Today was our second day in Suva, Fiji, and we on tour escorting duties in the morning. The excursion was billed as ‘Suva City and Bilo Battery’; basically an on-the-bus-off-the-bus tour that shouldn’t be to difficult from an escorting persective.
Leaving the port, we turned left and headed towards our first stop, the Bilo Battery. To be more precise, it is a raised area on the opposite side of the bay to where the ship was moored, where there used to be a huge gun battery. The drive up to the area from the main road, in a full-sized coach, on a tightly winding, narrow road was quite exhilerating. The once-upon-a-time battery was a little less so. Not that it was entirely without merit, but with the rain starting to fall on a muddy trench and gunshelter, and discarded barbed wire just waiting to cut the shins of an unwary tourist, it would take quite a vivid imagination to full appreciate the site. A few illustrated boards wouldn’t have gone amiss.
We spent about forty minutes here, before re-boarding the bus for a drive through Suva City.
Part of the problem, I think, is that there wasn’t a great deal to show us. It is true that a good guide can make a boring tour interesting. Sadly, it didn’t happen on this occasion. It didn’t help that the microphone he was using wasn’t very good; it was echo-ey and intermittent, and sitting at the back of the bus, over the engine, where I was, made him nigh-on impossible to hear.
We made a couple of stops that were neither impressive viewpoints nor places of particular interest. At one of them, the guide encouraged us to take a walk up a long driveway to take a look at a large white house. A locked barrier across the front of the driveway suggested that visitors were not really welcome, and passengers had to clambor underneath it to gain access. Once at the top of the drive, someone came out to the group asking why we we were there, since we were on private property. When I asked the guide about it, he simply shrugged it off, saying that it was okay, and that we wouldn’t get into trouble. Hm… okay.
We eventually finished up at the Museum of Fiji, at the top end of the park we’d walked through yesterday, which was mildly interesting, as museums go. At least we didn’t endure having to be led around by a guide and bored to tears.
Our final stop was in the city, where passengers where given a whole thirty-five minutes to explore on their own. For many, this was the opportunity to jump the tour, stay in town and make their own way back to the ship in their own time. Can’t say I altogether blame them.
After lunch, back at the ship, Tracey went off for another walk to find wildlife while I sat in the Connexions Bar using the internet, which is working well today. After a couple of hours of tapping away, however, I was keen to get back outside myself. All-aboard time wasn’t until 10:30pm, so there was ample time to go back ashore and explore. I partially walked along the route we walked yesterday (which, I knew, was the route Trace had taken, so I figured I’d bump into her on the way back), and found myself a good spot to do some sketching, which I did for a while, until Tracey turned up, and we headed back towards the ship.
We now have three sea days until our next port-of call, which will be Tauranga, in New Zealand. Now THAT, I’m looking forward to…