If the earth were a sandwich, the other slice of bread would show Spain. Specifically, the bit opposite Auckland is somewhere between Sevilla and Málaga. Me gustaría ir allí.
My trip to Texas is all booked. I leave here on the 9th of December at 9pm and arrive in Dallas three hours before that :)
"We are pressing Iraq's leaders to take bold measures to save their country. We're making it clear that America's patience is not unlimited," Mr Bush said (in the Herald today).
Not long to go now until the mid-term elections. Here's some predictions from Electoral Vote Predictor:
Well, I'm off to Texas for a few weeks.
I'm baaaack! Actually I've been back for a couple of weeks now but things have been so incredibly busy that I haven't had a chance to post.
Here's some of the highlights of my trip:
This page lists and links to my favourite photos from my US trip. These don't necessarily correspond to the places I enjoyed the most.
Steve has already posted a trip log covering Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Las Vegas, so I won't duplicate his effort here. Instead, I just want to jot down some random observations and thoughts about American culture. To me, American culture seems to have about three major components: food, shopping & TV. This post will cover the food.
This post continues my series on American culture. I have already dealt with American food, this post is on shopping, and TV is still to come.
This post continues my series on American culture. I have already dealt with American food and shopping, and this post is about TV. I have a few random observations mostly concerning driving still to come.
We were in Vienna, Austria, looking for Cafe Einstein and we knew we were in the right general area, but weren't sure exactly where it was. One of the guys with us decided to ask some people passing by if they knew where it was.
I went to Melbourne for a shopping trip this weekend. My sister overflowed her suitcase, but I only got a few pairs of shoes and a few tops. Shopping isn’t really my thing. Next time I go to Melbourne, I’ll spend a bit more time sightseeing. Still, it was the first holiday/break I’ve had in several years, so it was good.
I’m a big fan of Grabaseat deals, although I’ve still never managed to snag myself a $1 fare. The cheapest I got was a $18 fare to Hamilton which I needed to get enough status points to qualify for Air New Zealand Silver frequent flyer status. Normally grabaseat deals are the cheapest flights you can get either domestically or internationally. Not always though. Apparently sometimes you’re better off not taking the grabaseat deal:
Stephen and I have taken two trips to Fiji now, and I haven’t posted about either of them. Both times we stayed at the Radisson resort on Denarau island, which is about a 20 minute drive from Nadi airport. Denarau is really more of a peninsula than an island, but they have dug a canal and built a bridge so that it technically qualifies as an island. It is home to half a dozen large fancy resorts which are along the ocean front on the west and north sides of the island. In order, they are the Worldmark timeshare resort, Radisson, Sheraton, Sheraton Villas, Westin, Sofitel & Hilton. You can walk from resort to resort around the beachfront or via the road. There is also a bus (the Bula bus) that runs around all the resorts and to the marina on the eastern side of the island. From the marina, you can get transfers out to the Mamanuca & Yasawa island (e.g. Mana Island, Plantation Island, Treasure Island etc). You can either stay at the resorts out there (more beautiful and more pricy), or you can just go for a day trip.
One of the nicest things about going to Denarau Island is the number of great restaurants in all the resorts.
Well, this weekend proved to be more of an adventure than a mystery. The backstory is that I won an Air New Zealand Mystery Weekend for 2 people for 2 nights. I was asked to participate in an online discussion forum about FlyBuys & Air New Zealand Airpoints a few months ago. I made sure to tell them what I thought in detail and was given the mystery weekend for being the best contributor. I only had a few months to use it though, and most weekends were ruled out for one reason or another and so it came down to 12th, 13th & 14th of August.
My flight was one of two to depart at 4:20pm, but because the inbound flight was delayed, we were now scheduled to depart at 4:45pm, and start boarding at 4:25pm. About 5 minutes before boarding was due to start I thought I should probably go to the toilet and get packed up and ready to go. On my way to the toilet, I stopped to look at the view of the hills to the east out of the big picture windows. By the time I came out of the toilets, all I could see out of that window was white. The entire airport was engulfed in a blizzard. It was like being inside a snow globe. Over the next hour, they just kept delaying the flights by 15 minutes at a time, until finally around 5:30pm there was a bit of a break.
My flight was scheduled for 9: 45am. It was still dark at 6am but it didn't look like there had been any further snowfall, and it wasn't snowing anymore. Once it got a bit lighter, we could see that there was a couple of inches of snow, and they sent out a fire engine with a snowplow attachment to start clearing it.
I arrived in India a day and a half ago. I’d barely slept for the past 36 hours when I crawled off the plane in Hyderabad. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is new and modern and I was through customs and immigration pretty quickly. Gopal was waiting right outside and we were quickly heading through Hyderabad to our apartment.
After spending the first couple of days in Hyderabad, Gopal and I left for the west coast. The trip is 700km long and over the roads we had to travel, he expected it to be about a 12 hour drive. Rather than drive by day, we decided to drive overnight. Gopal says it is a bit safer, because the roads are less crowded with motorbikes, bullock carts and autos at night.
Yesterday was Holi, the Hindu festival of colours. Our first warning was the night before when a lot of food places were closed due to Holi. Our next taste was as soon as we left our place in the morning, there were two boys in the neighbouring place covered in coloured dyes, bottles in hand ready to help others get similarly coloured up.
We are staying at a place right on Chivla Beach in Malvan. Our place is literally on sand, although is raised a couple of metres above the high tide mark. Here is the view of the place from the top of the beach:
I’ve only been here a few days and I swear I’ve gained a few kilograms already. The food here is awesome. The places we are going don’t look anything flash – just a little room or two with some plastic tables and chairs (the kind you buy from The Warehouse). Most of the ones we’ve been to are family establishments, with the family sometimes even living out the back of the restaurant. The women generally do all the cooking, with the menfolk serving, or just supervising.
Looking down a street at the market:
After we left Malvan, our next stop was Goa. We stayed in Agonda Beach in south Goa, away from all the party/rave crowds that infest the northern beaches. This is the view from our hut at the northern end of Agonda Beach.
After leaving Goa, we headed south for Kerala, driving most of the night. We’d looked up a beach or two in advance which seemed to have accommodation right on the beach, but when we arrived there at 5am, it turned out not to be the case. The roads were dreadful and what little accommodation there was wasn’t anywhere near the beach. We headed south and eventually came to Kozhikode, which looked like it had a nice long beach and plenty of accommodation along the promisingly named Beach Road.
The road up to the hill country resort of Coonoor is a steep, winding road full of hairpin bends that twists through a forest full of wild animals. There are even signs warning that elephants have right of way (although surely nobody would be so silly as to try and argue right of way with an elephant?)
Coonoor is a hill country resort at 1800m elevation in the Nilgiris (Blue Hills). The first thing you notice is the temperature. Where it was near 40 degrees down on the flat, in Coonoor, the daytime temperature is a pleasant 22-25 degrees, and during the night it drops into the teens.
I’ve been back in New Zealand for three weeks now. These are just some general impressions of India.
I flew two legs with Cathay: Hyderabad to Hong Kong and then Hong Kong to Auckland. The two experiences were quite different.
I arrived in Hong Kong just after 11am, and my flight was departing at 9pm, so I had enough time to head into the city to do a little bit of looking around. I spent a bit of time investigating all the transport options and settled on the following:
A week or so ago, we got back from our first road trip in India. It was only a week long, but we managed to cover some 2500km and see quite a bit of south India: