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New Zealand

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NYE for me seems to have an ongoing theme, and that’s of me puking. I was thinking about what I did last year and where I was, and that was me hovered over a dirty nasty public toilet.

I kicked off the New Year in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I spent the evening with strangers and a man who identified himself as, “The Clint Eastwood of Yogya.” He snuck in a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label that can’t be found anywhere but the airports because of Java’s strict liquor laws and offered to share some with me. I was also with another group who I met from Instagram, and they shared arak (Indonesian moonshine). So I was mixing apple flavored rice wine and whiskey. I know better to be mixing, but I’m a glutton for punishment and never seem to learn my lesson.

I barely made it to the new year. I began throwing up in the restroom of the bar I was at and recorded a video of me pissed off as I transitioned into the new year with mascaraed smeared eyes and puke breath. Grrrreeat, Celia. You’re so typical American now.

Not my finest moment.

This is the third year I spent it vomiting, but this time in Te Anau, New Zealand. It’s like I’m marking my territory. “It’s not a new year without spraying all over the place like a dog, right?” …says no one ever.

But I’m proud it wasn’t my fault this time. I got a 24-hour bug the day before NYE, so my stomach was too sensitive to drink much.

I ended up meeting with a friend I met while sailing across the South Pacific. We met at a boatyard on a tiny atoll in French Polynesia over a conversation about the shitty wifi and trying to identify who bought out all the chicken leaving us stuck with canned foods and pasta. Then we found each other again in Tahiti where we were both stuck for what felt like an eternity due to boat delays. Then again in the tiny town of Te Anau. She was staying at a motel across the street from where I was staying. Life is funny.

We gave each other a big hug, had a glass of champers (I wasn’t going out like that with no champagne into the New Year), and then walked a few minutes before midnight to the lake where fireworks were scheduled to go off.

For a small town, I was a bit impressed by the amount of buzz. The usually quiet streets were lively with music and crowds.

BOOM. Fireworks!

Wait, what? I didn’t countdown! Nobody counted down! I feel cheated. Why wasn’t there a countdown!?

All whining *cough*wining* aside, it was a pretty perfect display with unobstructed views despite the rainy weather. I loved that I could show up a few minutes before, not have to elbow my way through the crowds, and even more – I remembered it all!☺

It was a long travel day waking up at 3 am in Melbourne to catch my connecting flight in Sydney at 9:50 am to Auckland. I was pretty nervous I was going to miss my flight to Auckland because I was cutting it so close with a different airline. Jetstar is infamous for being late, but I took a chance because I knew it was the first flight of the day and I really had no choice since I was dealing with computer stuff over the last few days.

The timing ended up working out perfectly and I arrive into Auckland in the early afternoon. The airport is much smaller than I remember for being a big city in New Zealand. I didn’t see an area I could buy a SIM card, but in a way, I didn’t want to either knowing I’d only be around for 24 hours.

I had the option of taking the Skybus to the city and then catching a bus from there to my Airbnb but I was feeling lazy having my heavy dive bag. I couldn’t reach my host because the wifi was weak at SYD airport. So I had to wing it and hope he was home. I kept asking the taxi how soon before we’d get there. The cab was WAY more than I thought at about $100 NZD, about $70 USD. Ouch!

I don’t know that I’d normally choose a Chinese man as my Airbnb host but he said he was gay-friendly so I thought he might be pretty outgoing. I arrive at an apartment in a very residential neighborhood and it’s not as centrally located as I thought. I tried ringing the intercom but no answer. The taxi driver allowed me to use his phone and my host just got to the gym but said he’d turn back around. He arrived after 10 minutes and let me up to his apartment. It was on the second floor, and he helped carry my dive bag upstairs.

His place is clean, but I wasn’t as excited as I was about my stay in Melbourne. He shows me my way around and said he’ll be back in a couple hours. I get settled and noticed he had a bathtub. He didn’t mention where the hot tub was so I opted in for second best. I don’t remember the last time I had a hot bath outside of the massage I had recently at my Bali hotel, but it was really hard to relax at the Bali spa because I wasn’t sure how long was appropriate to stay after a massage.

I forgot to buy shampoo because I was trying to reduce weight in my bag and so I figured he wouldn’t mind if I used his. The water was piping hot and I just laid there soaking. I exhale long and hard. This feels amazing. I wish I had a bubble bath, but it’s good enough. I lied there thinking about my last few months on Flores Island and how exhausted my body really was from all of that hard laborious work. Being a divemaster is almost slave work, or maybe it was the company I was working for being overly demanding. Who cares. It’s over and now I’m in beautiful Auckland for a day, but I’m almost too tired to explore.

I let the water run out of the tub and then turn the shower on washing the rest of my body a second time. I turn the water off and see a squeegee off to the side and decide to be nice and squeegee the ½ glass door that covered the shower area.

The lights are still off in the apartment so I decide to venture out. I hate venturing without GPS. I guess I don’t hate venturing. I hate getting lost and like being efficient with my time.

There weren’t many close walking options to restaurants but Yang said there was a Japanese restaurant across the stop light. I decide to go there since it’s dark, wet outside, and I’m feeling lazy. I read a few reviews on Google about their service and food. It didn’t seem too impressive and rated 3 ½ stars out of 5 but I decided I’d go with it anyway.

I arrive and ask if I could take a seat at the sushi bar. She said they were full with reservations but had a place for me outside if I wanted. I accepted and she said she’d even put the heat lamp on. I started with a ½ dozen raw oysters and an assortment of sushi. Both were okay but not anything worth mentioning. I also requested a large hot sake. I didn’t feel like getting fancy tonight. Usually, I’d pair it with an Asahi but it was $8 and didn’t seem worth it when I could get a 6 pack for that in the States. I am still hungry and order some of the pork belly. It was okay. Then I ordered a plate of rice and minced chicken to go. I ask for one more saki while I wait for my to-go order. The food eventually comes out and I ask for the check. I ask a second and third time – eventually saying that if I didn’t get the check in two minutes I was going to walk out. That was after 30+ minutes of waiting of course. I understand all the reviews about the service. Needless to say, I finally got my check. This was the first time I acted in a very Western manner. If I were in SEA, I probably wouldn’t have said that. Funny how we acclimate to what we’re accustomed to.

After dinner, I walk back home and into my room. I hear the TV on in the living room and try being social with Yang. I ask him if there’s a place I can pick up wine around the area. He suggested a local convenient store next to the Japanese restaurant and then a supermarket about 10 minutes walk away. I decide to make the run and stop by the first store but they didn’t sell alcohol so I walked to the market about 10 minutes away. I was a little buzzed from the sake so it was a fun dancing sort of stroll. I get there and decide I was going to drink Porter Ale instead of wine. I pick up a bag of nuts for a late night snack as well.

I get back to the apartment and Yang is still there. I sit at the dinner table and try sparking up a conversation asking him if he’s from Auckland. He then tells his story how he’s from a small tribe in China. Fascinating. He has a Kiwi accent. He then shared his story about how he always loved learning English from middle school and kept practicing and getting great at speaking it. From that opened up opportunities for him to Bangkok and then his friends eventually brought him to Auckland where he’s been for the last long leg of his life. He gets a call in the middle of our conversation. He’s speaking lower as if he didn’t want his conversation to be heard and then excused himself into his room where he stayed the rest of the night. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was his boyfriend. I continued to listen to his Chill sessions music playing from his super large 70” flat screen. Then I decided to go back to my room and put on a movie via Amazon Prime (rental) and called it a night.

The next morning I wake up around 8:30 am and pack my things. I make myself a coffee and see Yang. I tell him I’ll be out between 11-11: 30 am. I guess he has someone coming in at 2 pm. I finish up earlier and call an Uber just before 11 am and decide to leave early. He helps me carry my bag and that was that. A very polite and also a private guy.

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