More about my New Zealand trip.
31 Aug, Fri
After the work part of my trip, my brother joined me in Wellington. I had been looking forward to this part of the trip for a long time.
While waiting for my brother at the one arrival gate, I saw an airport officer speaking with an old Chinese couple. It was clear from the way he was speaking (slowly, and with an emphasis on each word, in English) and the expressions on the Chinese couple’s faces (dogged bewilderment) that they didn’t quite understand each other. So, after a rather lengthy bit of apathy, I walked up to the little group to offer to translate. It took me a while to get up to speed. Essentially, the airport officer was trying to tell the Chinese couple, who were from Melbourne, that they had not paid the international departure charge of 25 NZD each. The Chinese couple, who had been reassured by their travel agent back in Melbourne that all fees related to the tickets had been paid for, were understandably unsure about this. Eventually, between us the airport officer and I managed to convince the Chinese couple that they could take the issue of the departure charge up with their travel agent back in Melbourne, but that they had to pay the charge before they could fly back home. And so they did.
I have to admit, being able to help these folks out, and actually doing it, made me feel really good!
Feeling flush with goodwill, I went back to standing against a pillar, to wait for my brother to walk out of the departure gate. His plane had already landed, so the wait would be a fairly short one.
The lady beside me was waiting too. She was from a local university, she said, and a batch of foreign students was arriving today for an immersion programme, which would see them learning English and then working in New Zealand for a few years. She said they had had folks from Germany, other parts of Europe, South America, even once a Japanese chap who was over 60 years old. I thought this was interesting, the way New Zealand assimilated its foreign workers (even in these admittedly small numbers).
So, when my brother came, I had two more stories to tell him :)
And after we got my brother settled in at the downtown hotel we’d picked for its location and relative economy, we went for a bit of a walk. The temperate weather was made for walking; if Singapore was like this – temperature in the teens, sunny, not overly dry – I’d walk a few kilometres every single day. (It was windy though – Wellington at this time of year, winter just giving way to spring, is characterised by bracing wind – and when the wind blew into this harbour city this far south of the equator, it got bone-chilly very quickly.) We walked around Lambton Quay, Wellington’s retail belt. We got tired, and had a small lunch at Wishbone. Then we went for another walk near the harbour area, and came across a book fair. We went in for a look, just curious, but came away, after browsing the stacks and stacks of second-hand books for more than two hours, with an eclectic bounty of 11 books, most of them for 2 NZD each: fiction by P D James, Lawrence Block, John D MacDonald and John Grisham, and Jan Carlzon’s detailed and engaging account of how he turned Scandinavian Airlines System around.
(We didn’t know it then, but being the fairly sedentary folks that we are, there wasn’t a lot to do after dinner in New Zealand, and we would have plenty of time to enjoy the books.)