In transit... Forever!
Ahead of me was now 30hrs + in flights and layovers to get from Rarotonga to Chiang Mai, Thailand! Let the air adventure begin. Oh boy!
As the plane departed Rarotonga I started up conversation with a young balinesse man. It was strange to me that I was having this conversation outside of Bali. He was very kind as most of them are but I don't tend to meet many Balinese people while traveling.
Not long into our talk we discovered we had a mutual friend. Actually it was more than just a friend, it was his brother! I had met his brother (Tanu) when I visited Bali in 2014! Talk about a small world!
We arrived to Auckland landing at 1:24 in the morning. The couple from England that had stayed at the hostel with me made their way off the plane. My new Balinese friend and I followed closely behind. Unfortunately he and I eventually got separated through customs and the international/ domestic terminals, never to see eachother again.
He didn't have to collect any bags and his layover was much shorter than mine before he flew on to Bali. I had to catch a plane almost 12 hours later and I needed to pick up my bag. He tried to follow me thru customs but as he got in line with me I told him he didn't need to be in that line. He could just go straight to his next gate. I told him I'd meet him in that area after I got my bag and he gratefully walked off. I should have given him a proper goodbye just incase.
I collected my backpack went through customs and left the international terminal. I headed up the escalator to go back into the international terminal and immediately saw Casey and Mattie, The young couple from Canada. They were super excited to see me and I could tell they were exhausted and hungry as well. They had left on the 3 PM flight from Raro. So I sat down with them to visit and I noticed off to the left that the gates back into the international terminal were closed. I knew then that the gates wouldn't be opening tell later in the morning. I made myself comfortable on the floor with the Canadians and decided a goodbye to the balinesse guy would have to be done only thru FB now.
Casey and Mattie were entertaining to talk with. Since they are new travelers o have them advice and enjoyed listening to how they were adapting so far. They have a lot to learn! They are young and free in the world for the first time so like many young travelers do, they spend a lot on alcohol and it REALLY adds up! I didn't really need to tell them how to do things differently next time. They new!
We we're all very hungry and there really wasn't much of a selection of food open at that hour. Not to mention at the airport so it's extremely expensive.
Shamefully Mattie and I left Casey with our bags and he and I walked over to the McDonald's where he looked over the menu and asked the lady at the counter if they had a dollar menu. The lady was pretty confused and responded with a no. I explained to the lady that we are backpackers and trying to save a few dollars and also that the countries he and I came from had dollar menus at McDonald's. She kind of understood where we were coming from. So I ordered a breakfast wrap and Mattie ordered one Mc muffin breakfast sandwich to split with Casey. I encouraged him to buy two so they each had one that you wanted to save that extra couple dollars. So when we went back to the bags, Casey of course asked where her sandwich was and Mattie told her they were sharing. Everything she went to take a bite he would remind her, "little bites Casey." I was cracking up!
The two eventually headed off to catch the next plane to Queenstown taking a little bit of my advice with them on what to do when they arrive. Now that they were gone I found myself a corner to sleep in for a few hours with carpet vs the cold tile floor we had been sitting on.
My flight and New Zealand to Sydney Australia didn't leave till 2 PM so I had a good several hours ahead of me. I also wasn't the only one with an idea to sleep on the carpeted floor in the corner. I should've taken a picture for you of what my situation looks like but I was too tired to pull my phone out. Finding a corner was actually a bit difficult to come by so and said I settled for a wall. There were at least five backpackers who had already beat me to the corners and I was impressed with the sleeping arrangements they had made up for themselves. Sleeping bags and air pads for cushion, blankets and some even had legit pillows.
I woke up around 8:30 AM and decided to make my way out of the Auckland airport and head to the countdown grocery store. I knew it wasn't far from where I was. I had to ask directions because of course on foot it's a whole different story than driving. I actually asked directions three or four times through my route. Can I just say that roundabouts are a pain in the butt to cross over when you're on foot.
At the grocery store I, aimlessly walked up and down the isles with my 25 pound backpack on and my little tiny day pack in my hands. People didn't seem to mind me much I think I felt like I stood out more than I really did. I grabbed a few things to eat and help me get through the next few hours and then headed back to the airport. The weather in NZ was beautiful that day! I was in a tank top walking to the store! It was the warmest I had ever remembered it being and how I wished I could have stayed there and not got on another plane.
The Auckland airport only allows for 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi a day which totally sucks when you're there for several hours and you don't have a phone plan set up. Thankfully I used my head and got 30 minutes on my phone and then I pulled out my iPad, logged in with a different email address and got another 30 minutes. At one point I actually tried to activate my Australian phone card and just pay five dollars for the day but when tried to turn on wifi it said I had a late payment. That payment was the last $5 I used. Nikita (my friend in the Gold Coast who gave me the SIM card) forgot to pay the bill when I paid her thru PayPal. So I messaged her about it and she said she would pay the bill soon as she got to work but by that time I was on the plane to Australia.
All my flights seemed to have turbulence so far and this plane was the same. It doesn't bother me a ton but I definitely feel better when I close my eyes and just try to sleep through it. The problem with that is when you are seated next to a friendly person and they want to talk thru the turbulence. The flight from New Zealand Australia service food and then they came to the cabin and passed out… Ice cream bars! Vanilla ice cream on a stick dipped in chocolate! I've never seen anything like this on a plane before but I loved it!
When I landed in Sydney for 4 hours I was back with my free phone and wifi. The SIM card I had was back in action with no fee needed while in Australia.
I honestly wish that out of all my layovers this one have been the longest. I was able to call the United States and my time just seem to fly by. I called my grandma/ tutu, my dad and a few friends who were free to chat.
After a little over four hours in Sydney I boarded the plane to Bangkok. I sat next to a lovely couple from New Zealand who didn't talk with me too much until the end of the flight. That was fine though because it was nine hours and as much as I wanted to watch a movie or 2 I ended up sleeping. The New Zealand couple are both artists and we're headed to Bangkok to buy some clothing to take back to sell in the shop the woman runs. I gave them my card and told them to keep in touch with me as we parted ways, then leaving the airport for their hotel and me staying put. It was another early morning landing (4am?) and my next flight didn't depart for Chiang Mai tell around 2pm.
Thankfully Bangkok airport has free Wi-Fi because I couldn't sleep at all after that flight. I did a lot of Facebook, Instagram, general Internet research, and of course taking notes for my blog. This wonderful piece of work that I put together for myself to look back on and for all of you beautiful people. I also made friends with an Italian woman who also had a long layover. Her English was OK but we are definitely able to communicate well enough. We took turns watching each other's bag so the other could walk around the airport and kill some time.
Eventually it was time for me to leave and I headed for Bangkok airways gate. I completely missed the lounge that is complementary for guests flying on this airway. I hear it's nothing fancy but they have lots of snacks and beverages which would've been nice. The flight to Chang Mai had food service and I was very appreciate of of it. There's also been food service from Sydney to Bangkok, a full meal and a snack.
Once I landed in Chang Mai the adventure to Carol's house began. She wasn't able to pick me up from the airport and had suggested I take a taxi telling me that it would be around around 200 baht and another 50 for dispatch.
Once I collected my backpack from the carousel I started walking out passing taxi booths just inside the airport. I stepped outside to see what the taxi situation was and quickly realized that those booths inside where the dispatch and I needed to get back to one of them in order to get a taxi. I did consider getting a taxi on my own but I would realize that there weren't any available taxis to just flag down. So when I tried to go back inside I was stopped by a man who pointed up at a sign that said exit only. I tried to explain to him that I just wanted to get to a taxi booth but his English wasn't good enough and he just shooed me away. So I went with my second nature, or is it my first? To find a good deal. I took Carol's advice as far as I could until I screwed myself over by walking outside of the airport. So I tried to flag down a red song toe (pronounced taoe) and I gave him the address of where I was going. As this was happening a girl who was also backpacking approached me and asked if she could share a ride with me. I wasn't against it but I had an address and she had nowhere to go. She figured she'd go to the bus stop after she was dropped off somewhere and look for a hostel.
So the driver told us he would take us to our locations and about a mile down the road he pulled into a gas station got out walked to the back of the truck and kicked us both out. Figures! Addresses in Thailand are tricky thing. They tend to go by landmarks versus actual addresses. So he told us in his broken English that we were not going in the same direction and they're too far away for the money we bartered to pay him.
The girl had no idea what to do so I gave her my best advice, told her to just get a taxi and have them take her to the old city and from there I told her she would have no problem finding a hostile to stay at. I begin my walk back to the airport! Thankfully it isn't very hot this time of year. So walking back to the airport in a tank top and workout capris pants and running shoes didn't kill me.
As I near the airport there was a young backpacking couple who approached me asking what I was doing and where I was going. I had seen them in the airport collecting their bags while I was getting mine. I had thought to ask them if they wanted to share a ride, that thought happened at the same time I walked out of the airport and couldn't get back in.
They were new to Thailand so again I gave them some advice as a red song toe approached us and asked where we are going. Those guys are independent drivers and hungry for money. They'll usually take you anywhere you want to go except for the driver who kicked me out. And it's a good thing I'm a seasoned backpack or otherwise I probably would've cried when he kicked me out of his truck with his hands flailing in the air! I told the couple the same thing I had told the other girl, go to the old city and find yourself a hostel. The driver took me but not the couple apparently we were headed in the same direction. So I jumped in and oddly enough he turn the truck around and headed back in the direction that I originally was headed in when the guy kicked me out.
Needless to say I made it to carol's and it was so good to see her again! I also met a new amazing family! ChiangMai seems to be the place for me to meet awesome people! I met Teresa, Mike and their cute little one, Nico! They are from the states, Texas/California and decided to travel with their 4yr old for a year. I say... Good for you!!
And that thing behind us is the massive bamboo okay structure at Nic's restaurant.
Okay so before I end this post I want to bring up a very important travel pint! I need to mention how incredibly important it is to do airfare travel research!
I did a lot of it along the way but where I slacked off (so to speak) unexpectedly cost me a little out of pocket!
Here's where I went wrong: while I was living with the family in Sydney they offered me a RT ticket to NZ and back. I don't tend to travel in a way where I know exactly when I want to be back so I turned it down. Meanwhile I booked my flight to the Gold Coast and then started planning to go to NZ and then to Rarotonga.
The family offered the ticket to me again but as a one way to NZ and I took it this time.
I was working so much and not allowing myself time at night to do flight research on where planes connect to that I didn't know that after the Cook Islands I HAD to go back to NZ and I didn't know that to get to Thailand I HAD to go back to Australia! Ugh! That could have been the round trip ticket from Australia to NZ that I was offered but I didn't plan ahead as well as I should have. Don't make the same mistake I did. I pretty much looked at a map and thought, it's an international airport and close to where I'll be so of course there's a flight straight there. Lesson learned!