One down, two to go.

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After a very sunny day and a nice hike up mount Ngongotaha I left Rotorua yesterday evening.
Back in Auckland, the weather turned rainy again. But then I got a call from baggage services! One of my bags had arrived.
After a lazy morning spent mostly shopping that news was very welcome.

I picked up the bag just now. Sadly, it was only ortlieb rack pack, not the pannier bag which had been attached to it (very securely).
The service agent was extremely helpful, even taking me into the e-mail communication with Guangzhou baggage service whom he asked to look for my yellow pannier bag.

Now I have most of my camping gear, but none of my bike clothes, nor toiletries. The thing I’m missing most are my contact lenses. Doing sports without them is no fun and I need a prescription to buy new ones in NZ.

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Tomorrow I’ll be flying on to Christchurch whether my bike actually arrives or not. Auckland doesn’t offer much aside from shopping, which I’m not too interested in and Air NewZealand will forward my missing things anywhere in NZ.

Rotorua

Rotorua hot springs

Today was the first really nice day in New Zealand. The Hobbiton tour was a success (see previous post). The weather has started to get better and the merciless New Zealand sun burned down so hot that it was uncomfortable within minutes. The frequent light showers were a welcome change.

 

I called baggage services again and they told me my luggage would arrive tomorrow afternoon from Guangzhou and Hongkong respectively. Seems AirFrance didn’t send it via Korea after all. I can only hope to have everything tomorrow evening. Until then, I’ve decided to stay in Rotorua for today and most of tomorrow.

The town is quite nice and has lots of parks with hot springs. Walked through the parks and along the lake shore and saw a variety of birds. Had some very nice fish & chips, possibly from the best Fish’n’Chips shop in town. It had all the signs: a worn-down look, an old lady waiting for customers, real paper wrapping…

fish and chips

 

Now I’m sitting in Kuirau park, eating fresh bread, tree honey and grapes (sharing some with the birds) which I got from the weekly street market. A fine end of the day.

 

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The Shire

After a night at Rock Solid Backpackers (excellent hostel), I started out early for a tour to Hobbit to see the Shire.

The drive from Rotorua to Hobbit was interesting. The landscape is a mix of Mediterranean (pines and yellow gorse) and tropical (fern trees and thick underbrush).

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It rained at the beginning of the tour but soon cleared up. The Hobbiton set is amazing and our guide Emily provided is with interesting information about the history of the site as well as filming.
There are 44 Hobbit holes or rather doors, as most holes are just a facade.
They still look great and have lots of original props still in front of them.
I even got to go into one!

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I also had some cider and a blueberry muffin at the Green Dragon which has been amazingly created after the film set.

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The Hill, with Bag End at the top as seen from the party field.

For those LOTR fans now jealous: the set is built to last 50 years.

The mystery of the missing luggage, part 2

After having two calls with baggage service I finally found out that one of my luggage, presumably the bike, never left Paris on my flight. It was later sent on to Auckland via Seoul, and is currently still in Korea. The other bag never got transferred from my Air France flight to the China Southern flight in Guangzhou. I feared that might happen. That’s why I asked twice if my luggage was really being transferred when I arrived in Guangzhou. The answer was yes both times.
Air NewZealand service has now requested that bag to be forwarded to Auckland.

At least I know that my things are in transfer somewhere now. In the meantime, I’m using my spare time to visit the Shire. I took a bus to Rotorua and am staying at Rock Solid Backpackers tonight.

Where do lost bikes go to?

Walked down Queen Street last evening. Lots of Asian shops in Auckland and some nice older buildings.

I also found where lost bicycles go in Auckland. Hopefully mine won’t end up there.

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Auckland

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Finally there! Almost to be expected, going by the way this trip started out, the worst case scenario has now happened. My bags and bike are missing. Not changing the luggage tags was probably not the best idea the Air France officer who rebooked my flight had.

I still have some of my street clothes, but all my plans are going further down the drain with every day.

Going to check out Auckland tonight and see if I can do a bus trip of the North Island until my bags arrive.

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Thankfully I haven’t got any jetlag.

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Emissary of Middle Earth At the airport.

Not a bird yet… Stop 2: China

Somehow getting off the ground seems to be a problem on this trip.
Sitting in the plane 10 minutes to midnight with friendly Chinese seat-neighbours. The plane taxis to the runway and then turns around again – technical problems… Over an hour later we finally lift off.

The 12 hour (8500km) flight to China was good.
My left seat-neighbor was a quiet expatriate Chinese from Panama while on my right sat a young Chinese woman, whose name I’ve sadly already forgotten. Interestingly, she has studied graphics design and is now studying App Development in Ottawa (Canada), so we had some things to talk about.
I was also able to teach her to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you in French, German and Italian. She told me the Chinese words but again, I can’t really remember them. :-)

I watched one movie, Get on Up, the James Brown story, on the miserable LED screen in front of me. The film is quite good, a bit too wildly cut for my taste but nicely done otherwise.

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Sunset over China

We saw a beautiful sunset an hour before landing in Canton (Guangzhou).

Sadly the airport has the slowest free WiFi ever. Should have brought my 56k modem.
It’s also interesting to see how the toilet attendant performs his duties. While there’s a pool of pics below the urinals, he’s constantly mopping around the center of the room, apparently trying to prevent anyone from crossing over to the sinks to wash their hands.

Waiting gets tedious after a while but boarding should start at 23.50 hours local time on the 15th.

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First stop: Paris

As much as I like it to visit Paris, I was rather hoping to be flying above Siberia right now. Missed my flight by 10 minutes. Friendly Air France service personnel got me new flights while being verbally assaulted by drunk Swedes. Not going to see Tokyo after all now and I’m also arriving a day later in NZ.

I hope I don’t get stuck in China, too. :-)

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Terminal K at CDG, Paris.

The journey begins…

Thanks to online check-in and quick Air France personnel, baggage Check-in took about 10 minutes. The Euroairport feels like the quietest airport in Europe.

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Flight and hour late, probably going to miss my connection in Paris.

Packing…

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Packing is fun when you know you’ve got just a little too much stuff to cram it into one single bag…

…and then notice you’ve got a modular baggage system.

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Ortlieb rules!