What better thing to do two weeks before handing in your PhD thesis than going to a relaxing week in Fiji?

The deadline for handing in our PhD theses is the 31st of August. It has been our plan for a while now to go on holidays before handing in, since we both start working almost immediately after. Unlike our “normal” holidays with lots of action and adventure (relatively speaking), we decided to go to a nice resort in Fiji. During our online research of finding the best resort, we found a lot of reviews which mentioned that food was really expensive. So when we found the Wellesley resort which offered an indulgence package which included all meals for 34$ per day for two persons, our seamlessly endless quest of finding the perfect spot was over!

After a four-hour flight, we arrived in Nadi, from where we had to take a two-hour taxi ride to the Wellesley resort. Situated at the beautiful Coral Coast in the South of Fiji’s main island, this remote resort sits in the middle of lush green rainforest, and right next to a magnificent beach. Unfortunately, the weather forecast announced rain for all but the last day of our 5-night stay at the resort. Unfortunately, the forecast was painfully accurate. So we spent our days eating, sleeping, watching Olympic games on our huge TV, and reading each other’s thesis – how romantic, right? We also intended to go scuba diving. Unfortunately, we both got sick and had to cancel our booking. Instead, we went snorkeling, which turned out to be an excellent alternative. Since we went in at low tide, the water was really shallow, so that we were really close to everything.

The resort organizes two free activities per day, and when the weather allowed for it, we participated. The really nice thing is that the activities are guided by Fiji locals from the adjacent village, who are such nice and knowledgeable people. We went on a fishing trip, where we were fishing with a makeshift fishing “rod” made out of a plastic bottle with a rope and hook attached. In a strike of luck, I even managed to catch a fish. The resort cooked the fish for dinner, which was excellent. We also went on a Mangrove walk, where my personal highlight was a stretch that was full of little crabs of all colours. The moment we approached, you could see a lot of movement, and all were gone. Only after waiting for a couple of minutes did they start coming out of their holes again, giving me the chance to take some photos and enjoy their displays.

On Sunday, the day of our departure, the sun finally came out, and we spent the rest of our stay at the (deserted) beach. In the afternoon, we took a cab back to Nadi, where we stayed for two more days – mainly because Simone wanted to go shopping, and also because when we were booking, I could not imagine spending more than 5 nights at a resort ­čśë Now you probably know that Fiji won the gold medal in the Rugby Sevens. Since this is such a rare event, Fiji declared the Monday as a National holiday, and all shops were closed. Therefore, we had to change our plans, and went to a mud pool instead. This turned out to be a great alternative program, where you first cover yourself in mud, then let it dry, and afterwards wash it off in four different pools. Always followed by a nice Fiji local who takes pictures for you – perfect. On Tuesday, the day of our departure, we managed to go to the town centre, where we did some speed shopping and got some nice souvenirs.

Looking back, a lot of things could have gone better. But then again, it probably had to be exactly as it was, giving us time to just relax and prepare for a last week of PhD write-up. For those of you who wonder what happens next, here is a what is going to happen in a nutshell. Our thesis will be sent to two reviewers, who will have seven weeks to mark it. Then, we have to address the concerns of the reviewers, and depending on the mark, a different body will assess whether we have successfully addressed the reviewer’s concerns. In the meantime, both Simone and I start a post-doc in our lab, so we won’t get bored;)