Sunday, 28 August 2011

Royal weddings

I'm still on Nusa Penida and its great here. All the people are lovely and we've been having a few adventures. Some of us took a day trip to Tembeling forest, where there is a path that leads to a pool by the ocean. It took maybe half and hour or 45 mins to walk to the pool, all flat and downhill to a small temple next to a freshwater spring and natural pool. We started getting undressed to go swimming and the boys jumped in but the guides said we were not allowed to, we had to go to another pool. To get there we climbed down some rocks and boulders, gong down. When we got there it was a bit of a let down, a pool that cam just below the knees, with little shellfish in it. Still it was very hot, and the view from the pool was amazing, we saw the ocean with sharp rocks and very large waves. You couldn't go swimming, it would be to dangerous. We then had to walk back, up a very steep narrow staircase that was carved into the cliff, i couldn't look up as the climb was very difficult and I couldn't bear to see how much further I had to go. Looking down was a bit mistake to, on slip and you were over the edge, falling onto sharp rocks at the bottom. The walk back was exhausting, but very good exercise. On the way there we saw a man on the path, hoping to catch a monkey to sell as a pet. In Indonesia they have no respect for animals, they are kept in appalling conditions and not looked after very well. He would get 200,000Rp for a monkey, about $25 which is a lot of money over here. People even catch birds, tie strings to their legs and sell them to children to play with, and they are so rough with them, they have no idea that animals can feel pain.

Speaking of animals the preparations for the wedding have been going on this week. They've had to  kill a lot of animals for the feast. Bali Hinduism is a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism, where they practice animal sacrifice. They way that the animals have to be killed is horrible. They hold them, or tie them up and make a very small cut in their neck so they very very slowly bleed to death. its not like Halal where the cut is big enough that the animal goes to sleep first, them bleeds to death, its conscious for most of it. It so cruel and the pigs were the worst. For about 5 mins the scream with pain and fear, its one of the worst noises I'v ever heard. They have to do it this way apparently but it seems horrible and unnecessary.

But anyway onto the wedding itself. It was very bizzare. They had an offering table set up in the courtyard of the house, then some other offerings on the floor in front with a rope around it then a basket on a stick with other offerings in it. These were food and little decorations made from palm and coconut leaves, flowers, and bamboo. There was fruit, some chickens, quail, cigarettes and other random objects. First the bride and groom cam in with their families and sat on some chairs for a while, nothing seemed to be going on. Then the priest called them over to  the offereing table, knelt in front of it with them behind him and started chanting and ringing a bell. At verious time the older woman in the family would light incense, move baskets of offering around, spray water over things and kneel and join with the chanting. This went of for about 20 mins with the bride and groom just sitting still and it seemed like they weren't part of the wedding and that it was just chaos and confusion going on around them. Then they stood up and were given things to hold and walked around themselves for a bit, the man with a sword in his and and the woman with a basket following behind him. Not many of the guests were watching, they were eating, chatting and smoking. Then the man cut one of the ropes around the offerings with his sword, walked through with the wife behind him, cut the other rope, then went to the other side of the square, cut that rope, walked through the middle and cut the final rope. Then he cut the head off a chicken. After that they went to the basket on the stick and shook it till everything fell out (to release the blessings) them the man was given a shovel with a plastic bag on one end and something on the other, put it over his shoulder and walked to the other temple with the wife and the older women behind him.

In the temple was another priest and a huge offering table with many things on it, including a whole spit roasted pig (who had to die so horribly). They knelt down with and the second priest started chanting and ringing bells whilst the women prayed. I asked why the women prayed, not the men and it turns out the men get to entertain the guests and the women in the family have to participate. Most guests seemed un-interested in the entire thing. While all this was going on there was a traditional band playing music which was very good. Those women who are pregnant, or on their periods aren't allowed in temples as they are considered unclean. It turns out this is why we weren't allowed in the swimming pool at Tembeling which I think is a bit unfair really.

Once the wedding was over people ate, chatted then the bride and groom left. The next day they arrived for the celebration, dressed in even fancier clothes then the day before. They sat on chairs greeting everyone while people just sat around, eating some more until mid afternoon, then it was over. No party or anything, just chatting. We were a bit bored so we went to the most gorgeous beach, Crystal Bay. I went on a scooter with the Australain woman here and her 3 year old son. Going back there were some steep hills and we had to walk up as the bike wouldn't take all 3 of us. I've actually had a go a t driving a scooter, just around the car park and its hard, I just get lifts from everyone else but if I wanted to hire one there really would be nothing stopping me as there are no police on the island. That evening after they left a few of the men put on a rock concert and it turns out they all the equipment somewhere. They sang a combination of western and Indonesian music and one of the highlights was the Australian girl getting up to sing welcome to the jungle by guns and roses. It was a good night, fueled by a few beers (but not to many).

Monday, 22 August 2011

Nusa Penida

After a visit to Uluwatu Temple where I got assaulted by a monkey (so did lots of other people) and Jimbaran Bay (great food but expensive and over-rated) I had an early night and got up early to get the public boat. It took over two hours to get to the island and the boat was very uncomfortable, but I got there in the end and got picked up at the beach. We drove to the bird centre and had a tour around the place. FNPF have basically made all the villagers agree not to capture the Bali Starling, and endagered bird which can be worth US$3,000. In return for the protection the foundation has created jobs, and helps the community by providing trees for free, as well as English lessons and brings volunteers to spend our money on the island. It is beautful here, like an island paradise!

They women are preparing for a wedding on Friday and Saturday where over 1,000 people have been invited. The preparations mean making offerings and decorations out of bamboo, banana leaves and palm trees. These are called 'Canang' and there are many different types. They make little dishes and fill them with various things like rice, bananas, beans, peanuts, and fruit. They made me wear a sarong when I worked, as these have to be worn in the temple and the work they were doing was spiritual and holy work.

There are a lot of children who hang around the centre. They are very funny and have English lesson here. Today they were singing Baby by Justin Beiber, which I found hilarious. I have been trying to learn Indonesian and they are trying to speak to me in English. Today they had a dance class in the traditional style of dance which looks a lot like Indian or south east Asian dancing.

The people are much nicer then on Bali. When I went out on the bike they would all wave and want to talk, not like on Bali where they just want to get money out of you. They say Nusa Penida is like Bali 20 years ago. There are lots of small villages and the people are poor, but it is not absolute poverty. They have plenty of food and running water, as well as motorbikes and petrol. They just don't have the luxuries. It is sooooooooo cheap here. My entire daily budget for food is less then $3 and that is 3 meals and snacks at the local warung, or corner shop.

I'm having such a good time here. I feel like a traveler again, not a tourist. There is a good group of Westerners and the locals are all lovely and come chat to us all the time. Its great, a totally different way of life!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bali Tour

I had a great day today, I saw a lot and ate a lot of new things. I hired a car for the day, not a bad price for what I got. My drivers name was Made (mad-ay) which means second son in Balinese. They have no surnames or family names, the first child always has the same name, then the second then third. If you have more then 5 children then the cycle starts again so everyone has their number then a nickname but on passports and documents they all have their number. As the first born girl my name is Wayan. Made took me north to a village where they make traditional Batik fabrics. A woman showed me around and talked about the traditional methods then took me to the shop and tried to sell me things, but not in an aggressive hard selling sort of way. After that we went to another village where they process gold and silver. Most of it comes from Borneo or maybe Sumatra, can't remember exactly but somewhere in Indonesia. It was the same thing as the last place, a woman talked to me about the process of making the jewelry as I watched the women work then took me to the shop. The silver is alloyed with about 5% copper to make it strong then made into jewelry. Its hard to say no when they follow you around giving trying to haggle with you but I did see a ring I really liked and managed to talk the girl down to a reasonable price.

After that he took me to a traditional house, where where they make and sell paintings (of course, they are all selling things. In the city people live in Western houses but in the country side they are different. Behind the wall there are many buildings, one is a sort of platform where they have family gatherings and shows. There is a temple in the corner. One building is the kitchen and another in the bathroom. The rest are bedrooms, one for each part of the extended family. The whole clan lives together and when a woman gets married she mves to her husbands house and they get their own room within the complex for their immediate family. The temple at the back has welcom statues before the gate then the gate itself has two sides, one for good and one for bad. After that we went to a larger village temple, very big and elaborate. We were given a sarong to wear before we went in the Made explained a little more about Hindu temples. They have 3 levels the first for the legs, the second for the body, and the third for the head. There are 4 kinds of temples, Public temples for everything, village temples, family temples and then a temple for a particular thing, like the god of the market, or the god of the river, or the god of the restaurant.

After the we went to another village which is the centre of the wood carving industry. Same thing as before, I was given a talk and then taken to the shop. This guy told me it was a family run business with the carving knowledge passed from generation to generation. He also told me how to spot fake ebony at the markets so i don't get conned. The carvings were all very nice, using ebony, teak, mahogany and local wood, but I couldn't help thinking off all the forests being destroyed to make the carvings.

We stopped for lunch and I got some sort of suckling pig dish with rice, vegtables, 3 types of pig meat and some skin. The skin was nothing like crackling, it was much much thinner then older pig skin. I could taste lots of chili and galangal (thai ginger) and it was very good! After that we headed up to the Ubud region, and went to see the monkey forest. Monkeys are sacred to the Hindus and guard the temples. I asked (just jokingly) if the monkeys had rabies and he said probably not but don't touch them, just to be safe, and don't buy the bananas to feed them with. They were wild monkeys but had no fear of humans so they were walking along and playing on the paths, hoping for food. One was sitting in front of me so I unzipped my bag to get my camera but he assumed I had food and came right up to me and grabbed my bag. I tried to pull it away and he pulled harder, it was pretty funny and I tried to get my camera again, then he stuck his had in my bag so I stood up and moved away, I didn't want him stealing my purse! It was pretty cool though, to have a monkey interacting with you!

Then to the coffee and spice plantation. In Bali they make the most expensive coffee in the world, cat poo coffee. Animals similar to possums or mongoose that look a little like a cat eat the fruit of the coffee trees. Then the poo is collected and cleaned off, with the bean in the middle surviving. After that the bean is removed from the husk, so it never actually touches the poo, and then is roasted. He showed me the difference is the  beans, with the poo one a pale green colour and the normal ones a more pale beige colour. Then I saw them roasting the beans, on a frying pan over a fire, then they are ground by hand. I got to try the different drinks, jinsing, chocolate, and vanilla coffee as well as plain, then ginger tea and lemon tea. After that the man got out a jar of the poo coffee and said it would be 50,000rp if I wanted to try that one, it is the most expensive after all. Well I'd come all this way so I couldn't really say no. I had a shot of the normal first, then the poo one. It was much smoother and stronger then the plain one. This is because as the coffee is being digested it ferments a little bit. It was very good, and I could drink it plain. Again I was taken to the shop where they tried to sell me the drinks and some spices. However I just paid for my coffee and left.

After that we stopped to see some rice terraces which looked stunning, then drove up to the volcano. I think it last went off in 1995, and there was a lake below it. People leave at 3:30 to climb it and watch the sunrise from the top over the lake but there is now way I would do that! After that I had a very long drive to another temple, Tanah Lot. We put some music on, most of it Western. God Bless the USA by Beyonce came on and I was very surprised, as Indonesia is mostly Muslim and that song was released after the Iraq war. Made said he had no idea what the lyrics were and with most western music he couldn't understand anything. It made him laugh when I explained about the song. Anyway on the way to the temple we stopped at a fruit sand on the side of the road. I tried snakeskin fruit (looks like a fig with brown snake skin and has has very hard flesh, like a dried out apple), mangosteen (purple skin with things that looked like garlic cloves in the middle) and passion fruit but much better then the ones at home. This one was large and yellow with white pulp instead of yellow. The flavor was much more sweet and mellow then the passionfruit we get at home. I even tried durian fruit. Thats the one that smells really bad and is banned from public transport. It did smell bad, but not as bad as I expected, just like a rubbish bin that needed emptying. It tasted ok, sort of like a banana and a pineapple mixed together. The after taste wasn't great, a bit like the smell but I don't see what the big deal is, it wasn't to bad.

Then we got to the temple which is very special as it is build on rock in the sea and you can only walk to it at low tide. The view of the Indian ocean was stunning, and there were tourist everywhere. We stayed till sunset and there are lots of bars on top of the cliff, overlooking the temple. However drinks were about double or triple what you would pay in a restaurant so we sat a little lower down, I refused to pay that much just for a view. While waiting for the sunset I asked what Bali is like during Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. He had never heard of it and said Indian Hinduism and Balinese Hinduism are very different. He also told me about the cast system. The highest class is the priest class, then the second is the army and third is business man. This is also part of your name, so it goes cast, number, nickname. Unless your are in the 4th and bottom cast, then you have no extra name. That one is for farmers and tradesman. You used to not be allowed to marry outside your cast, but its not as strict now and it seems to be the more money, the more upper class you are. But this is a recent thing.

Got back to the hotel at about 7 am very tired. It was a very long way and I have done a lot!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Elephant Ride

After meeting with the travel agent yesterday and getting everything sorted I got a taxi into town to go shopping. You get taxis everywhere, the roads are long and winding and my hotel is a long way from anywhere. I asked the lady at reception where the best place to go is and she said Seminyak square, about 15 minutes away. There was a market and a row of shops which were actually quite expensive as the had a DC and a Quicksilver. I found a new incredible designer, Lillie Lane but I couldn't afford any of her stuff. I had a look round the market then went into the small supermarket. There were fruit in there that I have never heard of and I bought something that looks like a green peach and something the guy called a giant orange. It was green, and the size of a coconut and he cut the skin away, about 3 inches of soft spongy material with insides that look like a giant grapefruit. They taste a bit like a grapefruit to. I'm going to go back and try some of the other things. Then I walked down the road,  figured it wouldn't be to dangerous in broad daylight, and found another much larger market and a row of outlet shops. I bought some fake Ray Bans and a green silk dress that I haggled for. Lillie Lane also has an outlet there and I will see how much money I have at the end as there were some very nice shoes that I want, which were more reasonably priced. After that I had lunch, something called chicken porridge which I decided looked interesting and I had to try. I had prawn crackers, crispy noodles, chicken and nuts sitting on a bed of what seemed like overcooked rice cooked in chicken stock. It was nice, very flavorful, but very filling. I came back after that and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hotel. To be honest its pretty boring being on my own, and not wanting to go anyway in the evenings for safety reasons.

Today I got up and went on my elephant ride. I was picked up then we wen t another hotel to get an Australian family. I'd signed up for the full treck, over an hour, and they the half treck so we were to go sepaately, me first then them so that we had our lunch at the same time. I went to wait for my elephant and they pointd t another traveller on her own and asked if we wanted to share an elephant and we said yes. It was so nice to have another person to talk to , this isn't like New Zealand where there are travellers everywhere. I never thought I would miss dorms and hostels but its so much more sociable. She was telling me how she was on hoilday for 3 weeks, Dubai, Kenya, Perth then Bali. She said she had signed up for all these tours and she was doing them on her own, like a bus turned up to collect her at Masai Mara in Kenya and she was the only one on it, they didn't think to put her with another group. We rode on a sort of bench attached to the elephants back with the guide sitting on top of its head. We went first through the rain forest then around a local village, on off the main roads. There were rice paddies everywhere and a few cattle and chickens. Buildings which weren't houses were temples and they were everywhere. Being a polythiestic religion Hindus have gods for everything, the god of the river, the road, the crops. And every god has to have a temple. Half way through we were given coconuts with straws in them to drink out of, then we gave it the the elephant to eat. We got back and had our lunch together, it was included in the price. The portions here seem small to me, as I'm used to eating out and having the plates filled with food. But actually if you looks its probably the size that they should be, and after a 3 course lunch I didn't feel full, or uncomfortable, just satisfied.

It was a long drive there and back so although I left at 9 i didn't get back till 2:30. Outside all the shops, sitting on a rack placed next to the road sit vodka and gin bottles, full of a clear brown liquid. Turns out its petrol, there are few petrol stations so those with bikes buy it on the side of the road, and its only about 5,000 Rp per litre, about 40p. I sat by the pool again, and will probably get room service tonight. Most people seem surprised that I came to Bali alone so I'm not leaving the hotel after dark. Like I said I'm pretty bored on my own, It's nice here but it would be better if I had company.

I have hired a car for the day tomorrow (it comes with a driver/guide) which is actually fairly cheap so I get to make my own itinerary and go and stop where I want. I want to try Durian fruit tomorrow. It smells so bad its banned from public transport and they don't have it in supermarkets but its in season now and they sell it on the side of the road, so that's one of the things I want tomorrow.

Monday, 15 August 2011


My alarm went off at 3:30 this morning, very painful. I had to get the 4am bus from just outside the hostel to get to the airport. After checking in got McDonald's hotcakes at the airport, something that was always a treat when we flew to america but they were disgusting, they didn't taste of anything and they syrup was high fructose corn syrup with artificial maple flavor. I had a very non-eventful flight to Brisbane, then to Bali, all was on time and went smoothly. Paid my US$25 for my visa (in 2004 bills or newer) and got my bag. Luckily I didn't have any drugs on me, as the punishment here is the death penalty.

I had booked transport from the airport, and my hotel through STA and the guy was here, with a welcome pack to take me to the hotel. This was the most interesting part of my day. How can I describe Balinese roads? Crazy. Most people have scooters or motorbikes here and I though I was on a one way street, but then a load of bikes start coming towards you! It took me ages to figure out that they drive on the left and the scariest thing, being is a car was that bikes were both overtaking and undertaking you, and coming past on the left hand side. The driver took me on a 'short cut' through the back roads and I have no idea how he knew where were were going. They were a labyrinth of narrow streets with no traffic lights, and maybe one stop sign or two. I only saw a few road names. There were rows and rows of shops, some streets seemed more for locals and some for tourists. Again I have now idea now people knew where to walk, the shops looked so simmilar, they were basically rows of garages full of dresses, sunglasses, and souvenirs. There were a few cafes, restaurants, mechanics, and a supermarket scattered in between. I didn't see anything that looked like a town centre or anything. We did pass a couple of Hindu temples though. It seems to be India meets China, with a little Zanzibar thrown in in terms of architecture and layout. It looked fascinating through the window but I would never want to drive here! There seem to be no rules and we witnessed a few near accidents.

I checked into my hotel, very luxurious after hostels, there was a porter to take my bag and some sort of iced fruit drink on arrival! This was after over an hour of driving through the mad crazy streets of Kuta to get to Seminyak, the slightly quieter area. Its seems a bit more posh here, there are shops with names instead of just these random garage type places. It was 4:30 when I arrived, I had a quick shower then went to get a pedicure! It was pretty good, and very cheap. that took about an hour and now I am just going to get dinner in the hotel restaurant (NZ$3 for a meal!!!) and got to bed. I didn't sleep well last night, and I got up at 3:30. and they are 4 hours behind here.

So we shall see what tomorrow brings on this next stage in my adventure!

Last few days in New Zealand

Well after the Napier wine tour I did the Art Deco walking tour. Napier was destroyed in and an earthquake of 7.8 and subsequent fire in February 1931 and rebuilt in the Art Deco, but also the Spanish missionary and strip classical designs which were fashionable for the day. These were also a lot safer than traditional Victorian brick with elaborate pediments on top of the buildings (which killed a few people), and made of wood and concrete, more earthquake proof materials. The tour started at the Art Deco shop where we saw a slide show of Napier before and after the earthquake. Before the earthquake Napier as a large island right next to the Hawke's Bay coast with two long spits of land connecting it and there was a lot of water just to the north. After the earthquake the land raised up about 7 ft leaving Napier fully connected to the mainland and giving the region about 40km2 of new land, on which the airport is built and the grapes are grown for Mission Vineyard wines.

We were taken on a walk by these two older women, both complete Art Deco nuts who kept pointing out 'the sophistication of the joinery' and 'look at that wonderful carpet' (this was in the theatre and the carpet was hideous). In the late 19th century there was the arts and crafts movement which evolved into the Art Neuveau style, based on nature and flowers and curves and organic shapes. Art Deco was very reactionary to that reflecting simple geometric designs. It was done on the drawing board, not a field of flower, and reflected the mechanics and mechinery, the industrialism of the 1920's. (this is what our guide says, you'll have to ask my mum though, she's the one with the degree in all of this stuff). Anyway these two old ladies were a little boring and were enthusiastic to the point of being a bit crazy. Also this sort of thing doesn't really interest me and I was trying to find the joinery of the door frames and the hanging lamps interesting but I really couldn't. What was more interesting were the other people on the trip going 'thats fascinating' and 'its so good that they've restored it to how it originally was.' As and archaeologist I am morally opposed to restoring things exactly as they were, you destroy the history of a building, part of what it was used for. Like after the Greek revolution all traces of the Christian Church, and then the Muslim Mosque were removed, all you get is one snapshot in time and see that this building was important to one group of people, not to all the people in over 3,000 years of history who used it, none of that was preserved. Anyway thats a totally different topic. There were a few famous architects who had input but the only name I remember is that someone was inspired by Charles Renee Macintosh, and I only remember that name because my mum has some mugs with his work on them. They are geometric flowers, sort of the opposite to an Art Neuveau flower.

In Napier every year they have a big Art Deco festival, with old cars and everyone dresses up. Our tour guide said she had 6 1930's outfits to wear, but that she needed a new one for winter. It does make for a really interesting looking city, I will give it that.

On Saturday I got the bus to Auckland. For some reason it felt like I was leaving New Zealand. I think its because Auckland doesn't feel like New Zealand and that Jaffas (Aucklanders) are different from other people. I know they say the same about London but it really is true in New Zealand. New Zealanders are friendly, a little crazy, and just a bit backward (I think its from the isolation). Aucklanders are just like any other people in the world, and Auckland is just another city. They best thing about it is that its about an hour from anywhere good. Anyway I met up with one of the guys from the Hong Kong group flight that I did ages ago and his friends. Then Sunday did a few last minute things and set my alarm to get up at 3:30 the next morning!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Napier wine tour

Well I went on a wine tour today and that was a lot of fun. We went to 5 different wineries in the Hawkes Bay area. The region has some of the countries best wines and is dealing with the economic downturn much better then Marlbourgh. They are actually cutting back and focusing on quality rather than quantity. We started out at Mission vineyard, the oldest in New Zealand and it used to be a Catholic seminary where the priests and training priests made wine for themselves. The building was very nice but used to be on a flood plane so they used hand saws to cut it in 11 pieces and move it with a steam engine up the hill then put it back together. They then built a new chapel on the end, made of brick, which was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake and replaced with a wooden one. The large area of land in front of the vinyard, and for a good few miles, used to be under water till the quake, and was pushed up 7 feet and is used as farm land now. They have a big concert every year there and had a collection of special wine labels they had designed for the artists such as Shirley Bassey and Rod Stewart. Then in 2005 They had Eric Clapton and gave him a bottle. He's a recovering alcoholic so he threw it against the wall and almost didn't play, so they've stopped doing labels now. There wines were OK, nothing particularly memorable.

Then we drove out to Moana Park, my favorite for the day. The man there was extremely knowledgeable about wine and very passionate to. All there wine is low allergen and vegetarian society approved with a few additives and no added sugar. We were there for ages talking and sampling the wines. We learnt that NZ produces 0.21% of the worlds wine. Of that wine Moana Park produces 0.06% and yet they won 5% of the awards at an international wine show. We tried a Viogner (V-on-yay) which I had only tried once before and it was amazing, my favorite of the day. However I would say my favorite drink was the Tawny, a Port with a lovely gold colour that tasted like Christmas. Its very dangerous stuff as you can keep drinking it, its soooooo good! My dad's credit car IS going to go missing for a bit so I can order a case of those two wines.

After that we were all a bit merry and we moved onto Church Road vineyard for lunch. I can't remeber any of those wines, but we had very good lunch there. Then it was off to another one where they made the wine with local food producers so a certain wine went with a certain food. There wine was horrible but we did see lots of diesel powered windmills which are switched on at night to prevent frost. They also used helicoptors to fly around and keep the air moving as frost can kill a crop overnight. Then we drove up a big hill and looked at am amazing view of the east coast and back through Havelock North, the richest village in New Zealand. We drove past lots of apple orchards as well which looked a little creepy. Apple trees in the winter look a bit haloweenish or like if Tim Burton were to draw a tree that's what it would look like. Finally we went to Black Barn who have one of the best chef's in New Zealand working there. There wine was ok as well, but not as good as the decor in the dining room (i'll put pictures on facebook) or the view from the window.

All in all a very fun day, nice people and good wine. We ARE without a doubt getting a case or two from Moana Park, it was fantastic!!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Then end of wwoofing, beginning of a holiday

No more work!!! no more shoveling or pruning or waitressing or fence building or any of the other things I've been doing since I've stared wwoofing. I can honestly say in the past couple of months I've spent almost no money, and I can now enjoy the rest of it knowing it only has to last about 6 weeks. I've been getting on better at La Casa Romana lately. Although my attention to detail and ability to see every single speck of flour, bit of grated cheese and dust on the cabinets is still not quite up to standard I was getting better. The orchard is finished, with a little help from one of the girls and I've taught them Spite and Malice, which they seemed to like. On Monday I went into Wellington to get some travel injections and do some shopping and managed to meet up with two very good friends. That was a bit sad although hopefully I should be seeing one in London very soon and the other maybe one day not to far off.

I had a  very bizarre experience on the train back. Only one train an evening goes as far as Otaki, the rest stop in Waikanae about 15km away but this one goes as far as Palmerston North. It is much much nicer then the commuter train to Waikanae ad therefore was very crowded. I took my seat and everyone around me started talking to each other, asking how there day was. One man was saying to half the train that his house had been purchased by the government for building a new highway. It seemed like they all knew each other, as this was the only train in in the morning and out in the evening that went further than Waikanae. In London people sit on the train with a newspaper or a book, never speaking, but here they were all chatting and being friendly to each other, it was very nice.

I had a final day at work yesterday and got chatting to some customers about the riots in London and how I'm going on holiday so I'm hoping its all calmed down when I get back. Its shocking news and its actually very scary. I say bring in the Army, and water cannons with florescent paint instead of water, anyone with paint on them gets arrested.

Got the bus this morning to Napier, and being very hungry I am sitting an a cafe that offers 50MB of free wi-fi to customers. Napier is on the eastern side of the North island, on Hawkes Bay and is the 'Art Deco capital' of the world. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and was re-built in the art deco style of the day. I plan to do an art deco tour while I am here, and a wine tour. I have 2 days so that should be fine. I'll ask at the I-site. Every single town in New Zealand has an I-Site. Its basically tourist information, booking services, hotels, transport, local things to do ect. And they are everywhere, even in the smallest, most out of the way, isolated places on the planet. We stayed in one town on the south island that was our hostel/ campsite, a few farms and a school and the I-Site was also the pub, restaurant and general store. Ohakune the 'carrot capital of NZ' Bulls where everything is 'incredi - bull' have i-sites. Seriously what would make a tourist stop in Thames, or Geraldine, or Balclutha, other then to grab a coffee and go? Kiwis are made, fact. Anyway the Napier I-Site is my next stop. By the end of my stay here I should be an expert in the Art Deco movement.