Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A trip to New Zealand - Part 2.

Also See A trip to New Zealand - Part 1

Airport was little far off from the City Center where our college and our Temporary accommodation is located. We were getting the drop in a Airport Shuttle and ours was the last stop, By the time we were dropped and got to the room, it was almost 4pm, We dropped our bags immediately set out to the University Campus to see if we can meet someone, But we could not anyone since it was a Friday and by 4pm most places are off by then. We did manage to speak to a very sweet lady who gave us some nice advice and tips and the required info for the time being.

We then set out to find a Vodafone store to get ourselves a Sim card, Unlike India, Vodafone guys did not ask for any documents or photo, All they wanted was money and lots of it, Guess how much did it cost us for the sim card???? $30 and it came with a talk time of....... just Zero $. Minimum recharge was for $20 and we had to pay $50 for the sim card and $20 talk time valid for a month, and do you want to know the call rates, $0.89 for local and ISD calls, strange hun? yeah, it is, we were cursing Vodafone so much, but then later we realized, ppl hardly use there cell phones here, they often text (they don’t call it smsing here, rather called texting), for $10 a month, we get 2000 Texts, which is considered as a Awesome offer, When I told the locals here that back home in India we had unlimited smsing (texting) and for $2(just 2 bucks) we could get 600 calls, He was shocked.

The next few days was just roaming around the city center and we did roam quite a lot, The whole of City centre is hilly with ups and downs, this place reminds me of San Diego and Walking was not easy, but in last few days we got used to walking that we don’t mind it any more, But first day, we almost thought of investing in a car, only to realize later that owning a car was costly mainly for parking as it costs easily $10 a day. But Good thing is we are walking quite a lot and kind of enjoying also :)

We met couple of Indians (seniors) and got some inputs on courses to choose, Job market etc. We also checked out some India eat-outs and also Indian grocery store, where all the Indian stuff is available. I have been spending quite a lot for food here, almost 90% of the places I have been, I have been ordering something that is not there on the Menu and it was specially made for me, for Example, We went to a Mexican eat out and there was some plain rice with Chicken Combo, But they also had Burritos(In Indian terms, Chapathi Rolls), They had Black Beans Burritos and Guess what I asked him, I asked for a Plain rice with Black bean, though he said that is not there on the menu, he was more than happy to serve me my combo :). Seriously speaking, the people are real nice here and surprised to see the same.

We went apartment hunting from the day we arrived till now; we are going to every apartment around this area. This may sound weird, that we went to each apartment and asking if there are any vacancies, something that I am an expert in, because this is what I used to do in India. Strangely this is how people here find an apartment. There are real estate agents here as well, but they charge just like in India, very costly and they don’t deserve it. In India they at least take you door to door, here they just sit in office and tell you where to go. The charges here are 1 weeks rent + $80 + tax. Man, things are real costly here and 90% of the apartments are sold thru agents here

But fortunately, we found an apartment in which there was no letting in fee (They call it letting in fee here for the non-refundable stuff that we pay the agent). Though the weekly rent is high, we are saving a $500 on letting in fee for this apartment, and the apartment in two blocks and 2 min walk away from the University. So it is almost like we are staying within the Uni Campus. Will upload the pics of the apartment and University shortly. By the way, the apartment is a Studio flat with Kitchen cum Living, a balcony and a small bedroom with attached bath.

We still have not got our Student ID cards, once we get it, we will get lot of discounts, Like 40% off for the Public transport buses, and otherwise they are very costly, with a minimum fare of $1.5. I saw some Indian Police here and also saw an Indian Police in a Hot Pursuit, that was pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A trip to New Zealand - Part 1

It was around 8:50pm when we left my home, on reaching the airport, it was all about weighing your luggage and taking out stuff so that it did not cross the weight limitations, I un-fortunately had to remove all my Concert DVD's :(. I even had to wear the blazer to reduce weight, It was now time to say a small good bye to all and went in to the check in counter, fortunately and un-fortunately the weighing machine was not correct and he just let all my bags in, :( should have taken my DVD's.

I got the boarding pass and then headed to immigration, only to realize that I had misplaced my Passport and the boarding pass too, after some frantic phone calls and searches it was found in Friend's bag, which was traveling with me too. Strange enough on how it reached his bag. All this took a little time and finished the immigration procedure and the security just in time to board the flight. The flight took off at the right time and in three hours; it landed all safe at the Bangkok Airport. We had a 14 hr Transit at Bangkok, so couple of us, took the Visa on Arrival and went for a 5 hour tour to Bangkok, by now we already the feel of being a student, thinking 10 times before we took the money out to spend on anything, including food and water.

The Bangkok trip was nice but very hot and humid; we went to couple of Buddha temples and back to airport in time for the transit flight to Auckland. The Thai people were nice, very helpful, and very patient. The traffic situation in Bangkok is horrible than in Bangalore, in the 5 hrs we were out in Bangkok, we were in traffic for 3 hrs and we hardly traveled 50 km. But it was fun, the guide told us some interesting facts about Thai people worshipping Buddha and also link with Lord Shiva, that was little surprising for me, I even saw the Shiva Linga in couple of places.

We were early to the airport for the next flight, so we waited at the waiting hall that had recliners, the moment I sat on them I went off to sleep for about 2 hrs I think. It was very relaxing.

We boarded the flight and it was a B777 flight with individual entertainment system that was pretty cool. Then came the dinner time and there began my hunt for veg food, The flight attendant told me they had no veg food, but when I told him I don’t eat meat, he somehow managed to get me some fruit salad and curds and believe it or not, two Aloo Paratha. I was so happy to see that, and thank the flight attendant for being very sweet. :)

Landed at the airport and customs clearance was all fine, we had a warm welcome from the university people, and the people were sweet and helpful, they arranged for our airport transfer to temp accommodation. They even gave us couple of chocolates and a Tetra pack Juice.............

More to come…………