Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Once Again: Milford Sound

This is an example of what I would call an existentialist approach to nature. 

It's not just the environment itself, but the ponderance of the self in relation to nature and vice versa. Here you are, in the middle of a vast ocean, surrounded by mountains that are half-glacier and half-rainforest... and even though you are not exactly a child anymore, you are still looking at something bigger than yourself, which wasn't created by any man or beast in existence. 

You can try to explain it all with science, with physics, with projections... but there's no algorithm in the world that can give you the answer to all the questions in your head: the ones you wished you didn't have to ask about God and man and the universe at large. 

Then you realize that, no matter what you've been told all your life, you're not the center of the universe... and yet, in spite of whatever nature throws at you, you're still alive - as if you have been granted permission to live.

Why, yes, I am about to give a quiz on educational philosophy...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Milford Sound Facts

From Wikipedia:

Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point - the mouth of the fiord - and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) or more on either side.

Lush rain forests cling precariously to these cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins frequent the waters and whales can be seen sometimes.

The rainfall creates dozens of temporary waterfalls (as well as a number of major, more permanent ones) cascading down the cliff faces, some reaching a thousand metres in length. Smaller falls from such heights may never reach the bottom of the sound, drifting away in the wind.

Not (too) related to Milford Sound: Ben Folds covering "Such Great Heights."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And Not to Be Outdone...

Queenstown looks at Leura and says, "So you think you have a monopoly on cute tea rooms with antiques and awesome snacky things? Well, well... look at what we've got here."

"Yeah, we don't have a teapot collection to show off here in Walnut Cottage... but we have PIE! And SLEEPING AREAS! And an HERB GARDEN!"

So we have one question for you..." 

"...Well, not really, but... you know."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This Is Not a Postcard

And yet, it totally looks like one.

A view of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, South Island, NZ. Taken with my usual Sony Cybershot camera from the common-area lanai of our hotel.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tea Party Crashers

A few priceless moments from Bygone Beautys in Leura... and by "priceless moments" I actually mean "a total freaky-deaky experience for those of you who have a phobia against dolls, because: seriously."

We r in ur tea party

Laffin at ur guests HA HA HA

By the by, Maurice Cooper of Bygone Beautys does have quite an impressive collection of tea pots, which you can see in person when you stop by the store. (And yes, they have their own tea service, too - though I chose not to snack there, since we didn't have much time left in Leura and the traffic going back to Sydney is all sorts of craptastic hell.) You'll see more of those - and a few sweet pieces of crockery - in future entries of this blog. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Proper Way to Ride a Bicycle Through Auckland

For the young ladies in the Victorian era:

Don't ride without gloves. 
Don't wear a skirt that's more than eight inches shorter than your boot. 
Don't walk your bicycle more than absolutely necessary. It attracts unwanted attention.
Don't start till you are certain that not only your wheel but your costume is in perfect condition. 

For everyone else: 

Yep, we've come a long way, baby. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Prim and Proper Fashion

Another collection of fine vintage clothes, this time at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland.

Spotted this at an exhibit on Victorian-era Auckland. I love the embroidered details in the back.

Another exhibit from vintage Auckland, this time at a dress store. Note the tailoring details, and the vintage sewing machine in the back.

A dress from the 1950s, marking the grand era of mid-store fashion shows. Sigh.

More 1950s-era outfits - so very Mad Men. (That blue coat? WANT.)

Incidentally, JuniorMei and I saw the dress on the left and had the same thought: "Hey, didn't MamaMei used to have that exact same outfit not too long ago?"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dear Universe

I saw this at a really sweet little antique shop in Leura called Bygone Beautys

Should I take this as a sign? 

Just curious,


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not an Angry Bird, We Swear

Photos taken at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

Im on ur dining tabl

Nomming on ur leftovers

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The View from Kings Cross

When my parents found out that my hotel was located in the notorious Sydney neighborhood of Kings Cross, they were practically horrified.

They've heard all of the stories before about Kings Cross being the red-light district of Sydney. The last thing they wanted was to see their daughter wandering alone in a neighborhood notorious for drugs, drunkenness, and all sorts of indecent behavior. They did not want me going around at night, on my own, knowing that some drunk Australian would mistake me for a Filipino prostitute.

Riiiight. As if Filipino prostitutes roam the streets at night in hoodies and jeans.

All of that changed, however, when I actually arrived in Kings Cross.

Here's the main hub at Kings Cross Road, taken during the sunset. At night this place can pretty much get lit up with lots of neon lights and sparkling billboards. There are fine restaurants and even finer clubs to visit here, so it can get pretty exciting.

Look! It's Darlinghurst Road, with takeout places on one side and XXX-rated entertainment on the other! Ironically, I barely even noticed the "wildlife," day or night, except for the occasional drag queen or two. The only tarts that I was interested in throughout these trip were of the pastry persuasion (mmm, neenish tarts), so it was a good thing for me to stay home and limit my night runs to the nearest Coles supermarket.

(Which reminds me: Dear Coles, could you please remind Curtis Stone that he actually looks much better when he's chubby? Your in-store displays are proof that I can no longer buy him as that hot ab-tastic cheffy-chef TV host who's all over American TV right now. Especially when I can see the sweet, clean-cut version of his face right next to the lamingtons.)

And here is Victoria Street, home to hippy-dippy backpacker hotels. (Disclosure: My hotel is actually on Victoria Street, but it's not even remotely close to backpacker-y.) Believe it or not, even with the low-rent trippiness, there are still signs of gentrification in this neighborhood: autumn foliage, wrought cast-iron balconies, and apartment dwellers walking yappy little dogs. This, I think, feels like what Sydney should be, in its own idiosyncratic way.

Ironically, I did run into a few backpackers from New York during one of the tours that I'd taken as part of this trip, and I casually mentioned that I was staying in a hotel at Kings Cross, which I compared to "the movie version of Times Square, with all the neon lights and the XXX clubs." Their response: "Sydney has a red light district?"

Now, that's what I call an answer.