November 14
I arrive in Auckland in the afternoon and clear immigration and customs, but before I can set foot outside, I go through the now-standard procedure of being robbed at the airport. I blame mobile-phone companies.
There used to be specialised SIM card booths in many airports, with cheerful staff who would set up your phone with the exact plan you required, while self-sacrificially listening your complaints about the flight. Increasingly, these outlets are disappearing. Now you are made to personally navigate a system in which the customer is set up to fail.
This time I buy myself a SIM and NZ$20 worth of credit with a view to getting a $19 plan, but as soon as I load the credit into the phone, all my emails and messages come through in a torrent. When I try to buy the plan - maybe 30 seconds later - I am told I have already spent too much. I am forced to spend another $20 on credit (the minimum amount), and have effectively forked out $40 for $19 of value.
I guess you could argue that I should have turned off my mobile data before loading the credit. But look, I am not arguing that I am not a doofus. The point is that the mobile companies intentionally prey on doofuses such as myself and, I think we can all agree, this makes them terrible people.
November 15
Next morning, back at the airport, I am reminded of how charmingly intimate and considerate a country New Zealand is. As I await my flight to Christchurch, a Ms Schultz is summoned to her boarding gate no fewer than four times. The last of these announcements ends with: "…the other passengers have boarded and are waiting for you". You can almost imagine the whole plane staring expectantly at the door, then breaking out in huge cheers and high fives when she strides in triumphantly.
A little later, the announcer suggests - in the politest tone - that a mother who has misplaced a young daughter please pick her up from the check-in counter. Off to the left, two airline staff are joyfully posing for selfies with tourists, even though these are the kind of people who, as a rule, are unsatisfied with the first two dozen versions of any photograph.
Then, just as I am about to board, a Mr Barry is helpfully told over the speaker system that he is walking around with his fly undone.
Okay, that last one didn't happen, but I'm certain that, at some point, it must have.
November 16
A violent earthquake hit North Canterbury in the days before I arrived. Although Christchurch has been spared this time, people in towns further north have been cut off by landslides, and damage to roads. On the radio, the presenter is sympathetically interviewing one of the victims, whose tiny town lies between two of the larger landslides. "Are your family okay?" she asks him. "How worried are you about aftershocks?" "Has there been damage to your house?" He gives five-word answers to each of these, but is more effusive when she asks how he is doing for supplies. "Aww, well, we haven't been able ta get to the shops since bloody Thursday, aye? We're runnin' outta beer and wine, so I'd say that's definitely a concern."
November 17
The Hagley Oval press area is not a box or room - it is a tent perched halfway up a grass bank. It's a wonderful place from which to cover a match when it's sunny, but a challenge when it's cold. On this rained-out first day of the series, an icy southerly rattles the metal framework and whips up the plastic sheets around us.
A lot is made of the courage and commitment of cricketers, who put their bodies on the line for their craft; who live with discipline, and pursue dreams with unwavering will. I, for one, think cricket writers are no less worthy of adulation. My fingers have become numb by afternoon but nevertheless I gather up my resolve and heroically pass on weather updates to my colleagues on ball-by-ball commentary. Steadfastly do I remain in this battered press tent all day, though the carrot cake we are served for tea is slightly drier than is ideal.
November 19
The hotel I am staying at has one of those signs encouraging patrons to reuse towels in order to reduce the hotel's impact on the environment. The idea that hotels care about the earth is, of course, complete crap - they merely want to cut down on bills. Many hotels would set fire to polar bear cubs if it turned them a profit. Still, I don't mind reusing towels, so I put mine back on the rack every day, only to find upon my return that that all towels have been replaced, in contravention of their own policy. Not only that, even the barely used shampoo bottles and soaps have been thrown out, and new ones put in their place. One morning I break open a tissue box and use just one sheet, then find a brand new box on the table when I return. I begin to wonder if I was actually sleeping in the same bed every day, or if these people were throwing it out daily and putting a brand-new one in its place.
November 20
Sri Lankan friends in Christchurch kindly have me over to dinner, and I feast enthusiastically on idi appa, pol sambol and a dark chicken curry. They are fairly recent immigrants to New Zealand and are still figuring out the lay of their new land.
"Since coming here, we have learned to say 'yes' straight away when visiting people's houses," they tell me.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"Well, in Sri Lanka, when you are a guest, it's polite to refuse the first offer of a meal or a cup of tea. Only when they insist are you supposed to agree."
"Sure, and here?"
"Here, if you say no, that's it. They won't offer you again. If you refuse it, you don't get to bloody eat."
November 22
New Zealand is almost too good to be a real country. It has its issues, of course, but there are no major ethnic tensions (not in comparison to most countries, at least) and no obvious signs of public unrest. It has a stable and trusted government (again, by global standards), and its national icon is a fittingly inoffensive animal. Sometimes it's so perfect, it's infuriating. This is my third trip around the country in as many years, and the breathtaking scenery keeps rolling by without relent. I am flying over north Canterbury - not an area especially reputed for its beauty - yet here lie these annoyingly gorgeous mountain ridges, all ruggedly serrated, while below, smug cords of captivating blue water wrap around the hills like ribbons on a present. The Pacific Ocean glints obnoxiously in the distance.
It just doesn't seem fair.
November 23
Over the past two decades it has become very cool to hate on Hamilton. Coffee-shop hipsters in Wellington will talk about how chlamydia is an airborne disease there, and how the Waikato river brings farming effluent through the middle of town (not true). Comedians will poke fun at Hamiltonians on TV, and Aucklanders heading south will say they take detours just to avoid going near the city.
I come to Hamilton hoping to rise above all this snarky criticism, intent on seeing it with fresh eyes. Perhaps I would discover something truly wonderful and unique, I think. But when I arrive, I learn there is no Uber in the city, nor any other ride-hailing system. Cabs are not common, and locals tell me not to bother with public transport. Even backward Sri Lankan towns have this. Instead of tracking the cab on my phone like a reasonable person, I have to stand on a street corner waiting for it for ages, like some kind of Neanderthal.
Sometimes, Hamilton, you do have to help yourself.
(For any Hamilton residents reading this - my hometown is Dehiwala, and if you want to rip it apart in the comments, I guess that is only fair.)
November 27
Mohammad Amir comes to the post-play press conference - quite unexpectedly, as most journalists thought he was still off limits since his return from suspension. He understands our English but is more comfortable answering in Urdu, and he chuckles when asked about all the catches that have been dropped off his bowling.
All the journalists behave themselves. No spiky questions about his suspension are asked. When he leaves, the Kiwi journalists don't miss the chance to malign their Australian counterparts, who, it is thought, will give Amir a very different reception.
"Wait till Pakistan get over there," says one reporter. "They'll get some different questions there."
"Aww maayte," says another in a mock Aussie accent, imitating a journalist's question. "Do you really theenk you deserve to be hee after what you've done?"
November 29
The first Test I ever covered was in Hamilton, in 2009. I stayed too long in the press box one evening and managed to get myself locked in the stadium. I had to climb over a fence to get out, and in the process, dropped and damaged my laptop.
I realise now, that it had been a training run for this Test, when again, I stay too long and get myself locked in. This time, with a much more expensive laptop, I climb the same fence, but carefully avoid the old mistake - dropping gingerly down onto the pavement, to go wait on the corner for my taxi for what seems like an hour.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando