Viseisei Village, Fiji
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Review of "Viseisei Village, Fiji"
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THE LANDING PLACE OF THE FIRST FIJIANSAbout 12km north of Nadi is Viseisei village in the district of Vuda and this is supposedly where the first Melanesians arrived in Fiji around 1500. The village of Viseisei is the chief village in the district of Vuda and this is the village of the just recently retired Prime minister of Fiji. The villages in Fiji have a very distinct structure and are divided into clans, the warrior clan, the messenger clan and so on. You are born into your clan and this never changes. Each clan inhabits a specific area of the village and fulfils specific traditional roles or duties.
When visiting villages in Fiji it is important to make sure you do not offend by following simple rules Fijian villagers are offended by bikinis or scant clothing worn in the village area so to be safe and not cause offence wear clothing that covers the knees and shoulders. Despite the hot sun it is also considered rude to wear hats in the village so take them off before entering. It is customary if you are staying in a village to take a gift and this is usually the dry powder to make their ‘kava’ drink which is used as a ceremonial welcome and also as a relaxation and mild intoxicant by villagers.
We were invited in to the village and introduced to our guide who belonged to the messenger clan. He took us to a series of craft stalls selling various items made by the villages at very reasonable prices. There were wooden carved things and many haematite and fresh water pearl jewellery items. A fresh water pearl necklace was about £4 which I felt was amazing value.
After we had spent some money our guide took us around the village and told us a bit of the history and also a bit about the structure of the village and village life. I was quite shocked to hear that in the village of only 800 they had 98 orphans. The parents had died of cancer or accidents; apparently cancer is quite a killer in Fiji. That did seem to be a very big percentage of orphans in one village to me. The orphans are looked after by the church which gets the money from the tourist’s $5 entry fee and I think village people who are earning in jobs outside the village probably donate to the church too. Our guide said he gets paid once a month from the fund too.
There is the orphanage and the dormitory for that, a kindergarten and a school all part of this village. There is a High school too but a bit further from the village. The structure and etiquette within the village is very strict. Women have to have their shoulders covered and wear a sarong or lap lap that is below their knees especially in the open ground around the church and the chief’s hut .The men have to wear the lap lap or lava lava which is like a sarong and not just shorts. Just next to the chiefs meeting house is a smaller waiting covered seating area where visitors (including Prince Charles) have to wait for their meeting with the village chief.
The houses apart from the special chief’s hut and waiting hut are all made of concrete blocks and plastered over and painted. The entire village was beautifully kept with grass short and not litter or rubbish lying around. The church was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel in this village while other villages have catholic churches. The village is mostly Methodist, the Catholic residents have to go to church away from the village as there isn’t a catholic church in this village.
When I asked where the first Melanesians had come from to get to Fiji we were told that they sailed from Tanzania which was very impressive sailing considering what they came in. This also explained the similarities we had noticed in the Fijian language to Kiswahili.
This village offers accommodation, as do many other villages in Fiji. You need to book well in advance as the places are limited. It is a homestay style accommodation and includes meals and it is very reasonable in price but does not of course offer luxury style facilities. I believe the cost is about $80 Fijian and this is about £25 a night and half that for children. You eat with the host family and the food is supposed to be excellent. There is electricity and water but only cold water for showers! This is not for me but I realise that other people may really enjoy the experience.
I found our visit very interesting and I loved the way the village people are proud of their history and traditional culture but at the same time can earn a living in modern jobs too. I thought it was refreshing to hear that traditional food, crafts and ways are being kept alive, old people respected and they look after each other when needed.
I would certainly recommend a visit to this village being the oldest but most big villages in Fiji welcome visitors who behave with respect. The villages are kept very neatly and are laid out in specific traditional structure. The meeting house area is particularly important and the dress code must be adhered to by all.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
Product Information : Viseisei Village, Fiji
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Listed on Ciao since: 17/11/2010