Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Waldrons encounter Fiji

The first week of December saw us in Fiji for a three day workshop on Welfare/Humanitarian Services in the Pacific Area.  This included representatives from PPNG, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, NZ, Kiribati, and Australia.  We discussed Diabetes, Tsunamis, Nutrition, Sanitation and what we could do to prevent/combat/recover/prepare for all these rising problems in the area.  It was a wonderful experience that included discussion with Hans Sorenson, the Area Welfare Manager, Elder Adolf Johansson, the Area Seventy, and Brent Buckner the District Temporal Affairs Officer.  It was held at the Raffles Hotel, adjacent to the Nadi International Airport in Nadi, Fiji.
This is the restaurant (in the Raffles Hotel) where we took most of our meals.  Though covered, it is open air and was like dining outdoors every meal.  Mina birds were flying in and out all the time and there was a Lothario who serenaded us every night playing cowboy songs on his guitar.  You can just make out Sis Waldron in the rear, in front of the bar with the bartender.  All the hospitality staff were as friendly and accommodating as can be.  One bellhop even greeted us and remembered we'd been there four months ago.  The meals were great and our room was tremendous--much better than the last time (real economy class).   We enjoyed the patio to the back yard which was beautifully landscaped.  It had a nice AC unit (mandatory) which kept us quite comfortable.  The shower had hot water (haven't had that in four months) and the TV had a whopping four channels one of which was the movie channel.

This was the swimming pool and really fun.  At about 30 yards, it was nice to have a straight line for lap swimming that was virtually uninterrupted.  See here, it's empty.  We rarely had to share it with anyone.  To the left is a water slide and to the rear is the gym, which we used several times in the week.  I took this from the back of the bar, seen in the previous picture.

The main resort in the area was called Porte Denarau.  It was kind of a Park City on the beach.  They have a town square on the harbor with all kinds of shops; everything from grocery stores to souvenir shops.  This was surrounded by all the big name leisure outfits like Windham, Marriott, etc.  And for entertainment they have tennis, golf, a small amusement park and, of course, the beach.  The harbor has all kinds of boats and tour accommodations one of which we booked. By the way, the fire tree in the background only blooms around Christmas.  They are beautiful and we were lucky to be there when it happened.

What resort is complete without a Hard Rock Cafe.  We couldn't resist the assortment even though, given our current appetites, we could only share one order.  They were understanding and let us have the order and an extra plate.  We ate until our eyeballs nearly fell out.
We couldn't believe we had to fly thousands of miles to go to our first Hard Rock Cafe so we took lots of pictures.

They have lots of fun ships and crusises/tours for people to book.  From sailing the open seas to destination places like the island below.

This is Bounty Island and I think is the property of the tour outfit we booked for Friday.  The main building in the middle is the bar and in front on the deck is a small swimming pool.  On the right is the cafe where there was a fun buffet for our lunch.  In between, in the water, is the trampoline.  Jumping on a trampoline is tricky at best but try it when the thing is shifting under a busy surf.  The little building on the far right is is the equipment shack where we got life jackets, paddles and snorkel equipment, etc.  The little roof you can see left of the bar is the changing/shower room.
We were shuttled out to the Sea View, a boat that looked, above water, like a submarine but never did dive.  Below the water line the hull was a room with seats and windows for viewing the fish, reefs, etc.  It was really fun to see all the fish.  They even chummed the water to bring them in close to the boat for pictures.  The light, especially through the tinted windows underwater, was not conducive to photos but we did get a couple that might capture the scenery.  

I'm no biologist but some of these were cute and up close were quite photogenic.

Here is the reef with lots of fish around, including some sinister looking ones at the top near the surface.  The reef was not colorful like I was hoping.  The only real color was those purple star jobs you see on the bottom.

Just after arrival we got one of the other guests to take our picture with the welcome sign so you would know we were really there.

The buffet was wonderful but some of the entrees were not what you would expect.  Shepherd Pie, toss salad with lettuce--these are not tropical items.

Yes, we both went snorkeling

Sister Waldron went snorkeling for the first while then went back and got a kayak to chase around in.  She, therefore, got sunburned on her thighs while I got sunburned on my back.

This was taken leaving the island by one of the other passengers.  You can see the Bounty "playground" in the background.

Returning to Porte Denarau, the harbor is really fun and you can see the gateway (three stories) leading into the mall area behind all the boats.  What a great day--wish we could have stayed longer.

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