About three months ago, my husband and I lived a different life for three weeks, which was so fabu. I now think back fondly on space-heater drying my recycled clothes on many a night. The land of laidback Kiwis and delicious eeggs (yes, eeggs)—a wondrous place that brought LOTR geekhood to new heights (FYI, locals don’t seem that into it). For anyone out here in cyberspace who is planning to visit New Zealand, here are some tips:
Don’t completely fall off the grid. Buy a local SIM card so you can stay connected with home. You can also use GPS to avoid getting really lost. I used Spark with my unlocked AT&T phone. Spark has a convenient location in the Auckland airport.
Drive lean. We went with an Apex compact car instead of a campervan. More efficient gas mileage, and ending each day in a warm motel room with a private shower and comfy bed was just glorious. We didn’t do a full price comparison, but personal preference definitely played a part.
When driving, stay on the leeft (yes, leeft) side of the road. The driver seat is on the right side of the car, so the driver should always be closest to the center of the road.
On long stretches of open road, periodically make sure you are still on the left side of the road. Also, watch out for other drivers who may unknowingly drift to the wrong side of the road or attempt to make dangerous passes.
When you’re at the gas station—or petrol station, as they call it—pay the attendant after you pump. They trust you. Just press the button for the amount of gas you want to pay for (“Fill” means fill ‘er up), and then wait for the fuel to flow.
Buy snacky poofs from grocery stores every now and then. Quick bites for breakfast or the road save time and money. And if you pick somewhat healthy items, you’ll feel even better about yourself for making some responsible choices while on vacation.
If you usually sign for credit card purchases, do not panic if the cashier doesn’t think your signature matches what’s on your credit card. Kiwis mainly use PINs to verify credit card purchases, so cashiers aren’t used to checking signatures very often. Just show your ID and you’re good. Also, if you can swing a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, do it.
If you go kayaking during cold months (May through September), do not turn down the wetsuit. The kayak rental people might say you don’t need one if it’s sunny for a moment, but you really really do. And don’t take that spray jacket and skirt for granted (unless you want to end up a cold, shivering fool).
If you see a small, seemingly harmless black fly land on your skin, smack it before it saws through YOUR SOUL. Sandflies are no joke around bodies of water. Goodbye Sandfly kept us bite-free, but it was also a chilly time of year when the sandflies weren’t as active.
If you want to bring back some delicious NZ honey, make sure it is allowed in your home country and any stopover countries. For Americans, it’s generally okay, but check the U.S. Customs web page on bringing food back to be sure. Also, buy at a local store. Cheaper than the souvenir shop and more interesting honey flavors to try.
Here’s a video of tips that were very useful during our NZ trip, particularly for driving:
I had the good fortune of landing a pretty cool rotation opportunity at work. The first two weeks of my rotation had me working in the NYC office.
For the first time, I was able to explore NYC (slivers, really) on foot and subway. I walked in short-lived snow on the way to work. The only trouble I ran into on the subway was being swindled by the turnstile a couple times. The NYC subway totally beats BART in entertainment value with full-band concerts on subway platforms and walk-through acts inside the subway (who says you can’t use the handle bars for acrobatic purposes?).
Ryan joined me for a couple thousand minutes to squeeze in many touristy things: catch a Broadway show, eat NY pizza, see the Statue of Liberty, be herded to the top of the Empire State Building, and stroll through Central Park. And we also did kind of less touristy things like find a phone booth in an East Village hot dog joint to try to get into a not-so-secret speakeasy (fail).
I didn’t realize till much later that just across the street from that hot dog/speakeasy place was the former location of Sin-é, a cafe/music space that Jeff Buckley frequently played at. I already liked East Village for its BBQ seitan, truffle mayo fries, and cereal milk milkshakes, but realizing this is where Jeff Buckley dwelled was neat. I dug up this video gem of Jeff Buckley, pre-fame and pre-long hair (much better). Not sure if this performance was in NY, but the music sounds like NY to me.
JGL’s opening act on SNL might’ve helped, but I guess I was most intrigued by seeing him try pull off a convincing younger version of Bruce Willis in Looper. And he did. But I left the theater with many questions:
Why don’t they just have the loopers kill other loopers’ future selves so there is no conflict of interest?
Would the future self of Joe’s ill-fated friend have really survived another 30 years, considering how they had the present-day kid barely alive on life support? (As an aside, I get the feeling Paul Dano’s role in There Will Be Blood helped him land this one.)
How is it present-day Joe initially kills his future self with no problem, yet somehow fate is re-written as he grows older and meets someone worth staying alive for?
Why does stripper girl in city look so much like gunslinging girl on farm?
When present-day Joe did the selfless deed, did that undo the damage that future Joe had already done, including preserving the Big Lebowski gang?
Was the eager-to-please boy in the gang the younger self of the Big Lebowski?
Wouldn’t the Rainmaker have had the same fate if Joe (present-day and future) never came into the picture to change things?
Was the TK aspect really necessary? Turning the little boy into a super-being when he got really pissed off made me kind of chuckle (but if that was the point, well done).
I know Bruce Willis would probably just slam his fist on the diner table right now and scream in my face, “It doesn’t matter!” I guess. It just wouldn’t be a movie then.
This March I got an email notification that my DreamHost account had been exploited. I went through DreamHost’s steps to clean up my hacked site, but ultimately, I decided to take my site down and thought, what a great opportunity this would be to try to rebuild my blog from scratch in something else…and then it was September. It’s just a territorial thing to pee on my vanity domain every once in a while anyway, right? So here we are again, WordPress. And I’ve also recently enabled DreamHost’s 2-step verification, my new best friend. More to come later (later could be next year).