i was nervous about going to Auckland. i hadn't been there since about 1985 and i thought it would now be so different it would be another country, like they say the past is. i was worried about managing on my own in a big city. i told myself if i can cope in Hanoi i can surely be OK in Auckland.
As it happens, Auckland was like another country. Mostly it was warm and damp and smelled of spices. It was an Asian city, and most of the people there were Asian, either Chinese/Korean/Japanese or Middle Eastern or Indian sub-continent. For a day the only European people i saw were the homeless on the street benches or being disgorged from the City Mission and the Police Station. i felt quite at home, a little tourist far from home, not quite adrift. i op shopped and wandered. i admired the the old art nouveau buildings, nestled among the mirror glass horrors, looking slightly sinister, harbouring occult secrets no doubt. i took a boat to Tiritiri Matangi, a wildlife sanctuary, into the gulf, with the sooty shearwaters and the fluttering shearwaters skimming beside us, and the waves roiling like newly blown glass before they make the wake, and arc into rainbows.
i stayed at the YWCA. It was full of long term tenants. Most of them were young and from further away than me. They were from the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan and India. They played ball games in the meagre car park. 'Man if i kick this you will fucken die' crowed the Somalian guy. The man in the room next to mine played Hindi TV day and night. i liked all the city night noises, and slept with the window open. The floor of my room was slightly sticky, like the pubs of my youth. The duvet was unfortunate. A sign said the sheets would be changed on Tuesday. i was not there for that happy event. Three nights there gave me bed bug bites. i looked like i was turning into a dragon.
Nobody knew how to hitch out of Auckland. i ended up taking a bus.