My life in NZ in a nutshell – Part 5 (a): My days living like an inmate

After informing S that both JL and I would be working until the end of January, I knew the chance was slim for me to land on another paid job so I was on the active look out for exchange jobs instead to occupy my last three weeks in NZ. I had wished for a relaxing 3-week either by the beach or somewhere with stunning scenery. I sent out five exchange applications (some were on behalf of JL as well):-

  1. As cleaners at a backpackers, Mangawhai
  2. As tour guide at a historic prison, Napier
  3. As painters at Riverstone Backpackers, Turangi
  4. As receptionist at Sunflower Lodge, New Plymouth
  5. As cleaners at National Park Village, Tongariro National Park
Where to after Levin?

Where to after Levin?

(1) provided positive reply a few hours after I sent the application. JL and I were delighted that we could spend time together by the beach and could be in our bikinis!

But I received positive reply also from (2) on the next day but the prison needed only me as tour guide. So it was either I go to Mangawhai together with JL or to part with her and head to Napier on my own. JL was quite disappointed when I told her I was more attracted to becoming a tour guide because that’s an experience I am not likely to gain elsewhere. In the end, JL was willing to take her chance to see if the prison needed extra pair of hands to clean or do some odd jobs and would go to Napier together with me.

On Feb 1st: My farewell message read:- 

“Good bye Levin! Good bye zucchini! I’m moving on with heavy heart, gonna miss the nice people in the team!”

M picked us up from Napier’s I-site and we were checked in to the “penthouse”, a room which was originally the residence of the superintendent and was converted to cell in 1960s to house the Mongrel Mob members. JL and I became 2 of the staff of the prison who slept in cells and used facilities originally utilized by inmates!

The "penthouse"...

The “penthouse”… On a side note: I am surprised I actually did not take photo of the interior of my room!

The construction of the prison building was concluded in 1862. So it's now 151 years old!  Someone was buried standing up on your left of the wall...

The construction of the prison building was concluded in 1862. So it’s now 151 years old!
Someone was buried standing up on your left of the wall…

I had 2 challenges ahead for my days in the prison:

  1. to memorize the tour guide script which was of the length of 13 pages of A4 paper (default font setting!) in a week’s time before giving guided tour
  2. To brave the eerie ambience of the prison…. *spooky music playing in the background*
*gulp* 13 pages!

*gulp* 13 pages!

Duty roster for my first week in the prison :)

Duty roster for my first week in the prison 🙂

Fellow colleagues were very generous with all the prison-is-haunted stories. Project supervisor A even asked me to listen to the electronic audio guide which compiled all the paranormal stories but I avoided that at all costs.

One morning, Alanna came to me, “Sam, I had a rough night. Do you know what happened last night?”

Me: I don’t. Tell me.

Alanna: I was listening to my MP3 in my room. I heard Charlie’s voice approaching, so I planned to scare her when she passes by. Then something strange happened: the songs in my MP3 player, they kept shuffling! At first I thought it was because I accidentally press the “Next” button since the player was in my pocket. So I took the player out and put in on my palm and the shuffling won’t stop! I got freaked out! Nick passed by my room at that time and I got hold of him. The MP3 player was functioning normally when Nick was in my room. After he left, it shuffled again! I got really freaked out and I moved to Charlie’s room immediately. I think this is my retribution: the you-know-what was trying to teach me a lesson for my mischief!

Me: Oh my god! You shouldn’t have told me all these! I don’t think I can sleep well in my room alone now!!! 

JL shared a room with me for a week and then she left for her onion packing job. Then started the realms of my (bad) imagination… and insomnia… I couldn’t sleep well at night anymore! I slept switching on all lights in the room. I also scattered my lingerie all around my bed because it’s said to be able to ward off you-know-what. I was so afraid when I woke up in the middle of the night and I’d see SOMETHING lying next to me… when the night fell, I would avoid walking pass the corridor adjoining the kitchen to my room, where Alanna’s room is located.

The hanging yard, the least favorite place for me...

The hanging yard, the least favorite place for me…

The white enclosure = burial site for comprises the first 2 men hanged at the prison...

The white enclosure = burial site for comprises the first 2 men hanged at the prison…

I really do not like this eerie mural in the mess hall!

I really do not like this eerie mural in the mess hall!

shower place

shower place

Since the shower units are semi-open air, staff are only allowed to take shower after the prison is closed for visit i.e. from 5pm onward. When I took shower, I always brought along my phone and played music aloud to drown out other sounds because I did not want to be aware of any strange noise… Besides I always took shower with lightning speed because my mind kept playing the scenes from Ju-on! Scenes like having a hand pressing my head while I was shampooing my hair!

I mean this scene!

I mean this scene!

Me! My attire and props for tour-guiding. I think I did pretty lousy job. Sorry for those who were guided by me :p

Me! My attire and props for tour-guiding. I think I did pretty lousy job. Sorry for those who were guided by me :p

Part 1: Rotorua| Part 2a: Goodbye Rotorua! | Part 2b: Hello again, Auckland! | Part 3: Hello, South Island! (a) Queenstown (b) Te Anau (c) Milford Sound | Part 4: zucchini picking | Part 5: last bit of travelling (b) (c) (d)| Concluding remarks


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