Sunday, March 22, 2015

Six Days of Travel:60° of Warmer

Day 1:

  • Left Oamaru and took bus to Christchurch. Holly was the closest to being carsick that she's ever been.
  • Southern Alps
    Arrived in Christchurch and took city bus bus to couchsurf host, where we were offered delicious curry and freshly made granola. It was a big house rented by various young international people. There was a dizzying array of faces and names, originating from places such as Australia, China, and eastern Europe. We had spent two months in New Zealand without seeing a single American, and finally met our first fellow Yankee. He hailed from New Jersey and was by far the drunkest person there, but at least we were represented.
Saying goodbye to the New Zealand countryside

Day 2:

  • Arose before the sun, trying to be painstakingly quiet and sneak out of our shared 10x10 room without waking our hosts.
  • Caught the bus to catch the bus, which took us to Picton.
  • Got ferry, watched terrible movie on the ferry, arrived in Wellington.
  • Congress building in Wellington
    Took bus as close as we could to our couchsurfing destination, super kind woman exiting the bus drove us up the final huge hill.
  • Knocked on door.
  • Ten minutes later, still knocking on the door before someone finally opened it. Everyone inside was quite high.
  • After dumping our bags, Holly laid down and Randy went to get food
  • Ghandi statue in Wellington,
    given by India in 20007
    Randy returned and made an awesome chicken curry, and also cooked up some cheap and exotic lamb hearts.

Day 3:
  • Woke up early again, walked down the giant hill to the bus.
  • Took the bus to our bus.
  • Rode all day long.
  • Drove through Rotorua, a town with lots of geothermal activity. We'd wanted to try out the hot springs, but we never had time. It was interesting to see residents harnessing the geothermal energy to heat their homes.
  • 10 hours later, arrived in Auckland.
  • Jaye, our previous friendly couchsurfing host, picked us up at the station.
  • Visited a bit and then passed out.

Day 4:
  • We explode everywhere we go
    Packed and repacked bags in preparation for leaving the country.
  • Made more delicious burgers.
  • Were sad these were our last cheap grass-fed NZ burgers.

Day 5:
  • Woke up excruciatingly early.
  • Jaye kindly took us to the airport at 4 a.m.
  • Shrine in Bangkok
    Got through security with time to spare.
  • Were on our way to Sydney, and even though it was only a 3 hour flight. Quantas gave us breakfast.
  • Had a lovely flight to Bangkok, once again enjoying the perks of international flight.
  • Shuffled items around so our bags were just barely under the weight limit.
  • On our way to Singapore.

Day 6:

  • Had a 12 hour layover at Changi airport in Singapore, and had to wait a few hours before we could check in because it was 1 a.m.
  • Tried to sleep on the most awkwardly uncomfortable airport bench seats EVER.
  • Finally were able to check in, and were blown away by how awesome the actual terminals are.
  • Checked out the rooftop sunflower garden.
  • Sunflower garden at night
    Slept on a fairly comfortable couch thing.
  • Meandered through other beautiful airport gardens.
  • Used free internet.
  • Checked out the free video game lounge.
  • Finally boarded our flight to Denpasar, Bali.
  • Arrived in Denpasar, Holly stayed with our stuff while Randy tried to find the Etihad airline office to switch our future tickets.
  • One of the many tranquil gardens at Changi
    Successfully found an Etihad office, but it was only the Office of Reupholstering Airplane Seats and could not help with our tickets.
  • It was wicked hot and we both desperately needed to change into shorts in the bathroom.
  • Bought some fresh pineapple juice to cool down.
  • The Churning of the Milk Ocean
    Went to the ATM and became millionaires ($1=1100 rupiah)
  • Outside a huge crowd of “taksi” guys were vying for our business, but we had been told to go to the official taxi stand.
  • Were soon in a taxi, glad not to be in charge of navigating the insane traffic, on our way to Kerobokan, our first volunteering gig.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Final Stop of the New Zealand Leg

wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Window view
Peter picked us up right before a giant sleet storm, and boy were we glad to see him! Earlier we had failed to connect with Peter due to a family gathering, and after dropping us off at his house, he returned to it. We were glad of the chance to relax, make some food, and turn in early after our long day of exploration. As we were heading to bed, a random person came to the door and dropped off a kitten. Her name was Sam (the person, not the kitten), and she assured us that Peter would be okay with it, by which point the kitten had already disappeared into the house to explore. Bewildered but not too worried, we went to bed.
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
NZ Spinach in NZ!!
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Lovely view to end the day
    The next morning dawned cold and stormy, with sleet and snow coming down hard. This was the first snowy accumulation we had encountered in our trip, further reminding us that although it was late May, we were in the southern hemisphere. We were getting tired of the cold, late-fall weather, and were looking forward to our imminent departure for Bali. We stayed inside most of the morning, sitting by the fire and getting to know Peter. In the early ‘80s, Peter was in a car accident which left him without the use of his legs. Though certainly a life-changing event, Peter has accomplished some amazing sports feats, including winning medals in downhill skiing championships and ping pong contests. He also owned his own leatherworking shop before moving to his current lifestyle block. Since we have dabbled in leatherworking ourselves, we were happy to glean a few tips from a master.
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Freshly dug oca
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
En garde, gorse!
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Digging oca
 We made some soup for lunch, and afterwards, once the storm had stopped, we moved some firewood around, and dug oca, a sweet tuber. Oca was a vegetable we had heard of, but had never seen grown, and we were looking forward to trying. The white-fleshed, thin-skinned tuber was sweeter than a regular potato, but starchier than a yam. It is from South America, and now comes in a variety of colors; yellow, orange, pink, apricot, though red is the original. The next day we did battle with the gorse; an old access road in one of his sheep pastures had become impassable, and we were attempting to make it usable again. We were bitten many times even through leather gloves by their thin needle-like thorns, but we did make some headway. One redeeming quality of gorse is its smattering of lovely and fragrant yellow flowers, which is probably why it was cultivated for hedges in England. The flowers can also be used to make wine. After lunch we accompanied Peter to the lawn bowls club. Lawn bowls is a popular sport in New Zealand, reminiscent of bocci ball, but with oblong balls and gutters. After watching Peter a bit, we explored the local area. 
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand lawn bowls wheelchair
Peter shows how its done
While rooting through a free bin outside a thrift store we came across a small pouch perfect for holding cards. As an added bonus, it contained a crisp New Zealand $20 bill! Happy that our thrift-store compulsion had finally paid off, we headed back to the lawn bowls club. Peter and his friends had just finished up, and were enjoying some “beersies..” The members of the club were kind enough to let us try our hand at lawn bowls before they packed up the equipment. It was surprisingly difficult to roll balls at a smaller ball, but it was fun and we were glad to get the chance to try it.
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Scoring and retrieving our bowls
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Part of the sheep herd, including the goat
who thinks its a sheep
wwoof workaway oamaru new zealand
Sheep pedicure
  The next day started with some general lawn care, followed by rotating his herd of 30 sheep into a new pasture in preparation for flock maintenance the following day. The sheep needed their hooves trimmed and to be “dedagged,” the process of freeing their backsides of matted poop. The last big project before we left was helping convert a 40-foot gum tree into firewood. Peter is an excellent cook, and we enjoyed many delicious meals around his table, including lots of fresh roasted veggies, and a tasty rhubarb crumble made from his own rhubarb. We had a great time with Peter, and it was a lovely end to our time in New Zealand. Peter was kind enough to drop us off at the bus station, and from there we started making our way back to Auckland, to catch our flight to Bali.