The following post is courtesy of Ollie O’Loughlin. Don’t read on if you don’t want to see bad words. You have been warned.
One destination that flies under the radar just three hours away from Brisbane, Australia is Fiji–in my opinion one of the most underrated places in the world. The year was 2009. I was just a young pup searching for maximum intoxication and liquor served from a coconut. I started the trip with such optimism. What could possibly go wrong on paradise island? I was staying on the coral coast in a resort by the name of the Wellesley, a boutique hotel that hosts around 20 guests. We flew into Nadi. Upon arrival we were greeted by our gracious driver who drove us 2 hours through remote, tropical, lush lands. Once greeted at the hotel, the first decision was to try the local beer. Fiji Bitter it was. After several thousand of those and a great meal it was time to hit the hay. The next day I woke up and thought to myself, “what’s on the cards?” then decided that long island ice teas by the pool would be a really good idea. I got blind. After enough ice teas to kill a full sized elephant I looked down at the beach and realized the local tribe was playing touch rugby. Being an avid rugby player myself with 12 years experience under my belt, I thought I’d go down for a short stint. They were to this day the nicest people I have ever met–very receptive, very welcoming, and eager to have me play rugby with them. Because we were on the beach, we were playing with no shoes. Little did I know that locals were accustomed to not wearing shoes and had hardened feet. Whilst playing I sliced my foot open on a piece of coral. At the time I didn’t even bat an eyelid. The long island ice teas were flowing through my veins. My competitive spirit willed me to keep playing. Little did I know I was packing that wound full of sand and bacteria. We finished up on the beach and continued drinking the whole night, so I didn’t think much of the gaping wound under my foot. Side note: kava is legit as fuck.
That night will be remembered for centuries to come…waking up in the middle of the night and feeling like the right side of my body was going to fall off. It was at that point I realized, in a moment of somewhat sobriety, that something was awfully wrong. My foot was evidently infected and my unwillingness to go to the hospital was setting in despite being the smart thing to do. We already had rugby tickets purchased to watch Fiji vs Samoa which was roughly 3 hours away. By the morning I knew I had a real problem on my hands. (If you travel without travel insurance, you’re a fucking idiot.) My driver offered to drop us by the hospital on the way to the rugby which by that point I graciously accepted. Arriving at the hospital was like a scene from Black Hawk Down (shit that movie’s good). The wait time would have lasted the better half of a century, but my driver who was my homie told the administration that I was on the next flight back to Australia and needed immediate attention. Now this was something like out of a James Bond movie. A nurse walked me out the back before I could say shaken not stirred. We were in a back room and she was tending to my wound. Me being the drama queen I am, I thought I was dealing with a leg amputation, but after a quick clean and a bandage I was good to go. The next day things were looking up. I had an all day jet ski safari booked. One of the most amazing travel experiences of my life was riding a jet ski through the Fijian islands and exploring what nature had to offer. The water was so clear and beautiful it’s something that an HD TV couldn’t even depict. We stopped at an island and had lunch and even went snorkeling but the highlight was definitely being on the water.
Fast forward to the next nightmare: we had planned an island cruise for the following day and had a dinner on at the hotel the night before. I opted to go with a sort of octopus curry type dish. Whilst eating, even though it was fucking delicious, I had a feeling something was wrong. It was about 5 am the next morning that I realized something was horribly wrong. Everyone feels a stomach movement here and there, but nothing quite like this. After several trips to the bath mint (bathroom for those sober people out there) the question posed: do I rough it and go on this cruise or do I stay at home like a miserable cunt? Good will prevailed, Saturdays were for the boys, and I decided to go. Our tour bus had to pick up people from a bunch of resorts along the way, and I used every restroom accordingly. By the time we got to the boat it was refreshing to hear that they had amenities on board. While the cruise promised to have picturesque views on the way, my views consisted of my board shorts covering my flip flops in a stall, and not even the good type, like the ones that have writing on the walls you see when you’re driving between Nebraska and Utah. We arrived at the first island and went snorkeling on a coral reef. This was the awkward moment where you are deciding to do an aqua bog in front of 50 people. It was an easy decision except for the fact I was wearing a wet suit. The last thing I want to feel are my turds around my shoulders. I clenched tight and swam like Michael Phelps. Arguably a world record for the quickest a reef has ever been viewed, I made it back to the island in time to drop a bomb worthy of being dropped on Hiroshima. After several hours in the restroom I thought it would be time to catch some sun. I walked to the beach. It was about 33 degrees celsius, but I lay on the beach shivering like it was a Chicago winter. At that point it was confirmed that it was not going to be a good day, in the words of Ice Cube. I spent the ride back curled up like a rattlesnake without the bite, shaking like a salt shaker in the words of the Ying Yang Twins. The rest of the day consisted of surviving and trying to take in the beautiful scenery. Once back on the mainland, I thought I had made it but I completely forgot about the 2 hour ride back to the resort. Once we got there, I learned that several people were also sick. Not even beers could save me from this one. I went to bed and somehow woke up as crisp as a fucking freshly ironed shirt. After an outstanding day at the beaches, and one last top up of Fiji Bitter, I headed home. Don’t let this story scare you away from Fiji. It’s one of the best places I’ve ever been. Despite the horrific incidents, I can’t wait to get back.
Signing off. Yours forever, Beerzilla O’Loughlin.
Here is the only photographic evidence that remains from that trip: