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biking or zip lining, that’s the question?


View New Zealand - 2014 on Ils1976's travel map.

One day you get a bit depressed when you see rain, the next morning you wake up with a smile on your face when you see the sun shining. New Zealand is such a strange country and although I am here almost 3 weeks, I still can’t figure it out. Do I hate it or do I love it???

Like usual we had an early morning coz we needed to go on the road again and today we once again had a few hours of driving ahead of us, but luckily we were going to do something a bit more active as well and today we were going for a bike ride.

The trip from the small town of Te Anau to Arrowtown wasn’t that far, just about an hour and a half and as soon as we got there, we had some time to explore this old gold rush town a little bit more. Instead of trying to look for some lost gold flakes, me and Tania just relaxed on a terrace and enjoyed the sun on our face while having a marvelous cup of chai latte together with a yummy scone. I can’t describe how delicious the selfmade jam was without drooling, it was just that good!

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Now that we had a bit of real food in our system (because how long can a person survive on cereals and a piece of toast), we were ready for our 13 km long bike ride from Arrowtown to the Kawarau bridge where me and Tania jumped off just a few days ago. Thinking about that day made me wanna relive it and I guess Tania was thinking the same thing coz as soon as we all got our bikes, she went off like a rabbit on cocaine. I tried to follow but my scone drug of this morning wasn’t helping, so instead I just made it a relaxing one and together with a few members of our group we made sure this trip was going to be unforgettable. During our ride we made a lot of jokes, had some speeding contests, made a few picture stops, but most of all we just laughed and enjoyed the scenery.

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Upon our arrival at the bridge, we saw people jumping off it and although I knew that there wasn’t any time left for me to do this as well, I secretly hoped that Tania got her chance and could jump for a second time. When I met up with her, I was a bit sad to hear that she didn’t and as I wanted to ask Craig if it was possible to do the zip lining, he also declined. Apparently there wasn't enough time. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t that bad after all coz there was so much wind, but still, instead I just resorted to looking at the jumpers but unlike a few days ago, the people were just hooked with a harness around their waist. The weather wasn’t really permitting a bungee jump, but a normal jump was allowed. We were so lucky that we could do the real one. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes luck is a bit on our side. A bit that is! :)

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On the other hand, maybe I wrote this down too soon coz while almost our entire group waited for the last people to arrive at the bridge, we suddenly realized that we missed 3 persons. In the beginning we thought they were still coming because they were just slow riders, but when our driver Craig went on the track and tried to find time for about half an hour, they were no where to be found. What the heck???

During our bike ride, we always had to follow the stream, but it looked like those 3 had taking the wrong track which went all the way to Queenstown.

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Not something we wanted of course, so we left Helen behind and the search went on for a tall German guy and 2 petit Australian girls. In the beginning it was kinda funny, but after driving more than half an hour it wasn’t. I even started to think we were never going to find them because once lost, there are more than one side tracks you can take. Where the heck are they??? 

Thankfully Helen called that they were finally at the bridge and as soon as we were back on the road again, we drove all the way back to Kawarau bridge where our 3 missing „sheep" were waiting for us. All in all I am just happy to see that nothing went wrong, but on the other hand I am a bit selfish as well as I was thinking that while all this drama was going on, I’d better had stayed at the bridge so that I had time for a zip line adventure. Am I bad or am I bad!?

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With everyone back on the bus, we continued further along the road towards Lake Ohau, the place where we were going to spend the night. It was still quite a drive and while we passed once again some amazing sceneries, thanks to my great selection of music I fell asleep once more, only to wake up again when we stopped at a small shop alongside the road. This place was called Jones’s fruit stall where you could buy some delicious fruit as well as dried fruit, nougat and all kinds of nuts. If you are a fruit lover, you really would go „nuts" about it.

The two of us bought a nice selection of everything, some freshly cut pineapple, a box of cherries and of course, how can we resist it, nougat with honey and kiwi. What is not to like about that. If the weather isn’t good, the food has to be! :)

Back on the road again, we had one more stop in a small town called Cromwell. It is not like there is much to see in this little town except for a giant display of fruit while entering the town, but I have to admit, the Pad Thai they served in the local Thai restaurant was more than fine to me. For dessert we still had some pineapple and as soon as we all had the lunch we wanted, we could jump back on the bus for another 2 hours of driving towards the lake.

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During our ride, we saw the blue sky turn into some kind of thick pea soup of clouds and soon after even dark clouds where hovering around the Lake Ohau area. By the time we reached it, rain was pooring again. It seemed it was going to haunt us wherever we went. Instead of going for a run around the lake, I chose to relax in a hot bath and by the time I was totally zen again, it was time to have dinner as well. This was going to be our last meal together with the group and afterwards, a few of us met up at the bar. Not that we were such a big party group, but with a few drinks, some nice conversations and from time to time even funny dance moves, the evening wasn’t all that bad.

At 11 PM we all called it a night, after all, we all had to get out of bed early and in the end I think we made a wise decision coz as soon as I crawled into my bed, my Vodka Raspberry did his work and brought me straight to dreamland.

Posted by Ils1976 12:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains bridges art people sky water flowers town river plants clouds friends house sports road tour bike group oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

another bright day in town

Since we had another free day today, this meant that we could sleep in as well and that is just what I needed after a day like yesterday. After not sleeping a whole night the day before, this was more than welcome, but we still wanted to do some stuff today, so we set our alarm clock at about 8.15 AM and while the damn thing was making its usual noise, we slowly got dressed and had some breakfast.

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We didn’t plan any extreme activities today because like always you’ll never know what the weather is going to be like, but for some reason the weather gods agreed with us and as soon as we opened the curtains, we saw a nice blue sky and that yellow thing that we saw yesterday was back again as well. What a little bit of sunshine can do to a person coz I felt instant happiness.

Because we didn’t plan nothing, this didn’t mean of course that we weren’t planning of doing nothing. Lots of people from our group said to us yesterday that the view from up the mountain was so beautiful, so we planned to go and have a look around. Unlike everyone else, who just took the gondola upstairs and back down again, we wanted to go and hike up the mountain and of course come back as well.

I know that we looked like a few crazy tourists, but since we started this trip we did so many active things, that walking up a mountain is just a part of it all.

As soon as we arrived at the base of the gondola, we could follow the tiki trail all the way up and that was just the thing we wanted to do. The start was pretty steep and so was the middle and the end. For an hour long we did nothing else but climb and climb and this wouldn’t be a biggie if it weren’t for the trail itself. It wasn’t always that flat, sometimes we had to cross rocks, roots, trees, you name it what you can find in nature and we crossed or passed it. But I have to admit that the views on the way up were so nice and as soon as we arrived at the top of the mountain, we even got rewarded with more than beautiful sceneries. It was just so worth it!

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Going back down wasn’t as easy as well coz now we had to do it all over again and sometimes we thought we were going to slide from the mountain sooner than later, but about an hour later we were back at the base, happy to have made it and done with this morning exercise.

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Since it was already after 12 AM, we just went for a quick bite at the local bakery and than we were in search for some bikes. We wanted to rent one for the remaining of the afternoon. Now that the weather was still so nice, we had to make the best of it and what better way to do it than with a cycling trip.

It wasn’t hard to rent a bike, finding a good one was a bit harder, but after a bit of walking, we finally found the right bike shop and about 15 minutes later we were out of the place and were ready to start a trip along the lake, that is if you know that you have to ride on the left hand side, which I must say, wasn’t always that easy for the both of us and I was more than happy that most of the trip we just had to follow the gravel road.

The views we saw on the way were so amazing but by the time we ended up on the other end of the lake, we urgently needed some food into our body and this was hard to come by. It seemed we were always too far away from civilization if you didn’t count the endless houses with a lake view.

It took us a few more minutes of riding when we suddenly saw a sign to a golf club , which also had a cafe and it invited all travelers along the way. This was the ideal situation and since we craved for some food, we went for it. Only the way up wasn’t all that easy and the road was just too steep for me to handle. I had to go further on foot, but hey, although completely tired, I made it.

We ordered some pumpkin soup and afterwards we split a passion fruit muffin and with some food in our system, we felt more human again.

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Back on track about half an hour later, the road got more heavier and above all, it wasn’t as flat anymore, there were rocks on it and getting up a hill wasn’t that easy. I am not a real experienced mountain biker, so after we came to a certain lookout point, it was the ideal place for me to end this ride all together and although Tania went a little further to go and have a look, she also told me it came to an end at a beach. There wasn’t much to do anymore than slowly drive back to the centre of Queenstown where we arrived about a few hours later.

As soon as we got rid of our bike, we searched for some more food and this time we went again for the noodle canteen. It is quick, it is eatable and I guess it is a bit more healthier dan going to do golden arches every day, so we weren’t exactly complaining.

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The sun was still shining so bright that we enjoyed every sunbeam. We walked around town till the sun was almost setting and before we went back to our room, we went for another piece of lemon meringue. It was just so yummy and after a day full physical activities, I felt like we kind of deserved it. 

Since we were going to leave tomorrow for another part of the tour, this meant packing again and this time it was a bit more difficult with all the souvenirs and stuff, but we made it. A quick shower later, I called it a night and closed my eyes. I must have been more tired than expected coz I fell asleep in an instant.

Posted by Ils1976 06:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains bridges sky flowers monument lake plants adventure walk clouds friends hike trail oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

we’ve gone floral

I am just so happy that Mr. Sandman came along last night coz I really was in need of a good night’s sleep. It felt so good, I can honestly tell you that. When we wake up, it is almost 8 AM and although we snooze a bit longer, we just can’t stay a whole day in bed. It is our last day here in the Lion City and we definitely want to make the most of it.

But we can’t do that without a good breakfast of course and just like yesterday we opted for the French toast with bananas. Once downstairs, we immediately noticed that all the seats outside were taken by a group of Malaysian people and although this necessarily wouldn’t be such a bad thing, they just sat there and claimed all the seats so that people who wanted to have breakfast, including yours truly, had to go and sit inside in a small room where the air-conditioning is working overtime.

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Not happy about it all, we decided to check-out first so that in the meantime maybe the group would leave, but as soon as we were back, they were still outside … bummer!

As we wanted to say something about it, the friendly receptionist guy of 2 days ago is there again and notices that we wanted to sit outside. He doesn't understand it, but he has a small conversation with the people anyway and moments after he comes back and assures us that there isn't going to be a problem coz it seemed that the group was due to leave anyway. He's a real sweetheart and knows how to spoil his clients with just simple things, that is for sure.

With an empty plate in front of us and some energetic food into our system, there is nothing else left for us to do than to enjoy our last day here in the city. After all, we’ve already checked out half an hour ago.

Today we planned to go and visit the Gardens by the Bay and because it is such a beautiful hot day, we decided to walk all the way towards it.

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Unfortunately today it is not only a hot day, it is a humid one as well and by the time that we reached the Marina Bay area, I felt like I had been swimming with my clothes on. Boy, never in my whole life I had sweat so much as during this walk, but looking at things on the bright side of life, maybe I lost some weight in the process! Wouldn’t that be great!

As we arrived at the Marina Bay area we decided to have one last look at the Merlion, that lion / fishy statue that vomits water … I could say nicer things of course but hey, this is just the truth, who comes up with such things anyway. Although, if I have to be honest, we Belgians aren’t better either coz we have a little boy in the nude that pees water / beer or anything else as long as it is liquid, not something to be proud of I know, so maybe it is better to tell people next time I am a Malaysian, but I don’t think they would buy it! ;)

Anyway, after this quick photo stop, we walked further along the water and about half an hour later (more or less), we finally arrived at our destination, but it wasn’t without a bit of hardship. Just like the subway incident, this time we had to look for the entrance of the gardens as well. It seems that the Singaporean are not going to make things easy for us tourists, but I have to admit, the walkway to the gardens is really beautiful, but beware coz you can’t have fear of heights and I know what I am talking about.

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Our first garden we visited was the Supertree Grove and finding it wasn't all that hard, finding the ticketing office is a bit harder, but than again, 2 people sitting under an umbrella can hardly be called an office can it?

At this garden you also can’t have fear of heights, but since I am trying to do something about it, I go along and although I don’t feel all that safe up there, I must admit that the views are really awesome and worth all the trouble.

Once back on "terra firma" we walked a bit around a few gardens and ended up at the 2 domes, but since the weather was still fine, we decided to go and look up the Chinese, Malay and Indian garden and many more of which I already forgot the name of. I must admit that I sometimes expected more flowers but on the other hand, maybe it wasn’t really the season for all these flowers. The hibiscus flowers all over the garden looked fine though and the frangipani made sure the place smelled really, really good.

With all this hot weather, we were more than lucky to find an ice cream vendor and although the flavors sounded all a bit exotic, the rose vanilla was more than delicious and just what I needed with these temperatures.

Sadly enough this didn’t last all that long coz after a few minutes we saw it all change from sunny, into light clouds to even very dark ones, so rain was really coming our way.

This made us think it was the best time to visit the domes after all and as soon as we got our tickets, it started to rain. That is what I call perfect timing!

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We first went to the Cloud Forest of which the key element is the major waterfall and although it is strangely enough very cold inside, I soon forget the cold because of all the strange exotic flowers. It is really a nice dome.

Second one of the day is the Flower Dome, but although they housed magnificent baobab trees, the flowers inside weren’t really all that special and most of them could be found in our country or surrounding ones anyway. I know this sounds a bit selfish coz people from other continents find these kind of flowers maybe just as exciting, but if I have to be honest, I have to admit that I expected more of this dome and in the end I found the 28 Singapore dollar you had to pay for those 2 domes just a bit expensive. Of course I know that they have to water the plants and everything, but this is just my personal opinion.

After getting out of the second dome the weather was still cloudy with a few raindrops and for us this meant it was perfect timing to say goodbye to the gardens and went back on our merit way towards our hotel, but not before we had one last stop in Chinatown to have some lunch. Yesterday we saw a Thai restaurant which we liked very much and upon our arrival they didn’t let us down, the food was really good and with full tummies we just strolled around the market street more to have a look at the different shops and more importantly, to spend our last Singapore dollars. We even had a quick look inside the Sri Mariamman Temple. A few years back we couldn’t because there was a wedding going on, but now we had enough time to wonder around this place. I can highly recommend it coz the colors are so beautiful.

Still craving for some dessert, we spend our very last dollars on a strawberry sundae of Mac Donalds and I have to admit that our last „bucks” were wisely spend coz it was really yummy.

Back at the hotel, we went straight to the swimming pool and made sure our last minutes here in Singapore were well spend. Sadly enough about an hour later, we had to leave the hotel as well and after we changed into another set of clothes, we went back to the reception and asked for a taxi, which arrived a few minutes later.

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Although they warned us that there was lots of traffic, we made it at the airport well in time, so that we could even have an early check-in and which in turn made it able for us to have a closer look at the many shops inside the airport. But like all things, even this came to an end as the time for boarding came closer and closer and our Airbus A330 awaited us for the flight all the way to Brisbane.

With about a 40-minute delay because of the bad weather, we could finally leave Singapore behind us and once airborne, the meal service started. I was’t really in the mood for a hot meal, but dessert isn’t really something I decline often, especially if it is eatable and together with some Australian sparkling wine, I hoped to get some well deserved sleep, but not before watching one more movie. After all I wanted to be very tired.

This time my choice was "Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy", an action movie with strange creatures, lots of witty humor and of course great music. What can I say, I just love the 80’s music and of course, the racoon „Rocket” was great to look at. All in all an entertaining movie.

As soon as the movie ended, there was nothing else for me to do than try to sleep, after all … it has been quite a long, long day and since I was really looking forward to arriving in Brisbane tomorrow morning I just closed my eyes!

Posted by Ils1976 05:44 Archived in Singapore Tagged skylines flowers singapore sightseeing asia Comments (2)

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