Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Training in Aotearoa

I had always wanted Cambodia to be my first international destination, but when the company I used to work for said that they were sending me on an all-expense paid trip to New Zealand for training and cultural immersion, I couldn't exactly complain.

Of course I had to have some sort of documentation of my first international flight. :) We took Qantas from Manila to Sydney, then another Qantas to Auckland. 'Would have rocked if we got on at least one Air New Zealand flight though. 

Sydney Airport layover. 

Auckland, finally! In the cab on our way to the hotel. (Photo by Emil Bigornia.) 

We arrived in Auckland on a Sunday and it greeted us with near empty streets. I would soon find out that Kiwis typically spend their weekends doing outdoor activities at the beach or somewhere out of the city. (Photo by Emil Bigornia.) 

My Aussie manager was so generous to have booked us Sky City Hotel rooms. This is Emil's. My room was identical to this, but I didn't have time to take photos of it, and from the moment I unpacked, it remained a mess till we checked out. :) (Photos by Emil Bigornia.)

Sky City Complex. (Photo by Emil Bigornia.) 

I don't think it's weird that I liked and actually looked forward to the business trips my company sent me on. I'd like to think that I'm capable of enjoying a place in a short period of time because I like observing how things are done differently in different places. I'm just contempla ... umm, cool like that.

The trip to NZ was even more special because I was paid by the company to work on my facilitation skills and take in everything I could about the country. How cool is that?

At the risk of using cool every two sentences or so, I have to say it was very, very cool indeed! And so was the weather in the Land Down Under-er when we visited because it was Kiwi spring (seasons are in reverse in NZ because it's located in the southern hemisphere). And being the girl from the tropical country who didn't bother checking the weather in NZ on the net that I was, I went to NZ unprepared. I didn't bring warm enough clothes. No thanks to my boss who said that a leather jacket in spring in Aotearoa would be overdoing it (you know which boss you are ;P ). It was a good thing Audie, my highschool classmate who is now based in NZ, was there to lend me some stuff. Anyhow, with or without thick jackets, for the first couple of days, I found myself the only person walking the streets of downtown Auckland in open-toed sandals.

First dinner in NZ hosted by one of our Kiwi clients. She served us roast beef, kumara (sweet potatoes), veggies, etc. She also prepared Pavlova for dessert. It was from her backyard where I first noticed that there a gazillion more stars visible in the Auckland skies compared to Manila. The only other place I'd seen that many stars was Sagada. (Photos by Emil Bigornia.) 

Also, 'tis true what they say about the weather in Auckland; you really can experience four different seasons in one day because on our third day, we started having to do the "jacket on- jacket off" routine.

Coffee at Rebo Cafe. No, this wasn't my first cup in NZ. The moment we arrived in Auckland, the first thing I did was buy three-in-one coffee from a nearby dairy (convenience store) for two NZ dollars (about P70). Very expensive for Philippine standards, yes? Audie and I had a couple of conversations at Rebo so this picture never fails to make me miss her. (Photo by Emil Bigornia.) 

Sorry, but no immersion is complete without random facts about the topic, so I'm totally going to share ten things about NZ off the top of my head:

1. NZ's Maori name Aotearoa means "The Land of the Long White Cloud."
2. Kupe, a Maori chief, is said to have been the first man to set foot in NZ.
3. British explorer James Cook is credited to having been the first man to map the coastline of the country.
4. The name of the country's national museum Te Papa, which is found in Wellington, means "Our Place" or "Our House."
5. The country's tallest mountain is Mt. Aoraki (cloud piercer) or Mt. Cook.
6. Seventy-five percent of the country's over four million population reside in the North Island.
7. NZ is about a three-hour plane ride away from Sydney.
8. Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings is really Mt. Ngauruhoe found in the Tongariro National Park complex.
9.  Peter Jackson is from Wellington.
10. Flight of the Conchords is the best duo on earth. True story. :)

Not to be defensive or anything, but my previous job required me to know these stuff, and a whole lot more about NZ, by heart. :)

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