Thursday, July 31, 2003


Up about 7:45, showered, breakfast. Slept awesome, it was COLD, but the lady gave me two duvet's. I overheard her say, last evening, that was going to close the doors for the month of August, not enough business.

Left about 9:15, south on SH25 to Waihi, then SH2 to Tauranga and on to mount Maunganui about noon. Drove to the foot of the extinct volcano, and started hiking up and met two dairy farmers from Matamata, a short distance away. Hiked to the summiet with them, 232 metres, and it affords some great views of the cities and beaches and ocean. They offered to let me stay at their dairy farm when I'm on my way back north. Got their phone number.

Was going to go to the hot saltwater pools (onlyh $2.50), but they are shut down for annual maintenance.

Hit Burger King, then to an ice cream shop for an awesome sundae, then hedaed south to Rotorua via an unnumbered highway. Left about 3:00

Got to Rotorua about 4:15, and lots and lots of stream al over the place. Rotorua is a geothermal hotspot, and smells very sulfuric.

Checked into the Hot Rock backpackers, a motel-come-hostel. All rooms are heated by the geothermal water, and it has 3 hot-water pools, 1 outdoor, 2 indoor. The two indoor ones are the geothermal in origin (and stink), then outdoor one is just a regular hot pool. Not a particularly nice hostel, though.

Walked around Kuirau Paerk, a "geothermal park", with fenced off hot water pools, and steam vents everywhere, and bubbling mud spots. Then walked around downtown for a bit, then back to the hostel about 5:30 and cooked supper (beans).

Hit the hot outdoor pool about 7:15, outdoor pool is very, very warm, feels sooooo nice. It's not sulfuric water, though, which is kind of weird. The two small indoor pools are sulfuric, though.

Spent about two hours in the pools. Very relaxing! Got dehydrated, and drank a 600mL Sprite in about a minute afterwards.

Rotorua is the North Islands most popular destination.

To bed about 11:00, as music from the hostels bar blares.

Sheep golf course

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Hot Water Beach...NOT!!!

Sheets smelled old and musty on the bed. Yuck! Oh well.

Up early, about 7:45, showered, made a bacon and egg McMuffin for myself. Yummm!

Still raining.

Left about 9:00, I think, and took the "309" road across the peninsula to kaimarama. A gravel road, the 309 is quite famous, I guess, and a lot shorter than the main highway. Stopped at Waiau Falls and then the Kauri grove, more old and big kauri trees. The road reminded me of the Top of the World highway, between Alaska and Yukon.

Went up to Whitianga, got there about 11:15, stopped at the tourist information office to get tide information for Hot Water Beach. Low tide is 1:50PM.

Drove over to Hahei, and checked into Tahihi Lodge. Thumbs up from Lets Go. $1/night, $3 for bedding. Beautiful motel and hostel. Immaculate! This is the third hostel in a row where the proprietor of the hostel has known me by first name!! Very personal service, and friendly!! I love the smaller hostels!

Got a shovel from reception and headed to Hot Water Beach, short drive away.

What is Hot Water Beach, I hear you all asking? Well, when the tide goes out, 2-hours on either side of low tide, you can dig a hole in the sand, and hot water comes up through the sand to fill your hole with your own personal spa! It's a regular stop on the backpacker bus tours too.

When I arrived at the beach, I got changed into my trunks, grabbed my town and my shovel, walked to the sand (fording a frickin cold stream on the way), and started digging! No hot water here. Moved to another spot and tried again. None here either. I dug about 10 holes all over the place and found no hot water. I suspect it's because of the storm, and rain and huge waves crashing on the beach, it's affected the hot water, the cold ocean water saturating the sand, and keeping the hot water from coming up. There were a couple of other people trying there luck too, but nothing. Mostly it was just people walking along the beach in toques, gloves and parkas, going for a stroll. And here I am in a t-shirt and trunks. They're all wimps! I wasn't even cold!!

Dejected, I drove back to the hostel and hiked to Cathedral Cove (the area's other major attraction). Beautiful beaches and Cathedral Cove is an amazing cove cut into the rock on one of the beaches. You can walk right through it to the beach on the other side. Highly recommended.

Got back to the hostel about 4:00. It was cloudy all day, but no rain. Started raining after I got back to hostel.

Made supper (fake Kraft Dinner...not nearly as good as the real thing), played some solitair, then had a game of Scrabble with a couple from England, planned my next day, where I wanted to go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Coramandel Peninsula

Up at 8:15, showered, packed, checked out and left Paihia about 9:30. Nice morning, sun is shining.

Drove south on SH1 to Whangarei, filled up with petrol, then took SH14 over to Dargaville. Low clouds and fog in the mountains and valleys made for some great pictures. Off and on rain.

Headed south on SH12, then east east to Brynderwyn. Very boring drive, the part from Dargaville to Ruawai anyway. Then south on SH1 to Wellford, then south on SH16, back to Auckland. This was a very nice drive.

passed through Auckland on SH1 to SH2 junction near Pokeno, filling with petrol again. Petrol runs between $1.05/litre and $1.11/litre. Diesel is only about $0.60/litre. With I had a diesel. I've spent about $70 in petrol already. Oh well, it's only money.

At SH25, turned NE into the Coramandel Region, to Thames about 3:30. Stopped and read over Lonely Planet and Let's Go to see if I should stay here. It's pouring rain, no point in stopping here for the night, so continued on up to Coromandel town. Both Thames and Coromandel town were central to the NZ gold rush in mid-late 1800's. Thames, in particular, reminded me of the buildings in the Yukon, all from the late 1800's architecture.

Drove from Thames to Coromandel town. Very nice drive, too bad it's raining so hard with so much low cloud, I couldn't see too much. It runs along the Haukari Gulf, along the seaside cliffs with twisting, winding roads, waterfallls and fast streams coming off the cliffs. Apparently this is one of teh best drives on the North Island.

In Coromandel town, checked in to the Lions Den, recommended by Lets Go. In al od country-type house, with wood fire place. It's great. Owner, Lynda, will even cook a home-cooked meal for ya! I had bought an amazing chocolate cake in Paihia, and I realized when I got to Coromandel, that I left it in teh fridge in Paihia!!! Ugh!

Went to 4 Square (supeprmarket chain) and bought more groceries. Got more groceries now than I did back in Moose Jaw!

Made sausages for supper. At all 9 of them. Watched TV, to bed about 10:30, talked with Dutch people in my room until about 11:45, then to sleep.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Bay of Islands

I had two others in my room last night, a guy from Belgium and a guy from Italy (no, not an old, weird guy).

Up about 8:15, decided to do a 9:15 Hole in the Rock tour with King's tour company, so packed a few things, paid the room for another night and went to teh wharf. $54 for the tour, with a backpacker card ($60 regular). It's an extra $20 if we find dolphins and I want to swim with them.

We crossed the harbour and picked up more passengers at Russel, then cruised around some of the islands (they all have some history behind them), then on our way to the Hole in the Rock. It's at the end of the bay, and the captain informed us before we left that because of the storm the night before, the seas could be very rough, so we might not be able to get to the Hole. We headed out into the open water with another tour boat from another company (Fullers), and we both headed for the rock. The seas were VERY rough, some swells were 20 feet (no lie), the boats crashing down, going up and down, up and down. It was insane, but a lot of fun. About half way to the hole, the Fullers boat gave up, and turned towards the safety of the islands, the seas jut too rough for her. We had a bigger catamaran than Fullers catamaran, and our captain isn't a scaredycat, so we kept going it alone. We made it. In calm seas, the boat would even go through the hole, but today, as the captian eloquently put it, one would have to be either "brave or silly" to try to go through it today. Huge waves crashed through the hole, making some incredible picture opportunities. Lots and lots of people getting sick all around the boat too. One guy beside me hurled for about 15 minutes straight, into a barf bag, from the sway of the boat in the huge waves. He couldn't stop hurling, it was funny. I'm sooo glad I'm not prone to sea sickness. Anyway, we all took pictures then headed for the calm of the islands, in search of dolphins. We found none.

Got back to Paihia about 12:15, went back to the hostel and showered. Then went to the supermarket, got some bacon and made bacon and eggs for lunch. Yummm!!

About 3:10, drove to Waitangi National Reserve, where, on Feb. 6, 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, bringing Maori and European peoples together "as one people". The treaty put most of NZ under British rule, in exchange, the Maori people became full British citizens with all the rights associated with it. Very interesting. The worlds largest war canoe, Ngatokimatawhaorua, can be seen here as well. It's 35m in length.

After that, drove up to Mt. Bledisloe, named after a former governor general (?) who bequethed the land the Waitangi National Reserve is located on, to the people of NZ. Then drove to Haruru Falls, a fairly nice waterfall.

On the way back to Paihia, found out that Paihia/Waitangi has a Woolworth, so stopped in there and bought a few more supplies, then back to the hostel.

Made supper, 3-cheese pasta with carbonara sauce. It served three people, but I ate it all myself. I can't stop eating, I eat all day, it's like I'm never full.

AFter supper, I got my maps, Lonely Planet and Let's Go, and planned my day for tomorrow. Going to leave Northlands and head to the Coramandel Peninsula. Used the internet for a while, then went to bed.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Tane Mahuta

Slept crappy last night. You have to rent sheets, but I didn't, I had my silk sleeping sheets Darren gave me, but it was frickin cold last night. I'll have to rent sheets and a duvet for tonight.

Up about 8:30, showered, paid for the room for tonight and rented sheets and a duvet ($1) Had breakfast.

Walked downtown, checked out the different cruise operations and took some pictures. It's a crappy day today, cold, windy, threatening rain, so I decided to not do a cruise today, instead do a day trip in my car.

So, I made some sandwiches, then hopped in my car, drove to Puketoma, then south to Pakaraka, then east on SH12 through Taheke to Opononi and Omapere. Stopped at a lookout point and took some pics of the huge sand dunes on the north side of the inlet/bay. Then continued south on SH12 to the Waipoua Forest, and stopped to see Tane Mahuta, the worlds largest living kauri tree, and New Zealand's largest tree of any kind. It's 2000 years old, 52m high, 14m high, and the name means "God of the Forest".

Continued a couple of kilometres south and did a short hike to see some other old kauri trees, including Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest, NZ's 2nd largest tree), and the Four Sisters, 3 close-knit kauri's. Had to make a quick trip back to Tane Mahuta to take a dump, then continued south and checked out the Kui Iwi Lakes (nothing special, despite the thumbs up from Let's Go), then on to Baylys Beach, which is NZ's longest beach at 100km. It's also very, very wide and is officially a public highway. I drove down onto the beach, but didn't have the guts to drive along it, for fear of getting stuck! Lots of other vehicles driving along it, though, mostly 4x4's and motorbikes.

There's also 90 Mile Beach, on the northern tip of NZ, which is actually 90km (56 miles) long. Apparently it's also an official highway too, but the Let's Go and Lonely Planet recommend against driving cars along either of them.

The road through Waipoua was very twist and turny, and very nice, surrounded by thick forest all the way.

After the beach, drove through Dargaville, then east along SH14 to Whangarei. Got there about 6:00ish, had supper at KFC. Going to KFC, in town, I accidentally found myself driving on the wrong side of the road, and had to swerve back to the left-hand side!! Hahaha!! AFter KFC, back up to Paihia along SH1. Got back to the hostel about 7:45!

Then internet!


Saturday, July 26, 2003

Driving on the left!!

Up at 7:30, showered, walked to Bargain and paid for and picked up my car. It's fairly easy getting used to driving on the left and side of the road, what's weird is everything in the car is backwards. I keep turning on the windshield wipers when I want to turn on the signal light (signal light switch is on the right hand side of the steering column!), and trying to get used to the idea that my rear-view mirror is on my left now. And I keep trying to enter my car at the wrong door.

Drove back to the hostel, checked out, chucked all my stuff into the car and took off. Took my a while to get out of Auckland, I couldn't find SH1 going north, kept getting on SH1 going south, and couldn't get turned around. Finally got going in the right direction, and went up through Orewa, which has a wonderful beach that runs next to the highway. Stopped and took some pictures. Continued to Waiwera, which has natural thermal pools (all commercialized now). Took a couple of pics of the beach and oceanfront there. Then on to Warkworth, where I stopped at Sheepworld and took some pics of the beautiful countryside, then at Dome Forest and took a short 40 minute hike to Dome lookout. Nothing spectacular there, but very nice forest walk. Then drove up from Warkworth to Wellsford. Here, I veered off of SH1, and took the very windy (perfect for my car!) road up through Mangawhai, Langs Beach, Waipu Cove and connected back up to SH1 at Waipu. At Waipu Cove, stopped and took some pics. Also stopped at Langs Beach and took pics of the very nice beach and a few people surfing the waves there. Continued up SH1, then took another short detour at Ruakaka through Marsden Point, One Tree Point and the New Zealand Refining Company for another photo op. Continued back on SH1 to Whangarei, where I hit Burger King, then went to Whangarei Falls, a very spectacular 26m waterfall in the city. Spent about 30 minutes or so, then decided to continue on up to Paihia, hub of the Bay of Islands (144 islands in the bay, named Bay of Islands by Captain Cook). I parked my car along the beach and walked to Peppertree Lodge; Let's Go gave it the thumbs up. Very nice hostel, sparkly clean and bright, 4-bed dorms with en-suite, $18/night (with BBH card). From the look of the other hostels, though, they all seem very nice and clean and modern.

Paihia is a small town, population 3000 in the winter, skyrockets to nearly 40,000 in the summer. Very nice town, reminds me of a bright, sparkly, tourist town one would find in Banff (only smaller) or on the islands on the west coast, when I sailed with my uncle. I very much like it here, and I've only been here a few hours.

Walked to the main commercial drag and found a supermarket and stocked up on groceries, back to the hostel and made grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. Lots and lots to do here, I may stay a couple of days.

Went to bed about 10:00.

As I was driving on SH1, traffic got stopped by a cattle drive!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2003


I went to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines last night. Awesome movie!!!!!!!!!! I loved it! Loved the ending too! It's about time nobody lives happily ever after!!!

I got up about 8:45, showered, ate, someone took my milk from the fridge in the kitchen, so a guy and girl I had met in Fiji, happened to be at ACB, in the kitchen at the same time, and they offered me some of their milk.

AFter breakfast, I went to an internet place and burned all my pics to a CD, then back to the hostel, installed a New Zealand Vodaphone sim card into my mobile, my new mobile number is 02 11 356 935 (if anyone feels the need to talk to me!) Note that that's a local number, you'll have to do some fancy stuff to dial long distance to it. I did some laundry, had lunch, talked to ACB about buying cars, they suggest renting, because it's such a short time (buying is only reasonable if I'd be travelling for 2+ months). Plus, being low season, I'd have a fairly difficult time selling, I might need 2 weeks to sell it, which I don't have.

Someone in my room nicked my shower towel (the one Darren gave me for Christmas). The buggers!

Sat around and read for a while. About 3:00, walked back to Bargain Rental cars, and they matched the $19/day that Alternative was offering. Bargain has offices throughout NZ, , so I feel better with them (not fly-by-night company), and if I have problems, it'll make it easier. I'm getting a small 2-door 1997 Toyota Corrola (Corolla?) II Super Windy G hatchback. The colour is blue! I pick it up tomorrow about 8:30.

Went back to the internet for a while, then back to hostel and read. As I was reading, a guy that was in my room the last time I was at ACB noticed me and we started talking. He invited me to Globe (bar underneath the hostel) at 9:00, he was meeting a mate there. I told him I'd be there.

I had supper, and read some more, then shortly after 9:00, went upstairs to get ready to go to the bar, and two Brazilians and a new Canadian girl (very attractive) were in the room, talking, so I started talking with them all. The Canadian girl (Amy) is returning to Canada after doing some uni in Australia. Amy would have liked to travel NZ by car, but she only has two weeks, so she went with the Magic bus pass of the just the north island. She was disappointed that she didn't meet me before she bought the bus pass, she would have much rather travelled with me by car for the duration of the two weeks.

I didn't make it to the bar. Went to bed about 10:30.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


Ok, so after the internet last evening, I wandered down to the fairgrounds, the Bula Festival is on in Nadi right now, and they have a big carnival, probably a fair bit bigger than the MJ Home Town fair. They have the usual rides, and lots of vendors selling stuff. On my way there, I was chatted up by a local, asking me the usual questions, where I'm from, how I life Fiji, etc. He invites me to his booth at the fairgrounds, to have some kava, and I ask him how much this is going to cost me, and he's like, "No worries, you're with a local, don't worry about money." Along the way, he introduces me to his uncle, and the three of us go into a booth, out front, they are selling sausages and chops. The festival is VERY busy, lots and lots of people wandering about, lots of families, etc. Typical festival affair. We're sitting having kava and in my mind, I know he's going to want money at some point, then he asks me if I would like a feast of sausages, chops, chips, etc. I ask how much, once again, he says don't worry about it. I tell him I hardly have any money, and he starts telling me about the village he's from. Then it comes: in exchange for kava and supper, just a small $15 donation for the kids of his village, that's all. I tell him again, I have very little money, I only have $4 on me. He says, ok, for me, $10 donation, and I'll have a feast. I tell him once again, I only have $4 on me. He's gets a little annoyed, stands up, and ushers me out. Hahaha! I can buy sausages and chops and chips from any of the dozens of other vendors for $2!!! Got out of that one!


So, I wandered around the fairgrounds for a while longer, got some sausages and chips, then decided to head back to the hostel. I was going to stop at McDonalds along the way (McDonalds is about half way between the townsite and hostel) and get ice cream. It's about 8:00 or so, I think, and I'm walking along the side of the road, and two guys on the other side of the road yell at me, "Bula!", to which I reply "Bula." They look kind of seedy, but decide to trust them. We start talking, they're being friendly, asking me where I'm from, what I do, how I like Fiji, etc. The block before McDonalds is bare, just a big empty field, and we're walking along it, and I'm not feeling totally comfortable with these guys, and I try to start to hang back a little bit, but the two of them keep getting closer to me, and I keep moving away, to the point where I'm at the edge of the field, walking in the tall grass and weeds. In a flash, the guy closest to me grabs me from behind and puts his arms around me, holding my arms against my body. I started to struggle, and the grip became tighter. Then the other guy starts trying to stick his hand in my pocket to get my wallet, and the other guy is saying "Hurry, grab is wallet." Even though my arm was clamped against my body, my hand was right at my pocket, so I put my hand around my pocket (and wallet) so he couldn't grab it. He kept trying to get it his hand in my pocket. Everything happened so quick, it was unreal. I remember trying to figure what I should do. I remember thoughts of these guys starting to beat me up, or pull a knife or something. I looked towards the road (a busy road), and there were cars racing down it, and I remember thinking, "If I yell, maybe one of the cars has their window down and will hear me", so I started yelling as loud as I could, "Help! Help!". As soon as I started yelling, the guy holding me let go of me and packed off. I started running, and lost one of my flip-flops in the grass. I glanced back, the other guy was still after me, I stumbled as my other flip-flop came off, and I partly fell (just like a typically horror movie...the person being chased ALWAYS falls!), and lost my other flip-flop. I think, when I fell, I lost grip of my journal too, and it fell to the ground. I jumped across the ditch (in bare feet) onto the road (good thing there was no car coming at that instant!), and ran to the other side of the road. I could see the one guy still looking at me from the other side. I looked down the road, and there's a taxi coming, which I flag down, and he downs his window and I just say, "Please, let me in." There were two people in the front of the taxi. I was in a hurry, I couldn't get in, because I kept trying to open the door as he was trying to unlock it. I did get in, breathing heavy, I explained to them that I had just been mugged, and they're quite sympathetic, asking me what happened, who it was (natives or was natives), where exactly, blah, blah, blah. I mentioned I lost my flip-flops and journal on the other side of the road, and I wasn't even going to bother with them, but they said they'd help me lookk for them, so we did a U-Turn, they pulled up on the grassy shoulder, and with the help of the headlights, we spent about 5 minutes rummaging, and did find both flip-flops. My journal was no where to be found, though. Of course, in my journal were the postcards I had bought earlier in the evening. They offer to take me to McDonalds (where I was headed), but I asked them to take me home (hostel) instead, which they do. I'm still quite stressed out over it all, and on edge. They drop me off, I give them $4 for the ride (I was half-expecting them to say don't worry about it), and as I'm entering the hostel, stop and talk to two of the hostel workers and tell them my story. They're somewhat sympathetic, but not nearly as what I would have expected. They remark to me that it's not safe to walk at night in Nadi, they always advise people to take cabs. So, I walked inside, into the living room (common area) and two girls and another guy are sitting there, chatting. I kind of interrupt their conversation, and tell them I've just been mugged. The two girls pipe up, "So were we." WHAT???? Ends up, they just got mugged a little earlier, on the road leading to the hostel, some guy pulled a knife on them!!!!! He demanded money, and one of the girls gave him $5 and he took off!! Yikes!!! ANyway, it was a very harrowing and frightening experience. We sat and chatted, and wondered why no one suggested we contact the police...not that they could do anything anyway. I was surprised that the taxi didn't say somethign about the cops, or teh hostel workers or anything. Even Kesa, who I saw a little later, didn't say anything like, "You should go the police." The police never even came up, in my mugging or in these two girls' muggings.

So, we chatted for a while, I went and packed and went to bed about 10:00. Had to get 5:00AM ride to the airport.

Got up at 4:30 this morning, didn't sleep that well, after what happened. One of the lady's from the hostel took me to the airport at 5:00, I gave her the $6 charge, and checked my luggage, and had some breakfast (BTW, bacon kicks ass in NZ, Australia, and in Fiji...good stuff!)

Boarded my flight at 7:00, and we were off. The flight wasn't very full, perhaps 60%. I had an aisle seat, but when no one else showed up in my "seat set", switched over to the window. Flew with Air Pacific. The in-flight movie was "Pinnochio", a dubbed Italian movie. It was great! Very funny!!!!!!!!

Landed in Auckland about 10:30, got the AirBus from the airport to Auckland Central Backpackers. I know, I don't like it there, but my bag was stored there, and I'm not in Auckland for that long. I had a shower, and then hit the internet to post my horrific story about being mugged. So, that's it.

I'm off to take a look at renting a's just as cheap to rent a car for a day as it is to get a bus to Whangarei, in the Northland. And, Let's Go recommends a car for that, if at all possible. It might be cheaper for me to rent a car for 1 month than to buy a 1-month bus pass! If so, I'll definately do that.

So, that's all for now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Welcome Home, Todd!

Up about 8:30, had breakfast, packed and checked out. Walked around the shoreline of the other part of the island to kill time.

The boat back to Nadi is supposed to be here about 12:30 or 1:00.

Sunny in the morning, but by 11:00, cloudy, very windy and cool (I needed my fleece). The boat came at 12:30, dropped passengers off, and we were finally allowed to board about 1:00, and we took off. It's a small boat, only seats about 10, plus the driver (captain). We took off, and another guy on the boat (large Canadian guy) is not feeling well in the huge swells of the ocean. He's pretty green, and looks like he's about to toss his cookies.

We stopped at Bounty Island to drop two people off, and pick up two others, then continue on to Nadi. Fat Canadian buddy decides he should switch places with another girl, so he can hurl over the edge of the boat, if he has too. She's more than happy to get of his way.

We made it to land about 3:00, and Canadian buddy managed to pass out, and avoid hurling. I got a mini-bus ride ($2.00) to Western Hostel, and was greeted with "Welcome Home, Todd!" by Kesa, the proprietor if the operation. (Their slogan is: "Your home away from home".)

Checked in, Kesa gave me my preferred rate ($10/night), and booked a shuttle for 5:00AM tomorrow morning for me. I had a shower, then walked to McDonalds, had lunch, the downtown and bought some postcards, and then internet.

That's all, next time I post, I'll be back in NZ.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Castaway Island Trip!!!

Up about 8:45, had breakfast, showered, and signed up for the half day trip to the island where they filmed the Castaway movie! Alas, I was the only one who signed up, so they didn't do it. Darn it all, anyway. Oh well, I saved $40.

Shortly after 11:00, me and a bunch of other backpackers helped Luke (works at Resort) clean rubbish along the beach. Finished about 11:40.

Lazy day today. Rain started about 1:00, and it rained, and rained, and rained and rained all day long, never letting up.

Sat around and read, played cards until supper time.

Had supper (hamburger stew-type of stuff), then played more cards. About 9:00, the resort had Polynesian night (they have something different every night), with traditional dance and a fire show by the locals. Excellent!!!!!!!!!!

More cards, then to bed about 11:45.

Some Fijian language distance learning:
Bula - Hello!
Yadra - Good Morning!
Vinaka - Thank you.
Sega Na Leqa - No Problem!

Salt water showers and sinks at the backpacker resort. I wonder of the big Mana Resort next door has fresh water showers and stuff? I imagine so.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Island Hopping

Slept good in my silk sleeping sheets (thanks Darren). The resort doesn't offer bedding sheets, so I'm glad I took mine.

Up at 8:15, had breakfast, signed up for the island hopping tour ($35).

Chris, Ian, Shelley and X (not sure of her name...the prissy Mormon) signed up as well, then Chris backed out, to do a traditional medicine walk with the local medicine man.

Back in the dorm, as I was sitting reading my Let's Go, I felt something on my foot. Thinking it was a fly or something, I twitched my foot. It was still there, I looked down, there was a small lizard on my foot!! He then ventured off my foot and scurried away!

Got on the island hopping boat at 10:30, a small fibreglass boat with a 70hp outboard. There were 9 of us on the tour, plus our guide and the driver. First to Plantation Island, stopped at Plantation Island resort. Very nice!!! Walked around the resort and the shops, bought a chocolate bar, then we walked to Musket Cove Resort, on the same island. Musket Cove has a nice harbour area for sailing ships to anchor and stay. One of the sailing ships was from Victoria, BC, Canada. Both resort would probably run over $500/night, perhaps over $1000/night or more. Swam in the pool at Musket Cove, some of us ordered a cocktail. I had a Coco Colada, served in a coconut; cost $12.00. Then we had a BBQ (chops, sausages, bread, included in the island hopping trip price), then lounged around the island. Had two ice cream treats ($2.50 each). Yummmm!!!!! (Not sure why I'm giving exact pricing of's just what I wrote in my journal.)

About 2:45, took the boat to Honeymoon Island, a small, uninhabited island, to do some swimming and snorkelling (had to rent equipment; $10.00). About 3:50, headed back to Mana.

Nice day, warm, partly cloudy, with patches of high cloud and for the first time, not much wind, relatively calm!

Back to Mana about 4:15, showered, read Let's Go, then sat around and waited for supper with the boat people from today.

Supper was good, stew with boiled potatoes.

After supper, at 7:30, the local school kids put on a song and dance, for 30 minutes, then solicited donations to raise money for the school. They raised just over $100 from us. They do this every Monday at the backpacker resort.

We played cards after that, waiting for the beach bonfire, but the wind picked up and they had to cancel the bonfire, for the second straight night.

To bed shortly after 11:00.


Thought I'd post my favorites for SE Asia:
Beach - Koh Lanta
Resort - Treehouse (Koh Chang)
Specific Place - Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Party Place - Nha Trang or Koh Tao on the full-moon
Diving - Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Country - Laos

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Mana Island

Up at 8:00, breakfast, showered, packed and waited for bus to pick me up. The boat I'm taking to Mana runs on Fiji time, so it could be here anytime between 10:00 and 11:00.

Ahh, Fiji of the greatest things about Fiji. Virtually all locals run on Fiji time, which pretty much means things will get done when they get done. There's no hurry in Fiji. Life is slow and easy. Take a break. No stress. Sega Na Leqa - No Problem! I like Fiji time. Unfortunately, you can't use Fiji time as an excuse for checking out of a hostel late, though.

The mini-bus came at 10:00. No Fiji time here, I guess. The bus picked up other people at Nadi Bay Hotel, then to the beach, where we got our actual tickets for the boat and accomodations. Boat came about 11:00, and we hopped on. Very wet ride,w ith lots of big waves and splashing. I had an inside seat, so missed most of the splash, but others were soaked. I lent my wind breaker to some chick, who was in love with me the rest of the time on the island. She was fat, though. And a Mormon. As we were leaving the beach, we saw a big tuna (?) jump about 10 feet (no fish story, it was that high) out of the water, chasing after another fish that was ahead of it, that had jumped out of the water too. Spectacular!

Got to Mana about 1:00, the boat dropped us off on the beach, so had to wade through knee high water to get to the resort. Got checked in and taken to the dorm rooms. It's about a 30-bed dorm room. I staked my claim to a bottom bunk, then went and had lunch. Fried rice, vegetable pizza-type of thing, bread, watermelon and water. It was tasty, I went back for seconds.

Ratu Kini's is the name of the backpacker resort, it's in a local village on the island, you have to walk through the village to get from the dorms to the reception and eating area. It's pretty much a dive, but it's one of the cheapest islands in Fiji to stay at. Most are upwards of $70/night, with the real resorts offering up rates of more than $1000/night. This place is $45/night (including 3 meals).

After lunch, I walked to the other side of the island and walked along the beaches and rocky coast back to the hostel, met up with Shelley (the chick I lent my coat too) and Chris, another Mormon she's travelling with (there are 4 Mormons travelling together...more on them later). The three of us walked past the expensive Mana Resort ($800/night) to the islands airstrip and a really neat, small chapel (popular wedding chapel for Japanese tourists, judging by the "marriage walkway"). Walked back along the other side of the island and then cut across to Ratu Kini's. Killed about 3 hours.

Lots of hermit crabs on the island.

Cloudy, kind of rainy, windy and very cool all day. IN other words, crap.

When I got back to the dorm, virtually everyone staying in the dorms was laying down on their beds, reading, writing or sleeping. Lazy backpackers!

Went for supper at 6:00, chicken with sweet potatoes and roasted potatoes and pineapple. I got jipped, I got a wing with hardly any meat on it. Then Chris, Shelley and myself went back for seconds, but everything was done. I was still hungry, and they don't have any chocolate bars for sale or anything!

Sat around with Chris, Ian (another Mormon) and Shelley for a while. Shelley left to talk to the other Mormon girl they were travelling with. She's very prissy and upset. She's the 5-star hotel kind of girl, and totally hates it here, and refuses to even try to have fun.

At 8:15, the hostel had "international night", where everyone organizes into their respective countries, and they have to display an item or sing their national anthem. No other Canadians, so I ditched!!!

Got to bed about 10:30, but got woke up about midnight by a rowdy, drunk group of Brits coming into the dorm.

4.5-5% surcharge on all credit card transactions here.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Shipwreck Dive!!

Got up about 7:00, showered, had breakfast (free breakfast at the hostel), and waited for the van to pick me up from Inner Space Adventures. It got there about 8:10, and hopped on. The guy who picked me up is an older English guy, he and his wife own the dive centre. He doesn't even dive! He fun dived years ago, but hasn't dived at all in more recent years. Go figure.

Got the shop, got fitted with all the equipment. I was the only certified diver diving today. There were four others doing their last day of their open-water, and another guy starting his open-water that day. I didn't realize it at first, but the owner had planned on sending me with the open-water group. One of the DM (Dive Master's) suggested I ask Frank (owner) if I could see sharks. So I asked him, and Frank replied, "well, we always dive where there could be sharks...", and that didn't anywhere. Later, one of the other DM's (the one that would take me out) was talking to him about me, and told Frank that he can't send me out with open-water students, that I'm an experienced diver, and should be treated as such and taking to "good" dive sites. I guess Frank was against it at the time (it would mean a 2nd boat just for myself), but finally Frank came over to me and asked me if a wreck dive would be satisfactory for me. I was ecstatic, yes, it definately way. So, I got my own boat (me, the DM, and the captain, who was the brother of the DM), and we went to the Salamanda wreck, a cruise ship that was put at the bottom (depth of 26 metres) specifically for diving (and to create an artifical reef). It was really cool, even though everything had been stripped from the ship before sinking it (except one toilet). The ship had 3 levels, we swam around the engine rooms (no engines in it anymore), and through windows and doorways and up to higher levels and stuff. It was an easy wreck dive, lots of room to swim through everything, no chance of really get tangled up or caught up on anything. Enjoyed it very much. Oh, the cruise ship was sank in 1995 (or 1997, DM couldn't remember) and is 90 metres long.

After that, we stopped off to where the students were doing their skills, and dropped off some more oxygen tanks for them, then went to a coral reef and did a 2nd dive, saw lots of coral and small fishes and stuff. Very good dive as well. Visibility was excellent on both dives.

We went back to the open-water students, picked up their used oxygen tanks, and took off back to shore.

I got my very own boat to dive from. It was the boat they usually do for all their dives (the one the trainees used yesterday), instead I got it all by myself today, and the open-water students got a smaller, crappy aluminum boat. Hahahaha!!!

After that, I paid my bill, and got driven back to the hostel. Did a little bit of laundry, then walked downtown, stopping at McDonalds for a late lunch (soooo hungry!), then hit the internet.

Just wanted to mention, there are TONS of American's travelling Fiji. I could've counted the number of American travellers se met through SE Asia on two hands (i.e. less than 10). I've easily met more than twice than many here in Fiji in the 1 week I've been here. More Americans that any other nationality. Many of them are students studying in Australia and New Zealand heading home, and stopping over in Fiji for a couple of weeks.

That's all. No updates for a while, off to a remote island with no internet for four days, then the next I fly to NZ (Thursday), so probably won't have internet until I get back to NZ on Thursday.

Take care.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Not Much Today

I got up about 9:00, showered, checked out of Nadi Bat Hotel and found another little hostel just down the road, called Western Hostel. It's about 5 minutes walk from Nadi Bay. Very friendly, I went in to check it out, and she told me it was $15/night, so after looking around, I told her I liked it, but was going to check out a few more down by the beach, and she said she'd give me a special price if I stayed there, $10/night. So I took it. It has kitchen facilities (although I have to pay $2 if I wanna use the stove), and they take care of my every whim. It's a family run affair, and they know my name, and are always asking me if everything is good and asking me how things are going.

After settling in, I walked to town to Aqua-Trek (diving outfit), but they don't actually do any dives out of Nadi, they do dives from islands around Fiji. Hit internet for a couple of hours, then walked back to the hostel, stopping at a supermarket and bread store to get some supper. Dropped off the food at the hostel and walked to Inner Space Adventures, a dive operation on the beach near the hostel. 2 dives for $110 (FJD).

Walked back to the hostel and read through some more stuff to try and figure out what to do with my remaining time in Fiji. Started talking to a guy, him and his g/f just got back from Mana, and enjoyed every minute of it. They booked it through the hostel, so I read up on it a little, and decided to go there. $70 return boat trip, and acoomodations is $45/night, and that includes 3 meals/day. They also do day trips to the CastAway island, which is cool.

So, I booked the Mana trip from Kesa (girl at hostel), and leave on Sunday and come back on Wednesday. There's no internet out there, so I won't be replying to e-mails or doing journal updates.

Cooked some supper (macaroni with tomato sauce...mmmmmmm), then sat around and watched TV, chatted with other occupants of the hostel and went to bed.


My e-mail seems to mostly be working again, I was able to read and reply to some e-mails and stuff, but then as I was about to do some more e-mails, went down again. So, I've been here for almost 2 hours now (I think), so didn't get the chance to e-mail everyone, so oh well. Next time. Tomorrow, perhaps. Perhaps not.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Feejee Experience Day 4. 6 Month Anniversary Since We Left, Half Over!

Up at 8:00, slept great last night. Got up, had breakfast, walked to "One Beach", a nice 1km stretch of sand on the other side of the island. It's neat, it's not wide, but trees overhang the beach along the whole stretch. Got back, played some volleyball, paid my bill at the resort ($35.00, $20 for return boat trip (should have been included in Feejee Experience price!!!!), $10 for supper last night, $5 for breakfast this morning), then waited for the boat.

The boat from the island to the mainland was very, very wet. Fiji is very windy, so waves were crashing against the small aluminum boat, and blowing all over us. Bus took off about 12:30 or 1:00, I think. Made a snack and grocery stop in a city, then continued on.

A few people stayed on the island, so I got my own (broken) seat set, as Erika moved to her own seat-set. More room for both of us!

We stopped at an Indian restaurant in Latoka (sp?...Lautoka?) and made a souvenir shop stop as well (request from Erica). At the restaurant, the chicken was full of bones, and two guys ordered goat curry (which I tried a piece of), which had bones all over too. People were not impressed.

Along the way, we stopped at the side of the road and sampled some sugar cane. I've had sugar cane in SE Asia. Sugar cane is the BIG crop here, and it's harvest time for it.

You can tell those that have travelled lots and those that haven't. I'm used to no electricity, no hot water, lots of bones in my chicken, crappy beds and dirty washrooms. Many on the tour aren't.

After the souvenir shopping, we drove to a natural hot spring coming out of the ground, and had a big mud fight (hot springs were very, very muddy), then tried to wash off in a different pool, but it was still muddy.

Back to the Nadi Bay hotel about 7:00, checked in, showered, had supper (expensive sirloin steak, it was pretty good). Sat around with the Feejee Experience crew for a while, then went to bed about 11:30.

Other stuff:
- John (the guide) pointed out Bligh (sp?) Bay, where the Mutiny on the Bounty actually happened, which was neat to see.
- We passed by the tomb of Fiji's greatest warrior and cannibal, he supposedly ate 199 people (yes, Fijian's are cannibals).
- The difference between the east and west of the island is stunning. The west is dry, lots and lots of farms (sugar cane), and hilly, brown/yellowish grasslands, not unlike you'd see in grasslands areas of Saskatchewan or Alberta. Except they hills are a lot higher. The east is very, very wet (rained the whole time in the east side of the island), it's very much a tropical rain forest there, not much for farming.
- The Fijian rail system is simply to get sugar cane to the sugar cane factory, that's it, consisting of small rail cars in a narrow gauge rail line, often pushed by workers. It's quite funny to see, and comparing to what we know of rail.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Feejee Experience, Day 3

Up at 7:00, tried to have breakfast, but breakfast is $15.50, so I skipped it. Bus left at 8:15 or so, and stopped downtown for a while, so we all ran over to McDonalds and got breakfast. Left Suva about 9:00, and drove to a town for some snacks, lunch, and to buy school supplies.

Continued on to the Fijian village, where we were welcomed into the village at the kava ceremoney, and we had to drink a whack more kava, and sing and dance a whole bunch more, more than an hour. In the village, everyone has to wear sarons (males and females), part of the tradition, and respect for the village and the elders.

The chief of the village couldn't be there, but we did get to meet him earlier in the day, he was on his way to a meeting of village chiefs, and was at a town, and we stopped and he got on and said hi to us all. We also had to elect a chief to represent Feejee Experience. We elected Renee, from Germany, and he was still drunk today, from the bar last night. He did a good job, though.

After the kava ceremony, we had a short bamboo raft ride across the river to swim in the river for a while (cold!), then back to the bus to visit a school. We had to buy school supplies to donate to the school as a good will gesture. We got to visit with the kids as well.

Getting changed into bathing suits was fun. Everyone simply changed on the bus, the girls trying to hide behind sarongs or towels.

After the school visit, a 1.5 hour bus ride to a boat to take us to Nananu-I-Ra island resort. Resort very nice. A few girls are pissed off at the "ruggedness" of it. They can't believe there's no hot water, and complaining about the beds in the dorm, and one was on the virge of crying, saying "what am I doing here?" Suck it up!! Geeze! It was nice, the dorm complex was BRAND NEW, along with all the beds. It was nice. I guess this backpacker resort built the dorm room complex exclusively for Feejee Experience.

Rained pretty much all day.

- There were kids carrying machetes home from school. Not sure why.
- Kids wear sarongs as school uniforms.
- Too friendly here, something's up! Everyone waves as the bus goes by, including construction workers working on the road. They stop whatever they're doing, and wave to us as we go by. I think when they see tourists, they see dollar signs flash, and that's why. Maybe they're culture is simply that friendly, not sure. Anyway, I am fascinated with that aspect of the society. Seems also like the Indian-Fijians are not the friendly ones, but the native Fijian's are the friendly bunch.

I don't like the Feejee Experience. It's good, but it's not for me. It's supposed to be an independent travel source, but it's far from independent. Everything was planned for us from the start, and it's hard to be independent and do what you want. And living with a group of 35 people on a bus for 4 days straight is too much. There's not much freedom at all. It's all very "tour"-like. You were always booked into a specific hotel, and if you wanted to stay extra days at a stop, you'd have to make alternative accomodation arrangements, which made it very inconvenient to stay extra days. The hotels in Suva and Nadi don't have kitchen facilities, so you had to eat out. There were lots of complaints about the amount of money we spent on the tour from others as well. I'm glad I did this short 4-day Feejee Experience, now I know I don't want the Kiwi or Oz Experience (or the variations, thereof), I'll just go it my own, public buses (Greyhound, whatever). I was talking to another guy on the island this evening that looked at Kiwi Experience, Magic Bus Pass and Stray (all backpacker tour buses), and he figured out it was almost half the cost to just do local/public travel than it was to do the tour across New Zealand, so that's what he did. And he didn't want to be on the a tour-like thing either. He recommends NOT doing the backpacker tours of NZ or Australia, but do it on your own, which is what I will do.

Feejee Experience (and Kiwi and Oz and Stray and Magic) will be great for a certain segment of the backpackers, but not for me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Feejee Experience, Day 2

Up at 7:00, packed, had breakfast, and the bus left about 8:15. Stopped at Pacific Harbour for a short while to buy whatever we wanted, then to Navua, and did a three hour trek. The truck ride up the start of the trek was amazing. It was along old, muddy, backroads, and the drivers were crazy, trying to drive as fast as they could along the muddy roads, so as not to get stuck, constantly being threatened with the going over the of the mountain ledge! Ah well, these guys do this three times a week, I guess they know what they're doing. One of the trucks did get stuck, and took him a few tries to get out of his mud-hole. The trek was about 3 hours, very muddy, through a tropical rain forest, then an hour or so trekking up a stream that got thigh deep in some places. Very slippery as well, many people fell into the water.

After the trek, tubed down the Navua river for a while (15 minutes, not long enough), then viewed a great waterfall, then took long boats back to the bus and drove to Suva (biggest city in Fiji, and capital of Fiji).

We're staying at the Peninsula International Hotel. We were supposed to stay at a backpacker joint, but the South Pacific Olympic Games just ended in Suva, and the backpacker place was full. 3 people per room, I'm staying with two very attractive sisters from the US (Georgia). Yowsers! Becky and Laura Williams. I got pictures of them. :-)

At 8:00PM, we all went to a Chinese restaurant for supper, then about 10:30, we all went to O'Reilly's bar. It's also Helen's birthday. We had birthday cake at the restaurant as well. O'Reilly's was dead until we showed up. The bar closed at 1:00AM, so we all got a free mini-bus ride back to the hotel. There will be many hangovers tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Feejee Experience, Day 1

Late yesterday afternoon, as I was looking for an internet downtown, a guy started talking to me, and invited me into his business to have some kava. Kava is the traditional drink, made from the ground up root of a certain tree. I had read about it in the Let's Go book, and it's considered rude to not accept the first cup of it (you drink it out of a coconut shell bowl). So, I went in, and they made up some kava and we started away. It's tastes like dirty water, and it makes the tongue and lips kind of numb and tingly, and makes you feel sleepy after a while. He told me about the village he comes from, high in the interior mountains of Fiji. Anyway, I was there about 30 or 45 minutes, then he kind of pressured me into buying something from his shop (which I knew would happen). He was telling me whenever I buy something from his shop, it helps his village out. It's nothing more than a scam to get people into shops to buy stuff. I ended up getting a yin-yang necklace for $12, still way too much, but I just wanted to get out. He wasn't happy, totally, kepty trying to get more souvenirs for my brothers and whatnot, and then he asks for a $2 tip as well, which I didn't pay him. Bugger!

After that, I walked back to the hotel and had the supper special (roast chicken, roasted potatoes and veggies for $12.95). Sat with Erica (Canada), Kristi (sp? England), and Emma (England), but we were still hungry, so I ordered a cheese cake with ice cream, and was still hungry, so we all went to McDonalds and had ice cream. It wasn't a good night for me. As I was standing in line, I turned into a guy holding 6 ice cream cones in his hand, and I knocked them into his face and neck (he didn't drop any, though), and he had ice cream all over him, and myself as well. After I ordered my sundae, I was walking to get napkins, and I dropped my sundae on the floor!!! As I was trying to clean it up, I stood up and hit a woman carrying two very large cokes, and she almost lost them. Oh my!! After that, all was good. They had Anne Murray playing on the speakers in McDonalds!

After that, back to the hotel and went to sleep.

Got up at 7:30, showered, packed, had breakfast, checked out and waited for bus. Bus picked us up about 9:00, then picked up other people at other hostels, and the bus was almost full.

We stopped in Nadi town for about 25 minutes to shop, then we were off. We drove through a park to the Nadi Golf Course, nice 18-hole course, then on to the Robinson Crusoe boat transfer area to pick up a few more Feejee Experience passengers that were staying at Robinson Crusoe Resort. That filled the bus to capacity. We were supposed to go to the Sigatoka sand dunes and sand board down the dunes, but we couldn't, because some bones were found in the dunes (I think old bones), so they'll be archeological stuff there for a while. Instead, we went to Natadola Beach, one of the nicest beaches on Viti Levu (the main) island and had a BBQ. Our poor tour guide spent more than 3 hours hunched by a tree cooking fish, chops, and sausages for everyone on a tiny BBQ. Everyone else lounged on the beach, and a few of the guys on Feejee Experience had a game of soccer with a bunch of locals on the beach. We won 5-4.

Finally lunch was read about 3:30, and after eating, we left for Sigatoka. We were supposed to stay at the Beachouse, but it was full, so they booked us all in to the Crows Nest resort. It's beautiful! We're all staying in deluxe bungalows (two levels) with A/C, TV, kitchenettes, hot showers, etc. I'm sharing a room (bungalow) with four girls. Happy Days was playing on one of the TV channels. Haven't seen that in years and years and years.

We went for supper (I had fish and chips), then did a practice Kava ceremony, for when we get to the village on the third day. As I mentioned in another journal, it tastes like muddy/dirty water, and makes your tongue and lips go numb! Our guide and the driver (John and Sakim) made this Kava really strong too!

After kava, the resort had a group of locals from the nearest village do a traditional Fijian dance ceremony, and of course, they made all of us get up and dance as well. It was great.

Had some more kava afterwards (it started to give me a headache after a while), and I went to bed about 11:00.

Our (myself and Erica's) seat is busted on the bus. It's slants towards the window. Both John and Sakim came back and are mad at us for breaking their seat! (Jokingly, of course.)

Sunday, July 13, 2003

To Anna and Caroline!

Hey, Anna and Caroline. My e-mail is wonky right now, and don't know when it will be fixed, so perhaps you'll read this.

I'm in Fiji until July 24, then back to NZ. Don't know what you're schedule is like, we may miss each other. So far Fiji is nice. Very much like Se Asia, but much more expensive. I'm definately going to do some diving here too, not sure where, though, sounds like there's lots of great places to dive.

I've only been here one day so far, but they are friendly here, shopowners and stuff can be somewhat persistent about "getting your bucks". Keep an eye on my journal for more information about Fiji as time goes on.

Talk to you later!


Got up about 7:30, checked at reception, they had a bed for me in a dorm. I went upstairs, into the room, it's a big room, about 12 beds or more, and everyone in the room is female!! I'm sleeping with 11 other women. Hahaha. At first, I though, "Geeze, am I in the right room?"

I went to bed, and slept until about 10:00, got up and showered and walked to town (about 30 minutes) with Erica from Edmonton, and Anna and Kim from Melbourne.

Everyone very friendly, exclaiming "Bula!" as you walk down the streets. (Bula means Welcome). Some shope owners are kind of pushy about getting you into their store, but typically very friendly. I got offered to buy weed twice so far.

Bought some new flip-flops.

There's lots of people by the side of the road selling fruits, vegetables and live chickens and ducks. Very reminiscent of parts of SE Asia, but a lot more expensive (maybe a tad cheaper than Canada, but not much), but is supposed to be the cheapest island in the South Pacific.

Browsed around town for a while, lots of shops closed on Sunday, but some are open because a huge cruise ship (2000 people) from Australia is here today. It's very touristy in Nadi.

We walked back to the hotel, stopping at McDonalds for lunch, then I wrote my journal, and walked back to town to use the internet. Internet prices vary wildly, from about $3/hour to $10/hour or more (I'm talking Fiji dollars here). The $3/hour one was closed up by the time I got back, so I found a $4/hour one I'm at right now.

BTW, my e-mail provider is all wonky (installed a new version of their software, and it's not working well), so I've been able to read some of the e-mails from you guys (Scott, Kristin, Anna, parents), but can't reply. Plus the cost of internet is very high, I may not be doing that much e-mailing and/or journal entries that often.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Night Flight To Venus (well, Fiji)

UP at 8:00AM, showered, had breakfast, packed, and checked out.

As I was packing, I heard a snap, as I was putting on my new backpack. I thought, "Oh oh, my new cheapo backpack is breaking already." I took it off, examined it, and couldn't find anything wrong. Later, as I was putting my stuff in a storage locker, I found out what the snap was. One of the metal hooks on my camera that the shoulder strap attaches to broke. The metal hook on the other side is worn down (metal fatique) as well, and will probably break soon.

So, I stuck everything in storage, then walked down to the central square and got on "Le Petite Train Touristique", a 1.5 hour ride on a fake train around the city, with commentary. It was 1100 francs, but I gotta get rid of my franc anyway. Yesterday there was two hot chicks on the train, and as the train passed (as I was walking back from the beaches), one of the girls was smiling and waving at me and saying something to me "en francais" (probably telling me I was a hottie, and that she wanted to sex me up). Today there was just a bunch of Japanese tourists and myself.

After the train ride, I walked to McDonalds, but it was packed (noonhour), so went to the harbour and hung out there for an hour, then back to McDonalds and had lunch. Then back to the hostel and vegged.

Very, very windy in New Caledonia, and the wind is very cool. But in the sun, and with the wind blocked, it's hot. One minute your cold, next your hot.

About 4:30, I walked to the bus station to get a public bus to the airport. Only 380 francs (I paid 2500 francs for the private bus from the airport to Noumea!) Public bus takes longer, but still. Talk about a rip off!!

All the restaurants and shops are closed at the airport when I got there, so I sat, hungry! A stewardess walked into the airport with a big pizza. I should've stopped her and tried to buy a piece from her.

I'm the only one at the airport right now. Other than two women working the information booth. Only 3.5 hours until my flight leaves.

The two information desk women left, now I'm all alone in the airport! Weird!

The fine folks of the bar opened up at 8:30, and they had a little bit of food (quiche, sandwiches, salad, etc.) in their display case, so I had some sort of ham wrapped around veggies thing, not all that tasty, but if filled the hole in my stomach. Also had a coke and two chocolate bars. Almost exhausted my XPF currency, just got a few coins left (about 400 franc)

It's now 9:38, and they've started checking baggage for the flight, so I checked mine in, and went through passport control. The security/passport guy asked me something in french, I said "English please.", he said "Oh.", and the other security guy started chuckling, and the first guy just handed me my passport and boarding pass back. I don't think he spoke any english.

There's only 14 people on the plane!!!

Got to Nadi (pronounced Nandi) about 1:30, got thru customs, went outside airport and found the FeeJee Experience lady, got my bus pass and hostel vouchers from here, and got on the Nadi Bay Hotel shuttle bus. Had to wait for about an hour for another plane to arrive with lots of backpackers from Australia. Bus filled up after they arrived!

We got the hostel, and all the backpackers crowded the reception, and overwhelmed the lady. She ended up not having enough rooms/beds for everyone, so 11 of us (without reservations) had to sleep on the beach chairs around the swimming pool at 4:00AM, under teh starry (actually, cloudy) sky. It was free, though.

The movie Cast Away (with Tom Hanks) was filmed on one of the islands in Fiji, I'm gonna go see it!!

Friday, July 11, 2003

Last night I had beef ravioli from a can, I had to ask another guy in the hostel to translate the instructions for me. He didn't speak much english, but we got through it.

Up at 9:30, got groceries, then back to the hostel and ate. There's no milk here, not that I could find anyway.

I took the bus to the beaches, a few km. south of the city centre. They're in the Noumea suburbs. Got off the bus at Ansa Vata beach, walked around to Club Med, then walked back to the beach at Baie de Citrones (Lemon Bay). Stared at topless bathers for a while, then walked back to the hostel (and me feet were killing me!)

It was rather coolish today, the wind off the ocean was cool, but when you were shaded from the wind, and the sun was out, it was flippin hot. Because of the wind, there were lots of parasailers and windsurfers at Ansa Vata beach, which isn't protected at all. There was no one swimming, though. At the beach at Baie de Citrones, it's in a cove, and protected, not windy, and there were a few people swimming.

French is definately the backpacker language here. On the bulletin board at the hostel, all information on "things to do" is in french, with just a few in french and english. All the guests are french as well.

And expensive internet, it's about $13CDN/hour! Once I realized how much I spent the first night there, I didn't use it after that.

I also found out late today that I've been an hour fast. I actually went to bed about 9:30 last night and got up about 8:30 this morning. Stupid AirCalen was informing us that there was no time difference between NZ and New CAledonia.

After getting back from the beach, I went to my room, and I have two more people in my room. The girl walked in, and I said hello, and she stuttered and said, "You don't speak french!!" She was so happy to meet someone not french. Her and her boyfriend are from Switzerland, but not the french speaking area. She knows some french, but finds it difficult. We started talking and her b/f came in, she's all excited, and telling me all about their travels in New CAledonia. They've been here two weeks, and spending two more weeks, because it's so nice. They've been all over, to the little islands as well. She showed me the shells she's collecting, and told me about the aquarium and how beautiful the south islands of New Caledonia are, and she wouldn't shut up. She was asking if I could get my flight changed, so that I could spend more time in New Caledonia and see it all (the real New Caledonia). Anyway, I suspect the non-french guests are being segregated and stuck in a different room than the rest of the guests.

I had supper (two frozen cheeseburgers, they were gross), then I walked downtown to find a bakery or something. Nothing open, but they were open last night. I actually felt unsafe walking around Noumea at night, a lot of locals eyeing me up and some drunk, stumbling thru the streets and pissing in gutters. I wandered into the more rundown are of the city too, and that's especially spooky.

At the Place de Cocotiers (main square in the middle of downtown, kind of a large park area), they have all kinds of kids carnival rides setup. I guess Monday is a holiday in France (and here as well), so they're celebrating it all weekend long.

Lots of people at the hostel are families and/or older couples. The mothers (or wives) are in the kitchen cooking up gourmet meals for their families, and here I am deforsting my frozen cheeseburgers.

Later in the evening, I talked with the Swiss couple for quite a while, then went to bed sometime after 11:00.

The currency (bills) here are HUGE! The 5000 franc bill (about $63CDN) is probably twice the size of a normal size bill. Needless to say, none of the money will fit in my wallet.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Holy Customs, Batman!

Ok, hopefully this journal entry won't come out in French. I'm using a french keyboard, but changed teh input language to English, so none of the letters are in the right place, but it allows me type faster!

I got up about 8:00 this morning, showered, packed the rest of my stuff up, checked out, put my big backpack in storage, then went and had breakfast in the kitchen with Lucy (girl in our dorm room...she has to cut her trip short and go back to England because her dad is sick). About 10:20, decided to make my way to the airport, so bought a bus ticket on the air bus from the hostel, and went and waited at the bus stop. The Airbus's are supposed to come every 20 minutes, but I didn't get one until after 11:00, and then it had to drop off and pick up a wack of other people, and I didn't get to the airport until about 11:45.

I went to check in, and I handed her my ticket and visa, and she asks me if I have a return visa to get back into New Zealand. I'm silent for a few seconds, digesting this strange comment. Finally, I say that I don't have a visa, because I'm from Canada and I don't need a visa. She's like, "Oh." Then she asks if I have a return ticket out of NZ, I remark I do, then ask her if she wants to see it. She says yes. By this time, a second person comes to the desk, a man. They are kind of discussing things as I dig out my Auckland->Sydney ticket. I hand it to them, and she says, "But this is to Sydney." I'm like, "Ya, and...", thinking to myself why the heck does she give a freakin care where I'm going after New Zealand. She then asks me if I have a return ticket back to Canada. I say ya, and I proceed to try and find it. I produce it, the man looks at it. That return ticket back to Canada satisfied them, and they hand me back all of my tickets, and my passport, and gives me my boarding pass. The man makes a joke about me getting to the sun and beaches and out of the cold, and I say that's the idea.

With that over, the rest of the flight goes without any hitches. The airline is partnered with the support of Air France, and everythign is in french.

The plane leaves late because they're waiting for two more passengers whose other flight was arriving late.

We land in New Caledonia, and the airport is small (smaller than Regina's), and as I exit and they have a bunch of "natives" with hula's on, playing and singing at the airport, as you'd expect from any South Pacific island. They obviously came just for our flight, because after our flight left the airport, they all packed up and went home. Outside the airport, I was pointed to a girl working a stand that sold bus tickets to Noumea (airport is about 45 minutes from Noumea). The bus ride is 2500XPF (Pacific Francs something or other), which of course, I have none (no ATM in airport), so I give her my $40 New Zealand dollars and tells me that will be good. I suspected I got took, not really knowing the exchange rate, but on the bus, I figured it out, and it would've been about $35-40 NZ dollars, so it was close.

I got dropped off at the Youth Hostel in Noumea. The countryside along the bus ride was very unimpressive. I'm in a 6 bed dorm room all by myself. It's about 1300XPF, about $17CDN. The hostel is quite nice, situated on a hill with some impressive views.

Apparently New Caledonia is the 2nd most expensive island in the Pacific, so $17 for a dorm is pretty damn good!

I flew Air Caledonia International. Very nice airline! Very friendly (surprising for French!) and excellent food, and of course, being French, there's plenty of wine to go around!!! Each seat has it's own little monitor/TV screen (just like Malaysian Airlines), and I was quite impressed. Except they all assume I'm french, and try to talk to me in francais.

So, I suppose I should get get a few groceries and make something to eat back at the hostel. In the kitchen at the hostel, everyone has their own little "food jail", and you're given a key to your jail cell, inside you find your own plate and cup and utensils and stuff, and you put your grocers in there and lock it up. It's quite neat! And the fridge is a BIG walk in cooler, and same idea there, the key opens up your little "jail cell" where you'd keep your refrigerated items. Very cool idea, and prevents people from stealing your food (somethign that quite common at the Funkhouse!)

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Mt. Eden

Went to the Globe bar last night with Simon (guy in room), stayed there for a couple of hours or so, then back to room. Problem with sleeping too much is you eventually get so much sleep, you can't sleep the next night. That happened to me last night, I was awake all night. Oh well.

Finally fell asleep about 6:30 or 7:00, and woke up about 11:00, showered, had breakfast, picked up my plane ticket, went shopping for another backpack (I don't wanna bring all my stuff to the islands), then took the train to Mt. Eden.

The subway/train system here is hilarious! It's just chaos, trains never arrive or leave on time, the railway staff make announcements apologizing for the late train, and remarking that they don't know when it'll arrive or what track it'll arrive on, but when they find out, they'll make another announcement! The tracks they are using to run their train system are old freight tracks, so when you get off at a stop, it's nothing more than a concrete dock, with a rickety old pedestrian bridge to the roadway! Our train had to backup onto a side track because another train was coming down the line (probably the late one!), and the conductor announces over the train intercom that it'll just be a few minutes, then, with a cheery voice, says, "Hope everyone's having a WONDERFUL day!". Everyone on the train chuckled. Ahhh, just growing pains, really! And it only cost $1.10, so it's cheaper than the bus! I'm sure in a few years, it'll be one efficient subway.

Mount Eden isn't high, maybe 200 metres aboce sea level, but is the highest "mountain" in Auckland, and gives some dramatic views all around. The volcano crater was massive! It was a rally cool sight, I never imagined it to be that big.

Spent maybe an hour there, then walked back to the downtown (just had to follow the Skytower), then started packing up my new backpack with everything I wanted to take. I'm gonna leave my big backpack, with most of my stuff in it, at the hostel, they only charge $6/week for storage.

I also did some laundry, and cut my finger. So, I'm a little slow at typing at the moment, and making lots of mistakes.

I went to BK for supper. BTW, Burger King sucks in Australia. They don't have double cheeseburgers. But, they do have them at BK in NZ! Yay!!

That's all folks.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Kelly Tarlton

I stayed up and read until about midnight last night, then went to bed. I slept until about 11:00AM this morning, I couldn't believe it. I never woke up once either, I was out for the count. Not sure why, I certainly didn't feel tired. Ah well, whatever, sleep is one of the four greatest things.

I got up, showered, everyone was gone, save for one other guy, who just seems to sleep all day anyway. I went for breakfast, paid $11 and had a HUGE breakfast. Breakfast is expensive here, compared to Canada, where breakfast specials at restaurants typically are the cheapest meal of the day.

I then hopped on a bus to Kelly Tarltons Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. It's an squarium-type of doodad, pretty neat, if a little steeply priced at $25. They have a replica of Captain Robert Scott's hut, that they used as a base to trek to the South Pole, in 1911. (He and his team never made it.) We then take a heated "snowcat" and travel across the ice to see a colony of King penguins and some other penguins (can't remeber name). The penguins live in, essentially, a giant freezer that mimicks conditions of the Antarctic, with below zero temperatures and lots of (man-made) snow.

Next is some smaller aquariums, with various sea-life in them, crabs, fishes, eels, seahorses, etc.

After that is Underwater World. You walk through a tunnel underneath a huge aquarium, housing all kinds of fish, rays, and sharks. It's supposed to mimick what a diver would see, and it's pretty impressive. The shark section has some absolutely massive stingrays, that float overtop of you as you walk through the tunnel. It's almost as if they know you're there, and they float above you, blocking out the light. They were massive, wingspan must have been at least 2 metres. The sharks were pretty cool too.

Finished that about 3:30, then bussed back to downtown. When I was trying to find the bus station to catch the bus to the Kelly Tartlton's place, I walked to where the bus station is supposed to be, but it's a huge construction site. They had a big sign, indicating that the bus station was no longer there ("you don't say...", being replaced by a train station. They had a map indicating where the busses would be stopping in the meantime. Anyway, I went back to the train station to check it out. Auckland does have a subway system. It's still totally under construction, but they do have 3 lines already running. The new subway train station is very impressive, everything is a done in a silvery-metal color scheme, very shiny and impressive! One of the trains goes to Mount Eden (the biggest volcano in Auckland), so I'll probably take the train there tomorrow. The main station is also still very much under construction, with danger and warning and "sorry for the inconvenience" signs up all over, along with tape forbidding you from going anywhere that's still under construction, and the sound of hammers, saws, and drills emanating from all over. The first sign that Auckland is actually looking and moving into the future!!

I walked around downtown, bought some more milk and some tea bags, and stole some sugar packets from Starmart, went back to the hostel, inquiried about baggage storage ($6/week...I don't wanna take all my wintery-type clothing to the islands), made a couple of jam and peanut butter sandwiches, made some tea, then read my book for a while, then hit the internet.

I've read so much since hitting Australia, it's unreal. I've never been much of a reader, but it passes the time soooo quickly. I'm almost finished a 615 page epic, "The Ill-Made Mute", book one of a trilogy. Very good, a lot of reviewers comparing it to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings books. Highly recommended, for those into the fantasy genre.

Skytower and more flights!

There's a bar (Globe Bar) underneath the hostel, and they had a theme night (jungle theme), and gave everyone in the hostel a 2-for-1 coupon for a pint of beer, and had free punch for everyone, so all the guys from the room went to that for a while. Me and what's-his-face didn't stay too long, we don't need to spending money on alcohol. The girl in our room didn't go at all.

I slept really great last night.

So, I got up this morning, 9:00ish, I think, got a few groceries (milk and bread and cereal), and made myself some breakfast. I then started out on a trek to get information and pricing for flights to Fiji. It's middle of school break right now, and all the students (elementary->university) are on break...and of course, the uni students all go to Fiji for the break (kinda like Palm Beach or Cancun or whatever for North American students). First went to Flight Centre, and a flight to Fiji is more than $1100 return, no deals on right now. Or, I can get a package for $1450 that gives me 3 nights accomodations at one of the tiny islands resorts, then from there, go on my own for the rest of Fiji. They also had one more very great deal, for $770, return, but you had to stay at a specific resort for the whole time, all accomodations booked in advance. Not for me. I then tried another travel agent, Great Holiday Escape, and they took me through the $770 deal too, but it didn't suit me. The other deal right now, she informs me, is a flight to Fiji, but you have to spend minimum one night in Naumea (New Caledonia). So, Auckland->Naumea->Nadi(Fiji)->Auckland for $990. I wrote the info down, ran over to the nearest bookstore, checked out the Lonely Planet for New's the closest South Pacific Island to New Zealand, 2.5hours flying time. And they have a cheap hostel in the Naumea too. It's a French colony, the main language is french. Fiji, for those who care, the official language is English. So, I went back and booked the flight! I'm flying from Auckland on Thursday (July 10) to Naumea, land at 3:35PM. I'm spending two nights in Naumea (sounds like a nice place), and fly from Naumea to Nadi on Sunday night, and arrive in Nadi at 1:10AM (yuck!) I also booked the Feejee Experience bus pass, which is like the Oz Experience and Kiwk Experience bus pass for backpackers, a hop-on/hop-off bus, and I can stay as long as I like at any drop-off point. I return back to Auckland on July 24, so I'll be gone from NZ for 2 weeks!!

The total cost for that was just shy of $1500NZ. I keep forgetting the favourable exchange rate, though, so it's only about $1200CDN for the flight and the bus pass.

AFter getting that all sorted out, it was about 3:00, so I headed up to Auckland's Skytower. It's the highest tower in the southern hemisphere, and you can get some pretty great views of Auckland from up there. I also saw a jumper!!! No, he wasn't committing suicide, you can pay money and jump off the Skytower. Advertised as New Zealand's highest jump, it's not a bungee jump, it's a "drop", you're wired between two cables strung from near the top of the tower to the ground, and you go down. It's a drop of 192 metres. When you drop, they stop you, suspended in mid air, at the level of the observation level, so everyone can see you, suspended in mid-air above the city. I got a great picture of the first guy. They have a backpacker rate for going up the Skytower, $10, compared to $15 for a regular adult fare. It's great being a backpacker!

AFter that, went back down to the bottom, and surrounding the Skytower at ground level is a huge casino, so I went in there and lost my shirt. Well, I only played $4, but lost it all. Mostly played the 2 cent machines. But it was fun!

I then went and got a few more groceries (pepperoni and ham) and had sandwiches for supper. Yum!

I have a bunch of losers for roommates! All they do is hang out in the room all day. They were in there when I popped in at lunch, they were still in there when I was up mid-afternoon to drop my flight stuff off, again after supper...that's all they do, is sit in the room!!! Ugh!!!!!!!!!!! The girl is the worst. And the big guy too.

As for the hostel, I paid for two more nights today, and it was only $20/night this time. Woohoo!! I don't particularly care for the hostel, though, it's too big and impersonal. It's the biggest hostel in NZ, can house 300 people. Imagine sharing a kitchen with 300 other people...well, to be fare, there's no way all 300 will be in the kitchen at any one time, and they have about 8 or 10 stoves, each with four burners, so there's lots of cooking room. And they have abotu 6 or 8 sinks to clean dishes with, so there's lots of room. But they need to invest in another frig (Hi Sandra!), as they only have a smallish one, and it's overflowing. And there's lots and lots of seating. But, it's such a huge place, I'd rather have something smaller. But since I'm leaving in a few days, I'm not going to bother moving anywhere else, but I'll lay my ass down somewhere else another time (perhaps that Climborama (or whatever) hostel that Kirk and Donna left a comment about...that sounded cool!)

Oh, I was chatting with Court last night, she has a job. Receptionist at the hostel where she's staying at. Pay is good too, and she gets a discount on accomodations too. I don't know anything past that.

So, I have to say, I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy right now!!!!! Before Court and I left for this trip, I had a list of places that I was really hoping I'd get to see, that was never included in any of our "plans" or tickets (not that had any plans). And guess what! I'm doing it all!!!!!!!1 I so wanted to get to NZ once we made it to Australia! And here I am!! And I also really wanted to hit at least one island in teh South Pacific. Now I'm going to TWO! New Caledonia and Fiji! I can't believe it!!! The one other thing that I MUST to that I haven't yet is the Great Barrier Reef, but that will come in good time!!!

As for travelling alone, so far I like it! Nothing against Court, I loved travelling with her (and would take her back as a travel mate in an instant), but travelling alone gives you so much freedom. You can do whatever you went, spend however much time you want doing whatever it is you want. It is nice to have someone to share certain thigns with (for example, the views from the top of the Skytower), but I guess you gain in some ways, and lose in other ways.

Mmm, seems to me there was something else I was gonna remark about in here. Well, from the top of the Skytower, Auckland is a BIG city. I'm gonna try and hike Mount Eden and stare down into the volcano tomorrow (weather was rainy here again today, but sure didn't seem that cold, compared to the last couple of days...although both the travel agents I talked to complained that it was especially cold today...go figure...oh, and I lost my toque somewhere to boot...I'll have to buy another one when I get back from Fiji).

Everyone in the room does their own thing, alone as well. Doing things on your own just comes with being a single backpacker. I know everyone in the room I'm in right now does their own thing, alone, during the day (except when they don't leave the room, and just sit in it all day). They've all remkared about what they did that day or that-other day, and they did it alone.

Anyway, it's kind of fun actually updating my journal all the time again. I get a kick out of doing it. I wonder what sort of internet facilities they'll have on the islands. Some of the smaller resort islands around Fiji (that I plan on going to) don't even have electricity, other than a generator in the evening for a few hours...ahh, memories of islands in Thailand and Laos!!!

Sunday, July 06, 2003


I was so tired yesterday, only having three hours sleep on Friday night, I went up to the room at 7:00, climbed on to my bed (I'm relegated to a top bunk), and dozed off, even with my roomies talking. About 10:00, some of them left, and the light was turned off. I climbed under the covers and slept and slept and slept, finally got up about 11:30 this morning!! Sleepyhead!

I had breakfast at a food court ($12.50!) then went walking around Auckland, along the waterfront. I don't particularly like's not a very inspiring city, there's nothing special about it, the downtown isn't particularly nice, and a lot of it is rundown. I would have expected more from a city of 1.2 million. The nice thing about Sydney, in the downtown area along the waterfront is BEAUTIFUL. Vast parks, walkways, Darline Harbour, Cirqular Quay, Sydney Opera House, harbours (for sailboats), residential properties, etc. The waterfront in downtown Sydney is definately made for the public and for the people to enjoy. There's really no commercial/industrial presence at all. Auckland is quite different. There's no parkspace at all, bits and pieces of people/public areas, but most of it is very commercialized and industrial. The area where the bases for the America's Cup teams were in 2000 and 2003 (when it was held in New Zealand) is nothing more than concrete platforms where buildings once stood, and parking lots. An apartment building is going up where one of the bases was. But it's surrounded by industrial properties...who'd want to live there? It's quite a disappointment, actually. The main area of the downtown around the harbour is even named after American Express. I get the impression that money talks when it comes to Aucklands waterfront, whereas Sydney is very, very much against that, keeping the downtown waterfront public, to be enjoyd by everyone. A round of applause for that!! Sydney pushes the commercial and industrial sectors away from the central business district. Even the downtown area in Auckland (away from the waterfront) is not particularly impressive. The old buildings look old and dilapitated, many of them not in use anymore, having been abandoned. Sydney, apparently, has been voted one of the best cities in the world to live, and I can see why, actually. Auckland is a disappointment. There doesn't seem that much to do, either, except apparently the aquarium is very nice. Perhaps I'll do that tomorrow. They also have a volcano (Mount Eden, I think it's called), a small mountain, you can hike it and look down into the volcano. Sounds kind of neat.

After walking around for a while, went back to the room and hung out there with others in the room, talking about everything. About 7:00, four of us went to look for's hard to find restaurants open in downtown Auckland in the evening. We eventually settled on a pub/restaurant, I had "bangers and mash", which is actually sausages and mash potatoes. It was very good, if a little expensive at $14.50.

AFter that, here I am at the internet.

Oh, since I'm travelling again, I'll try to actually do daily updates again, like when we were going through SE Asia. Now that I actually have a life and have things to tell you guys about.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Court's New Picture Page

New Zealand

I'm in New Zealand, Auckland, right now.

So, here's my update. I got to Big, they had a party last night. They had a bunch of big prizes, but I didn't win diddly-squat! About 8:45, Mike (a guy in the room I'm in) and I went to another bar, where he was going to meet up with an ex-coworker of his. We hung out with them for a while. One of the girls was a Canadian girl, who just quit her job...she worked for FreeSpirit, the company that was going to sponsor me. So she knew the people I was dealing with there (Kylie and Stephen). We went to a lounge/bar on top of one of the buildings in teh downtown area, but got kicked out, because us backpacker didn't meet up to their quality dress standards! Haha. Anyway, the view of Sydney at night was very nice from up there. We hit another bar for a while, and finally everyone went their separate ways about midnight. Mike and I headed back to the hostel, but the party was done there, and everyone was supposed to go to the Triple Ace bar after the hostel party, but that was dead too. We then went to another bar (Scubar), to see if anyone was there. I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to Court last night, and I feel bad about that. When I left the hostel party, I didn't realize that we'd be gone for so long, and assumed I'd meet up with Court and the hostel party at Triple ACe Bar later on.

So, I got a few hours sleep, woke up at 4:00Am this morning, checked out, and got the train station (Central Station), and got the 5:18 train to the airport, and got all checked in. The flight was late getting loaded up, but we finally got airborne about 8:00, about 35 minutes late. Got to Auckland just fine.

BTW, Thai Airways sucks! They don't have personal TV's for everyone, like Malaysian Airlines, the staff aren't friendly and smiley (actually, the flight attendants reminded me of Air Canada flight attendants...just there to do a job they don't enjoy, that's it). And my stupid stereo didn't work on my seat, so I couldn't listen to the movie (Kangaroo Jack)...not that it mattered, I couldn't see the screen anyway, I had a seven foot person in the seat in front of me anyway.

Anyway, got to Auckland, it's rainy and cold here. I called the Auckland Central Backpackers hostel on the freephone, and they told me how to get to their hostel, catch the Airbus from the airport, and it'll drop me off right at the ACB. So, we're driving into the city, and the bus gets a flat tire. So, we have to wait for another bus to come and pick us up. Not a big deal, but kind of funny in a way.

So, I checked into ACB, $21/night. I just checked the exchange rate, it's better than it was in Australia, $1CDN = $1.25NZ. So, the hostel is costing me less than $17CDN, which isn't that bad. I don't like the hostel, though, not sure why, not a good vibe too it. Might move in two days. I don't think they have kitchen facilities either, but I have to find out for sure.

So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do right now. It's the coldest month of the year (and rainiest), so I'm thinking I might try to go to Fiji right now, then come back to NZ later this month, and travel as teh weather starts warming up (and it doesn't rain as much). Sound like a good idea?

Anyway, that's it for now!


I forgot to tell ya, on Tuesday, I ran into a girl with a maple leaf on her shirt, and started talking to her a little bit. She was from Toronto (just outside Toronto, I think). Oli, the impromptu social director at the Funkhosue, has a tab at the World Bar, and for the 2nd week in a row, he was going to buy a drink for every person from the Funkhosue that came to the World Bar. So, me, the girl from Toronto, and the girl she's travelling with made it a Canada Day party as well. I wore my Canada hat, she had her maple leaf/CAnada shirt, and her friend, well, she just wore read. They met up with another Canadian guy at the bar as well. The stupid DJ wouldn't play an Canadian music, though. I requested some Celine Dion, or any other Canadian music, but he told me Canadian music sucks! And he wouldn't play it! Oh well.

So, the old Italian guy left Wednesday morning, and I slept in peace and quiet Wednesday night. Slept awesome. Yesterday morning, I went back to the room about 11:30 to get something, and there was a blob laying on the other bed in the room. It was the Italian guy again! What the hell is he doing back?? Actually, that's a lie, all I saw was a head of long, blonde hair. It was sleeping, so I quickly grabbed what I wanted and left again.

I went to the Imax theatre for the afternoon and saw two movies. They show both 2D and 3D (with the special funky, not the red/blue ones). Anyone that was at the Canadian pavillion at Expo 86 in Vancouver knows the 3D Imax experience I'm talking about...the Imax experience (in 3D) was first shown at the Canadian pavillion at Expo 86. Anyway, at the Imax, one 2D movie is $16, a 3D movie is $17. Expensive! But, you can see any two movies in one day for only $21! So, that's what I did. I saw Adrenaline Rush, The Science of Risk. It was pretty neat, about risking your life doing crazy things like cliff jumping in Norway and skydiving and stuff. It was pretty neat. Then I saw Space Station 3D (which was a 3D movie, for the stupid ones out there). They hand out those funky glasses. WOW!!!!!!!!!!! This was amazing!!! Seeing an Imax movie in 3D is the REAL Imax Experience! It was amazing!! The views from outer space, the space station, the rocket and shuttle launches (both Russian and American). I even got a tear in my eye at one point. The movie chronicles the building of the international space station, and the people living on it. At one point in the movie, it's Christmas time, and their playing Christmas music on the space station, and the American resident on the station is talking about missing Christmas, being away from his friends and family. I drew a direct parallel between him and me...Barring anything unforseen, I'll spending Christmas away from my family this year, and it made me miss "being home", as I imagined spending Christmas on the other side of the planet this year. Boohoo! Anyway, seeing an Imax movie is 3D is amazingly cool!!!!

Last evening, I went to a comedy night in Paramatta. A "party bus" stops in Kings Cross and picks up backpackers from all the hostels there. 4 of us went from the Funkhouse. Unbeknownst to me, Paramatta is a different took about 45 minute bus drive outside of Sydney to Paramatta to the bar there. It was a free bus trip, free entry to the comedy night, and a free bus ride back. The comedy night was pretty good, apparently not as good as last week, though. They have comedians, but they also have a host that gets audience participation happening, getting people from the audience to come up and do all sorts of crazy things. One game that's played is called the Mars bar race. Two guys and two girls have to go up on stage, and they pair off into two guy/girl couples. The idea is, each couple is given a Mars bar, and the girl has to feed the Mars bar up the pant leg of the guys' pants, through the crotch, and down the other pant leg. Anyway, the comedians were very funny, and it was a fun night.

When we got back to the hostel (about 1:15, I think), the light was on in the room, I went in, and Trudy was laying in bed, reading a magazine. She's from New Zealand, we talked for about 30 minutes or so, then to bed.

This morning, I checked out of the Funkhouse and moved to Big for the night. It's close to Central Station, so it's quick and easy for me to catch an early train (5:15AM) to the airport, for my flight. The shuttle busses to the airport don't start running until about 5:45, which is too late for me. Court had sent me a text this morning telling me there's a big party at Big tonight as well. It's $24.50/night here.

So, I'm at Big right now. It's nice and new, but very, very drab. Just a dullish gray/white paint job all over, almost a downer, especially compared to the wild and bright colours and paint jobs at the Funkhouse.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Powerhouse Museum

Italian dude was supposed to not be in my room last night, Hamish (works at hostel) moved him to another room yesterday. But, in the middle of the night, he came in and went to bed. Oh well, what a loser. He left early this morning, hopefully forever, according to the Funkhouse staff. Of course, as he was taking all his stuff out of the room, he was makeing lots and lots of noise. Hopefully I'll have the room all alone for the next two nights.

It's been raining all day today, non-stop. Supposed to be like this for the next few days.

I went to the Powerhouse museum today, it's a science centre-type of museum, a museum of learning and discovery and other neat things. They have lots and lots of stuff, like a Movie Magic section, where you can make your special effects movie videos, which was kind of neat. I learned how detergent works. I forget now, but I did read all about it. Stood inside a full-size mockup of the shuttle's cockpit. They had lots and lots of stuff to see and do. All for only $10 entry fee.

I think that's all for now!

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!!! Hope everyone is doing good, enjoying the fireworks, and all that jazz.

So, I'm going to New ZEaland. I leave Saturday, 7:30AM. Bought the ticket today. It's an open date ticket good for 90 days, so I can come back anytime I want within 90 days. At the moment, I'm scheduled to come back on Sept. 5 or something like that. I'm going to get a Kiwi Experience bus pass, which is a hop-on/hop-off bus system designed for backpackers. Should be a blast.

My cousin, Rosemary, is working in Franz Josef as a glacier guide, I'll get in touch with her. Maybe she can get me a free glacier tour or something!

One of the last bits of Courtney news that will be appearing in this journal. She has a temp job (not sure if I mentioned that in a previous entry or not), she doing filing, and she hates it. Oh well, it's money, is what I told her. She also mentioned to me that she may head up the coast of Australia soon.

The old freaky guy is leaving tomorrow! YAY! Don't know where he's going, maybe back to Italy? He's probably involved in the Italian mafia or something.

It's cool and miserable here today, and the forecast is for the same for the next few days.

Mmmmm, that's all, I guess. I fly to in and out of Auckland, if anyone cares.

China!!! Well...

Ok, so yesterday, I was so stoked to go to China!!! I bought the Rough Guide to China (more than 1100 pages!), and checked out pricing of tickets, I can fly to Hong Kong one way for about $900.

So, last night I was reading the Rough Guide, and last night and this morning, talked myself out of China. China is quite expensive (surprisingly...just as whoever left that comment on my journal), accomodation costs is on par with Europe or American costs, with dorm beds running between $10-$20 CDN. That, combined with the fact that China is SOOOOO big, and also the language barrier (which will be a barrier...apparently English is not prevalent at all in China), and, quite frankly, it kind of scared me off. Besides, I've got and am going to get a lot more Asian culture this year as it is.

Decided to go to New Zealand instead. Do some hiking, visit my cousin, working (training) to be a glacier guide (how cool is that!), and hike and fish and camp.

But, I'm prone to change my mind frequently, so who knows.

The old freak was in my room again last night. Emily (works at Funkhouse) told me he's leaving tomorrow, though, so that's good.

Courtney is still trying to get me to come to Big. She has a job! It's just a temp job, I don't know what she's doing, but she's happy to have a little bit of income.

I guess that's all for now.