It has been a long time since I have posted here. I simply didn't have any time to do that. I know it's not an excuse though when I'm going non stop and out of the house from 8am to 10pm any free time I have I just want to lay around and do nothing. So here are some long overdue updates and entries. Better late than never right.
The first half of the year saw me making a trip out to the oceanic region for some tournaments. Two to be exact back to back, New Zealand GP (April 10-14) and Tahiti International Challenge (April 18-21). I was going to go to the Australia Grand Prix Gold the week before but was not able to because of school commitments. So these two would have to suffice, not to mention I would be missing all my final exams and a major presentation which I did present via Skype in Tahiti with the beach as my backdrop. I also did 2 finals while i was away and had to email them into the professors.
So the trip started off with me leaving Calgary and heading to Vancouver to catch my flight to Auckland, New Zealand the host city for the tournament. I was excited and it was also my 1st time flying Air New Zealand. They were a nice airline and I was lucky in a way to have lots of leg room on the flight :P after 14 hours and crossing the dateline I touched down in Auckland around 5am in the morning a day later. It was such a surreal experience as it is every time I travel just leaving and landing in a new country in this case on the other side of the world almost. So it was super early and I needed to get to my hotel which was a fancy hotel attached to one of the focal points of Auckland, the sky tower. My hotel was the sky city hotel right in the heart of downtown Auckland and was simply amazing.
|Sky Tower in Downtown Auckland|
After arriving and checking in (had to wait 2 hours for my room cause it was so early >.<). I took a nice long overdue nap and then woke up to go find some lunch and explore the city. It was awesome to be walking the streets of such a nice busy city. Sunny and hot was a pleasant change from the winter that was happening back home in Calgary. I found a nice little food court which had lots of different foods from Asia. I love Asian food so of course this was the logical place for me to eat. After some exploring and walking around I needed to head back to the technical meeting and then off to the tournament venue to get a hit in during practice sessions.
The venue was nice it was an actual stadium with 4 courts set up as well as another 4 practice courts tucked away against the wall. The tournament was sponsored by a brand I had never heard of before Xtream which seemed to have lots of flashy clothing, shoes, bags, and racquets. The shuttles that we used were decent though and definitely not the worst I've played with but not the best either. I checked in with the tournament and was greeted with a nice welcome bag that had lots of goodies in it. Afterwards I was lucky to randomly met up with one of my friends from the Australian national team who was also playing the tournament and was able to have a hit with him and some of his teammates.
Lucky for me my world ranking was high enough to secure me a spot in the main draw so I didn't have to qualify. My match day came around and I was playing a guy from Malaysia, Jiann Shiarng Chiang. He beat me fairly handily, it was quite an experience and taught me quite a bit. So at that point I was knocked out of the tournament as I was just playing singles. That meant that I had 4 more days in Auckland to enjoy the city before I flew out to Tahiti for the tournament there.
I spend the next few days exploring and seeing all that I could see in Auckland. There was a giant park with a museum not to far from me (15-20 minute walk) so I went there and looked around it was an amazing place. Had the cultural history of new Zealand and surrounding area/islands as well was a military and general museum too. Walking through there took the better part of 5 hours, there was just so much to see. Another day I went down to the water front and walked around there, it was nice to see all the yachts and boats that would enter and exit the docks. There was a lot of public art and some nice little restaurants to try as well. The downside was that it wasn't the sunniest of days and actually started to rain later on which cut my exploring a little short and made me run to a nearby food court to grab some food and escape the rain.
Seeing as the tournament hotel was attached to the sky tower, in our welcome package there was a free ticket to go up to the sky tower and look around. I choose the right day to do that as it was sunny and clear out so could see for miles. It allowed for a great view of Auckland being able to see for miles in every direction. Standing up there and looking out I still wasn't able to fully comprehend that I was on the other side of the world when a few days prior I was in Calgary attended university classes. My last full day in Auckland had come and I spent the first half of the day walking around a bit more and checking out shops, restaurants, parks, galleries, etc. That's one thing about me I love nature and being in a great park, the trees in New Zealand are by far some of my favorite from around the world. In the evening I went to the tournament hall to watch the finals, the venue was packed as there were many high level matches being played. The men's singles final was one of the best and featured a qualifier from China who just a week prior was in the final of the Australian Open and now again in the finals against a fellow Chinese player.
After the match I went back to my hotel room and finished packing. Did one last workout in the gym at the hotel then ate a snack and went to sleep. I had to be up by 5am as I had a 6am departure from the hotel to the airport with the entire Thailand team. There was around 20+ of them so there was 2 big vans carrying us all to the airport. Upon arriving at the airport I found my check in area and proceeded to check in for my flight to Tahiti. All in all it was a fun tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. I may have gotten beat on court but had fun seeing the sights and eating the food of New Zealand. The next part of my tournament trip would be quite the unexpected surprise though. There was lots that I didn't get to see or do while there which would definitely warrant another trip back, maybe next year for the same tournament. Unfortunately there isn't a 2014 Tahiti, French Polynesia international :/ kinda disappointing but will make due.