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Saturday, November 02, 2002
Sunday morning .. it is raining like hell .. :) but that is nice for the plants ... oh, and it seems we got new neighbors in the adjacent room ... they are LOUD .. probably jet lagged ... they smoke (i can smell it) and they seem to have a party ... maybe i should join :)
On an unrelated note ... tired of reading what is going on in Fiji ? My friend William keeps a blog about his adventures in Taiwan ... hop over to robotactionboy.blogspot.com and see what is going on over there.
Saturday started early for me by getting my first phone call from my dad on the new phone. We then slowly woke up and I made breakfast as ususal.
We then ventured out to explore some new shopping places, namely the local "Dick Smith" (an electronics chain from NZ I got to know last year on my NZ trip). Instead of consumer electronics they are more specialized on "nuts and bolts" ... electric hardware for the home electrician. They also have some computer stuff ... e.g. blank CDRs for 3F$ a piece (that would be 1.50US$ ... wow)
The MH Premium in Flagstaff was our next stop (MH seems to be a chain here ... not only supermarket, but also home maker stores and others) and we got groceries, the newspaper and then we took a cab back home. Cabs are fairly cheap around here. So no reason for me schlepping around those 2 liter coke bottles in those flimsy bags which handle's cut off your fingers after a while.
The house hunt was interesting ... I called some numbers we called before ... some places were with 3500F$ still way to expensive ... but we came across a new place and just 1 hour later we were picked up to go see it. From the street we saw a huge garden and a steep driveway, which the real estate broker's car could only handle after his wife with kid left the car :) Once there we looked around the house while waiting for the owner to show the house to us. The area is quite nice, there are lots of fruit trees (we ended up picking a huge soursop and I still have to figure out what to do with it :) and there is some kind of seaview, but not really to mention.
In this photo you can hardly make out the house behind all the green.
After a while the owner's relative came and it turned out that he had NO idea where the keys are ... so we had to do (for now) with seeing the house form the outside, bummer. So far we like the setting quite some.
We returned and had some little things from the fridge for lunch.
Some lazy Saturday afternoon reading (Peter) and napping (Ritsu)
We got a phonecall later that the key for the house has been found, so we are going to see it soon hopefully! We also had some phone conversation with the dive operator with who we were planning on diving on sunday, trying to get a transport for us from Suva to Pacific Harbor. But in the end we got the call that not enough full price paying tourists have signed up, and that they would not bring the boat out for 2 half price paying locals (yes, we are considered locals now :)
For dinner we planned on going to a fijian place we have walked by many times, but we could never see a menu or anyone going in. Well .. we found out that this place is probably closed for good ... so we went to Ashiyana again and had some more great indian food. Their lamb samosas are great and their dishes are all yummy too (well, the 4 we had tried to far). The service is not super snappy, but maybe we are spoiled from New York. On the other hand, tipping here is virtually unknown.
Their dishes come in those little pots, kept hot by their own little candle .. very nice indeed.
Back home we watched a movie: "Color of Night", a Bruce Willis flick which my dad likes a lot. I never got too much into this movie because the "big plot twist" was just SO obvious for me from the beginning, that the rest of the movie feels like a "staright to Video" production ... well .. it has some nice actors in it (Willis, Scott Bacula) .. and the cute and often nude Jane March does not act as bad as some people may think. And she has that cute overbite that makes every dentist say "come to my office ... ASAP" :)
I guess in short I can say that it is like the indian new years celebration . Most importantly for me: monday is a day off, so THIS is a long weekend and we are going to dive on sunday most likely :)
Below are all the nice people at internetfiji who i visit from time to time to pick each other's brains and to help each other with technical issues ... yesterday I helped editing and encoding a shark video ... as usual with video work, you get to see the same thing over and over again ... and I was very surprised that I did NOT dream of sharks that night.
The other interesting thing of the day was getting a mobile phone! It was in the end way easier than I thought. The subscription service may be cheaper in the price "call per minute" ... but raises a lot of security issues, you need a real address, have to pay monthly bills and pay a big deposit ... on the other hand, the prepaid service has equally nice phones .. and the sign up is done in seconds ... yes, they charge an arm and a leg for outgoing calls ... but that was not my intention anyway .. I have it mainly for incoming :) So, now I have a cute 7 digit fiji mobile phone # .. possibly the shortest mobile # I have ever had :)
After work we met again at the waterfall bar to keep working on those beers ... I had one of those huge (440 ml) guiness draughts ... which looks more like some kind of coffee based desert when poured ... but I managed ...
Then Ritsu and I went to "the great wok of china" (again) and had some more fantastic food (again) ... this time we were positively surprised when they offered us a doggy bag for the left overs ... especially Ritsu's pork balls seem to be just fantastic for being microwaved.
Yesterday, Thursday, we celebrated our first full week in Fiji! Hard to believe it has already been a week.
After the ususal "scan the newspaper for house ads" (quite unsuccessfull today) we left for the city to do some shopping. Since we had put most of our stuff into the laundry bag, it was time to get some more shirts. The shirts here are really nice and colorful (as someone said, to disguise the huge dark circles forming under the arms thanks to the temperature :) ... they are very similar to hawaiian shirts, but there seems to be a difference to the local "bula shirts" ...
Lunch was at the dolphins food court. We both realized quickly why some dishes were specified as "boneless" meat ... both our chicken dishes were very very boney ... but yummy and cheap.
Later Ritsu had to go to another meeting at her job, while I went to InternetFiji, a local internet company, where I will be helping out a bit from time to time. They are a bunch of creative minds working in a macintosh environment, so I feel very much at home.
I got home around 7 and we left for a fancy steak restaurant called "Aberdeen Grill" where I had some fantastic aged tenderloin, very yummy. The appetizer "Snapper Carpaccio" was interesting, albeit a bit on the salty side. The setting of the place was very nice, very un-fiji, and the prices were fair, if not a bit pricey for fiji standards (25F$ for a steak, which would cost 30US$ in New York).
Since they ran out of caramel, we skipped desert, went back to our hotel, and ordered the Banana Flambe there. Having some beer and listening the the same music that we have now listened to for 7 evenings concluded our first week on Fiji.
Some people emailed me asking me what the dish named kokoda is. Well, click on that link and get the recipe. It is basically some fish cubes marinated in limejuice and coconut cream. Very yummy !!!! Coconut seems to be used quite some here in local cuisine. Can't wait to have a real kitchen and try all kinds of local recipes myself.
And last night it finally rained! ... and they were not kidding !!!! ...
While it looked very cloudy all afternoon already, and started drizzling around 7 ... the real downpour started when the quitar player started playing (people were looking at him and kind of blaming him :)
It rained so hard that they basically closed down the bar downstairs .. while the bar / restaurant has a roof, the wind was just blowing in the water side ways ... Rain is very hard to take a photo of .. so this is just a pic of yet trying another beer. This time from NZ.
Our food arrived just when the rain got really hard (and we got wet) so we took it upstairs to our room. Later we watched "The Man Who Wasn't There", yet another weird movie by the Coen brother .. but I liked it much better than "The Big Lebowski". It is just fascinating how that character in the movie gets around without being spotted ... and can anyone tell me WHO in the end got all the money ???
Who would have thought: There we are in the south pacific and what do we find in one of the fanciest restaurants for lunch? Doener Kebab Sandwich !!! Not quite the turkish flavor I was expecting ... but very very yummy!
We did another round of phone calls looking for houses, but it seems that all brokers know the same 4 places ... so, we just continue looking. At least we found a really nice big map of Suva today.
Last night's dinner was at "The great Wok of China" ... a chinese place we heard some people (and guidebooks) say that it was the best chinese in Suva .... and they were right. We both had soups (the hot sour sharkfin soup is great !) and i had a lamb dish (i think i have never had lamb before at a chinese restaurant) and Ritsu had minced pork wrapped in eggplant and then battered and fried ... looked very interesting (like fried Oysters actually) and tasted very good. Highly recommended.
Today was house shopping part 1: We were picked up by our friendly real estate guy Reginald and he drove us around to see 4 possible places ... We were very surprised by how huge some places were, how tacky some of them were furnished (carpet is a really bad idea in Fiji's humid climate).
This one was the first and we liked it quite some ... not only is it a 3 bedroom house, but it has a self contained guest apartment on the lower level (which has a huge bathroom, but no extra kitchen) AND a maid's quarter (yet another bedroom and bath). I also like the open style kitchen in that one.
After 2 houses (#2 was nice, but some rooms a bit small, while on the other hand the garden was gigantic) we took a break and Ritsu had curry again and I tried the lamb burger ... with the smallest lamb patty I have ever seen.
Then we continued with item #3 which was a "flat" .. well .. not as in "apartment building" .. it was the upper level of a house, while the caretaker would live downstairs. While it had a nice view of the bay, the interior decorator must have been on crack ... red plushy stuff, curtains and carpet ... and then really strange wood finishings everywhere ... that one we knew right away that this is NOT an option.
The next house had THIS gorgeous view of the bay.
And it also has a pool, a bar in the living room and quite a number of rooms and baths. But the setup was a bit funny and the extra money you pay for a pool was something we had not really thought about yet.
It is not going to be easy to find the perfect place, but we are very content that in time we will see more houses and find the perfect home.
Our first Sunday in Fiji !!! .. things are different ... it is pretty quiet in the downtown area .. no shops are open, no restaurants. We learn that some supermarkets in the suburbs are open from 7 AM to 2 PM. Some restaurants will open later in the evening. Downtown has a slight ghost town feel to it.
So, the best thing to do on a Sunday: going to the movies! The local Village 6 theater is actually pretty high standard and shows movies just 2 - 3 weeks after US release date .. and the admission is 5F$ which is 25% of what we paid in New York. So, watching a non-brainer like "the tuxedo" did not hurt :)
Afterwards Ritsu tried the local McDonald for their sundae shakes.
Back at our hotel we had nice dinner: chicken curry and I had Konkoda (again, 3rd time in 4 days) both very very yummy. And I kept working on my "around the world" beer thingy .... i think I am about 40% done :)