Goodbye Thailand, Hello New Zealand! (Sweet as)

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
Trip End Dec 24, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, November 17, 2011


We attempt to get up around 10am but fail miserably, trudging downstairs at 1pm where Natalie's eldest, Jess, is studying for her exams. She gives us the bus information we need and we leave for the city to purchase some jumpers/cardigans for the cooler climate. We have lunch in the very clean and organized city centre and then walk into an expensive clothes shop where Jo asks the bemused staff if they have "something like Primark" anywhere nearby. Luckily one member of staff seems to clock what we mean, and sends us off to 'Cotton On' (which is more like Top Shop than Primark.)

While strolling up the high street, we realize what a culture shock it is to be here. We don't really know what to do with ourselves and spend most of the time either in silence or giggling hysterically at things that are in no way funny. The service in shops and cafes here is amazing (even better than NYC) and one particular guy at the till in cotton on introduces us to a New Zealand phrase that brother James had warned us of. The conversation went something like this: (while the guy at the till scans our things and speaks in a very robotic tone, hardly looking at us but with a fixed smile.)

Guy: "where are you from?"
Claire: "England."
Guy: "sweeeet aaas. On holiday?"
Claire: "yes."
Guy: "Sweeeeeeet aaaaas. Traveling around?"
Claire: "yes."
Guy: "goin down south?"
Claire: "yes."
Guy: "sweet as."

Sweet as what? You may wonder? Well, so do we.

Once back at Natalie's the whole family are home. Dad Damien, Jess 16, Gabi 12, Samantha 10 and Jacob 8. We give the kids their gifts from SE Asia. When Claire presents Jacob with his Thai rubix cube, he says, "aaaw! Thank you! It's cool!" Claire says, "do you know what it is?" Jacob: "no."
Pizza is ordered and the evening descends into beautiful chaos. At one point, Claire is showing Samantha a video on her camera, as she flicks through the videos of Asia Jacob says from over her shoulder: "whoa, London looks cool!" Brilliant.


10am works out for us this morning and today is a big day! Jo's first go at driving the automatic car that Natalie has sorted out for us at staff rates through her work. We spend a little while in the driveway when Jo struggles to get the gear stick into drive... But then we are off and away! After a little while we find the car rental place and sign papers with Natalie's boss. He suggests that we go about 1km up the road to have a look at an area called Otahuhu, otherwise known as 'little Fiji'. It is a strongly Polynesian area and we like it, despite only walking up and down the high street. There is a shop called 'big man fashion' that sells XXXXXXL clothing, loads of discount shops with sofas on display on the street and greasy spoons and kebab shops.

We return to Remuera (where Natalie lives) and have lunch in the quaint high street. When we get back we do a school run! And take Gabi and her friend to play water polo at a local school. Claire says, "won't the horses drown?" and nobody laughs. Gabi scores three times and her team wins. Hilarity ensues twice when Jo can't get the car in drive again, once before leaving and again after the game leaving the car park with Jacob and Samantha in the car. We block several cars and Natalie drives up beside us shouting, "what are you doing!?" to which Jo replies, "I just like it here." After some training, (being told to put a foot on the brake in order to move the gear stick) she soon gets the hang of it.

After playing some nintendo Wii (Jacob: "I'm bored of winning.") we finish the evening like any proper family does, watching the x factor and shouting at the tv.
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