Ashford, UK

18th Jan 2007

It’s all done. This should be the last entry in this web log. Perhaps I will start writing another if I have a good reason.

Thanks to all who made my trip work well (directly and indirectly). There are probably too many to list without forgetting some important people!

Any way I will finish on a quote that sums my feelings up:

‘Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together,’ said Merry. ‘We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.’

‘Not to me,’ said Frodo. ‘To me it feels more like falling asleep again’.

LA, United States

17th Jan 2007

I am on route back to London with a quick stop here in LA for about 3 hours. We stopped on the way at Tahiti for 2 hours and I stayed in the airport. There was a big crab running about the departure hall for some reason. (It’s a strange world.)

LA is about what I expected considering I have only time to walk down the street and find an Internet cafe. I have to get back shortly for my London flight. I did see down town and the hollywood sign as we landed.

Wide roads in the city (3 lanes in each direction) where you would get squished if you crossed at the wrong place. Lots of 4×4 vehicles and pick ups. To quote the Movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit: “You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night. Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it’ll be beautiful. “

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

15th Jan 2007

I am on my last full day of my trip, not counting traveling. It’s hard to believe I even attempted this trip, less still that it’s over. I think I achieved everything I set out to achieve.

  • Dive cool places
  • See a few other countries
  • A break from the routine in UK
  • Work as a dive instructor (briefly)

I am looking forward to getting a small bit of routine back on my return.

Yesterday, diving was canceled because of the wind direction. We could only go from the north harbour on Sunday because God sent cyclones to warn us not to use the south and west boat launches on the day of rest (seriously what we were told). Instead I climbed up part of a nearby mountain. I got to about 280m above sea level with the peak at 340m. The remainder of the climb looked hard.

I was diving today, perhaps the last for a while. We saw some stuff – Spanish dancer, moray eel, etc. It was good.

Thankfully, Mike Ball Diving found my wet suit so I am going to have it posted back (somewhere).

Tomorrow I am leaving for LA so my next update will be from there or more likely the UK on Thursday.

13th Jan 2007

The weather continues to improve. We had just one or two brief showers. Finished the book Empire of the Sun. I am thinking is this book finally over? (Mirroring Jim’s confusion on if WW2 had ended). It was interesting in places but sometimes hard to fathom to others.

I might go up into the hills later when it cools slightly. If I can be bothered. 🙂 Diving tomorrow probably.

12th Jan 2007

Yesterday diving was canceled because of the wind. I did nothing but read more of The Empire of the Sun. It was a bit depressing being trapped indoors reading about the protagonist being even more trapped! We went out into the town for food and to see local drumming and dancing.

Today was the best weather I have seen on Rarotonga with only the occasional shower. I just got back from two dives. They were good but again a large surge making photography difficult.

I have to remember to apply mosquito repellent frequently since they got me just walking from one room to another last night. Dengue fever is apparently a potential risk.

Tomorrows plans depends on the weather…

11th Jan 2007

Diving yesterday was quite good. I saw a few things – crayfish, nudibrach, etc but it’s hard to compete with the other places I have dived recently. Similan Islands and the Barrier Reef are among the best in the world. Here is not that good but still fun. There was a strong surge that made photography rather difficult. I should be diving again this afternoon.

The last two days have seen frequent showers. I was lucky to miss the worst when I was diving. The forecast is set to continue but with perhaps lighter winds. Since I am not going out much, I finished Perilous Power and started Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard. Perilous Power concerned US forgein policy in the middle east. It appears there have been recent developments with Bush admitting mistakes.

9th Jan 2007

It’s raining. Not much to do when it’s raining. At least people are around to keep me company in the lounge of the hostel. When it changed to drizzle at about 2pm I cycled around the island in about 2 hours 15 (30km ish).

I have been getting through books at a great rate. Finished Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings, Why I Am So Wise (Ecce Homo and The Twilight of the Idols) by Friedrich Nietzsche. I am reading Perilous Power by Chomsky and Achcar. I am still reading Driving Blind (slowly).

I booked diving with Dive Rarotonga but it was canceled today because of the wind. Frankly, I hope its canceled tomorrow because the forecast is for more rain. And I realized I lost my wetsuit – very annoying. I am going to try to track it down.

Rarotonga is odd in a few ways. It’s about what I expected but all the restaurants only open after 6pm!! What’s going on there?? There are also many church’s of most missionary religions (JWs, Mormons, Catholic) which is kind of… patronising(?) for such a small island.

7th Jan 2007

I have arrived in Rarotonga. Not much to report so far. Everything is closed on Sunday apparently. I am going to find a dive centre when I get a chance.

It was strange going back a day because of the date line. I left Auckland on the 8th Jan. I think to avoid further confusion we should globally change to Coordinated Universal Time.

Auckland, New Zealand

7th Jan 2007

On Thursday, I drove from Wellington to New Plymouth with a stop at Wanganui for food. I considered driving around Mount Egmont but I was tired of driving and went a direct route. The hotel in New Plymouth turned out to be vacant student accommodation. I walked to the beach which was the usual black volcanic sand.

Yesterday, I traveled back to Auckland with a break in Ngaruawahia. The total distance I drove in New Zealand was about 2300km. I visited the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It was a welcome rest from driving. The tour through the caves was good. A river runs though the lower part with hundreds of thousands of glowworms attached to the ceiling. The lights were like the night sky except for they were all about the same brightness. Under the glow, I could vaguely see the rest of the group – about half moon brightness. It was creepy to think they each had several snares hanging below to catch prey. Fortunately the maximum length of the snares was about 40cm.

Recently, my battery charger and music players have broken. When I get an annoying song in my head I can’t listen to music to forget it! I have another reason to get back to the UK.

This is the second time I am typing this diary entry. Internet Explorer lost the data and has given me another reason to hate it. If you have a choice, use another browser for all our sakes. I say this as both a web user and web page designer. Ok rant finished – I feel slightly better now.

I have emailed work to confirm I am returning on the 19th Jan. It will be a surprise (hopefully not an unpleasant one) to find which project I will be assigned.

Next update should be from Rarotonga after I find an Internet cafe.

Wellington, New Zealand

4th Jan 2007

I saw the movie The Queen at the Embassey Theatre. It hardly had any staff and no displayed movie times (you had to ask) so I was not sure what to expect. The screen itself was actually very large – nice place to visit and the film was quite good. My preferred option is to have massive reform of the monarchy and second choice is abolition (not that its particularly relevant).

At last, Air New Zealand have reissued my tickets. I was there when the office opened at 9:30 and it was completed in about 15 minutes.

I drove to the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve and walked up the river bed to the pinnacles which took about 45 minutes. The rock has been eroded by water into interesting shapes. Incidentally a scene from Lord of the Rings was filmed there (the Dimholt road).

I drove further along the coast to Cape Palliser Lighthouse. The steps up to the lighthouse nearly wore me out! I could vaguely see the South Island in the distance. I stopped in Martinborough for food on the way back.

Tomorrow I am traveling to New Plymouth.

3rd Jan 2007

All fine here. I have been busy. I have the hire car so I can cover more distance. I Went up Mount Eden which is an inactive volcano only 5km from the city centre. It has an amazing 360 degree panorama. You will probably notice I mention the view several times. The landscape of New Zealand is stunning. That reminds me of a road sign I saw: Thermal Explorer Scenic Highway 400km – that is quite a long scenic route!.

I drove to Matamata and wandered around the area Hobbiton was filmed in. I headed towards Napier and saw the Wairakei Geothermal Power Plant. I am told the whole country is volcanically active and has a few active volcanoes. I stopped for lunch near Lake Taupo. Again, saw many interesting landscapes.

Yesterday, I looked around Napier – from the Bluff Lookout over Hawke Bay and walked around the town. The town was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt a mostly Art Deco style. I walked for an hour on the Northern Circuit in the Tongariro National Park. The full walk is about 8 hours and goes around the active volcanoes. I drove up to Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas where sections of the Lord of the Rings was filmed.

I am now in Wellington and I will explorer for most of today. Hopefully I can get my tickets reissued… I am in the city for about two days.

Update: I started and finished the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in two days. It was similar in tone to the well known film adaptation Blade Runner but most details and plot were different. I was listening to Sound Lounge on Concert FM on the drive down to Wellington. Lots of ambient and electronic music – I should find more of that.

I am feeling tired now and its only 4PM. I walked to the film location in Lord of the Rings where they first encounter a black rider. It is suprisingly in the middle of the city in the town belt park! I asked Air New Zealand to get my tickets reissued. They asked me to come back tomorrow. Mildly annoying since I have been bounced around several times.

Looked around Te Papa Tongarewa (the national museum). It had a good national art gallery show. Lots of the Māori exhibits fall back on their own lexicon which makes things more complicated.

It is really windy at the moment (16C, 19mpg). I am occasionally wearing my heavy jacket. Good thing I dragged it half way around the world! Apparently it is unusually cold at the moment.

Tonight, I am going to see The Queen at the Embassy Theatre (incidentally where Return of the King world premiere was held).

Tomorrow I think I will drive over to the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve.