Arriving at the airport later than hoped due to the ferry running late, by time we check in we are told that Fiji airways is overbooked and there are no seats. Travelling with Irish Chris it is just us and an American couple and two German girls not able to get on the flight. Kiwi bus Billy who I bumped into on the ferry was ahead and got lucky, but at least I’m not on my own and have Chris for company.
The deal is they pay for nice hotel (Novotel), all food and give us $500 (£160) so not all bad as get to see Nadi and have an extra day in Fiji. Definitely worse places to be stranded and quite chilled about it, unlike the American lady who totally freaked out at the check in girl as said her mum is dying of cancer and needs to get back to see her – she was very loud and hurling a bit of abuse the poor girl, but eventually calmed down.
After eventually being able to leave the airport at 10pm as they took ages to get everything sorted – a very disorganised airport for sure and apparently this happens every day with Fiji airways overbooking by about 20-40 people every day. Doesn’t seem the best way to run a business for sure. In the taxi we get chatting to the driver who says he is an ex Rugby player for Fiji, who has played with all the great players named is Woki, although when we try to google him we can’t. The fijian people are so nice and always so humble, thanking us for visiting their country and telling us that all thy like to see is us being happy with their culture and country. They are very proud of it and so they should be as Fiji has most beautiful spots.
So the first thing we need to do at the hotel is grab food and with only pizza and burger as an option in the restaurant I get a pizza for $42 (£18) which is pretty expensive for Fiji and later after we have eaten find out the allowance is only $60 in total for the whole time and meant to cover dinner, breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is never going to cover and have to call the airport in the morning to try and get a higher allowance since we were not volunteers for staying the extra day. In the morning also manage to get them to pay for laundry as like the food it is expensive at the hotel and said I would have been doing it in L had I got my flight, so they were cool with that.
So mostly the morning of the extra day is spent chilling on the balcony sorting out stuff, waiting for the laundry and looking at the nice view of the mountains. A little bit undecided what to do for rest of the day, as both don’t want to spend too much money or do anything that is too far as the receptions tells us about mud springs, a local market and a nice beach that is an hour away. End decision being we just grab a taxi into Nadi town, so we can at least say we have seen that and it is only £12 (£4) each way.
In town we get dropped off at the big souvenir store called Jaks and we are welcomed with a Bula song as we go in the guy playing his guitar – very sweet. The store has pretty much everything you can think of so it is interesting to look around and some silly gifts for people like a wooden barrel when lifted revealing a big penis of a fijian guy, so that amused both of us. Later Chris buys a Fijian singlet and I get some cool beer cover holders.
Walking down the high street it is mostly clothes and craft shops. We get talked into going into one where they offer us some Kava and talk to us about showing us how they make it and that is made from a root and grinded up to powder. We have to clap and say Bula as we drink it. With nothing ever really being for free, they after do a bit of a push for us to buy something saying it is all made from their local village and then we don’t ask us to give them a donation for their village in return for the Kava. Crafty, but understandably I guess as they are such a poor country and the cyclone really affected a lot of the villages.
We come across a cool little outside market, with more souvenirs and this time I buy a couple of little shell bracelets for gifts as made by the lady. The market sellers are a little bit pushy, especially the ladies, but have to just ignore them and say will come back. I was going to buy a little ring with a pearl on it, but soon decided not to when it popped off and she said just take another one so wouldn’t expect that to last 5mins even. They are offering some people Kava by one of the stalls – some americans are there asking for it to be made really strong to get more from it as it does numb your tongue and relax you.
After walking about for a bit we just grab an ice cream at the cheapest place ever ($3) and head to supermarket to grab some final beers, which is a bit hectic in itself and selling some different things like the biggest bags of rice I’ve ever seen and chicken feet – I guess they need to eat what they can of the meat they have.
Taking our last Fijian golds to the park, we finish up the extra Nadi day chilling in the park getting the last of the sun, enjoying our drinks and watching some local kids play rugby with a coke bottle. They start young and with nothing much else to do, no wonder they are quite good players. Just before we leave we are asked to sit with a group of men, who are having a Kava session and offer us a bowl each. The guys tell us this is a very traditional way to spend an evening for the Fijians, especially when it is a weekend like it is. As the men drink the kava, the women usually meet up separately to sing and weave for them all to meet up later on.
Heading back to the hotel we are able to shower and finish up packing so can head to the airport. It’s nice to be able to have use of the room right until we fly considering we are going to be on a plane and travelling for a lot of hours – for Chris it is about a full day travelling. This time the airport process goes OK and at least able to get on, as they are again overbooked on this flight. But as the check-in opens like 5 hours before we are still one of the last people to check in so can’t get better seats as we were hoping due to us not having a choice last night on staying they would upgrade our seats. But not actually too bad as flights go considering it is 10hours, despite the more cramped seats, passing the time making the most of the free drinks and watching a few films like Rock of ages a cute musical, Maze Runner and Sherpa both more serious films. Chris is sucked into the Wire and I think ends up watching a whole season!
Only managing to sleep a little bit, by the time we get to LA we are both totally shattered and going this way you get the worst jet lag as go back in time so leaving at 9.40pm Saturday arriving midday Saturday at a time which is far too early to go to sleep. And with the customs process taking super long at LA – especially Chris who has to wait twice as the automatic machines gave him a cross first time by the time I get out of the airport, after working out where to get the bus it is 3pm and for most of the bus journey struggle to keep open the eyes!
28th May 2016