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One traveller's day-by-day account of a year-long journey through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada

bay outside Auckland, giving a great view of the city with its Skytower looming over all.

Performing the old "wave a pin over the guidebook" trick, I plumped for a place called Base Backpackers. Getting a bed, I met two of my dormmates, an Irish chap and a German. I always like to ask Germans exactly where they are from, hoping to strike gold one day. And this was that day.

"Whereabouts in Germany are you from?"
"Near Frankfurt."
"Where exactly?"
"Mainz."
"Really?! Where in Mainz?"
(Confused) "Irgendwoshafen."
"I see. I used to live out near Hechtsheim."
(Surprised) "For sure?"
"For sure."

Yes, I'd found a genuine person from Mainz, where I'd lived for the best part of a year. So some of them do leave the city after all... alas, we didn't have a great deal of time to nostalgically discuss the dulcet tones of the Mainz Cathedral's bell, for it was time to hit the hay. I had to start my hunt early tomorrow for my early birthday present to myself.