Winter Break 2016, Part Two: "One for the Mems"

Here I am going to recount all that Sloane and I did in New Zealand.

So before I start about New Zealand, I want to tell you about my trip TO New Zealand (NZ).

Sloane and I woke up on the departure day (exact date, unknown) at like 5am because Sloane's flight left at like 8am and I wanted to make sure that she made it out okay. I gave her some emergency KRW, which was a good thing because she didn't have enough money to get off the train, and then was left alone for the first time in a long time.

I'm not sure why this made me so uneasy, but it did. I've been to Seoul many times and even stayed in this hostel before. But laying in bed after she left I had this overwhelming feeling of loneliness. I just left very sad and.... lonely.

I also felt really nervous and jumpy. After I left the hostel, I had a lot of time before my flight so I made plans to meet a friend for brunch, I was walking through a park in Hongdae to get to the subway stop and heard footsteps behind me (in my defense they sounded like they were gonna rush  me and steal all my stuff, which also like wouldn't happen in Korea... but I digress). I was in the middle of untangling my headphones and almost dropped my phone and then a middle aged Korean man passed me and was also startled by my reaction. My heart was racing.... And I don't know why... Probably too many lattes..

Eventually, I met my friend, Becky, and we ate at Mama's Cafe at City Hall. It was very good. We got two sandwiches to share. YUM. I still had a TON of time to kill before my flight, so I went to Sinchon/Ehwa Women's University area with Becky and met our other friend Candy. We went to our favorite coffee place, Paik's Coffee (a chain, but possibly the best vanilla latte in the world).
After coffee with Candy, I made my way to the airport for my long travel to New Zealand.

And this is where Taylor will complain about some things:

I get to Incheon Int'l Airport and have no idea where the desk is Quantas. In the past I would have just tried to figure it out on my own, but now I'm very much like "hmm. I could figure this out... OH! There's the information desk!!!!" Perhaps I'm becoming lazy... I see it as why do more work than necessary?

The lady at the information desk tells me the desks I can go to (which are all marked Asiana). The woman at the start of the Asiana line says I can stand in line or go to a kiosk. So I'm thinking "Uhhh. DUH. Kiosk. Who wouldn't go to a kiosk to check in rather than stand in line?!?" Then I go to a kiosk and this woman looks at my printed flight info and is like "no." So I try a different kiosk and the man tries to explain to me that the kiosk is for Asiana flight only and not Quantas operated by Asiana.... So I head back to the line and the woman just smiles at me. I think she realized I have a Quantas operated by Asiana flight.

This is not important, but there was this really attractive guy (like Jess Mariano, you feel?) maybe 30 people in front of me, and like you know the dream is to be seated next to him, it didn't work out. In fact, I was checked in and on my way to TSA before him. He had some problems with his ticket/passport because at one point there were like 3 workers all trying to help him.
So I get to the desk and the woman checking my in thinks I'm Korean and is speaking to me in Korean. Finally, I just tell her that I'm American, she apologizes and the woman at the desk next to her is laughing. Heck we're all laughing. After she checks me in, she tells me that I only have an hour to make my connecting flight in Sydney and I need to run to the transfer desk. She was very serious. She also told me to go to this other desk so that they can correct my name on my ticket. (I always ask if my name needs to be corrected on my tickets because my name is so long it always gets truncated and I have bad travel anxiety so I'm like "WHAT IF I GET TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE AND THEY'RE LIKE 'um. miss. this name doesn't match your passport. we can't let you on the plane.'" WORST NIGHTMARE. Usually they say it's NBD, but I guess there is something with Korean immigration and it had to be fixed? Who knows.)

After that it's smooth sailing (until landing in Australia). I'm sitting window, which I prefer, and sit next to a Korean man. I watch basically all the movies (Divergent, Maze Runner, The Martian, The Intern, etc.) and only sleep for like an hour.

If you haven't been paying attention, this is when it gets good. We're descending to Sydney International Airport, and there's a ton of messages being read on the overhead speakers, but the speakers are bad so I can't understand any of them (also at this point I still have like 45 minutes to make my connecting flight). The plane lands and I'm in the middle of plane, but a window seat. I'm really antsy to get off (because the lady said to *RUN*), but the Korean man has some good nunchi and lets me off before him. I say thank you in English and Korean and he's all like "nbd." As I'm deplane-ing I notice a ton of flight attendants waiting with papers in their hands, none of them look excited/inviting, so I just walk right past them to find my transfer desk, but since I've never made an international transfer I don't know where I'm going so I just follow the crowd. But the crowd is all headed to like LEAVE the airport. Clearly that isn't right. I see some ladies on a golf cart thing and ask for help. They inform me that I have to go back through TSA (or the Australian equivalent) and that my transfer desk is at Gate 24.

So I back track to go back through TSA. When I get to the front of the line I'm prepped to take my shoes off (because we always get asked to do that in America), but instead the guy is like "I need you to take all of that off" and gestured to my tops. Now let me inform you that I was only wearing a vest with a beige button up and white tank underneath. I was like "*ALL* of this?" and he curtly responded "yes." If I hadn't been in a rush I would have protested to taking off my button up, but I was in a rush and was not happy so I took it all off. I went through security in this thin tank top that was clearly not meant to be worn as a shirt... He was so concerned about me being a threat... What sort of threat would I be posing in this skimpy tank top? My own anxiety and rushing is what holds me up because I forgot about my water bottle so one bag had to be sent back through security.
Now I'm through security and in the international terminal around Gate 53, so I ~*RUN*~ to my transfer desk at Gate 24. Guys, I have a cross body purse and a mid sized backpacking backpack... RUNNING through Sydney Int'l Airport... I'm a sight, let's just say that.

I get to the transfer desk. Out of breath with no water. I give the woman my papers and passport and she's clearly not happy. She shakes her head and tells me that I was supposed to meet the flight attendants when I deplaned to go straight to my connecting flight. She also tells me that my connecting flight is at Gate 53.... *AWESOME*

So I ~*RUN*~ back to Gate 53. Just picture that: A blonde Asian girl with a large backpack running one direction. Then 5 minutes later same blonde Asian girl with a large backpack running the other direction. I passed some people sitting at the window of a McDonald's so they were definitely like "what?"

I just want you guys to know that I haven't exercised hard since basically pre-senior season. There's no need to, you know? So I'm like full-on sprinting and carrying like 12kg on my back... I'm not sure even pre-senior season training was as hard as sprinting those 30 gates to make my flight.
I'm rounding the corner to Gate 53 and there's like really nice looking Asian lady, who goes "You must be Taylor." I come to a stop, hyperventilating because like I don't exercise, and there's a second, older woman, who asks for my passport, and then I just bend over trying to breathe and I just start bawling.

Remember, I have really bad travel anxiety. Mix that with lack of exercise and I'm just a hot mess (literally because I'm wearing jeans and it's summer time in Australia). The two women, who might be the champions of this story, are just like "it's okay! You made it!" And when they gave me my ticket the older woman was like "Okay. This is your ticket. Now, I need you to walk VERY slowly to the plane. We aren't going to leave without you."

The nightmare isn't over yet.

Once I'm on the plane, I realize that they boarded everyone earlier than what I was told in Korea (I techinically still had like 20 minutes to make my flight). So everyone is already seated and the overhead bins are closed and then there's me. Sweating. A little weepy still. Definitely still hyperventilating. Trying to find a spot for my backpack. Just turning in circles trying to make this awful nightmare where everyone is staring at you like you're naked.

And. No. One. Helped. Me.

This is where I got a little mad and my faith in humanity is just ended. I'm clearly having a bad day. There is no way people looked at me and thought "yeah. she's alright. she'll get it together." Nothing was together. Nothing was okay. Granted many of the people on my flight were older, so maybe they thought they couldn't lift my backpack. Still like no one tried to comfort me or reassure me. That being said, S/O to the flight attendant who asked what I needed. (I have other thoughts about why I think no one helped me, but I'll table those for now.)

My last complaint about this experience is that I sat next to a very grumpy elderly American couple. I understand now why everyone hates Americans. This was, thankfully, the last act of blatantly awful things that happened to me.

When I landed in NZ, I was like a whole new world. The man at immigration? Super nice. He asked where I was from and thought it was super cool that I was teaching English in South Korea.The man at customs? Thought I was like a super good person for marking that I had dirt on my shoes from hiking Namsan and basically just waved me through. The bus driver to get from the airport to Wellington? SUPER HELPFUL! I was standing at the sign to get on the bus, which was parked maybe 50 feet away, then he pulled up and asked where I need to go, I told him I need to get to Courtenay Place (CP) and he was like "I can take you there! Hop on!" Just like the guy at immigration and customs, he was curious. "Where are you from? Have you been here before? What are your plans? South Island? North Island?" It was so refreshing to have people be curious about me. I suppose their used to it because NZ is such a tourist heavy area, but it was so nice to feel like someone cared about me.

He dropped me off at my stop and asked if I knew where I was going. I explained I was meeting my sister here and thank him profusely. And then couldn't find my sister for about 5 minutes. When I found her sitting on a bus bench that I walked passed already. We must have passed each other and not noticed?

Here's the breakdown of what we did/where we ate with a rating and comments:


*Use the iSites! They're *ACTUALLY* useful!
*To get a ~true~ NZ experience, I suggest a camper van.


*Wellington is sort like a sleepy Hawaiian town. No one is rush. Everyone is just sorta there.
*MUST DO: Mount Victoria and visit a brewery

Airport Flyer Bus:

*Used twice (Airport-->CP & CP-->Train Station)
*Both times very helpful (From CP to Train station the bus driver let us both ride and only pay for one ticket, helped us with our luggage both on and off the bus, and pointed us in the right direction for the train station.)
*Should be noted that it is cheaper to take other transport from CP to train station


*While in Wellington Sloane and I bought a SIM card for my phone.
*We got a really small data plan, but figured it would be good to have a working cellphone for emergencies.
*Other cellphone providers in NZ are Spark and 2degrees.

YHA Wellington: (9/10)

*For me the most important thing is that the hostel is clean.
*This hostel had a hotel like feel. It was alcohol free and a more family friendly feel, so it was nice and quiet for two old ladies like me and Sloane!


*Don't do what we do. You can easily do EVERYTHING in Rotorua in 2 days, if you plan accordingly... which we didn't necessarily do.
*Rotorua is a tourist town. Things are a little more pricey. The food scene here isn't amazing and many places close down early (like 7pm).
*MUST DO: Hobbiton (it's expensive but worth it), Whakarewrewa (Maori Culture), and Wai-o-Tapu (Geothermal walk)

Rock Solid Backpackers: (7/10)

*Not a lower rating because of cleanliness, although we did find an apple under our bed.
*Definitely a hostel for people trying to make friends and socialize (AKA not me or my sister)
*Clean with a large kitchen, but creepily quiet during the day and ridiculously loud in the early, EARLY morning (which is saying something because I am a heavy sleeper).


*BIG CITY! We didn't really plan anything because we were burned out on planning stuff, but you don't really need to plan in a city this size.
*MUST DO: Coast-to-Coast-Walk



Day 1:

Sweet Mother's Kitchen (7/10)
*Decent food, decent prices
*GREAT location! Right off CP so it's perfect for people watching

Mount Victoria (9/10)
*Not an easy walk (AKA the paths aren't paved like they are in Korea)
*GREAT views at the top!
*FREE (and there's a bus if you don't want to walk up!)

Day 2:

Cafe by Wellington iSite (Name Unknown): (4/10)
*The sort of place where you stop in before work to grab a breakfast-energy-yogurt thing and a cheap coffee.
*We were desperate for food.
*On Mercer Street VERY close to the Wellington iSite

Weta Cave: (7/10)
*There is a small free museum and free video you can watch at the gift shop (where the paid tour starts from)
*The paid tour was essentially a guided walk through a small warehouse (about the size of a Starbucks in America) by a current Weta Caves worker. They tell you stories about different props and tricks/techniques they use to make them.
*This will be a theme, but *people cannot be trusted*. Our guide told us that the props on display are ~decades~ old and not made to last a long time, so they are very fragile. That didn't stop GROWN ADULTS AND THEIR GROWN CHILDREN from touching the props when our guide turned around. *THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS*
*The tour is a little pricey ($$$) considering what it actually is. However, we booked with transport included and our bus driver made it all worth it. He was very funny and gave us a detour-tour of Wellington on our way back to CP.

Tattoo Museum (6/10)
*Not really a museum, but we got a free calendar poster (which some how made it all the back way to Korea!)
*FREE, a bit of a walk from CP, but then you get to see some "real" life in Wellington

Te Papa (N/A)
*Didn't actually see any exhibits, just used their free WiFi
*Seems like a good thing to do on a rainy day!
*FREE, great location (just off CP), but closes early (about 6pm)

Duke Caravell's (7/10)
*Decent bar/pub food, decent prices
*We ordered way more potatoe based foods than we should have, but still delish!
*On Cuba Street, so a younger area with loads of other eating places and shopping!

Black Dog Brewery (8/10)
*Since Wellington is the beer city of New Zealand, we had to get beers while we were there!
*Decent price for a large sampler!
*Located right off CP! Tons of other eateries around!

Day 3: Last Day in Wellington!

National War Museum (N/A)
*Didn't actually go in the museum, just saw the tomb of the unnamed soldier and war memorial
*FREE (to see the tomb and memorial), a short walk from CP (worth it to see more of "real" Wellington)

Unknown Bakery (8/10)
*On the walk back to CP from the war memorial
*A little pricey, but I had a really good ham and cheese sandwich

Wellington-->Rotorua~ (STILL DAY 3)

*There's a number of ways you can travel between cities in NZ.
*I would recommend doing a camper van because you have freedom to go wherever on your own time. However, you have to drive on the left side of the road and roads in NZ are considerably more narrow than roads in America.
*We chose to travel between cities by Intercity buses. On almost all buses there is free WiFi



*We happened to get to Rotorua when there was a night market. So we ate some poutine, dumplings, and paella.

Day 4: First Day in Rotorua!

*Pronounced fa-ka-re-wa-re-wa
*living Maori village that sits on a geothermal hotspot that is a place of both scientific and cultural interest
*Easy to get to via the city bus
*Great experience... really shows how the Maori culture has mixed with modern society
*It really smelled like eggs

Le Cafe De Paris (5/10)

*Decent prices, but the salad we had was very disappointing.

Abracadabra Cafe (8/10)

*Good food, good space, good vibes!

Day 5: Second Day in Rotorua!

Wai-O-Tapu (8/10)
*Walk through geothermal park
*Still smelled like eggs
*Lots of old people

Tamaki Maori Village (7/10)

*Interactive cultural stations and a dinner
*Very expensive

Day 6: Third Day in Rotorua!

Hobbiton (9/10)
*A bit out of the "city", but you can buy your ticket with transportation included
*Expensive, but worth it!

NOTE: You can book Whakarewarewa, Wai-O-Tapu, and Hobbiton all at the iSite and pay for a package so that you can do 2-in-1 day sort of thing. I really suggest looking into doing it like that.

Day 7: Leaving Rotorua for Auckland!

Chawlas (7/10)
*Not the Indian restaurant we intended to go to, but we were pleasantly surprised.
*Right in the CBD!

Sal's Pizza (7/10)
*Not the first (or even second) pizza place we picked out, but the garlic knots and crust of the pizza was amazing!!!
*There's lots of locations in Auckland so I strongly suggest! We went to the CBD location.

Day 8: First Day in Auckland!

Coast to Coast Walk (9/10)
*Start at Onehunga Bay Reserve
*Follow the signs to Princes Wharf for 16km
*Don't rely on signs when walking through universities, parks, or residential areas

*Basically don't rely on signs at all

Esquires (6/10)
*A chain coffee shop. Americans think Baker's Square or Perkins
*Had a good slice of chocolate cake/brownie!

Day 9: Second Day in Auckland!

*Free entrance (and WiFi)!
*Worth going to escape the heat and utilize the free WiFi!

No1 Pancake (10/10)
*Seriously so freaking good. Doesn't a bacon and cheese 호떡 sound good?!?
*In the CBD about a block south of

Dumpling Place (Name Unknown) (10/10)
*Got like 10 dumplings for like 6NZD or something like that.

Mellow (10/10)

*Cute little cafe
*Was greeted in Korean (s'cute)!
*Had green tea bingsu and an americano (*how Korean*)

Day 10: Third Day in Auckland!

Bagel Love (8/10)
*Fresh baked bagels and delicious bagel sandwiches!
*Super close to Victoria Park and not far from CBD!

Victoria Park Flowers (9/10)
*Sloane and I know next to nothing about flowers... So when we walked in and explained our situation ("we need flowers, but don't want to spend too much"), we were so happy when the woman working (I forgot her name now) made a beautiful bundle for us.

Met up with the Motoko at Britomart and relocated to her family's house!

Mexico (7/10)
*All I have to say is: margaritas <3
*Decent prices
*On the North Shore

Movenpick (6/10)
*Chain ice cream place, but man it was good!
*All over Auckland, but we went to the one on the North Shore

Paper Moon (6/10)
*Solid coffee and pastries!
*Also on the North Shore

Esplande Espresso & Japanese Eatery (10/10)
*A little on the expensive side
*Also on the North Shore

Day 11: Fourth Day in Auckland!

*Again... SO. GOOD.
*On the pier!

Day 12: Leaving New Zealand!

As my students like to say: "Nothing special."
We woke up at 3am because my flight was at 6am.
We said our goodbyes (AKA "See you in another 10 years!").
And I was off to Austrailia!

Up Next...

Winter Break 2016, Part Three: "We Did The Thing"

So Taylor went to Australia. What was that all about?


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