We arrived in Fiji the last week of August and lost Tuesday 23rd forever more when we crossed the international date line *shakes fist angrily * Unless if we went back the other way some day.
We didn’t do a lot in Fiji to be honest, we just chilled and slept a lot…First impression of Fiji was hearing the local birds, the feel of the air , catching a glimpse of the landscape that was very green and of course the little welcome band playing as you head towards the arrival bit!
The below picture are views from the Bamboo Backpackers hostel we were staying at in Nadi. Not too shabby if you don’t look too hard at the rubbish on the beach or looked right where there’s a massive resort being built. It’s kind of sad, that as Fiji becomes more popular, that more resorts are being built where you had beautiful land and scenery.
The next day we got roped into attending a coconut demonstration – how to husk it, grate the coconut, make coconut milk and cook a Fijian dish with it! We had lunch made with taro leaves simmered in a pressing of the coconut milk, garlic, salt and corned beef cooked on the beach.
Chris had a go at husking it as you can see in the above pictures, it wasn’t as easy as it looked when demonstrated by Bill, a Fijian working at the hostel – he’s in the picture below on the bench.
It was really tasty, and fresh coconut milk is way better than the stuff you get in cans. We fly half way across the world and meet people from Southampton in Fiji…Becky and Jimmy in the picture above. They’ve been travelling in America for 6 months already and it turns out we’re doing the same sort of trip, it’s been nice to meet fellow travellers because most people we met in America were just on vacation as they would say. It was a bit weird to talk to people about Sprinkles and the development of West Quay.
We all agreed to meet up tomorrow to head into town with Bill to buy ingredients for Lovo (underground cooking) as we enjoyed today’s Fijian lunch so much. That’s taro in the below picture, it’s a root vegetable.
Bill, Jerry (the other Fijian guy) and Jimmy helped set up the underground oven. First you dig a hole, built a fire then chucked rocks on top to heat up – the rocks will provide the heat for the food to cook.
The guys helping to the prep the food (Becky and I decided to stay out of the way!) it was interesting how Jerry was seeing how Chris chopped up onions. The taro root was trimmed, it would be baked whole like a jacket potato, whole chicken marinated in soy sauce, garlic and salt and wrapped in foil and lastly the little parcels of taro leaves with fillings of coconut milk, salt and corned beef andmaybe onions? Iforget where the onion went.
When the fire was done, the rocks were put on the bottom, then a bit of wire rack (part of a fence once upon a time?), the food, palm leaves hacked off from trees in the resort (Fijians are opportunistic ), covered with some sacking and then buried in lots of soil for 2 hours to cook.
Time for the great unveiling of food.
In the 2nd picture from the bottom – you can see baked taro, it’s like eating a jacket potato or soda bread – nice crusty outside with soft fluffyness inside. The chicken was excellent and the baked leaves were yum. Quite a few people joined us and we pretended it was someone’s birthday as lovo is eaten on special occassions. I know this bit of Fijian cooking isn’t often but it’s weird how a lot of the food sold here to tourists isn’t Fijian, more like burger, pizzas, fish and chips etc.
The next day Chris and I headed to Suva, the capital of Fji – a 4 hour trip away and then another bus ride to the rainforest resort 20 mins away out of the city. It was quite a comfy coach and there was a lot of jungle scenery with a few towns scattered inbetween. We got to Suva and it was a lot busier than Nadi and we managed to find the right bus – there’s so many buses everywhere!
The view from our little balcony room was amazing. We saw a heron and kingfishers. Even when it was rainy (which happens a lot in Suva, it was nice and peaceful to listen to it).
We checked out Suva (there’s not a lot really), it’s a port and has a couple of streets of restaurants and shops.A couple of pictures of houses below – it was interesting on our bus journey from Suva to our rainforest lodge (20 mins). The houses by the city start off rich, massive and grand with fences and cars then towards moderate houses, smaller but still clean and obviously well off, moving onto shabbier places where houses are made from metal sheeting, maybe no proper doors or windows, there’s more mess and a shanty town feel. Although one of these places had an ikea poang! There is a massive and noticeable divide between the rich and poor. The minimum wage is like 2. something fijian dollars and there was an action to try to raise it to 4 fijian dollars (1.47 GBP).
We took advantage of the cinema – it was only 7 Fijian dollars for a ticket (that’s GBP 2.50 roughly) so we went twice! I highly recommend Kubo and the 2 strings, it has some quite dark pieces in it so I wouldn’t say it just for kids. Train to Busan was also good if you like zombies on a train theme (set in SOuth Korea), funnily enough.
Quiz time – how many of the below films can you name? (Chris and I got everything apart from 1).
We didn’t realise that roughly 50% of the population is Indian and it’s more obvious here than in Nadi. There’s also a few chinese and korean people around too. It’s interesting how people move to other countries. The good thing is the food! We found this amazing food court in the small shopping centre and got some vegetable curry and masala dosa for lunch. If you don’t know what a dosa is, then it’s time you go and get some!
It turns out that Fijians also like bubble tea, bonus! (Only for those who can afford it). Chris and I ate a lot at the Grace road kitchen – a healthy korean food place, managed to get them to make us kimchi bokkeumbap (it’s not on the menu, yay).
Pineapple fanta is simply amazing. If you like pineapple then you’ll like this.
Food tip: Don’t get fish curry if it’s been out all day and it’s quiet (so not a lot of food being made fresh). Chris paid the price for it and it wasn’t fun especially when there’s a 5 hour bus journey ahead. It’s also handy to carry immodium too!
Buses in Fiji are cool. There’s no exact timetable for some of them, you just hang around and wait at the unofficial location with no bus stop sign (some are on the hour, some are roughly every 15-20 mins etc). Some have no windows, are battered, there’s a piece of string running down the side of the bus which you pull to ring the bell to get off. Even if you miss the bus, if the bus has stopped moving in traffic then it’s perfectly fine to hop on (the doors are never closed). And they even go on the beach!
There’s this saying called Fiji time where you get round to stuff when you feel like it. We did a lot of that.
We enjoyed Fiji even though we didn’t actually do much and got Becky’s and Jimmy’s details as they were heading to New Zealand a few days after us.Huzzah!
Next stop New Zealand meeting up with old friends.
Bye for now!