Fiji Pg 6

Fri 17th
Breakfast with the family and then, all too soon, it was time to check out.  We showered and packed everything and then went along to the office to pay our bar tab.  We were asked to check through the dockets attached to our bill and there were a whole wad that were not ours but when the chap checked the total after removing them it had been right all along anyway.  It looks as if they’d just been gathered up in error after the sums had been done.  Our boat was to leave at 1:30 but we’d had to check out by 10am so we opted to pay extra to have lunch as we’d have been very hungry by the time we got back to our mainland hotel otherwise.

I haven’t mentioned the library, which was in the office.  There were books all around on every ledge or shelf and you could just help yourself.  They just asked that if you had a book you could replace it with, please do, so you could leave the island with a different book you arrived with if you wished.

Anyway, back to checking out, we took a staff member back to our bure to collect our cases and found the maid there already preparing for the next people.  Once he’d got our bags we took the key back to the office to find the chap from there was on his way to find us to get it anyway.  We laughed at his relief to have the key in his hands.  It looks as if he didn’t expect us to keep it to get our bags.

Then we climbed the stairs one last time and just hung around feeling homeless.  For the most part we sat on the chairs in front of the dining hall chatting to people who came past.  There were about 90 people at the resort in total and despite the daily comings and goings we were on recognition and smiling terms with almost everyone.

Eventually lunchtime arrived and we chose a fish and chips and a Caesar salad and whichever arrived first was to be mine as I’m such a slow eater and I was starting to fret about eating it in time to get on the boat.  I’d dosed up with travel medication and could not tell you which one I ate but I do remember that our German family joined us and we chatted and exchanged email addresses.  Matthias stayed back after the meal was over and we talked to him more.  Well, I did, David was always happy just to sit quietly while I talked with Matthias as we often discussed things he didn’t have an interest in.  And all too soon the drum announced that our boat was ready to leave.

We walked down the beach and sadly hugged Matthias, Stella and Opa goodbye before

Rocky Ride

Rocky Ride

stepping onto the transfer boat.  The sky was dark but the ocean looked smooth enough.  Appearances can be deceptive LOL  Here’s the view out of the back of the boat as we sailed away from the island.  The channel between the 2 islands had a really large swell and we rocked and rolled over those.

It was a pretty small boat – 12 people on the way out had been a full load.  On this journey back there were 8 adults, 2 children and the captain.  From time to time the captain slowed to a crawl to negotiate a wave and it was a pretty rough trip.  I was really grateful for my tablets.  I never take medication of any form.  Except for travel sickness prevention.

As we were just a little distance further away from the island than this photo I suddenly heard my phone announce that I had a text message arriving.  There were 3 and David laughed at me as I tried to type a response while lurching up, down and sideways on the waves.  You can tell in this video that we go airborne at one point, and how hard we smack down again by how hard the camera bounces.  Believe me, I was trying my best to hold it steady!

After about 90 minutes we finally reached the still waters of the harbour on the mainland and then tied up ready for transfer to the minivan and then our respective hotels.  We dropped off the young Finnish couple at the airport as they were catching a flight straight away, and then on to the Novotel to check in once more.

We got settled and then checked the restaurant to see what was for dinner that night.  It was a Mongolian BBQ at $42 a head which we very much doubted we would like to partake of.  The only other option was to order room service, as eating in the restaurant meant you wanted the BBQ.  We asked if we could look at the BBQ to see what vegetables were there and the lady assured us that there were vegetables.  There were indeed, but it was just a couple of bowls and I truly doubted a share would be worth $5, much less $42 and was sure we’d be hungry straight away so we stayed in our room and watched some stuff on David’s DVD player and got room service.  I had a personal sized pizza and David had ‘catch of the day’ which came on top of some mashed potato and we were happy enough to go to bed soon after that.

Sat 18th
We decided to have the ‘full breakfast’ this morning and soon found out why the extra items that constituted the additional expense were covered with silver lids.  It wasn’t because they were special it was because they were hiding in shame!!!  The scrambled eggs were really bland looking and watery, the bacon (for those who wished) was hard, dark and dried up looking and there were only 1½ hash browns in their container.  I love hash browns and I had to share these with David!?!?!  There was a thing of tinned spaghetti that looked fine but the serving spoon was shaped so that all the strands fell off and you only got a spoonful of sauce.  Gotta laugh!  We were very bad – or maybe not, considering – and wrapped up some pastries in a serviette and took them back to our room to have later.

We decided that for this, our only full day in Nadi, we would walk to the local shops or village centre, or whatever it was that they had, and have an explore.  We’d heard something about the second military coup when we were on the island but new folk had arrived each day so we knew it wasn’t bad enough that the airport was shut off or anything like that so we determined that we would ask at reception if such a venture would be safe before setting out.  We went to reception, asked for a map and set off walking with never a thought to ask anything hehehe.

The town centre was just past the one roundabout with 5 roads coming out from it.  This seemed the centre of civilisation here.  One branch went to the airport and then on to the harbour we’d used, one went to our hotel and beyond, another to Suva (where all the trouble was) and one to Nadi town centre.  I don’t know where the other one went.  There was a man standing on the footpath around the edge of the roundabout and he told us that he was waiting for a ‘carrier’ to pick him up and we were fascinated that he would expect a vehicle to stop half way around a roundabout to pick up a passenger.  Watching the roundabout on the few times we saw it we found that it was true.  Even the bus would stop there to let people on and off.  There were no lanes marked but if someone was going around and another car wanted to only travel one exit it just skirted around and out, no care at all to the vehicle already on it, just a total free-for-all, yet no harm or fuss was made by anyone.

It was very pleasant walking in the warmth of the Fijian air and we marvelled at everything we saw.  Most of the houses were similar in size to Australian homes but still made with, what shall I say… ‘older style materials’.  The gardens were lush but for the most part did not look as if they were well tended.  And that’s fine, I’m just reporting what we saw, not criticising it.

After perhaps 1 km we saw the beginning of what turned out to be the shopping strip which linedone side of the road.  It wasn’t quite Pacific Fair!  I did like that the shops were fronted by their own road separate from the main thoroughfare.  The shop road had angle parking all the way along it and the shops covered a distance of probably 1.5 kms so that was a nice lot of parking spaces and it seemed a very sensible idea.  There were a few new, concrete buildings, mostly 3 stories tall, but for the most part the shops were rather dilapidated and most had metal grilles which shut over their windows and doors and big padlocks to hold the door grilles at night.

Part of the Nadi Shopping Strip

Part of the Nadi Shopping Strip

I took this picture for a number of reasons; the first was the size of the L plate on the burgundy coloured car on the right, it was huge; the second was the little girl standing in the passenger seat of the blue car as it drove away; the third was just to show the shops and the new building still being built.  The L plate doesn’t show well in the pic and the shops look nicer than they were.  Oh well, the thought was there.

As we walked along we became aware that we needed to watch where we put our feet.  The footpath was uneven and had its share of potholes to match the road alongside us.  Most of the shops seemed to be owned by Indian people who are apparently the second most populous nationals living here.  The languages spoken in Fiji according to a brochure in our hotel are English, Hindi (Indian), Fijian and Chinese (can’t remember the dialect), in that order.  A trend became apparent in that any Fijians approaching us would call a cheery ‘Bula!’ but the Indians tried to pretend we weren’t there.  This surprised me a great deal as all of the Indian people I’ve met in Perth have been really gorgeous; friendly, kind and gentle, whereas 90% of these wouldn’t have cared if they’d pushed us off the footpath into the road.

We looked in the shop windows and walked along wondering if we’d be able to buy any more gifts for our family today and eventually found one store that had all sorts of things in it.  There were some really nice rolls of cotton fabric in the back of the store and I bought several metres of two of them plus we saw a shirt that called out to us both that our house/dog/cat sitter would love, but nothing else for Nat, Dan or the grandchildren.  When we went to pay, David gave them a little over the amount required and they made absolutely no move at all to give him change.  I considered asking for it just on the principle but then decided against it.  It was $1.70 so not

ANZ Bank Nadi

ANZ Bank Nadi

worth bothering and I wasn’t upset, just curious.

Here’s their ANZ bank and hopefully an idea of how the shops were all in a row.

And here’s the Liquorland which was in a little wooden alcove at the front of one of the supermarkets.

Liquorland Nadi

Liquorland Nadi

Soon after this was a shop with some really beautiful clothing in the window.  It was Indian clothing with beaded saris and the Indian ladies’ trousers and tops (I don’t know the proper name) so I asked David if we could go in.  We were the only customers in there and an absolutely stunningly beautiful girl attached herself to us and gave me ‘advice’ on every garment my eyes passed.  She was very pleasant but the style of help was far too pushy for me and I wasn’t totally sure, despite her pleasant enough manner, whether we were quite welcome so we made our way towards the door, politely admiring stuff on the way so we didn’t look as if we were rushing out (why do we do these foolish acts of pretence for people we will never see again?).

There were quite a few restaurants along this strip but I’d have to have been mighty desperate for food to have eaten in any of them.  They really did not look clean at all.

Wherever there were a few young men gathered we began to be able to predict what would happen as we passed by.  They’d call out “Taxi!?!” and we’d shake our heads.  It became obvious that not all taxis here are licensed as such.

There was a steady stream of buses going along the road.  At least a quarter of the vehicles would have been buses, perhaps even more.  Now these fascinated us completely as they were in various states of disrepair and one had black smoke bellowing out the back of it.  The other most noticeable feature was the number of people on board, they were literally at times hanging out of the windows and door.  And it was easy to hang out of the windows as these were nothing but holes!  Along the top of the window holes was a long tarp gathered up so I guess that when it rains they let the tarps down.

Fijian Windowless Bus

Fijian Windowless Bus

David was stunned and intrigued and jumping up and down with excitement that Perth could use this method to stop vandals hurling rocks at buses to break the windows.  Somehow I don’t think the idea would go down well.

Eventually we reached the end of the shopping strip, surprised that they had held so firmly to the one side of the road.  There was a petrol garage that did not display the price of fuel.  As far as we could tell it was the only garage anyway so I guess the price didn’t matter.  You either buy, or you don’t!

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