Friday, 23 November 2012

New hemisphere, new experiences

Well, we’re now in the Southern Hemisphere and apparently in early summer. Temperature today in Auckland is around 21 C, the sky is reasonably clear and, when the sun’s been out its been quite hot, so hot in fact that we’re sunburnt. The guy at the hostel did warn us as we went out “it may not seem that hot and sunny, but put on sun cream, we’ve got no ozone here in the southern hemisphere”. Did we listen? Even so, it feels cool compared with what we’ve been used to, but at least we can do things in the middle of the day, rather than just sit in an air conditioned room or swelter under a fan!
We got up reasonably late (10’ish) after a relatively poor night’s sleep, having gone to bed at 10 the previous night and we’re both feeling the effects of jet lag. We are now 13 hours ahead of UK time, and 6 hours ahead of the time in Thailand, so although we didn’t sleep well on the plane, it still feels odd. Hopefully tonight we’ll sleep and tomorrow feel a little more ‘tuned in’.
We think that, once we’ve reached South East Asia we’re nearly here, but it’s a heck of a long way from Thailand, we had an 8.5hour flight from Bangkok to Sydney (4 hours ahead of Thailand), 1 hour there and then a 3.75hour flight to Auckland and 2 hours ahead of Sydney (New Zealand isn’t very close to Australia after all!)
The first thing that hit us (me) is the cost of things, with less than 2NZ$ to £1, things are at least on a par with things at home and, in some cases more. It’s a bit of a shock after low cost Thailand, but I guess we’ll get used to it.
First thing we had to do was go out and get some supplies as we’re now cooking for ourselves, so we had a quick trip to the local supermarket, ‘New World’. It all looks pretty similar to supermarkets in the UK and, for that matter, everything is pretty similar to the UK. Its lovely that everyone speaks in English, but it does seem as though we could easily still be in the UK – we even got some free sample custard in the supermarket (is that the same as Crème Anglais?). It gets dark here just after 8:30pm (not sure what time it gets light yet), so its also more like being at home (in Thailand its light and dark at 6am and pm, all year!). We bought a chicken and we’ve just had roast chicken, roast potatoes and veg, with a bottle of red wine – delicious (but again, just like being at home!). It did look odd though - the 'going cheap' chicken we'd managed to buy (which seemed ideal so I wouldn't have to clean the oven after) was 'cook in a bag' tasted fab but was completely anaemic, and by the time I'd added a dash of wine to the gravy, it was a very strange colour! I had been expecting to be ‘oven deprived’ so was making the most of that, though we’ve just heard that some of the campsites have better kitchens than here, so it might not just be the Christmas break I have to look forward to.
We took a walk to the harbour and saw all the expensive yachts, the harbour is a well-developed area with harbour side apartments, lots of restaurants and bars, with lots of business people taking lunch (it was about 1:00pm on Friday lunchtime when we were there), again just like home.

On the advice of our hostel hosts we caught a bus to Mount Eden to get a view of Auckland. Its an extinct volcano and rises up quite high in the south eastern part of the city and gives good views all round. From the top we did get great views, we could see all the high rise buildings in the city and around the harbours and sea (it is virtually surrounded by sea), out to the island of Rangitoto, which I quite fancy going over to see. Its an island only about 600 years old, that Maori legend says reared out of the sea one day in a fiery inferno, making it quite rugged and bare. It is attached to another much older island by a narrow causeway and this island, Motutapu, gives a stark contrast between old and new. It is possible, apparently, to walk the two islands in a day, as long as you get the first and last ferries of the day. On weekends the first ferry is 7:30 in the morning, Jackie was really pleased when she heard that! I’m hoping we’ll be going to do that on Sunday.
View of Auckland from the top of Mount Eden (Crater in the foreground)
 Jackie’s thoughts: I’m not sure I really have any, after half a bottle of wine and a night that found me downstairs on the sofa reading my book so as not to disturb B, only he woke up and thought I was lost and disturbed himself coming to look for me!
Today is my last day of employment, so I logged in eagerly to see if a large lump of redundancy had been paid into my bank account, it hadn’t, don’t really know what to do now! Or do I expect it tomorrow? Or Monday?

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