A Travellerspoint blog

Kia Ora, New Zealand

Are you at all following the story of the oil tanker leaking off the coast of New Zealand? I have been. With way more interest than the BP oil spill a while back.

A few months back, on a plane ride, an ad for New Zealand aired repeatedly - 100% Pure, New Zealand. And now, after having visited, I am amazed at how 100% pure it really is. The air almost sparkles, the ocean is transparent, the sky is shiny. The green is a fresh, fresh green.

Some truly spectacular photos. None taken by me. All credit due to Ms. EB, also known as That French Friend of Mine.

The islands are as they should be -- clean like when man first found them. None of the usual odd stray pieces of paper and floating Coke bottle caps. I almost felt like I was sullying what God gave us just by being there. And if you think the mountains of Colorado are gorgeous and the Californian Pacific is wonderful, well, New Zealand is 100% purer, gorgeouser, and more wonderfuler than that! Hence my interest in the oil spill. The shiney, man-hasnt-screwed-this-up-yet country deserves me at least following the oil spill story...Oh, this is how people become activists and fight whale wars, you know!

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I also checked off things from my bucket list... Bungee down a 150ft canyon into a river, and sky dive (both in the same day). A bud said that he would rather sky dive than leap off a bridge. Which one would you rather? And Neither is not an answer!

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Posted by Goofy9 07:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Infinity pools and other shallow things

And by shallow I mean frivolous and pointless. After a couple of stressful weeks in Johanesburg, I thought I should think of something cheery to improve my perspective. On that note, here are some completely silly things that make me happy.

My father would be disappointed that I spent some of the time this past year simply lying on a beach or by a pool. A consequence of that is I feel like the resident expert on infinity pools. The winner is the rooftop (57 floors high) pool of the Marina Bay Sands.
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Pictures of other contenders.

All this lounging in the life pre-Jo'burg gave me time to think of this and that. I was never the lounging type. I am the classic "fiddler." I do stuff, I organize, I catalog, label and line up. I don't lie on a beach in paradise and contemplate life. Yet, relaxing is an art form I have gained a healthy respect for.

I have been wondering what luxury is. For me, it's the things that I value that I don't get enough of. For example, space. With six million people on the island of Singapore, it was hard to get away from people. They are everywhere. And a place (a hotel, perhaps) that can give me space is a place of luxury for me. or Coorg.

Another one is silence. In Asia, it seems to be hard to come by silence. There's construction, traffic, and and 2/3 of the world's population. Sorta hard to be quiet when there's so much going on! Now, that's why I love Coorg: Green, a home older than my grandfather, generations of land, a language that can be poetic, and family. This family of mine can talk so much we use up the silence! But once the yakkity-yak slows down, the air is filled with the sounds of bugs, and birds, and beetle. Yep, silence is a luxury.

Bubbles in my water also make the list if luxury items! Seriously, since making a conscious choice to skip the beer, bubbly water is my new best friend. Wasser mit Gasse.

So that's it, pretty simple list: space, silence and bubbly water! What's on your list?

Posted by Goofy9 12:33 Archived in Singapore Comments (2)

Things to learn at warp speed

Mini meltdown in Johannesburg

It's been one week since I got to Jo'burg, and there have been things that I have had to learn very quickly.

1. The very first thing to do when you sit inside your car is to...no, not wear your seat belt. It's to lock the doors. Practically every woman I have met has reminded me that I must remember to lock the doors, before even fumbling to put the keys in the ignition.

2. Not having automatic windows suck! I have asked Avis to change my car because this weekend I realized how important power windows are. The number of times I had to roll down my window to take a security pass to enter a lot, and then roll it up and then roll it back down to return the pass and then roll it up again and then roll it down again at the next place to get a security pass and then roll it up again. You get the point.

3. Must carry a purse (which I then hide behind my legs, under the driver's seat, while I drive and put in the boot of the car, when at the gym). Not using a purse the first few days was silly - there is a front door key to carry, and a key to the security metal door, and then keys to car, and then a clicker to let me out of the gates community, and then a pass to badge into the parking lot at work, and another one to badge into the actual building.

All this being said, after seeing compounds and roads and building with barbed wire and "Armed Response" signs (and having a little mini freak-out just now), I am told repeatedly that it's not all that bad and that one has to live ones life (but be constantly on the alert!). And oh, traffic lights are called Robots.

And the Green Ambulance, is a Sprite-ish kinda drink used as a Hangover Cure.
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Pictures of my absolutely lovely apartment, where I feel perfectly safe.

And to sign off for now, this is the sign that welcomes you as you walk in to work.
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Posted by Goofy9 12:24 Archived in South Africa Comments (4)

Welcome to Zambia!

First impressions of Johannesburg

I've been traveling and have had time off. You probably know that because I have been completely underground. But didja know I moved to South Africa?! Yep, did. Today is my second day…

A first impression, a friend says, "happens only once and usually lasts forever." My impressions are pretty all over the place...Landed, deplaned, and walking to the immigration counter there was happy African World Cup sort of music playing. Made me think that Africans maybe have rhythm in their step. I don’t know if I will ever discover that to be true as most of what I have heard is that immersing oneself is not a good idea: quite unsafe. Better to stick to the "rich" areas, with barbed wires and security guards.

That being said, the car service person who picked me up was a pleasant, pleasant man who hollered "Welcome to Zambia!" and then cheekily added "Just checking if you are awake after your long flight!" He was quite the opposite of the immigration officer who, frankly, would have let me in to the country even if I looked like I shouldn’t be let in! She was like a lizard, just waiting to get out into the the warm sun for her lunch break. Completely and totally disinterested in me, in her job and in anything other than getting out into the sun.

The drive in to town was unexceptional - the roads are large, modern, anything you would see in any developed nation. The land is dry and hot, patches of green and lots, and lots, and lots of barbed wire. Lots. I might have to take a few pictures, create a Barbed Wire Album - there is pretty fancy spiked wire, high wire, electrified wire. And a mall every few kilometers.

Work Day 2 lunch break - the folks at work launched right in to asking me "How old are you? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have kids?" I felt just as squirmy as I do in India. But then I told myself that in India I take all this personal inquisition in my stride; In India, I simply wear my India-hat. Now it's time to get me an Africa-hat.

Posted by Goofy9 10:54 Archived in South Africa Comments (4)

Socks and sandals

Tokyo

What's more fun than a trip? Finally going on a trip that was jinxed 3 times before! Had planned Tokyo at least twice before- but ended up going some place else for whatever reason. And their radioactive-tsunami- earthquake trio was a deterrent too. Well, anyway, Tokyo finally happened, much to my gleehappiness. While doing my MBA, I used to talk about wanting to visit, to live and to work in Germany and in Japan. And this summer, I both happened! 

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Tokyo was everything I imagined it would be in terms of fashion. Lots of short skirts, ankle length tight pants, lace socks with sandals. Practically every second girl was wearing the prettiest lace socks with the highest of heels.  Ankle socks, knee length, thigh-high, see-through white, patterned black, flowers, colors- all sorts of lace, with heeled sandals. Wacky but individual, in an odd collective sort of way. Takashitadori was adorable- with the cute girls and their frilly lacy frocks and blouses. Even staid ol' me got myself a cutesy, lacey, girlie zippered sweater. 

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Had tempura made personally by a chef at the table. Even had the best ramen in a teeny place with a long bar where the locals drank beer while slurping their ramen. Oh, oh, went to their fish market. The wholesale kind. Messy, wet as a fish market should be but so much fun. 

Oh, tokyo, you shall always be special to me. 

Posted by Goofy9 21:04 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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