The trip from Suva to Rabi Island was such an experience in itself that it warrants it’s own dedicated blog post.
The first leg of the trip was an overnight journey onboard the ‘Spirit of Fiji’. Being the only foreigners on the ship – seriously – this is when you know that you are getting a genuine local experience. I noticed that people were very curious of us, particularly the young ones more than anyone else. If I’m to be completely honest, I was a little nervous at first, it’s quite unnerving being watched by everyone around us. I felt like a little piece of bread being eyeballed by a troop of hovering seagulls. It turns out that the people we spoke to were all very friendly. My favourite one was Viliami (the little kid with the grey/green polo shirt), it took him a while to warm up to us but by the end of the boat trip, he’d introduced us to his whole family.
Winner winner chicken dinner… We didn’t have chicken and corned beef was the winner of the day. We shared a tin of Palm Corned Beef with a box of water crackers between all 9 of us. Some of our team mates were not a big fan of corned beef, let alone having it cold and scooping it straight from the can with a cracker (no utensils), so there were more for us less fussy eaters.
Our sleeping arrangements was a slight upgrade to the one we had in Suva, no shared cabins with beds or anything like that, we slept in the main area of the ferry with everyone else. Families laid out their blankets and marked their territory on the floor, the isles were just covered with bodies. It’s times like this where being small comes in handy, I weaved myself into a reasonably comfortable position over 3 seats – i managed to slide my body below one arm rest and my legs above another. We slept ok but boy did we look rough the next day!
Note: We did the same trip a year later and flew in a small plane (that’s another blog entry), and I’d have to say that given the choice, I’d opt to go on the ship again because there was a better chance of staying alive.
When we arrived in Vanua Levu, we negotiated with one of the locals and got a lift on the back of their pick-up truck. It was a much better way of getting around the island compared to the bus. A quick stop in Savusavu was in order to stock up on some supplies since we weren’t going to see civilization for the next 10 days. Savusavu was a quiet little village and extremely expensive. Canned food and junk food were ok but the fruit and veges were just astronomical for not a whole lot.
We continued on our journey enduring a 4 hour bumpy ride to the other side of Vanua Levu. Once we off loaded our stuff from the ute, we then had to carry all our gear onto a small boat moored about a hundred metres away from the shore. So, we all rolled-up our pants and waded across the knee deep water.
The Te Banaba does monthly trips from Vanua Levu and Rabi Island. This is when one of the most memorable moments happened for me in the trip – the guy manning the boat started the motor by sparking it using a screwdriver… yep, A SCREWDRIVER. That provided very little comfort considering that it was the only boat that transported people to and from Rabi, and we were in this fire hazard for the half hour trip…
Date Travelled: July 2003