June 14, 2016
Although our time in Auckland was short and we are sad to leave this beautiful country, we are excited to be headed to Fiji. As we had a few hours before our flight to Fiji, we decided to do some last minute exploring of Auckland. We headed over to grab some breakfast at Waffle Supreme which we read about in a pamphlet given to us at the airport. Expecting to find a sit down restaurant, you can imagine our surprise as google maps leads us to this small red food truck. If not for the small yellow writing on the right side, we may have missed this “restaurant.” As we get closer to the stall, we see several waffle machines and interesting waffle recipes. We decide to try one called citron which is a waffle filled with lemon creme topped with poppy seeds. Needless to say this was probably the best waffle we’ve ever had. Next, we headed over to Queen street which seems like Auckland’s version of Chicago’s magnificent mile with several popular department stores and shops. As we are still hungry from our waffle, we head over to this Parisian looking shop for some crepes. The savory vegetarian crepe we choose is delicious and definitely hits the spot.
We quickly make our way over to the sofitel to grab our bags and get on our SuperShuttle to take us to the airport. We arrive at the hotel about 2-3 hours before our flight which is unusual for Sanchit and we peruse the duty free shops for some souvenirs and talk to Tanvi who is only a 3 hour flight from us in Australia. After a quick 2.5 hour flight, we land in Fiji and feel the heat that we were missing in Auckland. We immediately notice how many Indians are working at the airport and hear different versions of Hindi being spoken. Indo-Fijians are Fijian citizens who trace their heritage from various parts of the Indian subcontinent. They were brought to the Fiji islands by Fiji’s British colonial rulers in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work on sugar cane plantations as indentured laborers.
We quickly make it through immigration and customs and grab a cab. On the way, the cabbie, Chetty, tells us a bit about Fiji and that about 40% of the population is of Indian origin. They all speak Fijian Hindi which appears to be (in our opinion) similar to Hindi from the Uttar Pradesh region of present-day India. They have adapted to the Fijian way of life but maintained their distinct culture, language, culinary habits, and physical appearance surprisingly. Apparently Bollywood is very well known in Fiji and Sanchit even shares his love for Katrina Kaif with the driver. We drive through Nadi (pronounced Nandi in Fijian) and are soon reminded of rural India. At first glance we see Indians and Africans seemingly commingling however we later learn they are actually very segregated. As we approach the Denarau (pronounced Den-a-rao) Island, we can see a significant change in that now we see golf courses and nice resorts. The Denarau Island is home to seven 5-star resorts(Hilton, Sofitel, Westin, Sheraton, Sheraton Villas, Radisson Blu, and Wyndham), Denarau Port, Denarau Golf-course, and private residences (owned by rich oversees investors).
We finally make it to the Westin and are greeted by several staff with a big Fiji Bula Welcome. As we check in, I make sure to mention we are on our Honeymoon and Sanchit’s membership status with the hotel chain on top of that guaranteed an upgrade to the Honeymoon suite which they only have 7 of. We get to our room and are introduced to our private porch with private pool. The hotel even provided us with Champagne. We can already tell, Fiji is going to be amazing.