Round the world, Summer 2010 travel blog

Today set a pattern for the next few days. We would have breakfast after 9, then hang around by the room while Remi swam in the pool. During these sessions, he practised diving. We used Riffat's camera in sports mode to help with his technique. If you hold the shutter down, it takes lots of photos in quick succession and you can see what his legs are doing as he goes. We could see from those pictures that even if he started the dive well, he would bring his knee up defensively so as to land on that in the water. He wasn't even aware that this is what he was doing. Finally we found that if he went from a kneeling position, he could dive without being able to do that. Working from there, he ended up diving well from a standing start too. His breathing to the side was coming on well too. That was probably the most productive part of our time in Lautoka. Coming in second would be progress made in catching up with this journal. It's still good to write down what we're doing, but it's getting harder to get round to it, we're finding.

So our days were passed reading, writing or resting until it was time to go out for some lunch. Lautoka has a large indian population, many of whom are Hare Khrishna and so vegetarian. There were a couple of vege indian restaurants for lunch, which were great. Our favourite was a new, small place. The ladies that ran it would cook just a few dishes each day, and it was all fresh and very tasty. We would go to internet cafes to get what we'd written online, catch up with emails, etc. One day we went to find the Hare Krishna temple on the ladies' recommendation, which was an interestingly different angle to life in the town.

Each evening was spent in a similar way, having dinner, usually in the hotel's restaurant, as there were hardly any other places open after dark. After that, we'd watch some TV in the room, usually the Discovery channel showing some absurd survival-based documentary. This strand of programming really plays on people's fears - of being stranded somewhere or being attacked. I'm not sure it's good for people to watch too much of that stuff. After that Riffat & Remi would sleep and I would go to sit outside to read or write and have a beer. There was a comfortable chair, small table and outside light there - all I needed.

There were things we liked about Lautoka - people were friendly and we could get a good insight into ordinary life in a Fijian town. After dark though the place changed. It was all locked doors and shuttered windows, metal security grills everywhere and few people. One night we went to eat at the only other place that we saw open that wasn't deserted. At first we thought it was closed, as the door was locked. But then the lady working there came and unlocked it and locked it again after us. She explained that this was for security after a robbery there where the customers had been robbed also. Our hotel too had a security guard always there and the gates were locked after dark too. We saw no trouble, but all the security didn't exactly promote a relaxing atmosphere!

Our last night was friday and the room in the hotel signed as "Nite Club" came to life. After our usual dinner, I walked through to the reception to get the room key. That was also the way into the club and Remi & I passed a bunch of drunk guys on their way in. One started trying to chat Riffat up until we came back and he realised we were together. Not a big deal, but the clubbers and hotel guests made an uneasy mix of people. There was extra security and they would patrol past the rooms, making sure that no-one from the club had wandered over that way. We all had some trouble sleeping that night as the music was loud. I'm sure the club is quite profitable for the hotel, but it doesn't make for a comfortable night for the hotel guests when it's open. We were glad not to be staying the saturday night too.

If you go to a place to see normal, real life, then that's what you will get - the good and the bad. I would still prefer that to the over-packaged tourist fantasy where you pay to have everything become lovely but you end up experiencing very little related to where you really are. I'm not saying that I want to have a bad time because it's more real, but after more than two months away, I have very little need to escape from normal life.

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