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Thread: Married to a Kiwi: Christchurch

  1. #1
    Member Mrs Sideshow's Avatar
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    Married to a Kiwi: Christchurch

    I have not posted in a few days because what happened in Christchurch makes my whingeing about no electricity and wifi on Stewart Island appear very trivial. I am booked to fly into Christchurch when I begin my adventure of hunting on Stewart Island and I wanted to let you know that I am looking forward to meeting all the beautiful people who have made Christchurch their home. I have a friend whose daughter was caught up in the Bataclan shooting in Paris in 2015. She survived and so did her boyfriend, even though he was severely wounded. I grew up in Germany in a British army base where we were constantly under threat of the IRA and I have said good bye to people who went to war, but nothing prepares you for such an atrocity that took place in Christchurch. The town has already suffered so much because of the earthquake and I imagine its infrastructure relies heavily on tourism. Unfortunately, after such an event, people are afraid to go to these places and Christchurch is bound to suffer a sudden drop in people coming to visit, which is the opposite of what it needs right now.

    I have included a stroy that I was planning to post much later, but I feel is the right one to post now. I would like to clarify that I don't compare the two events, as one was manmade while the other was a natural disaster, but I am posting it to show you my support. As I said, I am looking forward to coming to Christchurch where I will actually stay for a night before flying out to Invercargill and joining my Kiwi husband on Stewart Island. I am sure I will meet many great people and I hope my presence there will show them that they are not alone. We here on the other side of the world are thinking of you and share your pain.

    (As I said, a few posts are missing here, but all you need to know to understand this one, is that we had endless discussions about me going to Stewart Island and that I felt I needed some compensation for sleeping in a hut with my husband and father-in-law..... yes, there will be a whole post coming about me going to Stewart Island with my father-in-law! Really?)

    "Travelling to NZ via Thailand"

    As I said before, one of the things I love about my Kiwi husband is that he will communicate and after we had written our thoughts down on paper, it didn’t take long before he warmed to the idea of adding a week’s holiday at our favourite hotel in Thailand to the Stewart Island trip.

    We discovered the Pimalai and Spa by pure accident many years ago, when we decided that we didn’t want to fly the Air New Zealand traditional route from London via LA to Auckland any more. Apart from the fact that we were breaking up on that very first time that I flew to New Zealand (which was horrendous because imagine having to sit for 24 hours next to the person on the plane that you are breaking up with, while the third person sitting in your row is desperately trying to pretend they are not noticing that you are in tears), which is another story, we hated coming through LA.

    I don’t know what it is like now, but at the time, once you landed in LA, you were told to leave the aircraft taking all your belongings with you, then you had to stand in some sort of corridor with no shops or anything, shuffling your way to the immigration booth, before turning round to go back that same corridor and back on the same plane you had flown in on.
    I was so tired from the flight and our arguing that I was pretty grumpy when I finally reached the custom official.
    “I will only stamp your passport if you give me a smile,” he said.
    If it hadn’t been the United States, which is notorious for its custom officials, I think I would have ranted and raved, but as it was I just stared at him.
    I did get my own back though when he opened my passport and found that I held a type of visa that you only need when you enter the United States by boat.
    “Why do you have this visa?” he enquired.
    “Because I came by boat the last time I went to the States,” I answered.
    “So where did you come from?”
    “Cuba” I deadpanned.
    His face fell and he finally got the smile he was looking for, albeit not for the reasons he was hoping for.

    Anyway, I’m digressing. After that experience we decided that we rather go the other way round to NZ and with a stop in the middle, preferably somewhere warm and lovely.
    Thailand was the obvious choice, but with thousands of hotels on offer in various locations, we were a bit lost for choice. However, following an encounter with a British Airways hostess who pointed us in the direction of the island of Koh Lanta and the Pimalai, we were all set. “It’s a Thai owned hotel that has just opened, you will see, it’s perfect,” she said. And she was right.

    When you travel though, you always have to expect the unexpected and just as we were getting ready to pack our suitcases, the unimaginable happened when on Boxing day 2005 the Asian continent was hit by a powerful tsunami. As everyone else, we were watching events unfold on TV, knowing that only a few days later we were supposed to go on holiday in the area where the tsunami had done most of its damage and were thousands of lives had been lost. We all saw the terrible images of devastation, of water pollution and no electricity. But we also heard the desperate pleas of the Thai people who were trying to stop the exodus that followed the tsunami.

    Hence, my ever adventurous Kiwi husband was determined to go, while I remained more cautious and less keen. In the end we called the Pimalai and were told that Koh Lanta had suffered very little damage, that no lives had been lost in the Pimalai and that we should definitely come as otherwise the hotel would face closure and many of their staff would lose their jobs.

    It was strange landing in Krabi a few days later, with signs and walls in the airport hall filled with desperate messages for lost ones. It felt odd to go on a holiday where many had lost their lives, but we discovered very quickly that the TV reports were misleading in the sense that Thailand has 1200 miles² of coastline, but only 60 miles² had been affected by the Tsunami. Unfortunately, these 60 miles² included major Tourist destinations like Phi Phi and Kao Lak where most lives were lost.

    It was terribly sad and most tourists had left the area, still in shock after this unexpected end to what was supposed to be a joyful holiday.
    In the aftermath of the tsunami, many hotels were forced to close, as they stood empty and workers were let go as a result. Thailand depends though on the tourist industry and hence everything was done in the Pimalai to ensure that we would feel welcome and relaxed. The staff was extremely grateful that we had come to their beloved country despite the events and it was nearly embarrassing how often they thanked us just for being there.

    Since that first holiday in 2006, we have made it a point to go back to the Pimalai as often as we can afford it. We love its location on the island of Koh Lanta, which is (thankfully) not as well-known as Phuket or Ko Samui and hence has far less people. The villas nestled high on the mountainside, overlooking the picture perfect white sandy beach, are stunning and the elegant spa with its professional staff is absolutely divine. The food is delicious and the restaurant at the top an absolute must for any couple in love (obviously as you can gather our 24 hour break-up plane ride ended in us not breaking up).

    We also always remember what happened here on Boxing Day 2005 and are grateful that the country has been able to remain a popular tourist destination.

    We hope with all of our heart that Christchurch will also recover from the atrocities. I, in any case, am really looking forward to my first visit there.

  2. #2
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    Sounds a bit like Stewart Island you were describing, only lets hope that you stay there is a relaxing one with no real dramas.
    Mrs Sideshow likes this.

  3. #3
    Member Sideshow's Avatar
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    Even though the trees have grown back you can still see where the waves came up taking out all the understory in the jungle beside the resort.
    Also along the beach front where the wave washed away a bank face, all regeneration growth.
    I think there’s still a boat back up in the trees I’ll have a look for it when we go back. Post a few pics if it’s still their.
    It's all fun and games till Darthvader comes along
    I respect your beliefs but don't impose them on me.

  4. #4
    Member gadgetman's Avatar
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    Great to see you back posting. Oh, and getting sidetracked in a thread is not that unusual around here.
    There are only three types of people in this world. Those that can count, and those that can't!

  5. #5
    Member Sideshow's Avatar
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    Just did the bulk buy. So food is all sorted and camp gear is on its way south.
    gadgetman and Mrs Sideshow like this.
    It's all fun and games till Darthvader comes along
    I respect your beliefs but don't impose them on me.

  6. #6
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    Enjoy your time on Stewart Island. The both of you!
    Sideshow and Mrs Sideshow like this.

 

 

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