Why New Zealand?
I came to New Zealand by chance I would say. It was around spring last year when J mentioned that he has always wanted to work for a company called WETA in New Zealand. I didn't know anything about Weta at that time but it sounded very interesting to me. So when he said that he actually had a job offer but he wasn't sure if he should take it, I told him to just go for it otherwise he might regret it. I felt that it was too good of an opportunity to miss. Although I told him I would go with him (even if he didn't ask me), it was still a very hard decision for him to make. Understandably, he had to take a lot of things into consideration. And while it took him at least three months to take the job offer, it only took me five minutes to say I am going with him. :)
So in the summer he finally signed the contract and immediately after, I asked for a sabbatical leave. I don't know but it all came so easy for me. All I can say right now is that I am so blessed to have worked with the most considerate and caring people.
Fast forward January 2016 and we were on our new journey down under.
We flew from Heathrow airport with Emirates Airbus 380. It was my first time on the Airbus 380 and I must say, it's pretty impressive - and I wasn't even traveling on first or business class. It's more spacious (definitely more leg room) than the regular carrier and their seats are far more comfortable. For the first time in all my travels, I didn't have a stiff neck. I actually managed to sleep upright for a few hours without too much trouble. And although we were advised to get a neck pillow because of the long flight, we didn't actually need one. The airline cushion was perfectly fine. Their toilets are better too I think. Honestly, I can barely remember how the toilets in Boeing 777 were like. I am really bad at getting up and using the toilet when I travel. Anyway, as usual the crew was friendly and helpful - one thing that I really love about Emirates. Not to mention their in-flight entertainment. Emirates is known for their good entertainment but I don't use them as much as other passengers might do because most of the time, I fall asleep even before the plane takes off. I always listen to music though and sometimes I also like to keep track of my flight. I also try and watch at least one movie if I am not too sleepy. By the way, much to my delight the A380 actually has a USB charger and a free wi-fi so I was able to send messages to my family and friends while in the sky. Such a treat.
Our first layover was Dubai for three hours where a lady gave me the wrong information because she assumed that I was going to Manila (probably because I am a Filipina). I wished we could have stayed longer to see the place, but at least I got to see the beautiful sunrise.
While for some airplane food is important, not so much for me. I even often skip my meals because I sleep a lot. I would only ask for peanuts or cup noodles randomly. Perhaps if I were to have one meal, it would be breakfast. I just love eggs so much that I will wake up especially for them.
More than 23 hours on the plane and 6 hours layover in two countries later, we finally arrived in windy Wellington on Friday the 8th of January around 4pm. The whole trip was a lot better than we both expected. Most of all, there were no major delays. And although the trip was long, it was fairly organised. To be honest I was a bit worried getting through the customs. I don't have any visa. I came here only with my British passport (which allows me to stay here for at least 6 months), so I was thinking of the worst possible thing that could happen. From Melbourne to Wellington, I kept thinking about "Nothing to Declare"- if you've ever watched the series, you know what I mean. I imagined myself being held at the customs and being interrogated by some men with strong Kiwi accent. But it turned out that I was worrying for no reason at all. Thank God for that.
When we arrived at the Customs area there were four officers checking passports - two men in the middle and two ladies each side. We were at the back of the queue, so I had time to study the officers. I knew instantly who I wanted to check our passports. I prayed as soon as I realised that the lady on the right was the nicest. I kept counting the passengers and calculating whether or not we would have her. When we were finally next in line, I got really nervous because although the lady has already stamped the previous passenger's passport, one of the men was also almost finished with the Italian couple. God, how he grilled them! Luckily, the lady shouted "next" first so I ran to her, literally. I'm not sure if J noticed all this but I knew I had to work some magic to make our entry to New Zealand stress-free. So, I handed my passport and with my biggest smile, I said "hi" to the lady. She looked at my passport and made a statement. Not a question, but a statement. She said to me, "You're here to visit". She didn't even look at me but I answered "yes" anyway. Then she stamped my passport and turned to J. She said to him, "And you're working". That was it, we were both cleared in less than 5 minutes. J told me later that the lady didn't even look at his visa. I wasn't really expecting the whole process to be as smooth as that. The universe was definitely on our side all the way. I am very grateful. So we got out of the airport really happy. We were picked up by a Weta employee who drove us to our hotel.
It's apparently summer here. Yes that's true, but in an hour we saw how the weather quickly changed. The weather got colder as the evening drew closer. At one point, I thought it's colder here than London because of the wind. It's ridiculous that I had to wear a jumper in the summer sun in New Zealand - where everyone says has a better weather than London. Anyway, I've only been here a day so I should really give the weather a chance.
What have we done so far?
In just 24 hours, we have done quite a lot. Well, sort of. Yesterday, shortly after we dropped off our stuff at the hotel (we're staying here for two weeks until we find an apartment), we went around for a bit. I must say, the ambience in Wellington reminds me of downtown San Diego in California and I like it. There were not many people yesterday considering it was Friday. Now I believe that there are more sheep in New Zealand than people. And for this, I love it here already.
One of the first things we did was to walk along the harbour. It was pretty windy and we were a bit tired so we didn't really walk very far. But at least we got the "feel" of the city, and it was really good.
Maybe a walk was not a very good idea after a long haul flight. We got desperately hungry to a point where we no longer knew what we wanted to eat. So we opted for a Malaysian restaurant close to our hotel called "Istana Malaysia". The restaurant was quite full and the staff was friendly so we thought we'd settle there. The food came quite late - well, for hungry people like us I suppose. But we noticed that for a packed restaurant, there were only three waiters plus an old lady (who probably owns the restaurant) who cleaned the table and was in charge of the bills, and three men in the kitchen. This explained why the service was slow. And then the food came and although the restaurant has good reviews on tripadvisor, we didn't quite agree. I mean the food was okay, but there was really nothing special to it. I ordered Mee-goreng which I finished in all fairness but only probably because I was so hungry, but it was salty and too oily. J ordered the chicken korma which to him was tasty, but looked really watery and there were only about four small chicken chunks in it. And the rice looked like it was old and was taken from the bottom of the pan. Perhaps we should go back there another time when we are no longer tired and very hungry.
Mee Goreng, $17.90
Chicken Korma, $18.90
Steamed rice, $2.20
1 Allen Street
After our not so good food experience the night before, we tried our best to find a better place to eat today. We discovered that the main downtown wasn't really the place we went to yesterday. This only meant that there were more restaurants to choose from. And yes, we finally found a good place to have brunch. It's a cafe called "Floriditas" in Cuba Street. Delicious food. I ordered the "scrambled egg on ciabatta" but asked for the egg to be separated, while J ordered "poached egg on ciabatta with vine tomato salad". The food looked really plain and simple, but they were very tasty. We liked it there so at some point in our stay at the city, I'm sure we would visit this place again.
Scrambled egg on Ciabatta, $11
Poached egg on ciabatta with vine tomato salad, $16
161 Cuba Street
When we woke up this morning , we felt more rested so we went for another walk, this time really longer. We now have seen the whole of downtown Wellington, had an ice cream and attempted a cable car ride (the queue was very long so we decided to go back another time). The weather was so good. I felt so happy to see the sky so blue. What made my day even better was the kid playing the violin, he reminded me of Keith and he was good.
I'm sure I will be seeing more of blues in the next two months or so. Wellington has so far given me a good impression. I like it here already and I am only hoping that this feeling will continue for the rest of our stay here. I'm really looking forward to the next days, weeks and months. God only knows what's in store for us, but right now, so far so good.
And there you have it, the journey down under has begun. Stay tuned (only if you want to).