New Zealand

Chennai – Good bye

image

This was our only photo in Chennai (CHUH – NYE) – our last dinner on the roof our hotel.

We only had two days in the city. The last two days of our 10 month long trip, and we chose to spend it at a buffet table and a shopping mall. We were tired, and wanted a couple of days to gather our stuff and relax before our next leg of travel back to our home and native land.

Suffice it to say, we didn’t have any grand tales to share from our time in Chennai.

Instead maybe some advice:

1. Go to more breakfast buffets.

2. Take your time there: don’t blow your appetite on an overfilled, first plate of waffles and pancakes.

3. Aim for four plates. For example, start slow with salad. Move over to the omelette station next, and pay service to some sausage and bacon. Then for your third plate, you could bring in some insulation like pancakes, waffles, or french toast. This means you can finish on a light note. As your reliever, go with some fruit.

4. Get the fresh stuff: is there one piece of french toast left in the container? do another couple of laps, or distract yourself with the colours at the salad bar then double back to get the new batch.

5. Treat it as your own food museum: people spend hours touring museums, taking history in slowly, one piece at a time. There’s no reason you can’t do the same. Consider a buffet, your own edible museum or art gallery that you can enjoy, bit by bit, digesting it all slowly.

Enjoy.

We’ve now been back in Canada for a couple of months, and I can confidently say that the first impression of life here is cold. Not groundbreaking news for winter in Canada – but we’d been living under sun for the past 10 months, and hadn’t been below zero in a long time. Our East Coast is having it rough, getting hammered with one snow storm after the next, which I think, is well summed up in this ditty:

Toronto is just cold. I know, in comparison to other parts of Canada like Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northern B.C, and Quebec we’re living in a paradise. My eyelids aren’t freezing shut, my nose hairs aren’t growing icicles, and it doesn’t hurt to breathe outside. And yet, I still feel cold. Maybe the sun has made me soft.

There’s a lot of good things to being back:
– fast WiFi
– good coffee
– personal laundry
– maple syrup

And some bad:
– The Toronto Maple Leafs

It was an amazing trip overall – with a ton of different experiences along the way, which I’m sure we’ll return to again and again as our memories are randomly triggered.

” Do you remember that drunk guy singing in a microphone on that Indonesian ferry?”

” Remember those mountain goats we saw off the trail in Nepal”.

” Remember that Chinese trekker who had a teddy bear on his bag to remember his wife”.

Blah, blah, blah. We can go on forever – and think it enormously interesting, while boring the shit out of everyone around us. However, in place of our subjective impressions, here’s something we can include people on: our trip by the numbers.

Months spent travelling: 10

Countries visited: 10

Planes taken: 32

Longest single flight: 14 hrs 35 mins. (Vancouver to Auckland)

Trains taken: 5 (overnight) + 2 (day)

Longest single train ride: 14 hrs (Delhi to Varanasi)

Buses taken: 2 (overnight) + 19 (day)

Longest single bus ride: 13 hrs (Mumbai to Goa)

Tuk-tuk/rickshaws taken: 100+ (at least)

Cars/Taxis taken: 40-ish

Cars we rented and drove ourselves: 2

Mopeds we rented and drove ourselves: 5

Boats/Ferries: 7

Longest continuous day of travel: 26 hrs (Phuket to Sukothai)

Guesthouses stayed: 84

Nights sleeping in airports: 2

Bouts of food poisoning: 2 – Marc 0 – Rose

Countries where one or more nationals mistook Rose as a fellow citizen : 8

Scuba dives: 12

Highest altitude climbed: 5416 metres (16, 878 feet)

Lowest depth swum below sea level: 30 metres (98 feet)

Trail hikes: 4

Longest hike: 20 days (Annapurna Circuit)

Major news stories of our disappearance: 5 (Google search: Marc + Rose + Nepal)

Strangers who asked me to pose in a photo with them: 4

Temples visited: beaucoup

How many times we changed time zones: 10

Most times zone crossed in a single day: 10

Total distance travelled: 98, 885.4 kms (two times around the earth + 18k leftover)

I may fill in a few spots here and there, add some more travel books and odds and ends. But otherwise, that was our trip.

Merci bien. Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

Travel Books: New Zealand

Good books I read about New Zealand on this trip:

image

I didn’t get to a lot of books on our New Zealand leg, and I mainly blame this book. Why? It’s long. Clocking in at over a thousand pages, it’s no breezy bathroom read – however, I thought it was worth the effort. Set in the late 1800s during New Zealand’s gold rush it offers insights into the time, as well as different towns affected, like, Hokitika (I think my favourite NZ town name to say out loud). The books received some criticism for being too long without too much payoff, but I thought it was an interesting read anyway, particularly learning how and why different towns came to be what they are.

image

A journal of one trekker’s time through all of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – which are so designated by a government body – as well as some lesser walks through the country. His experience’s are really funny – from eating uncooked lentils at night then sitting in his sleeping bag at night while they expand in his stomach to some characters he meets on the trail as well as the conditions of the trails themselves. I thought it was a great primer to read about NZ’s trails before we went – helping us shape our own trekking plans. We both met him as well ahead of our New Zealand trip, so admittedly there is a bias. Regardless, for a travel book where the author isn’t afraid to be self-deprecating and avoids earnestness, I think it’s a good one.

Obviously, you can see, my list is painfully anemic. If anyone has any recommendations, fire away – I really liked NZ, Rose too, and would definitely like to read more about it, whether fiction or non.

Walking away in Kaikoura

image

We spent our last two days in Kaikoura – a seaside town on the East coast of the South Island. Known primarily as a whale killing station over 100 years ago, Kaikoura has since put down its harpoons and cutters in favour of binoculars and photo shutters as a whale watching station.

From beast to beauty:

image

But Kaikoura’s tourism isn’t formed only by one animal. It’s also home to seals, dolphins, albatross and other rare sea birds. So, we set out on our last stroll in New Zealand, along the coastline to see what we could spot. First up were seals in their natural habitat next to an SUV:

image

Plus, some yawning the day away, as they lazed around near rocks:

image

We then changed terrain on our designated walk, and moved onto a cliff to watch the whale watchers (the budget version of whale watching) and hoped to spot a tail or water from a blowhole in the distance. Sadly, no.

However, we had ringside seats to an abundance of seals (all those dots nearest the water):

image
There were elements of the place that reminded me of Newfoundland, with an old boat or two laying around:

image

And, the rocky shore with overlooking cliffs:

image

 

In all it was a low key, relaxing couple of days and a nice way to finish our time in New Zealand. It’s a really amazing place, and for one that’s so small, in comparison to nearby Australia, there’s a ton of things to do.

Rose and I have both said independently that we’d like to come back to see and do more stuff. I found it really comfortable, and wished we could stay longer.

However, 28 hours, 4 planes, a tricycle and a taxi await.

We’re off to the Philippines. First stop: Donsol to hopefully spot Whale Sharks.

image

Talk to you when we arrive.