A Sunny Day in Lautoka, Fiji
We traveled to Lautoka in Fiji as part of our Transpacific cruise in 2017. After careful consideration, we decided to find a driver who would take us to the Garden of the Sleeping Giants instead of a ship excursion and are glad we did!
We hired a young taxi driver to take us the Garden of the Sleeping Giants and to town for souvenir shopping. We arrived at the Gardens earlier than the tour buses because of our decision to take a taxi and the crowds arrived about the time we departed.
The gardens started with Raymond Burr’s collection of orchids in 1977.
The gardens were lovely, and we walked throughout the circular pathways, across lily ponds, and through a cool, tropical jungle. I would not recommend this tour to anyone with physical limitations as the ground is rocky and has irregular planks. At the end of the walk, we were given a cool tropical drink made with guava and pineapple juices.
The driver then took us to Nadi (pronounced Nandi) to shop. We found good deals on clothing at Jacks. Know that you can’t take many items they sell into Australia (wooden and shell items).
The countryside appears to be quite poor with animals such as cows and goats walking on or nearby the roads. We stopped at a small rural church and the only thing inside was plastic chairs.
Our driver told us that McDonald’s is the “place to be seen” in the area. He is a college student studying business.
The driver invited us to his home for tea and desserts and to meet his grandmother. We first stopped at a local market to observe the unique assortments of spices, fruits and vegetables, and workers making their baskets and crafts. We bought a small flower arrangement to give his grandmother.
A rather large three-generation family lives in our driver’s small three bedroom house. The other rooms included a kitchen, dining room, living room, toilet and bathroom, all very small but nicely kept. His grandmother could not speak English but offered us tea and cookies, one made from a plant substance.
We stopped at his mosque but were not allowed to approach the entrance. His family immigrated from Pakistan and has been in Fiji for decades. Fiji is experiencing a brewing conflict as the native Fijians rent the land to the nonnatives on a 99-year lease. The land will go back to the Fijian natives when that time comes.
Lautoka was a very interesting and worthwhile port and we are so glad that we had this special time.