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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Taupo to Napier

Today was less gloomy than yesterday, so I snapped a pic of lake Taupo on the way out of town. Taupo is New Zealand's Tahoe:

The Kiwis love to work on their roads--these 30km/h construction zones are everywhere:

I have to point out that these striking blue skies really are a different shade than I've ever seen before (it's not just the camera). The sky sure is purty with no ozone, isn't it?

Napier from accross the bay:

My first impressions of Napier were good. The town and people felt more alive and positive than my earlier stops. It had a more European feel to it. Napier is known to Kiwis as their art deco capital. The hostel (Criterion Art Deco Backpackers) was great:

The host was very friendly, gave me a tour of the place right off and whatnot. While I was sitting in the lounge contemplating next moves, a pack-laden girl walked in the door wearing an expression of fresh curiosity--a rare sight! She caught my eye, and we exchanged acknowledgement in a look. She walked past to the office, checked in, back the other way, then on her way back to the office nearly veered into me as she passed. I said "do you want to explore the town together?" in a tone of voice to suggest we'd already agreed to do so, and she said "yes" in the same tone, hardly breaking her stride, started to say she would be right back after finishing at the office but I stopped her words before they started with a look of acknowledgement and soon we were walking the town together.

She had other dinner plans so I went to Restaurant Indonesia [409 Marine Parade, Napier Ph 06 8358303] on my own. I ordered their rendang sapi and it was great. It came with a large sampling of interesting sides, and everything was delicious. Go there. It's worth the flight. :)

On the way there, I passed this great playground. New Zealand in general seemed covered with great playgrounds:

On the way back from dinner, I wandered down town a little. The flavor had flipped since daytime--most everything was closed, and the the few remaining pedestrians seemed a bit unsavory. A few minutes later, a couple of loudly profane late teens were harassing me, with no obvious goal in mind. I gave them my "that's nice, but do I look like I care?" look and they veered off from my course and continued their loud and profane march down the block.

When I returned to the hostel, a drunk Kiwi wine salesman was busy getting everyone else in the hostel drunk, and tried to engage me in a political debate (once he discovered I was an American). I told him he picked the wrong person to defend American international policy, but he kept trying to provoke me anyway, in slurred and accented words and phrases that I rarely followed. Eventually he told me I seemed like a very well balanced person, and apologized to me (for what, I'm not sure). Being There.

Hanna and I excused ourselves and wandered off to the only remaining open cafe for hot chocolate, talked about travels, life in Germany (where she's from) and whatnot.

That night, one of the guys in my dorm, who in retrospect had been sleeping there all day too, wheezed, buzzed, burbled, and clicked in manners and volumes unimaginable from a human body. That got me thinking about the recent resurgence in tuberculosis, and that maybe I should splurge for single rooms henceforth...

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com