Though it seems strange to suggest it given some of the amazing sights, beaches, resorts and sunsets I experienced in my time in the Fijian islands - I had to admit that one of my favourite little bits was taking the local bus on Viti Levu.
I find that it is surprisingly hard these days to get a really, truly local experience when you visit somewhere. Flying clear around to the other side of the world doesn't cut it anymore, and it does seem to take some real effort to find something truly off the tourist trail.
And often in these places, even when you do - they are so accustomed to you as a tourist - then you're not really any better off at getting the local feel.
And even though this was often the case in Fiji - there were also a few great opportunities to experience something a bit more local, and different.
While staying at Stoney Creek Resort - a little place just a few minutes outside of Nadi airport in the Sabeto Mountains, there were very few options for transport. We had no reason to rent a car as we were predominantly island hopping, and a taxi would cost about $20 to get back and forth from the hotel to the airport. Not bad airport transfer - but a little pricey for sight seeing.
There was, however, a local bus.
The bus would run through the cane fields and local villages several times every day, and pass the entrance to Stoney Creek. Several of the other guests who had been there a few days already recommended we take it - as the best way to get to some of the local towns.
When it became apparent that we were going to stay in Viti Levu a week or more to relax and really get a feel for the main island, we decided to try the local bus into the little villagers town of Latouka.
The day before we watched two young honeymooners from the states wait for about 4 hours before giving up on the bus that never showed. The buses, too, run on Fiji time.
But undeterred we decided to hop the bus the next morning and make our way to Latouka for some shopping, some souvenirs, and to exchange some money.
To our delight the old rickety bus pulled up pretty much right on time. We flagged it down on the dusty dirt road and got on board with all the villagers heading into town to do their shopping.
The bus experience was great. We were the only foreigners on the bus, both there and back. It is actually only 15 miles to Latouka, but on the local bus it took us about an hour and a half. But we enjoyed every rickety, bumpy moment of it. We sat as women dressed in Sunday dresses got on and off with shopping, as workers from the cane fields got a ride up the road - as Indo-Fijians got on with their families.
The cane fields and villages passed as the dusty wind blew in the open windows - and every moment we kept our fingers crossed that it was actually going to make it all the way there.
The bus there cost $0.80 - and in the end we arrived very safely in Latouka.
The ride back - this time with cash and a fair amount of goodies - was a little unnerving as the bus driver half way through decided to take a completely different route which led us an extra 30 minutes through the deep mountains into the heart of several villages. But assuring us he knew we were going to Stoney Creek, and after sweating it a little when we realized we were the only people left on the bus and had no idea where we were going - we made it back.
That is, after stopping at a local school and picking up an entire bus load of the most well mannered school children in the world.
We came back sweaty, covered with dust and grime from the road and a little bit rattled, and yet still thoroughly enjoyed the experience of it. It was really great having one day that was all about Fiji, and nothing about tourism.