Fijian people are the amongst the friendliest people in the world. So if you come to Fiji, it’s not like going to eastern Europe* or something where the gruffness and exterior demeanor can often be somewhere between “It is FREEZING here in the winter and I only listen to metal and any electronic music over 180bpm!” and “My year 6 exam had calculus questions in the easy section”. Having said that, if you act like a ridiculous bogan while you are in Fiji, the people here will still smile on the outside, but inside they will be recording stories of your behaviour to share with their friends. After all, there is nothing Fijian people like more than a good laugh. So here is a beginners guide I have put together, and if you follow most of this stuff you will most definitely not be a bogan in Fiji:
Learn how to pronounce bula – It’s not ‘bulla’ like the ice creams, ‘Boolah’ like some kind of cow cockatoo or whatever ‘bullarrrr’ is. Soft m at the start and emphasis on the second vowel (mBulA!).
Learn 3 or 4 words other than bula – I think if you know how to say goodbye and thanks that is a good few strides on the road out of boganville. Goodbye is moce (pronounced moh-they) and thanks is vinaka (pronounced as it looks). If you really want to impress, try au sa mamau (I am full of food).
Resist the urge to have your hair braded – My mum will argue about this cos she used to love it. Aside from being painful and annoying to take out after a couple of days, It can really look strange if you have a glowy white head and tanned face… just sayin. Give the braiding lady $20 and a hug and everyone will be happier. Or if you love hair braids, take them out before the trip home.
Leave the resort of your own volition – Go for a walk and see what you find. Often there are villages, markets and corner shops sitting 100m from the front gate of your nice hotel. Tours and day trips are good, but if you do it by yourself then that’s even more the bomb. Kapow!
If you do leave the resort, don’t later brag to your friends about how you saw the “real Fiji” – It doesn’t make you a bogan, it’s just annoying.
Try somewhere other than the Mamanucas, Yasawas or Coral Coast – These places are nice, but they are also safe. If you have more than a week, go somewhere a bit out there. The really touristy places can be a little bit Australia tourist ghetto.
The buffet is a privilege not a right – Seriously… this cannot be overstated. Act like a lion not a hyena. Did you know that jackals scavange less than lions? Nathan told me this and he works at the museum so I believe him. It ruined my joke until I thought of hyenas as a replacement.
Don’t complain about stupid things – If you book a holiday to a tropical country you are not allowed to complain about how hot it is outside. You are also not allowed to complain about the presence of mosquitoes if you are supplied with flyscreens and/or a mosquito net. If you book an island holiday you are not allowed to complain that there isn’t anything to do other than water activities. If you try to squeeze four people into a two person bure, you are most definitely not allowed to complain about how cramped and small your room is. If you have a legitimate complaint, like you are a celiac and they served you a pasta sandwich with a donut for dessert, then please be nice.
Speak with Fijian people, not at them – Ask them questions, and listen to the answers. Chatting is a national past time here, and people read the news religiously so they will have opinions on almost everything. Also… english is the official language so don’t be one of those guys.
Cover up where possible – In fijian villages women don’t show their shoulders or anything above the knee. So if you are brazillian or medeterranean we might have to have a quiet word afterwards about fashion. For everyone else, they are used to westerners wearing underwear to the beach, but just be discrete and sensible ok?
So that’s it! These are, of course, not hard and fast rules. You might want to go against this advice in certain situations, after all you are in Fiji on a holiday! You’re not a diplomat (probably? Hi diplomats!). As a whole though, I think most Australians could do a little better on the ‘not being a bogan’ side of things, so lets all do our best to limit the amount of southern cross stickers we slap on our utes to say… no more than five, and try to put one or two of these helpful guidelines into practice the next time we come to Fiji eh? Bonza mates! get a dog up ya!
* Despite this gross generalisation, I have many close friends from eastern Europe that are the warmest and loveliest people I know. I hope they all still talk to me after playing up their unwarranted and unfair stereotypes for cheap laughs.
Connie read this and thought I sounded like I am a little bit up myself and quite rude. She sent back a revised copy that I didn’t think was very funny, but definitely a lot nicer. I stuck with some minor edits of the original copy, but in fear that I may have offended some very lovely people such as my mum, I refer you to the following customer service flowchart. Please direct any complaints to me, the jerk who wrote this.