Journal of Alan Howard
actually the 26th July, but it's only now that I've gotten
around to updating this journal. The following few entries
are from emails I sent to a mailing list that all my friends had
subscribed to. I will put those emails in here as journal
entries for the applicable dates.)
16th June 2000
Well, it's been pretty bloody
hectic this past week. But for the first time in a while
now, I can relax. It's really strange that it's happening
like this, right now, 'cause I'm surrounded by a busy shop full
of people checking their emails or browsing the internet.
I'm managing an internet cafe, and there's 9 computers in here.
5 of them are taken right now. This is so much fun, but
it's really funny how I couldn't relax when I wasn't working...
Now that I'm really busy working, I have more time.... go
figure. Obviously it's because the stress and frantic
activity of the last week and more is really over now.
Ok, let me tell you about the past few days. On Tuesday
night, I caught a bus from Canberra to Sydney, where I was
staying overnight with a friend there - the last friend to catch
up with before leaving the country. At 9:30am Wednesday
morning I was taking off in a 737 to Wellington. The last
time I'd been in a large airplane like that was back in '91, and
that was my very first airplane flight in my life, from Adelaide
to Sydney and back again the following day. So this was my
second - and my first overseas! It was pretty exciting to
take off from Sydney, and we circled it while gaining altitude,
and as we were doing that I was looking down on Sydney getting
smaller and smaller (I was happy that I was in a window seat
too). It was amazing how quickly it shrunk, and it was
even more amazing to see this huge city like that, and the
surrounding countryside. And seeing the changes in colour
of the water, seeing the different depths of the ocean floor.
Then we flew out over the ocean away from Australia.
For a while I kept myself occupied looking for cargo and oil
carriers, which were small specks on the ocean surface.
But that got boring after a while and so I started reading some
magazines. The brunch they served was shit; it was stale
and disgusting crap. Every now and again I looked up from
the magazine to look out the window at the clouds. My
mobile phone was turned off, and I didn't have a watch, so I
wasn't really sure about how much time had passed. At one
point I looked out of the window and was marvelling at the weird
formation of clouds that I could see covering the entire horizon
as far as I could see. However, the third time I looked up
at them I realised that the ocean had changed colour and was
actually land - and then I realised that what I had thought was
cloud-cover was actually snow-covered mountains for as far as
the eye could see!! Now THAT was amazing! It looked as if
the entire country was just covered in large angular mountains
and covered in snow!! I'd never seen anything like it, and
that's why from a distance I thought it was clouds! I put
the magazine down and just looked at the mountains passing under
After a little while, they started turning into foothills
without snow, and there were rivers drifting down through them.
I could see tiny towns or villages and farms down there.
Then the captain announced that we were about to descend to
Wellington. Now, because of the direction of approach, we
had flown in over the south island of NZ, and it was obvious
that the snow-covered mountains went from the west to the east
coasts of NZ, and looked as if they covered the entire island,
as far south as the eye could see. The foothills were
coming down to the north coast, which is what we were flying
over. Wellington is on the south tip of the north island,
and because I was on the right, I was unable to see Wellington
on our left as we were approaching it. It wasn't until we
banked and descended that I was actually able to start seeing
some of the north island, particularly Wellington.
It was fun watching the green ocean (between the islands and off
the shore of Wellington) getting closer and closer, and I could
see schools of fish and a few fishing boats. Then I saw
some cliffs to the east of Wellington, and as we came into the
airport I could see all these houses lining the hills. And
one of the first things I realised at this point, looking out
over what I could see of the north island of NZ, was that the
country was just covered in mountains, and even though there was
habitable lands closer to the coasts, there were still so many
hills and cliffs!
After landing (2:40pm local time, 12:40pm Canberra time), I
spent ages going through customs and baggage. On my
customs/immigration form (that I'd filled out on the airplane) I
had declared that I was an Australian citizen here for permanent
residency. It seemed to be well-favoured, because tourists
in front of me had to declare what was in their bags and have
them x-rayed and searched. When I was next, I handed over
my form and they asked me if I had anything to declare. I
said no. He looked at my form and took two of my largest
bags off the trolley and put them through the x-ray. He
was about to grab my camera case as well, and I just said
"that's just a camera case" and he said ok and passed
me through - and there wasn't any metal detectors at that point
either. Then I picked up the bags on the other end of the
x-ray and kept going. Obviously us permanent residency
entrants are treated with more trust than tourists... I
could have had a bomb in my camera case.... <shrug>
None of the bags were searched nor was I asked to declare the
contents of any of them. I went through in about a quarter
of the time as anyone else.
I finally got through into the arrivals lounge where I had a
nice reunion with Michelle... It was great to see her
again and to be here permanently - with her. She then took
me on a scenic drive of part of Wellington on our way home.
It was certainly breathtaking... After dropping my gear
off at the house, we headed into the CBD to be introduced to
John, who owned the cybercafe I was going to be working at.
After hanging around there for a bit of training for an hour or
so, Michelle and I walked around the centre of Wellington.
By this time it was early evening and dark.
The CBD of Wellington reminds me a bit of Sydney, but there's
certain American and English architectural overtones. I
guess it adds to a certain NZ uniqueness... It's all quite
beautiful here though. I'd say it's prettier here than it
is in Canberra, and that's saying something, 'cause Canberra's a
After we walked around the city for a while, we got some chinese
takeaway and went home. We turned the tv on and what do
you suppose was showing? "What Becomes Of The Broken
Hearted," the sequel to "Once Were Warriors"!
LOL My very first night in New Zealand has me
watching that!! (For those who don't know, both of the
above-mentioned movies are NZ movies.) Michelle hadn't
seen it so we both enjoyed it (the second time for me).
Yesterday I started my first day at work, meeting John here at
8am. He took me through a few final things, left me there
for a couple of hours, and then returned to see how I handled
it. No problems. He then left for his holiday, which
is to Brisbane, and he's coming back late next week.
Michelle had taken a day off yesterday, so she was with me here
(at the shop) all day. It was nice to have her here, and
it was fun too. We had a good time chatting and stuff.
She wants to have her own business, and we've been talking about
running our own internet cafe, so yesterday was fun for both of
us as we imagined and talked about doing that together
full-time. Unfortunately her idea of starting it in the
Wellington airport has already been taken by someone, who opened
their cybercafe there on Wednesday, the day I arrived here.
So we had another idea of buying John out, and making this place
better. We'll see how it goes...
After work we went to dinner with her friend Steve, and his new
girlfriend Tracey. That was a lot of fun, 'cause Steve is
English and Tracey is a Kiwi - it was a multicultural gathering
and the war was on! I learnt that there's an ongoing
battle between the Australians and the Kiwis, and we all know
about the shit that we put upon the English... Tracey went
into this battle of wits with the idea that Kiwis were better
than Australians, but after a couple hours of verbal sparring,
she left sorely beaten. And the pommies didn't leave
unscathed either... By the end of the dinner, Michelle had
sore sides from her laughter, Steve had just quit in defeat, and
Tracey vowed to continue this another time. Hehehe.
Needless to say, I had a great time. Dinner was at a
restaurant similar to Montezumas. It was called South of the
Border and has similar food to Monte's. It's apparently a
style of food called "Tex-Mex".
I've been by myself today. Normally Michelle would be at
work, but they had planned a seminar for this weekend, which she
didn't really want to go to, so she took today off 'sick'.
She's at home hiding, in case someone from work (who didn't go
to the seminar) sees her out and about.
I've been sorting out my hotmail account today, in between
serving customers (it's excellent that I can play on a computer
as well, while the customers are on other computers. The
only time I have to get up is when a customer wants to pay for
their time at the end of their session). I've got a few
more of you onto my NZalan mailing list, and I've even created a
new hotmail account.
In order to get away from my orac past, which isn't relevent
anymore (no offence, Scot...), my hotmail address is now:
If you've got the other one ([email protected]) marked down
somewhere then you may as well delete it.
I apologise for the length of this email, but it's a few days
worth of catching up... It shouldn't be this long in
In regards to this mailing list, due to the offensive nature of
some of my friends (you know who you are!), I am moderating all
emails sent to this list and declining any with offensive
language. I know that some of you out there don't want to
read certain stuff, so I'm making sure that everyone remains
happy. You're all welcome to reply to this list and send
mail to this list, and talk amongst yourselves. Many of
you don't know others in this list, but you're all my friends,
so right from the start you have something in common with each
I'll send some more updates soon. Take care, and bye for now!