A Travellerspoint blog


Fiji - in summary

by Kt

We were very taken by Fiji. It is definitely somewhere, were it not so far away, I could imagine having a second home and spending a lot of time.
Mark in particular didn't want to leave and since leaving, constantly talks about going back.

It's a strange country, with a lot of contradictions. It is a place where there is a lot of poverty and a lot of wealth. It's the friendliest place I have ever been - and not just in a friendly to tourist way - as you drive or walk around the Fijians say hello to each other whether they know each other or not. However, it does have a military dictatorship, rather than a democratic government.
One of things I noticed reading the local papers or watching Fijian news is that they are very community based. Villages work in co-operatives selling their fruit. Raising money to buy more land for their village. Starting many community initiatives to help themselves and others. I guess it's kind of what David Cameron, too late in the social history of Britain, keeps trying to bring back. I'm not sure it's possible to bring back that kind of feeling after all that time - but I won't go into what I think about our divvy prime minister - but as Fiji struggles to come out of being a third world nation, I think it might be that which sees them through. It is a place of hope. And it's not often, in all honestly, you can honestly say that. Respect and affection for elders as well as for each other, and a certain code of morality in the younger Fijians is noticeable in how alien and old fashioned it is to me. It is of course not to say, there isn't plenty of bad pennies and that lots of the young'ns don't drink too much beer or cava and get into scraps but it's just that the overall leaning of the youth isn't disillusionment and destruction. I think possibly, the coming from small communities and the fact that Fiji is indeed a lovely place that they all seem to love, are key factors. I just hope I'm right and that Fiji has a promising future. The government has agreed to hold democratic elections in the next year. There are big investments being made in Fiji by the Chinese, whilst the Australian and New Zealand government are backing off. Will be interesting to see how this will work out in the coming years.

Anyhow, enough of my dull social commentary - here are some miscallaneous facts about Fiji:

  • All over Fiji, there are animals (goats, cows, horses) tied up in random places along roadsides and in fields. This is where individuals or families own the animals but not land and because there is so much greenery in Fiji, they can feed on the lush vegetation surrounding wherever they are tied up that day. It's an odd sight at first, but you soon come to expect it and I can't imagine Fiji without it.
  • There was a song that kept playing on the radio - 'She likes the taste of my sugar cane' - I kid you not - I presume it is from the Caribbean, but oh dear me, who came up with that!
  • At the Suva Prison all along the outside wall, there was a vodafone advert painted on. Vodafone in general seemed to have more of a presence in Fiji than anything else. I wonder if it will take over Coca-Cola or McDonalds as the dominating brand we see all around the world.
  • When the Cava is passed around - they do a long slow clapping when you you drink each time. Not sure if have mentioned much about Cava up to now. It's the boiled roots of the cava plant and is soaked in cool water and drunk from a large wooden bowl, in scoops of smaller wooden bowls. It's an acquired taste and I quite liked it. It doesn't have a huge affect but it kind makes you go a bit fuzzy and relaxed. However, I did learn that the day after a big cava session for me was way worse than a hangover. It gave me a blinder of a headache and I tended to be grumpy all day (yes, more than usual, i know!!!) But I guess the nice thing about drinking cava is that you don't sit in a corner, it is a social thing. You all sit around the bowl, hopefully with someone playing guitar and singing, and you take it if you want, but not if you don't want to. Asking for 'low tide' means you get a small amount to save your head.
  • 50% of the population is Fijian, the other 50% is Indo-Fijian. It was odd, because there was a lot of Indian food, business around and the familiarity in that made me feel at home, alongside song of the little britishness things left over from the colonial days of course.
  • Home-made banana jam is lovely - it tasted bit like those strawberry n cream sweets you get - campino I think they are called. Not at all as you would imagine, in that it's not bananary.
  • When the main Fijian TV channel closes at night they play the national anthem. I don't know why, but I liked that. Seemed fitting with Fijians old school charm.
  • One of the main stores you find in most towns in Fiji is 'Courts' and it is the same logo as the one we used to have in the UK and sells the same kind of stuff. I guess they parted ways with the UK company which I think went under in the 90s sometime as it became an old fashioned kind of concept as a place to shop, but it's big here and always find that funny. Anyone remember the 'we sincerely hope to see you all in courts' song from the tv ads? No? just me?


Posted by KtandMark 13:12 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Fjian wildlife

by Kt

In Fiji, I became oddly fascinated by the bugs - I particularly like the metallic green one I saw in the sand at Maqai. I suggested to Mark that perhaps I could start a new career as a bugologist (obviously don't know the correct term, but that works for me). He was enthusiastic and thought this was a top idea if it meant coming out to Fiji to study them so that he could, I quote, become a 'do-bugger-all-ogist'!!

Alongside the bugs, we had lots of geckos/lizards. The one's on Maqai had bright, electric blue tails. There were also cane toads everywhere that apparently aren't a good thing and shouldn't be touched. Even after learning this, Mark had the tendency to lean in to stroke them - it's like travelling with a ten year old, I tell you! Not being indigenous, they are a pest and all over the place at night, it's difficult not to kick them you needed to use your torch wisely. I did hear from the people we met from Oz, that cane toad golf is rather popular over there.

Slightly more domestic, the chickens at Tuvununu were just plain old chickens, but it was interesting to see them, scampering around on the edges of the sea, jumping over the rocks to peck for food. And was it terribly wrong of us, when they were down by where we had seen a sea snake, that we kind of wanted to see the chicken taken down?
Speaking of sea snakes - well they are pretty much the only creature of any concern in Fiji - they have nothing dangerous there at all. But, despite my initial concerns, and my practically drowning myself, scrambling to get out of the water when Mark spotted one when we were on the Coral Coast, we have since learned that despite, being highly venomous, they are a chilled out old thing and are barely a threat. The locals don't think twice about them. Mark came very close to one while diving and being Marked followed it around for a bit. If it was going to bite anyone, it was going to be some big, english stalking dufus. He did say it was odd that this thing swam through the water and turned around with this snakes head, which just looked out of place under water.

There were some birds which were in abundance everywhere and no idea what they are called but we called them the 'masked crusader' birds as they looked like they had batman and robin style masks on. They always came in pairs too and we liked to think of them going on secret missions to save the world. In reality, they mainly just knicked the food off plates left lying around - but maybe they were taking it off to starving children somehwere, or to build a dam to save a village threatened to be engulfed by a river? Maybe?

My absolute favourite thing in Fiji, though, was the blue starfish. They are gorgeous. Nothing much to say about them really. They don't do anything. They just sit there. I think it's partially that this is one of those occasions when I didn't know that such things existed, so with the un-known existence of them, they become doubly exciting. I have made a note, not to really read up about any wildlife in the countries we go to so rather than having a checklist of things you strive to see, you are just pleasantly sruprised by the things you stumble across.


Posted by KtandMark 12:04 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

We've come full circle in Fiji

By Kt

back in Nadi bay (pronounced Nandi btw - that confused us for a while). Last time we were here, after marathon flights from uk, we slept for about 20 hours, so hopefully we'll make a little more of it this time. We are in a cheap backpackers with a fancier place next door where we spent the first evening. Saw a sea plane land and watched some more big ass bats doing their thing. Quite fascinated by sea planes, don't know why, maybe it was watching the Disney club 'Tailspin' years ago - anyone remember that?
Can't believe we are gonna be out of here soon. Looking forward to New Zealand, well I am at least - Mark doesn't want to leave Fiji ever!


Posted by KtandMark 00:16 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Tsulu - next destination not so nice

By Kt

Well I kind of suspected, having experienced 'out of the way' Fiji and also, having gone past it on the way to Suva a few weeks back, that I wouldn't like backpackers much. I was right, it is attached to a touristy place called the arts village where they do these cheesy tribal 'shows'. The building was obviously impressive when it was built but since then, prob 15/20 years ago, they've not bothered to look after it in any way. There were very few people staying even though it's big. Biggest advantage was the aircon in our room - that was heaven. Also we would have been sharing a living room with balcony, kitchen and bathroom, with another bedroom but that was always empty so we had apartment to ourselves. After copping out on first night and eating at the American style blues restaurant (although to be fair it was that or another western style place - nothing Fijian on offer at night), we then decided to save money and make a nice change of doing some cooking. The choices in the supermarket and the interesting cooking facilities were going to make it experimental. If only there had been a hob - I had to do everything in this odd plug in frying pan thing. Managed to make pasta without blowing up - although I'd have preferred that the plug socket didn't light up behind, whenever switching on or off. Still, we have managed a couple of interesting 'feasts'! 
I think main reason of not liking Tsulu is that it seems to be an expat area. There are lots of new villas and estates with western expats who want to be in Fiji but don't want it to be that different from home. Much the same as you get in Spain and everywhere else lovely in the world. It's not a bad thing and I'm sure there will be fair few times on our travels when we'll seek such places for some kind of respite, but it kinda feels odd and un-necessary here. The off shoot is that it's not such a happy place. I think the management of the hostel discourages staff having fun or helping anyone. Bad vibes man!!
The main reason we ended up hanging around here so long was so  the scabby donkey that is Mark, could heal. Having scraped himself on coral back in Maqai and not dealt with it properly or at all (*directs womanly glare in his direction*), he has 2 legs full of infected wounds which, look away if you are squeamish, were puss filled, weeping and generally gross. He ended up going to the lovely lady doc here (who calls him Mr Mark), who gave him antibiotics, cream and painkillers as well as, and (now this cheered me up no end) a big, old fashioned needle in his bum!! ;) So, he's needed to stay off his feet and keep fairly sterile, so this place has done the job, but we cannot wait to get out of here!! We are getting a bus at around 4 which gets into Nandi airport 7ish. Mark luckily phoned our new hostel to check a couple of things only to learn they have no record of our booking. With no Internet available - wifi been down since we've been here and reckon is permanently down and the Internet cafe closed today (think they must be Seventh Day Evangelists, whatever that is but we've come across that a fair few times where stuff open Sundays but not Saturdays).
And as the hostel doesnt help you with anything so Marks been all over to get voucher for pay phone to sort us out. Luckily I had looked at a fair few places, so had a list of places to try, one of once came up trumps and is a bargain. Really will be glad to see the back of this place to be honest. 



Posted by KtandMark 15:34 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Leaving Tuvunnu

by Kt

2nd jan - leavin Tuvununu 

Nice to be back for even a short time but saying goodbye was v sad - such a small place, that you knew everyone pretty well. 

The morning we left, who should turn up on his way over to Maqai, but the guy, Kim who, for anyone who read early Tuvununu blogs, is the one with the charming c-word Tshirt, that he wore when we had the church carol singers. Meg had told us that, being Danish, he didnt understand how offensive it was, but I wasnt convinced. That was until he turned up wearing it with his mother and her friend, both, lovely, straight-laced ladies in their 60s, at least.. So clearly none of em have any idea how offensive it was. Did cringe a bit as we had an American couple with us, who had 3 kids - but oh well!

The American family had just moved to Suva (I think he may have worked at the embassy) and the kids were quite funny smart arses! The night before, the new year water throwing had continued much to their delight and having been told not to do it inside, they prowled around the decking, desperate for someone to set foot outside. The funniest thing was that the dad, really looked like Barrack Obama. It was really disconcerting. Even his mannerisms and voice were similar.

We shared a long delay with them when we finally went to the islands airport. The plane was incy, which I very much enjoyed, whilst Mark, not so much!! An hour later we touched down is Suva, feeling very pleased we hadn't endured to 18 hours back by ferry.

Posted by KtandMark 03:30 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

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