41 days

Trip Start Jul 30, 2012
Trip End May 24, 2013

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Where I stayed
At the Dodunski's
What I did
Walked the Opunake Walkway
Cooked Danish food at Christina's place
Went to the beach

Flag of New Zealand  , Taranaki,
Monday, September 10, 2012

So today has been the 41st day since I arrived in New Zealand and later on in beautiful Opunake, located right on the coast in the Taranaki region. Those 41 days have carried on with them heaps of mixed feelings and even though I do have 8 ½ month left of this epic journey, I already feel I have learnt a lot more than what should be possible in a month and a half. And while I'm at it, I might as well mention a few:
  • Tea means dinner and dinner means nothing
  • L&P is the world's number one soft drink, not only beating Coca Cola but also Faxe Kondi(!)
  • New Zealand does not have super hot sunny weather all year round...
  • This is how much Maths a 15 year old Kiwi know: 7 + 1 = 6. I'm a fucking genius here
  • Cadbury chocolate is everything
  • Drinking approximately two cups of tea a day does not make your teeth yellow
  • "Crack up" is colloquial for funny and "a hard case" is a crack up person. Got that?
  • Kiwis are not necessarily more down-to-earth than Danes are
Anyway, I'll keep filling up that list as I write new blog entries so stay tuned! Haha, I've always wanted to use that saying. And as I have got 41 days to sum up in one small entry I better get started. Enjoy!
Leaving my mum, sister, and three of my best friends behind when I went through the security area was the hardest thing I've done in my entire life. It was fairly easy to say goodbye to my dad and my grandmother, as they left the airport a bit earlier when we were still sitting at a café, having a drink of coffee or whatever - and take-off was still far, far away from my reality. But when I went up the stairs that only travellers are supposed to go up, my family and friends went with me. They walked me all the way to the place where you have to show your passport and boardingpass before going through security. At first I just hugged everyone once, laughing at a few jokes and stuff, then I had a really emotional moment with my mum and I started crying for real. When I turned around to walk towards the desks, I found that I couldn't. I said, "I can't do it," tears running down my face. Then I went back to them, hugged them again, and my mum said something about being brave and that I had to go and that everything would be alright. I still couldn't make myself do it, and at one point I thought I was going to have to stay in Denmark because I just didn't have the guts to make that final goodbye. I was bawling hysterically when I realised that yes, I did have to leave my loved ones behind and not see them in 9 months, yes, I did have to go through that desk and just carry on. So I hugged everyone AGAIN, crying and crying, then wiped my cheeks thoroughly but the tears just wouldn't stop running when I turned around and walked determinedly towards the security people, being careful not to look over my shoulder to see the faces that I was gonna miss so much that whole year because I knew that if I did, I would run right back to them and wouldn't be able to go through with it. When I went through security, I could see them waving through a blurred glass window, and I cried silently, I cried and cried and cried. All the way through duty-free and all the gates, and when I boarded the plane I cried, when I sat in my seat I looked out the window and cried, sending the last love devotion texts and goodbyes to my mum and sister, and Ida, Esther and Sofia. I think I sobbed quietly for an hour and the rest of the 6 hour flight I just sat there and looked out of the window. I couldn't even sleep despite having been awake for 33 hours straight. The only thing I could do was to get really annoyed with the young couple that sat next to me who spent all 6 hours playing Tetris against each other. Lucky for me, they weren't going all the way to New Zealand with me.

I arrived in Dubai International Airport at 23:15 local time. It was definitely not as I had expected: The airport was full of life as if it was in the middle of the afternoon, and not late at night. It had its disadvantages though, because all the sleeping chairs were occupied (and there were A LOT of them! I don't think anyone had as long to wait as I did...). Anyway, I sat down at the first coffee bar I could find, got on the free wireless Internet and logged onto Skype. I had the wonderful privilege to talk to my mum and sister for a few hours, and I also got to talk to my dad to let him know that I was alright and I told him all about how busy the airport was, even at night time. At one point a creepy guy came up to me, he spoke poorly English and at first I didn't understand what he was trying to ask me but I think I got it in the end. It wasn't anything nice so I did my best to pretend I didn't speak English and make him go away... I was paranoid the rest of the night, right until I boarded the next plane haha. Anyway, time actually went by fairly fast in Dubai, I strolled up and down the airport for a while, checking out the shops (that were all open) and not buying anything. At one point, I think it was 3 o'clock in the morning, I finally decided to grab something to eat, so I went into a supermarket and bought some kind of iced coffee in a bottle, went to Starbucks and bought a hot cup of chai latte and a chocolate croissant, the tea and the croissant was absolutely crap so I won't be going back to Starbucks ever again BUT the iced coffee was nice and I finished writing my notes in Xenophobe's Guide to the Danes that I was going to give to my host family once I got there. I kept checking the big boards that were supposed to tell you what gate you were to go to but my flight didn't show up on the screen until 2-3 hours before take-off. I sat down in a normal chair at one point and tried to get some sleep. No luck. Found a vacant sleeping chair later YES, I tried to fall asleep and I think I may have dozed off for a few minutes before being woken up by people walking by with their stupid trolleys. At last the gate I was supposed to go to was revealed and sat down in another sleeping chair close to the gate and waited for boarding. When that time finally came, we showed our passports and boardingpasses to the stewardesses, and then had our bags searched through by security because no liquids, food or anything like that was allowed in the plane to Brisbane/Auckland, not even from duty-free. Hahaha, too bad for those who had bought expensive spirits hahahaha. Next time read the rules! I myself went right through of course, and when we finally boarded, I got a nice window seat next to a lovely old couple who was coming home from a three month long cruise. The first couple of hours on the 14 hour long flight was okay, right up until the old man from the couple started to really take advantage of the free alcohol and got really drunk haha. When I finally fell asleep, he instantly woke me up by poking me and yelling, "do you want to go the toilet? Because I'm going to sleep now! Are you sure you don't want to go to the toilet??" while his wife was trying to shush him. He did that about five times and never even went to sleep. Oh well, drunk old men!

In Brisbane we were sent through security and I was pulled aside to have my bag checked for that bottle with the boiled lolly for Justin (host brother) in it - I think they thought it was a liquid, but nah! No fine to me thank you very much. The old couple that sat next to me got a can of hairspray taken from them. We were all sent to this huge, empty waiting hall with a few empty gates. Skyped Mum for a bit and e-mailed/facebooked Dad but we only had about 1½ hours before we had to board the same plane again. And, because the old couple was going to Auckland like me, I got to sit next to them again, the old man still pissed on his scotch or whatever he'd had before. 2½ hours later I put my feet on New Zealand ground for the first time. Seriously, you should've seen my face when we flew over New Zealand land, eyes wide open, gawking out the little plane window. It was absolutely beautiful, it looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings which it might actually have been, haha. Beautiful green hills, picturesque cottages, shallow lakes and a very, very blue sea. I didn't actually see Auckland before we landed in the airport.

Before stepping out of the plane, my heart was pounding heavily and I was sweating like someone who had just finished a marathon - all because I was so nervous about going through biosecurity, in spite of having spent hours at home reading all about it on the biosecurity website. I was so scared to have my running shoes taken away from me, my wooden earrings, my homemade coconut necklaces, my diving goggles and whatnot. I didn't have to worry though because none of the security people took any notice, even when I stressed that I had "four handmade coconut necklaces!!!" and showing them one. They didn't care. Not even the cute dog that got to sniff my bags. So I just proceeded towards the entrance of the international airport, standing there for a while, not knowing where to go. Because I had to check-in at some "domestic terminal" counter before taking the bus/walking to the domestic terminal. I asked a lady behind the information desk, thinking she had the information... haha. She pointed it out for me, and I really don't know how I could have missed the sign with the big yellow letters "Domestic terminal." Anyway, I wheeled my bag-wagon with 35 kg of bags to the right place where you were supposed to check-in yourself on this little check-in machine. It didn't work, until one of the two ladies behind the counter told me that I couldn't check in a bag with more than 23.5 kg contents. I panicked inside!! My bag weighed more than 28 kg. I showed the lady my e-ticket, and to my luck she could point out a place where it said that my ticket allowed two pieces of checked in luggage. That saved me a few thousand Danish kroners. One of the few things MyEducation has done right, so thank you very much for that MyEducation! I had a nicely sized handbag with me that I used for my in-cabin bag, checking in my backpack previously used as cabin luggage. It took some repacking though, getting my big bag from 28 kg down to 23 kg, and fitting all my shoes in my Fjällräven backpack... the ladies were real nice and helpful though, not like the half-angry, stern-looking and very formal staff that Kastrup Lufthavn has, haha. When I finished repacking and checking in, I went outside in what seemed to be a nice sunny summer day, even though it was actually winter! The weather was great so I decided not to wait for the bus and walked the 15 min walk to the domestic terminal instead, videoing myself as I was walking. I was in a great mood, almost ecstatic. I guess that's what you get from coming to New Zealand for the first time. :) In the domestic airport I almost went to take a shower - but then I realised that I didn't have a towel or any sort of shampoo with me so that idea was gone pretty fast. I bought a really expensive 420ml Coca Cola to enjoy outside in the sun and then I just waited.

When I finally boarded the smallest plane I have ever seen, and sat down in my seat - that for the first time was not a window seat - I fell asleep right away. I guess it makes sense, after having been awake for 70 hours. I just don't understand how come I couldn't fall asleep in the other planes...
Anyway, I got picked up at New Plymouth airport by Dianne and Amy, and the first thing that came out of my mouth after a casual "hi!" and an awkward hug was, "Wow, I thought you were taller than that..." haha. Worthless to say but funny anyway, New Plymouth airport is smaller than the airport I visited in Akureyri in Iceland. But I guess it fits the size of the airplane pretty well... (I cannot believe they could fit 40 people in there!!)

When I went to sleep that Wednesday night I lay in my new bed in my new room, chanting to myself: "What have I done, what have I done..." I cried myself to sleep that night, and now I blame the overwhelming fatigue. The next day was much better, and I went to sleep after having written in my diary, "I now know that I'm not gonna cry myself to sleep for a very long time."

(more to come)
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