Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lautoka Market

Imagine Fiji.  White sands, cobalt blue waters with reefs of coral and bright vibrant sea life, peaceful resort pools, deep strong drinks served with long straws in an unpeeled cocoanut, and a gentle cooling breeze sweeping over your bronzed suntanned body as you peacefully meditate on life and its meaning. 

Yeah that’s not Lautoka. 

Lautoka feels ten degrees hotter than anywhere else in the world.  The air is stagnant, the roads are dirty, the people hot and bothered and not in a good way.  There’s a B.B.Q. chicken right next to the Australian horse book, and two restaurants named Sea View, one good one very bad, with hardly a view of the sea at all.

Ah Lautoka, our first impression was the fresh, wet gum under the table at the Jolly Good that Simona accidentally dipped her backpack in and then quickly spread to her pants and blouse.  And it didn’t get much better from there.

But! -there was the Market.  Situated next door to the Lautoka Mall (not a mall) and the bus station which smells of diesel exhaust and leaves a palpable layer of soot on your skin and lungs, the Market is the absolute best thing about Lautoka.  It’s sick good if you like produce.  Crazy good!

The produce sold there is grown all near Lautoka in the villages and farms by ordinary people like you and me who aren’t subsidized by the government and have no interest in pesticides and hormones.  It’s like if we had a really good apple and orange tree in our back yard and sold it to people.  The pineapples were the best I ever had, the oranges succulent, the apples to die for and the chili peppers so fresh they get moldy on the bus trip home.  

Monday, July 30, 2012


If you start at the temple and go north you’re in Nadi (pronounced NON-dee) town.  It’s about three blocks long and while there’s more to it than that, there’s not really much more to it than that.  It’s lined with mostly shops that sell tourist clothing and what not, then there’s the random car speaker stores, and two supermarkets right next to each other where you can buy chips and Tim Tams. The further south you are the sketchier, but all in all it’s no worse than walking up Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.

The first picture is at the southernmost tip, looking north and the last one is the northern most tip looking south.  Now when people ask if you’ve ever been to Nadi town you can say yes.

Today we ate at Tata’s: Indian curry with a surly attitude, oh and also mosquitoes.  Spiciest food I've had since I've been here. 

Now, what to do about second dinner?

my favorite type of Fiji bus.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Hindu Temple in Nadi

On the south side of Nadi Town there’s a temple, Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple to be exact.  Simona did a puja and I studied the gorgeous Sistine Chapel type paintings on the ceiling.  The art work and architecture are absolutely stunning.

Rumor has it that just a block east of here there’s a killer Indian restaurant called Tata’s.  Mark that on my places to eat list.

Fiji By Bus - Sabeto

Interesting facts about the busses in Fiji.  The driver’s side (the right side) of the bus has a long bench which can seat three people, the other side has a smaller bench where you can squeeze two if you have to.  Also, they play music on some more then decent 6x9s mounted in the roof of the cab.  The music is sometimes a local radio station, but mostly driver’s choice loaded on a flash drive plugged into the stereo.

And there are three types of busses here in Fiji.

Firstly there’s the new buses, the M R Kahn’s.  These are nice, air conditioned rides sometimes so new the seats still have the plastic on them.  Top of the line air conditioned comfort.  I like these busses because they’re comfortable but these are only my second favorite. 

My least favorite by far are the mid range busses.  These busses do not have air conditioning, the seats are basically plywood wrapped in foam and vinyl, and the windows only open halfway so on the hour long ride from Lautoka to Martintar, this thing gets packed with commuters and feels like a war crime. 

Then there’s my favorite kind of bus: the old busses.  On the surface they have nothing more to offer than the mid rage busses, in fact, they have less.  These busses have tarps in the windows instead of glass, which are rolled up.  This puts nothing in between you and the fast moving outdoors.  At speed, the wind rushes through the cabin and with the gorgeous scenery outside it feels like a Disneyland Ride.  Simona and I are like shutter bugs in these busses, frequently switching seats to get a better shot. 

This is the first in the series, “Fiji By Bus”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Photosynthesi (the Garden of the Sleeping Giant)

     So I’m in Fiji in case you didn’t know, and in Fiji they have a mountain range they call the Sleeping Giant because it in no way resembles a sleeping giant.  The most random part of this is that Raymond Burr (yes TVs Perry Mason) built an orchid garden there.

This is by no means Fiji’s greatest feature but it is a good place for me to get comfortable shooting photos since there really is no one else here to interfere, the flowers are beautiful and easy to shoot since they don’t move at all, and you’re in complete safety.  Not that you’re in danger anywhere else, but when I travel I always think I’m in mortal peril, especially since we’re not the resort type and are trying to stay and mingle in areas populated by the locals.

Simona and I arrived here by taxi but left in a bus, and if you’re going to travel through Fiji I completely recommend the bus.  It is by far the best way to see the countryside.  We’ve become so comfortable we started snapping photos while riding the bus which is something I would NEVER do in Los Angeles. 
So here is what I consider my warm-up photos, some of which make me look like Georgia O’Keeffe.