Today is the start of my journey to New Zealand! Im not taking the most direct route. Im flying with United Airlines: Toronto to Chicago: Chicago to San Francisco: San Francisco to Sydney, Australia: then Air New Zealand from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand. Yes, it seems like a ride; lots of transfers and a couple of hours in each place waiting to board, but I got a great deal on the flight. Normally I would try and fly, Toronto – Vancouver – Auckland, but for $170 I got a ticket to Sydney, Australia. One cannot turn that down, even though it is a bit of a hell ride. I picked up a cheap flight from Sydney to Auckland for about $200. In total, my flight + bike to Auckland, New Zealand cost me $570. Not too bad!
The toughest part about leaving was just saying my goodbyes to my family. I know that I will be back in a year, but it was still hard to say goodbye. Im really excited to start this adventure, but I know I will miss my family a lot. Guess that is part of the working abroad game.
Toronto to Chicago: flight was really quick. Wish the rest of the journey would go by that fast. I read from back to front a mountain bike magazine, Dirt and left it on the plane. No point in lugging around the extra weight. I had this Asian guy sitting next to me and for the entire flight he dabbed his face with what seemed like a rolled up tissue with a moist end. He would dab his nose, upper lip, forehead, chin, pretty much anywhere on his face. Not too sure if it was a way to combat flight anxiety… but weird! If you know what the heck he was doing, let me know.
Ive got about an hour in the Chicago to kill before boarding for my flight to San Francisco, so walked around the terminal Im in. I’ve never seen so many fast food joints in an airport. It’s pretty obvious – Americans like to eat fast food – big people – with big appetites. Everything is bigger in the USA and they wonder why they have an obesity epidemic.
The flight from Chicago to San Francisco was pretty good. The movie was The Blind Side, which put me straight to sleep. Thank you Sandra Bullock! After I woke up for my wee 2.5 hr nap they were showing – Master Chefs. Ive never seen this show, but it does make me wonder who selects the programming for UA? Why on earth would you put a food show on a airplane where ; a) food shows make drool/hungry b) when there is food on a airplane it ‘s terrible c) purchasing food on a plane is expensive and never worth the money. Come on United!
It’s 1:25 am back home, but 10:25 pm in San Francisco… huh? Yah I still need to get my head wrapped around theses time zones. So far ive spent a total of 6.5 hrs in the air, now for the long part; San Francisco to Sydney.
Great news, the flight to Australia wasn’t fully booked so I was able to take three seats – which makes a 14 hour flight a little more comfortable. I purchased one of those neck pillows at the airport and would totally recommend doing so for long flights. Yes, United Airlines does provide you with pillows, but they suck! Even if do use all three, they’re still not too comfy. Ive been able to pass the time by reading my book – The Tipping Point, watching movies/television – Fantastic Mr Fox and The Office, listening to my Ipod (I would not travel without an ipod or some sort of mp3 player) and sleeping. I would also recommend picking up a travel pack moist towellettes/baby wipes for your travels. I did before I left Canada and they are great! I know it isn’t a shower, but it is still somewhat refreshing. First class/business class passengers get hot towels… me in cattle class get moist towellettes. Yup, Im a backpacker ahahaha. So far ive spent roughly 20.5 hrs in the air – that is most time ive spent on a plane!
Ive arrived in Sydney and I have to wait around until 12:30 (it’s 8:30am here in Sydney) to check my luggage for the last stint of my journey to New Zealand. The flight from San Francisco to Australia was great! We arrived about a ½ hr early and the flight wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. When I picked up my luggage, my backpack was searched as my travel locks were cut off. WTF? The baggage handlers did end up breaking off the middle strap on my bike box. I know I shouldn’t be surprised that my luggage was broken upon arrival, but I really did think the bike box would be able to take the abuse. Thankfully I think the bike is fine – really haven’t had time to go over it. Hopefully I will not find something wrong with it when I build it back up this week. When I went through customs they wanted to go through the bike box to make sure I wasn’t brining any soil in on my tires or anything else on my bike. I never really thought of that, but luckily I did clean the bike before I left.
I did try to change my flight to New Zealand to an earlier departure, but it was going to cost me an additional $300. Im not going to spend an additional $300 to arrive a couple hours early, so I will have to hang around the Sydney airport for the day. I think I will just write some stuff for blog as I wait. (When you read this I’ll have already arrived in Auckland, as there is no internet to post here – well you can pay for it, but I’m saving my $$ for better things i.e. beers!)
So ive got about a week to get myself sorted and situated and then I start my new job. Im pretty stoked to have a job lined up. I really didn’t expect to have employment before I arrived in New Zealand, but it is a huge bonus. Im still going to attend the orientation at the IEP office, as Im sure it will help me out tremendously. They are going to be able to help me get a bank account, obtain a tax file number and give me lots of info to help me get settled in New Zealand. If my job doesn’t work out they have postings for employment, plus they are there to give you a hand if you need it. I like the idea of having support system in place, just in case you need it. I could have gotten the work visa through the New Zealand government, but Im sure I would spend more money getting myself sorted when I first arrive in New Zealand then the cost of the registration fee for the SWAP New Zealand program. The registration fee covers the work visa, pre departure travel information, arrival accommodation in Auckland, and an orientation where they will go over everything, social events in N.Z., job and accommodation listings and more! Why would you ever go alone when for a couple extra $$ you get all the work done for you, plus a support system abroad!