(My Mission To Find A Job In NZ & Get A Work Visa)
I arrived in Wellington ahead of my rucksack! After a very long trip from Amsterdam, knackered tired and barely able to keep my eyes open, I arrived at Wellington airport hoping to pick up my rucksack and just chill at my friend’s house. When I got to the luggage belt I waited and waited but there was no sign of my 16.5 kilo rucksack anywhere. I went to the Airline Service Desk in the baggage hall and told them that my bag was missing.
I left Amsterdam on Wednesday 4th September. Marianne, a very good friend of mine, dropped me off at Schipol airport. I was pretty tired as I hadn’t been sleeping well at all for a few weeks before I left and was hoping to catch up on some sleep on the flights to New Zealand. The first leg of the journey was a 6.5 hour flight from Amsterdam to Dubai, then a change of planes and on to Singapore. The flight from Amsterdam to Dubai was totally full but surprisingly the flight from Dubai to Singapore was more than half empty. I couldn’t believe my luck and so I had the opportunity of stretching out over three seats. So I caught up on three hours sleep.
SINGAPORE-THE MITRAA INN
I had a one night stopover in Singapore and stayed at The Mitraa Inn in Little India. The décor of the hotel was bright and colourful with friendly staff. The room was clean but the bathroom’s standard of cleanliness could have been better. I’ve seen worse though so overall I was pretty happy with the hotel. Breakfast the following morning consisted of bread/toast with nutella or peanut butter, a few pieces of fruit, hard boiled eggs and tea & coffee. Not the best but it was better than nothing. The location of the hotel meant that you were close to good restaurants and cafes and only a short ride on the MRT (tube) to the city centre. The area, Little India, felt pretty safe too for a woman walking around on her own. I slept like a trooper that night and felt pretty good the next day.
I had mentioned to an acquaintance of mine, Aloka, who I’d met in Singapore three years ago, that it might be nice to meet up with her this time too. So we went for lunch and I got to sample some of the local fare: pork dumplings, vegetables, rice, some very nutritious chicken soup and real Chinese jasmine tea with the jasmine flowers and other flavourings floating around in the teacup. It was delicious. There is a certain way of eating the dumplings which I couldn’t get my mouth around. The trick is to lift the dumpling onto the ladle and bite the dumpling at the bottom. The dumpling is filled with soup, so eating it at the bottom prevents the soup from squirting all over the place or over the person opposite you at the table. Needless to say, the soup squirted all over the table and I then gave up and had to chop up the dumpling and eat it that way. It was a learning experience though.
SINGAPORE – GARDENS BY THE BAY
We went to the Gardens By The Bay on the Marina front. It’s a new attraction only open the last two years, I think. I had heard about it and jumped at the chance of going to see it. There is a walkway that takes you across the top of the foyer of the hotel next door to the Gardens and once you get onto the walkway outside the first thing you see is the Supertree Grove, a group of “trees” sixteen metres high. We went to see the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. It’s cheaper for Singapore citizens, permanent residents and people living in Singapore to enter the Gardens. For example for two tourists to see two conservatories it costs 28 SGD. For residents it costs 20 SGD. I guess that’s good for residents living there but for tourists it seems a bit like discrimination. I’ve heard that in India tourist attractions charge along the same lines but it’s the first time I’ve come across that in all my years of travelling.
I liked the Cloud Forest where they have recreated a 35-meter mountain covered with vegetation and plants from tropical highlands up to 2,000 metres above sea level. You can take the lift to the top floor (7th) and walk your way down. The flowers and plants were unusual and it was interesting to see them but I really enjoyed the Flower Dome. It was a more open space and all the flowers they had on show were in full bloom. We started with the cacti and walked our way around the rest of the gardens. The ground floor was ablaze with the colours of the spring/summer flowers that were showing off their bright petals in the sunshine. I really enjoyed the day and the sun had started to shine making it pretty warm. I said goodbye to Aloka and I headed back to the hotel.
I asked the receptionist at the hotel if they could book an Airport Shuttle bus for me for 7.20pm. They told me when I got back to the hotel that they couldn’t pick me up until 8.20pm because they had too many other runs to make. I was hoping that that was going to be enough time to get me to the airport and get checked in on time but the receptionist seemed confident enough that I would get there in time. My other alternative was booking a taxi but it was a Friday evening and I think there probably would have been no hope at this late stage of doing that. I did get to the airport on time and actually there was hardly anyone at the Emirates check-in desk.
GO TO INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS OR NOT?
The ground staff told me that my rucksack would go straight through to Wellington. My flight from Singapore to Melbourne arrived in at 07.50am and I thought originally that I would have at least two hours to catch my connecting flight to Wellington. But I was supposed to be boarding my next flight at 08.20am and when I looked at my watch I was still standing in the airplane waiting for the bus to take us all to the terminal. They also announced on the plane that all connecting passengers were to pick up their luggage, go to customs and check in for their next flight. I was a bit confused. How the hell was I going to do that within 30 minutes?
The stewardesses weren’t any help at all and there was no airline staff around to ask where I should go. I went to customs and after queuing up they told me then that I should have gone to International Transfers. Shit! I only had 15 minutes to get on the flight to Wellington. I didn’t want to fall at the last hurdle especially after it taking me so long to get this far. So I bolted back up the hallway through the crowd of people who had just got off the last flight and just made it to the gate when they were boarding for the flight to Wellington.
I made it to Wellington but my rucksack didn’t. I was told that I had to ring a certain number if I hadn’t heard from them by 10am the following morning. They gave me a form with a file reference on it and the details of my flight and luggage tag so I took that away with me, met my friend and her husband and headed off to Karori, about 15 minutes drive from the airport. The rucksack did actually arrive at the house the next morning. So I made it with a few mishaps along the way but at least I’m here.