Lautoka, Fiji

This is my third visit to Fiji by ship. The first two stopped at Suva, the capital, which is on the south of the Island.  For a previous post about Suva, see November 2010. Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji, is on the west side of the island and is only 20 kilometres north of Nadi International Airport, the only international airport in Fiji. Denarau Island where one finds many of the five star resorts for which Fiji is famous, is 10 kilometres further south of Nadi. This morning I took a private tour to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, named for the mountain behind it which resembles a sleeping giant.  This garden has acres of orchids and other plants, many of which I had never seen before, and is Fiji’s largest orchid garden. It was started by the Canadian actor Raymond Burr who retired here in 1977 after a long career in film and TV where he starred in Perry Mason. He built the garden to house his private orchid collection. I attach some photos of the orchids, a banana plant and the garden cat.  This afternoon I went in to Lautoka. It being Sunday, most businesses not related to tourism were closed.  I walked to the Botanical Garden which was closed but could be seen very well through the fence (photo).  I then walked to the Sri Krishna Kaliva temple where a wedding had been in progress. I was invited in to see the temple (two photos) and was then invited to join the lunch party in progress. I politely declined as I had had lunch, but the invitation seemed sincere. I also visited the market and saw some more strange vegetables (photo). I found  the atmosphere in this area much more relaxed than in Suva, probably because it is focussed on tourism as its second most important industry after sugar production. The area is also well developed with many modern buildings and good roads. While Fiji has a reputation as an exotic destination, I’m not certain that it has more to offer than upscale resort destinations elsewhere in the Pacific and the Caribbean. Our next port is American Samoa. En route we will have two November 18ths as we cross the International Dateline.

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