The most exciting part of watching sunrise at Angkor for me was the walk in the pitch dark. You’re walking through parts of a temple without being able to see anything. (Watch your step! Or bring a flashlight!) Not knowing what to expect.. the anticipation, best feeling ever!
At the end of the day you’re left with stunning views and a lot to wonder about. Who would ever think of creating something like this in our time?
Siem Reap, Cambodia – My first encounter with Asia was so good. I was picked up from the airport in Siem Reap by the nicest tuktuk-driver. Considering I hadn’t slept in over 36 hours, I was really happy when, in the afternoon, I found out I had a private room with television. And, oh goody, a movie with George Clooney was on! Safe to say I didn’t leave the room until the next morning when it was time to pick up Uschi from the airport. After our two weeks travelling in Argentina, she decided to come to Asia as well!
Whitianga, New Zealand – After the one day of sunshine at Tauranga… it was back to rain. No surprise in New Zealand I guess. Even though it wasn’t beach weather, I still decided to go up to Coromandel Peninsula. The peninsula is amazingly beautiful. The InterCity busses only take you around one way. And the route is stunning. After we left most people in Coromandel town, the driver started talking to me and pointed out some of the fascinating nature. There was a mountain that definitely looked like a sleeping giant. Very impressive!
When I got to Whitianga I treated myself to a fish and chips, solely because it was wrapped in an actual newspaper… how can one resist that? After that, it was time for the beach. After a nice ferry ride and a small hike, there it was… my final secluded beach in New Zealand.
And below, one of the cutest little libraries I’ve ever seen. Although the community library in Christchurch definitely is my favourite in that category.
Tauranga/Mount Maunganui, New Zealand – After leaving Rotorua rather quickly after rafting, I headed for the Bay of Plenty. I had no idea what to expect at Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, except for another beautiful beach. And I wasn’t disappointed. The small town of Mount Maunganui was incredibly cosy.
Oh and Christmas was on its way! The Keynotes, a choir that I ran into on the street sang Let it snow, especially for me! I didn’t really dare to take a picture… that’s why it ended up a bit shaky. Very sweet kiwi ladies!
Rotorua, New Zealand – After all these days in Taupo it was time to move on. Together with Maarten we decided to go to Rotorua. Rotorua is located in an area with volcanic activity and is famous for its geysers and hot springs. Both very positive things… unfortunately, it also smells like rotten eggs. Of course, when we arrived in Rotorua it was raining. We were still excited though, because the next day we’d go rafting. Actually, not just rafting… we would be rafting the highest commercially raftable waterfall, 7 meters to be exact!
After a small explanation we were ready to go. On the water we asked the Maori forefathers for a safe trip. We also kissed a silver fern leave and dropped it in the water. It landed silver side up, which would mean we wouldn’t topple the boat. And our prayers were answered. No-one fell overboard. Not even at the seven meter drop!
Even though you’re travelling and you don’t need to do anything, I still felt the need to do something or go somewhere every day. So after a day spent in the kitchen Tamsin and I went kayaking on lake Taupo. The goal was to kayak to famous Maori rock carvings. I’m a real sucker for Maori stories, so I was totally excited to go, even though it was raining and extremely windy. But all of that didn’t matter because we were going to see something amazing after all.
When we arrived at the carvings, our guide asked us how old we thought the carvings were. He also gave us a hint… the Maori arrived in New Zealand about 2000 years ago. Tamsin guessed 1999 years old.. I went for newer than that, but I also hadn’t thought that they were only 30 years old. So after kayaking in the rain for over an hour… we were slightly disappointed. Luckily our kayak guide made up for that with a well-deserved break. He pulled out a checkered table cloth and made us Milo and shared some home baked cookies and brownies with us.
And just thinking about it. Maybe it’s even cooler to have seen Maori carvings that are still so ‘new’. It’s a sign that the culture is still very much alive and that is something impressive as well.