How Frodo Made me a Local Tourist

This is how Frodo Baggins and company taught me to be a tourist.

As you may have surmised from last entry, I’m in New Zealand.  Most recently Wellington. I can’t imagine how it’s been the last 15 years, but the whole of the country is Tolkien mad.  They really have taken the whole “middle earth” thing to the extreme.  

The Wellington airport has a life size, animatronic Smaug head greeting you at the ticket counter. There is a vastly larger-than-life Golum in the departure lounge.  I mean it.  His head must be 25 feet across.   He’s there all googly eye scooping at the 15 foot trout swimming across the ceiling.  

There were two giant eagles from the film also suspended from the ceiling maybe bringing messages of your flight delay from Gandalf himself.  Recently one of them fell, so now there’s just a hole.   You get the idea.  They are middle earth mad.  

S.A.M used to life in Wellington some 16 odd years ago.  We were poor back then, but we still managed to see most of the country and more than many kiwis have seen. We met countless people who’d never been to the South Island, though you could see it from their front porch.  We saw the all the giant fruit sculptures, the giant sheep and giant trout that make this country great.   

I had thought we had seen most of the big local sites in Wellington, too until I took the recent Lord of the Rings location tour.

A friend and I got our inner geek on by signing up for a tour by www.FlatEarth.Co.Nz.  If you get a chance I highly recommend.  It was just he and I so it was our private tour.  We had Emma, who’d been giving tours for a couple of years.  

She displayed a bit of derisive amusement when I asked her if she’d please narrate the entire tour in elvish.  30 minutes into the tour, though, she admitted that she spoke Orc and actually was an Orc extra in one of the films.  Yeah.  They’re that kind of people.  

Anyway.  This is what I learned.  

I learned that the road to Brickleberry Ferry scene was shot just steps from downtown Wellington.  I learned that several of the river scenes were shot just minutes from our former home. Same thing for the scenes from Helm’s deep and Minas Tirith.  They were shot in a nearby quarry.  The film company actually paid the quarry what they would make in a year and they reserved the whole place for a year.

Sauroman’s garden and wood were also shot near by.  Rivendell and Elron’s castle was just 45 minutes from my home.  Nearly all the shots took place in public parks and hiking trails.  And the parks were quite nice and I had no idea they were there. Hikes over rivers with swing bridges and native plants and trees and birds. I guess I sort of knew, but I never set foot in any of them and I could have.  I felt like I missed so much.

I’m sure I missed many such sites back home.  There are a number of local parks that I drove by every day, but never set foot in and I can’t help but think of what I’ve missed, opting to sit at home and watch TV instead.

So, it was this week that I decided to start living like a tourist when I’m staying close to home.

I’m going to try and find all the hidden walks and places to see in Jakarta.  I know I said there was no place to walk, but there must be some hidden away and magical spots to see even if it is in a fancy mall restroom.  I know the 4th floor Pacific Place Mall men’s room is particularly cool. It’s like you’re surfing inside a wave while you relieve yourself.  There must be more places like that at the very least.    

After all, we’ve got less than two years to see as much as we can.

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Also here are some interesting things that I’ve learned that I thought I’d pass on here. I don’t have any other place to put these factoids.

I learned that if you order a shot double shot of liquor, you will get less than a single inthe UK or the US.  That is just the way it is.  The got glasses here are smaller.  Beer glasses, though seem bigger to me.

I also learned that if you’re flying through the Singapore Airport, you’re not allowed to sleep in the terminal, because they have a hotel connected to the airport and you’re supposed to sleep there.  The police can be quite strict about this and will roam the terminal late at night and roust people who are sleeping.

If people are gruff or belligerent, as some people can be when you wake them after a 30 hour flight from somewhere, the police will consider this rude and inappropriate and will take them to the local psychiatric hospital claiming the person is behaving irrationally.  This is apparently not an infrequent occurrence.

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