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Auckland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
I decided to leave the airport and spend the day in Hong Kong.. weird place, but I had an 8 hour layover and I like weird. I tried walking up to the highest point on the island, but after an hour the way got too windy (wine-dee) and steep, and eventually I got lost, so I made the shameful walk back down and took the tram up like a normal person. When it got dark (and I hate myself for doing it) I ate dinner at the McDonalds.. just to see what it was like. And it was a far cry from Japan - no mayo!! It was the first time I had tasted thousand island on a burger since I went home in the summer.
On my way back, I was walking along the promeanade that overpassed the main street, and suddenly there were cops everywhere below, blocking off the street and fucking up traffic. I really didn't think much about it, just made my way back to the airport. After I checked in, as I was walking to the gate, I saw three hong kong airport police carrying ak-47s (those naaasty looking machine guns) huddled around the TV at one of the electronic duty free shops. And more so because my morbid curiousity overtook me and I wanted to sneak a closer peak at their guns (they were definitely real) I went over to check out what was playing on the TV.. It was CNN showing "breaking news" from Hong Kong, where a Korean nationalist protest had gotten out of hand and turned into a riot that police were having difficulty trying to contain. Had I barely just missed a riot on my way back to the airport? Crazy...
Anyhow, that 6 hour flight to New Zealand was really a 10 hour flight. No worries though, air travel gets less paranoid the more you do it. I slept pretty soundly. I sat next to a Korean high school girl visiting some family she had here. She refused both the dinner and the breakfast, which was a little strange, but her English was fairly decent. Incidentally, as we were going through customs, she got busted for bringing dried fish into the country, and that was the last I saw of her.
So as I'm walking through the airport figuring out the easiest way into the city, I see an atm, so of course I might as well hit it up.. stick my card in.. hover over the buttons for a second or two before I realize.. I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT MY PIN NUMBER IS. First: waves of irrational panic, followed by a calm mature wave of rational panic as the implacations of this blunder sink in. Fortunately I had exchanged what little I had left of my Japanese money into NZ dollars already, so I had something to work with for the time being. And in the meantime, I would be able to use my card for credit transactions, so I knew this wasn't the end of the world.. but how could I be so...
So the jolly in my trip completely vanished, I shelled out some of the precious cash I had for a bus ride into Auckland, booked into a cheap hostel.. (BASE backpackers - I highly recommend them, especially to women) and went to work figuring out what I was gonna do on my own for 3 weeks in NZ with hardly any cash in my pocket and no way of getting more. I called mom (god bless moms) and she had a pin number written down and gave it to me (but I was pretty sure that the number had been changed since then). I couldn't really think, so I took a walk around the city.. which helped a little. I got kicked out of a casino by a woman Maori security guard for wearing flip-flops, and I told her I was only looking. She replied "Even better reason for you to go." Hah! how can you argue with that? I tried using my atm card again, but naturally the pin didn't work. I went back to the hostel, finally broke down and talked to the travel agent.
Behind the counter was this pretty l
So with a little peice of mind, but still a little uneasy, I forked out a few more precious dollars for a much-needed beer and sat up on the roof of the hostel. I chatted with a japanese couple who were shocked that I could speak Japanese.. and with a couple of other randoms, and started feeling a little better as I realized that I was on my own in New Zealand talking to travelers from all around the world. I went back to my dorm feeling pretty uplifted, met two guys from holland who were sharing my room, and they turned out to be pretty cool, especially one who was a bit of a deep thinker.. nothing like a good psycho-philosophical conversation to pass the time and make you hungry. I went out one more time to get some food and hostel-mingle for a bit longer until I realized that if I kept going I was going to start drinking - and I had to be up early in the morning to catch the bus, not to mention I couldn't really afford to go nuts in the bar (bummer, I know).
I returned to my room, just as the two dutch dudes were calling it a night. But we got one more dormer just then, a guy from England who had just flown in from Fiji.. He was cool until he found out I was American and stopped talking to me. Thanks Bush.
I woke up in the morning feeling refreshed. The two dutch guys had already left and the Englishman was snoring. I packed my stuff as loudly as I could and walked outside to start my tour.
The company was called the Kiwi Express, or more fondly refered to by those in the know as... the Fuck Bus.