Upon arrival at Nadi from Tarawa, Kiribati on 5 July, I got onto a tourist bus at Nadi Airport with Amir Khan, a Hongkonger of Pakistani descent. Amir was on the same flight from Kiribati as well and will be heading for Tuvalu the following day. He covers parts of the Pacific for his HK-based hardware and garment trader and does a Pacific marketing trip every 6 months.
The bus travelled 4 hours along the Queen’s Highway on the southern coast of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, from Nadi International Airport to Suva, capital of Fiji. I have long heard that Fiji is the largest and most populous of the South Pacific states, and had imagined a densely populated country with modern motorways and skyscrapers. Instead, I found a rather rural country with large stretches of beautiful wilderness and sugar plantations punctuated only by occasional sleepy small towns and village schools. The Queen’s Highway was a misnomer – there was only one lane each direction and occasional potholes. It simply wasn’t a highway but a narrow trunk road along the winding coast, squeezed between picturesque green mountains and the Pacific Ocean.