The Fiji Handbook
A book review.
by David Stanley
genre: Travel Guidebooks
I was planning a trip to Australia, and decided I'd like to take up on a stopover the airline offered, in Fiji. I did a bit of reading in various book stores before deciding that Fiji Handbook by David Stanley looked like the hands-down best bet.
Since then, I've found a remarkable array of information contained within its slim form, and have made a number of decisions based on this clear, light-hearted guide. I highly recommend this book for anyone heading to Fiji. And so do a number of other people online. I've done a bit of searching on the 'net for the places and people pointed to by the author of the Fiji Handbook, and found many affirmations. The proof will be in the visit itself, but that's still two days off!
Addendum, 2000/08/05: We visited Fiji in late January of this year, and I realize now that I made three mistakes when reading this book:
- I ignored the political chapter, cos I feared that a fellow Canadian would have little to say about Fijian politics that was very real, and because it seemed to make too much of Fiji's political instability. Once in Fiji, we heard the points of view of a number of people while in Fiji (Indo-Fijians, Fijians, long-staying foreigners, even a former resident who'd been born to European parents working for the colonial offices), and it became clear that Fiji is a very political place. Witness the coup that followed in May of this year - led by the Fijian/Australian thug George Speight.
- I expected things to run as they do in other places I'd visited, just as Mexico, Europe, even the Dominican Republic, perhaps. Nope. When the book stresses Fiji's unique way of doing things, pay attention.
- I overpacked, and later read in the book: 'take as little as you think you'll need, then leave half behind'. Yes, precisely, do this. When going to Fiji, pack as if you're visiting paradise: you will have no need for more footwear than flip/flops, and no more clothing than a couple of tees and some shorts. There is no such thing as formal wear in a land wear tribal chiefs wear discarded teeshirts!
All the more reason to value this excellent guide!
For what it's worth, I noticed three European travellers in Fiji holding their Lonely Planet book as they shopped for better guide books. Also, we encountered a number of people in Fiji who had the same guide, and we all traded useful tips we'd dug out of it.