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Month Thirty Five of Digital Nomad Life has been a pretty chilled month in terms of travel, but I have been really busy in other aspects of my life.
I started the month where I ended it, working a full time Executive Assistant contract in Auckland, but I did manage to escape the city for three out of four weekends.
I headed back to my Mum’s in the beach town of Papamoa for two weekends, the first of which was a complete washout – luckily hot pools are still nice to visit in the rain and we enjoyed a soak at Fernland Spa in Tauranga.
The second time back to Papamoa was during the Royal Wedding, so me, Mum, my Auntie and my Step Dad watched that with our pink ‘champagne’ and cheese platter – that is pretty much the only way I would agree to watch it. Boring. Thank God for wine and cheese.
I also caught up with friends in Mount Maunganui, walked the base track of the Mount and did a beach walk in Papamoa. It was a lovely sunny weekend.
For my big weekend away, I took a Friday off work and Dad and I flew down to Nelson at the top of the South Island for a long weekend. I have only ever driven through in the past so it was really nice to explore beautiful and vibrant Nelson, and despite the mostly bad weather, Nelson has definitely made my list of places to move to in New Zealand when Toby and I move here sometime in the distant future, along with Rotorua, Auckland’s West Coast beaches, Queenstown and Wellington.
In between the short stints of weekend travel, I was working my office job for 40 hours per week, along with doing my client work, getting back into shape and actually getting stuff done with this website. Oh, and I also had to do the last of my paperwork for my US Fiance Visa and I’m planning my wedding. So yeah, I have been pretty busy.
I have actually really been loving it though, and feel like I have hit my stride.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: New Zealand
- New Zealand: Auckland, Papamoa, Mount Maunganui, Nelson, Motueka
National Parks and Monuments Visited: Long Bay Regional Park in Auckland. It may not be a National Park, but I am going to count it.
Islands Visited: Rabbit Island near Nelson, New Zealand
Best Meal: A few this month, even though I haven’t been eating out a lot. The Chocolate egg waffle at the Auckland Night Markets, Chicken and Waffles with sage butter and maple syrup at Orleans in Auckland – always a favorite, the delicious vegetarian thali from the Hare Krishna Arcadia Cafe in Motueka, the pulled jackfruit, avocado, hash brown dish I had at East Street Cafe in Nelson, the Masala Dosa from Rasoi Vegetarian Indian Restaurant in Auckland, and the prawn dumplings and deep fried tofu from Seven in the Seafarer’s Building in Auckland.
Worst Meal: Tofu Banh Mi from Hello Mister in Auckland. It wasn’t terrible, it was just lazy and I was disappointed. I had such a delicious tofu Banh Mi when I was in Siem Reap, with deep fried tofu, eggplant pate and loads of herbs, but this one had cold, unseasoned tofu in it and no vegetarian substitute for the classic pork pate – just way too much mayo. Bland and kinda gross.
Best Craft Beer: The Boysenberry Ale I had at The Free House in Nelson. It was like being back in Colorado! I don’t know the actual beer brand but I do know it is New Zealand made, and delicious.
- Long Bay Regional Park Coastal hike in Auckland 5km/3 miles return
- Centre of NZ hill walk in Nelson 4km/2.5 miles return
- Mount Maunganui Base Track in Tauranga, New Zealand 3.5km/2 miles loop
Not a lot of hiking as such this month – but I have been walking all over town. See highlights below.
Reading: Another quiet month in regards to reading but I did finish the book I was reading last month, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, and it just got better and better. A must read if you want to try wrapping your head around the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. It is based on a true story of a survivor.
Watching: Nothing too exciting this past month. I did watch the first season of The Crown and I liked it, it just wasn’t my favorite show ever. I also finally got around to watching the last few episodes of The Mindy Project – will definitely miss that show.
A Perfect ANZAC Day
I was pleased to be back in New Zealand for the second ANZAC Day in a row. ANZAC Day is Australia and New Zealand’s version of Memorial Day and I attended the Dawn Service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was there this year and it was a moving ceremony. There were crosses laid out in rows for all the Kiwi soldiers who died during WWI, and after looking through hundreds of crosses, I found my Great Great Uncle Arthur’s.
After the service I spent a couple of hours in the Museum, one of my favorites in the world, then met up with my friend Michelle in the afternoon to hike the coastal trail in Long Bay Regional Park – it was my first time and it was gorgeous.
It really was a perfect day.
Taking my Health Back
Being nomadic for nearly three years now (!) has been so good for me in so many ways – but it hasn’t been good for my weight. When you are on the move so much it is hard to eat healthy all the time, and it’s hard to get into an exercise routine.
That is the good thing about working a full time job, it has enabled me to get into an exercise routine where I am getting up early and doing a one hour walk along with situps, leg lifts etc, five times a week.
Along with that I have been preparing about 80% of my meals and have been having healthy smoothies for breakfast, salads or leftovers for lunch, and veg heavy, healthy dinners. And no snacks.
I want to make every effort to keep this up when I am back in the US, with my September wedding a big motivator.
Getting my Fiance Visa Approved
After months of uncertainty and stress over this visa, I finally have it in my hot little hand! My interview at the US Consulate was definitely nerve-wracking, and the Immigration Officer asked me some very probing questions but I was approved on the spot and received my passport back with my visa in it within a week. Even though I know this is only the first stage of my journey in regards to living in the US, but it is an important stage. I am officially a 90-day Fiance!
Finding my Dream Wedding Dress
I had found a beautiful, but simple, dress for my wedding months ago, but as the day was getting closer, I surprised myself – I actually want a more traditional wedding dress. Who knew?! After a bit of online research, I found a designer that I completely fell in love with: Anna Campbell. I love the detailed beading and 1920’s feel of her creations, and luckily I found a dress I love in the sample sale because there is no way I could afford a full-priced gown.
There will be a few little things wrong with it such as a few small pulls in the fabric, beads missing etc – but I don’t need it to be 100% perfect and I can get a seamstress to fix it up. It has arrived at my friend’s in Sydney so I am going to pick it up on the way through to Thailand. I can’t wait to see it!
A Fun Weekend in Cool Nelson
Even though things didn’t turn out exactly as I would have liked – hello copious amounts of rain – I still really enjoyed my long weekend in Nelson. Dad and I rented a little apartment in the hills behind Nelson and a car so we could explore the wider area.
We did a lot in three days; strolled the beaches of Rabbit Island, Mapua and Tahunanui; drove out to French Pass in the Marlborough Sounds; visited Motueka; walked along the river, through Queen’s Gardens and up the hill to the Centre of New Zealand; explored the shops and dining options in the downtown; and stopped by the famous Nelson Farmer’s Market.
There is still so much to do around Nelson, like visiting wineries and breweries, hiking in the National Parks, visiting the clearest natural springs in the world – Pupu Springs, doing more of the local walks in the hills around the city, and more. I guess I will just have to go back.
Getting Shit Done!
I feel like I have been kicking ass in all elements of my life recently – I have been eating well (mostly), exercising loads – which I feel great for, getting my client work done on time, working on my blog behind the scenes as well as writing more content, catching up with friends a lot over dinner/drinks, and working hard at my day job. It feels great to be on top of everything, something that is hard to juggle when I am on the road.
All the Rain
My God it has been rainy here in New Zealand! Two weekends were almost complete washouts with storms and heavy rain, and there has been more than our normal share of weekday rain too. It stopped me doing everything I wanted to do in Nelson and my first weekend in Papamoa, and I’m just over it now.
A Whole Lot of Dental Issues
I have always had good teeth, never needing any serious work done other than a handful of fillings. That all changed when I went for my first check up in six years last month.
I got a good deal on Groupon so I thought I should probably visit a dentist, especially because I could feel a hole at the top of one of my wisdom teeth. Well, that tooth has two different holes so it needs to be pulled, along with having signs of gum disease and needing seven fillings – all to a cost of $2,500.
I refuse to spend that much money on my stupid teeth when I don’t have to, so now I am going to Thailand for two weeks on the way to the US to get them fixed there where it will be less than half the cost. My brother recently got all four of his wisdom teeth removed there so I am going to the dentist he used and recommended.
I like to believe in the good in people and to give people the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately not everyone is honest. I had a guy, well dressed in exercise clothing, run up to me and tell me a detailed sob story about running out of petrol, not having any cash or eftpos on him, and needing to borrow $50 as a deposit for a jerry can.
He seemed legit and I didn’t think anyone else was going to help him so I took a chance and gave him the money. He told me he would put it straight back into my account and rung my phone so I would have his number.
But yep, you guessed it – I never got the money. I did send a follow up text a couple of days later and he said he would put it in but didn’t. I don’t have the energy to pursue it further, it’s his bad karma not mine. I do think I got some good karma out of the situation – later on that day I had my US visa granted!
This month’s total is a lot of money, but I did have some pretty big things I had to pay for, including my US visa, my visa medical and my wedding dress. If you take these out of the equation, my total would only have been $600 – and that is lower than my costs have been for a loooong time. Being in one place and working my butt off has been good for my wallet – as has staying with my Dad.
No accommodation costs this month, as my Dad paid for the two bedroom Airbnb apartment we rented for three nights in Nelson and the rest of the time I was either staying with my Mum or Dad. My accommodation for the last month broke down into 3 nights in an Airbnb apartment, 4 nights with my Mum in Papamoa, and 23 nights with my Dad in Auckland.
Food and Drink $244
A really low spend on food this month thanks to not eating out a whole lot, not drinking a lot, and my Dad buying the groceries.
- Stockings $6
- Wedding Dress $677
I bought the most expensive dress I will ever own this month – my wedding dress!
- Petrol $59
- Fernland Spa hot pool entry for two people $18
- Toiletries $33
- SIM card $32
- US Visa Medical $303
- US Fiance Visa $277
- Dental Exam and Xrays $76
- Courier Bag for US Visa return $8
- Skype credit $4
- Beeswax Eco Sandwich Wrap $17.50
- Gifts $34.50
- Donations $69
Some big extra costs this month, and as far as visa expenditure goes, the next stage once I get to the US will be even more expensive.
What’s in Store for Next Month
The first three weeks of month thirty six will see me still in New Zealand, finishing off my work contract and freezing my butt off (it has got so cold here in the past week!)
I have a weekend chilling out in Auckland after having two weekends away, followed by weekends in Matakana to visit my Aunties and go to my favorite market, and Cambridge to see my cousin, her family and their new house.
And then I will be flying to Sydney for two nights to pick up my wedding dress and to spend the weekend with one of my besties in the beautiful Northern Beaches.
After my whirlwind trip to Sydney, I am flying on to Thailand for two weeks, where I have booked in to get my teeth worked on at a Dental Hospital in Bangkok.
For the last few days of month thirty six, I have treated myself to four nights in a nice hotel with a pool to recover, which I am hoping is enough time because I won’t know how many appointments I am going to have until I get there.
I will also be eating lots of delicious Thai food and maybe exploring a bit more of Bangkok if I am feeling up to it, I would especially like to make it to the Thai hipster neighborhood of Ari and maybe a market or two.
It may have been less than two months since I left Asia, but I am so looking forward to returning!
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here