Claustrophobia Meets Agoraphobia: Diving License Success

Bali Diving Academy 

Throughout this travel experience, though I consider myself slightly on adventurous side, I have come to terms that a lot of things freak me out. That said, I'm not claustrophobic nor agoraphobic, but I would imagine that diving would be categorically impossible with either or both of these conditions. But breathing under water? Oh, yea. Clumsily splashing my way across the pool, exhausted and totally out of breath, I also knew I wasn't the strongest swimmer.

90 Mile Beach is About 55 Miles Long

90 Mile Beach/Cape Reinga/Kauri Trees/Sandboarding

The driver is an absolute character. Too long now since I took that bus, I don't remember the details except getting on the bus early as christ, and Mr. Bus Driver checks my name with my voucher, "Puh-vLLLe-skuhh! That's a winner of a name. Where do you hail from?"

"New York."

[insert confused look] "Well that's unexpected. I thought you were going to say something like former USSSR or some Balkan nation. Oh well, your name's almost as good as.. what was your
name again?"

Just Keep (Dolphin) Swimming

Swimming with wild dolphins in the Bay of Islands

Leaving my friends that have real jobs back in London, I was left to my own devices in Auckland for a few days before flying to Indonesia. With so much left unseen, I did my best to cram as many activities in the last 72 hours as possible. First thing's first: booked a bus that goes due north of Auckland. In hindsight, I realized there were more economical ways of accomplishing this rather than using the Kiwi Experience bus, but it was too late. Public/government buses are significantly cheaper and do the job just fine, but it all depends on what you need. With Kiwi Experience, you get a younger or younger-minded clientele and an immediate group of people with whom to get beers.

If you're equally adept at making friends when reaching your sleeping accommodations, or alternatively, are a hermit, then the govvy buses are a better option for you. In hindsight, had I known about the public buses, I would have taken the option for such a short trip, but I am happy  to have met the people I did. Had I not, my trip would have ended in just dolphin watching, not even swimming, at Bay of Islands, and how boring would that be?

Burger Murder and a Badass Bike

Aside from driving and eating, there were a few activities that highlight my time in the land (down)^2 under. But first, a bit on the the burgers. After hearing about the burgers in New Zealand for years, in addition to knowing the quality (and price!) of the beef at my Whole Foods, I was quite excited to try them. Sat at lunch, the waitress comes to our table, and giddy with
excitement, I give my order. To my surprise, she doesn't wait on how I want the meat cooked (medium). Not distraught yet, I casually mention this to the group, which comprises of two Kiwis and one Brit, with as much a nonchalant air as possible.

Me: "She didn't ask me how I wanted my burger. "

G: "Well, America is the first place that I was asked how I want my eggs done. I've never been asked before; they just show up. "

Clearly this was not the sympathetic audience that I was seeking. While there is tolerance on changes or mistakes, a deviation too far out of my comfort zone is a recipe for disappointment. So instead, I reside in trusting, as I would in NYC, that the chef would choose the appropriate temperature. That is, until my burger comes back well-done. Womp. Womp. Womp. Now what?

Drive: Unintentional Roadtrippin'

Vrooom-vrooooom. Insert the soundtrack to the movie, subtract the gore, add some friends and family, and ... yea, alright, not at all like the movie, eh? However, we did do quite a bit of driving on the trip around the north island, from Wellington up to Auckland, with plenty of stops, including Dannevirke, Raglan, Napier, and Hobbiton, certainly not in that order, nor without repeats. Let me be clear: the roads in New Zealand are not straight. They are winding. Very, very winding. And I thought the signs at the airport were just being facetious...