Oh my goodness catching up on blogging is taking AGES. Good thing I don’t have much school work to do this weekend! I’m almost done though, I’ve finished my Fiji recaps and my next (DOUBLE) daily dinners post is almost finished and ready to post on Monday morning. Hooray!

Today I thought I’d just tie up a few loose ends and get completely caught up.

My overall impressions of Fiji are AWESOME. I LOVED my trip and I’m so grateful that I got to see and do so much. I feel like I got quite a decent picture of Fiji since I got to see it from so many different viewpoints: as a tourist, as an international student, as a local etc etc. It was great having Rosemarie to show me around and introduce me to her friends from Fiji and all over the place.

Fiji is a little more expensive than South East Asia but it’s also so much less stressful because (almost) no one tries to scam you! It seems that Fijians are very honest people. I found the prices to be generally fair and there were no tricks. I’m sure there are exceptions to this but really I didn’t have any problems. It is also handy that there is no language barrier.

One thing about travelling in Fiji though is that you have to be pretty willing to eat whatever is made for you. At a lot of the resorts you don’t get any choices and your dinner will just be brought out for you already served up on a plate. This is pretty much my favourite way to dine, so I was happy, haha. But if you’re a bit picky you might go a little hungry and I would pack some extra snacks.

I would totally return to Fiji. It’s really not too far from Australia so I’m quite confident we will return some day.

It was also soooooooooooo nice to spend so much sister-time with Rosemarie. She was fairly busy with school while I was there but we still managed to squeeze in a lot of visits. YAY! And then the family reunion at the end of the trip??! Even better! (It would have been perfect if Scott could have come too. :()

Oh kokoda, how I love you. I ate this FOUR times in Fiji. The first was homemade by Rosemarie. Then we ate it together for lunch at Beachouse. Then it was available for lunch at Octopus Resort, where my gushing convinced EVERYONE at the table to try it as well. And then finally they had it at my last meal (lunch) in Fiji on Robinson Crusoe Island. I WAS SO HAPPY.

I read 8.5 books on my Kindle on my trip. KINDLES ARE AWESOME. I read Hopeless, Safe Haven, The Silver Linings Playbook, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Power of Habit, Warm Bodies: A Novel, White Teeth, The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and half of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (no insignificant feat!).

I went to Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles again on the way home and they were sold out of cookie butter AGAIN! I seriously almost cried. I am cookie butter cursed, I swear.

Since I’ve been home I’ve just been at school mostly. I’m back at the gym too following a new weight lifting plan that I’m very excited about. And we had a games night the other night with Lesley. I don’t have very much school work so this weekend has been nice and relaxing. I am so so so close to finished school!!! (5 more weeks of classes/clinical, then 3 months of clinical over the summer…. at SURREY!! my first choice!!!). Then DONE!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!

I caught a local bus from Nadi to Lautoka (1 hr) then another bus from Lautoka to Ellington Wharf (3 hr). It was a beautiful drive, the north part of Viti Levu is really lush and green. I was really stressed out about missing the place where I was supposed to get off because there were no signs and in Fiji if you want to get off the bus you just press the button on the ceiling and the driver immediately stops to let you off. BUT, the people were friendlier than I found in Suva or Nadi (maybe because they are not drowned in tourists all the time) and they helped me get to the right place. Whew!

Then I took a taxi to the pier and then a guy picked me up in a motor boat to bring me to Safari Lodge on Nananu-i-Ra island where Rosemarie and her friends Evan, Liz and Christine were. The four of them were doing their diving certificates and I came along for more snorkelling.

The water at Nananu-i-Ra was SO HOT. That afternoon when I got there I was super overheated from my travels so I wanted to swim to cool down. Rose and I waded into the water. IT WAS SO HOT. Like seriously it was hotter than the water you would put in your bath. You could cook noodles in there!!! So we grabbed the kayak and paddled out a fair way and jumped in again. IT WAS STILL SO HOT!! The only cool water was down at my ankle level!! It was insane!!

The water was also so clear you could see all the coral and the fish swimming around FROM OUTSIDE THE WATER. Incredible.


Incredible snorkelling at Nananu-I-Ra

As you might imagine, the snorkelling was fantastic. Not many people come to this area too so the coral was in fantastic condition and the fish were plentiful. The only thing is that there weren’t really any BIG fish. I gave this place a 9.5 out of 10.

Like OMG it was so good. Maybe the best snorkelling I’ve ever done? (West coast of Australia is a serious competitor though.)

Rose and her friends really really loved their diving courses as well. It was perma-grins all around the whole time.

We were the only people staying at Safari Lodge so we got the whole 8-bed dorm area to ourselves complete with big clean kitchen and dining area and patio. So great.

One night there was a huuuuuge lighting storm. We turned out all the lights and sat on the countertops and watched the storm over the ocean. So cool.

Rose and I stayed an extra night to try and see the bioluminescence but unfortunately the moon was too bright and we couldn’t see anything. We did have a fun adventure hiking to the other side of the island barefoot in the dark though! :)


Sister time on the bus back to Suva

We accidentally took the bus that stops every 2 seconds on the way back to Suva. It was tedious but at least the bus wasn’t crowded at all so maybe it was better. (Fiji really crams people into their buses, 2 on one side of the aisle, 3 on the other side!) This bus ride completed my lap around Viti Levu, which is pretty cool! Rosemarie hasn’t even done that yet!

We arrived back in Suva in the afternoon. I went to another one of Rose’s marine biology lectures. We learned about the intertidal zone. Then it was POURING RAIN. There was so much rain coming down there was a legit waterfall coming off the roof of the other building there. I can’t even understand how there could be that quantity of water IN THE SKY. It was intense.

We braved the rain and went out for Indian food and a movie. Fun night.

The next day I caught the bus again towards Tubakula Resort on the Coral Coast. I had a couple days to kill before family reunion time and I didn’t really need to stay in Suva again. Tubakula Resort was nice but I was the only person staying there!! SO LONER-LY. But I got a little house all to myself (pictures in the gallery below). It was relaxing. Then the power went out for 6 hours and I had nothing to do so I just sat around in the dark by myself. FUN TIMES!

While staying at Tubakula I caught the local bus to the sand dunes. The sand dunes are actually part of Fiji’s only National Park. Since I was on my own the guy in the front office got a tour guide to go with me. The tour guide was awesome and told me lots of info and it was really nice chatting with him. If you ever go to the sand dunes you should ask for a tour guide to go with you. It’s free since the park is subsidized by the government. You should also wear shoes, not sandals, because if you wear sandals you can’t go on the long hike, only the short or medium hike. We did the medium hike and it was nice and also extremely hot and sweaty. Anyway the sand dunes were cool but I didn’t take any pictures, oops. The tour guide walked me out to the highway and helped me catch a $1 return car to the city. Thanks dude!

After the sand dunes I went to the Eco Park. It was a little expensive for Fiji standards but it was really cool! I would recommend it if you are into iguanas or birds, or if you haven’t already been to a bird exhibit before. Or if you just like animals! It was neat and they even let you hold the iguanas and stuff.


Apparently these iguanas are worth $10,000+ each! And a lot of types of iguanas are ONLY found in Fiji. This Eco Park is trying to save iguanas from extinction by breeding some extras in captivity and then in 2015 they will release them back on to the island they found their parents on.

There were lots more iguanas and birds to see and information about the plants as well. You can see more pics in the gallery below.

The next day Rosemarie and I did a bus rendezvous. She was coming from Suva and I jumped on in Sigatoka so we could go together towards Robinson Crusoe Island. This was where we were meeting dad and Kate!!

Rose and I went a day early because she didn’t have any school stuff that Friday, and it takes quite a while to get to the island (lots of steps). We were really lucky with the timing of the buses/boats but unfortunately it was very cold and rainy the whole day we were there.


WHEN ARE THEY GETTING HERE????

There wasn’t a lot to do when it was so cold and rainy so Rose and I spent a lot of time staring at each other and counting down the time until dad and Kate would arrive. That night we went to bed realllly early because we wanted to sleep so the morning would come faster.

BTW that dorm was probably the worst dorm I have ever stayed in. My mattress was probably 200 years old and soooooooooooooooooo sunken in the middle. When I lay on it my hips were well below my shoulders and knees. I had to scoot down and try to bridge the canyon with my back and sleep with my legs dangling off the end of the bed. Yowza it was terrible. Plus there was a lightbulb that was going on and off every 10 minutes. AHH!


Rosemarie ice climbing in Fiji

The next morning Rose snuck onto the bouncy inflatable toys. She could not resist that climbing opportunity.

Finally dad and Kate arrived!!!!! We met their boat on the beach. It was nice.


DAD’S HERE!!!!

It was still cold and grey that day. So we did all the activities that they had planned. Some were SOOOO CHEESY. But basket making was cool!! I think Rose is jealous of my basket.



I finally got to have lovo. Scott had looked up some information about Fiji a long time ago and he always bugs Rose about whether she is eating lovo at any point of time. It’s a traditional Fijian way of cooking where you make hot coals in a hole and then put food on it and then cover it all up so it can cook like an oven. They were going to put potatoes in this lovo.

The wind was bringing all the branches onto the main beach so Rose and I thought the swimming on the other side of the island might be better?? Ummm… no it was not.

The next day was better. We finally got in the water. All four of us kayaked around the island in the morning (took about 1 hr) and Dad and Rose and I did a snorkel trip before lunch. It wasn’t very good though to be honest. We are quite the snorkel snobs though.

I left for the airport that afternoon. Our family reunion was only about 30 hours long but at least I got to see them!! I hadn’t seen dad in 14 months before that! Dang Canada and it’s hugeness!! Anyway it was fun and we talked a lot and the bure that we all stayed in was a major upgrade from the saggy bed dorms and bucket showers.

Dad and Kate (and Rose, duh) are still in Fiji at the moment, and then Scott and I will see them again for a few more hours in Vancouver on their way home. YAY!

After Beachouse I caught the bus back towards Nadi (~2 hours). I had a week long trip to the Yasawas/Mamanucas planned by myself so that I could get my beach on (and Rosemarie could get her study on back in Suva).

I stayed in Nadi for one night, then got picked up the next morning by the Port Denerau shuttle bus. At Port Denerau I got on the Yasawa Flyer which is a big boat that ferries tourists up and down the Yasawa Islands. It is very organized.

My first stop was at Oarsmans Bay Lodge which takes 5 hours to get to. It was stormy and windy and everyone barfed. The weather was still crappy when we arrived at Oarsmans but I got upgraded from a dorm bed to my own private beachfront bure with washroom so that cheered me up!


The view from the doorway of my bure the next morning


My room for two nights

As you can see, the weather was great by the next morning! I loved Oarsmans Bay. The facilities are a little old but the resort is Fijian owned and run and they were the most lovely hosts ever. They learned all our names and cooked us great food and were really good singers. I loved all the little touches like when the lady cleaned my bure she put fresh flowers on the bed and counters.

While this place is a little pricey for backpackers I think it is worth it, especially because it seems like they are actually pretty generous on the free upgrades (Rosemarie also got upgraded when she stayed there some months ago, and so did all the other people that arrived at the same time as me). I loved falling asleep to the sound of waves gently crashing on the beach, and waking up and only walking 10 meters for my first swim of the day. And it felt like a home.

The only thing is that you have to be a little open-minded to stay there because some things are maybe not quite up to Western standards, and also you don’t get any choices for your meals.

They have activities you can do during the day like snorkelling trips and cave trips and cheap massages. The snorkelling there was REALLY GREAT. Plus oh my god the beach and the water there is so beautiful. And the complimentary hot breakfasts were really nice.

There were only about 12 to 18 people staying at Oarsmans on the days I was there. The small group was nice and cozy but it also sucked because 90% of them were from Norway and they spoke in Norweigan the entire time they were there. So a lot of the communal meal times I just sat there and ate and spoke to no one. Lame.

We had a crab race. :D My crab made it to the second round, but then it just stayed in the centre and walked around in a circle so unfortunately I did not win a free beer. :P

Check out what I saw while snorkelling off the beach! Can you tell what they are?

SQUID!! This was so cool, I have never seen squid in the wild before. And apparently you don’t usually see so many of them at a time!


A satisfied snorkel snob

I rated the snorkelling there 9 out of 10.

After two nights at Oarsmans I caught the Flyer again and got off at Octopus Resort. Octopus was kind of the opposite of Oarsmans. While Oarsmans is a little run down and Fijian owned, Octopus is really snazzy looking and Australian owned.

While the facilities were definitely very nice and the food was amazing, it was not my favourite place because everything seemed kind of fake. I felt more like I was in Australia instead of Fiji. If you don’t care about getting to know Fiji and just want to have a beautiful relaxing tasty holiday then Octopus would be a great choice though. Even the dorms were lovely with single beds (not bunk beds) with individual side tables with reading lamps. Plus 24/7 air-conditioning!

They had tons of activities to do during the day but I didn’t really do any. I’m not sure exactly why but the entire time I was kind of put-off by the resort. I did get a nice massage one day though.

Oh one other bad thing about Octopus is that the beach is almost un-swimmable. The waves were too big and rough and it was not fun trying to swim there at all. Plus there were lots of loose rocks on the bottom so you couldn’t even play in the waves without rocks hurling against your ankles. They had a pool that you could swim in instead though but you can’t snorkel in a pool!! :D

The food there was definitely a highlight though. You could get custom omelettes at breakfast, a choice from about 10 different things for lunch, and a beautiful three course dinner every night.


Guess how many people can stay on beachcomber island at once

After two nights at Octopus I caught the Flyer again to my last stop, Beachcomber Island. Beachcomber is known as “the party island”. I probably should have picked somewhere else to stay because I was really not interested in getting DRONK by myself, but I wanted the “tiny island experience” and Bounty Island was closed (because of cyclone damage) and South Sea Island sounded terrible.

The island really is tiny. It took me 10 minutes to walk all the way around, on the sand! But the dorm was one giant building with 84 beds in it!! EIGHTY FOUR!! It definitely wasn’t full when I was there (my whole trip was in off-peak) but still!! I can’t believe I managed to fall asleep when the lights were all on and the music was still playing and people were going in and out so much. Thank god that island didn’t have any mosquitoes.

Beachcomber Island is STUNNING when the sun is out. The water there was the clearest water I have ever seen. I’ve included a few more pictures of Beachcomber in the gallery below. The snorkelling was decent and they had a few free activities every day.

But at night all there is to do is drink and dance in the beach club. Not my scene. It would be a lot of fun to go there with a big group of friends though, I think. When I was there there was a big group of 20 Australians who were all there celebrating this one guys 30th birthday. Now THEY seemed like they were having an awesome time. They did beer bongs with a SNORKEL. HAHAHAHA.

Anyway after surviving one night on Beachcomber my Yasawa trip came to a close.

My final impressions of the Yasawas were great. It is sooooo beautiful there and there are some awesome resorts for every sort of traveller. I want to go back there with Scott some day and we could stay at Oarsmans again plus maybe try out a couple other new resorts as well! There are pros and cons for each resort depending on what your interests are and it’s kind of fun to read about them and pick ones for your trip.

I caught the Flyer back to Nadi and stayed one night in smelly Smugglers Hostel. The next morning I started my trek to the North East part of the mainland to go meet up with Rosemarie and her friends!

FIJI TIME!! I flew overnight from L.A. to Nadi and arrived at 5:15 AM Fiji time. I actually managed to sleep a fair bit on the plane so I was ok. I caught the bus straight from the airport to Suva (about 5 hours) to see Rosemarie. She was there to meet me at the bus stop with a hot chicken pie in hand! Best sister ever.


Rose with some fresh (??) juice from the market, still tasted like Tang

It was great to see Rose again after so long. I stayed in Suva for 4 days and we crammed it full of yummy food, awesome swimming, and lots of talking.

It was really really hot and humid in the city. Thankfully Rose’s apartment has an outdoor pool. I spent a lot of time in there. Her whole apartment is very nice. This is the view from her balcony:



Fun rope swing, but would have been better if someone else was there to pass us the rope

She also took me to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park which is about 30 minutes out of town by bus. We had to walk 100 km in the heat but it was worth it because the waterfalls and swimming holes were awesome.

She made me my first kokoda. It was a life changing experience. I am now obsessed! (I ate it four times in Fiji hahaha.) Kokoda (pronounced kokonda) is white fish cured in lime juice with chopped up cucumber, tomato, chilli, cilantro, green pepper (etc.) with coconut milk. You can eat it with rice or fries or bread and it is amazing. I will definitely be trying to make this again here in Vancouver soon.

Other things we did together in Suva: drank sangria, had a pool party, learned about mangroves in marine biology, went partying downtown, ate Hunky Dog hot dogs, ate parrot fish, went to the movies.

Then that first weekend a big group of the international students planned a trip to Beachouse, a big backpacker resort on the Coral Coast, about 3 hours from Suva. It is a really nice resort considering it is for backpackers! They had lots of activities but I didn’t do any of them, oops.

Rose and I brought our own food to save a bit of money. Our tuna, cucumber, BBQ sauce and Indian snack sandwiches were pretty disgusting though. Surprising?

We spent the days snorkelling and kayaking, and the nights on the beach and kneeling at picnic tables (inside joke, sorry). You could surf there too but I am scared of reef breaks because if you fall the reef is only like 2 inches below the water surface. AHHH!!! I will stick to nice soft beach breaks.

Scott couldn’t come to Fiji with me, but we WERE able to spend a mini long weekend together in L.A. on my way over. We’ve been really unlucky with coordinating our holidays lately so even 3 days away together was special. BTW Scott and I have awesome trips together!! Oahu, Seattle and now Los Angeles have all been really really really fun trips!

The day we arrived we picked up our rental car, checked into our (really GRAND) hotel and then headed towards downtown L.A for the basketball game. We thought we’d have time to get something for dinner before the game started but traffic was silly and we ended up barely making it to the game on time. So we ate unlimited popcorn until my heart exploded. Nutrition!

I didn’t really expect to be that interested in the game but it ended up being SO FUN!! It was the Lakers vs. the Raptors so I had that Canadian connection. Both teams are pretty bad but the game was super super even so it ended up being really exciting. The Raptors were ahead at many times! It was fun to cheer (quietly) for them. The game actually went into overtime but the Lakers won by 2 points right at the very last second. It was nuts!


No Jack Nicholson but Scott thinks that sunglasses dude is Larry David (I am unconvinced)

This camera dude came up to our section to film a group of fans behind us and then Scott popped up from his seat and his head filled HALF OF THE HUMONGOUS JUMBOTRON for 0.5 seconds. It was very very funny (to us). Hehehe I am still laughing. It was kind of like this, but better.

The next day we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain. :D :D I was really excited but Scott was a little nervous because he thought he didn’t like rides that much. But I forced him to go on the roller coasters and he slowly began to enjoy it more and more!! Now he actually LIKES loops and going upside down and stuff!! YAY!!! (this means I can make him come to more amusement parks hehehe.)

The lines were kind of long and a couple of the coasters were closed, including the 5D (??) coaster called X2 that I reallllllly wanted to try. That sucked, but we still had a great day and we got to ride pretty much everything that we wanted to.

The park doesn’t have very many non-roller coaster rides. They had bumper cars but they didn’t even have a ferris wheel! Not that I care… I’m there for the coasters!! Oh FYI there is an app that you can download for your phone that tells you how long the lines are for each ride!! I wish I had known about that ahead of time because that could be soooo useful!!

The best roller coasters were Tatsu (a flying coaster where you get strapped in lying on your stomach below the track like you are flying, which we waited for the front seat for), Goliath (a really tall fast up and down roller coaster with no loops), Revolution (the worlds first ever looping roller coaster… so funny!!!), and Viper (which had 7 loops!).

I wondered if roller coasters were going to be as fun post-skeleton as they were pre-skeleton, and the verdict is YES they are still fun, especially loops and corners, but the speeds don’t affect me as much! I was very relaxed on Goliath (just goes up and down), haha.

After eating more junk food for lunch we were really craving vegetables and healthy food for dinner. Also we were pretty cold because Scott was wearing shorts and I didn’t pack any sweaters. We kind of randomly decided to head towards Manhattan Beach and stumbled across the perfect little cafe called Sloopy’s that had a roaring fire, veggie packed meals for great prices, drinks, and delicious homemade desserts. It was incredible. You will find the picture in my next daily dinners post (coming soon!).


Out with the old, in with the new

For our last day in L.A. we drove towards Santa Monica to check out the beach and to buy Scott a new pair of shoes. Love American prices!!

Parking was annoying so after Santa Monica we decided to just drive around. We drove along Mulholland Drive and made up celebrity stories about all the people and houses we saw. The views were nice and it was a really great drive. We could see downtown, mansions, the Hollywood sign, and more. I would recommend doing that drive if someone I knew was going to L.A.

We drove a bit more after that but then we had to return the car and head back to the airport. We checked Scott in and then walked to Trader Joe’s. We got lots of treats but they were sold out of cookie butter so I was sad. The very last thing we did was try In-N-Out. It was ok but I think I actually like Five Guys better!! Animal style was tasty but the patties were not that good, in my opinion.

And then Scott flew back to Vancouver and I flew to Nadi, Fiji!

More to come soon!