Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome to South Asia – I mean the South Pacific?

This site is obsolete

Our first day is getting ourselves stocked up with supplies, so we head on the shuttle bus to town. We buy up some basic snacks and drinks, and take ourselves to the DVD shop. For AU $1.50 each, we buy about 10 movies, and a few 4 to 6 movie sets for $3 – not always the best quality, but needed for rainy nights with no TV etc.

Discovering I had to transfer our money to an accessible ATM account, we head to an Internet Café, where for 25 cents I use the computer. Hot and tired, we go to take the bus back, only to be stuck in a Hare Rama, Hare Krishna Street Festival which is so noisy, it is kind of freaking my son out.

So we try to go and hide in a shop, but as the celebrators are mostly on foot, it is still going by an hour later.
The atmosphere feels more like we are stuck in Southern Asia than the Southern Pacific. 

There is no chance of a bus, so as we are clued up to the costs of taxis, we haggle the price down by 2/3rd of his asking price and jump in. 
Alas we join the back of the festival procession and sit, and listen to a plethora of Indian cussing from our driver, with the odd English swear word thrown in. 

There is only one road out of town, and there is no escape. We hear his views on their faith, and we decide it is time for a random act of kindness, and we give the driver a roll packet - a refreshing towelette flannel of which he has never seen before. They are a cool, moist cloth, and have essential oil, and he about all but gives himself a bath waiting. 
It also seems to have washed away his swearing!

It is near dinner by the time we get to the hotel.
My son jumps in the pool with his clothes on – he has had enough! He had already made new friends from the night before – as kids do, so he happily played with them. 
By the end he is the last in the pool, and the stress of the day is behind us.  We love Fiji!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Perfect Start – Fiji. Staying at the Anchorage Resort

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We have arrived in Fiji.  Instantly the familiar buzz of this airport hits me, and a trio of men playing guitars and singing, greet us in their Bula shirts as we are crooned into customs.

It is steamy, and there is disorder, as people scavenge for their luggage.  This takes a good half hour or more.  Fortunately trolleys are free, but have no brakes, so as you try to add a bag, it takes off and does circles, and dodges away.  Fellow tourists help me - as we have an extra 40 kg of luggage; which includes books, toys, toiletries and clothes for when we reach the poorer remote villages, to give away to them.

Ill prepared touring parents are soon peeling items of clothing off their children, some kids I notice are down to their underwear!  We merge as sheep to security, who then unload our trollies again, and scan our luggage, which is returned to the trolley like a child stacking blocks – I am amazed, but nothing falls, and we have no choice but to be pushed with the flock out the door.  
Welcome to Nadi (pronounced Nandi) Fiji!

We are met by a Fijian friend, who takes us by taxi to our resort.  Anchorage Resort. This is great, as we get to learn from a local the ‘real’ cost of a taxi; none of which have meters, and no-one wears safety belts either.
We are repeat hotel guests, staying at Veisisai (pronounced Vi-say-say), near Vuda Point (pronounced Vunda) close to Lautoka; and have asked for the same suite as last time. As it is past dinnertime, we quickly go to our room, unlock the door, to be welcomed by a very surprised lady in a barely there night-slip!  We soon discover that it seems we have a master room key, which makes me wonder how many also do?

On finding we have a completely different room, we head down to the poolside restaurant.
Our first dinner is on the deck, right on the edge of the beach and pool.  

The food is fabulous, the musicians sing and play some Fijian romance, and the balmy evening breeze is blowing in the palm trees.  
We raise our glasses, and toast our arrival.  
Our adventure has official begun.

Welcome to Fiji!

We recommend the Anchorage Resort.
We have stayed here 2 times.
We were treated with excellent service, and an incredible package deal.
the free massages, island trip, and lobster dinner package is a great value!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teaching Children new Culture and Customs

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We have been invited to stay in Sydney with one of my long-time friends.
We were teenage pen-pals in high school - myself in Adelaide, Australia; and her in Osaka, Japan.

We arrive, and immediately we are asked to remove our shoes at the door, and to go through the 1/2 net curtains that hang at each door-frame.  In this case, the house is pretty entirely decked out as a Snoppy Japananese shire / museum.

We eat on the low table with cushions on the floor.  as my son loves to eat in front of the TV, this is no biggie for him!

He is promptly informed not to walk on the top of the futon bed, and definitely not to use it as a trampoline!  Our friend, graciously is sleeping on the floor.

We hit the sack, on what feels also a bit like sleeping on a floor, as a futon has no cushioning, but surprisingly, I find it is fabulous for my back, and I wake up after a pain-free sleep.

Our host, greets us in Japanese of which she insists my son learns and speaks a few words - he doesn't get why, but she keeps pushing - yeah!  We also bow, and placed our hands under our chins and repeated a Japanese saying before eating - which we both mastered.

Next day we ask her to choose a dining place for a late "birthday lunch celebration' for her, so she selects one of the most sort after Chinese Dumpling Houses.  I thought my son as about to go spare, as she informs him he cannot play his 3DS at the table - it is rude.  She shows him how to use chop-sticks, and orders food all for us.  All dishes are new and strange to us.

Not being a tea drinker myself, I am not surprised to see him spit out his drink, which is very ungracious.  She strictly reprimands him for this.

He tries to get away with just eating rice for lunch.
Yumi is persistent, and asks if he can prepare him a special surprise dish, which amazingly he agrees to, eats and enjoys, which is a mix of sauces, dumpling and other dishes.  Next she is feeding him off her chopsticks, and he is eating as she shovels in all the new foods.

Day one, she has him eating new foods.

Yumi, in a nut-shell has a gift.  She is great with kids - fabulous, in fact!

She also is about to embark on opening her own cooking school; teaching Australians the art of how to cook healthy and easy Japanese dishes.  Including easy dishes for children.

She engages with him to a point where I almost feel jealous.  They are cooking, laughing and bonding, as she has him on his own stool, creating new Japanese foods he will eat.

Making Teriyaki Sushi Rolls

Rice Balls which are part of our Japanese Picnic we take to Luna Park

Our day to Luna Park is a load of fun, and it is great having Yumi to share it with us.  We are all pretty beat at the end of the day, and she buys him a "Wild Mouse" cap, to prove he has survived the roller-coaster ride.  This hardly leaves his head for days!

Fun at Luna Park

With great style, she continues to teach him Asian customs, and to learn new foods.  
I am so impressed!  
I personally would have a war.  
I watch at times as he chews and chews, and he really gives it a good try - and I sit in awe of her skills that she possesses and how at the start of this trip, she has managed to overcome a great hurdle - trying new foods.

Yum Cha

Afternoon tea at the Opera House

Yumi makes a special spa bath and plays with my son at night

Each room has different mats, curtains, Japanese products and ways to do and not to do things.  
Each day has new dishes to try, and new words to learn.
We are conquering "Culture and customs mountains" with fervour. 

We learn how to set the table "the right Japanese way"
and he also masters chop-sticks!

At the end of this week, I must say a huge "thank you".  
Thank you to an amazing lady, who is strict, loving, and persevering; and who has really done a great job of launching this new adventure.