Fiji – Another name for ‘Freedom to Live’ (Part 3)

Next day another adventure was waiting for me. Being a naive to sea and swimming I was having a ball with all the water activities. Now it was time for some cave diving. It sounded so exciting that I could not stop myself from booking next day trip to another island to do the Cave Diving. Although many questions started bothering me after I booked for it – Will I have to stay underwater too long, do I need to be a good swimmer to be able to do that, will it be scary, will I be ok after doing it. But I was rest assured that I will be fine as there were two guides and all the fellow travellers knew how to swim so to be honest I had more trust on others than myself.
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Next morning I was even more thrilled thinking – here I was in the middle of this big island with strangers doing stuff that is another name of peak adventure. Best thing ever, I told myself. We were all geared with the swim suit and a life jacket after boarding the boat that was going to take us to this another island. We arrived at our destination. The water was crystal blue and the view was breathtaking. It made me feel envious of the people who were living there, thinking that they are able to live in paradise every day.
Quara ni Bukete  Cave
Finally we climbed the steps towards the Qara ni Bukete (Pregnancy Cave), named so because it does not allow any woman who is trying to hide she is pregnant. It was a bit dark in the cave but we could see some light coming through the slits. I jumped into the water in the cave after a little bit of hesitation with my life jacket on of course. I thought maybe this is it? It was easy. But nope there was another cave through this bigger cave where we could only go through a narrow passage under water.
Two guys went in with the guide. We did not have any proper equipment for diving so we had to hold our breath for at least 30 seconds and the guide was supposed pull us underwater towards the other cave. Once on the other side the guide will go back and bring another person. Now it was the test as I could not go under water without my life jacket. Guide was back and wanted one of us to go with him. Everyone in the group started staring at each other as no one was sure how risky it is in the dark. I was scared but excited and didn’t realise when I got voice and said ‘I will come’ to guide. He stared at my life jacket and asked me to take it off. I told him that I am not a good swimmer and he smiled (maybe he was thinking I must be joking as I had come for a cave diving after all) and assured me that I will be fine. I took off my life jacket and the guide took my hand and asked me to take a deep breath. I followed his instruction and he pulled me under water and I felt all I can do is trust him. I could feel my body moving through this narrow tunnel, touching the walls of it. Soon when I was still in dazed state I was on the other side of the cave. He looked at me and smiled again and asked me where I am from. He must have sensed my fear. I told him that I am from India, living in Australia for few months and have just started to learn swimming. He looked amazed but asked me to leave his hand as he had to go to bring other people now. I was scared again as I was in this cave in dark and with no floating device to hold on to. I quickly swam across the cave with my breast stroke techniques and tried to hold the holes in the wall like a lizard.
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Other girls also came to this side after seeing me. They must have thought that when a non-swimmer can do it then they can as well. After few moments when my eyes got adjusted then I realised most of the people in the group who chose to come were here and we had to swim to the other side where the guide was taking us. There was a small area where there was some light coming from a slit and it felt very nice to see few rays of light as they were like rays of hope. It was an amazing experience of my life. We came back and I was still dazed with the whole day adventure. Next day I had to leave the island and head back to home. I was overwhelmed by the welcoming behaviour of the people in Fiji. I left but the memories stayed with me forever.

Fiji – Another name for ‘Freedom to Live’ (Part 2)

Beachcomber – It was the first island where I was supposed to stay and after listening enough about it I decided to stay there for 3 nights and then move to the northern islands. Leaving the land from Denarau, a very beautiful and well planned place to live was a nice experience. I had some pictures clicked in water before jumping into the express boat to island and had a fun trip with some of the fellow travelers in the boat. Travelling alone being a girl gets you enough flirting there I would say. But the guys are really nice and gentleman I realized as they would flirt with you but will not cross the line and that made it easier for me to travel alone. Now here I was in the famous party island called Beachcomber. The food is awesome and the backpackers here have bunk beds in open area with no walls which was a bit different from my imagination. But it was so warm that you don’t want it anyways. My first day was nice with some snorkeling and sun bathing. I met few other fellow travelers and chatted the evening away. It was after dinner I realized that the island was really small and you can walk around it in less than 20 minutes. When travelling alone I try not to drink too much or not at all. Or it was something I told myself. But who tells you that there is peer pressure at times. So I got drunk on the very first night in the resort. What happened after that – I was told the next day. I was swimming in the sand and was telling the people that I would swim and go back home. Wow that was new for me and I was getting to know more about drunk myself. That was the day and I promised myself that no matter what I am not going to drink anymore.
After two days of fun and a little bit of boredom (as I was not drinking and the whole island is about partying), I hopped on to the boat and started for my next destination – Nabula Island. There were amazing views on the way and first time I realized that there are bigger island than Beachcomber around Fiji. I got my hopes up after seeing so many beautiful islands. Nabula Island is almost at the top so you have to cross almost all the islands except Blue lagoon, where the movie Blue Lagoon was shot. It was refreshing as well as relaxing to come to this island. There is a tea shop nearby where you can get the most delicious cup cakes to eat with your evening tea. It’s open till 6 PM only so I missed it on first day but was able to get on second day. Although the electricity was not available after 8 PM but no one seemed to mind it and it seemed like travelling back in time when there was no electricity. Unlike Beachcomber there is no buffet system here. The people in the resort here serve you whatever they cook (you can choose vegetarian or non-vegetarian though). It’s like going to some one’s place where you will taste the food as per the host’s wish. It was not bad on first two days being vegetarian and only on third day everyone was looking at my plate when I was served with noodles and a boiled potato for lunch. I would not say that food was the best part here but the welcoming people here make up for that. I loved the village tour and met so many nice people that I didn’t want to leave this place for long time. Although the reality was that I was here for 3-4 days only.
I planned to do some reef Jumping now as there were some very cheap tours available here. I was the only one in the group doing it which I wasn’t aware of till everyone got dropped on the way for island sightseeing and I was the only one left with the boatman. He was a nice guy and helped me with the life jacket when he realized I am not good at swimming. It was the most adventurous things other I did till that day – snorkeling in the middle of two very big island where there was no one to see till many kilometers. I was a bit hesitant but then jumped into the water trusting my life jacket. I snorkeled for 30 minutes and you won’t believe but I couldn’t believe what my eyes were witnessing there. One of the most beautiful reefs is found near these islands and I was able to see them just few meters below my nose. There was a sense of happiness, fear (when the fishes were coming too close to my face) and excitement all in few seconds at times. Then I got a bit tired and called the boatman. He didn’t move and I could only see his boat a few meters away so I swam across to the boat. I was so tired that I could feel it in my arms, my legs and on my face as well. Finally I climbed to the boat and he told me there are three reefs that I am supposed to visit as part of the tour. So we went to the other reef. I had another amazing time jumping into another place. But by the end of second reef, I was almost dead but he insisted that the third one is the most beautiful and I must visit it. I mustered some courage and literally pushed my limits by jumping for the third round. Then the boatman told me that the island is not far and I should better swim towards it and he will go and check on others while I snorkel here. That was it; I couldn’t believe he just asked me to swim towards that far looking island. And before I could recover from the news he was gone. What’s now, I was here in the middle of nowhere surrounded by this marine life I was not sure I could trust. I had no choice but trust myself and submerge into the water to enjoy the beauty down there and forget about my tiredness completely. Having no other option I started to focus on exploring the reef and soon I was encountering a bunch of small fishes teasing me on my face as if they are asking me what I am dong in their territory and I had no choice but look at them innoMarine Lifecently as if I am pointing to the boatman who left me here without my own will. I somehow covered 70% of the distance towards the island. Now during rest 30% I was bloody tired and felt like crying. I covered the last 25% distance and I was overwhelmed by the swimming. The water was only knee deep now and I realized that I can rather walk now. But my will power had given up so I kept swimming till my face was rubbing against the sand and there was not enough water to swim. I somehow managed to stand up and walked towards the shore. I didn’t want to see that boatman just now due to my anger for what he did so I walked towards an isolated place on the beach and sat there for a while. I didn’t even realized when I lay down there and slept till a little girl woke me up by asking to buy a bangle. I then realized that it was the best sleep I had in ages. I felt that a surge of relief flooded me after that thinking that I am still alive and I have witnessed the most beautiful place on earth (as this was the first time I had done reef jumping). I had no anger left in me but sheer joy.

Fiji – Another name for ‘Freedom to Live’ (Part 1)

If I would be asked to choose how I would like to live then I think I would like to live like Fijian. People in Fiji are the most happy and content I have ever experienced. They are happy with what they have and live life to the fullest. No pressure and no regrets. I fell in love with the place and the people in the very first visit. It was my first trip to another country at my own.  It was not that I was not old enough but it was moreover the culture I came from (India) that people thought that I am mad when I told them that I am going on holidays by myself.  But it was the best trip of my life so far. It was adventure, fun, exhausting, risky, and emotional and a lot more in one package.

When I landed in Fiji I was welcomed by the very authentic music at the airport so I took it as a good sign. First mission was to find the cab sent by my backpacker in Nadi. Oh yes I forgot to tell that it was the first time I had decided to backpack while travelling, may be that was another reason people from work find it weird that why I was interested in living with strangers as in India it’s not that common at the moment. But living in Sydney for 8 months had made me a little bit Aussie I would say 🙂 So there I was on my first backpacking adventure in a foreign country. But my looks gives me some advantages when travelling to such countries as people think I am one of them as long as I don’t open my mouth of course.

I was picked by the cab on time and I arrived to my backpacker, already booked for 2 days as I had thought of travelling the land and book the accommodation as I go. I had to be a bit brave to hand them over my passport and expensive things to put into the safe when I was living there. But then I realised that it was common.  I had no clue how I shall start the conversation with the strangers while having my dinner in the backyard of my place. So I just smiled at couple of fellow backpackers and finally retired to my place for a good night sleep. The next day I wanted to take the public transport so I asked a guy working in the backpacker and found he was interested in telling all about himself while showing me the way to the bus stop. I found it very moving the way the people there trust you and tell you about themselves.

I loved the ride in the bus as there was some pop music being played in it. There was a natural air conditioner in the bus as there were no windows in it. It had got a bell attached to a long string that goes along from the front to the back on both sides of the bus to help people signal the driver to stop it. It was just amazing how things were working here. Then unfortunately our bus broke down and gave me an opportunity to talk to some locals who were very excited to talk to me making me feel special. We waited for 20 minutes and got another bus to get us to the market where I was planning to do some shopping for fruits and possibly few other articles as I was just travelling with my carryon bag and no more. And the limit is just 7 KG hence I usually carry just some essentials and few clothes when on holidays. I will explain some more adventure related to this habit in other post. I was touched by the courtesy of a lady who in the bus realised that it is the first time I am in Fiji and showed me around the place and stayed with me for 2 hours. I was thinking that she might be a guide and thought of offering her some money. But she told me that she was just helping. It was amazing how she took so much time from her day and helped me to get all the things I needed from the market and showed me around.

After two days I shifted to another backpacker as I was not very happy with the first one. This new place was more like home as there was a Kava ceremony arranged here and I end up drinking enough to go to sleep after some time. I met two girls here who were very friendly and first time I was talking to someone also travelling like myself. Next day my opinion was changed to travel the land by my experience of getting into bus and sitting there for few hours to get to Lautoka from Nadi in hot and sweaty weather and I end up booking a tour to the islands in Fiji.