Tuesday, December 14, 2010
NZ #1: the vacation that almost wasn't
this is what i did in preparation:
1) bought air-tickets 10 months early - there was a MAS promotion & we grabbed them, literally!
2) having ample time before the trip, we changed currency whenever the rate was favourable.
3) asked around/checked blogs on travel tips; since this was going to be free & easy, i had to plan the destinations & duration of stay within the time-frame of the vacation.
4) check-out the accomodation & car rental rates for best offer. i paid online for the apartment on the 1st & last day of the trip. for the rest, i booked as i went along so that our travel route can remain flexible. in NZ itself, the free AA accomodation guide was fantastic & most have freephone numbers.
5) since i was going to drive, made sure my m'sian driving licence was valid & my own GPS was loaded with NZ maps. you could rent a GPS with the car rental for NZD12 a day, but why pay extra?
6) bought travel insurance for a hundred ringgit plus per family, just to cover the unexpected.
7) as it was summer, brought sunscreen lotion & shades.
this is what i should have done:
1) as peak tourist period only starts in 2nd half of december, after the school term ends, should have gone to car rental personally to choose the vehicle. instead, i booked thru the phone & they could only confirm the class of car, eg. family sedan, either nissan or toyota. i had expected a toyota corolla but got a nissan sentra instead. although it was a 7-yr car, it was very well-maintained. they even offered free pick-up & drop-off within the city.
2) i underestimated the size of NZ. although i had not planned on going to south island, the north island was still huge!! we covered 2000km within 7 days & even then, only visited half of the island. in the end, 3 days in auckland was probably a day too many.
finally, we almost have to cancel. 3 days before we were due to leave, we were told one of the girls in the boy's cello class had chicken pox. a day before departure, the boy had a slight fever & he developed little skin lesions over his neck. without hesitation, i started him on zovirax, just in case it's early chicken pox. the lesions weren't typical pox & besides, i think he already had chicken pox before.
our options were either we cancelled the trip or i go with the daughter while the wife stay back with the boy.
as it turned out, he got better the next day & the skin lesions, whatever they were, subsided. i had planned to complete the 5-day course of zovirax anyway except that, while filling out the arrival forms on the plane, there was a question on bringing in medicines into NZ. in case i needed to explain it & the custom people got overly suspicious about harbouring dangerous viruses, i decided to discard the zovirax. as it turned out, those guys didn't even bothered looking into the bag.
NZ, here we come.....
**image : a crimson flower from the pohutukawa tree aka NZ christmas tree because the flowers tend to blossom in dec**