You will see sugar cane growing all around Fiji. The hot,dry climate is well suited for growing it here. You will also see many Fiji Indians, most of which are descendents of fourth generation labourers brought here years ago to work these fields. The Indian mynah was also introduced in the late 19th century to feed on sugar cane pests. They are aggressive, intelligent and noisy, and can be seen throughout Fiji.
You will see many men in Fiji wearing sulas ( skirts below the knees). Most Indian women cover up in long saris. Fijian womem usually wear long dresses or skirts. This is a big difference than back when the men just wore a loin cloth and the women wore grass skirts.
The Fiji Islands have their own currency: the Fiji-Dollar ! In the front you will see Queen Elizabeth II and in the backside some interesting local design !
The souvenirshops in Port Denerau might also accept 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
BULA, BULA ! or simply BULA ! is something you will hear a lot of times, when walking around Nadi. "Bula" is the local word for "hello, how are you?" and you will hear it all over the Fiji-islands and even in the streets of quite a large town like Suva a lot of people will greet tourists in the streets.
It is always ment in a friendly way, 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 !
The Fiji-kilt is part of the national costume and so you might see men wearing a kilt all over the Fiji-islands. Here in my first 2 pictures it is the porter of a large hotel next to Port Denarau who will assist arriving guests with their luggage. In my 3rd and 4th picture it is a local policeman and in my last picture you will see that even the guards of the presidential palace in Suva are wearing a kilt as a part of their uniform.
For most tourists it will be good to know 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, but you will find some high mountains there as well - see my pictures !
Kava is a local medicine drink that is offered to guests when entering a traditional village..It is used in the welcoming ceremony.
It is made from the roots of the pepperplant and it has an earthy taste. Your tongue will become thicker and dumb. This should result in a relaxing effect. Although some people told me that if you drink to much it will do the opposite..
When somebody offers you a bowl of kava you should say 'bula' and after finishing you should clap 3 times in your hands and give the bowl to somebody else
To prepare kava: 1. Take the roots from the pepperplant. 2. Clean it. 3. Crush it untill it turns into powder. 4. Put the kavapowder in a fine towel and poor some water in the towel while kneading. 5. Collect the juice in a bowl.
Kava is the Fijian version of soft drug. It is popular at home and at the same time it has not been outlawed by the overseas public so consumption is safe. The taste is an acquired one and the ritual rather down-to-earth with lots of foreign saliva on offer. Not only the different recipients use the same “shell” but if the preparation were really authentic, the pulp had been chewed by boys – somebody else’s not you own.
The rival exotic drink is the Noni juice. It comes from a specific plant, not local anymore – it is available in Panama too. The trick is to somehow taste the product before buying the industrial quantities offered for sale at practically any Indian store. Despite their sixth sense in all trade-bound matters, the poor businessmen have no clue how to promote this intriguing liquid to foreign customers. The local insight into this Noni matter is that a male is not to mention it in front of Indian girls the combo “Noni Juice” because he can become a laughing stock for implying semen (Apparently Noni is the brother of Dick).
You can buy kava in specialist stores and buy it in kilos. You will need to bring at least half a kilo with you when visiting a traditional village.