Inexperienced young travellers from around the Pacific Rim (Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada etc) who suffer from the above titled bastard condition might find these words more than beneficial.
This post has a touch of destination and musings to it, but it’s mostly about the wonderful people (I am not kidding!) you’ll find there. The title should’ve given it away by now, and the use of BULA! but just in case you’re skimming, I’ll just say it – I’m talking about Fijians!
Back in 2013, I was finally ready to leave Australia. I was 24 and oh so eager to see the world. My heart was set on Thailand, the dream destination (at the time), but before booking the ticket a lot on the news had me second guessing the whole idea (for the record, don’t believe everything the media shares about foreign destinations). I was bummed, because travelling internationally was something I was all about.
I put Thailand aside and sort out another destination… where I could do a group tour that would take care of my needs… and show me a culture that was different from my own (I was deadly serious about this one)… and which was budget friendly… and after about less than an hour of research, I ended up choosing one of the better known island nations in the South Pacific.
Remember, FIJI! Stay with me now.
Everything was set – I brought my ticket, took care of all the big details (insurance, injections etc), packed my bags and after a lot of work and some dental fillings (they were fun) I was on an overnight flight to Nadi (pronounced Nahn-dee). I got picked up from the airport by my hostel (Bamboo Backpackers!) and had a day to do whatever before my tour (Feejee Experience) started… but then it kicked in.
We’ve never been on good terms. The little bastard shows up when it’s invited by an environment I’m new to, or because some individual(s) has decided to make things difficult for me. I’ve got a few horror stories set in Thailand, Spain and Morocco which are, and will be, written about. However, in this case, my anxiety was acting up on account of the environment.
There’s nothing wrong with Fiji, it’s a natural beauty and I absolutely love it! But the reality that I was in another country, on my own and where I had no friendly or familiar connections, was a lot to process. Fortunately this wasn’t a dramatic experience for myself, or those around me. You could almost consider the day a little bit ordinary.
I got picked up from the airport (scored a free shell necklace), got a taste of Fijian traffic conditions (at first I thought it wasn’t the best, but I’ve since come to realise that it isn’t something to base a blood sport around), checked into my hostel and had some breakfast (pretty sure I’m not a guava or papaya guy), all the while realising that I WASN’T IN STRAYA ANYMORE!
I was definitely showing signs – I wasn’t talking to anyone, I was eyeing everyone with suspicion, I was avoiding people, I was scared of everything around me. This was becoming a shituation to remember. I was wanting to get on the first flight back to Melbourne – bugger the two weeks I’d signed up for!
Safe to say, this was what my first day was like. My hostel was in a rather secluded area – I didn’t know the lay of the land well enough to make my way into Nadi and so forth, and I hadn’t slept on the flight over. I was ready to break out in tears. The belief that I’d made a terrible decision was talking hold of me.
But there’s something you need to know about Fijians, and this should be universal knowledge. When a Fijian sees you out and about, they won’t pass you and go about their day. They will come up to you, look you in the eye with their beautiful face… and show you kindness.
I was having the worst time of my life (it’s since been topped) and all of these randoms, some of them hostel employees and others not, were coming up to me and asking how I was going. I’d already been told that they were some of the friendliest people on the planet, but now I knew it.
‘Lovely to meet you?’
‘Are you all right?’
‘Where have you come from?’
‘Oh I love Australia.’
This is what they were saying, one after the other, even if they didn’t have to… and it made everything better. My anxiety had started to disappear. The Fijians had brightened my spirits, made me raise my head high and had me feeling more excited about the two weeks ahead of me.
So, if you’re deciding on where to go for that big, overseas cultural experience (the snorkelling is pretty good to!)… and should you suffer from the above mentioned little bastard condition, this island nation in the South Pacific is the one that I am seriously recommending (I do have my eyes set on Samoa, the Cook Islands and New Zealand at some point).
The first steps towards being an international traveller can always be daunting, of that most people will have no doubt, so why not choose a destination where it’s inhabitants will make everything all the more easier and pleasant for you.
I hope you consider Fiji, the best place for an anxiety attack. I. AM. NOT. KIDDING!