30 January, 2006

The Suva Harbour

The Suva Harbour lies in a wide bay that runs from Waiqanake village on one side to the tip of the island of Viti Levu where most of the city centre is located. It is host to a large array of boats and ships from the little punts that carry small scale fishermen in and out of their day to day expeditions, the middle range boats and fishing vessels, to the large scale inter-island shipping vessels that service the other islands in the Fiji group. The Harbour also plays host to large cruise liners from time to time. Years ago, one could walk in or out of the wharf area, without much restriction, to see boats loading and unloading their cargo or passengers. However, with the increasing security focus over recent times, one now needs a pass from wharf security to get into most parts of the wharf. Much of the harbour side, though, is open to tourists and residents for leisurely strolls, for picnics or just to enjoy a take-away. The Harbour front starts from the Walu Bay area past the Suva Prison and goes right up to the National Sporting Complexes at Laucala Bay. Some of these areas are also fenced off as private property. The stretches that you can enjoy falls between the main Suva wharf and the Suva Civic Centre; and from the Suva Bowling Club to the National Sporting Complex. Suva Harbour is usually a bustle of activity with cargo and passenger ships coming in and going out after dropping their charges and picking up new ones. At times, there are canoe rowing competitions in front of the Suva Civic Centre with teams coming in from around Fiji and overseas to compete. One such event is being scheduled around April this year. A fews ago, the Auckland-Suva Yacht Race used to end up here with yachts making such a fine display of colours and sizes as they raced against each other to the finish line. The yachts would then end up moored at The Royal Suva Yacht Club at Walu Bay (just past the Suva Prison on the way towards Nadi) for a big celebration. The Royal Suva Yacht Club is open to members and to tourists. Harbour cruises are being planned. For those that may be interested to use this for sight seeing or leisure, please send a note to gilbert@connect.com.fj. For anyone that may need accommodation whilst in Suva, a two-bedroom home with sea views can be booked (at FJD95.00 a night) with clicks on the appropriate links at the right hand side of this blog.

Sponsor a child program for Fiji

Taken from a Fiji Times article. A child sponsorship program for Fiji's underprivileged children is being planned. The proposed project will allow interested people locally or overseas, to fund an underprivileged child's education, and will be the first for Fiji. The plans were revealed by the Social Welfare Ministry Chief Executive who said that they had even received letters from people overseas who were willing to help unfortunate children go to school. For more details, or if you want to sponsor an underprivileged child, please contact our Social Welfare Ministry on +679 331 4469.

28 January, 2006

Australian Travel Advisory Improved For Fiji

Taken from the Fiji Times. The Australian Travel Advisory for Fiji has been downgraded from a level 2 to a level 1. This downgrading is the the lowest on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 meaning a "don't go". The travel advisory level was moved to level 2 on January 12 after the impasse between the army and the Government.

New look for city garden

Suva's historic Thurston Gardens will have a new look later this year, with plans in place to build a national war memorial and museum on the site. The garden is located at the junction of Queen Elizabeth Drive/Victoria Parade and Cakobau Road (which runs along the side of Albert Park). In recent years, the gardens had not been well tended and was overgrown at times. The proposed plans should be able to bring the gardens to its former glory. The Fiji Museum is located at the other end of the gardens towards the offices of the Public Service Commission and Thurton Courts. Thurston Courts are used for outdoor netball games during the netball season.

Back for old times sake - John Wakeford, England

Taken from an article in The Fiji Times, 27 January 2006 by Lusiana Speight. John Wakeford, an Englishman, lived in Fiji in the late 1950s. Back on a visit to Suva he speaks with fondness and an occassional laugh about hilarious incidents that happened to him here. He remembers the Suva of 1957 just like it was yesterday, recalling places he lived around the capital city back then. John was posted to Fiji as a radio engineer with Cable and Wireless. "We used to run the radio telegraph at the office back then and each Friday there were calls from overseas banks on the stock markets, the information for which had to be related to the Fiji Times Office in time for Saturday's paper. And between 4.30-5.30 pm, we would receive the world news through our cables and then forward this once again to The Fiji Times." John, who is now retired, lives with his wife and two children in England. "When we first arrived, my friends and I were staying in the Oceania Hotel above Albert Park, but I don't believe it is there anymore. After that, three of us [out of eight] moved into a house on Waimanu Road and then finally moved to Desvoux Road." John recalled the property land lady at the time was a Miss Free. "We were living in the flat upstairs and Miss Free was running a typing school on the bottom floor, which for us, a group of 20 year old bachelors, was something interesting indeed." Since his return last Sunday, John was taken the time to walk around Suva to see the wonders of 49 years of development since he was here. He said he loved to walk along Victoria Parade and is intrigued by the changes the city has undergone. "There has been definitely a lot of architectural developments but there are some things that are still the same throughout the years like the Garrick Hotel. The sea used to come up to where the Westpac Bank is now. And there were no traffic lights so that we had a lot of the famous police officers in their white and black uniforms standing on junctions, directing traffic." John said that instead of trafficators, the buses of the 50s used mechanical hands to indicate to other drivers when the driver intended turning. "Although it may seem funny now, it worked well back then. People took it as something part of the traffic system." On social life, John was a member of the Royal Suva Yacht Club and is greatly impressed to see the club is still as it was. "I loved going there for a couple of drinks with my friends." Like a local, John used to drink yaqona here and now has a special place in his house for the famed tanoa (yaqona bowl) that he took back with him in 1960. To unwind and make the most of their free time in Suva, the bachelors usually headed to the Phoenix Theatre for a movie. "I was here when the Phoenix opened for business. It was the place to be at the time. Everyone wanted to meet at Phoenix and just hang out." On his days off, the Englishman and his friends loved to drive around Viti Levu, taking in the sights and sounds of our beautiful nation. "We loved to spend time at the Korolevu Beach Hotel." "Something that has never changed since I left is my favourite Fijian food, kokoda, which I absolutely love. I had some at [a friend's] home and it was just wonderful." His wife agreed adding that she loved the beach at Deuba where she and her husband spent time swimming. Today they return to England. They say they are not sure when they will be back but said that they had nothing but great memories.

26 January, 2006

Fiji's Coral Reefs Found Resilient

Taken from a Fiji Times article. Fiji's coral reefs have been found to have a high resilience to bleaching. A study by a University of the South Pacific lecturer in Coral Reef Ecology said that the extent of coral bleaching in Fiji was estimated to be less than 5% despite the increasingly prevalent high temperatures. The study found that the coral reefs that were bleaching had great resilience and were repairing quickly. The study said that if global warming continued and the coral reefs adapted to the change then there may not be any bleaching. Coral bleaching described the influence of higher sea temperatures on a variety of coral reef organisms, causing coral reefsto lose their colour or become white. Note from GV : This should be interesting to tourists who come for scuba diving.

25 January, 2006

Hot Weather to continue until April

Taken from the Fiji Times, 25 January 2006. The hot weather currently experienced over Fiji is expected to continue until April according to the Meteorological Office. Temperatures will go up to 35 degrees Celsius at times with high humidity as well. Average temperatures at this time are around 30 to 32 degrees Celsius. Note from GV : This should be an attraction to those from cold countries who wish to escape to some sun.

24 January, 2006

School Year Starts Today

The 2006 school year starts today with our children going back to school. This also means that the traffic in Suva and surrounding areas will be busy compared to the weeks of the school holidays, particularly from around 7 am to 8.30 am and from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm. There is a little lull before traffic gets busy again with commuters going back home from work. There are a number of schools in the Suva and greater Suva area with one almost at every neighbourhood. Why don't you go and visit a school one day this week? Take some school stationery giveaways or offer to take some classes as a volunteer. As Georgina Worthington of the UK said in her report, it's quite an experience and the children are very respectful. Yes, they still call you Sir or Ma'am! If you have a family and thinking of taking up residence in Suva for a while, we have the International School at Laucala Beach which offers school programs from other countries for its students. Most expatriates have their children there. Otherwise, put them in one of our local schools. Our school programs are also internationally compatible. For any further questions, call our Ministry of Education headquaters on +679 3314 477.

22 January, 2006

Georgina Worthington, UK - A Gap Year Experience Teaching in Suva

This is taken from the website of the Fiji High Commission to the United Kingdom. I never imagined that after my months of preparation and the accompanying list of endless jobs to complete, I would be leaving the security and familiarity of England for a six month trip away, 3 months of which included voluntary work in Suva, Fiji. I of course had my preconceptions about what Fiji itself would be like, but on the advice of the organisation GAP who I was working for, I tried not to have any expectations of the placement itself…undoubtedly though, I was quietly excited about the prospect of golden beaches! Myself and another volunteer would be teaching mainly English to primary school students, whilst living with a Fijian family and hopefully experiencing first hand, real Fijian customs. I had many apprehensions about this: whether I would be liked by the children and the family, whether I would be homesick so far away from home and in some ways most importantly, whether I would behave in an inappropriate way, given the stark difference in the Fijian way of life from my own. The first week was quite difficult. I felt as if I’d been immersed in a culture that I had little prior knowledge of and which differed considerably from my own; without the security of my family, I felt a little under the spotlight. All of these feelings however were self induced and no way a reflection of the way I was made to feel by the unbelievably welcoming Fijian people, notably the family I would be staying with for the next 3 months. I immediately fell in love with the country itself and the beautiful scenery that seemed quite surreal; driving along the Queen’s Road for the first time on my journey from Nadi to Suva with the crystal waters one side, will be something I’ll never forget. Looking back now, the feelings that I had in that first week seem so vivid, maybe more so than anything that followed. I immediately felt part of the extended community of the family and school and found the vibrant atmosphere of Suva very exciting. I was homesick, but not to the extent where I wanted to leave. I also knew that I would settle quickly and wanted to make the most of this opportunity, both at the school and in the local community. Given that I’d had no previous experience of teaching, the prospect of standing up in front of a class of 50 students, and attempting to feed their inquisitive minds, was a very daunting prospect. I can clearly remember the strange looks that myself and my partner Jennie received the first day we walked into the school. Even though the school was very multiracial, we did unfortunately stand out and in the following months, I had many children ask me if my hair was my own, and how I made my skin so white! Teaching started pretty much from day one, and although I did take a few English and Maths classes, the school was looking for an assistant to help teach physical education. As a result, I became a permanent fixture on the sports field and taught five lessons of sport a day, from the excited and sometimes uncontrollable class ones, all the way up to class seven. Equipment was limited and so much of my teaching was improvised but in some ways, this proved more successful. My main objective was to improve the children’s fitness in encouraging them to take part in sports that maybe didn’t focus so much on individual performance, as working as part of a team. I hoped that my slight childhood fear of failure at sport and the accompanying competition between pupils, would not feature in my lessons, so that each child could enjoy the lessons, regardless of their ability. I couldn’t have had more enjoyment or variety out of the teaching and have infinite fond memories of playing ‘monster’ with class one, fetching endless tennis balls from the vegetable patch with the class sevens and receiving daily hugs that will always stay with me. It was hard to achieve a balance between becoming the children’s friend, and also showing some authority. I hope I did achieve this balance, but the one thing I noticed more than anything, was the children’s discipline and good behaviour. Children treated you with so much respect that it was rarely necessary to use authority, even outside of school during extracurricular activities such as sports training at the stadium. As well as the teaching in school, Jennie and myself with the help of some of the other teachers, took seventy children on a weekend camp to Tailevu. The aim was to allow the children to gain experience of a more traditional way of life and at the same time, become a little more independent. It proved one the highlights of my time in Fiji as I shared some memorable experiences of falling over in mud, being soaked in the rain and bathing in the river with children and teachers alike. It is impossible to sum up my experiences from the school as so much happened in a such a short space of time that the pace of my life during the three months, induced so many different feelings. The children themselves were extremely talented: the fact that they can speak at least two languages fluently puts me to shame. But they were more than that. They were perpetually cheerful, always polite and did in the end, become my friends. Even though my reason for travelling to Fiji, was to undertake the work at the school, the fact that I was living with a Fijian family, meant that there was another side to my experience: Fiji itself. None of the reading I had done beforehand could have prepared me for the culture shock on arriving in Fiji: the famous yagona ceremony, eating meals with my hands and sitting on mats whilst trying to find a comfortable position so as not to untie my sulu…I wondered if I would ever master any of these customs! I suppose though the family had similarly to adjust to my own, differing ways and so it was such a relief to me that the family were so patient and accommodating. But in the end, after a couple of embarrassing moments of losing my sulu in the middle of the municipal market, I became very contented and felt quite at home. In Suva, I joined a Fijian choir and was amazed by the power of the voices as I warbled along at the side. Through this, and the local church, I made so many new friends and found very touching the Fijian way of inviting me round for meals, or just assuming I was part of their household whenever I visited. I don’t think I’m used to this level of friendliness particularly towards people you don’t know, and this is one of Fiji’s best qualities: the people. I do hope to return one day, because even after two months of being back in England, I miss the family and all my friends in Suva very much. It is so different to live in a place rather than just visit it as a tourist, as I now feel Fiji is a part of me unlike any other place I’ve visited. During the three months, I also visited the islands of Taveuni, Ovalau, and Waya and found the diversity of scenery so interesting: the waterfalls of Bouma Heritage Park, the colonial atmosphere of Levuka and the stunning beaches of Waya are all highlights of these short trips. Fiji is a unique country both for its people and scenery, but I feel as if I experienced something extra during my short stay. I obviously have the memories of the school and the family, and along with the beautiful places I visited and the immeasurably welcoming people and the friends I made there, I have so many fond memories of a place I will no doubt return to.

20 January, 2006

A Stroll in the Capital City

Fiji's capital provides a variety of culture, sights and sounds. By just taking a walk in the heart of the city and following the foreshore you will see some of Suva's famous historical buildings and be introduced to the local way of city life. A stroll through Suva reveals both the buildings from her rich colonial past as well as the modern transformation she has undergone since Fiji gained independence on October 10, 1970. Starting at the bus station, you can shop at the Suva Flea Market for a wide selection of clothing, bags and other bits and pieces while across the road at the Municipal Market you can wonder at the array of fruit and vegetables before sampling one or two. If you would like to know what that piece of exotic fruit is just ask. The Fiji Visitors Bureau is worth a visit just to look at the Victorian building that sits under the fig tree that has been the meeting place for many Fijians for many years. The building was built in 1912, as the Savings Bank Building with the Suva Telephone Exchange upstairs. Nearby is the Sacred Heart Catholic cathedral. Its construction started in 1895 but was not completed and used until July 1902. The stone was brought into Fiji as ships ballast from Hunters Hill near Sydney, Australia. Along the sea wall is Tiko's floating restaurant - not far from the Suva Civic Centre. In Victoria Parade you will find the Old Town Hall, one of Suva's finest examples of colonial architecture, built in 1904 as a memorial to Queen Victoria for her Diamond Jubilee. Suva City Library was built in 1909 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie and its unusual design would almost certainly stem from its origins as one of the many Carnegie libraries established around the world. You can explore the tranquil setting of Thurston Gardens or browse through Fijian relics and exhibits at the museum. In between these buildings with a rich historical background, are new buildings that have come up in recent years. Some examples are FNPF's Downtown Boulevard in Ellery Street; the Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Suva Central buildings which are next to the Sacred Heart Cathedral; and FNPF Dolphin's Plaza, Ro Lalabalavu House and Suvavou House on the other side of the city along Victoria Parade.

19 January, 2006

Tom Cockrem had the warmest of welcome in Suva

Taken from the Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 2003. I arrived in Suva at 9pm, drenched to the bone, with no ID and penniless but for a five-dollar note. I had come on the back of a truck. And it rained. Then the discovery. I'd left my documents and money back at the hotel in Sigatoka, a two-hour drive up the Queens Road. But this was Fiji - no need to despair. The truck driver whisked me into the office of a personal friend - the Chief Inspector of Police. This man, cheerful and reassuring, overlooked my wretched muddied state, and arranged not only my accommodation, but also for my documents to be sent down by courier overnight. He then drove me to the guest house and stood as my personal guarantor. This was my welcome to Suva, and one I am unlikely to forget. After checking in, I strolled back to the centre. The streets snaked their way through leafy garden suburbs - towering palms and giant shrubs with shiny dripping leaves. This was a far cry from the island's drier dusty north, and the hard and dusty town of Nadi near the international airport. No, this was much more like the Fiji I had hoped to discover on my travels: moist, tropical and lush. Strange that I should find it in the capital. The city centre too had treats in store. The streets were quiet, almost deserted in the rain; but the town's aged buildings seemed to glow. There were big, broad colonnades and generous verandas, all immaculately painted in creams and neutral tones. I later learnt their names: the old Garrick building in the heart of town; and in Victoria Parade the Fintel Telecommunications Building and the old Town Hall. That night I walked into a nightclub, The Golden Dragon. So this was where the people had all gone. The night was alive indoors. Drinking schools - one glass passed from hand to hand - had set themselves up around the bar. Befriending generous locals, my five dollars went a long way that night. So this was where the people had all gone. The night was alive indoors. Drinking schools - one glass passed from hand to hand - had set themselves up around the bar. I already liked Suva, and especially the people. It was clear that they took great pride in their city and its past. And for good reason. Made capital of Fiji under the British colonial rule in 1882, Suva rapidly became the Pacific's biggest town, its main port and most vital link with the outside world. It remains that way today. As well as being the region's economic hub, Suva is also its ethnic melting pot. It is here that people from Pacific Island nations like Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu come to work and live. And so do Fijians from the country's far-flung outer islands. Most are Melanesian in origin, but there are Polynesians as well. They gravitate to the capital from exotic-sounding places like Rotuma, Moala and Lau. The perfect place to lose yourself among these island folk is at Suva's Municipal Market. Saturday is best. It is then that bus loads of villagers stream in, particularly from the Rewa River delta and the Sawani Highlands, to set up shop. The place explodes into a sea of colourful sulus, saris and bula shirts. It is the kind of scene Harry Belafonte would be moved to sing about. All the tropical goodies you would expect to find are there: mangoes, pawpaws, pineapples and huge bunches of bananas, all freshly plucked from fertile village plots. The vegetables are mainly root varieties. Some, like dalo (taro), stand elegantly tall, while others, like yams, are formidably earthy - as are the ever-friendly women who sell them. Here too, tucked away in little nooks, groups of Fijian men indulge in their favourite pastime - sharing a bowl of kava. It is locally known as "grog". Accept a cup when offered. It will bring a tingle to your lips and mellow out your senses - just the thing for a day at Suva market. Downtown Suva is roughly divided into two sections. To the north, Renwick and Thomson streets wind their way up a steepish hill to the once-ritzy but now pretty shabby suburb of Toorak, passing through the city's main shopping precinct. The shops are mostly Indian run, selling gold jewellery, electronic goods, saris and so on. Commanding the top of Renwick Street is the iconic Kings Hotel. The imposing three-storey wooden structure manages to accommodate four bars, a couple of night clubs and a bunch of Indian-run businesses along its upstairs gallery. The other part of the city - the more salubrious one - straddles Victoria Parade. The street emerges from the bustling city centre, and runs south straight out of town. Near its end stands what was once Suva's pride and joy: the Grand Pacific Hotel. At times rather flatteringly compared to Raffles in Singapore, the GPH represented the British Raj, Pacific island style. The hotel has been closed and left languishing for more than 10 years. Happily, plans are now afoot to bring it back to life. Across the road is Albert Park, where Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith made an emergency landing on his landmark flight from England to Australia. The park these days is the scene of some of those thumping rugby games for which the Fijians are internationally renowned. In Suva you are constantly reminded of the past. My favourite spot for breakfast was the Old Mill Cottage. It's a rare surviving relic of Suva's long-defunct sugar mill. It has an airy wooden veranda where you are bound to strike up conversations with regulars I got to know the reggae boys who play at a local nightclub. "Coming to Traps tonight? The band's on. I've got a spare ticket if you want one. See you there, OK?" And that's the way it is in Suva. The people want to know you and include you in their lives. The Fijian way, after all, is the way of the village. The people are intensely community-minded, and everyone has a part to play. That includes the visitor. This is the strongest feeling you get in Suva. Its a city, true, but a Pacific island city, and no one gets left out. It's a different kind of paradise, but a paradise in its own way just the same.

17 January, 2006

Want to share your experience on this blog?

Want to share your experience on this blog? Please e-mail your contribution to gilbert@connect.com.fj. Vinaka.

Eating Out in Suva

Eating out in Suva is a very affordable experience compared to other tourist centres like Nadi. The cost of a good meal in Suva together with a soft drink can be below FJD5.00 at various places in the city and its surrounding suburbs. A simple meal in a Nadi takeaway would set you back at least FJD20.00 (per person). Suva also has a wide variety of cuisine from ethnic Fijian, Indian, Chinese, Asian and from other international countries. Two places that offer a good variety of food are the FNPF Boulevard and FNPF Dolphins Plaza. These places have food courts that serve a good range of dishes that would suit anyone's taste. Dining there is also affordable if you want to keep within your budget. For those that have more capacity (mmmm...... yes, some of us do!), a number of places around the city serve buffet. Two places I recommend include : The Vineyard and Holiday Inn. The Vineyard, located in the Old Town Hall and next to the city council offices, serves buffet lunch at less than FJD10.00 per person. Lunch there does not come with dessert or coffee/tea, which you have to pay for separately. The Holiday Inn serves buffet lunch at less than FJD25.00 per person and has a wider range of dishes. The salads there are superb! What you pay at the Holiday Inn includes dessert and coffee/tea. It is a good place to meet, or just sit next a table occupied by local well-placed people, and overhear the latest social news in Suva. Nearer my rental home, Valelevu has a good selection of restaurants and a food court where you can go to. Those restaurants/food court are just next to supermarkets and the open markets where you can buy your groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables. Right now Fiji is already in the season for mangoes, pineapples and watermelons. Local oranges are coming up soon. Where should you buy these? Go to the open markets. You can get them there, cheap!

Army And Government Agree To Work Together

Summarised from articles in the Fiji Times and Fiji TV News Coverage The army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, met yesterday in talks mediated by the Vice President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi. In his media release the Vice President said that there was a "frank exchange of views between the military and the Government and both parties recognised the need to put the national interest first". In the talks, Mr Qarase has agreed to have regular discussions with the army. The army commander has also agreed not to make comments in the media without first communicating his views to the Government. Ratu Joni said that "it is critical that elements in the Government and the military exercise circumspection and discretion in their dealings with each other at all times".

16 January, 2006

The need to move on

Summarised from articles in the Fiji Times. The Army and Government will meet this week in talks to be mediated by the Vice President, Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi. The talks are aimed at sorting out long standing disagreements between the two parties. In the lead up to the talks, Fiji saw last week an attempt by another senior army officer, to dislodge the Army commander, Commodore Bainimarama. The senior army officer, Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka, who had just been appointed Land Force Commander, had rounded up a few other senior officers before approaching Commodore Bainimarama to cease his verbal attacks on Government. Colonel Baledrokadroka has since been sent on leave from the Army. Today calls have been made on the need to settle the on-going problems between the Army and Government. One of the provincial councils (there are 14 provinces in Fiji) today said that there was a need to go forward. The council chairman urged other provinces to make their views known. The Fiji Visitors Bureau has said that it will go ahead with television campaigns in Australia and New Zealand. The Bureau's chief executive said that although there was some anxiety in the industry, "holidaying in Fiji will not be affected". He has called on tourists to continue with holiday plans.

15 January, 2006

Sunday Feasts

Most Fijian households save their best meals for Sundays. A typical itinerary for Sundays is to go to the morning church service, come back home and sit down to a big lunch. After lunch, household members have a siesta before they get up to check the pots again at around 3 or 4pm local time. After that extra fill, it is time again for the evening church service. If you talk with any Fijian regarding their Sunday lunch, they will say that it is the best that they look forward to in the week. The spread is usually filled with a large variety of Fijian ethnic cuisine that most members of the household do not get to eat during the week. Over the years, this spread has been complemented with Chinese and Indian dishes. The lunch is usually supplemented with ethnic Fijian desserts - a favourite for guests who stayed at my vacation/holiday rental was "vudi vakasoso" i.e. ripe plantain cooked in coconut milk with the inside sliced and filled with grated coconut. This is often chilled for serving. If you want to sit in for one of these lunches, make friends with a Fijian and then get them to invite you to their home on Sunday. It's an experience that you will not forget in a long while.

14 January, 2006

Marist 7s Tournament - March 2006

The annual Fiji Bitter Marist 7s will be celebrated in style in March under a carnival atmosphere to mark the tournament's 30th anniversary. The tournament will be held at the Post Fiji Stadium, National Sporting Complex, Laucala Bay, on 24 and 25 March. It will begin with a march through Suva by the teams and supporters on the first day. Clubs from New Zealand, Samoa and Nigeria have confirmed their participation whiles officials are inviting Tunisia as well. There will be 80 teams altogether : 64 men's teams, 8 women's teams; and 6 under 19 teams. If you wish to get accommodation for this, please visit and book on-line at www.greatrentals.com/Fiji/15225.html or www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/Suva/8469. Tickets to the games can also be arranged for you at cost and included in your total bill.

Saturdays and Sports

It's Saturday in Suva - the day the city usually has most of its sports meetings and competitions. As it is currently the Rugby 7s season in Fiji, you will find a few 7s competitions happening around Suva, including the greater Suva area, as well as around the country. Albert Park and Post Fiji Stadium and the school grounds along Queen Elizabeth Drive usually host most of these meets. Albert Park is situated next to the Government Buildings and opposite the old Grand Pacific Hotel. The Post Fiji Stadium is situated at the National Sporting Complex along Laucala Bay Road. If you care for other sports, netball is usually played at Thurston Courts, just on the other side of Albert Park, or at the outdoor courts at the National Sporting Complex at Laucala Bay. Tennis can be found at Victoria Courts along Knollys Street. Soccer is played at a number of small parks around the city (if they are club games) or the Post Fiji Stadium if the Suva team is hosting a game. Swimming (not competitive) can be found at the Olympic Pool behind the Suva City Library or at the National Aquatic Centre, National Sporting Complex, Laucala Bay. You can find almost any sport being played in Suva and most often on Saturdays. If you are a sports lover, pick your favourite sports and take a walk, bus or taxi to the venue. Enjoy. For the less active who prefer exercising at their own pace, the Hyndai Fitness Centre at the National Sporting Complex is a good place to be. It charges only FJD3.00 per entry and you can take your time trying out their wide range of exercise equipment. Any problems? Just ask the ever friendly staff there to help you out. There you go, enjoy!

12 January, 2006

My own experience by Reginald Lutu

Edinburgh Drive is the twisting road leading into Suva city from the Plateau that towers mysteriously behind the jungles of Walu Bay. It is a busy tar sealed thoroughfare meandering about 2 miles with a gradual elevation change. It is on the last hill beneath the Calvary Temple complex, where the many open air Buses powered with Diesel Engines tend to compete for Bragging Rights among the boisterous kids, on their way home from School. This showdown of driving skills was even anticipated by the proud, barrel chested Drivers. Some with dark skin punctuated with flaky white discoloration of the skin; caused by the over-indulgence of Fiji's traditional drink called Yaqona. Drivers have long recognized this last hill; which has a steeper incline than the preceding ones. It is common to see two large vehicles with their engines w hining to dangerous revolutions; racing neck to neck, up that last hill. My observations of a Driver who routinely won this dash to Samabula, has identified attributes that led to his success.Since most Buses in Fiji have a Manual gearbox, this restricts the overly use of the accelerator. This scenario forces the driver to make, more creative use of the gearbox. The successful driver timed his gear changing, to an art. He allowed the engine of his bus to work harder and longer. Synchronizing this rhythm of gear changing, with the perpetual tracking of the opposing Bus position; in respect with his own. Our Bus Driver usually allowed the other bus to gain a little ground ahead of us; on the last hill beneath Calvary Temple, Samabula. All the kids in the Bus are on their feet at this point; joining the growing Chorus of Cheers. "Go Dr iver Go, The Bus is Kaso!". My Bus Driver skillfully changes gears slightly earlier; while the other Bus engine was whinging to the point of exhaustion; on that last stretch of two hundred yards. Slowly my Bus catches the other and cruises by the opposing Bus, via this early surge of power created by the quick gear shift; as if it was stationary . Beating at the other bus, at "the tape" was always such, a sweeter victory. This is usually when the badder kids who usually occupy the backseat; start sticking their heads out of their windows and hurling insults at the kids in the other bus. Note from Gilbert : Yes, although it does sound dangerous now, this story from Reginald brings back memories of our school days with its wild and exhilarating experiences.

Suva's Nightlife

As Friday is around the corner, I am sure most tourists to Suva would be wondering whether Suva has a night life. Suva, indeed, has a very active nightlife. There are many bars along the stretch on Victoria Parade (which seems to be the main street in the city) running from the end of the Central Business District, past the Holiday Inn and Government Buildings opposite it, to Thurston Gardens and the Bowling Club on the other side of it. These bars also have a range of prices and target clientele. The ones mostly frequented by tourists and visitors to Suva are O'Reillys and Bad Dog Cafe next door, and Traps Bar further down the road. These places are usually filled to almost capacity with young professionals going out for a drink after work on Fridays. Whilst the music at O'Reillys is more upbeat, Traps has a good selection of jazz and soft ballads to sooth a tired soul. Bad Dog Cafe is good for conversation with music turned just the right volume to enable people to converse. For tourists who are teetotallers, restaurants abound on that stretch. The Dolphin's Food Court at FNPF Place opposite the Fiji Development Bank (and along Victoria Parade) is a good place to get an assortment of food. The Roc at Dolphins is a coffee shop serving the best coffee drinks in town. So there you go! Make up your list of places to visit on Friday evening and enjoy.

11 January, 2006

Memories of Suva - 1970s and 1980s

Message received from Kaline, a former resident of Suva. Bula vinaka GV. We were residents of Suva for less than a decade, sporadically from our babyhood until our very late teenagehood. Being that Suva is an Administrative centre for our humble island-nation, one's social life involved a conscious effort to have some fun, especially so, since the majority of entertainment services were located along the strip, within our CBD. Children's Attractions in Suva (circa late 1970s - 1980s) which we loved doing as locals were the Fiji Museum of Natural History visits, Orchid Island tours, the Cultural Centre Show and tour, family dining at the Tradewinds Hotel, the Berjaya Inn when it was the Courtesy Inn (we used to have our family cocktail/dinner dances at sunset at these 2 hotels), our Chinese restaurants (the Great Wok, Sichuan and especially Joe Wong's Cafe (have the best pan fried eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches with tea to die for), the Saturday BBQs at the family parks, the picnics on Nukulau Island, Makuluva Island or Deuba beach on Sundays, the movie theatres on Fridays, Pizza Hut and Pizza King, family walks along our seafront and the mesmerising experience unique of Coloisuva - the family trekking excursions. Well there we have it. Our Suva experience and our Suva revival as a tourist destination suggestion, suited to children. Additional Suva Attractions for Children In the 80s Does anyone still remember the Roller Rink? Many of us would actually go with our pre-packed fresh lunches and fresh fruit juices or fun flavour - the fruit flavoured cartons of milk, attempting to imitate the then roller movies of the time. LOL ... Still remember a line from a NY set movie, "Bluebirds, come out to ppllaayy ..." Is the aquarium still there and does anyone remember the late Satini Lesi (who was amongst our first Fijian Fiji Police Force recruits), with whom we used to hear myths and legends traditional storytelling and later conversed with, about Colonial Fiji at the Travelodge Hotel, which is now the Holiday Inn? Enjoying Suva As A Teen In the 90s Food for certain, one has not experienced Suva, without an order of the infamous Palm Court chicken and alfalfa sprouts sandwich with the most refreshingly fresh lime or passionfruit juices or their rich yummilicious milkshakes. The other must stop-over for a yumptious bite would be at the Bentley's Fish 'n' Chips shop opposite the old MH's which we simply can not recall at the moment. For a home-like feel essence of our local dishes, one had to at least stop at Mary's Cottage, near the American Embassy, to sample the day's specials or one's favourite. For a quick pick-me-up, the Hare Krishna's fresh and home-made yoghurt drinks and ice-cream the usual treats on a searingly hot humid Suva day. Our favourite restaurants were Tiko's Seafood Boat Restaurant (for dinner); the Raffles Tradewinds Seafood Restaurant (for dinner); Penny's Restaurant (for breakfast) and the Lali Restaurant (for the lunch buffet) at the Travelodge Hotel, now the Holiday Inn; the Cafe at the Berjaya Inn for (lunch or dunch), Cardos Steakhouse, the Great Wok, Pizza Hut and the Italian Restaurant above it, at the Corner. NightlifeHands down, the Corner's Bad Dog Bar (which always had an eclectic mix of students and young professionals) and the dance clubs were the ideal at the time, due to the established young clientele. The other favourite which was our runner-up was the infamous Traps Bar which usually had an older, more mature clientele, with a mellower feel to it, compared to the up-beat bounce and beat of the Corner as it was in our teens. Private Soirees? Suva would not be essentially happening without the efforts of our city's private party hosts, who throw their unique cocktail parties, bbq parties with or without alcoholic beverages (usually a balanced mix of the 2), with the usual civilian-attired off-duty police officers for hire (minimum of 2), for the pre and after clubbing winding down parties, usually consisting of relatives and friends.

Buying Fijian and Pacific Island Handicraft in Suva

There are a lot of places where tourists can buy Fijian or Pacific Islands handicraft in Suva. Prices range widely. For cheap and affordable craft, you can visit the Flea Market which is opposite the main bus terminal in Suva. There are also street hawkers all over the city who sell small crafts. The Suva Handicraft Centre has prices which are more middle-of-the-range. It also has more craft types available. You can get most of your buys at these two places. For tourists who wish to spend more, Jacks Handicraft's store in Suva is the place to go. Jacks Handicraft also offers "bula" clothing and other types of products for tourists.

Further Particulars on UB40

Summarised from one of the local dailies. UB40 is looking forward to its performance in Fiji in March. The performance in Suva is scheduled for March 10 at the FMF Dome, National Sporting Complex, Laucala Bay. Tickets are currently selling at FJD50.00 and can be bought at South Pacific Recording outlets in Suva, Nadi and Lautoka. A second performance at our second city, Lautoka, is on 12 March with tickets being sold for it at FJD40.00. UB40 is a popular reggae band formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England. The band is multiracial and named after the former United Kingdom Social Security form for claiming unemployment benefits. The band has had a number of hits, including the most famous, Red Red Wine (a remake of Neil Diamond's song). Anyone wishing to come to Suva and book accommodation at the following links www.greatrentals.com/Fiji/15225.html or www.perfectplaces.com/FijianHome.htm, can have a ticket bought and charged to them at cost.

Rarely used surf spot in Suva

For surf lovers, there is a rarely used surf spot just on the other side of the Suva Harbour. Waves are said to be high and considered very good for surfing. The spot is rarely used as it is not marketed widely by anyone including the landowners on which area lies. I am negotiating an arrangement with the landowners if they can assist with taking interested surfers to the spot (i.e. we do not want to breach any customary rights and stuff like that!). Please watch this blogspot over the next few weeks for updates.