Aotearoa... Land of the long white cloud...
The first sight that greeted me as I stepped off the plane in Auckland was beautiful vista of clear blue sky. It was cool, but much warmer than what I had expected winter to be. In fact, it was almost like a cool, sunny spring morning in my memories of my time in the UK.
I had spent 11 hours on the plane and crossed God knows how many time zones, but it was all sinking in... All the waiting, all the pain and frustration in the previous months... seemed to dissipate as it finally dawned on me that I was finally here.
One of the very first things that I noticed was the consistent reminder to 'Declare it' in the airport. Apparently, you have to declare anything that may be food, or originally organic, and chances are you would be expected to throw everything away before you get to cross the Customs and Immigration.
A bit harsh I thought.
My travel companion told me the story of how the Indian national cricket team were fined for having dirty shoes... I mean... COME ON!!
But, as i got to know the country further, that's just how things are around here. Kiwis are serious about keeping their country clean and free of foreign contaminants. And by that I mean ANY form of foreign contaminant, be they as big as a horse or as small as a virus.
Anyhow, I knew it was going to be a long day. I had to wait an additional four hours for my connecting flight to Christchurch. And so wait I did. I explored the airport. Bought a sim-card to use with my iPhone. It was fun - exploring new territory. Everything was new. Everything was exciting. I almost didn't hear my tired body begging me for sleep. I was far too excited, but I knew payback would come later.
Everything was exciting, that was, until I got thirsty and wanted to get a drink. I headed to the nearest kiosk and looked at the prices... $4.50 for a Coke... $4 for mineral water... times that by 2.35 and you get RM10 for a Coke!!! Then my tummy started rumbling, and I decided to look for the cheapest food I could find... Sandwiches... What I saw made my knees tremble... $8 for a simple sandwich... a whopping RM19 for a SANDWICH??? You've got to be joking!!! At this stage I wondered if I would ever eat again... Ever...
So I slapped my tummy and told it to shut up...And prepared for the long wait ahead...