Day 8 – The Journey Home

Day 7 – Happy Birthday Mum!

Day 6 – The Big Day

Day 5 – A Day of Adventure

Day 4 – The Day Before

Day 2 – Chilling Out

Day 1 – Fiji, Here We Home!

The time had come, standing in my driveway mid morning, waiting for the taxi to come and take me on the start of yet another overseas adventure. Brendan (my cousin) and Laura (his fiancée), the future newly-weds and the whole reason the clan was off to Fiji, were picking me up on the way through to the airport, which made sense as we all had the same travel plans. A short taxi ride to Canberra airport and we almost had our first disaster when Laura almost left her wedding dress in the Taxi. I was the first to check-in, and having booked a connecting flight through Sydney to Nadi, my bags were checked all the way through which meant no mucking around on the connection. I was hoping there was to be no more mucking around as we have already had our fair share of it over the last 6 months having dealt with a flight cancellation and many more subsequent flight reschedules. Brendan and Laura added an extra complication by taking advantage of dropping prices and cancelling then rebooking flights which ended up as a non connecting flight. As they were still both still booked through Qantas, I told them to ask about linking them back together while checking in to make things easier when we arrived in Sydney. Luckily this was possible and their bags were also subsequently checked through to Nadi making our Sydney experience much more relaxed. We met up with Laura’s friend/bridesmaid Karen with her fiancée Joel who were also on the same flights as us, however they did not have the early advice of trying to connect their flights together and therefore will have to go out and come back in again on arrival in Sydney.

The short flight to Sydney was uneventful, with the cabin staff serving refreshments soon after take-off and barely being being able to finish before the plane was preparing to land. Into the domestic terminal where Brendan, Laura, and I were straight onto the bus for a transfer to the international terminal, while Karen and Joel had to go out, collect their bags, and then make their way across before checking in again. Arriving into the international terminal we were straight through security, immigration, and into the main terminal. Before long we were soon joined by my Mum and Dad, my sister Marnie and her fiancée Daniel, who had all driven down from their home on the Central Coast, my cousin Naomi (maid of honour) and her husband Boyd (the best man) with their kids Aaron and Monique, a few friends of Brendan and Laura, and eventually Karen and Joel who had a rush to make it across in time before check in closed. After some catching up, random wandering around the airport, purchase of way too much duty free alcohol as we wouldn’t have time to shop on the other side, and a bite to eat at McDonalds, we were boarding our Fiji Airways flight to Nadi. We were flying on a Boeing 747, and I was surprised to find out seats were upstairs as on most airlines this is business or first class. It is only a small section with maybe 15 rows but with what still feels like more space than the crowded area downstairs. As the plane body is round, sitting on the upper level the walls are considerably curved meaning the seats don’t go all the way to the wall. This leaves room for them to add storage compartments along the wall in addition to the overhead lockers giving more space than you know what to do with. It makes storing personal belongings you want for the flight much easier to access, and as we found the ability to stand all those duty free bottles upright. Sadly this was the highlight of the plane, everything else went down hill from there. The plane appeared quite old and worn, with old projectors never removed and still on the roof, every second entertainment system was broken, Laura’s seat had headphone wires hanging out of the arm rest, my seat had a piece of metal protruding from it near my hip, and upon trying to adjust my headrest the whole thing came off in my hand. Luckily it was only just over a 3 hour flight, and before we knew it we were flying over the Fiji landscape and landing in Nadi.

Entering the airport building we were greeted by the first of many enthusiastic greetings of “Bula”, which by the end of the week we would never forget, and a group of singer/musicians to welcome the passengers as they passed by. We joined the line in the immigration hall which appeared more like a large temporary building, with large fans hanging off the walls but with so many people it did little to help with the heat. I am sure however it would have been much worse without them. This is where we experienced our first “On Fiji Time” moment, waiting for what felt like hours to get through the slow moving line. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry. After finally getting that new stamp in my passport, we collected our bags, passed through security including a bag x-ray, before finally making it out into some open air. Having booked the transfers to the resort for my entire family group, I headed off in search of their desk. It didn’t take much looking, with their representatives standing in the middle of the space ready to greet each of us with a “Bula” and a necklace, and of course our awaiting bus. It was just starting to get dark and with a few hour drive ahead of us to the Coral Coast, it wasn’t long before Daniel started with his “Are we there yet?”. Daniel hasn’t travelled before, and didn’t seem to realise it takes time to get places. We didn’t see much on the drive as it was now dark, but had us checking our seatbelts at times on some of the roads and overtaking manoeuvres.

Arriving at the entrance to the resort, the Outrigger on the Lagoon, we were greeted by yet another “Bula” by the men operating the entrance gates at the top of their lungs. We would find out over the next week just how loud they were, hearing them from across the resort as people came and went during the day and early into the evening. I had spoken to Mum earlier about getting straight to the check in line of the resort when we arrived, because I knew if they were not already there, the rest of Brendan’s and Laura’s friends wouldn’t be too far behind us. After getting to the counter and starting the check in process, I would wonder later if karma was out to get me because in the end we were still the last ones standing there as everyone else arrived, checked in, and left for their rooms. I’m still not sure whether the person assisting us knew what she was doing, and when she disappeared out the back with Mum’s credit card it was a bit worrying. By the end of this trip I was going to have to learn this new concept of “Fiji Time” as I am usually always in a rush and on a mission to get something done. We also purchased vouchers for each meal during our stay to use in the many restaurants of the hotel, and after dropping the bags off to the room, we were on our way to use the first one for dinner before everything closed. We headed straight for the buffet and filled our plates before everything was put away, that is with the exception of Marnie and Daniel who decided to find something else as Daniel is a bit picky when it comes to food. It turned our using a meal voucher tonight was a sensible move as the pay on entry price was considerably more which the others found out, and Brendan was determined to go and pre purchase some vouchers for himself the next day. With some food in our bellies everyone started venturing back to their rooms to end what has been quite a long day. Mum and Dad’s villa happened to be right next door to Brendan and Laura’s, while the villa I was sharing with Marnie and Daniel which had 2 x double beds rather than 1 x king bed was a bit further away. Naomi and Boyd with Aaron and Monique opted for a hotel style room in the main building which had a better view, but didn’t have the surrounding space and a hammock of the front porch. Hanging out in the room Marnie and Daniel eventually returned having found pizza on the other side of the resort. Daniel was keen to have a drink at the bar, so Daniel and I headed off for what would become a memorable night, or depending how you look at it, a big mistake.

It was about 10pm heading over to the bar, where we found it very quiet with only a few others inside. Sitting ourselves down at the counter we soon started having a chat to the staff while enjoying a few drinks, and as 11pm passed we were the only ones left. As more drinks were ordered, we could see them getting visibly stronger in the amount of spirits in the glasses, that is of course with the help of Daniel’s encouragement. For a few hours we enjoyed the company of the staff having a chat and learning more about the way of their Fijian lives while also telling them of our own experiences. Daniel was trying to convince them to have a drink with us, even after them telling him they were not allowed while working. Trying to convince Daniel their jobs are more important to them didn’t seem to be sinking in because as many times as they said no while still being polite to their guests, Daniel would have another go. I had to become very blunt and tell him to cut it out which I think they appreciated as it got them out of a more and more awkward situation. It was at this time, now early hours of the morning, that we could see that it was closing time and they were ready to go home, however Daniel was certain he wanted to keep drinking. Managing to talk his way into 2 litres of orange juice to take home to pair with the duty free alcohol we now had, I dragged him out and we headed for our room. Heading inside and climbing into bed, Daniel decided it was time to wake up Marnie. I know what Marnie is like when she doesn’t have her sleep, so knew it was a bad idea. After she yelled at him and he eventually climbed into his bed, it wasn’t long before he was in the bathroom throwing up. By this time there was no way anyone could sleep with all the noise going on, so Marnie and I were having a conversation about the night until Daniel couldn’t be heard any more. Marnie worried about him went to have a look and discovered the bathroom covered in vomit and Daniel passed out naked in the bathtub also covered in vomit. She decided that she was going to wash him off, but upon turning on the water scalded him after not realising how hot the water was. Obviously Daniel was not very happy, but soon went back to his slumber, and after a rinse off she came back and I informed her she better get me the bin as sadly it was my turn. It wasn’t very pleasant and hurt quite a bit when you were throwing up but there was nothing else to come out, but I do feel more for Marnie having to put up with the both of us. I did apologise to her, and vowed it was my first and last night of my life for this much drinking. After an hour or so I finally settled down and Marnie wanted me to help her get Daniel out of the bath. There was no way I was going in there for 2 reasons, the first you could possibly call me a sympathetic vomiter and I had only just settled down, and as for the second, he was still naked! I told her to leave him in the bathtub, so the lights went out, and we finally got some sleep.