Part 2...Road trip...Tour of Suva, the capital city...


TappooCity, the four story mall in Suva surprised us with its familiar brands.
Suva, the capital city of Fiji with its over 330 islands has population stats as follows:
  • Capital City: Suva (88,271 pop.)
    (175,399 metro)
  • Fiji Population: 849,000 (2010 est.)
Driving through the countryside as we made our way to Suva in an hour (each way) reminded us of many tropical climate countries we visited over these past years with an abundance of banana, palm and coconut trees, the lush green hills, fields and mountains with one pasture after another of cows and horses grazing off the land.  Beautifully familiar but, always pleasant to see.

Driving in hired car with vehicles behind us, with no shoulder or spot to stop for photos, I've given up attempting to take good photos from the moving vehicle.  It just doesn't work. 


Many popular brands of flat screen TVs.  Many residents, including many in lower income range have TVs and satellite dishes.
When we have a rental car, Tom is masterful at anticipating when to stop before the words even leave my lips when we spot a good photo op.  He manages to find an appropriate stopping point and turns around if necessary to ensure I'm able to take the shot.  He never ceases to amaze me.

A hired driver?  Not so much the case when they don't know our preferences for photos.  Well, perhaps Okee Dokee in South Africa knew, who stopped at each photo worthy scenes long before we even spotted them. 

How many times I've wished we could have packed her up and taken her with us. We're happy for her when last Saturday she was a beautiful bride marrying the man of her dreams.  Thank goodness for Facebook and email for keeping us informed about special people we've come to adore in our travels.

Furnishings and housewares of every type is available.
Once we entered the city limits of Suva, the city streets were jammed with cars honking as they maneuvered a mishmash bottleneck of many streets joining at most intersections.  Jaywalkers were everywhere making a driver's attention intense in an attempt to avoid hitting a pedestrian.  There was hardly an opportunity to stop for photos.

An occasional crosswalk brought less walkers across the road that other non marked areas. It could have been a busy intersection anywhere in the world.  Our eyes dashed back and forth at the endless shops, office buildings (not skyscrapers), restaurants and markets and numerous cell/data stores each packed with many locals and tourists seeking the best possible deals of the day.

There are rows upon rows of exquisite colorful Hindu gowns worn by Indo-Fijian women on special occasions. 
Our goal while downtown was simple; visit the Suva Municipal Market (a huge farmers market) and drive by various points of interest to take photos of the more popular tourist attractions in the center of the city. 

Keeping in mind, I was feeling awful from a poor prior night's sleep with hardly enough energy to open the heavy door of the SUV, I knew getting out of the vehicle more often than we had to, was not on the agenda.

Typical kitchen appliances in familiar brands were offered for sale. Pricing on these items was a bit higher than in larger countries.  The tea pots listed at FJD $119, are USD $55.
Tom, who's interest in big cities has waned more than mine over time, was content to do only as much as I felt up to.  In all of our travels, he has never insisted we see anymore than is on my radar on any sightseeing tour.  Overall sightseeing is not necessarily on Tom's radar, unless its something really big like safari, historic and military sites and outrageous scenery.  I get this and we adjust accordingly. 

Busy cities and shops are definitely outside his realm of interest, although he'll always come along if its of interest to me.  Fodder for posting each day falls into my wheelhouse leaving me open to seeing anything of interest locally that may inspire a story.

I was fascinated with the gorgeous women's Indo-Fijian gowns.  Surprisingly reasonably prices they were elaborate costumes with many layers of colorful silky fabrics. 
After the awe inspiring trip to the farmers market, where for awhile I almost forgot feeling tired, our driver was waiting for us outside the parking ramp.  With a need for a quick restroom break, Alfaan directed us to the fourth floor of the building in front of us, the popular giant, multilevel mall, TappooCity which attracts tourists and locals alike.

It was surprising that a trip to the restroom necessitated making our way through this enormous mall, searching for escalators on each level. (The few elevators were jammed).  This allowed us to see how many foreign brands monopolized each level of the mall with familiar brand merchandise we haven't seen since Hawaii. 

Had I felt better, I'd have enjoyed perusing the racks.
Even while in Australia for three months, we never recognized as many brand names of clothing, shoes, appliances, housewares with an endless array of cosmetics and accessories, a shopping enthusiast paradise. 

Prices were reasonable for the merchandise when on several occasions I stopped to peruse price tags, my mind performing quick calculations from FJD to USD.  I'll still hold firm to my assessment that its cheap to live in Fiji, as long as one knows where to go to shop.  Suva definitely fulfill the needs and expectations of any buyer from around the globe. 

The food court appeared typical for malls although we didn't recognize many of the vendors.
Finally, we were back in the car, ready to move along.  At that point, I advised Alfaan and Tom I was  fast running out of steam and asked if we could head toward the area of the grocery stores.  I was determined I could eek out a little energy to shop and be done for the day.  In any case, we didn't return home until almost 4 pm ample time to wash the produce, put away the groceries and prepare what I hadn't yet prepped for dinner.

As mentioned yesterday, Cost-U-Less was comparable to a less well stocked Sam's Club or Costco, carrying many of the same brands in bulk sizes.  None of this worked for us with out short remaining time in Pacific Harbour. After an exhaustive search through the big warehouse, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. 

We found three escalators are various areas in the mall to get us to the fourth floor for the restrooms.
Oddly, Tom lingered in Cost-U-Less, curious to the items they carried particularly the candy and snacks, none of which he's had in many months.   Although he was tempted but didn't purchase anything, I kept my mouth shut. From there we headed to IGA New World market where we found some, not all, of the items remaining on our list.

Over these past few years he'd gained back 25 of the 40 pounds, 11 of the 18 kg, he'd originally lost in 2011 when he joined me in this way of eating.  It wasn't necessarily from eating junk food which he only does on cruises and when dining in restaurants, but more due to eating too much low carb food having breakfast and a lunch snack day after day.  There's no way of eating that one can consume vast amounts of food and never gain an ounce.

Many departments in the massive store consisted of a wide array of merchandise.
Over the past few months, he's cut back on the number of meals per day and is now back to his original weight loss of 40 pounds, 18 kg, easily fitting into all of his pants and shirts minus the big belly pulling tight on the buttons.  I'm thrilled for the improvement in his health having rid himself of the dangerous disease producing belly fat.  (Link is to the Mayo Clinic on dangers of belly fat).

Sure, in a little over two weeks we'll be on a 14 night cruise.  Once we settle in New Zealand for three months after the cruise with more readily available food products, in no time at all, he'll drop whatever 10 pounds, 4.5 kg he may gain on the cruise, typical for most cruise passengers.  We don't eat lunch or snacks on cruises which if we indulged further he may gain 15 pounds, 6.8 kg, or more.

Speaking of food, last night we had dinner with Samantha and Danny at Oasis in the Arts Village.  In tomorrow's post we'll share a photo taken of the four of us by the taxi driver, food photos and some of the remaining photos from the visit to Suva.  Plus, we'll be sharing a cultural story of life for locals in Fiji.

A less busy side street in downtown Suva.
Paeta is here today cleaning the house.   Another glorious sunny day will take us out to the pool for a cooling swim in this heat as soon as the pool guy, her brother, is done. 

Tomorrow evening, Saturday, we'll be heading back to the Arts Village to try yet another restaurant. Gee...this dining out thing is fun, affordable and easy here!

For those preparing for the busy holiday season, we wish every one of our readers safe and meaningful experiences.  We continue to treasure your readership which for us, that along with good health is the greatest gift we can possibly receive.  A heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for being beside us during this unusual life we live.
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Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2014:

Tom got a kick out of the fact that we visited the Lyman Museum with the family one year ago in Hilo on the Big Island.  For more photos, please click here.

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