This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Say Eh-Oh to Dipsy pt 2 – Fiji

Our 1999 tour of the Colonies continues:

After an unproductive few hours searching for the Hollywood sign, there was more disappointment when we saw that our flight to Fiji had been put back – to 11:59pm. Great. Not only would we probably be seeing in New Year on the tarmac but the prospect of another hour and a bit hanging around at LAX was not something either of us was looking forward too.

At the risk of bragging, I’ve been through a few airports over the years and LAX still counts as one of the worst. They should put a sign up at the entrance: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. Soulless and energy sapping, it may have changed since but at the time there seemed remarkably little to do with hardly any shops to meander around and spend your money in. The only opportunity to quench our thirst it seemed was a stand selling lukewarm coffee from a flask – at four dollars a throw. You would have thought that the chance for retailers to extract more cash from bored travellers would be seized upon, particularly in a country where capitalism is king.

Our prediction proved to be correct and the new year – 1999 – kicked in whilst we were sitting in a queue of planes on the tarmac. The flight crew made up for it though once we were airborne with copious amounts of fizz and a conga like dance around the cabin. The Air Pacific jumbo was getting on a bit but very comfortable, and at only a third or so full there was plenty room. I think we had three seats each in the end and made up a  couple of pretty comfortable beds by raising the armrests.

The flight time was eleven hours or so, so it was sometime in the morning when we arrived at Nadi airport on the western coast. Whilst it was nice and warm it was also very, very wet. Disappointing after the clear blue skies of California. A young lady welcomed us to Fiji and handed us each a shell necklace  - a nice touch but not without repercussions as you will see in a later blog - before directing us to the taxi’s. What the taxi lacked in suspension was made up for in speed as we bounced along the road to our resort a few miles away.

We checked in but given the early hour we were unable to get into our room and were instead steered towards the bar. A South African chap emerged and introduced himself, apologised for the mess and explained that they were still clearing up after the new year celebrations. Now, given that, at some point during the night we crossed the dateline and it was now the 2nd January it must have been quite a do. He returned to his previous position behind the bar and looked at us expectantly. We didn’t want to disappoint him, so we ordered a couple of beers. Now, I was going to go for the local brew until I spotted, what at the time was my favourite beer, in the fridge behind. ‘VB’ or Victoria Bitter is a lager – despite it’s name that hails from Australia and is their most popular beer by a long long way. Forget Fosters, no-one drinks it there, ‘VB’ can be found in pretty much every bar in Oz and I got quite a taste for it on our previous trips there. This was before I got a taste for real ale of course.

So, anyway, we had a couple of beers and then our room was ready. A wooden ‘Bure’ just yards from the seafront although one row back. Two large beds, a shower, toilet and a little veranda. Clean, tidy and if I recall correctly, at thirty quid a night, a bargain. I couldn't initially remember the name of the place, but a trawl around google found it. Click here to have a look – it still looks good value if you are ever out that way.

We did little else for the rest of the day apart from scurrying over the bar area for something to eat later on getting drenched in the process. The rain was still falling.

The following morning was dry if not bright, and after breakfast we wandered over to the waters edge, slowly clearing now after all the rain. We ambled back and spotted one of the barman sitting under one of the palm trees rolling what looked suspiciously like a joint. Now in those days we used to enjoy a bit of puff every now and again and I remember one Sunday afternoon Trev turned up with some grass procured from one of the Jamaican cabbies. Looking forward to something fresh rather than the usual resin, we skinned up and put the telly on where the motor racing was about to start. Now, Murray Walker was commentating then and it’s fair to say that he wasn’t at his best. The combination of his verbal blunders and the wacky baccy reduced us both to helpless giggling wrecks. We laughed so much it really hurt.

It had it’s downside too of course. Memory loss. Trev gave it up soon after when he kept forgetting where he was going. A bit of a problem if you’re a cabbie. To my knowledge there are still a couple of dividing screens sitting in a certain warehouse in Milton that I over ordered after a particularly heavy night on the ganja.

Anyway, I digress. Again. The barman proffered the joint and asked if I wanted any more. I said yes. We met at the bar latter and for fifty Fijian dollars – about seventeen quid at the time - he handed over the grass. Now, I was fully expecting to be stitched up , but I kid you not, there must have been a couple of hundred quids worth there, easy. I’d never smoked it neat before – couldn’t afford to normally but this stuff was lovely.

We did pretty much what we planned to do for the rest of the week – very little. We’d been charging around in L.A and had lot’s planned in New Zealand to welcomed the chance to chill. I was particularly chilled, spending most of the time in a pleasant ganja induced haze. I did get to take  a kayak out in to the bay though, the water barely three foot deep even several hundred meters out. The sun put in a  few rare appearances, but it stayed nice and warm at least. We sat in the pool and chatted to a load of Kiwis – the people not the birds. Well, to be accurate Trev chatted while they gave the appearance of listening. There was a knock on the door of the bure the night before we were due to leave. It was the barman wanting to know if I wanted any more gear. Christ! Despite spending most of the previous few days stoned I still hadn’t got halfway through the stash and there was no way I was going to risk taking it with me. It ended up in the bin.

So, that was Fiji. A pleasant week although we didn’t leave the resort once. It was a little odd seeing men in skirts at first – remember we hadn’t moved to Brighton then! – and the accent took some getting used to. Britain had it’s mitts in Fiji for a while  - as it did seemingly everywhere - and brought over labourers from India to work on the sugar plantations. The resulting mix of English, Fijian and Hindi makes for an interesting lilt.

So, New Zealand up next, in the meantime enjoy the photo’s. Continuing the challenge laid down by Trev’s colleagues in the taxi office before we left there is a picture of Dipsy on location. Up a tree. Yeah, I know!
1999 - 036 1999 - 041 1999 - 037
1999 - 048 1999 - 038
1999 - 032 1999 - 0541999 - 040

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