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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Fiji time... Aaaaaaahhhhh

FIJI | Thursday, 3 July 2008 | Views [1389]

I was treated to an amazing sunset above the clouds on the way out of New Zealand, one of the best I've seen on the whole the trip! The top surface of the total cloud cover was dark red with the little cloud specks in the distance glowing the brightest gold, it was awesome! The air wasn't as warm as I expected when I got out of the airport after collecting my bags and passing through customs with no hitch. I sat and waited for my pick up, with driver Vijay from the Horizon Beach back packers resort near town. His paperwork did not have my name on, but he was still hapy to take me there. On arrival I found that even after making a reservation online, and then confirming it a day later, I had NO reservation. Good start people! Lol. 'Fiji Time' I was soon to learn, was probably the reason. It's a bit like 'Thai time' huh! They had plenty of room anyway, and I was soon sat eating a lovely curry in the restaurant having dumped my bags in the room!

Needing a good nights sleep, I did not appreciate the 6:30am wake up from two cleaners chatting loudly outside my room this morning! I did have some earplugs with me though, and was soon back to sleep... yeay! After getting up and having a solitary piece of toast and a cup of tea from the 'free breakfast' at the hostel I met a lad from Watford called Mel who has done some interesting travel so far, including spending a couple of months traveling on his own in China (big Kudos for that from me!). We got to chatting and I ended up sharing a cab with him and a young American girl from the hostel into Nadi town to explore, and where I could pick up some shorts and some kind of suitable (but cheap) island footwear. First impression of Nadi is much the same as the South east Asian cities, where the population is large and completely tuned into the art of extracting money from fresh faced tourists who don't have a clue. I am plum in the middle of the group that DO have a clue by now however, and have mastered the art of weeding out those who want to befriend you for their own financial gain, in these kind of situations. My time and experience in Thailand and Cambodia has been invaluable. ;-) We looked around a few shops and were then approached by a Fijian gentleman who got chatting to Mel and wanted to show us some arts and crafts being made by 'real' village people, that were not on the main streets or selling from the bigs shops here. To my mind, this was scamsville Tennessee, but I was happy to go along and see their setup in this instance. a/ I was in a group with some others and b/ I was curious to see how these guys 'do it'. We were led to a back street, where a little workshop was setup in the upstairs at the back of some small shops. We went up and were happily met by two chaps who began their spiel, confirming to me that this indeed would be the usual scam kind of outfit. They guys were nice enough (of course) and showed us some of the things they'd been making, masks and other wooden carvings and the usual range of jewellery, pretty much exactly the same stuff as we'd been looking at in town for the last half hour. They invited us to sit and have kava with them, in a 'welcome ceremony'. At this point is became clear to me that my companions were oblivious to what was happening here, but I remained relaxed enough. Luckily I had been doing some reading up on Fijian culture the last few days, and nothing they told us did whilst preparing the Kava was out of sorts. One thing that annoyed me about their efforts to seduce us was their use of bloody rough guide books to substantiate their claims and stories about their culture! Seriously guys, if you're going to have a crack at us, at least prepare some of your own literature, don't use the very book that got us here and told us exactly what you're telling us now! The Kava was not what I expected, perhaps because I was in a slightly more 'heightened' sense of awareness due to the circumstances right now, or maybe they didn't waste their good fresh gear on their targets? Either way it only served to make my tongue numb, but I don't really think it did much else noticable. The taste is quite nice though, it is basically a 'tea'. I'm certainly looking forward to doing this properly once on Vorovoro. As 'we' (the royal we) were being polite, this facade took some time, and then we were invited to view the shop again which is where we were subjected to the much less subtle art of sales seduction. The lowered voices and use of calculators to show you the wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime, only-cos-I-like-you, price for the bundles they pushed on to you were right out of the school of Bangkok marketing class I tell thee! I used my now perfected skills of deflection to explain that I did not want to put all these wonderful items into my already cramped back pack only to risk damaging them whilst island hopping, and that I would come back in three weeks, just before I fly out of Fiji, and gladly buy some art from these geniune craftsmen... Haha! I laugh in the face of their pathetic attempts to seduce me... My companions made some purchases and I made mental note of the prices. Within fifteen minutes of being back out on the street we'd found everything the workshop could offer, but at a quarter of the cost without even bartering! My money was still in my wallet, and the lad back at the workshop didn't seem to have believed me when I left telling him I'd come back... I wonder why?

In the afternoon I played some pool back at the hostel with Mel and then we went out on to the beach with an Irish lad and spent a couple of hours throwing the rugby ball around on the sand and in the sea (yes, I am easily pleased, and hours spent throwing a rugby ball with mates is not only great fun, but I also find it quite therapeutic. So ner.). We then sat on the beach chatting to other backpakers and relaxing in the HOT sunshine. Ahhhh... jealous? You should be! Happy? Hell yeah!

I've booked a day trip out on a boat tomorrow, to go to South Sea Island 30 minutes out from Nadi where I will be snorkeling like a madman ALL DAY! Yeay! I'm so happy to be back in this climate... heheheh. Hahaha. You're not going to read my blog any more if I keep that up are you? ;-) Seriously, I'll grow out of laughing at the fact I am here soon... honest. I'm just really excited to be here! :-D

Pics from the island trip are on Facebook.


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