Recently, I visited Fiji, which was the 19th country that I’ve touched my feet upon. Whilst the holiday was quite relaxing, I’m about to say something that a lot of you would probably find scandulous. Are you ready for it? I didn’t like Fiji. There I said it. I feel the urge/obligation to say that I loved it but the truth is I didn’t.
Prior to going there, I feel like I had raised my hopes of what I thought being in Fiji was going to be like. The most recent island that I had visited prior to Fiji was Hawaii. I absolutely loved Hawaii. I guess somewhere deep down, I had anticipated possibilities of Fiji being similar to Hawaii. But it wasn’t. It was far from it. I landed in Nadi and stayed at The Westin Denarau, which was roughly a 20-minute drive if memory serves me right. Denarau is the next island over. The drive was somewhat disheartening. You’re faced with the reality of life in Fiji. Whilst, Fiji probably has a decent tourism industry, it’s hardly commercialised. You see the small compact houses that people live in with the odd mansions here and there. You see the shops clustered together, similar to the set up in India. You see kids playing in the dirt in their worn out tees and shorts. I had not anticipated that that would be the first few sights I’d see upon exiting the airport.
Once we arrived at Denarau, I was shocked to see the enclosure. There were multiple resorts all within a short space but there wasn’t really room to walk. What I mean by that is, if on a pleasant evening you wished to stroll around the city, well that wasn’t really an option. As Denarau is rather small with multiple resorts all within the same vicinity, you just don’t get the feeling of walking around the city.
On day 2 of our visit, and I feel like we called this upon ourselves, we did the Sigatoka River Cruising Safari (nope not a sponsored blog), which is one of the more popular tours as rated on TripAdvisor. I thought I’d get a feel of being a local. We were taken to the town of Sigatoka which is an hour and ten minutes from Denarau. We get to a point in Sigatoka where we disembark from the bus and embark on to a jet boat and we cruise along the Sigatoka River to go to a local village. We get to the point where we need to get of the jet boat and a path well stairs have been carved in the midst of what I can only describe as a forest, to make our way up. From this point we get into a truck, yes an actual truck, and are driven down to the village. There are only 23 houses in this village and 200 people. We were seated for the most part at a Community Hall, or so they called it. But in reality it was a house. The reason I say this is because, all of the other houses looked exactly like this one. These houses really just comprise of a room sometimes two with the toilet situated outside the house.
The villagers go out of their way and prepare lunch for the tour group. Essentially, the $330FJD that you pay per person, a portion of that goes to the village and that aids in their preparations. Whilst it was a very insightful trip and getting to know a lot more about the life in Fiji. For example the kids in some of the villages swim across the Sigatoka River to go to school. Even in the flood season. The only exception is when the flood level is higher than usual. Fiji has also only very recently stopped cannibalism. By recently, I mean in the late 1900s. The tour felt quite unsettling. Whilst, the tour was probably designed to give you a taste of the local life, to me it felt like they were glorifying their poverty. I am quite thankful for the opportunities that I have and the fact that I have a roof over my head, and this experience was certainly eye opening but it’s not something I had signed up to see when I am visiting a new country. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sadist as this blog is making me out to be. I just wasn’t prepared for what I encountered as I thought I’d signed up for something else altogether. In fact there are multiple tours that you can book that take you out to the local villages.
Another aspect that added to me not liking Fiji was the food. Fiji is mainly known for its fruits but you can’t suffice just on fruits. At no point during the trip did I ever feel satisfied whilst eating. They try and create fusion style cooking and whilst they may get the name of the dish right the taste is far from it.
I’m happy to put together another blog like the ones I usually do if you are planning a trip to Fiji. But I just wouldn’t be doing my blogs justice if I were only to post sunshine and rainbows and not talk about the thorns. There’s just no way, you’re going to love every single city or country you visit, that’s impossible. Hence, I guess this is my first blog on a country that I don’t like.
One thing I will say (and will repeatedly say on advice blogs and vlogs) is that if you are going to Fiji make sure you’re staying at a good resort. How do you determine whether a resort is good? Do some research on the resort and see the dining options, the tour options, look at the photos and get a feel for the resort. Fiji is one of those destinations you go to, to stay at the resort and just relax by the pool.
Until next time,