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Sunday, January 29, 2006
Back from New Zealand

I finally return from Army training in New Zealand. Waiouru is really nice. That's where they filmed Mordor. But the training ground is pretty much open grass plains, although the active volcano Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe are almost always in sight. I read about the ski resort on the slopes of Ruapehu. Maybe I should go there someday; it must be interesting skiing on the slopes of an active volcano.

The night sky is amazing. There's minimum light pollution. I could see the Milky Way, the Coal Sack Nebula, the Magellanic Clouds and many open clusters so clearly without any special equipment. I also saw three satellites moving across the sky with the same velocity simultaneously. It's really strange. I've never seen satellites move in formation before. I almost thought they were alien spacecrafts.

R&R (or Educational tour as they call it) was only one day. We visited several places, one of which is a waterfall or rapid. Nothing very special there except that when I walk further up the hill, I noticed the shell of a huge insect nymph. It was frighteningly alien, with large pincer-like front leg. We also visited the Pohutu Geyser and the related stuff like mudpools, etc. It was my first time seeing these volcanic activity related stuff, so I was understandably excited. The strong smell of sulphur was quite annoying though.

Night time was free and easy in Auckland. Most of my friends wanted to visit a strip club first so I went to the casino myself. I played even chances games at the roulette table. I noticed a table where the outcome seemed pretty non-random (hence predictable), at least from the sample pool consisting of the last 30 spins. I played there hoping the trend continues and fortunately for me, it did. I made an easy $30 through 6 bets, losing only once to the green zero.

Gambling is such a scary game. I set my goal at $20 profit before I started but I got greedy and continued even after I reached my goal. I was winning consecutive bets and I felt I could go on and make bigger bets to earn faster. Fortunately discipline (or fear of loss) kicked in and I cashed my earnings when I was ahead at $30. One of my friend wasn't so lucky. He lost a hundred in Blackjack in a few minutes. He tried to win that back with another fifty and ended up losing that as well. That's Blackjack, win fast, lose fast.

While I was walking around Auckland, I also came across this restaurant called Cafe Limon at the waterfront where they had an accordion player and people were dancing Tango inside. That's soooo cool. I wish I was dining there.

$25! That's how much the departure fee for the airport costs! So expensive. And I thought Vancouver was bad. It's a good thing SAF is paying that for me.

A significant portion of blond caucasian New Zealanders seemed to have really smooth and shiny hair, especially children. It's less obvious in boys as their hair tends to be short and sometimes, curly. There are so many adorable little girls with flaxen hair that they must be making clones of Dakota and Elle Fanning in New Zealand. However, when the NZ kids grow up, most seem to become errm... wider. It must be the cold weather.

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
6:31 PM


Oh my goodness - are you in an artillery company by any chance? I happened to take part in the same army exercise. New Zealand is lovely though it is a pity that I spent the majority of my time there blowing holes in the landscape. I wonder if gambling was the only vice you took part in while in Auckland, I seem to remember lots of other vices that people were subscribing to whilst there....
By Blogger Caleb, at 7:23 AM  

Yup, I think only artillery goes there. Which unit were you from and what's your role? I'm an expendable signaller. What were the "lots of other vices" you were referring to?
By Anonymous Yiheng, at 10:24 PM  

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