Funny, strange Americans…

I’ve often heard people say ‘Americans are pretty weird’. I can see why now.

This is my second time coming to the US but I can hardly remember my impression of America the first time (I was eight) so pretty much everything was new and fresh for me this time round. I’ve been here for just over a week and this week has been like an acclimatisation period.

The term ‘weird’ is relative so I guess different would be more acceptable. Things are done ‘differently’ in the US. Every country is in various aspects (some more than others) different and unique in it’s own way but America- America is very unique.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) America does not use the metric system. I arrived in LA on the 19th and as we left the airport en route to down town, the driver mentioned the distance we had to travel. I didn’t realise till after that he was using miles. I still have no idea how far a mile is. Feet, inch, yard and Fahrenheit are also completely useless units to me. Pretty much everywhere else uses the standard Celsius but here, most weather forecasts are given in Fahrenheit.

2) Price labels don’t have the tax included. How are you supposed to know exactly how much you have to pay? During the first few days I kept forgetting that tax is excluded in the price and thought people were overcharging us. I know that tax is different among the States, but would it really be such a pain to display prices as exactly what you would actually be paying??

3) Tipping. This took me ages to get accustomed to. How much to tip? Who to tip? Do you wait for the receipt at your table? Also, Americans have a very trusting and blasé attitude towards credit cards. You hardly need to use pins and only after they swipe your card do you put down how much you want to tip.

4) I don’t know if it’s just me but a lot of toilet seats are unusually low. There is also a lot of water in the bowl. The flush seems way more forceful. I don’t even know how to explain this without sounding bizarre but I swear the toilets are different here.

5) There are words that mean slightly different things over here (I guess this one applies to many English speaking countries). The number of people that don’t understand what a rubbish bin is, is just shocking. No one uses a bathroom cubicle, they use a stall. A girl thought I was referring to driving when I mentioned a ‘fullstop’. I also still refuse to replace my ‘s’ with a ‘z’.

So I’m feeling a bit like a FOB right now but hopefully I’ll get adjusted soon. There is so much to see and do and I can’t believe tomorrow is our last night in New York and also my last night of ‘vacation’ before I’m off to college. Being an international student will be an entirely new experience for me. I’m sure that as an international student I will come across many more unusual things that Americans do. 😛

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Easter Sunday Adventures

THE KING HAS RISEN- JESUS IS ALIVE!

Today was a really good day. My parents and I caught the ferry from Auckland to Rangitoto Island (despite almost missing the ferry as I was driving…) and hiked up the volcanic mountain. The weather was fine until the last 20 minutes of our hike down the mountain when it started to rain. I bought my camera along and thought I would post a few photos on here.

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China through my lens- Part 4: Guilin

Yangshuo, Guilin is my favourite place I travelled to while in China. (You can read about my travel adventure and thoughts on Yangshuo in my earlier post under travel!)

Yangshuo thoroughly satisfied my inner photography cavings. Without further ado, here are my photographs.

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Okay this one technically isn’t ‘my’ photograph, it’s more of a behind the scenes of my photography 😛ImageImageImageImageImageImage

These photos are taken at the ‘Impression Sanjie Liu’ perfomance. Unlike any other theatre performance, this spectacle is performed in the world’s largest natural theatre. The water of Li River is the stage and the misty hills in signature style of Guilin’s mountain ranges are the backdrop. Many of the performers are actual natives in the rural Guilin region. This show is a must see for any traveller in Yangshuo and it certainly leaves a lasting impression!

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This is one of the walls in Ryley’s Cafe. If you read my travel diaries post on Guilin then you will know how much I adore this place!Image

The board with an abundance of notes left by customers!

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Photos inside the Silver caves. The cave is HUGE and the formations are very impressive. The coloured lighting makes everything feel rather surreal as you walk through.Image

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China through my lens- Part 3: Hainan

While staying with my family in Zhuhai, we travelled to Hainan Island. This was my first time visiting Hainan and though it was fun, coming from New Zealand made the sun, blue sky and beach environment less of a novelty.

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This is what winter is like in southern China!

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Hainan AKA the Hawaii of China

 

 

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This was a show we saw on Phoenix Island. It consists of water acrobats and the performers do some pretty incredible tricks using jet boats and other water equipment! I highly recommend this spectacle.

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Apologies for the blurry and not straight photo. I think I may invest in a tripod…

 

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China through my lens- Part 2: Guangdong

Next we flew from Chengdu (Sichuan province) to Guangzhou airport (Guangdong province). ImageImage

 

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I revisited the panda house at Chimelong zoo in Guangzhou. They are cutest creatures ever to roam this earth. The pandas are definitely the highlight of this place in my opinion. Along with the international Chimelong Circus show! (This show is a must watch if you ever go there)

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Look… its a giant sea lion!!

 

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White whale performance

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While in Zhuhai I also went to Chimelong ocean kingdom park. It is very similar to Ocean park in Hong Kong. The only drawback of that day was the time it took to queue. Talk about waiting for 45mins for a 2min ride!

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A pretty place I found while on my run.

 

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Travel Diaries: Hainan Tour Group Thoughts

Travelling in a big group is exhausting. I travelled to Hainan and stayed there for 5 days with my mum, grandma and young cousin with a tour group. I now know to never travel with a tour group again if possible. Or a cheeky energetic 6-year-old cousin.

Hainan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China and can be known as the ‘Hawaii of China’ given its abundance of coconut trees, beaches and warm temperature all year round. Before arriving, I had anticipated staying in 5 star hotels with a sea view while sipping on coconut juice. Lying on a hammock while watching the sunset. Chilling by the beach while indulging in a good read. Yes, my perception of holidaying in Hainan was really generic. In reality travel with a tour group meant travelling on a tight budget (average hotels and even more average food) with a tight schedule and thus having 6am wake up calls and a rushed itinerary.

Here are some observations and thoughts during my time in Hainan.

-Chinese people love to take photographs at every single tourist attraction. But its not like they just take a few at the main picturesque spots. Many tourists feel the need to take a photo of every single artefact at an exhibition or of themselves by the sign of an attraction regardless of whether they have an interest in the place/thing. Are you seriously going to look back in a few years time at these photos of yourself in front of some antiquated vase that some native group used in the Hainan region a century ago?

-Selfies selfies selfies. #Imreadyformycloseup. One particular memorable moment happened when we were catching the boat to get to a small resort island. There was a chubby 20 something year old male sitting in front of me dressed in a matching Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Within seconds of getting seated he pulled out a gopro to take several selfies. Those ones where you hold the camera above your head to make your face seem slimmer and more attractive..

-Travelling at the end of February is not travel peak season. Yet, at every attraction we visited there were countless tourists packed at each location. This is China. It was impossible to take a decent photo of the picturesque landscape without having a plethora of people in the background all with their cameras out trying to capture the same thing.

-This leads to another thought that kept crossing my mind. I wonder how many photos of strangers will have me in the background. Accidental photo bombing LOL. Looking at some of my photographs from this trip I assume a lot.

-That moment when the bus starts moving and I haven’t sat down yet.

-The moment when you want to yell out of frustration at your naughty 6-year-old cousin but there are too many people in close vicinity so you just grin and bear it.

-That awkward moment when you try to get a stranger to take a group photo but your DSL camera is supposedly too complicated for an amateur to take a decent photo with everyone in the frame and in focus… even though its set on auto…

Next week (3rd) I will be travelling to the beautiful Gulin! (NOT with a tour group Thank goodness)

I will be uploading photos of my China trip once I get back to Auckland!