Living like a local ~ Fijian hospitality

Bula Bula,

Since living in Fiji and receiving mostly great hospitality from its locals, I thought I should write about it.

Most people here are very friendly, you either say bula to someone you’re walking past, give your best bula smile or comment on how hot it is hehe.

Something which isn’t really noticed or cared about in Australia is knowing your neighbours. Maybe just to the point where you can ask them to take out the bin on dustbin day if they are away, collect their mail or water their garden. In Fiji, you are regularly invited to join them for Kava or share a meal. My neighbours which were (before moving) a family of four and have on the occasion prepared Cassava Pudding for dessert and gave me a portion to taste, it was delicious and went fantastic with vanilla icecream! A few weeks later a delicious Fijian beef, cassava and chili salad plate was shared. I’m a massive chili fan and it was right on point! At first I thought it was strange and wasn’t sure if it would be rude to accept it, Jay assured me it’s completely normal. That same night was Jay’s birthday where I made a lamb stew and chocolate slice, so I returned the favour and shared a plate with them, yay!

Each day I walk to the Treasure House Childrens Home, I pass a car wash business where the staff always greet me with big greetings such as “bula, good morning, yadra, you look nice” haha. The owner approached me when I was on my walk home for lunch and asked my name and where it was I walk to most days. He then invited me to have Kava with them one day, a bit reluctant of their intentions I asked if Jay could come as well, he said of course. Later that evening when I was walking home (again) they came running up to street level and shared one cup of Kava with no intentions of kidnapping me haha. The next day when Jay was walking with me, they also said Bula Bro to him.

I got chatting with a girl while waiting at the bus stop, she was on her way to work in Port Denaru. She had seen me around and like most people enquired how I spent my time in Fiji. Anyway, she ended up paying for my bus fare (.70 cents) as she needed to break a note, I offered her the money after but she insisted it was fine. .70 cents may not sound like much but Fijians are paid a considerable amount less than Australians. If you’ve stopped to think about how cheap Fiji is, well for a tourist on holiday from Australia, yes it is. However, if you’re earning Fijian dollar, the living costs, food, housing, petrol etc are not equivalent. I was very grateful for my free bus ride on that hot and humid day!

So if anything like this happens while you’re living in Fiji or on holiday, accept the invite and return the favour in any way possible.

Vinaka vakalevu,

Loloma levu xx

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Try Time! Sporting events in Fiji

Grand Final Makoi Bulldogs V Lautoka

Bula!

Not sure if you’ve heard but Fiji is Rugby crazy! Union and 7’s Rugby being most favored but League also has a large following.

I was lucky enough to see the Rugby League Grand Final at Churchill Stadium in Lautoka September last year, between Makoi Bulldogs and Lautoka. The atmosphere was great, lots of singing and ladies running down with their team flags when a try was scored! There were some kids about 10 yo, who were singing right near us and playing percussion, fantastic!

I found the entertainment around us an invited distraction but I did watch a lot of the game. It was a fast game and most of it they were within a couple of points of each other. I was going for the Makoi Bulldogs, they are one of the Suva teams who won the GF last year. Jay follows this team as Makoi is where he’s from in Suva. Guess I should follow the boyfee since I wasn’t really fussed either way. Unfortunately in extra time Lautoka City scored and converted a try putting them 1 point in front. Jay and the other Makoi fans celebrations were a bit premature but as the goal was kicked and full time whistle was blown, the gates were opened and kids ran out onto the field to congratulate Lautoka City. It looked really cool, kids adults etc all running onto the field with excitement hehe. Even though Makoi didn’t win, it was a good game and I enjoyed it.

It was easy to get there from Nadi, just a 30 min bus ride which pretty much stops right at the gates and costs $2 each way, bus runs regularly but if you’re in a hurry get a mini-van. I think mini-van is $2-3, it’s not for the faint hearted, they go quite fast and overtake sometimes without the best judgment. The game was only $6, if there’s room you can sit under shelter in the grandstands but if you’re late, shade could be an issue as there’s not many trees.

If you have time while you’re here on holidays, ask a local about seeing a sporting event. It is a great cultural experience even if sports aren’t really your thing.

I’m looking forward to the Union season starting sometime this year!

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu

Hidden gem aka Saweni Beach!

Bula Gang,

I am back in paradise aka Fiji after spending some quality time at home with my family and friends! Last year I mainly blogged about my time volunteering at the Treasure House, but I also got up to some cool things in my free time. If you are traveling to Fiji, these might be worth knowing.

I discovered a hidden gem! People mainly go to the most common beach Wailoaloa but if you are after something a lil more beautiful and peaceful, check out Saweni Beach. It is between Nadi and Lautoka and virtually secluded. When I was there I felt like Mahsa, Jay and myself had our own private beach. It has white/yellow sand unlike Wailoaloa where the sand is more brown and powdery. It is lined with coconut trees and the water is very calm and also cooler than the general Fijian waters. This made for a much more refreshing swim on a hot and sunny day. Only thing it lacks is a coral reef to snorkel hehe.

Getting there is easy if you have a car, it is about ½ way between Nadi and Lautoka, you take a left turn which is sign posted Saweni Beach and also Orchid Resort.

If you are more adventurous and/or on a budget, take the local bus. More often than not, you’ll get a bus which plays loud music from the radio 2Day FM. Which mainly plays reggae and general hit music, makes you feel like dancing.

Bus options are either no windows or closed with A/C, I prefer no windows and enjoy the fresh island breeze. Bus’ come very regularly and it should only costs $1.50 FJD each way. The walk to the beach is via a dirt road for about 1.5 km, at midday it was boiling so once we got to the beach it was straight into the water!

I would suggest bringing a packed lunch since there’s not any restaurants. Luckily for us, Jay can climb a coconut tree and we enjoyed fresh coconut juice & the flesh inside yum yum!

I’m looking forward to the next time I go to Saweni Beach Yay!

Vinaka Vakalevu

Loloma Levu x

Taken from under a coconut tree

Taken from under a coconut tree

Freshly Picked

Freshly Picked

Treasure House ~ 2nd last week & Xmas build up

Bula Gang,

Delayed post, my second last week was last week hehe my blog is on Island Time…

To begin my second last week, I was greeted by the kids washing their hands before their mid-morning snacks. Five little people running up with ALICE screams, I didn’t have time to put my bag down before I was helping with the hand washing!

We always have to play tricks with Sritty to get her to finish her food. Usually pretending that we’ll give it to one of the other children. It seems she’s outsmarted this tactic so the new one is a threat that I will go home. The staff say “Alice will go home if you don’t eat your food”, then I’m meant to get up and leave, after one or two cries and flaps of her hands, I sit down and spoon feed her. She’s an emotional little thing, cries at the drop of a hat but I think a lot of the time it’s because she wants to be picked up and cuddled.

Wednesday we had a great xmas lunch provided by Chicken BBQ. The kids loved to get ready to go out to a restaurant. Toddlers were in their best dress and the older girls really liked the way I did my hair (fish braid) so they asked if I could do their hair like that too. I had a lot of fun playing hairdresser and they all looked very pretty.

Everyone was well behaved in the restaurant. Ansu made a thank you speech on behalf of everyone at Treasure House, she spoke very well but she is used to it as they encourage her public speaking abilities. We were talking after about what we want to be when we grow up, she wants to be a flight attendant, this would suit her very well, she can travel (which I’m always encouraging) and opens up the door to lots of other career opportunities. I’ve heard the training is quite rigorous but I believe she’ll do great at anything she puts her mind too.

Anyway, back to the restaurant… there was an applause once Ansu finished and Aaron our 5 year old who has autism, couldn’t stop clapping and his catch phrase “on the light, on the light, BULA”. He is a character and brings a lot of happiness to the house, even though he bit me on my second day, we’ve bonded since. I’ll never forget when I asked him how he was and he replied “not bad, not bad” such a funny response from a 5 year old.

Sritty ate too much lollies so she didn’t eat the chicken or chips, typical. Gloria was taken up to cut the cake, afterwards she thought the cake was hers but said she would share with everyone. The afternoons are always a lil out of sync after these big lunches. They go to sleep later, have their bath later and then no time for much playing because they’re all so exhausted. Generally makes for a more relaxing afternoon 😀

As we don’t see and spend as much time with the older girls from Judy House next door for 14 and above, one of the other volunteers Lucille organised for her, Laura and myself to take them out for lunch. Originally it was to the movies but it became too hard with session times and getting to Lautoka which is 45 mins by bus. Lunch was great though, the girls really enjoyed it and so did we. It was nice to be able to chat without being interrupted by the smaller children and being able to give all your focus on them.

It was a great end to the week and end to Lucille’s last day, she’s been with us for 2 weeks.

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu,

xx