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Published: July 13th 2015
Having arrived the previous evening, but advised not to walk around Suva at night, we took in an excellent choir show on board; delivered by a group that had come especially from one of the outer islands. Suva is the capital and largest city in Fiji. It is located on the southeast coast of the island of Viti Levu in the Rewa Province in the Central Division of the country.
Next morning we left the boat fairly early to top up our cash and dispatch the blog updates. We revisited our Australian problem of having difficulty extracting cash from the ATMs. Aussie banks, of course; they really do need to get their act together. So we were obliged, yet again, to use credit cards for cash, which meant a visit back to the ship. Obtained cash and dispatched our blog - and whilst we were at it, looked up pictures from the internet of the cruise liner which went down in the Antarctic (The Canadian ship MV Explorer struck an iceberg and sank close to the South Shetland Islands in the Anatarctic - everybody was rescued). We then spent a fruitless hour trying to find an office supplier with the
correct cartridges for M's printer to no avail (take 1) but picked up some useful material from a helpful lady in the tourist office. Did a bit of shopping for the Fijian deck party - to try and look the part. (D purchased a formal sarong and M a real grass skirt and Jean Paul Gaultier/Madonna conical bra made of palm leaves). We returned to the boat for lunch.
In the afternoon we went down the main drag which is called Victoria Parade, to the government buildings and the Presidential Palace. We chatted to a bloke who turned out to be a wood whittler, but got good measure for our $20 'objet d'art' as he took us around the inside of the buildings (which are now the Court of Appeal) where the first coup took place; gave us a potted history of the colonial era showing statues of the leader who signed Fiji over to Queen Victoria; showed us Albert Park where the plane on the first crossing of the Pacific landed (now a cricket and football ground for Indians); and showed us the Thurston botanical gardens within which was the museum. We then resumed our search (take 2)
for printer ink, which took us to three locations and proved equally abortive - although the most promising had just closed when we arrived. D puts this down to a diversion to procure M's requisite embroidered T sheet; but she has the satisfaction of this being the only store in Suva where such embroidered T-shirts were to be found. It started to rain around 6 pm so we returned to the ship.
Suva, interestingly (if you're interested in this sort of thing) is very similar to other former British colonial towns, particularly in India according to M, but not unlike parts of the middle east where the Brits stayed such as Baghdad and Amman and also KL and Penang. One common feature not found at home is very high curbs and, in wetter climes, deep but narrow open storm drains - smelly, a bit like Penang. Unfortunately, these former British cities don't stand comparison aesthetically with their French colonial counterparts such as Nouméa - but then the French are still there. French colonial cities are, by and large, clean, modern, chic and expensive. Suva was vibrant, energetic and inexpensive but also chaotic, mucky and a bit worse for wear
- and dangerous after dark with police actively turning around our companions on the ship - even guys well over 6 feet and 15 stone in a group. As Rugby fans know, some Fijians come even larger! Still we got excellent and very helpful and friendly service in shops and were always advised to look after our personal possessions; but the reality for us was not threatening. The country needs tourists and it is inexpensive - as long as you can afford to get there.
At 23:59, after we left port, we crossed the International Date Line and began the 27th November all over again!
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