Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Day in Milfordsound

Music on the bus is like a best of the 90s mega mix. Treble Charger plays and I feel like I should be 15 again, in love with Helen Hunt watching her risk life and limb to track the patterns of Pepsi sponsored tornadoes. And then I'm at one of my first concerts watching Placebo with people around me not quite saying, “those don't smell like normal cigarettes.” But – glasses were broken.

Out the window, mountains and fiords pass by in what just might be the wettest part of the world. Inside I drink from my 1.5 liter coke bottle, purchased as it was cheaper than the 500 ml counterpart. Typical New Zealand delightfulness.

The boys and girls on the day-trip sing along to the music, and I giggle silently thinking of how they would have been hardly born when the music first played. I myself was young, at a stage where I could talk unashamedly about unrequited love without a sense of meta-irony. Times were different when my head lulled to The Verve for the first time.

Looking around me I am surrounded by passion, love, and lust filled youth. More of us need to escape our home towns when we are still nineteen. When we are the type of people who believe the best way (possibly correctly) to get a girl is to tussle your hair roughly, and cement with a bit of gel. When we are the type of person who wakes up at 6am to prepare for a 7am bus trip, knowing full well the importance of spending an hour applying our MAC makeup just so.

Bless them. Bless their hearts. And if they're the type to shoot out the window of a moving bus, in the dark morning, with flash engaged, wondering why their pictures aren't turning out? Well they're still out here, aren't they? I don't want to judge. Not while the music is telling me that, “New Kids on the Block had a lot of hits,” and that, “Chinese food makes me sick,” reinforcing the fact that, “I think it's fly when the girls drop by for the summer.” When? “For the the summer.”

The bus took out out to Milfordsound, yet another world heritage site. I really do need to make a check list and see how many I've knocked off. There are less than nine hundred. Don't get me wrong, that's a lot – but I'd like to think I've seen my fair share. You go through some towns and you can click off a few. Sometimes just for the town itself.

We stopped and went on short little ten minute walks around mirror lakes, and through overgrown forest, reminding me of the Canadian rain forest that few people know to exist. The lake did not mirror, and the forest was less than beautiful, even with the gorge below carving out the rock wall. The sky was grey, and the rain was pouring.

While this detracted from images fired, when we came out the other side of Homer's tunnel, into a world reminiscent of that from the biological theme park, built on a small island off the coast of Costa Rica, the cliff faces were covered with dozens of waterfalls breaking up and joining together, like lightening bolts seeking the most direct route from sky to ground.

Beauty exchanged for wonder.

Alpine parrots hopped along while precocious teenage girls looking for potential partners, perhaps to be realized over drinks at the bar later in the evening, chased them. The male counterparts laughed on; the photographers were less than amused. I took my photos fast, and early. Do not underestimate the actions of hormone fulled Brits and Aussies away from home for the first time. The statistics of how many return with all sorts of fun STIs is shocking, until one thinks about it, then it just seems as if the guess were low-balled.

We boarded a boat and spent two hours travelling through the canyons, mountains cropping up all around. The first half hour was spent eating a hot buffet. There would be time to look outside when that was done. And there was. Standing on the observation deck I was one of a half dozen from the two hundred below, willing to deal with the winds and the rains. I would only be here once, and eight degrees is cold by no means. Especially when there was a heat exhaust nearby, keeping my camera lens warm and dry, if not myself.

Waterfalls, and scenic vistas turned a haze of blacks and greys presented themselves. Known to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, I will take their word. For me it was dark, and moody. Charming in its own right, but not something to make my top list. Still – with greens and blue bursting, I'm sure it could have been wonderful.

The boat let us off, after passing fur seals lounging on rocks by the shore, at an underwater observation centre. Descending down stairs, labels reading up and down seeming like optional suggestions to some of the visitors, we made our way to the bottom floor where portholes allowed us to view fish feeding, and black coral (white from that which covers it.)

What makes this centre so special is that due to the temperatures of the waters, the ten meters below surface simulate a depth dozens of times what it actually is. Fish that would not venture into these shallow depths make their way only here. It is a rare opportunity that could not hold many eyes, save for the, “two starfish having sex over there!”

Six voices screamed in a row, “I can't believe it! I have an aquarium setting on my camera!” Although, the ocean depths are not an aquarium, despite the fact that looking through glass animals are seen. More realistically it is us who are in a terrarium. But never mind that, too many voices screamed how they'd seen better aquariums elsewhere. It would be like going to a wildlife park and commenting on how you'd been to better zoos elsewhere. It was wonderful.

[note: listening to a music mix I've created, I just thought – Hey! That sounds like Matty P. And it was Matty P with his “Solo Slumber.” I forgot that I had/dug on this song. Good for you Matty P. You go Matty P. Send me more of your creations.]

The bus ride back was filled with sleeping, and for the last two hours, Team America World Police. Eh.

Back in the hostel I talked to people in my room for the first time and realized what this week could have been like in a social environment such as this. It was not to be. But there are still a few weeks left of solo travel to figure out.

Showered, and packed, I headed down to the movie room to watch one more flick – The Life of Brian. How had I gone this long without seeing it? I'll admit – British humour? It can be alrght, sometimes. Very rarely. But sometimes.

And that's that. Good-night Queenstown.

[note: I'm listening to “Gravity” from Glee. This is one where the guy wants to sing the song, so he has a sing off with the girl, and he stumbles and throws the competition by not hitting the right note. Am I the only person who thinks his version was terrible, and that even if he did hit the right note he still would have lost, on – you know – the fault of being terrible?]

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