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Saturday, November 16, 2002
A day at the "Beach"
I got up quite early, read the newspaper and then made breakfast for Ritsu (I still do not eat breakfast .. just can't, not hungry ... but I like making it .. so I am glad to have an appreciative mouth to feed :) .. maybe I went a bit overboard with the eggs on toast / banana creation ... (also learnt how to disect a small mango .. which produced slices of the most yummiest mango flavor we ever had)
We then went out for a stroll .. mostly through a neighborhood called "domain" (coz its along Domain Road) which is very pretty and quite safe .. since many politicians, diplomats and government people live there .. the police is patrolling all the time ... again and again we were mezmerized by the growth of trees and bush and all the green stuff ..
Then we came to the waterfront ... Suva's Beach .. !!! and for those of you who still think we are here in beach paradise . sorry ... not the case .. the sandy beaches are somewhere else .. but not in suva .. and the blue skies you may know from tourist brochures are quite rare .. in fact while we were walking, there were casual showers (which we tend to ignore by now) ... click below to see the mess more clearly :)
I walked back half barefoot since I was running a blister .. we came by a Taxi stand an saw that cab with the leopard print seats again, we already rode in it twice :)
We returned to the hotel to have lunch (Fish and Chips .. very nice .. and Ritsu had a club sandwich, which was a bit greasy, but nice) and some beer ...
After lunch Ritsu took a long nap, while I was doing computer stuff ... In the evening then we went to Great Wok (again) and had a great duck dinner. We returened to the hotel and watched Three to Tango, a cute romandic comedy. Ritsu later got a call from her family and I must have fallen asleep trying to understand all the japanese chit chat.
Saturday = shopping day !!! The city and the market are SO crowded !!!
So, we plunged right in and went to the market, which is close to the bus depot and seems that many people from the villages around come to sell their produce ... some of the market is in a big concrete building with real tables .. but on saturdays you have all those sellers just offering their stuff outside under blue tarps (which are hanging way to low for me)
Tons of stuff: Taro (Dalo), Kasawa .. two local thingies similar to potatoes. Bananas, mango, pinapple ... lots of different chillies .... salad, eggplant, tomatos, onion, garlic, heaps of ginger, okra, imported apples and pears and stuff i had no idea what that was. Things missing: peaches, grapes and berries / cherries in general. Upstairs inside you get spices and all kinds of herbal roots which will end up as Kava (a sign said "1st floor: Grog Shop"). In the back is a section for seafood.... not sure if I would buy the outside, non-cooled stuff though.
Definitly interesting, but be prepared to have some fish smacked in your face or some people stepping on your toes .. it IS crowded, but so is the whole city on Saturday. We walked around some busy areas which we have not explored yet. I found a nice VCD store .. but still no bootlegs to be found .. all official releases for actual money (like 15US$ for a movie .. hey and it is not even DVD)
Later we had a guy come over to show us his car for sale .. a "black" suzuki vitara .. the color was more like a dark purple ... and it looked old and used .. though in somewhat good shape ... I knew by then of course about driving on "the other side" .. and stick shift on the left ... but i got confused about where the indicator lever would be ... but the test ride was ok .. but that is not really our car ...
We then took another stroll to the movie theater to watch K 19: The Widowmaker, a submarine movie starring Harrison Ford ... interesting movie and I really want to look up the historical facts behind that story .. but at some points I really just wanted to movie to end .. "just blow up the damn thing and let me go" ... it was lengthy ... but ok .. nothing I would watch on DVD again ..
Afterwards we had dinner at "Cardos", a somewhat hidden steak house ... and it was very nice ... i liked their garlic bread and we had a mixed kebab as appetizer ... we then both had aged tenderloin .. and it was very nice too .. though i think the steak we had at aberdeen grill the very first time was much better ..
We took a cab home and are getting ready to go to bed now .. .
Since there were no new pictures for some days, here one showing how I usually start my day :)
Yes, since I am not 24/7 online anymore, I have reverted to reading an actual newspaper ... yes, words printed on paper !!!
For we went to "the edge" (yes, again) to finally have our Doner Kebab ... which was very nice, though they did not serve it with the yoghurt sauce which they had sometimes .. but we have already noticed that yoghurt is sometime hard to come by. We also noticed that the lunch menu is more expensive than the dinner menu ... i think it has to do with the fact that at lunchtime the 2 adjacent places "Edge" and "Chef's" share the same menu ... the Burger for Dinner is 8$, for lunch 10$ ... weird ...
I went home early since I was really tired after 2 nights trying to download something ... but instead of taking a nap, I ended up doing things and read till Ritsu came home .. so then we both decided to take a nap together, after watching another episode of "Friends" ... only to find out when we woke up (actually, i think i would have slept through till the morning, if my sweet one had not awakened me) that it was 9:30 and that the hotel restaurant's kitchen was closed ... so .. while we had a nice beer there (and I later had a small chat with Koto, the bartender, and this guy who plays the guitar and 2 japanese guests) ... there was no food ... so Ritsu found rescue in "cup noodles" and we sat outside and chatted .. later some New Zealand guy stopped by (he is our room neighbor) and since he had a "University of Heidelberg" T-shirt on, I just had to ask him about it (my mom's birthplace) and we ended up chatting quite some ...
For those who care (or feel inspired. Yes, you Berna) food today was chinese leftovers for lunch and for dinner we went to "the edge" (one of 3 trendy places which seem to get their food out of the same kitchen ... at lunch they even have the same menu :) since we felt like repeating the Doner Kebab experience .. but we found out that this was a lunch item .. darn ... so Ritsu had some chicken tiki masala and i had the "edge burger" which lacked mustard .. but had a fried egg on it .. and the lower bun half was greasily fried .. but everything was VERY tasty !!!
We then went to the movies and watched "Below" , basically a "hounted house in a WW2 submarine" kinda movie .... i think that was a quite new idea and very very well executed and story well told .. I still do not understand why that movie was not a commercial hit in the US ... but then again, it had close to NO marketing .. no stars to show off .. a crowded opening weekend ...
I like the visual style of director David Twohy who also directed the excellent Pitch Black, a movie I first saw in a second run theater .. and loved a lot. I am curious what he will do with the Riddick character in future movies (and yes, they are planned
Here is a nice review which is still have to read in detail, but it raises some good points about the rise or fall of a movie regarding its marketing.
So .. my recent benchmark for movies has become "would i buy it on DVD to watch it again" ... and movies like AI or Vanilla Sky or Minority Report were all nice, entertaining movies in my book .. but nothing i spend another 20$ on and 2 hours of my life .... Spiderman, Star Wars 2 and especially Lord of the Rings are a very different story .. and yes, "below" gets my "would buy on DVD" seal of approval ...
Wednesday was a relatively slow day ...Some phonecalls regarding househunting, some emails about cars (what is the difference between a Suzuki Vitara and a Suzuki Grand Vitara ??? ) and i have no real new pictures .. I may have some video though later ... :)
I had some stuff to do so I went to the office later ... I met Ritsu for lunch at dolphins (boney chilli chicken) and around 4 PM we had Pizza and beer at the office .. I am still not sure about the reason (I shot some video of that) ... and later dinner at the hotel .. not much more to tell :)
I have been notified by my dad that I have not yet said anything about mosquitos, while all guidebooks mention them ... and HOW could I have forgotten about that !!! Yes, "mozzies" are hyperactive at night and eat you alive ... our hotelroom has a thingie that when plugged in, "fumigates" .. basically spreads some nice smelling fume and you are save ... but outside .. wow ... our legs and feet are full of bites !!! Beware ... bring stuff !!!
Back to the regular blog:
Tuesday: At lunchtime I visited Ritsu in her office
Her office is in the Reserve Bank Building, which funnily enough is printed on the back of the local 20F$ bills. Who can say that his office is on the country's currency ?? :)
It is also one of the highest buildings in Suva, so I took some pictures of the view (click to see a bigger version)
I feel guilty to admit that lunch was good old McDonalds food :)
Later Ritsu picked me up from the office and we went home ... and then around 7 PM we took a cab to "Tikos", a floating restaurant. Some old ship turned to expensive food place. Quite nice ... the setting is great, the slight rocking of the ship makes it feel like a dinner cruise ...
The menu is great on the seafood side, but has some other stuff too. Our "wine waiter" had no idea about wine and when I asked what he'd recommend he pointed out the most expensive one without any reasons :) well, I then settled on some australian white whine and it was nice.
Our main waitress was a bit funny ... for a place where we ended up paying 100 F$ for 2 people (most expensive so far, but also first time we ordered a bottle of wine) the service showed quite some room for improvement ...
So, how about the food? Each main dish comes with a "all the salad you can eat" buffet, which was nice. Then for appetizers (which are called "entrees" here) Ritsu had Kokoda, which was less coconutty in taste ... felt a bit bland ... I had smoked Kuita in Lolo (squid in coconut cream) which was served hot .. and was interesting .. if not boring after some bites ...
The main dishes ... Ritsu had grilled MahiMahi, which came with a weird tasting tartar sauce and looked a bit naked on its plate .. similar my "Sand and Surf" = lobster tail and local grilled fish ... which came with a mini bowl of butter .... we both selected Dalo (Taro) as side order and it came in 3 huge half slices .. and was the blandest thing i have eaten since the invention of styrofoam ... but .. this was our own selection, we could have had french fries ... but we were curious .. the way that dalo tastes, it must be incredible healthy :)
So, what to make off that place? The setting is great ... so next time we go, I will try to stay with beers and fish and chips (can't go wrong there .. and it seems to come with an array of sauces, like fish and chips vinegar) which is fairly cheap.
We took a cab home and i feel asleep with the iBook on my tummy while we were watching TV.
Monday: Seems I ate something funny ... felt pretty queasy ..
In the afternoon we continued house hunting ... not a very easy thing here in Suva these days .. but we saw some nice stuff ... we finally heard that the one house we did an offer on was taken by someone offering way more than we were willing ... ok .. shall that person be happy there ...
Next stop was again that car dealer in Nabua, and this time we got to sit and to drive in a white Toyota Echo. First time ever for me to have the manual shift-stick on the right hand ... I have been driving on "the other" side of the road before in the UK, but that was in a "normal car" ... but it was ok ...
While we really liked the car, we did not like that the car dealer would not come down with the price at all ... he used all his text-book rethorics to tell us why we would not go wrong with him or that car or that price ... ah well, we left without the car.
We returned to the hotel and later went to "the great wok of china" again for some more great chinese food (much better than "noble house") ... this time we were recognized by the wait stuff and the were super friendly and later asked if we are from around. Suva is so small :)
Here a nice random shot of a typical gloomy Suva sunset on our way to the chinese place:
And the next fun thing was that the cab driver who brought us back said "I have been driving you before" and it was true, i recalled some features of the car (like you cannot open a door from the inside, you need to reach through the window :)
Happily fed and tired we read, watched some TV and went to bed.
Sunday: I woke up quite early and could not continue sleeping, though i tried. At 6AM "finally" the alarm went off ... we got ready for our first dive experience in Fiji ! yeah ... At 7 we took a cab to go to Lami (a couple of miles from the center, a 5F$ ride) to divestore (their "town branch" it seems) and there we met the other divers and Amit, who was taking us in his yellow Mazda 121 to the dive boat .. once we were all ready, we had a nice picturesque tour on the highway which leads from Suva to Nadi. We had to go about 30 minutes to reach Pacific Harbor ... a colony close to the water .. seemingly comprised out of resorts, houses for rich people, and people who cater to them. It seemed very quite, very "out of season" but from what I heard, it has been like that since the coup in 2000.
The dive center there was connected (like many residences) to a maze like water way leading to the sea. Our boat was nice and spacious and fortunately had a large indoor area ... though it was sunny when we left (and i am feeling sunburn coming up to prove that) It would rain quite some later through the day.
Once we all had boarded, we headed out through those channels and got a good look at all those nice houses .. some very interesting stuff there .. big, unused, huge satellite dishes, little outdoor areas and pools completely rapped in mosquito nets (and yes, we got bitten really good today), nice boats docking nearby ... quite nice ...
It took us about an hour to get to Beqa Lagoon, where most of the nice divesites are. The first site we wanted to go: Shark reef. Was occupied by some other boats doing a sharkfeeding there ... not the kind of place you want to get into after sharks have been fed. So we went on to a nice wreck (Tasu #2) and had our first dive, which was very nice, though the water was colder that I expected ... and the visibility was not super great. But we some quite some interesting fish and did a lot of wreck exploration.
The surface interval was about 1.5 hours and everybody napped, after we had a nice (included) lunch buffet .. basically a "make your own sandwich" bar with tuna, eggs, cheese, salad (hey, where was the mayo ??? )
The second dive was a nice sight seeing tour with lots of colorful soft coral and a nice white tip reef shark. Back on board we made our way back, getting the gear in our bags, Ritsu slept most of the return trip. And it rained some more ... the trip back was again a bit more than an hour ... but we got to see the nice channels and houses again.
We had a pleasat car ride back thanks to Rebecca, fellow diver. We returned to our hotel, took showers and rinsed the gear, which is somewhat of a challange, since nothing here ever dries really. We were starving, only to find out that most restaurants are even closed for dinner on sunday .. but after some phonecalls i had confirmed that Noble House, a sister restaurant to Aberdeen Grill, was open and that we could have chinese food.
We took a cab (since it still rained) and got one of the very few "for 2" tables. First glance at the menu was "wow, expensive" .. then, a bit later, we learned from the waitress that all orders are for multiple people .. like .. the "small" order of soup for 5F$ is feeding 4 people! ... the 14F$ small order of the chicken dish we had could feed 2 - 3 people ... so .. the value is great ... just when you come as 2 only, you cannot try many different things .. the food was pretty good by the way ... but we still like great wok of china better. The setting was interesting .. pretty huge .. and occupied by many many chinese families.
We walked home and exhausted from the current and the cold (well, relatively) water we went to bed quite early.