Warning: this post may be written slightly under the influence, so read at your own risk. When passing by the wine rack in the grocery store (I know – wine in a grocery store! Don’t have a heart attack Pennsylvanians!) I spied sauvignon blanc – New Zealand’s specialty and my favorite wine – and it somehow ended up in our cart. Then it somehow ended up empty. I know, I was shocked too. (Don’t worry, I had a helper). What else are you supposed to do when you’re sitting in your campervan at a city holiday park when its pouring outside?
Which brings us to shock number two. It’s cold here. And rainy. Think Ireland, but colder. Yeah, I know. There’s Cadbury eggs everywhere, but the leaves are changing on the trees. I’m very confused.
When we arrived, this was the first thing we saw when we got off the plane was sleeping bag after sleeping bag filled with
cheapskates frugal people. But since we’re old and cranky and require a good night’s sleep, we sprung for a hotel. First we were in awe of the king sized soft bed, the number of pillows (two! Per person!!!), the bathtub, and the television speaker in the bathroom (for real). Then we were in shock over the price. Since we didn’t get in until after midnight and planned to pick our campervan up at 8:30 the next morning, we opted to stay near the airport at a hotel with a 24-hour shuttle. Which practically cost the equivalent the price of three days in Asia. Since we took a budget airline (Air Asia), we barely ate the whole day. And we couldn’t afford to eat at the hotel, that’s for sure. My request for a budget exception to eat a $3.00 cookie from the mini-bar was denied, and my hopes for breakfast before we picked up the campervan were quickly dashed when we realized a continental breakfast for two would cost $30 USD. Can you say price shock?
When we finally ate for the first time, it was lunchtime. We found a pub with a semi-affordable lunch special of $9 USD and wandered in. We paused by the door, wondering if we should wait to be seated, then plopped ourselves down at an empty table when we didn’t see a hostess. When the waitress approached us, she looked very confused. Can I, help you? Oh, we weren’t sure if we should seat ourselves or wait… When she responded, oh that’s okay, in a high pitched voice we had our answer. Culture shock strikes again: we never would have just sat down at home, but there’s no such thing as hostesses in Asia. While things certainly operate on Asia time, eating isn’t one of them. You saunter in, sit at any table you want. If there’s a menu, it’s ten pages thick and generic and full of things the restaurant doesn’t even have. There’s no chance to read it; the waiter is hovering over you as soon as you sit down. This “express lunch” meal, by comparison, was downright leisurely, leaving me super antsy when the waitress cleaned every table instead of ringing our card at the “till,” until I realized that we’re supposed to take it to the till ourselves. Oops.
We spent our first night in our campervan last night, and even though it’s freezing outside, our heater and blanket keep us toasty. We rather like our new little home, and we’re looking forward to hitting the open road after we stock up on some warmer gear in Christchurch. Our attempts at mastering the New Zealand accent are in full swing already, but it’s a hard one. I have to keep calibrating by saying Bret and Jermaine, which seems to help. Sean seems to be devoting his time working in as many New Zealand-esque phrase he learned from the guidebook (an utter waste of money because the tourism industry gives away buckets of information for free) as he can in every sentence. He gets a particularly big kick of using the phrase brassed off, which, in turn, really brasses me off!