Freitag, 10. April 2015

The Travelogue, Part XLIII: Fiji - Namu Levu!

 With its main islands named Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the unassuming obsever might assume that Namu Levu is just one of the many Fijian islands, one that struck me with its particular beauty or remoteness. It might conjure up images of lone coconut palms softly swinging in the soft breeze across a turquoise-coloured bay. It is, however, in fact Fijian for 'lots of mosquitos'. For some reason Fiji's resident vampiric insect population took such a liking to me that the Indonesian jungle seemed like the perfect place to have a naked dusk snooze in hindsight.

Now that that's out of the way, what's to say about Fiji? Originally In wasn't meant to travel here, merely to sit on the veranda of my Fijian friend's newly built house and drink copious amounts of Kava while I watch the tide carry the surfers out and the coconuts home. Unfortunately said friend had to leave for New Zealand, and I was left with no plans. From a travel perspective, Fiji is a resort destination. If you just want to lounge for two weeks on a proprietory beach and have burgers and beer, Fiji will embrace you with open arms. If you are looking to travel and experience all the beauty it has to offer, however, without plans you will struggle. Because falling into the resort trek is so easy here, it's hard to get both information and determination to venture into the less accessible areas of the country.

If you consider coming to Fiji for anything but just chilling out in a heavily curated package holiday experience, I suggest you either a) go and live there for a while or b) have pretty solid plans of what you want to see and how to get there on time and budget. While that sounds like pretty general travel advice, I found it particularly hard to get to the (non-beach) sweet spots in Fiji.

Fijians are fishing experts, finding marine life even in 5 inches of water

Having said that, a lot of the attraction lies in its bountiful marine life, which offers amazing fauna both to divers and simple tidal walkers. If you have never done the latter, I encourage you do venture out to the reef when the tide is low - chances are you will see just as much if not more interesting animal life in the tidal pools than in a dive.

Sea snakes can be seen as close as as few meters from the beach.

Mosquitos aside, it's easy to imagine to retire here, and many do. This is made partially possible by Fijian labour being incredibly cheap, with an average builder earning a meager 3 FJD (1£) an hour. When one is bunkered up in a orchid-studded white sand beach resort it's easy to forget that Fiji is a third-world country with high income inequality and its fair share of social problems.
Fijian Breakfast is flour balls cooked in coconut milk

Fijians, like most Polynesians tend to be strong-framed

All in all, Fiji is a wonderful place. Its slow pace, stunning nature and lack of hassle makes it one of the most relaxing places I have ever been to. It is, however, so relaxing and easy that doing anything else becomes a lot harder, and if you don't want to spend all your time in a pretty but plastic Bula resort I suggest you do solid research.

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