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Travel Journal

Volume I, Entry 7
Jessica Long, age 22
Auckland, New Zealand

The past two days have been a whirlwind of events. Yesterday morning, a week before our departure from our eight month long holiday in New Zealand, our further plans were wildly shaken. We had booked a visit to Thailand for the next month, traveling around, backpacking, and familiarizing ourselves with the Thai culture. However, over the past month there has been an increased risk for travelers visiting Thailand. Although the violence and bombings are escalating in areas with decade long past histories of dispute, some reporters have predicted terrorism to shift towards tourist destinations.

Also, Bombings in Bangkok, although minute, occurred over New Years. The dozens of paper headlines sprawled across newspapers in the past couple weeks, have jolted our nerves. After one final threatening article staring up at us yesterday during breakfast, Mike and I made a last minute change to our travel plans. Instead of flying from Auckland to Bangkok on March 5th, we are instead flying from Auckland to Melbourne on March 2nd.

We will then have three and a half weeks to travel the South East regions of Australia before flying from Sydney to Bangkok. We have kept a weeklong span in Thailand, but with the comfort of one additional month to hawk-eye the news and papers. If the situation worsens, we will skip that portion of our trip and fly directly to Los Angeles. If not, we will have a short stay in Thailand for a small introduction to the country.

Although our plans have shifted, we still have an amazing adventure ahead of us. We have yet another country to explore and dissect. Without our one month long epilogue in Austral-Asia, it would be much more difficult to say goodbye to New Zealand.

During this time in NZ, I've grown accustom to the “cruisey” Kiwi lifestyle, their relaxed daily pace and open-armed kindness. I've incorporated dozens of Kiwi phrases into my vocabulary and daily converse. I've come to love Monteith's beer and breakfast pies. I marvel at impromptu bar-b's and their admirable generosity.

Beyond the small practicalities from day to day, I've gained a greater knowledge about the shell that encapsulates all those things together. Primarily dependent on farming and tourism, the country's two biggest industries are steering NZ in different directions. As farmers, open land and small towns flourish. However with growing tourism, preserved beauty is being exploited, the "untouched" is becoming privately owned. Hotels and parking lots are growing in exponential numbers and logging trucks cleared entire mountains.

Even more, behind all this, racism lurks between the South Pacific Maori culture and the white Kiwi culture. However, as a relatively young nation, both prejudices and rapid developments are expected. Particularly in a country with as much splendor as NZ. But it is these advancements and conflicts that make NZ intriguing; they give it character and are the ingredients to the Kiwi culture; the culture that I've grown to love and feel deeply attached to.

In New Zealand I've gained knowledge about myself as a woman and as an independent adventurer. I've seen some of the most breathtaking scenery this globe has to offer. Most of all, I've been introduced to a lifestyle that I previously knew little about. Not only have I been introduced to it, but also I've lived it and become a part of it.


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