photo journal – New Zealand ’11

Now that my exams are done and I have basically two months free, I’ve been sifting through stuff on my computer. I found a lot of photos from my vacations and basically the past six years of my life, the former of which I thought would be appropriate to share here, starting with the oldest bunch of pictures I have – New Zealand, July 2011.

Let me just start by saying this is neither my first, nor my most recent, trip to New Zealand. (As an Asian kid, does this make me seem spoilt, since my parents bring me out of Asia so much…?) It’s the first trip that I semi-vividly remember, probably because I was at that age where things started to matter to me, and also because it was the first trip where I had my own camera. I took a LOT of photos of everything that fascinated me, and going through these photos and remembering why I took them is fascinating to me now.  It was  really nice tripping down memory lane, and experiencing a fraction of what I felt when I was there.

(control+ click the photos to open them up in a new tab!)

1. We had regular breakfast every day. We travelled around via campervan (so now I have no idea how the transport system in New Zealand works) so we parked at one of the Top 10 Holiday Parks scattered around the country. In the morning, we’d slap on down jackets over our pyjamas and pop over to the communal kitchen nearby, where warm air would greet us when we walked in. (July in New Zealand was cold, way colder than any Hong Kong winter.) It’d get warmer as my aunt cooked and the air got thicker with the smell of oil and we filled our stomachs with instant noodle or rice or whatever else was on the menu, and dip a little colder with the glass of juice we washed down breakfast with.

2. Like I said, we travelled around via campervan, which meant the whole vacation was just one big road trip. My dad would drive, my mom would navigate, my aunt and uncle would sit in the living room of the campervan, and my sister and I would sit at the back. On days we got lucky, the bed wouldn’t have been folded back into couches, and my sister and I would be lying on the bed as the campervan rocked over the roads. The windows at the back were the widest, and we always got the best views.

3. Our first stop at any town was the information centre, which we just called ‘I’ because of its icon, and because it was easier to integrate into conversations in Cantonese. Each information centre was so nicely furnished, spacious, and unique, packed with maps, postcards, and souvenirs. This is one of the sculptures (statue?) outside the centre, which I guess piqued the interest of past me because of how nice it looked.

4. Each holiday park was a little different from the last, but all of them were woody and homey. There were grass and trees everywhere, cabins lined up along the road, parking spots and charging sites for campervans, a playground with the ground covered in wooden bits, and a swimming pool-slash-sauna that we’d take advantage of whenever we could. The holiday parks were always so quaint, quiet, and were really a getaway from life back in Hong Kong.

5. I don’t know what other people do as tourists in New Zealand; all I remember us doing is visiting small towns and the countryside. In the countryside, we saw a LOT of sheep. From afar (ie. gazing at the mountains as we drove on the lone road), they looked like fuzz on worn clothes (pilling?), and up close, they just looked like actual cotton fuzz. As a city girl, it was one of the few times I saw sheep, and as something I don’t see often, they were pretty memorable to me. This picture also just sums up the whole New Zealand trip. Sheep.

6. If I’m not wrong, this is one of the beaches next to one of the Top 10 holiday parks. It was around twilight, and all the adults were in the communal kitchen preparing dinner while babysitting my sister. I had a torch in my hand and a camera in the other, the sea stretching infinitely and a wide sky above me. It was one of the rare times I was away from the rest of my family, so I had time for some 11 year old thoughts to run free.

7. This is it. This marks the start of and how I got into sunsets. My heart basically swelled at how big the sky was, how vivid the colours were, and how cute the clouds looked. I have this exact photo printed out and stuck up in the house to bring more colour into our lives and to remember the good times. It was a chilly night, but it was worth it.

8. We don’t have enough land in Hong Kong for residential areas, let alone for amusement or entertainment. It was my first time on a luge ride, and I loved the thrill and exhilaration it brought. Just cruising down a road in a makeshift car, appreciating the trees and middle-of-nowhere-ness, and a ride back up to the beginning at the end of the winding road.

9. There was a lot of rain throughout the trip, and even more rainbows. Rainbows aren’t common in Hong Kong, so I was utterly mesmerised (or, in recent slang, SHOOK) when I saw not one, not two, but like a million of these guys all across the sky. Looking through my photos of this trip, I’m pretty sure a sizeable fraction of them are just photos of faint rainbows.

10. As I said, all we did in New Zealand was go to small towns and the countryside. The waters were so blue in a way that seemed unnatural and chemical, but at the same time so blue it seemed natural and, y’know, the colour of water in children’s storybooks. Seeing so much nature was a new, unforgettable experience for me, as all I was used to was the endless landscape of buildings, buildings, and more buildings.

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