New Zealand - Auckland

On the day I left Christchurch, it was raining. My room happened to have a balcony which I shared with the next door neighbour and when I went out to see what it's like, the wind was pretty strong that the leaves in the tree in front of me were barely holding on. Felt kinda sorry for the people who had to brave the weather and walk to work.

I again chose Super Shuttle to take me to the airport and the driver was already waiting for me. I felt kinda bad, I didn't know how long he had been waiting. He greeted me with "Selamat pagi". Upon seeing the Putri in my name, he guessed correctly that I'm Indonesian. It turned out his wife is from Flores and he has a 5-year old whose name is Alana Putri. I thought it's a very cute name. We talked a bit on the way to pick other people. I think he perhaps expected to speak some Indonesian with me, but I kinda stuck with English. There's traffic jam because of the rain, well Christchurch style, not comparable to Jakarta style, so he tried different routes. We passed Hagley Park and he pointed out that there's already quite flooded there, well I think there's around 5 - 10 cm of water. It turned out to be quite a bad day for Christchurch that day because the rain didn't let up and I saw in the news that some areas were flooded. The driver was telling me as much and I wondered how flooded would the area would be. I was thinking if this would be one of those things that people in Indonesia would think as mild and yet people in these developed countries think as horrible because they're not used to it. He said the water could reach the waist, so I guess it's legitimately awful. He asked me what the word for flood in Indonesian is - for your information, it's banjir. I told him that people in Jakarta is so used to with flood because we have it every year, so people would just prepare for it when the rainy season comes. Now that I think about it, I think it's difficult for the people in Christchurch to prepare because most of the houses are 1-storey high, that kinda makes it hard to evacuate yourself when the flood comes. In Jakarta, many people would just go upstairs when the flood comes. So anyway, I made it to the airport okay. The driver said, "terima kasih" to me and I was glad to have had a nice conversation with him. It was really cold when I left and I did feel a bit bad leaving Christchurch on one its worse days.

Took Jetstar to go to Auckland. With no in-flight entertainment, I spent time time reading Everything Is Illuminated. Was feeling really sad when one of the characters died that I was fighting tears and had to put down the book after I finished that chapter. It's strange and unexpected that I didn't expect that reading something could stir so much emotion. Arriving in Auckland, I haven't settled on my transportation to the hotel. I didn't book super shuttle because the cost was quite high that I thought if it was necessary. I found airbus express online, it's a bus service from the airport to the city. It doesn't drop you on your hotel door, but it seems that one of the bus stops is very near to my hotel. As google maps puts it, it's a 4-minute walk. It was quite a dilemma about choosing this or super shuttle. I'm so lazy and so that kinda made me feel like I shouldn't be lazy and spoilt! In the end, I left it to the weather. If it's raining, I'd take super shuttle, if it's not then I'd take the bus. The sky was grey, but no rain, so the bus it was. I found the bus counter easy enough and as I arrived, one of the bus just left, but fret not, the bus frequency is every 10 minutes. The staff at the counter told me to stop at bus stop number 3. I got on into the bus, at first the bus driver didn't understand me (damn I got that more often than I'd like in this trip), but in the end he did understand me and he concurred that it's stop number 3. Not many people in the bus and we skipped stops because no one was getting down or flagging the bus. When it's time to get down, the bus driver asked for me to get down from the front door, I guessed so that he could let me know to walk straight and turn left, which I already knew from google maps. What google maps didn't tell you is that it's a hike!!! So that wasn't fun when you drag the luggage, but before I got all panicky, I did spot the hotel, Best Western.

I chose a studio room and it's the nicest room I have ever stayed in except for 2 major issues. To reach my room, I have to go to the emergency staircase because that's where the room is and so it's isolated from the rest of the rooms. Since I'm a girl alone, that's kinda unnerving. Another major issue was that the big mirror facing the bed and there's also mirror panel at the bed headboard. If only I didn't learn that mirror facing a bed is bad, I would have been fine, but since I know about this, I felt kinda uneasy :( The good news about the room is, it's big and there's a functional pantry with a microwave and a big fridge, all of which I didn't really use. The bed is also a king size bed, but because of the mirror issue, I only slept on one side since the chair could only cover one side of the bed and I could use 1 of the 4 pillows to cover one of the back panel. On my first night, I'm not sure if it's all because of these mirrors, but around 10 pm when I was already asleep (I slept quite early in New Zealand), I seemed to hear someone knocking my door furiously. I finally got up and sit on my bed and said "excuse me?", but then I didn't hear any knocking. I waited for awhile but instead of checking the door, I went to pee first. Then I went to the door and looked into the peephole. Darn it! It is a very scary thing to do this when you thought there's something, but there's no one. I told someone about this and she asked why would you actually go and look?!?! I don't know, I guess I always do what I supposed to do? So anyway, I got quite freaked out and was praying telling God that I freaked out and please let everything be alright. Everything was alright and I managed to go back to sleep. Seriously I don't know if there's something or the thoughts about the mirrors screwed my mind.

Anyway, I went ahead of myself. So anyway, after exploring my room, I decided to go explore Auckland a bit. Now it's a bit of a shock being in Auckland. I know I complain about the non-existence of many things in Christchurch, but I did get overwhelmed with the location of my hotel. It's a busy street, there's a convenience store next door which opens 24 hours it seems, so it's kinda great. Nearby there's also a supermarket and many things, you can find food easily. That also means there were many many people and for the anti social me, it starts to make me feel uncomfortable. I guess I'll always have things to complain about, yeah? More complaining to come. My first stop was to the Auckland Art Gallery through Albert Park. The walk there was hard or perhaps I'm so out of shape. It's actually not very far from where my hotel is, but Auckland can be quite a bitch to walk in. I don't know how to explain Auckland, there are many slopes up and down. The walk to go to Albert Park involved going up and it's pretty demanding that my heart rate was increasing. Made it Albert Park, didn't really explore each and every corner of it because I was tired, I just saw there's a fountain, then I made my way to the gallery. It was pretty nice, but I didn't take any picture. I don't think it's allowed anyway. I was still tired that I'm not sure if I explored every single thing, but I think I did. There were paintings and some installation arts. It's a pretty cool space to spend time in and it's free :)

Then I decided to go to the viaduct area. It was quite a long walk. It was okay, I guess, not extremely interesting. I saw the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the yachts. The most interesting thing I saw is the Wynyard Bridge opening up to let a yacht through. Funny story, I was walking on it and I did hear some sound, but I didn't realize it was the alarm to let people know to get off the bridge immediately and not walk on it. It wasn't that alarming for me. I finally realized what's happening because I saw people were watching the bridge, I quickly walked off. Then after all is cleared, the bridge started to rise up and then some time later a yacht passed through. It was my first time watching a bridge opening up like this, so that was interesting. I wonder if the yacht had to let the operator know that they want to get through to get it opened up. There were many rich looking yachts at the viaduct.

Then I decided I should go for a late lunch / early dinner and ended the day. Chose Portofino because it's an Italian restaurant and that's like comfort food number 2 after Indonesian. At that time, I was the only person eating there. The waiter who served me was a blonde older man. I didn't expect him to be Italian, but then came 2 young men who talked to this waiter in Italian about jobs as waiters. I picked up a bit of their conversation. Anyway, then the waiter suspected that I could speak Italian and asked me, to which I answered "pochissimo" (very little). We then started talking a bit in Italian, the usual question about where I'm from and such. I found out that he used to live in Australia but then moved to New Zealand. I asked if New Zealand was better and why there since it's very far from Italy. He said that New Zealand is far from everywhere and he said that it's a bit racist there in Australia. That surprised me. I told him mostly to Asian rights? He said, no. He said when you speak English and they can tell if you're not Australian, it's like there's a line, you and them. So that's kinda surprising but refreshing to hear him speaks openly. It's amazing how you can get people to open up to you just by speaking their language a bit :) So anyway, after that I decided to go back and rest. The next day would be a long one. For pictures of Auckland, you can go here, some of the pictures were from my last day there.

:) eKa @ 9:59:00 PM •

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