Fiji Island Cruise - February 27 - March 9, 2014

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March 4th 2014
Published: March 6th 2014
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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Today is an exciting day. We arrived at the first stop in Fiji. I have so been looking forward to this part of the trip, going to such an exotic location in the world. It is so remote and a big mystery to us. Today we are the port of Suva, Fiji.

I woke up at 5:00am and headed down to the Royal Promenade to my normal spot to work on this blog. It is so peaceful sit down here before the hustle and bustle of the day. I returned to the cabin around 7:00am to wake up Cindy. We needed to eat breakfast early because our tour was meeting 845am. Today we needed to bring along our swimsuit, towel, lotion, change or clothes and a pair of shoes that can get wet. Our tour is Jewels of Fiji, visiting a waterfall and enjoying a lunch and cultural show.

Breakfast was in the Windjammer, a quick and easy eating experience, in and out. Cindy and I both had a ham and cheese omelet. It actually tasted pretty good considering it was made for the masses. We sat close to a window so we could see the shore line of Suva. It appeared to be somewhat industrialized, however in the distance very mountainous. From what I can see, the landscape in the distance was incredibly beautiful.

At 8:45am, we headed to the La Strada theatre, the meeting place for all tours. After getting our tour sticker, we sat in our assigned location waiting for our group to be called. We did not have to wait long before our tour was called. We disembarked the ship and heading to our assigned bus.

We left the port on our bus by 9:15am, and headed to the north. Our drive to the first stop was about 60 minutes. Our tour guide, Steve (English name), did an excellent job narrating the tour tell us many things about the history of Fiji and pointed out many things as we drove to our first stop. He also taught us some easy phrases like Bula (hello) and banaka (thank you). Everywhere we went, everyone used the phrase Bula. While we driving in the un-air conditioned bus, people on the side of the road or working in the fields, they are waved and said Bula. That was quite interesting to see and everyone, no matter their background, was always wanted to great us. The people of Fiji are really nice. Steve, our tour guide, told us that there are 300+ islands in Fiji. One of the islands is owned by Tom Cruise. Another island is owned by Mel Gibson. Mel’s bought an island and built a resort. His guests stay there from time to time. Another interesting fact is the movie Castaway, starring Tom Hanks, was filmed in one of the islands of Fiji. There are 17 dialects in the islands. The main economy driver used to be sugar, however now it is tourism

We arrived at our first stop, not sure of the town name. The town sat on a main river that started in the mountains. Our first part of the trip was taking a small boat ride, one hour in length, up a river to a waterfall. Before we boarded the small boat, we were given a small trash bag to put all personal items in it because they said that our belongs will get really wet. We were also required to put on life jackets. Cindy and I boarded our small boat and sat in the back. The boat was the size of a canoe and had a 45 horse power motor.

We left the boarding area and started our journey up the river. The first part of the river for most part was calm, however ¾ the way into the ride, we hit raging rapids. The views along the river and mountains in the distance were absolutely incredible and breathtaking. We had never had seen anything like this before, particularly from a boat. The fun started. The first rapids weren’t too bad, however better going up on one rapid, our navigator had to pull over and ask two of the eight passengers on the boat to get off, and too many people on the boat would possibly cause the boat to capsize. The couple that got out had to walk up the shore line and meet us. The navigator got positioned and then applied all the power in his motor to climb through the very rough rapids. I had a water camera with video capability. I turned on the video and held the camera outside the boat. The first part of my video is showing some serious actions struggling our way up the rapids, and then all of sudden a large wave crashed into us and the video went to sounding like we were going under the water. For a few seconds the camera was blurry, however we made it through the rapids and things stabilized. That was an awesome experience, but scary at the same time. This is why they gave us trash bags to cover our personal belongings. We learned before arriving in the port of Suva, that two days ago a Cyclone came close to the island and caused serious flooding on part of this Fiji Island. This explains some of the rough waters.

Following that awesome experience, we encountered some more mild rapids, but nothing like that one I described above. Shortly after all the water excitement, we arrived at the base where the waterfall is. We disembarked from our boat and took our trash bag and had to walk for about 10 minutes up a path to get to the waterfall.

The waterfall was absolutely incredible. It was so much bigger than any other waterfall we had seen before. While at the water fall, we had the option to swim at the base of the waterfall. Cindy and posed for pictures in this area and then went swimming. The water was cold, however once in the water, your body temperature adjusted. I ventured around a little, however when found that the water was sucking me backwards and the water basin was really deep, I decided to keep close to shore. The part that we were able to walk on was full of sharp rocks and it made it tricky for walking. I stubbed my toe and feet multiple times, however it was fun still walking around in the water. We took multiple photos at the waterfalls.

After swimming in the water for about 30 minutes, we needed to dry off and head back our boat. We had walk down the same way we came up. We did notice some of the path was slippery because it was wet and covered in moss.

We arrive back at our small boat and then headed down the river, the same we came up. The ride back was shorter and less adventurous and took half the time. We also did not go the same distance coming back. We stopped our boat and got off at a cultural center on the river bank. We walked up a small hill to the center. Before entering the cultural building, Cindy and I changed in out dry clothes we brought along. Following getting into dry clothes, we moved into the cultural center. We had to remove our shoes. The males had to sit on the matted floor facing where the entertainment was taking place and the women sat on the benches behind us. Before the entertainment began, we will to participate in a Kava ceremony.

Kava ceremonies are very serious in Fiji. The ceremony is used for many occasions, so it only made sense they showed us how important it is in their culture. Before the ceremony started, each bus that carried tourist on our tour picked a Chief. The Chief was to represent our group and was the first person to drink the Kava. A little bit about Kava. Kava comes from a plant and the actual used comes from the root of the plant. It is very expensive. Depending on the strength, it will sometimes numb your tongue and lips. The Kava is prepared by putting in a cloth, dipped in water and the ceremony leader would squeeze the Kava liquid from the cloth multiple times. Very interesting process.

The Kava ceremony began and they there was a lot protocol before the Kava was drunk. Our Chief received the Kava. To receive the Kava, you have to clasp your hands together (clapping) once, then you are passed the Kava in a bowl. The amount of Kava you drink is down in low tide, high tide, or tsunami. You must drink the Kava all at once. Following the ceremony, the leftover Kava was offered to others in the audience. Cindy and I drink the Kava, we both had a low tide since we did not know what to expect. The Kava did not taste that good. It looked like tan dish water, however did not have a lot of strong flavors. Cindy did not have the tingling feeling on her tongue or lips, however Todd did. The feeling was lite, but enough to embrace the experience. This was a really awesome experience.

Following the Kava ceremony, the cultural center put on an awesome show demonstrating their native dance. It was a ton of fun to see how the local cultural works. Following the entertainment, we were served lunch. Most of the food was hand prepared. Cindy and I did not eat much of the food because we heard the water supply here is not safe. We stuck to cooked rice and cooked beef. We ate a roll; however did not the fresh fruit. We did not want to get sick and ruin the rest of the trip. We took our lunch outside and sat on one of our beach towels, under a coconut tree and ate lunch. Shortly after eating, we took photos around the cultural center and with some of the staff; we boarded our bus and headed back to our ship.

Before arriving at the ship, Steve made two stops for those wanting to get off and shop. The first stop had free Wifi, and the second stop was just plain shopping. We decided to stay on the bus and return to port.

I decided once we arrive back at the ship that I would take a quick 5 minute walk into town to see what shopping there was. I did not want to have any regrets that I did not go shopping in this port. Cindy went back to the ship and I ended up walking into town. I arrived in town in 5 minutes time. On my way over to town, people were trying to get me to buy something from business; however I stayed focused on the mission, looking shops on my own time. I literally lasted about 10 minutes and I headed back to the ship. The problem here in town was most of the shops I looked at were for locals. Very little tourist shops. I should have gotten off the bus earlier and visited the tourist shops. I just walked around for a bit and then walked back to the ship. Nothing purchased, oh well.

Both Cindy and I were back on the ship at 3:45pm. We were pretty exhausted from all the fun activities we did today. Cindy and I took a quick nap until 5:15pm. After our quick nap, we dressed quickly and then went to the Aquarium bar for today’s drink of the day, Pirates Hurricane. This was made of tropical juices, peach schnapps, captain morgan original spiced rum vodka, on ice, topped with sprite. In the middle of enjoying our drinks, we stepped outside to deck four to have someone take a photo of us with the Fiji mountain range in the background.

Following our evening drink, we heading to the dining room for dinner. Cindy had an appetizer and I have a cold fruit soup again. I am getting used to the cold soup appetizers. For our main dish, Cindy and I had the same dish, chicken cordon blue, on the bone. The chicken cordon blue was really good. For dessert, Cindy had a cherry truffle and Todd had the banana foster. Banana foster is full of awesomeness. We had another awesome evening with our dinner table mates. Not everyone was able to join, however we still had great conversation talking about our families and just various topics. This is such a great part of the trip, getting meet people and get to learn about other cultures. Good stuff.

Following our dinner, Cindy and I ventured up to the Royal Promenade for a everything is $10 sale. Cindy bought three oversized decorative hand bags and a sun hat. It was an absolute craziness during this shopping time. The area was packed with crazy shoppers.

Following our shopping spree, we headed to the evening show. The evening show is a magician. The magician was a lot of fun and did a great job interacting with the audience. I still can’t figure out how magicians do what they do. The Magician was John Taylor.

Following the show, retired to our room. We were both exhausted from a very busy day.

Tomorrow we arrive in Lautoka, Fiji. We are attending a fire walking and cultural show. Looking forward to our visit tomorrow.

Here is information as it relates to Suva.

Suva is the capital and the second most populated municipality of Fiji, after Nasinu. It is on the southeast coast of the island of Viti Levu, in theRewa Province, Central Division. In 1877, it was decided to make Suva the capital of Fiji when the geography of former main European settlement at Levuka on the island of Ovalau proved too restrictive. The administration of the colony was moved from Levuka to Suva in 1882.

Suva is Fiji's political and administrative capital. It is the largest and the most cosmopolitan city in the South Pacific and has become an important regional center; students from the Pacific region and a growing expatriate community make up a significant portion of the city's population. Under authority of local government act Suva is governed and administratively looked after by Suva City Council.

At the 2007 census, the city of Suva had a population of 85,691 Including independent suburbs, the population of the Greater Suva urban area was 172,399 at the 2007 census. Suva, along with the bordering cities of Lami, Nasinu, and Nausori have a total urban population of around 330,000, over a third of the nation's population. This urban complex is known also as the Suva–Nausori corridor (not including Lami).

In return for a promise to pay off debts owed to the United States by the Bauan chieftain, Seru Epenisa Cakobau, the Australian-based Polynesia Company was granted 5000 km² of land, 575 km² of it near what was then the village of Suva, in 1868. The original intention was to develop a cotton farming industry, but the land and climate proved unsuitable.

Following the annexation of the Fiji Islands by the United Kingdom in 1874, the colonial authorities decided to move the capital to Suva fromLevuka in 1877. The transfer was made official in 1882. Colonel F.E. Pratt of the Royal Engineers was appointed Surveyor-General in 1875 and designed the new capital, assisted by W. Stephens and Colonel R.W. Stewart.

Following the promulgation of the Municipal Constitution Ordinance of 1909, Suva acquired municipal status in 1910. The town initially comprised one square mile; these boundaries remained intact until 1952 when the Muanikau and Samabula wards were annexed, expanding its territory to 13 square kilometers. In October that year, Suva was proclaimed a city — Fiji's first. Tamavua was subsequently annexed; the most recent extension of the city boundaries has been to incorporate the Cunningham area to the north of the city. Urban sprawl has resulted in a number of suburbs that remain outside of the city limits; together with the city itself, they form a metropolitan area known as the Greater Suva Area.

The city hosted the 2003 South Pacific Games, being the third time in the event's 40-year history that they had been held in Suva. As part of the hosting of the event, a new gymnasium and indoor sports center, swimming pool, and stadium; field hockey pitch; and stands were built in the area around Suva, funded by the government and a $16 million People's Republic of China aid package.

Suva is the capital of Fiji and is a harbour city built on a peninsula reaching out into the sea. It has a mix of modern buildings and traditional colonial architecture.

The city is perched on a hilly peninsula between Laucala Bay and Suva Harbour in the southeast corner of Viti Levu. The mountains north and west catch the southeast trade winds, producing moist conditions year round.

Suva is the commercial and political centre of Fiji, though not necessarily the cultural centre, and the largest urban area in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand. It is Fiji's main port city.

Although Suva is on a peninsula, and almost surrounded by sea, the nearest beach is 40 kilometres (25 mi) away at Pacific Harbour and the nearby coast is lined by mangroves. A significant part of the city centre, including the old Parliament buildings, is built on reclaimed mangrove swamp.

The Central Business District encompasses an area known as the Central Ward; one of Suva's six wards, Central occupies close to the whole south-western side of the Suva Peninsula.

The city's six wards beginning from the city centre, then north, then clockwise rotation.

Central: city centre, CBD, nucleus of the city.

Tamavua: residential and urban area.

Cunningham: semi-urban and residential area.

Nabua: military base, Southern Division Police Headquarters, urban, residential, separate town centre, and industrial zone.

Samabula: urban, residential, separate town centre, university, and large industrial zones.

Muanikau: residential, urban, large sporting venues, university, and recreational areas.

Suva sits in the middle of an urban conurbation that stretches from Lami, to the immediate west of the city, along the Queens Highway and Nasinu, on its eastern border all the way to the Rewa River, along the Kings Highway. This conurbation, sometimes known as the Suva Urban Complex, continues till Nausori, over the Rewa River. The north of the city to its northeast contains the rainforest park areas of Colo-i-Suva and Sawani, along the Princes Road, connecting at the Rewa River Bridge. This entire conurbation, is generally referred to by locals as Suva, although it contains four local government areas. In formal reference, this complex has come to be known as the Suva–Nausori Corridor (where Lami is generally excluded) and is the most populous area in Fiji, with close to 350,000 people.

Suva features a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification. The city sees a copious amount of precipitation during the course of the year. Suva averages 3,000 mm (118.11 inches) of precipitation annually with its driest month, July averaging 125 mm (4.92 in). In fact, during all 12 months of the year, Suva receives substantial precipitation. Like many other cities with a tropical rainforest climate, temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year, with an average high of about 28 °C (82 °F) and an average low of about 22 °C (72 °F).

Suva is noted for its considerable rainfall, it has a markedly higher rainfall than Nadi and the western side of Viti Levu, which is known to Suva citizens as "the burning west". The First Governor of Fiji, Sir Arthur Gordon, allegedly remarked that it rained in Suva like he had seen nowhere else before and that there was hardly a day without rain. The most copious rainfall is observed from November to May, while the slightly cooler months from June to October are considerably drier.

Suva is a multiracial and multicultural city. Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, the two principal ethnic groups of Fiji, comprise the bulk of Suva's population, and the city is home to the majority of Fiji's ethnic minority populations, which include Caucasians (Europeans or Kaivalagi), part-Europeans (of European and Fijian descent), and Chinese, amongst others. The majority of expatriates working in Fiji are based in Suva. The most widely spoken language is English, but Fijian, Hindustani, Cantonese, and other Indian languages are also spoken by their respective communities.

Suva has municipal status and is governed by a Lord Mayor and a 20-member city council. The Suva City Council is the municipal law-making body of the city of Suva, Fiji's capital. It consists of 20 Councillors, elected for three-year terms from four multi-member constituencies called wards. Councillors, who are elected by residents, landowners, and representatives of corporations owning or occupying ratable property in Suva, elect a Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor from among their own members; they serve one-year terms and are eligible for re-election. However, the current interim-government has reformed and restructured all municipal councils as of October, 2008 and the position of Mayor is now void. The position of Special administrator is currently in place, equivalent to that of mayor, but rather than elected, the administrator is selected by the Ministry of Local Government. Currently, Suva City's special administrator is Chandu Umaria, Former Lord Mayor and was responsible, in his term, for many of the city's beautification works.

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