Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our nights in Jailhouse, New Zealand

Hemmm… quite comfortable - to my amazement.

Well…. It’s nothing worrying, seriously. No! We didn’t get caught and was sent to the prison. It is our jailhouse backpacker accommodation. How cool is that huh.

But why prison we’ve asked too, what so interesting riiight, hehehe…. We googled and found out few details and thought it will be interesting to “stay” here.

Snippet :
This important example of "Gothic Revival" architecture was built in 1874 under the guidance of Benjamin W Mountfort.

Constructed out of 60cm thick concrete - which at the time was a relatively new material - the building has survived in pristine condition.

When opened, the building catered for the needs of both sentenced and remand prisoners.

Over the years the building has been used as a jail, a woman's prison and a military camp.

The Mountfort cell block and remaining perimeter walls are scheduled as a protected item, for historical and architectural reasons, in the Christchurch City Plan.

The prison was closed in 1999, meaning all Christchurch Prisons were then located outside of the city boundaries. The prison lay empty until early 2006 when the building was bought by local couple - Kirsty and Grant, who renovated the building and Jailhouse Accommodation opened in late 2006.

Ahh… now we're curious of what they have to “offer” this so called “great place” …

The Jailhouse has single, double, twin, dorm and family rooms available in our backpacker youth hostel. We welcome people of all ages to experience our special budget accommodation. WiFi and Free Parking.

The Jailhouse backpacker hostel is clean, warm and friendly with super-comfortable beds, close to top Christchurch attractions. We are the closest budget accommodation to the Railway Station (free shuttle to the Station), Westpac Centre and Addington Raceway for the famous Christchurch Show Week events.

Visit the Jailhouse Hostel Travel Desk to book all your Christchurch and New Zealand transport and adventure activities including rental cars, campervans, Magic, Kiwi Experience, Stray and other great backpacker deals.

Now…. Our version, and what we've captured thru our eyes…. Ceh wah… macam real real ajek… Le tour de prison…ehhehehee…

The Living Room.
Very warm and cozy area with public phone, few round tables, payable WIFI, sun/moon roof, sofa set and magazines/books for borders.

The TV Room.
Nice with vast selection of movie. You will never be bored lar…

The Reception Area.
Ahhh….. Friendly staff and helpful (that’s for sure). Plenty of excursions option for guest, flyers upon flyers for varies activities from varies operators, you will never be short of information.

The Cell.
What everyone is curious about! 2 bunk bed with heavy iron door (prisoner mahh). Then ofcos there’s this tiny window right close to the ceiling for sunlight, heater, mirror, powerpoints, hangers (for clothes!!!!!), drawers and luggage area.

The Bathroom.
CLEAN & DRY! Enough said :D

The Toilet Bowl.
FARNIE! Barb wire toilet seats…haahahaha….

The Kitchen.
Huge. For one, they have fridge for you to put your cold food BUT must indicate name, room, check-out date. Then, there’s 2 sinks, 3 microwaves, hot water dispenser, plenty of stoves, common cups/mugs, woks, plates, kitchen utensils and etc etc etc. Also! Plastic boxes for you to put you dry food stuff in the kitchen for keeps. Impress? Chup! Wash your own dishes after yourself lar hor…

The Launderette.
Self-service. Wash-machines, dryers, irons & cloths detergent available. $3 for washing and $3 for big dryer. $2 for the detergent, open from 8am to 10pm.

The Locker.
They have the individual locker for guest who are doing overnight excursion – payable of course.

To Rent.

The Jailhouse ITSELF.
For you viewing pleasure :)

Do drop by as they're open for public to tour as well.

Credit : Jailhouse Accomodation

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Kiwi Story

Day 9 (4 Oct’09). A New Zealand Experience.

Before I dwell on the jail bit, lets just chat about what happen on my Christchurch tram tour first. It started with us arriving at the Cathedral Square early in the morning. This is where the Anglican cathedral of Christ Church was built in the second half of the 19th century; the landmark of Christchurch. It was a wet weekend morning, thus no crowd around to fight with us for photography space. Hehhehee….
Our so called beautiful plan is to take the tram around the city, stop at every station (if possible) and ofcos (as usual) take loads and loads of pics (not realizing that the stop is noooot that far apart from each other - basically we can walk lar).

We stopped at Christchurch Art Gallery, we didn’t venture the galleries, but we saw a group of people taking ballroom class at the foyer. It was pretty interesting looking at their foot work, reminded me of those days when I took Latino dance class *awww….*

The next site the Arts Centre Market at Culture Precinct is about 100 meter form the gallery, we “thought” we should just walk over :P One thing I have to say is that I absolutely LOVE the buildings. It’s those old English type of building that you can feel the age, history and tale. They definitely maintains it very well, GO NZ!

I also did some googling and found out that the Arts Centre of Christchurch is housed in the Gothic Revival buildings of the University of Canterbury's former town site and that includes Canterbury's professional theatre company the Court Theatre, the Southern Ballet, the University Theatre, and the School for Young Writers. Impressive huh!

Paying the tram is such a waste as we continued walking down the street probably another 50 meter to the Botanic Gardens (luckily it's a 2 days pass). Andrea got really excited as she saw the lovely tulips, and yup! You guessed it! She with her super duper changgih DSLR snaps non-stop, as for me; my camera ran out of battery…sigh… I did recharge my spare battery BUT left it in the jail… apa lar… soooo tak pandai.

We then head back to the car as we need to buffer time to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve to see the KIWI!!! I mean, that’s what one need to do if they’re in NZ, they must see the KIWI! Right?!?! And we did!

Next was the one thing I have been waiting for, they showed us the HAKKA DANCE! YEAY! They called up the men to join them do the Hakka dance where else the ladies did the Maori Poi dance (a dance performed with balls attached to flax strings, swung rhythmically). Pretty neat, Andrea got to try it as I would rather be sitting and taking pics.

Last but not least we were taken to go around the wildlife reserve to view the kiwi, crane, kea, pukeko and feed the eel (Yup! You heard me alright). I would say NZ experience was rather cool!

The jail suspense.

Credits : Wikipedia, Chrischurch Art Gallery, Cultural Precinct, Christchurch City Libraries, Willowbank, History NZ, Home Of Poi

Once the briefing is done she took us for the welcoming ritual whereby we thought the chief was good looking charismatic man. Really! The ritual was that “our” chief/leader need to accept the offering form the Maori, upon acceptance, they will sing and guide us to their “home ground”. The guide also explained on the tattooed on their faces and what it represents, I though it was really enlightening. For instance, The word "tattoo" comes from the Tahitian word "tatau". Captain James Cook used the word "tattow" when he witnessed tattooing for the first time in Tahiti, in 1769. The Moko is similar to an identity card, or passport. For men, the Moko showed their rank, their status and their ferocity, or virility. The wearer's position of power and authority could be instantly recognized in his Moko. Interesting neh…

We manage to get ourselves there with few wrong turns ofcos (thank goodness we buffered for that - phew!). We were 15mins early I think, made payment at the counter and ran out at the entrance to take pic - takut gelap gambar tak cantek, PERASAN! Then they called us for the briefing on the Maori tribe which is good as before that we know nuts on Maori except that I feel they look a little bit like us Asian.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I TOO wanna campervan-ing

Day 8... and the other half (3 Oct’09). Surprised by the campervan site.

Drove out of Queenstown snow safely and more calmed. Hahhahaa….. I guess I panic for no reason (as usual - paranoia), just a waste of energy. Anyway we drove a few tiny towns; one that caught my eyes was the Alexandra, one town after Cromwell. It’s just another town actually, just that there was this err…. Tree that looked kinda interesting…. Snappy snap away as usual.
It was a very long drive (poor Andrea); however we did make a scenic stop at Gold Field Plaque, NO! NO! NO! No gold here, only yellow tussock field, it’s really nice and peaceful, and unfortunately my pic didn’t do it justice. The break was good though to stretch our tired monotonous leg. Aaaah……..
Oh no! I need bio break NOW! Next town we need to stop, else "Houston, we have problem". Saw a nice little cosy Palmerston town with nice clean public toilet - did my “business” satisfactorily. Hehhee….. We decided to have our quick lunch here, not much food offered as it’s after lunch time (sigh…). Not much restaurant either, few souvenir shops and one super mart. We decide to make a move as we need to catch the daylight time.

And AGAIN, we saw A bridge with A creek, I just have to go lar kan… take pic I mean… Mamang “perak”.

Alamak! Need another bio break lar pulak! Shucks! I can’t remember what made me turn left near the railway line, I guess "gut feel"? Or I did see the word "town" somewhere? Hemm… anyway. We bump into Ashburton Holiday Park, remembered telling Andrea "ada toilet kot kan sini". Drove in we did! As I was waiting for Andrea to finish her "turn", I took a short walk to see the “park”, that was when I realized it is a CAMPERVAN PARK, complete with a small pond, bridges, ducks, clean dry toilets, power points, parking bay the whole works. I was like….. “WOW! Kalau macam ni, I TOO don’t mind campervan-ing man!” I was practically gawking!! (Come to think about it, actually I was!)

Hemm…. Not much after that, it was a dry drive to Christchurch, arrived around 7ish, checked in and went to bed.

Next; all about our nights in the jail.

Credits : Wikipedia, Ashburton District Council

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Queenstown SNOWED in SPRING !?!

Day 8...
and first half (3 Oct’09).
Panic stricken!

Andrea yesterday’s paragliding was cancelled due to some wind problem (too strong perhaps…?!), hence she postponed it to today’s morning session; meaning that we will depart to Christchurch once she’s done (no, am not doing the paragliding due to my leg injury and operation in March; sooo many has been asking me this. Sigh…). We were thinking to stay one night in Twizel since it’s a 7-8 hours drive to Christchurch and ofcos due to the reason that we are departing at noon thus no way we can reach before dusk. Supposedly overlooking Mount Cook, it being the closest town.

I woke up this morning at about 8ish (stayed up all night surfing, internet is FREE here at Deco Backpacker and they have WIRELESS!!!!), saw Andrea sitting on bed, haven’t budge, haven’t showered, looking at her either handphone or iPod…. I was wondering and saying out loud “Awat tak siap lagi? Kul 8.30am kena sampai The Station kan?” And her reply made all the plans topsy turvy! Her reply was…..

“Aku rasa paragliding cancel kot” she said, I asked how come? Have you called them? You can’t be assuming right… She said “It’s SNOWING OUTSIDE!” I was still in a daze ofcos, thinking I heard it wrong, I mean; it is freaking OCTOBER ie SPRING!!!!HUH!?!??!” She repeated “SNOW”, and ofcos I thought she was pulling my leg lar, it was bright and clear and sunny and…. whatever just yesterday, remember my Arrowtown blog?! Even the pics show sunny bright sun beaming at us. “Selak langsir nak tengok” I said, still not believing; I slept at 2am in the morning, NOOOOO sign of snow at all. She flips the curtain and ‘Tah Dah…… ‘ SNOW POURING NON STOP, everything but everything is covered snowy white, I meant; REALLY COVERED!

SHUCKS!!!!! Her paragliding canceled ofcos. Worried as we never driven in this weather condition before…. HOW???? Scared sick I am, those who knows me well know that I can be a liiiiiittle bit paranoid at times. And THIS IS THE TIME!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh…… HELP!!! Can we drive in snow, what’s the visibility like, is the road slippery, which is the best route, will the snow stop, do we need chain, do we need to BUY chain, is the whole New Zealand snowing…. Question upon question in my mind. I think I was “pale-r” than the white snow.

I log on and post in my Facebook my thoughts, scared shit becos it suddenly snowed, never driven during snow before and I’m SCARED! (redundant sentence, told you I‘m paranoid). Lotsa of replies, some said they hope I drove a 4x4, I need chain, some wishes good luck, or drive slowly etc etc etc… Simon sent me a link of safety driving in snow condition… I was still scared but I felt LOVED and SAFE at the same time….ahhahah…..*HIAW*… (but REALLY! THANKS guys!)

We figure we should start early right, we got ourselves ready to check-out, called to cancel the paragliding, and enquired from the helpful hostel manager on how safe is it to drive. He suggested we don’t go towards Mount Cook as it might just snow as well there, and that Lindis Pass might have avalanche if the snow is heavy etc and looking at our inexperience face…. He knows we were worried (or at least I was). He asked us to use the coastal road which is slightly further but definitely safer and that is what we did. He however did calmed us down saying that normally it only snows in Queenstown as the mountainous areas attracts the snow (must be some SEXY mountain I say! Hehhehee…). Out of Queenstown should be “normal” and ok. Phew…. But we prefer to see to believe… Kiasee!

We took the same route we took to Arrowtown instead of Lake Hayes road we figure it’s safer since there’s more cars. BEEP! WRONG! More mountain more like it and the whole field was COVERED WHITE. I can’t even see the sheeps (the cow can lar as they are normally black or brown right)…aiyooo… lagi lar panic kan.

As we drove more outskirt, we noticed the snow starts to become lesser (as this how it should be describe? Any better word? Hemmm..) And after half an hour or so, the snow just disappear… MAGIC!!!! WOW! God is TRULY GREAT! (I was praying none stop during the drive). We calmed down obviously by then…. Alhamdullillah….

We drove straight to Christchurch with a few interesting stops along the way. Will blog about it in next entry.

PS : Hey! I just experienced almost every season in one trip, I have the sun, the flower blooming, the red yellow leaves and it just SNOWED. Hahaha….. Such a value for money trip!

Credits : Wikipedia, Deco Backpacker

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quaint lil’ Arrowtown of LOTR

Day 7 (2 Oct’09). Macam dulu dulu….. (like the olden days..…)

We’ve been discussing the night before on where to go, I’ve read a lot on this quaint lil’ mining town called Arrowtown, even The Lonely Planet desribes Arrowtown as much like a film set, how is it for me to argue right!?! I of cause would immediately fell in love with it (or should I say the description) and decided that a must go place (sucker! hahahhaaa).

The journey there took us less then half an hour as we decided to use the back route (wah… sound like local or not?!). Arrowtown is surrounded by mountains and situated close to the Arrowtown river. I did a little digging and found out that this town was founded in 1862 during the gold rush. It is said that within a few weeks the first parties had taken 200 lb of gold out of the Arrow Gorge. WOW!!!!!!

The one thing I like about Arrowtown is their determination to preserve its past with miners' cottages, historic wooden buildings, and old style shops, are still standing as they did during the gold rush. It’s simply amazing as if you were taken back in time.

We did not do much here as we plan to have slower pace day since we have been either rushing or driving for the past couple of days, we needed this break. And perhaps later in the afternoon Andrea can go do a paragliding and me blogging. YEAY!

Let me see…. We basically took a stroll and walk into almost each shop, I was adamant to get an UGG boot. Why you may ask? Cause Kate Moss was wearing them! LAME! Not that I have or like her but it look soooooooooo GOOD (on her that is). The answer is NO! Didn’t get it! But will still try to "get" one that I REALLY like (or one that I can afford more like it), the least I can do for myself since there‘s NO Hard Rock CafĂ© in Queenstown anymore.. Sigh…. (argg….. DRAMA LILY!)

Oh! YES! YES! I must publish this (not that I am getting commission or what not) but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this sweet shop called “The Remarkable Sweet Shop”. IT IS REMARKABLY DELICIOUS! It’s….. It’s…… It’s DREAMY……… Awww….. Missing it so much now.

I also bought some “real” stamp in their 19th century style/old post-office, you know right these days the stamps are all sticker base, spoils the fun of collecting postcards & stamps. Hahhaha….. I just to act silly and ask the lady “Do you sell “real” stamps here?” I kid you not! I asked her that question, she said yes…. Obviously she knows what I meant, no explanation needed. Common question you think?

Also found interest in this shops that sells wind chimes and religious book. Love her displays and knick knacks, such a darling.

Ah! I’ve taken lotsa of this pic, you probably saw it in my earlier post, again here and will see again when I am back in Christchurch. They way New Zealand cultivate their citizen to love their country and environment and recycle and nature etc. hew you can see that, not only the ask us to recyle, but that they use “heart” to symbolize the love to recycle thus the love to the country. TWO THUMBS UP!

We walked further down the street, I really want to see the place where they capture the rows of trees as I’ve seen in my sites. Alas! I search ended, found the place! You guessed right.. Snap like nobody’s business. Hahahhaa…… am that transparent huh! I actually took the same street in a few angle, position, colours and whatever I can think of. Andrea probably bored with me at that time! Sorry dearie!

As we walk towards the car park, we saw families with kids playing and panning some gold (ceh wah….. Another 200 lb?) We took a few pic of this scene as we thought it is kinda of cute. Not only when I am back in Malaysia (despite that my colleague told me about this earlier), I googled and found out that this same exact river is being shot as one of the location in Lords Of The Ring (LOTR), they used it as the shores of the Ford of Bruinen where the Black Riders tried to cross it and the Ringwraiths stopped at the waters edge. The exact location of the "Ford of Bruinen" is a few minutes walk upstream.

Hemm… SATISFIED! We decide to walk back to our car and head back to Queenstown for some long overdue R&R and perhaps paragliding for Andrea.

Credits : Tolkien Gate Way, Wikipedia, Ugg Australia, Arrowtown

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