At the mention of Fiji, what would be the first thing in your mind? A honeymoon destination? Paradise with pristine beaches? Luxurious travel or Fiji bottled water?
Fiji caught my attention while I was playing guess all the countries in the world game. Somehow the name itself was intriguing enough which lead me to find out more about it on the Internet.
Picture perfect beaches and sunsets popped up on my screen and I was mesmerised. Immediately I declared it my dream destination. The inaccessibility (before Air Fiji launched direct flights between Fiji and Singapore last April) made it a little exotic too.
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 two main islands and many other smaller islands surrounding it. A 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. In the sea of blue which represents their remoteness lies a Union Jack for they were part of the Commonwealth and Fiji’s Coat of Arm.
Due to Britain’s colonisation for close to 100 years, Fijians are bilingual. They speak English and their mother tongue. It makes travelling much simpler for English speaking travellers.
Lucky for me, my friend, Jus was kind enough to invite me along when she was offered an attractive deal for flights via Fiji Airways.
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 went only cater to foreigners. It was only on the last day we managed to find local food which was not cheap either. I later learned that most locals will cook at home instead.
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 their marketing campaign featuring picturesque beaches. Yes, that was what caught my eyes in the beginning but what I love best is the hospitality of the Fijians.
Striking conversations were easy after exchanging Bulas (which means hello in 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. Pacific Harbour, also known as the capital of adventures was my favourite town. 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 set down into the sea at Pacific Harbour. 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.
In Denarau, we signed up for an all-inclusive day trip to South Sea Island. To our dismay, it was so commercialised that it was lacklustre. Still, we went on a submarine ride, snorkel and kayak around the island. Chilled with a cold beverage on the sun deck, being a typical beach bum. The sun, sandy beach and clear water were all we needed.
Another highlight that I adored was the drive to Nausori Highlands to get a glimpse of the villages. Two teenage boys were on their horses making their way into the jungle and I thought they were going to hunt! Well, it turned out that they were going in to cut some woods. I love how we could communicate with no language barrier.
I got a slice of everything in Fiji, got 3 shades darker and loved it! From outdoor adventures to nature to interactions with locals to some luxury indulgence. The entire trip was so surreal, felt like I was living a dream!
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 which I thought 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!