Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I had a really unproductive day. Woke up, ate breakfast, bought some groceries, ate lunch, got home, felt like crap ( still ), slept for 3 hours, ate dinner, watched a recording of "Spiderman" then came to work. I can't explain why I feel geriatric, but I'm hoping it'll pass soon, 'cos I can't study when I can't even think properly.

Anyway, at least I really enjoyed "Spiderman". :P It's such a good movie, and the script by David Koepp is just wonderful, especially the scenes with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst coming to terms with their feelings for each other. You know how cheesy love stories involving young adults and superheroes can get, but with competent acting and poignant dialogue, "Spiderman" rises above all of that. I've got my eye on James Franco though ( he plays Harry Osbourne, aka the Green Goblin's son ). I saw him play James Dean in a TV movie a couple of years back -- I think he won the Golden Globe for it -- and he may be the next Johnny Depp if he plays his cards right. Broody looks, riveting screen presence, a mysterious off-camera persona -- someone please give him a role he can really chew on.

This just in: the nominations for the 76th Annual Academy Awards have been announced, with LOTR: The Return of the King leading the race with 11 categories. No surprise there! It's up for Best Picture and Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score, among others. The outlook appears excellent. :)
One nomination that will have everyone talking is Johnny Depp in the Best Actor list, for his role in "Pirates of the Caribbean". Some might think this is a huge upset, but then, a few people I know think "Cold Mountain" sucked, so Jude Law's presence is equally irritating to them. :D For me at least, I'm ecstatic with Depp's inclusion, though it would've been nice if the Academy had picked a less, err, frivolous film. But I guess a whole lot of people feel he's worthy of a nomination no matter what, and the fact that "Pirates" is the movie responsible for his first shot at the Oscar is proof enough of just how much he's liked and respected in Hollywood. I wish I could root for him, but Depp's the obvious wild card, and Bill Murray or Sean Penn seem to be hot favourites, so I'm not going to place any bets! Congratulations to Depp, however, for this outstanding achievement! :)

Okay, I'm gonna start posting about my NZ trip. I'm just picking out random locations here, but will probably leave the best ( ie. Queenstown ) till last. :)

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The link is provided above, so you can read more from the site. It's en route from Rotorua to Auckland, and extremely popular with the tourist crowd. The place is off the beaten path, yet swarming with people the morning I visited. While queueing to get into the cave, the guides repeatedly reminded us to be as quiet as possible, because the glowworms are highly sensitive to noise. This worried me quite a bit, 'cos I was standing directly behind a Korean toddler who couldn't stop wailing -- he wasn't crying, he was practically yowling his head off. Thankfully, the kid's mother had the sense to leave the line and take him somewhere else.

The caves themselves are gorgeous. Filled with limestone stalagmites, stalactites and columns ( that's when the former two fuse ), the interior is tastefully lit such that visitors can see where they're going yet are able to enjoy the rather mystical atmosphere. The guides keep it interesting with their enthusiasm and field-trip style narratives, telling us how Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the Vienna Boys' Choir have previously performed in the cavern, which affords exceptional acoustics and ambience. Cool. :)

It's a slow, leisurely walk down to the Glowworm Grotto. Don't be alarmed if drops of cold water hit you on the head or neck. These come from the stalactites above, and as one guide said ( quite seriously, mind you ), it's considered good luck when that happens! ( I experienced this 5 times, so yeah, I'm happy about it! ) As you near the grotto, anticipation mounts, and you're offered glimpses of scattered groups of glowworms while picking your way down to the water's edge. You then climb into designated boats, and push off to the main cavern.

Amazingly, the crowd obediently kept quiet, so we drifted in the darkness, engulfed by total silence. A few moments later, we looked up and there it was -- a huge mass of luminescent, metallic green/blue lights that covered the entire ceiling, like thousands of tiny emeralds in a magical night sky. Everyone, including myself, held our breath, marveling at this awesome sight above us. I even picked out a few individual glowworms crawling about -- 3 or 4 little lights in a row, squirming among the rest of the cluster.

The boat ride lasted about 10 - 15 minutes, then we were once again in the bright sunlight. We only realized none of us had spoken since leaving the cave when the fellow steering our vessel turned around, flashed a big smile, then cued us to say, "Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!" :D

The photos don't do justice to the real thing, and tourists aren't allowed to take pictures, so hopefully you'll get to see it for yourself someday. Absolutely fantastic!

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