Two weeks in Fiji and Australia—what an amazing trip!
This was my first time traveling outside of the US, and it was an absolutely amazing couple of weeks. I am on a huge double-decker plane 11 hours into a 15 hour flight as I write this, and I am simultaneously excited to get home and already missing all the people and places from the trip.
For my first international excursion this was a big contrast from the world I am used to. The culture of Fiji is fascinating, I learned so much and yet still feel like I barely scratched the surface. And the weather was pretty much my dream come true—warm and sunny with the occasional storm to cool things off. The kind of weather that allows for outdoor showers and leaving the windows open 24/7.
Plus I got to experience it all with my sister who I hadn’t seen in months, so that made the entire adventure 10 times better!
Aside from exploring and experiencing the city of Suva, I did some more tourist-y things too. Snorkeling over top of coral amidst fish of every color and the biggest blue starfish I’ve ever seen. Kayaking in the most beautiful turquoise water alongside a few small sharks and almost beaching countless times. Laying in a hammock chair in total zen mode and soaking up the potent Fiji sunshine. Did you know that it is possible to sunburn so badly your face actually swells? Me neither, but I can tell you that it is. My Vitamin D levels are totally topped up now.
The food. It is an easy place to eat raw and fruity, the tropical fruit is abundant and delicious. Papayas, mangoes, pineapple, passionfruit, and coconuts EVERYWHERE. Coconut trees line the roads and just about every roadside market has them. And smoothies and fresh juices are available almost everywhere too.
But besides fruit, it is not the easiest place to eat vegan. Grocery stores are very different, seafood is the norm, and dairy has a way of sneaking into things when you least expect it. For instance, at a cafe one morning I ordered an iced coffee which rice milk (the most common non-dairy milk option I saw in Fiji, although still not all that common) and it turns out iced coffee = coffee flavored milkshake, complete with ice cream…surprise!
A few of my favorite eats…
Sila (a.k.a. side-of-the-road corn). After passing tons of little stands promising “Hot Corn” we finally stopped to try it. Basically from a large boiling pot they pulled out ears of corn still in husks, dunked them into cold water, peeled them, and handed them to us in a grocery bag. It tasted nothing like the corn on the cob I am used to, but I loved it. It was much tougher and chewier, reminiscent of the texture of boiled chestnuts.
Snowy House. I cannot wait to recreate this for the blog (and eat many many batches while getting the recipe just right!) It was kind of like ice cream, kind of like a snow cone—shaved ice but with ice cream-like flavors: chocolate, green tea, red bean, coffee, etc. It comes in a big metal bowl with granola/cereal hiding underneath and a scoop of ice cream (or rice cream!) on top. So yummy we went back 3 times!!
I also tried Indian food for the first time in Fiji, which sounds weird but is actually really common there. I don’t really know what I ate—some sort of veggie dish involving okra with saffron rice—but it was delicious.
Breadfruit. A not-so-fruity fruit, but one of my favorite things I tried the whole trip! It is not sweet at all, and actually very starchy and potato like although a little more fibrous. Cut into wedges and fried it was delicious. I regretted giving space on my plate to anything but breadfruit at that lunch buffet. You could see it growing all over the place too like in the photo above.
Continuing on the starchy plant theme, the cassava root was delicious too. I’m not sure if it was baked or fried, but it was also very reminiscent of potato wedges although a little lighter. It was fun to finally try the actual root from which one of my favorite flours comes. Taro root is also really common in Fiji, I saw massive bundles of it with the green tops still on standing tall at many of the roadside markets we passed. I never got a chance to try the root itself, but I did get to try the cooked taro leaves. They reminded me a lot of cooked spinach, a little less witty and limp, but really tasty.
There are stray animals all over the island. These two happy water-frolicking Fiji dogs are lucky enough to call a secluded island resort their home. And this little feline friend somehow always found her way into our Airbnb right at meal times and sometimes snuck back for a midnight trashcan
Since I was in the
neighborhood hemisphere, after Fiji I hopped over to Australia to meet up with my awesome Aussie friend, Arman, for a few days exploring Melbourne.
Even though I only had 3 days there, I feel like I got a wonderful taste of the place—one day wandering the city, one day outside in the sun and at the Melbourne Zoo, and one day seeing the coast and browsing IKEA because it’s not every day I get the chance to nerd out over photo props with a fellow food blogger friend.
(Disclaimer: I was very camera-forgetful by the time I got to Australia, so please excuse the lack of photos from this part of the trip!)
Delicious food highlights…
After so many new and unexpected food experiences in Fiji, Melbourne was a wonderful contrast with tons of healthy options. Although every single evening did end in a cold creamy dessert of some kind. While escaping the chilliest month of winter back home, I am going to eat as many frozen desserts as possible!
Fritz Gelato. The flavor selection was total delicious overwhelm, we both just stood there just staring undecided for an awkwardly long amount of time. I ended up going with half mint chocolate chip and half bounty—a surprisingly un-fruity choice but sometimes my love for chocolate takes precedence. Both were amazing and quickly devoured before melting or blowing away since we were walking along the ocean.
Gelatissimo. This time I went fruity with lemon and strawberry sorbet. There were tons of fruity dairy-free options like mango, passionfruit, green apple, raspberry, blood orange, and I don’t even remember what else.
Frozen by a Thousand Blessings. Self serve frozen yogurt but with dairy-free options! The two dairy-free flavors were strawberry and almond mylk hazelnut, I got both. The strawberry was creamier, but I liked the nutty flavor of the hazelnut better. The topping bar had some unique choices too like mini GF chocolate cupcakes and mini cheesecakes—some dessert on top of your dessert.
Okay I’ll stop with the frozen desserts now.
A really fun non dessert place we went was Spud Bar. It felt like being at Subway but with a delicious, hot, scissor-mashed sweet potato instead of bread for piling high with any number of toppings. I never would’ve thought to put spinach, tomato, beets, and corn on a sweet potato, but let me tell you it works!
Lunches were usually something quick on the go amidst exploring, but one trend I noticed (and loved!) is how easy it is to find sushi just about anywhere. Even at the museum next to the usual burgers and sandwiches you could grab a couple of sushi rolls instead. I wish the US would adopt this trend.
Am I exhausted? Yes. Would I do it again in a second? Heck yes!!
But right now I am looking forward to getting back to reality and back to recipe creation. That is one of my favorite things about travel, the joy is two-fold: 1) the excitement of the adventure itself and 2) the sweetness of home that only time away can make me fully appreciate.
This will certainly not be my last adventure abroad 🙂