Fiji Fling

Bula!

Fiji is a popular destination for Kiwi’s and as such I have been twice.

I love the place. The people are just so damn happy! Some of them literally have next to nothing and yet there they are smiling and laughing. It’s interesting to think about.

Anyway I first went when I was young. Maybe 8? I still have vivid memories of fishing off the wharf and sliding down the sugar cane sand hills. We stayed at Shangri La’s The Fijian. My parents chose it as there were not as many sea snakes as around the other side of the island. They’re extremely venomous and with two kids wanting to play in the water constantly it was a better idea.

The second time I went to Fiji was around 2010 with my good friends Gemma and Gayle. We went straight out to Beachcomber Island or ‘party island’ as they call it. It has one of the biggest bunk rooms in the world with over a hundred bunks in one large bure. It’s a tiny island, you can walk right around it. The people are welcoming and the guests mainly like to party!

One night we went on an ‘island tour’ where we did find one of those poisonous black and white sea snakes resting on the shore. We spent most of our time partying though and met some great people.

Funny story – I was dancing away having the time of my life at the bar and I turned around only to have an elbow accidentally thrown in my face. The elbow put tooth almost through my lip and I was a mess of blood. Not pretty. Gemma found me in the bathroom with blood everywhere. I found it amusing for whatever reason. I cleaned up and went outside only to have the Fijian’s call me over and they told me to drink Kava, it has numbing properties they said, it will make me feel better. It made me feel great! I danced the night away however I obviously drunk it away too as come the time I went to bed I ran to the bathroom twice to be sick. At which point the pressure split my lip open again each time and a fresh round of blood would dribble down my face! I blame it on the kava.

It’s a unique little island. There’s nothing else there but it’s gorgeous and at night as the lights shine over the waves you can see all the little baby reef sharks and sting rays gliding along them riding them into shore.

Next up was Mantaray Island. The resort is very basic. Long drops, no luxuries and you all eat together. We came here to dive, we went right out off the beach and learnt how to use the equipment before going around the reef. I was totally in my element, loving life. I found nemo but I also saw a reef shark, I told the others it was there (they’re harmless) but they were way off. Turned out the girls had seen it and freaked out, both of them grabbing the instructors hand and holding fast while swimming away. Glad they thought to warn me!

I had one of the best experiences of my life at Mantaray Island. The reason they call it that is because it is by a large channel where the mantarays patrol. The three of us jumped in a boat and were taken upstream to the top of the channel where the mantarays visit. We jumped in and they were right there. I think there were four of five out that day. Their wing span is huge and they’re so beautiful and majestic. I was quite taken with them. Once the current had moved me to the end of the channel the boat picked me up. Gemma and Gayle were in it, they’d jumped in only to freak out (again) and push each other in front of the other until they were picked right back up again. I on the other hand, was besotted so went down quite a few more times. These creatures swim right up so they are only less than a meter under you and swim right there. Amazing. It was very cheap too.

We spent the rest of the day fishing and we caught quite a lot. We learnt a Fijian fish prayer which I still say to this day and basically means, come to us sacrifice yourself haha. We gifted most to the local tribe and ate one with our dinner. The fisherman was so full of character he had me cracking up half the time.

At night we got an invite down to drink kava with some of the Fijian crew there which was a cool experience. Also quite humbling.

Next up, Robinson Crusoe Island. What an amazing place. I fell head over heels in love. We all did.

Another funny story here. Gemma and I talked about this years later and realised that we had both freaked out and were worried as we didn’t know the emergency number. We got picked up by a van from the mainland to be taken to the boat to the island. An unmarked van. The van then winds through dodgy roads and pulls up at a house. The driver tells us to wait there. Turned out he was just picking up his dinner from his Mamma. The saga continues. Out on the main, open road we zig zag out of the traffic, overtaking on blind corners and swerving, speeding. That worked us up a bit. Fast forward and we turn into an unmarked farm paddock.. in the dark and there is no sign of water. Freaking out a little bit we asked the guy where we were and he replied that the boat was late. In the pitch black we are taken over to a jetty (thank god) and a boat pulls up through the mangroves with a lone, dim light. We must have looked nervous as the driver suddenly yells ‘What are y’all looking like that for?!’ Then puts the torch under his face and goes ‘Hello I’m Captain Nemo and I shall be your driver today.’ His character had us in hysterics, as well as the relief we were safe. Although we did then travel through mangroves in a single motor boat in the dark. It looked like a maze but he told us he knew it like the back of his hand.

Again very basic accommodation but that was all we needed. The resort is mainly a destination for rich tourists staying at the fancy resorts to come over and try ‘island life’ there is local dancing and a huge feast which is very similar to our hangi. A couple of yachts were moored close by and came in for meals.

We did an island tour where we got the crap scared out of us when we thought we had found a giant turtle. As we got closer to inspect, the shell went flying and a cheeky Fijian jumped out laughing while all our hearts raced! We went snorkelling with beautiful fish, had a massage by the beach, rode horses on the sand and relaxed in the shade of hammocks under the palm trees. It was bliss.

The staff were incredible and I had an interesting chat with the owner who was Australian and told me all about the qualms of attempting to get the land from the Fijian tribes. It’s a tough gig.

The Island men who did the traditional fire dancing had us all drooling. We had lots of drinks one nights and the staff had us all playing games with the rest of the guests. It was hilarious and we had a blast!

As we left on our boat, all the staff came out to wave goodbye. I was actually really upset to be leaving and we were all fighting back the tears. You know you’ve had an incredible time when that happens.

Back on the mainland we stayed two nights before we flew out. I much prefer the islands. There’s hustle and bustle on the mainland, markets etc but the beaches are nowhere near as nice and the night life wasn’t fantastic.

I can’t wait for another trip back, so many more islands to visit!

5808_119916688206_5693169_n 5808_119924328206_7991697_n 5808_119924338206_7975099_n 5808_119941318206_8275343_n 5808_119941348206_2654016_n 5808_119948953206_1902126_n 5808_119948988206_6584018_n 6448_121454068206_5734936_n 6448_121454073206_2540733_n 6448_121454103206_5868661_n 6448_121454108206_2414817_n

My Wellington wining & dining list

I’m really missing Urban Spoon over here. Not only do I not have a great place to look up where I should eat but there’s nowhere to place my food blogs. There are others similar but they come nowhere in comparison. I tweeted them and asked them if they had an interest in creating a NZ one in the works but no such luck.

So with a little googling, I have created the following lists.

Places to eat:
Louis Sergent
Crab Shack
Logan Brown
Matterhorn
Havana Bar
Nikau Gallery
Pan de Muerto
Roti Chenai

Places to drink:
Hawthorn Lounge
Motel Bar
The Library
Mighty Mighty
Foxglove Bar

What have I missed out Wellingtonians?!

images

Welly explorations

I’ve been having a quiet time in Wellington lately! Quite unlike me but I probably needed if.

I’ve been admin temping in the city – it’s quiet. But I get to try different places to eat each day for lunch! Although I’m yet to have anywhere to report that is really great unfortunately.

This weekend I manage to tick off three activities I’ve been meaning to do here – the markets!

Firstly the Friday night markets, I’d heard the dumplings there were pretty good as that they were. Lots of other yummy food there too.

Secondly the Saturday markets in Frank Kitts park. Lots of arts and crafts, I was more interested in the food (not really a surprise, right?) so sat down with a paella and devoured it.

Then the fresh food markets on Sunday. Lots of produce, we were a little late for the fish I think. Some nice food stalls again and I had a steamed pork bun in my stomach before I’d even realised what had happened.

I fitted in a nice walk/ jog around Oriental Bay and that was about the extent of my weekend!

Oh I made Kalya and Al a nice fresh pasta with smokey bacon and mushies in an tomato sauce mmm.

20140413-142750.jpg

20140413-142801.jpg

20140413-142809.jpg

20140413-142822.jpg

Anndd Booked!

I’m going to Brisbane, lalalalalalaaaa….

Sooo excited to go and visit my friends! I don’t think that I’ve booked in enough time – check out my schedule:

Thursday: Fly in, visit with Celia, check out Sheike, Chan joining for dinner (Harajuku Gyoza?) Stay with Celia

Friday: Lunch in South Bank with my Rydges buddies, train to Goldie, catch up with Lauren, dinner with Mike & Kat, Sean’s 30th Bday, stay with Lauren

Saturday: Brunch with Lauren, Lunch with Ashy and bubs, train to Brizzy, Brisbane Lions game with Beck, party, wine, stay with Lisa

Sunday: Recovery, Kotobuki lunch with David and Lisa, hang with Kim and Sophie, Sunday session at Bacchus, cocktails, stay with Kim and Sophie

Monday: Road trip with Kylie, Kim, Sophie, Celia may join. Leaving dinner? Stay with Celia

Tuesday: Fly out at stupid o’clock. Far too early.

And that’s not all of it. Hectic! Just the way I like it.

And I really want to check out this Eat Street thing… anything else new where I should be dining/ partying Brisbaneites?

Image

 

Slacking off

I’ve been slacking off a bit on here lately! Need to get back in the groove. I’ve been all over the place with no routine, life’s been AWOL!

I came down to Wellington last week as I accepted a temp admin job for two weeks to keep me occupied. I’m being quite picky about finding the right contract here.

Wellington is beautiful! In the sun. Today was horrible. Rain and wind just makes a mess of me. I love walking around Oriental Parade and finding new coffee shops and its great to spend time with my lovely friend, Kayla who has taken me in to her awesome apartment she shares with her partner.

On Friday I headed to Masterton to see my bestie, Kim and we had the most hilarious night. We were with a guy called Mark and he had me in absolute stitches alllll night. I was crying, I even snorted! Couldn’t hold it together, it was just too funny. My cheeks were hurting from smiling! Such a great time.

I woke up at stupid o’clock sat morning though – not ideal when I had been up until 1am. However, I was lucky enough to catch the sun rising through the must in the vineyard. Stunning.

Saturday arvo we drove to Palmerston North to spend some time with my family and go to Pulse Urban Art Festival. My brother was the Marketing Manager for the event hence the reason we made the effort.

I had some horrible news Saturday evening, another friend of mine took his life. This is my fifth friend (all young males) to commit suicide. It is such a selfish act. The poor people that are left behind.

Sunday Kim left early (sad face) and I just hung around my family. They drove me to Waikanae where we had a great steak dinner before I hopped back on the train to Welly.

So, long story short, it’s been hectic!

20140408-203852.jpg

20140408-203915.jpg

20140408-203927.jpg

20140408-203942.jpg

20140408-203839.jpg

20140408-203800.jpg

20140408-203819.jpg

20140408-203730.jpg

20140408-203720.jpg

20140408-203749.jpg

Pulse Urban Art Festival

On Saturday my family went to check out the Pulse Urban Art Festival at Te Manawa in Palmerston North.

Awesome community event with loads of activities and things to see with live music. There were DJ’s, reggae groups, spray painters, chalk artists, pole dancing painters, pirates, characters on stilts and best of all, body painters.

We had perfect timing to see the body paint models come out and my goodness they were amazing! I was actually blown away at how cool they were. I couldn’t get a decent pic to show how great they are but you’ll get the gist. Two girls made to look like concrete gargoyles. They even had eyes painted on their eyelids! So talented.

There should be more community events like this – it’s nice to see everybody mingling and enjoying the cultural festivities!

20140408-202036.jpg

20140408-202045.jpg

20140408-202136.jpg

20140408-202025.jpg

20140408-202209.jpg

20140408-202054.jpg

20140408-202150.jpg

20140408-202113.jpg

20140408-202105.jpg

20140408-202125.jpg

Pinspired – the food edition

I’ve been Pinspired. By Pinterest.

Yep, seeing the extra amount of time I have on my hands lately, and my parents pantry, I have been spending my days browsing Pinterest for Pinsperation of what to cook that evening.

Tonight’s edition called for some raw desserts. Date and almond bliss balls and a raw cheesecake. My first attempt, and I must say it was damn good. I’m really interested (as with the other half of the clichéd population) in raw food or ‘cooking’ at the moment and my family aren’t. However I think the desserts were the turning point.

‘What’s in this?’ …. ‘Nothing processed you say?’…. ‘All natural ingredients?’… ‘But it tastes so good!’ -Duh, I made it! It’s been blessed with the gift of my hands.

Anyway not all of my inspiration comes in the form of raw foods. I also made some damn good starters the other night, one of which now seems to be infamous and the ingredients keep magically restocking themselves in our fridge. Dates, stuffed with feta and wrapped in bacon. Can I hear you say ‘nom’?

Garden lasagne has also made an appearance, as has garlic and lemon butter angel hair with shrimp and shrimp tacos with fresh mango salsa.

I’m going to finish this blog here. My mouth is watering and it’s 12.32am – certainly not an appropriate time to start raiding the pantry. However as they say, ‘if we weren’t supposed to have midnight snacks, then why is there a light in the refrigerator?’

Oh! If you’re on Pinterest, let’s be pin-buddies! You can find me HERE

20140331-003531.jpg

20140331-003541.jpg

20140331-003553.jpg

20140331-003612.jpg

20140331-003633.jpg

Sheep Races

Not even kidding you.

Sheep races. Couldn’t get much more Kiwi!

We don’t do this kind of thing all the time in New Zealand – just to clarify, this is a novelty for us too.

Awesome arvo put on by the Young Farmers Club though, sack races, an auction, BBQ, face painting, lots of fun for the whole family.

I even won $7 on my bet for the blue sheep in the third race! Yay me.

20140329-183813.jpg

20140329-183826.jpg

20140329-183841.jpg

A weekend in Welly

What a weekend! Partying in the big smoke of Masterton, horribly windy roads in the mountains, discovering culinary delights in Wellington city and walking up Mt Kau Kau.

Friday I drove to Masterton to visit my friend Pilly, she’d had a below average day and had bought a bottle of Grey Goose to wash away her sorrows. I wore a hoody to the pub and this was socially very acceptable. That probably gives you an idea of what kind of place Masterton is. We had a fun night and I found out the Maccas stocks Georgie Pies! Probably the highlight.

Saturday we lazed about until three when I drove over some of the yuckiest roads I’ve driven on the way to Wellington. Imagine the windiest road, with blind corners. Now add to that twisting around mountains with giant drops and valleys and oncoming trucks. Yuck. If it was in Greece you’d probably have to take a donkey.

In Wellington I caught up with my lovely friend Kayla who had some exciting but secret news! Eep! Anyway we headed out for dinner on Tory Street hopeful out destination would be Chow but there was an hour wait. The same at a Mexican joint whose interior was done by Weta Workshop- impressive. Finally we ended up at Osteria Del Toro, a Mediterranean restaurant with a gorgeous, plush interior. I had the seafood linguine with a Spanish wine – perfect.

Sunday morning I was up early to visit an old friend, Adam. He currently lives in Melbourne so it was straight luck he happened to be there with his sweet partner, Sally. We had brunch (bruschetta with peas, mint & haloumi) and a catch up before I had to run to my other brunch with the girls on Oriental Bay.

Kayla’s friends were all so nice and I sat back and listened to the gossip of their mutual friends while sipping my feijoa juice. Seems everyone is getting engaged, married or pregnant – the usual story.

Next up, Mt Kau Kau.

Firstly, my butt hurts. Damn glutes. Nobody mentioned all the stairs that would be on the walk up the mountain! I thought it would be a leisurely stroll. For some it may be, but for this asthmatic (minus inhala) it was more challenging than I originally thought. Luckily the four girls I went up with were lovely and understanding and gave me lots of opportunities to catch my breath.

The top was certainly a sight for sore eyes, a gorgeous panoramic of the city, out over the bays with glimpses of the South Island past the sparkling sea. I’m glad I made it to the top!20140324-111630.jpg20140324-111642.jpg20140324-111657.jpg

20140324-111725.jpg

20140324-111736.jpg

20140324-111749.jpg

20140324-111803.jpg

Luke’s Birthday Week

My little bro turned 19 this week, I haven’t been in the country for many of his birthdays in the last 6 years so made the most of it!

We celebrated with lunch Thursday, dinner Friday and drinks Saturday.

Dinner on Friday was fun, he’s into Paris so I did a French theme – any excuse for a dinner party. Baked Brie with cranberry wrapped in puff pastry for starters, followed by baguettes with pesto chicken for the main and crepes with Nutella, just like you get under the Eiffel Tower.

Saturday my mate Pilly came over to Masterton and we headed to Luke’s for his party. We had drinks there before dancing the night away in town.

Took just a few selfies…

20140317-220901.jpg

20140317-220957.jpg

20140317-221008.jpg

20140317-221015.jpg

20140317-221023.jpg

20140317-221033.jpg

20140317-221046.jpg

20140317-221114.jpg

20140317-221125.jpg

20140317-221135.jpg

20140317-221151.jpg