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So after much toing and froing I managed to finally pack the ‘mid-sized’ suitcase borrowed from my in-laws. By midsized, I mean large enough to store a body in as long as you had some good butchering skills and a few power tools you wouldn’t mind getting a wee bit unsanitary. However, I have seen videos of migrants squeezing themselves out of similar size suitcases, so providing you were inclined to put a hit on someone, you would need to ensure that either they were very flexible, or that you had the aforementioned power tools.

Regardless, having the medium sized case and a desire to face any eventuality, I arrived at Christchurch Airport with a slight feeling of trepidation. Glaring at my medium case with the kind of hostility usually reserved for career criminals by judges, the Air New Zealand staff only saw my case as an occupational health and safety risk and quickly questioned the weight of the case. With a quick smile – designed to overcome any hostility and bag inspections – I cheerfully replied that my bag only weighed 18kgs. Begrudgingly, the staff at the bag check motioned to the conveyer belt and signaled that I should put the bag on myself. Maintaining my air of pleasant charm and grace, I managed to nonchalantly hoist the case onto the ramp and sauntered off as if it were the lightest thing in the world. Meanwhile, my back and arms were doing their best impressions of Arnie’s Pumping Iron and I felt the need for a deep tissue massage the following morning.

Once on the plane, I was impressed to discover myself seated next to a four bar captain of Air New Zealand. Here I was, little old Captain Undertraveled, seated right next to a man who could – in theory – rescue the occupants of a plane experiencing any number of major difficulties. Yet here also was a man, who despite his intricate knowledge of aeronautical endeavors, listened in complete rapture to the inflight safety instructions from the crew. His perfect example has left me suitably educated and I will now no longer browse the inflight magazine during the safety videos. Instead, I will scrutinize meticulously the intricate features of the videos, paying particular attention to any of the minor Kiwi celebrities and who-was-thats that feature in the safety demonstrations. For the record, I did recognise glimpses of Scott Dickson, Eliza McCartney and Rachael Hunter in the clip. Some of NZ’s greatest children!

After a rather uneventful flight – I say that because the windshear caused by the mountains only rocked the plane like a boat and didn’t throw the crew and food around the plane like I was hoping for – I arrived in the temperate economic capital of Aotearoa. After a quick walk to the Budget Ibis, where I was staying, I acquainted myself with the local shops and came to two conclusions. Firstly, Christchurch is a ridiculously Caucasian city, and secondly, my arteries and general health do not work in a symbiotic relationship with Carl’s Jr.

Settling in for the night, I found the stark, almost medicinal qualities of my tiny room unbelievably welcoming (though a few BrB Stouts may have helped). Tomorrow I  would start out on the first leg to South Korea, the home of Hyundai and the 39th Parallel. Following that, a flight to Israel and the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture and history that has been 3,000 years in the making.

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