macado's se asia adventure I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

16Oct/062

Traveling around the south island of New Zealand

Right..I am pretty much out of cash and running entirely on my credit cards at this moment, not a fun way to be traveling so i'm not sure how much longer i'm going to keep this up.

Since I decided to travel more I am using the Magic Bus company which is similar to the Kiwi Experience buses, actually they should probably call it "English Experience" because basically everyone on the bus is English.  Pretty funny...  Apparently I've also gotten quite good at picking up difference between English accents because I guessed somebody was from Surrey and Birmingham within minutes of talking to them which isn't bad because before this trip I couldn't tell any difference between any English accents.  I've also been unable to understand the "Croyden" jokes/banter which I never quite got before 🙂 Interesting stuff I guess.

The first stop of my trip from Christchurch was Kaikoura which is a place in the south island famous for whale watching (yes... whales, fun!. I mean boring.) Since i've seen whales before I decided to just do a scuba dive in 10-11C degree whatever (That's around 50 degress I think for you U.S. people).  The dive itself was nothing specular and ended up being cut short because the other person diving had no clue how to control his buoyancy and ruined the dive for me and the diving instructors.  Oh well, it wasn't the end of the world.  I got to see some lobsters (crayfish in New Zealand) and some interesting fish i'd never seen before.  We were hoping to maybe see some seals while diving but unfortunately the closest I got to any seals was on the rocks right next to our dive site. Apparently they didn't like our boat.

After that I headed up in a place called Nelson for 2 days and went to a national park called Abel Tasman. Did a 14km coastal walk there which was also awesome for scenery. Abel Tasman actually reminded me a lot of Thailand. The water was extremely clear and beaches were amazing. I will let the pictures speak for themselves because I am sick of describing beaches and water.  Since Nelson is known for being the place in New Zealand that gets the most sun of anywhere in the country and because of the big hole in the Ozone layer above NZ/Australia, I managed to get a bit sunburned on the walk because I didn't wear any sunscreen.

After Nelson, we stayed one night at place called Greymouth. It was a really small town and the only thing it was really known for was the Monteiths brewery which is a popular beer that's drank in New Zealand. For 20 New Zealand dollars (about 13 USD), you got all the beer you could drank pretty much and an all you can eat barbecue. Well worth it. Got smashed and well fed on 20 bucks. I've love to right more about Greymouth

Anyway, right now i'm stuck in a place called Franz Josef until Thursday when the Magic bus gets here. I figured it would be better to stay here a couple extra nights and relax than go to Queenstown and spend heaps of money. Plus, since i've already been to Queesntown i'm really not in any hurry to get back there.  Franz Josef is even smaller than Greymouth. Infact, you can pretty much see the entire town in about 5 minutes of walking. With a population of about 350 people there's not much going on here besides Glacier walks and kayaking.  I did a full day glacier walk yesterday hiking up the glacier and spent approximately 6 hours on the ice exploring ice caves, ice wormholes and massive cravesses.  I know I said this about everything i've done since i've been away but glacier hiking was one of the coolest things i've done so far.

Anyway, since it's only Tuesday and i've got until Thursday to kill some time i'm probably just going to stay in and watch movies with the rest of the people in my hostel since i've really already seen most of the things here.  The hostel i'm staying at is like a mini-hotel and is extremely nice.  25 New Zealand dollars a night, includes TV/VCR, your own kitchen and bathroom.  Not too shabby.

After leaving here i'm heading back to Queenstown, then to Dunedin, to a place called Lake Tekapo for one night and back to Christchurch!  I'll try to keep updating this and post more pictures.

16Oct/060

Queenstown, New Zealand

After working/living in Christchurch for a little bit I started to get extremely bored.  I was working at a temp agency doing various boring office temp jobs/data entry for a few weeks but I pretty much decided that I didn't want to work in Christchurch anymore. The only thing I was doing was essentially making enough to pay for rent, food, and drinking, not really enough to safe anything. A couple weeks ago I decided to take a 4 day weekend trip to Queenstown to see if I could get the travel bug out of my system by spending my hard-earned cash (I.E. money that I don't have on my credit card).  Queenstown was an extremely cool little town (well big by south island standards).  Lots of extreme activities such as bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and sky diving but most of them were a bit expensive.  It was an 8 hour bus ride to get here and the scenery was amazing.  I ended up doing 2 bungee jumps while I was in Queenstown and 2 jumps off something called a Canyon Swing which was even better.  The bungee jump I did was called the Nevis. It's 134mb (approx. 440 ft) and is the highest bungee jump in New Zealand.  Definitely the scariest thing i've ever done in my life, I literally had about 8.5 seconds of freefall to think about impending death at the bottom of the canyon until the bungee caught be just in the nick of time.

Unfortunately, Queenstown didn't really cure my travel bug.  I decided to book with a bus company called Magic and travel around the south island of New Zealand for about 2.5 weeks before going back to Christchurch and deciding what I want to do.

Anyway here are a few pictures of the bus ride on my way to Queenstown and a few pictures of Queenstown itself.

24Sep/061

Updates from New Zealand

Everything has been great down under though a little boring and mundane unlike the wild party atmosphere of SE Asia.  I've been here since September 11th and other than drink with my flatmates and go to clubs/bars to do even more drinking, I haven't done anything fun or obtained any new interesting stories with the exception of the wild and wacky antics of some of my flatmates.  I need to buy a guide book or something and actually start experiencing New Zealand instead of sitting in my room, drinking or watching TV. Even with everything that's happening in Thailand right now, I wish I was there and can't wait to go back.

I don't feel like i'm traveling anymore or that i'm even on an extended holiday. I've settled into a flat with 5 other people (more about that later on), got a bank account, mobile phone, etc and I am starting a 9-5 job tomorrow at a temp agency. Everything i've done here so far is something I could do in Boston. In Asia I was meeting new people and doing something different everyday.  Don't get me wrong, i'm definitely enjoying myself but i'm not having as much fun as I did in Asia.  I'm seriously thinking about not staying as long as I previously thought I would.. Hell..when I left the United States, I only really planned to travel for like a month and half, now i've been gone over 4 months.

Anyway, the flat i've settled into is in a suburb outside of the main city of Christchurch called Bishopdale.  Neighborhood is fairly quiet and really safe.  From Bishopdale it's about a 15-20 minute bus ride to the city centre.  Easy to get around and pretty compact. We pretty much never lock our doors and half the time they're actually wide open when we leave.  No need for keys or anything.  The people i'm living with are pretty cool, they're all pretty much students in my age group who love to drink maybe even too much.  Unfortunately, we all just found out a couple days ago that the owners are selling the house and we all need to move out within a month.  Sort of sucks because I just got settled in and will have to do the same thing all over again.  The good news is that there are heaps (that's a New Zealand phrase) flats available to rent so i'll have no problem finding a new place.

One interesting thing about Christchurch and New Zealand in general is that there are tons of Asians living here.  It's amazing, I feel like I haven't left Asia.  Seems like it's mostly Japan and Chinese students on work visas but I would guess that the population of Christchurch is like 30% Asian. Walking around town centre, they're all you see. 

All the houses here are a bit strange too (well compared to home). Most of the homes here are just one floor and they don't have any sort of basement/cellar.  I don't think any of the houses here have heating either. For the first week I was here I was freezing though i'm starting to get used to the climate now.  It's usually about 65 degrees (18.5 celsius) in the day time and it dips down to about 50 (10 celsius) at night.  New Zealand is just getting over the winter and around December is when it really starts to get hot so I can't wait for that.  If there is one thing i'm glad of it's missing the New England winter. Don't get me wrong, I like snow but just in moderate amounts and preferably on mountain tops far away from me and my car.

Anyway, there really isn't anything to say or update. I'm basically living in New Zealand at the moment, haven't done anything too exciting here though I am starting a temp job tomorrow so hopefully i'll save a bit more money to travel.  I haven't actually taken any pictures of Christchurch yet but it is a cool little city. Lots of parks and huge town centre with cobble stone streets with a big church.  Apparently there is red light district here though I haven't really seen that yet.   There are lots of strip clubs and sex shops as well.  An interesting city.  You have a big massive church and then about 2 blocks away a bunch of sex stores.

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