Fiji is an island well known for its tropical climate, beautiful hotels, stunning islands and picture-perfect sunsets… But even if you have been to Fiji before I bet you haven’t experienced Fiji the Hands On Journeys way!
During International Women’s Day 2018, Hands On Journeys generously gave away a Free tour as an Inspiring Greatness giveback. That winner was Andrea Robinson who recently returned from her trip to Fiji. We recently caught up with Andrea to find out what she really thought about her HOJs Fiji tour and her honest response to an Indulging and Inspiring experience…
What was the best part of this trip and what did you learn?
This was my 7th visit to Fiji since taking my first trip back in 1998, long before all the flash five-star hotels had open their doors on Denarau Island. I thought I had already experienced everything Fiji had to offer, and quietly in the back of my mind was questioning whether I was going to see anything new or authentic…
Oh, how wrong was I! This trip with Hands On Journeys opened my eyes wide to ‘the real Fiji’, one that I had never experienced before.
It’s difficult to pin down the highlights as there were so so many, but here are mine in no particular order;
Our guides and new ‘brothers’ – Ben and Sevu, with their beautiful individual personalities, a genuine love for their country and who were passionate about our sharing their Fiji with us. Also, who couldn’t love their random stories and happy banter on the bus journeys?
Visiting Nailaga village and meeting ‘Uncle’, the warm welcome, open arms and big hugs and the mischievous smiles from the children – all are etched in my memory forever.
Taking part in a traditional Cava ceremony (not the standard tourist version I’d had experienced before), learning to cook Fijian style, helping prepare lunch and of course enjoying the huge lunch feast while sitting crossed legged on the floor chatting to the woman of the village. The children of Nailaga were so inquisitive and eager to learn, I had so much fun sitting with the children and reading the letters out loud they had received from Ruben’s (8yo on our tour) classmates and drawing (badly) pictures of snowmen and dogs, much to all the kids’ amusement.
Sadly saying goodbye (strange highlight I know) – but with a happy heart knowing we had helped a community, which was affected so severely by Cyclone Winston in 2016 and, not for just one day, but for tomorrow and the day after and for years to come.
Our own live travelling acoustic gig with Jo & William on guitars – truly amazing voices you could listen to all day long.
The unique and memorable unexpected stops ‘real sugar cane tasting, fresh coconuts and fish and chips on the roadside.’
Discovery new amazing highlights of Fiji – Gilligan’s tropical paradise island, local Fijian markets, the quiet, peaceful orchid gardens and I will never forget the fun we all had at the mud baths. My first visit to all of these attractions and I thought I knew Fiji!
New lifelong friends!
Chatting over dinner with the beautiful (inside & out) Simla Sooboodoo about various topics and in particular dreams, reality, empowerment tourism and sustainability. A seriously genuinely inspiring young woman whom I could have talked to for days and days! She is making a difference in this world, the love and trust she has built in the community is incredible to see #real #love #humanconnection
I’d even include my 5kg excess from all the excellent food we’d eaten!
Who should go on this tour?
I would recommend this tour to everyone, from 8yo to 70yo (both on our trip) and anyone in-between. Hands on Journey will naturally attract those who are like-minded and wanting something similar from their travels, and this trip is perfect for those who want to see a different Fiji, the real Fiji. It’s for anyone who wants to understand the culture and has a desire to empower the local community. It perfectly blends comfort and ease with a massive sense of positive change.
Has this tour changed you in any way?
As I return home, I’m feeling extremely grateful, we take so much in life for granted. I have been affected positively and cheerfully that will last for the rest of my life. Also, I’ve learned that no matter how many times you visit a destination there is always something more to discover.
My advice to anyone in travel is to travel more, not just for business, but to meet the locals and take the time to get off the beaten path, meet and interact. In this highly digital world lets remember to put down our phones for a while – human connection is so powerful. Travel with an open mind, no matter how many times you’ve visited somewhere before. Don’t just be a tourist but find ways to empower the communities you visit and leave a positive impact.
How many times have you heard ‘Travel is the best Education’? . I’m a huge believer in this but also remember ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’ – Aristotle.
The Amazing Hands On Journeys have created an incredible Fiji tour filled with not only picture perfect moments and stunning hotels but with #EmpowermentTourism where you get to see and experience the REAL Fiji while supporting a community that has NEVER SEEN tourism venture to their village! Creating sustainable jobs and empowering communities! Now that’s Travel.
Want to go on this tour? Check it out now on Hands On Journeys
Article written by JC – Inspiring Greatness
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