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

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

Try Time! Sporting events in Fiji

Grand Final Makoi Bulldogs V Lautoka

Bula!

Not sure if you’ve heard but Fiji is Rugby crazy! Union and 7’s Rugby being most favored but League also has a large following.

I was lucky enough to see the Rugby League Grand Final at Churchill Stadium in Lautoka September last year, between Makoi Bulldogs and Lautoka. The atmosphere was great, lots of singing and ladies running down with their team flags when a try was scored! There were some kids about 10 yo, who were singing right near us and playing percussion, fantastic!

I found the entertainment around us an invited distraction but I did watch a lot of the game. It was a fast game and most of it they were within a couple of points of each other. I was going for the Makoi Bulldogs, they are one of the Suva teams who won the GF last year. Jay follows this team as Makoi is where he’s from in Suva. Guess I should follow the boyfee since I wasn’t really fussed either way. Unfortunately in extra time Lautoka City scored and converted a try putting them 1 point in front. Jay and the other Makoi fans celebrations were a bit premature but as the goal was kicked and full time whistle was blown, the gates were opened and kids ran out onto the field to congratulate Lautoka City. It looked really cool, kids adults etc all running onto the field with excitement hehe. Even though Makoi didn’t win, it was a good game and I enjoyed it.

It was easy to get there from Nadi, just a 30 min bus ride which pretty much stops right at the gates and costs $2 each way, bus runs regularly but if you’re in a hurry get a mini-van. I think mini-van is $2-3, it’s not for the faint hearted, they go quite fast and overtake sometimes without the best judgment. The game was only $6, if there’s room you can sit under shelter in the grandstands but if you’re late, shade could be an issue as there’s not many trees.

If you have time while you’re here on holidays, ask a local about seeing a sporting event. It is a great cultural experience even if sports aren’t really your thing.

I’m looking forward to the Union season starting sometime this year!

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu

Hidden gem aka Saweni Beach!

Bula Gang,

I am back in paradise aka Fiji after spending some quality time at home with my family and friends! Last year I mainly blogged about my time volunteering at the Treasure House, but I also got up to some cool things in my free time. If you are traveling to Fiji, these might be worth knowing.

I discovered a hidden gem! People mainly go to the most common beach Wailoaloa but if you are after something a lil more beautiful and peaceful, check out Saweni Beach. It is between Nadi and Lautoka and virtually secluded. When I was there I felt like Mahsa, Jay and myself had our own private beach. It has white/yellow sand unlike Wailoaloa where the sand is more brown and powdery. It is lined with coconut trees and the water is very calm and also cooler than the general Fijian waters. This made for a much more refreshing swim on a hot and sunny day. Only thing it lacks is a coral reef to snorkel hehe.

Getting there is easy if you have a car, it is about ½ way between Nadi and Lautoka, you take a left turn which is sign posted Saweni Beach and also Orchid Resort.

If you are more adventurous and/or on a budget, take the local bus. More often than not, you’ll get a bus which plays loud music from the radio 2Day FM. Which mainly plays reggae and general hit music, makes you feel like dancing.

Bus options are either no windows or closed with A/C, I prefer no windows and enjoy the fresh island breeze. Bus’ come very regularly and it should only costs $1.50 FJD each way. The walk to the beach is via a dirt road for about 1.5 km, at midday it was boiling so once we got to the beach it was straight into the water!

I would suggest bringing a packed lunch since there’s not any restaurants. Luckily for us, Jay can climb a coconut tree and we enjoyed fresh coconut juice & the flesh inside yum yum!

I’m looking forward to the next time I go to Saweni Beach Yay!

Vinaka Vakalevu

Loloma Levu x

Taken from under a coconut tree

Taken from under a coconut tree

Freshly Picked

Freshly Picked

Treasure House ~ My last week & Merry Christmas !!

Bula Gang,

Well after this last week at the Treasure House, I need to go on a diet haha!
On Monday we had 2 lunches provided, one was scheduled the other just kindly turned up hehe. Then without having time to digest, pizza was delivered as a snack! The kids enjoyed but as for the toddlers, most of it went on the floor.

The presents under the tree are really mounting up. So good to see that visitors and locals don’t forget about these gorgeous kids, donating anything they can manage. Too often people who can afford to help others leave it for the people who are struggling themselves, I say this as the Australian Govt cut the Aid budget yet again!

Although lots of gifts and food are being donated, the sponsor who pays the water bill was late resulting in the water being turned off from Saturday afternoon to Monday afternoon. I couldn’t believe it when I arrived on Monday. They were getting water from the sister house Judy’s but this was making life quite difficult. I gave Shriti a bath using a bucket after lunch before she went to sleep, poor thing was clutching the bucket trying to drink as much as possible. Luckily that afternoon we were able to bath them properly and the house was back in working order.

It’s been very hot and humid more so than usual, we’ve had the kids outside a lot playing under the mango tree. It is so much better than trying to get them to do activities in the Nicholas room. There’s been a lot of water bomb fights which have been refreshing. The toddlers like the breeze created by being pushed on the swing. They can be quite bossy “Alice push me push me” demands Gloria, “Alice higher” yells Moses, Jacob generally says “Alice me, mine”, mine is come in Fijian.

To end the week we got all dressed up, GG, Ily and the 5 toddlers were all matching in their Xmas outfits, it was so cute. I made use of my Sulu Jaba, which I wore a few weeks back at Jays grandma’s 100 nights remembrance. Laura borrowed a sulu and Bula shirt from her host family. We were both in blue, so decided that was the colour for the volunteers 🙂 all the Na’s were very happy with our outfits. Then on the bus to get to the Wyndem Hotel in Port Denauru. Lunch was very nice and plentiful but surprising all the toddlers did very well, ate their food and were well behaved. Ansu did her usual thank you speech and all the children did some dances and sang some songs. I even know some of the words now even though I don’t understand the lyrics. Caleb was quite funny during the dancing as he was just busting a move on his own haha, reminded me of my brother at similar age.

Santa turned up and the toddlers were looking a little uneasy, Jacob was backing away with a scared look on his face. Their reactions were hilarious, Moses did collect his Santa gift but I had to go with him.

It was a great day and we had more cake just before leaving. Once arriving back we had to say bye to Laura, she had to leave for the airport at 3.30. It was a rushed quick goodbye during bath time but quick is better than long goodbyes.

On Sunday jay and I went to church with them. They go to a small church in Sabeto Village 20 mins away. It’s a gorgeous humble church surrounded by mountains! Lots of singing in English and Fijian and the sermon was mainly in English. The kids looked great in their Sunday best and were excited to have me there. Moses was calling my name from the row behind during prayer lol. He came around for a couple of cuddles as did sritty and Gloria came to check out my hairstyle, which she gave her approval hehe.

It was a great way to end my volunteering for 2014 and last day in Fiji for the year. When we were back at the house I said bye to the toddlers first as they were going down for their sleep. They don’t understand that I’m going away for awhile and sritty was calling “Alice come!” But not in a sad way so that was good. The older kids understood I’ll be back in February so that helps with the goodbyes.

It’s been at times overwhelming, confronting and stressful but overall an amazing experience. I’ve learnt so much about myself and my ability to care for children not under the normal circumstances. It’s impossible to not get attached to them, so even when I’m not able to live in Fiji anymore, each time I visit I will always make a point to stop and spend “Fiji time” hehe.

I miss the kids already but look forward to seeing them in February, until then I will enjoy catching up with fams & friends in Australia.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Vinaka vakalevu,

Loloma Levu xx

Treasure House ~ 2nd last week & Xmas build up

Bula Gang,

Delayed post, my second last week was last week hehe my blog is on Island Time…

To begin my second last week, I was greeted by the kids washing their hands before their mid-morning snacks. Five little people running up with ALICE screams, I didn’t have time to put my bag down before I was helping with the hand washing!

We always have to play tricks with Sritty to get her to finish her food. Usually pretending that we’ll give it to one of the other children. It seems she’s outsmarted this tactic so the new one is a threat that I will go home. The staff say “Alice will go home if you don’t eat your food”, then I’m meant to get up and leave, after one or two cries and flaps of her hands, I sit down and spoon feed her. She’s an emotional little thing, cries at the drop of a hat but I think a lot of the time it’s because she wants to be picked up and cuddled.

Wednesday we had a great xmas lunch provided by Chicken BBQ. The kids loved to get ready to go out to a restaurant. Toddlers were in their best dress and the older girls really liked the way I did my hair (fish braid) so they asked if I could do their hair like that too. I had a lot of fun playing hairdresser and they all looked very pretty.

Everyone was well behaved in the restaurant. Ansu made a thank you speech on behalf of everyone at Treasure House, she spoke very well but she is used to it as they encourage her public speaking abilities. We were talking after about what we want to be when we grow up, she wants to be a flight attendant, this would suit her very well, she can travel (which I’m always encouraging) and opens up the door to lots of other career opportunities. I’ve heard the training is quite rigorous but I believe she’ll do great at anything she puts her mind too.

Anyway, back to the restaurant… there was an applause once Ansu finished and Aaron our 5 year old who has autism, couldn’t stop clapping and his catch phrase “on the light, on the light, BULA”. He is a character and brings a lot of happiness to the house, even though he bit me on my second day, we’ve bonded since. I’ll never forget when I asked him how he was and he replied “not bad, not bad” such a funny response from a 5 year old.

Sritty ate too much lollies so she didn’t eat the chicken or chips, typical. Gloria was taken up to cut the cake, afterwards she thought the cake was hers but said she would share with everyone. The afternoons are always a lil out of sync after these big lunches. They go to sleep later, have their bath later and then no time for much playing because they’re all so exhausted. Generally makes for a more relaxing afternoon 😀

As we don’t see and spend as much time with the older girls from Judy House next door for 14 and above, one of the other volunteers Lucille organised for her, Laura and myself to take them out for lunch. Originally it was to the movies but it became too hard with session times and getting to Lautoka which is 45 mins by bus. Lunch was great though, the girls really enjoyed it and so did we. It was nice to be able to chat without being interrupted by the smaller children and being able to give all your focus on them.

It was a great end to the week and end to Lucille’s last day, she’s been with us for 2 weeks.

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu,

xx