Saturday, 11 September 2010

Sand Dunes

Sunday 12th September 2010

MP3 track of the day: Eminem and Rhianna – Love the way you lie

Weather: Cloudy with a small, light showers; cooler than yesterday … but still hot.

Getting up at 6:00am I got ready to meet Cheryl in reception. Yesterday I had spent nearly the whole day trying to find accommodation in Singatoka so I could go to the Sand Dunes National Park. After giving up I went to the tourist office where a lady said I could do it in a day (If I left early) and Cheryl (a Brit, who I had met in LA waiting for the flight to Fiji), who was also in the tourist office at the time, also wanted to see the Sand Dunes National Park and so asked if she could tag along.

Anyway I got up at 6:00am to get ready to meet Cheryl in reception at 7:00am. We got to Nadi bus station and caught the bus to the Sand Dunes National Park with no troubles. It was a nice ride and it'll be the one I take tomorrow to Mango Beach; anyway we arrived at the national park tourist office where a nice guy gave us a map of a 2 hour route around the sand dunes and also took $8.00 (£2.50) off each of us as a fee to enter the park.

The beginning of the trip was fine; as it was around 9:00am when we started; it was certainly hot, but not as bad as yesterday and there wasn't anyone else around. We went through a 'jungleish' section before reaching the actual sand dunes themselves. My guidebook told me that these dunes reached 80 meters high in some areas, but it's not until you see them (and climb them as you will hear later on) that you really appreciate the size and scale of these natural sand-made hills.

All was going swimmingly when the path we were following just stopped at the bottom of a Sand Dune. Looking at the map it did direct us to climb the massive sand dune in front of us, but Cheryl wasn't too sure as there seemed to be a path that lead down into a village and maybe we were supposed to go around. I remember the guy at the office saying that we did have to climb a sand dune and I was pretty adamant that climbing it was the right way … and so we climbed.

It's pretty hard going climbing up the side of a sand dune as with every step the sand gives way and you only gain a few inches in elevation. We both made it to the top but again it wasn't clear where to go (some signs at this point would have been useful). Cheryl was still talking about going through the village but I was certain that was wrong; as the clouds drew in I went on top of another sand dune (leaving Cheryl to wait) to have a look around.

Once on this final plateau the sand became just as firm to walk on as concrete and so I walked around a lot until I was pretty sure the way to go. As I walked back to Cheryl the rain came down (which was lovely as I had been hot and sticky up until this point) to tell her what I had seen. She still favored the village route but again we followed my lead and soon we made it across the sand dunes to the final part of the walk, the coastal walk.

The sand dunes had been amazing; it was like being in a desert … and they were so big. Once down at the coast we had another problem; we weren't too sure exactly where we had descended onto the coastal walk … had we gone further than the map was showing? Had we not gone as far as the map had shown? It didn't really matter to me as I knew where we pretty much were, but just to make sure we climbed another sand dune to get our bearings. The only slight annoyance at this part was Cheryl going on, and on, and on about how she thought we had gone wrong (basically pointing the finger at me) and that we should have taken the other route into the village. After the 126th time of hearing this I did think about pushing Cheryl down said sand dune but I thought the guy at the tourist office might have some questions for me.

Once we had our bearings we descended back down the sand dune and along the coast until we saw a sign that directed us back to the tourist office. On the way back we saw a sign that read 'to the tree of lost soles' which scared me a little (thinking it was voodoo stuff) until I saw sandals hanging from the tree branches (tree of lost soles … get it).

It had taken us three hours to do a two hour walk, which wasn't bad. We had a word with the guy in the tourist office who said that we did actually go the right way after all, but I agree with Cheryl that more signs would have been useful.

As the Sand Dunes National Park is just out of Sigotoka, the guy in the Sand Dunes National Park tourist office said that it would be easier if we caught a return taxi to Sigatoka bus station and catch a bus back to Nadi from there. The Fijian taxi's have this great idea; if they are returning back to base from taking someone somewhere (i.e. a taxi takes someone out of Sigatoka and is then returning back) then they will pick up anyone, who wants to go the same way, for $1 (33p) per person. It's a great idea as this means the taxi driver gets a little more money than he would have previously and people get a cheap ride into town. We did this and before we knew it were we on the bus back to Nadi at Sigatoka bus station.

Once back in Nadi we came straight back to the resort and parted; I'm here in my dorm (which I've been the only one sleeping in the dorm since 7:00am yesterday morning) and I've had a shower, a chill and change of clothes.

I think tonight I'm just going to chill and have an early night. Tomorrow I leave Nadi for Mango Bay around 9:30ish so another early start for me.

After my first two days in Fiji I have made one crucial decision … yes I am now wearing my shorts for the first time, and it isn't a pretty sight. I feel slightly embarrassed of my white matchstick legs, but it's just so hot here that it has to be done (sorry Fiji).

Toodle Pip!

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