Thursday, January 16, 2014

Internship and Travelling in Christchurch, New Zealand

Well, as mentioned in earlier post, I did visited New Zealand (NZ) and stayed there for two months in purpose of internship which was required as one of qualification to complete my master studies in Malaysia. It began in late April to late June 2013. Yeah, it’s been too late to post but I still think it is still worth sharing. Why New Zealand? because the center wherein I interned received me with open arms when I sent my application letter. Otherwise, I would have my internship in Thailand or Singapore (closer to home and cheaper living cost).
After they confirmed my internship there and the contract has been signed, then I had to deal with visa, ticket and accommodation. Since the NZ embassy in Malaysia did not offer visa processing service then I had to send it via courier to Singapore and the cost was quite highly (both the courier and visa fee). Alhamdulillah, there was no problem with visa application (which was rumored difficult) though they left me worried due to no news about my application for a week. I got Qantas return ticket for about 1,000 USD from Jakarta-Christchurch. The institution wherein I interned has provided a list of hotels and guesthouses around the university, so I just picked the cheapest. The flight journey was fine (my first intercontinental flight!) though I was suspicious of racial-profiling in Sydney Airport (for transit) when the security officer scurried me to a tube-of-glass-wall-like metal scanner (which most travellers did not have to pass through). 

So there I arrived at Christchurch on mid-Autumn 2013, then immediately reported to the Institution to start internship. I will omit you the details of my work there and share what interest both you and me, travelling. Christchurch is located on the main South Island of NZ, surrounded by hills and close to the sea. You might have recalled the city due to its shocking earthquake news in 2011-2012 (if I’m not mistaken). The city was still in recovery when I visited with the city center’s still cordoned off. Nevertheless, the city is still a beautiful place to visit which was the first impression I got when I came. The second one was quiet, very quiet. For those of you who has visited lively city such as Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta, the contrast would be felt greatly as in autumn most shops close around 5 p.m. and night life was scarce (maybe due to the earthquake?). The surrounding hills and beaches are stunningly beautiful and if you’re a nature lover or looking for nice photography hot spot, Christchurch is the right place. Here’s a few photos I captured there
Christchurch 3
Luckily, the Queen’s birthday holiday gave us (me and my intern friends) extended weekend which we used to visit Queenstown, an amazing resort town in the south west of NZ’s south island. Unfortunately, it rained in most of the days we spent there. Not willing to waste what possibly once in a lifetime experience, I insisted to go around the city when it rained all day long heavily and later found out my wet passport due to rainwater leaked into my bag (which cost me a hundred of NZ dollar to replace Sad smile ). On the way back to Christchurch, our journey was interrupted by snow blocking the road. The driver from Queenstown who supposed to wait for oncoming bus from Christchurch refused t do so since it was unclear when the road would be safe to go anymore (they sort of exchanging their buses so that driver from Christchurch would return to Christchurch and vice versa). So, we are sort of stranded at Lake Tekapo, with options: taking another bus going to Christchurch (more money), taking the same bus on next day or hitchhiking. With pressure from my friends, we resorted to hitchhike (I preferred waiting for another bus). After a half hour waiting at the road side, a Korean lady kindly offered a ride. On the bright side, she stopped the car to let us enjoy the snow.
Queenstown 1 
It was also the first time I tried Vegemite (I can only say I truly wonder how Australians and New Zealanders enjoy eating it). If there’re any drawbacks of staying in NZ, they will be difficulties to find halal food for Muslim (like me), expensive internet fee and unpredictable weather.We're lucky that we had a kind and friendly Malaysian couple who helped us through our stay in NZ greatly (thanks Bang Rafiel and Kak Faridah).
For full album of my NZ journey, you can visit my Facebook album through this link.

Allah, I miss NZ….

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