It might happen, especially on the smaller islands and far away from the larger cities, that you are invited into one of the local huts or into an assembly-hut, like shown in my main picture:
It is a matter of politeness to take off your hat, scarf or cap as well and your shoes before you take a seat on the floor like the locals do !
And of course you are allowed to enter these huts only, when you get an invitaion by somebody local !!!
The local people are quite friendly, BUT be aware: in this area man-eating and cannibalism still happens now and then...
This is something that you will see in almost every island of the Fijis: Look at this great way to use Banana-leaves in order to decorate your fences. And all of these works of art will also last for plenty of years, they might loose their bright green color and turn grey, but they will not fall apart. I have bought a very simple bag made of such leaves in Haiti about 30 years ago and it remained strong all of these years.
Good news for tourists: I am sure you will be glad to learn that english is spoken all over the Fiji-islands and besides Hindustani and Fiji english is also one of the 3 official languages of the Fiji-islands. The Fiji-islands have a total population of a bit more than 800.000 inhabitants, living on various islands with a total size of 18.333 km2,( that is a bit less than half of the size of Switzerland, that has 41.285 km2.)
The Fiji-islands are not totally flat islands like I expected them to be, but you will find some high mountains there as well !
Yes, of course the Fiji Islands have also their own currency and it is called the Fiji-Dollar ! In the front of the bills you will see HM Queen Elizabeth II and in the backside you will see some interesting local design !
The souvenir-shops in Port Denarau might also accept sometimes australian or US-Dollars, but in places like the post-office you will be able to pay only in the local currency !
I have sent 2 postcards from the Fiji islands: 1 to Russia arrived quite fast and the other one to Switzerland was somewhere "lost" and never arrived there ! ;-(((
In November 2011 the official exchange-rate was:
1 US-Dollar = 1,975 FJ-Dollar
1 AUS-Dollar = 1,819 FJ-Dollar
This is the largest beetle I have ever seen and it lives only in the Fiji islands: The Xixuthrus Heros or Fijian giant long horned beetle, it is the 2nd largest beetle-species on earth and you will find it only in the Fijis. It has a maximum length of up to 15cm.
Unfortunately you will hardly ever see it in its natural surrounding as a lot of them were hunted by bug-collectors and it is also considdered a totem animal for some local tribes.
In order to give you an idea of its size, I put a local bill next to it .
There are also some butterflies shown in the Fiji museum, that are living only on the Fiji Islands. (my 4th and 5th pictures).
b.t.w. the largest beetle on earth is just 2cm larger: the Titan beetle (Titanus giganteus) is living in the Amazonas Rainforest.
On the Fiji-islands it is quite hot all year long and that might be a good reason for some men to wear a Fiji-kilt. You will see them mainly in uniforms of policemen and even the armed guards in front of the presidents palace in Suva will wear a Fiji-kilt - see one of them in my main picture here !
I took these photos of the policeman with a trick, but I am sure they would also pose for a photo if you simply ask them and I am also sure they have to pose for tourist-photos quite often in big cities like Suva !
Bula or Bula, Bula ! is the local Fiji expression for "hello, how are you?" and you will hear it all over the Fiji-island and even in the streets of quite a large town of Suva a lot of people will great tourists in the streets.
It is always ment in a friendly way and that "Bula, Bula" will come with a smile, and almost never it is just a way to get in contact with a potential customer. When-ever you go inside a shop and just take a look around without buying anything they still stay nice and friendly and I also found lots of local people who like to chat with tourists !
This was another surprise for me in the Fiji-museum in Suva: clothes made of a special material, called Masi or Barkcloth. It is a non-voven product, made by the beating of the inner-bark of the mulberry tree over an anvil to form a compacted web of fibre. The earliest such cloth dates back 3000 years BC and was found in Malaysia. That same type of product was also found in South America and in Middle America.
In the Fiji-museum in Suva you will find a lot of fine examples of such local cloths and costumes.
You will hardly ever see such ships and canoes in any port of Fiji any more, but you can see them in The Fiji-museum in Suva and this museum is even free of charge for visitors, but you will find a box for donations at the entrance. In my photos you will see the exhibits of the first hall of the Fiji museum: you will see some of the traditional Fijian doublehulled canoes, that are considdered to be the most seaworthy of the large voyaging canoes of Oceania.
1. There is an unwritten rule that no building should be taller than a coconut tree, so you will not find any skyscrapers on Fiji.
2. Tipping is not required, nor even expected, in Fiji.
3. Kava is the national drink of Fiji and a pill form of it is marketed widely in Europe as a "stress buster pill."
4. The traditional firewalking ceremony, involving men walking over red-hot stones, can only be performed by male members of the Sawau tribe from the island of Beqa.
5. The lively Meke Dance is the traditional dance of Fiji and each Meke tells a distinct story.
This is a must do as there is a whole ceremony that takes place. Its a lot of fun and you simply cannot leave fiji without having some kava with the locals.
A point to note is that there is two types of kava. The packet stuff....and the REAL stuff.
The packet stuff is powdered down and I found it nowhere near as strong as kava made and drunk directly from the kava plant roots.
If you get a chance to watch someone making kava, then hang around and ask some questions, because not only will you learn something, but most likely the person making it will invite you to have some when its ready.
About 500 years ago, an old man in the village, Dredre (meaning love), told stories to the people but only after they first gave him a gift. Tunaiviqalita, promised to give Dredre a fresh eel as a gift and Dredre agreed to tell him stories once he gave him the eel. Tunaiviqalita followed a small stream near the village in his search for an eel. As he moved upstream he came across a big rock i. He put his hand under the rock hoping to catch an eel but instead felt something soft and warm, so he pulled it out. In his hand was a perfect tapa cloth undamaged by the water. The tapa cloth was wound around something that he could feel moving inside. He unwound the tapa and a small man jumped out shouting "Don't kill me, give me life, I will make you the strongest man on the island." Tunaiviqalita replied "I am already the strongest man on the island and I will kill you".
Then the small man said, "Don't kill me and I will make you very rich". To which the young man replied "I don't know what money is. I have no need for it."
Then the small man said, "If you don't kill me I will give you the gift of walking on fire and then bury you for four nights but you will unhurt and still be living."
Tunaiviqalita replied, "I don't want all of that I just want to be able to walk on fire".
The small man said, "Then so be it as long as the sun rises and the sun sets your descendants will be able to walk on fire."
Tunaiviqalita did not believe him and said, "First you must show me." So they built a fire under stones which after many hours became red hot. The small man said, "Follow me," then he danced and danced on the hot stones without any ill effect. Tunaiviqalita followed him onto the hot stones and sang with happiness as he realised what a powerful gift he had been given by the small man.
The descendants of Tunaiviqalita are in the villages of Rookwa, Dakubeqa, Dakuni, Soliyaga and Naceva are still able to walk on fire.
Kava is a local drink made of the root of tree. Nowadays they extract a powder from this root and mix it with water. It is not an alcoholic drink, but depending on how strong it is mixed your thong or lips may feel numb. If visiting a local village, you will probably be offered kava.
Bribing people is a part of the culture in Fiji. Although I don't at all condone this sort of behaviour, it may be handy for you to know if you need to get yourself out of a sticky situation.
Eg. If you get pulled over for speeding, you can hand the police officer F$10 and he'll let you go without a fine.
I learned while in Fiji that store owners or tour companies may offer you something for free, they may be very persistant and insist that you take whatever they want to give you. Even if you are not interested they will continue to try to "give" you the item. After you accept the item they will insist you pay for it. We went horseback riding- the horse owner- wanted to give us a free ride he said. He insisted that I did and I took one to stop him from bugging me. After the ride was over and I had no money to pay he made my cab driver that was waiting for me at the beach pay him and I had to pay him back. Just be cautious.
What a wonderful place to go on holidays with young children. The staff are so happy and love...more
Toberua Island Tailevu, P.O. Box 3332, Toberua Island, Fiji
Good for: Business
P.O. Box 244, Savusavu, Fiji
Good for: Solo
More Regions in Fiji