16 September 2010

Singapore & Safely home

I'm not sure I can understand why every time you get on a flight, not matter the crazy hour of the morning, you are always served a meal!!  Our flight left Bangalore at 11pm, and yes we were served a meal at about 12am, or 2:30am Singapore time.  Needless to say we arrived in Singapore a little bleary eyed at 6 in the morning.
Found the shower room, and after some breakfast felt a little better.  We then stored our hand luggage & booked ourselves for a free tour of Singapore.  Although it was difficult to keep ourselves awake in the bus, once we hopped out and walked around near the river, we realised what a beautiful city & country Singapore is.  The tour guide gave us some interesting history, and it seemed that its like a middle of the road Dubai kind of city.  We really enjoyed it.
Once back at the airport, we wandered around, using all the free stuff, enjoying surfing the web, and basically filling in time until our 9pm flight.  It is definitely the best airport we have spent time in, and we appreciated the "normalcy" of things after our rather long journey home!
We arrived back in NZ safely with all our bags.  Great to be home, even though it is a little on the cold side.  Slept like a log last night for almost 12 hours and spent today looking for and buying a car -- loving driving again! It is a Mitsubishi Lancer 2006, and we are pretty happy with it.
We are also trying to sort out problems we have with our bank account (we found out while in Singapore that $4000 was taken from our account at some ATM in Poland!)
Heading down to Tauranga to catch up with everyone there on Saturday...

13 September 2010


On arrival in the airport, Bangalore appeared more relaxed than Delhi & cleaner with beautiful plants and a greener landscape.
We arrived at our accomodation to find it very basic and not really worth the money we were paying. We decided to stick it out for the night since we were leaving early the next morn anyway.
After 2 days away in Thrissur we arrived back on the train and searched for different accomodation which we found near the bus station so we could easily bus to the airport on Sunday.
We then slept, showered, watched TV and went to an internet cafe to catch up on things. In the evening we hired an auto rickshaw to take us to a mall where we looked around and then had dinner. Dinner was an interesting experience --we never got to order -- it was a set menu that they kept bringing more to you. All vegetarian and all very interesting and nice flavours. A cool experience.
Next day we wanted to catch up with Dave & Jodi (friends from NZ who are living in Bangalore) but we had problems contacting them, so just chilled out on the internet and watching TV.
Towards evening they rang and arranged to come pick us up. We went back to their place for dinner, then we went for an evening walk in their neighbourhood to get some fresh coconuts and this stuff callled "paan". Jon spat his out, I managed to swallow mine...
They dropped us back to our hotel, and arranged to pick us up next morn at 11. We then spent Sunday with them & their family, having lunch at a restaurant, then wandering the markets for souveniors etc. It was a great time of catching up and really glad it worked out to see them.
They then dropped us at the airport for our flight to Singapore.
I enjoyed being in India, especially because of the people we could meet. I didn't enjoy at all the bargaining & overcrowding everywhere. I don't think I could face another curry for at least a week or two.  


10 September 2010

Trip to Thrissur

With our train leaving at 6:15 it was a rather early taxi ride to the Bangalore train station.  We found our 2nd class seats ok, and then said to each other that we now appreciate Ukrainian trains...
With 10 hours ahead of us, we entertained oursleves with reading, sleeping and playign cards.  The scenery along the way was mainly small towns and farms.  It was interesting to see the different crops, including rice paddies, which I had never seen before.  There were also a few interesting rock formations and mountains we went past or over.
We arrived at 15:15 and it wasnt hard to find the other white fave who was meeting us.  After a short taxi ride we arrived at Rehoboth.
Phyllis Treasure greeted us -- she has been working there for 53 years and was the person who first planted the seed in my heart 20 years ago when I was 11.
After a cup of tea, we were taken for a tour, which started with the Bible School.  This has been going for about 8 years and now has about 80 students.  They were preparing for a sports day by making a cricket pitch and slashing grass.  Jon joined them for their daily game of volleyball before we headed back to the house for dinner -- curry and rice!
Every evening they have prayers at 7:30 and if there are visitors it is a bit more special.  As we arrived the girls were all sitting on the floor and singing.  It sounded beautiful.  We were invited to sit at the front, and introduced and then presented a beautiful fresh lei to wear.  Jon taught them a few songs, I shared why we had come, they prayed and then no one wanted to leave so Jon did some more songs with them.
We then had a good chat with Phyllis and Sarah over a cup of tea before a much needed sleep.
Next day we were down for breakfast at 8, which was a flat rice bread/crepe called "up em" with short sweet bananas.  Tasted yummy.
We then went back to the Bible school were we spent the morning in 2 different classes talking to them about our journey, listening to some of their testimonies, singing etc.  We then finished off there taking an assembly for the whole school, again with a few songs and both Jon & I sharing.
Back down to the house for lunch -- curry and rice, before we went to the primary school for the afternoon.  Jon took a year 2-3 class for music, then I took a year 4-5 class for sport.  We then got shown around the rest of the school and met most of the teachers.
Going back to the house we lay down for a rest and promptly fell asleep.
We then spent about an hour at the orphanage playing with the children and seeing around.
Then dinner and prayers with the older girls.  Which was again a few songs, I shared a story and Jon prayed for them.  We then only had time for a cup of tea and farewells to everyone before we were driven to the train station to get our overnight train.
Such an inspiring trip, to be able to fulfill the dream that God placed in my heart 20 years ago and also just to hear the testimony and witness the faith of how God is at work in that place.  It was very encouraging to hear their big dreams and visions.  We want to keep in touch and partner with them in prayer and any other ways that may be possible.

7 September 2010

Daring Delhi

This place truly has to be seen to be believed.  After waiting in the airport for awhile for our driver that didn't turn up we opted for a taxi.  It didnt take us very long to realise that the horn is almost as essential as the brake on a car.  Unfortunatley our taxi driver didn't know the exact location of our hostel and we drove around in the pouring rain for almost 2 hours.
By the time we got to our place I was cold, tired and had a headache and sore throat. We went straight to bed and slept until lunchtime.
We then had orgnaised a driver for the afternoon to show us the sights of Delhi.  We were struck by the overcrowding, dirt, poverty and lack of road rules.  We were told there are only 3 rules -- a good horn, a good brake and strong heart (not flustered)!
Our driver took us to the Sunday market were we swapped the car for a rickshaw.  We then went to a mosque, drove through some of the market, got stuck in a traffic jam and enjoyed Delhi hands on.
By the time we got back to the car, I was feeling worse and after seeing Ghandi's grave/park we went home.
We had some good Indian food and music at a local restaurant, although we could'nt eat it all, and then home for an early night.
Next morn at 6:15 we were on the train leaving Delhi for Agra.  We arrived to a sea of taxi hagglers.  We managed to find an Israeli couple who also wanted a driver for a day & after much deliberation managed to make it work. We went to Taj Mahal which was magnificent, then the driver proceeded to take us to all the shops where he got commission.  We saw jewellery being made, amazing marble designs, and spectacular rug making (apparently all the wool is imported from NZ!).  All of this is made by hand because industry is forbidden in Agra.  It was really beautiful and we had to repeatedly tell them we weren't interested in buying anything.
We then filled in time at a cafe with some great conversation with the couple we spent the day with.  Got the train back home and today we are off to Bangalore.
I am getting sick of all the haggling and bargaining that goes on.  It is such an effort and they really want to get as much money they can out of you. 
At least my cold is feeling better -- still blocked up so hope my ears are ok during this next flight.

4 September 2010

Dazzling Dubai

First impressions as we walk through the airport is that of politeness, respect and service.  I was even handed a rose as I walked into the airport.  We managed to get a free coach into Dubai and talked to a very helpful SAF air hostess on the way in.  There is construction, high rises and wealth everywhere.  Our hotel was awesome and we even got upgraded to the executive suite. Enjoyed a meal and cider at the English pub before hitting the sack. 
Next morn we stuffed ourselves with the breakfast at the hotel, and waited for Carina (our good friend from SAF who taught with us in Kiev) to meet us.  She has just got a teaching job here and only been here 4 days.  We spent the day exploring the city with her -- seeing the museum, gold & spice markets, the biggest mall which also had an aquarium, and tried to look at Palm Beach and put our feet in the water but to no avail. 
We managed to arrive during the month of Ramadan, so learned quickly we weren't to eat or drink anything in public.  We paid way too much on taxis (as I write we are in a taxi back to the airport which ended up costing an arm & a leg, plus he got us really lost, we ended up on the side of the road with some other taxi, arguing over money & we were almost late for our flight!!!) and were astounded by the BIGness and heat.
Interesting experience in an amazing melting pot of cultures -- obviously the big reason being that this has been a trade route for thousands of years.

1 September 2010

Farewell Ukraine

Our last few days here, the house is mostly packed, we probably have more than 20kg in our bags, and the fridges & cupboards are looking rather bare!
The last 3 weeks have been mainly really enjoyable.  We have spent time with different people over for dinner, enjoying the view off our deck, made the last few pieces of furniture for our lounge, had our big farewell Hangi party, a emotional send-off from church, and now the last few days of packing etc.

The Hangi was a great success -- started with our friends from Kaitaia, New Zealand (Matt & Andy Dow) making it here as a stop on their Europe bike tour.  It was a special twist, and cool to catch up.  They helped us get stuff ready, and as the weekend wore on we had more people arrive, turn up and help us to peel, prepare food and get the fire going.  I think it would have been the biggest Hanig ever in Ukraine, and the first one I was ever in charge of.  We put 10kg of pork & 10 chickens in, heaps of spuds, some sweet potatoes (expensive, but we found some here) carrots & a special pumpkin that one of my students had grown with seeds from Australia!  I made about 4 batches of Maori bread, 20 litres of ginger beer.

We had the band stuff set up on our deck, the Christmas lights out, tables, gazebos and chairs & the backyard looked awesome!  With about 70 people here, the Hangi was ready to pull up.. It was done to perfection!  I had taken the liberty to give it a spice twist, and put garlic, onion & other spices at the bottom of the baskets to aroma the whole meal.  Everyone loved it, and most of it was eaten!  Matt, Andy Jon & Jono performed the Haka, (watch it here on youtube) and some other Maori songs, including teaching everyone the stick game.
We also had other live music, and as the night wore on, lit the fire and chilled out.  It was such a special night...and a cool way to say goodbye to all our good friends over here.

Last leg now through Dubai & India, then landing in the land of the long white cloud September 14th. The next part of our journey awaits us... :-)