Saturday, June 28, 2008

Solomon Islands, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong

OK so the last few posts have been rather long, in true Raewyn Essay Fashion!

I'm going to keep this one short-ish and combine two trips into 1 post, if at all possible.

2005 - 3rd year of my BSc, big stress out, parents moved to the Solomons. December 2005 I went there for 2 weeks over christmas.

Massive Culture Shock, as would happen to a girl who is used to not having 'lizards' or massive cockroaches or huntsman spiders sharing her living space. But I learned a lot, it's an amazing country. Really stinking hot, but I expect that to happen in Japan when I get there too so what's new, but amazing!!!

The people in the Solomons have little to worry about but their survival. They have fertile land and fresh fish daily. They have fresh fruit, fresh veges and throw a pineapple head out the window and you've got a new pineapple in about a week I swear. They are poor but want for nothing. They don't understand our materialistic nature (largely) and seem to not need to worry about it at all.

The landscape, wow! I don't think I can describe to be honest.

And the time to unwind... priceless.

Swung past Brisbane on the way home and did too much shopping but got back to Dunedin in one piece and felt completely relaxed when I got there.

2006 - Mum, Dad and Kat decide we're meeting in Malaysia for Christmas so I go to Japan for 3 weeks on the way and decide that yip I am going to apply for JET at the end of my BA.

Japan was amazing that first time but I reckon it's going to be just as good if not better this time and I cannot wait! Which is why I haven't written anything about where I went or what I did because I'll be going back there and soon!

Malaysia was also cool. I had been there when I was 5 but remembered extremely little except the shop in Singapore where Dad bought me 'spotty dog' the dalmation soft toy. We hung out at KLCC mall, went to Genting Highlands, did some more shopping, ate and ate and ate and ate. Quote from Uncle Tai - 'you want eat? let's go eat!'.

And last but not least, Hong Kong!! 3 days of pure awesomeness. Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Shanghai Tang... hanging out with Juliette was amazing and I plan on doing it again while I am in Japan, this time I want to see and do things that don't involve expensive shoes that I fit like a glove but I can't have.

So that's the summary, photos may follow but right now I want to eat so I am going to go eat.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Below is the diarised version (which appeared on another website in 2002) of my trip to Antarctica.


Installment 1: The Selection

I'll start from the beginning, the very beginning, how I found out about the trip, how I was selected and when I was told I was going.

August 2001

Economics class: My teacher waltzes into class a little late, not uncommon but she did have legitimate excuses every time. She says to the class 'Take out some paper time for a test.' Here's me thinking 'Test what test wasn't I told about this?'

Question 1. Do you like penguins? My Answer: Yes penguins are my favorite bird.

Question 2. I can't remember that question

Question 3. Are you willing to pick up rubbish? My Answer: I guess so if I have to.

There were numerous other questions that at the moment are not coming into my head, 10 in total.

Question 7. Are you prepared to writ
e a 1500 word essay? My Answer: Hell NO!

She then stands us all up and goes though the questions one by one and if we answer no to a question we must sit down, at this stage all 10 of us that were in class t
hat day were thoroughly perplexed. Then once we have gotten to the end of the sit down session not one of us is still standing ok one person but that certainly wasn't me, I don't like essays, she then announces to the class that the senior school principal had been sent an email through IBNet about a competition for 30 students and 30 teachers to go to the Antarctic on an educational expedition, the letter had been placed on her desk because only Year 12s (sixth formers) could apply. She really wanted to go and she needed a student to apply. She told us the website where we had to go to get the information on how to apply. Now at this point I am almost crying with happiness because it had been my dream to go to The Ice ever since I saw Dad's photos of when he was on tour of duty there while still in the Air Force.

The organization was Mission Antarctica and their Aim is to protect Antarctica for Future generations. The websites were:, also

I looked at the site, got the topic and that weekend sat down to write between 1000 and 1500 words on:
How will you apply your experience in Antarctica to further support and implement Mission Antarctica's aim of preserving Antarctica for future generations, and ensure that Antarctica continues to be used only for peaceful scientific and educational purposes. How will you help to spread the Mission Antarctica story throughout the global community, in particular your own country? I did nine drafts of it and waited until she asked us to hand it in. A week passed and I just decided to hand it in, only to find that this other girl had gotten her's in first and one other person wanted to apply. Time passes and the term comes to an end, the teacher still has no idea who she wants to apply so we collect 200 pledges of support for Mission Antarctica and decide to meet in the holidays to discuss who would apply. At the beginning of the holidays my teacher rings me up and says 'The Senior Office staff are unanimous, you are going to apply based on your essay alone. Meet me at school tomorrow at 9:30 am.'. I do this and she drops the bomb shell one of the sponsors was severely affected by September 11th and is withdrawing some sponsorship should we still apply… of course why not Bin Laden never stood in my way before. We fill in the forms and courier them to Melbourne for the selection panel.

November 2001

Months have passed on this thing and it is time for the selection to be announced, it gets to the 6th the day they say we'll find out… no news. 7th getting anxious. 8th I get an email… You have been short listed…. Wooooooohoooooo. I am close, I hope I

December 2001

6th I resign myself to the fact that I am not going. 7th Morning: Sir Peter Blake is dead… sob sob…. Raewyn not going to Antarctica… sob sob…. Tell all at work I'm not going.
After Lunch: Human Resource Manager comes down to my department and says 'can you call your dad urgently' I'm thinking what's happened, did Mum crash the car again?…. On the phone to Dad 'You're going to Antarctica' 'What!?!?!?!?!' 'You're going to Antarctica, courtesy of Ernesto Bertarelli (not
sure if that is the correct spelling) who owns Serono' Now I hear Bertarelli and think Prada and miss-hear Dad and spend the day thinking 'gotta buy Prada shoes gotta buy Prada shoes' I got corrected on that when I got home and checked my email… this guy is the Swiss Challenge for the America's Cup… not the Italian.

Serono is a biotechnology company specializing in Reproductive Health, Multiple Sclerosis and Growth and Metabolism.
Check out for more information about Serono.


December 7
I find out I am going, so what now? I must download about 9 different forms and information sheets and my Acrobat Reader isn't working. I must let my teacher, my principal and any other person who is interested know. I must tell the media and the important people in Parliament. I must enjoy the 3 weeks I have of holiday before my trip because as soon as I get back I have one week before school starts.

December 9
Kathmandu sale here I come. Mum drags me around a million outdoor shops to buy the stuff I'll need, Dad's credit card nearly maxed out because we spent close on $1500 dollars that day for my stuff, I think I'll still be paying them back for it when I am 30.

December 10
See my teacher and school, go to doctor, think about beginning some sort of fitness program.

December 11
Go back to doctor, the doctor was worried that an infected toe might flare up on the ice so minor surgery for that, and because I am traveling through Chile Hepatitis A vaccination might be useful did I mention I am hate needles.

December 13
Begin training program, walking in knee deep water and Pilates 3 times a week for 1 hour each session.

December 25
Christmas, I receive very little as Mum and Dad said they would take the price of the pack off the amount I owe them and it can be my Christmas present.

December 29
Tomorrow I am leaving, my stuff has been packed and repacked several times just trying to fit everything in, will I even need all this stuff. I have read all the information I need to read and tried learning the knots, it's hard when the instructions on how to tie a bowline suck.


31 December 2001, New Year's Eve, Santiago de Chile

OK so I lost my bag, American Airlines' fault. They left it in Miami, as if it wasn't enough to have to hear 'Ladies and Yentlemen' (no offence to Spanish people but mispronunciation gets me every time) a thousand times during the flight but now they lost my bags, oh well, I can do New Year's with a pair of jeans and an autumn top after all it does cool down in the evening, right? Once I get my bags sorted it is time to meet the other 4 flying in on New Year's Eve, and then we were 8. Macs (Sharon) McNamara (UK), Nick Sommerville (UK), Peter Malcolm (Expedition leader extraordinaire originally from UK but now living in Australia), Misja Carbo (Netherlands, lives in Australia), John Germain (Miami) that's the adults all together, now the students, Katja Irsic (Slovenja), Mere Nailatikau (Fiji) and me, Raewyn MacGregor (good old New Zealand). Ok that's all but 1 at the airport, the other student Ghia Zataari was waiting for us at the Hotel Majestic.

We hit the Hotel Majestic with a sigh of relief, I see a bed for the first time in 3 days hallelujah!!!! Then we take some time to get to know our roomies when we are in hotels, mine were Ghia and Macs, then hit the garden for a drink and our first time all together as a team. It suddenly hits home to me that I am heading to the ice with these people that I have just met, I hope I make a good impression. Then we decide to hit the town and go exploring, we went to the top of this hill with a statue of Mary on it that had such a great view and just looked for ages.

After an afternoon of sightseeing we go back to the hotel where we are given our MA t-shirts and jackets, which the men wear out on New Year's Eve, very handy for finding them. We have dinner and head out to Santiago's main street. None of us had experienced that kind of thing before and we in awe of the 100000 people at least, surrounding us, for what appeared to be entertainment in the form of a dance competition and then at midnight a fireworks display. It was just amazing, the only thing missing was Auld Lang Syne but who cares we got Viva Chile instead. After midnight we all headed off to bed as New Year's Day we were to get my bag and fly to Punta Arenas for one more night before descending on the Antarctic.


New Year's Day 2002

We head off as a team to Punta Arenas de Chile, Chile's southern most township. It is about 15 degrees or less there even in the height of Summer, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gill who made our super warm jackets for providing us with some warmth in Punta Arenas. Punta Arenas is really a tourist town, it is similar to Kaikoura in a way because most of its income comes from either Patagonia's tourist trade or Antarctica's tourist trade, with a little bit of Chilean Air Force thrown into the mix. There are a lot of stray dogs there and the amazing thing is that the sun doesn't set until like 11 pm, a taste of experiences to come I guess. We stayed at the Hotel Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn Hotel for those of us who don't understand Spanish), it was a really nice hotel, which was good because it was going to be the last bit of civilisation we would see for ten days. We went shopping and had a nice relaxing afternoon cruising around Punta Arenas.

2 January 2002

We get up early to head to the airport to fly into King George Island. However sadly the weather at Bellingshausen was not suitable to fly in, we spent the day in the airport which was new and had only been open for about 2 weeks. The staff at DAP airlines, the people flying us, were really goof and allowed us to sleep in their office and use the internet and take photos and stuff, it was a fun day even though Mother Nature was testing my patience greatly, I just wanted to get in and I couldn't, Princess Anne surely felt the same way when she had to wait. 3pm rolls round and Alejo (pronounced A-le-ho) Contreras of DAP says to us that we are better to go back to the hotel and he will call us in the morning. Alejo was this really nice Chilean pilot who spoke English to us and told me about this Kiwi pilot who flies for DAP on the DC3s and I am going 'Yeah we are good pilots, when you are trained by the best you are the best' and he defended my case when I argued how cats were good animals and don't hurt the New Zealand environment too much and that I will never stop keeping cats, and Alejo who is about my Dad's age said that cats were better than dogs.

So we go back to the hotel for the night and spend another afternoon souvenir shopping and handbag shopping and shopping and shopping till we nearly dropped. Then bed for we must be ready to go at 730 in the morning. Last shower last good bed hmm expedition.


Jan 2nd and 3rd 2002

Ok so, the night of January 2 2002, I have a shower before I go to bed, and prepare myself for what is most likely my last night in a real bed for quite some time. I sleep like a log and once again Macs, Ghia and I are the last ones down for breakfast. Mmm Chilean breakfast muffin things, tasted like sponge cake and they were just so yummy. Peter gets the call from Alejo saying 'be ready but we aren't going yet, I'll call again in half an hour'. Which he did and we had another half hour to get ready and we were off to the airport by which time Katja and I really needed the bathroom and the pilot nearly yelled at us for wasting time.

We board this really little plane, a King Air 1000, with no loo, the reason that Katja and I took the opportunity while we could to use the bathroom. It could fit 11 people including the pilots. We flew over Cape Horn and across the Drake Passage and I slept a little, I just am not a morning person, at least not on this trip anyways, we saw the cloud formations change at the Antarctic Convergence and saw ice and snow and rocks and '2041' our home for 9 days from the air, umm it looked so small from above. After a slightly bumpy landing we were in, we were in Antarctica, the moment I had been waiting for all 17 years of my life.

King George Island where the journey begins and ends for us is a member of the South Shetland Islands and hosts several bases from different countries which come into the diary later, numerous penguins, elephant seals, a couple of glaciers, an air strip and over 1000 tonnes of rubbish. The rubbish we are cleaning up is the 1000 tonnes at the Russian Bellingshausen Base at Maxwell Bay, where 2041 had a temporary mooring.

After disembarking from the plane we meet the people who have just come off 2041 having been with them from the beginning, at Ushuaia, Argentina. They all say 'don't use all your film on the first day out sailing there will be many more opportunities for photos' I think 'Thank God for Digi here' Yes I did name my digital camera, main reason being it is easier to say Digi than to say digital camera. We also meet Andy Dare, skipper of 2041 and the only female crewmember, first mate Alex Sizer. 2 more crewmembers await us on the boat with the kettle on. By the time we get all our gear on board the boat and meet the clean up crew and see the rubbish and take photos with the clean up crew it is 2:00 pm, leaving us enough time to get acquainted with the yacht and crew, safety stuff and the strange loo which you have to pump to flush, before dinner and by the time dinner is finished we are stuffed it is time for bed, so we crawl into our bunks and go to sleep. I remember thinking hey this is actually quite comfortable.


January 4 2002 – Maxwell Bay, King George Island, Accomodation: Yacht 2041, Weather: Sunny, Sunrise: Earlier than y'all can fathom (OK I wasn't up but nobody was, it was like 3am) Sunset: Very Late, about midnight.

Right got that everybody early sunrise late sunset. I think about the only people in New Zealand who can even begin to imagine that would be the people living down on Stewart Island.

Well having got the first day out of the way the crew , Andy Dare – Skipper, Alex Sizer – First Mate, Alex (Alf) Johnston and Mike Tattersfield – Engineer of sorts (explain later), take us out for a sailing lesson. Hard work, you gotta be fit, and as I find the idea of exercise abhorant it was not a very good day for me. Pulling and coiling ropes, wearing those ugly foulies (wet weather gear) and getting chafed by my balaclava which lost it's job the next day. But it was fun, I learnt a lot, I now understand America's Cup commentary.

Now a little bit about the yacht 2041 before I tell you where we want that day. The Yacht 2041 is owned by Mission Antarctica and it a blue boat with a UNESCO Logo on the front of it. It is registered in Castletown as it used to be called The Isle of Mann and MA thought it appropriate to register it there. It sleeps 12 people plus 1 on the saloon (what some would call the couch, which isn't a couch. It was the proto type for the BT Global Challenge Yachts and sails very well until you get sea sick, which I did not until the last 2 days. But that's another story.

OK so on day 2 of being actually in Antarctica we headed over to the 'Anne Boye' the boat that took all the rubbish away and went on board to take a look. This took courage for me because I happen to be afraid of heights and falling into cold water and with nothing but a rope under my foot climbing up that scramble net was not easy for me, in fact the first time I stepped over the edge of the yacht to climb up I freaked out, I just felt that I couldn't do it, and I moaned and bitched the whole way up on my second attempt and coming down too. But I am pleased to say that I really accomplished something that day.

We had a look around at all the rubbish that had been loaded and were really shocked, old tanks (like military style tanks), typewriters, you name it and it was in there and some of that stuff could have been worth a lot too at auction, but no it is being recycled. It is just amazing what 50 years of scrap metal and wood looks like when it is all piled together. It was almost enough to make me recycle my whole house, but the decision here is no I value material things too much.

After looking around on the ship we headed off on a sail to learn just how to sail the thing if we ever needed to. How to haul up the mainsail, how to tack and gybe, basically how to pull a bunch of different ropes and how to avoid being hit in the head by the mainsail and getting killed. This sounds really morbid but it is very important. How to steer now being at the helm rocks mmhmm I was loving that.

On this little mission we went round to this beautiful glacier that would have wasted a lot of film if we hadn't been warned out at the beginning, it was just amazing the colour. We saw a few penguins and some seals but nothing like what is to come in the next couple of my episodes.

After we learnt how to sail we went on back to Maxwell Bay, where the mooring is to spend the night. Now I have to correct something in the National Geographic's December issue. Maxwell Bay is not picturesque it is dull and grey and at the time National Geographic were there the rubbish pile would have been at its highest, about 3 meters or more high. So for once National Geographic were wrong. By the way it is not me who said it is not picturesque, I thought is was nice but nothing wonderful, it was Andy that corrected National Geographic first, he just tried to lay blame on me by asking me to put it in my report and being a good girl I did.


January 5 2002

Weather: Sunny/ Cloudy/ I slept a lot so hard to remember. Aim of the Day: See 800 tons of scrap followed by find big rookery to meet 200,000 penguins, learn about the stink penguins create.

Ok so we did the Anne Boye thing on this day, which incidentally was a Saturday. I climbed that scary scramble net and just generally went out of my depth. There was 800 tons of trash on board this thing all of which has now been recycled. We spent about half an hour to an hour on board looking at scrap, taking photos and me saying 'If my mother knew what I was doing she would freak out'.

After doing this and safely getting back on board the boat (2041) we headed off to a place called Half Moon Island so called because of its shape. We were to anchor here for the night and go in two groups to visit the stinky rookery.

This rookery stank worse than anything the only thing that compares are the settling ponds at the North Shore Sewage Treatment Plant in Rosedale for those of us who know it. But it is a small price to pay for the site of the 200,000 chinstrap penguins and their babies. Yes folks I saw baby penguins in their natural habitat.

I took 117 photos at this place oh they were just so sweeeeeet. 'Tis a good thing I had my trusty digital camera.

I think I must've been low in Iron on this trip because whenever we were on the move to the next location I was sleeping oh the things the others tell me I missed.

Then after dinner we talked and went to bed. I can't remember exactly what it was due to only remembering either the really crap stuff or the really good stuff or the seasick stuff. Sorry you still have to wait for my seasickness story.

The next day off to Deception Island but you have to wait folks for another entry.



January 6 2002 , Sunday, Day 4 Weather: Good I think. Anchorage: Deception Island

Alright Deception Island well - yes - there is Deception Island and there is also the trip to Deception Island to worry about here.

It took 9 hours! From Half Moon Island. This trip involved crossing the Bransfield Strait which is the crux of my sea sick story to come later. This trip meant that we had 3 people sea sick on this run. They shall remain nameless because they can access this so I don't want to offend anyone more than I already did on the trip.

Our initial plan was to go to a place called Hannah Point but the wind was blowing in the wrong direction so the crew decided to head to Whalers Bay in Deception Island. I say in because it's a sunken volcano with this harbour inside it. It last erupted in 1970 so we assumed we were safe.

Whalers Bay was really eerie I can't describe it. It's like if ghosts existed there would be lots there.

We went on land when we got there and had a look around. Peter played his digereedoo inside this big old vat with really good acoustics. They can put the Kristin School orchestra in there any day and we would actually so good. After Peter played his digereedoo we all roamed around the area that used to be a British Base (Base B) and a former Norwegian Whaling Station.

There were a few penguins there and an old plane fuselage (I assume the eruption killed the plane) and a few old building which anywhere else would have probably been condemned.

But I forgot to mention that on the way we stopped at this bay called Macy Bay where there is a glacier and there were heaps of Leopard Seals there. Mere and Ghia likened it to being in a movie and a glass of iced water respectively.

So after taking loads of photos here and following a penguin (3 meters away the whole time of course) we went back to the yacht to discuss where we were and where we were heading before going off to bed still showerless to sleep in anticipation of a new day.


Weather: Goodish
Day's Aim: See the mainland, Get to Enterprise Island for some sail free days.

Right well I think I slept most of this day too given that we sailed all day. OK so I was lazy but I don't know what was wrong with me. We started at 0630 so umm yes very early. We finished sailing at 1900 which would mean that we sailed for 12.5 hours but it was worth it. The scenery closer to the mainland was just amazing.

I can't believe looking back now that we sailed 234 km that day. It was rather uneventful really. But we did see an Albatross (I missed it) and some humpback whales.

When we moored up alongside this old sunken whaling boat we had to move a little iceberg using the dinghy, easy when you have a Yamaha motor up behind you. The boat is home to a flock of Antarctic Terns which were just so pretty.

Seen it was so uneventful on the 7th I might go on to talk about the eighth as well here.

January 8 2002, Tuesday, Mere's Birthday, also Shower Day and my turn to cook with John Germain.
Aim: Don't sail anywhere, jump in dinghy go to Mainland and have a look around, take a shower, Make Mere's Birthday memorable.

So shower day. Mere got first shower while some of us went for a ride in the dinghy to the mainland. I got to shower in the afternoon as I was in the first group to go out.

So in the dinghy we went about 7 miles or something we were away for like 4 hours which usually bothers me because loos are few and far between in Antarctica but it didn't bother me on the most exciting day we had in Antarctica.

First about half way to the mainland we saw a humpback whale and her baby feeding. You could see the red of the krill surrounding them it was so fabulous.

Then on the mainland we saw a crabeater seal basking in the sun. And it didn't seem to mind that we were taking photos flat out. It was just an amazing feeling standing actually on the Antarctic continent. The snow was thick, air was clean, gosh it is so hard to describe how it felt it was like coming home almost if you know what I mean.

Next we travelled to this iceberg where Alex went for a swim, in the iceberg yes. And another iceberg that we took the dinghy under, it was so umm strange yet satisfying. It was so blue under there and so yeah.

Next the penguins oh the penguins my pair of blue bird ad penguins. They were so cute. After a photo shoot for the penguins, they were like fashion models changing pose prancing around, we headed to Bailey's Glacier where I ran out of room on my disc after photographing these blue eyes shags. I was so gutted.

It was so peaceful at this glacier though, spiritual even. I instinctively sang to myself the Maori version of the national anthem I don't know why but it just felt right. Then a thunderous roar broke the silence, the glacier was moving not much so we stayed there longer and crazy Andy jumped into the water and took photos under water. It was cool. Then when we realised the brash ice had moved in on use and we would need to be careful getting out of the bay we left, headed back to the yacht '2041' for lunch.

Afternoon, SHOWER Hooray!!!!! Time for my four minute shower. Ah so refreshing it makes you value a half hour shower once a day when you only get 4 minutes in 9 days.

After taking that fabulous shower I made Mere a birthday cake and John and I made hamburgers and chips for dinner. The potatoes were a little green but that didn't matter it turned out alright in the end. I had difficulties with the cake though because it was from a packet and the instructions were in Spanish. It turned out a little gooey but hey that's what you get when the other person cooking with you touches what you are cooking, he took it out 5 minutes too soon! But it tasted alright after all. I decorated it with an M&M's 'M' and 'M' for Mere that I made with those fabulous and handy coloured candies.

The others came back and we had dinner…. Yummy yummy yummy who needs money when your on a boat… that's meant to be a joke.

Then after dinner we hiked halfway up enterprise island where we took some photos. Some of us decided to go to the top but as I have mentioned before I find exercise abhorrent and went back to the boat along with John and Misja. Then when the others finally got back after Andy got really mad we had Mere's cake at 2330 then finally got to bed at about 1 but it didn't seem like that at the time only when I looked at my watch did I get tired.

Next day is another adventure.


Weather: Perfect. Aim: Go sailing around the area around Enterprise Island, see Antarctic Stuff… prevent Raewyn from sleeping… It must be interesting if I stayed awake.

Well I was the last one up, which isn't a bad thing. It meant I could stay awake all day and besides late nights like Mere's Birthday only make me tired.

We went to the Plata Channel and Gerlache Strait all day sailing but worth it. Let's see we saw penguins, icebergs and whales, seals, penguins and mountains, icebergs, whales and perfect blue ocean that was really deep but you could see right to the bottom in places. After the peacefulness of the day before and the awe that struck me the day before I didn't think Antarctica could get much better but what do you know it did.

We didn't sail very far from the mooring/sunken boat tie up place but we saw so much in that 8 hours.

I saw another bluebird ad only this is the one where the adelie penguins are tobogganing down the iceberg. We sailed around this huge iceberg for about half an hour or an hour and they kept following us around the iceberg. I bet they were thinking 'what are those dumb animals doing sailing around this iceberg… How many times have they been around here… and they keep looking at us what is wrong with them?' But we thought they we funny why wouldn't we sail around and around and around we only did it 6 times this was a huge iceberg. There were about 18 penguins on this thing and they looked like they were having fun too.

We saw these seals basking in the sun on an ice flow. Just lying there sleeping, we got really close too. Gosh they were so pretty, Weddel Seals and Crabeater Seals. One of them appeared to be hurt, she/he had a scar on her/his belly. But yeah we spent 5 minutes watching them too.

And then there were the whales the playful and yet somehow camera elusive whales. There was one species that we saw on this day, I think. These were Minke whales there appeared to be a pod of about 4 of them all playing tricks on us while one would go under the boat the another would pop up and breathe in another place just to confuse us and it would always go down just as my camera engaged. But oh they were fun. Then Peter tried to play his digereedoo to attract them, but scared them off.

We also made an iceberg flip… what happened was that the person streering who happened to be the female first mate, Alex, steered us right into a little iceberg. So us girls started posing for photos and just as the button was pushed on my camera, it flipped creating this really cool candid photo.

We sailed around all day looking at icebergs and wildlife and nature. I didn't realize I could survive like that without a TV.

Tomorrow we head back to Bellingshausen, 24 hours of sailing and well that seasick story is on its way in the next edition!


January 10 2002

Aim: Head back to Bellingshausen Station. Weather: Reasonable

Well we were 2 days out from leaving the ice and still at Enterprise Island this meant that we had to high tail it back to Bellingshausen pretty quickly so we sailed for just over 24 hours. The crew got up quite early and prepped the boat and by the time I got up we were just about ready to sail.

The seas were pretty calm while we were sailing close in to the peninsula where we were able to get some shelter from the swells, we saw some pretty cool wildlife too, humpback whales that came right up to the boat out of curiosity, but then once we left the splendour of the Antarctic Peninsula and got out into the Bransfield Strait it was how do I say … umm I was wishing I had put that seasick patch on after all. The swells were pretty huge and the boat was small and well it just wasn't a good combination.

I avoided food for quite a while during that section of the sail but you know when you love coke and curry and that's what's for dinner you just cannot pass it up. So I had curry and coke for dinner and kept my eyes on the horizon but needless to say that didn't work and I was well sick. I had to do 2 watches that night and on both 3 hour watches I was sick as a dog. 'Twas not good and I was kicking myself for not using that gosh darn patch. The only thing I was good for was sleeping really. So there you have it folks my seasick story. The lesson is: If you feel sea sick don't indulge yourself.

January 11 2002

Weather: Nice Aim: Pick up supplies from Arctowski Station, Get back to Bellingshausen, Celebrate Macs' birthday, Pack, Enjoy final day on the ice.

So we had sailed for nearly 28 hours back from Enterprise Island and I was hungry once my stomach settled down from all that tossing and turning I needed food in large quantities… So when we went to pick up the supplies at the Polish Arctowski Station and the offered us lunch I was soooooooooo happy. I had been wanting a good sausage and that is what I got too. My goodness I never knew the food on the ice could be so good. The Polish have really good staff and their station is really cool too. It is just like a scene from Heidi the long table and wooden chairs and stuff were so fabulous. They gave us sausage and bread and hot chocolate and cookies and showed us the tomatoes that were grown in their greenhouse. Then we had a look around the shore at Admiralty Bay. We saw heaps of female elephant seals and adelie penguins and chinstrap penguins. We also saw grass which is a real sign of global warming because I don't think it is supposed to be there.

Then we sailed back around to Maxwell Bay and prepared for a pretty cool evening with the Russians.

It was amazing when we got back to Maxwell Bay, the beach was clear and the penguins were recolonising it. Hooray!!!!!

It was Macs' birthday so when we were invited for dinner with the Russians I was relieved because I didn't feel like making a cake. The food at the Bellingshausen was not quite that of Arctowski but still pretty good given that it was Antarctica after all. They were watching The Green Mile while dinner was being served which quite amused me because it was dubbed over with the Russian and you could read the lips of the actors to get the English. Then we went into their lounge and had a party. I thought it was going to be lots of vodka but not it was Dutch beer and wine and champagne, I think the only Russian thing in the room was the Russians themselves and the fruit juice I was drinking. We had heaps of fun that night and wished we could do it again. The Russians didn't understand us and we didn't understand them apart from 2 of them that understood and spoke English but it was still pretty fun.

Then time to go back to the yacht and finish packing then get some sleep for tomorrow we go back to Chile.



January 12 2002

Weather: Raining Aim: Go back to Chile…. Waaaaa!

Well the flight is coming at 8:30…. Or at least it was…. It got in at 12:30… we flew at 1:00.

But all that was after we said goodbye to the Crew and the Russians took us around some bases on the island. We went to Chile's Frei Base to post some postcards…. Mine were all to me basically under the pretence of being to my cats. Then after the post office we went to China… in the amphibian vehicle that rattled and shaked and was noisy. At China they gave us jasmine tea and crackers and showed us their base. It was a great way to spend our last few hours on the ice. Then Oleg the Russian Base Commander told us it was time to go, some of us piled into his Lada and the rest into the amphibian for the short journey back to Bellinghausen and then to the airport.

At the airport we said goodbye to the Russians and then a very sad goodbye to Peter who was staying on with the rest of the crew for the next voyage. We also met the new people who seemed really cool. We were all emotional and it was because we were leaving a place that over the nine days we had been there had made such an impact on us that nobody wanted to leave it.

And so we piled into the tiny plane and started the 4 hour flight, that had taken us 2 on the way south, back north to Chile all reflecting on the amazing adventure we had.

We hadn't had lunch so by the time we got back I was hungry and had low blood sugar and was not prepared to deal with those annoying customs officers that spoke little English but you know as luck would have it, it took ages to get through customs there was only 8 of us but we had to wait for so long. Oh and they didn't like us because we smelled like polecats too.

Once back at the Hotel Cabo De Hornos in Punta Arenas I had dibbs on the shower. I washed 3 times and my hair 3 times and my goodness I was so happy and the flush toilet too. I was really appreciating civilisation at that point.

Then Fanta and sugar but that didn't help me. So we went out to dinner and found this great little restaurant which the Voyage 2 people had recommended where they spoke English. They gave us a free shot of Pisco (traditional Chilean alcoholic drink) each and a great feed too. I tell y'all I didn’t want to leave.

I was feeling better and so not ready to sleep so on the way back we stopped at an internet café and checked my email and wrote emails to friends and family and then finally we went to bed. Tomorrow begins another 36 hours of flying.


13 January 2002

And so begins the 35 hours in the air to get home.

First three and a half hours flying over Chile's amazing scenery from Punta Arenas to Santiago Airport. Saying goodbye to Mere and Ghia on arrival. Followed by saying goodbye to Katja, Macs and Nick later that evening. Then a few hours in Santiago Airport waiting for the next flight, 9 hours over night to Miami.

14 January

Negotiating US customs. About half an hour to get through the customs line then I had to wait for Misja at the baggage claim. The we had to say goodbye to John. Then Misja and I pretty much parted meeting at the gate for the flight to LA. It was five and a half hours to LA from Miami. We had like 13 hours in LA so I went to a hotel and got a day stay for US$35 and had a shower and just had a good day watching TV eating Maccas and enjoying being by myself and goodness knows how many times I called my mother from the pay phone. Then the 14 hour flight to Melbourne on which I slept thanks to one of those sea sick patches to stop me feeling ill like I did on the way to the States on the way to the ice.

16 January

Almost home. I hit Australia for 8 hours of shopping with Mum's friend. That was good, I got myself a fresh top to wear and some other stuff too. A bag and a cellphone case and I can't remember the rest because I shop so much anyways.

Then when I went to check in at Qantas they told me that my flight was delayed a long time and since I had travelled a long way they would get me on an Air NZ flight that was leaving quite soon after I checked in, which I thought was really good.

So I landed in Auckland at midnight and went home for a well need rest.

Thanks for reading my story guys. There's one more instalment about what I have done for Mission Antarctica since I got back so don't miss it.



August 2002

Well this month is the World Summit for Sustainable Development and the end of my obligations to Mission Antarctica but not the end to my involvement with them because I can't help but still be so grateful.

Since my trip in January I have done quite a bit in support of Mission Antarctica. So here goes.

First I wrote letters to the leaders of all the political parties in parliament and told them what I had done.

Then I suggested an Antarctica themed ball but that fell through because the ball committee chose to do the whole Mafioso 1920s thing.

Then I suggested Antarctica as a theme for our Stage Challenge Entry but no The Einstein Effect won out on that one and it is a good thing too because those guys did such a good job on it.

Then I was in the local paper.

After that I was asked to talk to a couple of local schools about Antarctica, which went well.

I have done this diary.

And I have been so busy with school that I have had little time for much else but school and Antarctica and good ol' NZGirl.

There are a few people I need to thank now. First all my readers. Mission Antarctica, the International Baccalaureate Organisation, Serono (my sponsors), Kristin School, Mrs Christine Petersen (my teacher and fellow applicant) and finally NZGirl for giving me an avenue through which to tell my story nationally and indeed internationally.

September 2002

I am so slow, I have been so busy that even though my diary was written ages ago I kept forgetting to send it. Now I am on my last ever school holidays and only have 2.5 weeks of school when I get back before we go on study leave whoa! Who knew I would end up going to Antarctica and some of my friends from that trip going to the World Summit.

Mission Antarctica's exhibit in the Ubuntu village at the summit got the prize for best exhibit I understand and so I am very proud.

I was so pleased to have been associated with such great people and such a great organisation. Now I really have to study hard so that my parents will let me go to Japan sometime next year when my friend will allow me to come. I was going to go in December 2002 but my friend has to study for her university entrance exam and will not let me come now that's dedication for you.

October 25 2002

So I am really slow but at least it didn't take me a whole year to write it. My friends from Antarctica and I still email each other occasionally and I will never ever forget the experience I still get comments from people saying how professional the 900 photos look. Now I have taken to thinking ahead a lot but also living in the now, if I see something I want to buy and I can afford it I buy because you never know what is around the corner, one hour you can be saying I'm not going to Antarctica and the next hour saying 'I AM going to Antarctica' it is just the amazing thing about life. If you have a dream pursue if because goodness knows you might just achieve it.

Thanks again for reading my story.

Raewyn (a.k.a Rae of the Antarctic)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bye Bye Wisdom Teeth... Hello America!!!

So, I just had my wisdom teeth out. I disapprove of the pain but I do approve of Southern Cross Hospital in Wellington, they were really good!! Sunny was also really awesome coming to pick me up and walking me home. She saved me $$$ on a taxi which is good, as did Joy who drove me to the hospital this morning. I am also impressed with the service at Amcal Pharmacy on Cuba Street, they saved me from having to have penicillin, which I have a 50/50 chance of being allergic to by double checking with my specialist.

So anyway, enough about Wisdom Teeth coming out... back to my Adventures!

It all started when I was 3, we moved down the road... big adventure for a little girl, it seemed like over the hill and far away.... it was just over the hill but certainly not far. Hehe.

Then when I was almost 7 I came home from school and Mr Mathews (now deceased due to a plane crash, God rest his soul!) was in the lounge with Mum and Dad. Mum said 'guess what.' 'what?' 'We're going to Disneyland!!!' then Mr Mathews told me we were going to live at Disneyland. In December 1991, I got very confused when we didn't end up living in Disneyland but lived in Washington D.C. instead for three and a half years while Dad worked at the NZ Embassy.

During the time we lived in America we traveled around the United States and Canada every summer after (and one year we went before) summer camp at Camp Rim Rock which was always awesome!! Every summer after a stint at Camp Rim Rock we drove all round the place in our van, Beauty, we also had an old Ford known as The Beast. So we drove in Beauty and went to a grand total of 42 states plus some Canadian provinces, namely Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Sascatchewan (sp?). We visited Yellowstone National Park, Mt Rushmore, the World's Biggest Mall at the time in West Edmonton, the Calgary Stampede, New Orleans, Philadephia, New York, Cape Cod, Atlantic City and of course the amazing monuments of Washington DC! There's almost a million other places I could write about but I don't want to bore you all.

In my time in the States I went to school at Chesterbrook Elementary School and joined the Girl Scouts. Mum and Dad made sure I made the most of the experience that's for sure. I have really fond memories of the times we spent in McLean, Virginia and lived next to my dear friend Mr Dunlap and his beautiful wife Janie, who became my surrogate grandparents when Granny died when I was 8. I am still in contact with Mr Dunlap today and want to thank him for the impact he had on my life, I don't know if he knows how much he impacted the course of my life but if he reads this he will now.

We returned to New Zealand in 1995 to the same house we moved to when I was 3. Then when I was 14, Mum and I went back to McLean for a two week visit. Not much had changed and yet everything had changed, it was strange. I loved it though! And will always have a soft spot for that part of the world (and people wondered why I was so vocal in US Foreign Policy class last year... haha).

So anyway that's it from me for now. My sister is currently in the States/Mexico exploring South America, she said she felt really at home in San Fran when she arrived. I hope that happens to me too next time I go there.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I'm off to Japan!!!

So, I am off to Japan....
I'm going to be an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET Programme.

This new adventure comes after:
  • Living in the States as a child,
  • Traveling to the Antarctic Peninsula via Chile on scholarship at age 17,
  • Spending 2 weeks in the Solomon Islands in 2005,
  • Traveling to Asia at the end of 2006
  • and visiting Fiji at the end of 2007.
So over the next few weeks I am going to chronicle those adventures before I go to Japan. Then it's chronicling my experiences on the JET Programme where I shall be based in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture.

So that's what this blog is going to be all about.

Enjoy reading it folks!!!