Friday, 29 July 2011

NZ travelogue: Making plans

When my wife and I had a vacation in Western Australia two years ago, I had booked the self-drive holiday through a travel agency at the MATTA fair in Penang. The package covered accommodation and the car rental. Food was totally on our own, as well as the flight arrangement.

This time around when we decided on another vacation, I went back to the same travel agency, plonked myself in front of the boss and asked him about their prepared itineraries for New Zealand's South Island. I've known this guy for years, me as a staff of Ban Hin Lee Bank and he as a customer, so we could be very frank with each other.

The first question he asked me was, what for do I need him to make my arrangements. Gosh, I thought to myself, here I am wanting to give him my custom and here he was telling me otherwise. "You don't need me," he repeated. "Just arrange everything yourself through the Internet. New Zealand's such an easy place to do all that." And then he pushed two or three booklets into my hands. "These contain all the information you need to make your holiday totally trouble-free," he said as I walked out of his office. Funny guy, this chap.

So there I was, out in the hot sun, thumbing through the booklets and nowhere near deciding on a personal itinerary. All I had confirmed were our flight tickets: from Penang to the KLIA low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) and from there to Christchurch.

I had booked our tickets way back in December 2010 just as AirAsia X announced the commencement of flights to Christchurch. I wanted to go in April but my wife said her schedule would make it inconvenient to travel. Then we talked about May and she said that she wanted to avoid the days leading up to Wesak Day. All right then, we'll plumb for the second half of May. So I searched through the AirAsia website and got the dates that I wanted.

But the problem was, you see, in all my enthusiasm in booking the flight tickets, I clean forgot to factor in the season. Days after booking the tickets, it dawned on me that end of May also meant the end of autumn in New Zealand. The weather could turn very cold and I already know what 20 degrees Celsius meant to my wife, let alone temperatures like 10 degrees Celsius.

What to do? Tickets have already been bought. Nothing more that I could do except to tell her to bring her thickest clothing.It also put paid to any of my idea of hiring a campervan for our travels. She wouldn't want to step outside the vehicle in the cold. So we'll stick to a hired car instead. Just like in Perth.

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