My Little Poni

Nadi Travel Blog

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What kind of image do you conjure up in your head when people mention the men of Fiji? For me it's a brick shithouse rugby giant with limbs like tree trunks and a voice deeper than the Pacific ocean. Imagine my surprise therefore when, upon arrival at the tourist info desk at Nadi airport, I'm shepherded into the orbit of Poni the travel agent.

Poni is a Polynesian fat period Dale Winton, a flower adorning his voluminous afro and a garish Hawaiian shirt covering a sizeable paunch. "Ooh I'll call you my Mr Tomato!" he trills upon learning my name. All big eyes and gentle arm strokes, he leads the way into his air-conditioned lair where he plans to screw me. Thankfully I'm not referring to bottom business, but instead the extraction of an extra slice of cash for advance booking my accommodation and transport for the next five days. 

At this point my brain feels like it had been fed though an industrial mangle after only 2 hours sleep in the previous day and a half. This is my excuse for not just winging it and saving myself a fair wodge of cash by sorting it all out, piece by piece, myself. I don't think I really know what I'm doing. Two hours later and I find myself at a hostel near the romantically titled Smuggler's Bay, about ready to collapse. After a night's kip, interrupted by the incessant barking of the local dogs, I head out to Mana Island, the archetypal tropical paradise setting of white sand, turquoise water and sunny lazy days.

I only have three nights there but it's an absolute pleasure. I do nothing but eat, sleep, read and burn. I even gain a little 2 GB MP3 player, courtesy of Geoff, a Canadian room mate, who finds it on the beach. No one claims it so he lets me have it. I think my luck may be starting to change finally but then a lens of my glasses falls out, shatters, and changes my mind. Bloody chaos roach probably found an old crisp or something.

The clientele at the cheapo backpacker beach resorts is, on the whole, young and beautiful. I fit right in obviously. A pack of snub-nosed Norweigan girls of 19 or 20 wanders around together in bikinis like little blonde dolls. They look nice enough but they're a bit blank personality wise, like a pack of unopened copier paper. Maybe they need some of the pages of their 20s to be printed out before they'll get more interesting to a grumpy old misanthrope like me.

I suspect that I'll be meeting many more people of this age in SE Asia and don't want to generalise about gap year backpackers. I've already met some who were pretty sharp and could more than punch their weight in a discussion - Jack, who's 18, would be an obvious example: he out-argued me over the finer points of European football. Also, I was only 21 when I was in Australia, before I spent the next 7 years handcuffed to an office chair. I'd have been pissed off if older people had taken a condescending attitude towards me back then. Bearing all this in mind, I'm going to try really bloody hard to treat everyone on their own merits. Even if they don't know who The Smiths are.

Anyway, on the whole Fiji was a success, a slightly pricey and all-too-fleeting success, but nonetheless highly enjoyable. It's allowed me to recuperate sufficiently to make the prospect of taking on Asia (Come on then - I'll 'ave the lot of yer!) a whole lot more palatable. 
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photo by: SheLuvz2Fly