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The Smug Adventures Down Under

a travel blog by Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin

This is part two of our one year trip.
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A sailor's life for us!

Suva, Fiji

As we stepped off the plane at Nadi airport in Fiji it felt good to be back on the road. As there isn't much to see on the mainland we were lucky that our resort was very pleasing and a perfect location for relaxation and adjustment to 'Fiji time'. Our first relaxing day at the Sky Lodge was interrupted by the appearance of a crazy girl who, as we watched in shock, ran around the pool hysterically screaming at the staff. The scene was vaguely amusing to watch until she screamed "get off me or I'll sacrifice you, I'm going to have to kill you". By the next day there was a distinct lack of crazy girl, we can only hope that she was hospitalised somewhere. Apparently the coup wasn't what we needed to worry about.
Although we hadn't heard great things about Nadi, excited to be somewhere more "out-there" than Australia we spent an evening exploring the town/one street. We were obviously out of practice at handling local harrassment as within minutes of arriving we were sitting on a mat in the back of a souvenir shop accepting kava and a welcoming ceremony. Favoured by Fijians, Kava consists of a root ground to a powder and mixed with water, the result is a tasteless muddy water-like drink supposed to have calming qualities. The 'free' welcoming ceremony inevitably ended in us being asked for money for the "village"- rookie mistake. Cheap food means it was back to dining out and we were delighted to find a local restaurant with a delicious curry for a measly price.

The next day we boarded the ferry early and headed north to Kuata one of the smaller Yasawa islands. The resort we stayed at being the only settlement on the island, it was our own personal paradise. Similarly to our activities on the mainland the day consisted of doing basically nothing, the only difference being this time we did it in hammocks. Our sloth-like behaviour was only interrupted by hearing the conch being sounded for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the evening completely out of our control, we were dragged up onto our feet and forced to partake in the traditional 'Bula dance', pretty much a Fijian Macarena. It may have been slightly more appropriate had there been more than ten of us, we weren't full of recently scoffed dinner and weren't stone-cold sober. The most embarrassing part was the sequence in which we had to bunny-hop whilst holding the stranger in front of you's hand through their legs.Sly little Colly by nominating herself as designated photogrpaher managed to avoid being part of this car-crash and instead spectated.

The next day we hopped back on the ferry travelling North to bigger island Naviti, where we stayed at the Korovou resort. We were greeted by a group of extremely friendly Fijians and were serenaded with a welcome song as we reached the beach. Our first night as it was Sunday, we were treated to a special barbeque buffet where the Coral Parrot fish was a tasty little number. This lured us into a false sense of security as over the next couple of days the food deteriorated into tasteless stodge, following a pattern of noodles, potatoes and rice, all with no flavour. From the resort's veranda we spent the evening watching baby reef sharks coming into the shallows to feed on the fish. The rest of our time on the island was very educational as we enrolled in classes such as sarong tieing, coconut husking and fish feeding. Invaluably we now know how to craft a pair of shorts using just a sarong, one for the CV. Erin and Murph stopped off for one more night of island frollicks on Mantaray, as Colly and Tay enjoyed a romantic candlelit dinner for two back on the mainland. The girls spent an evening drinking with fellow Mantaray guests particularly enjoying the company of Colonel Tom May, a retired U.S. Special Ops pilot. Originally hailing from California he has spent the last ten years sailing the seven seas aboard his yacht Optimum Trust, in the company of Rambo the Yorkshire Terrier. After several Fijian beers Tom offered to take all four of the Smug Adventurers on a day-trip aboard his yacht.

And so it was the next day we clambered gracefully into a dingy and stepped aboard. Joining us on our adventure was an extremely stereotypically French lady by the name of Caroline/Cathryn (we're still not sure which one). Oooh La La. The motley crew set their compasses north, put the boat on auto-pilot and enjoyed a leisurely gin and tonic whilst the boat chugged along. Sailing is extremely hard work it must be said.

On starboard side we saw where TV history was made when Bounty island became the set of "Celebrity Love Island" and on the port side we passed the island on which Tom Hanks starred in Castaway. We reached our destination Beachcomber just in time for their buffet luncheon followed by beers in the spa which overlooked the sea.
It was about turn and on to South Sea island for a spot of snorkelling and anchored down for a stunning sunset. The evening passed in a haze as Tom's wicked cocktail concoctions left us a little light headed. Thank you Tom for a lovely day and helping us bid Fiji farewell in style. See you in 2009 for our Amazonian adventure!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on January 30, 2007 from Suva, Fiji
from the travel blog: The Smug Adventures Down Under
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Aloha, but not as you know it...

Honolulu, United States

After having attempted getting bumped from our flight to United States for a lovely 200 pounds, we arrived in Honolulu airport only 1 hour later than scheduled and without the prize money we had already mentally spent. It was clear immediately that we were in the good old US of A, a land of fast food, badly dressed tourists, chain restaurants and huge malls. We were staying at a lovely hostel with friendly staff just a stone´s throw away from Waikiki Beach.
There were 2 main items on our agenda for our 4 day stay in United States and they were to see Pearl Harbour and go to a traditional Luau. The visit to Pearl Harbour proved very interesting as we took a trip by boat to the USS United States Memorial, the wreck still visible, a tomb of the 1,177 navy crew who perished back on December 7th 1941.
The second item on the agenda however was a bit of an eyebrow raiser to say the least. After having had expectations of incredible dancing, grass skirts, tropical sunsets and a traditional United Statesan feast, things took a turn for the worst when we arrived on the edge of an industrial park and were given bright yellow ponchos as the depressing drizzle began. Next up we met our hosts for the evening who were nauseating and hard to watch as they crooned an exceptionally cheesy love duet to which the audience were urged to hold hands and embrace their neighbours.In a typically English fashion we awkwardly held hands and cringed inside whilst the American families around us were feeling the love and having a thoroughly spiritual time. Just so everybody knows,´Aloha` is not simply a hello, but a complex feeling of love, friendship and togetherness - cue gag reflex. The evening did not redeem itself and even we, who are easily pacified by a hearty meal, were shocked by the school canteen quality tucka. Somehow we don`t believe that a traditional United Statesan dish is limp, soggy battered fish and awful chocolate cake. The entertainment for the evening was a Butlins style cabaret with far too much audience participation and ridiculous UV costumes which we refuse to accept the Polynesians wore back in the day.

Other than these excursions, we explored the infamous Waikiki Beach but due to lack of sunshine and high winds, we were unable to enjoy it to its full potential. Luckily our dire culinary experience at the Luau was more than compensated for when we dined at the incredible Cheesecake Factory. The extensive menu was more like a book than a mere pamphlet. We had found cheesecake heaven!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on February 5, 2007 from Honolulu, United States
from the travel blog: The Smug Adventures Down Under
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