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.





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.

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.