Saturday, November 12, 2005

Christchurch, NZ - Take 2

this one is long ...

What can I say, it might have been the poor Udon Soup I had for dinner, or the travel catching up to me, but by 10pm it would have taken marble columns to keep my eye lids up. So I hit the sack and slept like a baby! Translation, no bars and no friends ☹

I hit the streets reasonably early this morning for another go at seeing the Christchurch sights. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, a great spring day! Sadly the weather took a turn for the worst this afternoon. I had a couple of hours to kill before I needed to be at the Raytheon Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) for gear up, so I made my way towards the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. On my way I passed the Arts Centre again and walked through the same little crafts fair and outdoor market I found yesterday.

A sculpture located in Cathedral Square right outside my hotel. It was erected to celebrate Y2K.

Another view of the Christchurch Cathedral …

DO YOU SEE THAT RAINBOW??? Wow, I think GOD was speaking to me, and he said, I quote … “Rainbows are caused by the scattering of sunlight by water vapor, moron.”

The best thing about this little fair are the food vendors. There are about a dozen stands and carts setup serving international delicacies and meals. My favorites included a German sausage stand I stopped at yesterday, the French Creperie, a stand called Drink that offers anything you can think of to quench your thirst, and a Beligan Waffle stand. That isn’t to discount the (to name a few) Greek, Indian, Korean, Chinese, Polish, Hungarian food vendors. In general the food selection here is decent but its primarily Asian cuisine; either Thai, Japanese or Indian in particular.

A crafts fair …

Reminds me of the Grease Trucks on Rutgers Campus, except they’re really really good here, and not that greasy, and there aren’t any potheads getting their munchies fix.

After a bite to eat, I walked through the Arts Centre once more and captured a few more pictures I couldn’t get yesterday cause my battery had died. My favorite is the “suspended” house. Its one of those perspective pieces and its basically just a few plastic rods suspended in air by fishing line. Looks awesome against the backdrop of white fluffy clouds and blue sky!

The Fudge Cottage … hehehehe.

Fantastic, they have an observatory and a physics department at the Arts Centre. Finally someone in the art community came to their senses.

Man, I swear they put food coloring in that water … its so blue!

Look! It’s a house in the sky! Naw, Im just pullin your leg, its not real.

I finally made it to the Botanic Gardens (after an unremarkable visit to the Canterbury Museum) with about an hour to go before I had to leave for the CDC. They had this super nice little fountain at the gates, like many things here unlike in the states, its full of color! I was really amazed with the gardens. I guess its sometime past the bloom here, so there weren’t really any spectacular floral displays, but the trees were something I have never seen before.

The first one to strike me was the “Fern Tree” as some passerby’s called it. Its leaves resembled that of a fern and it was massive. It had an endless tangle of branches that hung close to the ground, not higher than me, but spread a canopy of probably a hundred feet or more in diameter. They also had a series of pine trees that were unlike anything I had ever seen before including a sequoia from California. The coolest trees by far were the Eucalyptus trees. Their trunks were massive, probably 25 feet in diameter and very oddly shaped, particularly one that seemed to have a bit of a beer gut.

Some very cool evergreens.

The gigantic eucalyptus.

lay off the PBR tree, jeez, go on a diet man you look sick.

An really gnarly tree I found lurking in the shade.

I happened to stumble upon the cutest thing ever. A mama duck and he little duckling going for a little swim in the lily pad pond …

The lily pad pond …

Some of the rock garden adjacent to the pond …

The central rose garden, some of the only actual flowers I got to see since I skipped the conservatory …

On a completely unrelated note, I never mentioned how crazy the money here is. First of all its made of some material that isn’t quite paper. Im convinced its just straight up plastic. I guess that’s not so weird after you’ve noticed that the bills all have little transparent plastic windows. Like most foreign currency, its colorful and interesting. I guess most Americans would consider that “gay” so we make ours one easily counterfeit-able color, mold green. The 5-spot here is particularly cool, with a picture of Edmund Hillary (Antarctic explorer) and a penguin.

Ok, finally, the potentially only interesting thing I will talk about in this very lengthy entry, the trip to the CDC. Well, I got my gear after watching a painfully useless and corny video about injury or death from extreme cold exposure. My mandatory gear for the flight to Ice (as Antarctica is simply referred to here) consists of

- 1 pair thermal underwear
- 1 thermal undershirt
- 1 pair fleece overalls
- 1 fleece long sleeve shirt
- 1 pair Carhart insulated overalls (I had to exchange the weaker ski-wind pants thanks to Clem’s very helpful recommendations …)
- 1 fleece jacket
- 1 oversized down parka with hood
- 1 par thick socks
- 1 pair wool boot liners
- 1 pair crazy huge blue boots
- 1 pair leather insulated gloves
- 1 hat

Supposedly I have to put all this on at checkin and wear it for the duration of the flight. For anyone who knows me well enough, this means I might die of dehydration or drowning before I even reach Ice. I’m flying out tomorrow morning, Monday at 8:30 am. I have to be at the CDC for checkin at 5:30 am so I’m heading out of the hotel at 5:00 am. We were supposed to fly with the New Zealand Air Force on their Hercules Cargo Planes, but luckily we’ve been upgraded (hehehe) to a C-17 cargo plane. It’s a jet (not a prop plane) so the flight will be 5 not 8 hours long and it also has commercial airline seats, so we wont have to sit on the floor of the plane as is usual. I guess that’s it!

This is essentially, give or take an item or two, the gear we were given. These guys don’t mess around with keeping us warm, and I’m glad!

Did I mention that Bill Clinton stopped by for a visit??? It was crazy, I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, or when I shook his hand. Man, even at his age, with all that surgery, he still looks like he did 10 years ago! What a guy, what a guy …

We were stripped naked and forced to put on the gear then dance around like chickens. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life …

I finished my day with an excellent Thai meal and a beer at a local pub with some other guys going tomorrow. I’ll leave you with a cool picture of a sculpture in the Native Maori style.


Anonymous seren said...

your pictures are gorgeous, and your little house in the sky thing made me laugh--at what a moron you are!! haha owned!!
in other news, i went to a party tonight with our mutual girlfriend lindsay knight, and she hip-checked me really hard twice, partially to make me spill my drink and partially (i suspect) as part of a strange mating ritual that only she understands. I was pretty into it I guess.
in other other news, someone has fucking poured water out of my fish-vase, because there is NO WAY he drank all that.
take care down there, keep the blog coming.

5:15 AM CST  

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