A Place Far, Far Away

Cinderella and Belle ready to send

I had anticipated the physical exhaustion and mild confusion resulting from a 47 hour travel adventure to the other side of the world, but could never have predicted what a long, strange trip crossing the international time zone would actually be. Late Halloween night, Clea and I donned our over-the-top sparkly, couture Walmart Belle and Cinderella costumes before stepping foot into JFK airport. I don’t believe anyone is ever too old to wear a ridiculous Halloween costume; I find refreshment in the ability to not always take yourself too seriously. So we checked our backpacks, glided through security, and in true holiday form, went straight to the bar for some tasty eats and a tequila shot. A couple celebratory drinks later we boarded flight 127 and made ourselves at home as we embarked on the first leg of what would be the longest, weirdest travel experience of my life thus far. Dinner was served soon after our midnight departure, and nothing seemed strange yet as we dozed off and on between numerous movies. When we landed in Vancouver 5 hours later, I was sleeping like a brick, hardly even noticing that we had stopped. We stayed on the plane until its second takeoff, when the time change started to really fuck with us. For 14 hours straight we sat on a completely dark plane, watching movie after movie amongst bits of random sleep and seemingly random meals. Is it nighttime? Didn’t we just sleep through a night? Or was it a morning? What day is it? My watch says its 8AM but they just served us beef noodles and red wine? Why is everyone looking at me weird? Oooohhhhh riiiiigghhhttt I’m still wearing my Cinderella costume…it seemed totally appropriate when I put on the dress almost 24 hours ago. I guess most passengers aren’t used to seeing a glowing princess strutting towards the lavatory or awkwardly stretching by the flight attendant station at 8AM on November 2nd. We could have felt weird about it, but Clea and I fully embraced our reputation as the “mountain-climbing princesses”. Because why not?

Finally, only 21 hours but a day and a half later we landed in Manila, SO stoked to get off the plane. To whoever sits in 42J and 42K next, I hope you like glitter because we left behind 50 pounds of silver sparkles just for you! Belle and Cinderella made one final trek through security before saying goodbye so Clea and Jenni could go play around the Philippines during their 14 hour layover. Redressed in our usual garb, we took a taxi into downtown Manila for some exploring. Despite feeling like a sticky, melting candle due to the heat and humidity, Clea and I found a quiet, lush, green garden oasis in the city perfect for some yoga and stretching. We killed a few hours channeling our inner art historians at the National Museum, strolled through an awesomely open and green, busy central park, and snarfed down some delicious but definitely questionable meat at a tiny quick-stop joint. Based on our waiter’s eagerness for selfies with us, I got the feeling they don’t see a lot of white chicks rolling through. I’m stoked we got to be an exception. Jet lag started to set in mid-afternoon with 7 hours still left of our layover, so we cruised back to the airport and passed the fuck out until our next flight.

Clea holding a pose in the garden







Beautiful parks and gardens in the Philippines







Nap time in Manila







The 6 hour flight from Manila to Cairns, Australia felt like 2 seconds because I managed to sleep the whole time. YAAAASSSS! We switched planes in Cairns for the final 4 hour flight to Auckland. Never have I ever been so ready to be at a destination. One National Geographic and a blog post later we landed. I only had one momentary panic attack when I realized my birthdate was backwards on my visa, but I got through no problem. One short Sky Bus ride to our hostel seemed like a breeze after nearly 2 full days or airports and airplanes. The Choice Backpackers Hostel has a prime location in downtown Auckland, right near all the shops and restaurants on Queens street. Our 8-bunk dorm room was simple, clean and felt safe for sure. A shower wasn’t even enough to rid us of all the glitter, but at least we were clean enough that our bunkmate Lewis wanted to join us for beers. We cruised over to Father Ted’s Irish Pub (apparently you can find an Irish Pub in just about any country) and finally started to soak in our new reality. After walking around the city for awhile, we bought some takeaway beer and wine and spent our evening chatting with our new Australian friend in the hostel lobby until sleep was prudent. And alas. I laid down on my fresh linens provided by the front desk, stretched my body out, and tookoff on one last flight to Dreamland.

Choice Backpackers Hostel, Auckland
A painting from the National Museum in Manila that sums up how we felt after traveling

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