March 8, 20101 Comment

End of the Semester…….Woohooooo!

It's the end of the semester and it's the end of of my professional life as a teacher- for now at least. Some final thoughts on what its like to be a teacher in Thailand. Included are the traditional class photographs I take at the end of the semester and a view of where I worked!

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September 7, 20091 Comment

Assignment Series: Astrochimp

You may think this is repetitive, another post about monkeys and all, but I assure you this is none like the last. Ham the Chimp was the first primate to ever go into space and needless to say became pretty famous for it. My students will fill you in on the rest.

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June 9, 20093 Comments

Good try Teechaa

In an ongoing battle to come out as the tough guy, my students are most certainly undermining me by taking advantage of the fact I can't understand what the hell they are saying to each other. What did I ever get myself into.

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June 19, 2008No Comments

~~Wade in the Water~~

Here's another post about a tramp (hike) that I did here in NZ. With just over a week left in this beutiful country, a few of us decided we better make the best of it and go on an adventure. Rich, as you can see, was totally into the idea.

So we started of on what would seem like a regular hike through the woods. Of course when we started going downhill we realized there would only one way to get back. Going uphill of course.

Cate is great at posing for pictures...really.So we made it to the bottom of the trail and was faced with two options. Continue on forward, or loop back around via the stream track. We picked the stream caused it looked way more exciting than anything else.

It soon became obvious what it was called the stream track, because we ended up having to cross the stream about 13 times, and at times it came way past our ankles. If you've ever seen the movie Anaconda (not recommended) than that's what it was like.

At one of these big pools I may have jokingly mentioned the desire to go swimming. With me saying this Cate, Rich, and Lynn were quick to press the matter. While I was a little afraid the water may have been infested with some vicious bacteria that would eat me from the inside out, I gave in. Turns out I'm a sucker for peer pressure.

The water was cold. And when I was happy with just jumping in once, Rich insisted I jump in again cause he missed the photo. So I did. Then he missed it again. So I jumped again. Then he missed it again. So I jumped again. Then he missed it again. By this point, my skin was burning because the water was so cold. I did not jump again.

Either way, we continued on the stream which ended at a nice water fall. After cheking it out for a bit we climbed back up to the main trail to get back to the car, with our shoes soaked but heads held high. The signs had said on advanced trampers should hike this trail. We now consider us advanced.

June 13, 20083 Comments

Tim Tam Slammin

Today you are going to learn the art of the "Tim Tam Slam" as demonstrated by our in-house Tim Tam guru and model, Cate.

You may be sitting there thinking "What is a Tim Tam Slam, Nick?" Well, to put it simply, its a 1"x2" piece of Joy. It's like anything that was good in world suddenly exploded in your mouth in edible fashion. Plainly put- IT...IS...YUMMY! Directions are as follow:

1. Heat up some milk or hot chocolate. Either works.

2. Take out your Tim Tam cookie biscuit and wave it around in the air like Cate here. I recommend "Chewy Chocolate Fudge," but other friends of mine stand by other varieties.

3. Now take your Tim Tam nibble off the opposite corners to expose the biscuit and chocolaty filling.

4. Now take one bitten corner and dip it in to the milk or hot coco. Take your mouth and apply it to the other bitten corner and apply your mouth. Now suck. Once you feel the liquid touch your lips then stop. Now take the whole Tim Tam and plop it in your mouth. Take too long and you'll fins yourself in a messy situation of melting chocolate.

5. Try not to die from the orgasmic blast of chocolaty deliciousness in your mouth so you can do another!

Also, you'll probably have to do serious research to find somewhere that sells these back in the U.S. They're aren't exactly sold there as far as I know, although I'll be bringing back some packages. This Wikipedia article also has some alternative ideas. So gimmie a call when I get back and we'll give it a go.

June 7, 2008No Comments

One Tree Hill

With about 3 or so weeks left in NZ we seem to be searching for those little things that we have left to do around Auckland. Things that have been on our lists, but haven't gotten around to yet. Well a few days ago, we did just that. We went and checked out One Tree Hill. Yes I know there is an obnoxious show named after it.

Cate felt she could climb the hill instead of taking the "Sheep Path."

Technically this annoying, One Tree Hill, a show that involves a bunch of angsty young persons with boatloads of melodrama is named after a U2 song on the album "Joshua Tree." One Tree Hill (the song) refers to the volcanic peek, One Tree Hill, here in Auckland. The song was released exclusively here in New Zealand, which I thought to be pretty cool.


More Sheep


Funny thing about One Tree Hill however.....there's no actual tree there anymore. And while I originally planned to write out the story and reason behind it, it turns out to be quite a long story to retype. Thus, I highly encourage you to read the Wikipedia version, which is full of Boy Scout jamborees, angry activists, amongst other things. It's not too long.

We hiked up the hill to the top where you can see a tree stump of where it was. Oh yeah, and there's a big Obelisk there commemorating someone. The park (which is sacred ground to the Maori people) also had sheep and cows wandering freely. We tried to get up close to some, but they usually manage to scamper off.

I presume this is the "Tree." Maybe it should be renamed "One Stump Hill". Or just "Stumpy Hill."


June 1, 2008No Comments

Kevin's Maori Photo Study

My friend and fellow Pinhole Adventure photographer, Kevin, has been working on a photo study of the Maori culture and its influence on urban life around Auckland and New Zealand. He's an extremely talented photographer, so I suggest you check out his stuff. Just Click Here. The link will also be posted under the "Cool Links" for clicking in the future. Be sure to look through them all!

One of Kevin's Portraits

May 31, 2008No Comments

High in the Sky

So last night a bunch of us decided to head to the Sky Tower in Auckland here for some dinner. As the defining icon in Auckland's skyline it stands at 328m (1,076ft). It's known as the highest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

We rode up to the observation level on possibly the fastest elevator ('lift' is what they call them here) I've ever ridden. I had to pop my ears at least 5 times on the journey up.

We looked out over Auckland and the harbor as the sun was setting, then made our way up another level to "Orbit" for our 5:30 reservations. We quickly realized why it was called "Orbit" beside it being a snazzy, hip name for a restaurant. The restaurant in fact did orbit around the center of the tower, meaning it MOVED...very slowly. So luckily we got a constantly changing views of the night city scape as we ate.

The restaurant was also pretty classy. Way to classy for a bunch of cheap and poor college kids. The minimum amount to spend for dinner was $30. Way more than I ever would. But there was justification. To go up the Sky Tower just to look out is $18. So I might as well pay the extra $12 for a really nice dinner, as I was planning to go up the tower at some point before I left NZ.
So once we spent our minimum (which pretty much included the main dish and a beverage) and ate dinner we descended back to earth. Certainly an experience to dine so high up, but with a price tag of $30, it'll be awhile before I do that again.

May 25, 20086 Comments

Sorry Mom

Well, my week of misery has passed and I'm done with my paper and presentation. As a new resolution, I decided I'm going to be more diligent in my posting. However, with little over a month left here in New Zealand, my funds for big trips to write about are beginning to run dry.

So what I think I'll try to do is post my day's events. This might include interesting articles I've read or other strange occurrences. It most also might be a post on how nothing very exciting happened at all. Believe it or not, those do days do occasionally occur in New Zealand. I've got a few ideas on my mind. So if There and Back Again starts become more of a personal journal, don't freak out.

Continuing on, you may be wondering why I'm apologizing to my mom. Well if you look at the photo below, I think you'll figure it out.What led to this was an interesting psychological debate I had with myself over whether I should go through with it or not. I had toyed with the idea of getting an earring for a long time. And if I remember it had more to do with boredom than anything, as if one day I looked in the mirror and said "that might be fun." Well at one point I think it was brought up somehow over dinner that I was going to get an earring in NZ. I got a nice gasp from my Mom and an estranged look from my Dad. After explaining my thought process, I got a laugh from both. I don't know if this was because they thought I was being absurd or they didn't think I was going to go through with it. Probably both.

Admittedly, as I've been here my desire to get an earring kind of fell off, although I kept in on my list of things to do. What I think what really made me do it was this: my brothers more or less said they would make fun of me if I got one. They also said they'd make fun of me if I said I'd get one, then didn't. I figured it be best I get one and not go back on my word, rather than the other. And in the 12 hours I've had it I've received both flak and compliments on it, so I think I can handle anything my family throws at me. I mean, deep down they love me anyway, right?

It'll be interesting to see what they think about the tattoo I got.


May 23, 2008No Comments

Mix Tape Week 2

Nick's Mix Tape

Here's week two's, give a listen. This week's isn't quite so bizarre and has some oldie but goodies.

May 18, 20081 Comment

Essays & Presentations: Not What I Signed Up For

View From My Room

I feel like I find myself saying this a lot, but I'll say it again: I'm sorry I'm not fulfilling your There and Back Again appetite. I know I do have (a few) regular blog checkers, and I'm not doing the best at the moment.

The truth is however, I had a nice long essay due last week, and another due this week along with a class presentation. So as much as I'd love to blow them all off and say whooop-deeeee-dooooo, I'm thinking that's probably not the best idea.

So, at the end off this week I should be able to get back to being more reliable in my blogging. These are the last assignments until finals, which don't occur until mid-june. So I'll have plenty of time.

Also to keep you occupied don't forget to check out a few different things:

1. Ed's Blog - He's genuinely funny, a great writers, and usually gives a....different perspective on our similar adventures. It's listed under my links.

2. Listen to the "Mix Tape". I won't deny some of its kinda weird, but if you listen through it you might find something you like. It's got a good variety. I'll make a new one later this week. So last chance to hear this one. Feel free to make you own and post the links in "Comments", I'd love to know what everyone's listening to!

3. I've been struggling to think a of a new poll to if you have ideas leave a comment. Anything will work.

4. If you haven't already, (in a shamless plug) you can try listening to my music (under links or the player on the right). If you don't like it that's fine...just keep it to yourself.

5. Check out Smitty and my photo blog, Pinhole Adventures. A collection of our favorite pictures, this was started before New Zealand, so feel free to skim through the old ones. We try to update it somewhat regualarly, though have been slightly slacking lately. We'll try to fix that.

6. Have a fatastic day and don't forget to SMILE 🙂

May 13, 2008No Comments

Mix Tape Week 1

So I totally stole this idea from a friend. But this site lets you compile 12 song on a "mix tape." So I thought I'd make one so you can listen to some bands and songs I like (and recommend). Hopefully if this works out, I'll make a new one each week.

May 11, 20081 Comment

Happy Mother's Day!

May 11, 2008No Comments

Dunedin (South Island Day 7/8)

Alright, sorry for the unecessary delay in this post. Let's finish this up, sh'all we?

We had stayed in a camper park in Dunedin and took advantage of the hot showers and electricity. We woke relatively early because we had to be at somewhere at 10:00. The place we had to be was Speight's Brewery for their guided tour.
This was my first tour inside a brewery and it turned out to be pretty cool. Our guide was Keith, an older retired gentleman that had the voice and looks of Michael Cane. I believe he said he had worked there for 30 years. And he likes beer. A lot. Which makes complete sense.

And while I wish I could remember all cool stuff he showed us, I can remember a few neat tidbits. New Zealand apparently has the best hops in the world, and he wasn't just saying this. Brewers from around the world import New Zealand hops, including Guinness, Budweiser, and a bunch of other I couldn't remember. The Speight's brewery also use what are called fermenting gyles. They're essentially giant open wooden tanks that are lined with cooling pipes used to frement the beer. There are only two breweries in the world to have them and Speight's is the only one to be currently operating them (for special brews). So I guess in the world of brewing, they're extremly well known and many major film crews and publications have been in to do stories on them.
The brewery is also known as a gravity brewery. So all the ingredients are taken to the top floor and slowly go throught the breweing process toward the bottom floor. This was used in early breweries as to assist the transfer of ingredient from one stage to the next. It's argued that this is the best was to brew, but really it doesn't matter that much. So we continued on through the tour checking out the big copper tanks, the water room, and mixing rooms etc.
We had rumor that at the end of the tour you get to taste al of the different brews in a 20 minute free for all in which you get to grab a small tasting glass and operate the taps at your own leisure (or ambition). Rumor confirmed. There were six different flavors to choose from. My particular favorite was the porter- specially brewed in the gyles, a dark brew with flavors of roasted coffee and burnt chocolate. Another favorite was a seasonal summer brew, an apricot wheat beer. While maybe not considered a "Man's Beer" it sure tasted good. Like candy.
While I was modest in my tasting since I'd be driving later on, some of my RV mates were in heaven. They made sure to get their $15 dollar tour fee's worth of beer...and then some...and then some more. In fact, instead of the 20 minutes or so that a regular group would get, we ended up hangning around for 45 minutes chatting with Keith our guide. He was actually just filling in for the 10:00 tour for someone, so he had nowhere to go. We chatted about politics, famous NZ people, jokes, and got him to sing the New Zealand national anthem for us. (Check out the Video)

We finally left and decided we'd walk around for a few hours to grab some lunch and allow me a bit of time before jumping behind the wheel. Downtown Dunedin was nice, although admitedly nothing to rave about. It was nice to see Dunedinites have a sense of humor though, where someone had placed an empty beer bottle in the hand of this famous poet's statue. (picture below).

When we did finally get on the road again we made a quick stop at Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). Kevin and I walked to the top, and it was steep. You couldn't really appreciate its steepness though until you saw some ambitious car make the attempt. Engines revving and speeding toward the upstart, the car would hit it like a brick wall and was forced to drop it into first gear as it impishly crawled to the summit. The RV would have never made it- good thing I didn't try.
The rest of the day was mainly commited to driving back north toward Christchurch with a quick stop in Omaru. It was there where we walked on some trails and caught a quick glimpse of the tiny Blue Penguins. Normally we would have had to pay something outrageuos, like $20, to sit in the viewing are to see them, but somehow we made our way along the coast on a trail and ended up on the opposite side of the viewing area. Ooops. After they came out of the water and waddled to their little house, some guys from the viewing area came over to kindly escort us out. Apparently it was a private trail that closes at dusk, but it happens a lot that people end up there by accident. So we got to see them for free. Take that eco-exploitation. Weak.
We drove a little further and parked along the side of the road for our last night in the RV. The next day we got up and finished our drive our final and original place, Christchurch. We didn't do much besides clean the RV, grab some lunch downtown, then head to the airport. Our flight was canceled after it was suppose to have already boarded, luckily we were put on flight back to Auckland; not everyone on the original flight were wuite so lucky. But due to its relative uneventfulness, Day 8 isn't going to warrant a po
st. Sorry.

So that was my adventure around the South Islands. Glaciers. Mountains. Narrow winding roads. Fjiords. Sounds. Beaches. Penguins. And seven friends cramped in a six person RV for 8 days. Good times. Let's go back. (Cue End Credits)

May 5, 20081 Comment

The Catlins (South Island Day 6)

So we drove out of Fiorland shortly after we got back from our kayaking the day before. After about two hours of back tracking to get out of the park, we got to go another two hours to Invacargill and then the Catlins National Park. Another night spent of on the side of the road and in the morning we were practically there.

Now to keep this post short (mostly because I'm still recovering from my 21st birthday weekend and don't feel like writing) I'll briefly tell you where we went, and then lots of pictures.

So we got up in the morning and went to Slope Point, which is the Southern Islands most southern point. If you read wayyy back, you'll remember I had been to Cape Reigna, the North Island's (and NZ's) most northern point. So this made it feel like we had done it all, although its not New Zealand's most southern point, because there is actually a third smaller island more south. Here some of us climbed down and played on the rocks cause the tide was out enough.

Then we headed down some more gravel roads (which I guess we weren't suppose to have the RV on) and stopped at a petrified forest. This was my first time to a petrified forest and needless to say, there were no actual trees. Just fossils of them. The tide luckily was far enough out that we could go down and check them out.

The we drove down the road just a little to a beach called Porpoise Bay. While there weren't any dolphins that swam up to us (apparently the do sometimes there) we did come across a seal. So of course we set up our towels etc. close by so we could hang with it and have it teach us how to be so lazy. After being there a little while we grabbed ice cream and had ourselves a little jam sesh with the guitar and bongo.

We then went north along the coast to Nugget Point where we checked out some yellow eyed penguins from afar. Apparently they are the rarest species of penguins in the world. We were in a little shack above the beach looking down on them from afar, so my photos didn't work out the best, but if you look close you can spot them.

We then continued north another couple hours to Dunedin.