Trip: Day One

 

We started out at Mount Eden.. sad that I live near to Mt. Eden but had never been up there. It was beautiful when we happened up there, just as we were driving down the hill it started to piss down rain.

0242_Mt. Eden

From here we drove to Thames and the Coromandel Penninsula (Hahei Beach).

0243_View of Auckland from Mount Eden

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And with a shot, it is over

Well, I guess if that was my summer here, it is now officially over. Only a few scant days after we turned back the clock, I guess that autumn has officially arrived.

Last night we had a wicked thunder and rain storm. The rain came down like I remember it doing when I lived in Port Alberni; and I heard on the news tonight that in some places south of us there was a reported 500 strikes of lightning recorded. It made for a bit of a sketchy sleep.

For my trip this weekend, I’m off to Corromandel, then to Raglan, then to Rotorua and Lake Taupo. It looks like its clearing up a bit, but now that its autumn, is that maybe too much to expect?

From today’s NZ Herald
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Twister leaves trail of destruction in Bay of Plenty

 25.03.05 12.30pm
 
Two small tornados have ripped through the Bay of Plenty region, bringing down power lines, uprooting trees and flooding some roads.

A trail of destruction has been left after a twister struck between Kawarau and Te Puke and another between Manawahe and Otakiri.

Police report several roads including state highways around the region are affected.

MetService says the Bay Of Plenty will see more thunderstorms and high winds over the weekend.

Forecaster Eric Brenstrum says one district of Tauranga received a downpour of 70 millimetres of rain in an hour.

Boys Running for the Ball

0239_Scrum! Scrum!

So tonight was my first rugby game – I doubt it will be my last.

We walked down to the pub where the bus was leaving from, had a beer, then loaded on our bus to get to the game. We were worried that we were late, but it turned out that we got some seats just fine. We didn’t really know what the hell was going on in the game anyhow, so it didn’t matter where we sat (in my opinion!).

My friend Tiana was kind enough to get us a hotdog because there was no sausage sizzle, even though they said there was going to be a BBQ. Okay, the preoccupation with sausages here is one thing, but when you put that in an orange (yes orange) casing, and try to pawn it off as an “American Hot Dog” that is just not good. I should have taken a picture of the dog. Gross.

0238_A Better Sense of the Size of the StadiumBut the game was okay. In the first half, the Auckland Blues were trailing by 41 points. The score was 41 to 0. Then in the second half, the Blues scored a whopping 12 points, to at least partially redeem themselves.

Canadian Food?

A flat-mate of mine asked me a question, “What is typical Canadian food?”. When asked, I felt I needed to qualify my answer with a discussion on the topographic differences of Canada, the multiculturalism, the time differences, etc. I couldn’t give that three point answer that she was expecting.

I really had no idea. Most foods I could think of that are typically “Canadian” are more East coast than West Coast foods.

Maple syrup? Anything else?

Someone said to me that when you leave Canada, you’ll get a better appreciation for what “being Canadian” means. When I lived in Canada, I mostly defined myself as what I wasn’t, as compared to Americans.

But being away hasn’t made me any better at articulating what is so unique about Canada, either in regards to the country (generally) or food (specifically). Maybe it just takes more time?

Choco-Orange

Okay, so I’ve found one of the strangest drinks so far on my journey.

Fanta has a new, hip brand called “Spider” and they have two ice cream flavours: one strawberry, the other chocolate-orange. So, being me, I tried the drink out tonight.

What did it taste like? Remember those scratch n’sniff stickers we would get as kids? Picture a Chocolate Orange one, think of how it would smell, and that is how this pop tastes. That same kind of artificial (no duh?) overly sweet, but not sugary, taste. The pop itself is this opaque orange colour, also reminiscent of maybe an orange soda float, only with no ice cream left in the float.

Overall, I think I’m fascinated about this drink, but I can’t say I like it.

My Little Piggies!

 

So today was my trip to Piha. I had a terrible sleep last night, so I almost didn’t go, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll just pack up some stuff, and I’ll just sit on the beach.

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The day started off okay, I’m not really sure how I got to the school, I kinda wandered over there in a zombified state (anyone see Shaun of the Dead?).

We get there, and the guy who organizes our tour isn’t there yet. But the guy driving the bus (Little John) came to find us, and we go on the bus.

The first stop on our journey was Victoria Park Market. Why? No idea. Little John figured out we were supposed to be at some place near the wharf, so we drove down there. Turns out we needed to pick up our bbq. At this point most of us in the bus were losing faith in our driver and our tour operator. At which point, Little John turned to us and said “Before you think I’m a puppet, just let you know we are just picking up the BBQ and then we’ll be off”. Puppet, eh?

So, on the road again. Except now, Shaq our tour leader (or Shrek as LJ called him) was in a different car with his girlfriend, so there was no one in the bus to help our driver get out to Piha. And he hadn’t been out there for about 15 years. So for a while we thought we were lost, but it turned out Little John knew where he was, and we got out to Piha.

The waves were really high, but if you look at the pictures (by clicking on my toes) you can see the pics, it looked so much like the West Coast.

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At first I didn’t get in, then I decided what the heck, I’ll jump in the water. I was in the water for two hours and it didn’t even feel like 15 minutes. One wave almost took me out to sea with it. Instead it got my hair elastic…and almost my bathing suit.

It was a great day, but the trip would have been better for a Saturday, because now I’m beat and I still have to prepare some food for the upcoming week!

Old Men of the Point

Today was Friday, and it was my day off. So what did I do? I got up at 8:15am, got ready and went to school. I stayed at school until 5pm either reading articles, watching movies or catching up on email. It was a productive day.

I wandered back home and then went to see another film at the Auckland Film Archives in the Central City. The documentary was an “experimental film about the surf history of Auckland”. There was a lot of older footage included in the doco, so at times it was very groovy, but overall it gave an interesting glimpse into a popular New Zealand past-time. The best part of the whole movie, though, were the product placements. Here are these 40+ year old surfer “dudes” trying Listerine Breath Cellophane strips for the first time…they shot the ‘ad’ live within the film, and taped the actual reactions of the guys. One of them even went so far as to sarcastically say “I could see myself including this product in my daily routine”.

On some level watching the doco (not the ads) made me think that I wanted to learn how to surf; but then the main character of the story had a near-death experience, and he was a seasoned surfer. That kind of turned me off the idea of surfing.

On a similar note, on Sunday I’m taking a trip out to Piha to go and sit on a beach for day. I could have signed up for a surfing lesson, but now (especially with just having seen this documentary), I’m really glad I didn’t!

Today I also took some time out to take some pictures of my walk home. I wanted to take more pictures of construction sites, but I felt a little self-conscious because there were quite a few people around. Anyhow, my walk to school is a quick one – 20 minutes maximum one way. I walk over the Grafton Bridge, then past the old cemetary, then down Symonds street, past St. Paul’s church to the University. The Grafton Bridge was built in 1900-something and was the largest free standing concrete bridge in the world for quite a long time. I think it is one of the only bridges, as well, that was built right overtop of a cemetary – there were graves underneath path of the bridge that had to be “moved” to another resting place (ie the bodies had to be exhumed).

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My Wallet…

Some of you may know the story of my wallet – I bought it from the dollar store on Davie street for $2.00. The wallet says something about “Ding Ding in the Hahahoho Forest” and then something else about a happiness generator. I was so confused, so I thought I would go to their website to find out more.

I was in for a surprise.

There are three characters in the forest, the Happiness Generator, that would be DingDing, then there is a rabbit with a really big face, and a mutilated goat. I kid you not.

The main site, http://www.tongcom.com, is good, but I found these animations through other means, and thought they were priceless…

Ding Ding No. 15, Watermelon!
Ding Ding No. 14, Love!
Ding Ding No. 13, Christmas!
Ding Ding No. 12, Fall!
Ding Ding No. 8, Chocolate!
Ding Ding No. 7, Sweetheart!
Ding Ding No. 6, Urachacha!
Ding Ding No. 5, New Year!
Ding Ding No. 4, Christmas!
Ding Ding No. 3, Tears!
Ding Ding No. 2, Fruit!
Ding Ding No. 1, Arrow!

I have no idea why there isn’t a 9, 10 or 11. I’ll keep looking tho.

Are You Ready… to Rock?

So tonight my adventure was my first concert in Auckland.

I went to the Kings Arms Pub, which is only a $5.00 cab ride from my house (I had nice shoes on, it was a tinch too far for a walk).

The concert I was going to see was Holly Golightly. I only had one of her albums that I bought in 1999, so I imagined that her sound had changed a little bit. Actually, it hadn’t really – which was a nice surprise. She had a wonderful backing band, complete with an acoustic bass (love) and a drummer/ keyboardist that looked kind of like Nigel from the Young Ones. Well, Nigel without the hippy scowl.

Unfortunately for me, the highlight of the evening came in the form of a Japanese rock trio called the King Brothers. I thought that they sounded a bit like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and it turns out that JP produced their latest record.

I enjoy bands that perform – that get up on stage and have fun with the stage and the people. These guys were all over the place – on the floor, on the bar, on the amps. The microphone made its way into one of the fine lads mouths for at least a chorus in every song. They had all the traditional rock moves down, and every song (except for the phrase “are you ready for some rock n’ roll?) was in Japanese, but no one seemed to mind. They reminded me of a combination of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Sex Pistols, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, the Liars and, for good measure, a tinch of butoh and a Shinya Tsukamoto film. And a crap load of chunky blues and rock. I was sooo happy with them, that I felt that I had gotten my money’s worth at the end of their set. I stuck around for Holly, but the laid back “dude done me wrong” blues just didn’t fuel my fire the same way the King Brothers did. Amazing.

So, it turns out that they are playing again as part of the Orientation thing for my University on Thursday, I think I will have to go. And I think this time I’ll bring my camera (I was kicking myself for not having it with me tonight – turns out they don’t have the same issues with cameras here as they do back home..).

Chinese New Year

They had this crazy festival at Albert Park just by the University – they decorated all the trees and lawns with these lanterns – some traditional-looking, others were of pandas on seesaws and fighting samurai. It was a weird festival as well because the city of Auckland wanted to represent all Asian cultures at the festival, not just Chinese. So at the food court, you could get bubble tea, Indonesian satay, Malaysian stir-fry or a Thai coconut curry. I didn’t mind at all. 100_1129 100_1133 100_1169 033

The last few days has been adjustment time. I’ve figured out the city enough to actually get around on the buses, and to find a mall where I could buy a few new clothes.

I’ve gotten into all of my courses, which are Maori Studies, New Zealand Film, French Cinema and Indigeneity, Migrancy and Media. The classes are a bit different here than at home, where the screenings aren’t included in class time, so my schedule is pretty open (I have solid blocks of class on Monday and Tuesday, then only one tutorial on Wednesday and one on Thursday); but I have to watch at least 4.5 hours of film for my film classes, so I’ll probably be spending the majority of my Wednesday or Thursday in the AV Library. Which isn’t bad. I never did get to see Whale Rider before I got here, turns out that I have to watch it for New Zealand film anyhow, so its a good thing I didn’t spend my own money to rent it earlier!

I’ve found the pub that has the cool bands – it only took a bit of a search on the internet. On Tuesday night I’m going to see Holly Golightly, and on the 29th I’m going to see Moving Units – I was supposed to go see them last November in Vancouver, but I fell ill, so had to skip the show. I’m connected to the internet again (after being connected for four days, then disconnected since Thursday) and I am, once again, loving my WOXY.

We have a few breaks coming up – Easter, then a mid-semester break for a week, then the end of semester break which is four weeks. I think for the mid-semester break I’m going to try to take a bit of a trip around the North Islands to see what I can see. I’d like to get to Wellington to see what it is like there.

I promise I’ll get my camera to some more interesting places this weekend so the pictures are at least entertaining! I’m going to Top of the Pops on Friday, which is some sort of Top 40 showcase TV program. So I’ll get to watch the NZ equivalent of 98 degrees, or something. Yikes.