Thursday, October 16, 2008

From Labasa to Savusavu, the long way

from w
I have never gone by bus this route but some tourists from Slovakia did and here is their story from their website.
Thus we exhausted pretty much all that Labasa offers in terms of activities, spent a night in the Riverview Hotel, from which we had no river view, and the next morning we were back on a bus to Savusavu - this time the one with the "long" route.

The first part of the trip lead through more sugar cane fields and was mercifully paved. Within 2 hours, though, the tar gave way to a bumpy and dusty back road and we started climbing ominously higher and higher into the thick bush again, getting swallowed by the overgrown jungle, from which we would emerge only on precariously steep climbs with sweeping views. On some of these inclines, it seemed that the bus was on its last legs - spewing clouds of black smoke and creeping up the hill so slowly that it seemed it would roll back any moment and hurl us down the mountain. But, miraculously, the extremely rugged Fijian bus never failed to get up on those hills or brake on the way down and we didn't get stuck by the road side 4 hours away from the nearest phone. (Only once did we have to coast down the hill in reverse to get a better running start up the hill.) And since the bus, like most Fijian buses, didn't have any glass in its windows, it was a breezy, safari-like ride, with clouds of dust and an occasional branch penetrating inside.

All along the way, we rode through villages so remote that the daily passing of the bus looked like an event in itself. Groups of locals were gathered at each bus stop, either sending off or welcoming people, or just sitting around, waiving at the passing travelers. And everywhere we stopped people would load countless pieces of luggage, rice bags filled with taro* and other crops through the windows and stuff them wherever they would fit them - on, under or between the seats. (Grabbing and loading other people's stuff is a part of the unwritten Fijian bus-travel etiquette and we were involved in the ritual a few times, as well. Just grab the stuff people hand to you through the window and give it to someone behind you who will stow it away.) Since Ryan and I sat in the back of the bus, we were eventually completely boxed in into our seats by loads of bags, rolled up mattresses and bunches of kava root.

*note: Taro and other crops are the only things freely available everywhere in Fiji, yet the locals always have a need to bring their own supply wherever they go, perhaps just in case the other town/village ran out...?

We rode forever - until the shadows grew longer, our spines felt impacted and every single pore on our bodies was covered with road dust. The views from the bus were sometimes quite beautiful, but overall, the ride was fun because it was so unbelievably out of the ordinary - and so Fijian.

And since Ryan and I were the only 2 people who stayed on the bus for the entire 8-hour trip, I really believe that we deserved some sort of a "Completed-the-most-arduous-bus-ride-in-the Pacific" medal.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

ok, the test passed!
i'm sorry to bother you, but i stumbled upon your lovely blog and as i'm planning a relocation,maybe to fiji, i wanted to ask you a couple of things. i've searched the net but the info i found is not very clear nor conclusive, so, as you appear very knowledgeable, i thought i'd drop you a line...
i'm a british/italian and i'm currently in sri lanka running my own english school, but the economy and the country's situation are getting worse by the day, i'm therefore exploring other options. would teaching/opening an english school in fiji be worthwhile in your opinion? is there a "market" or is the local level of english good enough? (i teach adults/working people etc, not kids unfortunately!).
i've noticed they do teach english at school, as they do in sri lanka, but the level remains poor here. is it the same in wonderful fiji?
i would really appreciate it if you could give me a brief answer and i hope i'm not troubling you too much...if i do relocate to fiji after your advice, i'll buy you a dinner in suva for sure!!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Ciao and hello!
Setting up a school to teach English for adults sounds a lovely idea, but oh dear, in Fiji it is very complicated for foreign people to get past the paperwork to get a work permit in Fiji. Schools in Fiji of course use English as the main language and Fiji has two universities and colleges of advanced education to train English teachers. Wages are fairly low in Fiji so I don't know who your clients/students would be. There are strict rules about working in Fiji as I think you have to train someone local to eventually take your place.
Anyway, find some contact details through the web (or phone book on the web such as Teldir) to ask for further advice as I'm not much help.

Anonymous said...

hi, thanks for your kind reply!
i'll work on it! i really appreciate your kindness,