Fort Rodd Hill

DSCN0055 DSCN0064 DSCN0069 DSCN0091………………………..Fort Rodd Hill
Fort Rodd Hill National historic site is in Victoria, BC. Built around 1890’s, a coast artillery fort to defend Victoria and Esquimalt naval base.

This huge park has under ground magazines, command posts, guard houses, audio visual stations, furnished rooms and barracks like a museum. All built a century ago.

View of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is awesome, with the back drop of the neighboring Washington state, USA Olympic mountains. Ships of all sizes are afloat, wild life also habitat here river otters, black tail deer, sea lions, harbor seals and bird watching a plus.

Near by is the world famous Fisguard lighthouse. The first light house on Canada’s west coast built in 1860. The red brick house and white tower stands at the entrance to Esquimalt harbour.

Inside are 2 floors of exhibits of keepers residence and display panels. Scuba diving around fisguard light house is popular so as family picnics at Fort Rodd hill park. A causeway provides access by land to the light house.

Lake Berryyessa

DSCN0851 DSCN0847 DSCN0855………………….Lake Berryessa – Napa valley

This beautiful lake which is actually a dam in the valley of Napa is breathtaking. Berryessa lake is the largest in Napa, California.

The Monticello dam provides hydro to the San Francisco area. Lake is used for recreational purposes like water ski, kayaking, boating, and swimming.

Several resort marinas, RV and camp sites are available too. We had a vacation in July and the warm temperature was pleasant to dip in the water.

The hills around have amazing grassland. Manzanita and Oak trees provide home to wild life and wild bird watches have a thrill here. Hawks, eagles and songbirds as well as pelicans, snow geese, blue heron and Canada geese make a habitat around the lake.

The wine country boasts vineyards with best wines of Napa valley which are close by for tours too.

Fishing is enjoyed by anglers and bass, catfish, rainbow trout, bluegill and crappie are found here. Lake Berryessa is a popular recreation destination, bringing thousands of visitors every year.

Farm Homestay

DSCN2464 DSCN2463 DSCN2471 DSCN2461Farm holidays

The farmer’s house situated near the Kings road was convenient to get off after an hours ride by bus from the second largest city of Lautoka. My host a family of six anxiously waited for my arrival as the youngest boy Neel in grade 7, gleefully announced.

My luggage taken in the inner room and the women Paros quickly hastened in the kitchen to bring tea and snacks made of local cassava and breadfruit.

Tractor parts strewn about the yard meant that repairs to farm equipment were an ongoing thing. Dick the farmer will give a tour of the farm in the afternoon announces Hardeep in his soft voice.

40 acres of sugar cane and vegetables grown in the flat fields make an enormous job for the workers. Located beside Ba River, irrigation is used to water the fields. During rainy season it’s prone to flooding too.

Tropical heat up to 35 c makes it unbearable sometimes and 600 tones of cane is harvested per year says Dick. An early start makes the work end quickly!

Harry his supervisor supervises the work done by 20 men. Still in high school and a teenager with a small goatee, handsome and tall. Harry gets organized before running off to school.

Work starts around 4 am each day during harvesting season. Cane is first cut at the bottom and then the top, said Harry and piled in rows as the cane cutters move on. It takes about 4 hours.

Then the task of loading comes next. Small empty carts 10 to 12 on makeshift rails are used for loading. Further down an open truck is also used to load sugar cane. This takes additional 2 hours.

Once loaded the small carts are pulled by a tractor onto the main rails which is done by Harry himself. Then it is pulled away by the locomotive train with other farms carts to the sugar mill for processing.

Once cut the dry cane leaves is burned and cultivated as manure. Ratoons or shoots of cane is cultivated in between lanes by tractor too. Manure fertilizer is applied on the crop and left for at least 2 to 3 months for the shoots to germinate.

Weeding starts and horse drawn cart called a hanger is used. A pointed diamond arrow shaped hoe sinks in earth does the trick. A week takes only for this adds Harry. Again cane is left for 4 to 5 months and weeding starts, using cane knives or machetes. Sharp as razor they do a good job. Then weed killer is applied to fasten the job until sugar cane is fully grown for harvest.

And then the cycle begins again.

Fiji Markets

IMG_1061 IMG_1063IMG_2835 IMG_3349……………………..Fiji Markets
Almost all towns have local produce as well as imported products Market. Its a huge building unlike a supermarket.

Various vendors sell their produce and wares bought from middle sales team or middle man as referred locally here.

And some have produce from their own back yard garden, sold by members of own family.

Green vegetables to Fijian tobacco called “suki” to fresh crushed juices are sold. Coconut oil hand extracted, grated and on sale in beer bottles are neatly displayed.

The smell of fresh vegetables, tobacco smoke and fresh fish linger in the air.

Kava or Yagona root is sold by kilograms, it is the national drink of the country.

A few stalls have women cut fresh jack fruit, pumpkin or peel broad beans right on the spot for sale, at a higher price though.

Bargain on price is recommended and its a normal every day sales pitch. Haggling is seen on some stalls and if the price is not agreed upon people move on to another.

Once a product is bought, its wrapped in newsprint and handed.

Lautoka, Fiji

DSCN2307 DSCN2002 DSCN2303 DSCN2301 DSCN2302………….Ocean Front Restaurant

Fins waterfront restaurant

We were greeted with a Bula!

The smiling staff in Fijian traditional dress led us down the short hallway to the Fins restaurant.

The creamed colored floor tiles gleamed in the sun’s ray and surroundings looked quite clean.

She asked where we like to sit as a few guests were still having breakfast. Since the terrace was open we opted to eat out.

Large glass windows all around gave a bright look and the decor a nice touch. The high ceiling also added vast openness.

The view was magnificent from our table but from any table one could enjoy too.

I bet sunset would be the best climax of the day because the hotel faced west. And I wasn’t wrong when our server claimed it was indeed breathtaking accompanied by happy hour cocktails. We wished we had time!

As we were seated and drinks order was taken she disappeared in the bar while we savored the calmness of the beauty. The midmorning sun and the light breeze from the open ocean before us relaxed us as I downed the Fiji bitter beer.

Cruise ships in distant views and fishing boats drifted around small islands here and there. Wow what a way to unwind in Fiji.

My partner and her son ordered local fish and chips, our two friend’s vegetarian fried rice and a club sandwich. While my kid and I had chili chicken and kids club meal.

The special of the day was the chili chicken which was mouthwatering awesomely good. I guess the chef really put his soul in the creation of this marvelous dish. Spicy as it was, it went very well with Fiji bitter beer. Equally tasty was the other dishes too.

Portions were decent sized for the price. The vegetarian rice had fresh veggies from the local farms said the hotel chefs Shalendar Murthi and his assistant Sunny Narayan beaming away.

Menu was reasonably priced so as the drinks and cocktails. The menu has a reasonable choice and we did have a hard time choosing what to eat because all sounded tempting.

Overall Fins is a pleasant restaurant to dine at. It caters to all groups of people and Staffs are friendly with their ever smiling faces and courteous service. We bid our vinaka (thank you) and took a stroll along the seaside.

Tanoa waterfront hotel is located in the city of Lautoka, 25 minutes drive from Nadi international airport. Marine drive, box 4653, Lautoka, Fiji. Ph: 679 9998555.

Sri Shiva Subramaniyam Temple – Nadi Fiji


…………………Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple – Fiji
A traditional Dravidian temple of India is a first for Fiji. The intricate craftsmanship details individual deities of various Gods and Goddess. It is even on the ceiling and you have to literally lie on the floor to enjoy the art.

I was awe struck at the beauty of this humongous temple in Nadi. The priest said 8 crafts men were brought from southern India to work on the project.

The main sanctum houses a life size deity of Lord Murugan and its in pitch black stone adorned in fine gold jewels. No one enters the inner sanctum except the chief priest who takes your offerings and after the rituals hands them back to you. Smell of turmeric and josh sticks envelope the surrounding among special lit candles or diyas as called here.

The annual festival of Kovil which lasts for a week attracts thousands to the temple each year says Subramani a devotee who come each morning for worship before going to work.

A separate Ganesha sanctuary is on the side and that too black and huge, this small temple has another Junior priest perform rituals or pooja. Small store is on the side selling items for worship.

If you go, visitors have to take their shoes off and camera is not allowed inside the temple.

Fiji Wananavu Beach Resort

IMG_0903 IMG_0907 IMG_0908IMG_0855 IMG_0858

The Wananavu beach resort sits on the hill side near the beach overlooking outer islands and the vast ocean beyond. It took us over an hour to reach here from Tavua, another Town. The main highway tar sealed, narrow for single lane traffic and many pot holes in the stretch making us slow down in fear of getting a puncture of the Sedan.

We saw goats and cattle grazing in the open fields with their young and people selling fruits and vegetables along the roadside.

Wananavu beach resort is about 2 miles from the highway, the gravel road not that great when we visited but the bumpy ride brought us to our destination we were looking forward to. The hotel is on a slope and individual bure or cottages is all over down to the beach.

We had a garden view bure as that was the only one available when booked. Coconut trees and hibiscus made into walkway hedges together with other native foliage make up the tropical gardenia. In the distance we hear waves caressing the beach.

Bures had thatched roofs and modern amenities with hardwood floors and built of local wood structure. Minibar well equipped and fresh frangipani bouquet flowers as well as hibiscus adorned almost every where. We headed straight to the beach and soon learned it was a huge resort.

The warm inviting ocean allured us in as we waded in the low tide and had to go way past kayaking group having fun their way to the deeper end.

Pacific Palisades – Los Angeles

DSCN1655 DSCN1656 DSCN1674 DSCN1657 DSCN1681 DSCN1670…………………….Lake Shrine
This summer we visited California again. Los Angeles was our destination and the weather just perfect. The clear blue sky and sunshine with light ocean breeze had people enjoying their chores.

We decided to take a tour of the Self Realization Fellowship Temple in Pacific Palisades.

Situated a few blocks from the Pacific ocean, this sanctuary has beautiful gardens, a lake, many drifferent types of flowers and trees.

The garden also graces a world Peace memorial of Mahatama Ghandi which also contains some of his cremated ashes. On top of the hill is the Temple.

Western and East style structure and an octagonal dome building painted white is the Lake Shrine Temple, complete with a gold crown. The beautiful view of the west ocean is amazing as well as the main temple.

A walking path is around the lake and scenic beauty is breath taking. Among the native trees is a life size deity of Lord Krishna holding a flute cross legged.

The windmill chapel just on the edge is an older building which devotees spend in a quite prayer.
Just on the other side of the lake on the hill among the flora, stands the deity of Jesus Christ in white overlooking the lake. And a water cascade flows into the lake in rapid falls. A gorgeous place to relax spiritually I guess.

Weddings, Christenings and Memorials are held here. If you go check the calendar as its closed at certain times.

17190 Sunset Boulevard
Pacific Palisades CA 90272

Local Temple ,rural Ba – Fiji


On my trip to Rewa, Fiji via Kings road we stopped by the Temple beside the highway. Lots of people and devotees gathered around the Friday morning offerings. The priest, who was presiding over the prayers was in a trance and blessed and accepted plates decorated with fruits, cooked sweets, coconut  and flowers. This was then given to the various deity on the altar which had colorful garments adorned including ornamental jewelry.

People told their issues to the priest and he would scatter ashes and candles to them as the next person in line comes forward for their turn. Most were to come back with offering once the desired project was done.

The 12 x 8 room size of the temple, smelled of camphor, turmeric power and  Neem leaves freshly cut. The atmosphere divine and vibrant with the faithful offering prayers to the goddess dancing in ecstasy. Most of the deities were hand made and I was told that a special fire sacrifice was performed before carving or creating the statue and once complete more rituals followed to invoke the divine spirit into them.Fruits and other food was distributed after the function