OK, here's the piece I wrote last week about my end of NZ trip and the week in thailand, now with photos! The trip to Taiwan will be up shortly but this is a fun one so read this too!
So I drove from Wanaka to Queenstown
with the intention of finishing my paragliding PG1 course there. (Here's a map
of the south island to help) The first day because of some wierd incident on the hill the day before, when my instructor got beaten up by some rival school's stringer, we couldn't go. So instead I went on the LiveWire
adventure course. Queenstown is the self proclaimed adventure capital of the world. If you're not throwing yourself off something attached to a parachute, a bungy, a swing, a paraglider or nothing at all -- then you have nothing to boast about in the pub at night. The Live-Wire
was a bit like a corporate team-building course and you're roped up
to everything, but climbing 35ft up a pole
, standing on the top and jumping for a trapeze 2 meters away
is still bloody terrifying (and I was the only one who caught the trapeze apart from the 6ft4 Irish
lad!). All the Live Wire photos are here
, but not all of them are of me (as if you care!).
The next day I did get to go paragliding and completed 7 more high flights over the next 3 days thanks to the help of Lisa (on left here)
my young (10 years younger than I thought as it turns out) and very, very spunky instructor at Adventure Paragliding. My last flight
was over 14 minutes so I was pretty chuffed. My main buddy was Peter from Doncaster
, although we managed to meet a few random people in the pubs and I was a little hungover most mornings. There are several paragliding photos incuding a sequence of me flying under a big green "wing"
and landing on my feet
(!), and some of Peter landing
and others flying here
I escaped from Queenstown and drove my trusty car north (at 6 am, hungover after St Patricks night) to Peel's Forest 2 hours south of ChristChurch. Rangitita Rafting
provide a good day out near where they filmed some of Lord of the Rings
. They claim the river to be Grade 5 at all water levels but it wasn't really (absolutely nothing like Cherry Creek
on the Tuolumne which I did with JB and Joe Gatto a few years ago). But it did have two good stretches of grade 4-5 rapids in about 3 hours total rafting. Given that most of the punters in my boat were total beginners, it was just as well that it wasnt too wild! Plus they gave us a decent lunch and dinner all for well under the cost of a days rafting in the US!
I drove from there to Christchurch, through a plain filled with the biggest hedges I've ever seen. Apparently Christchurch was founded by a bunch of Oxford based religious nuts
but luckily I didn't meet any. I went to stay with Stephen Burley's cousin Katherine and her husband Luke, whom I found out lived in Berkeley, and attended some second rate university
there for 6 years. They put me up for the night and promised to look after my car as I took the long, long flight via Auckland, Sydney, Bangkok, a seedy hotel for a few hours in Bangkok and finally to Phuket (again!).
The occasion in Phuket was the stag night of longtime Taiwan hasher Barens T Wang
(AKA Barry King). Organized by JB RaeSmith
and attended by scads of drunks from all over Asia. I arrived Thursday at 3 and finished drinking at Sunday about 8. The bash
went on and on, with my nomination to serve as Tom MacDonald (who didn't make it) and to have to drink his drinks as well as my own helping to ensure that I had no idea what was going on
. Luckily Mark Dolan took a few surreptitious photos of his own that I have added into mine. Interspersed in the bashing was a canoe trip to James Bond Island
where luckily someone else paddled
so the boys
could "drink their way out of trouble", some excellent fun at Paintball
, a run/walk, and the rather surprising discovery of Lucy
friend who I meet "Grape Grazing a few weeks back in Australia) in my room when I got back from drinking late late on Saturday night! She was of course forced to come on the lunchtime drinking
on Sunday where she gave a better account of herself than many others! In fact many of the boys were very surprised with the early morning discovery that there was a tall white squeezy toy in my room, and the legend exceeded the reality by only a small (well, actually huge) amount. Several pics of the canoe trip, the bash, and the sunday drinking are here
. Several others you'll have to ask me for separately although this anonymous individual
may claim his prize at the door (Lucy isn't too impressed!)!
By Monday morning Lucy and I were alone and ended up after some discussion going to Krabi
and onto Ralei beach
(where I'd been in October) for some more rock-climbing
-- she'd vetoed my beach only plans at that stage. I did rather better at climbing in March
than I had the previous October, mostly because I can just about use my left knee now. However, maybe it was the 3 massages I've had since I got to Thailand that have helped! Lucy looked pretty pro
, but kept coming down because she claimed to be scared (I think she was just stroking my ego!) Here are the climbing photos.
So I'm off to Taiwan tommorow (Friday) for the Barry King wedding. If my liver survives and I don't get SAR, I'll write more from Australia!