Something has changed. As much as I enjoy exploring South East Asia and it’s sheer foreign-ness (from my more familiar North American roots) I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the crowds, the pollution in the major cities… ok, I am more tired of the humidity than anything else. I miss cool, rainy days and quiet cozy afternoons.
So when I saw Singapore Airlines was running a special to New Zealand, I decided to head to Auckland. Yes, I know it’s a 9 hour flight.
Auckland is the closer cousin (to South East Asia) and less highly regarded city compared to Christchurch, Wellington and the entire South Island area. It’s direct from Singapore, though, it was autumn in May, with cooler weather but not too cold, and lots and lots of boats. It couldn’t have sounded more perfect to me.
I packed a bag, a bottle of wine, and headed down under for a little cool weather and birthday pampering.
A lot of the weekend was spent sleeping for hours in my deep, cushy bed, or heading to the spa in the Sofitel, plus some writing. I had been so tired from preparing for my move to Bangkok and changing jobs that I needed quite a bit of rest. But I also alternated my rest times with lots of fresh air and boats. I do so love boats. But weird little me also loves wandering in the mist and rain at night in a foreign city. I found neat alleyways, busy modern shopping streets and elegant old churches that felt more like home to me.
The first afternoon I joined an America’s Cup racing boat tour, and while it was a lovely tour around the harbor there was so little wind we didn’t end up with a lot of exciting sailing. So the next day I started hopping ferries, first to Devonport and then over to Waiheke Island.
These communities were entirely idyllic. Children running across public spaces and parks without fences and parents hovering too close. It smacked of safety and contentment. The shops closed at five and six pm, letting families head home for dinner together. I suspect they stay open later in the summer, during high season, but liked the idea of the quieter time.
Waiheke Island is where all the vineyards are in Auckland. But I didn’t book a tour, and pretty quickly it became awkward and tiring to get around the island. So I hiked on nearby trails, had lunch overlooking the ocean and wandered on the beach.
Sometimes, travel is just about wandering at a glacial pace. Slowing down, and doing what my instincts say I need. It could be dramatic but sometimes I also need the slow and maybe even a bit boring.