I have discovered that I am about as good at writing blog entries as I am taking photos. This is because I am too busy having an amazing time. Dubai was absolutely brilliant, the culture was fascinating and the engineering and construction was exciting. Sarah and I packed about as much into three days as was physically possible and included swimming in the sea on the 3rd of January, going to Dubai's newest, biggest water park and going to a cultural discussion in one of the mosques run so that expats and visitors can get an understanding of the Emirati religion and attitude towards the people in Dubai. There are 80% expats in Dubai and a range of westerners going to live in luxury or party and then people working. Everyone in Dubai is employd because you have to be employed to get a visa so it is different to any culture I have ever encountered before. However the Emirati people do not seem to mix much with the ex pats and therefore it is difficult to know what the people who have lived there for years really think. All of the information says that the women did not used to cover themselves fully when out until ex pats arrived and then both men and women decided that it would be safer and better for women to be covered and that black is fashionable but it is difficult to know what the women actually think. It was a brilliant 3 days though and Sarah managed my quizzing her constantly amazingly.
I then flew to New Zealand which took forever, we had three different flights and it was horrible but worth it to be here. I had 2 days in Auckland and picked up my bike which involved a taxi ride into a suburb 20 km outside of Auckland on the evening I arrived to a family friend who had had it delivered to him. The next day was more relaxed and I looked round Auckland and tried to stay awake.
Since then I have met up with Nancy and we have cycled from Tauranga to Rotorua (68km) with everyting on the bikes. It is really hard - unsurprisingly! I have been finding balancing challengining and the bike has dropped handlebars which is new but the scenary is amazing and I made it up the hills in one piece. We then went to natural hot springs in the evening which was fun and meant I didn't ache the next morning!
Today was great too, we cycled without all of our stuff to some lakes and the downhills on the way there felt really scary since we were coming back but on the way back they were really doable. I am now high as a kite. We are going to cycle to somewhere called Taupeu tomorrow which looks really hilly but may surprise me again.
As I am sure you tell I am having a great time and am alive and well!