27 February, 2006

Paddlers qualify for world meet

All teams participating in the canoeing competitions for the past few weeks have all qualified for a spot in the Fiji contingent to the World Championships in New Zealand next month. The teams would now focus on perfecting their starts and other areas in which they had to work on ahead of the New Zealand meet. Teams will also have to work on their 1,500 meters event.

UB40 won't play Reasons on Fiji tour

British pop act UB40 will not perform the popular Reasons track on their Fiji tour. Reasons, last August's new single from UB40, features Indie rockers Hunterz and the Dhol Blasters, who gained fame appearing alongside the British rockers at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London, on 2 July last year. Reasons has gained popularity in Fiji because of its mix of Hindi lyrics and music. Tickets for the Suva show on 10 March was F$120.00 for executive tickets, F$80.00 for VIP tickets and F$50.00 for general administration. The executive and VIP tickets have been sold out.

Bali's misfortune is Fiji's gain

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. There has been a jump in the number of tourists from Australia following the Bali bombing two years ago. A recent survey by the Australian Tourist Commission shows Fiji is the new Bali for Australians. The survey noted the number of visitors from Australia to Fiji increased from 175,400 in 2004 to 196,900 in 2005. It said Australians accounted for at least a quarter to a third of all visitor arrivals into Fiji between 2001 and 2004. The Melbourne Age newspaper said Fiji had become an obvious choice because of its close proximity to Australia, affordability, quality and natural appeal. It said apart from Fiji, parts of Thailand and Hawaii looked strong alongside Australia's major markets, Britain and New Zealand. The Fiji Visitors Bureau has a goal of attracting 300,000 Australians to Fiji within the next two years.

26 February, 2006

Organisers expect close contest in yacht race

The second last race in the International Paints Summer Cup yacht series will be held this afternoon. Organisers said there are seven possible courses to choose from depending on prevailing weather conditions. All races are sailed under the Suva Yacht Club rules and in accordance with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) rules for 2005-2006.

24 February, 2006

Best Stress Relievers, by Susan Yara

The following article gives some useful tips that can be used by tourists or anyone for that matter. Visitors to Suva can visit one of our qualified masseurs for a relaxing massage. Services are offered by Mr Alipate Korovou, a former Commonwealth boxing champion, at affordable rates. Mr Korovou has a room at the Hyndai Fitness Centre, National Sporting Complex, Laucala Bay, Suva. To contact him, you can call Fiji Sports Council on +679 3312 177. The article by Susan Yara follows. The more successful one is, the more stressful one's life becomes. Every new promotion means added responsibility and added stress. The challenge is how to handle that stress. "Every successful person has learned to handle stress well," says Dr. Woodson Merrell, of Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. "It's those with a positive outlook on stressful situations who decrease their risk of heart disease, whereas those with increased rage from stress have increased risk of heart disease." Unless one is a newborn infant or a Buddhist monk, to greater or lesser degrees one has stress in one's life. In school, it is the stress of a big test, pimples and finding a prom date. In college, it's about the big test, pimples, prom dates and getting a decent job after graduation. And while at the time it all seems very stressful, one finds out later that they were only on a nodding acquaintance with stress. It isn't until you get a job, start earning your own way and, eventually, supporting a family and moving up the career ladder, that you not only get to know stress, but stress moves right in, takes your favorite chair and even raids your refrigerator in the middle of the night. Yet most people, whether they realize it or not, need a certain amount of stress. In the right amount, it can give people an edge. Keep them sharp, awake, alert. After all, imagine a stress-free life. Rocking in a hammock somewhere, feeling the ocean breeze waft over you as you sip a fruity rum drink. Sounds pretty good, right? Maybe. Imagine living like that all the time. Being that laid-back will not help you succeed, pay your kid's college tuitions, get you that corner office or that black Porsche 911 you've always wanted. Conversely, living in a constant state of aggravation isn't such a hot idea either. Constant stress produces high levels of cortisol, which has been shown to impair cognitive functioning and weaken the immune system. Not only will it have a negative effect on one's health, but it can also make one a real jerk. What's the point in living a permanently stressed-out, albeit successful, life, if one drives away friends and loved ones, and dies of a heart attack at an early age? The ideal, then, is to have just enough stress that one stays focused; but to also have an outlet that can regulate it and keep it from overtaking one's life. The problem is that many so-called stress reducers can do more harm than good--especially if, like stress, they are not taken in moderate amounts. One of the most common and easiest stress relievers is alcohol. While many gourmets happily choose a vintage Bordeaux to accompany a fine meal, or a wedding may call for a glass or two of champagne, most people consume alcohol after work either as a way to unwind or as a social lubricant. Excessive consumption, of course, can lead to health and, in many cases, domestic problems. Similarly, to many people regardless of age or income, legal and illegal drugs as well as cigarettes are an all too prevalent and dangerous way of dealing with stress in the short term. Drinking and smoking to excess is not the only potentially harmful way of coping with stress. Many people also find relief in over-eating, trying to numb their anxiety with too much ice cream or smother it in cheese sauce. That is not to say that the occasional drink is bad for you, nor is the odd cigar or slab of chocolate cake. Again, it is a question of moderation. If, at the end of a long day, a glass of decent Scotch or a good meal restores your equilibrium, go for it. But there are more effective and more healthy methods for combatting stress. One of the best ways is through meditation. Merrell suggests that his clients take two minutes to meditate by concentrating only on a single word during the most stressful time of the day--the morning, which, not coincidently, happens to be the same time of day that has the highest incidence of heart attacks. "When you wake up, you're trying to solve the stresses of the dream stage and then subconsciously being bombarded with real worry," he says. That's why it's important to meditate. When you're literally sitting there with no conscious thought it's a powerful, peaceful state to be in, because it doesn't happen during the day naturally." Other doctors agree that meditation is a great way to combat daily stress, but also say learning any type of technique that relaxes the body and mind will reduce worry--which in the end, is the goal: learning to cope with stress by learning to manage the mind. "One of the more common techniques I suggest is progressive relaxation," says Dr. Ernesto Randolfi, who runs a private business in stress-health promotion in Billings, Mont. "It involves contracting and relaxing muscles around your body so that people develop the ability to relax at will. It's a strategy that takes a lot of learning."

Fiji Wins Bid to Host Games

Fiji has won a bid to host the second Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships next year. The games will be held from 6 to 8 December 2007. Competitors are expected to come in from around 10 to 13 nations. The organisers hope that more Pacific Island teams will compete at the games. Preparations have started with a competition on Saturday, 25 February, at the Charmans Gym. Bi-monthly competitions will continue to monitor competitors progress and their consistency.

23 February, 2006

Best Bets for Business Trips, by Sophia Banay

Suva, as capital city is the centre of business in Fiji and the South Pacific. Suva is also host to many regional organisations and to companies and banks that serve the Pacific Islands region. The following article gives some good tips on how a business trip can be enjoyed. Business trips are like pornography: overpriced, exploitative and highly repetitious. Over time, the red-eye flights, 4 A.M. wakeup calls and indigestion from expense-account dinners tend to blur one trip into the next. Beijing looks a lot like Berkeley--or Berlin or Boston--especially when all one sees of a city is from a hotel meeting room. But breaking the monotony of huddling over spread sheets and pounding at a BlackBerry is possible, even if you only have an afternoon, or a few hours, to spare before your flight home. After all, business travel can take you to cities you might not otherwise visit. Why not look around a little? According to the experts, your company may actually want you to. "We're seeing more and more travelers try to leverage their business trip for personal purposes," says Dan Basik, the vice president of the Business Travel Division of Bucknell Travel, a full-service travel agency based in Birmingham, Ala. Basik works with financial, insurance, health care and air and space industry companies all over the country, and estimates that 20% of his travelers are extending their stays, bringing family members along, or just using spare time to pursue a personal interest in a foreign city. "Companies by and large are open to it. They realize that business travel is not necessarily fun. If they can make it a perk, it makes sense," Basik explains. Besides, enjoying business travel is good for business. If you're in a relaxed frame of mind and enjoying your trip, you'll have more to talk about with local executives, and will understand the local culture better, which can be a huge benefit if the destination you're visiting is one in which you regularly do business. Luckily, there's no shortage of ways to explore a new city. "Business travelers have limited time," concedes Pauline Frommer, a leisure travel expert and guidebook author. "But greeter programs have popped up in New York, Chicago, Korea, Japan and Australia recently. It's a wonderful, quick way to see the authentic side of the city, and overcome the language barrier." Greeter programs are arranged through the city's Convention and Visitors' Bureau: Just call in advance of your trip and they'll assign you to a local, bilingual guide who will take you on a tour of the city at a time convenient for you--often for free. In addition, Frommer recommends staying in an informal bed & breakfast for a night, browsing the bulletin boards of nearby universities for lectures, workshops and tours that are open to the public, and seeking out graduate students or art restorers who are experts in their fields and will give short tours or talks. "I was in Rome, and located a Michelangelo expert. He took us to the church where Michelangelo's body was kept after he died until his family stole it back. It's a real insider-y way to the get the inside scoop on a city," says Frommer. And that's just the beginning. What about learning polo at an Argentine estancia, or having a suit made on London's Savile Row? It's all possible: You just have to know where to go. To help you get started, Forbes.com has compiled a list of cool things to do while on a business trip. We started by choosing 16 cities, international commercial hubs but also centers of national culture, cuisine, athletics and fashion. Then we asked the concierge at one of the city's best business hotels for a recommended activity for an out-of-town visitor with some free time on his hands. We got answers which ranged from the traditional--cooking classes at the Ritz-Escoffier School in Paris, for example--to the once-in-a-lifetime. In Cape Town, South Africa, travelers can plunge into the ocean with nothing but a scuba suit and a reinforced steel cage between them and the enormous white sharks that live off the coast. For land-lubbers in Houston, Texas, visitors can go cowboy action shooting, acting out typical Western dramas in period dress and with real guns and bullets. Our listed activities vary widely in cost and time-commitment, but any one of them will transform a business trip from blah to bravo. Note from GV : For relatively cheap accommodation, business travellers can live in a two-bedroom home with sea views with their families at a rate of FJD95.00 a night. Discounts are given for longer stays. If you wish to have a particular event/sight/interest, just let us know. Bookings and enquiries can be sent to gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone +679 3396427.

Mixed feelings over bed tax

There have been continued discussions regarding Government's proposed bed tax for hotels. At present, there have been talks between hotel industry associations and Government to institute only a turnover tax rather than a bed tax. One source asked why hotels in particular were targeted. He said that if Government wished to introduce that tax, then all tourism entities including tours, tourist transport and cruises be required to pay the tax. The source said Fiji's main tourism market - Australia and New Zealand - would be affected by the tax. Government in the meantime has passed a hotel tax bill which will reintroduce a turnover tax as was in place before 1992. This bill gives government the power to charge tax on turnover hotels would record in a financial year. Note from GV : The proposed bed tax only applies to hotels. This means that there may be a likely rise in hotel rates. It does not apply to other accommodations provided by individuals. For affordable long term accommodation in Suva, check the links on the right side of this page.

22 February, 2006

Benefits flow both ways

Summarised from an article in The Fiji Times. Fiji gains much from the visits of famous people to our shores. A visit by one of these people tends to increase Fiji's marketability and make it more attractive to people who want to come and see for themselves why famous people choose to come here. The country has played host to famous people like Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Madonna, Britney Spears with husband Kevin Federline, Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, Russell Crowe, Penelope Cruz and Tom Hanks. Mel Gibson recently bought an island in the Lau Group and is now working on building and furnishing his lodgings there. Raymond Burr, the deceased Hollywood actor, used to own an island in Fiji as well. These are just a few of the big names of the entertainment world who have tasted Fiji's wondrous paradise of isolation where their privacy is of utmost priority, exclusivity is guaranteed for a price and breath taking beauty. The country, earlier this week, saw off Tom Cruise and his fiancee Katie Holmes after they spent a few days at Wakaya, an exclusive resort used by most of these visitors. Note from GV : The country has a range of accommodation, facilities and tours that can satisfy a broad range of visitors from very up market, to middle-of-the-range, right down to backpackers. Just search for something that fits you.

Tourism Concern - Comment by Editor, The Fiji Times

This is a comment by the Editor of The Fiji Times in its Wednesday, 22 February, newspaper. One thing we can all agree on - the Government included - is that tourism is vital for our economic survival. It is the nation's biggest foreign exchange earner and everyone wants it to grow and blossom further. The roadside vendor who sells fruits and flowers, the maid who cleans hotel rooms, the chef who prepare that special Fijian dish, the smiling face at the front desk and the helpful shuttle bus driver are all keen to do their bit to make guests comfortable and happy. Sand and sun, they can get elsewhere in the world. But it is that special Fijian hospitality which lures tourists to our shores time and again. The bottom line is to come to Fiji, enjoy the scenery and hospitality and have a good time. This is especially true for young people most of whom come to enjoy the lucrative backpacker facilities in outlying islands, coastal areas and beautiful inland scenic spots. All they want is to have a good time with friends, go swimming and diving or surfing and later enjoy a few beers together by the fire on the beach. But they won't be able to fully enjoy their holiday if alcoholic beverages are banned for those under 21. Most of them fall under that age group. So why does the Government - which has spent millions of dollars promoting tourism abroad - want to restrict the drinking age to 21 and over is beyond many of us. It wants these young people to go elsewhere to enjoy their holiday because, essentially, that will be the effect the proposed legislation is going to have on the industry. The backpacker segment of the tourism industry is growing and at the moment accounting for about 20% of tourist arrivals. The Government should be the last institution to discourage visitors - any group of them - from coming to spend their holiday here. These youngsters and many tourists, in particular from Australia and New Zealand, have cheaper destinations closer to home they can pick from to spend their holiday. But they choose to come here because Fiji offers something special for them that they cannot get anywhere else. The last thing we want is to force them to look elsewhere. The sunshine coast of Australia and other Pacific island nations offer attractive holiday packages. The concerns raised by the tourism industry stakeholders, in particular the Fiji Visitors Bureau and the backpackers association, at the Government's proposed legislation are worth noting. The Government might shoot itself in the foot if it pushes ahead with a legislation which is likely to do more harm than good for the nation.

21 February, 2006

Accommodation business to expand in the tourism industry

From an article in the Fiji Times. The accommodation sector in the tourism industry is expected to expand to meet the demand of the current upward trend in tourist arrivals. The rise in the accommodation sector had been evident in the investments made by major tourism consortiums in developing hotels along the Coral Coast. In respect of the many smaller hotels and guest houses which usually accommodate low budget travellers and backpackers, travellers and visitors within this niche market often travel and find accommodation in areas outside the urban periphery. These comments are attributed to a member of parliament in the current debate on proposals to amend the Hotels and Guest Houses Act.

New Alcohol Tax likely

Summarised from the local newspapers. The Government says that it has yet to do decide whether to enforce a new levy on tobacco and alcohol or to enforce a new tax. Any new measures are expected to affect the growing youth tourism marked, directly affecting income for the backpacker segment. A segment of the Bill which raises the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 was described as an impractical piece of legislation that was a direct threat to the industry. The Fiji Visitors Bureau said that the passage of the bill into law would make it for young tourists to come to Fiji and be prohibited from drinking alcohol during their vacation.

Wai Cup Surfing Competition in Suva

The Wai Tui Cup surfing competition was held in Suva last Saturday at the Suva Lighthouse break. Competition began early morning with 37 entrants in the open men's and masters (over 35 years) divisions. Conditions were near perfect with glassy smooth overhead waves rolling in from a sound west swell. Around 60 spectators in a small flotilla of motor boats were anchored only 100 yards from the competition on a beautiful sunny day. The swell from the south west was more challenging than normal with set waves of around 6 feet and the lower tide and strong current going out the channel against the swell created powerful inside waves. The five man 20 minute final was held just before midday, with the riders best two waves counting to their overall total. Special thanks was made to Wai Tui Surf for sponsoring the event.

20 February, 2006

Stars escape to Fiji

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. Stars Tom Cruise and seven-month pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes escaped to Fiji last week amid rumours of their break-up. The Hollywood lovebirds few in on Mr Cruise's Gulf Stream jet and stayed for three days before flying out at the weekend. It is believed that the Top Gun fighter pilot took his expectant fiancee to Wakaya, an exclusive resort in the Lomaiviti group. Mr Cruise and Ms Holmes flew out at 12pm on Saturday bound for Sydney before heading to Europe.

Local Band to Backup UB40 on Tour in Fiji

A local band would be chosen to open the UB40 act for their two-concert Fiji tour next month. Auditioning for the backup band will be held next week and several local bands had already expressed their interest. Some cultural groups have also showed their interest. Popular bands like Jeriko and Blackrose had approached organisers.

18 February, 2006

Tourist keen on bike tour

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. An Australian who cycled around Viti Levu wants to develop mountain biking because of the sights and landscape. Chirotherapist Leigh Harris from Queensland believes mountain biking in Fiji could be a major sporting event if given suppose from organizations. Mr Harris swam through floodwater and struggled up rough terrain helped by three horsemen during his ride around the island. Mr Harris arrived on December 7 and spent a few days acclimatizing in Nadi. After a few days riding around Nadi, he started the first leg to Lautoka. Spending nights with families in towns and villages, he made his way to Suva by cycling up Mount Victoria then to Monasavu Dam. When he arrived in Suva, Mr Harris made his way back to Nadi via the Kings Highway to Ra where he tried whitewater rafting and went on scenic tours.

15 February, 2006

Air Pacific plans to increase services and fly locally

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. Air Pacific hopes to increase flights from New Zealand and start domestic operations by June. The airline hoped to restart weekly direct flights from Christchurch to Nadi in April and to have an extra flight in winter. Air Pacific is also getting ready to launch its domestic services in Fiji and hoped to start flying locally by June, one of which is the Nadi-Suva leg. The airline has indicated that it is fully committed to Fiji as a destination market and this showed with the number of inbound Air Pacific flights.

Kava cures two types of cancer

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. A new research has found that kava (yaqona) is a cure for two types of cancer. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and the Laboratoire de Biologie Moleculaire du Cancer, a medical school at Luxembourg, found that yaqona compounds inhibit the activation of a nuclear factor important in the production of cancer cells. A notable decline in leukaemia and ovarian cancer in the Pacific prompted researchers to test yaqona. The study found that yaqona prevents the production of cancer cells which in turn results in people not contracting the two types of cancer. It also showed that yaqona compounds did not show general toxicity in that it does not kill every cell irrespective of whether it is cancerous or not. This is interesting in that it selectively homes into the target in the cell and inhibits it. It is expected that the discovery should boost kava production and export.

Ratu Sukuna Holiday Celebrations

The celebrations to commemorate the life of one of first scholars and statesmen, Ratu Sir Josefa Lalabalavu Sukuna, will be bigger and better this year. There will be a week long celebration with a whole host of activities planned starting 22 May in Suva at the FMF Dome. Events include oratory, essay writing, singing and meke competitions together with mini-agricultural shows. There would be a series of lectures too at various centres. While the main celebrations will be held in Suva, some programs will also be held at three other centres including Nausori, Savusavu and Sigatoka.

14 February, 2006

Suva, The Sports City

Every day there is a game of some sort being played in Suva. During the weekends, in particular, almost all grounds and stadiums are occupied with sports events. When a tourist comes to Suva, he/she will find all types of games played from golf at the Suva Golf Club, Vatuwaqa, to cricket at Albert Park, 7s rugby, soccer, netball, basketball, tennis, swimming, chess, etc. Suva therefore usually plays host to national and international sporting events. These are usually hosted at the National Sporting Complex at Laucala Bay. The Complex is made up of the Post Fiji National Stadium, the National Gymnasium, the outdoor courts for volleyball/netball, the hockey centre, the FMF Dome, the (formal) Netball Courts, and the National Aquatic Centre. The area also has two other grounds including Buckhurst Park. The sheltered Suva Harbour area is also congruent to canoeing and rowing sports and has hosted a few international meets for those sports. Tourists and other spectators would sit around on the sea wall at Suva to watch the events roll out in the Harbour. The Royal Suva Yacht Club also has some of its races on the far end of the Harbour towards the Lami town area (away from the main sea traffic lanes). For those that are not up to competitive sports, there are various gyms and fitness clubs that you could go to just to keep fit. I recommend Hyndai Fitness Centre, which is part of the National Sporting Complex at Laucala Bay. Hyndai Fitness Centre has a wide range of exercise equipment and free weights and is set in an area away from the hustle and bustle of town traffic with fresh sea breeze. It is located near the sea along Queen Elizabeth Drive. The centre has professional and friendly staff who can assist you and charges a mere FJD3.00 entry fees, if you are not a member. For that FJD3.00, you can enjoy all the equipment at the gym at your own pace. The Sporting Complex is available for hire to national and international sporting organisers. For more information on this please e-mail fijisportsopr@connect.com.fj or call +679 3312 285. Sports events are added and updated in our list of "Upcoming Events in Suva" on this blog.

13 February, 2006

F$30 million Tappoo City for the capital

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. Construction of the new Tappoo City, a six-storey building estimated to cost around F$30 million is to begin soon in Suva. Described as iconic and providing a point of difference, the artist's impression of the new Tappoo City was unveiled by Penina Limited, a joint venture between Tappoo Holdings and FNPF Investments Limited last Friday. The unique takia sail-design retailing and entertainment complex, meters away from the Suva foreshore, will stand out from other tall structures just by being different. Tappoo City will have four floors of retail and cinema/foodcourt. The four floors will be accessed through an atrium and by inter-floor escalators and lifts. In a design first, the whole complex will open to a garden promenade that would connect the building to the sea frontage by turning Nabukalou Creek into a canal. The inter-floor escalators will overlook the new canal. A separate lobby and two dedicated lifts will cater for the Class-A offices on the fifth and sixth levels and for the cinema floor after hours. Note from GV : The Tappoos Group runs a chain of duty free shops and is located in most of the major town/city centres and the larger hotels. It is also one of the duty free shops that you will buy from when you enter or leave our airports at Nadi and Nausori.

12 February, 2006

Sundays in Suva

Sunday is when most Fijians go to church. The other communities also stay at home on this day. The streets of Suva are usually deserted with no shops open for business while only a few restaurants may be open. If you wish to go to church, these are a few places you can try:
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral along Pratt Street just next to the Reserve Bank Building - for Catholics;
  • Anglican Cathedral along McGregor Road - for Anglicans;
  • Centenary Church along Stewart Street or The Wesley Church at Butt Street - for Methodists;
  • Calvary Temple in Samabula opposite the Fiji Institute of Technology - for Assemblies of God members.
The city is sprinkled with some quaint little churches that belong to a number of other denominations. It is also a good day to do some window shopping around the city with it being almost empty. Take a leisurely stroll along the sea wall from the Suva wharf to the Civic Centre and have your takeaway lunch there. After lunch, go see a movie at the Village 6 cinemas. Village 6 has a good selection of the latest movies which are usually shown here before they are screened in NZ and Australia. Otherwise, just stay in, take a rest and prepare a list of what to do when Monday turns around the corner.

10 February, 2006

Rotuman Chants and Hymns - New CD launched

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. The Rotuman community has launched a CD of songs of their ancestors. The CD titled, Rotuman Hymns and Chants, contains traditional chants and hymns depicting experiences of those who went to the Torres Strait in search of opportunities in the pearling industry. The migration of Rotumans to Torres Strait happened in the 1860s to the 1900s. One of the chants in the CD acknowledges Rotumans in Australia and gives special recognition to the presence of part-Rotumans in the Torres Strait. The chants also emphasise the importance of the Rotuman value of hard work and sharing. The CD, costs F$20.00 each and can be bought at the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay. Note from GV : Rotuma is an island north of the Fiji group. Although, they are part of Fiji, they have more polynesian attributes and features.

Outrigger Canoeing this Saturday

The Outrigger Fiji will hold its second sprint regatta at the Fiji Development Bank foreshore on Saturday, 11 February, starting at 8am. Events are expected to continue to after 1pm. This sport was recently just introduced to Fiji but has picked up interest over the years. There are a few clubs that form the core part of competition. Suva business houses usually have friendly competitions during the year. The place where this is held is the area in front of the Suva City Centre/Town Hall up to the area in front of the Fiji Development Bank. One can even watch the races just sitting on the sea wall in front of Sukuna Park and leading up to the wharf and Suva market. This should be a good start on Saturday for any tourists in Suva before they go around to the Suva or Flea Markets or just walkabout the city. As the Saturday events to continue to after 1pm, you can even buy some takeaway lunch and enjoy it under the trees lining up the sea wall area while you watch the races. There are other sporting events around the city on the day as well. Please check the list of Upcoming Events for details.

08 February, 2006

New Helicopter Services soon in Suva

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. A Canadian businessman has joined in partnership with a local company to set up helicopter services from Nausori Airport - the international/domestic airport near Suva. Services, to start off with 5 helicopters, will cover tourism, communication, medical evacuation, search and rescue. Rates for helicopter hire are scheduled to start from F$1,100 to F$5,500 depending on the size of the helicopter. Note from GV : This new service would open up a diverse range of activities that tourists can enjoy when they choose Suva as their holiday destination. There are many, many little islands off Suva and the surrounding areas which can be viewed from above. One of these is Nukulau Island which was a former picnic location with white sandy beach just directly off the east coast of the Suva peninsular. Nukulau Island is now being used as an island prison for those convicted of staging the civilian coup in 2000. A flight in-land from Nausori airport should also provide amazing scenery of rainforests and rivers, interspersed with tiny villages.

Drinking Kava - A Tourist's Experience

This excerpt provides a tourist's amusing experience with drinking kava (although it is not directly related to Suva). My last night in Fiji had arrived. I was so sad to have to leave this beautiful island that the natives had allowed us to come on. We had been there for 11 days, and we were the only foreigners on this small rural island. I was with a non-profit group and we stayed at a very private resort there. I had tried Kava a couple of times before this, but I never really had more than like 75 oz. in a night. I had noticed the semi-drunkeness it puts about me but nothing majorly heavy. So this last night had arrived and I was sitting on the porch with all the Fijian workers (all natives of this island) and we started drinking the Kava like we had a few times before. By this time these guys knew that I enjoyed the stuff, I am one of the rare people you will find that actually enjoys the taste of it. I had also been willing to drink from the giant Tsunami Bowl, they had Baby Tide, Low Tide, High Tide, Giant Tide, and Tsunami, the tsunami was somewhere prolly about 25-30 oz. This was all done traditonally, it was prepared traditionally and everything. An amazing ceremony that created a mood of the purest openness that one can imagine. Here is a place where you were accepted no matter who or what you were. The Fijians played old songs on their guitars, the most amazing songs that I can imagine, and trust me they will never leave me. They would pass the cup around doing the ceremony, and when they came to me I would motion to the Tsunami Bowl, and they would all laugh and start to fill it up. I had 2 Tsunami's and quite a large number of high/giant tides. Then everyone else went to sleep as we had to leave early to get to Suva in time to catch the plane for Nadi in time. So then it was just me, K, and the Fijian guys. We continued to drink high tides for awhile, and we filled the bowl a number of times and emptied it. Then we ran out of Kava, and we came through talking to realize that the Kava we had been drinking this whole time was the Kava that they kept at this private resort (basically it was the Kava that most people have tried, but not the strongest purest stuff), so one of the guys says he will go and get some. So he runs off to the village (which is a good ten minute run) and finally he comes back and says he brought his personal stuff that is the strongest out there. So the bowl is made and we continue to talk and exchange information about cultures as we were all so curious about one another. Then I had another 4 Tsunami bowls of this powerful stuff, it has a slightly different taste and I can feel it immediately. The first effects are somewhat odd, as I just feel a little dizzy, and light headed. I do however feel very comfortable and relaxed. However after I have had quite a bit things start to change, although I still feel amazingly great I have a loss in control of my body, my speech is slurred, and I am very open to everyone. It is a true state of euphoria. I swear it was almost lile tripping ever so lightly on this really strong kava, because it looked like the shadows were dancing. Eventually we used up all that Kava too, all told I imagine I went through something like 240 oz, I know it seems like a large number and at the time I couldn't explain it, but I was able to later that night. The Fijian guys went off to sleep, they cleaned up everything and turned all the lights off. It was 2 in the morning, we had been drinking Kava since 9 pm. So me and K sat on the pitch black porch and talked for an hour or so, when all of sudden it hit me, I had to throw up. So I went and did, and continued to for over 2 hours. I felt relatively fine in actuality, I just think I had too much liquid in me that my body had no choice but to expel it. So I went to sleep feeling amazingly good. That night I had the most vivid dreams of my life. The dreams were more amazing then tripping or anything. I learned alot about myself, stuff that I can't even begin to explain. In the morning I awoke to the realization that I had a terrible hangover. This surprised me as I had always been told that it was impossible to have a hangover from Kava. However, for the next 20 hours I was in the midst of a hangover that is ten times worse then any hangover that I ever experienced from alcohol. I was constantly in pain with my head and my body, I was feeling extremely physically sick and I didn't overcome it completely till i was half way to L.A. Overall I think I enjoy the setting of taking the Kava more then the taking of the actual substance. However I feel like it provides a very positive experience (especially if taken at lower doses), it just helps me to get to know people, and myself for that matter. There are negative side effects though to taking an extreme amount of it, I suggest that people keep it in moderation.

06 February, 2006

Trekking in Colo-i-Suva Forest Park by an expatriate's wife, Suva, 1 June 2003

Last Saturday, my friend and I decided to go to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park in the suburb of Suva. The weather was perfect for trekking, a sunny day which is rare in Suva. Although it was pretty hot, it felt quite cool when we were walking in the woods.According to the guidebook we had, the visitor information center at the forest station should be able to provide information on the park. In fact, it was just a fee-collection facility: F$5 for a foreign tourist and F$1 for a local. When we asked for a map, they just told us to go to the "main entrance" and we shall see a map. We couldn't find, however, anything that looks like an entrance but only a small sign says "to the waterfall". Turned out, that was the entrance to the forest park. Of course, there was no map. Once we entered the park, we enjoyed walking in the woods, finding some interesting tropical flowers and trees. We were hoping to see lots of birds since we read in the guidebook that the park is "one of the best place for birdwatching in Fiji" but we didn't see any birds... After walking 20 min, we stopped to have our lunch (several rice balls, a typical Japanese lunch box item!) while looking down a waterfall. Then, we proceeded to the natural swimming pools where lots of locals enjoyed swimming and jumping in the pool from a cliff. On the way to the pools, we saw some very interesting trees with gigantic leaves standing along a small creek. We've never seen that kind of trees and thought that this could be an interesting place to shoot a movie.The way back to the entrance was through mountains, which was pretty strenuous. After 40 min or so, we finally came back to the first crossroads where we saw a white/purple flower. Now, the entrance was just a few minutes away. As we were very thirsty when we went out of the park, we stopped by the Raintree Lodge, which was close to the information center. They had a nice restaurant/bar facing a small lake where some tourists were swimming and playing with a Fijian kid. It was so nice to sit down after a long walk. Then, we headed over to the bus stop and got on a local bus, which charged only 87 cents for a ride to the city. It was my first time to get on a local bus and it surely was an interesting experience. Some locals threw small stones at us when the buss stopped at a bus stop, but otherwise, it was a very pleasant ride.

05 February, 2006

Kiwis flock to Fiji

Taken from a Fiji Times article. The number of New Zealanders coming to Fiji has increased by 10.2% since 2001. Director of Marketing for the Fiji Visitors Bureau said Fiji was now a top destination for New Zealanders. In 2000, 49,000 New Zealanders visited Fiji. This increased to 109,000 in 2005. Fiji Visitors Bureau said that New Zealanders were holidaying and investing in Fiji in greater numbers than before. One of the reasons for the increase in visitor arrivals was the strength of the New Zealand dollar. In addition to that, Air Pacific and Freedom Air's Bula airfares are cheaper and affordable to many New Zealanders. New Zealand deputy high commissioner to Fiji said that another reason maybe that Fiji is a closer destination to NZ which makes it easier for them. Fiji Visitors Bureau is expecting an increase of 5 per cent of visitor arrivals from New Zealand this year.

04 February, 2006

An Experience of a Lifetime by Curtis Feather, Northwest Missouri State University, U.S.A.

It was early February 2003, and I packed the last of my things and said my goodbyes. Soon I would be on a plane to a distant land, an unfamilar land, and a land that will forever be in my heart. For five months I stayed in Suva, Fiji at the University of the South Pacific. I had preconceptions of what a study abroad experience meant; I had heard and read it all before, but it was not until I stepped foot in the humid tropical air that I realised I was in for the experience of a lifetime. For the next five months I made lifetime friendships with people from all over the South Pacific and the rest of the world. I learned new things about myself and others, and truly experienced individual freedom for the first time. The simple aspects of life suddenly were so much greater. A ride on one of Suva's open air buses, eyes curiously gauging all around, smelling the tropical air, and hearing the upbeat reggae and African music was an experience that I will never forget. No matter how many great beaches, mountains, and rainforests I visited, the people of Fiji will always be remembered by me. Fiji is a very diverse country, especially Suva and to even a greater extent the University of the South Pacific (USP). Suva is the largest and most developed city of the South Pacific, and this has led to a migration of people from all over the region. Because of former British colonial sugar plantations, today Indo-Fijians (Anscestors from India) make up nearly 45% of the population. On a simple walk down one of Suva's streets, Christian churches, Hindu temples, and Muslim mosques stand side by side. The smells of Fijian lovo, Indian curry, and Asian foods fill the air. At USP, there is no exception to this diversity. The university is a regional university with students from all over the South Pacific. Not many study-abroad options create such an atmosphere to sit in class and become friends with Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Cook Islanders, Samoans, Solomon Islanders, Ni-Vanuatu, and so on. During my stay in Fiji, there was plenty to do to keep busy. Some of my classes were tough, but there was plenty of time for fun. I played in a five vs. five soccer tournament, attended a Hindu wedding, got my PADI scuba diving certificate, hiked through amazing lush rainforest, swam in waterfalls of pure mountain water, and went to some of the world's best beaches. I love to hike, go to the beach, make new friendships, and learn about cultures and traditions. Fiji had everything I wanted. My geography classes at USP also allowed me to go out and have new experiences. All geography classes have field trips as a core part of the course. The three units I enrolled in had field trips ranging from a four day loop around Viti Levu (main island) to a week long trip to Samoa. These trips also provided the opportunity to stay in Fijian and Samoan villages, and truly have a chance to interact with the local people. For the nightcrawlers, Suva has plenty of pubs and dance clubs. Sometimes a night at the movies was enough, and other times the night started at the campus bar, the CRC, and ended in one of Suva's many night spots with music ranging from local reggae, Indian, techno, and rap. There was more than enough to do in Fiji, but the South Pacific holds so many other lands to visit. I had many friends from Vanuatu, and eventually I decided to take the two hour flight west and explore a new place. Fiji is located at the center of the South Pacific, making travel west to Melanesia, north to Micronesia, or east to Polynesia, an easy endeaver. Several of the other students took trips to Australia and New Zealand; but I chose to visit Vanuatu, a much more remote place, a place I would likely never have the opportunity to visit again. I spent two weeks in Vanuatu and saw some amazing things. I stayed for several days at the USP Centre Emalus Law Campus, and actually took one of my final exams there. I ventured out from the city and to the more remote islands, where traditional people and natural beauty of the mountains and forest co-exist. As mentioned earlier, one of my geography classes provided me with the opportunity to travel to Samoa, the heart of Polynesia. There are many Samoan students at USP, and I was excited to get the chance to see the land they call home. Samoa was a beautiful country, with excellent beaches. We researched in Satapuala village for several days, and then travelled around two of the islands, with plenty of time for fun. It was an excellent chance for our class to become closer and experience an unfamilar land together. Many of the Fijian and Indo-Fijian students on the trip had never left Fiji, so the trip was a very exciting experience for all of us. After the semester ended, I travelled around Fiji more. I travelled to Taveuni, the so called "garden island" of Fiji, where the forest and waterfalls never seem to end. Taveuni also holds one of Fiji's greatest diving areas. Our time in Fiji was quickly coming to an end, and it was the hot topic amongst the international students. I returned back to Suva just in time for the South Pacific Games, an event of great magnitude, comparable to the impact the Olympics has on larger nations. All semester I saw stadiums being built and preparations being finalised for the event. Twenty-two small island nations competed against each other. The South Pacific Games were a time of both great and sad memories. Suddenly the first of the international students were beginning to leave, and we all were parting. Friends from school were going back to their home countries, and we all were moved out of the dorms. Packing up my room and telling people bye created a very strange feeling. After being in Fiji for five months, it was what seemed right, and I really did not want to leave. All semester there were times when I missed people back at home, but when the time came and people began leaving, it was a very sad time. When I first boarded the plane for Fiji I was full of an excitement and also nervouseness and wonder. Now it was time to head home, and the sense of wonder was quite different. I was not heading back to a distant land I knew little of and had never experienced, but rather I was heading home to what I had known for twenty years of my life. I was filled with a mix of excitement to see family and friends and the few food items I could not get in Fiji, and at the same time a great emotional connection to my new friends, the University of the South Pacific, and Fiji. As I sit today and look back on the experience, I have no regrets. I have experienced something that most students never will. I travelled to a new land and forged friendships that will last a lifetime, and memories that only those who were there can truly understand.

03 February, 2006

Suva Reefs

This is where it all began for Scubahire Limited and thousands of avid divers in the early 1970's! "Every Duke and Earl and Peer was here, Everyone who should be here was here" ... (My Fair Lady) Suva is a 'City of Surprises' with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels. Visit tranquil Thurston Gardens, the Museum, stroll along the waterfront past Government House. Fish Patch - Just 15 minutes by dive boat from Suva, this half-day dive takes in breath-taking coral-heads which tower to within 10 feet of the surface, then drop off in a vertical face to over 1,000 feet. The greatest coral "wall" in the South Pacific, festooned with black coral trees and huge stands of gorgonia. On top of the coral heads, divers hand-feed the thousands of reef fish which gather for their daily meal. Here lies the huge anchor from the square-rigger "Woosung" - the entire area is an underwater photographer's delight. An incredibly versatile dive spot for the experienced diver, the novice and the snorkler. 'Nam Hae Point' - Named for the much-photographed Taiwanese fishing boat that sits high and dry on top of the reef. But below, the Main Suva Reef is honeycombed with gutters, tunnels and caves. Sharp eyes and a torch spot the crayfish in the holes and you might be lucky enough to see the big nurse shark that lazes through this underwater labyrinth. We shouldn't tell you, but two Golden Cowries have been found in this area. For bookings, contact Scubahire Ltd/Beqa Divers Fiji, on telephone +679 336l088 or e-mail divefiji@connect.com.fj.