Archive for February, 2013


Introducing, Taranga!

photo-472013-01-29 19.10.37 2013-02-05 06.27.43 2013-02-02 12.00.59

She may not be the fanciest camper van in town, but she is cute and blue and our home for 33 nights.  Meet Taranga, christened after an offshore island on the East Coast north of Auckland where we spent our first night.  She is self-contained, meaning she is equipped with a toilet and a “shower” to allow us to “freedom camp”–a must. The toilet, however,  is the portable type reminiscent of what a toddler trains on (but with a  more complicated cleaning process) and the shower is a head that hangs off the back of the van.  BUT, she is nimble on the road, can easily be parallel-parked and her diesel engine means great fuel economy.  Her roof pops up to provide for a sleeping area which is Z’s bunk (arguably the best room in the house) and Jonathan and I convert Z’s bench into our bed each night.  It’s become a game of “I Spy” to spot a smaller camper van on the road.   Even the Dodge van from my childhood  had a foot or so on Taranga. But, with each passing day we become more attached to our little Taranga, even if it wasn’t love at first sight.

Because we  are chasing an eternal summer rather than taking any sensible geographical route, we found ourself having to fly halfway across the world after the holidays in Yorkshire.  The journey started inauspiciously, as the night before we left Yorkshire it started to snow.  As we’ve experienced first-hand how weather can shut down England’s transport systems, I had a sleepless night checking the snow accumulation out the bedroom window.  It kept falling and falling and falling.  Thus, when my alarm buzzed in the cold darkness of 5:45am, I was already wide awake worrying about whether we’d make it  to Heathrow for our mid-afternoon flight and how to dress in a way suitable both for snow, Singapore and airplane comfort.
We hurriedly got dressed, said our sad farewells to Jonathan’s mum and, burdened with our RTW luggage which was now heavier with hiking boots and pullovers, began a dark, nearly mile-long walk through 6 inches of snow to the train station.  Fortunately, the British rail system proved to be more dependable than we’d given it credit for, and our Burley-in-Whafedale train arrived on time for a short journey to Leeds, where we changed trains to Kings Cross.  Snow blanketed the country-side until we were within 45 minutes or so of London, so we were surprised to see the sun shining as we exited Kings Cross for a taxi across to Paddington Station, so that we could hop on the Heathrow Express.  Heathrow check-in was surprisingly hassle-free, although I found it “curious” how the “online check-in/bag drop off line moved at half the speed as the regular check-in queue.
Singapore Botanical Gardens

Singapore Botanical Gardens

Heathrow

Heathrow

We were booked on Singapore Airlines to Singapore – 13.5 hours of economy class comfort.  The flight was relatively uneventful until, just as I was falling asleep, we hit steady turbulence over Pakistan and  India. I am not what you would call a relaxed flyer (unless my relaxation is chemically-induced).  Thus, it was another sleepless night.  At least Zara slept.  Traveling with children puts all discomforts in perspective.
Singapore Airport, however, was brilliant. which was a relief because we had a 9-hour layover.  This gave us enough time to journey into the city and spend a couple of hours at the Botanical Garden for some fresh air.  To be honest, though, the airport offered so many delights that we waffled on whether to leave.  Once I’d located the free foot and leg massages, which were perfectly located across from the climbing gym that Z adored, I didn’t want to budge from my seat.  Also on offer was a butterfly garden, a cinema, and plenty of shopping.  But, the airport had me at the foot massage.
Free foot and leg massages!
Singapore Botanical Gardens

Singapore Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

The second flight was 10 hours long.  Z slept half of it after commenting how comfy her “bed” was. I did not.

Total sleep over 3 days: approx. 2 hours.  Fortunately, Auckland presented us with a warm welcome of blue skies and bright sun. And so, the next stage of our adventure begins.  Stay tuned for the Campervan Capers.
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