21 Jan 2014 Aotearoa, New Zealand: The Land of the Long White Cloud
It’s a panorama of rolling hills against blue skies, too. That is New Zealand in a photograph for you. Also known as Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, one couldn’t help but gush at the amazing sceneries this country offers to unwary travelers.
I was thrilled to visit this beautiful country with my best friend between the winter and spring of 2013. It wasn’t totally unplanned. A trip to a wonderful place like NZ had to be planned to make sure we made the most of every day we spent there. But it was the kind of trip that held so much significance to us, being the wandering souls that we were (and still are), primarily because the past year did not necessarily start on a high note for both of us. We each had our own life transitions to deal with; going for the trip became the perfect escape, albeit transient, as we had to return to our daily routine after three fun weeks. Taking three weeks off for the trip meant giving up some time for going back home (we are based in Singapore, but our families are in the Philippines). But it was all worth the experience; besides, we both managed to get extra days to spend with our families later on.
The whole NZ experience made me realize how life means so much more than going about the daily grind. There is a world to discover out there. And so little time on our hands. Time, being a limited resource, should be spent on things that add meaning to our lives. Experiencing the people and the laid back culture in NZ inspired me to re-examine my priorities and appreciate parts of my life that really matter.
This realization struck me in one of the highlights of this trip. It was during a hike to the summit of the highest volcano in Auckland, Mt Eden. Yes, a volcano sitting in the middle of a city adds a unique charm to this place. At high noon, we managed to reach one of Mt Eden’s craters. Right there, we enjoyed a 360-degree view of the city. In one of the benches along the sides of the crater, sat a man in his business suit. My friend and I were amazed to see someone taking his time to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking sights surrounding him – in the middle of a workday. Here was a man who knows how to spend his time wisely, without much care of hurrying back to work or catching the train to some other place. He was in the moment, taking in as much of what the place was giving him at that very moment.
It has been four months since that trip, but the memories of the time I spent there with my best friend has changed how I see things today and how I embrace life with all the uncertainties that it hurls my way like curve balls in the field. I would love to go back and spend more time, perhaps even live and bring my family there. And if that time comes, I will always be grateful for choosing to take that three-week break which made all the difference.
About the Author: Mary Ann Bautista is a graduate student of public health. She quit her job to pursue further studies a few weeks after she came back from this trip. She loves traveling and writing but these interests have often taken a backseat when she’s too preoccupied with being in the daily grind.
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