The Adventure Continues

20 October 2013 | Fulanga, Southern Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Village of Maunaithaki, Fulanga, Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Village of Maunaithaki, Fulanga, Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Southern Lau Group, Fiji
29 September 2013
10 August 2013 | Savusavu, Vanua Levu
06 July 2013
02 July 2013
01 July 2013
13 November 2012 | Vava'u, Tonga
04 September 2012 | Bora Bora, French Polynesia
31 July 2012 | Uturoa, Raiatea
14 June 2012 | Tiputa, Rangiroa, Tuamotus

Bus Trip to Labasa

29 September 2013
One Friday as we walked into Savusavu with Rich and Cyndi from 'Legacy' we passed Craig and Bruce, the guys from 'Gato Go,' and they asked "Wanna take the bus to Labasa tomorrow?" "Let's see, now, what do we have on our busy schedule for tomorrow . . . oh, nothing!" Okay, so without knowing the details we just said "Yes." That is truly how plans get made and adventures begin in this spontaneous lifestyle of ours. As the day unfolded we tried to figure out where the bus would leave from and when, how long the ride would be, if we needed advance tickets, and what time the bus returns. None of the answers were crystal clear but we agreed to meet at 7:15 am. What? I really don't do early morning anything! But, I didn't want to be left behind, so I sacrificed a little sleep.

Saturday morning was a perfectly sunny, blue sky, adventure kinda day. We had many rainy days in the past week so this was a gift. We walked a few blocks to the bus yard, and standing by our bus a young man was selling bags of "in the shell" peanuts - strange early morning offering I thought. We paid the bus driver our fare - $6.50Fj (about $4US) each - and grabed one of the few seats left. Bob and I were lucky enough to get the front seat, right behind the bus driver where there was a large open area behind the driver's seat; this gave us a much better view looking forward, a nice breeze from the driver's window and leg room . . . at least to start with.

As we are checking out our surroundings we noticed a sign near the front of the bus that said "Eating of peanuts is strictly prohibited on this bus" What? - we just bought peanuts from the vendor outside! Another sign said no eating or drinking allowed - and this was to be a three hour bus ride. Oh well, what can you do but obey the rules!

The trip took us from Savusavu, on the south coast of the island of Vanua Levu, to Labasa (pronounced Lambasa) on the north coast. This large island is volcanic in origin and has many high rugged peaks. The variety of landscapes we saw was stunning - spectacular, beautiful, lush and ever changing. The one constant is it is green, green, green - every shade and texture of green. Waterfalls drop out of no visible source in the middle of a cliff. Layers upon shadowy layers of hills seem to go on forever. Sugar is the main export of Fiji and the further north we went the more evident that was by the acres of sugar cane. I have seen sugar cane fields before in Hawaii but here the cane plants have beautiful plumage like glittery pink pampas grass swaying in the breeze. It was so lazy and fluid and a bit hypnotizing.

The bus stopped at many of the villages along the route and picked up passengers who were packing large satchels of kava and other produce to sell at market. Some were going to other villages to sell their goods, and others are going all the way to Labasa to the big market. No such thing as a plastic bag here; everything was wrapped in large pieces of fabric or in woven palm baskets. With each stop the bus got more and more full until it was standing room only, and more and more bundles of goods for market were piled at our feet. So much for all of our leg room!

The ebb and flow of passengers continued throughout the trip. At one point I had one year old Eoshi and his young mother sitting next to me. He was a beautiful little Indian boy with huge sparkling eyes and incredible long black eyelashes. They were going to another village to visit his grandma. Three Fijian ladies traveling together sat across the aisle from me for a time, and with big smiles they handed me a "god is good" pamphlet. I chuckled when I saw the pamphlet was printed in Oregon . . . small world! Five young and handsome guys traveling to a rugby match with a neighboring village could barely get their long legs in the twelve inch space between the seats. This bus load of passengers was such a cross section of Fijian culture . . . with the exception the six Americans and two German cruisers! We stuck out like marshmallows in a box of chocolates. Everyone was very kind and very curious about our visit to their country. We were commonly asked where we are from and if we enjoying our stay in Fiji; and, they were truly interested in our answers!

Our bus was a school bus upgrade and had nothing in the way of cushy seats or even good shocks for that matter. Much of the road had more pot holes than smooth pavement so the bus driver just plowed on through. On the steep grades - and there were many - he had to almost stop so he could set the jake brakes for the downhill run. Villagers at the bottom of the big hills knew when the bus was arriving from quite a distance by the noise from those loud compression brakes; needless to say, noise pollution is not high on the list of environmental concerns in Fiji! Thankfully, there was very little traffic on the road because our bus often took its half out of the middle. All of the bridges were wide enough for only one vehicle, so the first one there has the right of way. Yikes!

Our first glimpse of Labasa was total sensory overload -people, people, people, traffic, dust, Bollywood music blaring from every shop, traffic, more people, and the air was thick with heat and humidity. This is Vanua Levu's largest town and is predominantly Indo-Fijian, many of whom are descendants of the indentured laborers the British brought to work on the surrounding sugar cane plantations.

We stepped off the bus and were literally standing on the curb of the farmers market. Colorful produce laid atop mats on the pavement was offered by smiling, friendly Fijian women. Inside the market, dominated by Indian merchants, kava was the main offering along with handicrafts, produce and every imaginable type of spice and curry powder. Down by the river was a fish market with literally piles of fish of every description for sale. Everyone was anxious to have us take their picture and quizzed us about our travels.

We had lunch with our traveling buddies off Legacy and Gato Go, walked through the downtown shops ala Bollywood (no need to go to India now - we've already been there!). At a Vodafone store we managed to find sim cards and a usb dongle for internet that we were not able to get in Savusavu. There was even a parade down the main street, complete with a police marching band and a float with local beauty princesses! After a couple of hours the group consensus was we needed a cold beer and a quiet place. A beautiful little hotel a block off the main street was the oasis we were looking for away from the cacophony of downtown Labasa. Ahhhh!!

We were back on the bus by 4pm for a 4:30 departure, and we just barely got a seat - this was last bus back to Savusavu for the day! But this was a luxury bus that would rival any U.S. touring bus, with air conditioning, plush seats, and a blaring D rated horror movie. What a laugh! Rivaling that, two Indian teenagers with a new phone that must have had mondo speakers was blaring - you guessed it - Bollywood music. It was hard to escape the noise! Not all of Fiji is the Travel Brochure paradise. Part of it is just everyday life in another part of the world - stuff you would never see from a cruise ship or at a resort. But this is why we travel the way we do!

(For pictures of our trip to Labasa, click on "Photo Gallery" in the top right hand panel, then click on "Bus Trip to Labasa; click on any picture for a larger image, and to launch a slide show. Enjoy!)
Vessel Name: Bright Angel
Vessel Make/Model: 1990 Mason 44 Hull # 141
Hailing Port: Olympia, WA
Crew: Linda & Bob Hargreaves
Linda and Bob are long-time residents of Washington State - Linda was born and raised in Aberdeen and has lived in Washington all her life; Bob was born in San Diego, and moved to Washington when he was five years old. [...]
After leaving Olympia in August 2010 and sailing down the West Coast to San Diego, Bob & Linda joined the 2010 Baja Ha-Ha fleet and sailed to Mexico, where they spent a year and a half sailing in the Sea of Cortez and along Pacific Mexico. In April 2012 they joined the Pacific Puddle Jump and [...]
Bright Angel's Photos - Main
Every once in a while something will catch my eye that also tickles my funny bone. It could be a twisted sense of humor that makes me laugh, or maybe some cultural rift - who knows!? With apologies to any whom these might offend (and certainly no offense is intended) let me share a few of my chuckles (or in some cases sheer amazement) with you. LOL!
16 Photos
Created 21 October 2013
The remote island of Fulanga (also spelled Vulaga) in the southern Lau Group of Fiji is truly "Paradise Found!" We stayed in Fulanga for 35 wonderful, awe inspiring and relaxing days - and even then, we were reluctant to leave! Fulanga was resplendent with beautiful beaches, magical islands and the friendliest and most outgoing people you can imagine! With no apologies for the bulk of this album and its sub-albums, suffice to say that these are only a fraction of our digital memories of this magical place, and even less of the mental images that we will long cherish! Enjoy!
9 Photos | 14 Sub-Albums
Created 18 October 2013
One Saturday while we were in Savusavu, we took a bus trip with several of our cruising friends to Labasa (pronounced "Lambasa") for the day. Saturday is a big market day in any Fijian town or village, and Labasa is no exception - so there was plenty of hubbub and lots to see at the market. There was also a parade down mainstreet, and plenty of other unusual sights and sounds to stimulate our senses. Here are some of the highlights of that fun day!
52 Photos
Created 29 September 2013
14 Photos
Created 7 July 2013
We visited Auckland several times, and took some interesting side trips on the way back to Whangarei. Here, and in the sub-albums below, are some the highlights.
12 Photos | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 4 July 2013
We were not able to be home for Christmas in 2012, but we did get to have Christmas dinner with cruising friends Bev and Robbie (SV Mersoleil, from Seattle) and other boaters at the Riverside Drive Marina. Even though we were at Whangarei Marina in Town Basin, we got an invite to attend from Bev & Robbie, and were made to feel very welcome. It wasn't "Home for the Holidays" but it was a very nice time, nonetheless!
5 Photos
Created 3 July 2013
Going on walks or day hikes was a favorite pastime of ours in Whangarei, and there were always interesting places to go - around the Town Basin, in the hills and forests behind the town, and to the ocean beaches past Whangarei Heads. Please come along and join us on some of our favorite walks.
7 Photos | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 2 July 2013
We are not prone to visiting tourist attractions (or "tourist traps" as we sometimes call them), but we succumbed to a few "temptations" while in New Zealand - notably Sheep World (just north of Auckland), going up the Sky Tower in Auckland, and riding the Wynyard Loop trolley, also in Auckland. We hope you enjoy these photos of our visits to these "attractions;" for more information, see our blog post on "Tourist Attractions."
43 Photos
Created 1 July 2013
Linda wrote an "illustrated" Christmas Letter that she sent to family and friends from New Zealand in Dec 2012. That letter is now posted as a blog entry, and these photos are the accompanying "illustrations."
17 Photos
Created 30 June 2013
On December 8, 2012, we departed Opua and headed south to Whangarei. We planned to "park" the boat in Whangarei throughout the New Zealand summer while we focused on "land cruising" (sight seeing), a trip back to the States (in Jan & Feb), and boat projects (including a haulout in April for bottom paint and other jobs). The trip to Whangarei included two overnight stops - the first in Whangamumu Bay, and the second in Urquharts Bay, just inside Bream Head and at the start of the up river trip to the Town Basin in Whangarei. We tied to the dock at Whangarei Marina at 1630 hrs on December 10 - Linda's Birthday, with some help from our friends Bev & Robbie (SV Mersoleil), who then also helped us celebrate the day at Reva's Restaurant, just across the river from our slip. With the dock lines secured in Whangarei, our 2012 odyssey across the Pacific from Banderas Bay, Mexico - nearly 7000 nm all total - had finally come to a successful end, and we we ready to rest!
21 Photos
Created 29 June 2013
Our first stop, where we cleared into New Zealand, was Opua. Before moving south to Whangarei we visited some of the local sights.
17 Photos
Created 25 June 2013
Some things in New Zealand take some getting used to - like the lingo, the accent, the place names (at least those in Maori), and some of the unusual things in the grocery stores, about town, and out in the country. Here's a sampling.
21 Photos
Created 24 June 2013
Daniel's Bay (Hakatea Bay) - site of the TV series "Survivor Marquesas" - was our first stop on Nuku Hiva, an overnight passage from Hiva Oa. A higtlight of our stay in Daniel's Bay was the hike up to see Vaipo Falls, with a 2,000 foot drop supposedly the third highest waterfall in the world.
42 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
After leaving Hiva Oa, Hanamoenoa Bay on the neighboring island of Tahuata was the next anchorage we visited. It was a beautiful bay full of surprises - some good, some not so good!
9 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
Hiva Oa was our first "Landfall in Paradise" after leaving Mexico, and our introduction to life in the islands of French Polynesia.
14 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
Our 28 day crossing from Banderas Bay, Mexico, to Hiva Oa, Marquesas, was the culmination of many months (if not years) of planning and preparation. Shown here are some of final projects in Mexico, as well as some highlights from the crossing itself.
39 Photos
Created 5 August 2012
Just about everywhere you walk in French Polynesia is like being in a botanical garden - the flowers, trees, fruit - it's one of the special treats of being here!
43 Photos
Created 4 August 2012