Before I blog any tips I want to share my reflections on Fiji and traveling in general.
We spent the first 3 nights of our trip on Waya Island at the octopus resort and basically the journey on the pathway to doing nothing began. Golden sands, the perfectly turquoise ocean lapping the shore and not much else happening was paradise. We spent the next 3 nights at Pacific Harbour on the mainland staying at the Uprising resort, again golden sands, turquoise ocean and a bit more of nothing. Our last 7nights have been at Daku resort at Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu, a little less golden sand, still beautiful ocean and a little less nothing because we were diving.
All up Fiji has won my heart! The island retreat and it’s amazing beach, the lush green hills of Vanua Levu, the beautiful people we have encountered all ingredients for paradise. While here at Daku we have visited a local village, to get a glimpse of village life, communities and village life are still alive and well throughout Fiji, communities living together simply not buying into the individualist, consumerist world of the west, not suggesting that the seduction and temptation is not there, but as yet it has been resisted by some at least.
The ocean seems less polluted, I don’t think we have done a dive with less than 20m visability and I have to say I have not encountered any litter along the shore or in the ocean, I’m sure there are places, but not my experience. The marine life has been quite an experience, so much colour, so much variety and diversity, from tiny little fish darting in and out of reefs to a huge giant Maori Wrasse, sea cucumbers to juvenile white tip reef sharks, trigger fish guarding their nests, amazing!
There is a peace about the place, I think more so on Vanua Levu than the mainland of Viti Levu, where it appears more of the western values are encroaching. I sit writing this looking over the bay watching the low lying clouds resting on the hillside, the sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean, the birds chirping, the odd mongoose rushing past, the lush green vegetation in the grounds of Daku a little bit sad to think I leave tomorrow.
My concerns about the cruise ships still lingers, the lack of a simple please from tourists and the air of entitlement that seems to surround at least some, is not something I have encountered with other tourists I have met who have been at the resorts we have stayed at, although again I am sure it exists. Apparently the minimum wage here is about $3 per hour, fuel is around $2 a litre, I make a bit of an assumption that many people’s salaries are very much seasonal and tied to the tourist industry, yet I have heard no complaints from local people I have spoken with. If any cruise people read this, please share with fellow cruiser, that just because your visit is fleeting, your presence is felt, let it be a good one.
How do we stop the values of the western world pervading worlds were community is important? Can we as visitors to places like Fiji cast off our individualism and join others at a dinner table, listening to the stories of life we all bring? Can we not see the richness that comes with community? I am not suggesting that life in Fiji is perfect nor easy, I like most visitors look through eyes of a holiday maker, wanting desperately to escape the reality of my own home life just for a little while, but I do believe my life has been enriched because of the people I have met and the places I have seen.
My ability to travel the world, see what I have seen, experience what I have experienced, is not an entitlement, it is a privilege. I have met people here that have never left their home town but long to see more of the world. I know that all who travel the world, generally speaking, have to work hard, have to save hard, but there are many people we will encounter on our travels that work harder and are still not afforded the privilege to travel. I share this reflection because I like to write reviews and I like to blog, so I read reviews and blogs too and some, reviews on trip advisor more specifically, are harsh, judgemental and a little bit rude. I travel not really wanting his and hers matching bathrobes, with matching slippers, I want to experience what the world has to offer, warts and all. I think when traveling it’s important to cast off as much as we can of the entitlement culture that seems to run through the veins of the western world, particularly when we visit countries that are classified as the developing world. I believe my life has been enriched throughout my travels, including here in Fiji. People smile and greet you with Bula, there is no head down and pretend no-one is there.
If you ever visit Fiji, embrace it, live it, learn from it, breath it, love it. If you are passing by on a cruise ship, say please and thank you, don’t judge the cleanliness of streets based on what you think paradise should be, be mindful, think about what issues are important to the people of the land, healthcare may be a much more important issue than some litter strewn on the roads! I have heard many Australians say very openly “if you don’t like it leave” so as a traveller do we want to encounter just and extension of home? If that’s the case why travel? Or do we want to broaden our experiences and learn from other people and places? We all have opinions but I believe they should be mindful, constructive, thoughtful.
Tomorrow I leave Fiji and head home, but I will be back!