Sunday, December 11, 2011

Favourite Five ... (plus 2)

I thought I'd join the postings on your favorite five photos of the year that I took (well, there's 5 I took plus 2 others) .... Thanks to Roger for the idea .....

With my travels I have many more photos that I love. There have been so many highlights during 2011 ... So many great life stories that I have been able to experience share ....

So, here goes ...

Part of the NZ leg of my trip .... South Island .... South end of the Queenstown Lakes with Big Bertha .... Reflective of the glorious riding roads we have.

Riding over the Ureweras on a cruiser .... Absolute madness and a real adrenalin rush.

Malaysia .... On Blue Bertie ... In the middle of the jungle and lost. Awesome!

Me on blue bertie in Malacca

The smiling machine gun wielding policeman (Malaysia) .... Love this photo .. :)

Thailand ..... And of course meeting this most beautiful man who has helped me find my fun, laughter and joy of life again ... Xx

Plus one more for good measure ... Back home in New Zealand ... Ponsonby Road ....

For me 2011 has included many of the highest highs and a couple of the lowest lows in my life ... 2012 is about regrouping, getting my finances on track again and working hard so we can plan the next exciting chapter in life :)

....and a huge thanks must go to my readers who have joined me along my life journey ... It has been great fun writing my blog and I thank you very much for your support and kind words.

......Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Reality ....

So, sitting at my desk in the office I am digging deep to find the motivation to be focussed and get a couple of sales under my belt. At the back of my mind is the nagging issue of money and paying off my debt.

With only a couple of weeks until Christmas, activity is beginning to slow, or rather signing people up to sell is quite difficult as it is the last thing on their minds. This means trying to set things up for the new year so that I come back all guns blazing becasue the cycle of selling takes time. List a house in January, run the marketing programme, find a buyer in Jan/February and hopefully get paid at the end of February. By February it will be 11 months since a pay cheque and seriously tough by then, so I need to stay focussed.

If by February I have no properties to sell, I will have to make some hard decisions. It may mean renewing my teaching certificate and picking up a few days teaching, or going back full time, at least to get some money rolling in.

I never envisanged getting back to it would be so difficult, and rather than making me motivated to get up at 6.00am and working like a crazy bugger, it has made it so incredibly hard to get motivated. I just need to dig deep and get on with it.

The beauty of my job is that if I can get a couple of sales under my belt I can knock off some of that debt much quicker than if I was in a "regular" job, but in the same token, without a sale under my belt, it is not a nice experience as it means no money coming in.

So, that is the reality! 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Post "trip of a lifetime" melancholy

So, where to now??????

It has been a few days since I have posted on here as I have been dealing with rejoining the "real world" and I have to be honest that I am struggling a little bit.

Back to real life .. And work ....

Of course it has been lovely catching up with my family and friends, however, looking around my city, going in to my office and lots of little things have made me feel somewhat confused and a little down about what happens next.

Obviously, with a trip comes cost and as much as I would like to pretend I could retire now, the reality is I can't. What I have found even more interesting is the fact that I seem to be seeing so many things with different eyes as when I left. Things that seemed so vitally important to me before, just seem unimportant now.

Firstly, coming from such a large city back to Auckland everywhere and everything is just so quiet. There is just not the hustle bustle. This is both good and bad.

Secondly, I have noticed how rough round the edges kiwi blokes are. There is not the same openess and kindness and I so worry about Yammie feeling safe here. We have already been yelled at once and we were simply walking down the street. The immaturity of the rugby hooligans who celebrated the rugby world cup and were screaming down the streets just put me right off, and I know made Yammie feel a bit scared.

I really really miss the people in Thailand.

This morning someone complained about the fact that I had a couple of things sitting in my basement carpark and that it looked messy. This simply enraged me as all i could think of is all those people's lives in Thailand whose livelihoods have been ruined with the flooding, and people working their butts off simply to be able to eat, and I thought to myself, how fucking pathetic. (excuse my language)

I went in to my office yesterday and the thought of going back to work just leaves me feeling sluggish. The other thing that I have been struck with is a sense of guilt - I started pulling things out of my storage and I thought to myself ... There are people in the world with nothing and here I am with all this "stuff" ... I don't need 10 towels and everything else that I have collected over the years.

Alongside this I have Yammie with me which is the one thing that I am happy about. In saying that I am constantly worried that he is okay and that I am keeping him busy, and the fact that life is just so different here. Technology is great though and he is able to talk with his family and communicate with his friends which make me feel better. My family have also embraced him as have my close friends and I am so very grateful to them all for this. I have also introduced him to a couple of people and I am hopeful that they can build friendships so he can create an extra support network. Of course we both have some feelings of separation anxiety I reckon as we have basically spent 24 hours 7 days a week together for the last four months and as I get busier there will be times when we he cannot come with me, so a job and friends are so very important.

....written a little later .... I did some googling and apparently these feelings I am having are quite normal and there are a few things I can do about it ... So here's my list of ways to combat the melancholy ..

1. A few people have suggested that I could write a book about my travels ... I kind of like this idea so I'm going to spend a bit of time pulling all these experiences together into a semi coherent way ... Check back in a couple of years. :)
2. We have yammies work visa to sort out, so we need to begin this process.
3. I will plan a few "mini trips" for Yammie and me over the next three months.
4. I need something big to look forward to (and to work toward) so I will sit down and look at where we want to be in One to two years and work towards it, then it gives me a reason to put my head down and bum up to make some serious money so we can do it.
5. I will make an active effort to reconnect with old friends and have people over more - we are already doing this and I am really enjoying hosting at home rather than out at restaurants all the time.

Hopefully, these should all help kick start the next part of my life journey.

So, onwards and upwards... :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau and Home ....

Sorry about the delay in getting this post out. Between bad internet coverage, zooming around with limited time and long flights home, this post is overdue.....

Written last Friday

As I write this it is Friday morning and we will soon check out of the hotel and head to the airport. It has been a very nice stay here for the last two nights at Lebua at State Tower.

We met with our landlord yesterday so got the sign off of the apartment. We also dropped the car off. Thursday night was a farewell party for Yammie from his friends. We went to a huge place called "holland beer" where they had a stage about three times the size of the Auckland town hall with live music and great entertainment. A couple of the girls got fairly emotional as you can imagine as they have very little knowledge and understanding of my country except that it it a he'll of a long way away. Being very close, they are of course pulled between feeling excited for Yammie about this amazing opportunity and being sad about him leaving.

I have gotten to know them well and have grown to love his close knit circle of girlfriends as they are incredibly loyal with each other and as is the case with gen y? They Share all their highs and lows together. They have embraced me during my time here and I will miss them too.

"the girls"

Tonight, running down Soi Silom was a huge festival to do with the local temple which has caused chaos with the already bad traffic and has really encompassed everything I love about Thailand ... Throngs of people, crazy roads, a heap of cheap good food and great atmosphere.

Written on Sunday - hong kong and Macau

We left Bangkok on friday and had a short flight to Hong Kong where we had an easy run through imigration. We caught a taxi to the hotel where we were immediatly disappointed with the accom, but only three nights so we could cope. After a leisurly stroll to stretch our legs and grab abite to eat we crashed in to bed for the night where i proceeded to feel quite ill probably from a combination of bad food and a lack of sleep.

On Saturday we decided to head to Macau for the day but decided once we were there to stay for the night at the venetian casino and hotel where they have 3000 over the top hotel rooms aspart of a ridiculously large complex. It was totally worth it and shortly before we were due to leave I managed to win a bit of money which meant a bit of shopping and it had covered our weekend their. excellent! I bought a really nice wallet, Yammie a bag, and my mum a little gift. We caught the ferry back to spend our last night in Hong Kong before the long trip home tomorrow.

It is with a surprisingly heavy heart that I think about packing tomorrow and heading home. I feel excitement about catching up with my friends and family and of course having Yammie come to NZ with me and showing home round and seeing where life takes us, but I am filled with this huge sense of sadness that this trip of a lifetime is nearly at an end. It has changed me in so many ways and there is no doubt that I am worried about rejoining the workforce. I have definitely left a part of me in Thailand too. Coming to Hong Kong there are just so mNy stark differences. I do so hope Yammie doesn't get a shock when he finds that not everyone is open and kind and respectful of others.

Written in New Zealand

We had a very long trip home before getting the Spanish inquisition at the airport and been lead to a different area at the airport where we were questioned further, then after an extra hour or so at immigration we were allowed to go. Yay! We were in New Zealand.

Yay! In new zealand ... Cold, but we're home!

....more to come in a few days :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's packing up time ....

This morning we nervously made the trip to NZ immigration to pick up yammies passport which has now got his visa stamped in it. I must say it was a huge relief to finally see it and confirm that we had finally got the green light. We could now start the organization for jumping on the plane on Friday.

The first job was to re confirm our flights - first to hong kong then on to NZ three days later. The next was to organize to meet our landlord for a final inspection - this we do tomorrow. Next on the list was a tidy up of my beard and what little hair I have at a local barber who did an outstanding job if I do say so myself. Then on to buy a new big bag as I have collected a few extra clothes and a few nic nacs. Then on to the post office to send a box of stuff home by sea.

I have also booked us in to a really nice hotel here for our last two nights. Although 5 star, we got a super hot special for one night and for the second we are using our gift voucher we got from them during our last visit their which is one free night. Hopefully it will work out well because they can then ferry us out to the airport on Friday.

I've also got to do a few practical things for at home like get the power turned back on and phone. I also want to organize a bit of a party :)

We were very lucky to return to bangkok on Friday as the flooding up north has worsened with many of the main roads cut off and flooded. Millions of people have been affected with loss of farmland and homes and businesses flooded. It is a shocker that's for sure.

I am filled with a huge amount of excitement about taking Yammie back to New Zealand and obviously seeing my friends and family after a few months. I am also filled with a great deal of sadness as I have grown to really love Thailand and the people. I could actually happily live here if I found an appropriate job but that is maybe for the future. The focus now is enjoying my last few days "on the road"', helping Yammie get accustomed to a new country and culture and somehow get re accustomed with the idea of work!!

I am truly a different person to the one that left nearly six months ago and I wouldn't change a single experience, but I will wait to do a greater amount of reflection until I am back in New Zealand.

Things that used to stress me out seem somewhat irrelevant now that I have experienced new cultures and got first hand experience of hardships that people face, and one of the most awesome things I have recaptured, is the joy to laugh at life and myself. This is something that is quite magical in Thailand, and i think one thing that is misunderstood. We in the western world are obsessed with "things" but here, if you have friends and very little else, you can share a meal, have a hell of a good time and laugh about life. I really love that.

The generosity that I have been shown by those that I have met in my travels has been something I will forever treasure. I have been fortunate - yes, I've done and been to some "tourist spots" but I have had so many more enriching experiences wandering down the back roads here in Bangkok, or meeting communities through Yammie - experiences that to me beat any coach trip, or tourist day trip hands down.

Last night we went and had some dinner down the road at a road side stall - I nicknamed them "our friends" because I have loved their food - prawns, squid and Tom yum - authentic, not "falangafied" - and all for just a few dollars. I am really really going to miss the food and the propensity for Thai people to eat, and eat, and eat. I will miss the copious food stalls with questionable hygiene where I have never once got sick, I will miss the way people smile with genuine happiness when you try speaking Thai. I will miss people's genuine kindness with me and Yammie and their joy of celebrating a happy, loving relationship.

I have had the exact life experiences that I wanted, and after all, I didn't come to Thailand to eat steak and mashed potatos - I can do that at home. I came to experience new cultures, to understand how people live and to really experience the countries I have been through. I do believe I have achieved this..... Plus, I have managed to drink and eat my way through my travels, sometimes to excess, and still managed to lose 12 kg's.! ... Yay!

My life in a number of ways has and is not the most conventional you will come across - and that's how I like it.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Friday, September 30, 2011

150 days traveling!

Well, I cant believe it but I have now been traveling for 150 days and it's just about over. Honestly, could keep going for another six months quite happily. In one week we fly out to Hong Kong for three nights then it's the long plane trip home. Fittingly we are flying Air New Zealnd which will be yammies first experience of NZ culture apart from me of course :)

We have managed to get out of the hotel. I made a call to Avis and they were great. They had an office at Chiang Mai airport so organized for us to leave the car at the hotel and they wouldpick it up when the water had receeded enough to get it out and they gave us another one which we picked up at the airport.

The hotel had organized a truck to pick us up at the hotel and shuttle us across the flooded streets, then a minivan took us to the airport for no charge. I had been for a walk this morning and had contemplated trying with the car but so pleased we didnt as the water was very very high and we would have got swamped.

These pics are all roads not the river!

Now we are returning to Bangkok the focus of the next six days for me is kick starting my life again in New Zealand on my return. More on that later.

In the meantime I am trying to figure out how long I (and Yammie later) need to work before we can travel to another destination.

It's all pretty damn exciting really!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Surrounded by flooding!

Well, our trip today to Chiang Rai is not going to happen because we can't get our car out currently from our hotel as we are surrounded by water on all sides. The river has burst it's banks in a number of places and basically much of inner Chiang Mai is underwater including roads, homes and businesses.

I have just been for a walk and waded through thick brown river water to try and see whether we had a route we could take to get the car out. The problem is that it is a little car and not a four wheel drive. Looking at the local map there was one possibility apart from the two main roads which are completely underwater. Unfortunately wandering down the third option it was apparent that although part were not underwater, other parts of the road were deep with water but worse, for the locals, Manu of the homes were flooded too.

The thing is that maybe three streets away from the river is fine but because our hotel (holiday inn) is situated right next to the river it has made coming and going by car inaccessible. In saying that, Thai people seem to just get on with life with a smile and a laugh. Shops that are very nearly flooded are open, stalls on the side of the road are serving food and big trucks are dropping people off at work. See pictures below.

So, hopefully the river may have gone down just enough tomorrow so we can head off. We may cancel the Chiang Rai leg of the journey and head straight back to Bangkok but we will see how we go.

As I said to Yammie - the main thing is that we are okay. I had a huge breakfast this morning so I'm good for a couple of days. Haha.

We are lucky - we are just passing through. It is the locals with flooded homes and businesses I feel for.

Anyway, we will see what happens with the river in the next 24 hours.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Days 146-148 Chiang Mai flooding

So, after returning to Bangkok on Sunday from up north we stopped in to NZImmigration on Monday to drop off three more pieces of information they required. I am going to leave any comments on this for nowand will return to the topic when we have yammies passport back.

On Tuesday we ooed and ahhed about coming to Chiang Mai or not just in case we were asked for more information, but as we don't have any more information to give we decided to come anyway. We left at about midday and struck heavy rain and some nasty flooding on the way up which has caused much destruction to farmland.

I also managed to get a speeding ticket on the way out of Bangkok along the tollway. I was going more than a little bit too fast, but with Yammie beside me and a few broad smiles we negotiated the fine down to 200 bhat :) ... Yay!

As it was nearly 800 km's it was great to share the driving with my man who is doing a great job and really takes on board my constant suggestions (read nagging :))

Arriving at about 9.00pm we checked in then wandered down the road for some noodles before retiring early as it had been a big driving day.

Today the rain had obviously moved north as the river here has burst it's banks with much of the houses and businesses close to the river flooded. We actually unwittingly were in the middle of it as we were heading back to the hotel from looking at the Noi Su Thep Temple which was very impressive and had to cross the river to get to our hotel which is right on the riverside. We ended up driving through some deep brown river water that was fast flooding the streets. Thankfully our little car made it through nd we didn't get lost. I did say a quiet prayer as the water got quite deep and although I wasn't scared for our safety I did have visions of the car stalling and it would not have been a pretty site.

Below - flooding in Chiang Mai

(outside our hotel) - on the other side of the river much more severe.

Homes and businesses and roads flooded..

Tomorrow we are heading to Chiang Rai. :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

I'm back!

 Somehow I managed to log back in after a mere 8 years away from the site! I have so much to say, and so much to add, however, just logging ...