Seeing Suva and Heading to a Cultural Center

Fiji’s capital city of Suva, on the Island of Viti Levu, has a number of retail shops, government buildings, shopping malls, a movie theater multiplex, and eateries. It’s also where heads of state and diplomats reside. Plus, it’s home to Suva Municipal Market, an open-air food market; seminaries and colleges like the University of the South Pacific; a Municipal Handicraft Centre; and the factory for Pure Fiji, a popular line of skincare and haircare products.

While in Suva, we drove by and stopped at many important places. The Presidential Palace is once where Fiji’s British governors resided during colonization. It also has a changing of the guard ceremony on the last day of each month. Next on to Albert Park, where aviator Charles Kingsford Smith landed his plane, a trimotor Fokker VII-3M, in early June 1928. Last Saturday, we saw rugby matches going on there.

Across from Albert Park, the Thurston Gardens is also the location for The Fiji Museum, which has two halls of impressive archeological findings and exhibits on Fiji’s various residents, indigenous and settlers that came to the islands over the past century. The museum has quite a collection, which dates back 3,700 years!

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Having a good regular admission price, the Fiji Museum’s lower level contains exhibits relating to fishing and sailing. One eye-catching display is a double-hulled canoe with five steering oars that require a few hands to lift, as well as a house raft made out of bamboo. Pottery is also on view at the museum, particularly with the Lepati, a group of people who created a type of pottery known as Lepita pottery. Visitors can also learn more about Masi, which mixes intricate patterns and warm colors for detailed clothing designs.

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There are also exhibits showing historical periods such as the arrival of religious missionaries to Fiji and other nationalities such as Indian peoples who came to Fiji during its time as a British colony as indentured labor.

Heading toward Pacific Harbour, we visited the Arts Village, a cultural center that holds demonstrations on Fijian traditions through reenactments. Locals perform various roles found in a village. On the property, a guide takes visitors to a tribal chief’s bure to meet him and observe interactions between him and his tribe’s various members in his home. First, a “visitor” would give a Tama, which is a call to asking permission to enter the bure. A yes or no answer from the chef would be delivered.DSCN0422photo(45)photo(46)

Removing our shoes upon entering the bure, we learned that the chief has a spokesperson that interacts in him giving order or responding to delivered messages. Inside his home, the chief has one wife, other “wives” serve as concubines, and servants. Each person in a tribe has a specific role such as a messenger or a spokesperson. Actors demonstrated how the chief would react to certain news, as well as showing his interactions with his tribesmen.  Also, while inside the bure, we also participated in a kava drinking ceremony.

Among the shows performed at the Arts Center are a fire walking demonstration. One island where fire walking is credited to being from is Beqa. Only males are permitted to participate in fire walking, where they move across heated stones, and they have to refrain from certain activities like having coconuts in order to do so. Meke, form of traditional communal Fijian dances, were also performed.

DSCN0432The Arts Village also has a number of restaurants and shops, with the option of having a lovo lunch. This type of meal is cooked in an earthen fire pit. Guests too can choose to stay at the site in dormitory accommodations inside its Tsulu Beach Bunkhouse. These cultural offerings make The Arts Village at Pacific Harbour worth a visit!

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