Teachers in Japan...

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
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Trip End Feb 27, 2006


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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Prior to arriving in Whitianga, I was concerned that I wouldn't get to see a couple of the Coromandel's most famous attractions, nmaely Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. As luck would have it though, I spotted a poster on the notice board whilst checking into the YHA, offering a bus service to both of them for a mere $35. Furthermore, I was sure that they'd drop me off at my next destination after the sightseeing, making it a winner on two counts. Sure enough, I called them and they assured me that it wouldn't be a problem, so with that all organised, I was free to enjoy the rest of the day relaxing in Whitianga.

It was busy in town, so again I bought my pie (it's fast turning into an addiction!) and took it onto the beach. It was less hectic there, and I actually spent most of the afternoon walking along it as it stretched out for miles. I even had a paddle at one point as it was the only way of crossing from one beach to the next. All in all, it was a lazy, uneventful day...but enjoyable nonetheless.

Back at the hostel, I was staying in a 12 bed dorm which under normal circumstances would not be ideal. However, in this instance I was more than happy as it was very spacious, and it overlooked the ocean. In addition, and yet more evidence to support the notion of fate, I was sandwiched between a couple of teachers who were currently teaching in...Japan! It was such a coincidence, particularly as they weren't even together...I was just double lucky!

Unfortunately, both were disillusioned with their lives in Japan...

The younger Canadian girl, Sarah, had taught for 10 months, and just had 2 more months to go before she'd completed her contract. She gave me some great advice about what to look for when job hunting, and she did say it would be more enjoyable if you were a man. Apparently the Japanese girls "throw themselves at you," which is not the reason I'm going to do it of course, although it certainly doesn't sound like a hindrance! Basically, Sarah admitted to some crucial mistakes when choosing her job and location, and I've made note of these so that I won't do the same thing.

The much older American lady had been in Tokyo for 4 years, and was a fountain of knowledge. She advised me about how much I should get paid, which schools to avoid, how much holiday I should receive and lots of other things that I have stored in the memory bank. At the moment, I'm obviously still in New Zealand so I am still thinking about that, but as soon as I get home I will switch my attention to Japan and do some thorough research.

The next morning, I lugged my backpack down to Ferry Landing where I had to take a 5 minute boat ride to get to the bus pick up point for my trip. Unexpectedly, the American lady was also there, waiting to go on the same trip. Great, another chance to get some valuable information. I made sure I got her email address too as she was so helpful, giving a balanced view of the whole teaching experience.

When the bus eventually picked up up, after some confusion about where we were supposed to be waiting, we made our way towards Hot Water Beach. This place is popular at high tide as you are able to dig a hole in the sand, and create your own thermal pool there and then. Sounds nice and relaxing, but in reality it was chaotic as dozens of people, armed with spades, crammed together to try to dig their pools. I retreated to the back of the beach and watched the fun from afar, sitting in the shade because it was definitely the hottest day of the summer.

We travelled to Hahei next, as we were going to do a 2 hour return walk to Cathedral Cove. I was looking forward to this as the beaches along the way were golden, and the sea was turquoise as the sun was beating down. Unfortunately though, I got walking with the American lady who really struggled with the heat and the slightly demanding track. She was quite large too, and at the rate we were going it would have taken 5-6 hours to complete the walk...and the search party have well and truly been out by that point! Luckily she called it quits after about 15 minutes and decided to wait in one of the bays while I paced on, meaning that I'd get to see everything I wanted to see.

The walk turned out to be very scenic indeed, a lot like the ones around the National Park in Noosa. Cathedral Cove was beautiful, if a little overcrowded with tourists, but it is peak season afterall. I couldn't hang around for too long as I needed to get back to the bus for 2.30pm, so I turned around and got some more great views, with one of Hahei beach with bright purple flowers in the foreground being a real favourite. It was certainly a lovely part of the country...

My original plan was to spend the night in Hahei, but all the hostels were fully booked, so my only option was to head towards Whenuakite. This 'town' was in the middle of nowhere, but it was home to the Seabreeze Holiday Park which suited me fine until the bus picked me up the next morning. The owner told me it was busy, but when I arrived I was the only one there - everyone else was still at the beach. So I played my Josh Rouse cd on the stereo and ate my noodles (the only food they sold).

Come 5pm, the place had started to fill up, and I found myself sharing a 6 bed dorm with a couple and their 3 kids! The 2 youngest ones were very cute, and it was a real novelty not having to share with backpackers for a change. I shared my crisps with the children which seemed to win them over, and the youngest one was intrigued by the contents of my backpack!

I wasn't late to sleep as I was really tired after the walk earlier in the day, and I had another early bus to catch the next morning. I was heading down the peninsula's east coast to a small town called Tairua...
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