Moce Fiji

“Never say never,” they say.

With that mind, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll go back to Fiji for anything more than a short holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time there. It’s warm, and the beaches are good ( enough ).

But as someone a little long in the tooth and saggy at the jaw, I’m looking for somewhere liveable for longer stretches – months at a time, and maybe years at a time.

That’s not Fiji, and here’s why, for me;

  • Accommodation is expensive, even for monthly stays. For a decent self-contained unit, you’re looking at USD $500 minimum. Real estate agents generally won’t do monthly leases for expats, they want annual or longer leases. Compare that to the $USD 175 /month I paid in Thailand ( 2019 ), and the $USD 233 / month I paid in Vietnam ( 2020 ), and even $USD 420 / month in Australia ( 2021 ). Sure, my last digs in Fiji cost slightly less than the Thai price above – but it had no hot water, or air conditioning,or ceiling fan, and the kitchen and bathroom were shared.
  • Internet is too slow, especially for someone earning money online. Fiji’s average broadband speed is 16.64 mbps, ranking it #141 in the world. It’s too slow for reliable video connections. Compare that to New Zealand at 168 mbps( 12th fastest in the world ! ), Thailand’s 212 mbps ( 5th fastest ), and Vietnams  93 mbps ( 46th fastest ). Sure, you can pay $350 / month for SkyLink, but why do that when there are cheaper options elsewhere?
  • Transport . It’s too hard to get around. Yes, buses are plentiful, and taxis are relatively cheap. But hiring your own car or bike will cost at least $45 USD / day. Compare that to bike hire at about $2 / day  to hire a bike in Vietnam or Thailand.
  • Dogs. At least in Nadi, dogs are everywhere, and yap at will. Any time of day or night you can hear a dog going off its head. Yes, sometimes you have to listen carefully, but usually not.
  • Food is only slightly cheaper than New Zealand, but not if you want the essentials, like bacon, ham, coffee, dairy products, and chocolate.

So, for me, it’s Moce ( “goodbye”, or literally ‘good night’ ) to Fiji. It was nice getting to know you, but let’s leave it at that.





Roadtrip Nadi Suva Nadi

As a kind of Hail Mary, I decided a drive around the main island, Viti Levu, was in order.

Links to Google Maps - opens in new tab

But not before dealing with every shyster rental agency I could find by phone. I was quoted prices mostly around $120 – $130 a day, with one comedian asking for a $1000 bond.

They turned out to be tourist prices, as I discovered when Jone – the AirBnB host – started ringing around, and finally got a $70 / day deal.

However, the strings attached were that young Jone was along for the ride. Which suited me fine – it meant another driver on the 500km jaunt, all packaged with a local guide.

Nadi to Ba

We left on time at 7.30 a.m., and the spirits were high up to Ba, where a quick coffee set the mood for the morning nicely [ all trip videos ]

Then the sailing started becoming slightly less easy at Rakiraki, with the first of Jone’s stops. He’s a bailiff, and this was a work trip for him. On the upside, I did score some huge papaya ( mangoes ) for $3, but waited 30 minutes or so while Jone hunted down some unfortunate with bad debts.

The next target was near Volivoli peninsula, at the northern tip of the island, where I was plotting a refreshing dip in the briny. But the tides were against me, and the dip turned into a cold salt-water bath instead.

Namuamada, near Volivoli

Abuzz from the dip, I scoffed down a lunch of three boiled eggs, before we hit a spate of super-cheap roadside stalls. Jone picked and chose carefully, while I grabbed a delicious tuna roti for later.

South East

The came the long haul down to Suva. This is the greener side of the island, where rainfall is high, and the bananas and other fruit are plentiful.

Further down we passed through Fiji’s dairy country, Rewa, north of Suva.

But not before a brush with the law.

The road is dotted with speed cameras. Except in Fiji, they actually forewarn you with prominent signs.

That, and the car’s digital speedo, meant that I got through them all with an intact wallet. Despite the fact that our rental car had yellow LR plates, alerting the cops to a potential victim, I managed to drive unmolested through a manned checkpoint.

Not so Jone. He’d either ignored or not heard my bleated warnings, and got pinged with a $60 fine at a manned speed-check. Muttering about the injustice of it all, he didn’t say so much as we neared Suva to the south.

Rougher Sailing

From there, the mood and the car went south. First, there was a stop of almost an hour in Nausori, a satellite town of Suva, while Jone did his business.

I wandered around for a while trying not to get lost, before taking an awkward refuge in an air-conditioned department store across the road from our meeting point. Barefoot, I feigned interest in the wares and made small-talk with the salesman.

I’ll avoid Nausori in future – true, it was a Friday afternoon, but heat, noise ( taxis ), and dust give it that Mad Max feeling.


We hit the capital around 4pm, where I got more practice in the arts of waiting while Jone did this & that. A little detour to shore up my vape supplies followed. Suva central city is a pleasant and pretty place, without the dust and noise of its outskirts. I just wish it rained less there.

Then it was the homeward leg to Nadi, with the aim of meeting the 7pm deadline for the return of the 24-hour rental.

…and North

Not so fast, it turned out. There was, says Jone, a short stop in Navua. Yes.

That turned into an expedition 5kms or so off the main road into Sandro , on the tail of a bad debtor. The dirt and gravel road, late on Friday afternoon, was scattered with people, many possibly returning from work at Grace Road Food Company, a major player in Fiji’s produce sector.

We stopped and talked into most of the local population, probably getting the Fijian version of “the first house on the left after the green barn”.

An hour or so later, papers served, we were back on the main road, and up against the clock.

As it darkened, I discovered that no-one here bothers to dip their lights. Blinded and tired on the unfamiliar roads, I gave the wheel back to Jone on the winding roads south of Sigatoka.

By then I was over the trip, but there was still more 90 minutes left.

Late anyway, Jone talked me into going halves in renting the car for an extra day, rather than futzing around in Nadi returning it in the dark.

What did I learn?

  • road trips are best done on your own agenda
  • driving is the dark is no fun
  • as in many places, there are tourist prices, and local price
  • the roads in Fiji aren’t so good for fast travelling




Eat, Drink and Be Merry

A regular student remarked recently how resilient I was to travel to parts lesser known. I smiled and said ‘thanks’.

He was wrong.

Comfort has gotten the better part of valour, and I’ve escaped the “hardships” of inland Nadi to more habitable parts. At least for a couple of days’ trial.

The downsides of inland Nadi are

  • the lack of air-conditioning, the biggest problem, although mostly only at nights. But a few nights of little sleep, and murderous black clouds are hovering overhead.
  • the crawling internet speeds. Almost Ok for watching youtube. But not good enough to earn even a meagre crust online video teaching, where I’m at the mercy of unforgiving Japanese students.
  • the environs. There’s nowhere to stroll without fear of being mown down by Mad Max trucks.
  • the difficulty of getting anywhere fast.

All of this dawned on me when the student kindly wished I was enjoying my “holiday”. Hah!

American physicist Richard Feynman said “… you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

And I got to thinking why I’m here. Not to explore the hinterland, or in the cause of anthropology. Not on a hunt for rare butterflies, or to sip pink cocktails poolside, or for geological surveys. Not at all.

Intermittent doses of physical stress are fine, but prolonged mental stress will have me nearing 80 shortly.

I’m here to sit out the winter, do some work and some swimming, meet some locals, see some sights, and soak up some vitamin D and local food.

Which is all by way of justifying a weekend in Martintar on the main Nadi thoroughfare. It’s got

  • air-conditioning
  • decent internet
  • proximity to the Beach. Today it took me $5 FJD and ‘only’ 90 minutes to travel to the beach and back, go for a swim, and catch up the staff at the Ideal Bed & Breakfast, my last lodgings.
  • shops etc within quick walking distance

I’ve booked a weekend, but I may well extend it. I’ll fret about the budget later.

As the infamous Donald Kessel ( classmate 1974 – 1976, now inventor ) said “eat, drink, and be merry, and tomorrow we starve”.

UPDATE: The place has worked out better than expected! It even has internet speeds passable enough to teach some Japanese students. BUT I’ve just found out I can’t extend my stay because someone had already booked it.


Yesterday it was sota tale to the busy-ness and beach of Wailoaloa, and bula to the peaceful rural setting of inland Nadi.

The Ideal Bed & Breakfast – home for the past three weeks – is memorable mainly for some spectacular people.

Myself and Noke, master omelette cook and DJ at the Ideal B & B Wailoaloa
I was given the honor of planting a lime tree outside the unit where I stayed

A Moveable Feast

The staff are all wonderful, but some of the guests are pretty special as well. I met many of them only briefly, because most stay only a night or two as a gateway to Fiji and yonder. Many had been to more than 50 countries.

A handful of Americans worked for an airline, and traveled on the cheap, always stand-by, basically wherever took their fancy. One bronzed middle-aged Californian was following the women’s football world cup. With stopovers in Fiji.

A young Italian chef had motorcycled through many parts of the world. Including to the Northernmost part of Europe , packing all his food back in Italy. He’d let Google track him over the years, resulting in the dot-infested global map he showed me.

A NZer – probably in his mid-30s and originally from Denmark – had retired, and now lives in Thailand.

A retired American couple had been all over the globe, and are still doing it on ‘social security’. They were easily identified by day-glo yellow / green “trash-busters” t-shirts. They were remnants of the best of the 60s – he’d stumbled across Woodstock during wanderings from Minnesota.

The younger crowd mostly stayed only a night or two, and then went island-hoping or diving or somesuch. They included a Sri Lankan woman working online, and here in Fiji indefinitely, a Czech guy who left after renting a car to live in, and a young Ukranian woman working and studying in London.

Ends and Means

Yeah, many of these people are much wealthier than the likes of me, and most likely you.

But at least some of them have been able to roam by either gearing their lifestyle that way, or by doing it on the smell of an oily rag. Or by the seat of their pants. Or both.

I’m a total novice at this game, but it’s shown me what’s possible.

Mr .Bojangles

Was the jibe of an old friend living in the Presbyterian south of New Zealand when I told him I’d been wandering around barefoot in shorts and singlet.

Some Faraway Beach

You’ll have noticed that there is less action here than in your average monastery.

That’s because I had to return to the Land of the ( wet ) Moa early in July. On July 29, I returned to Fiji, this time to Wailoaloa beach. Think of it as Denarau for the unheeled.

Since then, I’ve regressed to a shameless and barefoot lack of work. A daily ocean swim, a little online teaching, much more talk than usual, and a lot of good food has been the order of the days.

The major entertainment has been the local wildlife – the staff and guests at the B & B I’m staying in.

The 8 or 9 rooms have housed guests from Algeria, Czechoslavakia, the Ukraine, Togo, the UK, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and of course Aussie and NZ. The guy from Togo , for example, works for the United Nations managing disaster areas, and is now kicking around the South Pacific organising cyclone backup systems. Or something.

The staff at the BnB ( “The Ideal Bed & Breakfast” ) are all Fijian, and nearly all effortlessly laid-back and as funny as a fight. They laugh a lot.

Wame is the Main Man. He’s served in the army, and been part of the Presidential guard. There’s steel, and smarts, under the big smile and the endless jokes. Napoleon, the cook, has taken to calling me  ‘the Young Man’. He’s worked in hospitality on the tourist islands, and it shows in his true Fijian-style cuisine. Knox, cook and general hand, has a sly wolfish grin. He found himself stranded on an island during covid, and survived hunting the wildlife and growing crops. Tuvili is endlessly kind and patient, and also ready with a joke – “get behind, Satan” when offered a rum.

I accidentally became a kind of minor celebrity by booking the longest stay ( 21 days ) in the BnB’s two-month history.

It is literally a “bed and breakfast”, and my attempt to stockpile food without a fridge hasn’t really worked. I’ll explore the local cafes a bit before I leave.

I have four days left here, before I start acting my budget, and return to the Nadi Back Road, about 5 km inland.


One of the challenges of Fiji in my short time here has been internet speeds. Only one of the three places I’ve stayed in so far had anything like decent WiFi, and that was the Namaka BnB in May.

Hot-spotting my phone using a local data connection has been the best option.

But here in Wailoaloa, I’ve discovered over the last 2 or 3 days that the cafes and restaurants get good speeds. No good for online teaching, which demands privacy, but better than the dial-up-like speeds otherwise on offer.


There are packs of stray beach dogs here, and these are no problem. But because this is a tourist hub – maybe two dozen local hostels / hotels / apartments – there are few dogs which are locked up. And of course, that means the nights are mostly a bark-free zone.

Righto. Lunch time.

Rubbing Shoulders

Every now and again, I like to rub shoulders with the well-to-do.

In Fiji, they haunt the upmarket coffee shops. And as a coffee fan, I’ll sometimes be seen there too, much like a mackerel in a horse stable.

By good chance, there are two within walking distance. By more good chance, I have tracking on my wrist watch, which should give you a better idea of my whereabouts.

The more expensive of the two is The Coffee Hub ( trip map  – click the icon to the left of the ‘Laps’ box & choose Google or Here for a better  view ) .  It’s a favourite of expats and drivers of SUVs. The coffee is good ( FJD 8.50 ), it’s always busy, the staff are top-notch, and the surroundings are pleasant.

More often, I’ll go to the Local, Momos ( trip map ). It’s more down-to-earth, the coffees are smaller but cheaper ( FJD 6.50 ), it’s set nearer the main Nadi Back Road.

As you see by the map, this morning it was pleasant 17 ° C, which means I got some sleep last night. More typically, it’s around 23, as on the first map.

Over the last few strolls, I’ve made the acquaintance of Abe, a construction worker on an en-route site. Occasionally, and more often in Fiji – you meet people who broadcast joie de vivre. He’s one of them.

The Road ( a bit ) Less Travelled

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but some of those can be misleading.

A road sign about 100 metres from my house

One might think from the sign above that I’ve gone feral, escaped to the wop-wops.

Not quite so. The house is about 4 km away from Nadi, and the same distance to the airport just North of Nadi. It’s basic – no aircon, no hot water, no ceiling fans, no plugs.

But it’s also very cheap, and its other inmates – Jone, the lease-holder, and Peni, a former Fiji rep rugby player visiting from Brisbane – are fine fellows.

It’s kind of isolated, but there are two coffee shops, a growers’ market, a service station, and several hole-in-the-wall “dairies” all within walking distance.

Even better, thanks to Jone’s tuition, I’ve learned the art of hitch-hiking in Fiji. One faces the traffic, extends the arm, and flutters the hand, similar to the slow-down signal. It works well, especially as the hitcher is expected to cough up $1 for the ride. Fair enough.


The internet here is erratic. It was good enough to teach online at my first digs, but too inconsistent out here to risk the wrath of Japanese students.

Fijians aren’t big on coffee. It’s relatively expensive ( $8.50 FJD at the upmarket cafe, $6.50 FJD at the local ). And I’ve yet to find somewhere which sells filter beans – it’s all instant, all the way.

Fruit and veg is more expensive than I expected. Prices at the small growers’ market are higher than NZ equivalents, and it’s $1 an apple at the supermarket. The Papaya is beautiful.

The dogs need professional help

In my last digs, in Namaka, dogs could be heard yelping at almost any time of day – and often of night as well. Namaka is a shopping centre about 3km from Nadi . It’s a middle-class area by Nadi standards.

Dogs were everywhere. Some roamed the street, but these aren’t the problem.  It’s the impounded dogs, locked up by their owners inside gated properties, and so with nothing to do except yelp hysterically at any imagined threat.

Which they do with gusto.  The owners clearly don’t know or care enough to intervene.

It’s better here in the countryside, but sometime every day, a dog goes off its nut for a happy half hour or so.


Which are to rough it here for a further week or two, and then look to Sigatoka ( a market-town to the south )  or Lautoka ( North of here, Fiji’s second city ). The first is close to a river and the sea, the second offers good accommodation at cheaper rates than Nadi, but no good swimming spots.

Also on the agenda is a bus trip around the northern part of the Viti Levu from Nadi to Suva.

On The Move

I decided to stay in Nadi, and am on my way to another ‘burb, Votualevu, on Wednesday.

It’s about 3 km away as the crow flies from here in  Namaka.

The month-long stay here wasn’t cheap, but the apartment has everything I’ve needed, and it’s been a good central base, with nearby shops.

The place I’m headed to is a little rural, but I’m told buses are good, and I liked the house owner when we met a few days ago.

As luck would have it, last night I got a good offer for a flash apartment in Lautoka for $650 FJD / month, and all the modcons. I’d ruled Lautoka out, because the only nearby beaches involved a boat ride.

But I may be thinking again after a couple of weeks out in the countryside with no air-conditioning.

We shall see.

Accommodation in Fiji

Good cheap accommodation here is harder to find than I expected.

After a lot of  lost-in-translation phone calls, the options seem to be limited to airbnb and home stays.

When I finally struck a real estate agent who could understand me, I was told that apartment and home leases of less than a year are like snakes’ balls.


Home stays can be much cheaper, of course, and can offer a ‘real’ local experience –  more intimacy.

But that has its downsides too. You’re living in someone’s pocket, so there’s a loss of privacy. Your quirks are in plain view. You have to hold conversations. You’re more often than not sharing a kitchen or bathroom. Homestays will often not have air-conditioning or fans.

With AirBnBs, prices aren’t so good, and exact locations – which are important here – aren’t shown until after they’re booked. A photo can be worth 1000 words of bs.

On the other hand, searching and booking is easy, and hosts are rated by guests,  they tend to play nice.


Another young players’ surprise has been how difficult it is to get accommodation near the sea. I know that’s nothing new, but I found a way in Vietnam, Thailand, and Adelaide.

In Nadi, locations near the water go for the price of an aeroplane. To the south, and then East toward Suva , the seaside options are a) a gated resort , and b) a stay at a village.  The first is expensive, the second involves charm and giving up all or most mod-cons. I had one place booked in Viseisei , but the owner has bedbugs.

Further North, in Fiji’s second city, Lautoka,  there is no swimmable seafront. The option there is a ( cheap ) $10 FJD round trip to an island maybe 3 kms offshore.


I have to leave here on June 14.  Right now, there are two possibilities I’m thinking on.

The first is a homestay about 6 doors up the road. This is with an Indian man I got talking to on my wanderings. His brother,  who I happened to share a bowl of kava with in another episode, also lives there. Rent would be $125 FJD / week, a generous offer not to be sniffed at. I like the neighbourhood, it has a good vibe to it. It’s central, and the shops and market are nearby. The big downsides are the deranged local dogs, and no aircon or fan.

The other is yet-unseen place down in Sigitoka.  I made tracks for it today, but mis-timed the buses, so went for a swim at Wailoaloa instead. It’s a farm house, apparently about 10 minutes’ walk from town, and not so far from the beach. It’s probably a longshot.

If both of those fail, there are back-up options which involve either spending a lot of money, or heading a little into the countryside.

Youtube videos.





Suva – 24 hours

“How do you like Suva,” asked the taxi driver.

I was about to reply honestly, when I saw the expectant look on his face.

“Yeah, it’s great,” I said.

A relieved smile crossed his face.

Far be it from me to give him the news that it’s wet, and hard to get around.


Suva is even wetter than Whangarei, according to the boffins;







And so it proved. It rained, off and on, most of the 24 hours I was there.


My hotel was near a school. Big mistake. When school goes in ( 7.45 a.m. – 8.45 a.m. ) or out ( for an hour after 2pm ) there is traffic lined up as far as can be seen.

The taxi drivers I met ( four of them ) told me that’s typical, and is just as bad at office closing and opening hours.


The rest of the batch of short videos I took are at youtube.


The bus service between Nadi and Suva is fantastic. I paid $40 for the round trip, Nadi – Suva Wednesday, and return Thursday.

The trip ( ~= 120km ) is about four hours each way, in comfortable buses with air-conditioning.

The only downside is the music, which is dire Christian drek.

It’s an express service, which stops at Sigatoka for a food break, and several small towns on the way. At Sigatoka, it cost me $1 at a bus station stall to buy five Indian dough balls made with flour, eggs, and spinach. Bawachi or Palak without the cheese.

Sigatoka is on a river, and close to some swimmable beaches, so it is a candidate for my new base after the lease runs out here in Nadi in 12 days or so.


The route, the Queens Road, is dotted with small villages. Many of them are doing it hard, full of subsistence-level concrete and tin shacks.

At one quick pick-up stop, a couple of white girls embarked. They were being herded by a Fijian man and his young daughter, who’d likely been hosting them. As the bus pulled out, the Fijian man gave his daughter a quiet fist-pump. He’d possibly just earned a few months’ wages.

The rest of the coast has been claimed by gated resorts commanding weekly rents which would easily buy a new car.


With my usual foresight and planning, I’d booked the hotel the night before.

I’d paid too much for a room about 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre, and was disappointed with the result, a concrete box containing a bed.

Resigning myself to my fate, I tried to set up the TV-HDMI connection with my laptop. No dice. After an hour, a small puddle formed on a bedside table. It was coming from the air-conditioning.

After complaining as tactfully as I could, the desk girl ( as in Vietnam, this hotel was run by super-capable young women )  upgraded me to a delux room upstairs. With an ensuite. Booyah!


Part of the reason for the trip was to shore up my vape supply. Everywhere in Fiji I’ve asked I’ve been met with the kind of look you’d get if you asked for crack.

I was able to find a vape shop. Which wasn’t easy, given that a licence to import e-cigarettes for sale is gold here.

That, and a chance to see the Coral Coast and Pacific Coast, made the caper worthwhile.