We arrived in Rotorua today, where active volcanoes provide the tourist attraction. Isn't it funny that a city is built around an industry that takes advantage of volcanoes about to blow. Or maybe that's just my overactive imagination…
There are geysers here, and hot mud pools, and thermal springs, and steam coming from rocks in the centre of the city park, and oh, so much more. I'm sure nothing's going to happen before I leave tomorrow, but I'm also sure one day, someone will be looking at the glowing stream of lava exploding out of the city park and thinking, 'I just KNEW I should have gone to Brisbane instead…'
We rode a luge today. It wasn't very fast, and the luge-mobiles (my nickname for them) were like little motorised go-karts, except they didn't have a motor. They had a system that focused entirely on the handlebars. If you pushed the handlebars forward, that put the luge-mobile into Park. If you pulled the handlebars towards you, it went into Neutral, and allowed you to let gravity and momentum take you down the hill. If you realised you're going far faster than any person should be going, you can pull the handlebars even closer to you, and that uses the Brake. So riding the luge is a mixture of falling down a hill and laughing while doing so, and pushing and pulling handlebars.
Now you know what the luge is.
To get up the hill to get to the luge, we went up gondolas. It reminded me of Queenstown, and was my second adventure in my life on gondolas. I realised today that it's not much of an adventure at all… Nice view though.
After a few rides of the luge we went back down on the gondolas again. Same view, still nice… no surprises there.
On the way into Rotorua we phoned ahead and booked a Maori tour thing, that had them pick us up from the backpackers, take us out into the bush and eat us. Oh, I mean, take us out into the bush and show us an authentic Maori village as if it was a couple hundred years ago. Then they'd eat us. Oops, sorry, got that wrong. No, then they'd cook up an authentic Maori Hangi (cook the food in the ground) and feed us authentic Maori food. Not like the McDonald's we had for lunch. However, there were Maori behind the counter serving us the burgers and fries… does that make it authentic Maori McDonald's? Something to think about….
Getting back to the story… the Maori tour we booked. On the phone they told us it would be $35 per person. Fine. However, when we went to pay for it at the backpackers, they told us it was $75 per person. I said we were told $35 on the phone. So the girl rang the tour people and then told us it was $35 if you lived in Rotorua (and you had to show ID with a Rotorua address), but $75 if you didn't. Here's the conversation from that point…
Me: So it's $35 if I live here?
Me: And it's $75 if I don't live here?
Me: But it's the same tour?
Me: That's crazy!
Her: Shall I go ahead and book it for you? *smiles politely*
Me: Hell no!
So Mel and I cancelled it, which was a shame, as we were really looking forward to the 3-hour authentic Maori food and history tour. I was pretty darn annoyed about their stupid 'take advantage of the tourists' practices, that's for sure.
The annoyance left me though, as Mel and I relaxed in a hot spa and pool at the backpackers we're staying at, and our $60 room opens out onto the pool itself. Awesome. The room is huge! It fits a double bed and a single bed in it, with plenty of room to move around. It's got a cupboard, a huge ensuite bathroom, and a separate kitchen/dining room. I'd have to rate this one the best so far. I'll go through my memories of all the backpacker places at the end of the journey and give them all ratings out of 10, based on my experiences with each of them.
Just got back from an internet cafe where I checked my emails. Finally had enough time to go through my work emails briefly, looking for anything of personal importance. There were 416 emails there. That's what happens when you're away for a week… While checking out emails I also checked out some massage places for Mel and I to get a massage at while we're in Lake Taupo. On our way there tomorrow, she'll phone them (all 7 of them) to find out who offers the most reasonable rates.
Off to bed now. I have an early morning hot water spa to wake up to. *grin*
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