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.


A day at home yesterday listening to rabid dogs was enough of a spur to make the trip to Lautoka today.

The bus trip, which would have been about 45 minutes had I gone straight through, cost $3. Three!

As it was, I jumped off on a whim at Vuda village, and found a hidden beach almost worthy of a brochure.

After a chat with a couple of villagers, I jumped back on the bus to Lautoka ( another dollar ).

I spent the day wandering the streets.

Chance Encounters

One of the people I bumped into by chance, named Raj, offered me a place to stay. Only $300 / month for a private room in his house.

It sounded feasible, but by that time it was late afternoon, and I was hankering for something to eat and a good lie down.

Earlier, I collared ( and paid, mind ) a taxi driver for a quick tour of nearby ‘burbs which are dog-free and affordable. His recommendation – Kashmir, where he thinks I’d get a house to myself for ~$600 month.

I’d decided in the first few minutes that I liked it – it’s population is larger, and there’s a more compact town centre. It looks more affluent, and so possibly freer of crime. Having said that, there were street beggars, as in Nadi.

It has a huge central market, below, and also some street food stalls like South East Asia.

I finally stumbled home, over-heated and hungry at around 3pm six hours after leaving Nadi this morning.


I’m going to be doing more videos and less writing on this trip. You can see the videos on my sleepy youtube channel, which I’m now tidying up.

On The Bus

I’m slowly figuring out how to get around in Nadi.

First, it was negotiating with taxi drivers. That doesn’t work. A 10km round trip to Wailoaloa beach set me back $35 FJD.

Second, it was using taxis, but insisting on them using flag fall and a meter. Better, but unsustainable. A 10km round trip to Nadi township cost me about $19.

Lastly, as above it is the bus. Duh. A 10km round trip to Nadi township and back cost me exactly $3.


A Fool and his Money

A trip to Nadi township today left me lighter in the pocket, but in good spirits.

A novice tourist such as myself has no show against these smooth operators.

I’d been in the township less than 5 minutes before a friendly character lurking in a shop doorway greeted me with “Bula” and a wide Fijian smile.

He asked what I now realise are the standard questions to size up my spending power – “where you from”,”how long you been here”,”how long you staying”,”where are you staying”.


And I was invited in for a cup of kava.  The sun was nowhere near the yard-arm, but a refusal would have been rude, so….

I sat on a mat near the back of the shop opposite a guy who mumbled a quick prayer, clapped his hands three times, and told me to down the small cup in one.

I used to be a high-achiever in such behaviour, so this bit was easy. And a better taste than the kava I’d bought in years gone by at an Indian dairy at home.


And then it came, after I made the mistake of admiring out loud the beautiful hand-made Fijian clubs on display. These things are works of art. And useful for cannibals too, noted my guide with a straight face.

Amid talk of a souvenir of my Fiji visit there were several mentions of “supporting the local indigenous community”.

So after a lot of hemming and hawing and choosing this and that, I came away with a small knife / club similar to a Maori mere.  But wooden.

So there’s that bit of gift shopping done.

Next the original lurker insisted on escorting me up the road to the local travel shop, where I got some advice and brochures and such from the budget travel agent. Which to be fair, possibly saved me a hundred dollars at least versus booking these things online.


Once I got out of there, the midday heat ( it’s 27 ° C at 7.30 pm ) reminded me that I’d made another young player’s mistake in not bringing light shirts.

After walking in and out of five shops, I found the silk shirt at left. It was marked for $69, I think.

Then the conversation went something like this. Me: “Too much.” Her: “Discount, sir”. Me: “How much?” Her: $42. Me:”Too much”. Him:”What is your budget?”.Me:”These were $25 down the road” ( true ). Her:” You can have any of these for $25″. Me:”Ok, er, which one do you think is the best color for me”…..

Apart from the jandals, that completes the Fijian uniform.

After that it was into the Indian eatery which had been recommended by the lurker, where I spent $16 FJD on curried lamb & roti.

The taxi back ( maybe 5km down Queen’s highway ) was about the same as the outward trip, $9 FJD. That’s compared with $35 FJD on the last trip, of roughly the same distance, when I “negotiated” a price with “how much to Wailoaloa?”.

But not before spotting these mammoth coconuts on the side of the road. The same kind I gorged myself on in Vietnam.

Once home, an hour or so of air-conditioning myself, and some coconut juice, and I was again a functioning unit.

Bula from Fiji

It looks like I’ve tricked myself into arriving in Nadi.

Knowing that I’d get cold feet, I booked a non-refundable plane ticket, and AirBnB accommodation. Sure enough, my feet became very cold early in May.

But the Miser won out over the Laggard, and here I am. Warm. In shorts. In winter.


But not before I fretted for more than a week about vapes, which cannot be bought legally in Fiji. I pestered a Fiji Facebook group, before finally asking the horse ( baggage check-in at the airport ).

Which told me to put everything vape-related in my carry-on baggage. I did that, with the result that I dribbled through customs like a normal person, without the normal Aussie grilling.

The Flight

I decided not to stand on ceremony, and insist on taking my allocated window seat from what turned out to be a surly old man next to me.

He told me – I think – that it’s unusual for Fiji Airways to be nearly two hours late taking off. As I write, the same flight was only 36 minutes late today.

Plus it took more than an hour to get through luggage drop-off. And the plane’s narrow aisles meant I spent three hours in the path of pedestrians.

Nadi, and My Digs

The “studio apartment” is a two-room affair – the bathroom / toilet, and everything else. I’m used to that from my time in Thailand and Vietnam. Good enough.

There’s a decent yard too, and coconuts galore – as soon as I figure out how to climb 20 feet up the trunk without doing a Keith Richards.

On the downside – after only 24 hours here, mind – it looks like it might be difficult getting around.

Nadi is sparsely-populated, and affordable transport options seem to be limited. Taxis aren’t much cheaper than NZ, and renting a motorbike is $80 FJD / day ( compare that with less than $2 / day in Thailand ), the same cost as renting a bicycle!

A taxi ride to Wailoaloa beach and back ( about 4 – 5 km ) cost $35 FJD.

Even though the beach was nearly empty, the driver was adamant that leaving gear on the beach while swimming was inviting theft. The beach itself was disappointing – black sand, and even though I turned up at low tide, nothing better really than a fair to middling NZ harbour beach.

Also possibly on the downside – everything’s locked, which probably means there’s a fair bit of theft. A guy loitering beside the money asked me for change. I gave him $3, hoping that I won’t see him every day.

On the Upside – I got chased up the road by a young woman. I’d left a bottle of water I bought at the counter of the supermarket.

I wanderplantained up the road early this evening to discover that Namaka – the little centre 5 minutes’ walk away – abuzz. Some street vendors with some interesting offerings – Cassava for example, and plantains ( left ) the size of marrows – and some affordable-looking Indian restaurants.


Whereupon it dawned on me that the Natives disappear during the sweltering midday heat, leaving it to Mad Dogs and Kiwis.