Tag archive for "mount maunganui"

Wish you were here: Auckland to Bangkok

Blog, Destinations, New Zealand, Thailand, Wish you were here

Wish you were here: Auckland to Bangkok

2 Comments 27 September 2012

Dear Readers,

Hello from sunny/rainy Bangkok, Thailand! We made it here…eventually.

In the past week, we’ve touched down in three countries. God it feels good to be on the move again. After a few sad goodbyes to our friends in Mount Maunganui and lots of cider and dancing at Mount Mellick, Ric and I left our New Zealand home of seven months for Auckland.

We’ve lived in New Zealand for the past 14 months and only spent a few days in Auckland here and there, so we thought it best to spend some time touring the country’s biggest city before leaving. Though I must admit we did more eating there than touring.

An Auckland food montage: Ric at a pork bun cart near the Auckland Art Gallery (top left), Food Alley on Albert Street (middle), Teriyaki Noodles from Food Alley (bottom) and No. 1 Pancakes on the corner of Wellesley & Lorne Streets. Photos by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I think we were really ready to get to Asia, because throughout our “last day in New Zealand” all we did was eat Asian food. It started with pork buns in the morning, continued with Korean pancakes as a midday snack and finished with Teriyaki Noodles at Food Alley on Albert Street (Thanks to Henry Lee at Fotoeins Fotopress for the suggestion). Each meal was cheap and delicious.

After catching up with one of Ric’s friends from Port Douglas over $NZ5 Heinekens at Father Ted’s, we headed to bed early to be well-rested for a full day of flying or so we thought…

We arrived at the airport the next day buzzing about the start of our five-month vacation. We checked in, ate breakfast and bought sushi for our meal-less 10-hour Jet Star flight to Singapore. We even boarded the plane. But after about 30 minutes of sitting on it and putting up with an awful screeching noise, the captain announced that the mechanical problem on the plane was a lot worse than they first anticipated and that we would have to get off for about an hour while it was being fixed. Nek Minute: “We’re sorry to announce that Flight JQ217 to Singapore has been canceled.”

I felt my stomach drop, but thought, we’re still on vacation and we’ll just get there tomorrow. Though the delay was gutting, I must say that Jet Star really looked after us. They put everyone on the canceled flight up in a nearby Holiday Inn and provided us with breakfast, lunch and dinner, completely free. Our hotel room had a king-size bed with goose-down pillows and meals were served buffet style. We were happy.

Most amazing bed at the Holiday Inn Auckland. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The next day, it was time to try again. Everything went to plan. Jet Star even gave us complimentary meals on the plane. You usually have to pay for everything on the budget airline. After ten-hours we touched down in Singapore, where our excitement turned to exhaustion. I slept through our two-hour flight to Bangkok and still woke up exhausted.

Luckily Luke, one of Ric’s best friends from home, was waiting at the airport for us. It was great to finally meet him after chatting with him on skype for over two years. He’s been living out here with his girlfriend Felicity for the past year, teaching.

We’ll be staying with them while in the city and their apartment is absolutely amazing. Centrally located, extremely roomy, nice bed, even better views of the city and a rooftop pool. I don’t think life could get any better.

Nothing like a roof top pool in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by Richard John Hackey

As usual, arrival excitement fueled my body through the night, as we dropped off our bags and headed out at about 10 p.m. for some drinks. After a few at a restaurant next door to their apartment, we got right into the nightlife and headed to Soi Cowboy, which is one of Bangkok’s seediest streets. I forgot how much fun it was to just sit in a bar and watch people here. Thai guys on motorbikes, decrepit 70-year-old men with gorgeous 20-something Thai girls, neon lights, food carts. You really never know what to expect at night here.

The view of Soi Cowboy on our first night. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Luke warned us with our fourth Chang beer how bad the hangover is from it, but we kept going anyway. He was right. I think that’ll be the last Chang I’ll ever drink. It’s worth paying a few baht more to not feel as terrible as I did the following day.

Our first official day in Thailand was spent lounging, wandering about MBK, eating as much street food as humanly possible and saying, “We’re here,” every ten minutes. I even fit in a one-hour Thai massage for THB200 (about $US6). It felt like my masseuse was pushing for cracks the entire massage. Finally at the end my back completely released, clicking for about ten seconds as she bent my body back over her knees.

Release.

At night we had a few drinks at home then took our first ride on the sky train to Soi 38, where everybody ordered something different from the 12 stalls on the street. I tried egg noodle wontons with crab meat. Another amazing meal less than THB100 ($US3).

I didn’t want the day to end, but jet lag completely took over my body. It was time for bed.

As I write this, I sit next to a napping Ric and keep looking out at what is by far one of my favorite cities in the world. Still on New Zealand time, we woke up at about 6 a.m. this morning and have already spent three hours just wandering around. I don’t know if it was the condensed milk coffee or the two bottles of water I drank this morning to counter an extremely spicy breakfast, but I feel absolutely amazing.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I love this city even more. It just feels like home. No schedule or plans, I think today we might spend a few hours sunbathing and swimming on the roof, visit a drag show later and just see where the night takes us. Like I wrote before, I don’t think life could possibly get any better.

Lots of Love,

Bobbi xxx

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I lived my dreams in New Zealand

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, New Zealand

I lived my dreams in New Zealand

14 Comments 24 September 2012

As I write this, half my body hangs out the sliding door in my room, being warmed by the sun. It’s Spring in New Zealand and while the grass is always green in this country, you can really feel nature come alive here as the temperature rises.

Big Jet Plane by Angus and Julia Stone is playing, something I always like to listen to when I’m about to go on a big trip. Up until this moment I’ve felt nothing but excitement about visiting Thailand and Malaysia as well as my family in the States and Ric’s in England. But at this moment, it hits me, going there, means leaving here, New Zealand.

My body stiffens up and temples start go tense.

We came, we saw, we created a home and once again it’s time to leave.

I have to say it’s much harder to leave a home made in a foreign country, not because you love the people there more than those of your real homeland or because it’s better, but because you know you might be leaving forever. Ric and I have every intention of coming back, more on that in future posts, but that’s not promised, nothing ever is when your dealing with a home in a place that’s not naturally your own.

I’ve been traveling now for almost three years and have visited and lived in a lot of places, leaving and saying goodbye to people never gets easier.

New Zealand was a completely different experience for me for a lot of reasons. For one, I arrived here with my partner. We made New Zealand our home together and I think there’s a lot of sentiment with all things involving young love. We struggled together when we first arrived and looked after one another throughout our time here. We moved to Wellington together. We played in the Coromandel together. We watched the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup together. We even put on a Thanksgiving dinner here, together.

Ric and I at the top of Mount Victoria, days before saying goodbye to our first home in New Zealand, Wellington.

I treated New Zealand as more of a home than any other place I’ve ever visited. Prior to coming here I spent a year in Australia, which I can only compare to my childhood. I had no intentions, no responsibilities. I partied and played day and night. While New Zealand had a bit of that here and there, I definitely felt myself grow up here. Maybe it’s because of that, because I treated this place as more of a life than a play date, that it hurts so much to leave.

Maybe there’s just something about this place that feels right, that feels comfortable, that feels…like home. It’s in the kindness of strangers here, the welcome of new friends and the rapture of the land.

New Zealand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. I’ve said that a few times before and I stand by the statement completely. I expected it to be pretty, but not to be in aww of every sight.

Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places I visited in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It’s one of the easiest places I’ve been able to settle into over the years and it’s a place that really gives its people the freedom to be creative, live how they want and do things a bit differently from others.

After winning an Oscar for The Muppets, Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords said this about his native New Zealand to the New York Times, “It’s a great place to grow up, you can do whatever you want there. Whereas I think in America, everyone is obsessed with their careers, New Zealand I think you just get to live your dreams.”

Living here for just over a year, I definitely feel that.

Maybe that’s why so many people do end up staying here. It’s definitely why I’m coming back.

So New Zealand, thanks for the sunshine, for sweeping me off my feet and making me feel at home. It’s not goodbye, but till next time.

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What I’m Thinking Friday 14 September

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m Thinking Friday 14 September

1 Comment 14 September 2012

This will be my last “What I’m Thinking” post from New Zealand, for now at least. Ric and I leave the country next week to start a six-month holiday that will take us around the world.

So this past week has been filled with mixed emotions for me. I’ve been thinking about all the things we’ll be doing on this vacation, but also about this past year and all the things we’ve done in New Zealand. I’ll write more on this in two posts next week, because I have a winner to announce now.

About a month ago I relaunched Heels and Wheels, premiering a new look on the site and more. To celebrate this, I gave all my readers a chance to win a Jucy road trip in the USA. The contest came to a close this week and the winner is…

Gaz Evans

The winner was selected randomly using the same Rafflecopter application that people used to enter. Thanks to everyone who entered as well as Jucy USA for supplying me with such a sweet prize to give away. I look forward to seeing where Gaz and a friend take their Jucy campervan in the USA. But for now, this is what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

What I’m reading

Our first stop on this vacation is Thailand and I can already taste the Pad Thai. Man vs World’s 5 Amazing Meals You Must Try in Thailand just made my cravings even worse. I love that he wrote this piece and included some great Thai dishes, but I hate that I’m not there yet to try them all.

I’ve visited a few authors’ homes on my travels including that of Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Condé Nast Traveler posted a top-ten list of authors’ homes and museums around the world. These homes are great places to visit for a bit of insight behind some famous works of literature, but also because they’re usually well preserved. It’s the ideal way to step back in time and learn about the history of a place.

Dalene of Hecktic Travels paid homage to European beers and the beer culture of Germany this week. I spent some time in Munich years ago and totally understand where she’s coming from. It’s so neat to walk around the city just after 5 p.m. on sunny days. The beer gardens are packed with people in suits soaking up the weather and enjoying a drink with friends. Prost!

What I’m watching

This video popped up on Travel Talk on Twitter this week and had me cracking up. Bear Grylls has made is out of the jungles of Belize, the Sahara Desert, even an active volcano in Hawaii, but can he survive Girls Gone Wild? Watch to find out.

What I’m Googling

While reading Black Market by James Patterson, Ric asked me to google demitasse, which is a small cup of strong coffee or espresso according to The Free Dictionary.

What I’m seeing

Mount Maunganui has been my home for the last seven months, so I’ve just been trying to take in as much as I can during my last days here, going out for coffees at Cafe Cabana, drinks at Mount Mellick, maybe even climbing the Mount one last time, maybe.

Heart Flat White at Cafe Cabana. Thanks Jay. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I’m planning

Six months around the world.

That is all.

Let’s get this trip started!

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What I’m thinking Friday 31 August

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday 31 August

2 Comments 02 September 2012

Remember last Friday’s post when I said I quit my job at the kiwifruit packhouse and started my holiday a month early. Well I’m back to working again, but don’t worry there are no fury fruits involved.

This past week I’ve been given a few shifts at the cafe Ric works at, which really isn’t work at all for me. For starters, I love working in hospitality, chatting with locals and continuing my coffee education. Further, I always love working with Ric. We actually met working at a restaurant in Australia over two years ago, so we’re pretty good working together.

This week I even got to join Ric in the kitchen where I made some epic mini carrot cakes with white chocolate ganache and cream cheese icing. It was my first time making carrot cake as well as my first time making anything that would be sold to the public, so I was quite proud.

Hungry? Why wait? But my mini carrot cakes!

Between waiting tables and watching loads of Tom Hardy films and shows this week, I did manage to read a few good articles, watch a video that actually led to the purchase of a new toy, do some exploring and even a bit of planning. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.

What I’m reading

International Beatles Week

Did you realize that August 22-28 is international Beatles week? I’m a big fan of the fab four and had no idea. The best place to celebrate is of course Liverpool, where all the band members are from and came together. The Cavern Club, which is where they first performed, hosts a Beatles festival with various shows and acts throughout the week.

But a band as big as the Beatles has left it’s mark in more places than Liverpool. The Telegraph put together a gallery of Beatles attractions all over the planet. Have you visited any of them?

Coolest working holiday jobs

Anyone who follows my website will know the main reason I’ve been able to travel the world for almost three years is because working holiday visas in Australia and New Zealand have allowed me to work legally while traveling.

I’ve taken on some pretty random jobs while on the road these past few years. I think I’m up to about ten different jobs including everything from waitress to telemarketer to kiwifruit grader. While I’ll admit that not all these jobs were glamorous, all were interesting. Lonely Planet did a very accurate round up of the type of jobs working holiday makers usually take on.

Bangkok Treehouse

Travelfish published a review of the Bangkok Tree House this past week. It looks really interesting and relaxing. Though it’s a bit pricey for Thailand, a standard room costs about $US117, it’s still a bargain for such a unique hotel.

What I’m watching

GoPro posted something about their dive housing on Facebook. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but with it I learned GoPro makes dive housing for their cameras and that I had to have it immediately. Long story short, I bought this housing about twenty minutes later.

This video was shot using the product will help explain why I needed it right away.

What I’m Googling

Where do male platypus deliver their venom from?

Answer: A spur on their hind limbs.

What I’m seeing

The weather is amazing in the Mount at the moment. It feels as though we’ve skipped Spring and gone straight into Summer at times. Ric and I are taking full advantage of it. We even found the motivation to walk up the Mount this Friday.

The view from the top of Mauao. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I’m planning

Almost all of our time in SE Asia is going to be pretty much left unplanned, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been researching places to visit in the country like crazy. A dive friend of mine recommended visiting Khao Sok National Park. She says people can stay right on the water and dive off their front porch. By on the water I literally mean on the water, not on a shore next to it. Sounds good to me. Who else has been?

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What I’m thinking Friday 17 August

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday 17 August

10 Comments 17 August 2012

It’s been quite some time since I shared my thoughts here. This is mainly because of the ridiculous amount of hours I’ve spent packing kiwifruit the past few months. But I’ve got great news.

I quit!

Yes, after five months of working long hours, six days a week, I’ve managed to save enough to go on holiday a month earlier than expected. Ric and I don’t leave New Zealand for our round-the-world trip (more on that in upcoming posts) until September, so this month of freedom will be spent taking in as much of New Zealand as I can with the time I have left here, sprucing up the website and catching up on old posts, as well as writing for other websites and publications.

I’ve spent the past week focusing on Heels and Wheels. You might have noticed the site’s new look. I’m absolutely in love with it and giving away a Jucy road trip in the USA to celebrate.

So make sure to enter that later, but for now, here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.

What I’m reading

While on the subject of road trips, Aussie on the Road shared his Top Ten Best Road Trips in the US. He’s spent some time traveling the States recently and he’s definitely picked out some famous routes to travel there.

I’ve been dreaming more and more about road tripping the US lately. My dream: convert an old school bus (magic bus) into a food truck and home, so Ric and I can hit the festival circuit one summer selling enough of his delicious cooking to make it to our next destination.

Sticking to America, one of my favorite traveling couples have returned to US soil recently. After months on the road, Gerard and Kieu of GQTrippin returned home this week. The return came not long after celebrating their blog’s one year anniversay.

I met the couple, along with Jeremy of Travel Freak in Wellington, New Zealand earlier this year. They are lovely and have covered a lot of ground on their trip. Check out the site to learn about their round-the-world adventure.

What I’m watching

Looks like Flipper is stealing Jaws thunder this Shark Week.

While on a tuna fishing trip off Santa Cruz, CA, Mark Peters stuck his GoPro translucent torpedo housing, which he built, to catch all the underwater action. He caught more than just tuna that day.

His video “The Blue” includes a few minutes of uncut footage of a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins swimming underwater behind the fishing boat. The video will no doubt have you wowing and wanting to see more of these playful creatures.

The Blue from Mark Peters on Vimeo.

Ric doesn’t believe it’s real and after reading this post, I think a few other people don’t as well. What do you think?

What I’m Googling

While discussing Absinthe over wine last night, I wondered where exactly the green fairy drink came from.

The answer: Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland (18th century).

But it really came to be popular in Paris, France in the late 19th and early 20th century. A favorite amongst writers and artists working and obviously playing there at the time, it played a part in the bohemian movement.

What I’ m seeing

I found a Donut Factory in the Mount. Located at 58 Newton Street, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t find it when I first arrived here. You can buy fresh mini or large donuts there real cheap. I paid $0.80 for a large sugar and cinnamon donut.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I’m planning

I am planning a lot at the moment. As I said earlier I’ll write about our plans in future posts, but I’ll share just a small bit of it now.

We’ll be spending a few days exploring Auckland before leaving New Zealand. I’ve only visited a friend there once and spent most of that visit catching up, drinking wine and watching the Super Bowl. This trip we’ll be exploring the city a bit more.

How would you spend 24 hours in Auckland?

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Celebrating one year in New Zealand

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Celebrating one year in New Zealand

13 Comments 09 July 2012

A year ago today, Ric and I arrived in New Zealand, which means tomorrow will mark a new achievement in my travels-spending more than one full year in a foreign country.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for so long and that I’m still hanging around here for a few more months, but it just feels right.

Whenever I meet locals from the country I’m traveling, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you ever get home sick?”. Almost always, my answer is “Yes”. But there is something different about New Zealand. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been here for so long or the fact that I’ve spent my entire time here with a partner, but for some reason, I feel at home in New Zealand.

Which is quite weird considering this country gave me the coldest welcoming of all the countries I’ve visited in the past two and a half years.

Prior to arriving in New Zealand last July, I was traveling on my own rendition of The Endless Summer. It started in Sydney in January of 2010, which is where I first started my current journey. It continued in the farms of Victoria for a few months and after that I worked my way up the east coast, pretty much following the heat. When Winter hit Australia, I found warmth in the tropics of Far North Queensland. And when it became a bit too hot there, I headed back to Melbourne for another Aussie Summer.

Next was SE Asia where it’s always warm and finally the good ol’ US of A in the Summer of 2011, which is one of the hottest Summers I’ve ever felt at home. But my summer was cut short when, as I mentioned above, I headed to NZ in July of last year, first stop-Queenstown.

The snow must have just been waiting for Ric and I too. Prior to our arrival, Queenstown was having a bit of a “drought”. The heavy ski destination was missing it’s number one ingredient to a good season. But the night we arrived, it came in full blast.

Nothing like waking up to snow in Queenstown. This shot was taken from our hotel room the day after we arrived in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I remember waking up at 4 a.m., jet-lagged, and Ric saying, “This is the first time I’ve had to put on all my clothes to go out for a fag in a year and a half.”

We weren’t in Australia anymore. 

But we wouldn’t stay in Queenstown for long, rumor of lack of jobs and friends’ calling up north led us to Blenheim. It’s not the most happening town, but we were in good company. We spent about a month there, then headed to Wellington, where we would make our first home in the country. We had a rough few nights in the country’s capital city to start, but came to love it and stuck around for about five months, the longest Ric or I have spent anywhere since we started traveling.

It was nice to have a home of sorts, but being the constant travelers we are, we had to hit the road eventually. In January we embarked on a six week trip around both islands. After that, I really understood why the people who have traveled NZ, go on about it so much.

Flat out, this is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. From kayaking Abel Tasman to hiking Franz Josef Glacier, camping out in Haast to living it up in Queenstown, it’s just a spectacular place to visit.

Ric and I spent two weeks traveling the South Island with my Dad, two weeks catching up with friends around the country and two more weeks with Ric’s family in Mount Maunganui, then it was time to build another home. And I think we’ve built our best one yet.

We’ve been living in the Mount for five months now and plan to spend another two here. During that time we’ve lived with some great housemates, Ric found an amazing job at a cafe and I…well I’ve worked with one of the country’s biggest icons: kiwifruit. It’s not always been an easy industry to work in, in fact working in agriculture is quite tedious, but the work has allowed me to stay here for more than a year.

US citizens are granted a three month extension on their work holiday visas after completing three months of agricultural work in New Zealand.

I started my work in March and was granted my extension, actually on the spot, in late June. I can’t describe just how relieved I felt that day. Traveling for as long as I have, it’s not all a holiday. Money is a constant worry as is trying to stay with a partner from a different country. In fact, one of the things that drew Ric and I to New Zealand is the fact that we were both eligible for working holiday visas here. So being granted those extra few months here, just put everything in order for me.

While we don’t plan to stick around here for too much longer, Thailand in September-Yesss!!!, we would like to return. How, you ask? Stay tuned. My mission has always been to stay on the road for as long as possible and I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve to help me do that.

But today, I’m going to celebrate a year in New Zealand, two and half years traveling and almost two years with my favorite travel partner and best friend.

Home is wherever I’m with you-bad’un.

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Hump day photo: green skies at night

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

Hump day photo: green skies at night

2 Comments 30 May 2012

This has to be the most colorful sunset I’ve ever seen. Taken at Pilot Bay in Mount Maunganui, the clouds turned bright orange amongst a soft blue sky when the sun went down on this March night. The dark ocean below reflected the colors above.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

After a few minutes, part of the the sky then became a bit green.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sunsets in New Zealand, but this is my favorite.

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