Sigatoka to Lautoka
Monday 17th August 2015
After breakfast of toast and fruit, we loaded up the car, checked out of the resort, and set off for the sand dunes. Had the rain stopped in the night? No. If anything it was raining even harder than yesterday. We had to pop into the visitors’ centre anyway as Pepe needed to return a leaflet she had borrowed about the birds that nest in the dunes, so we’d make a decision about walking the trail then. When we arrived it was still hacking down, and the thought of trudging through wet sand just did not appeal. We decided to give it a miss and push on, a little fed up that we had missed two of the sights we had wanted to see through bad timing. Oh well, c’est la vie.
The main road from Sigatoka followed close to the coast for much of the way, and took us past the station for the Coral Coast Railway. We stopped to enquire about the timetable, as it seems the train does still run on certain days. Typically for us, today’s train had not long left, though we were assured it had been full anyway. Next trip would be Wednesday, the day we go back to the boat. So we had to settle for looking at the ‘out of commission’ engine and carriages in the yard. Apparently the train passes through some villages on the way to Sigatoka, and the children run out to the train hoping to be given a lollipop by the passengers. This dates back to the times when it was a working railway and the sugar cane workers on their way home would give the village children a piece of sugar cane to suck. I am beginning to see where the bad dentition of many Fijians comes from.
Old photos showed the train in use.
Back in the car, the road took a turn inland and we decided to take a detour along the beach road to find Natadola Beach, reputedly one of the best beaches in Fiji. This turned out to be a slightly more difficult task than expected, as a new road had been built for a new resort with guards at the gates, so we turned around and tried another road which took us to an unfinished resort with gates. Eventually we followed a hand-painted sign tacked to a tree, and that took us to the beach.
It was indeed a very nice beach, and I could see that on a nicer day than today, it would be a great place to spend some holiday time. We were greeted by a lady who had set up business on the beach, in a hut made of branches with fabric draped over, and she offered us a massage with a free necklace thrown in. We politely declined, and after watching the surf break on the outer reef for a while, we decided it was time to move on.
Natadola Beach. Doesn’t look anything special really – Fiji has lots of beaches at least as good. But maybe it’s just the weather...
Our trusty steed awaiting our return.
Back on the main road we passed a turn-off that would take us to Momi Bay. Thinking it would be good to see it from the land side, we turned around and took it. This made the drive even more interesting as we drove along an unmade road through several villages, past derelict buildings and abandoned vehicles, over ‘Fiji bridges’ and up hill and down dale, in search of Momi bay and the couple of WWII guns there. We did get to see Momi Bay and its leading marks through the foliage, but even with three pairs of eyes scanning the passing scenery (the fourth pair was quite rightly watching the road) we did not see anything that looked like guns. We knew we had missed them when we found ourselves rejoining the main road and passing a sign to the Momi guns pointing back the way we had come. The list of things we were missing was getting longer, but to be fair I found it hard to be upset at missing this one.
For a while we plodded along behind a load of sugar cane, which eventually pulled over to let us pass.
Crossing a ‘Fiji bridge’, one way only at a time. We passed derelict buildings and abandoned cars.
We passed through Nadi, and stopped at the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swamy Temple. A Hindu Temple, the original was built in 1914-16 on the banks of the Nadi river, when Indian people were serving as indentured labourers. Because of repeated threats of flood, a new Temple was built on the existing site in the early 1990’s. It is painted in very bright colours! Visitors are required to wear appropriate clothing, and so both Steve and I hired a sarong to wear so that we could enter. The ceiling in the main Temple has 14 sections, each with several paintings depicting a story. Cameras were not allowed inside the main Temple.
Steve matched the colour scheme perfectly! The front entrance to the Temple – colours muted in this light.
The main Temple was surrounded by smaller ones.
A Temple to Lord Ganesha.
An hour later we were back on the road again for the last few miles to Lautoka. We arrived late afternoon at the hotel and checked into very modern, clean rooms that could have been anywhere in the world. A far cry from the Capricorn Apartments in Suva, but they served their purpose and had character. And cockroaches...
It amused us to ponder the purpose of bi-fold windows between the bedroom and the bathroom. Personally, I can think of few things I would like less...