Christchurch – The Experience

Later edit: after I wrote the article, a few hours ago, more replicas of the initial earthquake have been reported and right now the situation is much worse than I initially depicted it. There is a huge demand for helping people trapped under collapsed buildings, for bringing in supplies and for starting the recovering process. … Read more Christchurch – The Experience

Learning To Fly. Literally

So here I am, in the middle of Christchurch, New Zealand, in a place called Cathedral Square, trying to find my way into a city I barely came in, a day ago. It was around 11 o’clock in the morning and the square was filled with people visiting a trade fair. Comedians, little things for … Read more Learning To Fly. Literally

The Trip To New Zealand – Waiheke Island

The best part of my trip to Japan was New Zealand. I’m joking of course. After I finished my staying in Tokyo I took the plane for Auckland. I had to stay 2 days in the “City of Sails” for some business related tasks. Part of my relocation process to New Zealand is setting up a company there and this trip was supposed to add the final touches to this project.

The flight from Tokyo to Auckland was on a Air New Zealand cruise and was quite busy. Never had a flight over that part of the Pacific and this one proved to be quite a shaky one. Out of 11 hours of flying I don’t think we had 2 hours without turbulence, if we sum up all the small, 5-7 minutes of smooth going. The good part was the plane had a working entertainment system, and the captain was a rather humorous guy.

I took the opportunity to watch “Bedtime Stories” with Adam Sandler, and two movies with Will Smith, both equally bad. There was “Seven Pounds” – good plot and theme but extended way over my supportability threshold – and “Hanckok”. If it wasn’t for Charlize Theron, I would have switch instantly to “Ikegami” a Japanese movie about an orwellian, highly productive society in which people were programmed to randomly die by the age of 22. I eventually saw “Ikegami” on my flight Auckland – Hong Kong, but that’s another story.

After I landed in Auckland, and passed the security control – for some reason they thought it could be a good idea to search my luggage, because I was staying only 2 days, which was kind of suspect – I finally checked in to my hotel, 3 minutes walk from Auckland Sky Tower. The rest of the day was dedicated to the business part of the trip, and, most of it, to the jetlag, as I surprised myself sleeping without even noticing it.

Waiheke Island

I spent the next day socializing with friends in Auckland. Part of my new world there was described in another post about what you know is what you get. I had a good time seeing them again, connecting, telling stories and catching up. I was also much better from the jetlag which made me an almost bearable person.

The next day I had to check out from the hotel and take the plane on my final destination, Romania, via Hong Kong and Frankfurt. Check out was at 10 AM and my plane was at 11 PM. So I had more than 12 hours to spend in Auckland before I was actually living. And I decided to spend that time on Waiheke Island.

Waiheke Island is located north east from Auckland and is a little bit far away than Rangitoto island, the one you can see from anywhere in Auckland. Waiheke is inhabited – as opposed to Rangitoto, which isn’t – and is also famous for its wines and wine tours. Is also a destination for rock stars like Peter Gabriel and Kylie Minogue who reportedly have bought land or houses there. Haven’t seen a sign with “this is Peter Gabriel house” so I will just take this from granted for now.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is the fact that Waiheke holds one of the most precious spots on Earth for me. I already wrote about that, it’s a small beach called Little Oneroa Beach and it was one of the most enjoyable places during my first trip to New Zealand. Only the thought that I will be able to stay again on that beach made my heart go a little faster. Can’t explain this strange vibration for this place, but that’s it.

So, after I checked out I left my luggage at the hotel to be picked up in the evening and headed for the harbor, down Queen Street. I was there at around 11 AM, just in time to catch a ferry for Waiheke. The city was slowly behind us.

Auckland Harbpr leaved behind form the ferry
Auckland Harbor leaved behind form the ferry

Read moreThe Trip To New Zealand – Waiheke Island

The Trip To New Zealand

Today is the last day of my trip to New Zealand, my plane leaves tomorrow at noon, taking me on another 37 hours travel. It’s been one of the busiest and most exciting weeks in my life so far. There was so much information to ingest and process, and so much interaction to sustain. I can’t really claim that I processed all the information and I’m sure there will be weeks, maybe months in which this processing will continue. I think it’s a good time though to make a first round up of what I touched the most during this visit. It’s not gonna be complete, I’m sure, and it will only be a reflection of this moment, but it will help me organize my thoughts and maybe will help other people interested in living in New Zealand, or just visiting it.

Ambiance

The strongest sensation challenges when I arrived here were related to the senses of smelling, viewing and hearing. I don’t know the exact order, and I guess they must be somehow related, but the first thing you’ll notice is an unparalleled clarity of the air. It’s like the sun light is two times more powerful than anywhere else in the world – and in some respect it is, we’ll talk about later. There is a flow of light and a powerful shading contrast you will see even in the cloudiest day. That’s even more intense near the ocean, at the beaches or in the ferry, and I guess is because of the water reflections. You will have to wear sunglasses. Here more than anywhere else in the world, sunglasses are not a fancy accessory but a must have in order to protect your eyes from the unusual strong sun light. The other thing you must carry with you, especially during the summer, is the sunscreen lotion. It’s common to see people stopping on the street, taking out from their pockets or bags a sunscreen tube and rubbing their face and hands.

And this leads to the smelling area. People smell differently, but usually very nice. There are some exceptions, of course, but the main point is that the clear air makes so easy to pick up smells and most of the times those smells are nice. Everything has a smell here, and if it doesn’t, it will just smell like the ocean. Because the level of humidity is very high, the vegetation tends to be luxurious, and even the backyard grass of every house just grows almost by itself. You have to cut the backyard grass pretty often, and that makes for a steady – not very profitable, but steady – business for some people here. Along with the grass, in every part of the city – Auckland, that is – are spots filled with flowers which spread a delicate fragrance. The humidity in the atmosphere gives also some volume to the odor, and I surprised myself several times stopping in the middle of the road and just smelling the air. Maybe this sounds a little bit too enthusiastic, but believe me, there is a huge difference in this regard between Auckland and Bucharest. And on top of this, I haven’t had any moment at all the feeling of pollution in any way whatsoever, nor visually, auditory or by smell. The continuous wind that blows over the shores of those islands is acting like a non-stop cleaning agent.

And the third sensation challenged was related to the sense of hearing. All the noises have a different, usually higher, volume here. I noticed that in my first night, when the noise of the cars passing near my bead and breakfast accommodation was perceived closer than usual. I thought it was because of the flight and all, 37 hours of continuous traveling might affected my hearing somehow, but the next day we went to a reserve – a park – with a view to the ocean. At more than 500 meters from the beach there was a sailboat, and we clearly heard the noise made by the sail when it was hit by the wind. It was like the boat was 5 meters away from us. Pretty scary in the beginning, but you get used to it in a few days. Anyway, all the noises are more intense than usual, and, in combination with the stronger light and the abundance of the – usually nice – smells, this makes for a very intense sensorial experience.

Read moreThe Trip To New Zealand

iPhone as a travel mate

Initially, this post was written during my first trip to New Zealand, September 2008. But since then I had several other long trips, including Switzerland, Thailand and Japan. Each of these trips added some value to the way I’m using my iPhone, so I felt the need to share what I’ve learned during those trips. You’ll easily find which application was used in which trip, but I guess the most important is to find some help and make your travels more enjoyable.

During my first trip to New Zealand, which is more than 20.000 km away from my country, Romania, I had the chance to use my iPhone as a travel companion. What follows is a compilation of what I tried, learned and used during that trip and the nex ones.

Maps

The first and one of the most important things about iPhone as a travel mate is the Maps application. Although I don’t have permanent internet access (I followed Apple’s advice about turning data roaming off, “to avoid substantial roaming charges…”) but I do have a decent WiFi access at my bed and breakfast facility here in Auckland. Every time I have to go to an area I don’t know yet, I open Maps and try to familiarize myself with the surroundings. I suppose that if I have data access everything would be even simpler, because I can just use the GPS facilities and find my way out in real time. But even without the GPS functionality, the Maps application is extremely useful. In the picture below you’ll see the very beach where I took the sunrise picture in the first post about the trip to New Zealand:

You can even see the tree under which I sat while I took the photo. I admit. sometimes this is spooky… But sometimes is just useful.

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Trip To New Zealand – first impressions

It’s my 3rd day in New Zealand and I finally found a little bit of time to blog about my impressions about this. First of all, this is what I call a “pulse taking” visit, in which I will try to incorporate as much information as I can about this country, while trying to understand at the emotional level how can I congruently vibrate with such an environment. The complete move, including my family and all the stuff I consider necessary to take with me will take place in 2-3 months. So I don’t have any specific goals for this visit, just trying to enjoy as much as I can.

Traveling

I had around 22 hours of flight in order to get here from Bucharest, and after adding the checkin times and other amounts of time spent in airports between flights I come up with a total of 37 hours of traveling time. Quite a lot. I had to go to Vienna first from Bucharest, from there a I took a flight to Bangkok, Thailand, and then from Bangkok I took the last flight for Auckland New Zealand. The last 2 flights were around 9 hours each. The second was with Thai Airlines, my first flight with them, and I had to say that I was pleasantly surprised about the quality of services. From the way the plane was prepared and presented, to the steward’s care for the passengers, everything was nice and easy. I even got a bunch of salads for dinner after I told to a steward that I am trying to keep a raw food diet, and I won’t eat the chicken whatsoever. Very nice 🙂 .

There is another point that is worth mentioning about the travel and that is the very strict control about biosecurity. New Zealand is making a public statement about keeping the Earth green, and especially about preserving New Zealand natural habitat, and they are respecting it. You have to declare all the food you have with you, or any other plants in any form, even woodcrafts. You also have to declare even if you had camping in the last 30 days or if you have hiking boots with you. This is making even more difficult to enter the country, once you are in the airport, not to mention the time spent to get there, of course. If you are messing around with those things they can fine you up to 100.000 New Zealand Dollars. Auch!

Read moreTrip To New Zealand – first impressions

Why Going To New Zealand

Once my business completely sold and after all the other assets will be transformed into money, we will move to a new country, New Zealand. This announce made quite a bit of shock among my current circle of friends, business partners and relatives. For those of you who don’t know, New Zealand is almost exactly under Romania, the Eastern European country in which I was born and lived up to my 37th year. Basically, if you put a long enough sting into an Earth scholar globe, and start from Bucharest, it will go out exactly from the Auckland, New Zealand, the other side of the planet. I guess it’s more than 180 degrees of change, if you know what I mean… So the surprise and shock were understandable to some point.

Most of the people were puzzled by the size of all the involved changes and, most of the time unconsciously, made the assumption that the decision was a sort of escape, a “take the money and run” attitude, in which we try to move from a difficult country as far as possible. Living in Romania is hard these days, it’s an evolving country, and its evolution is accelerated. There is an incredible diversity of attitudes and people, from the consumerism and deception, to spirituality and compassion. The proportion of these ingredients varies drastically though, and this mix makes up for some pretty interesting rollercoaster. I was living here all my life, and for the last 10 years as an entrepreneur. It’s not easy, and I know a lot of people who got really sick and tired of all the moral problems like corruption, deceptive politics, economical instability, and ran as far as possible from them.

Well, is not my case. I know it’s difficult to live in Romania, but I’m not going away because of that. From some very practical approach, living in a new country, whatever country that might be, is far more difficult than living in a country you do know for more than 30 years. The main point is that I’m doing it out of intention, not out of reaction. This is a very important difference and I will try to make it as clear as I can below.

Read moreWhy Going To New Zealand