2011
Jan 
16

Touring around Fiji

Filed under: Fiji — Russell @ 3:49 pm  

After Hong Kong we travelled to Fiji where we boarded a cruise ship and spent seven days sailing around the islands. Fiji has hundreds of islands, some inhabited, some not. The first night was a captain’s dinner. We sat with the chief engineer who entertained us with stories of the previous ship, Reef Escape, although by now it may have been rechristened Reef Encounter. At the table we also met Lance and Jenny who were booked on the trip exactly a year previously. Unfortunately, as our host related, a massive storm blew up and drove the ship onto the reef. The captain was forced to beach it to avoid sinking.  Lance and Jenny, brave souls that they are, accepted a replacement cruise exactly a year later.

Visiting the villages

Many islands are still home to traditional villages. Since these are people’s homes there are certain courtesies that must be observed when visiting. Luckily our purser, Florian, had made contacts in the villages and we were invited to dinner. The greeting ceremony is fairly complex involving four members of our party. Traditionally, these are representatives of the clans: chief, warrior, and spokesman. After presenting the traditional gift of Kava our hosts welcome us and everyone shares a bowl. Then there is lots of music and hanging out.

The woman of the village also sell handmade crafts and beautiful coloured fabric. These can be used to make a sulu, the traditional garment. It was funny to see many of the Australian men essentially wearing skirts. Luckily, they’re a tough bunch and carried it off with nary a snicker.

In the first village we were entertained with excellent singing which included four part harmony. The dancing was led by a very talented dancer who knew how to play to the crowd. When we all got dragged up to form a conga line (probably not a traditional dance form) he got very frisky with the woman in front of him. The other villagers loved this and howled with laughter.

In the second village the dancing wasn’t as good but it was fun to watch the village woman watch the men. One young woman was obviously very enamoured of the lead dancer and watched him with naked lust. He knew he was being watched and hammed it up, much to the delight of the women. The Fijian’s clearly know how to have fun.

Life on the ship

The ship was fairly small which allowed it to anchor off the small islands. It also meant that we quickly got to know the passengers and crew. Most of the people at the start of the cruise were Australian and we made several good friends. We hope to visit them later in the trip.

The crew were very friendly and seemed very genuine. We felt very welcome.

On the final night we bought traditional lays from the village.  After dinner we watch the sun set from the top deck.  No one was around and we felt like the boat was our private yacht.  The sunset was the most spectacular I’ve ever seen.  The sky seemed to be on fire.  As darkness fell we tossed our lays into the sea. This is meant to bring good luck which in Fiji means a promise to return.

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