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  • Writer's pictureClaire

25/02/24 Brisbane to Fiji

Updated: Feb 27

Our flight today from Brisbane was 1120, as we were staying just opposite the rail station we were over there waiting for the train at 0645. It pulled into the platform on time and we were assisted on by the staff. The trip was half hour long and the train was pretty empty. We rolled off the train and down the platform, into the lift over the bridge and into the departures. We got the Sturdy one wrapped and went to look for our check in gate. We were a bit early so had to wait half hour or so, however, we were right at the front of the que and got checked in really quickly. Our first time flying with Fiji Airlines, and so far we were impressed. Whizzing through security checks we decided to go into the airport lounge as we had plenty of time before flying. The lounge was fortunately, right next to our departure gate, we couldn't have planned it better if we'd tried!.

The Aspire Lounge was pretty basic, not many comfy seats, but the food and drink was really good. After having eggs and spinach tarts with beans and toast, we moved onto the pastries and muffins. There was a little guy doing the hot drinks but we could help ourselves to the alcohol if we so wished. Bucks Fizz all around then please!! Si had a bloody Mary as well, after having to show two women how to make one. I can't abide Bloody Marys so he was welcome to that thing!

By 1115 we were at the departure gate and within minutes we were boarded. The economy seats onboard are bigger than a lot of long haul planes we've been on and pretty comfortable. We had an Aussie Fijian sat next to us, he was an awesome guy. Something of an entrepreneur, who played sevens for Australia and had made his debut in Dubai a few years ago. He has a company called Mana Performance, and having looked into it, it's right up my street. Mana means spirit, and from what i can see its a holistic wellness company. He had the most incredible energy around him and he literally glowed with goodness, I know I know i sound weird, but thats the only way i can describe his being. Such a warm and pure energy. He and Si chatted throughout the flight, and seemed to hit it off really well. They discussed coaching, and the merits of writing things by hand. He was writing in notebooks and explained that a lot of places he goes to have either no power at all or regular power outages so as much as he likes technology it's not always practical to rely on it. He has two young kids, the eldest is very much an outdoors kid who loves fishing rugby and sport in general. He was showing us pics of them, they're beautiful kids and he clearly adores them. The other reason for his notebooks is he wants to leave something for his son to read when he's older so he can see in his fathers own writing what he did, where he went and who he met along the way. There is a lot to be said for writing things down on paper with a pen rather than tapping into a laptop or tablet.

The airline has the BEST safety video I have ever seen, it just holds your attention like you wouldn't believe. I was mesmerised by it, usually I have trouble keeping my eyes open through them! I liked it so much I began to record it. Yes I know I'm a bit strange. It was really really good. Once it was over, I selected my film, Invictus with Morgan Freeman depicting the 1995 World Cup. Brilliant film.

To our great delight and surprise, we were served with a lovely lunch and drinks, with the option of alcohol if we wanted. I think I expected a Ryan Air type outfit so the difference between expectations and reality were poles apart. The crew were fantastic, so helpful and just constantly smiling. That, combined with the company, food, and entertainment the flight passed really quickly. As we flew in over Fiji, we drank in the lush green fields, forests and hillsides. Nadi airport isn't that big but has a lot of hangers with small planes in. My guess is they are the ones that fly guests out to the resort Islands. As we taxied into the parking bay allocated for the flight, I noticed a huge sign over the airport saying welcome home. I love that ! When we landed it began to rain, but having to wait for the chair to get off the plane, it made no difference to us in the slightest. There was another guy on the plane waiting to be wheeled off, and he went off before us. A few minutes later the assistance staff were back for me and very quickly I was off the plane, and we were heading to the arrivals to go through security. When we approached there were two men in brightly coloured shirts and sarongs playing on colourful ukulele's to welcome the passengers to the Island. Unfotunately, we weren't allowed to take photos but its something that will stay with me forever. Just something really special. As usual we flew through passport control , got the passports stamped, and we were off to collect the luggage. This is when things went slightly awry. The other wheelchair user who shall be known as Mr Angry from now on was waiting next to the lift, and when we rumbled up he announced that the lift was broken....

This has happened to us once before, however for Mr Angry it seemed to be a recuring problem . He works in Fiji, and flies backwards and forwards on a regular basis with Fiji Airlines. Last week he had to be taken out to the plane by car , which doesn't sound too bad really, unfortunately it was a pretty awful experience for him and he struggled transfering into the car and back out again. Once they finally had him in the car, there was no room for his chair. He made it sound like the whole thing was like an episode of Fawlty Towers, and if that had happened to me, I know I would have been laughing about it, but he wasn't amused in the slightest.

The assistants told us that it would only be 15 minutes and the lift would be fixed. Mr Angry, asked if that was Fiji time or normal time, to which both the assistants laughed so hard I thought they'd fall over. That reaction, gave me the answer instantly, and it was Fiji time. Every now and again, someone would pop there head around the corner and tell us, another 15 minutes and it would be fixed. Unfortunaltey that wasn't the case, the airport gradually emptied, and Si went downstairs to retrieve the Sturdy one, and as such, couldn't get back up. Obviously I was fine, but he couldnt go anywhere because i had the passports and boarding passes in my bag, which was with me! Mr Angry was was starting to get really pissy with the staff, and to be fair to them it wasnt their fault at all, as his temper escalated to nasty shouty levels the manager appeared and was very apologetic. He wanted to put us in a car and drive us out of the airport. Mr Angry lost his shit big time, and started effing and jeffing the manager. He refused point blank to go in the car and demanded that four burly Fijians carried him down the escalator. The manager was having none of it saying they couldn't do that because of health and safety. It was at that Mr Angry's temper just exploded. It was cringeworthy and I just sat there thinking to myself oh do be quiet you odious little man! By now he was on a roll and in full on rant mode, his face bright red and shaking with rage and was further triggered when two lift engineers appeared. They incensed him further, one was on his mobile, so that went down like a lead balloon, and he gave them what for as well. They went in to the door adjacent to the lift hit something with a hammer, and what do you know, it started to work again. Hurrah.

I thought he was being a gentleman, in letting me go down in the lift first, but it turns out he wanted me to go first incase the lift broke down! What a charmer! I wasn't about to insist he go first. We had already had a call out over the public announcement system, requesting we make ourselves known to the arrivals desk. We had booked airport transport to take us to the hotel, and it was wondering where we were. Thankfully one of the ladies who had now joined us outside the lift had hotfooted it down and given them the heads up that we were unavoidably detained. When the lift opened downstairs, Si was stood there all on his own with a pile of bags at his feet bless his little cotton socks. I was a bit miffed, because the manger had gone down and explained to Si that i had refused to go in the car, which wasnt true at all. Mr Angry refused the car option. From what i could make out he writes to the customer services on a regular basis complaining. So much so, that the last email he sent got blocked because it contained profanities, although i dont know how he would know that the email was blocked.

We were finally escorted out through the terminal and taken to the transport centre. When we arrived there we were greeted by two beautiful smiling ladies, with flowers tucked behind their ears who welcomed us home, and presented us with a shell necklace each. It was so pretty and so simple but it quite made my day. We had to go through some bits of paperwork, and they notified me that i had double booked our transport. I suspected that was the case and they said they would just pick us up for our flight to New Zealand which is fine by me. All the paperwork done, we were escorted out to our lift to the hotel, over two and a half hours after landing. We made the trip to the hotel in about 10 minutes. The centre of the road is planted with colourful flowers and shrubs, and are well looked after. Due to the delay, we were obviously much later than expected getting to our destination . Fiji time rules so no-one was bothered, least of all us!. The driver took us down a bumpy little lane, and i did wonder where we were going, it was ok though, because within a minute or so we were at the hotel. A really pretty little place from what i could see in the dark.

Once again we were greeted with beautiful smiles and checked in really quickly. Our Bure is overlooking the beach but there is another row of them in front of us. Although there are a row of Bures in front of us, they are situated so they don't block our view of the ocean. It is a simple wooden construction, with wooden slatted shutters and mosquito nets on the windows and doors. Air conditioned and a huge fan over the bed. It has a comfy sofa,safe, tea and coffee facitilies, fridge, wardrobe and a shower room. It's really cosy, and we have stayed in a lot worse places for sure! Over the bed there is also a mosquito net, it has a few holes in it though and the little buggers are sneaking in and snacking on us already. I haven't missed them at all, so we are back to liberally spraying with insect repellent in the vain attempt to keep ourselves bite free. As we were guided to the Bure, we were able to hear the waves gently lapping at the shoreline, and i was excited to see hammocks tied between coconut palms on the grass in front of the bure. We do have a veranda, so hopefully we will be able to spend some time on that in the next day or so. As we went inside the most stunning colours were washed across the sky, showing us our first Fijian sunset. The dark outlines of the palm trees in front of it adding to the utterly beautiful tropical image before us. I really think i might be in heaven. People that we have spoken to so far about the hotel have said its a proper fijian hotel, not too resorty, with lots of fijian things going on daily like crafts along with regular traditional evening entertainment.

Si went for a short stroll, decked out in long trousers and long sleeve top on ensuring he had as little skin as possible exposed and had a rather enjoyable time killing mosquitos in the bar. When my great mozzie assassin returned, regaling me with tales of his intrepid exploration, I was still under the mozzie net. It amused me greatly that the mozzie net kept sticking to his head like velcro every time he tried to get under it. In the end it took him so long to get unstuck from it, that there were two of the little critters inside. They're quite dead now, but we are remaining vigilant. We were warned that the island was expensive, but Si didnt find it so with the beers being cheaper than Cardiff prices. However, our pound is strong against the fijian dollar at the moment so that obviously makes a difference. There was some Kava on the bar, which Si tried and said it tasted really earthy. I shall try some tomorrow and see how it goes. Its good for anxiety and stress, not that i know what that is at the moment! Its a very potent root herb, and is actually illegal in the UK as there have been links to liver disease from regular use of it. They dig the root up, smash it all down and pour water over it. I guess they let it steep for a while before serving. It's a traditional thing in Fijian homes and the whole family shares in the ritual. If you are offered it, it's considered a huge insult to refuse it. If you want to try a bit then you ask for a low tide, which is a small one, but you must finish it as leaving any is considered rude as well. It gives it's drinkers calm and relaxing feeling not dissimilar to when you get to that nice mellow drunk stage. Best bit is apparently you don't have a hangover the next day. You can sometimes have very vivid dreams following it, but no major side effects. Well aside from the liver damage, but I don't think that's proven. The Fijian Kava is apparently mild and is safe to drink daily.

We have, on the short time we've been here learned to look out for falling Coconuts. Damn but they put a huge dent on the grass, and, quite frankly I have no desire to sustain a coconut related injury Thankyou very much. Or any other injury for that matter!

Much love


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