This past summer, I went on an exhilarating solo trip to Fiji. It was my first time traveling down to that part of the world, and even though I was only there a week, those days were filled with enough crazy, awesome experiences to make the long 11-hour flight between LA and Nadi all worthwhile.

Here are the 8 of my favorite bizarre things I encountered during my trip to Fiji, starting from right when I got off the flight…

1. The Fascinating Fijian Money

I wish all $50 bills looked like this one!

I wish all $50 bills looked like this one!

Pretty much all ground transportation I took in Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, was paid for in cash, so one of the first things I had to do upon arrival was hit the ATM. I found the design of their currency beyond charming, and this is only one example!

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Fiji’s Nadi International Airport, just after sunrise the morning of my arrival

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The bus stop at Nadi International Airport, where you can catch transport all over Viti Levu

2. The Amusingly Wild Interior of this Fijian Bus

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How whimsical is the inside of the bus I took from the airport up Viti Levu to my hostel on Fiji’s gorgeous Coral Coast!?

Some incredible scenery from the drive:
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3. Odd Fijian Snacks

Because my flight to Nadi landed so early in the morning, I got kinda hungry on the 100-kilometer bus trek to my final destination. The ride departed a little after 6 am and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet! So, during one of the longer stops along the journey, I ventured out off the bus to find some food.

Much to my dismay, Lucky Kiosk was not in operation

Much to my dismay, Lucky Kiosk was not in operation

Because it was Sunday, almost all businesses were closed, as is the norm across Fiji. Luckily, there was one lone convenience store open right across the street from the bus stop. This is what I found:

Chicken poulet "Twisties" and burger UFOs, or "Unusually Flavoured Objects"...

Chicken poulet “Twisties” and burger UFOs, or “Unusually Flavoured Objects”…

4. Fiji’s Hilarious Marketing Techniques

Below are some shots taken around Viti Levu’s vivacious Port Denarau area:

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I couldn’t help but find these just delightful…

5. The Mutton Aisle

The day before my departure, I took some time perusing a very large supermarket in the outskirts of Nadi. Overall it was pretty typical and had most basic features you’d expect in an average grocery store, with the exception of a moderately-sized clothing section, genuine shoe department, and a very impressive, not to mention intimidating selection of visibly potent local chili peppers.

I meandered along past another wall of miscellaneous trinkets until just around the corner, something caught my eye:

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Perfectly aware canned meats are a common food item in the South Pacific, it came as no surprise to see a wide assortment of canned beef stews, corned beef and other shudder-inducing meat products, but I did not anticipate so much mutton!Fiji_MuttonAisle2Fiji_MuttonAisle3

I love tasting new foods and experiencing new things, but given my grievous stomach issues at the time, trying mutton was unfortunately way out of the question. More on that whole situation later.

6. Bush Fire!

One afternoon while hanging out at the beach, my eyes started burning and watering uncontrollably from a sudden haze of dense smoky air. I noticed embers flying through the air, and sincerely hoped none would land in my hair. Several others took notice as well and were just as confused as I, until someone pointed out a very active bush fire occurring on a hill not too far away.

Shouldn’t someone do something about that…?

Well how about that... There's a legit full-blown bush fire going on over there!

Well how about that… There’s a legit full-blown bush fire going on over there!

We were told the fire wasn’t a big deal; evidently bush fires like the one currently blazing the hell out of that hillside happen all the time, and this one wasn’t even serious.

Just as the locals said, the fire eventually went away on its own, leaving nothing more than a fading gray streak in the air and a patch of missing greenery.

7. An Octopus Get Stabbed

It’s no secret the octopus is my favorite silly sea creature, so needless to say I was less than pleased when I watched one of these highly intelligent creatures get HARPOONED!

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Even though I was sad for a moment, I knew the poor octopus’ time had to come… Octopi are regularly captured for food in parts of Fiji – in some villages, whatever you catch that day determines dinner!

8. Dead Humpback Whale

One day while out on a snorkeling trip, our guide alerted us that a dead humpback whale had been spotted washed up on a sandbar not too far away. Yes, absolutely, we were going to check it out.

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Approaching the deceased humpback whale

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Getting up close and personal with the poor dead whale

It was eerie to say the least.

After a few minutes of observing this magnificent deceased sea-dwelling mammal, one bold passenger requested if he might be able to stand upon the whale.

With total concession from all aboard the boy, a French college student living abroad in New Zealand and in Fiji on school break, leaped readily from the boat onto the whale with a solid, albeit jiggly landing.

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He did say it was an exhilarating experience.

Before long, I too took my turn standing on the dead whale. Not to worry – they said the whale died of natural causes, and we did our best to pay our best respects to the whale… But more on all that later. ☺

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