Sunday nights are rather quiet in ol’ Lenina. The throng of crowds that fill its grey pavements on Friday and Saturday evenings go into hiding, where — I do not know. Perhaps they are hiding in bed, dreading the beginning of another weekly grind that awaits them the following day. Do the people here know that Sundays are one of the busiest social evenings in other countries? Perhaps not. But then again, this is Siberia — things can be very different here.
I take a Siberian friend for a pleasant evening out — yes I take her out — not she takes me out. Because after four months of living in the city center, I find myself becoming the tour guide for Russians who live outside of it. An irony, for sure — but it means that I’m adjusting, adapting to my new environment well.
First is the banya — one near the place where my friend Nikolai works. This banya is a unique one: it’s unisex. The showers are separated but the banya isn’t. Strange but true. It even comes with branches to hit each other with. On a cold day in Siberia — these things are a god-send. Whoever brought them here should win the Nobel prize for science and engineering. We talked about traveling. I return her story with one of mine: A journey into Kadavu island of Fiji where I snorkelled with white stingrays the size of sharks.
Fiji is an island nation — or rather, a collection of small islands north of Australia. The two nations are close and share history. If you love the beach and sun life — forget Thailand folks — Fiji, though less known around the world, is the place to be. It is a nation where large native women cut coconuts with machetes bigger than a man’s arm. Where it rain comes down from the clouds exactly at 11am and stops at 12 noon everyday — as if the clouds operated on an automatic timer. Suva is its capital and it is around 4 times the size of Novosibirsk with only 90,000 people living in it — impossible, you ask? Totally possible in the southern hemisphere. Our cities can be large in size with extremely low population density.
Once out of Suva, the real paradise of these lands begin: You see, Australia is indeed a paradise of beaches but you get the honor of sharing them with your neighbours — Fiji is paradise of beaches you don’t have to share with anyone. There is more than plenty for everyone to have their own private beaches as long as they want. And the seafood — my god, to die for. I don’t even know why the local of this island choose to eat mutton imported from Australia when they have absolutely the best quality fish and crustaceans this planet has to offer. And yes, I HAVE eaten a turtle here. And it’s not bad when cooked local style over burning fire, wrapped in coconut leaves. To witness the sunrise dipped in the warm ocean as the water turns from purple to blue and yellow, to swim with a swarm of stingrays during mating season are magnificent things to behold.
There are many things to see and experience in this world and sitting in a hot room with a green-eyed Siberian girl talking about the island nation of Fiji is one of them.
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