Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.
emo_snal

Fiji Layover!

   My flight was at 23:40 on Tuesday, so I had all day to get ready, which was plenty of time, but also I had a lot of random errands to do beforehand so I felt pretty anxious and stressed all day .. as is usual before a big trip.
   An annoying note is that I couldn't find any of the three external phone batteries I have anywhere. I use at least one every single day so it was a bit unusually irksome that not one of them could be found. We swung by work on the way to the airport though and I did find one but I do hope I eventually find the others as one is a big $80 one.
   The only other thing that qualifies I think as having forgotten something is that though I grabbed my DSLR camera, I forgot to check its charge, which turned out to be at completely un-charged, and I forgot the battery charger. So I'll have to pick one up at a nikon store at some point if I want to use it at all. Also I don't know if it was missing the lense-cap when I picked it up, I would think I would have noticed, but by the time I was checking in at the airport the camera no longer had a lensecap. I had a lense-cap walk off on me in Tanzania once and the lense quickly became smudgy enough to ruin every picture (and that was the trip in which my phone was later stolen so these two events conspired to leave me with no photos but I digress).

   But now here's the big mystery and inconvenience. My friend Ben kindly gave me a ride to the airport. We both very distinctly remember, just after I had stepped out of his car, him handing me my reading glasses saying "don't forget your glasses." A literal minute later when I got into the check in line I realizde my glasses were not on me anywhere nor in my backpack. I quickly bailed out of line to go retrace my steps and they weren't on the ground anywhere along the way or where I'd gotten out. Where they got to is a complete mystery to me, they completely vaporized!
   I looked for reading glasses at the shops in the airport but couldn't find any. Usually I spend a significant number of hours reading on trips like this but I really can't read without glasses any more so that was a bit torturous. ):


   Flight from Melbourne to Fiji went from 2340 Melbourne time to 0630 Fiji time, which, being as Fiji is +3 hours on Melbourne means the flight was 3 hours? And they spent an hour at least with the lights on serving us dinner and all so basically I got no sleep that night.

   At Fiji airport one walks through open-air walkways to the terminal, and even at 6:30 it was a nice pleasant temperature. In the terminal building a trio of fijian men were playing ukuleles and handing big pretty white flowers to young ladies to put in their hair. Welcome to Fiji! Having read that you can book day trip tours at the airport instead of bruskly brushing off the tour agent who solicited me as I wandered aimlessly, after an initial gut reaction to do exactly that I was like "oh, actually, I want to book a tour!" so like a trap door spider dragging its pray into its burrow he took me into their tour office.. where they put a necklace of shells around my neck.

   They had a number of tour options. Of course they started with their most expensive one, an island tour for $264. And I was shamelessly like "soo what do you have thats cheaper?" Their cheapest thing was a tour around Nadi (the capitol) for like $110 but it sounded kind of dull, markets and city landmarks don't excite me much. There were a number of different options in the $150 range. I forget what exactly they all were, though there were some ziplines and a hot spring / mud pool and I think I tried to book one involving caves but since no one else was taking that one that day they didn't want to run it for one person. So I ended up booking the "coastal tour" that visited some WWII fortifications and some sand dunes. I think it was supposed to be $120ish AND the tour guide paid for my lunch and a beer saying I could just pay him back for everything in one lump at the end, which sounded good though I suspected maybe it was an excuse to add things up with fuzzy math to an inordinately high number.... but in the end he only asked me for $100! AND, I was the only person on the tour!

   So yeah my tour guide was a young fellow, aged 26 to be precise. We drove from place to place in a nice little mini-van. He was very nice and friendly and... well I get the impression he is verrrry friendly with the lady tourists -- I think he relished having a youngish guy tourist to who he could regale about his exploits because it sounds like he's quite the satyr! Regularly going above and beyond sacrificing his personal evenings to the constant demands of foreign women ::shakes head pityingly:: #neocolonialism

   The WWII bunkers weren't terribly exciting, I've seen plenty of bigger bunker complexes on the California coast, but it was nice to enjoy the view from there. Fiji really is a gorgeous place. The temperature all day was in the 70s with a pleasant breeze and sunny skies. Ground was covering in luxurious grass everywhere, palm trees grew picturesquely all about. Island paradise it truly is.

   For lunch he asked if I wanted a "tourist lunch" or a "local lunch." I would Moderately have gone with the latter anyway but he laughingly noted that the "tourist lunch" is much much more expensive.

   So we stopped in at a little food counter attached to a grocery store, each got a plate with some stewy chicken and a big heap of rice. I was more than I could eat! And for $2.50 each. Also there was no room at the benches but two old guys eagerly made room for us and tried to speak to me in a friendly manner in their extremely broken English. This cemented my opinion that Fijians seem to be a very friendly lot. I mean I feel like everyone "is friendly" everywhere but they did seem on a whole a really quite friendly lot.

   Next we went to these big sand dunes. I was expecting just like, dunes, but they were actually mostly overgrown with thick foliage so it was quite lovely. Some dunes at the end were bare sand and they were really quite massive.



   After this we both agreed it was time for a beer. At first he was trying to be well behaved and not have a beer since he was working but he eventually broke down to the age old reasoning of "just one wouldn't hurt." They came out ice cold like ice was Figuratively forming on the glasses. I wouldn't expect good beer from a small island nation but, and maybe its just because it was ice cold and I was really in the mood, but I found this "Fiji Bitter" beer to be really quite good!


   From there that was apparently the end of the tour. There was a waterfall around there but when I inquired about it he said ti would cost $75 (claiming that was out of his hands, the cost the villagers charge), and I decided much as I like waterfalls it could hardly be worth $75. I still had all day left on my layover (flight out at 20:00) but the tour seemed to be over. He recommended I hang out at a privately run "transit lounge" which would cost me $20 and at first I was opposed to this but then I thought about spending the next six hours in an airport terminal and $20 seemed worthwhile to escape that. It was a very peaceful place full of soothing music and friendly staff, and I even got a complimentary foot massage (I guess the place is also a massage school and many westerners were coming in just for massages ... and no not that kind of massages get your mind out of the gutter!)


   Caught flight out with no incident. On my flight were 70 American highschool students who had apparently been part of some programme called "Rural Pathways" in which they spent two weeks studying the Fijian reefs and scuba diving and studying marine pollution and such. Sounds pretty fun! Also probably expensive - I cynically noted they all seemed at least middle class, and white. Also weirdly 90% female (of whom 90% were wearing yoga pants, apparently the young lady's traveling attire de jour). These 70 teenagers completely filled the aircraft cabin in my area, and tittered away like a tree full of lorikeets (which is to say, fairly a cacophony of tittering).

   Fiji airlines movie selection really not great. Aaand I couldn't read because I still didn't have reading glasses.

   Arrived home, picked up by my parents, went straight to In-N-Out burger, am living happily ever after! Sitting at the table in my parents back yard reading in the warm summer evening light at 7:30pm, my coworker in Australia reported it was a high of 39 and thick fog!

Fiji Pictures!

Tags: #neocolonialism, field reports, fiji, travel, traveling, travelogues
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