foreign flags and ukuleles
when travelling, someitmes you encounter people that will tell you all kinds of things to try and get you to part with your tourist dollars in all kinds of new and interesting ways.
however, sometimes they're telling the truth too.
case in point: we arrived at nadi int'l airport here in fiji a little after 5 in the morning, where we were greeted by several ukulele players (note: the art of the ukulele is alive and well here in fiji), the usual customs clearance, and then into a horde of friendly, smiling, fijian touts (with high-pressure sales tactics at the ready) to redirect us to any number of places to stay at.
fueled by our guidebooks and the usual independent travel paranoia, we dodged all the touts and headed to the second floor of the building, where our guidebook assured us that in office #20 we would find the Fijian Visitors Bureau, offering pure and unabiased advice about the many places we could stay at. one particular tout followed us persistently, assuring us over and over that the FVB office was closed and gone. we turned the corner, arrived at office #20, and found... an empty office with a radiator that had been ripped out of the wall sitting in the midle of the room. oops -- guess we should have believed the total stranger for once.
we then proceeded to get a taxi to the "nadi bay motel" our friends had advised us on and which we read about in our guidebook as a good place to start, and our taxi driver took us to the "nadi bay resort hotel", which he told us was the same one, as did the staff. of course, the name had changed twice since the guidebook, as had the phone number, but by process of elimination (only place on an nearly-empty road), we concluded we'd reached the right place and settled in. it's a good spot to spend a day at.
today is our day to "acclimatize". this means pondering the 4 hour time change that also involves losing a day, adjusting to the normal (ie. not-enormous-hungry-giant-sized) portions, tasting the local brew (straightforward and strong), and poking around town.
we had a great indian meal in town (there is a large population of people originally from india here, see fiji's history for more details), and watched as a fancy black mercedes car pulled up in the street opposite, with a miniature chinese flag flying proudly from its hood, whose driver then let three very opulent-looking chinese folks up into a restaurant.
not sure whether we'd just witnessed ambassadors or tour group members disembarking from the car, we spoke with the taxi driver and it turns out that foreigners are big on displaying their own flags (along with the fijian one, of course) in fiji. or something like that. as proof, he pointed out the german and fijian flags flying proudly over "HAMBURG HOUSE", a place which i can only imagine is full of perfectly-roasted bratwurst and enormous, frosty mugs of excellent pilsner.
in other news -- my cold is getting better, and i'm rapidly reading my way through james michener's "tales of the south pacific". we're headed out to a beach resort at the south part of the island in the morning, which means my first dose of actual fijian beach.
photos note: bandwidth here is realllly slow, so don't expect any photos online for a few more days at least.