Friday, 20 September 2013

Belated Hello

I meant to start this blog on the plane to Thailand, and then when that didn't happen I was going to do it on the plane to New Zealand.. and then when that didn't work out it was definitely going to be written in my first week in New Zealand.. well over three months on and I'm finally getting around to it. 

In short the first half of semester B at Waikato University has been a really mixed bag - there's been some great highs with meeting new people and travelling. But tempering that I've had a pretty big dose of culture shock and homesickness- which I think hit me so hard because I just wasn't expecting it! I'm feeling much more settled into New Zealand now and I'm more than ready to start doing some serious travelling over the summer!

As a quick catch up, I flew to Phuket before coming to New Zealand and it was amazing! I absolutely loved the heat, the manic hustle and bustle, the charming and sometimes over friendly people as well as the beautiful scenery - the Phi Phi islands were the highlight as well as seeing a baby turtle!
(Karon view point - you can just see my hotel from here!)
I stayed near Karon Beach which was perfect as it was 10 minutes in a tuktuk to Patong which has all the touristy things as well as an.. interesting night life. And yet Karon is much more chilled and relaxed and if you head in the other directed for 20 minutes your away from all the tourists completely!
(Phi Phi Li - I still can't get over the amazing colour of the water! I snorkled here when i was on a boat tour and it was so amazing - they threw bananas to attract the fish)
(Phi Phi Don - paradise)
(the view while i had lunch when i was exploring the islands around Phuket)
I did a few organised tours, one to FantaSea and another touring the islands, FantaSea was descibed as a mini, thai disneyland and I wouldn't necesarily go that far but it was really fun with lots of thai dancing and food, elephant rides and hundreds of shops selling all sorts of touristy things.
 ('elephant palace')
 (feeding the fish)
(this is jamba)
I saw some stunning sunsets along the beach
I had some delicious food on the beach (the thai love condensed milk - who knew!)
My last day in Phuket was spent absorbing the views and seeing the sunset up at the 'big buddha'

(the buddha is still under construction as it's working on donations)
(everywhere you walked you heard these bells tinkling - it was weirdly relaxing!)
(a smaller golden buddha)

New Zealand has mainly been spent socialising but I did manage to squeeze in a trip to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves which were beautiful - such a shame I couldn't take photos inside. And I had a great day at the hot pools, a naturally heated outdoor swimming pool with life-threatening slides, it certainly wouldn't have passed a single health and safety inspection but it was fun if nothing else!
 (we had a masquerade ball which was really fun)
(at the hot pools)
A video Julia made of our day at the hot pools
(my caving team)

The academic system has also been a bit of a shock to the system, I'm used to a couple of essays throughout the year and one big final test, huge lecture theatres and then smaller seminars, here I'm tested almost weekly and I'm in lectures of 20 people! The first half of this semester has been hard academically and emotionally (dramatic i know). 

(More details on Sydney to come!)

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