At the mention of Fiji, what would be the first thing on your mind? A honeymoon destination? Paradise of pristine beaches? Luxurious travel or Fiji bottled water?
Snippets on Fiji
I always enjoy playing the guess all the countries in the world game and that was how I discovered Fiji virtually sitting in front of my computer. Somehow I was intrigued by the name and it led me to type in “Fiji” on my Google homepage.
I was mesmerised by the picture-perfect beaches and sunsets that were related to Fiji popped onto my screen. Captivated by the images, I declared it my dream destination. In addition, the remoteness (before Air Fiji launched direct flights between Fiji and Singapore) added to the exoticness.
Located near New Zealand, Fiji is one of the first countries in the world to welcome a brand new day with GMT +13 (5 hours ahead of Singapore). It has two main islands and many other smaller islands surrounding it. The population of 800,00 is mainly made up of indigenous Fijians and Indians whose ancestors settled between the late 1800s to early 1900s.
Fiji’s flag is not difficult to interpret. The sea of blue which represents their remoteness while the Union Jack symbolises that they are now a part of the Commonwealth and there is also Fiji’s Coat of Arm.
Fijians are effectively bilingual because they were part of the British colony for close to 100 years. They speak English and their mother tongue. It makes travelling relatively easy for English-speaking travellers.
25 November – 3 December 2016
Leave taken from work:
Nadi, Pacific Harbour, Suva and Denarau
It was not a trip for the frugal nor was it a completely luxurious one. We travelled from town to town on their local buses and indulge in a night stay at a luxurious Resort Hotel.
One of my usual tips to bring the cost down is to eat where the locals eat. Unfortunately, most of the places we could only find restaurants that cater to foreigners. It was only on the last day of the holiday that we found a local restaurant where we bought some local food. I later learned that it was not easy to find local food because most of the locals cook at home instead. It is cheaper than eating out.
We spent a fair bit on activities because I am all about the experiences.
Completed the trip under SGD$2,000 all in. We split the cost of accommodation and food between us. This is a rough gauge of how much a week of holiday in Fiji cost for an average traveller in SGD.
Activities/ Sightseeing: $623.63
Fiji Tourism has been very successful in its marketing campaign featuring picturesque beaches. However, having travelled in the country, I can now say what Fiji is more than just the ravishing beaches. The hospitality of the Fijians surpassed that, no doubt.
Striking conversations were easy after exchanging Bulas (hello in the Fijian language). These interactions were precious to learn about the people, their culture and way of life. It rejuvenated the traveller in me.
Many of the encounters happened at bus stops where they helped to keep a lookout for the buses. One of the memorable moments was with two families at the bus stop as they were on their way home from a picnic nearby. We were exchanging conversations with the older kids, as the younger ones hung around. Somewhat excited, somewhat shy, especially when we asked to take a picture together. It was such a joy to be around them that I wished the bus would arrive later.
Anything that can happen, will happen to me. The only night we spent at the luxurious resort, I had to call the doctor into the resort to check on me, I was super paranoid that I was unable to have a good night sleep the whole time. Trust me, that was an epic visit from the doctor. I was in 100% good health and at least I have gotten the assurance from the doctor.
The resort was accommodating enough to allow us a late check out at 4 pm so we were still able to enjoy the facilities.
Fiji is an absolute beauty. My favourite town was Pacific Harbour which is also known as the capital of adventures. We had our adrenaline pumped with thrilling activities such as zip-lining from trees to trees and rafting down Upper Navua River.
During the sunset, we stood in awe as we watched the sun disappear. It was also the night where the sky was clear. Stars were twinkling above us like a glittery blanket made me giddy with joy. It was a night to remember.
South Sea Island
In Denarau, we signed up for an all-inclusive day trip to South Sea Island. We were pretty excited because, in our mind, we were thinking of the pristine Fiji beaches.
To our dismay, the boat cruise to the island was filled with tourists and made me feel pretty commercialised. Despite that, I felt that we made the right choice of opting to stay on the island for a full day instead of going on an island hopping tour.
With all the time we had on the island, we were able to go on a submarine ride, snorkel and kayak around the island. In addition, enjoying a chilled beer by the sundeck was the BEST THING you can ever do on the island. It fulfilled our simple desire of just needing the sun, sandy beach and clear water.
Another highlight that I adored was the drive to Nausori Highlands to get a glimpse of the villages. Two teenage boys were on riding their horse into the jungle. My initial thought was that they must be going in to hunt only to realise that they were just going in to cut some wood after we exchanged a quick conversation. I loved how we could communicate with no language barrier.
Concluding the vacation to Fiji
All in all, I had a taste of everything in Fiji, turned 3 shades darker thanks to all the hanging out on the Fiji beaches and loved it! From outdoor adventures to nature to interactions with locals to some luxury indulgence. The entire trip was like I was living a dream, so surreal.
Of course, it could have been a dream if not for a ‘trophy’ scar on my shin which reminded me that the trip was real. After the plane touched down at Changi Airport, I went to Raffles Medical at Terminal 3 to seek treatment. It was an infected wound. I assumed that it was an innocent mosquito bite but the doctor thought otherwise. I had to change the dressing regularly for two weeks before it started to heal. With that, I collected one more scar and one more story.
My insurance was a worthwhile ‘investment’ for two visits to the doctor for two separate incidents. I don’t think I will or I even want to beat this record.
Thank you, Jus for making this trip possible, accommodating to my ever-going nonsense. I know I am not the easiest person to travel with. May we go on more adventures together in the future!
Have you been to Fiji? Share with me your personal highlights of the country!