Tuesday, 25 February 2014

New Room!

So I'm finally in my new room at Orchard Park. It's a lot bigger than my past few university rooms, its got two windows and unlike my last room at Waikato it doesn't make me want to cry (it's the little things). I'm in cottage 25, room one with Ana from Sweden, Ana from Norway (nice and easy to remember) and Sherie from China :)

 My little bamboo bowl with opal lining I picked up in Singapore
 new keys :)
 My little collection of keyrings- I'm trying to get one from each place I visit!
Venice, Verona, Phuket, Sydney, Dubai, Singapore and Brisbane
 My bits and pieces on my shelves

 Window number 1! Looking out over some grass and a small carpark
 And Window number 2 features a tree
 And from the second window at the front of the 'cottage' you can see our little deck and that's outside the front of the house!

I'm already much happier with this room compared to the last one which smelt, had wallpaper peeling off and where everything with chipped and looked like it needed replacing! 

Getting to Uni

-this is just a ramble, so it's not very interesting, but I wanted to put it up so I can read it when I look back on my Year Abroad- 

Getting to University from Brisbane was by far the most nightmarish trip to date (I'm sure worse will come in the future but anyway)

Starting at the beginning, I had to get up at 5am, or rather I had to get up at 5am after getting 3hours sleep because 2 girls in the room decided it was a good idea to have a silent war over the air conditioning meaning the room was either constantly freezing or roasting. Getting the train to the airport went smoothly though - I’m savouring the small things which went right

But things started to go a little sour as soon as I got to the airport really, the lift was broken so I had to try and maneuver my suitcase on the escalator where it didn’t really fit… Then there was a Korean Pop group arriving so the airport was packed! Meaning I had to detour and squeeze past the massive crowd of screaming girls and paparazzi. Then I was told my flight was delayed… by 6 hours! They checked me in though and gave me a $15 food voucher (which I thought was really nice and I made good use of)

After a quick skype the internet disappeared from my kindle, and the internet wasn't available for my laptop so I went to change some of my random currency which I've steadily accumulated into something useful… but they couldn’t exchange half of my notes because they weren't accepting dirhams for some reason(?). I did eventually get change and sat down at one of the computers but then the computer swallowed my money, so I couldn't contact anyone.

By now I was 4hrs into the supposed 6hr delay, however while I failing to access the internet the time for departure was steadily getting later and later. Which meant instead of getting into Auckland mid-afternoon I’d now be lucky to get in before midnight so I wouldn’t be able to catch my bus. And since i didn't have access to the internet, or a working phone, I couldn't ask a friend to pick me up.

After a minor breakdown when tiredness caught up me, it soon became clear that I the midnight prediction had been optimistic, and the early hours of the morning was looking increasingly likely. 

The plane did finally arrive, although it took another 2hrs to ready it. And then they decided to change the boarding gate from 21 to 75… 10 minutes before we were meant to board. The mad rush from one end of the airport to the other was the perfect end to my time at Brisbane airport. 

My seat on the Airbus was pretty good though I have to say - 3 whole seats all to myself again!

Getting through customs took an age, there weren't very many people on (it was 3am so I wasn't surprised) but there were a lot of people to get through. It also took me 4 attempts to fill in my form as well - I was so tired I just kept making silly mistakes!

Anyway I got through fine (although I forgot I had Banteel dates so I had to declare them which was a bit of a pain). Then I found out I had just missed the bus was going to catch into Auckland, typical. Only as soon as I sat down, consoling myself about the hours wait, the bus rolls up! The joys of everything being late in NZ!

Once I got to the hostel I had the fun of trying to navigate the lift. The buttons didn't correspond to the right floors, so you could press level 2 and end up on 3 or you could press 4 and end up on the ground. When I did eventually find the right level everyone was awake and playing tennis in the corridor. Then I noticed receptionist hadn't written the number of my room very clearly so I had to just go around and try all the different doors and see if any worked!

And then my room was the only one where everyone was asleep so I felt really bad coming in dragging my suitcase! Oh and the guy in the bed beneath me came in at 5am and decided that was a good time to try and have a conversation with me… not quite sure what made him think that…

And the final little drama, i asked at the hostel desk where i could get a bus, she told me every single bus leaves auckland from the ferry stop. So I got the joy of pushing my suitcase down Queens Street (the busiest street in Auckland) for 15 minutes only to be told they don't actually leave from here, no they leave from the other end of the street. Another wonderful 20 minutes passed as I walked to the other end of Queenstreet… Once I booked my bus I then got the truly lovely news that the bus stop was behind the Skytower. The Skytower is on top of quite a steep hill. So then I had to push my suitcase up the giant hill. And I have to tell you, if you've never pushed a 26kg suitcase with a 9kg backpack up a hill in the middle of the a city centre, at lunch time when the streets are packed you haven't lived. I suggest everyone gives it go, oh and try it when you've had no sleep, it's especially fun then, even more so when you're in a maxi skirt which keeps getting tangled. 

The woman spelt my name wrong on the bus list… I'm now R Hashwood. Then there were road works so the bus arrived into Hamilton 2hours late. Then the ATM wouldn't accept any of my cards, I tried all three, so I had to ask a taxi driver to take me to an ATM on the way as by now schools were out so there were hundreds of children at the transport centre and there was no way I could get through them with my suitcase. 

When I eventually got to Orchard Park the office had closed at 1:15 and I don't have a phone yet so I couldn't ring the number to get someone so I had to walk around to try to find someone - luckily a girl let me borrow her phone and stayed chatting to me until someone came to let me into my room.

All in all, not been the best 48hours, but I'm in my room, I'm in one piece and it could definitely have been worse.

P.S Then when I did a wash the machine left my clothes all soapy :( 

Mt Coot-tha

Today was a little cloudy, so I figured today would be the nicest day to walk up to Mt Coot-tha. Which might sound strange but it’s just been too hot recently to even think about walking up a mountain so the cloudy weather looked promising. Oh how wrong I was
Love this photo!

The blanket of cloud seemed to simply increase the humidity and after 20minutes I was already slightly regretting the decision to walk up rather than simply catch the bus (I didn’t get the bus because then I’d have to bus a $10 card and top it up and it seemed like a lot of hassle when I didn't have much time left)

About half way up it rained.. which was pure bliss for about 5 minutes until it stopped and the humidity returned with a vengeance. Needless to say by the time I got to the top I was wishing I’d just caught the stupid bus, but the views from the lookout really were beautiful and definitely made up for how sticky it was getting up there!
From the point you can see Brisbane in all it’s sprawling glory, and I definitely just stood there for 5 minutes taking it in!
I bought myself an ice cream and proceeded to spend most of the afternoon up there in the cafĂ© reading and enjoying the view, the weather also really picked up towards the end of my walk and by the time I reached the top the sun was starting to come out. So all in all it worked out pretty well and I’m really glad I made time to go to the look out!
 After making my way down I popped back to the hostel before going to Southbank and having a dip in the 'lagoon'! From walking around the past few days I figured out the quietest times to go and 2pm on a Thursday was the quietest I'd ever seen the place, and by this time the sun was shining so it was perfect to spend one of my last days in brisbane
 I basically had it all to myself!

 The clouds returned in the early evening and as I strolled through the city I stumbled upon a little market setting (There was also a political rally happening in the same square which gathered momentum as I was leaving)

 handmade soy candles  - I wanted to get one but I wasn't sure my package allowance could handle a candle
Goats milk soap!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Australia Zoo

Zoo Day!

I’m not a particular fan of zoos (hence why I skipped the massive one at Singapore) but I felt like I couldn’t miss Australia Zoo when I was so close – that’s the one made famous by Steve Irwin, and it has a big focus on conservation with a lot of the money raised there going directly towards preserving animals in the wild. I caught the earliest bus there (which meant I had to wake up at 6:30!!) and the last coach home (I left when the zoo itself closed) and I think I just about saw everything on my list but there are definitely things I missed, mainly some of the shows, but I didn’t stop for a minute!

Before I even got to the booking desk I managed to hold an alligator! He felt so strange, weirdly soft!

Mere minutes after the doors opened I'd managed to book my giraffe, koala, and wombat encounter as well as an opportunity to hold a snake later in the day! The map was great and after scribbling down on the back the times I was doing everything my day was already looking pretty full!

I started the day by buying some kangaroo food and heading into their enclosure.
 I love this shot! Look at his little tongue! 
 They’re surprisingly soft, and they walabees seemed so lazy! I’d approach slowly with my hand out, and they’d just lift their head from where they were dozing and sigh before jumping over to eat! I got the distinct impression those guys thought they were doing me a favour :p

 Because I was there bright and early I got the entire, massive, enclosure to myself which was really nice actually.
 This guy was lying down when I walked in and within seconds of me pulling out the bag of food he jumped up and sprang towards me! I knew they moved quickly but it always surprises me!
look at his face!

I also popped over to the red kangaroos which are a fair bit bigger, seemed much more awake and much more interested in what was on my hand!

After dawdling through the wetlands (where I got bitten by mosquitos three times!) I realized I was actually running late for my giraffe encounter! I quickly ran across the park (not too fun in the heat) and turns out I was the only one actually booked onto the encounter!
 The giraffe which came over was the male of the herd as was the biggest, by quite a bit! The keeper did mention I needed to keep tight hold on the branches as they were quite strong but I still wasn’t particularly prepared for how strong his tongue was! I had a death grip on those branches!

 I then strolled through the Africa section, seeing the Zebras and Rhinos, before walking through the Camel Section as well as Tiger Temple – the Tigers were still quite sleepy when I got there.

Can you see the baby rhino!?
 I then strolled through the Africa section, seeing the Zebras and Rhinos, before walking through the Camel Section as well as Tiger Temple – the Tigers were still quite sleepy when I got there and I never got chance to pop back later in the day

 Tiger temple
Then I detoured through the Koala bit and got to stroke one! They’re so soft, and they sleep in the oddest positions!

 so cute!

the funniest sleeping position :)

Then it was over to the crocosium for the wild warriors show! It was really entertaining and still pretty informative. Surprisingly the birds were amazing and just as fun as the crocs!
 the crocosium!

 doesn't he look like the happiest bird?

he's smiling!

Once it was wrapping up I dashed off to my wombat encounter – which weirdly I was really looking forward and it was great! The keepers called them out, tempting them with lunch and then me and one other couple got to go in to stroke them. They’re real characters, and the keepers said they’re a lot like puppies in they like to play and be naughty but they’ve no idea their own strength – they we adorable!
 Some of them decided to take their time coming out, while others were first in line for some food!

 love this photo :)
this is the youngest one there at 12months :)

The otters were actually one of my favorites- they were so incredibly playful! They were constantly chasing and clambering over each other!

I got to stroke a Koala earlier in the day and was surprised just how soft they felt and then after my wombat encounter I got to hold one and they are a lot heavier than I thought they would be! I guess they’re just so fluffy you forget there’s muscle under there!
 There were also lizards everywhere! Big ones like the hidden alligator in the picture above, and small like this little guy below!
I have to say I loved the crocs though!

 I think one of my favourite animals there, alongside the koalas, wombats and kangaroos were the asian small clawed otters! They were so playful, and they're pretty cute too!

I had an amazing day and I'm so glad I went - an early night is definitely in store for me now though!