Changi is a very pleasant place but once it’s time to board the plane and you’ve passed through security and the boarding pass inspection, you lose access to all of those lovely facilities.
No problem… if you’re getting straight on the plane.
The flight to Auckland was delayed.
Its departure time had already moved back 40 minutes but once in the holding pen for embarking, it was announced that another update on departure time was awaited.
There were a few sighs around the room.
On handing over my passport for inspection, a buzzer had sounded. That is not something I consider to be a good sign.
My passport was taken away for further verification. Would I mind waiting? I didn’t really have much choice but there are times for sarcasm and this was not one of them.
For once, my inner monologue (the one that says, “Shut up, Fiona. Just be quiet, just this once,”) actually won.
The issue, again, was whether I had a departure ticket from New Zealand. Fortunately, I do.
There may not be a relaxed flexibility to this trip, there may be a lack of going with the flow and going wherever the wind takes me… but having several flights booked in advance means I can prove that I am not planning to stay behind my welcome. It makes crossing borders very easy.
There was no announcement regarding a departure time, various categories of passengers were simply invited to board.
After an ‘entertaining’ night of turbulence, trying to ensure the meal didn’t leap out of my bowl into the lap of the man sitting next to me, the plane landed at Auckland
After all of the concern displayed about my ticketing (or tucketing, as the Air New Zealand safety video described it) would I be allowed to enter the country? Or would I be on the first flight back to Blighty?
I barely realised that I had passed border and passport control. New Zealand’s immigration control, at least at Auckland, is staffed by the nicest people.
I swiped my electronic passport,had my photograph taken by the scanner, promised the machine that I wouldn’t overstay my welcome and I was through.
At the next desk, a very friendly officer asked me how long I was staying, did I have a ticket for my next destination and had I brought any prohibited biological (forbidden foodstuffs) into the country? He was satisfied with my answers and when he saw the 40 litre rucksack I’m using for the year, he directed me to the ‘Nothing to declare’ channel.
This all took approximately five minutes.
Once I found myself in the airport arrivals, I did a double take to see if I had missed some other elements of entry.
On the bus into town, I spotted this beautiful mural and that made my decision for how I was going to spend the afternoon.
This was painted in 2015 by artist Owen Dippie featuring a Māori woman, called Tania Cotter, wearing a tā moko.
It is a stunning mural and after lunch I explored the surrounding area for more works.
Most of them were tucked away down side streets and hidden inside entries to buildings just off Karangahape Road.
What struck me was how little street art there appeared to be and yet there are these huge blank walls that could be used for some beautiful murals.
A report from earlier this year highlighted the issue.
In my blog about my visit to Tam Thanh, I talked about how the Vietnamese fishing village had been chosen for a joint Korean-Vietnamese project whose aims included bringing art and creativity to every day life.
Art doesn’t just have to be in an indoor gallery and the blank walls in Auckland offer a great opportunity for a similar project… and we know that seeing (experiencing) art is good for people’s mental wellbeing.
As well as brightening up a drab, grey wall.
I’ve also seen work by a local artist Flox who started stencilling on walls in 2003.
Her intricate designs of birds and flowers are also available for sale.
I saw a number of her pieces around the city but my favourite was this on a construction hoarding.
Not only did it make the building site boards look more attractive but I took this, A Place For All to be a either a statement about homelessness and housing or possibly an advert about what is being built here – new apartments?
(I may be biased because one of my favourite murals in Manchester is a message about homelessness).
Isn’t this nicer than blank construction boards?
I’m looking forward to hopefully spotting more while I am here.