Saturday, January 30, 2016

This is Bill

I have met many people even in just one week of staying in hostels. All of them fun, unique, kind, and adventurous. My favourite person is not a person I expected. His name is Bill and Bill is the best.

Bill drives the Waitomo shuttle. He has lived in Waitomo his entire life and he loves everything Waitomo.

When I met Bill I needed a ride from my hostel to town to catch the train, I walked to the end of the drive to meet him where he promptly informed me that HIS shuttle is a door to door service and I didn't need to meet him. 

Once on the road he told me that he was going to give me 50 pages worth of information on Waitomo. For reference, the population of Waitomo Caves Village is about 500 people. Pretty much the only thing in Waitomo is Black Water Rafting and a copious amount of glow worms. HOWEVER, Bill knows about all these things and so much more. 

Bill took me to see the kiwi fruit and reconciled my misconception about the location of the first ever kiwi bird breeding. Bill told me the history of "King Country"* where Waitomo is located. Then Bill took me to get eggs from a local store, and dropped me off at the train station assuring me he would be back in 30 minutes after he went home for a cup of tea to make sure I made it on the train. 
BUT FIRST he insisted I walk down an alleyway of glass cases and push the buttons to hear the recorded history of New Zealand. 

When Bill returned he brought me a strange Vegetable, which he instructed me on how to cook, he explained to me the expression "Rattle your Dags," and brought a person dressed up as a Kiwi bird for me to take a picture with. 

He also insisted on carrying my luggage to the luggage car on the train, got me a free luggage tag and told me to email him after I eat the vegetable. Bill is the best. 

If you're ever in Waitomo get the Waitomo shuttle, and tell Bill I sent you. And ask for 50 pages of Waitomo history. And maybe a vegetable if you're feeling brave. (it was very good) 

*So there was a Maori king and an English guy. Everyone was fighting over land in New Zealand. The English guy goes to the Maori king and says essentially "I wanteth land but I doth wish not to fight, let us halve the land and live in peace" so the Maori king took english guy's hat and took his knife/sword/weapon and acted like he was going to cut it in half. The English guy goes "woah, woah, woah, holdeth up. if thou cuteth my hat thou shalt spoil it!" and the Maori king said "If you cut my land you shall spoil it!" so the king put down HIS hat on the map and said "you can have everything around the rim, what is inside is mine" and so that area became known as King Country and no english were allowed in it. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

As I promised:

Alright, here we go, lets do this, okay.

I come bearing news of adventure to come! so buckle in, or rather i guess just slightly more forward in your seat and continue reading. Or stay exactly how you are, either way.


On my American 23rd birthday (I get two because I'm in New Zealand, yay for time zones) I am embarking on a backpacking excursion. I will be taking a naked bus* ** to visit Rotorua  and a few days later to Waitomo to see some shiny worms and then to National Park  to tramp the 6+ hour trek of the Tongariro Crossing. From there I shall head toward Wellington to stay with friends of friends of friends of friends of friends (or something like that) who seem genuinely lovely over Facebook and email.

From Wellington I have chosen to finally take the ferry to the south Island where I aspire to spend the summer (yay for it being summer here) not going completely broke.***

And now for a brief intermission:

this is me during a particularly sweaty walk up an apparently "dormant" volcano

We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming

Current Events:
Somehow- which remains a mystery to me- I have more belongings than I started with.
I did not account for the amount of space food would take up in my bag.
I have very little space in my bag for belongings.

SO I am taking very very very little with me, And it is still too much.

At least I will be well fed on tuna, tortillas, and peanut butter. Obviously you will read all about these excursions at a later time. I will try to throw you a teaser, of my sightings and impressions somewhere along the way, to hold you over until I make another video. I make no promises.

*the occupants may or may not be naked
**tbe occupants are definitely not naked. Seriously, this isn't a Japanese hot spring. (see Naked with Strangers)
***These plans are subject to change on any whim I happen to experience. You retain no right to complain, however it is your privilege to leave comments along the way. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

the last 2 weeks

The following is a video for everyone disguised as a video for my favourite 3 year old:
It's a poem, so read it all rhymey and it will flow better.

I must admit I put notably less time in to this video and it's a bit rough, but honestly.. I've never claimed to be good at this. So anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed!

I have been up to quite a bit in my 2 weeks since landing here in Tauranga, the problem is that most of it is not photogenic or exciting so the blog has suffered. For this I take full responsibility, but here I am, trying to make it up to you!

The videos I post probably make my life look more glamorous than it is, so it's time for some truth speak. I've spent way too much time on my computer dealing with small inconveniences and frustrations and far too little time actually seeing New Zealand.

The negatives:

1. I've committed murder on a small (but still uncomfortable) scale.

this is not my first offence nor, i fear, my last

2. Apparently mass emailing people asking for jobs is not as charming as forcing my way into their establishments and insisting I work there.

The Positives: 

1. I've gotten to know Tauranga and the lovely people (Grant and Jenny) who are letting me overtake their spare house/room/garage attachment thing. 

2. Grant and Jenny have connected me with more lovely people all over New Zealand

3. I was able to travel to Auckland to visit a lovely woman (Karen) and her family for a few days, and get some great advice about places to travel 

4. The people here are all lovely

The background guy is Kyle, from Florida.
 He is backpacking (with a tiny backpack) through NZ and then off to Asia in March!

So because I've been staring at a computer ALL DAY LONG and am so ready to post this finally I'm going to stop typing now. I do however promise to be a good blogger tomorrow because I actually have more news. But I believe in short posts and this is already too long.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

So I'm planning a trip

Yes, a trip inside my trip.

and because I haven't posted in a bit I'm giving you a glimpse of what it would ideally look like before i elaborate in a later post:

So if anyone wants to fund a 5 hour adventure in to a glow worm cave to raft on a tube in an underground river my venmo name is @LCMKLANSEK.

Just throwing it out there. Stay tuned for more

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The things they don't tell you

Prior to heading off for my travels I did a nauseating amount of research.

I could detail it all out for you, including pictures of notebooks and scrap paper with random names, websites, and illegible words, but I will spare you the excitement and instead tell you what I somehow managed to miss. 

Taxes. They exist everywhere. 

How this concept escaped my scope of study, the world may never know. Of course I knew taxes existed everywhere, but I had no idea how they worked or applied to me. I also figured if preparing myself to be taxed was a significant hurdle then maybe all my handy dandy research would have given me jumping lessons or something.

I am amazed that not one place in all my google searching said anything about applying for a tax ID number, opening a foreign bank account, making sure your bank is cool with sending money to a foreign bank account, making sure your foreign bank account is cool with sending money back to your home country. No website informed me that the Tax ID office in New Zealand requires you to make copies of all your important documents before coming in, and they will not supply their own application as the internet should have told you to fill it out before you arrived.

SO today, I stood in a large office, where four foreigners looked longingly at the woman who presumably goes in to the back and conjures up our magic taxation numbers. I observed the large desk, the large empty space, the large printer/copy machine sitting beyond the space and the desk, and I listened so her "regretfully" explain her inability to copy the British man's passport. And i wondered, why is this a surprise to me? After months of sitting in Coffee shops, living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, cars, restaurants, basements, and cabins, researching everything New Zealand, why did everyone make it sound like this was a magic taxless land where income flows freely into the pockets of willing and able foreigners untouched by the hands of government mandates?

People of the world, hear me loud and clear. Don't wait until you are applying to pick fruit to discover the government needs some of your income.

Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Days Strong


I've been in New Zealand for 5 days, I've applied for at least 10 jobs online and I've recorded almost 0 of what I've been up to. So you'll just have to live off of some still pictures. Most of my time is taken up by walking places, meeting new people, and applying for jobs. I'm not making it sound terribly exciting, but that's because it's not. so.. yeah. 

Here is a picture of me and Jenny Nelson on an ancient Maori fortress. 

If you are observant you will notice the evidence of my initial sunburn. I have only recently been informed of the thin ozone layer over New Zealand and Australia.

And here is tiny me and tiny Grant Nelson walking to the other side of the former fortress/ mountainsh hill thing. 

Yes it is this colourful, and no it's not really this beautiful, it is actually far better in person. 

In the time I've been writing this post I've actually gotten a response from one place I've applied in the south island!! Alas, there is hope! So there is my small update to hold you over until I have bigger and more exciting news. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

My bad

Somehow Youtube edited my video strangely when I uploaded the last post. I think I've fixed it now so if you would like to see what I thought I was uploading then feel free to watch again on the post below!

If you don't want to watch again then fine. That's fine.

Bye Japan

Hey Hi Hello and Welcome back!

Yesterday at about 8:30am I landed at Auckland Airport after 11 hours of crying babies, disney movies, and excellent service.

I've made a video depicting my last few weeks in Japan, including travel with my parents from Hiroshima, to Kyoto, to Kanazawa and many places in between. I also ventured to Tokyo alone to stand at the top of what I thought was the tallest building in Tokyo and is actually not at all, plus many more adventures. Enjoy!

A rough map of our bullet train travels.

I have it on good authority that the tunnels made for these trains were made as depicted in the video linked Here. 

*WARNING: In the beginning of the video, if you listen closely, you can hear the 4 O'clock bells ringing in Karuizawa. If you, however, choose to listen too closely your eardrums will experience their final drumming when the music begins. I suggest no headphones and watching in a quiet place.*

FYI: All pictures and Videos taken and posted on this blog (with the exception of MeltyKissmas) are taken with my iPhone 6S. I have a cheap wide angle lens I use occasionally, but a lot of the time I have to crop my pictures to use them in iMovie. The purpose of these videos is simply to give you a rough peek in to my experience. The picture and video quality is lacking, so if you want to see the real beauty of Japan, or experience Karuizawa then follow this link. OR buy me a fancy camera, either one is cool with me.

*When I first posted this, Youtube edited my video transitions, so i've re-uploaded it and hopefully the original is what you are watching! Sorry for the weirdness!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Eve

Hello dear friends,  family, and some strangers- shout out to whoever in Ukraine and France looked at this blog.

Last night my mother and I ventured in to Kyoto to find out what the Japanese people do to ring in the new year.

Naturally we went to a Starbucks, there we found a Japanese barista who told us New Years Eve in Japan is boring compared to the U.S. - solid start.
From here we went in search of more dessert and found an Irish Pub where I asked for the best beer on tap, the bartender said Guinness- because duh. So I asked for second best and received *Yebisu All Malt Beer.

Then we had fried octopus, and ice cream and ventured in to the cold. I hailed my first cab ever and successfully got the nice, silent man to take us to a temple with the largest Bonsho (Bell) in Japan.

So, to fast-forward this story Mamasan and I  stood in a line of possibly over a thousand people to see 17 chanting men ring this bell with a giant swinging log. The best part is that until we saw the bell we were only partially certain of what we were in line for, and when we got to the bell we were immediately squished right up against hundreds of strangers trying to get a picture or video of the affair. 

After sufficiently documenting the experience on our phones we then got lost in what we can only assume was the temple park. Luckily we found a lot of weird carnival foods and I ate half of what I think was the greasiest hot dog on a stick I've ever seen/ingested.
Eventually we made it out, and while my mother searched for a bathroom, I rung in the new year watching a bunch of strangers cheer and kiss and take pictures of other strangers cheering and kissing. It was magical.

Then the rain came. As we tried to find a main street with strategically placed taxis we saw thousands of people rushing in to shrines to do shrine things. Then as it rained we found our way back to our hotel where I put on my complimentary robe and fell in to a dreamless sleep void of rain, and bells, and people cheering.

I Don't know how to end this post, so here is a picture of me trying too hard to have a cultural experience:

A video will be coming soon to summarise my last few weeks here in Japan and then off to New Zealand!

*Fun Facts for you: Beer in Japan has a much more significant water content than beer in the U.S. The Japanese don't love bold flavours like they love awkward textures. So, getting a beer made in Japan with a lot of flavour is rare. 

Those of you who know more about beer should school me on this immediately, but from what I understand an "All Malt Beer" means there are no adjuncts, sugars, or additional fermentables. (Is it obvious I'm getting this all off the internet?)

"In the case of Japan, alcoholic beverages are taxed depending on their malt content which has resulted in a slew of beer-like beverages with varying degrees of less malt, or even no malt. These are known here as "happoushu" rather than "beer". One result of this is that all malt beers are now a premium product so they proudly declare their maltiness in their packaging." 

So there you have it.