Home ContentFlourish Travel: Temples, flowers and mud: a Fiji afternoon

Flourish Travel: Temples, flowers and mud: a Fiji afternoon

Published : March 15, 2016

A day in the Fijian city of Nadi

by: Wally GrahamNadi Hindu Temple

It always happens, no matter where you are.

There is always that one day in between the real holiday you had, in our case a week on one of Fiji’s remote island resorts, and when you actually get on that plane to go home.

So it was we found ourselves in the city of Nadi with time on our hands.

Fortunately the hotel we were staying at provided access to a number of day tours through a group called Westerzaif tours.

We booked in for the afternoon half day tour, which gave us the chance to sneak into the main town on board the local bus having circumnavigated the ubiquitous taxi drivers who seem to be given free range in hotel foyers.

As helpful as the hotel staff want to be, their ability to give precise instructions on how to catch the local bus, or where the bus actually stops, wasn’t flash.

Fortunately we were staying on the main road that runs from Nadi International Airport to the centre of town, so catching the bus was as easy as walking out of our hotel and standing with a group of locals.

The bus soon arrived and within 10 minutes we found ourselves wandering around the local produce market, which eventually leads you out to the main drag where you can buy authentic Chinese produced Fijian wood carvings.

The best way to make friends while strolling along is to buy something – we didn’t make any friends – and soon headed back to meet the bus for our sightseeing.

We were the first of the afternoon tour group to be picked up, which meant the bus was full of those who had taken the morning trip.

Their enthusiasm for what we were about to experience replaced any trepidation with expectation as we set off.

The tour guide, Bill made us welcome, as he did all the others we picked up along the way.

Once all the newbies were on board and the previous tourists had alighted Bill and his driver, Wasim, began their well-rehearsed banter.

Our first stop was the Nadi Hindu temple, which is largest in the South Pacific region.

Here we heard about how the temple was built on its current site in the 1980s – recent by most temple standards, but it was moved from its previous location to facilitate Nadi’s growing Hindu population.

Next, we headed into Nadi central to a local souvenir shop, where the staff manned the door feverishly – not ensure anybody sneaked in, but to make sure we couldn’t get out without buying something.

My astute partner was able to find a tasteful wooden bowl with the point of difference from all other carvings in the shop being the lack of the word Fiji emblazoned across its girth.

Leaving the city limits we popped into a smaller produce market where guests were encouraged to try the national drink of Cava.

Driving further out of town into the real countryside we arrived at the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.

The garden, which was founded by Hollywood actor Raymond Burr of Perry Mason and Ironside fame in 1977, boasts the largest collection of native and exotic plant species in Fiji.

As it turns out, Burr was a regular visitor to Fiji as well as being a man who truly appreciated flowers, especially orchids. When establishing the garden, Burr sent five Fijian men back to the United States so they could gain education in horticulture.

Our guide for the afternoon, Howard, is the grandson of one of those men and along with nine other men, also direct descendants of the original five, he continues to maintain the 50 acre property.

The final stop for the afternoon was at a natural geothermal hot spring. Here we had to cover each other in, what is said to be, therapeutic mud, and then jump into the boggy mire it had been retrieved from. This was for some on the tour, including yours truly, a bit confronting, however the payoff made it all worthwhile. That came in the pool next door, which was full of steamy hot water pumped directly from the hot spring nearby.

Should you find yourself in Nadi looking to book this particular tour, be sure to take the afternoon session, as Bill quite enjoys the spa himself and is in no rush to get home, which means neither are the punters with him.

The drive home was pretty quiet with a few snores pre-empting what would be a very restful night’s sleep.

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