25 September 2009

dunedin

Dunedin is known as New Zealand's Scottish town, and its buildings remind me of large gingerbread houses.

But first, another bus ride. While I was sleeping, my partner took some photos of reflections that created interesting designs:

We saw remnants of an old stone bridge right next to the (newer) one we drove across:

We saw more rolling hills of sheep...

the perfect screensaver through the bus windshield...

and giant fruits and vegetables:

In Dunedin, we stayed with the sweetest couchsurfer, Timo, an anthropology professor who studies death and evil. Needless to say, conversation was endless and fascinating.

It was so nice to meet another couchsurfer who really felt like an old friend. And it was also really nice to stay in a beautiful home (rather than in a grubby hostel).

We had a lovely room with windows on all sides (and a funky zebra print bed):

Not to mention our sunset view:

(One would be hard-pressed to guess, when seeing Timo feeding ice cream to random cats on the street and playing with his neighbor's dog, that he studies death and evil. Of course, maybe he just couldn't stand being such a sweet and gentle guy, he had to go and study something macho. Heh heh. Kidding, Timo.)

As you may have guessed from our staying with a young, cool professor, Dunedin is a college town, and as such, it's adorable (and colorful), has a wide range of ethnic restaurants (especially yummy Satay noodles) and a bit more diversity:

When we walked by this intersection a little later, we saw two guys climbing out of the window and onto the balcony. If you look closely in front of the green building, you'll see a guy sitting on a couch playing a guitar.

One unique feature about Dunedin that I thought was neat: the center of town is an octagon (map link), with larger octagonal rings around it. Around the octagon were attractive museums, churches, caf├ęs and the like:

As we walked around, we found the train station (which resembled a fancy gingerbread house):

Considering it was winter, the delicate poppy-like flowers in front of the station were amazing:

The University of Otago was another fancy gingerbread building, and there was art everywhere. If you look in the canal in front of the university, you'll see three paintings just hanging there.

This sculpture in front of the university sign is of a gorilla (made of old car parts, I think) dominating an old car:

Even the Dunedin prison was beautiful:

We went to the Otago Settlers Museum, which was free and had neat exhibits on Maori history and culture and the evolution of transportation in New Zealand.

The best part: it was a hands-on, climb-in and climb-on kind of museum:

I was surprised to discover a terrific exhibit about Chinese settlers in New Zealand. A lot of them came for the Gold Rush (right after California's), and while it was mostly men at first who came to work, send money home, and then move back to China, eventually, families began settling here, too.

We also went to the Chinese garden, which was beautiful and tranquil. Like the Peabody Essex in Salem's Chinese House, this garden was put together in China, taken apart and reassembled by Chinese artisans in Dunedin.

I still got a kick out of the more formal English, and seeing signs like "Trundler Park" made me smile. (They're referring to the grocery carts.)

It seems like Kiwis don't like to cook, as there are take-out places everywhere. While many of them are Asian of some kind (Chinese, Thai, Korean, Cambodian, Indian...), lots of them are like this one, with Chinese food, fish 'n' chips and burgers all in one place (with a convenience store to boot):

One night, Timo drove us to the top of a nearby mountain, where we had an incredible view of Dunedin and the water. It was really cool to see the sun set and the city lights come up.

Then, Timo took us to his favorite Italian restaurant (which was excellent). And, finally, before turning in for the night, we stopped for some traditional New Zealand hokey pokey ice cream (vanilla with chunks of sponge toffee) and walked up the world's steepest street, Baldwin Street.

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