Sunday, May 17, 2009

the NZ diaries - incomplete

Once upon a time in another world, much like a fairy tale, there was a quaint house, with picket fences and green rolling fields as far as the eyes could see. A chimney at the roof top, a fireplace that kept the room warm... oh well... the above mentioned were an integral part of my childhood drawings... you know the ones kids scribble on paper with coloured crayons? For some reason these were my favourites, and they would peek their pretty little heads in many of my drawings, along with lots of rain... you can blame those English books and illustrations all you want, but those visuals warmed my little heart and talked of another world, different from what i was accustomed to in the real life...

What can i say, i got to live those visuals from my childhood on the New Zealand trip last week and i wanted to pour out the experience as soon as i could before it all got diluted in real life and i couldn’t find the words again. It was as if the daydreams and kiddie scribbles from yore had jumped into the present reality. And i LOVED it!! But of course, i have to thank Vishal for such an awesome experience, afterall he is the one who planned the entire trip!

Vishal is on the adventurous side... so our short trip had us on a bike tour, hike up the glaciers, and almost all forms of transports covered in the 9 days. Not just that, for someone like me, who doesn’t like flying, he had me fly 6 times in 10days! 2 of which were those small 20-seater, propeller planes. Add to that, on one of them the pilot was desperately trying to balance while trying to land on a very very windy night. I must have dug deep enough to leave marks on Vishal's arms. :)

We started from Singapore to Auckland on a 10hr long flight; Strangely enough, i like airports, because it gives me the feel of ‘going somewhere’, but i don’t like flights at all. But this one wasn’t all that bad, as we were flying SIA and i watched 3 movies on the flight. We arrived at a rainy Auckland night and stayed put in a hotel near the airport as we had to board a flight to Christchurch the next day.

The next day was bright and sunny to start with. Auckland wasn’t all that cold afterall, just the nip in the air, but Christchurch would be considerably colder than Auckland (well considerably for people like us who are used to the Singapore weather). So we flew into Christchurch and reached in the afternoon. Mike from the tour group who Vishal had arranged for the 4 day bike tour picked us up at the airport. And might i say, what a lovely and warm bunch, Mike, his wife Carol, their Son-in-law Simon and daughter Kim, two dogs, Daniel & Mika and two cats Muffin and i cant remember the name of the other black cat. My favourites were Daniel and Muffin, while vishal took a liking to Mika... he loves big dogs, while i like the smaller ones. Its a family run business and they love their bikes and the roads of New Zealand. Mike and Carol are English, so the house had the warm English country house feel. We had a cozy and delicious family dinner amidst much banter, jokes and laughing. Mike and Simon kept us in splits, which Simon would do our entire trip. There was hardly a dull moment!

Next morning, we set off on the motorbike tour on NZ roads – State Highway 1. We covered around 1200kms in 4 days. Vishal had a red BMW 1200RT.. a very handsome bike. Our first day was the Christchurch – Kaikoura route, with a stop over at Kaikoura for the night. It was a rainy and cold day. We were told that it was sub-zero in the night, and we would be driving around un 3-4 degrees. I was holding my video camera, but my fingers were so cold at the end of the drive that i decided not to hold my video camera while on the bike for the rest of the tour.

Despite the cold and rain, the journey was just amazing!! Words cant describe the scenery that we passed. Rolling lush fields, hills, with sheeps, cattle, horses grazing. Tiny hamlets, cute picture perfect houses. The Kaikoura coastline was just amazingly beautiful. The waves were lashing on the rocks, yes looked so beautiful... i had never seen such colours and waves before (Hong Kong doesn’t compare to this!). Kaikoura is a small town on the East coast with population near about 3000 people.... yeah thats all! Coming from Indian cities and then having lived in Singapore, this was quite an experience for both us.... Kaikoura is known for its whale watching facilities... unfortunately, there was no whale watching for us because of bad weather. But the BnB we were put up and the view from our room, sort of made up for the lost whale watching opportunity. Besides i think we were just too cold from the long ride and the warm interiors was all that we were waiting for!

One obvious thing about NZ towns... they close up REAL EARLY!! I mean real early! 5.30 – 6pm everyone is back home and the towns look like ghost towns! This was shocking for us, since 6pm is the time when things start rolling on weekdays in Singapore! Bugis someone? :P

So anyways, when we ventured out for dinner later in the evening, the town was deserted, and we had food at what seemed the only restaurant open!

.... Well i never really got around to completing the blog. About 4 months since the 'awesomest time ever', i return back to the blog. Unfortunately, i cant really pen down the details of the trip; what remains with me though, is the essence of the trip, the wonderment of coming in touch with nature, the warm fluffy feeling of being loved and sharing an adventure with the most important person in my life.

I shall perhaps try to revisit the days again some other time and pen down my memories and thoughts. Till then, i guess i will resort to some other thoughts and memories...