Backpacking in 82 Days-October 19-26 Final Days in NZ; Start of Asia

We are in Bali now, but here’s a lazy recap of the end of New Zealand and other such endeavors. I’m also having wordpress issues, so ignore the hilarity of BIG pictures.

October 19- It was my 25th birthday, and probably the best one yet. It’s damn near impossible to top what Devyn and I did. We did the Pure Glenorchy: Lord of the Rings scenic tour. It was an early morning, half day tour and after a lot of wine drinking the night before, 8am wasn’t friendly. What this tour does: It’s a 4×4 tour where you get picked up from your accommodation with a small group and they take you to various locations from the film (ie. “boil, mash em, stick em in a stew scene” isengard, Lothlorien. Aside from the nerdgasm, it’s a beautiful scenic experience.

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After, we had some time to kill in Queenstown, being we got back at noon. Now, Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and makes backpacking on a budget difficult. We splurged on a jet boat, but that’s about all we could afford. Bungy jumping, skydiving etc all range from $190-300+ NZD.

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We got an amazing wardrobe with this adventure, clearly.

To top off an excellent birthday, we ventured to Fear Factory Queenstown. It’s hyped as NZ’s scariest haunted house and in the tourist pamphlets, it has some pretty rave reviews. Devyn and I are huge horror fans and don’t scare easily. We think modern day horror sucks and has been dumbed down to torture porn. How scary can this really be?

My hats off to FFQ for they freaked the shitballs out of us. It’s a maze you do in complete darkness and you have to follow these red lights. You’re constantly feeling around in the dark, with “things” feeling around for you. We were pretty much stalked and mocked by a crazy woman the whole time. She laughed maniacally, grabbed us (they can touch you) and turned off our red lights. It’s hard to explain how good they get you without recapping the whole 20 minute maze. What they do well is playing off subtlety, the unknown, and messing with your imagination. It’s what true horror is.

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October 20-23- We left Queenstown and took a long drive to Christchurch. Other than stopping off the side the road to check out an old church, it was an uneventful few days. Christchurch was badly damaged from an earthquake in 2011 and it’s a scene right out of a post-apocalyptic movie. No words can explain how gnarly the damage is. We felt a bit odd and disrespectful taking photos of the damage inflicted. We really just spent the days preparing to leave for Bali.

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Recap on NZ-kiwis are amazing human beings. I’ve said it before, but they live a hobbit lifestyle. Good food, drink, and company is all that’s important. They are incredibly helpful to travelers and were genuinely interested when we mentioned that we’re from California.

We listened to a lot of NZ politics radio and their news mainly concerned the Ebola scare and ISIS. Global news was a larger topic there. Being an island on the other side of the world, their political problems aren’t as large. They had an hour of a vet giving pet advice. It was great! An interesting parallel with them and the states was their “issues” with various Maori people. From what I gathered was that they tend to be the participants in many crimes committed in NZ. However, allegations came out that the police were racist and targeting Maori people much more. Understand the parallel America?

October 23-26. 4am wake up call to get to the airport and start our trek to Denpasar, Indonesia. After a layover in Australia and a 12 hour endeavor, we landed in Bali. It was there where we really felt out of our element and truly on the other side of the world. Mushrooms are legal here, but everything else equates to the death penalty.

Leaving the airport, we were bombarded with people trying to carry our luggage and get a tip out of it, as well as taxi drivers trying to rip you off. Thanks to our Lonely Planet guide, we learned to walk through a parking lot 300 meters away and hail our own.

The drive to our hotel is where it sunk it. Their traffic is an all out free for all. Ironically, the best drivers I have ever seen. On these narrow roads, they know how to maneuver.
Aside from going to Mexico to get drunk when I was 18, this is the first time for myself personally, that I saw first hand poverty. It’s only supposed to get worst as we work our way to Cambodia 3 weeks from now. It’s incredibly humbling.

When Devyn and I return to the states, we have to save up for our wedding, buy cars, get jobs and an apartment. If these are our only problems, we are spoiled. The real Balinese people, (not the hawkers) are beautiful people so it’s pretty heartbreaking.

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That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our few nights in Kuta enjoying the beaches and great/cheap food and beer. It’s another reason we felt terrible; we are living like kings and queens basically at the expense of a poor country. I understand tourism has boosted Bali’s economy, but it sounds like an invalid reason to pat ourselves on the back. I really want to return to the states much more appreciative of what I have.

As a californian, I’m just a lucky person. It’s why I can’t stand nationalism. Unless you have served he country or have overcame obstacles to live here, (those leaving Mexico) your nationalism is justified and God bless you. Everyone else, according to Chris Rock, are just lucky. I’m no better than these people because I was born advantageous. Our goal here is to respect these amazing people to the hugest of our abilities and show our gratitude for their incredible hospitality.

You do learn how to be pushy. Hawkers are always trying to sell the tourists cheap merchandise, such as clothes and tours. They’re always coming up to you trying to force a sale, so while being polite, you have to be pushy back. You can’t blame them, though. They’re just trying to make a living in a tough environment.

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A lot of Australians holiday in Bali. We met an awesome family at our hotel and it was the first time on the trip we really met a cool group at our accommodations and really compared cultures. Until then, it was just crusties in our hostels. Until we visited NZ, Australia, and Bali, I was under the impression everyone hates America. We do suck on a gargantuan level, sure, but when I was in Europe 6 years ago, it was open season on me. Just like we are with others, they were genuinely interested in American and California lifestyles. So, yeah, shut up England (I know not Europe) and France.

Our first few nights were in Kuta. Seeing the poverty of good people made Devyn lose it (I found a good one) and last night, the high level of stray dogs and cats hit me. Unless you’re callus, I guarantee any first time travelers will tear up while visiting Southeast Asia.

We left Kuta to travel to Ubud today. It was an odd and shady circumstance of changing ghetto shuttles 3 different shuttles. While we were slightly on edge, we still had fun.

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Once in Ubud, the Balinese continued to spoil us with kindness. We found a really awesome room 3km from the center of town for $23. That gets you a resort. Devyn told them it was our pre-honeymoon and, well….

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We’re undeserving assholes. Wear right next to rice fields so needless to say, the scenery is awesome.

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Kings 2014 Champs=Good for hockey in California

It’s probably been about 20 minutes (probably even longer once this is posted) since I watched LA King’s Alec Martinez score in double overtime in a game 5 against the New York Rangers to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Easily, the King’s road in the playoffs, for me personally, was the most exciting four rounds of hockey I’ve watched in a while. A few weeks ago it was even hailed that the Western Conference Final between LA and Chicago was classic, fast-paced hockey. Needless to say, watching the King’s in the playoffs has been heart pounding and exciting, with an excellent finish.

Now, before the bandwagoning accusations start flying, let me set the record straight: I’m a diehard Red Wings fan from pre-puberty days and I laugh at modern day Kings fans who don’t know who Barry Melrose is. Below I will demonstrate my proof:

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I’m about 10-years-old here; around two years after the Wings swept the Washington Capitals to be the last team to win the Cup two years in a row.

 

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I also got arrested in October of 2011. Notice anything? That’s right! My face does look chubby!

 

 

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I’m also a huge fan of the sport in general. I played for my high school and won state back in 2006. So does this eliminate any bandwagon allegations yet? If not, well, I can poop on your face if that helps.

 

Back to the topic at hand: the Kings, at the hands of muppet face Darryl Sutter, now lead the three California hockey teams (Anaheim-1 cup, San Jose-0, LA-2) in Stanley Cup Championships. Now, regardless of how you feel about the Kings, set aside all emotions and just hear me out. With LA bringing the Cup to SoCal twice, not only is California slowly being put on the map in regards to hockey, but it seems California residents are finally paying attention to a great sport. Now that the Lakers suck, those alleged sports fan have another local team to root for.

Throughout my childhood, basketball, baseball, and especially football dominated popular sporting events and I was always the outcast watching those pasty Europeans and Canadiens chase a piece of rubber around. Now, California’s basketball teams don’t make it past the second round of the NBA playoffs and the NFL is turning into a circus sideshow, with players bitching about pass interference to get an extra 15 yards. And baseball, well, I’ll try avoid being bias about baseball (it sucks). When the Anaheim Ducks won back in 2007, it brought some minor attention (and yes, bandwagons) to the sport. It was also great seeing Teemu Selanne get his name on the cup. I mean, who doesn’t like that guy? Unfortunately, Anaheim is not a major city like Los Angeles, so the attention is minimal. And let’s be honest: The San Jose Sharks are the San Diego Chargers of hockey. They look great in the regular season, but blow it in the playoffs. I don’t think anyone is waiting around for San Francisco’s unwanted step brother to pull off any magic.

With Los Angeles, people know that name. With Anaheim, I generally had to remind my friends in San Francisco (I spent my college life there) that it’s where Disneyland is. When I say hockey is a great sport, I don’t use “great” lightly. It’s fast, physical, intense and most of all, there’s so much respect in the game. I recommend to anyone who is new to the sport to read The Code. It discusses the aesthetics of fighting in hockey and how wrong people are when they call it “barbaric.” Anyone else notice how at the end of every playoff series there’s a handshake line? There’s so much respect and class in that sport that it’s mind boggling how people watch anything else.

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And I can’t fathom how Superbowl Champs call themselves “world champs.” It’s an American sport! No one else plays it, so I guess technically, you are the best team in the world. But I was too distracted to give a fart during Kurt Russell’s pre game introductions. Going back to class in hockey, watch Teemu Selanne’s post game 7 interview, after the Ducks lost to the Kings earlier this playoff year. It was Selanne’s last NHL game and the Kings pounded their sticks on the ice (it’s a hockey way to convey various positive emotions). I think he sums it up quite nicely. “[Class] it’s what the game is about.”

 

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https://www.evernote.com/shard/s370/sh/374afba9-c68b-4e14-8fb9-1b63e06bff77/35c79a29b5042ae895545803516a749b

Click that ^ please to further your understanding.

Once LA started gaining momentum and looked like a threat in the playoffs back in 2012 (first time since 2001) people started paying attention. I’ve noticed a surge in old friends and companions I had back in high school who started waving the King flag, but flash back to when I’m 16, they didn’t know what icing was. Now, they’re talking hockey smack and going to sports bars to rep their team. Hey, I completely agree with many of the bangwagoning accusations. Yeah, more likely than not, they’re paying attention because the Kings won. The Kings have them. The Ducks had them. The Red Wings have them. There’s no escaping it. But regardless of that, it’s a great stepping stone for hockey to gain more West Coast recognition and fans. Those poor souls who wait all year for a 16 week season (football) of prancing goons, or those who have the time to watch all 8,435 baseball games, now hopefully, have had their eyes opened. There’s a great sport being played and we can finally stop basketball from being played at every restaurant! The Mid-West and East Coast are fine; they don’t need any additional help. The West Coast does! Especially California.

We’re a coastal state. People are surf bums, potheads, hipsters, assholes, and there’s a ridiculous rivalry between NorCal and SoCal, where all the beef is really in the Bay Area for reasons I’ll never understand, other than to toot their own horn. Even if you’re a disgruntled Shark fan, look at the grand scheme of things! We’re not known for this sport on ice, but we’re slowly gaining momentum and fans along the way. It’s the last few sports played with any real heart.

Sure, some of the fans will probably dwindle away once the Kings lose their crown, but to sum all of this up, how I see this, it’s great exposure to one of the greatest sports ever played. The more fans that this sport can gather, the better. Speaking of cups, I say this with the upmost sincerity:

There is only one cup in my book and it has nothing to do with soccer.

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Hockey memes courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/hockeymemepage

Check that out! Quite hilarious.