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...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Helbert is 'broken' (18th November 2008)

Helbert came to pick me up for the regular Tuesday gafieira class at Christian's and the first thing I saw when I stepped into the car was a crutch and a strapped up left leg. What happened to you??! Turned out he injured himself while attempting some snowboarding jump stunt in the ski fields over the weekend and tore his knee ligament. This is not good at all, especially when we had scheduled a trip to Cairns and Brisbane next month! And he stills want to teach dance class tonight!! Do you think you are superhuman and that your leg will magically heal itself overnight??! Fine, do whatever you please but that leg of yours better be ok by the time we head to the Great Barrier Reef for diving. Sheesh, he's as stubborn as an ox...

The next thing I noticed about him was his hair. When did it get SO DARK?? Oh, it was hilarious when he told me the story behind it - he had finally had enough of his dusted hair (yeah, he had ash brown hair with lots of white in between which made it look as if some white powder was sprinkled onto his whole head) so got Lia to dye it for him. Somehow, the dye turned his whole head orange and had to re-dye his hair, only this time, it made his hair turn black. In fact, as black as the pupils of his eye which looked odd given his other hair bits were lighter in colour. Oh dear, I can so see the teasing the rest of the bunch would give him tonight!

Christian, Awa and I cracked up laughing when Ron walked into practice and the first thing he questioned was the hair and not the crutch! Oh, we so have to take a photo of Helbert to remember this sight :P I have to agree with Ron that Helbert does look a bit Robocop-like with one leg strapped up - too straight! Helbert could only instruct us to perform the dance moves and occasionally manage to prod us if we got too close - eeks!

Part way through practice, Christian had a phone call so we took a break. I found Christian's camera lying on his kitchen bench and started to take photos of Helbert but he took off his top to cover his head before I even got a shot! Ron and I were trying to grab the shirt off him as he wobbled on his better leg and tried to smack us as we neared with his crutch. Christian was probably wondering what on earth was going on in his apartment, all the laughing and squealing. Oh my god - I laughed so much my tummy hurt!

Whoever sees the photos in taken on Christian's camera might get wrong ideas about him as he has photos of a semi naked man (Helbert)...just thinking about me makes me laugh - you've got to see it for yourself. Photos taken tonight:

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Toast Martinborough 2008 (16th November 2008)

Was up at 6.30am for a quick breakfast and got ready to head out to meet Kalwant and friends. We're going to Toast Martinborough today! Toast Martinborough is a wine, food and music festival held annually in Martinborough, located about an hour's drive away from Wellington. I hadn't expect to attend this event as the tickets for the festival were sold out very quickly but Kalwant told me Selina was selling some tickets so Dvita and I each picked up one for $100, which included the day pass, return train trip and all shuttle bus service at the festival. So excited - I've not been to this festival before!

Weather was somewhat windy this morning - hopefully the weather at the vineyards would be nice and sunny...

Met Kalwant, Dvita and Geoff by the Bungee on Taranaki St at 7.45am and we walked together to the railway station to catch up with the rest of the group. Chris, Karen, Jenny, Samantha, Sunita, Sally and several of Kalwant's and Karen's friends gathered together as we walk to find our carriage. It was only 8.25am (train leaves at 8.30am) but they had closed the carriage doors! NO WAY!! Open up, open up! I think for a split second, the group was in panic that we might miss the whole festival. But luckily we weren't the only ones and the doors re-opened. Phew! Our group was under Te Omanga Hospice - Kauri and everyone had a colour-coded wristband (ours was pink) with the carriage name and time of return train departure printed on it. We were meant to wear it for both our outbound and return train journeys but only a few of us had it on - hearsay from a few who have been on this trip before that they lost their wristbands during the day when they had worn them. Hmm...better keep mine safe in my bag...

The train left at 8.40am - my god it was SO noisy! Everyone was excited and looking forward to the arrival, some even managed to get some sleep. I bought a stack of festival francs on the train. Only festival francs can be used to purchase wine and food at the sites. 1 franc is equivalent to $1 and they sure look like Monopoly money :) Wonder how far I can stretch this 40 francs today...Oh, and if you were wondering if people started drinking on board the train, well, no drinking was allowed. Don't think the security walking up and down the carriages would be very nice to you if you got caught.

We arrived at Featherston train station at 10am and exchanged our tickets for a festival glass and ribboned holder (literally a wine glass on a lanyard), which would be our day pass and a programme. Still somewhat windy and definitely my cardigan ain't coming off! After we got our passes, we caught a shuttle bus service to the festival vineyard sites. One poor lady broke her glass while getting on the bus and everyone in the crowd boo-ed at her! Oh no...if you break the glass, you can replace it at the vineyard sites or in The Square at Martinborough, only by presenting the broken glass and holder originally issued. If you lose your glass, ah-ha, you are doomed - no drinking of any sort for you. You will NOT be given another glass so you had better guard it!

Lots of tasty wine and food to sample today :) Few of us already burying our heads in the programme looking for interesting bands, wine or food to try out. Photos taken from Wellington to Martinborough:

The shuttle bus ride took 20 minutes and we got dropped off at our first stop, Te Kairangi (pronounced "tee-kigh-runga"), one of Martinborough's founding vineyards established over 20 years ago. We each got our own choice of wine and you could either have a taste (which is half glass) or a glass (full glass). Of course, the cost differs. I had my first taste this morning and tried their 2007 Riesling for 5 francs. Cheers, gang!

We sat around their grand lawn, sipping our wine and enjoying band, The Mod Squad, who were playing favourites from the 70s and 80s. It was one very packed winery, I must say! People scattered everywhere under huge marquees, or sitting by the deck, on the lawn or just walking around. It was a wonderful feeling just basking and relaxing in the sun, absorbing the happy vibes from all around me :)

11am, time to slap on some sunscreen - sun's getting strong! Photos taken at Te Kairanga this morning:

Around 11.15am, we moved on to the next vineyard. Hopped back on a shuttle bus and got off at Tirohana Estate. Ooo, they had the most amazing wine punch - had a taste of their Sauvignon Squeeze for 4 francs and it was yum! One of those that I would happily have a few more :) Most of us were getting hungry so bought some food catered by Tirohana Cellars Restaurant. I had their Traditional Mini Beef (windy) Wellington, a rich puff pastry filled with aged Angus sirloin with caramelized leek and shallots, served with rock salted garlic sauteed potatoes and seasonal veggies. Cost me 20 francs and I thought it was so-so. Gee, I'm nearly done with my 40 francs so bought another lot of 40 francs from the site.

While we ate and drank, Livewire, Australasia's hottest cover band, played for the guests at Tirohana. Haha, you wouldn't believe who popped over - Colm, Rachel, Vicki and her partner, Ant! Hey you guys, come join us!! Photos taken at Tirohana Estate:

At 12.30pm, the gang said our goodbyes to Colm and the rest, and we moved on to Ata Rangi, where Selina and her friends were. It was quite funny that every time Sunita and Sally went to buy their second drink, the group would move when they returned with their filled glasses. Hehe..

Bumped into a few friends of mine at the entrance of the winery - Amane, who was with a large group, and Jo, Rose and Scott. Caught up with Selina and again, we sat around the grassy patch, more wine, chit-chat and food while we were jazzed and serenaded by band Nairobi Trio. Ruth Pretty Catering were on site and I just had to try their White Chocolate & Blackcurrant Creme Brulee. My god, it was SO GOOD! Worth every penny of the 10 francs I had to part with for the dessert. Yum! Photos taken at Ata Rangi:

Need more sunscreen - I can feel the burn!

At 1.30pm, the gang decided to move on to our next stop, Craggy Range, and bumped into Ron on our way out so he tagged along on our walk to the winery. So many of us Wellingtonians here today! Craggy Range was very packed with a much younger crowd probably because Rhombus was performing. It was a mission to get a drink - Chris and I had to pushed through just to get our glass of the 2008 Riesling Te Muna Road Vineyard! Had another taste and paid 6 francs this time. A few of us had a bit of a boogie to the hip-hop type songs and I bumped into Mervyn who was there with his mates. Such a small world!

Urgh, the hot weather and crowd = yucky sweat smell! Eww! Photos taken at Craggy Range:

Around 3pm, Chris, Geoff, Dvita, Kalwant and I left the rest and moved on to Martinborough Vineyard & Burnt Spur after a crazy 20 minute shuttle bus ride. Lots of funny things to see on the way. The roads were packed with drunk people, some found dancing wildly on makeshift platforms while others tried to block the bus. I spent my last 8 francs on a glass of Martinborough Vineyard's 2008 Rose and 15 francs for a Chicken Egg Noodle Box catered by Chameleon (Intercontinental Wellington). The stir-fried egg noodles with tender chicken pieces, chilli, ginger and fresh herbs was really nice. We sat on the tied up haystacks to have our meal and drink before moving across the street to our last stop for the day, Muirlea Rise - cool!

Sam and I had been texting each other throughout the day of our whereabouts and finally caught up with him, Anna, Darren and Fiona at Muirlea Rise. I was a bit surprised when Chris walked me to see Sam and gang but it turned out he knew Fiona - man, Wellington is so small...everyone is somehow connected to another...Also found Rachel and her group when we were at Muirlea Rise so we sat a bit and listend to the blues music played. Photos taken this afternoon:

My group couldn't stay long as we were on the first train back to Wellington so at 4.30pm, we started to head to the train station. But it was insane! The buses would just drive past and not stop because it was overly packed!! We managed to squeeze into a shuttle bus but poor Geoff - his hand was still holding the door when the driver closed it. Ouch...There were heaps of crazy, drunk people both on the bus and running wildly on the street by this time. Crazy!

We got to The Square and was put on the last bus to Featherston train station. We were told by the local festival staff that we may not make it in time for the train. Panic, panic! It wasn't ouR fault we were late but we couldn't get on a shuttle bus!!

Oh my god, we got to the train station exactly at 5.05pm and ran to the first carriage in sight then hunted for the one we were meant to be in. Phew, were we lucky! I got a text from Rose shortly after the train left to say that they had missed the train - hope they got home alright.

Poor Sunita wanted to pee badly and there were no toilets on the train nor could she hop off for a quick stop as the train would not wait for her. Just don't think about it, girl - we'll be back soon! There were lots of security staff roaming up and down the carriages to keep the drunks in control. Was back in Wellington by 6pm and boy was it chilly here! Photos taken on our way home:

I had enough of drinks for the day so left the gang at St Johns Bar while I headed home. Thanks Kalwant for organising this group outing - I had an AWESOME day!

Rumour has it that Orlando Bloom was amongst the crowd at Toast today. Didn't see him anywhere plus it was pretty hard to tell one man from another when most were wearing similar white hats!

Damien contacted me and we ended up having a quick dinner at Restaurant 88, yet another restaurant I've not been. Hehe, we are always having meals at places I've not been :) This was a Vietnamese restaurant and I've heard that they served good food though slightly pricey. I had the beef pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) while Damien had Drunken Baby Chicken. Hmm, I had expected more of the pho...The baby chicken was very nice though you will find it much easier to eat by hand ;) Damien was working tonight so we had to leave by 9pm - I'm privileged to get a slice of his time in his busy schedule...hehe...we'll have a proper catch up another day!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Ken's visit to Wellington (15th November 2008)

I decided to go swimming this morning - can't be bothered with the pain and just feel yuck from the lack of exercise!

Caught up with Ken for the rest of the afternoon. He was meant to put up at my place last night but ended up staying with another friend, Kim during his stay in Wellington. It was nice to see him again - it has been almost a month since he had moved up to Auckland and we dearly miss him :)

Over the course of our chit-chat during lunch, the topic of Latinos Bar currently for sale came up. Ken would be the perfect person to run the place given his marketing and cooking skills, plus his huge network of friends in the salsa scene. As we talked, we got more curious and excited about the possible business idea. You wouldn't believe who coincidentally walked past us - Roy, one of the salsa teachers at Latinos Bar. So more chat about the bar and after lunch, Ken and I poked our heads into Latinos in hope to chat with owner, Manuel, to find out more about the business. No Manuel but found Roy there and he gave us a grand tour of the place. Wow, I had never thought the bar had a fully functioning kitchen which apparently hasn't been in use for years, as well as a back room with toilet and shower. I would be very happy if Ken did decide to take on this business - I get my buddy back in town (yes!) plus we get to keep the Friday salsa dance night tradition in Wellington. Of course, he needs to do his homework and check whether this is a feasible business to invest his time and money in first. Whatever the decision may be, I had fun just building castles in the air with him today :)

Popped over to catch up with Pip around 4pm and ended up having dinner at her place. Ken did the cooking while we watched...hehe... :) It was the first time I've tried his cooking and his simple seafood marinara pasta was yum! Oh, I so need to find myself a man who's happy to cook for me (lucky you, Tia!)!!

Back to my place for a quick shower and change after dinner and out again to Shooters Bar for another Latin Dance Night event. Caught up with friends and danced a bit but couldn't stick around for long as I had to be up early tomorrow for the train to Martinborough (yes, my 1st Toast Martiborough tomorrow!). Photos taken tonight:
The crowd at Shooters


Me and Ramnish having a boogie

Annie and Ken

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Pain, pain, pain...(13th November 2008)

I've been having this pain in my back and spine since Sunday evening. Not too sure what's the matter but I'm now sensitive to touch i.e. just lightly touching me feels like you've touched my sun burnt skin, only I'm not sunburnt. Have been popping panadols for the last few days and decided since the pain wasn't going away, I should seek medical advice. Problem now was that my doctor doesn't have an open slot till Friday, which perhaps by then, my pain would have gone. I said to the receptionist over the phone yesterday that this was pretty ridiculous and her response to me was that if I wasn't happy with the arrangement, I could bring it up with the doctor. Yeah, like that's going to change anything - I'm the one in the pain here, lady! Not a happy chappy at the moment with this pain. Haven't been swimming or to the gym or even dancing as much as I normally do. Trying to cut back on activity in hope I'll get well soon (plus any slight movement just hurts anyway). Sigh, pain, pain, go away!

Yippee! Someone has cancelled their appointment so I'm seeing the doctor at 4pm! Give me a jab in the spine to extract away my agony!!

Just for the record, I'm not suffering in pain as a result of my 5km walk for the fundraiser - I'm normally an active person and a 5km walk would do me no harm.

Though I may be grumpy, I still have a sense of humour. Sam's got a fish tank called Guantanamo Bay in the office with 2 goldfish, Yahoo and Google, in it. When Joanne was still with us, she would remind Sam to clean the fish tank or do it herself when she sees it turn a shade of green. But Sam is SO LAZY! I have no idea how long it has remained this disgusting green - I don't think the fish can even see where they are swimming!! Stuck a Post-It note on the fish tank with text "Help me! Help me! I'm DROWNING in my own shit!" when he wasn't looking and returned after lunch just to take a photo of it:

"Why you little s%$t...," I hear Sam echoing away as I ran off with my phone...hahahaha... Seriously Sam, it's yuck! Clean it up!

Some 60 bucks poorer, I was told by the doctor that she doesn't know what's wrong with me, prescribed me with a stronger doze of voltaren and told me to just wait and see what happens. This is usually what she tells me when I see her - sometimes, I think I can be my own doctor. nothing I can do but take more painkillers and hope for the best.

Speaking of spending money, this month is a month of car bills. Just spent $400 yesterday on my car's Warrant of Fitness and annual service, and just a week ago, about $210 for the annual car registration. In a week, another $600 for my annual car insurance. THAT'S HELL OF A LOT OF MONEY!!!!!!!

Oh yeah, I've been watching DVDs of an old British TV series called Mind Your Language. Absolutely love it! It was a TV comedy series of an English language teacher and his motley crew of foreign students aired in the late 70s - I remember watching reruns of the show with Mum and Dad when I was a kid and we would laugh so much at the humour, which was mainly the students misunderstanding English words or terms, and plays up to the cultural stereotype of their individual nation of origin. And I'm not surprised some of you have been in actual situations like those potrayed in the series, especially when communicating with people whose first language is not English - I have! Worth checking it out just for a good laugh :)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Raro gang get-together BBQ at Kim's (9th November 2008)

Was up at 9am today and multitasked household chores while eating my breakfast and making orange kumara salad for this afternoon's potluck at Kim's. Kim had organised for the gang who went to Rarotonga to get together again at her place in Lyall Bay for a BBQ. The theme was tropical so cake didn't seem like a suitable dish to bring this time. Oh, I hope this kumara salad would turn out alright - it's a recipe Sam's partner, Anna, gave to me in a previous potluck I attended at their place and I've never tried making it myself.

Quite a bit of work though, peeling the 1.5kg bag of kumara, chopping them into bite-size pieces and baking them. Took me about 1 hour to make this dish but it was so worth it - I've tried some of them and they are YUM! Had better pack it up or there would be none left for the BBQ!

Around 2pm, I headed over to Kim's and got a lost on my way to her suburb (I hardly venture out of the city in my car) but managed to find it with my handy map. Wow, the view of Lyall Bay from her place is amazing! I wouldn't mind waking up to such a gorgeous view though I cannot imagine how you walk to and fro the city everyday, Kim! It would take like an hour each way plus you still had to walk up a few flights of stairs to her house. Good on you, Kim!

Everyone who came brought something. Kalwant, Rachel and Tim (Sharon's back in Melbourne) from the group were not here - you guys missed out on all the AWESOME food! We even had Vicki and Ant (the couple we kept missing in Rarotonga) with us together with Kim's flatmates. We started off with drinks, snacks and chit-chat. Kim made these lovely little jelly cups using oranges as the cup (what happened to all the remains of the oranges???) and a cocktail umbrella stuck to it. Hmm, nice...I think I had like 2 or 3 until I found out that she had put Jim Beam in it. Ah, now I know why they were so tempting... :P

Oh, you must try Karen's toasties! The mix of ingredients didn't sound very appealing but it tasted great! Toast with cheese, vegemite and banana - who would have imagined the combination would taste so good? Cheese fans, you would love Colm's cheese-stuffed mushrooms - core the middle of fresh button mushroom and stuffed with 2 types of cheese, then grilled on the BBQ. Lots of other interesting food brought along today by the group. Why we have quite a lot of cooks amongst us, huh?

Great job Debs for manning the BBQ and to everyone for making something yummy for the gathering! Now I'm just going to stand next to the BBQ very patiently to wait for Flo's scallops to cook...hehe...

Oh, I ate too much! We had food enough for the whole week!! There was garlic bread, bbq meat, kebabs and seafood, salads, pasta etc. Yum :) Photos taken today:

Ok, this is weird - why do you guys have a USB drive in your pockets??? Colm had some photos taken in Rarotonga for us to copy and interestingly everyone had a USB stick handy except me! I don't carry one with my keychain! Oh well, will grab the photos from Colm when I drop him home...Most of us left around 6pm. Brr, getting chilly now that the sun's gone hiding! Next BBQ will be at Flo's place in Brooklyn - hopefully another sunny day and lots of yummy food :)

Was feeling absolutely shattered by the time I got home and went to sleep at 9pm. Been having this odd pain on my upper back and arms and popping painkillers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not too sure what's wrong...sigh...better not fall sick. No time to be sick!

The Potbelleez at Loaded Hog (8th November 2008)

I'm SO knackered and my day isn't over yet! Left Ron's place at 5pm, rushed home to shower and got changed, downed a cup of coffee for my night caffeine boost, and out again at 7.30pm to meet up with Kalwant and Dvita at Kalwant's place. Us girls and a few other friends (Claire, Lee and Selina) had organised a group dinner at Wagamama tonight before we headed over to the Loaded Hog to watch band, The Potbelleez, play live. I love Wagamama's Chilli Chicken Ramen - absolutely must try if you haven't. The ramen is served with fresh chillies, giving it quite a kick. I had plum wine to accompany my yummy meal. Ah, so satisfying...Cost me $24.50 all up for the main and drink. We decided to skip on dessert - no more space for it!

James came by to meet up with us and around 10pm, the group headed to Loaded Hog to meet up with boys Geoff, Hayden and Colm for a few drinks as we await for the doors of the venue to open. It was great to see Colm without his crutches tonight - the boy is still recovering from his biking injury but still out and about having fun :)

Around 11pm, we collected our tickets from the front desk and went in. Lots of younger people in the crowd tonight, making some of us feel somewhat old amongst the crowd. Oh well, we'll have our own fun, regardless of age because we are a fun and crazy bunch! :) There was a live DJ playing before the main band went on at midnight, all the top clubbing songs where we boogied and drank to.

The Potbelleez is a 4-piece Irish-Australian house/electro music group. When Kalwant asked me to come along, I had no idea what I was going to - I've only heard 2 of their songs on the radio and that was it. Though unsure what I was signing myself up for, I was all for it - hardly watch live bands so why not? Cost us $35 per person for the event.

James dared me to push my way to the front of the stage - ha, don't you dare me James! I grabbed his hand and we squeezed our way through to the front, ending up 2 rows from the front of the stage and danced there for the next hour or so while the rest remain at the back somewhere.

I would say that The Potbelleez are more like a live DJ-ing band. Lots of jumping to the pumping music, and it was awesome to see female vocalist, MC Blu, sing and rap. The 2 DJs of the music group, Dave Goodie and Johnny Sonic, were free-styling on their turntables while taking a swig of tequila in between. Was a joy to see them do their thing!

James!! Help!! I'm getting squashed here!! Everyone was trying to push themselves closer and closer to the stage...and James ran off with a blonde chick, leaving me on my own!!! Tsk, tsk, James! I'm heading back to find the others...

Was feeling tired so left and walked home with Colm around 1am. We bid our goodbyes at Courtenay Place - see you later today! Yeah, we have another groupie do later today...ah, ain't life wonderful. So many cool things to do and awesome people to share the experiences with :) Was home by 2am. So ready to fall into bed. Photos taken tonight:

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Heart Walker day - yay! (8th November 2008)

So much for staying in last night...ended up going salsa dancing at Latinos because darn Ron said he would donate to my Heart Walker fundraiser only if I turn up for a few dances. Sheeesh! Oh well, all for a good cause and he had better keep to his end of the bargain! Caught up with Scott prior for drinks at Hawthorn Lounge. Had a Cuban Libre for $14 - needed some caffeine to wake up. Around 10pm, we headed on to Latinos and there was no band playing (yes - no cover charge!). Class was still on when we arrived and I got to catch up with many familiar faces (and danced with some too) till midnight. That was 2 hours of non-stop dancing! Was so tired by the time I got home...

Was up at 7.30 this morning. Just couldn't sleep as I was buzzing with excitement for the busy day ahead. Having a look at my fundraiser account this morning, donations have gone up to $585. Yay!

In between running around places today, I also needed to vote. Thankfully there was a voting site just 2 blocks away at Clyde Quay School in Mt Victoria. I walked over around 9am to cast my vote for this year's election. Can't tell you who I voted for...hehe...I had an EsyVote card which I received in the post after registering to vote to present at the desk. Voting was really simple - I was given a sheet of paper and went behind a polling booth to put in 2 ticks and then dropped the form into a sealed box. Quick and easy. Photos taken this morning:

Only 9am and the queue to vote has started!

It's going to be a gorgeous day today

Me waiting in line for my turn to cast my vote

Sonja came to meet me at home around 9.30am and Claus turned up shortly. The 3 of us headed over to New World to catch up with Scott then headed to Waitangi Park to sort out our registrations and collected our T-shirts for the walk. My T-shirt was given to me - any Heart Walker who raised $200 or more automatically receives a free shirt (Claus bought his). Somehow they didn't have one ready for Scott who also raised more than $200 :/ Poor Scott... *hugs* He'll have to sort it out after the event.

We chatted and hung around till the walk officially began at 11am. More and more people turned up at Waitangi Park and the day was looking amazingly sunny. The walk began from Waitangi Park all the way to TSB Arena, then back towards the Fisherman's Table on Oriental Parade, and finishes where we started. A total of 5km altogether. It was an easy and fun walk with great company of friends :) Better still, for good health and worthy cause!

The others left soon after the walk ended while Claus and I chilled out in the sun at the park, listening to live band, The Noodles, playing on the makeshift stage and waited for the lucky draw results. All walkers had a number for a lucky draw but none of us won anything. My name was announced on stage as one of the top 6 fundraisers for the event - cool! The woman who raised the most was called up and presented with a gift. There were a total of 600+ participants from all ages and social groups and we raised over $10,000 together. Awesome job everyone! And thanks to my wonderful friends, Scott, Sonja and Claus, who came to join me for the walk today!! I had an AMAZING day and hope you guys did too!

I think I'm hooked on walking! Some of us might do the Wellington Round the Bays walk next year - it'll be cool to get a group together for that event. It wouldn't be a fundraiser but just a fun walk :)

Claus has been trying to get me on a kayak for a while. Kayak? I'm not so sure...yes, I can swim but the idea of me on a kayak and toppling over still makes me somewhat fearful to attempt it. Still, never done it in Wellington before so I'm up for it, just maybe not today? Lucky me, I had jeans on so wasn't allowed to kayak. Escaped another day - yes! Claus wasn't pleased and is convinced he'll get me on the kayak this summer. Good luck trying :P Photos taken today:

After the unsuccessful attempt to kayak, we headed back to Claus's for lunch and had friends Tabatha and Helbert join us. Hmm, yum...Claus made us rice with mixed veggies and stir-fry chicken - thanks so much for lunch! Photo taken of us in his kitchen:

Sadly Helbert and I can't stick around for long as we have a samba gafieira practice today so left around 3pm to pick up Ron from Oriental Parade. Ron, notoriously known for not having a mobile phone, is a pain to track down at times. We couldn't change plans because we couldn't get hold of him! Sigh, but it's Ron and we are so used to it. Stuck around a bit to see him and the capoeira group perform at Oriental Parade before we all headed over to his place for practice. Photos taken at Oriental Parade:

Friday, 7 November 2008

Heart Walker countdown - 1 more day to go! (7th November 2008)

Still accepting your support and donations!! Had put out the word again at work today and my emails didn't stop sending me alerts that someone has donated! My awesome workmates chipped in and we are now past $400 - YES! Oh, and they are so funny, putting some quirky remarks - Tama commented that if Sam shaved his head, he would double his donation. I would have loved to see THAT happening and take a fabulous photo for my fundraiser webpage. Pity Sam was too chicken to do it...pok, pok, pok... :P

Oh yeah, I went to see my new dentist today at Symes de Silva and Associates on Courtenay Place. Was due for my annual check and have been feeling tooth sensitivity when drinking cold drinks so decided I had to find out what was going on. Normally, I would get all dental work done in Malaysia as it cost much less but my dental surgeon had migrated to Perth! And now I have to find a new one!! Seriously though, dental work in Malaysia is WAY cheaper. Couple of years back, I did a quote at another dental clinic in Wellington for my wisdom teeth extraction (woe is me - I've no wisdom teeth!) and it would cost me $250 per tooth whereas when I had it done back home, cost me a mere $50 for the whole procedure plus polishing and filling. Of course, I get to see my family as well so it turned out to be a great deal :)

I must say, the dental clinic looked really impressive - the moment you step out to the 1st floor of the building, you could smell the 'dental clinic' smell. Trust me, you KNOW you are at the right place. A receptionist signs you in and you wait in the waiting area until you get called. I met up with dental surgeon, Graham Symes, for a 15-minute dental examination, xray and polish for $55. You can watch TV while the surgeon does his work! There was a flat screen TV mounted on the ceiling in the room where I was - how cool is that!

Whatever Graham used to polish my teeth, it was yummy - smelt like strawberry :)

So, the verdict? Condition of teeth was good with little tartar built-up. But (yes, there is a but), I need to have one of my back tooth crowned as the tooth was getting more brittle and the filling was breaking off easily. A 2-part procedure where I get to choose to use either a gold or porcelain crown (gold last longer but all I could think of was how much I would look like Captain Jack Sparrow when I smile...), which would cost me $1300. Bloody hell - I would need to fundraise for that!

The rest of my evening spent at home - was in my flannel PJs by 6.30pm! Caught up with flatmate Priscilla over dinner and then back to my room to sort out more stuff that I had shoved underneath the bed. Taking it easy tonight as tomorrow is going to be a full-on day with friends!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Heart Walker countdown - 2 days to go! (6th November 2008)

2 more days to go till my walk! Exciting!!

I've not done a fundraiser which doesn't require me taking donations in a collection box and going around asking people to donate; instead, everything is done online and through word of mouth. Less hassle and mess plus people don't run miles when they see me walking towards them...hehe...Though I have to say, I was a bit disappointed that some organisations I'm a member of were not willing to help spread the word. Reasons I was given include:

"if we help you, we have to help every other member of your kind and this will cause too many problems"

"this is seen as an individual pursuit"

"you do not have a loved one with the disease so there's no solid story for us to feature your fundraiser"

Seriously, do I NEED a reason to do something good???!! Isn't it something one does just because it feels right??? Plus none of the money comes through to me or for my self benefit! Sheesh...Well, at least I have tried to put the word out in the various channels of mass communication I could think of. Now it's just a matter of you good people out there doing your part.

This may sound crazy but just watching the fundraiser amount increase throughout the day, it just makes me feel really happy :) Friends and family from abroad are also chipping in to support my walk for the great cause. Thanks everyone - every cent you contribute will make a difference! We've collected $200 in my fundraiser so far. Great job everyone! Please tell all your friends and family about this and keep the donations coming in!

I'm looking forward to the walk this Saturday, rain or shine!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

It's Guy Fawkes Day again! (5th November 2008)

Today was my first day working from home in my new place. Not too sure what was with the internal network connection but I kept getting disconnected in between doing work - urgh! Went swimming for the first time since my trip back from the Cook Islands during lunch break and boy was it tiring. Feeling so unfit...

Grabbed a takeaway lunch at Chilli Jam in Newtown on my way home. Girlfriend Chris mentioned this place to me before but I've never tried it to date. A modern fusion burger place that serves some pretty interesting combinations of burgers, wraps and salads. I had a Fly Tokyo for $10 - grilled fish of the day with earthy seaweed salad, julienne daikin, wasabi avocado puree on corn bread bun. Quite yummy though not a location I would see myself going often as it is somewhat out of my way. Photo of my lunch:

Around 6.30pm, I walked over to Temperance Bar where Paula was having her birthday drinks before everyone heads out to see the firework display later tonight. Yes, it is indeed Guy Fawke's Day again and the Pelorus Trust Sky Show annual fireworks display will start around 9pm for about 15 minutes. It still amazes me that we celebrate the day Fawkes tried to blow up the parliament centuries ago...

Bumped into birthday girl on the way and we were the first two at Temperance! Oh, the poor thing has the sniffles - been partying too hard, eh? Paula, Bianca and Mariana had a Halloween-themed birthday bash on Friday which I couldn't attend as I was moving house. Heard it was quite a party I had missed. Bummer!

Dribs and drabs, friends turned up. I had asked friends Chris, Scott, Damien, Hew, Lak and Kim to meet me there - they all wanted to catch up and watch the fireworks together so I thought it would be easier to pool them together, let them get to know a few new friends and then go see the fireworks altogether :) Lak and Kim popped by briefly, Chris stuck around with me and Scott came by with his mate, Rufus, just in time to grab me and Chris over to the boatsheds at Oriental Bay marina to watch the fireworks. The others wanted to come along but we lost them somehow in all the commotion...

This is SO COOL, Scott! I've never sat on the roof of the boatshed and the view of the fireworks from here was AWESOME! Lots of Wellingtonians were out despite the chill for this annual event. Photos taken tonight:

By 9.30pm, we said goodbyes and walked to our respective homes. So handy to live in town :)

Quick update on my fundraising progress - so far friends have donated up to 95 bucks (my goal is $250 so please everyone, help me reach the target). Oh, and you can donate for Scott and Claus as well (yay, Claus is joining as a Heart Walker too). Scott, I'm keeping tabs on your fundraiser so you don't cheat and just put your own money to beat my fundraised figure :/ grr...But then again, all the money goes to Heart Foundation so you can beat my target if you so wish to - everything goes in for a good cause!