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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Man what a great country

Since I've left my job and am lining up other work (read: I'm unemployed), I've had a bit of time to do some cool things around here.

The other night, Danie and I headed up to Christchurch to catch the rugby match between New Zealand's All Blacks and South Africa's Springboks. On the way up, as we pulled into the outskirts of town, we got behind what's known as a 'party bus'. Apparently, you can rent these buses on the weekends that are fully stocked with alcohol and they drive you on an extended pub crawl all night long. They start around 8 o'clock and bring you to your first pub. The bus stays at each 'stop' for about half an hour before everybody gets back on the bus and then it takes them to the next pub where they bowl in, have a few drinks, meet a few people, then continue the migration. Sometimes more people join the bus as the night goes on, sometimes others 'defect' and hang out at a certain pub if they really like it there. You can catch up with the bus later, and you can even bring your own booze onto the bus. Think this would ever fly in the States? I think it'd be massively popular, but forget about it because of the liability issues.

Danie said, "Mate, if you ever get invited to go on a party bus, go."

"No need to tell me twice!"

Anyways, this was going to be my second rugby match, and I was pretty much an instant fan after seeing the first game. The game is very similar to American football. Just try and imagine guys constantly running the option play. Some key differences are that they can decide to just haul off and kick the ball to some other part of the field if they want, and one trick is to drop the ball and kick it forward into the end zone, and then outrun your tacklers and leap onto the ball in the end zone to score.

Another key difference is these guys don't wear pads and tackle at least as hard as in American football - plus, if you aren't lying on the ground just right, you are free to be raked by the other players' cleats. No flying yellow flags for 'roughing the passer' here!

Anwyays, we went to a bar called the Holy Grail in Christchurch, sort of the home bar for the city's own rugby team, sponsored by a beer company called Tui. The tui is a native New Zealand bird that feeds on nectar and has a bright orange color, but so far as I know they don't actually use the birds or nectar in any way to make the beer - which is quite good, by the way.

A woman named Krista and a guy named Dan joined us at our table and we hung out with them for the game. Since we all got there so early, the Tui girls that were there (think Hooter's girls) and they were handing out free hats to everyone in the bar. It's a fisherman's hat that's fuzzy and orange, and for that night at least it was very cool to be seen in one, for they only had so many hats to give out and before long everyone in the bar wanted your hat. Nobody offered anything good enough in trade for it, so I kept mine. Whether or not I'll wear it again in public remains to be seen, though ...

Before the game, there is the singing of each country's national anthem. In New Zealand's case, they sing the anthem both in native Maori tongue and then in English. These Kiwis are very patriotic, as everyone in that bar was not only singing the anthem but loudly. Reminded me of being at a baseball game back home, it was cool.

Well, the All Blacks won and soon after the game was over we headed out to some of the other clubs along the strip in Christchurch. I felt bad because I can't drink and Danie was driving so he couldn't drink either, so it was rather a sober night but we still had a good time.

We ended up at this all-night pub called Southern Blues, in which the age range of the crowd is from 25 to 75. It's a really weird mix of people, but they've always got good music and there's certainly lots going on there.

This one really smashed guy stumbled up to us, after making a pass at a girl and being turned down. We talked a bit of rugby and he kept eyeballing every woman with a pulse in the bar.

Danie, ever the instigator, pointed to a girl at a nearby table and said to the guy, "What about her?"

The guy looks her over as he staggers in place and says, "Yeah, she's pretty cute."

"Well go talk to her then!" Danie says.

But the guy became distracted by his empty beer and bought a couple more, and then Danie resumed his arm-twisting. The guy looked up at me and I told him to go for it, she's a hottie, and so he shambled on over.

As he was talking to her, the girl looked back at us and Danie made signs at her indicating how smashed the guy was. She clearly wasn't interested in him and soon after he staggered on to his next conquest.

Not long after that, Danie made his way over to the girl and tried to strike up a conversation but he was back before I could finish taking a sip of my drink.

Pretty much done with the bar scene, but not wanting to go home yet, we headed on over to this sushi place that was open until like one o'clock in the morning. Danie had never tried sushi or sashimi before the other week, when I got him to try some. Now the guy can't get enough of the stuff! As good as it is in general, I still haven't found a place in NZ that makes it half as good as my favorite place back home, Soya.

But then again, they don't have professional rugby or Tui beer back home either, and there is something to be said for that.


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