Hello, and welcome back to Travel Thursday! At the end of July, AJ shared advice for booking a getaway based on a trip he’d booked to Whangarei. He headed off to the land near to the Chicken Islands last week, but now he’s back and ready to share all the things he learnt on his adventure.
1) I need to take more breaks
As you know, I’ve not been updating as regularly as I should be. In truth, being stuck in the mediocrity of my routine has weighed me down to the point where my motivation has taken a North Korean missile to the gut. I’ve been consumed with so much stress that my mind was tricked into thinking that stress was all I had. It was like wearing a weighted armour all week: armour I had difficulty undoing.
As soon as I got on the plane and we took off, it was almost as though I had a squire whose greatest skill was unfastening my breastplate. I was free again. The weight pulling me down this entire time was gone and I felt instantly comfortable. I sparked up a conversation with a stranger (mostly because she was listening to Panic! at the Disco) and I noticed that was smile was back, too. As soon as I got off the plane in Auckland and made it to a very, very familiar hostel, I thought one thing: Welcome back, AJ.
2) In cities, no one is shy
The first thing I always do in a new place? Go for a walk. It helps chill me out, which allows me to better think of quick solutions to any unexpected problem that might come up, which I feel is vital for travelling. I’ve been to Auckland many times but only always on short trips, so there’s always something new there for me. This time, I took a new path. What I stumbled upon was beautiful: great hanging lights shimmered over the alleyway, the light bouncing off of mirrored sculptures and panels on the ground. “Why are you in the fancy parts?” one of my friends asked me, after I sent her a photo.
It would have been a perfect setting, had I not turned into a nook of the alleyway, hidden away. My eyes were immediately treated to human flesh. Two very passionate Asians, in a quiet corner of this very busy cityscape. I envied their boldness. I don’t think I could ever enjoy a handjob in public, because I get uncomfortable having sex if I can hear someone in the hallway! Deserting to a nearby burger joint, I took great pleasure in eating my meal as a group of 20 made the decision to walk into a certain nook…
3) Breaking Bad isn’t a total fiction
After witnessing someone’s fetish, I felt it only right to catch up with a friend in the city. He’s one of those mates who I don’t talk to for months on end, but whenever I do catch up with him it’s straight back to where we left off.
As we’re walking to a bar, or to some foody, we turn down a side street and see a young Korean boy, no older than 8, with someone who we assumed was his father. That was, of course, until the boy handed the man his backpack, and they walked off in a separate directions. I’d just witnessed a drug deal, and while me and my mate had a laugh about it at the time, it’s been playing on my mind since I got back.
To be so young and involved in that business really breaks my heart. I don’t know anything about this kid’s situation, but I’ve listened to podcasts featuring ex-cops, and read so many autobiographies of people heavily involved in drug dealer lifestyles. I’d witnessed a young lad with his future ahead of him, caught up in this mire of high. It’s perhaps best to not think about it.
4) I am not a morning person
Sure, I already knew this back when I went to school, but now I have more evidence. I managed to nab $1 fares from Auckland to Whangarei on a bus. However, if you pay for cheap seats, you get shitty wake up times. I dragged myself out of my hostel at 5:30am, walked desperately to a Starbucks, then sat outside the SkyTower for 30 minutes, half alive. I did end up making a friend here, who I later slept on while on the bus.
5) I’m a nature whore
I didn’t think much of Whangarei when I first got there (more on that later), but what I did like I absolutely loved. The Town Basin was such a good little section, with the Hatea River running along it. Meanwhile, Clapham’s National Clock Museum – while not my thing – was an interesting time waster.
But the things I enjoyed most occurred further down the Hatea. The Whangarei Falls were spectacular in person: a 26m waterfall along a forest walk, including a spectacular bridge that connects the treetops.
Nearby you’ll find the Parihaki Scenic Reserve, which involves climbing a volcanic dome to get a breathtaking view of the city (had it not been gushing down with rain!). My hostel receptionist told me that people often got a good sleep there, as positive vibes from the nearby mountain would flow through the campsite – good tapu, he called it. There may have been some truth in that.
Whangarei might not have been where AJ intended to end up, but it sounds like he had a wonderful time. See you next Thursday, for more of AJ’s travel adventures!