Monday, September 28

kia ora

Which means “hello” in Maori. Ready for a quick (maybe not so quick) update?

Last Thursday I took the l o n g e s t plane ride of my life to Wellington, New Zealand. When I checked in at the airport, the Delta employee asked if I had my Australian visa. Um, what? Oh yeah, evidently, to get into Australia you need a visa – who knew? OK, when I looked at my printed itinerary from Delta, there was – in small lettering – a statement that passport and/or visa requirements may have changed for this itinerary, but if a visa is required to get into Australia, it really should have been more specific, shouldn’t it? Luckily, it could be done all online, and the visa is electronic, not paper, so the nice Delta personnel helped me take care of it. Good thing I was early. Funny part of the story – since I was just connecting in Sydney (on this end of my trip), I didn’t need the visa. But since I’ll be staying in Sydney for a weekend at the end of my trip, I guess it’s better that I have it now, right?

Here’s a little traveling tip. Don’t let the ticket agents stick your baggage claim receipt on the back of your boarding pass. OK, so I’ve never had a problem with this before, but this time I did. The Delta folks checked my bag all the way to Wellington, which was nice because I changed airlines in Sydney. So, nothing to worry about, right? They stuck my receipt on the back of my LAX to Sydney boarding pass. However, in Los Angeles, for some reason they had to issue me a new boarding pass (no, didn’t get upgraded, darn it). I really didn’t even think anything about it at the time. However, once in Sydney, when I checked in with Quantas, they asked to see my luggage receipt. But my bags were checked all the way to Wellington already? Well, that didn’t matter, Quantas still needed to find my luggage (using the code on my receipt) in order to get it on my flight to Wellington. So, I pulled out my Sydney boarding pass… and then realized what had actually happened in L.A. Double drat. The Quantas agent was quite helpful, though. She had me wait off to the side while she called someone to find my bag (in ALL the luggage that came from Los Angeles). The stars were aligned because it was found rather quickly, and it actually arrived in Wellington.

Now, for the flight itself. Fifteen hours in an airplane is a LONG, LONG time. I had an aisle seat so that it would be easy for me to get up and walk around. I had my own personal movie/TV screen, which was veddy nice, so I could watch whatever I wanted (well, from the available options). Since the flight left Los Angeles at 10:30 p.m., I was hoping to fall asleep – it kind of worked. I’d start a movie or show on my personal screen, and then fall asleep while watching it. Wake up after it was over and start another one. I watched Ghost three times (well, I actually watched it all the way through only once, but had it playing three times). I do love that Patrick Swayze. I watched a couple of other movies, several episodes of different TV shows, and read a book. Before I knew it, we were landing in Sydney (not really before I knew it, it still felt like a LONG time).

So, I left SLC Thursday evening and arrived in Wellington on Saturday afternoon (you have to take the 18-hour time difference into consideration). I walked around Wellington a little bit on Saturday, but I was quite exhausted. My internet quit working on Sunday, so I had difficulty finding a church to attend, but, stars aligned again and I was finally able to get a meetinghouse address to attend 11:00 a.m. church (after I realized that New Zealand experienced a time change Sunday morning – there’s now a 19-hour time difference), even though I had been awake and ready for a 9:00 a.m. meeting. The members of the Wellington ward were extremely nice. Several people stopped to talk to me to find out if I was new or visiting. There was one sister in particular who sat behind me who was just so nice, I was quite touched.

Not much touristing during the week… it’s too bad work gets in the way of all my fun. I will have the weekends, though, so I will take some pictures, but I may not be able to post them because I didn’t bring the cable to get the pictures off my camera. Ah, the humanity – I knew I’d forget something.

haere ra (good-bye)