A Travellerspoint blog

Rapa Nui - Easter Island

Iorana, not Kia Ora.

sunny -17 °C
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Written: September 12, 2007

I tried very hard not to vomit.
I did so in order to keep my dignity and not offend the gas pump attendant who had offered me this piece of jerky that I was having so much trouble with. While waiting for the automobile ahead of me to get filled up, he pointed at the jerky he was holding and said, "Horse meat", then offered it to me. My first instinct was to smile and say, "No gracias." But then, I remembered my mantra whenever I confront something dangerous or something I fear: "Do it. Find the courage later." I think I heard it from a Canadian Olympian. In the spirit of trying new things and confronting my fears, I accepted his offer the second time. I took the jerky and chewed off a piece, expecting it to taste similar to regular jerky or chicken. The attendant looked at me for a while, smiled and then turned back to his duties. And that is when the taste and the realization that I was eating horse meat hit me. I could picture, in my mind, one of the many horses I had seen while mopeding around earlier turn and look at me to say, "Why are you eating me? Isn't it bad enough that people ride us?" That's when I started gagging, there was a definite probability that I would vomit right there but I was determined to save my dignity and not offend the attendant. He turned to look back at me, I immediately tried to look as if I enjoyed it though I probably looked like I was wincing and he asked, "Good huh?"
I smiled weakly in reply and quickly dropped the remaining piece of horse meat that was terrorizing my existence into the helmet compartment and hit it under. I then tried to spit out the remaining offending taste in my mouth, paid, thanked him and drove off.

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After watching Ocean's 13, Pirates of the Carribeans 3, I arrived in Santiago from Auckland, an 11 hour flight. I then had to pay the ridiculous $132 USD reciprocacy entrance VISA. This is due to the fact that Canada, along with the US, UK, Australia, slapped an entrance visa for Chilenos. I could've avoided it if I had gone to Buenos Aires and overlanded into Santiago but it would've cost me an extra flight anyways. However, next time coming from North America, I'd go to Buenos Aires first. I then waited for a few hours before my 5 hour flight back towards where I came from to Easter Island.

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After some price comparison, I got a single room, double bed, private bathroom for $16 USD instead of $20 a night.

Day 1: Explored the town of Hanga Roa, Ahu Tepai and a few surrounding Moais. Used some internet and got some moped rental quotes.

DAy 2: Rented a moped for 8 hours to explore the whole island. I first went to the huge crater of Rano Kau which was awesome since it was filled with water and situated next to the sea. THen I went to the park ranger to pay my $10 USD entrance fee but since they didn't have change for my 10 000 pesos they just waved me in to the Orongo village. I think it was also because one of the ranger and I spoke some French when he found out I was Canadian.

The village was pretty cool since it was situated on a peninsula between the sea and the crater. there werehouses built of stcked slabs of rocks half submerged into the ground. There was also an area where ceremonies were held and the petroglyphs in the rocks. This was where ceremonies were held for the Birdman of the Year. I then sped my way along the south coast, stopping at various Moai and caves to check them out. The landscape was lush green and it was a beautiful day for riding. The highlight was definitely Rano Raku, this was the great hill where Moais were quarried and you cn see many of them there of different sizes and expressions. I took many pictures and entertained myself by imagining the conversations they could've had. I then visited the most impressive and famous Moai of the whole island, Ahu Tongariki, before spending some time at the beach of Anakena and speeding back to Hanga Roa.

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Just dreaming and looking at the sky.
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Moai 1: Who invited Steve?
Moai 2: That dude's a !$!%
Moai Steve: I just want to be friends!

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Moai 1: Yay grass!
Moai 2: What an idiot.

Day 3: Payed back more of the principal and interest on my sleep debt accrued in New Zealand. Then I looked around the shops and bought some postcards to send. Also got my passport stamped with Easter Island - Rapa Nui ones for $1.50. Spent the siesta hours at Ahu Tahei reflecting on many things. a lot of them were the adventures, experiences and people I've met on my trip. But more importantly was on the people and memories of my life before my trip, I thought about friends I missed, people that had been good friends at some point but grown apart for stupid reasons or none at all. I regret not having tried harder or how trivial some of those reasons seem now. I know I am a stubborn man and I guess it took 4 months of traveling alone and a tiny island 5 hours away from any continent to put some things into perspective.

Finished reading "Empire of the Sun" and off to Santiago!

Posted by NomadicOne 09:12 Archived in Chile Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Sandboarding In The Far Far North

Learning to drive stick in Bay of Islands, cart races and life's funny coincidence and adventures.

semi-overcast -17 °C
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Written: September 9, 2007

Sitting here on the Auckland-Santiago flight listening to "Video Killed the Radio Star" from the album "20 of the Greatest Hits from the Decade of Excess: PURE 80's" , I thought of how much fun the last few days have been and how funny things can change in life.

So I was feeling a bit down after leaving Rotorua and Auckland didn't help much either. I arrived and rented a cheap compact car for 3 days for $90 NZD (which is actually cheaper than renting it for 2 days). Auckland is just like any other big cities except it's strange for New Zealand being such a small sparsely populated country. The highlight was finding a food court that had a Taiwanese foodstall where I ordered some delicious beef noodles and had pudding milk tea.

I spent some time trying to catch-up on my travel blogs at the internet cafe and then went back to the hostel. I thought a drink at the hostel bar would be nice but it was closed. I dejectedly went to the lounge and watched some Family Guy with a group of people that I wasn't quite trying to socialize with. However, before I left for bed, the guy who sat beside me and I started chatting and I told him I was going north to Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga tomorrow. He said, "Okay. I'll go with you" and that's how Philip from Rotterdam, Holland joined on board. Sweet, 1 more person to share the costs.
The next morning, he came down and said, "Want one more person? There's an Irish girl who'd like to go." I thought, sure, one more person to share the costs and more company. And that's how Julia Cherry (the cool one, not the other one who's a tosser according to her) joined us.
This worked out perfectly since she drives on the left and her and Philip could use the car for the extra day since I would have to return it within 2 days as I was flying out. It also worked out because the car was a manual and I'd never driven manual. I would later get some lessons in Paihia in the Bay of Islands but I didn't get much chance to practice since the road were windy and hilly requiring more intermediate gear shifting.

The 3 of us stuffed our bags into the drunk and seats and left for Paihia. Though it took some time to get out of Auckland, the drive was smooth. In Paihia, we got some info and did a small hike to a lookou point where we could see the town and Russell. The area has historical significance since it was the oldest settled area and Russell was what Charles Darwin described as "the refuse of society." It was a lawless place composed of convicts, prostitutes, sailors and whalers.

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For the evening, we had opted for the $12 NZD BBQ + Pint. But we also went to the liquor store where I introdocued some Canadian customs/traditions to my new Dutch and Irish friend in the form of the Rye Train. Canadian Club and Scheppes Ginger Ale. They were hesitant at first but once that sweet delicious liquit hit their lips they were converted. All in all, it was a good night except for losing 2 games to 1 in tightly fought games of Speed with Julia.

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The next day Dan from Toronto joined us on our trip up to Cape Reinga. He had the bad luck of coming to NZ for 2 weeks with his ex since they booked when they were still together making the double they shared an awkward affair. We first visited a Kauri forest and Kaitai to get sandboard. The small city was interesting for its Dalmatian (region of the northwest Balkan Peninsula on the Adriatic Sea in present-day Croatia, not the dog) and Maori population. The signs welcoming us into Kaitaia greeted us with "Dobro dosli" and "Haere Mai".
We were going to have lunch at a cafe but instead found the whole town watching kids race carts down a street. It was there that we found $2 scallpps and $1.5 sausages which was quite a steal as well as a very entertaining race.

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After leaving Kaitaia, we stopped at Rarawa beach for the white silica sands and then to the sand dunes at Te Paki. I can't truly describe how strange it is to se these massive sand dunes, that could easily belong in the Sahara, situated between a lush green forest and the sea.
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We took our sandboards which were essentially plastic toboggans and started climbing up in order to get a better view and scout for potential tracks. The climb was steep and more strenuous than I thought and required the use of the toboggan as a digger on the way up. But after a few climbs, a trek and some sweat, the view afforded was captivating. I had run ahead of the group seeking for a distinct dune overlooking the ocean. When I got there, I realized it was the tallest dune with unobstructed view of the ocean. It would be a while before the other 3 reached me and I sat down on my tobogan at the top of the dune looking out, contemplating.

Naturally, like many conscious beings staring at the ocean, I tried to picture its vastness. I tried to imagine all the unkown that lay beneath.
How much its given and how much its taken?
How complex and how simple it is?
How angry and kind can it be?
In a sense, the 3 regions could be a metaphor for life.
The forest, an area of nice and sheltered life full of energy and nurture, representative of infancy and growing up.
The sand dunes, a period of dramatic ups and downs, seeking independence, adventure and exploration, representative of young adulthood and its growing pains.
Finally, the vast ocean with its endless questions and possibilities. it is full of predictabilities and unpredictabilities. Like life, it just depends on what kind of person you are. Will you stay safe on the shore or in shalow water looking out and wondering about the "What ifs?" Or will you take it b ythe horns and sail out to meet it. Some never take that chance and some do, though it may take a while, like the Old Man and the Sea.
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We found a nice steep face to have our introductory run. The 1st run I almost hit Dan who was in front of me since it was hard to navigate with the ropes provided. We did a few more runs before I sttled on using the handles on the side. We then took a few runs on other dunes before realizing we needed to head to Cape Reinga soon. We soon tackled the highest and steepest face we could see for the rea. I had a modest run since my right handle had broken which made steering impossible. After some convincing by Julia who waned to do it again, 3 of us climbed up again and this time I switched sandboards and had an exhilarating one. The timing was perfect since it started to rain by the time we got to Cape Reinga, the northermost tip of NZ. After 3.5 weeks, I had gone to the southernmost, centre and northermost tip of mainland NZ.
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I've definitely fallen in love with the land and have a soft spot for the Kiwis. They are friendly, kind and more modest and reserved than the Aussies. They are a great bunch of people and incredibly conscious of their actions to other people and their environment. As a multicultural nation of travellers themslves, they've really made it easy to travel their beautiful land of Aotearoa. From well signed info centres and public washrooms, backpacker deas, knowledgeable and friendly staff, locals , these all contribute to a great travelling experience in New Zealand. And of course, the pristine beauty of the land is mind-blowing.

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We arrived at the Monganui Fish & Chips 3 minutes before they closed. This was fortunate as they were some of the best fish I've ever had (1st being in Kaikoura). Took a while to wash off all the sand in all the places of my body and then had more Rye and Ginger and beer with the Rugby game (All Blacks vs. Italy, 47-7 by half-time) before bed. We went to the Waitangi centre where the signing of the Treaty took place. There was also the Treaty House, Meeting Place and Te Whare (war canoe). We then made the journey back toward Auckland were I got dropped ff at the airport.

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Earlier, I was saying it's funny how life works out. One moment I am about to go to bed. The next I've got someone else coming along. Then another because she got woken up by someone in her room to her displaeasure and was eating breakfast and chatted to Philip before being convinced, packed and went. She had just arrived from South America and didn't even have a guide book (which she would from me since I didn't need it anymore and it had my notes/corrections). Then she met Dan from Toronto at breakfast the next day and he came with us and was thankful since he was considering going back to Auckland.

Life sure is full of unpredictabilities, just like the sea.

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P.S. I might've been out of my mind when I tried to explain the similes between the forest, sand dunes and the sea with life haha. Also, I read "The Old Man and the Sea" at a bookstore in Singapore in 2 hours. Great book.

Posted by NomadicOne 09:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Kia Ora - Good Health!

Rotorua - The city where you can smell getting into town

semi-overcast -17 °C
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Written: September 6th, 2007

Time: It is an ever present variable of our lives. Sometimes it feels like it's going by too fast; like the 3 hour moped ride on Hvar that felt like 3 minutes. Sometimes it feels like it's going excruciatingly slow; like the 14 hour overnight Turkish buses or the Dar Express with the Nigerian movie being played or flights with crying babies. However unless you have a vehicle that can take you to speeds even remotely close to the speed of light, time is constant, always ticking by. The grains of sand continually and constantly flow down in the mystery-sized hourglass of the Universe.

I am running out of time.

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I am running out of time since my trip will end in 2 weeks. I will be starting work in less than 19 days and although I miss family, friends and stability, I fear being chained down by career and responsibilities like so many people.
I am running out of time in New Zealand and instead of staying an extra day in Rotorua, I've decided to rush to Auckland to rent a car and go up to Cape Reinga and 90 Mile beach. I am regretting the decision since I have left behind Marco and Yvo, 2 pretty cool guys also with Magic bus, and also a group of 3 girls form the UK that were pretty sweet, nice to talk to and just plain attractive.

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Yvo and I along with the 3 girls went to the Tamanaki Maori village to see the concert and hangi feast. I was very impressed by how well it was put together. It wasn't tacky and it was extremely education and entertaining. The audio/visual was great. Yvo volunteered to be our Waka's (canoe/bus) chief since visiting tribes needed a chief and he had some responsibilities. He was one of 4 chiefs present when a group of warriors came out to do intimidation dances and the peace offering. We then walked about a replica village seeing some of the traditional activities. We then attended the concert which had great music and was full of energy. They sang a few traditional songs, a love medley and did the almighty Haka (I've got it on video) which was quite a sigh live and in close encounter. We then had the hangi which was a buffet of food cooked in the earth. There was regular/sweet potatoes, carrots, fried bread, pasta salad, egg salad, mussles, fish, chicken, lamb, stuffing and gravy. This was a feast compared to what us backpackers usually get.
I ate a lot but the girls ate so much they were out of commission and couldn't ome out for drinks later. It was at dinner that I sat beside one of the girls and we struck up some interesting conversations. I was feeling good since I had a haircut, a shower, a shave and really cleaned up from the bum that I kind of looked like before. At one point after getting some tea back to the table, the girl whispered to me, "Your dessert almost got taken away."
Me: Well, thank you very much for rescuing it for me.
Her: Rescued it from myself!
Me: Well you know there there's more where it came from.
She looked at me, smiled and said, "Don't tempt me."

On the way back, some national anthems were sung and we could smell getting back into town.

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Later on, Marco, Yvo and I decided to go out for drinks but other than a half empty bar reeking of fresh paint and a Belgian pub with 3 cougars looking at us from the window, we didn't find much. So we finished a bottle of wine and watched half of Black Hawk Down before hitting the sack.

Time's up in Rotorua.

Posted by NomadicOne 08:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Into The Land of Mordor

Bad weather and bad luck in Taupo.

overcast
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Written: September 5, 2007

The title is purposely deceiving. While I didn't actually go to the hellish fantasy land of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, I did cross through Tongariro National Park; where scenes of Mordor were shot for the LOTR films.

I had wanted to do the famous Tongariro crossing, a one day trek through diverse landscape and vegetation. However, luck was not on my side since bad weather forced the cancellation of all the treks for the weekdays. As a result, I stayed in Taupo for 1 day, seeing some familiar faces from Magic Bus from South Island and left for Rotorua the next day.

The land in the north island is markedly different from the south. While the south was blessed with dramatic glaciers and mountains, hills and fjords, the north is more reminiscent of country England with large dairy herds and flat grassy plains. However the north does posess some excitement in the form of geothermic activity. From Taupo to Rotorua, we passed by 2 geothermal power plant harnessing the steam emanating from water heated by the earth. Steam also rises everywhere from creeks, ponds and lakes close by to Rotorua, the city famous for geysers, natural baths and the rotten egg smell that permeats the city caused by sulphur. The pungeant smell is amplified on a rainy wet day, which is just my luck as that is the weather the day I arrived!

I'll be going to the Maori concert and Hangi (feast) tonight with Yvo (Amsterdam) and a group from Magic. I've decided to leave for Auckland tomorrow morning rather than spend an extra day to go to Waitomo & geysers. I think I'd rather see Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach rather than the glow worms but it's too bad I won't be with familiar faces. It's less than 3 weeks until work and 15 days till I am back in Canada and still not certain what will happen in South America after Easter Island.

I need to talk to British Airways!

Posted by NomadicOne 08:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The Road From Kaikoura

Written: September 3, 2007


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Kaikoura is a nice little town known for its idylic setting, whale watching and crayfish. While I wasn't interested in whale watching and didn't have luck finding crayfish in my budget range, I did rent a bike and tour around. Went up close to a seal colony and had amazing fish and chips! Watched Edward Scissorhands and The Island.

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The road from Kaikoura is incredible. It's a 3 hour drive from Kaikoura to Picton ferry where passengers were being dropped off and for 2 hours we were winding along the coast. I watched the turquoise blue ocean, the hagged rocks portruding from the water and the occasional seal. 2 hours after we left Kaikoura, I realized that in my rush for internet time, I had forgotten to reutnr my key for check-out, forfitting $10 NZD.

--- Walked about Nelson and checked out the jewelry store that created The Ring from LOTR. They even still held the models used in the movies! Several models were made for different scenes including one 5" diameter for close-ups! On my 2nd day, I did what I went to Nelson for. I went to Abel Tasman National Park, sea-kayaked with Tamsin, a teacher from Yorkshire originally from Wales, an Irish couple and Brent, our guide. We kayaked for half a day and it was awesome. The only downside was that Tamsin was a little bossy and kept trying to steer, counter to my efforts as the navigator. We then hiked fto Anchorage Cove and had a water-taxi tour before geting back to Nelson. The tramp (which refers to the trek, not Tamsin!) was wonderful. I got to see and hear unique birds and the views were really scenic. All in all, it was a great but tiring day.

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Wellington: This city might as well be the Vancouver of NZ. The ferry from Picton was very comfortable and I had a 2nd row seat in front of the observation deck. I slept for most of the crossing and it was real smooth. The interislander is a huge and luxurious ferry. They even had a movie theatre screening The Simpson movie. I watched the School of Rock and The Evil Woman as it was a Jack Black back to back. Damn I hate Jack Black, I don't know who I hate more, him or Hugh Jackman.

Spent day 2 at the Te Papa museum, tour of Parliament, Beehive, Parliament library. Took the cable car up and then walked about Lambton Quay, Manners St., Cuba St. and Courtenay. The Courtenay mall had song and dance performances by kids to teens randing from Grease songs to tap dancing (to Hollerback?!?)

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After eating leftover pizza for lunch, I decided to treat myself to an Indian buffet for $12 CND. 2 plates later of rice, naan, chicken tikka, lamb curry, butter chicken and more chicken tikka, I was full like never before. Well actually, I forgot to mention that in Dunedin, I was feeling hungry to the famished point. I bought 450g of meat, a pack of spaghetti and a jar of pasta sauce and made dinner. Honestly. it was embarassing how much food I had. The pasta and meat sauce was about 1-3/4" high and it was absolutely ridiculous. I ate it until there was half a normal plate left. That original plate could've fed me for a week and I in fact did not eat a meal until 27 hours later.
I am on my way to Taupo tomorrow and then hopefully the Tongariro crossing before Rotorua. Then Auckland, Bay of Islands, Cape Reing. My schedule in South America is ketchy but I'll figure it out.

I am missing my friends and Canada very much but the days are winding down. It's already the 3rd and in less than 3 weeks I will be starting training/work and home in 18 days!

Posted by NomadicOne 19:12 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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