I’m in Sydney right now, have been here since Saturday Noon.  I made a good decision on accomodations: I am staying in a small budget backpacker place close enough to the main scuzbucket traveller’s center, and close to downtown and most of the sites, but far enough away from both of those (mainly the scuz area) to feel relaxed and happy.  It’s only a 30 bed place, and is just an old house run by this guy, Sam.  It reminds me of some old house in Omaha, in the Field Club area.  Also, the dorms I am staying in are only 3-bed dorms, as opposed to the 8-bed dorms I stayed in in Auckland.  Good deal.  About $22 AUD ($16 USD) per night, and I’m paid up through Tuesday night, since I leave for Perth on the train on Wednesday afternoon.

Since Saturday, I have just been wandering, seeing the sights: the Botanical Gardens, the Opera House, the harbor areas, the shopping areas, the harbor bridge, blah blah blah.  In a minute here, I am off for a walk to Bondi Beach, which is supposed to be real famous or something.

Things are moving slowly for a change, which is relaxing.  I spent 30 bucks on food at the grocery store on saturday, and that’s been enough since then, except for a $14 burger and a beer I bought last night near the harbor bridge.  There was one place serving kangaroo and crocodile for $18, which I thought was too expensive.  Probably a silly thing to think, but I can always go back.  Well, I’m off for a walk.

New Zealand

New Zealand Photos

I leave New Zealand tomorrow.  My trip here was really sort of a sampler for the place.  Lots of backpackers and the similarity to Alaska sort of turned me off to it though. Other than that, I really have enjoyed my time here. I actually like Auckland very much.  It’s a clean city, cheap, modern, just generally nice and easy.  I’ve even come to appreciate the convenience of the Giant Hostel that I am staying in.

Anyway, since Tuesday, when I arrived, I have actually managed to do quite a bit.  Very much the opposite of Tahiti concerning level of activity.  Also more spending here.  I definitely went over budget, but it was obvious where that happened, and wont be hard to rectify in future countries.

New Zealand’s appeal lies in several areas for tourists, I suppose.  The natural beauty, the adventure sports, and I’m not sure what else.  English-speaking, hostel/backpacker-ridden, small, easy, cheap country?  Probably all of those, I suppose.  But I’m not so anxious to come back here, because I already live somewhere with amazing natural beauty, I don’t care about adventure crap, skydiving, jumping off things, blah blah etc, as they cost too much and seem gimmicky. And this place that I live is huge, inexpensive for me as a local, and without 50 thousand retard backpackers tramping about.  My next trip when I get back from this one will be to Alaska.

During my stay here, quickly, I went north to the Bay of Islands on Wednesday, took a fast boat out to the “Hole in the Rock” which I’m sure we have somewhere in Alaska.  Probably about 70 of them.  I thought the boat ride itself was what was worth it.  The thing went about 70 miles an hour, it seemed.  That was just a day trip, and I stayed in Auckland that night.  The next day, I got up, checked out of the hostel, ran errands: getting cash, stamps, postcards, sending emails, etc.  Then I caught a ferry over to Waiheke island, about 40 km away from Auckland.  I stayed at a Youth Hostel there, and had an uneventful time.  I walked down the 300-step walkway to the beach at around 10 PM for an amazing view of the Southern Sky.  The stars were ridiculously brilliant. I think I can remember cold winter nights in Alaska that might have been close, but I really was impressed.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the thin ozone layer here.  I could see the Southern Cross, which was neat, and of course, I was looking at lots of other Southern-hemisphere constellations, although I had no idea what they were.  Saw some shooting stars too.

So, I came back today on the ferry, after writing out about 10 postcards in a little cove on the bay.  I got the last bed in the hostel here in Auckland, and then went for a walk to the grocery store.  I had 37 New Zealand Dollars last night after paying for the hostel, which had to last me until tomorrow morning, when I fly out.  3.30 for a bus, 22 for another night here in Auckland, left me with about 12 dollars.  I got 2 bananas, some cookies, pound cake, smoked tuna, and 1.5L of off-brand soda at the New World supermarket for only $6.07, leaving me with 3 dollars for an hour and a half of internet here, and 3 dollars in my pocket for anything last minute in the morning.  There is also a $25 dollar New Zealand departure tax, but I am hoping that was included in my ticket.  If not, I have a credit card.   Off to Australia then.


I have Photos!

I arrived in Auckland this morning, had a good flight and everything, with a stop in Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands. I didn’t have a real solid idea of what I wanted to do in New Zealand (and still don’t), and didn’t feel that my 5 days here warrants a guidebook purchase (am also regretting only planning 5 days here. Don’t really know what I was thinking), so I was either going to play it by ear, and either take a ferry to Waiheke Island in the Bay of Islands near Auckland to stay at a hostel there, or take a bus south to Rotorua to see the thermals/geysers/hot springs. Well, my decision ended up being made for me, unfortunately enough. My backpack never arrived in Auckland. It would certainly be nice to have, but I was prepared, having all my valuables on me. I don’t have a change of clothes or a towel, however. Anyway, I made a claim with Air New Zealand at the airport, (which is very nice, by the way, as is all of New Zealand I have seen so far) and they gave me a number to call when I knew where I was staying. The fact that my backpack might arrive today made me decide to stay in Auckland tonight. So, I picked the most auspicious, flashily advertised, probably largest hostel in town, Auckland Central Backpackers. It’s like a giant dorm, and they’re always arranging activities, etc. You’d think you’d meet lots of people at a place like this, but you really don’t, since everyone either has their own group, or assumes that you do. Anyway, I booked a day tour of the Bay of Islands with another night at a hostel in Paihia, which is somewhere, I don’t know, but I guess it’s supposed to be nice. I got a room here for tonight, a drink at the bar, 1 hour of internet, the bus tour of the Bay of Islands, continental breakfast (wow), a free transfer to the airport when I leave and some other goofy things for $150 NZD, about $100 USD. I feel maybe as if things went a little hastily in my decision making process; after all it’s only 2:00 PM, but I have lost a day (left on Monday morning, arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Thank you, International Date Line) so maybe I had better catch up? And now I leave out of Auckland for Australia this weekend. I can’t believe I only planned 5 days here. It didn’t take me long at all to realize I could easily spend 6 months exploring this country. It’s cheap too. Oh well. In the Future. Anyway, being here, I do like the accents, and the left-side-of-the-road driving.

I read a USA Today on the plane this morning. Strange reading about the US from the outside. I also got to watch Spin City and Frasier on the Plane. Yippee. In the airport in Rarotonga, a shop was playing that song about the “convoy” with the man in the deep voice; “…In a Kenworth, pullin’ logs,” etc. Reminded me of Monte.

I’m definitely still experiencing a bit of the “I’m not really here, am I?” phenomenon. I sometimes wonder as well if the flexibility of being alone is worth the disadvantages of sustained companionship that it at times lacks in. I am not confident at all about making friends in this place. It feels like a school cafeteria where you have to walk up to someone and formally introduce yourself, ask “Hello, would you like to be my friend?” But, I have plenty to do this afternoon. I don’t need other travellers slowing me down. I am going to try very hard to find an internet cafe that will let me download my Tahiti photos and upload them to the internet for you all to see. There were quite a few on Queen St. that I saw on the way here from the airport. Trendy place, this.

Waiting for the plane to reboard in Rarotonga, I met two Americans, one sort of daft exercisey-type lady, and a guy who lives in Australia, was raised in Japan, speaks fluent Japanese, minored in Linguistics for his undergrad degree, and has his PhD. in “Yield Management” and can’t be a day over 30. He flys for free on all of the Star Alliance airlines (Air NZ, United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, etc.) because he works in their “Yield Management” program, which from all I understood is basically something having to do with selling plane tickets. He lives on the Gold Coast in Australia, near Brisbane, and highly recommended it. Apparently, you can get a flight from Sydney to Brisbane or some other place near for $30 AUD, which is maybe $25 USD. Maybe? Who knows. I will definitely pick up an Australian Lonely Planet before I leave New Zealand, though, I think. 2.5 weeks justifies it, I think.


There is lots that I did not have time to write about Tahiti while I was there, since internet access was nearly 10 dollars an hour.

Where to begin.

The morning I arrived in Pape’ete, I really did have a good dose of what-the-hell-am-I-doing shock. I didn’t really explore anything, sat around the very touristy Vaiame Center, and on a whim caught one of the last ferries to Moorea, the neighboring island, and ended up finding a fantastic place to stay and some great people, which ended up turning my virtual travel-frown upside down. I met a British Couple named Chris and Cate Byrne, in their early thirties, who were on their 8th month of a round-the-world trip. The guesthouse we were staying at was small, and very relaxed, and as the only English speakers, it didn’t take me long to find them/us each other. I tagged along behind them that night, and we bought food from the tiny shop down the island road, to make pasta with ham bits, canned corn and tomato sauce. Mmm.

The next day, Monday, we hopped over the the expensive Sheraton resort, and used their beach, which is a legal right in French Polynesia. Nice for us. The beach was neat, and the view was beautiful, and I got some sun. That night, we went to eat out. The place that we had planned on eating was closed, so we went next door. The “Plat du Jour” was either Shark or the Boeuf (beef) something. The waiter (also the proprietor) didn’t know how to say the name of the dish in English. So he approximated. Le boeuf… euuh… Pancakes! Beef Pancakes! Sounded interesting. Also sounded basic. Shark and beef seemed like it would make a good combination, so Chris and I ordered both together, so we could share each. The Shark came, and looked good, and then the Beef Pancackes came, and looked like clam chowder. I didn’t know what to think, and, being curious and willing, I took a bite. Tasted like clams. Mussels, something chewy. Definitely not Beef Pancakes, whatever those may be. So, Chris asked what they were, in broken French, and thanks to the help of our guesthouse host, Herve, (who accompanied us to dinner) we found out that it indeed was beef, technically. It was actually tripe. A lovely French dish, consisting of intestines, and stomachs, sphincters, internal organs, other “things”.  But I had already tasted it, so reverting to any prejudice I had wasn’t as easy as if I had known beforehand.  It’s still disgusting though.

On Tuesday, it rained.  We walked down the shore a few kilometers to Cook’s Bay, one of the seemingly infinite places in the South Pacific that man visited.  We waited for the store to open from its lunch break, and bought some baguettes and food for dinner that night.  On the way back it was pouring.  Like a 55 gallon drum of water being poured on you.  So, that day was an inside day from then on.  We wrote in our journals, and deciphered an article in French that was about our host, Hervé and the time that he lived alone on an island in the Tuamotus, the ridge of atolls lying several hundred miles north of Tahiti.  It took us about 45 minutes for the 700-word article.  Fun though.

Wednesday, we left Moorea for Tahiti, since Chris and Cate were leaving for Easter Island that night, and I was going to try and come along with them.  We stood in the rain waiting for the mystery bus, which may or may not have come, because we hitched a ride to the Ferry Quay.  A small four-door Nissan pickup pulled over, filled with 5 polynesians, the girls dressed up, flowers behind their ears.  We figured they were going to a wedding.  We sat in the back of the pickup and were pelted by rain as we wound around the curvy coastal road.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the easter island thing to work, as I said in a previous post.  So, I headed for the Pension (a relaxed family-run guesthouse) which Chris and Cate had stayed at previously.  Pension Te Miti on the west coast of Tahiti, in Paea.  You can actually visit its website here:  And the website for the place I stayed at on Moorea, which I would recommend highly if you ever go there.  Anyway, I took le truck to Paea, and slogged through the rain for 2 kilometers after missing the stop I was supposed to get off at.  Then I basically did nothing for 4 days.

I got burned on the beach on Thursday, avoided the sun on Friday, I went snorkeling on Saturday, which was very cool, and then again on Sunday, which was just amazing.  When I first arrived there was this very chatty British couple who I sort of defaulted to, but they weren’t very interesting.  They left on Saturday morning, so on Saturday and Sunday, I was the only English speaker in a guesthouse full of French speakers.  So, I tried my hand at my bad French.  I ended up having quite a good time, and made a short-time friend in a 40 year old French metalworker from Grenoble, in the Alps.  He spoke as much English as I did French, and we fought our way through the language barrier for several hours on Saturday night, talking about all sorts of things, but quite a bit about America and France.

My snorkeling trip on Sunday was sort of a personal challenge, albeit not a huge one.  Thierry, my frenchman friend, had swam all the way to the surf break the day before, and I wanted to do that.  So, I did.  With goggles, snorkel, and flippers, I navigated my way through the coral and made it to the reef, the surf break, which was actually really scary.  The waves were still strong out there, and I was really afraid of being smashed into a big outcropping of coral.  I didn’t stay long.  I navigated my way back to the beach, with appeared to be about 3 miles away from out there.  I saw a big school of cleaner fish of some type on my way back, and followed them for 10 or 15 minutes.  They were yellow with black stripes, and there had to have been 200 of them.

The only other thing in Tahiti at that point to achieve was to have a Maitai, which is really not all that great.  I went to the bar on the beach, got horrible service, watched the waitress (the bartender was nowhere to be found) pour some whiskey, rum, fruit juice, red coloring, and ice into a glass, garnish it with a palm leaf, and call it a Maitai.  1100 francs, or 11 bucks.  Then I went and bought a cheeseburger and fries for about seven dollars, walked back to the pension, and drank a “Tahiti Drink” that I had purchased the night before (10% alcohol) which I realized tasted pretty much like my 11 dollar maitai. It cost about $1.50

Then I paid the the 2500 francs to get to the airport, and finished off the last of my goddamn Pacific Francs.

That was Tahiti. Not sure if I’d recommend it.


I am currently in Paea, staying at Pension Te Miti, on the West Coast of Tahiti.  I never made it to Easter Island, unfortunately.  I was all ready to fork over the cash, and there was room on the flight there, but no room on the flight coming back 4 days later. So, instead, i’ve saved some money, gotten sunburn again, gone snorkeling, cooked some horrible food, and generally had a good, cheap time.  I am going to blow some of my last 3000 Pacific Francs (~$30) tonight on a dinner at Le Snack down the road and a few cans of the local beer, La Bière Hinano, then watch the sunset (la couche de soleil) which is cheap and beautiful.  My time here is almost up.  I will try to get my Tahiti pictures online when I am in Auckland on Monday.  A Bientot.


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I am currently in Pape’ete, French Polynesia.  This message will be short because I am using a very strange keyboard.  It is a AZERTY keyboard, not a QWERTY.  When I get to New Zealand, I will write more, as it will be cheaper also.

To quickly update, over the last 4 days and 3 nights, I have been on Mo’orea, the neighboring island to Tahiti.  It is less populated than Tahiti.  I stayed for 3 nights at the same place, Fare Oa Oa.  “Fare” means “Residence” in Tahitian.  I paid 2500 CFP (about 25 bucks) for the three nights.  On the first night, I met up with a very nice British couple who have been travelling around the world for 8 months, and have another 4 or so to go.  They really helped me overcome my sense of shock and loneliness that I very quickly experienced on the first day.  They leave Tahiti tonight for Easter Island, and I am thinking about going along.  A return flight will cost me about 550 dollars, but right now my Tahitian budget is doing very well, and I think I would kick myself if I didn’t take the opportunity.  After all, Mr. Morley highly recommended it to me, and I have travelling companions, which is really wonderful.  Anyway, that’s the gist of things.  I have lots more really great stories from just the last few days, but don’t have the time to put them down here right now.  Maybe they’ll have to wait in my paper journal for 5 months until I get back.  Peace out.


Welcome, acquaintance.

This is the site where I will post entries about my travels. I hope to update once a week, but will depend on availability, reliability, and pricing of internet access.

So, rather than wait for an impersonal mass email from me, come visit this site whenever it suits you, and see what sort of horrible fun I am or am not having in whichever place I may or may not be.

Concerning photographs, I will have a digital camera, capable of taking digital cyber photos, suitable for transmission via the “Inter-net”. Photos will be posted at this site. I will make every attempt to put up a few photos when I make an update here, but this is unlikely.

Below is contact information for me, and the itinerary for my flights. Thanks for caring enough to read this far. I hope, mainly for my own sake, that whatever I write here is sufficiently interesting.

To leave me a message while I’m away:

Dial the appropriate access number:

United States (Alaska): 1800-318-7039

United States (Lower 48): 1800-706-1333

Press * then 2.

Enter my account number 7211216639557 then press # and leave me a message.

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Saturday Feb 28th, 8:45PM, Leave Los Angeles

Air New Zealand Flight #53, Boeing 767-300


Arrive Pape’ete 3:55AM, Sunday Feb 29th


Monday March 8th, 5:00AM, Leave Pape’ete

Air New Zealand Flight #53, Boeing 767-300


Arrive Auckland 11:40AM Tuesday, March 9th


Saturday, March 13th, 9:00AM, Leave Auckland

Air New Zealand Flight #103, Airbus A320


Arrive Sydney 10:30AM


Overland by train to Perth, The Indian-Pacific on Australia’s Great Southern Railway.

Depart Sydney at 2:55PM on Wednesday, March 17th

Arrive Perth 9:10AM on Saturday, March 20th

View the route here.


Thursday, March 25th, 8:00AM, Leave Perth

Garuda Indonesia Air Flight #727, Airbus A330


Arrive Denpasar, Bali 11:40AM


Wednesday, April 14th, 2:55PM, Leave Denpasar, Bali

Garuda Indonesia Air Flight #840, Boeing 737-400


Arrive Singapore 5:25PM


Saturday, May 1st, 12:40AM, Leave Bangkok

Air India Flight #306, Boeing 747-300 COMBI


Arrive Tokyo (Narita) 8:00AM


Sunday, June 13th, 9:20AM, Leave Tokyo (Narita)

Korean Air Flight #706, Boeing 747-400


Arrive Seoul 12:00 Noon


Tuesday, June 22nd, 1:30PM, Leave Seoul

Korean Air Flight #901, Boeing 747-400


Arrive Paris De Gaulle 5:30PM


Saturday, July 31st, 1:00PM, Leave London Heathrow

Icelandair Flight #451, Boeing 757-200

03HR 00MIN

Arrive Reykjavik 3:00PM


1 Hour, 40 Minute Layover


Leave Reykjavik 4:40PM

Icelandair Flight #615, Boeing 757-200

06HR 00MIN

Arrive New York JFK 6:40PM