The Nightmare Layover in Fiji

The Nightmare Layover in Nadi, Fiji

36 hours in Fiji is not nearly enough time to enjoy this exotic island, especially during the Bula Fiji festival. But that is just what we did when we had our layover in Nadi on our way back to the United States from Australia, or at least what we had planned to do before tragedy struck. It’s been five years since this horrific event happened so I decided it was time. Time to get it off my chest and allow it to be used for entertainment as I can now finally look back and laugh about it.

This is far from a typical post of ours, and I’m sorry in advance that I won’t be highlighting the beauty of the exotic Fijian Islands. Quite frankly, I can’t remember much of anything about the small slice of paradise I did experience. Rather I write this because it’s important to know that in reality, travel is NOT always awesome, beautiful, and glamorous. My story here proves that in its entirety as it’s one of my worst travel fails to date.

How did we end up at Bula Fiji?

After wrapping up our summer mission work in Australia with a group of our college friends, Kallsy and I had a 36-hour layover in Fiji. We arrived at what we thought would be a perfect time; the Bula Fiji Festival was in works, a festival with many fairs, food vendors, singing, and dancing. Nadi is much different than the typical Fiji that you imagine with white sand beaches and crystal clear water rather the city center is filled with a hustle of local residents, markets, food vendors, and homes.

We arrived in the late afternoon and took a taxi to our small motel on the main Island in Nadi. After checking in we were famished! We walked to a nearby Thai restaurant to settle down to a nice dinner to which was the start of some very eventful experiences in the hours that followed. Still a vegetarian at the time, Kallsy ordered some Thai noodles and a soup whereas I ordered chicken skewers, noodles, and more (after all, I was starving!).


After eating we all went back to our motel and rested as we planned to be up early the next morning. Instead, all night I kept waking up with terrible stomach pain to which nothing was happening or working to relieve it. Ever have that feeling of nausea that just won’t go away? That’s what this was.

I took antacids, nothing. I then took an anti-diarrheal to be precautionary and attempted to go back to sleep. After what seemed like an eternity of lying in bed restless, I finally slept a few hours before the alarm was destined to go off.

D-Day At Bula Fiji

The next morning Kallsy awoke her normal, chipper self (she’s one of those that likes to sing and talk in the morning) whereas I do not and after having very little sleep, and still feeling like I was about to keel over from my stomachache, I was extremely irritable.

We had planned to go on a day cruise to one of the nearby islands which we found for 35USD per person but due to my constant sweating paranoia of being close to the bathroom (just in case), we decided it would be smart to stay on the main island rather than on a boat and remote island. We thought we could possibly find our way to a nearby beach and explore the markets/festival with our friends.

Since I wasn’t feeling adventurous with the cuisine, we all agreed to eat at the local Hard Rock Café. After all, it’s a chain restaurant so it was sure to have some safe options. Thinking if I ate some regular grub I might get to feeling better I ordered a sandwich and some fries, after eating a few bites of the sandwich I started feeling even iller so I set it aside and began to chug water as quickly as our waitress would bring it out. The water seemed to help and we decided to head off to the nearby markets and Bula Festival.

As I stated before, Nadi is far from typical when most think of Fiji, however, there was certainly a peculiar charm to this main area where locals live and thrive. We explored many nearby markets and talked to locals and I was beginning to feel much better! Until…


All around Fiji you would see taxi buses outside restaurants and shops that would take local people from place to place.


A local market in Nadi where many locals and street food vendors come to purchase produce.


A shopping center in Nadi along with a restaurant.


Many of the market areas and shops did not have regular windows.

A Carnival of Horrors at Bula Fiji


So, let me ask you a question: If you walk by a Bula Fiji carnival and noticed that none of the rides are moving and there was virtually no one there minus the people running the show, would you run up and ask for a ride? A sensible person would say no. But Kallsy, being the fearless wild child she runs up to the nearest ride. Before I could catch up she was high in the sky on the creakiest, sketchiest Ferris wheel I’ve ever seen to this day.

The whole time I stood below looking up as I watched in horror as bolts, screws, and who knows what else began to fly out of the cars like confetti. Kallsy, still oblivious to her apparent possible death, was throwing her hands out the side and laughing at my distressed look. Somehow she survived. Once off the death trap, I didn’t even have it in me to tell her that she should get a tetanus shot immediately upon arrival in the States. Why? Because this was when tragedy finally struck. Reader discretion is advised.

What can be described as a bodily volcanic eruption, set in. I don’t know how it kept itself at bay for so long. Maybe the Imodium I took the night before? Possibly eating at the Hard Rock Cafe finally made it submerge? It could have also been the sinking feeling of Kallsy falling from 30+ft on the wheel of misfortune. But whatever it was, it came with full force and vengeance.

I felt my body break out in beads of sweat and immediately started shuffling down the path looking for any sign of a public restroom. Kallsy still following close behind and still oblivious. I came upon a fenced-in bathroom with a painted sign that read: “Ladies & Gents Toilet – User pay 20¢, Opening hrs: Mon-Sat: 6am-6pm” Scrambling I ran up to the window and shouted for Kallsy to bring the change. Finally understanding what was about to happen she ran up and gave the clerk the money.


Thank you, I paid my dues.

I’ll spare you from the gory details of what happened next but let’s just say that I unleashed some powerful demons in that bathroom and after what seemed like many hours I left the tiny stall with the sandpaper toilet tissue defeated and horrified.


The look you give your then girlfriend of less than a year after your bathroom experience hoping she doesn’t say a word.

Seeing I had lost all color, Kallsy and I sat out on a journey to find Gatorade or some other electrolyte beverage. After searching around 6 shops we finally found some. Two large bottles of orange Gatorade for a whopping $5 a piece, I bought them willingly.

Paradise at Last?

After I tried to muster what was left of my dignity and we decided to take a taxi with the others in our group to the beach. “Finally,” I thought, “maybe I can just sit on the beach by the sand and relax a little.”  Upon arriving at a row of hotels and resorts our driver informed us that we would need to walk the rest of the way and that the ocean was just a few blocks down the road.

Well, 5 miles from Bula Fiji later and completely delirious we finally reached the beach and the crystal clear waters that we dreamed of. I was ready to dip my toes in and feel the cool water on my aching feet when I felt a large punch in the back and felt my body go underneath the waves. The feeling of my lower half hitting the salt water nearly had me in tears. Kallsy, had tackled me apparently thinking that the water would refresh me and my spirits and as I arose from the sea, I closed my eyes and said: “Please God, just take me now.” 

Seeing my obvious discomfort she realized she had made a mistake and I wasn’t about to lay out on the bare sand at risk of getting sand in my shorts so we walked to a nearby hotel that had a public restroom (THANK YOU) and a proper chair to sit on. That’s when a grand idea hit us, we could lounge by the hotel pool for the day, we were technically tourists after all so who would notice?

We found our friends and had access to pools with waterfalls, a swim-up café, hot tubs, and a nearby beach for the rest of the day. It was glorious and I even got a small nap in on a lounge chair. Sorry if you think less of us, we were reckless college students after all.



Walking over 5 miles in order to see this view was entirely worth it.

The Big Spill


Here’s us getting ready to board the flight back to the United States. I might have had to force a smile.

After a few hours, we called a taxi to take us to the airport to head back to the States. This time, the new driver arrived and took us the whole distance (no more walking 5 extra miles). I was slightly worried because I was afraid Montezuma’s Revenge Pt. 32 could happen but I settled into my Economy Class seat and was given a breakfast that would suffice for someone who had just endured such torturous events when all of a sudden I saw a glass of orange juice fly towards me and spill all over my lap.

Now normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal, I always carry on extra clothes but today I hadn’t lucked out. So when I looked over and saw Kallsy cowering down and staring at the pulp covering my shirt, pants, and tray of untouched breakfast I was peeved. To make matters more terrific, she had taken a Benadryl to sleep and was out like a light within 20 minutes and 12,000 “I’m sorry’s.” I had taken an actual sleeping pill and sleep never came.

The duration of our the first 14 of 18 hours of flying was mainly spent glaring at my sleeping girlfriend as she leaned her head on the shoulder of another guy (also sleeping, not his fault or hers). Needless to say, I nearly kissed the ground when we finally landed and now take two extra sets of clothes in my carry on. And in case anyone is wondering, yes I would love to go back to Fiji – I’ll just find a different restaurant. 😉

Have you ever had to suffer through anything similar to my experience at Bula Fiji?
What has been one of your worst travel experiences?


Travel isn't always pretty. Read about how what our 36 hour layover in Fiji turned out differently than expected and how we made the most of it.


  • Reply
    December 2, 2016 at 3:42 AM

    Omg !!!! What a nightmare, but so hilarious!! I especially loved your reaction to Kallsy obliviously riding the ferris wheel of death. Thanks for making me laugh this morning~ hehehee

    • Reply
      December 6, 2016 at 10:06 PM

      I think I still have nightmares about this tragic day, but it really does make for a great story! I now ride every ferris wheel with her so if we go down we go down together. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2016 at 4:38 AM

    I’m so sorry this happened to you – but it does make for good entertainment! We had a similar experience in the Dominican Republic, but it hit us both at the same time…in the middle of the night…in our hotel room that only had one bathroom. Let’s just say we grew a lot closer than we had intended to on that trip!!

    • Reply
      December 6, 2016 at 10:18 PM

      Situations like these never fail to be amusing – after time of course! I’m sorry for the tragedy that struck the two of you while visiting the D.R. I can’t imagine having only one bathroom and dealing with that. I commend you! Not to mention you didn’t leave each other after! :O Counting my blessings that we haven’t been sick at the same time.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2017 at 4:38 PM

    Hahaha…. oh, whoops, sorry, didn’t mean to laugh! These things are always horrible when they happen, but sometimes make the best stories later! So far I have been lucky not to got through anything similar, but I am sure one day it will be my turn.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:02 AM

      No worries Josie! I laugh about it all the time now. 😉 That’s the truth! We talk about this all the time now and hope it doesn’t happen again – however I’m sure it will! I hope you don’t have to endure it ever.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2017 at 4:42 PM

    Oh noooo! haha I am sorry but I have to admit it was a little funny. It brought back memories from our trips that also didn’t go too well at some points. But I guess this is part of the whole experience and looking back now we know we learned so much about even each other with my husband from going through these experiences. Once I got food poisoning at the airport and had a very rough flight +1.5 more days of extreme discomfort. Yaak. I feel your pain.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:04 AM

      It’s just fine to laugh Orsi! I find it pretty hysterical now that I’m not going through it. Plus I get to torment my wife about it now. 😉 Traveling can definitely give you experiences you’ve never dreamed of good and bad, and to us – each bad experience has been a lesson to us in some way. Being sick on an airplane (or other mode of transportation) has to be one of the worst ways to suffer!

  • Reply
    January 1, 2017 at 5:18 PM

    Oh bless you! As much as I don’t want to laugh, I kind of want to laugh. It seems like anything that could have gone wrong at that time went wrong tenfold! I found myself in a similar, uh, bodily function situation to you a few years ago. I didn’t have to endure anything like the sequence of unfortunate events you did, but I was half way up a volcano at the time. Easily one of the worst days of my whole entire life so far. So much so that I’d blocked all memory from my mind…until now…thanks for that haha.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:06 AM

      That was my exact thought – “what could go wrong next?” I’m pretty sure you have me beat with being halfway up a volcano while you were trying to deal with that issue. Sorry to bring back the bad memory. If you write about your experience let us know.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2017 at 6:45 PM

    Oh dear. It’s the dreaded fear of all travellers. There is nothing worse than the runs, especially when you’re in a place you don’t know and where you can’t just curl up and hate life. I know it’s probably not what you want to hear, but look on the bright side of it all. It really could have been so much worse. At least you found bathrooms…

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:08 AM

      You’re absolutely right! All I wanted to do was check into a hotel for the day and lay down. I don’t know what I would have done had I NOT found a bathroom. :O

  • Reply
    Nadine Rohner
    January 1, 2017 at 7:14 PM

    I am sorry you had this expierience sounds terrible I am afraid of hights so I would never climb to a almost broken ferries wheel. I have super sensitive stomache and I am always so worried something like that would happen to me, but – touch wood – so far everything went well. I guess my worst travel expierience was when I got dengue fever…

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:09 AM

      I’m right there with you Nadine – I don’t know what she was thinking going on that ferris wheel but I wouldn’t have touched it. I hope you never have to go through a similar experience. Dengue fever sounds horrible enough!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2017 at 12:21 AM

    Oh wow, that sucks! I’ve always wanted to visit Fiji, but not like this. Hopefully you get to make it back when you’re feeling better.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:11 AM

      I’d love to go back and experience it again; the islands, not the food poisoning of course. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last! I’ve learned to be more prepared due to this situation.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2017 at 5:29 PM

    Oh you poor thing, that doesn’t really lead to the most happiest of memories! I had, ah, a similar situation in Cuba last year, which lasted almost two weeks. Ruined the entire holiday.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:12 AM

      That’s why we’d like to go back and experience Fiji again. 🙂 I can’t believe you were sick for two weeks… that sounds miserable. Did you end up going to the hospital?

  • Reply
    Brianna Simmons
    January 3, 2017 at 5:57 PM

    It sucks when travel doesn’t go as planned but at least it makes a good story.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 11:12 AM

      You’re right Brianna! Travel mishaps happen, I’ve learned to roll with the punches.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 1:17 PM

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s always interesting to hear the “other side” of travel once in a while, as it happens to all of us. Last month while at a conference in Las Vegas my wife developed a terrible ear infection … in both ears! Being unable to talk or hear for most of the conference does not make for a good experience. Plus there’s trying to get it under control enough to be able to board a plane without extreme agony…

    • Reply
      January 14, 2017 at 10:51 AM

      Ear infections are brutal! I can’t imagine having to attend a conference in that state let alone board a plane knowing the pressure would hurt your ears terribly. Props to your wife for sticking it out!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2017 at 10:50 AM

    Hi Brown Gal Trekker! Thanks so much for reading. I didn’t mean for it to sound as though I blamed Fiji for being the problem – in fact the last line I mention that I’d love to go back someday to be able to experience it more fully since I didn’t recall the beauty of the trip. You’re right, travel mishaps can happen anywhere. For instance, Kallsy had food poisoning from the airline food on our flight to Osaka, Japan and we each have had gotten sick from places here in the States too! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 12, 2017 at 10:06 PM

    Dude, we’ve all been there! Sometimes the pain never truly goes away. If anything, experiences like these give us good stories to tell (sometimes FAR in the future) and lessons to learn. Cheers!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2018 at 9:29 AM

    That is so sad to hear. I just got back from Fiji and had an amazing trip, if you ever have a chance to go back, take it!

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