Iqon's New Zealand Blog

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Home yet again

by on 25 July 2010, under New Zealand, USA

So I realize it has been a while since I last wrote a blog post. Unfortunately, I fear it will still be a little while longer before I actually manage to write the next proper blog post. I had planned to put at least one more up before I left New Zealand. This is what I managed to write the day before I left:

“I’ve soon been writing this blog for about a year. I still have no idea how many people actually read it. I have even less of an idea of how many people read and enjoy it. I think the style might have changed a bit from my first to my last post – I think I might have become better at mixing the boring text with exiting photos of me and the people I have been hiking with doing the haka. I don’t really know. I haven’t yet gone back and read what I wrote earlier. However, I guess it might be nice to have the possibility later on to go back to my blog and read what I actually experienced in New Zealand. I would assume it has been a good time – but I guess I will have no idea until I read the blog again.

I always wanted to be able to write short blog messages. I think people are “

Yup, I actually stopped in the middle of a sentence. Now you (and more importantly I) will never know what I think people are. Such a shame!

Anyway… the reason I’m writing this post is to assure you that I’m not entirely done with my blog, even though I have now left New Zealand and returned to Denmark. At least I still have some photos to put up and present (although most of them can already be seen on Facebook or Flickr). Right now I’m working on finishing my project, though. Since it usually takes me a while to sit down and write an actual blog post, that will have to wait. I can give a very short summary of what has happened since my last post, and then I might later return with some photos to show for it:

- Birthday celebrations (including my own Birthday, a bit surprising as I was born in October).
- Leaving NZ, going to the US.
- Buying an iPad (and how it nearly cost me my camera).
- My sister’s wedding (hooray!).
- Me, running around as a french fry (yup, that’s what that sentence is meant to say).
- Mixed randomness about America (and mostly the food habits) such as my amazement of Blue Cow Frozen Yogurt and my continued appreciation of the fact that The Cheesecake Factory exists.
- The final part of my project.

Aren’t you excited now? This post has certainly earned the tag Bad teaser.

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Since NZ

by on 7 March 2010, under USA

I have now spent a couple of month talking about what happened a couple of months ago. “What has happened back home in the meantime?” I hear the impacient reader asking. “Nothing special”, is my answer, “but I can tell you anyway – and I will also stop writing my blog as a weird, imaginary conversation since it becomes tiresome to read extremely fast”.

After a couple of days of Christmas hell in New York I went back to Denmark which at that point was covered in snow, ice, coldness and darkness on one of the very last days of the now so (in)famous climate meeting in Copenhagen. Yes, I was in the Danish airport at the same day as President Obama arrived! Wow! Christmas was celebrated in the traditional way. Afterwards I returned to the apartment in Copenhagen I have been living in for more than four years now. This time, however, I had to live in the smallest of the three rooms since the two others were occupied by one of my brothers, Rune, and Robert the German who had rented a room while I was abroad. During January I worked as a teaching assistant in a course (Mathematical Programming with Modelling Software) at my home university, DTU – so now I can check that off my list of things to do. I also spent January enjoying being back in my small homemade nerd world, with the big tv, video game consoles, Blu-ray movies and I-don’t-know-what. To the collection I also added a new Mac Mini which now functions as a mediacenter which makes it possible for me to watch Danish TV from abroad plus a fancy remote which can control everything at once, replacing my collection of five-six remotes that I needed before. Very interesting, I know…

That is an example of how you can tell about two months: Brief and precise – something very atypical for this blog, and if I know myself the blog won’t continue like that in the future either. Therefore, let me start to tell you about the last couple of week in much more detail just to show the contrast (don’t worry, there will be some photos mixed into the text in a minute as you have probably already noticed unless you are equipped with unusually focused eyes with no peripheral vision – or if you just haven’t scrolled down yet).

I went abroad once again on February 15 (or is it the 15th of February, 15 February or something completely different? I can never really figure it out in English – and nobody ever answers these questions I pose in my blog posts). This time to (initially) visit my sister in Boise, Idaho. I had managed to get my hands on some fairly ok tickets, especially considering I only booked the flight about a week before I left Denmark. A seat at an emergency exit (lots of room for the legs) in the plane between Copenhagen and Chicago where I had a short stop before continuing directly to Boise – it could hardly be more efficient. It is always an “experience” to arrive in the States since their border control (or whatever you call it) can seem ridiculously strict at times. Upon my arrival in Chicago I was led into a small room, mostly filled with Spanish speaking people it seemed. Here I had to wait for an hour since they found it strange that I was visiting my Danish sister who is now living in the US. In the end they let me continue my meticulously planned trip which suddenly didn’t seem as well planned as I had thought in the beginning. I had to get through the fairly large airport in Chicago in less than half an hour.

And so I did!!1!11!oneone

I will let the above linger (I don’t know if you can let text linger but I will anyway) for a bit so it is possible to calm down a bit after all that excitement.

You can enjoy a photo of Obama on the road to help you calm down before we continue:

Obama on the roadThe Obama figure in my sister’s car had its picture taken plenty of times during my visit in Boise.

I arrived safely in Boise. My baggage chose to stay another half day in Chicago since it apparently didn’t think we had seen enough of the city. I stayed in Boise with my sister, Mie, and her husband-to-be, Keith, for almost a week. Here I was introduced to the two hyperactive dogs, Lucky an Java who proved to be brilliant models for my new, nice camera which I chose to invest in during my visit to the Sttes (Nikon D90 with an awesome18-200 mm lens if anyone cares).

My extremely photgenic sister
The very first photo taken with my new camera. It is easy to see that my sister is used to working with portrait photos. She knows exactly how to show off the best side of herself when a picture is taken. Being extremely photogenic is something that runs in my family.

Lucky, a happy dog
Lucky, my sister’s polar bear.

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Java, playing in water/mud.

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Lucky, the happiest dog in the world.

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So you say that a dog has and its owner are alike, and this might prove it. Notice how photogenic Lucky is (the saliva actually hangs all the way from his mouth to the ground) and compare it to my extremely photogenic sister.

I also got to ski for the very first time in my life which I was extraordinarily good at (I will try to put a more positive spin on my blog in the future after I have noticed that the most used tag on my posts is “Me complaining”, albeit I for the most part am fairly sarcastic whenever I complain on this blog). My sister was especially impressed of a situation where I, after having lost one ski after a spectacular stunt, managed to place myself in such a position that I started sliding backwards down the mountain on a single ski. I am definitely a natural at skiing. It was just such a nice feeling to see all the small kids speeding by me as if it is the most natural thing in the world to attach two extremely smooth (or whatever the word is) long planks to your feet and race down a steep mountain without any thought about what danger they put themselves in – while I was once again lying in the snow with my skis spread all over (or at least in two different places). I think that I, with just a bit of practice, will be able to participate in the next Winter Olympics. It should not be that hard to perform that much worse than the other Danish participants. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my amazing achievements on the mountain so you will have to imagine those yourself.

Now when I am talking about skiing I remember that I haven’t been talking about my ankles for a while. Those who have been following my blog closely (which I think can be counted on one, normal, five-fingered hand) will probably remember that I have mentioned my ankles a couple of times but never during my seven part story about my trip to the South Island. And I even did a couple of hikes on that trip which should have put my week ankles at extreme risk. The thing is that I never did twist/roll my ankles on that trip. Paradoxically (I love a good paradox) I instead managed to twist my ankle on the middle of a street in a completely flat street in New York – something Skott and (a bit later) I thought was quite funny. I also did manage to damage my ankle on my skiing trip, actually a bit more seriously than I usually do. Everything seems fine now, though, thanks for asking. And that will be the last time (for a while) you will have to read about my ankles.

I also got to see a random basketball match in Boise. The best part was the entertainment in the breaks. Most of the time it was small kids performing stuff (crawl through hula hoop rings, drive around on plastic bikes or perform gymnastic moves) but the biggest standing ovation (during the ENTIRE night) was provoked by six free Domino’s pizzas which were handed out in one of the breaks. The crowd went nuts and the lucky winners seemed to be the happiest people in the world when they received their free pizza – I love USA.

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It might be a bit hard to see on the small picture but I will tell you what to look for: The woman calling somebody to tell that she just won a FREE pizza… and the man trying to do the Mexican Wave all by himself.

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Pepsi! I don’t even drink it that often but it was just an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

Sunday I sadly had to leave Mie, Keith, Lucky and Java and continue towards New Zealand. It was a trip which did not offer as much excitement as in the airport in Chicago. However I did have to spend 10 hours in horrible LAX (which was planned from the beginning, though). Also, I had a fairly random short stop in Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands in the middle of the Pacific. My guess is that it must be one of the smallest airports in the world (the population on the island is less than 15000) and I don’t even know if it can be classified as an airport. It did seem like an incredibly nice place and definitely not the worst place to have a small break, although it was only about an hour in a small closed off section of the “airport”.

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Rarotonga airport.

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Rarotonga definitely looked like a place worth visiting.

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Rarotonga from above.

Here, just before my arrival in New Zealand, I will leave you, dear reader, craving for more stories from my amazing journey. Since I know that I am slowly becoming somewhat of a “Master of Suspense” (one person has found this blog via Google by searching for “anti-climatic endings”) I can tease that my first week in New Zealand among other things included intense flat hunting… and, a bit more down to earth and closer to my everyday life: me waking up in a burning building. But that will have to wait till next blog post which hopefully will be put up before too long.

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Part 7: The rest of the rest

by on 13 February 2010, under Julekalender, New Zealand, USA

Well, let’s get this over with. There is not that much left to talk about, but you will get a couple of photos.

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After the eventful visit to Queenstown we continued to Christchurch, the “capital” of the South Island. On our way there we passed some beautiful blue lakes.

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While Caroline suddenly thought it was “too expensive” to do the proper bungy jump when we were standing on the platform in Queenstown she had no trouble doing this “bungy jump” in Christchurch.

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While Skott, Søren and Caroline tried to find somewhere to surf, Kristian and I met up with one of Kristian’s friends who lives in Christchurch. He gave us a guided tour of the outskirts of Christchurch. What you see above is a view of the city.

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We had been driving around with three surf boards on our entire trip. Still, the three surfers had not been doing much surfing on our trip. After Christchurch we continued to Kaikoura which is supposed to be the closest thing you come to a surfer’s paradise on the South Island. We had therefore planned to spend three days there so the poor surfers could finally get to do some surfing. Unfortunately there were no waves whatsoever so they had to come up with some other ways to have fun, illustrated by the above photo.

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Kaikoura is also well known for its spectacular bird and sea life. People come from a far to swim with dolphins, see albatrosses and watch whales. Caroline and I went on a whale watching trip where we got to see a couple of sperm whales. Unfortunately we never got a chance of getting the famous “tale shot” so we did get a small refund after the trip.

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Sunset in Kaikoura.

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We lived in a very nice hostel which had both a jacuzzi, swimming pool and a sauna. Here we met Matias, Samantha and their friend Lars. Matias and Samantha are two Danes we had met while studying in Auckland and it was a bit odd to just run into them like that. They joined us for our celebration of our last night on the South Island by camping with us near a beach a bit from Kaikoura.

Here it would have been nice with a photo which we unfortunately never took. However, it still appears pretty clear in my mind, even though I wasn’t even there. We had to get up way too early the next day in order to catch the ferry back to the North Island. Before we left, however, Søren had to be dropped off in Kaikoura since he was going to stay at the South Island. Caroline took care of that and she left Søren at a hostel, all alone and with all the rubbish we had managed to produce on our little camping trip, all his lugage, his surfboard and with “many, many hangovers” as he phrased it. To complete the picture it started raining as soon as Caroline dropped him off. We also had to say goodbye to Caroline that day. We left her in Wellington after having gone on the ferry from Picton.

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We took the ferry back to North Island in daylight so we could enjoy the fine view.

We (which now means Kristian, Skott and I) drove to Taupo to spend the night. We had planned to skydive the next day. Unfortunately it was too cloudy and windy. After having waited for a couple of hours for the weather to get better, we had to give up and continue towards Auckland which at this point felt a bit like returning “home”.

In Auckland we spent a couple of days saying goodbye to the last couple of people. The last night we had a barbeque and went to a big Christmas show (Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park) in The Domain. I have mentioned it before, but it still seems extremely weird to try to celebrate Christmas when the sun is beaming down. I associate Christmas with extreme darkness most of the day, and a coldness you just wish would go away immediately. Christmas is indeed a happy time.

Luckily I did manage to get into the proper Christmas mood after four days in Christmas decorated New York. It had all the stressed people you could dream about, a piercing and annoying coldness plus overcrowded streets and shops. Exactly my idea of Christmas. It was a big contrast after having spent some weeks traveling around in the beautiful, sunny, green and scarcely populated South Island of New Zealand… I have a feeling you might be able to guess which I preferred the most. New York was still as impressive as the last time I visited it 2.5 years ago, though, which the photos below are supposed to illustrate.

Some places people were queueing up to get to look at the Christmas decorations in the shop windows
A lot of the shopwindows were of course decorated for Christmas. Some places they had set up specific queues for people who wanted to get a glimpse of the windows.

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We got to see a Broadway-show, Chicago. Here Skott is excited about the show being about to start… this is just before we were told in a strict tone to put away the camera and not use it again while inside the theater.

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Of course we had to go by the Statue of Liberty.

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We had a “tourist day” where we visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Bodies – The Exhibition, American Museum of Natural History (where the above photo is from), Leonardo da Vinci’s Workshop and ended at high up in The Empire State Building.

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The view from The Empire State Building was excellent, just as it had been two and a half years ago.

Just to end this blog post in a weird way (which isn’t actually that odd for this blog) I want to give some advice about buying burgers in the US (well, it might be more of a warning). See, the burgers sold in the US apparently don’t have to contain any of the ingredients which usually make that particular kind of food interesting. A burger can, according to the Americans, just consist of a boring white bun and some beef without anything else. No salad, tomato, cucumber, avocado, bacon, egg or whatever people normally try to put in their burgers. Luckily, you do get to add ketchup to your burger if you wish to and it is usually apparent if the burger comes with cheese or not (usually indicated by the small word “cheese” in front of the word “burger” in the menu). And this bun with some beef they had the nerve to charge $12 for.

Actually, I would be able to continue complaining about stuff in the US. For example I don’t get how you can have a system where you can’t trust the price tags on things since they always add taxes afterwards. Or the mandatory tips which would be included automatically in the salary if you lived in a normal, civilized country… I think, however, that I have complained about this stuff before, back when I studied at Caltech in California and also wrote a blog. Therefore, I will stop complaining about the States (for now) – this blog is supposed to be about my experiences in New Zealand, and therefore also my complaints about that country. Luckily there will be a lot more room for that the next half year since I will be returning to the other end of the world, this time to write my thesis.

So… stay tuned!

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