Chapter 6: Eating at Denny's with a drag queen.

Trip Start Oct 01, 2003
Trip End Nov 2004

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, November 2, 2003

Woo-hoo! Thank god for cheap, high-speed internet access! I'm finally in Auckland, so I can respond to e-mails again and update this site more frequently. I finished the Fiji entry, so if you only read my placeholder comments then there's much more interesting stuff on that page now. Anyway, back to my story:

Beachcomber really is a very lovely place, but there's not a whole lot to do on the island but sit around in the sun. As I think I hit a wall with my tan, I decided on my second day there that it was time for another diving experience. I went on a two-tank dive on October 27 with Subsurface Diving, who operate conveniently from Beachcomber. The first dive started 23 meters down at the bottom of a pinnacle covered in coral. We swam through a cave at the base and then circled back up to the surface over 40 minutes. Saw a few lionfish, which was exciting given my fascination with poisonous sea critters, and an eel. The second dive was along Wilkes Passage, and it was beautiful - crazy coral & fish.

The resort has a pool set up in the center of the island where they keep four sea turtles that they're raising before they release them into the wild. I tagged along for the turtle feeding that afternoon, which was super-cute. One of the turtles was born missing a front flipper, so he was endearingly clumsy.

I'm realizing that I'll have to learn the intricate rules of Rugby at some point if I want to do New Zealand properly. The Kiwis are obsessed with the sport, and it's World Cup time so the All Blacks games will be watched by everyone. Funny how if I was back in the States I probably wouldn't even know there was a World Cup game going on, but on the road it's all everyone talks about. Beachcomber showed the England-Samoa match on the projection TV, so I started picking up the basics, and some of my new English friends were eager to teach me.

Hermit crab racing is another popular diversion at the resorts. Beachcomber's race is set up like an auction, where people in the bar bid on crabs named after countries. The Australian & New Zealand crabs routinely fetch well over $100, so crab racing was strictly a spectator sport for me. First prize was $350 - not too shabby! Too bad the crabs probably end up crunched underfoot afterwards...

On Oct 28 I took the yellow boat to Waya Island and checked in to Octopus Resort. Much to my delight there was a big trampoline set up in front of the dorm along with the requisite hammocks! Octopus was great - laid back and comfortable with a stunning dorm (personal fans, lights, electrical outlets, and mosquito nets!). There are many games lying around for guests' amusement, so I enjoyed a few rounds of Pictionary & Jenga during my stay. The snorkelling right offshore was amazing, too... big coral canyons filled with beautiful fish, and I even saw a few squid scooting around together! Ironically I had calamari for lunch the next day. Got some excercise on the 29th by renting a sea kayak, although it made my arms sore for 2 days!

After 2 nights at Octopus I came back down to Nadi, had one night at Aquarius, and then got to the airport at 12 noon for my 2:30 flight to Auckland. Unfortunately I forgot to call to confirm the flight, so unbeknownst to me the time had been changed... to 8pm! I asked the Air New Zealand rep if there was anything to do around the airport for 7 1/2 hours, and he laughed at me. Sigh. I could now describe in great detail every square inch of the Nadi International Airport duty free shops, but I'll spare you.

Arrived in Auckland (finally!) at 1am New Zealand time, and booked into Auckland Central Backpackers, which is right downtown and has great facilities including 600 (!) beds, 40 high-speed internet terminals, a travel centre, and hot showers. So far I love Auckland! After a long sleep, I walked all around the city yesterday checking out the neighborhoods and enjoying the novelty of non-tropical weather. It's still a little cool here - around 65-70 degrees F in the day.

Last night was something of an adventure. I set out at 10:30pm looking for some bars or clubs. After a month of suffering the honeymooners and gooey-eyed couples in the South Pacific, I was desperate to hang around with some gay people again, because let's face it: straight people are boring (ha. j/k. no offense). So I ambled off in the rain towards the hip Ponsonby section of town. To make a long story short, I got pulled into a private party (the door sign warned of severe embarrassment for anyone who tried to walk in) at a bar/club called Caluzzi by a friendly blue-wigged drag queen, and was introduced to a few (very cute) locals. 6 hours and several clubs later I found myself completely out of my head and eating at Denny's (!) with my drag queen friend and the two really nice guys I was running around with for the night. It was so great to go out on the town, and my hosts were the friendliest guys ever! Good fun.

Eventually woke up today and wandered around Queen Street doing some shopping. Ut oh - time's up on the computer. Whew - guess I'm all caught up! Hope all is well back home. Talk to you soon!


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