Fiji in December: Just Go!

I often hear people (including travel agents) say “don’t go to Fiji in December – it’s cyclone season!” But if you’re considering Fiji for this year’s Christmas/School Holiday break, just go for it.
Yes, it does rain sometimes. As it does pretty much everywhere else in the world. Fiji is in the tropics should be expected to be higher than here in Mediterranean climes. The bottom line is, it’s always warm and if it rains, it’s usually in the afternoon. I’m yet to experience a day of torrential downpours; they certainly happen, but they’re rarer than people think.
I got married on 7th December in Fiji, on a day where there was some scattered rain and I had to be driven through the garden to the chapel on a golf cart, but it was beautiful. They say it’s good luck to have raindrops on your wedding dress – so yay for me!
The thing is, in my job I see so many people hesitate to take a holiday, whether it’s the trip of a lifetime or a short getaway, because of weather concerns. In the end, if they don’t go they miss out on all the amazing experiences they would have had by travelling to a new place. We can never control the weather and these days it’s getting harder and harder to predict, so rather than stressing about something we can’t control, just go! It’ll be worth it.
And if you’re heading somewhere tropical like the beautiful fijian islands, remember this: if it’s raining, you can still go for a swim. You’re going to get wet either way!
These photos were taken by Kama Catch Me, our incredible wedding photographers. I thought I’d add them here to show you how beautiful an overcast day is in Fiji. 

 

Facing my fears at Île aux Cerfs

Being married to a thrill-seeker sometimes means I’m put in situations that make me uncomfortable; often this infuriates me but every now and then (don’t tell Logan) I wind up doing something I thought I would never do and feeling very chuffed with myself.
I think I’ve mentioned this before but I never used to be a big scaredy-cat – it’s like a few years ago this switch just went off in my brain that told me to be afraid of heights, speed and anything people might consider fun, so now rather than taking risks and being the first person to get out there and do something, I’m constantly alert to danger. Some people might call this “becoming an adult” but it’s pretty frustrating!
Anyway, today we went out to Île aux Cerfs, which is a small island off the east coast of Mauritius. We sailed out on a 35ft catamaran complete with all the food we could possibly eat, plenty of local rum and a bunch of hilarious South Africans (who are an Aussie’s best mate when traveling in Mauritius).
On the way out to the island I was sunning myself at the front of the boat when Logan disappeared for a bit and I figured he was just fetching some beers. Wrong… he was arranging for us to parasail without telling me! Parasailing used to be something I’d wanted to do but lately I’d been way too scared. He had now forced me into it.
We hopped into a small boat and made our way out to the platform in the middle of the sea; Logan got excited while I quietly hyperventilated. Shit-scared, I let them strap me in at the front while Logan sat behind with the ‘controls’. I won’t go into massive detail from here on but I’ll say this: DO IT. It was incredible. Once I was up in the air I calmed down and enjoyed the ride and here is what we saw:

There was no other way to experience this view but by parasail and now I can say I saw it.

The best bit though? When it was over and I was back on the catamaran, I was ready to have one of the best days ever because I was so proud of myself that I felt bulletproof. By the end of the day I’d made friends with everyone and I was even jumping off the boat (haven’t done that in years!)

there’s more to life than travel

I’ve been doing some thinking.

About this age (oooh, the big quarter-century!) we start growing up, really getting to know ourselves, forging careers, pairing off, making big commitments and setting ourselves up for the rest of our lives. People follow their own paths and make different decisions, and of course have different priorities. Mostly, though, lives tend to follow some sort of pattern: school/work/partner/marriage/house/kids. Me, I’m all for the pattern. I’m not one for pushing envelopes. But times change and “the done thing” evolves.

A generation ago, you left school or uni and got a job and bought a house and settled down. You had kids and worked hard. These things were measures not only of success but of the calibre of person you were, and social status was gained by achieving these milestones. These days I feel like ticking off a list of countries is where the social status comes from. Getting married, buying a house, having kids are all postponed because of the idea we have to “live our lives” before settling down (with the implication that once you settle down, your life is over).

What’s frustrating me at the moment is the idea that traditional pursuits are not worthy these days; that we’re not living our lives to the fullest if we’re not spending half of them on planes. I’m sick of being told by my peers that I’m “too young to be settling down” when the world is out there waiting for me. It’s bullshit.

Why are travelling and having a family mutually exclusive? Why can’t we enjoy our youth while still setting ourselves up for the future? And can somebody PLEASE tell me why having kids means putting my life on hold? Last time I checked, children added a wonderful new dimension to life, and the best parents were the ones excited about having children.

Life is life. It takes everyone in different directions. But lets stop the judgement and start supporting each other because hey, next time life hands you a lemon you might need your friends to help you make lemonade.

R-E-L-A-X

There’s a term commonly used in my industry: the “flop-and-drop” holiday. This is generally a holiday, or even an entire destination, where there’s not a lot going on and the idea is to relax, have a mai-tai and swim in the resort pool. It’s not a term I particularly like because I think it gives people who may not know much about a destination an excuse to pigeon-hole places and thus give “informed” recommendations, but by the same token I can understand why a term like this may be used.

Conversely, I find this term can be used by those who feel the package holiday is beneath them (you know the ones, the I’m-so-cool-I-can-do-it-all-by-myself backpacker types who make snide remarks about package holiday-makers) and if used in this way it can shame the less ‘adventurous’ into feeling like they’ve made the wrong decision.

The thing is, there’s a time and a place for everything. I make jokes about how I’ve sold out because I’m more of a package tourist now, but there’s a reason why I travel differently these days to when I was nineteen. For one, I grew up. That doesn’t mean all backpackers are immature gap-year kids, but what it does mean is that I have a career, I’m time poor, and when I’m away I want to spend the least amount of time possible trying to get organised. I’m also happy to pay more for the experience. I also like organised tours, because it means I’m motivated to get up off my arse every day and I know I’ll come back with all sorts of stories. It’s also likely I’ll meet some nice people on the way through.

So, this being said, my next few posts are going to be about some destinations a few people are quick to dismiss as “boring flop-and-drop holidays”, and why I think everyone should give them a chance. 

grandma’s monkey business


We sat on the bus and thought about our trip so far.

“Are we boring?” Boyfriend asked me. I tried to answer diplomatically but the truth was… yes. We were both giant sticks-in-the-mud. We were two unimpressed old biddies out to see the world then criticise it. We had already had an altercation with a tour guide, complained about our local representative and lectured people about respecting important sites (namely, the ANZAC grave at River Kwai).

The day’s tour guide offered us the opportunity to get out and see a monkey show and, of course, we scoffed. Monkeys should only be in the wild; exploitation; can’t encourage this behaviour; yada yada yada. We weren’t paying for that!

Then came the dreaded question. “Honey, are we boring?” We compared ourselves to some of our friends. Would our friends see the monkey show? Yes. Did our friends usually seem to have a lot more fun than we did? Yes. So it was settled… We would see the damn monkey show.

We tried to enjoy it, we really did. We even had our photos taken with one of them. But we just couldn’t hack it and raced out of there as soon as it was over.

Outside, one of the girls on the tour asked if we’d been to see it and when we replied the affirmative and gave her our wrap up she said, “Yeah, I didn’t go. I don’t want to encourage that sort of behaviour.” We were put in our place!

So 400 Baht down, 30 minutes later we realised we might as well get back in the mud, because that’s where we belong.

a fun but terrible person

the lucky country

(slight language warning)
Today I was lucky enough to hear about the journey one of my clients had been on before he reached Australia. It’s disjointed, it has big holes where I didn’t pry to get further information, and I have no proof of any of it. I don’t care. I consider it a privilege that he told me.
Born to a Turkish father and an Iraqi mother, he was born in Iran but denied a birth certificate or passport in Iran because of his mother’s nationality.
At age 12, his parents passed away in an accident.
He travelled through Turkey to Malaysia, who sent him to Thailand, who sent him to Indonesia. He then ended up on a boat headed to Christmas Island.  It was a 12 day voyage but after seven days, all the food and water supplies were gone. People died on the boat, and many were ill.
When he arrived on Christmas Island, he repeatedly asked for water, but his request was denied until processing was finished. He then remained in detention for nearly three years.
He’s here now, working hard and studying to make a better life for himself. He’s friendly, funny and a little bit flirty too. Yet a lot of the time, the reaction he gets when he strikes up a conversation is “We speak English here, so fuck off until you can talk properly”.
So many things about this story break my heart.  I guess the main thing though is that after everything, this young man was bounced around from country to country like a pinball only to be held like a prisoner in a country that values freedom as highly as ours – and that doesn’t sit right with me. I also hate that we are lucky enough to have political stability, a bicameral parliament with representatives of all citizens sitting in it, and an unalienable right to vote, yet we have a bunch of clowns running our country who are incapable of doing anything about this issue.
I find it incredible how opposite the two of us are. He spent his whole life travelling, trying to find a home, while I continually leave my home in search of something greater. I hope I can continue to remember this next time I have my passport stamped (after all, I’m one of the lucky ones just to have a passport).

kicking goals



On the 23rdJune 2011 (exactly a year ago tomorrow) I sat down with my manager at the time and penned some goals I hoped to achieve. Today I found these while clearing out my computer and I was a bit surprised to see how things have changed.

Sure, there were some I definitely didn’t achieve, and there were some that I’m not even heading towards anymore because my priorities have changed. But what surprised me was the legitimate shock I felt when I looked at the ones I had achieved. Admittedly, I missed the deadline on some of them, but I have achieved them all the same – it just took a bit longer than expected. But some of them I made with eight months to spare!

I have been struggling a lot lately with a feeling of not being good enough or never being able to do enough or compare to everyone else. Logically, I see that this is really a complete load of BS but the mind isn’t always 100% rational.

Looking back on this time last year I can finally see just what I have managed to achieve. I’ve started a life with the person I love (which I think is the most important of all), I’ve forged a career and been promoted, I’ve seen some amazing parts of the world, I managed to buy a new car, I’ve dealt with some really tough times and come through the other side much stronger and wiser, and I’ve met new people and made new friends who make my life so much richer.

You have good days and bad days, good months and bad months, good years and bad years. What I think I’m finally starting to learn is it all comes out in the wash…

And “I get by with a little help from my friends”!