This week’s guest blogger, Cherri Megasko, puts me to shame in at least two categories—and I have to say these are two that I usually think I’ve got covered--traveling and having an adventuresome palate. Trust me when I say, Cherri more or less leaves me in the metaphorical dust on both. In fact, we met when I felt compelled to introduce myself. I overheard her talking about how hard it is to find all the ingredients she needs for real Vietnamese food of the type and quality she had enjoyed in Vietnam. When she mentioned not cilantro or chili paste but tripe I thought this gal is the real deal! Now she's just back from Fiji--and about to scoot off to Turkey next week-- and yet Cherri has been kind enough to write a post for A CITY A WEEK…It makes for very fun reading—and hopefully will whet your appetite for Cherri’s own blog Bucket List Travel Club.
Fiji. Just saying the word sounds exotic. But before my recent trip I was a little worried that this South Pacific destination wouldn’t live up to all the hype. Sure, there are beautiful beaches, fantastic scuba diving and breathtaking views, but how do Fijian cities stack up against other international destinations? I explored the Fijian city of Nadi (pronounced non’ dee) with exactly that question in mind.
A Few Facts About Nadi, Fiji
Nadi is located on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. It is the country’s third-largest city and home to its only international airport. Slightly over 50 percent of its population if Fijian and surprisingly (to me), about 40 percent is Indian. By U.S. standards, Nadi is a small city with a population somewhat similar to Biloxi, Mississippi, and Cupertino, California.
The Culture of Nadi, Fiji
Much of the culture in Nadi is impacted by its strong Asian influences. The people are very conservative in both their actions and dress. In fact, to enter the villages we were asked to be sure our clothing fully covered our shoulders and knees.
You won’t find opera and ballet in Nadi, but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking in culture. Instead, kava ceremonies and mele performances are still very much a part of everyday Fijian life.
The Cuisine of Nadi, Fiji
Seafood, curry and anything Asian make up the Nadi food scene. When we asked our taxi driver/tour guide to name two dishes that he felt spoke to the essence of Fiji, he told us kokoda and mud crabs. So, being the student of international cuisine that I am, I tried them both.
I first traveled to Smuggler’s Cove to check out the Ghost Ship Bar & Grill. The kokoda caught my eye right away. Its description sounded like a Fijian version of ceviche, which I love. It’s basically raw fish marinated in coconut milk and lime juice. It is both creamy and tart, and the version I had also contained sweet peppers and lots of spice. I found an outstanding preparation of mud crabs at the Rokete Restaurant inside the Mercure Hotel in Nadi. They were prepared with a thick sweet chili sauce and were absolutely to die for! Even though it may have been the messiest dish of my life, I would order it again in a heartbeat.
What to Do in Nadi, Fiji
· In the city itself, the largest attraction is no doubt the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, the largest Hindu Temple in the Southern Hemisphere.
· A visit to the local market is a great way to get a feel for the everyday life of Fijians in and around Nadi.
The Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool are located just outside Nadi and offer visitors a relaxing and therapeutic mud bath and hot springs spa.
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant boasts what was once the private orchid collection of American actor, Raymond Burr.
So what about my quest to answer the question of how Nadi, Fiji, stacks up against other international destinations like Paris and Rome? The answer is that you simply can’t compare them. They are each remarkable and amazing in their own ways. If high fashion and fine dining are what you’re looking for, then Nadi is probably not the destination for you. But if you think you’d enjoy immersing yourself in the traditional culture of a proud and colorful island nation, Nadi, Fiji, may be a dream come true.
You can read more about Cherri’s exotic travel adventures on her travel blog, the Bucket List Travel Club.