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The Other Down Under

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

I am currently in Auckland, New Zealand right now. Just for anyone that is keeping track, New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of Chicago, just skimming the international date line. I arrived last night about 6pm on Air New Zealand, which was also a 747-400, the same plane I flew to Sydney with. This was a whole different experience however, as it was a new plane with your own TV screen, choices of movies which you could pause if you had to get up, episodes of Globe Trekker, games etc. I met a nice old couple from Napier, New Zealand that sat next to me, who promptly invited me to stay at their house if I make it down there. It wasn’t on my radar, but I’m considering it now. I don’t know if they were serious or not, but she wrote down her number for me. They were sweet, visiting their oldest son who now lives in Melbourne. On the plane I watched the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, slightly disappointed in that one. The three hour flight flew by, but by the time we landed, got our luggage, went through their very strict customs declaration, almost an hour had gone by. Just like Australia, New Zealand is very conscious of what comes into their country, and they had little sniffer dogs all over the baggage claim. One guy got busted for a forgotten apple, and had to pay a NZ$200 fine. They inspected my hiking boots to make sure there was no soil clinging to them, which quite sadly there wasn’t.

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