Thursday, September 13, 2012

Visiting Labasa – an Indian Town

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Yesterday we woke at 5.30 am in preparation to walk to town, and get the early bus to Labasa (pronounced Lambassa).

Our friends Marilyn and Dave who own a farm here were also on the bus for part-way, and it was a long trip – over 3 hours to the other side of the island. 

We shared lollies and gum with kids on the way.

The countryside was mountainous and awesome.

The roads were windy and very steep and sometimes the bus nearly stopped it was so steep.

The road over the bridge looked like it would collapse.

The houses were in villages and a mix of Fijian like the one below.

Shops trade and are in buildings that never get finished.

When the bus stops, people sell Indian spice snacks

We had a few tasks to complete, as it is the capital town of the island, and a lot bigger than where we stay. 

But on arrival we were a bit shocked at how hot and dusty it was. 

The town is set around a river, but it is a working town, and not a tourist town. 

It felt like mini India, with sugar cane trucks driving through the main street of town. 

The bus depot was crazy, and so full of buses, beeping and coming and going continually. 

The entire day we saw no other white person in the streets. 

This meant we were talked to a lot more, and treated really well by the locals. 

People just stop and converse to you - it is weird, but can also mean you meet new nice people. 

It was a complete mix, but mainly Indians. 

We had a great lunch at “Coffee Break” which is set in the North Pole hotel, and was really clean and neat. It was so cheap. Mr son had an adult size chicken schnitzel and chips, and I had an Indian potato curry & rice etc. (big enough to feed two people), plus drinks, and the whole lot came to $7.50 AU. 

In a good Fijian restaurant you will find a bowl to wash your hands before you eat, right where the food is served – I guess as the Indians eat with their hands? 

As we had been up since early, and it was such a hot day, my seven year old needed a sleep at lunchtime, and it was a cool and air-conditioned place. 

We found throughout the day that it was a really interesting place, with live chickens being sold from woven palm leaf baskets outside the bank. 

A Fijian lady really wanted us to come and stay at her village, and asked if we could take her photograph and come back again. 

Many Indians pinch and brush the cheek of my son – he hates it, but they like to touch the white skin of a child. 

We have a great time exploring.

We had brought from Australia a (adjustable folding) walking stick to give away, and felt today was the day. 

So we were really pleased that right at the end of the day, when we were in the market, that we found whom it was meant for – a lady who could hardly walk. 

We had to ask around, and when we found her she was sitting. 

On giving it to her, we had quite a crowd. 

“God is good” was the reply from many ladies in the crowd to the lady we gave it to. 

It was the best ending to our visit to Labasa. 

We climbed back on the bus, and listened to the thumping Indian music, and watched the crowd change from students to workers, and then to ladies from the market, as we meandered over the hills, through the towns back to our town. Most of the time there were 4 to a seat, and many would talk to us, and the kids would play games together with my son. 

We wind back through the changing houses.

And the changing people.

We arrived in the dark – hot and tired, and in fact I had become ill from heat exhaustion and not drinking enough water, and have had to rest all the next day. 

Labasa was certainly an experience, but we really appreciate Savusavu – a town we are staying in known as the ‘hidden paradise’. 

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