Thursday, 25 December 2008

Spending Christmas eve with friends (24th December 2008)

It's Christmas eve and I'm still working! Good news is that I'm working from home (ah yes, lucky me, I get to work from home 1 day a week) and we only have to work till noon. I needed the spare hours to pack my bags for my 3-week trip to Australia - I'm flying out early morning tomorrow and have not yet packed! Argh!!

Finally, I'm done with my packing - now I can go out to catch up with some friends before everyone disappears for their year-end holidays! Caught up with Rachel, Colm, Fran and Flo for dinner around 7.30pm at Southern Cross Bar & Restaurant. Rachel brought along Santa hats and I had one to wear during dinner. Hehe, cute :) This was the first time I actually had a meal here. Me and the boys went for the stonegrill rump steak - I was having one of those steak-craving days and this sounded wonderful. What is stonegrill? Basically we cook our own meat to our liking on a slab of heated volcanic granite. Rather unique and interesting an experience - give it a go if you haven't.

Haha, our dear Rachel decided to skip dinner and ordered dessert first! Yes, life's too short - always eat dessert first :P Photos of our dinner at Southern Cross:

Left the gang around 9pm as I had Jo's Christmas eve party to attend. Have an awesome holiday everyone and we'll catch up in the new year!

Quick stop to pick Chris up and off we headed to Jo's place in Newtown for more partying. It has become tradition that I would spent my Xmas eve with the Soares sisters so this year was no exception. Lots of familiar faces were already there by the time I arrived - I flitted around her house catching up with friends. So nice to see everyone :) Bubbly was flowing, lots of food, dancing and chit-chat.

Stuck around till the countdown to Christmas and left shortly after. Needed to get a few hours sleep before my flight at 6am. Photos taken at Jo's party:

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Drinks at Southern Cross Bar with the Gafieira clan (23rd December 2008)

1 more sleep till Xmas eve! So not in the mood to do any work and just feeling exhausted with a sore throat brewing...hmm...It was slow and quiet day at work. Kalwant left us this morning - feeling somewhat sad at the moment :'(

Caught up with Kevin for coffee - it has been a few years since I saw this old friend of mine who now lives in Auckland. Was nice to see and hear that he and family are well. Really, Kev, I would not have thought you would settle to be a family man but I guess when you meet the right woman (and have a kid together), even the notorious player would change. Hahaha... :P Was great to catch up with you, bro!

James obviously also twiddling thumbs at work and was already out drinking with his colleagues since noon! It was a nice sunny day with a bit of a breeze so the two of us decided to make the most of the sun and took a walk around the CBD area.

Gee, this must be a day of the boys! Caught up with Damien briefly over our leftovers for dinner at my place. He had just returned from a tramping trip and was off to Auckland for the holidays tomorrow so this was the last catch up before we all head off to different places. Have an awesome time with family and will see you when I get back!

At 8.30pm, I headed over to Southern Cross Bar to meet Ron, Helbert and Awa for drinks. Awa had rounded us up for drinks tonight as she missed out on our end of term drinks last week. Few other friends cames to join us - Luciano, Janet, Paul and even drink master, James, who was still looking sober when he turned up after drinking the whole day. James, James....

Oh my god, you guys! You didn't have to give Helbert and I presents!! Oh, NOW I know why - Christian (who is currently somewhere in Europe), Ron and Awa gave both Helbert and I a bottle of wine each, together with a handmade card and printed shirt. Helbert and I cracked up in laughter when we saw the card and shirt! The monkeys took photos of us taken over the last few weeks and put them together for the card and shirt print - kudos to them for creativity and great humour. Man, people would think that Helbert beats the students up with his crutch while I scream when the boys don't dance correctly (hmm, maybe I do scream...hehe). Thanks guys - really awesome gifts! Photos taken tonight:

Helbert and I showing off our gifts from the rascals

Me and Ron

Awa and Janet


I left around 10.30pm - was just so sleepy and still have lots to do tomorrow. Haven't even packed for the trip and I still have a Xmas party to attend, gifts to wrap, laundry to sort out blah, blah. Oh, and did I mention that I only have flights and 2 nights accommodation sorted for my 25-day trip in Australia starting Thursday? Yep, the trip is going to be one hell of an adventure!

Monday, 22 December 2008

One last catch up with Kalwant (22nd December 2008)

Having a really slow day at work and half the team aren't here. Found myself going in and out the office just to soak up some sun. At 5.30pm, headed over with Kalwant and friends to The Malthouse for one final catch up before our girl leaves NZ tomorrow. So sad to see her go but we are all happy for her to start her new life in Perth. And who knows, she might be back before we even know it ;). Photos taken at The Malthouse:

I'm going to miss you so much, girl! Best wishes and promise to keep in touch!!

I wasn't planning to stick around for long but ended up back at Kalwant's place for drinks and pizza till 10pm. My god, I've been eating and drinking almost everyday and it's only the start of the holiday season!

Afternoon with Adrian (21st December 2008)

After brunch, I headed back to the city centre to meet Adrian and we went into town to do some clothes shopping together (for him, really), which was fun. For a guy, he really is into his shopping and we spent 3 hours hopping from shop to shop in town untill he finally got tired and surrendered. Hahaha!

Stopped by New World Metro to pick up some knick-knacks for our picnic today. Hmm, I'm not too sure how he's planning to do this given the bad weather outside. "As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so sunshine is in the mind of the believer" he texted me earlier. Right, we'll just see what tricks you have up your sleeves this time...

Picked up coffee (oh yeah, we needed one) and free chilli chocolates (you get a free piece of chocolate of your choice with every coffee purchase) at Butlers Chocolate Cafe on Willis St. Yay, another first for me! The lady serving us entrusted Adrian with our chocs to which he left on the counter (he was so tired today that he kept leaving stuff and I had to remind him to pick them up). And he left the chocs at the shop! 'You said you can be trusted with the chocs!' said the lady, arms akimbo. I laughed! Oh, Adrian, Adrian - he just makes me laugh and smile :)

We ended up back in his apartment where we cut up the cheeses, set out with avocado, olives, crackers and grapes he bought on a chopping board. Ah, now I know why he was hunting for non-pip orange juice earlier - it was to mix with the champagne he had chilled in the fridge. We found a sunny spot indoors where we had classical music playing while we chatted and laughed over our little picnic. The simple joys in life...I had fun :) Photos of our picnic:

Thanks for the awesome afternoon, Adrian! Look forward to more fun catch-ups :)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Brunch at Maranui Surf Club (21st December 2008)

Was up at 8.30am to sort out stuff in my room. What a mess my room was with piles of clothes here and stacks of paper there. Guess that's what happens when I'm hardly at home - just chuck things and off I go again. Naughty! Was very happy though to find Radio Active playing Brazilian music again this Sunday morning and it was great accompaniment as I did my work.

Around 9.30am, I left the house for brunch with friends at Maranui Surf Club. This was the gang's last get-together before we all head off in different directions for our year-end holidays. Hmm, the weather ain't very nice but the place was PACKED! Good thing Kim came in early to secure a table for the group or we would have to wait ages!! This place is indeed popular...

Poor Colm had to brave the rain and wind and cycled down to brunch. Next time, ring me up and I could go pick you up, man! Dribs and drabs the others piled in. Only a small group of us today actually - guess some of them had a big night out with Kalwant last night (it was Kalwant's last weekend in town) so there were only 8 of us: Tash, Rach, Flo, Sarah, Kim, me, Debs and Colm. Had their fried eggs on organic sourdough toast for $7 this morning. I have to try the pancakes and milkshake next time - tried a bit from the others and they were yum :) Photos taken this morning:

Rach and Flo sharing a milkshake - aww...

Some brave souls out there kite-surfing in Santa suits

Colm had just got here and having a coffee to warm up

Kim showing off her yummy fruit pancakes

Group photo of us (l-r): Tash, Rach, Flo, Sarah, Kim, me, Debs and Colm

Have an awesome Christmas and New Years everyone and we'll catch up when we all get back!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Roda de Samba & dinner at Tay's (20th December 2008)

Slept in till 10am and headed out at 11 for more last minute shopping. At 2pm, I went to meet Ron at Southern Cross Bar for Roda de Samba. Roda de Samba is another new Brazilian band in Wellington made up of musicians and singers from various other Brazilian bands. The weather was raining so heavily today but didn't deter us from going to the bar to enjoy bossa novas and old Brazilian classics.

Ron, as usual, was late. Oh well, no problem - he was just missing out on the wonderful music to dance to! I had several gafieira dances with Helbert, Luciano and Paul who were there. I danced so much and could feel my shirt soaked through from all the heat dancing. I was tired but feeling good from so many hours dancing last night, and more dancing today! Poor Helbert - his knee was still hurting yet he wanted to dance. Paul managed to take photos of us dancing, with one of him holding on to his knee! Ouch...

I flitted around to chat with other friends who were there in between dances. Ron finally turned up in time for the free feijoada lunch. Now THIS I didn't expect - I was here to catch up with Ron but FREE FEIJOADA??? I'm in heaven! I LOVE feijoada!! Me, Helbert and Ron were so cheeky and went back to queue for seconds hehe...Photos taken this afternoon:

Left around 5pm for home to shower and was out again at 6pm to Uncle David's for an early Christmas dinner. Oh no, eating too much, again! Well, it is expected when any of us regulars go to the Tay's for dinner :) It's so nice to have a regular group of people that we catch up for a big dinner once every 2 months or so and update each other with the events in our lives. Mervyn and Joanne weren't around this time as they are travelling in South East Asia. Regulars like me, Jane and Urwin, Russell, Pansy and Joshua, were there tonight, and we had a few other friends of Uncle David and Auntie Daphnne join us. Photos taken tonight:

I often get teased by them for coming to dinner on my own - I'm the only one of the group (not including Mervyn, Joanne and Jolynn) who's still single and often the tease (and sometimes, envy) of the others. Well, I'm waiting for you guys to make the introductions to your single, eligible male friends ;P

Yawn, I'm so tired...Was home by 11pm as my eyes were about to close. Thanks for another wonderful dinner and catch up, Uncle David and Auntie Daphnne! We ate so much and still had leftovers to take home!

Last night at Latinos Bar (19th December 2008)

Honestly, I'm so not in the head space for work. My head is all woosy from lack of sleep and Christian's drink concoction last night. Most colleagues have started to leave for their year-end holidays and the office was so quiet. We had a restructure of teams today so had to move desks. Photos taken of the silly antics in the office today (well, it's Friday...):

Scully and Jonesy redecorating the Xmas tree on top of Scully's desk

The boys had pushed the desk and the orange screen to block
Chris (our manager) from getting to his desk - naughty!

Let's see how Sambo will get to his desk! :P

Took a walk around town after work to check out the shops. Found a few items of my liking - gee, when was the last time I shopped?? Saw these kids playing Xmas songs around Lambton Quay:

Ooo...I found a really nice black dress for tonight's salsa party at Latinos Bar. I hope it wouldn't 'kill' too many people at the party...:P

A quick nap before meeting Ron for dinner. Somehow, plans changed and instead of having dinner with Ron, I had dinner with Colm at The Craftsman. De-ja-vu - I was here with Sam, Jeremy and Nicky for work drinks yesterday....I've never had a meal here before and when I saw steak on the menu, I just had to have it. Colm and I ended up having the same stuff - beer and 300g sirloin steak. Hehehe, I'm a boyish girl - I like my beers and meat ;) Cost us $28 per person which was reasonable for a bar meal. We chatted and laughed over the events of our lives, then headed to The Malthouse for another drink before going to Latinos Bar to meet up with our friends.

Latinos Bar was absolutely packed tonight! It has been a very long time since I last saw it packed from wall to wall where there was little space to move and everyone danced really close with lots of toe-stepping and elbowing. In between dances, I had to head to the entrance to get some fresh air and cool down - it was just too hot and humid inside!

I danced SO much and took lots of photos of this place. Lots of memories here over the years and it was really sad to see it close down. It was the very last time us salsa dancers will dance here - the owner decided to wind up the business for good and none of us have heard of anyone planning to buy over the place. I wonder where will the Wellington crowd dance salsa on Fridays after this...Photos taken tonight:

Friday, 19 December 2008

Social dancing @ Chez Brandon (18th December 2008)

It was the last Thursday before Xmas and Helbert suggested we should get all the gafieira students together for a small social dancing session to end the term. So instead of a normal Thursday class at Ron's place, tonight was just dancing for fun - yay!

Helbert and Lake came to pick me up from home around 7pm. You would not believe this but I locked myself out of the house! I practically watched the front door close on me and went 'NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!'. Oh my f%^king god - how am I getting home later? Priscilla was in Malaysia and Andy was working. I'm hoping Andy will get my text and loan me his key. Urgh, Angelica - how could you do this??! And I was in my flip-flops, a singlet and short skirt, which I had to make do with at the party at Ron's.

Oh, the boys were so nice - they all took off their shoes so I didn't feel left out! So sweet :)

Andy, you are my life saver! My flatmate is so AWESOME - he dropped off the key at home, hidden in a secret place so I could get into the house. Thank you, thank you! I owe you one!

The get-together ended up being a drinking fest as the majority were boys. We joked and laughed so much! It didn't bother me that we didn't end up dancing socially as much as we would have liked. Took a lift home with Victor around 11pm - I wasn't sure if I could trust Helbert's driving after he had THAT many beers...I was somewhat tipsy myself after drinking the super strong mojito concoction Christian made me - oo, I think I might feel it in the head tomorrow...Photos taken tonight:

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Dinner with Adrian @ Seoul House (17th December 2008)

Caught up with Adrian this evening for dinner and he was feeling like Korean so we headed over to Seoul House on Dickson St tonight. Another place I've not been - another tick on my done list! And it was such a nice day too to walk over with the sun still out shining at 7pm!

We had 2 mains to share - he was craving seafood and noodles so got the Seafood Noodle Soup (interestingly they only have noodle soups and not stir-fry noodles) while I had the Spicy Squid Hot Plate with rice. Adrian had been here before and apparently, the lady boss who takes the order gets quite anal if a table only orders 1 dish to share (there was a 2 dish minimum per table policy stated clearly in the menu). Mischevious him just wanted to see the look on the lady's face so when he placed the order, he started with "We are getting the Seafood Noodle Soup to share..." and took a pause - you could see the look of disgust on the lady's face! She looked as if she was about tell us off!! I knew he was being naughty winding the lady up so jumped in and placed my order. "Did you see that?" he said to me with a grin after the lady boss left our table. Naughty! :P

Like all Korean restaurants, we got several complimentary side dishes to share, including kimchi and muk (made from grains, beans, or nut starch such as buckwheat, sesame, and acorns, which have a jelly-like consistency). For an Asian, I'm really bad at using chopsticks and having Korean chopsticks, which are medium-length stainless-steel tapered rods, with a flat rectangular cross section, and that made it even more challenging for me to eat my meal. Adrian decided to put my chopsticks skill to the test and said if I could pick up a whole piece of muk and put it into my mouth, he would give me $5. You are ON! Spent the next 5-10 minutes struggling with my chopsticks and not getting very much of the slippery muk that just slides through or breaks into smaller pieces. Argh! So annoying!! Even more with Adrian laughing at my attempts. Hmph! You wait...

Ah-ha! I FINALLY picked up a whole piece of muk after watching how Adrian did it and yum, it tasted good :) That 5 bucks is mine, Adrian!!

Wow, the bowl of noodle soup can serve 4! It was massive!! And my spicy squid was absolutely yummy! We chatted and laughed over dinner - it was most enjoyable and fun :) And we felt quite full after finishing both mains. Cost us $14 per person for our meal tonight which was reasonable for the amount we got. We should do this again and try some other dishes next time we come here! Definitely recommend you try this place if you haven't.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Fun-filled weekend with friends (13th - 14th December 2008)

What a gorgeous day it is today! Gotta make the most of it :) Had brunch with Damien at Maranui Surf Club Cafe in Lyall Bay on Saturday morning. Bumped into Ron and his Capoeira mates on the walk back to the car from the cafe and stuck around for a bit to chat and watched them perform before Damien dropped me off in town.

What’s up with the traffic today? The traffic was crazy and the cars were bumper to bumper on Riddiford St in Newtown. Damien and I were chatting animatedly when suddenly we heard the sound of metal crushing – he hit the car in front of us! Oh my god. Luckily, no damage was done to the car in front (and it was a posh car too) and the driver was rather calm about the whole thing when Damien got out of the car to apologise. Damien’s station wagon had a little dent on the front bumper. Opsie…I think I’m going to shut up while you concentrate on the wheel for now…which only lasted less than 2 minutes and we cracked up laughing at what happened! That was just random and thank god nothing serious happened to us or the other vehicle.

Thanks for a lovely brunch and dropping me off, D! Around 2pm, I caught up with Chris for a few beers out in the sun at The Port Café at Chaffers Dock. Ah, this is the life, sitting out in the sun in good company over drinks with a view overlooking the city harbour and skyline…hmm…

Adrian popped over to join us and we (me and Adrian) left for a coffee at Cubita shortly. Was nice catching up with you, Chris! Catch you again soon. Adrian, the cheek, made me buy coffee, again! Not that it bothered me but he was just being a real cheeky about it all - hmph! :P We headed over to Tiger Eye Beads on Cuba Mall after our coffee where we spent the next hour or so making his good friend, Emma, a dainty necklace for Christmas. Aww, how sweet! I had lots of fun just watching and helping him (even taking photos and teasing him) with his necklace design and making it up. A very unique way of making a personal gift for someone special, I say :) I’m sure Emma will love it!

More chit-chat and laughs over drinks in the last bit of sun for the day at The General Practitioner on Willis St. It was our first time at this bar that had lots of surgical tools hung around – it was once a surgery in the early 1900s which was how it adopted the name. Another tick of firsts for me! And since it was the Christmas season, we were given crackers to pop as well - cool!

I had an awesome day out with the boys :) Photos taken out and about town today:

Sunday was another amazing day and Damien suggested we take a drive up to Otaki where he was going to pick up a chilli tree. Sure, I wouldn’t mind tagging along :)

The drive to Penray Gardens in Otaki was awesome – gorgeous coastal views on a beautiful sunny day. I’ve never been to Penray Gardens. It was a vegetable and fruit orchard/farm where you picked your own vegetable and fruits. Hmm, guess it wasn’t chilli season yet so no trees for Damien. Instead, we each grabbed a plastic box at the counter and headed to the strawberry fields to pick our own boxful of strawberries. Hehe, it was SO much fun picking my own fruit – the best, huge and succulent berries where hidden in between the leaves so it was like looking for hidden treasures! Simple joys in life :) There was a rules board when you first enter the field and you were allowed to try 1 strawberry but no eating in the fields. Cost $5.95 per kg and we brought back 1 kilo of strawberries each which we started devouring all the way back to Wellington. Yum!

Took the scenic route back to Wellington and a short stop to check out the view of Kapiti Coast at the viewing point. Thanks for having me come along, Damien – I had fun! Photos taken on our outing today:

Back home for a short rest and out again at 3pm to Rachel’s place in Brooklyn for a BBQ. A quick stop to grab some beer, meat for the barbie and picked up Adrian in town who tagged along to the BBQ with me. Most of the Raro gang were already at Rachel’s, chilling out in the sun over drinks.

Wellington sure is small – I didn’t think Adrian would know anyone at the BBQ but it turned out Adrian and Flo knew each other from previous work events!

It was a nice, relaxing afternoon spent catching up with the gang. Exactly how I would like my amazing weekend to end :) Gotta love my life and my wonderful friends! Hung out till 7.30pm then off home to unwind before the week ahead. Photos taken at the BBQ:

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Kalwant's farewell party (12th December 2008)

It’s Friday again – yay! Caught up with Sonja and Erik for a drink at Chow on Tory St. The two were about to leave for their trip to Western Australia so this was the last catch up before they take off for a few weeks.

Left the German couple after 1 beer to meet up with Ron at Molly Malones. He was out and about with his friends on a pub crawl and asked me to meet him in town to escort him to James’ house where Kalwant was having her farewell party. The days are just passing by so quickly and only another week to go before Kalwant leaves Wellington for Perth. Sigh...

It was only 10pm when we arrived at James’ place on Webb St and many people were tipsy already! Girls Kalwant and Dvita were in no frame of mind to strangle Ron for his mischief on Facebook as they were in their own world…hehe…damn, I was SO looking forward to see Ron get beaten up ;P As usual, I’ve got my camera handy to take all evidence of the night’s events. Lots of funny photos from our silly antics and at some point, I was chasing Mark around the house because he ran off with my camera!

Salsadrome was on at the Webb St studios so a few of us salsa dancers walked next door for a few dances. Normally, Salsadrome is held at the Wellington Performing Arts Centre on Vivian St but shifted to Webb St for the summer months. Sure felt odd dancing in the dance studio – somewhat small and felt more like a dance practice than social dancing. For about 45 minutes, I was on the dance floor dancing non-stop! Steve was dancing with me, pulling out moves shaking me like I was a rag doll. It was cool but I would probably feel the pain on my neck tomorrow…

Back over next door to Kalwant’s party. Friends were scattered upstairs in James’ living room crooning their lungs out on SingStar while others were in the garage downstairs dancing to Felix’s DJ-ing. A small group of us (Kelly, Colm, Dvita, Kalwant and me) headed into town to boogie some more with Damien and his friends till 2am. Photos taken tonight:

Friday, 12 December 2008

Secret Santa & a fish funeral (12th December 2008)

Secret Santa is a holiday tradition in most of the places I've worked in NZ which everyone in the team or department are randomly assigned other colleagues to whom they anonymously give a gift. And the BI team aren't an exception! We had our gifts put underneath our office Xmas tree collected into a Santa bag, and over morning tea, the presents were given to each team member by Chris. Oh you should see some of the gifts - bummer, should have taken my camera to work! What a laugh we had!! Luke, now very well-known to be the boozer in the team, was given a huge bottle of beer; Scully was given a pair of cushioned handcuffs (just look at the glee in his eyes!); Chris had a toy gun which shoots rubber bands, and the rest of us had assorted gifts ranging from shot glasses (I got those) to bracelets to bicycle attachments.

Oh my, my, Scully, what are you doing??? He managed to cuff himself with his arms behind the back of the chair while we were having our usual Friday team leads meeting and he knew the others would take the opportunity to 'torture' him - Nicky, Jonesy and Camila got whiteboard markers and started to draw on Scully's face! Red lipstick, black whiskers, a kiss on one cheek and a heart shape on the forehead...and he's still struggling to disentangle himself! Oh, we just cracked up laughing!!

We also had to farewell a staff member today, Ronaldo II, Andrew's goldfish, found dead this morning (last year around this time, Ronaldo I committed suicide by jumping out of the fish bowl and now this!). Sam came to my desk with a glass with Ronaldo II in it and we decided to give him a proper funeral then inform the whole team:
Sam's email obituary read: Ronaldo (No. 2) RIP. 2008-2008. "Even though I swim through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your toilet brush and your alcohol sanitizer, they comfort me". Please spare a thought for Andrew and Ashvin at this time. As that's $7 they have to spend to replace him with Ronaldo III :(

Let's all bow our heads down for a moment of can hear only individuals burst into laughter at their own desks...Our Fridays at work are usually like this with this crazy bunch :) Hehe...

I need to nap before heading out tonight to Kalwant's farewell party. Woe is me my bestie is leaving for Perth! Sobs - you must keep in touch and visit! Going to catch up with a few friends prior then head over with Ron. Ron needed my protection as he had very naughtily put up photos of Dvita on Facebook which she had told us all not to (oh, but we must for a good laugh!) and I dared Ron to put it up this morning (and he did!). The brave boy is afraid he'll get slaughtered as he walks to his doom tonight so is using me as shield. I'm DEFINITELY bringing my camera - can't miss the bloodshed! Hahaha!

Harbour City Electric @ Bodega Bar (11th December 2008)

Adrian had invited me to join him and mates to a gig at Bodega Bar on Ghuznee St this evening. You would not believe this but I've never been in Bodega Bar before (and I used to live 2-3 blocks away from this place) - another first for me! Bodega virgin no more :P I wasn't too sure if I would make it as I still had dance practice tonight but Ron was keen to check it out so we wrapped up class and with Alicia headed to the bar to see what Harbour City Electric was all about. Tonight was also the last week of dance practice before we all go on our year-end holidays so took group photos at Ron's:

Back (l-r): Helbert, Alicia, Casey, Ethel and Paul
Front (l-r): Ron, me and Christian

Cost us $5 per person to enter Bodega Bar and The Free Tones were playing when we arrived (support band playing funk and soul) and shortly after, Harbour City Electric (HCE) was up. HCE is a 7-piece soul band from Wellington and the music they played was pretty cool and very Wellington/NZ (NZ's known for the funk, soul, electric jazz and reggae music genre). Haha, Ron was telling me that he could see the excitement in my eyes being in Bodega for the first time. Hehe...well, it kind of reminded me of my time in Chicago where I would head out late at night to check out unknown bands around the city and how much I loved doing so thus the brightly lit eyes :) We danced our hearts out to the soul and funk music played by the bands and DJ, even thrown in a threesome cha-cha. The place wasn't very packed so we could groove and go crazy however we pleased. Of course, we had to do the human sandwich and at one point, I was getting ping-ponged in the butt by both Ron and Adrian! Hey, no fair!!

Alicia left around 11ish while I stayed on with the boys till the gig ended around midnight. I've NEVER stayed out this late on a weeknight!! Eeks! And I believe I would feel pain in the neck tomorrow from bobbing my head too much tonight...but I had an AWESOME night - thanks for the invite, Adrian! We need to do this again :) Dropped off the boys (yes, I'm notoriously known to see boys to their front door) and hit the sack by 12.30am. Photos taken at Bodega Bar:

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Day trip to Cape Palliser, Wairarapa (7th December 2008)

It was another gorgeous sunny day in Wellington and I was so happy when Damien asked if I wanted to head out to Cape Palliser for a walk – of course! Grabbed my day pack and we headed out at 11am in his car towards Wairarapa. Cape Palliser is another place in the North Island I’ve not been before – it lies on the southern-most tip of the North Island and is said to have some of the most outstanding coastal scenery in the lower North Island. Cool!

Unfortunately, I no longer remember how to drive a stick so couldn’t help Damien with the driving since his station wagon was a manual. Sorry!

Stopped at Martinborough around 2pm for lunch at Riverview Café in Murdoch James winery (only open weekends and public holidays from 12-3pm). This is SO awesome! Having our meals with a glass of wine at a winery, in T-shirt and shorts!! I’m loving it :) Photos taken at lunch:

Left the winery around 3pm and went for a walk at Putangirua Pinnacles, a spectacular landscape feature at Eastern Cape Palliser. We took the Bush Walk which was a 1-2 hours return walk but somehow got a bit off track and ended up trekking up rubble and large rocks to a valley of huge pinnacles surrounding us. A very magnificent sight. I would be so afraid if the rocks on the pinnacle formations fall off somehow because we would pretty much be squashed. Eeks! Continued on our trek uphill to the lookout of the pinnacles. Phew, what a workout! So many steps up and I could feel the burn on my butts and thighs!! Photos taken at Putangirua Pinnacles:

Back at the car around 5pm and headed to Cape Palliser Lighthouse. It was a lovely drive with gorgeous views of the black sand coast line. We wanted to walk up the 250 steep step lighthouse but couldn’t find a way to get in so gave up and just took a walk along the rocky beach nearby. Note to self: never play with sea creatures stuck on rocks. I was wearing my sports shoes and trying to push a sea snail or similar that was stuck tight on a rock into the water. Next thing I knew, I slipped and had both my feet in the water, my shoes and socks totally soaked through! Argh, karma!! Now I have to go bare feet…grr…

Left the lighthouse and started making our way back to Wellington. Short stop by one of the beaches at the coast for a stroll – the water was still somewhat cold and the sand so dirty black. Around 9pm we arrived in Petone for dinner and got home by 10.30pm. Wow, what a weekend I’ve had – absolutely shattered but was amazing! Photos taken this evening:

Thanks for a great day out, Damien! Will catch up again soon ;)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Walk to Hawkin Hills radar station (6th December 2008)

James had organised for us girls (me, Kalwant and Dvita) to do a walk and picnic lunch up at the Hawkin Hills radar station this afternoon. Coincidentally, Damien wanted to do a walk too since the day was so nice outside so I asked him to tag along. I've been to the radar station previously with Claus but wouldn't mind doing it again with a different crowd. Different people, different experience!

Around noon, I went around the city to pick everyone up in my car and we headed towards Highbury where we walked uphill towards the Brooklyn Wind Turbine via the bike track route. It was a rather steep walk with most of the path in rubbles (it was a bike track, what did you expect??). Ooo, I can feel the burn in my thighs!

A short stop at the wind turbine for a breather before pushing on to our lunch spot. Damien has this red hat that he wore and I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of it. It just didn't suit him and somewhat reminded me of a little kid minus a bib. Hehehe...hmm, I think you'll suit a cap much better, Damien...somehow the hat on you just looks odd...

Continued on our walk towards the radar station and arrived around 2pm. Oh my god, the girls weren't kidding me about James and his gourmet lunches when he goes for walks - he brought almost everything! Juice, assortment of breads, spreads, salami, salad, dressing for him and the girls. Wow - I was lost for words. All I brought was homemade sandwich and fruit for myself and Damien...felt so unequipped...Nevermind, next time I'll just get James to count me in for his gourmet lunches ;)

I LOVE walks! Especially when it's not windy and sunny outside. Beats working out in the gym, that's for sure! Headed back where we started and dropped everyone home around 4pm. Photos taken today:

Damien and I went to Oriental Parade for him to find his soccer buddies. Some photos taken on our way to the beach:
Not too sure what event was on but there's MC Jinetero rapping on stage

Lots of Wellingtonians chillin' out at Waitangi Park in the sun

A gorgeous day at Oriental Bay beach

Didn't find the soccer players but bumped into several friends along the way. This is Wellington on a sunny day - every couple of minutes, we'll stop to chat with someone we know. Said our goodbyes at 5pm as I was catching up with Adrian at Cubita for coffee. Catch up with you next time, D!

Adrian is a new friend whom I met at my work Xmas party and this was the first time we were catching up since then. An interesting South African guy with a great sense of humour. For our first catch up as friends, I have to say we hit it off pretty quickly as if we already knew each other for awhile - cool! We laughed and chatted over coffee, then a short walk at the waterfront before calling it a day. Look forward to catch up, Adrian :)

After a whole day out, I'm just going to stay in tonight and watch a DVD while my neighbours party it up next door. Doubt I'll get much sleep tonight :/

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Dinner at Caffe Italiano with friends (3rd December 2008)

Damien and I had another dinner catch up tonight and he was dropping obvious hints that he wanted to check out Roberto's gig at Caffe Italiano when we discussed where we were checking out tonight so we headed over. I'm pretty flexible and not fussy with food so sure, let's go!

Caffe Italiano is a mix of a cafe, delicatessen and store for suppliers - a perfect place to indulge in authentic Italian food, wine and service. I know that Roberto plays here most Wednesday nights but never been there to see and hear him play. Ooo, Amber is SO going to strangle me when she sees me! Which she kind of did when Damien and I joined her table for dinner :P It was really nice to catch up with both her and Roberto over yummy food and great Cuban music. Lots of diners here tonight and it created a nice ambience of chitter-chatter, wine glasses and cutlery clinking as the guests relaxed to the smooth cool tunes from Roberto. It was the first time I had dinner here and we had an antipasto platter, pesto pasta, salad and house white wine to share. must have dinner here if you haven't. So many different things to try on the antipasto platter and the pesto pasta came out looking a bright neon green! And we still had room to try the tiramisu and cheesacake for dessert - oh, too much food! But definitely worth it ;)

I had a wonderful night just chilling out, catching up with friends and laughing over our chats. Thanks for shouting dinner, Damien - next round is on me :)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Decorating Xmas tree at home (1st December 2008)

Flatmates Andy, Priscilla and I were home this evening to decorate the flat's Christmas tree - my 1st tree ever! So cool and excited :) For a guy, Andy too was all excited and was just patiently waiting for my return from swimming so we could start. Hahaha....

The tree is about half a metre tall and came in 2 parts from a box. I have never decorated my own Christmas tree before so was just watching and following what the others did, opening up the small needles/stems of the tree to start. Of course, when it was time to drape the tinsel around, I had to drap it on myself first :P tinsel draping technique wasn't so great...needed Priscilla the expert to help me out (well, after both her and Andy had enough a laugh at my work). Next, we each has our little section of the tree to hang the blue and silver baubles, followed by tying the blue ribbon at the front (which side IS the front??). And to top it all off, a nice big silver star. Check out our pretty tree! Photos taken this evening:

Great job, gang! Now we just need to get a few Christmas stockings on the wall (1 for me, 1 for Andy, 1 for Priscilla, and half a stocking for Flick hehe...) and secretly fill them up when no one is home and some presents to put under the tree :)

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday BBQ at Jo's (30th November 2008)

Was up at 9am and mindlessly turning on the radio to find Radio Active playing Brazilian songs - this was amazing! Was estatic and ended up staying in to sort out more photos while tuning in to the awesome songs played. Hopefully this is a regular Sunday morning thing on 89FM - I wouldn't mind getting up early for it!

Knock, knock! Priscilla was knocking on my door and when I opened it, I saw her holding up her laptop with Anna in view and we were video chatting each other via Skype! I met both Anna and Priscilla during my days working at Unicomm Accommodation and had not seen Anna since she left NZ - so nice to see and hear that she's well back in the States :) We need to keep in touch and you have to come visit us Anna!

Around 2pm, I headed out to pick up Chris and Damien to Jo's bbq in Newtown. Had a gut feeling that Damien would still be asleep or had just woken up by the time I got to his place and sure enough, he got up just 15 minutes ago. The poor thing looked half asleep climbing into my car. Oh dear, oh dear...that boy works and parties too much! I've gotten used to it as it wasn't the first time Damien overslept on me. Hmm, don't think girls would be very impressed if they had to wait for you on dates... :P

BBQ at Jo's was the usual drill - BYO meat for the barbie and drinks, someone mans the BBQ, someone cuts the cooked meat and serves it round to the rest who sits around the barbie chatting together, and music playing in the background. It was nice to catch up with old friends and meet a few new faces. Lia had just returned from her trip to Brazil, I finally met Will (the guy Jo's seeing whom I've heard his name for months but never met him - coincidentally he knows my flatmate Andy) and met a few Brazilians I've not seen to date (Amanda, Igor, Andre, Dan and Flavio). Conal, whom I've met previously, also came to join us - have I mentioned that this Aussie boy speaks better Mandarin than I do? Yep, and with a Chinese twang :)

Helbert was there with his 1 bad knee but still in charge of grilling meat, and even tried to boogie on his better leg. Hahaha, so funny! And as usual, the bunch would be cracking up jokes, teasing each other, dance and watch Jo shake her booty to Brazilian music (she tries to teach me but I just can't do it as well as she does)...hehe...Photos taken at Jo's:

Left around 6.30pm, dropped Chris home and then walked into town for coffee with Damien. It was past 7pm but the sun still shining brightly as if it was only 4pm. Ended up having a cuppa at Hotel Bristol on Cuba St. Don't be fooled by the name - it's an English pub and the coffee and hot chocolate we had was not good at all (too much milk) but it was just nice to be able to sit outdoors and enjoy the last bit of sun. Found Andre walking by so had him join us for more chit-chat. Home for me after coffee - need to unwind a bit from a fun-filled weekend. I had an awesome weekend with lots of friends!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Flo's first BBQ at home (29th November 2008)

A quick snack and coffee later, I was out of the house by 1.30pm and went to get some last minute items for the bbq at Flo's place in Brooklyn this afternoon. Around 2pm, I drove over to his place and arrived at the given address but saw no signs of life from the house. Hmm, this is I at the right place? Rang the doorbell but no one answered the door. Weird...Rang up Rachel to find out if I was at the right house - no answer. Tried Colm - got his voicemail. Rang Kim - also voicemail. Where IS everybody??! Oh well, I'll just ponder to the back of the house and hopefully find someone there...

Ah-ha, found Flo and Adrian busy assembling a deck table and chairs Flo has just bought today. And then my phone started to ring - Rachel and Colm were ringing me back! So funny :) Helped out the boys fixing the chair as we wait for the others to turn up. Perhaps you guys should have read the instructions first...fixing up the chairs shouldn't be this tug-of-war mission...

Wow, you've got a massive house Flo! He's got a guest room that's separate from the main house and a large back garden - nice! Flo, you are in for trouble. We would be turning up at your house uninvited to sun tan on your deck, fix up a hammock to laze in and have loads of bbqs this summer...hehe...This was Flo's first bbq at his home - haha, I knew not only because of his lack of outdoor furniture but also because his bbq utensils were still shiny and new :)

There were only a few of us (me, Alicia, Flo, Colm, Rachel, Debs and Kim) this afternoon but it was very nice, just a small crowd relaxing and having drinks, food and chit-chat out in the sun. We had more salads today than meat. I think everyone who turned up at Kim's bbq previously thought we brought too much food so everyone brought less today - still sufficient to feed the clan and Rachel's dessert was to die for! So sinfully good - choc brownie/pudding with fresh berries, topped up with a dollop of choc ice-cream that Flo bought from the shops nearby after lunch. Evil....

Thanks for organising this bbq today, Flo! It was an awesome day spent with the gang and we need to have more get-togethers!! I left around 6.30pm for home and found Colm walking down the street so gave him a lift. Going to be a good girl and stay in tonight to sort out the tonnes of photos taken over the past few weeks - I've been hardly home at night! Photos taken this afternoon:

Morning walk on Makara Walkway (29th November 2008)

Was up at 9.30am and planned to take it easy after a long night out. Turned on my mobile phone and got a text from Claus asking me if I wanted to go for a walk this morning. Of course - I LOVE walks! But he only gave me 10 minutes to get ready and packed for the trip AND I WAS STILL IN MY PAJAMAS!!

I know it's sunny outside - ARGH!!! Ooo, the evil man...stop texting me to hurry me up! Hopped into his car while drinking my Up & Go liquid breakfast. I so need a coffee right now...

We decided to take a short walk at Makara Walkway and arrived there around 10am. The walkway is a 6km loop, climbing to vantage points with spectacular views, and returning along the beach. Our walk today was just halfway along the beach and back as both of us had other plans for the afternoon. Though it was sunny, this area is very exposed to northerlies and was somewhat windy when we got there. Sweaters on! We had been here previously on a sunset chase - it was nice to see Makara Beach during the day with clear skies :)

Lots of little stops along the way to chat with other walkers and a few divers who were out paua hunting, took photos and helped Claus look for paua shells he was collecting as souvenirs for his friends back home in Brazil.

Around 11.15am, we stopped for a mid-morning snack of apples, juice and water. Spent some time looking for pebbles from where we sat to throw at a large rock in the sea. Honestly, if the rock was alive, it would get up and throw all the pebbles Claus used to hit it - he was throwing stones at machine gun rate! I tried to follow suit and aimed for the rock. Man, it was hard work trying to fling my pebble that far but I got there eventually - yay! :) Hmm, we'll feel sore in the arms tomorrow from all this throwing...

Around 11.45am, we started to head back to the carpark and arrived at the car around 12.20pm. Most of the walk was on pebbly beach with some sections of rocks we had to climb over. Woe is me for my short legs - I needed Claus to help me up and/or carry me down (embarassing!). Didn't help when he went "Come to papa!" clapping his hands, teasing me when I was stuck atop a rock and couldn't get down. Grr... :P

It was an awesome walk and thanks for the invite, Claus! I was meant to be at Tabatha's gathering this afternoon (both Claus and I were invited to the party) but I had agreed to attend Flo's bbq prior to receiving Tabatha's invitation. Sob, sob...I will be missing out on feijoada! You guys have fun and will catch up next time! Photos taken this morning:

A Night In The Orient - Telecom Christmas Party (28th November 2008)

One thing’s for sure about Telecom people – when someone says "party", we always do what we are told. This year will be no exception, especially in the four main centres where we are having our big Christmas parties for the end of the year. This year's theme is A Night in the Orient – technically, that’s everything east of the Mediterranean, which means there are endless possibilities when it comes to dressing up! I've got mine packed in my bag to work this morning and I can't wait to see what the others in my team are wearing :) I highly doubt the Wellington Telecom staff would be in the mood to do work today - the weather is sunny and warm, and if it was the same as last year, my colleagues and I would be bar hopping all the way to TSB Arena where the party is held right after our team Xmas lunch!

Because it is such a huge event, Telecom staff flood and colour the town on this day in full costume and noise - an absolutely sight. Like last year, we each had to wear a coloured wristband at the party. Some idiots in the company thought it was a smart idea to give their wristbands to friends and family members who weren't staff members (the party is a private function for Telecome staff only) and as a result, the organisers made all attendees wear their Telecom ID as well this year. :/

8am and haven't seen anyone walk in with their costumes yet...

Quick stop at the pharmacy around the corner to buy a red lipstick and black eye-liner for a more dramatic look to match the costume. Hmm, 10am and still nothing happening in the office...

About 11am, all hell broke loose. Scully and Nicky both changed into their Bavarian costumes (so anti-theme, those two!) and shortly after, my manager, Chris, was found in his karate/judo uniform. And then Jonesy turned up in our usual Friday team leads meeting dressed up as a tiger hunter. Camila and I were the only 2 in the room still not in costume and were feeling so left out! And as you can expect, the meeting was cut short and not very work related but us laughing and teasing each other :)

By noon, most of us had changed into our costumes and went photo crazy! It was so funny to see us all dressed up in all sorts - tiger hunters, Chinese costumes, Bavarians, kimonos etc. Camila looks so cute in the short qipao! And I do think I look very much a Chinese princess...hehe...Oh, but Luke had the most amazing costume! He made and painted the ramen instant noodle box himself!! I DEFINITELY think he should be awarded for best costume tonight :)

"Hey Sam, I don't mean to be rude or anything, but do you have a pillow tied to your tummy as part of the costume?" I 'innocently' asked Sam about his protruding tummy to which he smacked me hard on my shoulders and called me evil. "It's muscles!" he retorted. Hehehe...

We slowly plodded over to Thai Chefs Restaurant on the corner of Blair and Wakefield Streets where we had our team Xmas lunch this year. Fits the Oriental theme, doesn't it? :) People were staring at us as we walked through the busy CBD - cool! Former work colleagues Mike, Mindi, Claudia and Steve came to join the team at lunch and boy were we one large rowdy lot! Such a pity that Francois wasn't here with us - he would have loved to dress up and go crazy like the rest of the boys! As usual, I was the team photographer, taking photos off all our silly antics and great memories together.

I had their Bangkok Showtime for $26.50, a mixed seafood dish of prawns, squid, scallop and fish fillets sizzled in Thai whiskey and tomato sauce with pineapple chunks, cashew nuts and vegetables, served in half pineapple with rice. Hmm, a sweet and sour dish that I found myself finishing so quickly as I was feeling so hungry! Photos taken at the office and during our Xmas lunch:

The drinking started from lunch and most of us ain't going back to the office to do any work - not going to be very productive today...Around 3pm, a large group of us walked over to Mac's Brewery for more drinks. I love this weather - so nice and warm!

Hahaha, we got woof-whistled as we walked past the construction site opposite Te Papa! The party hasn't even officially started and we are already loud and obnoxious!! Not sure if many will last BEFORE the party actually starts :P

We got ourselves a table outside, just chilling out chatting and laughing over drinks while we waited for the others who went back to the office to turn up. Oh my god, I could not recognise Kirsty when she turned up looking like a geisha! Tama really suited his sushi man costume and someone please take that blow whistle off Steve Wong - it's SO annoying!! Chris, Sam and Luke were singing their hearts out in public - dear god...Photos taken this afternoon:

At 5pm, we headed over to TSB Arena. More and more people were found walking towards the same direction dressed in all sorts. Cool! It was still quite empty when we got to the venue but that didn't deter my workmates from enjoying themselves - more drinking, finger food and the first lot of people to heat up the dance floor! The place was nicely done up to suit the Oriental theme. They even had a karaoke lounge and sumo wrestling ring set up! What fun we will have tonight ;)

I spent most of my night flitting around the place, hanging out with different friends. It was AWESOME! As I moved around the venue, I had people comment on my cool costume and nods of approval. Thanks :) Luke was one of the 4 finalists chosen for best costume but none of us could believe he got beaten by a fortune cookie! That was so unfair and you should see the look of his face (I got a photo of it haha)!!

NZ band, Opshop, played for us live around 8pm and really cranked up the party! James and I did the usual of pushing through to the front of the stage, only this time he didn't run off with some blonde chick...hehe...I was hopping up and down with James up the front of the stage! Even had a few dance with boys Mark, Colm and new found friend, Adrian, over the course of the night.

Adrian is hilarious! He dared me to sumo wrestle him but I couldn't thanks to my fitting dress so instead we had a thumb wrestle!! I wasn't going to give up the fight (even though I lost in the end of the struggle) :P I had an AMAZING time at the party this year - guess it was because I knew my workmates better plus gotten to know several other friends within the wider team so I was able to hang out with the different social groups. Can't wait to see all the photos taken today! Photos taken at the party:

About 11.30pm, a few of us headed over to Southern Cross Bar to meet birthday girl, Karen - she was having her birthday celebrations there. Had friends Scott, Ron, Alicia and Hayden come join us (where did Karen and her crowd 'disappeared' to????). Of course, the usual photo gang went photo crazy with the rest of us in costume. Photos taken at Southern Cross:

Few of them went into town after while Scott and I headed for home around 1am. I walked Scott to his door (yes, I WALKED HIM, not the other way round), went to my office to pick up the rest of my gear and headed home. A couple of Asian boys were hanging in the Telecom carpark, trying to get me to talk to them by greeting me in multiple Asian languages. Ignore, ignore!

Walked down the main street towards home and saw several really drunk male geishas. Should be quite an interesting night for the Wellington crowd with people dressed up mingling with them. Was home, safe and sound by 2am to change, shower and hit the sack. Ah, what a night!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Little Dog Laughed (27th November 2008)

Gafieira class was called off tonight as the boys all had other plans. Good for me because that meant I could catch the final week of The Little Dog Laughed play at Downstage Theatre! I've been thinking of going to the play after I read the review in the local papers but just never got around doing so. It somehow came up in my conversation with Damien over dinner at his place last night and we decided on the spot to watch the play today - yay!

Oh, did I mention Damien's a fabulous cook? He made Ayam Masak Lemak Chili Padi for dinner last night, a typical Malaysian chicken dish from the state of Negeri Sembilan and boy was it good! And he made it with spices from scratch!! I'm most impressed (and I'm the Malaysian who didn't even know such a dish exist...). His patients must be wondering why his fingers were all stained yellow (from crushing tumeric) when he went to work last night...hehe... :) Thanks for the dinner - we should do it again so I can sample what other Malaysian dishes you can cook!

Oh, oh, my dress from Trade Me has arrived! I was already thinking of going to the party as a harajuku girl should my dress not turn up in time for the party but glad it arrived this morning. Had put it together to see what it would look like before Damien popped over. What do you think? Check it out:

Couldn't find a suitable handkerchief to match but found a little gold tissue/mesh bag from the $2 shop which I cut part of it out and it fit my outfit perfectly :)'s 7pm and Damien is still not here. Why do I have a feeling he's either forgotten or overslept....hope he gets here soon so we would be there on time...

Phew, that was a bit close! We got in just on time! Damien overslept and rushed over to get me, dropped me off at the theatre so I could pick up the tickets while he went to hunt for a carpark. Alright, breathe, we are all good now - time to enjoy the play!

The Little Dog Laughed is a play about 4 characters: an actor, Mitchell, his acerbic agent Diane, a hustler named Alex, and Alex's girlfriend Ellen. When Mitchell and Alex become involved in a physical relationship, Diane is concerned that what she describes as Mitchell's "slight recurring case of homosexuality" will derail his career before it gets started. The play is a highly articulate, deeply funny look between-the-sheets at image making, sexual politics, celebrity hype and the age-old questions of who really deals the cards when it comes to love. Cost us $43 per person for a stall seat.

I knew about the homosexuality part of the story but what I didn't expect was full frontal nudity and passionate kissing on stage by the 2 men! Opsie, Damien must be thinking what on earth did I drag him along to...but hey, the boys were very good at it :) The play starred 4 of Wellington's hottest young actors - Kip Chapman (vaguely familiar - where have I seen him before??) who played a flamboyant character of Alex, which was my favourite. Richard Knowles (aka Mitchell) had a washboard chest that I'm sure all the ladies in the audience were happily admiring when he took off his shirt time and again throughout the play...hehe...The female characters played by Sophie Hambleton (Ellen) and Renee Sheridan (Diane) were also amazing. Interestingly, all characters put on an American accent, again, something I didn't expect at all. A very entertaining 120-minute show with a 15-minute interval, full of wit and cynicism. Recommend you see it if you still have a chance. I absolutely enjoyed it and I hope you did too, Damien!

It's rare to find me with the same group of friends 2 days in a row - Damien, you're just lucky to find open slots in my diary 2 consecutive days this week ;) Haha, okok, so maybe I am a socialite with so much going on that friends need to pencil in a slot in advance or they won't find me. I've had 6 invites to parties and bbqs this weekend and had to choose as I can't split myself at so many locations at the same time, even if I wished I could!

Monday, 24 November 2008

My head dress for the costume party has arrived (24th November 2008)

First working day back from Melbourne and to my surprise, I'm not feeling jetlagged or tired, which isn't very normal. Hmm, I think it could be that Annabel Trends Stripy Squidgy pillow I bought for AUD20 at Melbourne airport as advised by Kalwant. Seriously, if you are like us, flying everywhere so often, this neck rest/pillow does wonders. Allows me to sleep throughout my flight! A bit costly but definitely worth it - thanks for sharing the secret Kalwant! Hehe... :)

Oh, the head gear I bought from Trade Me has arrived. YES! Check it out, check it out!

You've probably guessed what I'll be going to the Telecom Christmas Party as this year. Yep, you guessed right - a Qing dynasty princess like the ones seen in Taiwanese TV series Princess Pearl ("Huan Zhu Gege"). The theme this year is A Night In The Orient and the first image that came to mine was to go as a Chinese princess. Oh, but it's so hard to source for the costume! This head gear was bought from Trade Me for $15 and it was part of an adult sex costume. Ah, don't you get wild ideas - I only bought the head gear, not the full attire. Now I just have to find a Chinese dress and other accessories to match from Trade Me. I hope I'll find something - the party is this Friday! ARGH!

Last day: Weekend in Melbourne (23rd November 2008)

Was up at 9 this morning and it was another gloomy day outside. Girls Kalwant and Euleste decided we should head to St Kilda (a suburb in Melbourne 6km from CBD) for brunch today so left around 11am to catch the tram there. Sharon and Mark wanted to sleep in so we left them to their own devices.

Hmm, the weather seems to be clearing up as the day goes on but still a tad chilly and windy….Arrived at St Kilda about 11.45am. Cost us AUD6.50 per person for a full fare Zone 1 ticket (which includes St Kilda) for the whole day. We were walking around the block in search of this café recommended by Sharon called Galleon. Spent half an hour walking around and when we finally found it, the queue was so long (from the till to the pavement outside) so we skipped the idea and ended up in another café, Prima Colazhione, located on the main strip. Your typical brunch place and I had another full cooked breakfast – my 2nd one this weekend. Urgh, so bad for health but I don’t care – I’m on holiday! Will work it off when I get back to Wellington :P

Around 1.15pm, us 3 girls left the café to the nearby cake shop to pick up some pastries to take home for afternoon tea. Oh my god, looking from the window of the shop, it was as if I was Gretel and just stumbled upon the house made of gingerbread and candy (well, this was more like a massive display of sweet anything)! Took a walk along the waterfront towards the tram stop and headed back to Sharon’s at 1.45pm. Photos taken today:

I’ve always like Melbourne. Since my first visit when I was 8, I promised myself then that I would return to live here when I grew up. So far, that hasn’t been quite successful but who knows, give it a few years and you might just find me here. I enjoy the art and culture scene, living in a metropolitan city and just be in the mix of a diverse demographic. The weekend here has just zipped by so quickly – 3 days is not enough!

The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out at home over wine and our sweet pastries until our taxi came to pick Kalwant and I up for the airport at 4pm. A couple more photos taken at home:

My bed for the weekend - very comfy!

Polly the budgie

Thanks so much, Sharon and Mark, for having us here this weekend, and it was great to meet you too, Euleste – going to miss you guys and keep in touch!

Arrived at the airport at 4.30pm to check in and then grabbed a bite at Billy Chu's. Had a large bowl of Char Kuay Tiaw for AUD12.50 – not bad for airport food. We also bought a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts each. Some random guy walked past me and stared at my 2 boxes of doughnuts, looked up to me and shook his head with a smile on his face. What?? We don't have them in NZ! Hehe...

Boarded the plane at 6pm. Wow, what a weekend it has been and now, it’s time to head back home. Slept through most of the flight home. Yes, I FINALLY bought one of those neck pillows that Kalwant has - ah, bliss! Felt rather dehydrated and thirsty – hmm, could be the mix of wine and the food I had earlier. Oh, oh, and someone fainted in the plane! That caused quite a stir – an Asian man passed out on the aisle and several helpful passengers caught him in time. He poor man was laid him down on the aisle and given an oxygen mask to breathe into. Shortly after, he was up and walking again. Luckily no big drama but still caused excitement on board.

Yawn…finally arrived in Wellington at 12.20am. Bumped into Bill at the baggage collection area who had just arrived in from Australia as well. I got home, dropped my bags, showered and was in bed by 2am. Not looking forward to work in the morning…

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Day 2: Weekend in Melbourne (22nd November 2008)

Was up at 9am and it was pouring and cold outside!!! This is DEFINITELY not the weather I expected this weekend :( Slept rather well on the futon couch last night, I have to admit. Hmm, wondered if I was just too tired or the couch was really comfortable...Jumped into the shower and got ready to head out. Went downstairs and continued reading The Secret book as I waited for the others to get ready. I HAVE to finish this book before I go home! Couple more photos of Sharon's place:

Around 10.30am, me, Kalwant and Euleste braved the rain to Brunswick St to Mario's Cafe for breakfast. Argh! It must be about 12 degrees Celsius this morning, wet and cold. It was drizzling when we went out and then poured heavily - we had to run a few blocks and find shelter at the tram stop on the way to the cafe.

One thing I love about Melbourne (similarly to Wellington) is its cafe culture. There would be a cafe here or there where you can hang out with friends, family or on your own and enjoy a nice cuppa and just relaxing. It would be nice to live in a city of arts and culture of this size - I'm sure there's always some band or performance or something on every other day in this city.

Had fried eggs and sausages (evil, evil) with my flat white coffee for AUD14. The cafe takes cash only and even has an ATM machine inside the shop for you to withdraw cash! Strange, so very strange...

At 12pm, us 3 took a tram to Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) on Spencer St located next to Southern Cross Station where our 2 shopaholics spent the next few hours shopping. DFO is a place where you can find over 120 brands under one roof but pay up to 70% off its retail price. Cheap as it may be, I can't be splurging on this trip as I've been spending too much money country hopping the last couple of months! And I have another big one coming up in a few weeks!!

Hmm, the tram takes only coins for tickets...Cost AUD3.50 for a 1 zone full fare which is valid for 2 hours. I have no idea what that meant but followed whatever Kalwant did and bought my ticket. Euleste didn't have any coins so didn't buy a ticket! Eeks, what if someone comes by to check?? Fortunately no one did. Gee, I wonder how many people hop on the tram only to find they have no coins and then what? Hop off? Get a free ride?? Rather ridiculous that the machine doesn't even change notes into coins...

Shop, shop, shop, I followed the girls from shop to shop at the factory outlet. Stopped for a coffee break about 2.30pm and continued on shopping. Sharon and Mark came to look for us around 5pm and we walked in the cold wind over to Federation Square to catch a tram home. Photos taken today:

Sharon and Mark headed home while me and the girls walked down Lygon St to grab dinner and ended up in Taste of Asia. Had their Wa Tan Hor for AUD8.90. What?? No pickled/vinegared green chillies??? Argh, it pisses me off everytime I order this dish and not have it served with the chillies. It's ALL about the chillies - makes the dish taste so much better!! Grumble, grumble...

Headed back to Sharon's around 6.45pm, got showered, dressed and back downstairs for a drink and continued reading my book. At 8.30pm, us girls left Mark at home and took a taxi to Corner Hotel on Swan St in Richmond (suburb 2kms south-east of Melbourne CBD) where Euleste was meeting her friend and all of us had tickets to see a gig playing at the venue. Cost us AUD22 for the taxi and entry into Corner Hotel. It was still very early so we hung around at the bar for a drink. I tried Cascade Premium Light for AUD4.20 - not bad but has an after taste though.

Euleste's friend decided to give the gig a miss so 4 of us were here on our own. At 9.15pm, opening band Clue to Kalo was on. I'm sorry but all I could hear was nothing but noise - the music just wasn't my cup of tea. Was glad when the girls decided to check out other bars in the area for a bit. Somebody save me, please!

Around 9.45pm, we braved the rain and ran across the street to Post Office Hotel. Nice little upper class bar that was bustling with patrons. Tried the local beer, Little Creatures for AUD4.50 - tasted much like the Kiwi Tuatara Hefe. I like! Buying beer in Oz sure is cheaper than in NZ if one was to work and live here!

Kalwant said that Aussie boys are generally taller. Really?? Hmm, perhaps I've lived in NZ for too long and what we see is the normal/average height. Yeah, I guess it is quite true because most of the guys in here seemed to be towering me. And they are DEFINITELY more cute guys of my age range too...hmm, maybe I do need to move across the Tasman to find me a man...

Around 11.15pm, we headed back to Corner Hotel which was quite packed by then. The main band, Pivot, started their gig at 11.30pm. Honestly, I didn't know what type of gig this was but said ok when Euleste bought the tickets a week ago. Turned out to be a mix of trance/psychedelic alternative music. Lots of student-looking type people in the crowd, including this one guy with long, uncombed hair swinging his head round and round like a propeller. I just didn't feel I was in the right place and neither in the frame of mind to enjoy the music - usually I'm quite open to new experiences but this just wasn't me and all I could think of was to go home.

The girls decided to call it a night and we made our way home about 12.15am - yay! You wouldn't believe it but it was such a mission to hail a cab from the street! Every one in the block was trying to stop a cab and literally 'fighting' for one!! When we managed to stop one, a random man tried to talk the Sharon into sharing the taxi together. Sorry but we are a full car. Get your own, mister!

So glad to be home in pajamas and chatted with the gang over drinks and cookies that Sharon and Mark made. Yum! Seriously guys, you should consider opening a little cookie shop in the interim till you find your dream job :P Couldn't keep my eyes open and gave up by 2am to hit the sack. Photos taken tonight:

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Day 1: Weekend in Melbourne (21st November 2008)

Beep, beep...beep, was 3.40am - time to get up and ready to head to the airport. I'm SO sleepy and kept hitting the snooze button. I want to sleep some more but couldn't! This morning, Kalwant and I will be flying to Melbourne to spent the weekend with Sharon and Mark. It was a girls' weekend away trip that Kalwant suggested we do after our trip back from Rarotonga. Sounds like a plan! Plus the flights only cost me $300 return (I had airpoints to claim) so it was a definite go :)

Left for Wellington airport around 4.30am. Us girls shared a cab for $10 each, rushed through the check-in queue (crap, will we get to the plane on time - just look at the queue!), paid our $25 per person departure tax and a quick stop to collect the pre-ordered alcohol to bring over to Melbourne. Rush, rush!

5.30am started to board the plane and off we went to Melbourne. Spent the next 3 hours or so snoozing uncomfortably, head lolling in all directions and I would get up to find Kalwant sleeping so soundly on that neck rest/pillow of hers. Grr...It was a crappy old plane with rather tight seating room and no on-demand TV to watch. Boring! Well, I had to find my own entertainment - taking are some taken on board the plane:

A very bored me trying to find something fun to do to kill time

I need to buy one of those pillows - just look how sound asleep Kalwant is!

Photos of a rather dry and gloomy looking Melbourne...

Arrived in Melbourne around 10am (local time is 8am and from now on, the times would be in Melbourne time). Wow, the last time I visited Melbourne was in 2003 - it must have changed quite a lot since I was last here. Really didn't know what to expect but not knowing sounds very exciting!

Ooo, I like the new scanning system they use at the customs check point for NZ and Australian passport holders. A self-checking systems where you slide in your passport into a machine that reads your details, then remove it and walk towards another scanner that takes a photo of you and you're done. Quick and easy!

Kalwant has been raving about this doughnut chain called Krispy Kreme the whole journey - I have no idea what is so great about them really. According to Kalwant, the doughnuts just 'melt' in your mouth. Really? Well, we need to get some over to Sharon's then. Hunted for the shop in airport and bought a box of 6 doughnuts for AUD13.95.

We eventually decided it was more convenient to taxi to Sharon's and tried hailing a cab at the airport. The taxi service here is so weird! The cabs wouldn't take us because Kalwant has a large luggage bag which wouldn't fit in the boot (somehow the taxi's here have spare tyres that take up most of the space in the boot) so we had to wait for a station wagon taxi. Sheesh!

Around 9.30am, we arrived in Carlton (a suburb 2kms away from Melbourne CBD) where Sharon and Mark were living. Got dropped off on Rathdowne St after driven up and down the street looking for Sharon's place - we couldn't find the house! I wasn't impressed that for AUD55, the taxi driver couldn't drop us off at our destination. Tried calling Sharon but she was probably still asleep so we hopped off the taxi and tried looking for the house ourselves, dragging our bags up and down the block. Finally got through to Sharon who told us that the pale yellow corner house we got dropped off at earlier was where she was living. Kalwant and I looked at each other, brows raised - she serious? She's living in THERE??? But she said she was living in a nice house...The building had no number, mirrored windows all round and just looked like some dodgy hostel/motel from the outside...Oh, but the inside was totally not what we expected it to be! A nice and cosy 2 storey house that was way huge for just Sharon and Mark ;)

So lovely to see you both again! So much to catch up on!! But first, I need some medicine to curb this headache of mine (lack of sleep and water)...Turned out Sharon and Mark were house sitting in this residence for a few months (which includes taking care of Polly, the little budgie) - cool! Both were pretty settled in Melbourne by now and busy looking for work. We had our girly catch up over hot drinks and Krispy Kremes (damn, they do melt in your mouth - yum!) while waiting for Kalwant's friend, Euleste, to arrive from Sydney. Mark, you had better hurry to the kitchen or there would be no Krispy Kremes left for you! Photos taken at their home:

Krispy Kremes , evil, evil things... ;P

Sharon's and Mark's kitchen

I left the gang around 12.30pm to join my cousin sisters, Jean and Juvene, for lunch. I've not seen the girls for quite awhile now (probably a few years?). Wow, they have both grown up so much! Gee, that statement suddenly made me feel quite old...The girls came to pick me up in Jean's BMW SUV (I've always wanted to own a big car like that!) and headed over to Middle Park (tiny suburb located between St Kilda and Albert Park) for lunch at Tram Cafe. An interesting cafe that is built in what was once a tram stop. We caught up over lunch and it amazes me how much we've all grown up (and apart) over the years, living our different lives. Wow...

Jean shouted us lunch - oh, you shouldn't have! Thanks so much :) The cafe doesn't have EFTPOS facility which was rather bizarre for me since I come from a country that zaps cards everywhere. Left the cafe around 2pm and when around town with the girls while they ran some errands before taking a rest at Jean's apartment on Swanston St, smack right in the middle of Melbourne CBD. Spent the next hour or so trying out some of Jean's old jeans that she wanted to pass on to me (score!), played with their chihuahua, Allegra, and had coffee made on this interesting Nespresso machine that takes in little capsule shots of coffee and makes the perfect cup of espresso - awesome! Jean was such a doll - she even drew me a map of the CBD area in case I plan to ponder around the area on my own during my weekend in Melbourne. Thanks cuz, you're so sweet :) Photos taken this afternoon with Jean and Juvene:

Got dropped off back at Sharon's around 4pm. Was lovely to catch up with you girls! I'll need to make another trip back just to catch up with my extended family members who are living in Melbourne - this weekend is way too short to catch up with everyone. In fact, I've tried moving to Melbourne each and every time I packed up and left NZ but somehow still ended up back in Wellington. 3 attempts and still not there! Strange how life is, huh?

Oh yeah, here's a photo of Sharon's place taken from outside:

Doesn't it look dodgy? :P

Sharon and Mark were busy on their laptops, Kalwant and Euleste taking a nap upstairs. Me? Took a rest, showered and ended up reading a third of the book titled The Secret by Rhonda Byrne I found in the bookshelf - an interesting and fascinating book with theories/ideas about how what we put in our minds shapes aspects of our lives. No harm trying it out to see if it works...

Around 8pm, everyone was dressed and hanging around at home, chatting over drinks before we headed out for dinner at Tiamo II on Lygon St. It was another place Kalwant was talking about on the plane, this one famous for their Italian food. A friend of mine from Wellington, Jason, had recently moved to Melbourne and he too came to join our crowd for dinner. So happy to see you again, bro!

We didn't pre-book a table so lucky for us the maitre'd could fit us in their busy restaurant. I had their Spaghetti Don Giovanni which was a tomoto based mussel spaghetti. Very yummy but felt too full after finishing the meal. But when the waitress came to ask if we had room for dessert, almost everyone said yes! I tried their pannacota (literally means cooked cream in Italian) - a simple and light Italian dessert that is oh absolutely divine. SO good! Cost me AUD30 all up for my meal which I thought was quite reasonable. Photos taken tonight:

Hmm, the restaurant didn't allow us to split the bill - what a hassle having each of us to give cash to Euleste to settle the bill!

Left the restaurant around 10.45pm and several of Kalwant's friends came to join us. All of us walked to Brunswick St to check out the nightlife in town. First stop, The Provincial Hotel, a nice bar/club located at the corner of Brunswick and Johnston Sts. I guess I was just tired from a long day so didn't dance but just sat around sipping my beer and chatting with friends.

Around 12am, we headed over to Kanela Bar & Restaurant, Melbourne's only flamenco restaurant-tapas bar. There were no bands or performers on tonight and though they were playing salsa music, there was no dance area to dance salsa either. Oh well, just enjoy the music and grab another drink. Kalwant passed me AUD5 that she owed me earlier and a random guy came up to me, asking me why he didn't get the money instead. The whole conversation went off tangent where he told me he couldn't dance but will entertain me for the 5 bucks. What the??

12.30am we left home. The weather was getting colder - eeks, and I thought coming to Melbourne, the weather should be warmer than in Wellington! It was lovely to see Jason and hear that he's well and enjoying his new life in Melbourne. Keep in touch!

Need to sleep, need to sleep...