Posted by: Alicia Phillips | August 26, 2011

Things I See That You Probably Don’t….

I suppose I could remind everyone that I live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world and that I am surrounded by beautiful beaches, jungles, people, flowers, sunsets, and coral reefs. But I don’t want to rub it in :), so here are a few other things I see on a daily basis that you, most likely, do not.

1.       Men in skirts

Actually they are called pocket sulu’s. they are the equivalent to our dress pants. When someone is dressing up nice they will wear a pocket sulu and a bula shirt, also known as a Hawaiian shirt. I actually think the guys in our group look so nice when they wear one. They seem to like it too, they say it’s nice and breezy. You have to be extra careful sitting down though…

2.       People making kissy noises at taxis.

This is how you hail a cab here. Literally, when you see a cab you stick your hand out and make kissy noises at it. It’s pretty hilarious to see a grown man, or anybody really, make this sound and get a cab.

3.        Sugar cane train

I live in Lautoka City, also known as the burning west. I am surrounded by sugar cane farms. 4-6 months out of the year farmers cut their cane and load them on to these huge carts that are then connected like a train and rolled to the nearest sugar cane mill. And after the cane is cut and shipped they burn their fields, hence the name “the burning west”. Here is a train escorted by a man and his horse……another thing you don’t see everyday.

4.       A chicken laying an egg in a kitchen

So I was hanging out with my bfff (Best Fiji Friend Forever) Livia, in her village the other day and we look up and see a chicken in her outside kitchen. We get up and look closer and all the sudden, right before our eyes, an egg falls out, in her kitchen. It was almost as if it was giving us permission to scramble it… we did.

5.       Questions from random strangers.

Taxi  drivers, the person you sit beside on the bus, people in the supermarket, everyone asks questions!! What’s your name? Where are you from? Where are you staying? What is the rent like? Why are you here? How much do you get paid? How old are you? Do you like it here? Are you married? Why not? Do you want to get married in Fiji? Where do your parents live? You have brothers and sister? How old are they? Are they married? What do they do? All this from complete strangers. Then at the end of the conversation they ask for your cell phone number so they can invite you to their home for tea…..and then they actually call you! It’s crazy! You would have to be a hermit, shut off to the world not to make friends here.

6.       No shoes no problem

Really, you don’t have to wear shoes here. Anywhere. Completely optional.

7.       Potluck lunches

At my job, when 1 PM rolls around and it’s time for lunch, everyone I work with sits down and puts their lunch in the middle of the table and everyone eats a little of everyone else’s lunch. It is so nice! This is also the case during tea time. The people here are so generous.

8.       UFO’s

No, I haven’t seen any actual aliens here (I don’t think). But there is a brand of chips called “Unusually Flavored Objects”. These particular ones are hamburger flavored. Apparently they were popular in the 80’s? I am pretty sure they are terrible for you and loaded with MSG.

9.       Hurricane Grill

-EVERY door and window in all of Fiji has hurricane grill on it. I actually have two sets on mine. It’s ugly but it’s safe!

10.   No toilet paper

You know how when sometimes you get stuck in a public restroom and there isn’t any toilet paper because it ran out? Well, most places here never had it to begin with. Toilet paper isn’t a necessity here in Fiji. Well then what do they use you ask? Well…..never shake someone’s left hand.


11. Hammer Heads

So this isn’t something I personally saw but it is such a cool story I have to share! One of the other FRE-09 volunteers, Dan, went fishing with the women in his village and while they were out in the water they caught a small hammer head shark.  Craziness!!! Here is a picture I stole off his facebook.


  1. Alicia, you are my hero…. =D

  2. I need to know more about this toliet paper situation…

    • haha! It freaked me out at first too, but they sell it in the supermarket so I have a stockpile in my apartment and carry some in my purse wherever I go.

  3. ALICIA!!!!!! Listen, I am no vegan, but that chicken laid an egg right in front of you. That could have potentially been an offspring for this chicken, and you thought it wanted you to scramble it?! Right in front of her?!!!! Now that is just morbid. 🙂 Also, please bring me back some UFOs to try for myself. And the toilet paper situation really freaks me out. I mean, a #1, not so bad, but “everybody poops”!!

  4. Alicia; I think your father would be quite proud to wear a pocket sulu. Then whenever asked what his deal is, he would proudly break into the story of his very special daughter in Fiji. Where did you come up with the name “Bloom where your planted.” A friend of mine was complaining about his situation and location, so I told him he must bloom where hes planted. I also told him that was from u. Keep writing girl. I’m going to start a blog on wordpress to document my travels.Thanks Alicia for helping to open my eyes to this marvelous planet we’re lucky enough to live on. Chop

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