Monday, 12 November 2012
12.11.2012 - 12.11.2012
A grey overcast day greeted us as we sailed into Suva, located on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji. Well before we were berthed there was a severe shower which prevented me from capturing the moment. When we finally tied up we were right next to a massive mobile crane but they were able to squeeze in a gangplank. There was however an other obstruction which impeded the setting up of the dockside facilities - a brand new tracked excavator. No-one could find the key to get into the machine and move it so one of the heavy container forklifts picked it up and moved it out of the way. A quite incredible feat given that the load was not evenly balanced.
We went ashore intending to walk into the town, have a quick look around and come back again. As with many good intentions these came to nought. A very persuasive lady convinced us to part with US$25 each for a three hour tour in an air conditioned bus accompanied by a guide. Sounded like good value for money so I said yes and handed over the $50. Obviously, the bus had room for many more than the two of us and we were the 'lucky' first victims. We were asked to wait, which we did and before long there were six of us, then it started to rain again. I suggested we board the bus and wait there and so we dashed through the rain to the 20-seat bus. Time passed and gradually we reached an appropriate number and we were off.
Donald, the driver and June the guide conversed briefly and it was determined that we would travel through some local villages and part of the state forest. There were frequent and generous stops to take photographs of the lush steep country to the North of the city. Along the way we also stopped for a short break at the Raintree Lodge, an award winning accommodation complex just 10 minutes drive from Suva on the edge of the rainforest. We wandered around for about 15 minutes and managed to photograph many of the flowers.
Northward to the town of Nausort where again we had free time to explore the local market. Many varieties of local fruits and vegetables crowded together to create a maze of alleys with mainly older women keeping a sharp eye on the produce. Back on the bus and back to Suva along a more Easterly route arriving in the diplomatic district of Suva. The building and the gates that featured in most of the TV back when the miliary coup took place. The information from the guide was a bit confusing but in any event the place has been locked up since then.
Closer to Suva and we stopped briefly outside the Presidential Palace to take photographs of the soldier on guard duty. The young man emulated these ceremonial guards everywhere and was totally unmoved regardless of our attention. Without warning he shouldered his rifle and briskly marched to the end of the driveway, turned right and marched to the edge, about turned to march to the other edge. Another about turn and back to the midpoint, a right turn and back to his start point then an about turn and ordered arms stood at ease and came to attention again. Quite an impressive performance without any sound or a sideways glance.
Back on the bus and we make our way through the very busy streets of down-town Suva. We are invited to leave the bus and shop for gifts for the family back home at what appeared to be the tour company's headquarters. Jenny and I thanked the driver and guide and told them we'd walk back to the ship as we intended to stock up on some less expensive Coke.
We found the supermarket and made our purchases, returning to the wharf to find the Sun Princess tied up stern to stern. As always seems to happen when there are two ships in port, the other ship is allocated the closer berth !!
A quick lunch and then I went up to Deck 11 to observe our departure at 1300, it didn't happen. Then a coach-full of passengers arrive fully 30 minutes after the 'all aboard' time and we expected to depart within the next 15 minutes. Finally, at 1400, two additional couches arrived and we were finally underway by 1415. The last two coaches received a rousing cheer from the watchers aboard. From unconfirmed sources there is the story that two passengers have been left behind. I'll keep an ear out to hear more - perhaps.
The Cruise Director has arranged a gathering of Veterans at 1400, quite surprising about 30 ex-service men and one woman turned up. We each stated our name and short resume then one of the Australians led us in reciting the ode. Finally we all formed up and a group photo was captured by on of the ship's photographers.
Spent most of the afternoon writing up this blog then we had another great meal in the dining room. We also heard, from a reliable source, that there was in fact a lady unaccounted for. She and her husband went ashore, her husband has returned but she is still adrift. Both are believed to be elderly and everyone hopes she will be found and rejoin us in New Zeeland.
Tonight's show was an amazing ventriloquist, there was no topic left untouched and his jokes could be considered a bit off colour but he was VERY funny. It surprises me that Mark Merchant hasn't been seen on TV in Australia.
Wake-up call for me, I've gained at least 5 cm at the waist so I'll have to seriously address my intake.