Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fiji…the land of the wagging tongue.

If you look at the pictures I took of my stay in Fiji it looks like the absolute paradise, which for me it was not. The pictures are all beautiful sandy beach, golden sunsets, palm trees and blue skies. The picture memory in my mind of Fiji is grey and blurry. I’m not sure if it was the residue of a ten hour flight (in business class, mind you), or overall travel fatigue, or even full moon blues, but my stay in Fiji was not the idyllic stopover I had looked forward to and imagined.

I had another Hong Kong taxi Chinese fire drill experience getting to the airport, not being aware that the green taxis in Sai Kung do not go to Kowloon Airport tram station. My advice is, if you go to Hong Kong, stay out of their taxis. Most of the drivers do not speak English, even if they say they do; and although they may eventually get you where you are going, you will probably need medication by the time you get there. I packed up my stuff and walked down to the taxi stand near the Habitat stop in Sai Kung. It was a bit rainy and cold and I stood there trying to flag down a cab for over twenty minutes. Finally a green cab stopped, and the circus began. with the driver trying to tell me he didn’t go to Kowloon, and me insisting that he drive me to get my luggage and take me somewhere to get a cab to Kowloon. Finally, he did drive me up the hill to get my bags, and then he drove me to the local college where I had to transfer to a red cab, which eventually drove me to the Kowloon station, and where I was able to transfer to the train, which efficiently takes you directly to the airport. 

I had booked business class from Hong Kong to Sidney, with a stopover in Fiji. I was talked into the stopover by Airtreks, but I found out later that I could have flown direct Hong Kong to Sidney in nine hours instead of taking the ten hour flight to Fiji with another four hours to Sidney after the stopover.  Fiji Air Business Class was not first class; but the seat was 1C right in front with both seats to myself and the food was good. I didn’t know anything about Fiji except it was a tropical island. I found out later that it was an island in a lot of political turmoil, so I can attribute some of the negative feelings I had there to the fact that some very bad things were happening to the people who lived there.

I had been looking forward to a nice stay in a plush hotel on the beach throughout my trip. The drive in from the airport was an early morning after little sleep, admittedly, but the buildings, streets, and people all seemed covered with a film of disinterest. I got to the hotel and did not feel welcomed. I may be spoiled, but I don’t think so. I’ve stayed at all levels of accommodations and been perfectly satisfied. I do have a problem with places that advertise and charge for service they don’t provide. I don’t like to go to Starbucks and be treated badly with my $8.00 cup of coffee. I was very irritated at the service provided by the Westin Fiji, to the point where I wrote them and Starwood (as a gold member) a letter. I have yet to receive a response.  I know from working almost twenty years in hotels on Maui; once someone has a bad experience at check in, or their expectations are not met from the beginning of their stay, they notice everything possible that might be wrong or off about the rest of their stay. That’s what happened for me. I noticed there were not enough towels at the pool, it took thirty minutes to get a waiter at the lounge, the internet didn’t work in my room, the crew at breakfast gave terrible service, and no one seemed the least concerned.

I have to concede that some of this was exacerbated by the fact that I was surrounded by honeymooners and young Australian families, I had just spent time with a friend who knew my husband and I when we first were together, and it was a full moon. I missed Kent and saw him sitting across from me at dinner one night, in the restaurant on the ocean where they actually had wonderful food and service, and where he and I would have had a romantic dinner together for a special occasion. There he was, as clear as day, in his Hawaiian shirt with his khaki pants, smiling and trying to be comfortable on a date with his wife. I could see his smile and those blueblue eyes. I had to hold in the tears when the lovely Fijian lady came to take my order.

There was a great entertainer in the lounge one night. He played guitar singing blues and classic rock. The place was empty, but I went in anyway just to listen to music. Even that ended up feeling weird, because I was almost the only person in the audience, and it made me feel self-conscious about my oneness.
So, I had my own stuff going on in Fiji. The other thing that was hard for me was that it was so much like home, but I wasn’t home. It wasn’t as nice as Maui and the people weren’t the people on Maui. It seemed to make me ache in some place that actually does miss Maui. I don’t want to miss Maui because I don’t want to stay there and be surrounded by these memories. But I do miss Maui, which has been the only place in my life that I have ever really felt at home; the only place where we made a home.

I think I also had some delayed jet lag reaction because it took me until I was in New Zealand to get my sleep clock back on track. While I was in Fiji, I was up until 3am and sleeping until after 10am. I had planned to do some stuff there, but the combination of the experience wiped me out. Also the attitude of the people didn’t make me feel like doing stuff with them. I decided to conserve my energy and just hang out. Fiji was just one of those times when I, the universe, and all the planets collided in some mass explosion of messy dissatisfaction, sadness, jet lag, and possible reactions to events I knew nothing about at the time. But I did get some great pictures, doncha know.

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