In a tribute to my last post about New Zealand...I have decided to blog about 10 things that I think are corky, weird, interesting, or badass about the country. It is kind of like David Letterman's top 10 list, but it is Andrea Galant's list of random things about NZ in no particular order. I hope you enjoy. (Since I started writing this blog, I am now in Australia....some of the things below also pertain to Australia, but since I was introduced to them in NZ....that is where I will give credit. Sorry Aussies...I visited the Kiwi's first!)
Where else can you hitch safely in the world....ummmm NO WHERE ELSE!
The crime rate is so low here it is kind of scary. Don't people ever trip out and go 'postal"...well, with only 4 million people living here, gorgeous scenery, and a laid back lifestyle.....you begin to understand that they have something figured out that most of the world is missing.
The other day (after an unsuccessful attempt at seeing whales in Kaikoura bc the weather was too bad) I ended up getting side tracked and missed my bus to Christchurch. Normally this would not have been a problem, because I would have just gotten the next bus out, but it was my first time in NZ that I had someone picking me up from the station. Of course, the first time I have some sort of accountability and I miss my dang bus. No worries though, I called the girl that was picking me up and sorted it out. Then realized there were no buses out the rest of that day. Soooooo...here it was...my ultimate hitchhiking trip looking me in the face. I was alone and I had to get to Christchurch, which was 2 hours away...hitching was my only option. It took about 30 seconds for Niel from the UK to pull over and give me a ride. We had a great chat and I made it to my destination safely. I hope that hitching remains a safe form of transport for many years to come in NZ.
My friend Alan is kind of a linguist...he has studied several languages. He always thinks it is interesting to hear the different words that are used around the world. Below is a list of words that we came up with that are different then what we say in the states.
thanks - cheers
friend - mate
that's cool - "good on ya"
How are you doing? - How ya going?
"for here or to go" - "dine in or take-away"
sweet potato - kumara
yellow light-amber light (in reference to stop lights)
to have dinner - to have tea
a lot - heaps
intense - full on
calm down - easy on
convenient store - dairy
real - proper
trash - rubbish
salty - savory
granola - muesli
thrift store - opportunity store
awesome - "sweet as..bro!"
The currency is similar to the states except that they do not have pennies. Their smallest currency is a 10 cent coin. Which I think it really awesome because pennies are just a hassle anyways. The only thing that does not make sense is that they still price goods in cents....so something may cost $3.99 or you may get some tomatoes for $2.32....so then you wonder, how can I pay you 2.32 when I don't have any pennies. Well it's easy, you just round to the nearest 10th. So that would be 2.30 cents. Now, why the hell don't they just price it to $2.30 cents to begin with?
4. Adding an "R" to words that end in "A" ex: Australia=Australi'r or India=Indi'r or Olivia Newton John= Olivi'r Newton John
I think that this takes place in both New Zealand and Australia.....people say these words with such confidence that I haven't got the heart to ask them why??? WHY PUT AN "R" AT THE END OF THE WORD??? Finally, I asked my Aussie friend, Kirsty about the weird phenomenon and she didn't even know what I was talking about. So I started to point it out when she would put the "r" on the end of words. Once she realized the odd pronunciation, she explained that if a word ends in "a", then they will put an "r" at the end of the word only if it is followed by another word because they are lazy and it is easier for them to pronounce it that way with their accent. So, there you go....the official answer by a true Australian!
5. SOCIAL HEALTH CARE
Among many things, they have gotten the health care figured out pretty good. It is all socialized and from talking to the locals, they think positively about the system. Even if they have to ride in an ambulance, the government asks for a donation instead of demanding payment. When a woman has a baby, they have a program in which they send someone over to help get the new mother started in caring for the child....for a few weeks she has help getting acquainted with her new life. All of this is part of the health care program. Keep in mind, though, the country is small with only 4 million people. On top of that, they don't have a huge military cost. So, with those factors involved...it makes it easy to manage social health care without having ridiculous tax costs. Even the Kiwi's agreed that it would probably not be as successful in a larger country such as the States. But still, I am a bit jealous....
6.FLAVORED TUNA CANS
Now, I have never seen these in the States before, but they may be in existence. Sorry if this is not unique to this part of the world, but it is where I was introduced to this glorious product.
They have cans of tuna here that are already flavored. For instance, you can get tomato & basil tuna, savory onion tuna, Mexican tuna salad, sweet Thai chili tuna, lemon/pepper tuna, sun dried tomato & olive tuna.....etc. I have been living off of this stuff since I got here. You just buy some crackers and a can and you don't even need any utensils to eat a nice meal. I know that the states have flavored tuna in those pouches, but I have never seen them in the can...AND with this many options. Come on States....get with the program.....flavor the tuna in the cans! If you don't think there is a market for it, then you are wrong. Andrea Galant will keep you in business.
Marmite is a spread made from yeast extracts, a by-product of beer brewing. In researching this product, I now realize that it originated in the UK. However, New Zealand developed a different version of marmite in 1919 so that is the one that I am referring to :)
Nikal, this girl I stayed with in Christchurch, gave me my first taste of this "savory" spread. Remember the word section...savory means salty! Really really SALTY!!!!! You toast some bread, spread some butter on it, and then spread a thin layer of marmite over that. Honestly, I didn't mind it too much. I like salty food so I wasn't repulsed by the taste. I imagine it to be like beer....it is an acquired taste. I am sure if I lived in New Zealand long enough I would have began eating it on a regular basis.
Oh who am I kidding....the spread was weird!! I would prefer butter and jam over marmite any day!
8. TRAMPING (hiking)
New Zealand has gotten the tramping thing figured out. They have 100s of trails throughout the country. They spend a lot of money on national park preservation and trail maintenance. If you are a beginner (such as myself), they have plenty of trails that are well marked and easy to get to. If you are an experienced tramper - they have trails for you too. You can do your own navigation and use survival techniques to get through the tramp. Since the country is not densely populated, you can walk days without ever seeing any sign of civilization. I think that New Zealand has some of the best hiking in the world!
9. ONE-HANDED SAUCE PACKETS
This is one of the more "brilliant" ideas I have discovered in New Zealand. One night after a few beers, Alan and I attended a professional rugby match. We waited in line to get some chicken n' chips. The lady handed me the basket of food with these unique looking sauce packets. I stared at the packets inquisitively for a few moments. Then realized that all I had to do was squeeze the packet with one-hand, over my food and out came the sauce. You don't have to tear the packet open or anything. At the exact same time I was pondering this, I heard Alan behind me ask the same questions out loud that went through my head. "These are weird packets...I wonder how you WOOOOOOWWWWW Shit!" I looked back to see that Alan had figured out how they worked as he squirted himself in the face with the sauce. They work really good if you have them aimed towards the food.
I am actually really surprised that the Americans didn't come up with this invention first. It is a way to get the food into your mouth sooner...with less effort. How much lazier can we get! Such a fantastic idea.
10. SWEET THAI CHILI SAUCE
So this one I have as number 10 and it is actually the final and the best thing that I have discovered in New Zealand. Yes, I realize that we have sweet Thai chili sauce in America....you can pick it up at any Asian market or the ethnic food isle in the grocery store. But I don't think Americans have realized how amazing this sauce is. Since New Zealand is so close to South East Asia, they have a lot of Asian restaurants and street vendors. They have incorporated some of the Asian foods into every day life, such as Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. I first discovered this sauce when I ordered some "kumara" wedges. I asked for tomato sauce since that is clearly the best thing that goes on wedges. The lady told me that each packet of tomato sauce was .40 cents each, but that the wedges came with sour cream and sweet Thai chili sauce. I thought this was the strangest combination of foods ever, but I decided to try it out. OH MY GOODNESS! The fusion of flavors in my mouth exploded. Salty, sweet, with cold sour cream to combine the textures.....so amazing! It was much better then boring old ketchup. Since that experience, I started noticing Sweet Thai Chili Sauce everywhere. People put it on everything. I bought a bottle and started spicing up my meals at the hostels....its great on steamed veggies, in soup, on chicken or fish, on kebabs...you can put it on almost anything! The sauce is even an option at Subway...mayo, mustard, or sweet Thai chili? Let me just say...during this cultural journey that I am on right now I am bound to take a few things back home with me. New thoughts, perceptions, ideas, and philosophies......and sweet Thai chili sauce!
I hope you enjoyed my top 10 list of random things from New Zealand. This country was amazing and there are 1000s of wonderful reasons to go and visit the place. The things that I listed above were just a few that I experienced and thought that I should share. Most guide books or professional travelers would tell you about the highest peaks, deepest lakes, or strongest waterfalls, but me, Andrea Galant (amateur travel writer and spiritual learner) wants to take you off the beaten path and give you some real insight into the places that I visit.
On to Australia......
After immigrations during the Swine Flu fiasco (actually it was one of the easiest immigrations ever. I just had to walk through a thermal chamber and they tested to see my body temperature.) I am now in Sydney, Australia and staying with my friend Kirsty. Some of you may have met Kirsty when she lived in Austin a few years ago, but she returned home to Australia and is now married and expecting her first child. She has a wonderful condo near Dee Why Beach and her and her husband, Glen, have been fantastic hosts. They drove me around the city and up to the Blue Mountains. For the next few days I am going to travel to the city on my own and see some of the world famous sites, like the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Aquarium.
You know that image you get in your head when you picture what a place looks like. Well, my image of Sydney is true... Good looking men, surfers, beaches, street cafes, sunny weather, rolling hills, cliffs, harbours, sailboats, did I mention good looking men?......it is all true! The image that I had is exactly what this place actually looks like.
Cheers mates....GOOD ON YA!