My Almost Disaster Trip to Fiji
First Time in Fiji
Fiji 25th – 6 June 2010. I departed Melbourne late at night on the 25th May 2010 flying with Pacific Blue. Not a bad flight overall, unfortunately, I had someone in the plane sitting in front of me who cannot hold their flatulence!!. What to do in cases like this when the flights are full too?
After a bad sleepless journey, I arrived at Nadi airport. All went very smoothly with customs and immigration. Headed straight for the transfer desk and they told me 5 times (in total 45 minutes), that the bus is on the way……. This is with Pacific Destination transfers. I am most annoyed and not very happy with their services as I arrived at 6am in the morning and especially when I didn’t get much sleep in the plane. I thought I was being smart and had incorrectly assumed that organising a transfer is a better/faster option to get to the hotel at 6am (hassle free). It was more hassle than taking a taxi, in my opinion. The Fijians at this company are obviously following Fijian time, not my time. There were many taxis outside and I found out that it only costs Fijian $30 to get from airport to Hilton. Makes me madder thinking that I had paid Aud$50 for a transfer in Australia. It would be better to pay for a taxi as the money doesn’t go to any Australian companies but to the Fijian community. Even if the taxi had charged me tourist prices, I still felt that it would have been better for I as a tourist would be supporting the local Fijian economy and not large overseas company owned by rich overseas company.
Finally after ¾ hour, my transfer ride arrived and I headed to my resort. Along the way, I saw many sugar cane fields. Not plantations as they are small individual plots, owned by the local Fijians. They are not big plantations like the ones I see up in Queensland Australia. I also see lots of coconut trees but I believe they are only for local consumptions and hotels, not for export like the sugarcane for sugar export, initiated by the colonial masters in the old days.
Didn’t take me long to get to the hotel, about ½ hour. The hotel I stayed in for my first 5 nights was the Hilton. It is very well run but services are very much according to Fijian time. I really have to relax and go with the flow and abide by the Fijian time, right?
This Hilton hotel is one of the newest at the Denarau Islands, about 4 years old. Very nice overall but the food served at the hotel is not up to my cuisine standard (IMHO….). I expected more local cuisine but all they had are very much Australian fare. I imagine they are catering to their major cliental (70% are Australians & New Zealanders) the rest of the cliental are from America, Europe, Asia. They had a noodle restaurant but the tastes are catered to westerner as well. For someone (like me), I feel that the noodles not up to standard either, no matter how good they says the chef is and that he is from Singapore. I have tasted local Singaporean hawker’s food and they are so much better. Check out Zing restaurant at the next resort at Westin. More pricey than the noodle place at Hilton and food not to my liking either.
I find that I can walk to Port Denarau each evening for my dinner. It is only a 20 monute walk one way to Port Denarau. The other resorts (walking distances) do offer better tasty food but not much better and many are buffet style. I was really surprise to find that the prices for each dish are more expensive than what you can get in Australia and they quality are not of the same quality. I even checked out the Chicken Express takeaway café at Port Denarau. For 5 pieces of fried chicken, it is A$12. Even Kentucky Chicken tasted better and probably cheaper. I ask one of the local if they get charged a similar price and he said yes. That is why he said that unless you are a rich local; you cannot afford to eat takeaway food in touristy places as such. They get paid about $2.50 an hour and staff at hotels are probably paid $4 and hour. The standard of living seems very really high to me.