Fiji Flashback #4: You take the Slow Road and I’ll Take the… there is only the slow road.

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There are many ways to experience the “real” Fiji and today I have LOVED the experience of travelling on the local buses in Nadi. The feeling of not quite knowing where you are supposed to get off… is as exciting here as it was in Sabah, Dubai, Tunisia or the train system in Italy. Local buses in Fiji are open-windowed… if the weather turns sour, they just roll down the canvas wondow covers… PRICELESS!

I am now on the bus to Suva. 60km/hr is a good speed for this baby to aim for I reckon… A LONG day ahead! To say that I stick out like a sore thumb would be as understated as saying Darth Vader was a “bit of a meany”… not many tourists on the bus today.

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The bus journey was pretty long… long in the same way that “Everest is a bit High” or “The Pacific is a bit large”. Us Kiwis do tend to have an innate love for understatement, so I will leave it at that for now! The trip from Nadi to Sigatoka (60kms) took us 70 minutes. Sigatoka to Navua (90kms) took 2 hours and then the last 40kms to Suva took 50 minutes… 190kms or so in 4 hours!!! Hmmmm… 4 hours without the luxury of personal space… a seat pitch that would be the envy of budget airlines worldwide, and a man lacquering me with a nasty dose of Nicotine-Cough just often enough to remind me he was there… just in case the fact that he was asleep on my shoulder wasn’t quite enough to jog the memory… I chatted to the girl attached to my other leg… She was about to head over to Hamilton soon… From Fiji to the Tron… Does it scare anyone else that people would make the effort to come all the way over from another country and end up in… HAMILTON? I figured she had to be either a farmer or a Mormon… I suspect she is a mormon cos she wasn’t wearing gumboots.

I think I would have let Dad down a bit… cos I hate to say it… but at this stage, I don’t think much of Suva… What is it about cities where everyone that smiles at you and wants to help, actually just wants to strip you of your travel dollars. I wrote a few days ago that I could see why people fall in love with Fiji, well after arriving in Suva I can see why they make people arrive into Nadi!!! I watched an article on the telly in NZ a few days ago about a photographer that has made a coffee table book about NZ towns that have made a big effort to create a positive first impression as you drive into their town. There are giant L&P bottles, Fish, Carrots and my own home town has massive fruit… When you drive into Suva, the first thing that leapt out at me was the HUGE, DECAYING and completely ominous-looking PRISON!!! I can imagine that this building hasn’t changed in the last hundred or so years… Nothing quite says WELCOME TO OUR TOWN… like a razor-wire sculpture! I think the message I got was… don’t be naughty in our town!

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Suva itself is a mix of modern and colonial buildings. Shopping malls mixed with quaint antique wooden ships that must have a few stories to tell. I walked from town up to where my hostel is located… about 20 minutes walk along the waterfront. Many things caught my eye but I am slightly hesitant to take out my camera when I am walking around Suva. There was a dying old “Grand Hotel” that I really wanted to capture, but my reluctance in this instance was more due to the fact that the barricades around the building that I thought were because of it’s condition, were more likely because it was teeming with Military types that now used this building as barracks. I guess in uncertain types, the military will actually sleep anywhere!I kind of sense the politics of Fiji’s current situation is more pertinent in Suva than in other parts of the country. I certainly didn’t sense much tension in Nadi. Politics is probably one of the hottest “not-talked-about” topics around Fiji at the moment… It concerns me that the power struggles of a few people, would adversely effect the rest of the population who more than likely, just want to get on with their lives… We shouldn’t be boycotting Fiji tourism, we should be doing the opposite – staying away does nothing to help the people that rely on Tourist Dollars to survive (and I don’t mean the annoying man that sold me some dumb knives that I didn’t want… but he DID know I was wearing an Otago Rugby jersey, so my defenses were down!). RANT OVER.

South Seas Private Hotel is SO private that I have only seen staff and TWO other people here. This effectively changes my booking in a 4-bed dorm room with shared bathroom into a Private room with an ensuite… The building looks like it might have been a hospital or an orphanage or something… it seems suitably eerie and clinical enough to be either… It reminds me of something like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”… Kinda praying I DEFINITELY DON’T get a new room-mate now!!!

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No idea what I am going to do tomorrow, I will sneak downtown to the Visitor Centre… always a good place to start… I will also head to the Fiji Museum which is a stone’s throw from the hostel… Dream for tomorrow? (That I am sure will STAY a dream) Would be cool to see a photo of Dad on the walls in the museum!

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One thought on “Fiji Flashback #4: You take the Slow Road and I’ll Take the… there is only the slow road.

  1. Totally know what you are describing about Suva. I was there in December last year and felt like it was a decaying remnant to what it once was (probably thanks to colonisation). But the lack of good roads, safe and reliable power, and even basic cleanilness certainly puts Fiji in the 3rd world category… comparable to places in Asia like Cambodia. Also sad and scary is that those who are educated simply leave Fiji because there really is no future for them.. having an opinion other than the dictatorship is not allowed! Who are the future leaders of Fiji?But what a warm and friendly nation on the whole! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

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