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Published: January 7th 2008
One of the two planes that would be speeding us to New Zealand.
Packing up the last of of our belongings late yesterday evening, it felt just like being on our round the world trip again although you and I both know that this time it's a little bit different. With bulging backpacks and more weight than we are used to carrying, we bundled into Linda's car first thing this morning and said a very tearful goodbye to Glynn's family.
The motorways were eerily quiet - like a scene out of an apocalyptic zombie movie where the hero and heroine are being lulled into a false sense of security - and we found ourselves at Heathrow in next to no time. We got ourselves checked in really quickly (the Virgin Atlantic staff at Heathrow are very nice) and to our relief, our packs weighed in at just under the 23kg limit per person. Phew! We spent a final hour with Linda before having to say goodbye and letting her get back to the extortionately priced short stay car park.
Flight number one took us from Heathrow to Shanghai in China. It was an 11-hour flight and the seats were a little on the tight side (I blame Mary's excellent Sunday roasts!) Luckily,
Jude, not looking at her best after 24 hours with no sleep.
the flight was only about a third full and we got to spread out and have 2 seats each to ourselves - much more comfortable. The in-flight entertainment was pretty decent but due to an oversight by the technical crew, the advertised movies weren't actually the ones that were playing. It was a bit frustrating to keep loading up something interesting sounding like the Darjeeling Limited only to find it was something dreadful like Alvin and the Chipmuks!
We had been given the option of a stopover when we booked but to be honest, we weren't in a desperate rush to go back to China after our 5 weeks in the country last year. Instead, we got to pick up our bags then sit and wait for almost 4 hours in the airport before we could check in for the second leg run by Air New Zealand. There was nothing to do at all in Shanghai airport and the metal seating area didn't feel very welcoming either. We got to know an English girl called Rachel who was travelling the same route as us and together we marvelled at all the illogical ways Chinese seem to have and the
You Are Getting Sleepy
A tired Glynn tris to hypnotise himself to sleep.
ever-present tendency to spit on the ground.
The flight to New Zealand was choc-a-bloc and I found myself squeezed between Glynn and a Chinese chap for the 11-hour long haul. By this time, we had barely had any sleep and were feeling quite grouchy so I have to apologise to the chap next to me if I might have scowled at him a few times while we was sleeping but couldn't bring myself to wake him up so I could go to the loo. At least the seats on the Air New Zealand flight were a bit wider and the food on board was delicious. I would certainly fly with them again, although maybe not via China!
When we arrived in Auckland, a glorious sunrise greeted us and we excitedly made our way through customs and immigration. There were an awful lot of Chinese at passport control and it took an inordinately long time to get to the front. When we got there, things looked like they might suddenly go pear-shaped as the immigration lady seemed to think it was suspect that Glynn and I were visiting friends and relatives for up to 6 months. Thankfully, we had
Shanghai Pudong Airort
Like being sat on by a giant porcupine.
our return flight details to hand to prove we were bonafide visitors and they let us in. We never had that kind of scrutiny last time we came here!
On the other side of customs, we saw the lovely faces of Liz and Allard beaming at us and despite my fatigue, I still found the energy to run over to them and give them a big hug. For those of you who don't know, Liz is my mum's penpal from school and even though she and my mum haven't seen one another since I was born, here she was ready to take us into her hme while we sorted ourselves some long term accommodation. It was wonderful to see them both and we were soon whisked away to the Takinini suburbs to start the first day of our new life in New Zealand.
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