Monday, March 15, 2010

Preparing for Cyclone Tomas

Fiji is currently in the path of a vicious cyclone called Tomas. It is moving very slowly (9-18 km per hour) across the north eastern section of the Fiji islands group and is rated category four on a five-point scale - the biggest Fiji has seen since 1972. Schools and non-essential services are closed in Suva. I have been kept at home today and will be again for at least tomorrow.

The smaller islands that are in the direct path of the cyclone must be experiencing some catastrophic weather and seas. Here in Suva, although we are over 200 kms away from the eye of the cyclone, the winds are strong and getting stronger. Today was relatively calm, but I fear that tonight will not be so. However, we feel safe. Our apartment building is well built and we have plenty of food and water in case supplies are cut for a few days.

Current news reports feature a local man in the north saying that "Fiji has not experienced anything like this before". Safe to say, this is a very bad cyclone and the fact that it is moving slowly must be devastating for those people who are in its direct path.

You can keep track of the cyclone at I will try to add updates to Twitter as things progress.

Our neighbor prepares for the cyclone by adding some nails to his roof

Cyclone Tomas is the one on the right. Viti Levu, the main island, where we are, is just south east of the eye of the cyclone.

This is our apartment (the one on the ground floor with the small lawn)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Port Vila, Vanuatu

I went on my first work trip last week, to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. I was there for a week of meetings and it was a good opportunity to hear about development issues in the Pacific and meet people from across the region.

Vanuatu is an interesting country with a unique modern history, having been jointly governed by the UK and France between 1906 until Independence in 1980. The French and English influences are still evident, especially the French in the excellent food, such as the famous Vanuatu beef.

I didn't get to see much of the place, mainly spending time in meeting rooms. The weather was very hot and steamy. There is lots to see and do and although it is a bit expensive (e.g. about US$22 for a meal and $12 for a glass of wine) I hope we go back on holiday some time. I would particularly like to see Mount Yasur, an active volcano that erupts several times an hour.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pacific Harbour

Our first trip out of Suva was to Pacific Harbour - a short (45-60 mins) bus or taxi ride to the west. For the trip there, we braved the local bus and must say it was pretty comfortable and at only FJD $4, very affordable.

Pacific Harbour calls itself "the adventure capital of Fiji" and so has plenty of activities on offer, the most notorious of which is diving with sharks out on Beqa lagoon. Thankfully we don't have a license for scuba diving.

The town itself is pretty small, with a group of touristy shops and cafes centred around and arts and cultural centre and backpacker accommodation. There are two main beachside resorts: The Pearl and The Uprising Resort. We stayed at Nanette's Homestay on River Drive and were impressed with her lovely house and hospitality. When we weren't wandering around town, eating in restaurants or snorkelling out on the reef, we were lounging around Nanette's pool. So, life in Pacific Harbour was pretty tough.

Bus from Suva to Pacific Harbour

The beach

Pool at The Uprising Resort

Enjoying a beer at The Pearl

View over the pool at The Pearl

Relaxing in the pool at Nanette's

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First photos

Here are a few pics taken at our wonderful temporary accommodation - Nanette's Homestay. We move into our newly found apartment today, so we said goodbye to the fabulous Tor and Nadi, who have made our first days in Suva very easy.

Views from the balcony at Nanette's

Peter enjoying a Fiji Gold

Jess with Tor (left) and Nadi (right)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Settling in Suva

We arrived in Suva on Saturday night and my first impressions are positive. The weather is hot and humid, as expected, and the city is a mix of friendly faces and buildings both new and old. Our temporary accommodation at Nanette's Homestay is lovely. The staff are extremely welcoming and friendly and it is the perfect location while we look for something more permanent.

Went supermaket shopping for a few supplies in MHCC Thompson St yesterday - there was a good range of products and the prices are very reasonable. Taxis are cheap with the 5 minute drive between the CBD and Nanette's costing less than FJD $3. We also did a lot of walking around town - a bit of a challenge in this climate!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Choosing a place to live

We haven't left Geneva yet, but Peter is already at the point of choosing somewhere to live. We have been given a very handy document on Living in Fiji and are now inspired to at least draw up a short list. Thinking that we will go for a furnished apartment rather than a house.

Have realised that the online maps of Suva are not very detailed!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

fiji, here we come!

Got news Friday that the move to Fiji is on. We should be in Suva some time in mid January 2010. Lots to organize here with work, our apartment and car. I'm really going to miss Geneva - we've had a wonderful 5 years here. Looking forward to a change in environment and much closer proximity to Australia will hopefully mean that I see my family and friends more than once a year!