minutes along the Coral Coast.

It was ten of us spaced out in a 20-bed dorm all to ourselves. The resort itself was very tropical, beachside, and similar to the Fiji Beachouse except without all the backpackers. It was a modest setting that had everything we needed to relax: the Pacific Ocean, a clean pool, island flavored food and drinks, and big blue beanbag chairs; my favorite luxury of them all!

It was happiness!

There was also a full-on beach volleyball court. While the girls relaxed, the rest of us played a few friendly games with some of the other beach bums at the resort.

I knew coming to Fiji would be chill out island time but not to this level. There isn’t much in the way of extreme activities, but the beaches are excellent temporary substitutes for now until I find something to do that’s on the wackier side.

My mind was mostly off my costly mistake. You know what I could have done with $1000? Thankfully I budgeted for something like this but I didn’t anticipate it would happen so early on my Quest to the Seven Continents! I purchased my new iPhone just a week or two shy before the 7th generation of phones were released. Whatever.

Lesson learned. This phone isn’t going anywhere near any body of water, no mater how impressive it is. Maybe…