Well, what a change – leaving the States, losing a day, and arriving in a country that reminds us of India at every turn. We arrived at 5 o’clock this morning, to join a huge half hour queue for immigration (as in so many cases, two international flights landed within a few minutes of each other, and overwhelmed the puny airport). On the other side of customs stood a wall of touts and ‘tourist information assistants’ – all trying to convince you that their hotel was the right one to go to. All in all, a typical Asian arrival! We headed straight to the tall, thin Indian holding the Sunseekers sign – a backpackers hotel in Nadi town which we’d had recommended on the Internet. Its always pretty nice to have a clear idea of where you want to go to in these situations, as you can wade past all of the touts just repeating the name of the place you’re heading for – their professionalism lasts long enough to point the way to the rep/tout from that accommodation. He immediately took our trolley and wheeled us out to the car park, to his van. This was like arriving for a five star resort! After a short wait while he searched out other prospective guests (no luck for him!) we drove through the countryside to the hotel – not just a pickup from the airport, but a private transfer too. We could get used to this.
The ‘hotel’ was a typical Asian one too – bars on all the windows, unfinished concrete stairways and big holes in the floor that would swallow the children completely. And friendly. So we checked in (at 6:30 am) and had a breakfast of toast and tropical fruit – what a contrast to a month of sugar-loaded breakfasts in the states. Not a Dunkin Donut in sight.
The day was taken up with wandering into town, buying fruit in the market, and finding a down-at-heel Indian coffee shop for samosas and chai, and deciding which islands we’re going to head towards. There are so many options for backpackers in Fiji, but we’ve decided already that we want to go to the Yasawas Islands, so its just a case of deciding which particular resorts (the word ‘resort’ in this case meaning 3 huts and a kitchen). Everybody has an opinion – each of the hotel staff, each of the fellow travellers, and everybody you meet. And, of course, they’re all different. By the time we have to decide, we’ve got 35 different recommendations, and none twice!
Before heading into town for a curry dinner, we booked our boat and accommodation for the first 3 nights – the rest we’ll decide once we get out there.
We enjoyed our first Fiji day, and feel really in traveller mode – chatting to fellow backpackers, and enjoying cheap-eats on the streets of Nadi.