New Zealand - Hobbiton

Hobbiton is the last place that I visited in New Zealand. Also took a day tour for this, but it finishes early, supposedly around 3 pm back in New Zealand so that was kinda perfect for me who needed to fly off the next day. This tour departs rather early. The pick up time for me was 06:50 am. I got down and it turned out they're already there. I didn't notice it at first but the driver / guide / chaperon was apparently already asking the hotel receptionist about me. They were early, a good thing they didn't wait long, if not I would feel bad. So there's me and another 2 girls, Patricia, an American, and Juliana, an ex-Indonesian who's now an Australian. It did occur to me that I have to be thankful for this group. It's a really small group, but imagine, without them I would have been alone and that would be so awkward for me. Patty was nice, but quiet. I guess when you have someone like Juli around, you don't get much time to talk. Juli is obnoxious. I think it's too early in this post to bitch about her, so I'll save it for later and move on with the story of the trip.

So it's a drive to Hobbiton. The morning was particularly foggy that day, which I still thought as cool, even though visibility level was really low. We arrived I think before 10 am at Hobbiton. The story about this place is quite interesting. Here's what I remember. Peter Jackson's wife grew up near the area and she remembers the landscape of the farms there and thought it would be a good setting for The Shire. So they went to the farmer who owns the land and ask if they could use his land. The farmer didn't even know what The Lord of the Rings were but he gave the okay. Then the movie studio working with the New Zealand government managed to get the New Zealand army to build roads and move things around to shape the landscape as needed for the film. I thought that was rather insane. In this trip, I found out that New Zealand has a population of around 4.5 million and obviously an area bigger than Singapore. With that population, their army shouldn't be that big and with a country area which is not actually small, I would have thought they have better things to do like guard the country, but there you go, they had time to build roads and such for a movie. Then the movie studio also managed to get a no-fly zone established over this area. It seemed there were people violating this and the pilot was stripped of his license for life. I repeat FOR LIFE! I really think all of this are insane!!! Yes, the secrecy is important and such, but there are better things to do with all these resources, like feed the hungry people, get clean water in poor areas, you know things like that? It's amazing how much power a movie studio can wield. I like movies and tv a lot, but I can't help feeling slightly troubled with this information :(

Anyways, to visit Hobbiton, you have to be guided into it. We're put together with another group, luckily not big. First we have to be driven to set. The bus driver was so funny. I think his name is Ben. Then our guide was Ethan W (I feel uneasy writing his full name) and he's cute. He's also only 23 and I was like feeling sad because I am so old and it's just another reminder how it's so not right to be crushing on 20 something. So Ethan told us that Ben played the Orc in Lord of the Rings and I felt kinda guilty because I don't know what an orc is. Apparently he kinda carried either Merry or Pippin in the film. I know who these characters are but I don't know which one is which. So I guess, I feel slightly bad for being inadequately knowledgeable about all this while there are really hard core fans in the mix or other hard core fans who have visited this place. Let me share some of the stories I have been told. Apparently it's not unusual for people to arrive in costumes and not necessarily LOTR costumes. Too bad no one in my group was in costume. Once there was a guy who was in full hobbit gear and he didn't want to leave until they managed to convince him to go during closing time. There were also 2 guys who were strangers and became friends because they found out both of them could speak elvish and then they just started conversing in elvish throughout the visit. I know ... what?!? ... and oh Internet, you ... However, the craziest thing I heard was of this lady who bought the ring in the gift shop, it was 149 NZD if I'm not mistaken and then took a helicopter ride over Mt. Doom and drop the ring there. Insane? Indeed. So anyways, in my group, there were hard core fans who knew stuff and could recite lines, but all seemed to be putting it inside. Perhaps it's one of those things, like if these people have been in a group with other hard core fans, things could really be interesting ;)

So The Shire is as pretty as it was in the film and there were a lot of details being put into this. It's bigger than I expected. They have gardeners who maintain the look and feel of this whole thing. The houses are just props meaning they're not functional houses. This set are used only for exterior shots, of scenes happening outdoor. The scenes which are happening inside the house were shot in a studio in Wellington. There are some doors that open but inside there's nothing. On one of them, there's just like only a really small area where they kept lights and umbrellas for the rainy days. I'm not a hardcore fan, but I couldn't deny feeling excited seeing all this :P It's really beautiful and cute. So this is Bilbo Baggins' house or which I called "the house" :D The tree on top of it is actually fake. I think they got the leaves from Taiwan and glued it on. It's still good enough though for the birds to hang out in it. The leaves do fall off, in fact one fell off and one of the girl who was a hard core fan asked if she could keep it and she was allowed to. She was giddy with happiness :P

This one right here is Sam's house and yes I know which one is that :) His house is quite nice in a lower area with an open field and a small lake around it.

This below is one view of some parts of The Shire overlooking the small lake and Green Dragon Inn which was the last stop and where we got free beer. I couldn't rememember the name of the brew I drank. I asked for a lighter one, but it was quite heavy for me, perhaps because I wasn't much of a drinker, or perhaps because my stomach was rather empty, or perhaps because I drank pretty much the whole thing?

So that was it, we're driven back to the visitor center, where me, Patty, Juli, and our chaperon, Dion, had lunch and then we're given some time to shop. Then it was a drive back to Auckland with a stop at a small town, Pokeno, for ice cream break :D I heard this town was kinda brought back to life because of the 2 ice cream shops side by side. Me and Patty tried the New Zealand's favorite, the hokey pokey, which was okay for me. I don't fancy the hokey pokey nugget much. It was very cheap at just 1.50 NZD for a big scoop. I actually wanted 2 scoops, but the rests were just having one, so I was kinda shy about it :( The trip was a good one for me that day. For more pictures, please go here. Unfortunately there was a traffic jam on the way to Auckland, so we arrived at around 4 pm instead of 3. Still enough time for Patty to make it to the airport, because she was leaving that day.

With nothing much to do in Auckland, I decided to visit the Sky Tower. Honestly I don't have much interest in visiting things like this, but really because I couldn't think of what else to do so I did this, the same reason why I did the Christchurch Gondola. There are 2 observation floors which you can go into. It was somewhat interesting to see what's around Auckland, there's like mountains and islands nearby. Unfortunately the glass is tinted blue so all my pictures are bluish.


There are also some glass panels on the floor which apparently make some people, who's afraid of height, nervous about seeing the streets below. I saw a girl sped down from doing the Sky Jump and some people doing the Sky Walk. I actually planned to do the Sky Walk, but since I successfully had flown in that small plane in Lake Tekapo to see amazing mountains, I think doing the Sky Walk would just be so pale in comparison. So here, I actually saw Juli again. Being the nice me, I said "Hi" to her even though I was certain that I don't like her from the little time we spent together that day. Now that I think about it, I wonder if she saw me first but being the snob that she is, she decided not to say "Hi". I was actually excited about finding out she's Indonesian, though now she's become Australian. That is not the reason why I dislike her though. She's just a very obnoxious person. She's been in Australia for 20 years and I think she wants to say she hates Indonesia, but couldn't find the way to say it. If you want to say there are things about Indonesia that you don't like that make you change your citizenship, you should just say it and stand by your decision. I don't know if it will sit well with me, but maybe if you're a good enough of a speaker, you wouldn't come across as a snob. This also makes me think about Anggun, the singer who's originally from Indonesia but has become a french citizen. She changed her citizenship but she never denounces her Indonesian roots and in fact she's very proud of it and this makes me admire her a lot. Anyway, this darn lady is originally from Makassar and I guess the many times she said, "I don't like" were the reasons which made me think she's one of those snob. She actually did the same tour as me the day before, but she was in the group with the Japanese from Hokkaido instead of mine. I didn't recall seeing her initially, but as the day went on and she got more annoying, I remembered her. The day before she was being annoying to a blonde girl who was travelling alone. Even without interacting with her, I could see that she's not a very nice person, that I noticed her enough to be thankful she wasn't in my group and I remembered wondering if she's a Singaporean. For the Singaporean reading this, I'm sorry that I saw an annoying Chinese looking person and I thought she's a Singaporean. She looks more Singaporean than Chinese China, hence I think that way and she exhibited the "kiasu" and annoying "I know better" attitude that some Singaporeans do. I remembered overhearing she's describing her vacation to Seville to the blonde girl and she also unloaded many of her vacation stories to our little Hobbiton group. I got it even worse because she even whipped her phone to show me pictures from her trip to Uluru without me asking for it. What kind of an ass forced people, people you barely know, to see pictures of your vacation? An obnoxious person, that's who. She also talked about herself all the time and she didn't listen to other. Maybe it's just to me, because perhaps she thinks she's better than me, I am just a lowly Indonesian after all. She was that annoying that when she talked about how her feet hurt and she needed to set up a doctor's appointment when she returns in the middle of my sentence explaining I was to go back the next day, I decided that it's enough. I needed to get away from this self centered person. She didn't even say good bye to me. I don't think she even looked at me when I still nicely said bye, because she needed to call her mom. Seriously, I don't know when was the last time I got to know someone this obnoxiously unpleasant. By the way, she's a nurse!!! A nurse! I cannot imagine it. Maybe she's effective with difficult patients because she wouldn't listen to their crap, but darn I would be so annoyed with this kinda nurse who doesn't seem to have any caring bone in her body. This makes me think about the 2 nursing students I have had the chance to interact with these past few months. They are first-year students and they're very very nice and when I think of them in light of this awful lady, I feel good about Singaporean nurses :D

So since I really couldn't take being around her anymore, I decided to leave. Wanted to explore what other things Sky City has to offer, but there's nothing much. It's definitely not like Marina Bay Sands. There's a casino. Considering I have to pay to gain entry to a casino here in Singapore, one may think that I should make use of this free entry in another country, but then I didn't. I decided to call it the day and go back to the hotel. I needed to rest because I needed to get up at 4 am for my 05:10 am pick up to the airport the next day. I made a stop at the convenience store next door to the hotel and bought an apple. The cashier asked me where I'm from and though I wasn't in a chatty mood, I did answer him. Then he started speaking in Indonesian and he's very fluent in it. He's originally from Iran and he had lived in Indonesia for 8 years before, in different places like Jakarta and Surabaya. 8 years living in a country is enough to make you master the language? Well perhaps for Indonesian it is because Indonesian is not actually difficult. I asked him if living in New Zealand is better. He said he loved it in Indonesia because he thought Indonesia is great, the places are beautiful, the people are nice, it's awesome. I guess if you compare it to Iran, yes Indonesia is amazing in many ways :) The not-chatty me didn't ask why he left Indonesia but I told him I was going back the next day but to Singapore because that's where I live. He then said he's always confused why people want to leave Indonesia, to which I could only say in English that perhaps people just want to make more money which they couldn't in Indonesia no matter how hard they work. That's pretty much my short conversation with him. I was pleasantly surprised being able to converse with him Indonesian and that kinda made my day back to being good after being ruined by meeting Juli the second time. This cashier may not be as rich or as knowledgeable as Juli, but I would rather hang out with him where I can have good conversation than with such an appalling person. I know I bitch a lot about this woman, but I don't think I paint enough picture of what an obnoxious person she is. Anyway, this post is the last story from the trip. The next post will be about the trip back (not that it's interesting) and a bit of my reflection about New Zealand.

:) eKa @ 6:16:00 PM •

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