Monday, 29 October 2012

The Lucky One

When I was young I used to see these really cool teenagers who used to be in these amazing places with their friends and I would wish that one day that would be me. Today that is me, my dream has come true!

I am in Dubrovnik in Croatia with Bex, Ellen and Dee. It's such a beautiful place with amazing people! If only the weather was better!

I have been here for two days now. On the night we got here we went out into town! It was so much fun! I haven't really been out to town since I was in Dunedin and when I was there I was only able to stay in town for less than half an hour. When I went out I almost felt like everyone else. I managed to stay out for HOURS!

I have lost a lot of my confidence so meeting people is really difficult for me but I am getting better at it. This trip is amazing because it is making me push out of my comfort zone. Whether it is almost loosing my lunch on the worlds fastest roller coaster, trying to navigate a country by myself where I don't speak the same language or simply getting the courage up to meet new people.

Yesterday we were all pretty tired and a little hungover so we had a lazy day. We went to a local pizza shop and to the supermarket for a bit of a stock up but that evening we all jumped into our complimentary bathrobes and had an amazing night in watching some x-factor, catching up and engaging in the bad habit that is gossiping.

Today we went and explored some of the old town and went and saw one of the old churches which was stunningly beautiful and I lit a candle for Veronica (the girl who I shared my room with in hospital but who passed away) reminding myself that I am one of the lucky ones.

And I am a lucky one, I am in a beautiful place with beautiful people and I wouldn't trade my life with anyone because I am lucky.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Weather's Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

I have been to London before but I was very young (four the first time and six the second) but I was so young that although I have faint memories I have more or less forgotten it.

But what I wonderful city! So vibrant and teaming with life. Something is happening every which way you look and people are EVERYWHERE! Such a contrast from Abu Dhabi!

When I got off the plane though I ran into some problems with British customs and for a few minutes there I wasn't sure I would make it! Apparently a young single female with no job traveling from the middle east is a bit suspicious especially when I wasn't sure of the address I was staying at!

Luckily I called the lovely family friend and she gave me her address and providing copious amounts of documentation I was allowed in.

I wasn't here for very long really. I come back two more times during this trip but I only really had one day here before I carry on to Croatia with the lovely Bex and Ellen and Danielle!

So I decided to be a real tourist and do a double deck tour which was amazing just to sort of cram a lot in for a short amount of time! I am going to explore more in detail when I come back!

The only drawback of the open top double deck buses is that it is late autumn and yesterday it was 2 degrees!! I needed a good warm meal after hat to heat me up! So off to Croatia next!

The weather's here and I wish you were beautiful!

A City Under Construction

For the last four days I have had the pleasure of exploring a city under construction. I say a city under construction as this is probably the best way of describe Abu Dhabi.

It is a place that is run almost entirely off the spoils of the oil industry. Abu Dhabi seventy years ago did not exist. This man called Sheikh Zayed (who was basically king, government and supreme ruler at the time) had this belief that he should share the wealth that the oil industry created, so he did that.

Every person (and by person I mean man) that was born in Abu Dhabi gets a living allowance of NZ$200,000 plus another $50,000 for every child. This means that the country has many incredibly wealthy people but also some incredibly poor too.

On one hand the Sheikh gives the local emirates all of this money, free houses and many more perks. They also exploit many immigrant workers. Immigrant workers are often imported from Pakistan, Phillapines and other surrounding developing counties. These workers get paid very little and sleep in worker camps and are not treated very well.

Sheihk Zayed also had this vision of a time when there would be no oil so he set out to create a ultimate tourist destination. So he has funded all of these developments. Abu Dhabi (when it is finished) will be a city that will be able to support forty million people even though they only have a population of one million. However at this moment in time it is a city under construction.

Even though it is a city under construction I managed to have some of the most incredible experiences. I stayed with an absolutely incredible family. They made me feel so welcome it was amazing!

On the first day I got to Abu Dhabi I arrived at 6 AM! John met me at the airport with a sign saying welcome to Abu Dhabi from which we travelled to their house and met the lovely Larkin ladies. Hinemarie had made muffins so as they were running around trying to get Taylor into her uniform (she's only three and already started school!) I went and got dressed into appropriate clothing.

That's one thing I found difficult. In Abu Dhabi while I was there the temperature ranged from about 32 to 36 degrees and as it is a Muslim country and I am a woman I had to be covered. It is not as conservative as I thought it would be but I still chose to wear respectful clothing.

That afternoon I went to Abu Dhabi Grammar with John. John runs a after school program teaching kids here how to play touch rugby. We went to this school to promote the program.

I found this really interesting to see after working at Plimmerton for the last couple of months. I found Abu Dhabi Grammar really primitive in comparison. There was almost no room for the kids to play! Each year group has lunch at a different time of the day as there is not enough room for them to all have lunch at the same time! And this was at a private school that cost the same amount as QMC or Marsden.

That evening I went out to dinner with Hinemarie, Logan and Taylor. It had the most beautiful view of the mosque which is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places I have ever been.

From far away the mosque looks like a traditional mosque however when you go inside you find that the prayer times ad displayed on a digital clock and there are even frangipani designs! It also displays how much obscene wealth there is in Abu Dhabi as all of the spires are made completely out of 24 carrot gold.

The next day I along with going to the mosque I also went to Masdar city which is a city that they are trying to make carbon neutral. It was an interesting mix with the old and new but like lots of things in Abu Dhabi it is still under construction. I also may have managed to fit in a little shopping...

The next day I managed to catch up with Megan and we had a lovely afternoon together living a life of luxury! Eating cakes at a gorgeous cakery, smoking shisha on the top on the Souk which was beautiful then proceeding for some haggling at a jewelry market.

On my last day I went to the emirate palace for breakfast with one of the most breathtaking views of Abu Dhabi! And that afternoon I went to FERRARI WORLD!!

I took my own life into my hands when I rode on the worlds fastest roller coaster! Tried (rather unsuccessfully) to drive a formula one car (in a simulation). Beat kids (and nobody else really) in go-karting and even got to sit in an actual ferrari!

I apologize for the massive entry and I don't blame you if you gave up reading by this point but this has been an amazing beginning to the trip of a lifetime. I really feel like I am living life. It's great being ally independent again after being dependent on people for so long .

I have had an unbelievably good time in the city under construction.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Today I have been in Chicago for one week which makes me rather lazy as this is the first time that I have actually updated this blog. My excuse is that I have had a yucky cold. Lame I know but it means that aside from going to a few nearby shops (the supermarket is INCREDIBLE) I haven't really ventured that far from home base.

But then again I don't really need to. The place that I am staying in is incredible, seriously, out of this world amazing! It is a penthouse in one of the buildings in downtown Chicago and you can see everything! Millennium Park, the bean, lake Michigan one of the most breathtaking views I have ever had the pleasure of beholding.

The people we are staying with are so lovely! They are amazingly good family friends who are basically family so it is amazing to see them and where they live.

This city though is one of the most architecturally interesting places I have ever been. It has so many interesting buildings and the way the city is built is incredible. 

At this point you are probably rolling your eyes as I was when I our family friends tried to tell me this. You're probably shaking your head and being like America... Really... But seriously it is AMAZING and so clean and green. Like trees are everywhere.

One thing though which bewilders me a bit is people hassling you on the street for money. It is so very different from home yet not as different as we like to think it is.

It is a different country in many ways which is I wonder if it's a good thing or bad. Only time will tell I guess. Speaking of which I will sign off with a photo of me relaxing after a hard day at Tiffany's.

Don't be too jealous.