Ngahi Bidois: What milestones signal progress in your life?

By Ngahi Bidois

I have spent significant portions of two days in airports. I was stuck in Birmingham airport in England from 12pm to 8.30pm because flights were stopped by snow.

I spent a recent evening at a friend's place in Utrecht, Holland, before flying out of Amsterdam and now I am in Hong Kong airport on a 10-hour stopover en route to New Zealand.

This may sound weird, but I enjoy being in airports, especially airports like these two.

Modern airports such as Hong Kong and Birmingham are like small towns and offer many attractive features which make the hours spent in them more comfortable.

For starters, they are warm. I have been in airports where it seemed colder inside than outside. These two airports also offer free wi-fi and excellent numerous rest rooms which are spotlessly clean. They have full-time cleaners who I admire and appreciate because I reckon that would be a stink job (pun intended).

There are also endless rows of shops to unload unwanted currency before boarding a plane to a country that renders that currency useless. Food and drink places are also numerous and, yes, both places have a McDonald's, which are open 24 hours.

If required, you can even sleep in these airports too. The padded seats in Hong Kong are particularly comfortable with many of them having no annoying arm rests in the way.

I enjoy walking around airports like these two because it is like walking a golf course, but without the pain of hitting a golf ball.

The open spaces in these airports would require a good drive and at least two irons if the horizontal moving escalators were grass. You can walk for hours if you are not sleeping or eating - and I have.

However, the thing I enjoy most about airports is that they signal I am going somewhere or I have come from somewhere.

Birmingham signalled I had completed my work in England and was returning to Holland. My time here in Hong Kong signals I have completed my three weeks' work abroad and it is time to return to Rotorua, New Zealand. I am looking forward to seeing my whanau again.

I view airports as milestones of my life journey, which is probably why I don't get too fussed when I am stuck in them. Being stuck offers me an opportunity to be grateful for how far I have come and the journey ahead of me.

So what are your airports? What are the milestone places in your life? What places signal your life journey is continuing.

It may vary from your home, office, Saturday morning flea market, favourite restaurants, marae, rivers, swimming places or sports fields. Whatever your airports are I hope you frequent them often and, when you do get stuck, I hope there are "cleaners" with stink jobs who you appreciate and admire and that it is warmer inside than outside.

-Ngahihi o te ra is from Te Arawa and is an international speaker, author and consultant. His book is available at Mcleods book store and the Lakeside café in Rotorua. His website can be viewed at


- Rotorua Daily Post

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