New Zealand - Christchurch

Hello guys, I am back, so be prepared and bear with the next few posts which will be about the trip. Not that you will be interested to read it or perhaps you will be interested to read it as compared to my usual mundane writings. Anyway, let's go to the story.

So I left Wednesday evening, April 23th. I chose to take Qantas because Singapore Airlines with its direct flight cost like S$500 more which is more than enough to pay for my hotel in Auckland, so I guess I'd have to make do with longer journey and transiting in Sydney. The flight left around 8 pm and you have to be in the airport like 2 hours before and I have to say I am one person who doesn't really observe this. Most of the time, I make my way to the airport 2 hours before the flight. Anyway, that Wednesday afternoon in my side of Singapore, it started raining with thunder and all and so I began to be worried, like do I have to stand by the road in the rain trying to flag for a taxi. So I decided to call for taxi and let me tell you something, there are some things in this efficient Singapore which is not that easy to get done and to have it, it's like getting a miracle. Calling for a taxi is something like that. You will be put on hold forever or just be told that no one is available to speak to you. I tried all the numbers there are and some more than once. A miracle, I got through to one person. It turns out that if you want the taxi to come like 15 minutes later, it's called an advance booking and you have to pay more. Redonkulous! But what can I do, I needed a taxi and so I said fine. The person said okay, you can hang up now and you'll get an sms about the taxi. The sms came and it told me that there's no taxi available and try again in 10 minutes. WHAT THE F**K?!?! I told you it's like getting a miracle trying to call a taxi here. So I had no choice, I scrambled to finish up my laundry and packed my luggage because I foresaw that I needed to wait some time before a taxi came my way and the street I am in is not that busy. Got my hoodie up and went to the street and started to flag frantically. It came to me that this happens to me quite often, having to go to Changi airport and having to wait in the drizzling rain with my luggage. I was like please please God help me over and over. There were taxis but they were taken and somehow the empty one going on the opposite direction didn't want to make a u-turn to get me even though I was waving like crazy. That was until a taxi uncle in the opposite direction rolled down his window and asked where I was heading and told me to wait for his u-turn. I felt like perhaps he felt sorry for me standing in the rain like that. So yeah, this one paragraph is to say that I finally managed to get a taxi and I didn't wait that long, like 10-15 minutes or so and I really thank God for this.

Got into the airport, chose aisle seat for the first flight to Sydney and window seat for the flight from Sydney to Christchurch, my first destination in New Zealand. Had lontong for dinner in the airport and called mom in the cactus garden since I didn't have time to call home before because of the scrambling. The moral was still low that I remember me telling myself not to cry after calling mom. It's not an emotion one should be having when they are going for a vacation, but I don't know, perhaps it's pms but I was just so moody and felt like seriously and honestly that I kinda didn't want to do this at all. Why I am leaving for this trip? It's a stupid feeling to have but I felt like it has become a chore, like some sort of work to be done to make my life be more fulfilling. Are you surprised to be hearing all this from me? I really think it's the pms speaking and the fatigue and the rain and everything not going perfect. In the plane, I got the side block and it's a smaller plane that there were just 2 seats at the side. There's another lady sitting next to me and she's really really tall that I felt kinda sorry for her to have to compact her body in her seat. That long flight didn't help to lift my mood, again I was questioning myself, all I wanted was just a bed where I can really sleep, I also wanted to just be away from everyone which is perhaps somewhat a good feeling to have since I would be going to a place where I know no one, but still the mood wasn't lifted. Movies I watched was Casse-tête Chinois or Chinese Puzzle which I realized was a sequel of L'Auberge Espagnole which after googling I realized it's the 3rd of a trilogy, I didn't watch the second one. Anyway in that movie, the main character, got divorced at the age of 40 something and had to move to New York to be nearer to his kids and he said it's so depressing to be reaching that age and to have everything fall apart and I realized that is so true. It's depressing for me to be 32 and being absolutely single with no end in sights, but I think if you already have all that, the husband and the kids and find out that 10 years down the road, it's all blown up to pieces, it is perhaps even more depressing. Anyway, I also watched some episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine which I thought is not really that funny that I managed to drift in and out until suddenly a thought came, did you bring the key to your luggage? Wow that shocked me a lot, that I was fully awake and started rummaging my bag. I didn't find it immediately so I started to panic, but then I found it. I'm not sure if I really put it in there or God just magically put it in for me. I like to think the second one, because I was so in a hurry when I left that I didn't know what I was doing.

So anyway, arrived in Sydney, the direction for transfer was clearly marked, so found that easy enough. Experienced a new thing in airport security, which was to be wanded for residue of explosive. Okay ... I mean what else can I say, maybe threats could come from people who looked like me who look so incapable of doing things :P Now that I have spent many hours in Sydney airport, I can say that its international terminal is divided into 2 wings and my next flight was at the other wing. So I made my way there. This time, the transit time is around 3 hours. Found a seat and started reading Everything Is Illuminated. This is the first trip of mine in which I brought a book, all because I knew I had many hours to kill in transit. The next flight to Christchurch was by Emirates and I love it, I think Emirates never fails to be good and of course there's more space in the seats. It's very confusing why shorter flight has better seating than longer flights, unless you're taking budget airline. Anyway do they just really want to pack as many people in the longer flight? Anyway with the window seat, I got to see Sydney, spotted the opera house and the harbor bridge and I thought it's quite an interesting city, it and its surroundings seem to have river all over running through them.

Anyways, arrived in Christchurch, found the super shuttle easy enough and was transported to YMCA Christchurch. My first time in a YMCA and chose this because I think it's quite strategic, very near to the botanic gardens. Decided to choose a room with 2 single beds even though I was alone because the room with 1 bigger bed cost more. So as Casryn told me, just use the other bed for putting things and such. Well, I used that to watch the tv and moved to the other bed to sleep because the first bed has a mirror facing it. Anyway, while YMCA Christchurch is nicely located, I thought its housekeeping did a poor job in cleaning the room, so I dislike them for this. I know I should be more easy going about this. I reached the room at around 3:30 pm and though I was tired, I forced myself to get on with the plan, which was to go see the Cardboard Cathedral. There are not many tall buildings in Christchurch, I wonder if it's all because of the earthquake or it's always like that. There are construction everywhere and what I thought was pretty cool was the many graffiti art around city.

Didn't get lost and found the Cathedral based on the direction from google map. It's small and it's not very cardboard-y and I was feeling uneasy about entering, but I did enter and then I felt uneasy about taking pictures that I asked one of the lady there if I could. She said I absolutely may. Still felt uneasy about doing that, that I didn't stay long.

Then off I went to Re:START mall trying to find if I can buy some water and snack and no I didn't find any place which sells that. It's one of the frustrating thing about Christchurch I guess and I guess also as someone who live and grow up in Asia and in a city, we're just so used to of getting things easily. Like back home in Jakarta, my house is less than 5 minutes walking distance from a convenience store and here in Singapore, I'm just 7 - 10 minutes walk from an adequate mall. In Christchurch, there's none of those. There isn't any convenience store like everywhere. I was getting disappointed. There's a cafe coffee shop at YMCA and even that closes at 5 pm! Another thing an Asian like me will find very hard to get used to. So even though I wasn't hungry, I decided to go eat something at the restaurant at YMCA in the hope that I could buy some water there. Settled on the minestrone soup which has quite a filling serving and bought 2 bottles of sparkling water and then I decided to end the day.

I was so tired and I think I slept at around 8 pm only to be awoken at 2 am. See this trip is really a trip where everything is out of my control. I debated if I should write this down, but since it's part and parcel of being a girl, I guess I just let it all out. So awoken at 2 am because of tummy ache because I had my period. I tried my best to get it to come on time and I failed and it decided to come along with me on the trip :( I was in pain that I decided to just take the med. It took some time, but it finally eased out and I managed to go back to sleep and was shocked when I was awoken by my phone's alarm which I set to 8 am. I was surprised that I managed to sleep that long. So anyway got ready, decided to have pancake for breakfast at the coffee shop downstairs and bought a bottle of water. Water would be my one gripe in Christchurch, I found myself having to always plan to buy them when I can find them and make sure I have enough water, but really for me who drink a lot of water, it's the most essential thing that I look for when I am settled in a new place and no, I'm not keen on drinking tap water.

Anyway, proceeded to the Botanic Gardens where i-SITE is and decided to book the train ticket for my day trip to Arthur Pass, I'll talk more about this train tickets and all when I write the Arthur Pass post. Knowing that there's nothing much in Christchurch, I also bought the gondola ticket from i-SITE and got a map and direction on where to take a bus to get there. First stop was the Botanic Gardens which was free. It was a rather chilly morning and it's cloudy with grey sky :( It was somewhat interesting. There were many Chinese tourists having fun taking pictures with the yellow fallen leaves. They really put much effort in posing.

Found the rose garden section, but the roses weren't really blooming. It's autumn after all, so not many blooming things around?

Also found the water garden and other areas which I thought was pretty nice. Made my way to the other side to the Heritage Rose Garden and this is where it started drizzling :( So I made my way to the visitor center where there's shelter. Used the toilet, took some time with my period and all, but by the time I got out, the rain cleared up and there's actually some blue sky. So that was kinda swell. Decided to go around again, making use of the blue sky and there's some nice view.

Ended up walking by the river and saw the nice trees and people doing punting at the Avon river, which means that they're taking a ride in a gondola like boat. The Christchurch gondola on the other hand is a cable car going up a hill. You must be wondering just like me why they call these things like that.

So after exploring all the way back to the front gate, I decided it's time to go do the gondola. I read that there's a shuttle bus taking people to the gondola base departing from the front of the Canterbury Museum which is located next to the gardens. I waited but none came, so I decided to concede and follow the instruction of the staff in i-SITE to take the bus. Found the bus terminal without getting lost. I was told that it cost $3.50 and I can take the bus back for free if it's within 2 hours. Arrived in the Gondola base and the staff was pretty nice, they didn't shove as many people in the gondola, if you're alone, you get a gondola for yourself and so I got my own gondola.

There's actually sheep and all grazing on the hill there. Not surprising? Arriving on top, you can see the town Lyttelton and the island across from it is pretty cool and interesting.

At some points, it got really windy and I took some pictures of the grass being blown around but none of it were any good :( When it got really windy, I decided to just go in. They also have a time tunnel ride, which basically you are seated in a slow moving cart and go through a small exhibition area where you are presented with the history of Canterbury‎. It's interesting, but I just didn't love the long wait. After that, I decided to head back. Waited for the bus and it took some time and I realized that my 2-hour window has passed. I was ready to pay again, but when the bus came and the lady driver saw I was holding my ticket, she said she let me have the free transfer because she came late. Yeah, so happy, score!

I arrived back in the city rather late, well not late, but for a city where things close at 5 pm, you feel like 4 pm is late. Not wanting to have dinner in the same restaurant as before, I thought maybe I should try the cafe at the museum, but it seemed to be closed when I finally arrived, sigh. So I used what remaining time I had to explore as much of the museum as I can before it closed. It's free by the way. It's quite an interesting museum, they have historical section, natural life section, a bit of science, a bit of religion, Maori art, so a bit of this and that. They have a mummy and that made me think of my dad. This picture below is from a display of how the first settlers lived.

In the end, I decided to have dinner in the same restaurant as the day before. On my way leaving the museum, an older guy happened to walk next to me and started to remark that it's a beautiful day that day. This was like the same way I started a conversation with the Monsieur in Paris. Anyway, I said yep but it rained in the morning in which he didn't notice. He asked me where I was from and upon knowing I am Indonesian, he said he didn't seem to know anyone from Indonesia. Then he said, the capital city is Kuala Lumpur, right? Aaarrrghhhh, no, and so I had to correct him. I find it fascinating, New Zealand's nearest neighbour is Australia and Australia's biggest nearest neighbour is Indonesia, so I thought by proxy New Zealand would know more about Indonesia. I guess they're just contented to be in their own happy peaceful world. Anyway, that conversation with the man made me feel happy because though it was short, that was my one conversation of the day and I did really feel that God provide for me :)

For dinner, I chose the seafood curry which had rice in it and no I didn't choose it because of the rice, but because I didn't feel like eating red meat. The curry was quite good, but the more I ate it the more I thought it's so unlike the curry Asian knows. There's no spiciness in it and while the gravy was smooth, I wondered if they achieved it by milk rather than coconut milk. Anyways, it just made me think that it's a westerner's type of curry :P One of the waiter had Malaysian parents and he said terima kasih to me :) So that's pretty much my day. The period did trouble me in the morning, but it went alright the rest of the day. I ended the day early too and enjoyed New Zealand tv which is actually not bad. I am most intrigued by the fact that their channel 1, 2, and 3 have a twin in channel 6, 7, 8, which showed exactly the same things but just 1 hour later. So if you really like something, you can watch it again in 1 hour time. Alright, this first post have been long, so I will end here. For pictures of Christchurch, please go here.

:) eKa @ 7:40:00 PM •

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