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January 27, 2007

Repetition

Today is the one year anniversary of my departure from Canada. In honour of my anniversary, I hopped on a plane and flew to Hong Kong. When I was sitting on the tarmac early this morning, waiting to taxi off into the waiting sky, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was somehow going to erase the past year by flying backwards home. A very disconcerting feeling.

I am now back in the same city, and in the same hostel that I was in a year ago today. (And the past year doesn't seem to have slipped away from me.) One major difference is that instead of being here on my own, I'm here with my friend Kelly. Something that is certainly the same is the lack of sleep I've had before the journey. So, right now I am going to go to sleep.

Goodnight!


January 25, 2007

Time

Tomorrow is my last day in New Zealand. Saturday I fly to Hong Kong to meet Kelly. I'm saying this more for my benefit than for yours as my brain still has not grasped this concept. Have I really been travelling for a year (minus two days) already?

How has this trip changed me?

I've been asked that several times. I'm sure it has, somewhat. All major experiences in life change us at least a little. So having so many big adventures in such a short period of time must have changed me somewhat. Still. I'm far from a kid and this isn't my first time living out of my country. (First time off my continent though.) ... Well. ... I guess I know myself better. I know how to dive and I know what it feels like to jump out of a plane. I know that I tend too pack to much, but I really like stuff! I know all sorts of things that are only relevant if you plan on travelling for a long period of time. Maybe when I get home I'll suddenly realize how changed I am. I don't really think so though. So if you see me, and I seem all new and different, do let me know so that I'm aware of it too.

Okay, Arrrgggg..... Can't this blog update itself. Get the time line all up to speed! Please! ... please? ... no??

FINE.

Rewind.

On Nov. 6th I moved to Melbourne. Time to get another short term apartment, get another job and discover another city.

I have to admit. Despite my declarations of not choosing a favourite between Melbourne and Sydney, Melbourne won my heart very decisively. It has amazing neighbourhoods, wonderful outdoor art and culture to spare. I couldn't explore it as much as I wanted due to work taking up too much time, but I was very happy for the time I had.

I lived in an area called Elwood, which is right beside the very famous St. Kilda beach.

One on my favourite features of St. Kilda is the pier. Most of the above photos were taken from the end of the pier. And if you go out, late in the evening, watch the sunset and then wait a bit... you'll slowly begin to realize that there are penguins everywhere!

Away from nature and into the Central Business District, the photos below are from the Rialto Towers.

January 23, 2007

I spy with my little eye...

... something red. And Red. And Red.


Its an incredible site, when you first put your book down, look out your plane window and realize that the earth has turned red. Rusty red to be precise. After all, that's what makes the sand red.

I landed in Alice Springs but made my way out the next day (Nov. 3) on a tour of the desert.

Wild horse and camel spotting help the time pass when the scenery doesn't change much.

You can even ride a camel at a local cafe.

Our first stop real stop was Watarrka (Kings Canyon).

The whole of the center of Oz used to be under the ocean. You can see the proof in the photo.

Later on, with a slightly guilty feeling (bad environmentalist wasting gas), I took my first helicopter flight (it only looks like I'm driving)

After an incredible night sleeping under the stars I got my first view of the famous Uluru (Ayer's Rock).

But before I could get to close we went to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). I actually preferred exploring KT. Both are aboriginal scared sights and Uluru is considered to be the more powerful, but the hills and valleys of Kata Tjuta are more intriguing to me.

I had to glue together two photos to get the whole thing in. Here's more from up close.

Can you spot the cat's face in this photo?

Sunset and sunrise are must-dos when in the area. The first photo is sunset, the rest is the next morning.

The final stop on the trip was a visit and exploration of the base of Uluru. You can climb the monolith, but the aborigines prefer if you don't. Its disrespectful to their beliefs and they feel very badly when someone dies while climbing (seems to happen a couple of times a year).

I have to run. The cafe is closing that I'm writing this in. I'm in a beautiful town called Paihai near the top of the North. Maybe by the time I get to Asia I'll be ready to show you photos of this place.

January 15, 2007

Keep moving...

Very strange that my time in New Zealand is almost over. I've been back in Dunedin for a couple of days, visiting Isaac and sneaking time on the computer to plan the last little bits of my time on this side of the world. I keep hoping that my driver's licence will show up in the mail. Isaac's Mom has generously offered us the car to go travelling in but for some reason the Canadian Government is making me wait an excessive amount of time to mail me a new licence.

Sigh... Its fine, we can take buses. It just would've been nice to have the freedom of a car.

Back to trying to keep things in a sort-of chronological order though... I left Punakaiki (Oct. 27th) and headed further North to Nelson.

I had heard great things about Nelson, but I found the whole Nelson experience to be a bit so-so. Sunshine is one of the things that Nelson is really known for but I got cloud, so that might not have helped. Nelson does have some lovely walks and parks. The walk up to what they claim to be the center of New Zealand is worth while endeavour.

On Oct. 30th I hopped back on the bus.

New Brighton, a small sea-side town just outside of Christchurch was my next and final stop before heading back to Australia.

A few more pictures of Christchurch:

On November 2nd I hopped on a very early morning flight and headed towards the Australian desert.

... next stop, the red center ...

January 3, 2007

Back to the narrative

Wanted to slip back in time again to try and get this blog caught up. Now where did I leave off. Oh, yes. I had just left Milford Sound. The next day I hopped on the bus and started heading up the West Coast.

First stop in the Wild West was Fox Glacier. You've seen a few pictures already of some of the farms in the area. Here's one more:

Fox Glacier is a stunning place to stop for a couple of nights. There is easy access here to Matheson. It is one of the most famous lakes in New Zealand because it not only offers a superb view of Mount Cook, but when the lake is calm the reflections are stunning.

The next day I had organized a day tour for myself on the Glacier. Should you find yourself at Frans Josef or Fox Glacier, don't miss out on actually getting yourself walking around on the ice. You can only walk up as far the base without a guide. If you can afford it the helicopter landing is the best (I couldn't). The day walk is the next best.

As if this wasn't enough excitement for one day, I decided to fling myself out of an airplane to round out my day of adventure. Skydiving is something I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember, so they barely had to put me into the plane to get me up into the clouds. This is, by the way, the other reason I stopped at Fox. This is meant to be the most beautiful spot in New Zealand to skydive. I was a bit disappointed that it was somewhat overcast, but it was beautiful regardless.

The overly excited guy behind me was my acting parachute as it was a tandem dive.

cloud.jpg

Even with the clouds, the view was pretty spectacular.

I'm just a little bit pleased to be flying through the air!

Safe and sound, back on the ground.

Punakaiki was next on my to do list, and although not quite as thrilling as Fox, it afforded some incredible views never-the-less. By the way, should you want to visit this area I suggest you have a car. There are a couple of nice walks I was able to do, but most of the tramps you needed to drive to and the town doesn't seem to provide any shuttles.

Punakaiki is famous for the Pancake Rocks. Beautiful to see, but unfortunately the wind wasn't blowing enough to get the effects of the blowholes.


Pyrotechnics at their finest

Thank you all for the sympathy. Sometimes there's nothing better than a good whine. I've felt much better about the whole situation since taking the time to winge about it. There's also nothing better that four million dollars exploding in technicolour brilliance to make a worn out traveller feel like a kid again.

I was incredibly lucky to be in Sydney for the 75th anniversary of the Harbour Bridge. The firework display was easily the best I've ever seen. We decided to ignore the locals who said there was no point in heading down to Circular Quay (the best vantage point) and with a bit of work managed to find the perfect spot to see the fireworks.

Some open shutter representations of the pyrotechnics:

The photo below makes me laugh because it looks like that guy's head is on fire.