08.02.2015: Rotorua, New Zealand
At 7.45am, we boarded an excursion bus that would take us to Rotorua. Niki and I spent 3 hours 40 minutes being spectators to the incredible beauty that was New Zealand whizzing past our windows. I’m not sure how far we were into our journey when I got lost in the world around me. There was a comforting peace I got from just being… and just being lost.
“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
It was on a Sunday as we arrived in Rotorua. I was here with my family in 2003 during a road trip through both the North and South islands of New Zealand, and besides the incredible amount of sunshine this time round (it was raining cats and dogs when we were here 12 years before), nothing has changed — the entire town still smells of rotten eggs (strangely comforting — very subjective and also weather-dependent), courtesy of the low levels of hydrogen sulfide gas in the city’s environment. (More information and pictures in Day 6 Pt. II’s post.)
Our backpacker motel was just a couple blocks down the road from the visitor centre where we were dropped off, and we checked in quickly before heading out again to explore Rotorua. Our first stop was lunch at an incredible little cafe/ bistro, Be Rude Not To, which specialised in ‘simple food passionately prepared’. I had apple-beetroot salad, roasted potatoes and watermelon for lunch and it definitely satisfied my tummy — it was delicious, especially so when the waiter was such a good-looking dude haha! The wall beside us was plastered with heaps of posters which featured quotes meant to inspire and empower us. One of them read: “Minding your own business eliminates half the problems in your life.” Touché.
What we didn’t know about Sundays in Rotorua was that most shops are closed and one wouldn’t really have much to do other than just roam. We ended up exploring bookshops (and found one of John Kirwan’s books) and shopping some grocery at PAK ‘n SAVE, as recommended by Wai Yee, before calling it a day and retreating to our room at Astray Backpackers. With wet hair after warm showers, we laid in bed and watch the newscaster on TV talk about the Sydney Siege that had just happened a little less than 2 months before. This launched us into conversations — terrorism, religion, friendship, life plans… — that lasted till midnight before we gave in to our droopy eyelids.
Good night Niki.