Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 Days, 3 Flights, 3 Countries

Short note warning: This is gonna be a hell-long of an entry. Read it on your own peril. Or you can choose to browse through the picture only-lah actually. It's your choice. But I'm very sure most of you will just scroll and look through the pictures, right? I know one; so no need to lie to me haha!

It was all about three.

My one-month trip to New Zealand finally came to an end last week, and I have been back to Japan since last Friday. It will take me some time to blog about the New Zealand trip. For a start, it will be about the long journey from Christchurch back to Chiba, which took me three days, taking three flights, through three countries. I know it is against the chronological order, but just ignore the fact, alright?

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Say "hi" to the camera!

For the third time in three years, airport was again the place where we bid farewell to each other. This time however, it was much better than the previous two occasions. I was quite surprise to see Mich being stronger than me this time; she didn't cry at all when I walked pass the departure gate and took the escalator up to the boarding gate. That was the last time I caught a glimpse of Mich. That's why being in a long-distance relationship can be the best and the worst thing at the same time.

On the day I was suppose to leave Christchurch, she somehow found an excuse to come back home early from the hospital, and we cooked lunch together. It is not often we get to do stuff together, say cooking, once we are apart again after this. So, everything, from the cutting, the rinsing, the frying and eating were done in a slow pace, savouring every last moments together. I don't mean to make it sound too melancholic until it sounds as if we will never get to meet again ever after, but the big question is we don't know when will that be.

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The theme of our lunch was spring onion. Fried ommelette with chai por and spring onion, stir fried mussles with ginger, red chilly, and spring onion, Chinese cabbage soup with eggs and spring onion, served with fragrant jasmine rice.

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I know this looks vain, but yeah, just ignore us lol! By the way, the brown spot on my left arm came from me wiping my mouth on it after our chocolate session the night before haha!

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I will miss this room a lot.

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The name label on the girls' room door. No, the Valentine card isn't from me.

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Arrived at the airport, which means we gonna bid farewell to each other very soon.

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The girl was sleep deprived; that's why she look quite messy here haha!

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E noho rā ("farewell" in Maori) Christchurch.

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The river and the green planes were just too beautiful that they look kinda unreal, ain't they? 

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Served with two pieces of cheese, three grapes and a packet of Arnott's crackers.

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The first glimpse of the North Island.

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Arrived in Auckland International Airport after a short two-hour flight.

Andy was already waiting outside the arrival hall when I walked out. First comment I got from him was, "Wow! You're so much taller than I thought!" By the way, Andy is the boyfriend of my long-lost cousin, Reena. He comes from a mix-parentage; his dad hails from Kuching, and his mom is a native Kiwi. His younger brother, Michael apparently more excited to see me than Reena, who will visit Andy at the end of the year.

We were supposed have a simple dinner at McDonalds, but we ended up joining his family at some Asian food court nearby their house. We ordered char koey teow; it was slightly better than the one I had in Christchurch. I went through a bonding session with Andy's parents and siblings during the dinner. His dad, Henry has been living in New Zealand for the past 25 years. Graduated from University of Canterbury, he got married and lived in Christchurch before moving to Auckland about ten years ago. And for his mom, she is from Christchurch as well. Talking about coincidence.

Ask me to talk with an ang moh accent and it is almost certain that it will turn out to be a disastrous story. I struggled to converse properly with his mom who has a strong kiwi accent, but I think I did pretty well lol! She shared her story about her sister living in Kaiapoi, near Christchurch and her slightly damaged house from the earthquake recently.

We got home, and Skyped with Reena and Michelle for a while. In fact, Andy's Mom also joined us and it was like a United Nation's conference - we had Malaysians, Kiwis, Singaporeans, half Malaysian-half Kiwi talking to each other on that night haha!

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The guest room where I spent a night at Andy's place.

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The duty free shops inside the airport.

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Saw this interesting vending machine at the toilet's entrance, which sells toiletries like toothbrush, hair gel and shavers. 

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On the verge of leaving the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere.

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Took Cathay Pacific's flight CX108 but when I turned to the right, I saw something familiar.

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For a second, I felt like boarding this plane instead haha!

On the next day, Andy's mom sent me to the airport and that was when the first part of the drama unfolded. I was requested to check-in at the business class counter; I thought I was gonna get lucky to be given a business seat. When I got my boarding pass though, I saw that it was only an economy seat. That was not a problem. The next incident was.

I never expected the airport in New Zealand to be so strict because my two luggage were over-weight and I had to repack them twice! My huge luggage was a few kilos heavier than the limit. I was aware that the hand carry is limited to only 7 kg but usually they aren't really strict about it. So, I transferred some of the stuff from my huge luggage into the hand-carry and went to reweigh them.

This time, it was the hand carry that was overweight.  So I did some rearrangements on the stuff, trying to think the best way for the luggages not to exceed the limit. I took out my thick jacket and wore them, and "smuggled" some stuff into another bag where I kept my laptop, hoping that they wouldn't notice it. Too bad that lady noticed that I was trying to cheat haha! She advised me not to put anything else beside my laptop in that extra bag, otherwise the security control inside the airport would either request me to leave the stuff behind, or I have to pay for exceeding the limit.

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Just to refresh your memory on Geography; that's how far New Zealand is down south.

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One of the last several shots of New Zealand.

It was third time lucky as each of the bags was only 400 grams more than the limit and they finally let me through. Phew! Luckily Andy's Mom was there, waiting for me; so I just passed my extra cookies to her to take home. Lesson learned for anyone who's flying out from New Zealand - never ever pack your luggage beyond the limit because they are damn strict about it.

While waiting for the boarding time at the gate, I was approached by a lady from the NZ Tourism Board. I thought she is a local Chinese from her accent, but once I said I am a Malaysian, her English immediately changed its mode to Manglish haha!

I was a bit worried whether or not I will get jet-lag when I reach Hong Kong. So I decided not to sleep too much in the plane, or else I might not be able to sleep once I reach Hong Kong later that evening. To kill some time, I watched a few documentaries and played some games. Besides, I avoided watching any movies, as I know I will fall asleep after watching them for a while haha!

It was a 12-hour flight, the longest flight I've taken so far but luckily, it wasn't that tiring.

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Snacks were given before the main meal.

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Sage and onion stuffed chicken breast with roasted kumara (sweet potato), carrots and peas, Russian salad with fried shallots, raspberry pavlova, and a bun.

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This is the first time I saw rainbow from a plane.

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Pan-fried hoki with tomato sauce, pearl cous cous, green beans, and olives, fresh seasonal fruits, NZ Natural Vanilla Classic ice cream.

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Right after got down from the plane at Hong Kong International Airport.

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Got pass the immigration counter and on the way to collect my luggage.

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I think KLIA and Changi Airport is much better than this airport.

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I was compensated with a night stay at Regal Airport Hotel as my flight from Auckland to Hong Kong was rescheduled.

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Regal Airport Hotel, which is directly connected from the passenger terminal.

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I guess it was a five star hotel; well at least it looks like one haha!

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I just found out that this hotel was awarded the Best Airport Hotel in the World for 2 consecutive years since 2008 by Business Traveller UK Magazine.

My flight arrived in Hong Kong International Airport around nine, local time. From the first few encounters with the airport staff, I find that the English they speak is quite cute and funny. They somehow have that Cantonese tone in it haha! For example, I was engaging on some stuff at a counter the next morning, and that lady asked me to see her colleague at another counter.

But she told me something like, *insert Cantonese tone* "You go up this stairs, go straight. I have told my college there." I was like wtf haha! College and colleague are so much different!

Without wasting much time, I collected my bags and headed to Regal Airport Hotel, just a ten-minute walk from the airport. I was supposed to fly back to Tokyo on the same day, but my flight from Auckland to Hong Kong was rescheduled and I only get to catch the next plane back to Tokyo on the next day. In return, I was given a night stay at this superb hotel. I only lost a day but in return, I was rewarded with a stay in a state-of-the-art hotel and a complimentary breakfast as well, for free! Not many people would reject such offer, I think.

I handed the room voucher to the guy at the reception, and that was the part two of the drama of this journey. Unfortunately, I was told that the hotel was fully booked for the night and there's no more empty room available for me. I was asked to talk to the Cathay Pacific customer service counter at the airport to see what they can do for me. Sigh.

I was kinda annoyed because it was quite late and I was tired already by then. It took more than thirty minutes for the guy at the service counter to call and confirm the reservations, which actually already being booked. It was just that the guy at the hotel reception had made a mistake when I first went there. So, I returned to the hotel and settled the check-in procedure.

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I was stunned when I first got into the room.

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I know I am giant, but do I need such a huge bed?

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The toilet looks magnificent too.

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See-through shower room. Nice

I reached the eighth floor and walked towards my room. I wasn't sure whether the room number was 8058 or 8059. It so happened that the door for room 8058 was left opened and I thought, "Wow, this hotel is quite canggih also-arh. Open door for me beforehand haha!" It was a double room and I thought they either made a mistake or ran out of single room already; so they placed me into that nice room.

First thing I did was to try to connect to the Internet, but after several failed attempts, I decided to call for aid. It was then that I noticed that that room number was 8058, as it was written on the phone in the room. I checked my room number again on another envelope and my room was supposed to be 8059 haha! Luckily I haven't unpacked my bags yet, so I quickly moved all my stuff to the room opposite.  I was rushing to the extend that I just got between the two rooms without wearing my shoes haha! Damn crazy!

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This is the room I was supposed to spend my night, not the earlier one.

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Nevertheless, it was very similar to the previous room, just that the bed is slightly smaller.

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Bathroom was exactly the same.

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Except I couldn't see myself anymore when I am showering, 'cos no more see-through shower room lol!

Since there was no Internet service from the room, which was quite surprising, I decided to get to bed early. But before that, I set the alarms at several places - the alarm clock, my mobile phone, and also the morning call, because I wouldn't want to wake up late and miss my flight the next morning. That would make it the part three of the already damn dramatic journey.

I woke up as early as five in the morning, although I need not wake up that early. Perhaps my biological clock hasn't been adjusted to normal state yet. Besides the night stay at the hotel, I was also given a complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel café. After the breakfast, I checked-out, and walked to the airport.

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All set to take my breakfast and head to the airport terminal.

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I was given a breakfast meal coupon as well at Café Aficionado.

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The outdoor pool.

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It was still early in the morning in Hong Kong.

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Café Aficionado; it was filled with pilots and air stewardess when I was there.

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The Japanese food corner.

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Round #1 - Western style breakfast.

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Round #2 - Western and Chinese breakfast.

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Round #3 - Fresh fruits. The staff in that café must be thinking I hadn't eat for weeks lol!

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Taxis in Hong Kong. They looks so much like the ones I used to see in Hong Kong TVB dramas!

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The departure terminal of the airport.

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I can't remember if I have seen a prayer room in Narita International Airport, but they have it in Hong Kong.

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The airport post office, which looked quite canggih.

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The Art Exhibition at Terminal 2.

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What these look to you? I know what you're thinking lol! It's titled "The Shark's Supper" by Eastman Cheng. Wedding Banquet is an indispensable event out of the list of a newly-married couple in Hong Kong. Guests, whether they are important and familiar, sit together intimately at the same table like a family in reunion. However, a common dish served is the shark fin. The more we eat them, the less they have. So next time, try not to order shark fin because the sharks are innocent.

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Food everywhere!

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No idea what's this. Looks like dinosaur skeletons haha!

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7 Eleven in Hong Kong.

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The variety of packed drinks in the convenience store.

The airport is basically nothing interesting, but there is only one thing I love about it - the free wifi service lol! So, I basically spent the remaining time to go online while waiting for my flight. There was also a Art Exhibition at Terminal 2 for passengers who are transiting at the airport. So, I decided to have a look. As a result of taking too much time wandering around the airport, I was one of the last passangers to board the plane.

But it was still no as bad compared to last summer, when I was travelling with my junior. Back then, we just made it at the boarding gate just in the nick of time; while our names were announced! Damn memalukan haha!

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Camwhored with the plane in the background haha!

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Back to Japan again...

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Chose to be among the last ones to board the plane.

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Normal snack served in the plane.

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Something's missing here lol!

At the entrance of the aircraft, one of the air stewardess commented that I was tall, and told me that his husband is as tall as me. During the meal time, I was playing with my MacBook. Coincidentally, there was only one last packet of the pork and rice dish. So, the air stewardess gave it to the lady next to me first. So I waited and waited for my main meal. It took a while but when she returned, she gave me chicken with pasta and cheese, which was served in the business class.

I noticed that lady secretly took a few peeks at my dish. I bet she must be thinking, "Cis, if I know, I would have given him my pork first just now" haha!

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The tray is also relatively bigger than the one served in economy class.

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Chicken with cheese pasta, mushrooms and boiled broccoli, pink soba noodle and a piece of cake.

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Spotted Mount Fuji from the plane, for the first time!

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Not very sure if it's Mount Fuji, but it seems to be the only thing sticking out through the clouds, so I suppose it must be it lol!

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Tokyo Bay in the middle; Chiba prefecture is towards the right.

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First thing seen just before the plane landed - paddy fields.

September 2010 is quite a unique month for me because, I experienced four different seasons within a month in two different hemisphere; winter and spring in the southern hemisphere in New Zealand, summer and autumn in the northern hemisphere in Japan. It's just too cool, isn't it?

I called my Mom on the next day, telling her that I was back to Tokyo already, but guess what she asked me next? Her next question to me was, "So, when are you going back to Nagaoka?" I was like, "Wei, I am no longer living in Nagaoka; I am in Chiba already-ler!!!" haha!

10 comments:

sakura said...

very nice n colourful pics :)
haven't read the whole post yet, but will do so later, hehe..

D-Tourist said...

eh... didn't accidentally left anything this time in NZ? :)

mg said...

i think he did, he left me behind!! lol

calvin said...

@ sakura:
thank you!
yeah, it is a very lengthy entry. take your time ;)

calvin said...

@ d-tourist:
haha! i love your comment to bits!
i know you're trying to suan siao me but no, i didn't leave anything behind this time. i was quite amazed by myself also actually =P

calvin said...

@ mg:
i know. i left you behind three times already >.<
and of course, my kiwi spoons too!

kae vin said...

lol i actually finished reading your post!

hey man i still wanna apologize on the airasia-incident.

Minta Maaf Zahir & Batin~

D-Tourist said...

hahah.... not suan siao lar... kuan sim nia lar :) kekeke!!!

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
i know you would! you are, after all, one of my most loyal reader, aren't you? xD

hehe, don't worry about that. since you have apologised to me, i shall be expecting a packet of duit raya from you =P

calvin said...

@ d-tourist:
haha! no worries, i was just pulling your legs =P