Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Suva Citiscapes - New York Of The South Pacific...


And walking along the stately Victoria Parade led us into the bustling business district of downtown Suva. And we pass by offices, banks and government offices. The sheer number of high-rises (relatively speaking), bank branches along the Victoria Parade make it evidently clear that Suva is  the financial capital of the South Pacific, the New York of the South Pacific...


The Downunder Pub on the Victoria Parade...


Passing by a Fijian bank, HFC...


The impressive colonial architecture of the Fijian Ministry of Information and Communications...

The history of Suva is filled with colonial intrigue. In return for a promise to pay off debts owed to the United States by a local Bauan chieftain, Seru Epenisa Cakobau, the Australian-based Polynesia Company was given possession of 5000 square kilometres of land, of which 575 square kilometers was then the village of Suva, in 1868. Polynesia Company intended to develop a cotton farming industry, but the land and climate proved unsuitable. Following the British takeover of Fijian sovereignity in 1874, the colonial authorities decided to move the capital to Suva from Levuka. The transfer was made official in 1882. Colonel F.E. Pratt of the Royal Engineers was appointed Surveyor-General in 1875 and designed the new capital...


Stopping by for lunch at the Maya Dhaba - a restaurant that serves both north and south Indian cuisines...


Maya Dhaba claims to have outlets here in Fiji, Sydney and in India (wonder where?)...


We were served by young and petite Fiji-Indian lady who was very prompt, efficient and friendly...
And food was well, close to authentic...


The spread on the thalis was indeed quite delectable. And with our tummies full of spicy food from home, we couldn't complain...



The Bad Dog Cafe...



Vodafone connects this remote corner of the Pacific...


The Suva City Council...


The buses here are quite colourful...



With yummy desi food in our tummies, who wants fish 'n' chips...

It's lunch time, but the place is bustling...




A Chinese salon...
The history of the Chinese here in Fiji dates to the year 1855, when Moy Ba Ling, also known as Houng Lee, who reached Fiji from Australia and settled in Levuka.  Even though he later returned to China, he brought in his relatives and some others to settle in Fiji. These settlers were lured in by the gold rush. The next wave of Chinese immigrants came looking for sandalwood and beche-de-mer or sea-cucumbers. Today, there are around 6000 ethnic Chinese in Fiji, mostly Cantonese speakers, and there any more descendants of the original immigrants who have mixed blood, resulting from mixed marriages with Fijians...


Some more banks - and here it is - Bank of Baroda from India!


O dear, McDonald's here?


And that reminded me of the Regal cinemas in Delhi and Mumbai...


ANZ, where incidentally I had my first bank account is quite big here!


Fiji-Indian establishments are to be seen everywhere around here, clearly the diaspora has a great deal to do with business and commerce here...


Mannequins dressed as Indian bride and groom...



Approaching Tappoo City - the swankiest shopping mall of Suva city. The mall is owned and operated by the Tappoo family, whose founder, Tappoo Kanji, left India and settled in Fiji in 1941 in the hope of providing a better life for his family...


The Tappoos are today one of the biggest business houses in Fiji...


The Fijian flag looks resplendent in the sun...


A building built by an Indian...


The food court of Tappoo City...


And there are quite a few options for Indian food...



Wow! Titan watches sell in Fiji!
And it's almost time to say goodbye to the New York of the South Pacific, Suva to head to Nadi!


The Stately Victoria Parade...



And we go on exploring the Fijian capital, Suva, by foot. A short walk from the Thurston Gardens brought us to Albert Park...
And it's from the Albert Park that you can get a great view of the art deco Government Buildings...


And the locals say that this sight resembles that of the Buckingham Palace in London, a legacy of the British Raj in this outpost in the South Pacific...



The Albert Park reminds me of the Oval Maidan, across from the Bombay High Court, back home in Mumbai...



The foundation stone of the the Government Buildings was laid in 1937. The buildings were designed by the Chief Colonial Architect, Walter Frederick Hedges, who had previously served from 1928 to 1931 as the chief architect in the Federated Malay States, where he designed the Kuala Lumpur Hospital and Istana Iskandariah, the palace of the Sultan of Perak. Hedges had previously served as Chief Architect in the Gold Coast Colony (modern day Ghana), where he designed the Prince of Wales College, Achimota...
The Government Buildings were formally opened in May 1939 by Governor Sir Harry Luke, to serve as the seat of the colonial administration and the Legislative Council of Fiji. Since 1970 and until the coups of 1987, the buildings housed the Parliament of Fiji. And following the 2014 general election, Parliament returned to its historic seat within the Government Buildings...


The Grand Pacific Hotel - fondly known as the "Grand Old Lady of the Pacific" has had quite a journey over the years. The very idea of the hotel came about in 1908 when the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand recognised the need for superior accommodation in Suva to cater for their passengers on their South Pacific route. Their Managing Director, Sir James Milles, commissioned the project with the hotel to be set on two acres that had been reclaimed from Suva Harbour in 1910. The architectural plans were based on contemporary colonial architecture and featured high ceilings and big double, louvered doors opening onto a broad veranda designed to provide cool comfort and style in a tropical climate. After a relatively short construction phase, the hotel opened its doors to guests on May 23, 1914...
In those days, the hotel had 35 rooms, the Roof Garden bar, a drawing room, billiard room with two tables, the smoking room and writing room. The room tariff was a princely 15 shillings...
Since its opening, the hotel has played host to royalty, the rich and the famous. And then there is the legend of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, the pioneering Australian aviator after whom Sydney's international airport is named, who in 1928, landed the “Southern Cross” opposite in Albert Park on his flight across the Pacific from the United States to Australia...
The 1980s saw a reversal of fortunes and was shuttered in 1992, after being converted into military barracks. In 2014, the hotel was reopened after investments by the Fijian government and investors from Papua New Guinea. And the Grand Old Lady of the Pacific lives on to tell its stories to curious travelers like us...


The Fijian flag atop the Grand Old Lady of the Pacific...



Another view of the Government Buildings...


A statue of Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, a Fijian statesman...



And the not so stately Holiday Inn next door...


And I just can't take my eyes off the Fijian flag...



Some more Fijian flags as we walk down the Victoria Parade...


And now we have a gargantuan Fijian appetite...

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