New Zealand 2016: week 1

I’m posting daily photo collages on Instagram, which I’m linking here.

It’s been a week since my mother and I landed in Christchurch, and we’ve been traveling the South Island ever since. As always my heart lifted the moment the plane set down after the long trip, especially because we got to spend a day in Singapore. (Which was great. I got to catch up with Amy and Jo as we explored the beautiful Gardens by the Bay and ate a feast of dim sum.)
Singapore - Christchurch

Christchurch was a bit of a shock. Last time I was here it was still a pretty, very English town with a busy city centre. All that’s gone now. Lots of construction sites, but what’s most unsettling is the emptiness. There’s the container mall (which I liked but which is smaller than expected), but other than that there’s hardly anyone about. So instead of hanging about, we took the gondola (which was made in Switzerland, much to our amusement) to a very scenic look-out point. The weather was gorgeous and we had great views all around.

Still, we didn’t mind that we’d only booked one night there – the next day we already took our first long bus journey, all the way to Queenstown.
Lake Tekapo

There we stayed 3 nights, which gave us one day to explore (we went up Bob’s Peak with another gondola, walked down and then visited the Kiwi Birdlife Park, where we learned a lot of interesting things about the many endangered bird species of New Zealand) and one day for an amazing trip to Doubtful Sound.
Queenstown Queenstown

Surprisingly enough I didn’t get sea sick (although the bit at the entrance to the Tasman Sea was choppy and had me white-knuckling the handrail) and so could enjoy the stunning beauty of this remote fjord (one has to drive to Lake Manapouri, cross it in a boat, then take another bus over a pass until reaching it). I’d been to Milford Sound before, but Doubtful is much bigger and wider – and unlike the 60-80 coach loads of tourists cruising there, our boat had the entire place for ourselves. We even got visited by dolphins! Another highlight was the time they turned off the engines and had everyone stand quietly outside – it was breathtaking to suddenly hear the sound of water lapping at the boat, waterfalls cascading and the song of birds in the rainforest all around…
Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound

The next day was another long bus trip, all the way to Franz Josef, where we did a nice short hike to the foot of the glacier in what felt like the first proper summer’s day of our trip. We ended the day in the hot pools, enjoying the water and a massage. 🙂
Franz Josef

The trip up the West Coast is one of my favourite things to do in New Zealand – I think I’ve done it four or five times by now. This is only the second time I’ve interrupted it to spend the night in Punakaiki, where the hostel lies nestled into the forest, only a short walk from the beach. I knew this place would suit my mom perfectly – we’re only here for one night, but there are trees all around us, birds are singing, and the internet is fast. 🙂
(For some reason it won’t embed the nice panorama shot I did of the pancake rocks, so here’s a link.)
Punakaiki Punakaiki

Today we’re off to Nelson, and after that Wellington. As much as I’m enjoying the opportunity to show my mom this beautiful corner of the world (and she’s been a trooper, despite having big problems understanding kiwi accents), I’m very much looking forward to seeing “my” city again…

Singapore, the last

In about 24 hours I’ll be home in Switzerland after about 11 months. How weird is that?

I’ve had a lovely time here in Singapore despite my nasty cold, doing shopping and eating yummy food with Amy. Also, again I managed to be here for the Lantern Festival in the Chinese Garden – this year’s topic was (oh dear…) “Hello Kitty”. Still, it was very pretty!

Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore


Arrived in Singapore and was met by Amy last night. Unfortunately I now have a proper cold/flu and am coughing and running a temperature, in addition to some inexplainable stomach problems. Despite this I’m enjoying spending time with Amy again and we had fun shopping in the city today. Monsoon is early this year, so currently it’s raining outside.

Singapore Singapore

Also, a photo of Nancy’s lovely parents and brother in front of their house in Claremont (suburb of Perth):

It’s official

I’ve paid the first half of my plane ticket, so I now have a schedule for leaving New Zealand. Needless to say I’m not happy about it. 🙁

But here are the dates:
June 19: last exam
visit Denise, pack and ship all my stuff
June 28: Meredith moves into my room
travel the South Island, spend a couple of days saying goodbye to Wellington
July 25: Wellington – Melbourne
travel Melbourne – Adelaide – Alice Springs – Uluru – Perth
Sept 2: Perth – Singapore
break up the long flight by visiting Amy
Sept 5: Singapore – London – Zurich

I’ll arrive in Zurich on Sept 6 at noon. It’s a Saturday, so hopefully my whole family can come and pick me up.

Singapore airport

So now I'm on my way home and Japan is really behind me. Had a lovely day yesterday, though – karaoke in those little karaoke 'boxes' really is a lot of fun, and the National Museum was very interesting, too. I even managed to fit all the books and souvenirs I'd bought into my suitcase, yay! *g*

The first leg of the flight was uneventful, except that once more I had special requests – in this case that I wanted to cancel my special request: The nut-free/vegetarian meal they served me last time wats so flavorless that I decided to just risk it and eat the regular meal. There's always a choice of two meals, after all, so I shouldn't have a problem avoiding peanuts…

Now I'll hang around the airport for five hours or so. They have a lot of stuff here for passengers in transit, some of them even free – I might check out the movie theatre and grab a bite to eat, as luckily I kept 10 Singapore dollars. And my mobile is working again, how exciting! 😉

Well, enough for now, maybe I'll get bored later. If not, my next post will be from my laptop at home…

ETA: Ha, I found a TV where an episode of my beloved Gilmore Girls was showing – and fifth season, too! 😀

In transit – Singapore/Osaka

Amy here updating for Eva! She should have reached Osaka by now, and on her way to Fukuoka by train. Internet accessibility might be intermittent, and she's probably out of contact by phone, seeing that the telcom system is different in Japan. Let's hope we can still hear from her soon though 🙂

Health update

Just quickly, because I mentioned it to some people without going into details: The day before yesterday I was bitten by something, and since then developed an allergic reaction of some sort, which caused my right ankle to swell and turn red.

After I could hardly walk anymore yesterday (btw, a wonderful day on the recreational island of Sentosa, including real tropical beach time!) I went to see a doctor this morning. He gave me antibiotic and anti-inflammatory pills and a cream, which are already starting to work. I can move much more easily now, which was very nice today at the Singapore Zoo, although the ankle still looks quite bad. I keep it bandaged most of the time, to stabilize, and will try not to walk too much on my last day here tomorrow… Promise! 🙂

Singapore live!

Amy's been showing me the Singapore lifestyle, together with some friends of hers. The heat and humidity are still getting to me, but luckily a lot of things happen in air-conditioned environments here. 🙂

In one of the malls (in Bugis, which is cheaper than the city center malls) I even found the first two 'Serenity' comics, which excited me to no end! Now I've a question: Could one of you lovely American people buy me the third issue (with River, if possible, else Wash) and mail it to me? That'd be fantastic – and I'd of course pay you back…

Singapore is a bit like I read on the websites beforehand – the main things to do here are shopping and eating. But it's all an experience, with so many different impressions, sounds, smells and tastes to take in. I'm proving to be a bit of a fussy eater, but I'm trying my best, although I'm an utter failure with chopsticks. *g* I was actually quite exhausted from all the new things I'd seen yesterday when we left Chinatown with its many lanterns – but today I'm rested and looking forward to some more. *smile*

In Singapore

The plane ride went quite well, despite some turbulences and hardly any sleep. In Singapore airport Amy and her father picked me up. On first glance, things didn't seem so very different, but looking a bit closer it is clear that I'm not in Europe anymore… 🙂

We didn't do much yesterday, because I'm not used to the humid heat and was feeling the lack of sleep, but Amy showed me around the neighbourhood a bit. Food definitely is a big thing here, and I'm looking forward to trying new things while I'm here.

Today, after 12 hours sleep (or rather, 12 hours in bed – I kept waking up), we'll go visit the Botanical Gardens and have a look around the city. If the heat doesn't kill me, that is – we'll just have to make many airconditioned stops during the day… *g*