Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Christmas dinner party at Jo’s (24th – 25th December 2007)

This is my 2nd year celebrating Christmas Eve with my Brazilian friends. Rose (Jo’s sister and Andrew’s wife) would cook up a feast for Christmas dinner – hmm, I can’t wait to have her roast turkey and lots of other yummy food again!

Helbert and I were there early to help out. Well, I don’t think we were much help frankly since we were eating the pastel (commonly sold on the streest in Brazil, this savoury is made with a thin pastry envelope containing minced meat or another filling and then deep fried) that Jo was cooking for the dinner. I think I had one too many – I couldn’t eat much after…oh, but they were so good! Hehe…Photos taken at Jo’s:

Guilarme and Jo cooking the pastel

First you need to flatten the dough, then put in your filling...

I've only had one, really! (yeah, like we believe you :P)

Let’s do a quick Xmas presents swap before the other guests arrive! We had to do this before the party because Helbert was up to mischief and had a surprise for Rose. This was how it all started: sometime ago, Helbert had purposely bought Rose a display cartoon cow figurine with one ear chipped off for her birthday (that was not the actual present but a present before the real one). This time, he managed to find a similar cow with both ears chipped, had it wrapped up nicely and given to Rose personally. Oh my, you should see Rose’s face when she saw it! What a laugh it was for everyone! Photos taken at Rose’s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603735385054/detail/

This year’s dinner was slightly different. We had the dinner at Jo’s place which was a few doors away from Rose’s house and lots of dancing after a meal (last year was more of a sit, eat and chat dinner). More photos taken at Jo’s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603762875186/detail/

It was really nice of Rose to invite me to the dinner. I’ve always wanted to spend the night before Christmas with family and/or friends – it’s just a special moment that you want to share with love ones. Thank you so much for making it happen, Rose! She’s like a big sister to me and I enjoy being in her company :)

Christmas day itself was a lazy morning at home (was pouring outside) and packing up stuff for my year end travels up north tomorrow. There was still food leftover from last night and a few of us went back to Jo’s for a late lunch.

Time really flies and another year is about to come to an end. I wish all my dear family and friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May the year ahead be blessed with lots of happiness, good health and prosperity in our lives!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Andrea’s farewell at Havana Bar (18th December 2007)

Andrea had invited many of her Wellington friends to her farewell drinks at Havana Bar tonight. Honestly, I don’t like the term ‘farewell’ – it sounds so sad, as if we’ll never meet again. I prefer ‘temporary departure’ because I still want to see you again, my dear :)

We somehow managed to salsa dance and even squeeze in a rueda in the small bar. Just use smaller steps and dance closer – that would work :P Perhaps Havana Bar should consider promoting Tuesday nights as salsa nights too. Gives us salsa dancers another place to dance during the week. Photos of us at Havana:
Andrea with friends from Wellington

Roberto and Rafael playing Cuban music while we salsa in Havana Bar (pairs from back: Willy-John & Su Wei, Alicia & Colin, Carlos & Lily, me & Antonio)

Andrea partnering up with Lily while I danced with Willy-John

Turn ladies!

Me and girlfriend Alicia

Andrea, I will miss you so, so much! I’m so fortunate to have known such a sweet and sexy salsera like you. Please do keep in touch wherever you are and take good care of yourself, chica!

My housewarming party (15th December 2007)

After several requests to throw a housewarming party since I moved in to my apartment 1.5 months ago, I decided to have a party tonight and invited my friends over. It was a BYO drinks and snacks party i.e. you bring your own drinks and some food. I had some finger food and drinks for the guests too - wine, beer, antipesto and bread plate, nuts, even small Santa chocolates (hey, Christmas is coming). Thankfully Helbert was around to help set-up my place moving my furniture and organising the music - my apartment is still quite empty so there'll plenty of dance space!

My friends started streaming in from about 8pm onwards. It helps when throwing a party to invite your surrounding neighbours too so that they wouldn’t lodge a complaint because you were making too much noise :) Oh, and did I mention, there were even fireworks display, especially for my party (haha, yeah right, but there really was fireworks).

The salsa dancers burned the dance floor! They were the majority as compared to my Brazilian friends (most of them couldn’t come due to other commitments) – it would have been better with more equal numbers so both groups could take turns to dance. Photos from the housewarming party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603782423597/detail/

It was a great night – might have to do another one in the new year! Thanks everyone for coming!

The last lot of friends left around 2am. Cleaning can wait till tomorrow. Need to catch up with some zzzs. Been partying the whole weekend!!

Salsa Picante lunch at Ramnish’s (15th December 2007)

Salsa Picante is the name of my rueda performance group who will be performing in the NZ Pacific Salsa Congress during the Easter weekend next year. We have been practicing for a few weeks now but haven’t quite decided on the song for the routine. Ramnish had called the group together for lunch at his home in Kilbirnie and to also find songs we’ll all agree to for the performance. Some of us were still recovering from a long night partying the night before…

Yum, Ramnish can sure cook! He prepared lots of food for us (we had a few extra non-performers join in for lunch – the more, the merrier!). Photos of us at Ramnish’s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603770097679/detail/

And here's a video of us chilling out after lunch and listening to some potential salsa songs for the performance:


I can’t stay and hang out guys! Need to run off to get stuff for my housewarming party tonight – see you all later!!

Salsa and clubbing with friends (14th December 2007)

It's Friday again!! Salsa night tonight!! My friends and I headed to our usual hang out place, Latinos bar for dancing. Tonight was special than most Fridays because our dear friend Andrea is leaving next week (sob, sob!!) - it was her last Friday night dancing salsa at Latinos. We'll miss you so much! There was no band playing tonight thus not a lot of people, mainly just us ruling the dancefloor. Photos taken at Latinos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603702693174/detail/

Not too sure who suggested to go clubbing (we don't normally do this after salsa dancing) but those of us who hung around till late were walking around town looking for a club to go to. Photos of us on the streets:
Back (l-r): Ramnish, Colin, Clare, Alicia and Thomas. Front (l-r): Ken, me, Willy-John, Andrea and Annie

What are you looking at?!
After trying to get into a few clubs (long queues everywhere), we ended up in Red Square on Blair Street for a few dances. Quite a cool place and packed with people - it was my first time here. Gee, I must have super eyesight because amidst the packed club, I saw sexy Sharon sitting on one of the lounge couches from the corner of my eye! Sharon was there on a work function and it was good to see her (the busy bee has such a packed social schedule I have to pre-book to catch up with her!). Hehe...Photos taken in the club: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603712399302/detail/

My, my, Colin, you sure can groove for your age - I can't keep up! Was feeling tired after all the dancing at Latinos but still ok to sway to a few songs :)

It was about 3am when we left Red Square to Burger King for a late night (morning, actually) snack. More photos of us: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603717040098/detail/
Wow, this was probably one of the longest nights I've had for a long time. I don't remember the last time I stayed out this late! We have to do this again sometime, people - it was heaps of fun :)

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Telecom Xmas Function 2007 (13th December 2007)

Our whole unit got together for Xmas lunch today at Café Istanbul. I’ve never been here before and apparently you can eat and watch belly-dancing (even participate) on certain nights. We did the $30 lunch special (this is only for groups of 8 or more people) but I don’t think I ate my $30 worth. After the bread entrée, I could only finish half of my main meal!

When you have Peter, Scully and Chris – you get the 3 Amigos donned in what looked like a cross between a mariachi and a clown. They looked so funny and I couldn’t stop laughing at their antics! The ladies, Nicky, Kirsty and Mindy were dressed up like can can girls and looked so lovely. These colleagues of mine were already in gear before we even got to TSB Arena for the Telecom Christmas party later this evening :) Photos of us at Café Istanbul: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603704049149/detail/

A few of us stopped by at Matterhorn on Cuba Street for a drink before heading to the party. A photo of us at Matterhorn:

The Telecom Christmas party was said to be legendary and it definitely has the 'wow' factor. The theme for this year was Street Carnival and so many people came dressed up as all sorts: cross-dressers, Halloween characters, beauty queens, can can girls etc. And nothing keeps the employees happier when there’s free alcohol flowing, food and live DJ and bands (including Spacifix) playing! It was a fantastic night with lots of laughs!! Photos at the party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603704154547/detail/

Friday, 21 December 2007

Team Day at Telecom (12th December 2007)

This is my 3rd week at Telecom and so far, it has been interesting. Though I’m not 100% sure what my role entails (I think any new person in any job feels the same as I do) and the jargon they use (I thought I landed in Jupiter – are you guys speaking in English??!), I’m gradually picking up on things and hope to be a productive member of the team soon. My colleagues are very nice and have a good sense of humour (we need that in this high-stress environment!).

Okay, maybe I’ll take back when I said my colleagues were very nice – some of them tried to 'drown' me in a pool today!!! It was our department’s team day and most of the permanent staff from my unit attended the day long event at TSB Arena from 8.45 this morning. The morning was mostly speeches while the afternoon part was a team building activity hosted by local celebrity Mike Havoc. There were 20 teams, each given the same set of materials (corrugated cardboard, penknife, bubble wrap, lots of packing tape, sticks, paper, etc.) and 3 hours to build a boat that 1 team member had to row on in a race against time. I had Jeremy and Sam on my team (team members were randomly grouped) – I knew those guys wouldn’t let me off the hook even when I told them I have a cold! Poor me became ‘victim’ to test out the boat they will be building…oh dear!!!

Peter was our team leader (well, he’s got a degree in boat building) and we were split into 2 smaller groups: the structural team and the creative team. The creative team dressed me up as a mermaid and Peter gave me a crash course on kayaking. OH MY GOD!!!! What have I gotten myself into???!!! Andrew (my boss) didn’t tell me this was part of my induction! It was such a fun day and so many creative boats and brave sailors – I’m so glad I didn’t sink on the Aquamarine (our boat name)! We didn’t expect the boat to be so buoyant – I was pretty much paddling at a 45 degree angle all the way!! Though we didn’t make the fastest boat (we completed the race in 54 seconds; the fastest was 19 seconds), we did win the most creative title :) Great team work, team! Photos taken of the amazing boat race: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603682411158/detail/

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Bianca’s going away dinner (11th December 2007)

Bianca and her partner, Rod, will be going to Brazil for 6 weeks and she got a few of her friends together for dinner at Oriental Thai Restaurant tonight. Poor Rod – everyone kept telling him to be careful when he’s there and I think he’s starting to have second thoughts about going! Well, it can be dangerous anywhere you travel. You just have to be careful and aware of your surroundings especially when travelling alone. Don't go anywhere without Bianca!

Eh, Carlos, what do you mean ‘you look familiar but not sure where you saw me before’?? We got introduced like 2 years ago and we see each other all the time in the same parties we go to (thoink, thoink - needs bashing in the head)! Yes, nice to meet you AGAIN :P By the way, Carlos, like my friend, Roberto, is a musician and leads in his band Clave Latina. Carlos (he’s Mexican) also plays at Havana bar every alternate Tuesday (him this week, Roberto next, him again and so forth).

Hmm, the food here is good…you have to come try! The serving is huge though so it would be better off to have a group come together so you could sample different dishes.

It was a nice get-together and catch-up. A few of us stayed on till after 11pm (most of us had to go as we worked the next day). Photos of us at the restaurant:

Brazilian girlfriends Mariama, Paula and Bianca

Anaiyibi (Colombian and a new mum-to-be), Josinta (Kiwi-British) and Tabatha (Brazilian)

Brazilians friends Helbert and Lesith

Christening of Helbert’s BBQ (8th December 2007)

Me and the gang of boys from the hostel days (we used to all hang out when living in Taranaki 217 Hostel; Sandum, Jason and TJ still lives there) got together at Mike’s house in Ngaio for a BBQ this afternoon. Helbert has just bought a new BBQ set – this is probably the 4th BBQ set that Helbert and I had assembled in 2 years (hmm, perhaps we should make a profession out of this – haha!). We've moved our regular Friday BBQ after work sessions to Mike's place until further notice :)

Rose and Andrew came to join us this time. Wow, look at the amount of food everyone brought – we had leftovers enough for the next BBQ! Helbert tried to BBQ a fish this time – we had been testing this out in smaller scale with my oven (the fish on the BBQ was 6.5kgs; we had only done 1kg fish so far). Hmm, we can still add more seasoning to the fish but it was a good first attempt! Photos from the BBQ:

We have tried and tested different food to put on the BBQ including a whole pineapple, whole onion and live mussels. Don't try the banana like we did in a previous BBQ (hot mashed banana doesn't look and taste very appealing):

Latinos Birthday Party (7th December 2007)

Today is Latinos’ 7th birthday – woo-hoo!! Still the only place where you can dance salsa EVERY Friday night! Keep it up, Latinos! Photos from the party:

With Brazilian friends Marcio and Cleusa

Ops, caught on picture but no one was ready...

With Ramnish and Helbert

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Movember at Telecom (30th November 2007)

What is Movember New Zealand? Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a charity event held during November each year in NZ. Most companies or individuals will organise a Movember and the guys start Movember with a clean shaven face. The Movember participants then have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their moustache and along the way raise as much money and awareness about male health issues as possible, mainly prostate cancer. It fantastic to see the men here actively participate and groom their mo (short for moustache) in all sorts of shapes (I'm sure they have fun doing so). The ladies support our brave men by putting up with a month of mo burns :)

Today is the last day of Movember and the boys in my unit who took part are shaving off their mos. Here's a photo of them before the big shave:

The Movember guys (l-r): Phil S, Jeremy, Samir, Peter Scully, Tama, Phil, Francois and Steve

Week 4 back in Wellington (19th - 25th November 2007)

Monday – Friday, 19th – 23rd November 2007: You know, I realised that I never really had time to watch TV since I came to NZ. My friends and colleagues would be talking about Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy or something, and I would be pretty much LOST. So I decided it was about time I caught up with some of those TV series and rented Season 1 of Sex in the City (I’ve seen parts of Season 6 on TV but nothing made sense to me e.g. who’s Mr Big and how did he come into the picture??). I would love a life like Carrie’s minus the smoking. Come to think of it, I do have a bit of a Carrie-like life to some point…not so much on the expensive shoes though :P

I went to Havana Bar on Tuesday night to catch up with some friends. Roberto was playing that night and some of us managed to salsa to a few songs in the small place. Nothing’s changed at Havana – still the same gigs on Tuesdays, Abel (the Argentinean bar manager) in his Argentina hat serving us drinks, dim lights, cosy atmosphere and the sound of good music blended with people talking. If you are not up for a drink on a Tuesday, then order yourself an $8 Havana Special – non-alcoholic fizz drink made from passion fruit pulp, mint leaves, fruit juice and soda water (and probably some other stuff inside that Abel’s not telling me). I’ve got to try it out myself at home…hmm…Photo of us at Havana Bar: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603467813990/detail/

Wednesday was my last day at SIM. It felt odd to say goodbye again. Everyone, thanks for having me back for a short while – please do keep in touch!

Hew, her friend Ping and I went to James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor on Wednesday night to attend The Rock Church Women’s Christmas Party. Cost me $25 for the function which included supper. It was really nice – a choir, Christmas carols, a fashion speaker (Amilie Taylor from Truststyle), yummy cakes etc. And lucky for Hew – she won a discount voucher for a facial at Beaute Ultime!

Caught up with Sharon for lunch on Friday at The Long Bar on Brandon Street and a quick update about our lives (I haven’t really had the chance to talk to Sharon since I got back). A very busy place during lunchtime – make sure you book beforehand!

Oh, and I picked up my car today! Yay, I get to zip around in my new car this weekend!! It's such a cute little thing. Hehe...Photos of my car: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157603472072383/detail/

BBQ at Helbert’s flat is now becoming a regular Friday after-work activity and his flatmates have also started to get in sync! Hehe…it’s a good way to end the work week, enjoy some sun and good company :) The night was spent at Latinos Bar (Vivio and Greydis were back for another series of workshops) – Greydis can really shake and groove! Doubt I can ever do that tummy-crunching move like her. She does it so well and it’s always a pleasure to watch her dance.

Probably if you have met me several years ago, I would be quite stunned if you came over and gave me a kiss on the cheeks or hug. I don’t know if it was the way I was brought up or the culture I was in – if you see someone, you shake hands; no kissing or hugging business. These days, if you didn’t greet me that way, I would feel something amiss! I’ve got used to it and I think I stunned some of my friends in Malaysia when I hugged them hello (sorry, I forgot I was in another country!). It was really funny when Helbert told me some woman he was saying goodbye to on his way out of Latinos Bar (yes, he did the usual kiss-on-cheek) asked him if he was gay! I would say New Zealand is starting to get into the habit of this sort of greeting though still foreign to some ;)

Saturday – Sunday, 24th – 25th November 2007: Caught up with old friend Ben (fellow Malaysian whom I met during university international student orientation 6.5 years ago – the same time I met Hew; we are probably the only 3 from that batch still in Wellington) on Saturday morning for breakfast at Caffé Italiano on Cuba Street. This is a new café and the wait staffs are Italians – adds to the authenticity of the place! I went to settle the bill and the Italian waiter said to me that Wellington women always pays when they go out with a guy (I didn’t mind paying for the breakfast). Our brief chat went something like this:

HIM (speaking with an Italian accent): ‘In Italy, the men ALWAYS pay!’
ME: ‘If that is the case, I should really move to Italy then!’
HIM: ‘Yes, or date an Italian man…’

Hint, hint…Italian men…hmm…

I had my first swimming lesson at the Wellington Aquatic Centre in Kilbirnie. About time I got back into an exercise routine and work on that water phobia of mine. But boy was it hard work trying to swim a full length and back! I had to use the 1.2M pool to learn the freestyle move. Would probably take awhile before I master the swim stroke and migrate to lane swimming (the depth of the pool for lane swimming is 2M). And Helbert is a no-nonsense coach that keeps me on my toes!

I’m feeling nervous to start work on Monday!! By the way, I won’t be updating my daily life happenings here as often from now since I’m not travelling much (back in the workforce and routine lifestyle). Please do check my blog regularly for any updates!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Week 3 back in Wellington (12th - 18th November 2007)

Another busy week at work but I’m very happy because I’ve just received a call from Telecom on Monday informing me that I've been offered the job (I applied for a position there a week or so ago). I’m so excited!! I still need to review and sign the contract to ‘seal the deal’ and should be receiving my contract sometime this week.

Caught up with my friend Joel for dinner Monday night at Roti Chenai Cafe on Victoria Street. I've always wanted to check out this place but never got round to it because it wasn't on my way home. Joel was briefly a flatmate of mine when I was living at Everton Hall of Residence (Everton Hall is one of Victoria University’s student hostels) – I was moved to another flat shortly after moving into his flat. We were supposed to meet up during my visit to Singapore and do some travelling together in Asia but our travel plans didn’t quite match up. Sounds to me like you’ve had quite an adventure, Joel!

On Tuesday, I went back to Toyota to finalise the purchase of my Yaris. I couldn’t believe that I bought a brand new car for myself! The car should arrive in 2 weeks. Can’t wait!

I plan to start cooking for myself a bit more from now on. Poor Helbert was ‘guinea pig’ to my first attempt – this was the first time I’ve cooked in years. Hey, I’ve warned you beforehand…the Japanese curry wasn’t so bad, right? :P

Wednesday, 14th November 2007: Received my Telecom contract today. Very professional, I must say – the contract came inside a business folder that included a calculator, pen and business pad. I'm impressed! I'll be finishing up at SIM next Wednesday which gives me 4 days to rest up before I start my new job. I will need that!

Had dinner with Sly at Satay Village on Ghuznee Street tonight and we brought each other up to speed on what has been happening the past 4 months in our lives. Sly’s a regular there. Even the manager knows him by name. :) Thanks for dinner, Sly – we have to catch up when you return from your trip, and it’ll be my shout!

After dinner, I went to a Mario Canonge concert held for the closing of the No 11 Wellington International Jazz Festival at Ilott Theatre. Cost me $35 for the ticket and the seating is first-come-first-serve (lucky I was there early and took the seat in right in the middle of the theatre). This guy plays the piano very well – his fingers would run up and down the piano keys like millipede legs i.e. very fast movements. It was a full-house concert and good overall even though the jazz music wasn’t really my type (I prefer Latin jazz). What was fun was when the audience clapped to a string of beats and became part of the music. 2.5 hours of good music to end my night. Ahh...

You know, I was thinking to myself while walking home that this was the life I wanted to achieve at 21 – independence, having my own apartment, car, social life, etc. Though not exactly how I would like it to be, I’m quite happy with what I have so far. Life’s too short to think and get bothered about the haves and have-nots; you have to live the moment!

Friday, 16th November – Sunday, 18th November 2007: My bed arrived on Friday but I still had to sleep on the couch that night because the delivery guys didn’t have a screwdriver to put in the screws (and I was told if I didn’t have the screws in and ‘broke’ the bed, I wouldn’t be entitled for the warranty). When I asked why they didn’t have a screwdriver, I was informed that theirs was broken. I couldn’t believe my ears!

Saturday night was spent at a summer party at Liva’s place in Newtown – it was supposed to be a surprise get-together for Andrea who was going to Brazil for a holiday but turned out to be a surprise for the rest of us when she walked in showing off her engagement ring! Yep, our gorgeous friend is now engaged to fiancé Zaza. Guess you won’t be going to Brazil anytime soon, will you, hun? It was a fun night – drinks, BBQ, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, and of course, lots of dancing!

I tagged along with Hew and family to her church and life group after the church service on Sunday. Met a few fellow Malaysians at her life group leader’s potluck lunch and when Malaysians get together, all we talk about is FOOD! Hehe…

Late Sunday afternoon was spent at a BBQ in new friend Christina’s home at Roseneath. Christina’s from Salvador, Brazil and I met her and her German husband Thomas last night at the party. She cooked a whole fish for everyone – it was delicious! Christina and Thomas will be going to Germany soon for a few months. Do contact me when you get back – would love to catch up! And safe travels!