Thursday, January 19, 2012

Surviving Queenstown

When you’re in the adventure capital of the world, you live it.

Sometimes, when travelling, the mind is best left at home. Until the day I jumped, I was still assessing the risks of this crazy thing called bungy jumping. It was disturbing and had affected the first two days of my holiday.

Returning from Fox Glacier, I made my way to the jump base, the Kawarau River Bridge. I was feeling a little nervous but excited at the same time. The radio was playing a string of ballads, which did nothing to pump up the excitement. In fact, it was rather annoying. I turned it off, but the silence encouraged negative thoughts. I drove faster.

At the base, I quickly made my way to the registration counter, paid the fee and headed straight for the jumping platform. The efficient staff got me strapped with a few harnesses in a matter of seconds, while a group of Japanese tourists looked on. They thought I was Japanese and gave me some encouragement. A few of them seemed worried. I stood up, hopped to the edge of the wooden platform and looked down. If not for the strong current, the beautiful emerald Kawarau River below would have calmed me a little. The late afternoon began to feel cold too, as the rain got heavier.

Almost immediately, the staff signaled for my jump. Dive well, bro, he said. It was time to take a leap of faith.

Much earlier before the jump, I’d decided on a Superman dive. But in the end, it turned out to be a typical, instinctive dive instead, which lacked style.

The first few seconds of the free fall were the best. I felt light; like one with the wind. It was surreal. This joy, this adrenaline rush was unexplainable. As I dipped into the river, the rubberized rope, upon reaching the limit of its stretch, contracted and I was pulled up slightly. The jump was over.

A boat rowed by to transport me to the river bank. From here, it was a long walk back to the jump base. I’d guessed that this distance was designed to help traumatized jumpers to relax and recover. I was just happily singing along the way, striking off another action item on my bucket list.

It was only when I’d watched another person jumping off the same platform that I realized what I’d done just minutes ago. Indeed, I’d left my mind, and acrophobia, in the car.

FergBurger is a fantastic place to fill the stomach after an adventurous day in Queenstown; provided one gets a seat, of course. The display of MTV-style sports programmes and upbeat music made the small restaurant cool and lively. But of course, it’s the long list of mouth-watering burgers accompanied by sides of fries and beer that makes FergBurger a must-try for every visitor to Queenstown.

I could have just ordered any other burger but decided to go all out for the biggest burger there was at Ferg’s. Afterall, that’s what living in the adventure capital of the world is all about, isn’t it? I'd like to think of it as my Man Versus Food moment.

It’s called the Big Al. I equated its monstrous size to 2 Big Macs. I wasn’t able to count the number of prime New Zealand beef patties in the burger but the menu stated a double serving. There were also layers and layers of fried bacon, cheese, beetroot, tomatoes, onions and lettuce. Extra flavours were provided by the generous amount of relish and aioli. Biting into the thick Big Al itself was a challenge. Then, I had to deal with the layers that kept falling out with every bite…because it’s just too much to handle. It’s interesting to have the egg yolk flowing out on one side of the burger and the pinkish beetroot/aioli mixture squirting from the other. It was a mess, a delicious mess of course. I’d returned a few days later to try the smartly named The Codfather; a burger that consists of beer-battered blue cod, dressed with dill tartar. The fried cod came exceptionally aromatic and paired wonderfully with the tartar sauce. It was perhaps the best fried cod I’ve ever had so far.

Just next to Ferg was a dessert bar called Lick. With an overstuffed stomach, I should have just walked pass the bar and continued on for a few miles more around Lake Wakatipu to help ease digestion. But instead, I stopped by for some gelato. I’m glad I did (sorry, stomach). I had two very smooth and refined scoops at Lick; boysenberry and feijoa flavours. In fact, I’ve never had mediocre gelatos or any dairy product in New Zealand.

It was only at night, when I laid in bed recollecting my day, that I realized how exhausted I was. It began with a 5-hour drive from Fox Glacier to Queenstown, followed by the bungy jump, an accidental visit to Arrowtown and window-shopping around central Queenstown. The next morning, I would be joining a day-tour to Milford Sound. The thought of taking the backseat for once was very much relaxing. I looked forward to the breathtaking fiorland, which was my final stop on the south island of Aotearoa.


babe_kl said...

that's a ginormous burger!

Wishing you and your family a joyful and best of health this lunar new year. Xin nien kuai le!

Selba said...

Last week, I just had my first experience of flying fox. Of course, it's nothing at all compared to bungee jumping. But I think I can understand a bit of the nervous feeling when you had to jump off the bridge :)

The burger sounds totally heavenly. Suddenly I'm craving for a big delicious burger.

Kenny Mah said...

That's really impressive, bro. And I'm not sure if I mean your bungee-jump (and thus another item ticked off from your personal bucket list) or the fact you managed to finish that humongous burger (and gelato after, some more).

Impressive, impressive, nonetheless.

And a Happy Chinese New Year to you! :)

CUMI & CIKI said...

Fab first shot! is that you? who took the foto?
Josen has jumped many times. Me.. not once - acrophobia.. i fear i will never get over it. Not that i mind.. happy to just take photos! hahaha :P

Great big burger! The bigger the fear, the bigger the burger after;)

Well done!

HairyBerry said...

babe_kl, oh yes, it was H.U.G.E. ;D
thanks for the greetings! here's wishing you and your family a happy and healthy year of the dragon too! san nin fai lok! ;D

selba, oooh, what's a flying fox? that sounds interesting too! ;D yeah, i'm acrophobic. so, that makes me even more nervous..haha. i hope you were able to satisfy your burger craving. what's the most famous burger chain in jakarta?

kenny, sometimes, when i look back at the things that i've done, i question my own sanity at those times. haha. but i guess it's better to live without regrets la, hor? so, i'll continue to be gila la..hehe. Happy New Year to you too, bro! May all your wishes come true this year! ;D

ciki, thanks! ;D yupe, that's me in all the jumping photos. oooh, did josen do the kawarau jump too? i think he did the more extreme one..can't recall the name though...hi5 fellow acrophobic! ;D you are right la. bigger risk, bigger eat! ;D

Selba said...

Flying fox is known also as zip-line or death slide. The person has to wear harness then attached to a suspended pulley on a cable.

The most famous chain burger in Jakarta? Well, I guess Carl's Jr. and Burger King :)

HairyBerry said...

selba, ahhh, i see! i think i've seen that on tv before. can be scary also, if the cable is placed on a very high mountain! ;D oooh, carl's of the very few burger joints that is actually very filling. i like! hehehe.

Keropok Man said...

Hmmm should i jump that crazy thing one day??

got weak knees......

HairyBerry said...

keropok man, i got weak knees too...but i just did it anyway...haha. you gotta give it a go! and go to fergburger after that. ;D