Sleeping Giant Zipline

Bula!

Even though I’m back living in Australia, I think of Fiji all the time and still have so many recommendations to share!

When arriving in Fiji you will most probably stay in Nadi for a day or two before going onto your island paradise in the Mamanuca’s, Yasawas or along the Coral Coast…

I would highly suggest to get out of your hotel/resort and look around the area. There are two Zipline companies, Nadi Zipline and Sleeping Giant Zipline. I’ve only been to the Sleeping Giant Zipline and it was fantastic. I’m sure Nadi Zipline would be great as well, however I can’t comment.

Sleeping Giant Zipline is located in the Valley of the Sleeping Giant in Sabeto. This is about 20 -25 mins outside of Nadi and they can arrange transfers to and from your accommodation. The surrounds are stunning, lush greenery, mountains and rivers and it’s also very fun to zipline through these while doing tricks. I just kept to the basics but I think Jay was getting ready to audition for Cirque du sole haha

They provide lunch, all safety equipment and a locker to put your valuables. The friendly team are happy to take photo’s and videos of you ziplining through the valley. Afterwards we went for a short hike of about 20 mins to the Orchid Waterfalls. It was stunning, small waterfall and fresh water. Although it was cold we enjoyed a nice swim and waterfall massage as you sit underneath it. It was actually the best shower pressure I’d had in a long time haha, shame I didn’t bring my shampoo!

Orchid Waterfalls Shower fallOrchid Waterfalls

Check out the video, as you can see, it’s a lot of fun!

I miss Fiji!!

Donu Vinaka,

Lolomas x

Levuka ~ Fiji’s Old Colonial Capital

Locals say if you haven’t visited Levuka and Lovoni Village then you haven’t been to Fiji. The history is amazing, sad, and a very moving fight for survival. 
Epi’s tour took us on a fantastic day trek from Levuka Town to Lovoni Village, through the jungle, over a mountain, and down into the crater. On the way he explained his story which is remarkably humble and the reason he knows so much about how to survive with the food and medicines provided by the jungle. Once we were at the top of the mountain the view into the crater of the extinct volcano was stunning. The volcano is said to have been extinct for 40,000 years, Lovoni being in the crater means that it is one of the only safe villages from hurricanes or cyclones.

Climbing an extinct volcano

Climbing an extinct volcano

Looking into the crater village of Lovoni

Looking into the crater village of Lovoni

We had a fabulous lunch at Epi’s families house in lovoni, it was delicious range of vegetables and fish which is the diet of their ancestors before chickens etc were introduced. After lunch and tea Epi then explained the history of Fiji from the first landing times, when the first people came to Fiji, how Ovalau Island was populated with lovoni being fiji’s first village, colonial settlement, and the survival of the lovoni people. I would recommend this trip to everyone who visits Fiji and especially ovalau Island. It was the best day on Ovalau and one of my favourite days during the island hop.

Delicious traditional lunch

Delicious traditional lunch

Church in Lovoni Village

Church in Lovoni Village

We stayed in ovalau for 5 nights but I think 3 would have sufficed. It is a sleepy island where there isn’t much to do in the evenings. We spent most nights eating in and going to the bar of the ovalau holiday resort. The manager David was a great host who wore many hats as he was also the cook and pretty much worked 24/7… What I didn’t expect was that we would be ambushed by a New Zealander bogan! The company that was fixing the roads on ovalau Hiways, had booked out some cabins at the resort so it was 5 nights of bogan. Offensive language, obvious sexist, fighting, real fighting fists and all, drunk every night and chain smoking.

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Anyway, levuka town was very cute and now a world heritage site. It looks as though cowboys should be walking down the main street with its colonial architecture and coconut trees lol. It used to be a bustling trade town with many restaurants, pubs, hotels etc but only the Royal Hotel remains.
I would suggest to check out the Deed of Succession where Britain gave back Fiji to the Fijians, on Fiji Day there is a reenactment which would be very interesting, maybe we’ll come back one day for that. We also took a walk to 18th century gothic Catholic Church on the cliff, it is quite eery purched up on the headland and it has the tombs of the first priests of levuka.

Deed of Cession

Deed of Cession

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A bit further down is St Johns College which is also another out of place but cool building. Unfortunately inside is just used as storage and we weren’t able to go in.
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One of the grounds workers Emosi at our resort heard we were hoping to go to the waterfall nearby, it would be virtually impossible to go without anyone who knew the way since there is no real track, so he took us. It is passport his village and he does a lot of his own farming out on the mountain. It was difficult and at times I had to be pulled up steep parts or when the footing was dodgy but it was worth it for the view and seeing all the casava, kava, banana and paw paw plants. Emosi even picked some mandarins and paw paw for us, I’ve never liked paw paw but this was no ordinary paw paw, it was delicious, must be the volcanic earth?! It isn’t a big waterfall but it’s very pretty, the view is fantastic and you can see the reef very clearly.

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It was an amazing couple of weeks and I can’t wait to explore more islands of this amazing country in the future.

Vinaka vakalevu,

Loloma Levu xx

Taveuni, The Garden Island

Rather exhausted after the 14 hr overnight boat ride, I could not wait to get off. It was mid afternoon when we caught the first glimps of Taveuni. It was beautiful, lush, greenary, rich vegetation and then I was happy we travelled by boat for the sea to land view.

We stayed in the Beverlys camping which was amazing, it is run by a Fijian family and consisted in a few places to pitch your tent or hire one of theirs, there is also 1 private cabin and 1 dorm room if camping isn’t quite your thing. I’ve never been one to camp but here in Taveuni it was awesome, right on the beach, bedding provided and kitchen and with everything you need, the bathrooms were fine and its a small site so everything is very close. There isn’t anything commercial about this place, completely untouched and beautiful. I loved breakfasts on the deck overlooking the sea.

Taveuni is called the garden island and it’s very much true. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much greenary, flora and faurna! Coconut, cassava, banana, pawpaw trees everywhere, just to name a few. It is also home to this massive lemon which you peel away the outer layer then also peel the lemon skin to just eat the juicey parts and it’s delicious! 

 Our first morning we ventured by bus to the bouma falls. The bus ride in itself is stunning, going through lots of villages until you get to bouma. The waterfalls consist of 3 falls, one at the base 10 mins into the hike, the 2nd about 30 mins later and the 4th about another 40 ish mins depending on your speed. The sign says 1hr 10 mins to the 3rd from the 2nd but we did it much quicker. They are all so beautiful and you can swim in them if you want to. We were running low on time so unfortunately we didn’t fit in a swim. The hike is beautiful, further and further you go up the view just takes your breath away. 

Some people weren’t bothered with going to the 3rd waterfall but I would recommend it, who knows when you’ll be in Taveuni again if ever, you may as well see all 3. My only complaint was that the bus time table doesn’t leave much time to get to all 3 and have a swim. I think this is why people wouldn’t bother with the 3rd fall. The bus gets you there after 11 am and then comes back around 2pm, if you miss the bus like we nearly did, you would either have to get a costly taxi or hitch back. Our campsite friends hitched back but it took awhile and quite a lot of walking between hitches.  

 We’ve done a bit of snorkelling in the mamanucas and on the coral coast but never experiences anything like the rainbow reef. It is rated the 3rd best in the world, so many different species of fish, soft and hard coral, it’s just amazing!  The current was very strong so you just have to go with it and skim the reef around the drop off. Snorkelling was great but if you can afford it, definitely do the scuba diving, we’ll be doing that next time! We did get to see a reef shark which was exciting and not scary at all. As a bonus we also saw 2 dolphins on the way to the rainbow reef yay, absolutely gorgeous! The team at Taveuni Ocean Sports were so nice and knowledgable. I would definitely recommend to do the introductory scuba with them and it costs around 250 FJD, the snorkelling is around $100 FJD. We were taken to 2 dive locations but there are more than 40 dive spots, all I’m sure as amazing as the other in different ways.  

   After the snorkelling we were starving so we ventured into town. There isn’t much in the way of restaurants but we heard one place made nice curry. The restaurant Diners Paradise is quite a standard curry house so we thought we knew what to expect, but unlike the curry restaurants on the mainland where potatoe is used to make the plate look more wholesome, this place had no sign of potato and plates were full of the main ingredient of your choice. I ordered the fish curry with roti and jay had the lamb curry with rice. Both were absolutely amazing and the best curry we’d had in Fiji or maybe ever and between $8-9 FJD each.  

 That evening Jay and I made a bonfire on the beach. It was so much fun but quite a lot of hard work to keep it going. It was a test run for the next night which was our last night in Taveuni, so that was a success and a lil couple fun time yay.

Our last day was perfect just like all the other days on Taveuni. We hitched and walked to the natural watersides, and again had our breath taken away. The rock formations create a natural waterslide and much more fun and beautiful than wet and wild haha. The rocks are so smooth it doesn’t hurt at all, only time you could get hurt is slipping while walking to the top. I had a minor slip but was fine to keep going. The water is fresh and there are deep pools as well, just like it the water parks. After a fewslides we were joined by some kids who come everyday. Their slide skills were amazing, running to the top like slipping isn’t an option, then running and sliding down on their feet, not bums like us haha! It was amazing, so fearless. Then they were jumping into the deep pool from the 2-3 metre rock, backflips and everything. Jay also jumped although it wasn’t as confident as the kids haha.   

 That evening we had dins up at the backpacker resort which is stunning, murruva for our last night.  During our trip, Jay played volleyball up there and I went on the free wifi. They also do kava sessions which we went to one on the second night, it was quite fun. 

As its our last night a few people gathered together for our bonfire, including Doe from Activities team at Maruva who brought his guitar, singing skills and also the highlight, fire dancing! Also our two camp site buddies Liz and Jasmin, then 3 other guys jay got to know from volleyball. It was a perfect way to end the trip and next time we’ll stay for longer as there is still so much to see on Taveuni, up on the shore and under da sea (lil mermaid)  

   Next stop, the old colonial town of Levuka!

Loloma Levu

X

Treasure House ~ Homework & Tutoring

Bula Gang,

Last Friday was the end of another stint of volunteering. It’s been a great month being back at the Treasure House. Immediately it felt like I hadn’t left and the kids were all very familiar with me. I spent the first 2 weeks with my toddlers in the routine I had from last year, but these last 2 weeks I’ve been coming in the afternoons and staying into the evening helping the older children with their reading, writing and homework.

I didn’t realise how hard a task would be getting kids to do their homework, I’ve felt somewhat like a nagging mother or school teacher, maybe there isn’t a difference. Although they do seem to enjoy having me around to help, Gideon who is 7 sits on my lap while he’s doing his homework. I don’t have to check their bags for homework in case they are lying, I was told by the staff they are likely to do this. I’m glad I haven’t really needed to be a homework warden haha.

It’s alarming how behind some of the kids are, 8-9 years hardly know how to read. I’ve had to teach them to sound out the letters instead of just guess the next word. Five girls are going to a catch up school for reading and writing. Then there are others who are doing so well and take a lot of pride in their work and I think they only get me to check it so I can tell them how smart they are!

One of our final year of primary school girls Ester, really tested me with her maths homework. It was a fractions multiplication and I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to do this, but looking back on her previous examples we managed to figure it out. I might add, I’ve never in my adult life had to use a fraction multiplication!

It is a bit heartbreaking when the toddlers see me around the house, as they’re not my main focus anymore and they don’t understand. I do spend an hour or so with them when I first arrive but then when the school kids are home and organized I’m in the sunshine room.  Jacob is always calling “Ali mai, Ali mai” and Siriti cries when I have to go for homework. One evening the other day, it was so cute, Gloria and Siriti came over to the Sunshine room and excitedly said “ALICE!!” I had a lil play and cuddle with them between homework and dinner time.

I’m also helping Jenny who has down-syndrome, she’s doing very well with her adding work but not so well in her reading. She does seem to focus better than some of the other kids when I’m reading to her, so that’s good, she’ll get it eventually.  

It was sad the other week. Ansu came down with an appendicitis, she’s off school now for a month. I’ve seen her around a lot as she’s recovering but the poor thing is bored staying at home from school. She’s just started high school and really enjoying it. She’s definitely a dedicated student and already talks about what she wants to do when she finishes, be a flight attendant for Fiji Airways because she wants to see the world. I think she’ll do just fine!

I am hoping to continue my volunteering when I return for the next bit of traveling, so hopefully there will be more updates from the Treasure House.

I will visit them at the very least.

Vinaka vakalevu

Loloma levu x

Treasure House ~ All Smiles

Milly before Milly After

Every girl deserves to have a bula smile! On Saturday Milly and I picked up her new teeth which we had measurements done on the Saturday before. I’m glad that it didn’t take very long to have her teeth made up and now she and everyone else can enjoy her smile. A girl of 16 already has many things to be self-conscious about, but smiling, laughing and talking doesn’t need to be one of them anymore.

This is a big thank you (Vinaka) to my parents for donating the money so I could do this for Milly. They always gave me a reason to smile when I was growing up (and still do), now they’ve given Milly a reason to smile.

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu x

Treasure House ~ My Return

Bula Gang,

I’m back at the Treasure House! I visited the kiddies and staff the first Monday of Feb. I was wondering all morning if my toddlers would remember me since I had been away for 5 weeks or if they would be shy to begin with. Nope, not these children, they greeted me with hugs and excitedly screaming “Alice, Alice”! Gloria told me all about her 3rd birthday which they celebrated the day before, then complimented me on my change of handbags and pink top haha. Shiriti just kept saying “Alice come” as she does and the boys, Jacob, Moses and Caleb were all smiles. Moses was a bit tired but managed a smile and wave between micro sleeps. I was happy to see Daphne as well but she’s still not walking on her own which is a shame. She also remembered me and put her hand out to hold mine, it’s all very touching. GG said the toddlers were asking for me each time a new volunteer would come. This was just a quick visit to say hello and discuss my return to volunteering…

I made my comeback on Monday 9th Feb, it was all familiar and the kids were very happy to have me back as well as the staff. When I arrived Moses was at the outside sink playing with the water then tried to help me open the gate. There was a new volunteer on her first day so I enjoyed showing her the ropes. One of the staff said “Alice knows the drill”.

We played with some play-dough, then colouring had some visitors and then I took Shiriti for toilet training. She now lets us know when she needs to go so that’s fantastic, only Moses and Jacob left to learn. It already feels like I haven’t been away for 6 weeks. I’m feeding Daphne her lunch and she’s eating it all up like a good girl.

It was the cutest when I came back from lunch break and Shiriti wakes up from her sleep and immediately asks for me. Moses and Caleb have resumed climbing all over me and Jacob pulls my hand to come with him and Gloria continues with the compliments on my earrings, clothes, bag etc hehe. The older children were full of cuddles and questions about my holiday and glad that I came back.

There is still a shortage of staff so I’ve been helping out a lot with Daphne, reading to her, taking her for walks around the house, feeding her. She shuffles along after me very quickly and is extremely jealous of the other toddlers. Speaking of jealous, Shiriti also has that streak. It can get quite aggressive as well, pinches and biting if someone else attempts to sit on my lap.

Jacob is becoming more intrigued by the toilet and likes to put the child seat on and take it off, this is becoming a popular game between him, caleb and shiriti! Jacob is still too scared to sit on the toilet but gets very embarrassed if he wets his pants. Shiriti likes me to take her to the toilet even when she doesn’t need to go, she’ll run in the house excitedly saying “toilet toilet” then looks up to me with a big smile and giggle. Caleb is now wanting to dress himself, he can put his undies and pants on with limited help but t-shirts he still needs help.

It was funny on Thursday, Gloria was giving me a recount of her time at the doctors and receiving a vaccination. She told me that GG held her tight while the nurse gave her an injection in her bum. She was so serious but I had to hold my breath not to laugh, it just sounded so funny coming from someone who only just turned 3. She amazes me every day!

I’m really enjoying being back in my routine, I missed these people.

More news from the Treasure House soon.

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu x

Living like a local ~ Fijian hospitality

Bula Bula,

Since living in Fiji and receiving mostly great hospitality from its locals, I thought I should write about it.

Most people here are very friendly, you either say bula to someone you’re walking past, give your best bula smile or comment on how hot it is hehe.

Something which isn’t really noticed or cared about in Australia is knowing your neighbours. Maybe just to the point where you can ask them to take out the bin on dustbin day if they are away, collect their mail or water their garden. In Fiji, you are regularly invited to join them for Kava or share a meal. My neighbours which were (before moving) a family of four and have on the occasion prepared Cassava Pudding for dessert and gave me a portion to taste, it was delicious and went fantastic with vanilla icecream! A few weeks later a delicious Fijian beef, cassava and chili salad plate was shared. I’m a massive chili fan and it was right on point! At first I thought it was strange and wasn’t sure if it would be rude to accept it, Jay assured me it’s completely normal. That same night was Jay’s birthday where I made a lamb stew and chocolate slice, so I returned the favour and shared a plate with them, yay!

Each day I walk to the Treasure House Childrens Home, I pass a car wash business where the staff always greet me with big greetings such as “bula, good morning, yadra, you look nice” haha. The owner approached me when I was on my walk home for lunch and asked my name and where it was I walk to most days. He then invited me to have Kava with them one day, a bit reluctant of their intentions I asked if Jay could come as well, he said of course. Later that evening when I was walking home (again) they came running up to street level and shared one cup of Kava with no intentions of kidnapping me haha. The next day when Jay was walking with me, they also said Bula Bro to him.

I got chatting with a girl while waiting at the bus stop, she was on her way to work in Port Denaru. She had seen me around and like most people enquired how I spent my time in Fiji. Anyway, she ended up paying for my bus fare (.70 cents) as she needed to break a note, I offered her the money after but she insisted it was fine. .70 cents may not sound like much but Fijians are paid a considerable amount less than Australians. If you’ve stopped to think about how cheap Fiji is, well for a tourist on holiday from Australia, yes it is. However, if you’re earning Fijian dollar, the living costs, food, housing, petrol etc are not equivalent. I was very grateful for my free bus ride on that hot and humid day!

So if anything like this happens while you’re living in Fiji or on holiday, accept the invite and return the favour in any way possible.

Vinaka vakalevu,

Loloma levu xx