Monday, August 13, 2012

Honeymoon in Fiji - Part 3

The last leg of our Fiji trip took us aboard the Fiji Princess on a cruise from the port of Lautoka, which is Fiji’s second-largest city behind the city of Suva.   We took a 45 minute drive from our hotel in Denarau and were greeted by ship’s crew upon boarding, and checked into room 26.   After being served morning tea, the ship disembarked for Kese, of the Yasawa Islands.  When we got to the island, we got in the water for a quick dip before visiting Kese Village.  Once in the village, we were shown the church, and were given another traditional welcome complete with a kava ceremony and dancing.  Kese village is the only village with an intermediate school in all of the Yasawa Islands.   We got a chance to interact with the kids after the welcome ceremony, and it kind of seemed like an unofficial Christmas–time for them, as they received a bunch of care-package gifts including clothing and candy from our fellow cruise passengers and crew.   Once back aboard the Fiji Princess, we had dinner with our fellow cruise passengers and the crew, and the Captain found time to join all of us for dinner that night. 

As our cruise continued, we docked at a different island the next day and woke up at the private island of Nanuya Lailai.  We spent the entire day on the island, taking part in water activities, including snorkeling, swimming, fish feeding, glass-bottom boat coral viewing, paddle and spy boarding, and kayaking.  Yes, that sounds like a lot, but we were on Fiji time, and even had time to sneak in a few short hammock naps and even a massage.   For lunch, we enjoyed an island-style barbeque, and sat and chatted with our new Australian friends Dennis and Irene.  It was pretty cool exchanging stories and I learned a lot about the different culture in Australia. 

Of course there were plenty of coconuts on the island, and one of the crew members was slicing some open for us.  We learned the difference between which coconuts are used for milk, and which ones are used for juice, and how to split one straight down the middle.  After the demonstration, we walked away with a coconut, a straw, and went straight to the hammock to hang out for a while!  At the end of the day, I ended up playing sand volleyball with the crew and some of our Australian friends from the cruise.  It was great to play volleyball after such a long time away, and one of the Aussies even joked that it wasn’t fair that our team had a “professional volleyball player” making plays for us!  Following that, we were treated to a traditional “lovo” dinner, which is a traditional style of cooking.  They cooked a bunch of food in a pit in the ground, and covered it all with a tarp and a layer of sand and let it simmer all day long.

Since it was our last night on the cruise, everyone enjoyed dinner on the island underneath the stars to cap our long day.  We sat with our new friends Dennis and Irene, along with Giovanni and Gianna Rita – the other newlywed couple on the cruise.  The former couple, as I mentioned before, are from Australia, while the latter are from Italy.  Giovanni is a policeman in Milan, while Gianna Rita is a teacher.  I even got to brush up on a little of my French while speaking with Gianna Rita, since she understood more French than English.   As we enjoyed our dinner, the cruise director announced that it was “International Night” and that members of each country would have to go up and do something to represent their country.  We had a wide range of countries represented on the ship, including Korea, Australia, Lebanon, Italy, and of course, America.  There were lots of Australians on this cruise, and they all got to stand up there as a group and sing a call-and response type of tune, which I thought was really cool.  Meanwhile, Chanda and I were the only Americans there.  We really couldn’t think of anything to do, and at the last second,  Dennis asked one of the Fijians for a guitar, and I got up on stage and sang my famous rendition of “Tiny Dancer,” which had absolutely nothing to do with America, but was still was well-received – heck, I even had somebody pull out a lighter and sway along!  And with that, we ended our final night of the cruise.

The next day, we were taken to our last stop - Sa beach to hang out before heading back to Lautoka.  The crew gave us their rendition of the beautiful Fijian farewell song “Isa Lei.”  The first time I heard this song, Chanda and I were having dinner, and a group of Fijians came over to the next table and sang this song to a couple who were leaving the next morning.  The woman was in tears once the song began, and I will never forget the feeling I had as I watched the tears roll down her face.  I felt the same feeling as I watched the Fiji Princess crew sing it to us, finally coming to the realization that our time in Fiji was coming to an end. 

Once we docked, we made our way back for our second stint at the Radisson Blu, for our final night in Fiji.  Dennis and Irene were staying at the hotel on the same block, and invited us to have dinner with them.  As we sat with them for a few hours, I couldn’t help but think how little of the world I have seen, and how little I’ve really lived.  Chanda and I connected really well with Dennis and Irene, and we ended up taking our conversation past closing time at the restaurant, as we walked back to our respective hotels.  We met so many people on this trip, and I will never forget this experience – from the people in the villages to the tour guides, flight attendants, hotel staff, everyone is friendly, warm, and open.  One of the things I will never forget was the woman from the hotel who approached Chanda and I as we sat on the bench at the Radisson Blu and waited for our transfer to Nadi Airport.  She told us about her sons in Suva, and her working life in Nadi.  She exemplified everything about Fijian culture – hard working, family oriented, and friendly.

Once we got to the airport, we checked in and waited for our flight to “travel back in time.”  We left Fiji on August 31 at 10:00 pm, and arrived in Los Angeles on the same day at 1:00 pm.  Although our trip was over, I thought it was a great way to kick off our marriage.  After such a hectic month of planning we had finally put on the wedding, and had a chance to experience a different part of the world together, without the reminders of things like work and responsibilities.  We spent 9 days in Fiji, and we definitely would like to return.  The trip is over, but the honeymoon is not!  I hope you enjoyed reading about our honeymoon in Fiji, and I hope that it inspires you to visit there, or to take a trip to a part of the world that you have never been to. 


P.S.  If you made it this far, you have officially read my 100th blog post!  I appreciate you following my work, and taking an interest in my photographs.  Enjoy the pics!

Room 26 aboard the Fiji Princess! 

Chanda takes the Hero cam on a snorkeling dive!

"So...I don't normally do this..."

Thanks to Dennis for taking our photograph

The Fiji Princess crew sings "Isa Lei."

With our new friends, Gianna Rita, Dennis, Giovanni, and Irene

Guess what - even Fiji water is expensive in Fiji.  So we bought Bula water instead.

Final night before leaving for the airport.  So long, Fiji!  Vinaka!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing pictures Johnny! You and Chanda look fabulous. And congrats on the 100th post!