Saturday, April 17, 2004

On the fifteenth (Natasha's birthday) I headed out from the hostel at 8:30 to grab some coffee. I only mention this because a creepy guy standing behind me on the escalator said "excuse me" as if to say something more, and then gave me a disturbing stare that made me run up the escalator and spill my coffee (bastard!)
Auckland's art galleries (non-comercial) were interesting - Don Binney's landscape paintings of New Zealand reminded me of Mom's Ted Harrison collection. Auckland feels like a vacant city - not lacking people as much as lacking interesting things to do and culture to explore. Shopping, clubbing and the meagre art scene seems to be all that it offers - and if you're not into shopping and clubbing - you get pretty bored. Needless to say, I got out of Auckland as soon as possible.
On the route to Rotorua, my bus stopped at the Waitomo caves for the glow worm tour. The closest artificial equivalent I can think of comparing this to would be an installation of glowing blue specs (green when you focus on one) on the ceiling of a black room. Very cool.
The bus driver was one of the best I've ever had. Because there were less than ten of us, he kept stopping at cool places like a suspension bridge over a damn that his grandfather helped engineer, and tidbit facts about the areas we were driving through like the residence of the Maori queen (though not all tribes agree that she is their queen).
I arrived in Rotorua in the evening and met Jean from San Francisco. Rotorua sits on the bottom of what used to be a submerged volcano. For this reason, the city and the surrounding area is an accumilation of rolling hills.
Jean and I headed out the next morning to hike the redwood forest. If you want to do any cool nature stuff here, rent a car. After a one hour walk to the forest and a 3 1/2 hour hike, Jean and I hitched a ride back to town.
The next day, Jean and I headed to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where we saw Maori carvings, a replica of an old Maori village, mud pools, geysers, kiwi birds, and a Maori concert. If you pay a lot of money, you get to see a Maori concert and eat hangi (Maori food cooked in the ground). I did not do that.
Jean and I separated after that so that I could go to the bath house museum. They have a theatre with dramatized narration of Rotorua's history as hokey as ours back home, plus a simulated rumble in the seats when they depict the volcanic eruption of 1886. This museum had a lot of stuff on the local Maori history including conscription for British wars. They also had a fair art gallery with stuff since the nineteenth century.
Tonight I should be heading to the lake with Jean to hang out.
Tomorrow I'm heading out to Napier, a city built almost entirely in the art deco style since an earthquake destroyed the city in the 1920's.
Everyone wish Natasha a happy birthday (via link)!
love Sharon

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Tomorrow (Australian time) is Natasha's birthday! It's actually in two days LA time. Still, everyone send Natasha birthday greetings!

First day in Auckland . . . actually, I'm in Auckland but it's not really the first day yet. I tried sleeping at the airport last night in order to make my early flight (saved $60). Well, I spent the day tired and with a headache so I went straight to bed as soon as I checked into a backpackers.
The bus from the airport to here was fun though. The green suburbs we drove through looked like ones I've seen in Everett, Washington, but with more exotic trees. And it was raining! I haven't seen rain in sooooo long! I actually found the rain beautiful and uplifting!
It's almost 2am and I can't sleep, funny that. I screwed myself over on this one. In the morning I plan to walk around Auckland before it gets too busy with people and traffic. That is my favourite time to see a city - while it's still asleep in the early morning. After which I should check out the art gallery (contemporary stuff and Maori stuff). I'd like to check out the parks in the afternoon, and a band is playing at the pub next to the hostel. I'll be able to find someone here to go with. Maybe the woman I met in the dorm from Austin, Texas, might come with me. She told me that for her 60th birthday, she went bungee jumping. She skydived so much she figured that she should give that one a try and she didn't like it. She's hanging out in Auckland until her daughter arrives, and then they'll rent a caravan and go driving around NZ.
Sarah C. is up to essay writing these days, you know what that means . . . nail clipping double-time!
So, I've had some lovely dreams, and maybe the rest of my NZ experience will produce better ones.
Love Sharon

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Once again, it has been too long since my last posting. I spent the last weekend here in Canberra - where being comatose is big fun. Classes, like minimun wage jobs, are 9-5 and almost as fatiguing. At night I tend to hang out with whoever I happen to find. If it's Cat (Melbourne) and Laura (Hobart, Tazmania), we have a knitting party while watching "The Young Ones" and making fun of each other. If it's Jessica (Parkes) or Mandi (Georgia USA), we talk until our curiousities take us to ridiculous ends. If it's Andrew (brother) or Phoebe (Sydney) there is no end to the scat of cruel remarks, the throwing of food and at the best of times, even the climbing of trees. Actually, Andrew was gone for the past week, and we all missed him. He's a small red head who can get really bouncy sometimes.
Now the update:
Last Friday, I went to a birthday party full of textiles students. It was at the largest pub establishment I have ever seen. In one building, there were three interconnected pubs and one drive-through liquor store. We sat outside drinking pink champagne and vodka cruisers. We practically had the patio to ourselves, and the music so low we could hear each other speak. That's my favourite kind of party.
The next day, we (people at the hall) all seemed to be laying around, trying to think of something to do or wait for something to do. I ended up riding my bike to the botanical gardens [Heather (Saskatchewan) found a bike for free and gave it to me. It was left by an exchange student who studied here last year. Everything but the gears work). In the evening, I joined Jessica and her friends as they raced wheeling desk chairs down the hallways of the residence. They later decided to watch TV so I decided to go to bed.
One hour later, Steve (Wisconsen, USA) knocks on my door and tells me that we're going to a jazz-student party in the Campbell surburb with Heather. Along with Emily (California) and Jara (AOU - Aussie of Unknown Origin) we walk to the social gathering and it takes us an hour.
At the party, they had ice blocks on a 45degree angle with chiselled marks resembling a running river and a funnel carved at the end. The idea of the game was to put your mouth up to the cold funnel while swallowing the goon (bad boxed wine) that was poured at the top end. When they ran out of goon, some guys tried to slide the ice blocks down the field with little success because the grass was too dry and the night too cold. We ended up playing discus with them instead.
At three in the morning, Heather, Paul (AOU) and I went to go crash at Heather's place in Ainslie. Paul and Heather innocently shared the bed while I took the livingroom couch. In the middle of the night, I was woken by, yes, another horrific bird. This one sounded like part little girl, part banshee and all scream. So I crawled into Bed with Paul and Heather (Heather gave me a hug, Paul smelled a bit) until sunrise and returned to the couch only to be woken by a real little girl. Heather, holding her roomate's five year old daughter over my face, was telling me it was time to wake up. One hour later, Delmelza (Heather's neighbour and the Canberra exchange student that came to Emily Carr a year ago) stopped by with coffee.
In a hurry to clean up and go to Emily's birthday picnic, I rushed by to ANU with Paul. One five minute shower later, I was riding my bike alongside Heather to the lake for tea, cookies and birthday fun in a dress as Emily requested on her invitation. We spoke of bugs, "Soilent Green" and Rob's (Alice Springs) up and coming nude modelling career.
After that, I slept my fatigue away in time to see Tim Burton's "Big Fish" with Cat and Laura. Though the set, costume and themes were very Tim Burton, I was surprised to find it had a touchy-feely ending to it.
The past week, I've been going to school, having diner, doing homework and chatting with the few people here who have not yet taken off for Easter Break. Easter Break is a sixteen day holiday for ANU students. Most students have assessments and essays due before Easter, and then they go home for the break. My assessments have been postponed because we had two guest speaker workshops this week. One taught us about contemporary shibori (Japanese tie-dye, manipulation of cloth into sculpture and more) and the other talked about using non-conventional materials in hand-knitting. My highlight of the week, however, was when Jill (Weaving Teacher) brought us her unwanted fabrics and August (Taiwan - Netherlands - USA - Sydney) found a pair of heart underwear and pinned it up on the wall.
August has to be one of the most interesting people I've met so far. He wants to study Fashion design in Paris, but his parents want him to get a degree in something more sustainable. Right now he is studying Digital Media, and when he finishes he'll be going straight to France. On the side, he is paid to make dresses out of expensive material ($600 a meter) for Ambassador's wives, and he sings Opera in Sydney. He is also, possibly, the best smelling guy I've ever met.
For Easter break, I am going to New Zealand on the 14th for twelve days. Twelve days isn't long enough, but I don't know how to fit it into my time otherwise. And I'm not going to Hobbit Village.
I've had a hard time because I miss you guys and I love the emails I get. I hope I'll be able to write blogs at least every second day in New Zealand.
Love Sharon

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I found out today that my blog has 'comments'. This means that you can leave a comment for every entry. And there has been comments! I just read them!

So I spent the last weekend in a small farming town called Parkes (approx 4hr drive north of Canberra), Jessica's hometown, with Harriet, Phoebe and Isabel. After 4hrs of listening to Australian Idol's runner up, Shannon Knoll (he sounds like
Bryan Addams), we arrived at Jessica's house in the dark (It's hard to see Parkes in the dark.) Her mother indulged on trying to embarrass Jessica and her younger brother while we ate a meal including homecooked pumpkin. We discussed the likelihood of Martin (brother) making sauteed rabbit in his home ec. class. The conclusion: not likely.
That night I shared a futon with Harriet who woke up in the middle of the night to find me holding her hand. I had no clue - though I remember dreaming that Neal came to Australia. At least now I'm certain that I'm a midnight cuddler.
We were eating breakfast the next morning when Jan (Jessica's mother) commented that one of the grasshoppers got caught between the window and the blinds. Harriet (California) and I got out our cameras as we tried to capture it's neon green body. This amused Jan and Jessica.
We headed out to go sightseeing Parkes where Jessica, confused and unsure about what to show us, took us to the various hills to see the cityscape. I climbed the war memorial to get the best picture. We went to the tourist information office where we learned that Parkes has an Annual Elvis Festival every year, and that we just missed this year's. In retrospect, I should've bought a hat for Beth and John! Then I saw farmland.
Jan reserved a banquet hall at the league club for Jessica's birthday. We all had to wear nice clothes for the evening and it was decided that my five-dollar find was the khakis equivalent to a nun's dress. It made Phoebe laugh every time I tried to dance. We had drinks and schnitzel at the hall were the town's photojournalist showed up to document the event for the town paper. Yep, I'm in the news now . . . in my nun dress.
The next morning, hangover Jessica (she just became of age) and the rest of us headed out to see "The Dish". If you've seen the movie with Sam Neil, you'd know that it's this huge radio telescope. I learned that it was built in Parkes for it's open space, low winds and proximity to Sydney. I also saw it move for ten seconds! And the tourist cafe there had very good coffee.
This year Parkes finally got a K-mart. Because this was new to Jessica, we went to see it before we headed back, and I took a picture to mark the occaision.
Those interesting neon green grasshoppers were everywhere on our way home and smaking into the car as loud as a rock (they're almost twice the size of the ones back in
BC). They turn white on the windshield. And once again, Australian Idol's runner up was serenading our trip home. I saw white birds with red bellies on the way, and a shooting star at night. Nothing really happened in Parkes, but I had a great time.

School? This week I've got some weaving, silkscreening and drawing done. We went out to the lake to draw where Chinese tourists were trying to take their picture with us. I found the experience disturbing and uncomfortable especially because they were trying to tell me what to do in Chinese.

No travelling this weekend though, I've got homework to do.
There are good, laidback people here I've been having laughs with. Most people, as the usual case, don't understand my cooky, odd, sometimes not funny humor like you guys do. There have been many awkward silences.
I can't walk anywhere at night here without starring at the southern cross. I'll probably keep looking for it when I come back.
Love you guys,