Hi there. It’s week 35 and I’m on Day 249 right now. Goodbye; to the South Island, not the end of my career break.
It’s currently Friday and I’m in the Interislander ferry which will bring me from South Island (Picton) to North Island (Wellington). After 8 months and 3 days in the South Island, I’m finally heading up to the not so pretty North Island.
Okay, so what happened this week – okay it has just been 4 days right now as I type. Continuing my family trip, mon-wed was spent in Christchurch. I’m not sure if it was the norm but my trip had been super chillax. In fact, I think it was the most I ever slept in New Zealand. Traveling with family means I get to be a useless person during the travel. I dont have to drive (well only on 3 occasions when my bro wanted beer) and my breakfast gets prepared when I wake up (cause the folks wake up by 6am from habit). All I do is to decide where to visit, what to eat and foot the bill. Then again, all the pre planning had been done by me which was a lot of effort; as I had to ensure that the expenses was kept low.
Well, guess how much my family trip cost. Excluding air tickets, it was $1,485 NZD ($847 for 11 nights accom and car rental; $638 for food, groceries and fuel). To be honest, I feel that it is really cheap given that we stayed in like proper apartments with 2 bedrooms and at least 3 beds. The car we had was very decent – 2019 Toyota RAV4 and it was so fuel efficient that my fuel cost was less than $300 for the 2,300km across 12 days. Anyway, I will be doing up an itinerary blog post with costings, hopefully within the next week or so, as many friends have been asking me for it.
After my parents left, I went up to kaikoura for 2 nights. I paid $142.50 for the whale watching tour; something I hesitated in my previous visit as I felt it was too pricey. However, after going for the trip, I felt really happy that I was doing my part to help the conservation of marine wildlife. Previously before the 1970s, whaling was not illegal and fishermen hunt for these animals for their meat and oil. Right now, they have created a tourism industry for these whales and as long as we are willing to pay to see them alive, countries can probably see the utility in keeping these whales alive? So.. the expensive ticket price.. let’s take it as a small push towards the conservation of marine wildlife.
Anyway, the situation for COV-19 and the aftermath seems to be really really damaging. Everyday when I scroll Facebook, I see news articles about people losing their jobs, companies cutting down expenses by reducing bonus, freezing increments and some even cutting back salary; all in an attempt to tighten the belts for the incoming recession. In a time like this, how on earth do I.. find a job?
Prior to this, I told myself that I wanted to be choosy and picky in my next career move as I’m no longer old and I can’t afford to be in a next job and stay for less than 3 years. But if times are so bad, how can I afford to be picky and for how long can I remain unemployed? I did think of escaping to Australia for another round of working holiday and the lamest but rather important thing that has been holding me back is that o have 8 weddings to attend in 2020. I mean if I do eventually leave after all that weddings, it would be end December and.. if I’m still unemployed by then, it would be so upsetting and I don’t think I will let that happen? Choices & Decisions; why is adulting so tough?
Anyway, I have been on the road for 3 weeks (not working and moving accommodations like 5 times a week) and I’m starting to feel the travel fatigue. I’ve started to choose sleeping more over waking up before 8am. After stopping at multiple lookout points along the road, the scenery started to look similar and we simply just stop ‘stopping’. After walking multiple tracks, mountains, cliffs and waterfalls started looking the same and every track seemed similar to the previous one and we started comparing. Place A looker better than Place B. This is better than that, country A looks prettier than country B and.. is this it? Am I getting bored of traveling?
I started looking back and figured out that the last time I traveled (not just being overseas) for such a long time was during my 1 month grad trip to europe. I still remember us entering a museum in Milan (we were on day 27/28 of 30) and we literally entered the museum, walked a small round and sat down on the seats to enjoy the aircon. After weeks and weeks of museums, we were getting bored. We can’t tell how different the paintings were from the previous ones. The feeling of traveling and not really enjoying the moment; somehow the feeling is coming back.
To be fair, I had not been making effort to make my travel enjoyable. I’ve not been pro active enough to meet and know more people. After eight months of wanting to know people, I simply stop making small talk in hostel stays. I always feel it’s too much of an effort to get to know people and once I feel I have enough friends, it is alright to stop. I get this feeling several times in my life and somehow this is one of those times. I have not been researching on places and adding it to my bucket list of places to go, activities to do. I feel like this is in a vicious cycle and I haven’t found a way to get out of it.
That being said, I’m moving up to north island for a change. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad change but I’m going up with no plans. I found a friend with a car who will be driving up to Auckland and.. that’s my plan. I’m booking for accommodation with one day’s notice and I’m researching on attractions, food, things to do, the day before. I’m depending on recommendations from netizens to fill up the pages. What do I hope to achieve in this travel? I have no idea.
(Continue on Monday night)
Alright it is Monday night; 7:56pm to be exact and I’m currently in a YHA hostel in New Plymouth. I stayed two nights in Wellington and now it will be two nights more in New Plymouth. Alright, Wellington scared the shit out of me. I was not ready for city life. I wasn’t prepared to see buildings in their central business district looking so much like the ones back at home. I wasn’t ready to drive through complicated roads where you need to stay focus on the arrows on the ground in order not to turn wrongly (in fact, my friend made a lot of wrong turns). It was annoying to have to pay for parking. Even in Queenstown, they were roads where we could get free parking but over at Wellington, the only grey area free parking was at New World. We ended up paying for parking a couple of times.
Wellington CITY made me realised that I do have a fear of returning home. While I enjoyed the abundance of having food options, I kind of disliked the crowd, the noise, the rowdiness. Then again, there’s no escaping and.. shit is real by the end of this month (March), I will.. have to go home.
For all my three meals I had in Wellington, I ate wonton mee twice and nasi goreng for the third one. Seems like I have not been batting an eyelid paying $14-15 for a dish that I usually paid $3-5 for. It’s like.. you can take me out of Asia but you can’t take away the Asian in me. Also, in our short stay in Wellington, we went for the Parliament tour and I was really impressed with learning how forward looking their parliament had been. Then again, I’m not sure how the parliament functions back in my own country but I guess no one can beat New Zealand for their transparency. I also visited the Te Papa museum, a free museum which was really insightful and modern looking. Their exhibits were of rather high quality and it was nice to see the museum crowded too. Furthermore, there was a weird/unique art festival happening at the waterfront area and the performers/artistes went around doing weird things as a concept of social isolation or alienation or something along that line. It feels somewhat like an outdoor art festival which is something that got really trendy in recent years. It’s nice to evoke emotions and questions and.. it was a really good evening.
So right now I’m in New Plymouth; stayed here for one additional night as we wanted to tackle a viewpoint of Mt. Taranaki. Guess WHAT. The view was terrible as there were thick clouds throughout the hike up and down (it was 6 hours for me; including a rest at the hut). If I don’t recall wrongly, this hike might be of the highest altitude and most number of steps that I’ve ever done. According to the app on my phone, I’ve climbed 51 floors today, clocking in 30,310 steps covering a total of 21km. It was a pretty decent hike as the weather was cloudy which means that it was not sunny and not so hot. It drizzled along the way too (which was annoying) but it provided some coolness to the air. The hike was pretty decent and we were wanting to visit this ‘reflective tarn’ which we’ve seen nice photos of online and on instagram etc. but.. when we finally reached the view point, there was nothing in sight. Despite the disappointing view, I enjoyed the hike as for the first time ever, I listened to my own music while walking up. I know it’s a shame that I gave up on the sounds of the nature but I would say that the music did provide me with the momentum that guided me up.
On a side note, some events happened over the weekend, on the leap year day to be exact, which made me realised that I’m not ready to work or stay overseas permanently. I am still very attached to the friends I have back at home, to the events happening back in my home country and.. I am not ready to let go. Shall not go into the details but it was one important realisation I (finally) had after spending 8 months + here
Anyway, no idea where I’ll be next Monday. In fact, I have no idea where I’ll be two days from now but this was the life I had chosen temporarily. Cheers and see you next week.