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Published: July 11th 2009
Just to warn you, I’ve a lot I want to write about at the moment, so if you’re up for the challenge you might want to grab a cup of tea or something first!
It is freeeeeeeeezing!!! I’m currently eating yesterday’s warm chocolate croissant which is now thoroughly frozen having just sat in my bedroom over night. New Zealand doesn’t do central heating in its houses, so when it’s as harsh a winter as this, everyone just wears about three jumpers, some thermals and a T-Shirt, and still walks around shivering. Still it’s great to be here, and I’ve had a pretty good couple of days - after a terrible flight.
So let’s start on a low…
Many, many things went wrong with the flight over to Dunedin. All was fine until reaching Hong Kong however, but then our pilot announced over the microphone,
‘Please bear with us at the moment everyone, we’re having technical difficulties…’
These ‘technical difficulties’ later grew into ‘a problem with the engine which would need some time to fix’. People were frustrated but fairly patient at first, and the stewards tried to keep spirits up. However our time sat in the plane going nowhere in Hong Kong airport went on for six to seven hours in total and by then a lot of people were pretty annoyed. They were wondering how they’d get to work, their next flights, hotels, taxis etc.; as I was too. We were held up again for a short time after this time because of an emergency on one of the runways but finally we took off. There was a big round of applause that rippled from the back to the front of the plane as everyone felt the relief that we were away again.
However only a half hour into the flight, and as I was making my way back to my seat, the pilot spoke again,
‘Right, I need everyone in their seats folks, there’s some rough weather ahead of us…’
I felt the plane pull sharply upwards, and from my limited weather knowledge I guessed this was due to the pilot trying to move up and out of the storm we were approaching. I sat back in my seat just in time to hear the creaking of the plane as the turbulence hit and to feel it lurch violently. Looking out the window I could see the lightning bolts of the storm; it was continuous, like strobe lighting, and was accompanied by the worst turbulence I’ve ever felt. A few of the over head lockers fell down, including my one, and so I had to watch it throughout the storm incase my heavy laptop case flew out and hit the lady beside me.
After that dramatic moment, the rest of the flight was spent chatting to the moody kiwi guys beside me; upset that they would probably have to call in and miss work, and listening to apologetic announcements from the pilot and the rest of Air New Zealand. More and more apologies came from the stewards who then announced we’d have to stop in Brisbane, Australia before Auckland to change the staff who were now working overtime because of the delay. Eight or so hours later we pulled into Brisbane. If I hadn’t have been so tired I would have appreciated seeing Brisbane more, although it was still pretty exciting. It looked hot, the grass on the ground was scorched brown from the heat and as the kiwi guy beside me pointed out there was barely any green to be seen anywhere.
Once in the airport I called home to ask my mum for help in re-arranging my taxi. She was already on the case much to my relief (Thank you!). I then continued my conversation with a Spanish couple I’d met on the plane who didn’t speak a word of English. It’s amazing how much you can say with facial expressions and hand gestures, we managed between us something along the lines of,
‘Ah, bloody nightmare isn’t it?’
‘I know! But what are you to do?
‘I know. Do you know where we have to go?’’
‘I think… over here, but I’m not sure.’
‘Hmmm let’s try it…’
‘Ah this doesn’t look right. I feel worried.’
‘Ah thank God for that! Here we are!’
We actually communicated a lot more than this too, it’s easier than you may think!
I was happy to be away again when our flight took off from Brisbane, but a little nervous at what was going to happen next. The Air New Zealand staff on the plane told us they’d make up for the problems by making special arrangements and telling us where to go where we landed. When we finally did land in Auckland we were told to go to Domestic Transfers, they would then check us in for our new flights. After waiting for all my baggage to come out again and re-going through customs I began queing in Domestic Transfers.
There was only one woman at the desk helping people out and she looked stressed and irritable. I was nervously checking the clock beside me which told me my flight to Dunedin was the very next one and was also the last of the day. If I didn’t make it I’d have to convince the staff it wasn’t my fault and get them to pay for my transport to a hotel somewhere. When I finally got to the front of the queue the woman behind the desk was pretty annoyed and putting out the ‘I’ll help you when I’m ready’ vibe - fiddling around with some sticky tape. I eventually got impatient,
‘Excuse me, do you know where I go for the Dunedin flight? My flight was delayed…’
‘You’re at the wrong place, you better hurry to Domestic Terminals’
‘Right, will I make it?’
‘You might do…’
So, a bit annoyed at Air New Zealand giving the wrong information, I hurried off and fifteen minutes later arrived sweaty and tired at Domestic Terminals only to join another queue. The board beside told me the Dunedin Flight was boarding and would close in ten minutes. After a short while of queing a lady called me over and said it would be quicker to check in at an electronic desk. I went over and she fiddled around before telling me,
‘Nope, machines not working, that’s no good you’ll have to queue up’
So back to the start of the queue again… This time I finally reached the front and the lady at the desk had to go off and get some tissues for the lady beside me who was crying after having missed her flight. Not wanting to be a cold bastard I didn’t interfere. When she did come back though she realized how little time I had and told me to leave my luggage at the desk and run as fast as I could to the gate. I sprinted along and heard an announcer say,
‘Tom Hunt to NZ646 flight, this is your last call.’
Thinking I was just about to make it I then reached the metal detection area before the gate and had to take off my metal belt, get out my laptop, washables etc.. Luckily I was through without any problems, but without enough time to put back on my belt, I ran up the escalator with my trousers well on their way to my ankles.
‘Tom Hunt to NZ646 please, this is your last call.’
I finally ran around the corner and arrived at the gate desk.
‘I’m Tom Hunt I said’
The woman gave me a disapproving look and signaled me through to the plane. I finally sat down at my seat, huffing, puffing and sweating, much to the annoyance of the people beside me who looked on disapprovingly. Luckily the shitstorm ended there and it was smooth-sailing all the way back to my hotel for the night. I wasn’t too upset anyway, at least I had my first blog.
After that obviously not so good flight, things have been great. I was tired but had time to get myself together a bit in the hotel room. I was in a much better mood the next day and crossed the street to the corner shop I visited throughout last year. My old (in both senses of the word) friend Russell greeted me warmly and shook my hand,
‘Tom! Good to see you again!’
Despite me not really knowing much about sports, he always teases me regardless about England’s rugby team.
‘How’s England rugby team going? Not too well Tom? Haha… sorry, that was below the belt Tom…’
After speaking to Russell I headed off to get the key to my new house. I arrived without too much trouble into my flat and heard the shower running. I didn’t want to disturb whoever was in there, and so I waited like a psycho in the front room hoping I was in the right house. Luckily I was, and a very friendly American girl called Elly greeted me a few minutes later.
I’m now pretty settled and am genuinely very happy with my flat-mates; they seem like a great bunch so far. And I have a double bed in my room! Unbelievable! Best thing so far! Plus the first week is an exciting time, and so I’ve already met a fair few other new people too. Like last year they’re from all over the place - Australian, Canadian, Indian, German, Scottish, Polish - all the big ones.
I’ve already been out and about on nights out with my flat-mates and it’s been great fun, so easy to get chatting to people here so I’ve ended up meeting a lot of people - the challenge is remembering all the names! Our English heatwave is big international news too apparently, everyone I meet asks me about the weather back home. Although, the people from hotter climates find it quite funny we call thirty degrees a heatwave!
I climbed ‘Flagstaff Summit’ a couple days ago with my flatmate/world-class skier (he's got his own dvd and everything!) called Andrew. It’s a fairly small mountain just outside Dunedin that I climbed a couple of times last year. The views are amazing. It was so nice to revisit something that familiar and stunning in New Zealand, was like being welcomed back to a second home. You can see the whole of the city, the harbour, the surrounding mountains and the ocean all at once. I'll put up some pictures soon!
Besides that I've just been getting to know my flatmates. Donna
Anyway this blog is ‘long as bro’ and so I better wrap it up now. I hope you’re all good! Let me know how things are going! I’ll be in touch soon and will hopefully get skype working too so I can web-chat with some of you.
Speak soon, Tom
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