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Trip Start May 18, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Thursday, December 4, 2003

Most of yesterday was spent tidying up and packing, and in time honoured tradition it took a lot longer than anticipated. By the time my friends arrived in the evening to wish me well I had it pretty much sorted though; so I could relax, have a Tim Tam explosion, say my farewells and get a decent nights sleep before my flight.

Lee gave me a lift to the airport this morning and I checked in right on schedule. Everyone who has seen my two small bags commented on how light I was travelling. I am either getting more minimalist or have forgotten an awful lot of things! It was a beautiful sunny day as we took off. I had two seats to myself on this first leg of the flight to Tahiti and got a great view of Auckland as we left New Zealand. I could make out all the landmarks of the city, even Mount Eden road was clearly visible until we entered some clouds at 12000 feet.

Once the seatbelt lights were turned off the flight crew came down each aisle handing out small flowers for everyone to but behind their ears - very Polynesian! The food was not bad on this flight, and the in-flight movies fairly recent (with both French and English soundtracks).

Tuesday 2nd December - A free day, courtesy of the International Date Line
Papeete, Tahiti

Arriving in Tahiti (after about four hours of flyng) was surreal as I reset my watch to Tuesday 8pm, the evening before I left Auckland. In an attempt to welcome visitors yet more flowers were offered to passengers stepping off the plane and a trio of guitarists serenaded the queue at immigration. When you see the signs differentiating between French passport holders and other nationalities you are quickly reminded of the dominion of these small islands. From what I saw of the capital (i.e. the airport transfer lounge) I could not make any assessments about this place other than it was hot and humid. I'll have to come back and spend more time here.

After one and a half hours (just enough time for a quick brush, wash and forty winks) it was back onto flight TN102 but the plane had been replaced. The rest of this journey was spent trying to sleep. My extremely thin sleeping bag came into its own though, as it was just the right thickness to keep me from getting cold as I nodded off at around 2am (L.A. time).
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