Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

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Location: Home, United Kingdom

You all know who I am, I assume.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Fiji

According to Tim Robbins in the Shawshank Redemption, Mexicans say the Pacific has no memory. I'm not in Mexico yet, but I am in the Pacific. But never fear, I haven't forgotten you all - here I am, to prove it, writing my first post in Fiji.

The reason it's been so long is that I've spent most of the intervening time swimming in crystal clear waters over coral reefs, watching tropical fish, colourful coral, starfish and molluscs and the occasional sea snake (three times more poisonous than a King Cobra, don'tchaknow). Along with eating coconuts that have fallen straight from the trees (narrowly missing me on several occasions) I've also been drinking lots of gin and rainwater (the only mixer available), and going swimming at night. So it's a wonder I'm still alive, really, what with this being the arse end of cyclone season as well. Actually, best keep quiet about that last one - I'm not leaving Fiji until the 16th...



Apart from Caqalai (that's the island I was telling you about above), I've been to Levuka, which used to be the capital of Fiji during the brief period betweem 1874 and 1882 after Fiji had become a British colony and before the capital was moved to its current location in Suva (where I am now). Before Fiji became British it used to be a rough shoreleave destination for whalers and sailors, and much of it still looks like a cross between a Wild West Town and something out of a Conrad novel. However, these days the nightlife is more or less non-existent - it's hard enough trying to find a restaurant that's open after seven, let alone get a beer!

Last night we tried to go to the (in)famous Ovalau Club, the only relic from those times apart from the Royal Hotel, the bar of which is guests only. But, just to show how much times had changed, the Club was closed. Ishmael and Ahab wouldn't have been pleased, let alone Nostromo (hmmm... mixed literary metaphors). We eventually found ourselves a comfy berth (of sorts) at the Levuka Club, however.

From the outside, the place looked like a run-down warehouse. The inside did nothing to change my opinion of the run-down aspect of this place, but I realised that in fact it resembled a rugby clubhouse, youth hall or scout hut in severe disrepair. Behind the bar the Indo-Fijian proprietor served up drinks while shouting to be heard over the DVD of some Christian epic at full volume on the TV (with Hindi subtitles). The only other punter in there was an old American fruit, who had a thin grey 'tache, a tropical shirt and some brief shorts, and wasn't a big fat party animal. He was very concerned about the possibility of us not getting visas for the US, bless him... Fortunately we could drink in the back room. Sure enough, to complete the dilapidated scout hut theme of the place, the back doors were wide open and looked to have been broken in that fashion after someone had clambered in through a broken back window. If there had been needles and spoons about I wouldn't have been suprised... All in all it was a bizarre place to have a quiet drink - the three of us more than doubled the number in there.


This morning we got a bus at 5am to the other side of the island of Ovalau, from where we got a ferry across the Koro Sea to the main Fijian island. Then our bus continued to the capital Suva, where we arrived at 9am. A weird journey - who knows why they didn't just leave at 8 and arrive at 12?


Mind you - if I think Fiji is this strange, what am I going to make of LA?

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