When I go out to meet the light, the shadow of my body follows me, but the shadow of my spirit precedes me and leads the way to an unknown place
- Kahlil Gibran

Friday, April 3, 2009

Journey to New Zealand

On Wednesday morning I awake at 5am and arrive at the KL Central train station just before 7am to catch a train to the airport. At KL Central, you can check-in for your flight if you are flying on Malaysian Airlines. I do so, and the sweet looking girl informs me with a straight face that I am to pay RM$1500 for the excess baggage weight. This fee for being 15Kg overweight (RM$100 for each kg) is almost what I paid for my 2-way ticket between Australia and Malaysia. I am not happy.

Seen from above Australia is an ocean of rippled red sand interrupted by striations and whirling patterns apparently the mark of ancient waters long receded. As we approach the city of Sydney from the air, I try to asses the character of the place. Typically each port of entry has a signature energy field around it that can be sensed subtly, this one seemed to emit a bouncy sort of lightweight energy, almost playful. I used to visit Australia from time to time as a child with my parents, but it's been almost 20 years since my last trip here. I feel quite out of place, and as we descend into our final approach, I sense trepidation. I do my best to embrace it.

The journey from the airport to the hotel happens to be quite stressless, I easily catch a taxi to the hotel only 4 km away. When I arrive I ask the pleasant middle eastern driver if it is customary to tip, and he replies "yes". I offer him $2 but he politely declines it. Even over the meals I do not observe anyone tipping.

Australians are very polite and smile a lot. Also, from the airport staff I already observe that they seem to have a healthy glow and keep themselves quite trim. Even the hotel food is healthy and tasty though simple suggesting the Australian diet is health conscious. When I am finally in my spartan but impeccably clean room, I dump my cumbersome bags and then I wonder what on earth I am doing here in the South. My friends and family seem very far away now and this place seems rather unfamiliar. My strategy to approach the people as funny sounding Americans still doesn't mask the fact that I am in a foreign land and I will have to make new adjustments to live here, or rather well... New Zealand.

The next morning I catch the hotel shuttle to the airport at 620am. At the airport check-in counter I am told that I need an outbound ticket from New Zealand and redirected to a ticket purchasing counter. After the purchase, I haul all my pieces of luggage back to the check-in counter and this time the woman tells me I do not have a re-entry VISA for Australia from New Zealand, I tell her I have an outbound flight the same day on Malaysia airlines (May 8th) to return to Malaysia. She says that I need to print it out the itinerary and that I can do so downstairs at the bakery. I can't imagine travel much more challenging than this, chagrined I recollect my pieces of luggage and before I make off I implore her to check the VISA again, this time she realizes that she misread the expiry year and she is apologetic. Buoyed by this small break, I now brace myself for the additional baggage fee and I get another break, I am thrilled to learn that I am only charged A$36 for it.

As we fly over New Zealand, I am impressed by how different the terrain here is compared with Australia. Here it is more mountainous and hilly, rolling endlessly. Closing my eyes, I try to sense the energy, it is difficult to put into words, maybe... fresh, clean and embracing.

On the tarmac, the mountains seem to spring from a short distance from the edge of the runway. It reminds me of the airport at Cusco in Peru. I catch a shuttle from the airport that takes me directly to the motel, along the way I am struck by how vivid the colors around me are. My eyes have been starved for this assortment of vibrant shades of blue, green and reds. When I see the giant lake that Queenstown nestles against, the azure blue is dazzling and surreal. I dismount from the shuttle and I see my friends Mervin and Jules waving to me with big excited gestures and smiles. "Fancy meeting you here!"

"From the sea for as far inland as the eye can reach, nothing is to be seen but the summits of these rocky mountains which seem to lay so near one another as not to admit any valleys between them." - James Cook describing New Zealand on his voyage of discovery in 1770


thelongwayroundnz said...

Welcome, enjoy your time in the land at the far end of the world.... :), hope you get to have a good look around New Zealand, .... if i can help drop me a message on twitter.com/thelongwayround

Waving hi :), from Lyall Bay, Wellington :)

Smileygirl said...

Can't wait to read what adventures are around the corner for you. And make sure to post all the pics! Your life is full of one incredible experience after another. I am so happy for you (and I'll admit, a bit envious as well). Would be AMAZING to not only travel but also LIVE in all these places.

aaron said...

YES Laura :) So far adventures have been low key, I'm recuperating from the journey. It's been tough on my back. Lying low for now.

Thelongwayroundnz, thank you. It thrills me to know that someone in NZ (a country of only ~ 4 million) is reading my Blog and I am grateful to your kind gesture. :)