A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: dtoga

Earning money? What's that?


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Again, I haven't written in a while, but this time it's because I haven't been doing much interesting stuff so there's not much to write about. For those of you who don't know, I decided to stop and spend some time in Queenstown. Even though I'm still waiting for my working visa to be approved (the office was closed for two weeks for Christmas) I got a job about 3 weeks ago bartending in a new bar called Guilty. It's housed in the old courthouse and they kept the witness stand and the judges's bench (which is being used as a DJ booth). I got a job within a few hours of looking for one, so that was good. It seems like a cool place to work and I'm making friends with everyone who works there. Finding an apartment has been a bit more difficult. Everyone is getting into Queenstown now as the summer season starts up, and everyone is looking for housing. Me and two guys from Guilty put in an application for an apartment yesterday, so we should hear back on that pretty soon, and hopefully we get it. The application process is crazy here. They want multiple references from every person to be living there (which is a bit of a problem considering I haven't lived here before) and they check your immigration status, which I'm pretty sure would be illegal at home because it's discriminatory. I've been staying in a hostel up until now, which is expensive and annoying, because since we just extend our stay every few days (don't want to make a long-term reservation in case we find an apartment) we usually have to move rooms every few days which means waking up at 10 after working until 3 and usually going out afterwards until late. So hopefully thats over and we get a bit of privacy in our own place soon.

I've been taking advantage of Queenstown so far. I've been kayaking out on the lake and luging a couple times. Once I get settled into an apartment I'm probably going to buy a bike and there's a lot of good mountain biking around here to check out. I'm also making friends with a lot of bartenders in the area, which means free drinks, so that's good. I'm going to an outdoor concert at a vineyard (Queenstown is the center of one of NZ's best winemaking regions) on Thursday with a bunch of people from work (Jose Gonzalez if anyone knows him. He's really big in England apparently)

Entries are probably going to be a bit more boring for a while now, but I'll keep you up to date with what's going on, and let everyone know before I head out travelling again. I've already talked to a few of you about coming down to visit (you know who you are and I expect you to follow through) but I just want to say that everyone is welcome. New Zealand is an amazing place and Queenstown is just a cool town (great skiing in the northern hemisphere summer, too). I'm planning on being here for a while now, so let me know and we can make some plans. Talk to you all soon.

Posted by dtoga 17:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Queenie=Home?


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Not a huge amount has been going on lately, but I have been doing a lot of thinking and have actually decided to stay in New Zealand for a while. I absolutely fell in love with Queenstown and have decided to get a job here for a while. Similar to what I did in Australia five years ago, I'm trying to get a cafe/bar job for the next few months. However, since Queenstown is also the ski capital of New Zealand, the plan now is to work for a few months, spend another month or so traveling around NZ, and then come back to Queenie to get another job and spend the winter skiing before continuing the trip next spring (Aug-Sept.)

Now that that's out of the way, I do have some news from the past week or so. After spending a few days just hanging out in Wanaka, I really wanted to stay there and get a job, just for the laid-back atmosphere and the amazing scenery. My buddy Chris insisted that we check out Queenstown first, because he had heard that it was amazing. Good thing we did. Queenstown is everything Wanaka is, just a bit bigger and with more stuff going on. There's a a beautiful lake surrounded by the Remarkable Mountains:

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Lake Wakatipu from the top of the gondola

There's some of the best skiing in the Southern hemisphere within a 20 minute drive, amazing hiking and mountain biking in the summer, a little beach on the lake and every adventure you could possibly think of and many you can't. Just a short list: bungy jumping, bungy swinging, skydiving, parasailing, paragliding, canyoneering, river sledging, whitewater rafting, street luge, jetboating and many more. There's also tons of jobs available as everybody is trying to gear up for the summer tourist rush.

On the drive down from Wanaka on December 8, we stopped at the Kawarau Bridge, the site of the first commercial bungy jumping operation in the world, going since 1985. Since I did a similar-sized bungy in Australia before, I didn't want to shell out the money again, but I decided to do the Nevis Highwire Bungy, which at 134m (440 feet) is the second-highest in the world after one in Macau. After about half an hour of me badgering him, my buddy Matt decided to do it to, so we signed up for that the next day.

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The Nevis jump pod is suspended like a big gondola 134m over the Nevis River Gorge

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Matt and I after getting suited up. As he said, he's scared and I'm American.

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All set to go

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Final countdown

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Being hauled back up

The bungy was so amazing I did it twice (they give you a discount if you're stupid enough to do it twice in a row!). Afterwards we came back to Queenstown and celebrated a bit.

On the 10th, we decided to go street luging, so we took the gondola up to the top of the mountain (where there's yet another bungy platform overlooking Queenstown) and then took the the little chairlift up to the top of the 800m downhill course. A lot of fun, and less expensive than most other activities in Queenie.

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There's also a disc golf course in the Queenstown Gardens, so we've been playing a lot of that.

On the 11th, I took the bus up to Christchurch to catch up with some friends from the bus. One girl had torn a ligament in her ankle while falling down the steps on a camping trip (and she wasn't even drinking!) so we didn't do much but hang out. That was okay because it was raining most of the time anyway. I think Christchurch would be a cool city if you could get out and see it, but I just love Queenstown's location.

I got back to Queenstown yesterday and am doing all my settling-in stuff. I had an appointment tomorrow for a physical for my visa, and the visa should come through within a few days after that. Talk about bureaucracy that works! So I'm looking for an apartment and a job and I hope to have everything set up before Christmas.
Hope to hear from you all soon.

Posted by dtoga 18:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

"Stray"ing around New Zealand


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New Zealand is amazing! I have been having such a good time the past two weeks that I've hardly had a free minute to write, so I've got lots to report and lots of pictures to share.

I got onto the Stray Bus on the November 22nd and met a lot of great people right away. We had a trainee driver on our bus, Chris, who was basically taking a trip around NZ to learn the route and everything, so since he was a trainee we subjected him to as much hazing as possible. He had to wear a bright pink shirt saying "Party Girl" at all times as well as some other things not suitable for publication. The first night we stopped in Hahei ion the Coromandel Peninsula. It was a small town with some good beaches. The best was Cathedral Cove, about a 45 minute walk down the cliffs. It had these incredible rock formations caused by the surf, but unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera. we spent the afternoon just hanging out on the beach.

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Sunrise at Hahei

On the 23rd, we drove to Raglan, on the west coast of the North Island, reputedly the best surfing in NZ. It's been featured in Endless Summer among other films. I had a surfing lesson, which was a lot of fun. We all managed to get standing up and it's definitely something I can practice some more on my own. Chris had to wear his pink shirt over his wetsuit, so that was pretty funny.

On the 24th, we drove to Maketu and stayed overnight in a traditional Maori marae or meeting house. The locals put on a dance show for us and taught the guys to do the haka, which is a Maori war dance. If you've never seen it, look up "all blacks haka" on YouTube to see the NZ rugby team performing it before a match. It's incredibly intimidating. We also ate hangi, food cooked underground with hot stones.

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Performing the hongi, the traditional Maori greeting

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Me with the local boys after learning the haka

On the 25th we drove to Taupo, which was a cool little resort town. In the summer, everybody goes to the lake and in the winter, skiing is only 30 minutes away, so there's always lots of stuff going on. A couple people went skydiving that afternoon, but I'm trying to save some money and I've already done it before, so I passed.

Early the next morning, we drove to Tongariro National Park, the second-oldest national park in the world after Yellowstone. I had decided to do a 3 day trek through the park, and had met some people on the bus, Sofie from Sweden and Blake from Washington, to do it with. The scenery in the park is amazing. It's an active volcanic area, so there's a wierd juxtaposition of wasteland from lava flows and forests right next to it. One of the volcanoes, Mt. Ngaurahoe, was used as Mt. Doom in Lord of ther Rings. We stayed overnight in small huts in the park and had a great time. We finished in Whakapapa on the 28th and hitchhiked into National Park Village, where we met up with some other people from the bus who had stayed behind as well.

On the 29th, we drove to Wellington. I went out for Indian food with Emma and Becky, two girls form the bus and went out on the town. We caught the ferry to Picton on the South Island the next morning and drove to Marahua, right outside Abel Tasman National Park. We were supposed to stay there for two days, but we had caught up the bus in front of us and I decided to head out with them on the morning of December 1st because I knew a lot more people from that bus.

We drove to Barrytown on the 1st, which is a tiny little town on the west coast with nothing in it but one pub, so Stray has a tradition of having a costume party. We stopped at a thrift store on the way down and I ended up with a nightgown and a fur coat, which I think actually went very well together!

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Me and Siobhan in Barrytown

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Me, Danny and Tony in Barrytown

On the 2nd, we drove to Franz Josef, which is one of the only glaciers in the world that is currently growing. I went on a full-day glacier hike the next day, complete with crampons and ice axes, which was really cool, but pretty tiring. We were the first group up, so our guide had to stop a lot to recut steps that had melted overnight. We made our way through some pretty tiny wormholes and ice caves formed by flowing water, one of which was so narrow we had to take our packs off and I really didn't think we were going to make it out.

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Jonny wriggling through a crack

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Descending with crampons and rope

On the 4th, we drove Makarora, a small town in the middle of the South Island. It was similar to Barrytown in that there was nothing there and we made our own party, in this case karaoke, although I did end up wearing the fur coat again. After a long night there we drove to Wanaka on the 5th. Wanaka is this amazing small town on Lake Wanaka. The views from the deck of our hostel over the lake to the mountains in the background are incredible, and the town is just a really chilled-out small town. I would seriously think about spending some time here working here if I had the right visas. Maybe next time. We're staying here for a few days before heading to Queenstown and are so far having a lot of fun.

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Lake Wanaka

As usual, I have tons more photos that I didn't have space for in the blog on my photo site, www.dtoga.myphotoalbum.com, especially some really good shots from the trek in Tongariro NP. Check them out and let me know what you think. I'm going to try to write more regularly from now on so that I don't have to recap two weeks worth of action. Talk to you all soon.

Posted by dtoga 15:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The Other "Down Under"


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Kia Ora!

I finally have some time to update the blog, so I've got a lot of stuff to report. First off, some housekeeping. I'm obviously not able to post every photo I take on here, so anyone interested in seeing the rest, head on over to www.dtoga.myphotoalbum.com and they're all on display. You can get prints made if you're that interested. I've been updating the map as well. Check the link at the top of each entry for a view of my world map. You can then zoom in and check out individual places I've been, complete with links to photos and entries about that place.


Here's the latest wanderings

I spent a few days in the Auckland area last week, staying with Helen and Lizzie. Helen and I went into the city on the 13th and took a look around. Central Auckland is pretty small, so we finished that pretty quickly. On the 14th, we went to Bethell's Beach, on the west coast about 45 minutes from Auckland. After a month in the South Pacific, I was kind of spoiled when it came to beaches, but it was pretty cool. We hiked up this enormous sand dune near the beach and found a hidden lake, which was pretty amazing.

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Lake above Bethell's Beach

There was a storm rolling in at the beach, so the waves were absolutely wild.

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Surf at Bethell's Beach

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What we could see of the sunset at Bethell's Beach

People apparently drown in the riptide there all the time. Not that it was warm enough to swim anyway. It's actually a lot colder than I expected in New Zealand, around 60 degrees. Since it's the beginning of their summer, I was expecting a bit warmer, but everyone says it doesn't really warm up until January. I hung out in Auckland for a few more days and then headed up to Paihia, near Bay of Islands, on the 17th. It's a little former fishing village on a beautiful harbor. On the 18th I just hung around town and then on the 19th took a trip up to Cape Reinga, the north-westernmost point of NZ. Our tour was a slight disaster, as the bus broke down and we ended up combined with another group who were doing a different trip. We ended up getting some free stuff out of it to make up for it though, so that's alright. On the way up, we stopped in a Kauri forest. Kauri are the second largest trees in the world after the Giant Sequoia. A lot of the forest perished in an unexplained disaster about 45000 years ago and sank into a swamp where it's been preserved. It's the oldest workable wood in the world and they make a lot of woodcarvings out of it.

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This tree is around 4000 years old

After the Kauri forest, we drove the bus up 90 Mile Beach. The beach is actually classed as a highway, so the bus literally drives right on the beach. We stopped about halfway up at a place called the Bluff.

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Surf at the Bluff on 90 Mile Beach

We stopped again at the top of the beach to go sandboarding, which is basically boogie-boarding down huge sand dunes. A lot of fun, but two runs was enough because the climb up is steep and long. Then we went to Cape Reinga and walked down to see the lighthouse.

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Beach at Cape Reinga

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View from Cape Reinga

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Lighthouse at Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean

I came back to Auckland yesterday and spent today organizing my trip south. I decided to go on the Stray Bus, a hop-on hop-off bus that is geared towards backpackers and tries to get you off the beaten path. Since I'm traveling alone, it's a good way to meet people heading in the same direction. So I head off on that tomorrow morning and am pretty psyched about it.

BTW Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!

Posted by dtoga 18:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Playing Catch-Up

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Ahhh! I am so far behind. I've been pretty busy and a lot of places the internet has been kinda shaky. I think I'm out over that now as I'll be in NZ an Australia for the next two months and then SE Asia, where there are internet cafes on every corner. Anyway, this is going to be a really long entry, so be prepared.

Going all the way back to the Yasawas. On October 29, Lee and I took the ferry to our first stop, Tavewa Island in the north of the Yasawa chain. The resort, Coral View was pretty small, and the dorm was full, so we got upgraded to a private bure, which was cool. The staff there was really good. Annie, the receptionist, memorized every guest's name and addressed everybody by name all the time. I met a lot of really cool people there and hopefully will be seeing some of them again further on down the road.

On the 30th, Lee and I decided to try to walk around the whole island with Chris, an English guy in our hut, but got stopped by sheer cliffs coming down to the water, so we wandered inland and were directed back along the beach by some friendly villagers. I went for a dive in the afternoon. It's been awhile since I dove, so I got a little freaked entering the water, but it all came back to me and I was fine. The dive itself was kinda underwhelming. The corals weren't that bright, and the fish we saw were all pretty small. We ended up playing volleyball on the beach that evening, but the weather wasn't great. There was a hat contest that night. Chris ended up winning, but I still insist that was only because he had two girls to walk him down the runway and I only had one.

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Chris in the middle with the coconut contraption

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Lee, Kari (Norway) and I after the hat contest

On the 31st, we took the ferry to our next stop, Manta Ray Resort on Nanuya Balavu Island. We got there in the afternoon and hung out until dinner. After dinner, we ended up playing some really funny drinking games with a bunch of five Swedish guys travelling together. I also won $20 off them playing poker!

On the 1st, we just hung out on the beach and swam, and then got the ferry to Wayalailai Island on the 2nd. As soon as we got there, we ran into Sara (UK) and Tori (Aus) from Coral View, who were heading up on a hike to the top of Vatuvula, a mountain in the middle of the island from which you can see the whole island chain. It was a pretty intense hike, especially barefoot (I had left my sandals at Coral View and the rest of my stuff was back in Nadi), but definitely worth it. The views from the top were incredible.

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Lee, Sara, and I on top of Vatuvula

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Village from the top of Vatuvula

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Waya Island from the top of Vatuvula

The villagers put on a firedancing show for us that night, which was pretty cool. They closed the bar around 11, but Chris decided to walk to the village to wake up the bartender to see if he could keep serving us because nobody wanted to go to bed. No dice!

On the 3rd we took the ferry over to Octopus Resort on Waya Island. Definitely the most resorty of them all, but the food was good and we ran into some more people we had met earlier in the trip. Hung out on the beach and swam in the pool a lot.

On the 4th Lee and I went back to Nadi and on the 5th we took a local bus south along the coast. The place we stayed that night was really dead and we had an early night, so we decided to head out in the morning. We ended up a little further down the coast at a place called Mango Bay. Brett, the owner wanted to give us all sorts of discounts and upgrade us to a hut if we stayed a few days (the place was empty and obviously hurting) but we were supposed to meet Kari and Erica (Norway) the next day in Pacific Harbour to go diving with sharks, so we didn't do that. Unfortunately, the girls ran out of money and had to cut their trip short so, we ended up staying at Mango Bay for a few days.

On the 7th, we went out on a boat trip to Yanuca Island. We went snorkeling and I saw a sea turtle. The crew spotted a school of skipjack tuna feeding and we went fishing. There were so many of them that as soon as you dropped a lure into the water there was a bite. We landed about 20 of them about 10-15 pounds apiece and had a few for lunch on the island.

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Tuna for lunch

Afterwards we went to the village on the island and had a kava ceremony with the chief and hung out there for a while.

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Lee makes a friend

The 8th and 9th we hung out at Mango Bay playing sports and swimming. It was a nice relaxing place to stay.

On the 10th, I went back to Nadi with some girls we had met at Mango Bay, Helen (South Africa), Lizzy and Leona (UK). They're all friends from Auckland and offered me a place to stay when I got there. Free rent is always appreciated!

I flew out to Auckland on the 11th. While I was checking in at Nadi Airport, the woman asked for my proof of onward travel from NZ, because NZ immigration would want to see it before giving me a visa. Since I have an e-ticket for my flight to Sydney next month, I didn't have anything on me, so I had to go to an internet cafe in the airport and, since the internet cafe didn't have a printer, I had to email my confirmation to the airline agent, then she printed it out for me before she would let me check in. So of course, NZ immigration never asked to see it!

Posted by dtoga 18:46 Archived in Fiji Comments (1)

Bula from Nadi, Fiji

...and a souvenir from Raro!


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Bula from Fiji!

I got here last night after a strange flight that left Rarotonga at 6pm Friday night and got into Fiji at 8pm Saturday night. I will never get that day back! Fiji is the first place in the world to greet every new day and celebrates the first New Year's every year. I am now 17 hours ahead of New York time!

Last night after we got in, me and two guys who had been at the backpackers in Raro, Lee and Nick went out for a few beers. We ended up at a club that was hosting a fundraising party for a local rugby club (btw, rugby is HUGE in Fiji). We went in, had some beers, and ended up talking to one of the bouncers for a while. Nick asked him about kava, which is the national drink of Fiji. It's drunk everywhere and all the time. Businesses in Nadi have bowls of the stuff for staff to drink during the day. It consists of powdered roots of a specific pepper plant that are soaked in water and then drunk. It's not alcoholic, but it does supposedly have some mild hallucinogenic properties. Oh, and it tastes like muddy water from a ditch. The guy brought us over and gave us some. There's a ritual involved. You have to clap once, say "bula", drink the entire coconut shell of it in one go, and then everybody claps three times. It has to go around the circle clockwise. When you go into villages in Fiji, it's customary to present the chief with a bundle of kava roots in exchange for their hospitality. It didn't taste as bad as I expected, just watery with a hint of earth, like a raw potato, and didn't do anything to me other than giving me a numb tongue for a few minutes. There are tourist kava tours that you can pay for where they take you into a village and have the whole "experience" but its cool that we did it ourselves without having to pay somebody.

The last few days in Raro were pretty relaxing, which was good. The weather was a little rainy at the beginning of the week and most of us just hung out by the pool when the sun was out and watched movies when it wasn't. Not too exciting for a South Pacific Island, but definitely relaxing. One day while I was coming back from town, I passed by the airport just as a plane was coming in. The runway extends right to sea, and the road curves around the end of it. When a big plane comes in, people position themselves on the seawall right at the end of the runway and watch the plane come in 30 feet over their heads, so that was pretty fun. They even sell t-shirts at the airport that say "I survived the jetblast".

On Thursday the 25th, a Kiwi girl staying at the backpackers had got a tattoo from this guy who's famous on the island. He blends Polynesian and Maori designs and has done a lot of celebrities, including a lot of big-name rugby players and The Rock. Nadia got this cool fish that sorts of winds its way up her calf. I had been thinking about getting one every since I saw the one Paul has, and I really liked hers, so I decided to do it. I'm really happy with it and I'm glad I did it. Now I have a permanent souvenir of Rarotonga!

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Ignore the sunburn, you're supposed to be looking at the tattoo!

One thing that's annoying about Nadi is that people here are really pushy, exactly the same stuff they do in SE Asia. Always trying to pull you into heir shops and sell you things, and they get offended when you don't stop and shake their hands when they offer it. It wouldn't be a problem if this were like Raro and they just wanted to shake your hand, but it's all a prelude to trying to con you.Luckily, I'm heading out of here tomorrow morning for the Yasawa Islands, which are a string of islands off the west coast of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji, with Lee, and I'll be out there for a week. The plan is then to come back to Viti Levu and take a bus around it, stopping at various places along the coast. I'm not sure what the internet situation will be, but hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures.

Posted by dtoga 22:15 Archived in Fiji Comments (2)

"Dragostea din tei" in the Cooks!


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This is the life! A group of us from the backpackers went sailing on Tuesday, the 16th. Paul, the owner of the backpackers, knows the boat owner, so we got a deal and paid half as much as everyone else on the trip! We just had a quick sail out a few miles, sailed back to the reef for some snorkeling and then actually came back to the dock and had some drinks and snacks. I assume in better weather that would have been done out at the reef, but it was pretty choppy and had actually drizzled a bit so we were glad to get back in to the safety of the harbor.

On Wednesday, Ross, Mary, Nicky and I hiked to the top of the Needle, about a four hour climb that crossed the island from north to south. It's not that high (about 1400 feet) but the trail up got quite steep and I was glad I was wearing my boots. Some people tried to do it later in flipflops and had a pretty bad time.

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Ross, Mary and Nicky at the top of the Needle

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Triumphant at the top of the Needle

The views from the top were pretty amazing. You could basically see water in three directions, only the west was cut off by a higher mountain.

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View to the north

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View to the south

Thursday I went to rent a scooter for the rest of my stay because it's kinda tough to rely on people to get around. I went into town to get one and we ended up watching a dance performance in honor of the 50th anniversary of a community center. We got dragged into the tent by one of the locals who insisted that we eat. I think he would have been insulted if we didn't, so we dug in. There was so much food it was absolutely ridiculous. Tables and tables full of dishes, only about 8 different things, and everyone was filling heaping plates with their hands. Even the stuff thats really tough to serve with your hands, like potato salad and noodles. No utensils anywhere.
I had to go the Police Station to get a Cook Islands driver's license. The driving test consisted of driving around the block with a policeman following you, making sure to stop at the one stop sign in town. Needless to say, I passed, but the machine that makes the licenses was broken so I got a paper one and will go back on Monday to get a really one. I think it's a pretty cool souvenir. And if I get pulled over at home I can flash that and see if it works! we went down to the beach and did some snorkeling that afternoon. The lagoon is so shallow and clear and we saw some amazing fish. Giant clams, trumpetfish, rays, parrotfish and lots of others that I don't know the name of.

Friday we went back down to the same beach and did some more snorkeling in the morning, then came back to the backpackers for lunch and afterwards Paul took me and one other guy out to the reef to go spearfishing. I didn't catch anything, but Brock and Paul caught a couple, so we had freash fish for dinner. While we were trying to get off the reef through the surf, I got knocked down by a wave and ended up landing on a sea urchin, so I now have some nice spikes in my pinky and it's a bit swollen. Not exactly the souvenir I wanted, but it will go down in few days. Last night, a group of us went out in town, the first night I had done so, which was a lot of fun. everything is so cheap and we had a lot of fun dancing and bar-hopping. There actually wasn't much of a point in bar-hopping, because all the bars had the same music, a playlist that consisted of Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, Michael Jackson, and a few techno-fied traditional Cook Islands songs thrown in as well. We were at a place called the Staircase, which was a beautiful deck overlooking the ocean, and what came on but "Dragostea din Tei". I have to say, I didn't think I would ever be dancing to Romanian pop at a bar in the middle of the South Pacific!

This morning we went to the local market. We walked around some and I ended up getting flying fish for dinner, so I'll be throwing those on the grill later. There were some neat woodcarvings and such, but I'm going to hold off for now.

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Vegetable stall at market

I decided not to go to Aitutaki, one of the other islands, and I'm just going to spend my time here. There's enough to do to keep busy and still a lot of places I haven't explored yet. The thing I love about the people here is how friendly they are, with no expectation of anything in return. Everyone says hello and smiles when they see you, you get invited to join in anything and people are just happy to see you. I'm finally getting over my travelers wariness where everything is a potential scam and enjoying it. People come up to you on the beach or in the street just to ask you how you're enjoying your stay, and not to tell you to come to "my uncle's pearl shop" or "my cousin's restaurant". Really nice.

Posted by dtoga 18:34 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (1)

First Stop: Rarotonga


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So this counts as my first entry I guess, since it's the first one I'm writing while actually on my trip. I'm sitting in an internet cafe in Avarua, the main town on Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands. Getting here involved a very long travel day yesterday. I started at 5pm eastern time and after flying to LA, a three hour layover there, and then a 10 hour flight to Raro, all I wanted to do crash out for a few hours. Unfortunately, since the flight from LA gets in at 6am and check out time isn't until 11am, my room wasn't ready, so I'm stuck for a few hours. Also, just in case anyone is planning on following me, Air New Zealand doesn't fly out of the international terminal at LAX. That would make too much sense. Instead it flies out of the terminal that is furthest from the one I flew into. Of course.

The place I'm staying is gorgeous. It's right on the beach and has swimming pool too, all for $16 US a night. The lagoon in front of it is too shallow for much, but the best snorkelling on the island is a bout a 20 minute walk down the beach. There's also some good hiking on the island, so I'll be doing a bit of that over the next few days. A couple of us at the resort have planned a sailing trip for tomorrow, so that should be a lot of fun. I may fly over to Aitutaki, which is supposed to be a stereotypical deserted island type thing. Good for vegging out on the beach for a few days.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I take some, because this scenery has to be seen to be believed.

Posted by dtoga 13:17 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (2)

Welcome to my Blog!


View Round the World on dtoga's travel map.

Hello everybody and welcome. As you all know, I'm leaving for my round-the-world trip in less than a week and I'm finally getting this blog off the ground. Here's where you can come read about what I'm up to, see pictures and find out where I am in the world. I'm hoping to be able to update it on a regular basis, so check back often to see the latest news.

I've given most of you the Reader's Digest version of my itinerary, but in case you haven't heard, here goes. Dates and places subject to change at any time, and the further in the future we get, the more approximate it is.

  • Cook Islands - 10/14-10/26

  • Fiji - 10/26-11/11

  • New Zealand - 11/11-12/15

  • Australia - Dec-Jan 08

  • Southeast Asia - Jan-April 08

  • Southwest China and Tibet - May-June 08

  • Nepal - June-July 08

  • India - July-Aug 08

  • Pakistan - Sept 08

  • Far Western China - Oct 08

  • Silk Route through Central Asian Republics - Oct-Nov 08

  • Turkey - Dec 08

After Turkey I haven't decided on a direction yet, but there are lots of possibilities and it will probably depend on how much money I have left at that point!

I am traveling alone, which I'm not too concerned about since I have done it before (not for this length of time) but I'm always on the lookout for travel companions. Some of you (you know who you are) have mentioned the possibility of meeting up at various points along the way, so know that I will be holding you to that. I am always happy for travel companions, so if anyone happens to cross paths with me at any point, drop me a line and we can meet up. As you can tell, I'm pretty flexible when it come to my itinerary.

The Round the World map thats linked at the top of each entry will show you my route and where I am at any time. You will also be able to use it to search for entries from specific places. I will be posting pictures on this blog, but not all of them. If you're interested in seeing more pictures, you can check out my photo site at www.dtoga.myphotoalbum.com

If you want to subscribe to this blog, which means you will get an email every time I update it, there is a link in the top right under the Navigation heading. You will have to sign up for travelerspoint.com to send me messages or to comment on entries, but it's free and easy. You can always email me anyway, which will probably be faster.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog and keeping up with my adventures. Feel free to email me if you have any suggestions or comments or anything.

Posted by dtoga 11:34 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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