Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Enjoying a nice day in Wellington

After a string of truly crap days of cold, wind and rain, we finally got a pretty nice one. Blue skies, calm winds. How better to spend it than perched--that is, swinging--over the city?

Halfway up Mt. Victoria, just a 15-minute walk from where I live, is a great rope swing on a giant eucalyptus tree. It's in a great clearing with a wonderful view of the city. My English friends, Mark and Tom, and I enjoyed this wonderful view from the "Welli Swing."

Tom gets ready to take the inaugural swing of the day:

I enjoy my first swing of the day:

Tom takes a go:

Mark's turn:

Me from a different view (what a drop!):

And the view:

And here's a blast from the past. A gorgeous view of NZ's highest peak, Mt. Cook, taken during my South Island road trip with my brother:

And an update on my China trip. I think I'll wait until after the Olympics have begun to apply for my visa, through a special service. It's likely that my odds to get the visa I want will be much higher if I apply through my home consulate.

That's all for now! 22 days until I'm back stateside--first to the lovely San Diego for Paul's wedding. Very excited!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A little nervous!

So I have a one-way plane ticket to Beijing for Sept 2. But that doesn't guarantee that I'll be going to China.

Getting a visa to China (and you must get one before you go--no visas on arrival) has gotten a lot harder in the last month or so. According to official rules, one must present proof of return travel (one-way ticket doesn't cut it) and proof of booked accommodation. I had no intention of restricting my time in China, let alone figuring out my entire itinerary before I got there. I don't even know where I'll be going after China (most likely Southeast Asia). These crackdowns are said to be lasting until after the Olympics. The gap between when the Games end and when I'm supposed to be going is very narrow, and wouldn't allow for my to get a visa.

So what does this mean? I'm not sure yet. I will attempt to get a visa here in Wellington at the embassy next week. There's a good chance they will be relaxed with the rules (Americans pay more for their visa than any other nationality). If it seems like this is going to be a struggle, I might have to change my travel plans. I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nearly done...

Two weeks from tomorrow is (hopefully) my last day of work. Four weeks from tomorrow I hop a plane back stateside. Wow has time flown.

One of the owners, it would see, is under the impression that I want to destroy the place as I leave. I noted to him yesterday that a couple other waiters have put in their notice this week. It's a bad coincidence that their last days will be the same week as mine. Apparently this means that I am trying to get everyone to quit with me?

I will mention one point of frustration, however. My replacement, as assistant manager, started this week. Now I have no problem training my replacement, and I let the manager know that. But then I met my replacement. Nice guy, seems to want to work hard. But he's 18 (EIGHTEEN) and has SIX MONTHS of restaurant (actually cafe) experience. I don't know if they are desperate or what, but that seems like a rather unbalanced replacement for me. I guess that's for them to worry about.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this chapter wrapping up. I think I will be doing one last work exchange before I leave. More on that later. Just looking to wrap up my time here with some nice scenery and good Kiwi hospitality!