Sun and Sulphur
Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
12Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
The first evening was spent in the pool then in the bar with an English girl (Janie) and a German girl (Sonje), and the next day Janie drove us up the gondola which took us up the mountain and we luged back down and then to the Polynesian Spa. This was not my usual cup of tea but undeniably relaxing sat in a hot pool looking out on a volcanic lake, and also probably the main reason why I still smell of sulphur. After a few more hours of hanging round the kitchen attempting to make friends (only to be met by some hostile Germans who did not seem to approve of my cup-a-soup) the bus collected me for the Maori Cultural Experience. A great evening actually, with demonstrations of all the aspects of traditional village life (I was volunteered for the games one and obviously dominated the opposition, crushing my Swiss - admittedly middle aged - opponents). There was also a cultural performance which was really beautiful - although the Haka loses it's impact somehow after you've seen it for the fiftieth time - and a Hangi which is basically a traditional lamb roast but cooked underground with hot stones. This was really delicious and got even more interesting when the Geordie guy opposite knew an Andrea Thomson from Ottersburn
The next afternoon found me wandering around Rotorua town which to be honest did remind me vaguely of Keighley only the buildings are flatter, and I decided to treat myself to a McDonalds LambBurger in order to continue the cultural explorations of the previous night. I was nearly sick, but as I said then the sunshine came out and made everything better. Funny how backpacking works really (clearly I know all about it having spent five nights in hostels). I was just worrying once again that I wouldn't have anyone to go to the bar with and that me and my new tan would have to confine themselves to the dorm room sheets at nine pm, when a Brazilian girl (Karin) arrived in the room. We decided to head to the bar for a couple of drinks and thus embarked on the most random and hilarious night so far. We should have known when they started giving out free shots from teapots. Or when we met a load of Kiwis who claimed they were underwater electricians (and had surf apps on their phones - this especially blew my mind!). Anyway several 'lava bombs', heinekens, one lingerie competition and a whole lot of dancing later Karin and I found ourselves heading for a post-bar McDonalds with a Maori and two bearded american campers with a bell. I had assumed on the dancefloor that the bell was ceremonial and thus treat it with a special reverence, dancing whenever it ordered and following it wherever it led us
Next morning I was miraculously up bright and early and ready to hit to the geothermal reserve on 3 hours sleep. This was really interesting and impressive - lots of bubbling mud, more sulphur, facemasks from the rocks and billowing steam but really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated. Back at the bus station I bumped into Karin again and another of our friends from the hostel, an English guy called Will. We tearfully saw each other off having taken photos and swapped contact details. Amazing how strong a bond one hilarious drunken night can create.