Joshua the turtle

Christchurch Travel Blog

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A traveler is like a turtle.

The turtle is an interesting metaphor for the traveller. When you wander around with all your worldly possessions stuck to your back you learn very quickly what is valuable and what is not. You proudly display the national flag and other assorted drawings you inscribed onto the rain ‘shell’ of your backpack. Your propensity to bump into things as you turn corners has increased tenfold and, at times, your behind feels reminiscent of Aunt Fanny from “Robots”. You soon realize that your desire to keep an eye on that growing girth as you explore new restaurants did not warrant bringing your deluxe bathroom scales along and that candelabra you could just not part from is building a callous the size of Mt Olympus on your back. Perhaps you should also have considered your reading material for that 36 hour plane trip a little longer. You could have taken “Animal Farm” rather than the hardcover special edition of “Lord of the Rings” with its extensive movie making walkthrough and photo gallery.

A red prison bus (representation of "city bus" could differ from picture)
Alas, life is full of lessons which are learnt in hindsight. No wonder a turtle advances so slowly.

Anyway, this will be the final entry from New Zealand. I thought it may be interesting to report on my most recent destination: Christchurch. Well… it was interesting for me anyway. My wife and I have been travelling around New Zealand saying our goodbyes to family and friends the past 2 or so weeks. I left Auckland just this morning to fly down to Christchurch to finalize my teaching qualification and documentation and to do some sightseeing.

Christchurch from the air (looks even nicer than from the ground sometimes)
It is always rather revealing to see your home town through different eyes. I left as a tenant and returned a tourist.

I arrived at Christchurch airport early on Monday morning (today). I was shaken out of my slumber by the nauseating roll of the plane. There was rather a large amount of turbulence as we descended through the dark grey clouds. I could not even see out of the plane windows till we were within 100 metres of the runway. Anyway, my fellow passengers and I braced for impact. The crumbs of my tasty pastry flew off my chin as the plane slammed to a halt beside the airport's waiting tentacle.

Sure, the above paragraphs sound rather dire, especially once you consider my previous espousals on Christchurch’s wonderfulness. Nevertheless, as a tourist this was my first impressions of the new city. It did not get better in the near future. The toilet had a damp floor and made my feet wet and my bag wetter.

The next thing worth mentioning ismy experience of the public transport system. I wandered out of the toilet and noticed a sign through the sliding doors to my left. Exiting the airport through these doors I headed in the direction to which the “city bus” sign was pointing. Within the minute I noticed another sign with a similar message - “bus to the city” - which pointed in the opposite direction. Choosing to ignore the latter on account of the fact that I had already begun walking in one direction and could not find the enthusiasm to change direction (and the cold south wind was holding an icicle to my back), I headed towards the bus in the distance. As I approached, I realized that what I had previously identified as a “red bus” was in fact a “prison bus” which had recently been painted red and given a snazzy new name. Perhaps this is excusable due to the fact that tourists may be interested in what it is like to be incarcerated here in GE free New Zealand. If this was the concept, however, I don’t believe it was thought through properly. Rather than pay us “criminals” who hopped on the bus like they do here in New Zealand (by giving us free plasma screens and under-floor heating), we were expected to pay a hefty fine to the bus driver (who was waving a rather large wad of cash around with a goofy grin on his face). Had I not had previous experience of what the bus stop drivers charged natives two minutes down the road to reach the same destination, I could have been forgiven for believing that inflation had driven the New Zealand economy through the roof. If a single bus fair cost $7 I should have saved a slice of apple from my flight because the likelihood that my savings could cover breakfast was looking slim indeed.

I guess the moral of the above story and the previous threads combined is that you never really know a place (or can appreciate a place) until you’ve lived there. A snapshot is normally just as bad as a book cover. Christchurch is, in fact, a lovely city and was 33 degrees with not a cloud in the sky the previous day. Irony has once again proved to be a fish-hook the size of a small elephant.

Pardon the lack of pictures. As they say, if a picture is a thousand words then these thousand words should adequately accommodate you picture lovers out there.


michellepowell says:
Good review.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2008
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A traveler is like a turtle.
A traveler is like a turtle.
A red prison bus (representation o…
A red prison bus (representation …
Christchurch from the air (looks e…
Christchurch from the air (looks …
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photo by: Fulla