It was in early January 2016 that I once again packed my bags and left for another destination in New Zealand. This time it was from Kaikoura to Fiordland National Park, renown for their majestic ice-craved fiords. Again, not wanting to rush my visit nor spend serious money on accommodation and cost-of-living, I signed myself up for a work exchange in the area. Now it was time to worry about transporting myself there. I scoured the internet and to my disbelief I found a $1 Intercity bus ticket from Christchurch (NZ’s third biggest city, and South Island’s largest) to Queenstown, the closest town to Mildford Sound besides Te Anau. You bet that I bought that ticket in a heartbeat.
My co-worker and friend Chloe left for Christchurch with me and she sent me off the next morning at the city’s central bus exchange, a large modern structure that was built to replace the original after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2011. The city was quieter than expected, but the atmosphere was nevertheless invigorating with colorful graffiti-ed murals, clean streets, construction cranes, and innovative commercial revitalization solutions, such as the ReStart container mall in the central business district (CBD). Later on, I would end up settling in this city for 6 months. But that’s a story for another day.
I boarded the Intercity bus without a hitch and quickly settled into a comfortable state-of-mind on the bus, listening to my high school playlist off my iPod (which I can’t update unless I want to lose all the existing songs).
As Dido, Regina Spektor, Faye Wong, Keane, Rachel Yamagata, the Cranberries, and Sixpence None the Richer crooned, the varied landscapes of the Canterbury and Otago regions flew past in an instant and left me curious. At times, I wanted to just get off the bus and explore.
We stopped briefly in Timaru and Oamaru before we boarded another bus to take us to Queenstown.
All of a sudden the driver yelled, “Ms. Cho, please come up and see me outside the bus”. As I made my way up to the exit, I felt the other passengers look at me. My heart began to race. What could it be??
I gingerly greeted the bus driver. My heart dropped when told me that my bus ticket I bought for $1 was for January 2017, a year later.