MJ Live

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Chronicles of NZ: Not a Dime (Written 1/16/07)

So today was another glorious day in Queenstown – not a day of travel and the weather was great. Since today was my second full day in Queenstown, I thought I would make it both interesting and challenging for myself – I started the day off with only $20 in my wallet and I wanted to see if I could go the whole day without spending a cent on anything. Now you're probably saying "That's easy, just stay inside all day" but that's where the challenge was, to actually walk around the city and spend no money. In a city that likes to suck you dry quickly it's a hard challenge – did I pull it off?

I got the day off on a good note with breakfast and internet being free at my current hostel. The free internet was key because the lure to get online is so strong that I might have caved and spent money at an internet café. Instead I kept the money in my pocket, enjoyed the net and then moved on to exploring the city more. As I went around the city, I intentionally avoided the adventure places – no need to needlessly tempt myself. Queenstown definitely has a different feel when there's not a ton of people in the city – there's a more laid back and calm feeling to the place that is quite nice. It didn't feel like a party city like it did during the national rugby 7s. In that way Queenstown may be more like a college town – crazy on the weekends but calm during the week. So what did I do all day? I window shopped! Now you are saying "But wait, wouldn't that tempt you to buy something?" The odd thing is – no, I wasn't tempted to buy anything I just like to comparison shop and see what's available. I'm more inclined to think of who certain items would fit rather than buy the items (I would literally go broke buying gifts for people!). Once I was done window shopping, I took a walk through the Queenstown Gardens which follows along the lake coast. That's where I finally saw kids who actually live in the area – made it feel like a real city (before the place was mainly packed with tourists). The walk along the gardens was great for just reflecting on this entire trip and how much fun it's been. It also gave me time to think about this upcoming year – my last year in Samoa and the Peace Corps. This time next year I will be back in the states and moving on in life…it seems like such a long time away but I know it's not. As they say, the second year just blows by but it will be a good year regardless. Looking at the mountains and the water provided for a very serene picture for my thought, just what the doctor ordered on my last day here. The cost of this reflection: $0. One interesting thing I did find in Queenstown Gardens was an indoor ice rink. Now the weather outside wasn't scorching hot by any means but it was funny walking in and seeing kids ice skate indoors, which it was already pretty cool outside. Guess they can't wait for winter to return.

After my walk, I headed back to the hostel to make lunch from food I had previously purchased. Waste not, want not! After lunch, we cleaned out the rental car – it was kind of bittersweet to finally say goodbye because that meant it was the end of our road trip. But it also meant no more money on gas – I can live with that!

I took a short nap to recover from my morning walk (that's the Pacific Islander in me coming out) and then woke up to begin my big walk of the day. There's a strip mall located right outside of town called 'Remarkables Park' (oddly enough, located very close to the Remarkables mountain range) which I wanted to visit but the bus ride there is $5 – a bit high since that's a one way fare. Why did I want to see it? Mainly because it has the only 'Warehouse' in the Queenstown area (I've become a big fan, it's my Walmart away from home) but also because it was a challenge and I loves me a challenge. So with only my feet, my determination, God and no water I started walking towards Remarkables Park at about 5:20pm. The walk there was great because I got a different look at all the mountains in the area – I also didn't bring my camera. I also got my best up close look at the Remarkables on this walk (the mall is located right under the mountain range) and was struck by their rugged rolling beauty. I'm sure they are even more impressive when covered with snow. Even though there were points where I wanted to buy a drink, I didn't cave in. The fact that the wind was blowing strongly (and thus keeping me cool) helped greatly.

It took me almost 2 hours to reach Remarkables Park, but I also got to see the airport as well (I'll be visiting it again tomorrow) because it is literally located right down the street from the mall. Once I arrived at the Park I made a bee line for the Warehouse. I found out their circulars run from Wed to Wed (whereas in the states, ours run from Sun to Sun) which meant no new sales yet – ah well, have to check in before I leave for Samoa. Remarkables Park also has a Dick Smith Electronics Store (think Radio Shack) which closed at 6pm (everyday – at a mall?). So after getting my fill of electronic goodies (and buying none) I high tailed it back to town before the sunset. As always, it seemed to go a lot faster on the return than it did on the journey out – but I made it back just as the sun was going down at 9:30pm. In all, I walked about 10km (6 miles) to Remarkables Park and then another 10km getting back, got some good exercise and spent $0 on the whole ordeal (although I was tempted). Once I got back to the hostel, I promptly took of my shoes and put on my sandals (the dogs were hurtin') and then made some dinner from the leftover food I had. And with that meal it was mission accomplished. I started the day with $20 and ended the day with that same $20.

While some might say it was a sill challenge, I've spent quite a bit of money in NZ so it was nice to see if I could save a bit as well. I'll definitely be picking up a few items in Auckland before going back to the island. The best part of the day was seeing the real Queenstown and not the partied up version – I'll definitely be taking the memory of this version with me. I don't know what I could do as a follow-up to this so I think I'll just have to leave! See ya in Auckland.

*Side Notes*

-           You may still think a man window shopping is weird, but after living on an island for a year where the choices are limited it's great to see variety. As a wise friend once said, "Don't judge me".

-           You may also be wondering, "Well did he spend any change?" Nope – as the blog title states not a dime or cent was spent by me today.

-           Found out an interesting fact: The Remarkables mountain range is one of only two mountain ranges that run true north – south. The other mountain range…The Rockies.

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