A few thoughts from my travels throughout Australia and New Zealand during the last couple of weeks…
- Airport security differs dramatically not only from country to country but from city to city within Australia and New Zealand. In some places, we not only walked right from the terminal to the tarmac without screening, we weren’t even asked for ID. In others, we had to put computers through xray machines, and between countries liquids were limited. However, it was only right at the gate to the flight home to the US that we were asked to remove our shoes and have them checked for explosive residues.
- Security in hotels in Sydney and Auckland, however, is much more stringent. A keycard swipe is required to move the elevator and your key allows you access to your own floor only. Talk about Big Brother watching your movements!
- We saw small, benign Occupy encampments in most cities we went to, including Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Dunedin, Auckland…but not Queenstown. Maybe the group in QT was so small we missed them, or maybe people in Queenstown are so busy occupying themselves with all the great things there are to do in that town that they don’t want to spend time sitting in a tent in a park hunkering down and just plain occupying.
- It’s nearly impossible to sue people in NZ. As a result, there are no long legal waivers to fill out when partaking in the 200+ outdoor activities in and around places like Queenstown, including zorbing, bungy jumping, skydiving, etc. I wonder if the injury rate is any different here. It didn’t feel any less safe because of less legal paperwork.
- We drove nearly 1500 km in NZ. It took quite a bit of conscious thought to remember all the things that change when you’re driving not just on the wrong side of the road, but on the wrong side of the car, too. But it took less than a minute to get in my car back home and settle comfortably back into driving on the right side of the road (from the left side of the car)
- It’s nice to be in a place where service employees don’t expect a tip yet provide excellent service anyway. What a novel concept!
- It’s fairly easy to stay in touch from halfway around the world, if you want to, but it’s more expensive than we’re used to. Bandwidth is limited in many places and cell phone coverage works differently in each country, even with the same carrier. User beware!