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South Pacific Series - #1 Fiji


It’s been about 6 months since the first plane ticket was booked, and now I’m sitting on a 10 hour flight from Hong Kong to Nadi, Fiji. The complexity of putting this trip together compares to that of the Trans Siberian trip back in March. There are many islands to consider from: Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, and the French Polynesia. Because most of these islands are independent countries, finding flights was the most difficult. I had to lay out all connecting flights between the islands and also find a way from and back to Hong Kong. 



At the end, the route with the least back and forth, and reasonable direct flights to Hong Kong was the following: 
Hong Kong > Fiji > Vanuatu > New Caledonia  > (Fiji layover) > Samoa > Auckland, New Zealand > Hong Kong

This way, I get to maximize my 2.5 weeks vacation and visit 5 new countries.


Other than Fiji (and maybe Samoa), there really isn’t much written on these countries, as they aren’t common travel destinations. I found one book from Lonely Planet that summed up all of these islands in one book for reference and I based most of my preparation from that. And as usual, Pinterest gave me a lot of inspiration on planning these trips. Once I had an idea of what I wanted to see and experience, I proceeded with booking Hotels at the best locations, arranging transport between the hotel and airport, and also booking parts of the tours. Perhaps it’s the leisurely lifestyle in the islands, the responses took a while to get, but nonetheless I managed to arrange everything so that transportation would be seamless.

The various islands offer a vast variety of experiences, from white sand beaches and water sports, to National Parks with rivers, waterfalls, and ocean trenches. I would say it’s a very well balanced holiday for the type of activities it offers.

(My homework done for Fiji below)




Dec 15 (Thu) Flight from HK to Nadi, Fiji
I think it’s pretty recent that Fiji airways opened this direct flight from Hong Kong to Fiji recently. It’s co-shared with Cathay Pacific and flies 5 times a week. There was no check in counter at the airport express station in central, so I went straight for the airport to check my bag. The line wasn’t too long, and I was lucky enough to bump right into the entire crew of this flight checking in. The flight attendants were dressed in brown and blue-green colored uniforms with traditional patterns sewn in. I love it when an airline represents it’s country’s culture or national heritage, much more interesting then the airlines going for the modern stewardess look.


Backtrack a little bit to around 36hours earlier. It was 6am on Wednesday morning, and I was woken by a hunch that something is wrong with my body. Without getting into too much details, a violent storm of my body going “nope, don’t want this in my body” fit happened. The doctor wrote: Diagnosis “Gastritis, Gastroenteritis”. I’m not doctor, all I knew was, I felt like it sucked half of my life out of me. I slept for 24hrs, and went to work to wrap up some to-dos and handover before my flight.

Back to Thursday. HK Customs, as usual, was digging through my makeup bag for tweezers and my eyelash curler. Good that I still had an hour to spare, there’s no way I was going to miss my flight since the next flight from HK to Fiji was in 2 days’ time. The plane was an Airbus A330 with an USB port and charging sockets underneath the seats, amazing. That means I can be on my laptop as long as I want. Shortly after takeoff, dinner was served. I soon fell asleep from the anti-nausea pills the doctor prescribed me. I drifted in and out of sleep as the plane jetted over the Pacific Ocean. There was light turbulence throughout the flight but nothing major. I felt a tapping on my shoulder, and it was breakfast time! 10hours flight was gone just like that. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve flown so much lately, or that being an adult you just never have enough time, 10 hours felt really short. Whereas as a kid, 10 hours felt like years. No coloring book could keep me occupied for that long.


Dec 16 (Fri) Nadi, Fiji Day 1
While we descended to Nadi Airport, I could hardly see anything. A low pressure airstream has brought clouds and rain. It was going to be a rainy weekend, but we’re just going to have to make the best out of it! Most of the land was green, some patches of farmland here and there. But it looked untouched, just raw nature. We were greeted by some live music just in front of immigrations desks. Immigrations, baggage claim, and customs were chaotic, but orderly at the same time. It’s pretty efficient I would say, considering how much traffic this small airport was pushing through. Walking out to arrivals hall, you see many signs held up by tour companies, taxi and hotel shuttle drivers. Almost all the signs had this word “Bula”. That is how you greet in Fiji, you’ll hear that non-stop if you’re on this island.


I found a sign from Rosie Holidays with my name on it. Rosie Holidays is one of the biggest tour companies in Nadi, they offer tours to all kinds of islands, villages, mud hot sprints, and cultural tours. The drive to Sofitel at Denarau Island was just around 20 minutes. All of the high end resorts occupy the beach front of Denarau port. Ferries from this port link the main island to its’ beachy neighboring islands – Yasawa and Mamanuca. Sofitel Resort itself was a self-reliant entity. There’s a small shopping mall, bakery, spa, pool, volleyball court, restaurant, bar, beach club, just everything you need all in one place. 

We were lucky enough to be checked in earlier around 11am and also upgraded to a superior room (deluxe room? I don't know, all of these fancy hotel room names confuse me). Anyway, it had a lovely balcony facing the beachfront, but not directly in front of the noisier pool, but just a patch of green lawn. I sat at the balcony for a good 30 minutes just listening to the light rain falling and different tropical birds chirping in the background. One bird flew right into my balcony and stood beside me. I love how everything in Fiji just feels so chilled.







Somehow, jet lag hit me hard in the afternoon. I napped and struggled real hard to wake myself up at 4pm. The ferry pier was a 15 min walk away. There was a mall there with some supermarkets, clothing stores, and restaurant. We found a Fijian restaurant for some authentic local food. This was the first proper meal I’ve had in maybe 2 days? It was delicious.

Later at night, the rain escalated from a drizzle to a downpour. I guess most of the island hopping tours would be cancelled again. Still, I have 3 more island countries on the agenda. I might pop by the spa to get a relaxing massage tomorrow and let my body recover.


Dec 17 (Sat) Nadi, Fiji Day 2

Still rainy, though it did stop for a while, today is another lazy day. Back at the port area, people were still hanging around hoping for boat tours. Unless you paid something around US $400 to hire a boat all to yourself, no company was sailing that day. I lost one of my earrings so I went to shop for some new ones. Also it’s a bit chillier than I expected, only around 23 or 24C at times, so I also got myself a shawl/scarf kind of thing as a cover up when it gets cold.

Back at the Fijian restaurant, I had the same beef soup for lunch as last night’s dinner since I don’t feel 100% yet. The rain stopped in the afternoon and the sun finally decided to show itself for around 10 minutes. We walked back to Sofitel, and decided to head down to the beachfront. There was no one on the actual beach, but along the beach there were the Westin, and two Sheratons. People were lounging around at the Jacuzzis, bars, and BBQ areas. There were also one chapel for each hotel, I guess Fiji is a popular Wedding destination.





And then a wave of sleepiness hit me again. I napped until 6pm until I woke up to the rain outside. There were frogs everywhere, I could see them hopping down on the sidewalk from my balcony. Caught up on some YouTube vlogmas, I have no idea how it even loaded in the super slow hotel wifi. I almost ordered room service, but instead of having the room smell like food, I got my lazy ass downstairs to the restaurant to have some fried noodles. It turned out to be great since there was live music downstairs.



Dec 18 (Sun) Nadi, Fiji Day 3
Woke up around 9am with sunshine! Actual sunshine for the first time after arriving on the South Pacific Islands. But unfortunately it was brief. Soon after we went to the tour desk to ask about the boat tours of the day, it was getting cloudy again. There was a snorkeling trip leaving at 11:30am and returning at 6pm, but you never know what can happen with this volatile weather (turns out there was a downpour around 4pm).


(The Blua Bus above is a tourist hop on hop off bus that goes around Denarau Island I believe? It has a grass hut roof, the island holiday vibe is strong)

We took the Dollar Bus ($1 Fijian Dollar = 50 cents US) from Denarau Island back to Nadi downtown. It’s a local bus that runs between these two places. The bus was spacious, and kind of reminded me of the yellow school busses back in the states. The bus driver kept a small chest of coins, and just picked up people along the way. If you want to get off, you tug on the string along the window top which rang a bicycle bell. The bus ride to downtown was just around 15 minutes and it stops on Queens Road, where all the shops and souvenir stores were. We first walked down to the Hindu temple. Because there are many Indian migrant workers here for the sugar cane farms and factories, about 50% of Fiji’s population is Indian. No surprise there’s a Hindu temple right in the middle of town. The temple “Subramaniam” costs $5 FJD to get in, and you have to wrap your legs in a long scarf, both men and women. Even jeans or long yoga pants aren’t allowed. You also need to leave your shoes at the front of the gate, but the grounds of the temple are very clean.




After the temple, we headed back up Queens road. There was a handcraft market with a few stalls. I was trying to find a Fiji flag, but they were trying to charge me ridiculous tourist prices ($50 FJD for a medium size flag). We continued down the road. It was mostly pretty run down, but the streets were clean. It’s so hard to imagine, all of these luxury five star resorts are just 15 minutes away. Fiji really does it’s tourism branding very well, because the way how the Fijian people live life is nothing like what you see in the ads. All the pretty soft sand beaches, clear water diving spots are just for tourists. 

We found the dollar bus again, and headed back to Denarau port again. I’m finally feeling well enough to have some Chicken Tika Masala curry and Garlic Naan. It was so delicious, and it’s good to finally be able to eat whatever I want. At Port Denarau, I found a Full size Fijian flag for just $16, sealed in a bag. That’s perfect! Turns out that the souvenir shops have a pretty good bargain. 

In the afternoon I napped again, and woke up to a beautiful sunset. But still it was pouring rain outside. So I caught up on the final 5 of the UK Apprentice Season 12, did my packing and went to bed. Tomorrow we will be taking a propeller plane with Air Vanuatu just after lunch time to go to Port Vila. Fingers crossed the weather will be much better there!


Vinaka Fiji – thank you Fiji








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