On My Way to New Zealand

It is the 26th November 2015 and I am preparing for my flight to London, where I will start from the following day to Shanghai and some hours later to Auckland, New Zealand. I am very excited and I am anxious, that I will forget something important at home – something my son cannot send me by email. I already miss my extra battery, by which I can charge my tablet as well as my mp3-player. I still have to make some print outs and will do that at the library in Skarholmen.

I already have checked in the evening before for my flight to London and I will start in good time, so I hopefully do not miss the flight. I also have got an email for the check-in for my flights, which will bring me to Auckland, but I think I will check-in later. Furthermore I will meet a couch surfer in London, who visited me on Malta. We will go to a restaurant together and have a nice evening.

I started at 10am from home, after I had kissed Vincent good-bye and hugged his mother – I did similar with Leon and my son earlier this morning – I went to the library and printed out my translation of my driver’s license and the belonging explanations as well as the records from my bank accounts. I hurried because I was afraid to be too late to the air shuttle bus from Sergels Torg in the city. Btw I bought this day a senior ticket for the underground and had only to pay 20 SEK for the ride. I was in good time for the bus to the airport – I actually caught one before, than planned. Even it was only 20 minutes difference, it added to the time I had on the airport. I dropped my big backpack already at arrival and continued to the scanner. There were no problems at all for me, as I am used to. I only was unhappy for the shortness of space afterwards when one has to dress and to put together laptops and similar devices.

I ate a baguette and drank a juice and went to the right gate. There I was waiting for the boarding for more than two hours. In addition to that became the boarding more than 20 min delayed. We were told the reason for the delay three times, and every time we have got a different answer. First they told us, that one of the crew didn’t feel well, the other time, that the management didn’t plan for enough crew members and the third time, that one of the crew members, coming by car, was delayed. I never expected this of SAS, the Scandinavian flight company – and I was flying with this company before, but never this happened.

We arrived in London in time. The first I did after picking up my backpack and passing the custom, I filled up my Melita (Malta) phone account, though I could get in touch with Marisa, whom I had an appointment with. Fortunately the Heathrow airport has free WiFi and it was working. There was a lady, I could ask questions. She was like a tourist guide, but she had to write down, what she has done. She did neither has an office nor a desk. This woman I also asked for another time, because I arrived at terminal 2 and had to go to terminal 5 to take a bus, which should bring me to the hostel I booked. I remembered another time, when I arrived at Heathrow and had to go further by bus. I didn’t find my way by an hour. Though I was very happy for the information this time, because it was some years ago I have been here and I didn’t remember where to go.

The hostel was only one bus stop away, but actually in the wrong direction. Therefore I had to go back to terminal 5 again for taking the underground to go to the city of London. Marisa and me met at the station Hammersmith and went to a restaurant 10 min away from there. We had a meal and were chatting a lot. Marisa told me about her first longtime travel – it was to South America. We went home around 11pm and I was happy that there still was a bus to my hostel, where I arrived around 0:30am. I updated my blog and soon I felt asleep.

I am always unlucky with hostels with “best saver price”. I will avoid them in the future. I updated by arrival to an en-suite shower, but could not use it. Furthermore was breakfast not included, what means at that hostel, that it was not possible to get one at all.

I had a good sleep because the bed was good as well as the heating was working. I left the hostel with all my backpacks, because I wished to save time. If I had left my luggage there and picked it up later, it would have taken up to two hours. Though I was going by bus to the airport and left my luggage there. I have eaten breakfast in a cafe in this area directly after I left my luggage. Then I had to go by the tube and by bus to the working place of Marisa (the Roehampton University), where we appointed to meet for dinner.

I was just in time. London has a big area, therefore I needed around one and a half hour to get from the airport to the university. Marisa showed me arround the area of the university and we also had a meal there. I decided to buy a Moussaka, but was surprised by the lentils in it. Afterwards we went to Richmond Park, not far away from the university. We were lucky, because there was no need to go many kilometres to see the deers. Even the park is nice and big, too. This part of London is so different to the inner city.

On my way back to the airport I left the underground at Hounslow looking for an UK-adapter, because I thought they have the same electrical system in New Zealand as well. I went around in the city for a couple of hours. It became dark and I took the free bus 423 to the airport. Unfortunately there were traffic jams all the way and I was happy to reach the airport in time, where I picked up my backpack and checked in for the flight to Shanghai.

The flight started at 9pm and I was sleeping most of the time. At 6pm Greenwich time we got breakfast, that was really early, but not for local time. I slept a little more afterwards and we arrived in time in Shanghai. There the local time was already around 4pm. I asked for a short time visa, because I had 8 hours between the flights, though 6 hours to spend in the city. The assistant of the immigration service was somewhat surprised that my flight was from London and not from Sweden. I had to explain twice before I have got the stamp and the visa. This was the first one of my collection!

I could not get in touch with the Chinese girl from the Couchsurfing platform, who told me, that she would like to show me around. Therefore I was trying to find the way to the city center by bus or Metro. I was asked by a taxi driver if I will go with him, but he did not know the price. Another taxi driver did see his chance and told me, that he can drive me for 600 Yuan to points of interest and a girl would come with us and show around. All included for 900 Yuan, but then the taxi driver changed his mind and asked for 800 Yuan and all included for 1100 Yuan ( 100 Yuan ~ 15 EUR). I told them, that I am not interested in it anymore. Both were following me, but especially the girl, trying to get the deal, but I declined and looked for the Metro, which I found.

At the Metro station was an assistant, too, but a very unfriendly one. Maybe she only did seem unfriendly by not knowing English well. While I asked for the costs of a ride, she told me “Line 2”. I asked her one more time and have got the same answer. When I asked her for the third time, she pointed to the vending machine. I went there and chose a ticket for the city center, it was for 7 Yuan. I paid and used the next coming Metro. The line told, that it will go to the city center, especially because the airport was the last stop ever for this route. I was happy to get a seat and was checking the names of the stops all the time. We came to a point where most of the people left and many people entered. I thought, it is a point for changes to other routes. It was, of course, but the train I was in returned by some way from this station to the airport. It took long time for me to discover that. I was on my way for three hours and could not try one more time. Anyway next time I will come to Shanghai I know the system.

I looked for a genuine Chinese restaurant at the airport and chose one, where I was ordering a non spicy meal without seafood. I found one and was surprised when I was served a glass of warm water as well. I did not know if it was drinking water or to wash my hands. Later I found out, that you only can get hot or warm water for drinking, even the warm water has been cooked before. The meal was delicious.

I had to wait for the check in for more than an hour and after that two more.  While I checked in, they scanned my little backpack and asked me than, if I have scissors with me. I had one in my first aid kid – a safety one with blunt ends. The officer told me, that it anyway are scissors and scissors are not allowed in the luggage and confiscated them. Me and the other passengers could finally enter the plane after midnight. When I was close to fall asleep, the stewardess switched on the lights, because we were high enough for that. It did take hours for me to fell asleep again, but as soon as I did I awoke by an announcement from the crew. I tried one more time to get some sleep, but it was not possible anymore. Unfortunately the crew did not serve breakfast before very late. Lots of the passengers were asleep for a very long time and the curtains closed as well. All has an end, so this flight. Safely we landed at Auckland airport. It was Sunday, the 29th of November and around 6pm here.

Entering New Zealand takes time. A woman living in the country told me, that New Zealanders are more afraid of foreign insects than terrorists. To get the welcoming stamp and words were fast and easily done. There was neither need for me to show the onward ticket nor that I have enough money for the period of my planned visit. Furthermore I had declared my medicine, of course. When I told the officer, that I have a certificate for it, he only asked, if it is by my doctor. He would not even see it. Afterwards I hade to queue for the declaration of my used outdoor items etc. I have got a notice on my “immigration card” about my used shoes – wearing on my feet and had to continue to another queue, where they were not only checked, but washed by an officer. What a great service!