Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Return to the South Sea, and onto Mango bay Resort

So from Barefoot it was back to the South Sea resort, which was an interesting combination of feelings - I had enjoyed my first foray there, but this time it would be with a new selection of fellow travellers, and as it turned out, most of the staff were different also.

Anyhow, the next evening I caught the boat back to the mainland, and then was transferred to my resort on the mainland - Mango Bay Resort, which was on the Coral coast, which is actually nowhere near Denerau as it turns out... however the silver lining was that I had an awesome conversation with the Indian driver. I tactfully broached the  topic of Indian history in Fiji. It was very interesting, especially comparing it to New Zealand history, and that of my ancestors. The driver's family would have come out to Fiji around the same time as my ancestors came to New Zealand, approximately in the 1870s. From what he said, combined with what I later learned at the museum in Suva, the British, when they colonised Fiji quickly realised that if they weren't careful, the native Fijians would become the underclass (to the British). The solution to this was to bring in Indian workers, India being somewhere else that the British was colonising at the time. Due to the caste system in India, a lot of Indians jumped at the chance to go to Fiji and leave their low position in the caste system behind. Unfortunately, it seems the good intentions of the British lead to the Indians becoming the underclass, essentially slaves.
On arrival to the resort, I happened to be checking in at the same time as an attractive German girl. Turns out we were also staying in the same dorm, so once we had dropped off our stuff, we went and had dinner together.
The next day Anna, (the German girl) was heading to another resort to attend a friend's wedding for the day, and I decided to head to the nearby town of Sigatoka, where the below photos were taken.
It's fair to say the Fijians like their rugby....
Sigatoka was alright, it was mainly shops and a market - it was a service town essentially for the resorts nearby, of which there were a few. 
The Sigatoka river. This photo is taken from near the top of the hill, where the fort was located.
I had read in my travel guide that there was an old Tongan fort nearby (apparently Fiji was settled first by the Tongans). I asked one of the shopkeepers and she helped me to not get ripped off by a taxi driver who would take me there and wait while I checked it out. The custodian of the site gave me a tour and told me all about the different things we came across.
From memory I think she said this tree was several centuries old.
After an enjoyable tour, I headed back to the town and continued having a look around. There wasn't much to see, so I found the bus heading past my resort and hopped on. It was kind of a surreal journey, as they were showing the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy so here was I, someone from the first world, holidaying in the second world, watching a movie based in the third world (in the 80's no less). I also had to keep an eye out for when we were close to my resort - not the easiest as I wasn't that familiar with the landscape, having arrived there the night before in the dark.

Once I arrived back, the resort staff informed me they had upgraded me to my own bure. It was nice, but I realised it was because recently I seem to have developed a snore - which I wasn't aware of prior to this trip, so I also felt stink about it.

That night there was a "pub quiz", my team took it out at the end when we got the tie-breaker question correct.

I decided the next day to visit Suva. In order to do that the staff dropped me off at the gate and I waited for one of the minibuses that operate as unofficial buses. I didn't have to wait long. It was actually quite a cool feeling, like I was an intrepid traveller, travelling with the locals on their way to work etc. Unfortunately my morning bladder started calling, so I had to ask the driver if I could use the toilet somewhere - so I ended up using a service station toilet somewhere, and the bus waited for me, so I said a hearty thank you to the driver and other passengers for their patience.

Once I got to Suva I had a walk around, had some breakfast at a local Scottish restaurant - mainly to see if there was a Fiji burger... no there isn't, the only difference between NZ and Fijian McDonalds seems to be the fact they don't put bacon in their burgers, I imagine because then the Muslims in Fiji don't have to think twice about eating there.

Once I got bored of the shops, and fighting off annoying shopkeepers etc I went to the National museum. I'm a little over museums, but I enjoyed the social history section, as you may have gathered from above.

Again I returned to the resort via the "intrepid minibus". Something I enjoyed about the resort was the choice of dinners. On the islands the meals were nice, but had a high salad to meat ratio. At the resort, there was a choice, and meat-centric choices. I was joined again at dinner time by Anna, which was nice, as I had been looking forward to catching up with her as I was feeling lonely. We decided to play a board game or something, but we attracted the attention of a hypoactive little American kid with some pretentious name  - he was like "my name is Jefferson Mansfield Something-Field junior." After interrupting our ping pong game, he proceeded to tip the monopoly set on the table, and totally didn't get the concept of Connect 4.

The next day Anna and I hung out. We had a quick snorkel after breakfast before doing a trip to the local school to have a look. We had some morning tea with the teachers - sandwiches and some tea made from some lemon-flavoured leaves. After that we sat in on a class for about 10 or 20 minutes, the kids sang us a couple of songs, we took a couple of photos and left. It was interesting, but it was more about tourist fund-raising for the school than it was about teaching the kids about other cultures, which I thought was a lost opportunity on the part of the school. The funny thing was, last Friday on Beauty and the Geek, the contestants visited the same school.

On returning to the resort we met a French girl that had just arrived. We'd chatted about checking out a dead whale that was apparently up the beach somewhere (I haven't included pictures because it wasn't that nice...) and invited her along. I'd be liar if I said I wouldn't have preferred all Anna's attention to myself but at the same time I was glad she would have company when I left.

It was a good 45 minute walk each way, and what was left of the whale was a little bit gross and smelly. Once we made it back we ate some lunch, and organised a snorkelling safari trip. The snorkelling to be fair wasn't as good as the islands, especially after all the snorkelling I had done this trip.

That night I got my stuff all sorted for an early departure - I was getting picked up at 3:30am.
I woke up early, and got up, better to be early than fall back asleep. Managed to catch some more sleep on the car journey back. Had some breakfast at the airport, but I suspect they mistook the dishwashing detergent for cooking oil when they cooked it, as it didn't stay down too long. Anyhow the flight home was otherwise uneventful, and in some ways I was glad to be home again.