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

New York, concret jungle where dreams are made of!!

New York was the first stop for myself and Celiya, very tired after the overnight flight from LA not to mention the overnight flight from Fiji as well. We made our way to the apartment in the Hells Kitchen district. After settling into the apartment we ventured uptown 86th street to cross Central Park over to the East side for the MET. Central Park was lovely and lots of school excursions, basketball and baseball games being played, along with people taking rides in the horse and carriage. The MET was really cool but take note that $25 per adult to get in is optional, it’s a donation only so we paid much less as was everyone else. 
We saw the Chinese Through the looking glass exhibition which was amazing, beautiful dresses. you may remember they big yellow dress Rihanna wore to the MET gala this year, it was by designer Guo Pei and Celiya and I agree she should have worn this one instead.

  
There was also lots of other things to see like Egyptian artefacts, African, even Fijian yay! Along with a lot more. It’s worth the trip it’s cheap and take a walk through Central Park as well.

   
 We had an early night since we were extremely tired and also after nearly falling asleep towards the end of the MET trip and Celiya having power naps on the subway haha

Wednesday we were feeling much more fresh and ready to go! We caught up with my friend alexia and had lunch in the stylish West Village and shopping in Soho. Great to catch up since it had been 2 yrs since we last saw one another. Also this marked the beginning of my US shopping spree haha. 

We spent Thursday checking out the city via Hudson River cruise, then onto 9/11 memorial which was sad but very nice park and tastefully done. We wanted to climb the Statue of Liberty but unfortunately it was booking out until August! So some advise, book online at least 3 months in advance esp for the spring/summer months. Wall Street was pretty cool a lot of Mike Ross and Harvey Spector types but not as sawve in real life haha. We did make use of the street food and got a delicious hot dog (really!!) we searched for ages for the famous Bull, I know it from Hitch movie where Will tells the douche bag he won’t help him then th douche gets kneed in th balls by Eva Mendez lol. Really there were too many ppl taking pics with it and not getting the pic and getting out but standing in front for ages adding diff family members, multiple poses argh annoying! 

   
  

  

 The first time I went to New York I didn’t get to see a Broadway show so this was a top priority and we loved Aladdin. The Genie was awesome, you couldnt get a better one and he’s rightfully won a tony award for his performance, as has the entire show. I’m so glad I saw this as its a childhood fav.

  
We thought for a Friday afternoon, what more appropriate than to do a sex and the city tour. It was a lot of fun and I didn’t realise it was mainly filmed in west village and not upper east side. We stopped where the girls take Charlotte to buy her “rabbit” haha. We were supprised how small Steve and Aidens bar is in real life but enjoyed a cosmopolitan of course! Also it’s not called Scout. We checked out the restaurant where Big and Carrie had their rehearsal dins, so nice and we were surprised it is affordable, so I’ll be making a reservation next time! 

   
     We went up the Empire State building which had hardly any queues yay. The view is great and you can see how huge Central Park is. Afterwards we did some 5th ave shopping and research. I now know what shoe size I am in Valentino, dolce & gabbana and Louboutins yay, now I just need to get paid again so I can buy online haha. 

   
   

 Sat night we met up with alexia again at Catch in the Meatpacking district. Celiya and I are still dreaming of the delicious chips we had there as well as our meals. I suggest the mussels, amazing!! We made a reservation however I don’t think it meant anything since we had to wait about an hr anyway. I can imagine this is standard in this popular nighttime district. Afterwards we went up to the rooftop bar which was playing good music with a dance floor. I would suggest eating at the club/bar you want to spend the night at, as we didn’t have to pay a cover charge or line up again. Or this could have been since we were three girls? 

  
Sunday was a lazy day but we went to ripplies and time square. We actually go to Times Square everyday since we’re so clo but we had a better look around this time. Always amazes me how many ppl go to New York for new year to watch the ball drop! It isn’t even that big or long of a drop haha. 
We took a long day trip to Washington which was rushed but very good and informative. It actually reminded me a lot of Canberra, with a lot of greenary, roundabouts, wide avenues and well positioned monuments. I know i shouldn’t find something funny at a war memorial but the “freedom is not free” just reminded me on Team America! 

  

  

  
Food of New York, it’s amazing however, our first dinner in NY was maccas lol, but there after we made sure to make use of all the cuisens at our doorstep. Each night we tired something diff, Mexican, Ethiopian (a must try), Turkish, seafood just to name a few. We had a local bakery which made a delicious assortment of paninis which we would grab for lunch or dins sometimes to save a lil money. Of course a cocktail is required with every meal, try to go with the cuisen so if the food is spicy, make sure the cocktail is as well hehe.

   Next stop and post Miami!! 

Xx

Cherry Blossom Season ~ Japan

Konichiwa!

A little over two weeks ago I left the very beautiful Cherry Blossom country of Japan. Myself and two of my regular travel buddies and besties Celiya & Louise started our Japan trip in Osaka. It was the coldest and least things to really see of the three cities we traveled so it was good that we got it out of the way first while we were none the wiser.

The Osaka Castle was our first sightseeing stop, it was nothing like the castles I had experienced in Europe. Unfortunately on the inside it’s just a museum like any other, I was hoping they would have persevered the interior and made it feel like you were stepping back in time. The view from the top is nice, but not many cherry blossoms were out yet so it looked quite wintery.

Afterwards we went to famous eating and shopping district, the hussle and bussle was fantastic, I really enjoyed the vibrancy and also the amount of food to eat. I wasn’t a huge fan of Japanese food but I’ve changed my mind since! We had some amazing green tea deserts and dinners mainly noodle based. I’ve also discovered green tea chocolate! My favourite is the green tea Kit Kats. I’m not sure why but I’m seeming to be enjoying green tea more in Japan than I ever did in Australia, maybe they brew it differently?

Day two saw us at Osaka Tower, this was a major let down haha… I don’t think the tower was much or any taller than Telstra Tower in Canberra and there was nothing special to look at. The city isn’t really beautiful or architecturally amazing. However, it was worth going there for the tepenyaki in this area which we had beforehand and on the way out the Japanese Pancake. My mouth is watering thinking of them.

The day improved when we visited the Shitennoji Temple, it wasn’t very crowded so we could have a good look around and climb the steep steps up the temple tower. There are some similarities between the architecture of Japanese Buddhist temples to the ones I saw in Thailand. This one isn’t particularly big but a good temple to start off with. We were mainly amused with the cute Turtle community in the pond outside the temple!

We caught the train to Kyoto, the minute you step out of the station you can see it’s such a pretty city, very clean and organised as Japan is very well known for. Immediately we saw girls dressed in their traditional Yukata’s looking like dolls, I felt very frumpy in my jeans and jacket. We stayed in a traditional Japanese style guesthouse. It was so much fun, sleeping on the floor and eating on the floor with little floor chairs (without legs but has back support)! They served us green tea when we came to the room and provided lounge style Yukata’s. The floor bedding was unbelievably comfortable, warm and reminded me of sleep overs.

First off we went to the Golden Temple which is about 30 mins by bus from Kyoto city. It was just as it’s described, golden and you spot it the minute you enter the temple grounds. Lots of people huddling around to get the best shot, luckily we managed to get a few as well. I saw my first Japanese Crane here and they are a funny but beautiful looking bird. They don’t look much like the origami ones I tried to make in primary school haha.

We did some browsing around the traditional shopping area and had dins in a traditional restaurant, shoes off and on the floor. This was the worst meal I had while in Japan, very bland and too much sashimi for my liking, typical it was the most expensive as well.

The next morning it was rainin, but our hotel provided umbrellas Yay! Then off we went to the Fushimi Inari, I had pinned this one on pinterest and it is well worth the hike, even in the rain! It’s absolutely stunning and the most fun since you walk through thousands of orange wooden arches, they did provide some shelter from the rain. You are greeted with a beautiful Cherry Blossom tree on entry and we started to see more cherry blossom from here. It’s quite fun to make a prayer, throw some coins and ring a bell… much more fun than sitting in church and being passed a plate to put money in, but who’s comparing hehe.

We also discovered food tasting in Kyoto which is much better than Costco haha. I was trying all sorts of treats and deserts, even green tea and vanilla ice cream! I bought some back with me but Jay has already eaten all the green tea Kit Kats.

Lastly we checked out the Silver Temple Ginkaku-ji, this was a much smaller temple but very unique and pretty grounds. There was another Crane frolicking around the gardens, mini waterfalls and moss like grass.

The bullet train to Tokyo was very exciting, we sped past Mt Fuji and were able to take a few pictures, it does look amazing but I’ve heard it’s popular for attempted suicide, so sad!

Tokyo is what I expected, big, loud, people, cars, trains, buses everywhere but the chaos is in a somewhat orderly fashion.

In the main, Japanese people are very nice and helpful. We did come across one B!tch who Celiya was about to ask in Japanese for directions and she just yells “NO, NO”! We were startled by this rude lady and the people she was with also seemed shocked. We were only looking for a restaurant to celebrate Celiya’s bday… Anyway, shortly afterwards we found we’d come out too late for dinner on a Tuesday night, who would have thought a city like Tokyo would have quiet times?! After many helpful restaurant managers who were closing, gave us directions for other Japanese restaurants that were also closing, we thought Maccas could be our only option! Until we stumbled across one, who said kitchen closed in 10 mins, no one spoke English except 2 patrons who helped us with the menu and drinks. Since we didn’t really know what we ordered I was skeptical how enjoyable this meal would be… I was wrong, it was delicious and prepared right in front of us, I even enjoyed the sashimi yay! The people who helped us over heard our Saki cheers for Celiya’s Bday and ordered some Japanese Cake for us, OMG so nice!

We visited the Ueno Park which was filled with so much Cherry Blossom! I went a bit crazy with Cherry Blossom selfies, the park was filled with people, you have to book to have a picnic under the cherry blossom trees in the heart of the park, and it’s like a cherry blossom tunnel. Spring is definitely the time to see Japan, even if it is still a little cold.

After taking a few wrong turns we eventually made it to the Oldest Temple in Tokyo Senso-ji , it was packed full of people, the most busy one I’ve seen but I guess it is in the most populated city in Japan. Locals have a soft spot for this temple as it’s the oldest in Tokyo.

On the last day we went to Meiji Shrine, there was a bride and groom in traditional wear arriving for a wedding, which was exciting… I’m not sure if it was staged or real, nevertheless cool.

The last evening, we went to the red light district, it’s got a lot of great places to eat, and not all the places are brothels or strip clubs. Male brothels are also just as popular and their pics are posted up on billboards, it’s weird how open and out there it is. Haha

Japan was great, except the coffee, buy from the vending machines before a café… my favourite brand was Boss café au late, cos I’m a boss haha.

Korea next blog 🙂

Arrigato,

xx

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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

1 Month at Treasure House

Bula Gang!

It’s been a month since I began volunteering at the Treasure House! I adore these kids, there were only 2 toddlers who were a bit standoff-ish but have now come around. One little girl Gloria, her speech is great for a 2 year old, she pronounces her words clearly and her sentences make sense. I was pushing her on the swing and she was clearly singing this song she learnt at church, so cute! In the mornings she says “Bula Alice” and comes to give me a hug, so cute when they run up and cuddle your knees, although all my clothes or legs depending what I’m wearing end up with dribble and sometimes food if they’ve just had their snacks haha. Caleb used to play up a lot with me, he’s got a lot of energy and I think sometimes he plays up because he’s bored, the toddlers hardly ever get to leave the house, only for church on Sundays. Anyway, he’s become a lot better behaved, still cheeky but he does listen more now and wants to be played with just like the other toddlers and become very cuddly yay!

Little Moses has now fallen asleep on my lap twice after his snacks in the morning. He generally sits on his chair next to me and puts his head on my lap and nods off! Today he was standing, put his head on my lap and fell asleep while standing there, I didn’t realise until I looked down! I carried him to his room and he only slightly woke up when I picked him up, melts my heart!

Daphane had a visit from the physiotherapist which was very interesting. 2 months ago she was taking a few steps by herself but unfortunately she came down with the Chicken-Pox and she had bed rest for 2 weeks, so she lost all the skills that she had learnt. We’re back at square 1 but we have some new techniques which should improve her posture, balance and in time walking on her own. It’s getting hard since she’s 4 and getting heavy, if she doesn’t learn now it will only get harder for her and everyone involved. We were walking with her holding her hands up but now we are supposed to hold her shoulder so she’s not looking at the ground or slouching. She can stand against a wall and at any opportunity she should be doing this to build her strength and balance. I hope she can at least take a few steps before Christmas, so I can see.

Sritty who has been with Treasure House for about 4-5 months, previously could only speak Hindi but we have noticed in the last 2 weeks her English is coming along very well. She can quite clearly say Alice, come, sit down, stand up, no, yes, again, me and of course bula, hi 5 and bye. Love seeing progress with all the children!

An end to another fabulous week. Happy Friday!

Vinaka Vakalevu

Loloma Levu xx

Treasure House ~ Week 3 / Diwali

Bula Gang!

I can’t believe how quickly time is going as I’m now in my 3rd week at the Treasure House. I love getting in there just as they’re sitting at the table waiting for their morning snacks with their huge smiles, hello’s, bula’s and mummy! Sometimes when they are more interested in playing or attention seeking, we are forced to spoon feed them. They can do it themselves but to make sure they are eating and it’s not all going on the floor or in someone else’s bowl, we help them. Moses and Sritty are still quite underweight, so making sure they are eating their full meals is important so they can catch up.

Last Thursday was the Indian festival of lights Diwali. In Fiji this is a public holiday so all the kids were at home for the festivities. It was so nice to see the kids had quite a few visits for Diwali and HEAPS of sweets to enjoy. People even bought things for the staff to eat, so delicious but definitely not for anyone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth! Fireworks are even going off during the day and that excited the kids, although the toddlers didn’t understand why they could hear the fireworks but not see them like in the night time hehe.

In the afternoon all the children were enjoying the day outside. I was pushing the toddlers on the swings and the older children were learning how to ride their new bikes. I also helped some of them with the first push, it is hard work teaching someone to ride 2 wheels. The younger ones got the hang of it quicker than the older ones, maybe because they are more agile and think about falling off less…

On Friday I got to feed and nurse the month old baby Joel, he’s growing quickly and looks very healthy and content for someone who was separated from his mum after 2 days of living. As he was happily drinking away, I was faced with another bodily fluid to clean up, this time it was spew, projectile style, it was only milk though so not too much of a big deal, although he managed to get it all over himself, a bit on me and the couch. He didn’t even cry and went to back to doing what he does best, sleep!

Unit next week 🙂

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma levu x

Treasure House Orphanage – Week 2

Bula Gang,

I’ve been at the Treasure House now for 2 weeks and 2 days. I’m feeling very settled in and know the children and their temperaments well.

After the first week I decided to look past the confronting side and not compare the living situation and ways things are done here to Australian standards. This is Fiji and it is still a developing country but it is so great to see so many visitors and locals donate anything that they can.

We have had many Australian tourists come to visit and play with the kids for an hour or so, they also bring toys, clothes, food, nappies and cleaning supplies. It really helps and goes a long way and the staff really appreciate it.

It was funny the other day we had some bogans visit, the woman laughed when I said I was from Canberra and proudly said she was from Sydney, I asked whereabouts and Campbelltown was the reply = no further comments haha

Last week I went with the staff and 7 of the 0-4 year olds for their health checkup at the hospital in Nadi. It was very interesting to see the hospital and what a checkup for an infant requires. The hospital was old and no sign of a computer or laptop, everything is written and filed away.

I looked after Manu, a 1 year old boy for the visit. Needless to say he’s cute because they are all cute but he’s a well behaved lil guy. He happily sat on my lap until we were called by the nurse, who then measured, weighed, quick look in the mouth and ears, then he was good to go.

Everything went smoothly until the van was late picking us up! Trying to keep 7 children/babies happy and under control when they are getting bored and fed up is a hard task, where “Fiji Time” goes wrong hehe.

Well as for today, I hit another milestone! I’ve decided to look at it as a milestone rather than grose which it was haha. I had to bath Jacob one of the 2 year olds who likes to hold my hand and drag me everywhere with him J well this little cutie did a poo in his nappy/dipper just as I was getting him ready for his bath. Well not only did I change a dirty nappy, I had to wash him and the poo off. Yes, I had to even touch poo!! I dry-reached the whole time but I did it and once the poo was gone and he was back smelling nice and looking fresh I’d forgotten about it Yay!

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu x