The Plan

by David on October 12, 2009

Welcome to the inaugural post of David Goes Kiwi. The big trip I’ve been talking about for months is only a few sleeps away.

David Goes Kiwi is where I’ll document what happens on my trip, so that I can let Raptitude continue its normal course without inundating it with travel talk. In this blog I’ll attempt to convey the feel and character of my destinations the best I can, using photographs and interesting links whenever possible.

Right now I’m tying up some loose ends before I go: copying documents, booking accommodations, visiting friends, and rounding up the last of my equipment.

The General Plan

Part of the fun is not knowing exactly where I’m going to end up on this trip, but there is a general outline. It will go something like this: 

Chapter One – Canadian West Coast

October 16th I fly out of Winnipeg to the lovely capital city of Victoria, British Columbia. I’ve got a few friends and family members to visit there. I’m also eager to spend a bit of my October in “the best climate in Canada,” as one ex-Winnipeg friend put it.

I will spend five of my eleven days in BC at the famed Hollyhock retreat. Set on the isolated Cortes Island, Hollyhock is an educational centre that offers consciousness-oriented courses in everything from arts and culture, to business practices, to mushroom identification, to mindfulness meditation. As they put it, Hollyhock’s programs “unite revolutionary teachers and thinkers at the leading edge of human and organizational evolution.”

By all accounts it is a quiet, calming place. No city lights, no drone of traffic, no clanging garbage trucks waking me up at 5am.

And the food is supposed to be stellar, too.

orcas

I’ll be taking a workshop called The Buddhist Path to Love and Happiness, studying mindfulness meditation and other consciousness skills.

Hopefully renewed and clear-headed, I’ll drive a rental car back to Victoria, to visit with friends and family for four days, before ferrying myself to Vancouver to hit the skies again.

Chapter Two – Thailand

After a very short stopover in the Hong Kong airport, I jump on a plane to Thailand. As it stands right now, my flight itinerary leaves me seven days in Thailand, but upon arrival I plan to change it to allow me three weeks.

First stop is the bustling mega-city known as Bangkok, the official capital of Thailand and mecca for backpackers. I don’t plan to spend a huge amount of time here, given my lust for nature and relative quiet, but I will certainly be here a few nights.

I’ve booked two nights at a quaint guesthouse, a short walk from the infamous “backpacker’s ghetto” known as Khao San Road. There’s probably no better place to find fellow right-off-the-plane English-speaking travelers, so I will see what kinds of characters I bump into there.

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

The only other destination I’m committed to in Thailand is the history-rich Northern capital Chiang Mai, where I’d love to do some hiking, temple-visiting and eating.

I am in love with Thai food and I’ve been told I’ll find Thailand to be heaven in that respect.

After a week or so in Chiang Mai, it’s wide open, but I’m definitely heading south to explore Thailand’s famous blue beaches at some point, perhaps at Ko Lanta or Ko Samui. The ancient Siamese capital Ayutthaya is also on my “probably” list.

Chapter Three – North Island

Auckland will be my landing point in New Zealand. Home to a third of New Zealand’s four million people, Auckland is quite the sprawling metropolis. I will do a bit of street-wandering and museum-hopping here, soliciting recommendations from fellow travelers and locals.

Though my first night will probably be at a hostel, I plan to couchsurf my way through the city for the most part. I want to learn about New Zealand from people who call it home, and there’s no better way to do that than to sleep on an air mattress in their storage room.

Couchsurfing will play a significant role in my trip, not because I can save $19 on a hostel bed, but because I get to interact with real, everyday people, rather than just members of the tourism industry. This country will be my home for almost a year, so I want to learn what it means to be a Kiwi.

From Auckland, I’m going to book a three-day bus tour to the very tippy-top of the island, the picturesque Cape Reinga and after that it’s pretty wide open.

I’ll spend a few weeks touring the North Island, mostly by bus. I want to hit the Coromandel, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Wellington and a whole lot in between. I’ll decide on the fly, again based on recommendations from people I talk to.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Chapter Four – South Island

South Island is known for its incredible scenery, and I’ll take my time enjoying it. After hopping off the ferry from Wellington, I’ll hit Picton, Nelson, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Christchurch, Kaikoura for sure, and who knows where else. Very much up in the air.

I do have two strictly scheduled destinations on the South Island. New Zealand (known in some circles as Middle Earth) is famous for its incredible hiking trails. Nine of them have been christened New Zealand’s Great Walks, and I’m going on two of them. The walks typically take three to five days to traverse, and accommodation is available along the way at huts maintained by the NZ Department of Conservation.

Because of the high demand during peak season, spots in the huts must be booked months in advance, so I already know the dates I’ll have to be there.

I’ll spend the week of Christmas hiking the beaches and green coastal hills of the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Christmas morning in a hut with thirty strangers, should be grand.

The most famous walk of all, the Milford Track, is scheduled for the end of January.

Chapter Five – Going Kiwi

At some point I’ll run out of money, so I’ll have to settle down and join the Kiwi workforce. I don’t really have any specific plans for this part of the journey. I will certainly spend some time working for room and board through the WWOOF program, either at a hostel or on an organic farm, but normally these arrangements are only for a few weeks.

Ideally, I’ll find employment as a member of a survey crew, a profession for which I’m trained, or perhaps as an Autocad draftsman. Those lines of work would give me the best earning potential, but honestly I’m not attached to any line of work or level of income. I’m looking for new experiences, not just the same ones with new scenery.

But who knows how it will all unfold… this is all just in my head right now. I know that no matter what I expect, nothing can ever happen quite like I predict. That’s okay.

T minus five days.

Photos by winkyintheuk, Maros and Piotzurek

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October 14, 2009 at 11:03 pm

{ 36 comments }

Benjamin October 12, 2009 at 12:57 am

Hiking, meditation, and couchsurfing.

David, it sounds like you’re going to have blast!

And your preparedness for the unknown is wise… it always pops up no matter how well laid our plans are (I had to have a few plans blow up in my face to learn that).

And to top it all off… Thai food in Thailand. I have to admit, I do envy you that!

Godspeed on the journey, Brother!

keep smiling,

Ben

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) October 12, 2009 at 4:17 am

salmon, stuppas, hobbits and life off the beaten track~ what more could a traveler ask for…?

Positively Present October 12, 2009 at 5:03 am

I’m excited for you and your adventures! :) Looking forward to living vicariously through you from behind my desk at work…

Sandra October 12, 2009 at 5:21 am

Travel tip:
Make a scan of all important documents (passport, driverslicence, plane tickets) and a list of all important phone numbers (family, credit card block, ambassy etc) and sent it to yourself on an online email program (hotmail/gmail). This way, no matter what happens or what gets stolen, you will always have access to these important documents and numbers.

Good luck and have fun!
(got here via your other blog btw)

Lisis October 12, 2009 at 6:09 am

Yay!!!! It’s finally here… almost. I love how you have a basic plan, but realize it may or may not turn out exactly like that once it gets underway. There are so many other variables that will pop up and lead you in one direction or another. But, no matter which way you go, or what you see, it will all be part of an incredible adventure and learning experience.

This Friday will be a big day for both of us. You’ll be starting your adventure, and Jeff has his first interview here, in Vermont, with Green Mountain Coffee (across the street). There will be a lot of excitement in the air that day. I’ll be wishing you safe travels, and I’m sure you’ll be wishing us luck in our endeavors.

Take Care, my friend! I’ll be here (and on Raptitude Classic) whenever you are!

Lisis

John October 12, 2009 at 6:23 am

Truly awesome, David. And it looks like you’re set and ready to go. I guess I’ll be here to check out your travel experiences. This is going to rock…

David October 12, 2009 at 8:57 am

Thanks everyone! It seems like only yesterday that this trip was months away.

Sandra, that’s a great idea and I’ll be doing that today.

Lisis, thanks and tell Jeff good luck with his interview. Sounds like Vermont is working out great.

Dawn October 12, 2009 at 10:50 am

Make sure you hike Tongariro Crossing in Whakapapa before you leave North Island. The single most amazing thing – EVER!

David October 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I am definitely doing the Tongariro crossing!

Patty - Why Not Start Now? October 12, 2009 at 11:56 am

What a great adventure! I recently read “The Geography of Bliss,” and in it the author spends an entire chapter on Thailand. Apparently it’s one of the happiest places, because the people there truly understand how to just “let it go.”

David October 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I have heard much about the friendliness and pride of the Thai people. It will be interesting to explore a society that is almost entirely Buddhist.

Brenda October 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm

What a plan! Looking forward to hearing about Hollyhock. That sounds like my kind of trip. Love and Happiness to you.

David October 13, 2009 at 8:24 pm

I’ve heard only glowing reviews about Hollyhock. People say they come away from it feeling completely renewed. The food is world-class too. :)

Roberta October 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

David, looking forward to seeing the world through your eyes. Safe and happy travels!

David October 13, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Thanks Roberta!

Tim October 12, 2009 at 2:34 pm

David:

Wow! Thanks for filling us in…I’m very excited for you. It sounds like a lifetime of learning is ahead. I will be curious to read about your adventures. Good luck!

David October 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Yeah I am going to treat this like an educational experience. I want to work on my state of mind most, teach it to be more flexible and appreciative.

brigid October 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm

My thoughts are with you,
Have a great time, its such an exciting time, like standing n the edge of a precipice about to take off.
Enjoy.

David October 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm

That’s how I feel. I jump Friday.

Kaushik October 12, 2009 at 5:17 pm

It’s been almost two years since my last trip…a long one in India…and reading your blog is inspiring me again! I look forward to your observations.

k

David October 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm

If you do take another trip soon, I hope you’ll blog about it.

Nadia - Happy Lotus October 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Hi David,

Sounds like an wonderful plan and those parts of the world are truly beautiful. Thailand is awesome as are its people. Very kind and down to earth. And don’t get me started on the food which I adore. Plus it is Buddhist and you know how I love Buddhism. In the airport in Bangkok there is a HUGE statue of Buddha in the middle of the terminal. Hope you get to see the Golden Buddha too.

Safe travels! :)

David October 13, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Hi Nadia. I will seek out many Buddhas and temples (and certainly many Thai meals.) Thailand is so rich with history; many photos are on the way. Thanks for the tip on the airport Buddha; I will make a point of checking it out.

Erin October 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm

You have been traveling light for some time now. That in itself is allowing you to take off on this grand adventure. Be blessed and I pray you will see, experience and enjoy all the good things along the way. All your readers look forward to messages from the edge.

Joy and discovery!

David October 13, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Thank you Erin, and I can’t tell you how cool it is to see so many people excited to travel along with my through my accounts and pictures. I’ll have some stories, for sure.

Nea | Self Improvement Saga October 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Wow, you’re in for a wonderful time. I’m overwhelmed with knowing that there is so much beauty around the world that I’ve yet to see. I can’t wait to read about your experiences. Live it up!

David October 13, 2009 at 8:31 pm

That’s the plan! Thanks Nea.

Rosalie Goldsworthy October 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Hi David
I will be able to find a place for you to sleep here in paradise, North Otago, South Island New Zealand

David October 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

That’s so great Rosalie, thanks! I’ve got a welcoming party of sorts, spread across the country.

J.T October 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Stalest Batch of all time.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:11 pm

That’s what I gathered. I decided not to even try to watch football on Sunday. Sounds like it was worthwhile. Looks like New Orleans is for real though.

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