Tuesday, 30 September 2008

BI Rangers indoor soccer game (30th September 2008)

Day 2 back at work and there is so much to do!! But thankfully not a lot of drama in the office while I was away and my colleagues were able to cover for me during my absence - thanks everyone!

Merridy had re-joined our team after going away on maternity leave and one of the many things she has set up for us upon her return was an indoor soccer league, the BI Rangers. I was asked to join them for some football action but I had to politely decline - last time I played soccer in the States, it was a total disaster. Many a times the ball just rolled past my legs! You really don't want me playing in your team though I'm happy to come watch and take photos :)

Today's team was made up of Jeremy, Merridy, Jonesy, Phil, Camila, Sam and Jackie with me as the official team photographer. The game was scheduled at 2pm and was held at Wellington Indoor Sports at Queens Wharf. The team got changed and we walked over from our office on Tory Street to meet Camila there. Even though the sun was out, I was feeling cold - brr, take me back to Samoa, please!

It wasn't easy to capture the gang on camera - they were always running around!! It was fun to watch the team play against another league, Shooting Blanx (what an odd choice of name!), and our team won 8-5. YES! Photos taken this afternoon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157607667729838/detail/

I say, great job Merridy for organising the league! A great way to improve fitness and have fun while breaking out into a sweat :)

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Festa Brasil & Sharon's farewell drinks (27th - 28th September 2008)

Saturday, 27th September 2008: What a party is was last night and more partying tonight! A few of us from my party last night were attending Festa Brasil held at The Loaded Hog this evening. Doors opened from 8pm with bands like Brazealand and Wellington Batucada playing. It was also new band, Zirigidum's first appearance. Cost $15 per person - door sales only. I'm a rather punctual person and do not like to be late at events but after years of attending Latin events, I have learnt to go an hour after the event has started. Chances are, you wouldn't have missed much as the Latinos themselves were also behind schedule! So Helbert, Jessica and I gathered at Ron's place near The Loaded Hog for a couple of drinks, chat and a few laughs around 7.30pm - no rush!

You would not believe what Ron asked me - he asked me if I was still at my party last night when he and our friends were dancing all together. What??! Of course I was there! I only left when the last lot of people left!! Turns out, he gets spots of memory loss after one too many drinks so couldn't recall that he was dancing with me. Oh dear, Ron! No drinking for you tonight...

Around 9.30pm, we walked to join the rest of our friends at the party. The event was quite crowded with many familiar faces - lots of chats here and there with friends whom I've not seen for awhile. Haha, I was even mistaken for a Brazilian by Juliano (he's Brazilian) because I've gotten so brown in Samoa :) It was a fun night where I had quite a lot of gafieira and forro dances with Ron, Helbert, Luciano, Christian, a random Brazilian whom I didn't know who looked like Bob Marley (dark skinned with dreadlocks) and even partnered up with Daniella for a forro. It was hilarious! Left at around 2.30am (it was only 1.30am but with the start of daylight savings today, the clocks are now an hour ahead) - just couldn't keep up anymore!

Sunday, 28th September 2008: Popped my head in at Southern Cross Bar around 4.30pm today to bid Sharon goodbye. Yes, Sharon's flying off to Melbourne on Tuesday to start a new life there and invited friends over for a final catch up and drinks. Oh, we'll miss you so much, girlfriend!! But we'll see you in a few weeks and have a blast at Rarotonga :) Best wishes in your new endeavours in Melbourne! Photos taken on Sharon's camera at her farewell: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157610579313954/detail/

Tonight was also the finals of the Salsa/Ceroc/Rock-n-Roll dance heats and the place was just so packed. Friends Nicola and Kanaka were competing in the salsa section tonight - good luck and burn that dancefloor! Not sure what the results of the competition was as I left before the competition ended.

I cannot believe I'm back at work tomorrow. I need another weekend to recover from my weekend!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Scott & my joint birthday bash (26th September 2008)

Yes, another year older and definitely a cause for celebration! And what better way to celebrate it in style with another September baby, Scott! Scott and I had decided to have a joint birthday bash since we have several friends in common and I have to say, the party was a blast! Thanks to Scott's fabulous party planning (so sorry I didn't help much as I was away in Samoa), we had Christian DJ-ing for us from 8pm till midnight, playing a mix of latin music for us to dance to, finger food and bar tab for guests, and even a massive chocolate mud cake for our party held at Vintage Bar on Taranaki Street. Total cost for my part for the party was $500 which covered the lot.

Friends from my different social networks and Scott's workmates turned up to help celebrate our birthdays (mine a belated one as it was on the 24th while Scott's is on the 27th). Not everyone we had expected to turn up showed up so the place was still somewhat empty - good for the salsa dancers then! All the space to dance :) Oh, and Tia came down from Auckland for the party - you are so awesome, girlfriend! So happy you could come join in the celebration!!

There were lots of dancing, catching up with friends and just a night of fun. I was flitting around the place, making sure everyone was alright and happy. In between my chats, I was interrupted, dragged, even carried away to the dance floor to boogie. It was so funny to dance salsa and have 4 boys 'stealing' me in between the dance, getting sandwiched between some of the boys, dancing rueda, doing the limbo and getting all twisted dancing with Ron, Luciano and Annie with hands linked! Christian threw in 2 bossa nova songs at the end of the night so Helbert and I had a samba gafieira dance as well :)

The party officially ended when the last lot of guests left at 2am. Ah, what a night! I hope everyone had a great time and thanks so much for your well wishes and presents but most of all, thanks for just being there! Christian, awesome songs and thanks for DJ-ing for us tonight! Photos taken at the party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157607545573955/detail/

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Umbilical Brothers - Don't Explain (15th September 2008)

It has been a slow day at work today, mostly me clearing out my emails and preparing tasks of mine to handover to my work colleagues for the week that I'm away. To be honest, I have neither started packing nor planned my itinerary for the trip to Samoa. And I'm leaving on Thursday!

Damien and I had bought tickets to see The Umbilical Brothers - Don't Explain this evening at the Opera House. I've seen a few of their gags on the TV series, Just For Laughs (those short comedy gags you sometimes watch as part of your in-flight entertainment), and I love their show - a stand-up comedy mix of mime, super cool sound effects made on the mic, and just these 2 guys with very flexible body movements. I expect the show to be better than on TV. Plus I had roped Damien into coming along with me...it had better be good...

We caught up for dinner at Nicollini's around 6.30pm and chatted over dinner and wine. Yum, I love this place - it's my favourite pasta place in town! One thing I found about Damien was he is somewhat Asian in the sense he loves to try different types of food and wouldn't mind sharing. Hehe, that meant I got to try out his meal too...We tried each other's pasta - he had scallop spaghetti (ooo, scallops...) and I had shrimp fettucine. Oh, I was so full after dinner but it was so good!

Hey, you didn't have to pay for my share! It was nice of Damien to foot the bill - well, we'll have to catch up for a meal at another place another time, my shout :)

We headed over to the Opera House before the 8pm show. Tickets cost us $40 per person and I have to say, Damien, you got us some pretty good seats - 2nd row from the front. Oh my god, if you haven't seen the show, make sure you do when they come to your town. I laughed so much despite having already seen most of the gags in this show. They were even better live than on TV! It was a one night only show in Wellington and the Brothers entertained the Wellington crowd for 1.5 hours non-stop. Their gags include some of the famous ones such as fighting/killing an annoying fly, their invisible pet dog, wedging war with a bully with the many types of weapons etc. Got me laughing with tears brimming in my eyes! The gags I don't recall seeing were the ones of 2 German performers, the Brothers fighting over the mic and the gloved puppets. A must-see show. I'm looking forward to their next production already!

It was a great way to end my Monday with good company and plenty of laughs. And I was glad that Damien enjoyed the show too. Thanks for the company, Damien! We'll have to do catch-up again when I return from my trip ;)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Slower week?? (8th - 14th Sep 2008)

Compared to last week, this week has been pretty quiet, with lots of gaps between work and social activities. Sure felt odd when last week was so packed and now, everything seems to slow down...

On Monday, I caught up with Matt for lunch at Masala Indian Restaurant. I have not seen Matt for quite some time and now I know why - somebody's in love! Hehehe...Matt's busy with gf Jo these days. I was giving him a hard time because I hardly see him anymore :P Very happy for him though :) Was great to catch up and bring each other to speed on what's been happening in our lives. Hope to catch up again soon, Matt! Bring Jo along next time so I can put a face to the name.

Later in the evening, I met up with Bon for a movie at Readings Cinema. It was the second time I've seen him since our group dinner so it was nice to catch up and get to know him a bit better. Ooo, Wanted was a really cool movie - good choice, Bon! Actually, any movie that has Angelina Jolie kicking butt is a good movie to me. Don't know why but she just brings out confidence, feminism, power and sexy all rolled in one. You should check out the movie if you haven't seen it. Thanks for the company, Bon - we'll catch up again soon :)

Tuesday through to Thursday, my evenings were spent helping out in gafieira class. This was the first week that I had classes 3 days in a row. A few new faces in class this week - Alicia came back and we had Paul and his daughter, Casey, join us on Thursday. Cool! We are slowly expanding in numbers :) Paul is a regular salsa dancer but surprisingly, I've never danced with him before - make sure you ask me for a dance next time we are at a salsa event, Paul! Don't think I would be out dancing on Friday night after dancing so much this week...

Oh yeah, I should mention about my photo shoot! I was called in by my agency for a photo shoot on Wednesday afternoon - this was for a brochure for the NZ Post Group. I've never done a solo photo shoot before so I really didn't know what to expect. Exciting! Was told to pack up several sets of work and casual clothes but the crew only took photos of me in my white shirt + pinafore-like dress + boots. I must say, I do look quite cute in this look - a mix of innocence but naughty behind the cover :P Though frankly, I'm not so sure if it would suit the corporate brochure...The shoot itself only took about 1.5 hours and the crew was lovely, making me feeling relaxed during the shoot. Crew Michelle did my make up and hair while the photos were taken by Grant Maiden with assistance from staff of the advertising company, telling me what poses and positions they want be to be in. My role was to pretend to paint symbols onto a clear perspex board (yep, I had a paintbrush to hold) - in actual fact, I was painting onto nothing. Had a quick look at the photos taken and boy do I look young with a ponytail! Would have thought the person (me, that is) in the photos was 16. Hope to be able to get a set of the photos from my agency for keeps and will post them up then :) Photos taken on my mobile:

I was feeling tired, busy with work and needed a pick-me-up on Friday so walked over to Schoc Chocolates on Tory Street for one of their special hot chocolates. Kalwant's told me about this place but I've never been there. For $5, the lovely barista recommended I try the Chilli Hot Chocolate to lift up my mood. With the first few sips, I couldn't feel the chilli sensation but just wait till after you down your first gulp - I could feel the after effects of chilli coming up my throat. Woah, I'm awake now!

Friday evening was a quick drink with work mates and my friend, Chris, and the rest of the night spent at home. Just going to take it easy tonight.

Was up early on Saturday and headed to the gym by 10am. Bumped into Matt and Jo at the gym - ah-ha, now I can put a pretty face to the name Jo. Pleasure to finally meet you in person! Matt was telling me that Sharon's moving to Melbourne come end of the month - what???!! Yes I've heard Sharon mention it but I didn't expect it to be so soon. Must catch up with her and find out what's going on.

Caught up with Scott for coffee at Fidels Cafe in the afternoon to discuss our joint birthday party plans - yep, both of us are September babies and our birthdays fall on the same week so we thought it would be a brilliant idea to have a joint party since we already share many friends in common. And it'll be a blast! I do feel somewhat bad though that Scott has to do most of the actual work pre-party as I would be away for a week in sunny Samoa (sun, sun, here I come!) and only return the morning of the party. But he's cool with it so I will leave the party plans in his capable hands :)

The evening was spent with the Tay family (dad's family friend) and their friends - we all got together for a potluck dinner to celebrate the Mooncake Festival. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. For us, it was just eating lots of food! Russell's homemade roast pork and Auntie Daphnne's homecooked meals are always so yummy! I ate so much...It was a nice night, just chilling out with friends, chit-chatting and laughing together.

Come Sunday, I was bored out of my brains. I cannot believe my mobile didn't even ring this weekend - where has everyone disappeared to??? Went for a swim then returned home to update my blog when I heard my mobile beep - FINALLY! Chris was keen to go for a walk in the sun so we took my car and headed over the Lyall Bay Beach for a walk. It was a sunny day but still breezy. And the water definitely ain't warm! Photos taken today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157607335558146/detail/

Thanks for the company, Chris - catch up again after my trip!

Headed over to Southern Cross Bar in the evening to see some salsa friends and have a few dances. Didn't feel like staying in and felt the need to uplift my mood with some dancing. And boy was it packed tonight! The heats for the dance competition was still on so the salsa dancers could only dance in between songs played. A few of us tried to make do with Ceroc and Rock N Roll music - was so funny to dance with Luciano and watching him doing 'the twist'. Just cracked me up!

Several of us then left Southern Cross and went out for dinner/supper. Damien, Ron and I ended up having our meal at Auntie Meena's on Cuba Street. Auntie Meena's is a vegetarian Asian diner and another one that I've never been in. Frankly, the food here is a bit more expensive than diners of its kind but it was good (for the record, I'm not a vegetarian). I had a dumpling laksa which cost me $11 - I like it! Oh, but what really intrigued me was Damien's BBQ pork buns and fried chicken. I just had to try it for myself to find out what it tasted like. The buns tasted like the real thing (and there was no meat inside!) but the fried chicken was strange. Stranger still to find the bone of the drumstick to be an ice-cream stick. It was fun just us three sharing and trying our food - suddenly felt like back in Malaysia with friends who love to try different food and share them :)

Next week will be a bit crazy as I will be working until 2 hours before my flight!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Kaitoke Regional Park (7th September 2008)

It was such a gorgeous day and I was not going to put it to waste so texted my walking buddy, Claus, to see if he was keen to do that circuit walk in Brooklyn we had been putting off. Ended up joining him and his friend, Andre, who was visiting from Australia to a LOTR walk in the Hutt. I've not done the walk and was more than happy to join the boys!

Hmm, all three of us weren't sure if we were at the right place. We arrived at Kaitoke Regional Park, about a 45-minute drive from Wellington. The LOTR walk is supposed to be here somewhere...

Had a short stop by a nearby the river that leads to the Hutt River, where the boys were being boys, throwing flat pebbles to see who could throw the furthest. I was minding my own business, taking photos of the gorgeous scenery when Claus ran and grabbed me by my legs, nearly dropping me head first into the water. Claus!! NOOOOOOOO!

After the boys had enough stone-throwing, we hopped back into Claus' car where he drove like an F1 racer in the rubble towards the road. Was so much fun (heck, it wasn't my car hehe...)!

Claus is insane! He stopped the car and dragged me along to the muddy field to chase a random cow!! He gave my camera to Andre who videoed the whole event. Oh my god, it was so funny - the poor cow literally ran for its life when Claus ran towards it. And then Claus decided to run towards me and carried me over his shoulder all the way back to the car! Claus, put me down!! Urgh, sometimes I wish I was taller or bigger in size - he towers over me and there was no way I could free myself :/

There was a dodgy van driving round and round the area so we had to park the car at the lower carpark where there were people around and walked uphill towards the Ridge Track. The 9km track was 3 hours one way and passes through beech forest and offers superb views of the water storage lakes and Upper Hutt Valley. It was quite a slippery, long and at times, steep track. You will need to be reasonably fit to do this walk and wear sturdy shoes or boots. Andre led the pack while Claus trailed behind as he was still recovering from his sprained ankle so had to take it slow.

Stopped at lookout and we could see Kaikoura Ranges. Wow...The view up here was spectacular! Continued on our walk and I got to know Andre a bit better. He's a Brazilian who currently lives in Sydney and is married to an Israeli woman. How interesting!

Came up to a flat clearing and the 3 of us took a break by the bench. Luckily I brought along some muesli bars and fruit because the boys didn't pack anything besides water! Tsk, tsk...

Claus headed back to the car slowly as he wasn't feeling so good while Andre and I continued on and came out the other end at Pakuratahi River where Rivendale was located. We did a 3-hour walk just to get to Rivendale when we could have driven a bit further north and did the river walk in 30 minutes! It didn't bother me that we had to walk for 3 hours - it was a nice day and good exercise but boy, oh, boy, would Claus be mad when he found out...Claus should have followed us because the rest of the walk was less steep and rocky. The poor fella was still making his way to the car when Andre and I finished our walk.

Oh my god, you wouldn't believe this - Andre and I had just hitchhiked with some random couple who stopped to give us a lift! Andre and I were planning to walk on the main road back to the car but the kind Israeli tourists dropped us off. Israelis - how random is that, even more so when Andre is married to one and speaks Hebrew! Life can be full of surprises and amazes me some days.

Andre and I got to the car before Claus...

It was such a beautiful day and I was glad to have joined them for the walk. Pleasure meeting you, Andre - save travels for the rest of your time in NZ. Photos and video taken today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157607722790881/detail/

Sunday, 7 September 2008

I'm always running around!! (4th - 6th September 2008)

This has been a crazy week of running around from one place to another, covering for 2 colleagues who are on leave (on top of my own job), help teach gafieira twice this week and catching up with friends in between. Crazy, crazy!

Thursday, 4th September 2008: Caught up with George for dinner and drinks after my last bellydancing class for the term. Would have loved to continue on to the semi-intermediate class and work on those ab muscles but as I will be travelling quite a bit in the coming months, it wasn't worth paying for the term and only turning up to 3 classes. Oh well, will join the following term next year.

George is a regular at Kazu Yakitori and Sake Bar - I think he said this was his 3rd or 4th time here this week! We chatted and laughed over sake, sushi and a few sticks of yakitori before heading over to Kaffee Eis for ice-cream dessert. Hmm, I love the ice-cream here...I usually go for pistachio but decided to try something different tonight - tiramisu. Yum! :)

After a full belly of food, we decided to rent DVDs and headed back to my place to watch them. Hmm...neither of the 2 DVDs we rented were of interest so we ended up talking all sorts as the DVD played. I have an opened bottle of rum - bought it for cooking not personal consumption so was more than happy for George to help himself to some.

Oh dear, George, are you alright? I think he had sipped a bit too much rum and was feeling giddy when he stood up to bid me goodnight! He nearly collapsed on me!! Oh, it was funny...The brave boy didn't want to take up my offer for a lift home - ok, suit yourself. I sure hope he would be alright as he has a morning lecture to teach tomorrow...

Friday, 5th September 2008: Caught up with Hew for dinner tonight at Le Metropolitain, a French bistro on Cuba Street. Hew had been here several times as her friend runs the bistro - it was a first for me and I'm always up for new things!

I had fun trying out the yummy food we shared. We started off with an entree of escargot (dish of cooked land snails) in garlic butter. I've always wondered what escargot would taste like - I had imagined the texture to be similar of shellfish/sea snails and I was right :) It had a chewy bite and tasted quite grassy (well, they are land snails so of course they tasted grassy!). We even got tongs and fork to eat our snails with grace...hehe...Photo of the dish taken on my mobile:

Our garlic butter escargot to share

Empty shells and snails in our tummy...yum...
I now know why French women are so slim - the main meals here were small (good enough for us but don't expect the standard Kiwi-size serving). I had steak while Hew had lamb, both really lovely and just exquisitely French. Of course, we wouldn't leave without having their creme brulee and we ordered only one to share - it was massive, the size of a saucer and not the small cups you would normally get in most dessert places but it was SO GOOD! Nice food and good service, this is a place for those special occasions, not one that you would go frequently :)

After dinner, Hew joined me at Hawthorn Lounge where I caught up with some salsa friends, Pip, Scott and Ken for a drink. Urgh, the weather was really crap outside - windy and just pissing from all directions. I need a drink to keep warm!

I'm such a 'difficult' woman, ain't I? Just wouldn't have mojito made with white rum so had the bartender made mine with Brazilian cachaca :) Hmm, very nice...

The five of us split into groups and went separate ways - Hew bidded us goodnight to head home (poor thing has to work Saturday morning), Ken and Pip headed to Salsadrome while Scott and I caught up with Kalwant and friends for more drinks at the Tasting Room located at the end of Courtenay Place. It has been a long time since I came to this bar and surprisingly, it was rather quiet tonight. Hmm, guess the bad weather has kept most people curling up under covers at home :/ We laughed and chatted over drinks - would have loved to stay on but I had a swim lesson in the morning so bid the gang goodnight and left home around 1am.

Saturday, 6th September 2008: Good thing Helbert decided we call off snowboarding this weekend - Ron, him and I had thought of heading up for the day but the weather was pretty terrible this morning. I didn't even want to get out to swim lesson! Just wanted to hide under my duvet...

Caught up with Anouk and family for coffee at Southern Cross Bar in the afternoon. Haven't seen them for quite some time so it was lovely to catch up. Oh, and Amaya has grown so much, crawling everywhere and keeping mummy on her toes! Photo of her taken on my phone:

Aww, isn't she just adorable? :) You know, it is quite rare to find cafes in town that cater for kids - I've only seen 2 to date which are Southern Cross and Caffe L'affare, both having toys and seating areas suited for families with children. Great for me to catch up with friends like Anouk who has kids!

Helbert popped in briefly to say hi before the two of us headed over to Flight Centre to sort out our travel arrangements to Samoa. We had talked about going to another Polynesian island in August earlier this year but had no further talk about it since then so I thought the trip was off. Well, obviously not when he said to me this week that we are heading to Samoa during the week of my birthday! What???!!! That's like in 2 weeks!!! This is the thing with Helbert - you have to be spontaneous and go with the flow. It was all a last minute trying to get things organised and for the first time, I left the trip plans with him to sort out - I'm usually the planner but this time, I'm taking it easy and not question much what was organised. It would be a surprise! Thankfully my manager was ok with my short notice to take leave so it was all go for me :) Ah, can't wait to get away from this cold weather, a break from all the commotion in my life here, and just bask in the nice warm sun, sipping my cocktail at the beach. Bliss!

In the evening, I went over to Vintage Bar on Taranaki Street to celebrate Rachel's 30th birthday. It was a themed party where guests had to wear black, white and/or red. Oh, that's going to be easy for me since my wardrobe is mostly black and red :)

I've never been to this bar before and it was quite a cool underground bar, hidden in one of the alleys on Taranaki Street. I had invited friends George and Damien to join in. It was great to catch up with friends I've not seen for awhile like Colm (and he came in a kilt!) - was flitting around the place talking to everyone and checking up on the boys to see if they were ok since they only knew me at the party. Looks to me they were fine mingling with the others - great! I had a bit of a boogie but couldn't keep up till late since I've had a crazy week of running around so left for home around midnight. Damien was really sweet to walk me home - thank you! Photos taken at the party:

Blonds do know how to have fun! Photo of Kim and birthday girl, Rachel

Rachel and Colm

Kalwant, me and Dvita

Tim, Amyliz, Karen and Colm

Neighbours and workmates, Dvita and James

And here's one of George

Just me and Chris