Arrived at Nadi airport at 6:30 pm (Air New Zealand flight) and took the shuttle bus to the nearby Nadi Bay Resort Hotel - one of Nadi's best budget places. Stayed there one night in a dorm (25 FJ$) and took off next morning to the Yasawa Islands Group (west of the main island Viti Levu) on the Yasawa Flyer. I stayed 2 nights on the Wanna Taki boat (79 FJ$ all in), that cruises the bays of Naviti. Great snorkeling in azure waters with beautiful coral reefs, kayaking and simply relaxing. 2 nights I spent at the new Manta Ray Resort (for 35 FJ$ dorm bed and 42 FJ$ meal plan) on Manta Ray island. I spent my days in a hammock reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Fiji is the perfect stop-over for all travellers on a round-the-world ticket. Many English.
On the Awesome Adventures Yasawa Flyer back to Nadi I met Ali, a young Indo-Fijian who told me lots of stories about todays Fiji and the daily life, a struggle for many - far away from the paradise that glossy brochures present. I stayed one night at the Downtown Nadi Backpackers Inn (dorm bed 12 FJ$) which is OK for one night. That eve I met Nicolas from Paris and we had great talks over Fiji beer on the doorsteps.
Next morning I left early on the Coral Sun Express bus along the Queens Road to Fiji's capital Suva. Quite a few people told me to be very careful in Suva. A 3,5 hours busride along the Coral Coast and parts of the Highlands. There I checked a few places and finally ended up at the Townhouse Apartment Hotel in the center (55 FJ$ for a room in a cheery 50s design with kitchenette), had coffee with Ashok who stayed next door and met Nemia to spend the eve with him.
Early next morning I took a bus to get to Pacific Harbour for a tour into the Namosi Highlands. It rained and we drove on a bumpy road up the hills to the Namosi Valley (rainforest). At Nakavika village the chief welcomed us to his house for a chat, kava and sevusevu. Then we paddled downstream the Wainikoroiluva (Luva Gorge) four hours by inflatable kayak over stretches of gentle rapids and past waterfalls. A great day in a fantastic nature and experience of the complex codes of behaviour that are strictly followed by the indigenous Fijians.
Back to Nadi I checked a dorm bed (actually a double room for 36 FJ$) at the West's Motor Inn close to the airport to catch my evening flight to LA the next day.