Nadi is mainly a transit town.  It’s the main travel hub for the country as almost all international flights land in Nadi.  We experienced the town in a similar way as we just had an afternoon there before our early flight the next morning.  We arrived after a 4 hour bus ride from Suva (an extraordinarily noisy and smelly affair), and caught a cab to our hotel — Bamboo Backpackers Hostel in Newtown Beach.

The ride to the hostel was about 10 minutes from the airport, and we overpaid a little.  It turned out that cab rides to/from the airport should have been $12, but I asked the guy to run the meter and paid $14.  Oh well, a small price to pay for the comfort of the meter.

Our cozy room — with A/C!

I had pre-booked our room through Hostelworld and Henry, the extremely friendly and laid back Kiwi manager, greeted us and asked us to wait a little bit as our rooms weren’t quite ready.  He offered us some drinks while we waited, but we were content to simply sit under the thatched-roof dining hut and watch the daily volleyball match.  It was a friendly game, and everyone was invited to participate, but some of the staff were quite good and it was fun just to sit and watch.  Also, since the hostel provided free wifi (yes!) we were able to catch up on our emails and facebook.

After about 15 minutes Henry let us know that our rooms were ready and he showed us around.  We booked a private double ensuite with A/C (yes!!).  It was basic, but much nicer than what we had seen to date in Fiji, and at FJ$65/night the price was well within our budget. After getting settled in and going through our valuables lock-up routine we decided to head into town to see the sights.

We tagged along with the hostel van going to drop a couple of European girls at the airport with the intention of being dropped off on the Queen’s highway where we could catch a bus going into town (opposite direction from the airport).  The van was a sweatbox blasting pop music at decibel levels exceeding a jet engine’s, but the ride was short and we managed to survive to catch a local bus into town for FJ$0.70 each.

The bus station is adjacent to the local market, and we were subjected to a dazzling array of sweets dealers, prepared meal carts, and touts trying to hawk their wares. We managed to survive the assault on our senses and made our way back to the Queen’s highway to head to the end of town and see the Hindi temple.

The Sri Siva Submaniya temple in Nadi is at the South end of town and can’t be missed.  It’s one of the tallest buildings in town and is colored in a rainbow of bright blues, greens, reds, and yellows.  The temple was consecrated in 1994 and, as it turns out, is the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere.

We took off our shoes at the request of the man watching the entrance and walked our way around.  It’s unfortunate that they ask

Sri Siva Submaniya Temple

you not to take photos once you are inside the temple, because it’s difficult to not keep your face pointed straight up at the numerous, beautiful paintings of the Hindu gods.

After leaving the temple, we headed back towards the bus station.  We purchased some street food from both Indian and Fijian vendors, struggled to locate where we should stand to catch the bus back to Newtown Beach, gave up and paid the FJ$9 to take a cab back to the hostel.

Our evening at the hotel was a lot of fun!  We took a brief walk out onto the beach to get some photos as the sun was setting and headed back to the hostel to drink some ice cold beer.  We chatted with some of the other hostel denizens and met some younger Americans and Brits who were traveling as well.  It seems that Fiji is more a finishing stop for many travelers after they’ve finished with Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  The opposite of our direction of travel.

We opted to eat dinner at the hostel and were rewarded with easily the best meal of our trip to Fiji.  The chef at Fiji goes to the local markets daily to find the freshest ingredients for the daily-changing menu they create.  The meal we had was a delicious pan fried filet of snapper with cassava, sweet potatoes, and perfectly steamed leafy greens.  Superb.

After dinner we retired to the kava circle.  Kava, or yaqona, is a traditional Fijian drink created by grinding the roots of a locally grown plant (Piper Methysticum) and using the grounds to create a sort of tea in a large wooden bowl.  The kava is then shared by the participants in the kava circle by drinking from a smaller wooden bowl.  Each participant is offered a bowl of kava, the participant claps his (or her) hands, says “Bula!” to the circle, downs the bad tasting drink in a single gulp, returns the bowl to the

Delicious dinner at Bamboo in Nadi

master of ceremonies, and claps his hands three more times.  The bowl is then offered to the next participant.  The routine continues until each participant has had their fill and nobody asks for another bowl.  The effect of the drink is supposed to be mildly intoxicating, but I think I only ended up with a numb tongue.  Her says that she felt a little loopy.  The real treat of the kava circle was our circle leader, Rico, an employee of Bamboo who spends half his time working at the hostel and the other half leading guests on side trips around the other islands of Fiji.  He was a wonderfully friendly and funny person who entertained the half dozen or so of us with jokes, guitar music, and singing.

After our long day of travel, sightseeing, and kava drinking we finally headed to bed and our running A/C for a few hours of rest before our flight to Australia early the next morning.