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I got in to Fiji today after the Fiji Airways daytrip to Christmas Island, Kiribati. The flight to Christmas, continuing to Honolulu, operates once a week so you either stay for 10 hours or 10 hours plus a week. Christmas is reputed to be among the best fishing spots in the world so I tried my hand at fly fishing for the first time in pursuit of the feisty bonefish.
Fiji Airways does not have a great reputation for its routes to more isolated islands such as Christmas, Tarawa and Tuvalu, so I didn’t even book a hotel in Nadi in advance. If I got back to Nadi on schedule I would book a cheap place near the airport and then the next night perhaps drive down to the Intercontinental for a night, which is 30,000 IHG points (seems like a deal, no?). Then off to Wallis Island.
I got back to Nadi ahead of schedule (my 170th UN country!), so much for me of little faith, drove to the nearby Burger King for free wifi and looked through nearby hotel options. Reviews on sites such as hotels.com are comical, with people in $40 rooms complaining their rooms were not pre-chilled on arrival. Nearby options about at the budget end, mostly with dreaded ‘wifi in public areas’ or other detractors.
(Quick tip: many hotels in the Nadi Airport area have shuttles that if you read the reviews are not reliable. If you have wheels, note that addresses on Google Maps are frequently wrong and may have multiple incorrect entries for the same place. The most accurate seem to be GPS coordinates provided by OTAs including booking.com and hotels.com.)
I happened upon $50/night SSS Manhao Hotel, a Chinese hotel in the suburbs that looked promising and quirky. From my years in China I am fascinated by Chinese entrepreneurs in every nook of the globe, and also from those days I like a tea kettle in my room and a hard bed, so I booked it. Other than two guys slumping over cigarette butts at a lazy Susan-clad dinner table I haven’t seen any guests and my room is excellent, so I may skip Intercontinental altogether.
That leads to the guilt. I seek to maximize my time in a place by experiencing its standout. Hence bonefishing on Christmas. Even limiting oneself to the main island, Fiji has innumerable attractions. Yet after several passes through Lonely Planet Fiji, nothing jumped out to me as must-do. Maybe I am too tired from the travel grind. Maybe it is a subconscious bias that I don’t expect to relax in a place so heavily Indian influenced. I have loved my trips to India but hardly a minute has been relaxing, and that’s what I am in the mood.
Readers, if I just laze out for two days in Fiji at this Chinese sort-of resort, what am I shamefully missing?