Logistics #blogjune 17-18

Falling behind with #blogjune but I have an excuse! We have finally found a way to ship some boxes of stuff to Spain. I’m not sure how confident I am it will actually arrive. All the stuff for shipping is slowly being stockpiled in the lounge room:

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Mostly I seem to be shipping suitcases. How many suitcases does a person actually need? I think I have around 15…and that’s not counting those half handbag/half carry on bags!

We are flying AirNZ to Australia (squee!). They’ve always been one of my favourite airlines, but sadly leapt out of my price range when they started emulating budget airlines with a ridiculous Seat+Bag+Meal pricing model. Somehow by stopping over in Auckland for a few nights en route we managed to find the cheapest flight home. Yes, I realise I will spend those $$$ anyway by staying in Auckland, but it’s been too long between NZ visits! Ironically, given price moan above, they are letting us bring 2 x 23kg bags EACH. What on earth? I’ve scoured the web to see if I can get this deal going to Spain, but so far nope. I even considered ditching the shipping and paying extra to fly AirNZ to Europe, but I have a hatstand and a rug and can’t see that getting stowed by any airline.

As we are backpacking south China for 2 weeks before we fly to Australia we’re going to leave our big bags in the apartment until we get back from our Yunnan/Guizhou/Sichuan adventure. Speaking of which, I haven’t kept up with blogging due to the pain of trying to book that trip. If only China had a rail pass for travellers! But as with everything, why on earth would they try to create new markets when there are already 2 billion people chasing the product?

‘In a way, the quakes have pushed us to develop our community role’: Interview with Carolyn Robertson of Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand

Love this –> ‘We want to change the way people see libraries and use them. We understand the word “library” in the widest possible sense. In the 21st century, the library has taken on the role of the village square.’ Carolyn Robertson, Christchurch City Libraries (borrowing for Prezi on libraries and citizenship, thanks Matt!)

matt finch / mechanical dolphin

There can be no greater challenge to a library service than a natural disaster – except perhaps that same disaster repeated.

That’s exactly what faced Carolyn Robertson and her team at Christchurch Libraries when, in September 2010 and again in February and June of this year, earthquakes struck their home city on New Zealand’s South Island.

Yet, as Carolyn explained to me recently, ‘In a way, the quakes have pushed us to further develop our community role. They’ve actually strengthened Christchurch Libraries’ vision of equity of access.’

Carolyn Robertson of Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand

I visited Carolyn, Christchurch City Libraries and Information Manager, at the city’s South Library earlier this year. It’s one of the liveliest and most modern I’ve seen in on literacy adventures throughout Northern Europe, the USA, and Australia as well as New Zealand.

The community has clearly taken to this bright, multipurpose space which includes a great café, children’s play area and an…

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The New Zealand Chapter

We have commenced our next Great Adventure, landing in Auckland on Thursday afternoon.  Happily, and strangely (for us), we actually had someone to collect us from the airport on our arrival in Strange New Land.  Ang and I were mates at college and caught up last year when we had our whirlwind tour of NZ.  Matilda calls her Angelina Ballerina and this may have affected her childish memories of Ang as she whispered to me straight away “Is that the same Angelina?” and later that night was still confused about whether we were with the right person.  The main difference being that last time Angelina had “yellow hair and a white face”.  Strange.  She still looks the same to me!

Air NZ flight this time, another exciting aspect for us as usually it’s Jetstar all the way.  After the Tasmania Bag Episode I was keen to fly with anyone else and happily Air NZ were having a 4 day special that was well cheaper than any other airline right on the dates we wanted to fly.  So, lots of ceiling height, our own tellies and free food, not to mention customer service FAR exceeding that of the budget airlines (allocating us 3 seats to ourselves, offering us extra drinks, asking if we require assistance, providing a speedy departure card so we go to the front of lines etc).  I am a big fan and interestingly a lot of people I’ve mentioned this to also admit that their best flying experiences have been with the Kiwi airline, so yay for Air NZ and I hope I haven’t jinxed myself now!

We are staying at a Bible College, believe it or not.  Ang works here and lives on campus and it turns out the guest room was available and about $40 where the cheapest hotel was around $64 (All Seasons, was Formula 1 in the CBD, where we stayed last time).  Not bad considering we are here for a few days.

Anyway: I hid my Kiwi SIM so well after the last trip I couldn’t find it so our first task was to get a new one.  Considering it only cost $NZ20 (about $AU15) it’s not a bad idea if you’re going to be in NZ for anything longer than a stopover.  I went with 2 Degrees, like last time, as it was remarkably cheap.  And once again, after surfing the net, sending a dozen texts to Australia and a few more to Ang in NZ I still had a little over $18 left.  That would’ve sucked my prepaid credit dry with miserly old Telstra.

On that note, Telstra have been total barstools regarding the modem.  2 hours on the phone being transferred around India only to be told it would cost me MORE THAN THE PRICE OF THE MODEM to have the damn thing unlocked from the Telstra network.  Apparently it decreases to $27.50 after you’ve owned the modem for 6 months (oh wow, how generous giant ripoff telco).  Point being: I already OWN the bloody thing you wankers!!  And it’s not even as though I am wanting to use it with another Aussie carrier (although I have a strong desire to do that NOW) – I want it to go overseas!!  Anyway, bought one yesterday in NZ.  Cost me $NZ99 ($AU80) and for the ironic icing on the cake: it comes already UNLOCKED.  And the reception has already proved a lot faster/more reliable than crummy Telstra.

Definitely taking this one back to Oz to use with an alternative carrier.

New Zealand

Having daydreamed for ages about travelling to NZ, as well as spending considerable time since returning from Scotland trying to get a job there, the confirmation of my job offer in China was at last the catalyst for a whirlwind tour.

I had an assignment due the Friday before we were due to leave (garrr) so planning and booking was a nightmare and I didn’t get to bed until 4am the night before we flew out.  It is bloody hard trying to work out an itinerary without someone to sound out ideas against.  My mother had absolutely no interest and walked away every time I started going over options and although my sister has been to NZ twice she doesn’t have much time for listening to others and her previous trips had not been in the same vein (first trip she did a backpacker tour bus and second was as part of a quartet in a motorhome).

I find choosing between unknown quantities difficult enough when it’s just flavours of porridge or types of apples so it was pretty draining.  Nevertheless, one assignment and 3000 draft itineraries later we were on our way.

The main problem was fitting so much country into just 2 weeks.  I was also trying to follow online travel advice and make sure I organised a couple of nights in each place to make things easier for Matilda (and myself!). 

In the end we flew into Auckland (half the price of flying into Christchurch plus I have a friend there who I’ve not seen since uni days), then had to fly to Wellington to save time.  From there we planned to take the late ferry to Picton, TranzScenic to Christchurch, then Tekapo, Dunedin, Queenstown, Franz Josef, TranzAlpine back to Christchurch.

On the road again…

Well, almost!

Amanda is moving into her mansion on the hill in a few short weeks…and needs to rent this place out to afford her new lifestyle (insert chuckle)…

Rather than being an inconvenience, I can only see it as an opportunity, or an excuse, or whatever you’d like to label it – it’s a chance for us to be free!  After more than 4 years of dreaming, scheming and having hopes dashed, we will finally be on our way far away from here…

Although I have had grandios plans in the past, I have tried to apply the KISS principle to this move.  We will sell up what we can at a garage sale, store things ready to be shipped to us when we finally ‘settle down’, and head to NZ (just next door).

I have been applying for jobs, but so far no joy (more on that later), so we may have to plan as though we are heading over there for a 3 week trip, and see where it takes up (which, between you and me, is definitely my preferred mode of travel, but it is apparently not an acceptable philosophy for a mother!)

So excited!

Kaikoura ranges, NZ

Kaikoura ranges…>sigh<…brilliant.

Why are we not there already???