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Updated...11 June 2001|
New Zealand and JR Wedding April/May/June 2001
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India/Bangkok Travel Diary: 24 Nov 2000 to 31 Dec 2000

Burma/Laos/Thai Islands Travel Diary: 1 Jan 2001 to 20 Feb 2001

Singapore/Borneo/KL/Bali/Australia Travel Diary: 21 Feb 2001 to 29 Apr 2001

29 April 2001 on to New Zealand fly Sydney to Auckland 10am on Qantas, stay at great hotel The Heritage for $52US. Auckland is a cute little city (1 million people of whom 25% are Samoan, Fijian, Maori and Asian). Have dinner at Tony's Steakhouse on Lorne Street, glass of excellent NZ red, starter of smoked NZ salmon with avocado, succulent NZ lamb chop with baked potato. I am completely stuffed and happy. Dinner costs $17US. Everything seems to be so inexpensive here.

30 April 2001 Auckland organise itinerary at Backpackers travellers service, tour around city sit at cafes on High Street, dinner at all you can eat Mangolian BBQ ($8US), drinks at The Temple bar on Queen Str.

1 May 2001 on to Rotorua meet Magic Bus outside Downtown Backpackers, The Magic Bus is like a normal bus but it stops along the way. some of our group: Scots Jamie and Barry, sarcastic English teaching Steve, air cadet trainer James, Gemma, and students Anne and Megan from England, accountants Michelle and Ann from Ireland. Sully is our entertaining and informative Maori driver. First stop Waitomo to visit the glow worm caves. Only Steve and I brave enough to do black water rafting, we don thick 5 mm wetsuits, booties, helmet with headlamps, and innertubes, John from Australia and Jo an ER doctor from North England join us, we descend 300ft down with our guide, very eerie experience floating on tubes on underground river with just the light of glow worms.
stay at TexMex themed Cactus Jack's Backpackers (hostel), $8US for cosy single room, go to Maori village for cultural show and have traditional Hangi dinner of smoked chicken, fish, and lamb, extremely interesting, go to Hot Rock Hostel Lava bar for drinking and guitar sing along

2 May 2001 Rotorua morning go white water rafting on the awesome Class V Kaituna River, go over 3m, 5m and 7m (22ft) waterfalls. meet up with Gemma, James, and Steve at hostel and go to the Polynesian Spa soak in thermal pools, get Aix Massage- a smooth light flowing massage done under jets of warm water using warm coconut oil, great and relaxing. go into hot thermal sulphur pools near lake, meet cool couple, Fuzzbee and Julie, from LA, Fuzzbee is in the Flying Fannoli Bros musical comedy improvisation troupe. Late night at Lava Bar with Jamie.

3 May 2001 Rotorua go to AgroCentre adventure center with Steve, James, and Jamie. First, James and I strap in do the the Swoosh, which is a 45m high ride where you swing down on a cable, great fun as you free fall several seconds. Next up was the Zorb. The zorb is a large plastic ball that gets towed up to the top of a hill. you squeeze into the ball, have a few gallons of water thrown in to make everything slippery and roll down bouncing and falling for an inside of a washing machine feeling-- not really an experience that I need to repeat. then we took a gondola over Rotorua for most excellent dry luging. where you fly down a concrete track on little sleds with wheels. Steve and Jamie suffered minor injuries, Pig and Whistle Pub and Lava Bar.

4 May 2001 to Turangi New driver Jonno, Stop at boiling mud pools, see Lady Knox Geyser (bit anticlimatic as geyser is triggered by addition of soap) and other pools at Waiotapu, Volcano Wonderland Park, see impressive Huka Falls. stop at Rocks N' Ropes climb 50ft tower, scary than youŽd think as you jump off with cable attached to harness for Giant Swing. Have lamb chop BBQ at the Turangi backpackers and many beers, Jagermeister and Backdraft shots with Lancashire girls, Emma, Rachel and Niccy.

5 May 2001 to Wellington hungover, drive through eerie scenery of Tongariro National Park, get great ice cream twice mixed with fresh fruits in Palmerston North, arrive Wellington, NZ's capital, get single at the Downtown Backpackers Hotel for $15US, very run down and depressing room, meet Irish Anne and Michelle, and James for dinner at Cayote's, fantastic dinner appetisers, steak, dessert and NZ red wine ($15US), meet up with Jamie, Gemma, and Steve at the YHA and go to the pretty funny Improv Bandits Show at Bat's Club part of Wellington's comedy festival

6 May 2001 Wellington move to much much much nicer Museum Hotel, do laundry, relax, meet up with James, Gemma, and Steve to see "Best in Show" which I thought was hysterical but the others hated it.

7 May 2001 Wellington still feeling fluey, sleep late, go to National Museum- Te Papa, very interesting, walk around funky Cuba Street area, see great "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" with James. go for lamb teriyaki pizza, beginning to get "lambed out"

8 May 2001 on to Nelson, South Island take 930 ferry from Wellington and cross Cook Strait to Picton in South Island, meet Magic Bus at ferry terminal. Drive through Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, then arrive in Nelson in late afternoon. Get good single room($16US) at YHA, super clean and nice hostel. organise kayak trip with Tiffany from Toronto. Go for fair steak dinner and a few drinks with Michelle, Ann, Jamie and Scot Chris. Nightlife pretty lame-o in Nelson.

9 May 2001 Nelson Abel Tasman National Park for hiking and sea kayaking trip. Get picked up at 7:20 for trip from Nelson to the park, get lessons and safety briefings. We are a group of 4 kayaks. My co-kayaker, Tifanny, is a PE teacher from Toronto who has been teaching kayaking for 7 yrs. We kayak for about 6 hours in total, visiting small seal lion colonies, deserted pristine beaches and absorbing gorgeous coastal scenery.

10 May 2001 Nelson go sky diving with Ann, Gemma, Steve, and Anna. We all do tandem jumps from 12000 ft with 50 sec free fall. The experience of jumping out of a little airplane is very unnatural, the free fall exhilirating, but unnerving as you wait for the parachute to deploy. Then quiet as you drift slowly down to the ground from 4000ft. go for mediocre lamb steak dinner with Rebecca fr California, Steve, James, Anna, Ann, Michelle, Gemma, and Megan.

11 May 2001 on to Greymouth get picked up at YHA visit Pancake Rock formations on the way. Check into to Noah's Ark hostel which is a spacious former monastery where every room has an animal theme. I get the cat room ($8US) which is full of ceramic and stuffed cats. go to Railway Pub for a less than delicious all you can eat for $1.26US buffet, Drink and eat at table with 6 Irish girls (Angie, Feena, Keeran, Lisa, Ann, Michelle), Catherine (a Dane), Rebecca (from USA), an English girl, and Susan (from Scotland) from the Magic Bus. Draw hateful scowls from locals.

12 May 2001 on to Franz Josef stop at jade store and cafe have excellent scone (although berated for asking the ZZTop wannabe owner if I could also have a cheese toastie), go panning for gold at a goldrush town called Ross. With Michelle's coaching ("drain it, shake it side to side, take out them big rocks) collect the most gold and jade. stay at Chateau Franz backpackers, pissing rain forced to skip kayaking trip in afternoon, run into another Canadian girl who recommends the ice climbing trip, watch extremely mediocre "Helimax" film about the region. have wine and cheese party at the YHA with Ann, Michelle and Rebecca, go to Blue Ice for pizza and beer with Angie and others

13 May 2001 Franz Josef have full day glacier hike. Ice climbing cancelled due to rain, do full day hike with English girls, Helen from Oxford and Sue from Midlands, and nurses Niccy from Manchester and Tanya from London., funny spacy guide who rambled on about his own strange scientific theories, wet weather made walking on ice tricky even with crampons, exhausting and great discvering ice caves and crevasses. Reunited that night with old buddies: Steve, Gemma, James, Jamie, Megan and Anna at the Chateux Franz hostel, do desperately needed load of laundry, have the hostel's free vegetable soup at 6pm, go to Blue Ice Cafe for pizza, beer, and pool.

14 May 2001 on to Makarora wake up at 8 drive to Fox Glacier, rockslide blocks road for 3hrs, stop at lovely Lake Matheson, stop at fish farm to buy fresh salmon for the evening's BBQ, arrive in Makarora, get good double room ($9US), do 18m high flying fox (climb high tree, harness onto cable and slide down). great BBQ fresh salmon, silly counting drinking game with Canadians and English girls and Andy, dancing, meet Siani and Rachel who misinterpret my occupation, give Helen basic astronomy lesson

15 May 2001 on to Queenstown wake up early for an hour jetboating on Makarora river ($18US), great canyon views, super fun ride, freezing but excellent!!! take flight to Milford Sound fiord over southern alps with English Andy and Karen, Ann and Rebecca in teeny plane, land and hike around spectacular scenery and high waterfalls, return flight very choppy smash head during turbulence, emergency landing at Wataka on grass, very relieved to be back on land, sleep a bit on bus to Queenstown, go to Kawara bridge site of first commercial bungy 43m, only one from bus brave and stupid enough to jump, exhilirating and dizzying. get to town and get good room at Thomas' Hotel on Beach ($24US for double with bathroom, electric blanket and balcony overlooking lake), go to the World for dinner and drinks meet Canadian girls (Danielle, Tricia, and Sarah), and Irish girls, and Engllsh girls (Siani, Rachel, Sue and Helen).

16 May 2001 Queenstown Do FlybyWire with Ian and Joy. you are strapped to a rocket sled contraption that is attached by cable to an overhead point which allows you to safely fly on a 100m radius hemisphere at speeds up to 170kph. bizarre but fun and safe (as long as cable doesn't break) go to World again, drink with Ann, Michelle, Helen and Sue. Go driving aimlessly around mountains in dark dodging possums with Siani, Rachel, and Karen.

17 May 2001 Queenstown relatively relaxed day, run into Helen and Sue, helen has worst ever hostel dorm room bunk bed experience. climb hill overlooking town for dry luging, run into Steve Megan and Anna, go to Pizza Hut with group Steve, Ann, Megan, Ann, Michelle, and Helen and Sue, Irish Bar with girls, see Colin, Barry, and Gareth, and Fiona, go to World with Siani and Rachel and the Casbah Kiwi Experience bar with Barry

18 May 2001 Queenstown wake up and head to AJ Hacketts office for the Nevis check in, with Gemma, Steve, and Anna, we weigh in and get into a four wheel drive van for 40 min ride to valley, get first view of the gondola precariously dangling from cables 440ft above the Nevis river. we get into harnesses and are shuttled out to the jumping platform on the gondola. the cords are attached to your feet and to the harness for extra safety then I am manoeuvred onto a little square overlooking the valley and dive... Absolutely petrifying experience. in evening go to The World and teach Thumper drinking game to James, Steve, Anna, Megan and Gemma, they love the game, have numerous tea pots of shots and beer, dancing, lots of fun

19 May 2001 Queenstown rest day, see "Traffic" at cinema, fine dinner at lamb and steak dinner at Lone Star Cafe, drinks at Pog Mahones, Rachel's CV

20 May 2001 Queenstown fishing at 8am, meet Louis Adamson my fly fishing guide, take his jet boat out in lake and up soe private tributaries, wade in stream and learn to fly fish, very relaxing but horrible rainy and cold weather, no fish, we go for coffee at Louis's, he extols virtues of Japanese women. meet up with Rachel, see Gemma, excellent dinner and wine at JVD's restaurant

21 May 2001 Queenstown meet Louis for fishing, go out on lake for 3 hrs, no bites, rain and cold, learn to spin rod, sleep. lamb dinner at Lone Star's, some drinks at The World

22 May 2001 on to Dunedin meet Magic bus at 8am, full bus to Dunedin,Magic bus to college town Dunedin, cute hilly town,stay at Chalet Lodge, former hospital, very cosy, little room, play pool with Steve and James, go for Speight's Brewery "The Pride of the South (Island)" propaganda tour, drinks and steak dinner at Ale house at brewery, good luck blackjack at casino with Rachel, late night cafe and drinks near hostel, tea and TV Guiness Book of World Records Show with man contorted into box and human cannonball record of 185 ft

23 May 2001 on to Christchurch snowstorm hits Dunedin, the mountain pass is closed for 3 hrs, late into christchurch, check into Eliza's Manor House B and B, a huge 19th century mansion, get huge wallpapered room ($53US) with fireplace and kingsized silk duveted sleigh bed. Find the Irish girls Ann, Michelle and Michelle's sister, Ailish, at the City Central YHA and have great dinner at 124 Restaurant on Oxford Terrace with them, Rebecca and James, excellent wines, steak, and chocolate cheesecake covered in rasberry and cream($24US). Go to wine bar with Michelle and Ann and toast a great trip and to meeting again in London and Dublin

24 May 2001 Christchurch move to great duplex room ($65US) in the renovated Old Government Building of the Heritage Hotel at Cathedral Square, see Scottish Barry on Oxford Terrace, drinks at rundownish saloony Occidental Hostel bar, massive Holy Grail Sports Bar with Barry,Jon Smith (English motorcycle mechanic) and Amy.

25 May 2001 Christchurch fantastic day trip to Kaikoura for dolphin and whale watching driver Mark a little over informative during 2hr drive to Kaikoura. First go for whale viewing flight aboard small cessna we fly at 1000ft. find a 40 ft sperm whale, dive down to 500ft and photograph him during his 10min surface breathing interval. Next head to Dolphin Encounters office and am issued thick 5mm wetsuit, booties, hood, gloves and snorkeling gear. get briefing on the dolphins and head out in little boat with 10 others. We find pods of dusky dolphins and pile into the frigid water, the dolphins swim all around us, looking at us, doing flips and other acrobatics, amazing. Return to ChCh catch up with Gemma, Anna, and Megan and Steve, go for decent lamb roast dinner ($2.40US) at Occidental Hostel bar, Sports Bar later

26 May 2001 Christchurch Goodbye New Zealand Party. I make decadent chocolate fondue (cocoa, sugar, full cream, Belgian dark chocolate) with marble pound cake, ripe pears, bananas and grapes to dip in my room. James, Steve, Gemma, Megan, Adam and Patrick join for final thumper

27 May 2001 Sweet Home Chicago! IL begin journey to Jonny Ross and Valerie's Wedding in Brussels. take early flight from Christchurch to Auckland, spend 6 hours awaiting flight to LAX and on to Chicago. Have fantastic 90 min massage ($60US) at Auckland airport. They have full spa facilities here for the weary traveller, best airport idea, long 12 hour flight to LA, then 4 hr flight to Chicago, picked up by Leonora, go to her excellent new house in Highland Park

28 May 2001 Chicago! IL see my incredibly adorable nieces, Natasha(6) and Eliana(4)! go for hotdogs at Superdogs

29 May 2001 Chicago! IL go downtown to Steve's office for lunch with Rick, Steve, Eliot, Ricky, Laurie and Graham at Columbian Steak house on Lincoln.

30 May 2001 Chicago! IL meet Ricky, Kara, cousin Judy, and Sean for massive pizza dinner at Due's, check out ESPNzone, play interesting state of the art video games, meet up with Will, Jack, Amy and Beth at Kincaids

31 May 2001 Chicago! IL I am show and tell at Natasha's kindergarten. Speaking to the children in very convincing Australian accent and dressed in traditional Aboriginal costume (loincloth and bodypaint), I show and explain pictures of cute koalas, kangaroos, and the Great Barrier reef fishies and sharks. Natasha's teachers, Miss Barbara and Miss Donna, force the little ones to eat Wheat Thins with globs of Vegemite I'd brought from NZ. An antipodean staple, Vegemite is a salty not-great tasting tar-like yeast extract that little Aussies (Joeys) and Kiwis eat on toast for breakfast. While passing around Aussie and NZ dollars (the money is very colourful, plastic, and unrippable), I begin my fascinating and detailed survey of Australia's economic development from convict labour colony to modern welfare socialist state, peppered with entertaining anecdotes of Aboriginal land and resource exploitation, population decimation, and general cultural subjugation.
Later we go for great rib dinner at Steve and Jill's house in Lincolnwood. Dante very cute, and Raif, Natasha, and Eliana play and eat together adorably.

1 June 2001 Chicago! IL meet Steve at Barnes and Noble in Evanston. Make Shabbat dinner (spicy cherry tomato garlic oil pasta) at Leonora's. Go to services at Solel, crowded with an Ufruf (wedding couple blessing), baby naming and birthdays. Eliana goes to the stage for her birthday and cutely announces: "my name is Eliana and I am four in June". see Will's new house in the city

2 June 2001 Chicago! IL Butterfly zoo in Lincoln Park, lunch in Evanston, fly to London.

3 to 6 June 2001 London, UK stay at old flat in Clapham with Chris, Matt and Sophie. meet up with Ashley, Joanna, Justin, Nunchi, Doug, Jules, Lisa, Jessica, Geoff, Bret, and Steve. Bambou and Nobu's yum! new British Museum courtyard renovation fantastic

7 June 2001 Brussels, Belgium Jonny and Valerie's Wedding weekend!!! arrive Le Chatelain hotel and meet Jonny, Valerie and families in lobby, begin drinking Belgian beer. see Dave Lee, Andy, Lisa, Shlomi. all go for great duck dinner at La Quincaillerie. Boy's Night wandering around Brussels

8 June 2001 Brussels, Belgium wedding in City Hall at the medieval Grand Place, ceremony in French with costumed ushers, the beautiful couple (Jonny and Valerie) wave to crowd in Town Square from the balcony, drive in party bus around Brussels taking photos, sightseeing, drinking and spilling champagne. go to countryside for dinner and reception at Le Barbizon. Fantastic meal, atmosphere and dancing!

9 June 2001 Brussels, Belgium Wedding group trip to Bruges, Vicki and Vincent as local guides, incredible chocolate and beer tastings. drive to Amsterdam with Eric and Gary, interesting...

10 June 2001 Amsterdam another great visit Van Gogh Museum, bring back Gary for dinner at Ecco with Chris, Gary, and Nunchi

11 June 2001 on to Tahiti via Chicago, LA, Auckland arrive in Papeete on 14 June

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