Mountain adventures

Lars Alfredson
Mon 17 Jun 2013 21:55

20130615 Saturday – Hire and Higher Cars


Today were going on a grand excursion, north, up the coast and then on a circuitous route returning via the mountains.


Our first stop is at Vuda Marina on the otherside of the bay and north of the airport. Boat access is through a channel cut into the reef and the marina itself has been cut out of the coral which forms a large circular bay, so protected, it has a Cyclone proof rating.


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                       Vuda entrance                                                                                            Shops and cafe’


Onshore yachts are lowered over pits that take their keels and the hulls, now at ground level are supported by piles of tyres, ensuring they don’t blow over. Compared to Denarau, this is yachties only country and very quiet. Not a tripper to be seen.


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               Cyclone pits                                                                                                            Inner harbour


We take a coffee in a pleasant little café in the small shopping complex at the head of the entry bay and set off again to BA a large town about two hours away. The drive takes us along the plain, filled with sugarcane fields. In the fields and parallel to the road runs the narrow gauge railway track that services them taking the cane back to the factory.


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                                    Cafe’                                                                                        Reef passage sticks


We arrive at one and time for lunch. Bars and tourists seem non existent up this end of the island and we have a choice of Indian or Chinese. Opting for the later we end up with warm beef chow mien and a choice of cold chips or hot rice. No alcohol.


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                          Ba town                                                                                             The only restaurant we found


Moving rapidly on we follow the road out of town to the mountains. Within 500 metres or so the tarmac rapidly disappears and the dust rock and dirt mixed with an equal portion of pot holes and washed out track become the norm. We are soon leaving the plain and its cane fields.


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                           Sugar cane                                                                                               The shrinking track


As we climb higher and higher the scenery is fantastic but the road deteriorates rapidly so that the rock mound in the centre of the track is somewhat higher than our undercarriage which is getting the full pebbledash treatment.


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                             Nice scenery


There is very little sign of life as one leaves the lower reaches and we are now going down valleys to the many river beds then vertically up the other sides gradually getting higher until we’re running along a ridge high above the others that run in parallel rows below us.


Suddenly we see a village of the old fashioned and original Burse in the trees ahead. Coming to a very large river and its bridge/ford I get out take picture. There are kids bathing and as I walk across to catch up with the car a lady approaches and introduces herself as Yvonne the village chief’s wife. Would we like to visit and take part in souvosouvo and get introduced to the chief?


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                    Chatting up the chiefs wife                                                                                Crossing the river


We explain that we have nothing to give as our part of the ceremony. (Ironically we had bought Kava root as we expected to do this in the islands, but that was on board)


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                  The Chief and his wife Yvonne                                                                                       Navala village


No problem, we were taken to and introduced the chief, then taken to the “Head Cashier”, a switched on young lady who relieved us of $60 (All I had) and justice had been seen to be done. It was great, though now we were late and looked like being stuck in the mountains after dark on extremely dodgy “roads”.


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                           Cashier                                                                                                            Proud father


They asked us if we wanted to stay over night but we thought better of it and a night of kava drinking would not compensate for a decent beer and my lobster I was looking forward to


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                                 The twins                                                                                            Lots of kids



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                         Low entrance                                                                                                       Collecting wood


Night was falling and we’re now on a razor edge of a mountain ridge high above the world which is disappearing into the dark. To compound our problem the petrol gauge has been flashing empty for a while. There’s no AA here in fact there is nothing up here and we’ve 40 more kilometre of track to go!!


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                        On the top almost


Never have two explorers been so happy to hit tarmac, and then find a filling station. We were so happy we didn’t stop for a beer in the port put went straight aboard where in the comfort and security of home we had a large Rum and Coke to slow down the adrenalin rush.


Despite being somewhat debilitated through fear and lack of beer we showered off the dust and grime and went ashore for a well deserved, lobster in my case and steak for Lars. Here, back in civilisation we pondered our fate, what a day.



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