On 9th of December 2016, I had written a blog-post detailing my experience and the days I spent in Australia while I was there for FashionMandu. I had also mentioned that I would write about my trip to FIJI on a separate post but that never happened… until today. So here I am, ready to share PART 2 of my trip to Australia and FIJI. December, is a long time back so if you fancy refreshing your memory then click HERE and read the Australia post.
SUNDAY, 20 NOVEMBER
After about two hours of sleep, I woke up and said by Goodbye to Namrata Shrestha who was returning to Nepal in the late afternoon and headed to the international airport for my 10.30AM flight to FIJI. Thank goodness our hotel was located right outside the airport. Whilst at the airport, I was cursing my habit of always being on time or even early. I could’ve really used that extra 30 minutes of sleep rather than sitting and trying to sleep uncomfortably in the departure lounge. After a nice but at times rocky flight that lasted just about 4 hours, I reached Nadi Airport on Virgin Australia. I slept for most part of the flight. FIJI felt warm and pretty moist upon landing and it was wonderful to be greeted by so many friendly people. It really felt like ‘Hello’ was the favourite word there… everyone said it. “BULA!” – that’s the word. After I managed to figure out the transfer to the hotel, I hopped in and soon after I was at the Oasis Palms Hotel. I told myself I’d take a quick nap for about 30 minutes only to wake up around 11.45PM (thanks to the night out in Sydney). I thought it would be pointless to go outside so I just went back to sleep.
MONDAY, 21 NOVEMBER
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see much of FIJI yesterday apart from the drive from the airport to my hotel which took about thirty minutes. Whatever I saw was a reminder of Brunei, a country where I spent a huge chunk of my childhood. Nadi and Brunei were similar in that both were very green, flat and slightly empty. The beachside from Nadi was pretty unimpressive, another similarity it shares with Brunei. I was fully aware that Nadi is used as a transit town by most travellers before and after going to the islands.
I had booked for a ferry transfer from Yasawa Flyer to take me from Denarau Port to Barefoot Kuata Island, where I would be spending time in paradise. The ferry set sail at 8.30AM and by 10.30AM, it dropped me and several others off at Barefood Kuata Island. The ferry also dropped off several passengers at different islands from Bounty Island, Treasure Island and more. It was incredible to see the difference in the size of the islands. Some were barely few meters above sea level, now I would lose sleep if I were in those islands. You could literally walk from one end to the other. Surreal.
A bit about Barefood Kuata Island… the island only accommodated the resort so there was no real community or village there. It was bigger than the islands that we had sailed past, definitely. Our resort was right on the beach and whilst there were twin rooms and chalet style bungalows available, I stayed at the most affordable bed I could find. I was accommodated in a beach side mixed-sex dorm. The dorm had four bunk-beds, sleeping eight in total and luckily there were only four people including me. The best thing about the dorm was it only cost me UK GBP £15 for the bed for a night and it was ON the beach. I mean, it would’ve been terrible had there been some natural disaster but I had never been so close to the beach… and all that for £15 (that roughly converts to Nrs 2300). The bed and room which had its own toilet and shower was simple but enough for me.
After a quick check-in, I was informed by my roommates that shark snorkel was taking place at 11AM. I quickly changed and readied myself to go snorkelling and see some sharks. Few years ago, I would’ve been more focused on capturing and sharing to the extent that I may not have been present in the moment. Through time, I realised and learned not to be so heavily focused on capturing but to just live the moment. With the shark snorkel, I did exactly that. I didn’t bother taking too many photos from my phone (which was inside a waterproof lanyard case), they didn’t come out great anyway lol. I also didn’t bother paying the guide for a GoPro footage etc. I thought, as long as I see it from my own eyes, that’s all that matters. Of course, I cant quite compete on Instagram with that attitude, especially when there are people who share such stunning photos of them swimming underwater with sharks and stingrays. Then again, something I ask myself is… compete on Instagram for what?
We were driven on a boat for about 30 minutes and taken to a spot which I believe was an area common to see baby reef sharks. I believe they were reef sharks, don’t quote me on that though. I was not prepared to be so close to them. At certain times, the shark came face to face and while they may be ‘baby sharks’, they were still pretty long. We were in the water, snorkelling and swimming for quite a while. After turning into a human prune, we made our way back to the resort. I spent the afternoon relaxing around the resort. At about 3PM, a few of the guests and I along with a member of staff went to a cave where we were told about the human sacrifices that would be made along the premises long long time ago. Once back in the resort, which was only about 20 minutes walk, I continued dipping in the natural pools and swimming along the beach which I can say, I had all to myself.
The evening consisted of a cultural dance performance which at times was very intimate. Let’s just say, I didn’t expect my body and hands to be so close to the other guests. 0-100 Real Quick! I would dream about days like today and to live it was so heavenly.
TUESDAY, 22 NOVEMBER
I spent the large part of the day walking around the beach and just making most of my time. How I wished I could just extend my stay in Fiji and go to more distant islands. I got back on the ferry at 3.45PM and reached back at Denarau Port at 5.45PM. My stay was at the Oasis Palms Hotel again and the evening consisted of dinner at the on-site restaurant followed by an early nights sleep.
WEDNESDAY, 23 NOVEMBER
I woke up early this day as I wanted to squeeze a trip to the Nadi Town before my flight at 3.30PM back to Sydney. Nadi Town was pretty similar to Seria Town in Brunei. I bought some souvenirs for my family, something that I rarely do. I thought, I am so far away from ‘home’, I might as well pick up a momento. After the fleeting visit, I returned to the hotel and grabbed my bags to go to the airport. I was on my way back to Sydney! The flight was full of screaming and crying children or maybe they were just a few but very very loud. For an international flight, it was the bumpiest I had ever been on. I kept thinking, it would be terrible to go down in the ocean… I wasn’t sure whether it was only me who felt slightly nervous about the turbulence but when we landed in Sydney, everyone clapped. Now that was a relief and slightly amusing too.
I reached Sydney around 6.30PM and got an Uber to Rozelle. Now that I was officially done with FashionMandu, I arranged my own accommodation through AirBNB at Rozelle for Wednesday and Thursday night. The double room was spacious and fit for my stay. The house had so much plants and greenery around. I loved it. Lots of natural light too. After I dropped my luggage and freshened up, I got an Uber to Darling Harbour where I met Roheet for dinner. Roheet is a friend from Instagram who I met for the very first time. After dinner we walked quite a while to this dessert place and then to Town Hall if I remember correctly. It was around 11PM that we called it a night.
THURSDAY, 24 NOVEMBER
My final full day in Sydney! I tried my best to squeeze in quite a few things. I had to wait in the morning for Rakesh to drop off my main luggage that I had left at the hotel before I flew to FIJI. After that, I headed to Town Hall where I met Pjay for lunch. Pjay is Mr Nepal Australia and a pretty cool guy. Unfortunately, it was a work day for him so it was only a brief lunch-meet. I then proceeded to meet up with Thupten, a Facebook friend at the Opera Bar. Though it was a first time, there was plenty to talk over… from studies, life in Australia to the mutual friends we share. After two drinks, Thupten had to head off for some prior commitment and I then walked from the Opera Bar to Paddy’s Haymarket. Lonely Planet mentioned that it’s an interesting space to buy random things so I went there.
After a browse, I met up with Bharati, a very very long-time Facebook friend for dinner at Machhiato on Pitt Street. We briefly met backstage at FashionMandu event and to see her and sit-down and have a proper conversation was so good. Bharati has been a friend online since the very early days of blogging and it was so surreal to meet in Sydney of all places. I never thought I’d travel to Sydney ever mainly because it’s not a destination that I ever had in my list of places to go. As we had some time, we decided to head to – wait for it – Darling Harbour for some drinks! Roheet joined us there. After a few drinks, Bharati left and Roheet and I walked to China Town to meet Bivit.
Bivit. I don’t even know where to start. After he finished eating, we went to a bar just off Town Hall area and we were there till about 1 or 2AM in the morning. It was by far the cheapest bar I had come across in Sydney and Sydney is quite expensive. It’s equal to London, at times more expensive. It was pretty surreal to meet Bivit in Sydney but so very lovely. We’ve known each other for quite some time now. I guess that’s good and bad. Lol. Thupten also joined us at the bar and I think I started getting sleepy around 1AM so we decided to call it a night for one last time.
FRIDAY, 25 NOVEMBER
I woke up feeling excited to return back to London. I could not wait to get on that A380 again. Oh the love for planes! But before I hopped on the Qantas flight back to London, I met up with Dipesh, a long time friend from 2009. We travelled in a group to quite a few places back in 2009. It was really nice to see him and while we teased him for being skinny, it was pretty surprising to see him slightly more ‘healthy’ lol. Must be that Australian life. Christy and Kiran from FashionMandu also dropped by to say their final good bye. After that, it was a smooth flight back to London. Also, the end of my Australia and Fiji work travel trip.