Fiji

Travelling can actually be quite hard work! We were fortunate to be able to stop off in the Pacific to have some time off the road and prepare ourselves for the busyness of Asia. A diminishing bank account prevented the standard Gap Yah island hopping to the Yasawas and instead we stayed on the quaint coral coast on the South of the main island.

Of course we couldn't escape a bit of culture and we spent our first 2 days in a place called Viseisei which is the oldest village on the island. We were staying with a traditional Fijian family and despite waking up to stinging bites it was an enlightening, enjoyable experience. On our first day we had the privilege of being invited to have Kava with the chief and the village hierarchy. Kava is the traditional drink of Fiji and it had both the taste and appearance of muddy water. Of course it would have been a major faux pas to reject it and with a feigned smile I downed my overly generous portion.

Our second taste of culture came a few days into our stay on the coral coast. A local Fijian, who worked as the barman, had been encouraging a few of the Westerners to accompany him in supporting his village's rugby team. They had reached the island cup final for the first time in their history so 'Nasikawa' were thoroughly determined to enjoy the occasion. After persuading 6 of us to come, we started the day with little idea of what would await us. We quickly worked out that our role in the days proceedings was to provide the petrol money; In return we were accepted as part of the Nasikawa family and were 'treated' to the craziest forms of transport I had experienced on my trip so far which was no mean feat. 53 people crammed into the 15 seater truck on the way there and we were soon hurtling down the dusty, bumpy Fijian roads at top speed. Mentally and physically drained we then watched the match which was being held  somewhere in the North of the island. It was a whitewash victory for my team with the Fijians being as brutal and relentless as you can imagine. After a lengthy Kava ceremony we found out that we had been upgraded for the journey back. Our transport this time taking the shape of the raucous team bus. Fiji continued to have different interpretations of transport capacity to the West and after making sure there was no more air to breathe or space to move in we set off for home. The players were in high spirits and were eagerly passing round a lethal home made liquor. With no exaggeration all 6 of us agreed it was the worst drink we had ever tasted, even worse than Kava. House music was pumping out of the surprisingly decent sound system and the players were taking it in turns to show off their adventurous dance moves. If Carlsberg did team buses...

The rest of the week was spent recovering from this and making ample use of the snorkelling and kayaks. It was an enjoyable week and it was good to get some time to reflect on the previous few months as well as plan for the upcoming Summer. The best acquisition of the trip has easily been a Kindle Touch bought in San Francisco which, apart from relieving the burden of books from my bag, has given a much needed new focus for my spare time. War and Peace, the acme of all novels, has comfortably been the best thing I have ever read. I'm nearing the end of it now having been working my way through it for the past month and I can recommend it to anyone who is willing to persevere and reap its benefits. 

Hong Kong is in sharp contrast to the slow way of life we have just come from. With our batteries charged we are looking forward to the hectic challenge of over month in South East Asia.