You know you are back in New Zealand when……….

I have been back in New Zealand for a few days now. It was a bit of a struggle with jet lag, but all good now

After arriving in Auckland, from Vancouver, I managed to get an immediate flight to Christchurch, instead of having to wait for 6 hours for my booked flight. The lady at the luggage drop-off counter was wonderful and made a huge effort to change my flight. Without asking me for a cent, I might say

Of course this meant I was arriving in Christchurch just after 8am, instead of 1pm as planned. We live nearly 3 jours from Christchurch, which meant I landed in Christchurch before my husband arrived there. But he made good time after rushing out of the house for a much earlier drive than expected and I didn’t have to wait too long

We popped my bags in the car, he took the trolley back and off we went – to a cafe for breakfast with my eldest son who lives in Christchurch. Again I had a lovely time with another child – it felt like a bonus seeing all three in one week

My hands felt dirty and I went to get a wet wipe in my handbag. DISASTER!!!!!!!! My handbag was nowhere to be seen. We searched the car, the restaurant, everywhere. NOTHING! I went in panic mode as not only my passport and wallet and bank cards and iPad were in the bag…….but also just over $7000 cash! My son gave it to me to pay his student loan. When I say I panicked, I mean I REALLY PANICKED!!!!!! I knew I still had my handbag at the airport as I put my passport back into it after arriving in Christchurch, when I looked for some NZ change to buy a coffee

We rushed back to the airport. I jumped out before my husband stopped the car properly. We quickly searched the car again and I made my way the the security man at the pick up/drop off area. Told him I think I left my bag in the trolley. He smiled and asked my name, when he asked my name I juts relaxed and KNEW they found my bag. He said he saw the trolley with the handbag in the foyer. No, we didn’t put the trolley in the foyer. Some very honest person saw the bag and trolley and pushed it to the foyer, without touching my bag. Of course, because of the strict security and the fact that an unattended bag could be a risk, the bomb squad was called out. They cleared the bag, opened the bag and found my passport. The bag was then taken to the security offices where I collected it about 4 hours later – not a single thing was missing, not even a single dollar.

I am thankful and grateful to live in this country, where people still respect the property of others, where people are honest and wonderful. I am grateful things worked out this way, that my holiday ended on a high note, instead of a disaster. New Zealand is simply the best!!!!!

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What a holiday!

I am back home again after millions of plane rides and taxis. What a holiday! It was ‘all rush’ from the moment I met my son at Hong Kong airport, until I set foot in Canada. I had a wonderful, peaceful time with my daughter, her partner and 3 fur babies. We slept in, ate chocolate, binge-watched Downton Abbey. I sorted her sewing machine out for her, made them aprons and cushions We went axe-throwing – true, we did! And it was wonderful πŸ™‚ We went luge riding. Visited an amazing old-fashioned candy shop. We visited the huge mall in Edmonton, had beaver tails in Banff. I even sat in the sleigh used in the Cool Runnings movie (that was one of my favourite movies!)

I had a wonderful and relaxing time and loved every moment I was given with my daughter

After just over 3 weeks with her it was time to catch a plane again. This time to Vancouver. I booked the flight to Vancouver so that I could meet my son there, as he was scheduled to fly to Vancouver and had a 52-hour layover

Yes, my plane was delayed. The delayed more. And more. Eventually, about 6 hours later, we boarded the plane and even started moving. We nearly made it to take off. Then the flight was cancelled due to a mechanical fault and we made our way back to the terminal. Yes, it happened to me……..again!!!!! Luckily, this time, they said another plane was scheduled to leave and had enough seats left for all of us. This time we made it. We even landed in the correct city!

And immediately it was all-go again. We walked, ate, walked, explored…….we bought tickets for Flyover Canada and it was excellent. We went to the market. Took a ferry ride. The next day we rented bikes and cycled through Stanley Park. Afterwards we sat at a restaurant and talked non-stop for several hours, as if we haven’t seen each other in months πŸ™‚

After six weeks, visiting Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New York, Canada I caught the last taxi for this trip and made the flight to New Zealand. I had fun, I loved the time I could spend with my children. I missed my cats and home, and it is great to be home again

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The flight from hell

After a lovely time travelling with my youngest son it was time to say goodbye and head off to Canada to visit my daughter. Because my flights are almost all the time booked on very short notice I have to fly funny routes to destinations. This was not an exception. The best flight for me was NY (La Guardia airport) to Chicago to Calgary with United Airways

First of all the taxi driver dropped me off at the wrong terminal and those of you who are familiar with La Guardia – not a good start at all!!!!! Luckily I gave up trying to find my own way and stopped to ask what I should do. I was quickly pointed in the right direction to catch the bus between terminals. Again confusion as I didn’t know which bus. Ended up asking the bus driver on the first bus which stopped in front of me and she pointed to the purple bus! Then, as I have never been to this airport in my whole life, I didn’t know where to get off and asked the person sitting closest to me for advice. Again, without hesitation I was given the correct info. Every single person I stopped at the airport and on the bus was friendly, helpful and made me feel good. Thank you for everyone at La Guardia on that day!!!!

Checking in was, for a moment, very confusing. There were people behind counters but I was still pointed to the self-checking in kiosks. And I still had to pay for my luggage as this was not included in the ticket. After a big struggle to get myself checked in a friendly airport employee saw me struggling and came to my rescue – he took it out of my hands and the next moment I had my boarding passes to Chicago and Calgary in my hands and my luggage dropped off at the right place

Straight through security as I wanted to do it asap, as I heard it could be a slow process. Yes, it was and the X-ray machine decided to beep, which apparently meant I was randomly selected for further ‘search’. I smiled and asked what I did wrong, because I was sure I had nothing in my pockets and also not wearing my knee brace (which caused problems at another airport security as it set the alarm off and I had to take it off the be tested for drugs and put through the X-ray again). I think because I reacted friendly after being selected, the lady who took me aside relaxed and explained to me that it was just a random selection. She quickly scanned me for drugs, and a few other things and then waved me off with a smile

I was so early I had time for breakfast, thank goodness, and then made my way to the boarding gate. With all the renovations and so many different planes departing from this cluster of gates it felt to me very chaotic and like a production line. Made it onto the plane and off we went. And then stopped. And stopped. And stopped. No planes were allowed to take off as there was a really bad storm to the West, heading in the direction of NY. We were told we were to wait it out until being cleared to take off.

Long story short, three hours later, we were back at the boarding gate and allowed to leave the plane. By then I already knew I was going to miss my Chicago/Calgary flight. I went to the service desk where the ground staff were doing a brilliant job. People yelling were escorted in another directions and the rest of us lined up to try and reorganise flights. As I made it to the front of the line they announced that our flight to Chicago are boarding again. The lady at the service desk quickly rebooked my flight to Calgary for the next morning. I ran (running with a wonky knee? I am sure it was a sight!), boarded the plane, doors closed. The next moment it was pouring down and suddenly there was lightning and thunder around us. The crew on the ground was withdrawn and we were stuck, inside the plane, once again.

We sat in that plane again for another three hours, without moving

Eventually the storm calmed down and we were on our way. At 2am the next morning I basically stumbled out of the plane, totally exhausted, to collect my luggage and go to the hotel my son managed to book for me in Chicago.

My luggage wasn’t there. I found a United Air employee and said my luggage didn’t arrive. He explained that, as I was catching a flight to Calgary, my luggage will be kept in the freight area and put on my flight to Calgary the next morning. Luckily I had clean underwear in my hand bag, as well as the few pills I take. But no other clean clothes or toiletries

Taxi dropped me off at the hotel, I checked in, asked for a toothbrush. They said to go to my room and call for a toothbrush and toothpaste and someone will bring it to my room. I was so tired I couldn’t work out how to make the call. I was so tired that I simply didn’t put my shoes back on but walked with socks down to reception to ask for the toothbrush

I showered, fell in the bed and couldn’t sleep. I was too tired. If we didn’t have all these problems I would have been arriving in Calgary 3 hours earlier.

Luckily I felt rested the next morning, there were no storms and no maintenance problems and I made it to Calgary by the next afternoon

What an experience, and I hope never to be repeated

New York

After returning to Hong Kong, from South Korea, we couldn’t go anywhere as my son was on standby and could be called in at any time when another pilot calls in sick. The plan was that if he was called to fly to some exciting city I’ll go with him, otherwise just wait in HK for him to return. And what happens? He receives the call – off to New York the next day! I packed all my stuff as it mad sense to fly to Canada when he flies back to Hong Kong

What a time we had. I was picked up by a lovely taxi driver who, after he realised I am from NZ, decided to show me around before dropping me off at the hotel. He took me through Times Square, showed me lots of exciting places. And then I made a huge mistake, something I still regret! I didn’t give him a tip 😦 He was really wonderful and friendly and nice and deserved a huge tip. But, coming from a country where tipping is actually a big no-no, I am not used to tipping and totally forgot. I was planning to tip as I read this is how it is done. But I forgot

We stayed on the Hudson River, actually quite close where that pilot had to land the plane in the water.

We walked and walked and walked. One morning we walked 10000 steps BEFORE breakfast as my son hear about a specific breakfast place and that was where we were going. It was a terrible walk, but beautiful gardens and buildings, and the breakfast was good. So I suppose it was actually worth it. But from then on I always made sure I had cash for taxis (+tips) in my pocket. A wonky knee is really not what you want to use on walks like that

We had a lovely time in NY, I saw heaps, we had good food – I even made sure to buy a hot dog from a street cart – something I always wanted to do

My son returned to Hong Kong with the rest of his crew and I stayed another night, before catching a flight to Calgary the meet with my daughter. This became the flight from hell 😦

Next stop? South Korea!

After a lovely time in Japan we decided to take off for South Korea, as we haven’t been there before. We nearly weren’t allowed to go as we kind of forgot to buy return tickets. We explained that we didn’t really have a plan of action and didn’t know how long we were going to stay they allowed us to check in for Busan, South Korea.

What a great country South Korea is. And not a lot of tourists yet. We ate and walked! We experienced the best Korean barbecues. But the highlight for me was the beautiful temple we visited on the last day

Kyoto and Osaka

Our next city in Japan was Kyoto. Again we stayed in the capsule hotel – in luxury this time as my son booked us the upgraded rooms with projectors. You can watch Β movies with it projected against the closed door/screen. After checking in the projectors were immediately tested

In Kyoto I tried eel for the first time. It was actually delicious. We also tried some herb which immediately made my tongue numb. Maybe I added too much

We visited a temple where you walk through an entry way of orange painted bamboo. It was beautiful

We also visited the bamboo forrest. I was exhausted by then as it was very, very hot in Japan. But my son refused a rickshaw yride, which I thought would be great

I do not understand all the rituals, but while waiting for my on a couple came to the water ‘fountain’. Both were dressed in kimonos and went through several steps as they went through a ritual. The female saw me taking photos and gave me the evil eye, which I pretended not to understand. Yes, it was rude

After 2 nights in Kyoto we made our way to Osaka. Again we booked ‘rooms’ in a capsule hotel. This time our capsules were on different floors. I was in the female area and my son in the male area. He also upgraded my room to ‘business class’, which basically meant I had some floorspace as well as a bed πŸ™‚ But wow, the beds were so firm, I was quite surprised I was able to sleep as I normally love a soft bed. Again it was spotless and sparkling clean. I totally recommend this kind of accommodation to tourists. Our hotel was close to the motorway which was built to go through a building. Apparently the occupants of the offices refused to sell the building for the motorway to be built and they decided to go through the building

Our main aim for Osaka was Universal Studios as we love rollercoasters. But on the first day we went exploring and what would I find?????? The fabric store I read about before leaving New Zealand. Of course I ventured in and loved every moment. The shop assistants wander around and if you find fabric you like the cut off two little samples, fill in a little order form and give you one copy. The other copy is send through a vacuum system to the cutting room. This process is repeated until you are done shopping and ready to pay. You give the order forms to the lady at checkout and she gathers all the fabric, already cut and waiting for you and pop it in the bag. You pay and off you go. I loved this way of shopping

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The next day it was Universal Studios time. We went very early but that didn’t really help as there were very long queues already. We had to wait quite a long time for each ride…….but that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it. Roller coasters are the best!!!! We slowly made our way to the Harry Potter area, the ride we really wanted to do. Surprise, surprise!!!!! The waiting time in the queue was 240 minutes. Yes! 4 hours!!!!! And what did we do? We joined the queue. I was there for this ride and I wasn’t prepared to walk away. Luckily we only waited 2 hours (I still can’t believe I waited for 2 hours for a roller coaster ride!!!!!) and then it was our turn. It was worth every minute!!!!!! We both absolutely enjoyed it

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I was exhausted at the end of it and we slowly made our way back to the hotel. Osaka gave us some good food, including the famous Wagyu beef. And a fair share of temples and beautiful scenery

The last evening we walked around a bit, tried food at different cafes and restaurants. Had a river cruise and finished off at a ‘shooting bar’. Yes, you drink and shoot at targets. After choosing our weapons of choice we went for it. I was so bad and only managed to hit the target twice. But we had fun

I loved Japan and won’t mind going back another time

Travelling – Hong Kong, Tokyo

Over a week ago we made the trip from home to Christchurch, where I caught a plane and travelled to Sydney.

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I was going to spend a night in Sydney before flying to Hong Kong but decided to try to get onto the plane which was leaving for HK a few hours after arriving in Sydney – as I was on stand by for that one too. It took a lot of rushing but I made it just on time. Business Class was full, but luckily the Cathay Pacific staff found me a seat in Premium Economy, which meant a bit more room for the overnight flight

My son just landed in HK from New York, as I arrived and waited for me in the baggage collection area. We basically just arrived when he took me to the Fabric Market in Kowloon. I found some lovely fabric to use for bags at about $2 per meter!!!!! I wanted to buy some lace at another stall but the shopkeeper did not like my way of shopping and told me not to waste her time, so I left without buying it. I also found my favourite fruit at the market – lychees

We were barely back at his home when we decided to go to Japan for a few days. The flight left at midnight, so off we went. We flew to Tokyo. He booked accommodation for us in the so-called ‘capsule hotels’. Super comfy beds, but the rooms are basically the size of a double bed. But I have to say – cheap but sparkling clean! We had to wait to be checked in so left our bags at the hotel and went exploring

I also had my first experience ordering food from a menu where I didn’t understand a single word and basically ordered by looking at pictures. Walking back to the hotel I couldn’t believe my eyes …………a fabric store across the street from the hotel. After checking in I immediately went to explore. Found beautiful lace with a cat motif and yes, of course I bought some!

By the time we finally checked in I was exhausted as it was Sunday and I haven’t seen a bed since Friday morning. I slept so well that night. The next day we booked a MariKart trip where you drive through the streets of Tokyo in go carts. I loved it, it was such a great experience!

We also had more amazing food. I bought more fabric πŸ˜„ We also visited an owl cafe and a hedgehog cafe. My son worked out the train system and made sure we got to the right places. That evening we ate at the smallest of small restaurants – a very interesting menu indeed. At another restaurant we had sushi – a first for me

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What a country to visit, what a great city. Tokyo was amazing!!!!!!!! Yes, it was HOT, but I loved it there

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