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Days 201-202 – Wednesday-Thursday November 7-8, 2007 – Los Angeles, USA To Nadi, Fiji
Flying to Fiji entails crossing the International Dateline and thus losing a day somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Our flight left Los Angeles at around 10:30pm on Tuesday November 6th and arrived in Fiji some 31 hours later on Thursday morning the 8th at 5:30am. The actual flight time was just over 11 hours and the one redeeming thing about it was that we departed at nighttime and arrived in the morning, which allowed our internal clocks to adjust rather quickly.
I really want to compliment Fiji’s national airline, Air Pacific for their great service. Every seat on the massive Boeing 747 had a personal television screen, the drinks were unlimited and they served two meals with a smile. Shawn Reece also was delighted as they served him a special children’s meal and he got served before everyone else on the plane! This kind of service doesn’t exist outside of first class in the U.S. and when it does, it never seems to feel this good. Of course, an airline lives and dies with their flight attendants and Air Pacific’s were once again very friendly. (End of airline commentary!)
Surprisingly, we all slept pretty well on the plane and the eleven hours passed relatively quickly, helped along by the personal television screen in each of our seats. After landing in Nadi, Fiji and passing through immigration (very simple), we found a downtown hostel’s shuttle and rode it into town on the promise that we would stay there. We had already decided to stick our first day out in Nadi, before heading out to the Yasawa Islands for a week or so. “Stick it out” refers to Nadi being just another ugly town in a developing country, a departure from the island paradise you see in the pictures. We did know about this though and although Nadi is loud and chaotic, we didn’t find it much different than many places we have been in the past three months.
The first thing we noticed while walking along the busy streets was the number of Hindus in Fiji. The locals are almost evenly split now amongst the natives and immigrants who are primarily Hindu. All of the shops and businesses on the main drag reflected this as well and curry seemed to be the food of choice in the area, while beef was not available anywhere. While the number of immigrants was surprising, everyone seems to get along well enough and we found the Fijians to be incredibly friendly people, although we had to watch out for the occasional con man on the streets!
It wasn’t much past 7:30am when we placed our bags in the room and ate the light breakfast of toast and jam provided by our hostel. Jasmine and I had agreed to try and stay awake until 7pm that night so that we could get used to the time difference. All three of us had managed to get at least a few hours of sleep on the plane so this didn’t seem impossible. As the day progressed, we began shopping around at a couple of travel agents to book our passage and accommodation out on the Yasawa Islands.
It didn’t take long in consulting travel agents in Nadi to discover that they are aggressive and not particularly honest. During the day we visited several and each left us with a bad taste in our mouths. By the late afternoon we were tired though and decided to use a lady who seemed to be the lesser of the evils. To offset the dishonesty, we only booked our first night’s accommodation on the islands through her, so that we could negotiate directly with the resort’s owners for subsequent nights once we arrived. She didn’t seem very happy with our plan, but really couldn’t complain as she still made a couple of dollars off of us.
After booking our trip out to the Yasawas, we still had several hours to kill so we headed over to the movie theater. I was delighted when we discovered that a Bollywood film was showing and we quickly bought the tickets which cost $3.50FJD each. ($1FJD=$1.51USD) This was a treat for me as I have always wanted to see a Bollywood film. The movie, Om Shanti Om, was very enjoyable for Jasmine and I, but Shawn Reece was a different story. We did let him break the no sleep rule about halfway through and his complaints were soon silenced as he gave in to fatigue. After leaving the movie theater, we picked up some curry for dinner before FINALLY heading off to bed!
As a destination for the majority of our time in Fiji, we chose the Yasawa Islands because of their “simplicity”. Most of the so called resorts on the Yasawas are little more than a couple of bures (thatched roof huts) placed on the beach. The resorts generally only have electricity in the evening and even then only to power a couple of lights. This “simplicity” seemed just what the doctor ordered after our crazy week in the U.S. We were ready to get some R&R while living on “Fiji time”. More on that next time!
The Coomer Family
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