pfong (older posts)
Photographs & Notes from Singapore
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Saturday, December 11, 2004
No Turnin' Back
Driving out of Christchurch, we made a detour to Mt Hut. The turn-off was deceptive. A well paved road rapidly deteriorated into a steep gravel road with hairpin turns. The gradient grew so steep that we had to down shift to second and then first gear to continue climbing. LC was driving and was naturally anxious as the road become increasing more hair raising. She suggested that we turn back. I thought that the road was too narrow to attempt turning around and said that I’d take over driving to press on and find a safer spot to turn. I didn’t fancy driving of the edge of the cliff trying to turn around on the narrow road.
This picture was taken at the spot where we stopped to change over the drivers. We are so high you can see the curvature of the earth in the picture! Not really though. The curvature in the horizon is really from the barrel distortion due to lens of my camera. After taking the picture, I realized that there was a burning smell from the car. Engine overheating from the prolonged run in first gear? Who knows, but we were certainly anxious as we pressed on to find a place to turn around.
We finally found a place broad enough to turn around here, but I suggested we press on as we seemed to be near the top. I had quickly forgotten the stomach clenching drive up to this point and assumed the drive would get easier.
It was at this point that we were passed by another car. You can see it in the second picture as a tiny white dot. It turned out, we were lucky this car passed us and car drove on ahead. The driver of the other car eventually turned around and told us that there was ice on the road ahead as he passed us going back down. We might have run into some trouble with the ice if he hadn’t told us. As things turned out, we managed to get safely back down after our little adventure.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
LC and I wanted to hit the open road as soon as we could. We rented a car and drove out to the Banks Peninsula, a short drive away from Christchurch. This peninsula is where the British first landed and claimed New Zealand for the British Crown, just barely grabbing the claim away from the French who had an outpost nearby. The town we were headed for, Akaroa, is located in the vent of a long extinct volcano. We drove up twisty narrow roads on what used to be the side of the volcano. The picture shows the view from the ridge at the top of the cone. The water in the pic is where the extinct vent used to be.
We spent a long, wonderful day hiking around Akaroa. We watched the sailboats and explored the lighthouse. We tramped through the overgrown Garden of Tane and headed back to town through the old colonial cemetery with its separate burial areas for Catholics, Protestants and non-conformists. By the time we got back it was getting late, so we had to make a tense drive along the ridge tops in the fading light to get back to Christchurch.
On the way back, we stopped for dinner at a roadside inn. We were the only people there for dinner, so we chatted with the owner next to a hearth with a crackling wood fire. The fire was a welcome relief and a delight after the cold and difficult night drive along the mountain tops. The owner asked us what we were planning to do during our stay in New Zealand.
I told him, "We plan to drive around and see as much of this beautiful country as we can. You are very lucky to stay in country so rich in natural beauty".
"Yes, it is beautiful isn't it", he smiled, and left us to our dinner.
We famished travelers ate in the company of a Swift which flitted among the roof beams. The owner said that the bird was a regular visitor at night, coming in to enjoy the light and warmth of the fireside. That's a smart bird, I thought, as we left for the cold drive along the quiet road back to Christchurch.