Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Meeter & Greeter at Telecom Retail Store (9th December 2009)

I had the pleasure of working at the Telecom Retail Store located in Dukes Arcade today as part of supporting our frontline sales people in the lead up to Christmas, their busiest time of the year. As a greeter, my job is to help manage the flow of customers in-store during my 8.30am-5.30pm shift - pretty much say 'Welcome to Telecom, how can we help you today?' and make small talk with the customers as they wait in line for the next Telecom Communications Consultant to come available to put through their query or purchase, and try to answer questions as best I can. I'm glad that my manager gave me approval to take a day of my busy week to work in the Retail Store, an interesting experience for me to see what actually happens in-store and a chance to get connected with our customers :)

On arrival at the Retail Store, I was greeted by Assistant Manager, Stuart Larking, got given a greeter's T-shirt to wear for the day, introduced to Pare and Chelsea, the 2 Communications Consultant whom I'll be working with and briefed on what I would be doing. The store itself was by far one of the smallest I've visited in town to date and when we had 5 customers in-store, the place just felt congested.

I can tell you frankly, I know little of the things I hear the trio rattle on about and there are so many products, services, plans etc. that we offer - how on earth do they cram so much information in their heads when customers shoot them all sorts of questions awes me. Stuart told me that it takes a newbie 6 months to get their head around the products and services we offer. Wow...I'm not sure if I can do it in 6 months myself!

I was very impressed with this team at Dukes Arcade - they worked together dealing with customers in-store and on the phone with a smile and excellent service despite the pressure and the occasional difficult customer to handle. A cool, small team of young people who do their job well and manage to have fun doing so too! Great job, team, and keep up the good work!! I had a great time working with them and mingling with our customers though standing 8 hours on my feet does hurt at the end of the day:/ Still, it was a worthwhile experience and thanks guys for having me over for the day!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Pre-Xmas drinks catch-up with Rachel & friends (8th December 2009)

Caught up Rachel and friends at Leuven Belgian Beer Cafe for a few pre-Xmas drinks after work today around 6pm. This was the last time the group will see each other before us globe-trotters fly off to various countries for our year-end holidays. So very exciting! There will be lots of travel stories to swap when we get back in the new year!!

James came by as well and we shared a Hoegaarden Mosselen, a 1kg pot of mussels steamed in Hoegaarden (Belgian beer), curried cream, apple and coriander, served with a side of frites and mayonaise for $18.90. YUM! I wouldn't be able to finish the whole pot myself so it was really good I had someone to share it with :) The others too had other mussel dishes which look equally yummy but I couldn't fit anymore - too full! Photos taken at Leuven by Scott:

Left the gang around 8.30pm to meet up with Jono and friends who were having dinner at Lone Star. Have a fabulous holiday, everyone - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance! Jono's so sweet - he organised a group of workmates together to celebrate Pooria's birthday, watching a show at BATS theatre followed by dinner together. Pooria would have just gone home after work and not do anything special for himself so it was really nice of Jono to make Pooria's birthday feel extra special this year :) Happy Birthday, Pooria!

Tis' the season to be jolly - my calendar is filling up with Christmas get-togethers!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Jazz & High Tea with Vaughn Roberts & the Mississippi Pipis (6th December 2009)

James and I rounded a bunch of friends to attend Jazz & High Tea with Vaughn Roberts & the Mississippi Pipis at Ruby Lounge this afternoon - James got the swing crowd together while I got Scott, Alicia and Jono to come along. It was the 2nd time Vaughn was playing his New Orleans jazz gig at Ruby Lounge and after having such a fun time at the first one last month, I didn't want to miss the gig today!

Rushed home after my Batucada practice and waited for Jono to pick me up. It's half-way till the end of my series of workshops and today I got to play the repinique, a two-headed Brazilian drum used in samba baterias - hmm, don't think I like playing the repinique very much as my hands tire after awhile. One hand would play on the repinique like playing on a snare drum with the back end of the stick while the other slaps on the drum like a bongo drum. Good coordination definitely required and it is when the beats get faster that really tires out my hands and arms.

Headed over to Ruby Lounge with Jono around 4.30pm. Cost us $10 each at the door and friends Scott, Alicia, James and Grace were already there so we headed over to join them. Jono and I decided to try out their high tea which was served while the jazz band played. High tea is a term in United States that refers to afternoon tea or tea party, with the term 'high' associated with social 'formality'. I've never had high tea before - another first for me! For $20, we shared a large pot of tea and a 3-tier platter of thinly sliced sandwiches, little cakes and scones. I laughed when Jono said I had to put my little pinky finger out as I sipped my tea. All seemed very proper, Victorian English etiquette - I'm having lots of fun and the food was very yummy too!

Had a few fun swing dances in between chit-chats with friends. Just a chilled out Sunday afternoon in good company and awesome jazz music. Ah, bliss! :) Photos taken at Ruby Lounge this afternoon:

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Wellington Zoo (5th December 2009)

Had a sleep in this morning after my late Friday night but the weather was too nice outside to be stuck in bed! Jono suggested that we visit Wellington Zoo located at the end of Daniell St in Newtown so around 11am, we walked from his place over to the zoo café, Velluto Café for brunch. I was scoffing down my Kiwi big breakfast while the poor fella chewed his food with care – his face was still swollen post-wisdom teeth extraction (he had all his wisdom teeth taken out earlier this week). Jono said he looked like a puffer fish with the swelling. Aww, you poor thing…*hugs* It’ll subside soon!

Cost us $20 per person for entry to the zoo – gee, that’s expensive! I’ve only been to the zoo once when I was still studying at university; I came on a rather gloomy day and hardly saw any animals or visitors in the zoo. Hmm, wonder if the zoo has changed much over the years…The zoo is NZ’s first zoo that houses over 500 animals (and over 100 species) spread around 13 hectares of land. We were given a map of the area and started our trip in the zoo checking out some peccaries, mammals which looked rather similar to wild boars. Jono was totally stalking the peccaries that were having a snooze in the shade, using his super long camera lens. Oh look, you woke them up!

We continued on our stroll in the sun watching the capuchins chase one another on Monkey Island, took more photos of animals such as tamarins (I like the Emperor tamarin – so small and cute!), a variety of birds and reptiles, a lone Malayan sun bear, several red pandas hiding on tree tops catching up with sleep and 2 squeaky Asian small-clawed otters. This must be a bad time to come to the zoo as most of the animals were either hiding, sleeping or just restless. Hmm…

We stopped by the zoo kiosk for an ice-cream and walked over to the tiger enclosure for the 2pm Talk Time, where visitors got to meet the keeper to learn all about the tigers and watched them get fed. The tigers in the zoo were Sumatran Tigers, highly endangered and are the smallest in the tiger species. As the keeper continued telling us more about the animal, he was also feeding raw mince meat to the male tiger, pushing the mince past the wired enclosure to the lips of the tiger. Normally, tigers would be tearing at large chunks of meat but this particular tiger had surgery so could no longer eat chunky meat. Wow, what huge teeth it has…I wouldn’t want my fingers anywhere near its mouth...The keeper proceeded to show us a battered and clawed plastic barrel that was the tiger’s toy. Just shows how powerful a tiger can be to cause such damaged to the thick barrel. You DO NOT want to mess with the beast!

After the tiger talk, we headed on to check out African Savannah where we found plenty of giraffes, gibbons, African wild dogs (eww, they stink!), ostriches, baboons (these fellas had no problem flashing their bright protruding pink buttocks) and chimpanzees. I was trying to figure out what the yellowish stain was on one of the chimp’s fingers. Peanut butter? Oh yuck, that’s disgusting!! The chimp had just put its finger in the arse and then smelt it. Eww, eww, EWW!!!!!!

Our trip in the zoo ended around 3pm. Though Wellington Zoo is still small compared to other zoos I’ve been to, I had a fun time in the sun with Jono, learning more about animals and snapping away on our cameras. Photos taken at the zoo today:

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Feeling better and getting back on track (24th November 2009)

I'm SO glad that I'm feeling way better now after the nasty cough - tired of falling sick and just want to get back to my exercise, social activities etc!

Caught up Hew yesterday for lunch at Joe's Garage on Tory St. Joe's Garage has now become a new regular place for me to have lunch (James and I somehow end up going there for lunch almost every Wednesday). Was lovely to catch up with my long time girlfriend - it has been some time since I last saw her and the poor girl had injured herself at work trying to lift something heavy and is now wearing a brightly coloured cast on her left wrist. Hello? You are way smaller framed than me and shouldn't be lifting heavy items! Hmm...hope she gets well soon because it's rather inconvenient having a cast on the wrist...

I've also gone back to Bikram yoga classes (I've been so slack, haven't been back since I went on holiday in Tonga) and boy does it feel awesome sweating it out in the 90-minute class :)

Came home Monday evening and was going through my mail and guess what I found? Another photo taken during my travels printed in one of the 2010 Intrepid Travel brochures! This one was a photo taken in Chicago of their famous sculpture, the Cloud Gate, and is featured in the 2010 USA-Alaska-Canada brochure. Check it out:

And speaking of travels, I'll be heading to Sri Lanka and India end of December with Jonathan - it would be a great adventure, both with a new travel partner AND travelling in countries we've not been to before. Looking forward to it! I LOVE travelling - yippee!!

Went along to help out at Jessica's forro class tonight. This would be the last class for me as I won't be able to make it to the final class of the term following Tuesday. I thought it was a real pity that there won't be a new term next year but just weekend workshops. Well, I suppose with Jessica going back to school, it makes fitting the lessons into her schedule more challenging. Had a fun time helping out the boys tonight and had a few fun dances with Charles too :)

Boys Liviu and Chris have been growing their moustaches (their 'mo') the month of November and I took the opportunity to take a photo of the two Mexican-looking boys on my mobile phone before they take off their moustaches on 1st Dec:

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Brazealand band last gig of the year & Hundy In Your Undies party (20th November 2009)

...cough, cough...hmm, feeling better but still have the cough especially during the night...I just want to get well so I can get on with life!

Tonight was Brazealand's last gig for the year held at Southern Cross Bar and by the time Scott, Hannah and I got there around 9.30pm, the place was already packed, music playing, people dancing and as usual, lots of people to catch up and say 'hi' to. It's almost 2 years that Brazealand had been playing in Wellington and tonight's gig had 11 special guests joining them on stage, Brazilian and Kiwi musicians, including friends Adilson, Charles and Elaine. There was definitely something in the air at Southern Cross tonight - the dancefloor was packed with happy dancing people and I had a fabulous time dancing with friends :) Ron and I tried to dance some gafieira with much difficulty on the packed dancefloor, did awesome forro dances with Paul and Charles, and boogied with new salsa dancers Pooria and Liviu too. James arrived just as the first set ended and we had a fun quick swing dance to a song played by the DJ during the break. Jono turned up as the second set started but we left after the 2nd song to another party we were invited to in Mt Cook.

Jono and I left Southern Cross Bar around 11.30pm to a house party in Mt Cook - it was a birthday party of 4 people whose ages added together equalled 100 thus the theme Hundy In Your Undies; Hundy as it's short for hundred and undies, well, it just rhymes. Guests were encouraged to wear just their undies to the party though it is not compulsary. I wasn't told about the party until this morning so had to run around town to look for a pair of ruffled knickers for the themed party after work. Well, I could go wearing my own undies but I think they may be a tad too revealing for the occassion and I'm not sure if the crowd whom I'm meeting for the first time would appreciate getting a heart attack :P This is the first of such kind of party I'm going to - should be a good laugh and plenty of photo opportunity!

Jono made me laugh so much when he started taking his pants off in the car before heading into the house. He had only his hat, a singlet, boxer shorts and his shiny black shoes with socks. Reminds me of the characters in the movie The Full Monty hehe...I joined in taking my pants off to reveal my cute black ruffled knickers (and I think looked pretty sexy too :P). Most of the guests at the party wore their undies on top of their normal clothes but most of the guys were stripped down to only their briefs, dancing their hearts away to the pumping music in the lounge. It was funny taking photos of people at the party, some pretty indecent positions too haha! Had a bit of a boogie along with the crowd (yes, all of us in our variety of undies, girls and boys alike), caught up with friends Rissa and Ben (Rissa still looked hot despite parading in granny pants and Ben, oh, dear, Ben, he was just posing in all indecent positions and cracked me up!) and stayed on till about 12am when the party officially died down. Photos taken at the party:

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants (12th November 2009)

...cough, cough...cough, cough, cough...oh my god, when will I be done with this cold? From a stuffed up nose to nose bleeding when I sneeze and now coughing through the night. I've not had proper sleep in 2 days! Die bugs, DIE!!

Caught up with Liviu, Polly, Ana (Liviu's friend who's also a Romanian), Rosel and her work colleague around 8pm to watch the play Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants currently showing from the 10th - 21st of November at BATS Theatre. Cost us $13 each for the 2-hour show with a 15-minute interval in between. The theatre's foyer was decorated with lots of origami elephants on hanging mobiles and apparently bits and pieces of information about the play have been found located in various places in town - a random photo here, some origami there, even a website that's interactive which was how curious me got Liviu to round up a group of friends to watch the play together. Photos taken at BATS theatre on my mobile phone:

Paper origami elephants on hanging mobiles

At the foyer waiting for the show to start

Random photos of the characters in the play

Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants is a dream-like story that explores the questions we face on a daily basis - death, spiritual beliefs, family, growing older, the natural violence of the world and searching for our purpose in life. Upon entering the theatre (we were lucky to have front row seats), we saw many sliding screens built for the purpose of the play and I'm sure were all wondering what it was for. Hmm...

The play focuses on the life surrounding Julian Gallo (played by Vaughan Slinn), a recently divorced man who's unemployed and mourning the loss of his dead mother, searching aimlessly for a purpose in life. He starts off walking through the busy streets of Wellington (the cast were all walking in different directions creating an image as if the audience were actually sitting somewhere at Cuba Mall watching people walk by) in search of this building where his job interview was at, then searches through room after room to find the office (the cast would move around and get into the different roles/positions as Julian walks by, as if we were watching him walking past the HR office, conference room, training room, helpdesk etc). The use of the sliding screens were fantastic - it was a door, a closet, a window, a lift - creating a magnified imaginary space as it changes setting with the plot.

In his aimless search, Julian meets Kerryn Bell (played by Hannah Banks), a university student at the waterfront one evening and they soon became good friends. How did I know it was the waterfront? Well, they had performer Paul Waggott pose like Solace of the Wind and it got the audience all laughing. And the intelligent use of a large roll of plastic that when moved gave the feeling of soft waves clapping. Who would have thought a roll of plastic could have such an effect? Julian also met The Collector (played by Paul Waggott), this weird man who wants Julian to find his mother's elephant ornament and speaks with a squeak in his voice (he was sucking air gradually out of a balloon to create the voice). Unsure where to find this ornament, Julian went in search through family members including Dennis (played by Aaron Cortesi - the same guy who played the Italian-speaking boss in play Good Night - The End which I saw back in September), his cousin who hides at home counting people walking into the cafe across the street from his window and a bit creepy in my books. With little luck, he engaged in the help of detective Joseph Grieves (also played by Aaron) and his dog Floyd (played by Paul). Paul did an amazing job playing the dog, sticking his tongue out, licking others and himself (the audience laughed!), growling and playing with his owner. Way too close to a real dog!

Then there's Yvonne Quinn (played by Sara Allen), a highly stressed waitress that often visits her sick grandmother, Sheila Quinn (played by Harriette Cowan) at the local Hospice. Harriette was so good in her role as an old lady, talking to herself constantly as if in dementia, walking in small careful steps and with a walking stick - I could actually feel the pain/fear of growing old in her. Yvonne, on the other hand, had a mind that runs a million miles per second (other performers were chanting numbers when Yvonne is thinking). Her days are a routine, getting up, taking a shower (the roll of plastic now became the shower curtain and towel), checking in on nana, going to work, praying, taking a smoke and back to bed. She meets Julian by chance when her nana disappeared from the Hospice and was found in Julian's apartment. Interestingly Julian took fancy of her but didn't have the chance to ask her out and she ended up in his dreams - the audience was enthralled with Julian's dream of Yvonne dancing sexily, seducing him (what the audience saw was just the shadow of Sara dancing but it was enough to bring all sorts of thought into our heads) but like all dreams, other thoughts crept in, including images of his mother when she was much younger.

Spectacular use of lights and shadows, very creative and cleverly put together. All in all an amazing play that will make you laugh yet enchant you. I HIGHLY recommend that you watch this play - you wouldn't want to miss this one!

The show ended around 10pm and coming out towards The Pitt Bar (bar in BATS theatre), we found a couple dressed up in 40-50's style clothing and playing music on a suitcase gramophone - Liviu and Ana were both so excited because the songs they were playing were very similar to the Romanian folk music. It was really cool to see how the gramophone work :)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Noodle Canteen & Stacey's dare (10th November 2009)

Caught up with James for lunch today and we went to check out this newly opened shop called Noodle Canteen on Courtenay Place. Neither of us had been there before and it was an interesting noodle shop concept - fast food take-away that serves noodles presented in a box, the typical American way. The meal is cooked as you order and there are over 30 noodle varieties for you to choose from. I had their Seafood Mee Goreng which was egg noodles with prawn, calamari, fish cake, crab meat, tofu and fresh vegetables in an Indian style sauce for $11.80. We took our take-away boxes with us and had our lunch by the waterfront. Wow, it's a lot of noodles - the meal was enough to feed two. I had to take-away my take-away! Tasted pretty good and great value for money. Will have to go back and try some other varieties. Photos taken of our Noodle Canteen lunch experience on my mobile phone:

Watching our lunch being prepared

Over 30 varieties of noodles to choose from, cooked and packed before your eyes

My Seafood Mee Goreng lunch

Sigh, I don't even dare blow my nose right now. Think I may have burst a small capillary in my right nostril and everytime I blow my nose (I have a cold), it bleeds. Just over the weekend, I got up in the middle of the night because I could feel blood literally flowing down through my throat and had to stick some tissue up my right nostril before getting back in bed! Really, perhaps it's better to just stick a tampon up my right nostril to stop the bleeding, and naughty me put it up as my Facebook status only to get friends posting all sorts of suggestions to fix the bleeding and 1 dare from Stacey to actually do it. Yes, she dared me to stick a tampon up my nose. Really?? Well, this is going to be one hell of an experience and experiment...

Went to buy a box of tampons on my way home from work. Hmm, let's go for this one that says 'silky, smooth' on the box...should work fine...bloody hell, tampons don't come cheap! Was trying to multitask getting dressed and the photos done and posted to Stacey before meeting Jonathan for a movie but he popped over early instead and insisted on photographing the whole process! We got into histerical fits of laughter as he watched me trying to put the tampon into my right nostril :P Silky, smooth my arse - sticking up the tampon wasn't that smooth. In fact, I might have enlarged the size of my right nostril trying to it in! Oh well, at least I can now say, been there and done that. Not the smartest way to fix a nose bleed if you have small nostrils. Photos taken of me taking on Stacey's dare to stick a tampon up my nose:

Alright, let's see, how do I open this thing...

Jonathan, quit making me laugh - I can't fit it in!

Stacey, this is for you :P

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Guy Fawkes 2009 (5th November 2009)

It's Guy Fawkes celebrations again today! Yes, another year of fireworks display at Wellington waterfront and this year, it'll be for a full 20 minutes (normally just 15 minutes). But first, I need to satisfy this steak craving I'm having and rounded up boys Scott, James and Geoff out for steak and beer dinner tonight before the fireworks. James suggested we have beers and dinner at JJ Murphy's - seriously, Irish pub for steak??

My, my, do not ever underestimate the steak at an Irish pub - I had their Murphys Peppered Steak, peppered Porterhouse steak grilled and served with Murphy’s gravy (cost $21.50) and it was YUM! I was in heaven....ahh...I can't believe none of the boys had steak with me - James had a chicken main meal while boys Geoff had dinner before joining us and Scott was catching up with Alicia for dinner. Sheesh! Oh well, I'm in a happy place right now after polishing off my whole piece of steak...mmm...

Left boys James and Geoff to find Scott and Alicia and we headed to the boat sheds along Oriental Parade to secure a spot on the cement roof to watch the fireworks. It was the same spot Scott and I were at last year, by far the best spot to view the fireworks, I say. Hannah came to join us shortly and along with other Wellingtonians scattered all around the waterfront in jackets and windbreakers (it was a cold and windy night), watched the colourful fireworks that began at 9pm. To be honest, the fireworks looked pretty much the same year after year - it was more an event to get a group of friends out together than for the fireworks itself.

The gang decided to have a late night cuppa before calling it a night and we ended up at Enigma on Courtenay Place where we found other friends and boys Scott and Willy-John went into their photography frenzy as usual (rolling my eyes). Photos taken tonight:

Monday, 2 November 2009

Ladyhawke (1st November 2009)

After a super late night partying all around town for Halloween last night, I deserve to sleep in this morning…zzz…Finally got out of bed at noon and headed over to The Bach Café in Island Bay around 1pm with Jonathan to grab some lunch. A Kiwi big breakfast sounds SO good right now – I’m starving!

“Oh, the place looks pretty packed…hey, look, there’s Liviu and Pooria!” I exclaimed as we got out of the car. Sweet, we’ll just join their table and skip the line hehe…I’m sure the boys wouldn’t mind extra company :) Had my full breakfast of toast, bacon and eggs with a flat white out in the sun while catching up with the boys. Was laughing at Liviu’s photos taken last night of him in a vampire costume. With that Romanian accent of his, he really does a good impersonation of Count Dracula :P

Everyone left the café around 3pm and Jonathan and I headed over to Oriental Bay beach to catch up with his friends but they were no longer at the beach when we got there so we took a leisurely stroll along Oriental Parade - ah, bliss, just what a lazy Sunday should be like! Thanks for an awesome weekend, Jonathan – I had a lovely time :)

Headed home at 5pm to rest, shower, make dinner and got ready and dressed up punk-rock chic style (no, I didn’t dye my hair or have a Mohawk) for tonight’s Ladyhawke concert. Yep, our Kiwi own singer, Pip Brown aka Ladyhawke from Masterton is currently touring NZ and has her one night only gig at San Francisco Bathhouse tonight featuring songs from her self-titled album that won best album of the year in the recent NZ Music Awards. You would have heard her songs like “Paris Is Burning”, “My Delirium” and “Magic” playing on the local radio stations quite often these days – her album is quite a hit, even I bought a copy ;) James and Chris were also fans of Ladyhawke so we had a little groupie heading to the concert tonight – yay!

Chris came to pick me up at 8pm and we headed over to San Francisco Bathhouse (SFBH) which was still rather empty so decided to come back shortly. We walked over to the newly located Espressoholic on upper Cuba St for a coffee while waiting for James to turn up. Hmm, somehow this Espressoholic has a different vibe to the old one…perhaps still reminded me of the chocolate shop that was here previously…

Around 8.30pm, we headed back to SFBH and the place was beginning to pack up! James caught up with us shortly, squeezing through the crowd to get to us. Cost us $57 each for the concert tickets. The gig officially kicked off at 9pm with opening band Over The Atlantic, a Kiwi band playing songs from their album Dimensions for the first hour before Ladyhawke and her band members came on stage. Ladyhawke was amazing – she totally wowed the crowd and got us all jumping up and down to her tunes (you could feel the dance floor shaking!). Stage lights bright and blinding, and music blasting out loud, this was the best concert I’ve been to this year! Me and the boys were having such an awesome time despite sardined in the crowd, covered with sweat and probably going deaf from the loud music!! Woo-hoo!

There was a bag filled with balloons attached to the ceiling and James, Chris and I were standing exactly below it! When Ladyhawke sang partway through the song “Paris is Burning”, the balloons were let off and it ‘rained’ onto the dance floor. Awesome! …My heart is yearning, but Paris is burning…Paris is burning all night long…Fans were all singing and dancing to the songs – it was such a great vibe of energy at the concert! Photos taken tonight:

The gig ended at 11.30pm and though the crowd cheered and stomped their feet for another encore, Ladyhawke did not come back out to play for us :/ Oh well, I guess it was a Sunday too and most of us still need to work tomorrow. But first, a shower before I head off to bed!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Halloween SalsaFever Party at Shooters Bar (30th October 2009)

Thank god it's Friday - TGIF! Been a busy though short week given that Monday was a public holiday. Heaps of catching up with friends and flat out at work!

Caught up with lovely Ronja for lunch today, a bubbly German girl whom I met while volunteering at WOW this year, and had a girlie cocktail session with Stacey at The Library after work. It had been a while since I caught up with Stacey and it was great fun chatting and laughing about all sorts together. I'm loving The Library - the ambience, yummy cocktails and fabulous service (the waitstaff keeps coming by, refilling your glass of water, roasted almonds for the table and/or taking your next order). Honestly, it is quite rare to find me catching up with the girls - normally, I'm in company of boys (let's see, this week, Monday I was with Chris on the ferry back to Wellington, Tuesday caught up with Jonathan, Wednesday movies with Liviu, Thursday drinks with boys Geoff, James and Scott...) and it's nice to have girlie catch ups too :)

Tonight's salsa party was at Shooters Bar and because tomorrow is Halloween, everyone was invited to come dressed up for the theme. My decision to go out salsa dancing tonight was so last minute and I pretty much just grabbed a few items of my clothing and put them together for a punk-goth Wednesday Addams wannabe look and I must say, I think I did a pretty good job with my version of the costume and make-up, given I had only half an hour to put them together ;) You should check out Scott's make-up - he came to pick me up for the party around 10pm and oh my god, you should see what he did to his face. Awesome job with the make-up (Scott's SO creative!), making him look a mix between Uncle Fester from The Addams Family and one of Darth Vader's evil menaces.

Cost us $10 each for the party tonight and I had better come out dancing more for I don't know two thirds of the people on the dance floor plus my moves were getting rusty. But I still have lots of fun, catching up with friends, taking photos of our amazing looks (it was hard trying to recognise some people) and having lots of fun dances. Photos taken tonight:

Happy Halloween!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Labour Weekend trip to Marlborough Sounds (23rd - 26th October 2009)

Friday, 23rd October 2009: Worked till 5pm and rushed off home to finish the last of my packing before Chris came to pick me up for our long weekend trip to his family bach in Marlborough Sounds. So glad it’s the long weekend – I need a break from doing computer work and 3 days of no mobile phone and internet coverage sounds perfect to me. Better still, Chris’ parents are coming down to take us scalloping on the big boat. How AWESOME is that!

Rush, rush, rush as usual…Now where is that darn cat?? I’ve been tasked by Priscilla to make sure Flick stays in the house because no one is around this weekend. Pricilla’s god-father will come by and make sure the cat has food and water but I am not allowed to let the cat out this evening so no Flick, don’t meow at me so pitifully – I ain’t letting you out!

Chris came to see me right on the dot at 6pm and we headed off to New World to do some food shopping for our meals for the next few days. The bach is situated in a somewhat remote bay so it would be quite a drive to get food (there’s no dairy around the corner). A quick stop at McDonald’s to pick up dinner and drove on to the ferry terminal to get in line into the ferry.

Surprisingly there weren’t many people on the Kaitoke sailing at 8pm tonight. Most of the access areas were closed (down to just 2 deck levels) so we pretty much just chilled out where the reclining chairs were – me reading my book and Chris having the occasional snooze. The ferry crossing was a steady smooth ride and we arrived in Picton at 11pm. It’ll take another 2 hours’ drive before we get to the bach. Unfortunately I won’t be much help to Chris driving since he’s driving a manual car :/ Nevermind, Chris was happy to do the driving but he’ll need to make a stop at the local petrol station to pick up a V drink.

That’s so weird…you can’t go inside the petrol station shop because the doors are locked and you have to tell the attendant what you wanted then he/she will walk around the shop, get the stuff then come back to you for money at the payment booth…is Picton such a high risk town for night robbery??

Carried on our journey towards Tennyson Inlet, the southern arm of Pelorus Sound in the Marlborough Sounds, an area which is about ten kilometers long and includes Penzance Bay as one of its 3 main settlements (Penzance Bay was were the bach is located). It was an easy drive with us wide awake at this time of the night, crooning away to the Ladyhawke album – did I mention we are going to the Ladyhawke concert next weekend? Yeah!

Quick toilet stop at Rai Valley around 12am. Ops, no mobile phone coverage from here on…time to switch off the phone for the weekend…

Hmm, why is it so foggy? The roads to the bach though was well tarred, it was rather windy, going up and down the hills through farmlands and arriving at Penzance Bay around 1am. This is SO cool! Chris’ house is just like a holiday home, all nicely decorated and fully stocked with essentials like bedding, can foods etc. with a view overlooking Penzance Bay. There doesn’t seem like much activity around here other than baches – will find out more when the sun is out tomorrow.

We unpacked all our stuff into the empty home and in the midst of us unloading our things, a bird flew into the house and was ‘trapped’ in the lounge. The next hour was spent trying to get the bird out of the lounge and oh my god, it just wouldn’t fly out through the opened doors or windows but kept flying up towards the ceiling. Shoo bird, shoo – out you go! Chris tried to catch the bird (I don’t think you’ll be able to catch the bird with your bare hands, Chris) and at some point, the stupid bird decided to hide behind the pantry and Chris had to remove all the items to find the bird in case it got trapped in the small space. Argh! We could see the bird was getting tired flapping everywhere (it kept opening its beak as if needing to breathe in more air) and started to fly much lower. I suggested that Chris get a large cloth or blanket to catch the bird and it worked – Chris took a large table cloth, crept up slowly to the bird and threw it over, covering the bird, and brought bird and cloth outside to set it free. YES - finally we can get some rest! What a crazy start to our holiday! Photos taken this evening:

Went to bed around 2am. Brr, it feels quite cold here. Going to use the extra blankets to warm up tonight…

Saturday, 24th October 2009: Was up at 7am and kept on snoozing till 8am but just couldn’t sleep in anymore after that. Opened up the curtains and it was all lush green outside, mountains covered by morning fog. Wow, I REALLY am in the middle of nowhere…loving it!! :) Got out of my pajamas and went around the house taking photos. This is such a beautiful place! A place away from the hustle and bustle of the city, just the sound of birds chirping and boat engines revving up in the background with a view of calm waters and surrounded by native bush. I feel relaxed already…ahh…

Chris woke up shortly and we sat at the deck having morning coffee and chatted. His parents were heading up from Nelson this morning so we chilled out at the bach until they arrived. Around 8.45am, we took a lovely short walk from the bach to Penzance Bay boat ramp. The water was so calm and clear – it was tempting me to go in for a dip but no, the water temperature was very cold! Several boats were already out this morning even though the sky looked cloudy and somewhat gray. Can’t wait for our turn to go out on the boat!

Headed back to the bach around 9.15am to make breakfast. Chris kept talking about this food called ‘bacon butty’ and said he would make them for breakfast today. Bacon butty turned out to be bread with relish, fried bacon, mesculin salad (and a fried egg but we had none). Ha, Kiwis – they sure have strange ways of calling things. Tasted pretty good though! Photos taken this morning:

Chilled out over more coffee, got my laptop out to listen to my iTunes, and did some reading as we waited for Chris’ folks to arrive. No internet access here nor mobile phone reception (there is a landline in the house) which is great. Feels just like my trips in the Polynesian islands, away from constantly seeking information on the internet. Hopefully the weather will clear up too by the time Chris’ parents gets here.

Around 11am, Chris’s parents Grant and Carol arrived and brought with them plenty of food for us for the weekend. Both very lovely and jovial Kiwis, I’m very honoured to be a guest at their home – they were so welcoming and hospitable :) Even though it’s a holiday home, down here at the bach, everyone is expected to help with the chores and guests are no exception. I’m only too glad help!

Hmm, the weather still looks a tad overcast and it has started to drizzle but oh well, we’ll head out anyway! Grant tells me we will be going scallop dredging – yay! I’ve never seen or done it myself before. This is my first experience scalloping – how exciting!! We split into 2 teams: Chris and Grant got the boat ready for launch while Carol and I packed up food to take with us for lunch. I had to borrow some of Carol’s old clothes and booties as she said it can get quite muddy scalloping. Ok...Hehe, I looked quite funny in my mismatched clothes – oversized sweaters, life-jacket and funny-looking reef boots…

Finally headed out to the bay at noon and there were already several boats out fishing or scalloping around the Marlborough Sounds bays. Grant and Carol own a good-sized fishing boat and we cruised out through calm waters – I’m having SO much fun! Enjoying the sound of waves clapping and feeling the sea breeze at my face, and of course, being in good company :)

We made a short stop to check out the local mussel farm before heading to Ketu Bay where we did the scalloping. Grant and Carol were both proficient at driving the boat, with Carol taking the wheel as Grant got the dredge ready for our first dredge. The dredge was in the shape of a scoop made of chain mesh, and was dropped into the seabed then slowly towed by the boat. Once the chain mesh (which acts as a net) is filled, the dredge is then hauled up and a sorting process is carried out.

WOW, we had a whole mesh full of scallops!!! Each of us had a home-made ruler with a gap that measures 10cm wide (the minimum legal size for scallops) and we would slide the scallops through one-by-one, keeping only those that didn’t slide through (those that did went back into the water) and counted them until we got to 200 (each person on the boat is allowed up to 50 scallops). It was a muddy task but well-worth it! And we only had to do 1 dredge!! Grant pried open a few scallops for us to eat them raw – naturally salty from sea water but yum! Quite similar to having raw oysters actually…

Now that we’ve done the scalloping, it’s time for lunch! Stopped for our picnic lunch at Ketu Bay beach. We packed along bread, cold meats, spreads, fruits, tea and juice and a makeshift table to put all the food on. Chatted and chilled out in the sun (yay, the sky’s cleared and the weather’s warming up!), listening to the soft clapping of waves and breathing in the natural beauty of Marlborough Sounds. This is just one of many amazingly beautiful landscapes in New Zealand, our little slice of paradise!

Around 2.30pm, we packed up everything and hopped back on the boat for a tiki tour around the bays, whizzing by a salmon farm and several seals basking in the sun by the river bank. Lush green hills and bright aqua blue waters – the view was absolutely gorgeous. Thank Chris for inviting me down to the family bach for the weekend and spend time with your family. I’m having such a great time :) Chris drove the boat all the way back to shore and everyone pitched in to get the boat onto the trailer and helped unload the boat when we got home.

After a short rest for tea and biscuits, Grant, Chris and I began removing scallops from the shells in the garden shed. We each had a butter knife and Grant taught me how to carry out the ‘murderous’ task: first, insert the knife at the front of the scallop, trying to scrape it along the top of the shell, turning the shell as you move the knife, keeping the blade against the top of the shell. Next, remove the top shell carefully so that you won’t damage the meat. Carefully scrape the scallop from the shell, cutting off the membrane "skirt" from the meat and place the actual scallop into the bowl of cold water. Looked simple enough and Grant was so quick at it, removing the scallops one after another at great speed! “Now, your turn,” he said to me. Ok…so, let’s start by sticking the knife into the scallop…After a few attempts, Grant gave me his nod of approval and said I’m doing very well and have now earned my ‘license to kill’, scallops, that is. Haha! At times, the scallops would ‘attack’ me by suddenly clamming up as if trying to bite my fingers when I picked them up! And it was actually hard work slicing open the shell – need muscles to fight the scallop’s muscles!! Some scallops still ‘palpitated’ after we removed them from the shell. Yep, it was moving like a heart, tu-dum, tu-dum on my palm…creepy…

Many hands make light work and we finished removing shells of all 200 scallops in 45 minutes. Great team work! I do feel a bit like a mass murderer, cutting out so many scallops…hmm…Brought the two bowls filled with scallops soaked in cold water into the kitchen where Carol cleaned off any grit and cut off a small muscle that is on one side of the scallop that needs to be removed (not sure why but told so). More chit-chat, had a shower and rested a bit before dinner.

Around 7.30pm, Chris and I helped Carol set the table for dinner. Carol made us noodles, bread and salad, and lots of freshly cooked sweet Thai chilli scallops. YUM! We ate about 50 scallops and there were lots more to be cooked but we were too full! It was SO delicious and I think there was something about eating my own catch that gave me a sense of satisfaction and adds more flavour to the meal. Ah, bliss! Tummy very happy and full :)

I helped out by doing all the dishes after dinner. Carol and Grant have been such great hosts; it’s the least I could do. Man, there were still so many scallops left and Carol had them packed up into small bags and stored in the freezer so we could all take some home with us. Yay!

Chris suggested we go for a walk in the bush and hunt for wekas (or woodhens – brown flightless birds). Right, it’s pitch black outside, you know…“I’ve got a headlamp!” said Chris enthusiastically, eager to head out for a walk in the bush nearby. Ok, ok…come on, let’s go….

Some 45 minutes later of walking in the dark with our path only lighted with a narrow ray of light from Chris’ headlamp and throwing bits of bread along the path, we saw NO weka. See, I told you wekas don’t come out at night…Home by 10pm, played some cards with Chris while the folks did some reading. Everyone retreated to our rooms by 10.30pm. Yawn, it’s been a long day – I’m exhausted! It’s going to be a restful night for me as I can still feel the sway of the boat even though I’m on land now…Photos taken the rest of today:

Sunday, 25th October 2009: Up at 9.15am and chilled out at the bach having breakfast with Carol and Grant. Much like Chris, his parents are ardent travellers and I was all ears listening to their interesting travel stories over toast and coffee. Gave me the travel itch and made me feel like travelling again!

Around 11am, Chris and I started making our pack lunches and after seeing Carol and Grant off (they headed back to Nelson this morning), we went for a walk along Archers Track towards Deep Bay, the same path we took last night weka hunting. Quite a different sight during the day, the track was surrounded by native New Zealand bush, with small creeks and some rocky parts covered in blackish moss. Careful – they are slippery!

We arrived at Deep Bay around 1pm and had our picnic lunch outside a hunting cabin – it was vacant and locked but we could see that it was a temporary place of stay (has a kettle, stove, bed etc.) and there was a large hand basin and table which I think was normally used to clean and cut up their catch (deer or rabbit maybe?). It was really quiet out here in the bush with only sounds of nature – water streaming down the creek, bird chirping and the rustle of leaves from the breeze. Very few people walked past us today. Guess most are out at sea since it was such a lovely day.

Headed back to the bach around 1.45pm. The walk was 1.5 hours each way – a good workout! Was home by 3.15 and we raided the pantry, chowing down on chips, cookies and drinking coffee out at the deck. Chris went to have a snooze while I did some reading, listening to my iTunes. Frankly speaking, I’m feeling rather sleepy myself…

I’ve not seen a potbelly stove in action and Chris promised me he would turn it on tonight –yay! A potbelly stove is a cast iron wood-burning stove, round with a bulge in the middle. It pretty much works as an in-house heater but you can actually cook on the stove if you wish. I had fun taking photos of the whole process of Chris getting the fire started on the stove. Come on, Chris – more muscle chopping that firewood with the machete! :P

Hmm…the bach is now nice and warm…Quite impressed how quickly Chris got the potbelly stove working and the whole living room was now nicely heated. Popped open a bottle of wine and started to help Chris make dinner. Tonight’s menu was Asian stir-fry and Chris made us teriyaki chicken and sautéed vegetables served with brown rice. Yum! Thanks Chris – you’re a great cook!!

The rest of the evening was spent listening to more music, drinking wine, chit-chatting and checking out photos I took this weekend. Photos taken today:

Yawn, it’s already 11.30pm…so sleepy…time for bed…

Monday, 26th October 2009: Was up at 8am but snoozed in a bit till 8.30am. Today was the last day of the long weekend trip – heading back to Wellington this afternoon :/ It has been a wonderful and relaxing weekend away, AND a fun scallop dredging experience. Thanks again Chris for having me spend the holidays at the bach! I had a FABULOUS time :)

Had breakfast, packed up our bags, and then cleaned up the house. Yep, anyone who comes down to the bach must clean up the place before they go so that the next lot of people heading over would be greeted with a nice and clean holiday home. The place now looks exactly the same as when we first arrived! Loaded our stuff into Chris’ car and left Penzance Bay at 10am. We had to take the rubbish with us as well as there was no rubbish collection in the area – we had to drive to a coin-operated skip bin located about 15 minutes drive away by the main highway to dispose the rubbish. How interesting…I’ve not seen a coin-operated skip bin!

Bye bye bach – until next time!

We took the long scenic route via Queen Charlotte Drive towards Picton, stopping at Havelock around 11am for coffee. Havelock is as coastal township in the Marlborough region, also known as the greenshell mussel capital of the world. There were hardly anybody out and about today and most shops were closed (well, it was a public holiday) – our 15-minute stop for coffee ended up being over half an hour. Eeks, I hope we get to the ferry terminal in time for the ferry crossing!!

Arrived 12.15pm at Picton and joined in the long queue of cars getting on the ferry. Wow, the ferry was packed this afternoon compared to the ferry we took on Friday where there were hardly anyone! It was a smooth crossing today with fine weather and we arrived back in Wellington at 4.10pm. Photos taken today:

I always feel a bit sad when it’s the end of a trip. I mean, I do look forward to head home to my own bed and room, and get back to normal routines in life (and civilisation!) but it’s something about doing something fun and different coming to a halt that makes me feel sad. Hmm…I guess that means I just have to plan out the next holiday…hehe…

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

WOW 2009 (29th September - 4th October 2009)

It is WOW season again in Wellington and I'm SO happy to be volunteering as a programme seller again this year on the 2nd week of the show! Similar to last year, I had to work 2 hours prior to each show for 6 days selling programmes and in exchange, get a free ticket to the show.

Day 1 was a bit of a rush to get to TSB Arena after a busy day at work but just had to stop to take a photo of the City Gallery that is now covered with coloured dots (some exhibition must be on):

Looks quite bizarre! Must check out what’s happening at City Gallery later tonight…

Ooo, this year we got nicer shiny hats to wear and even a bag with goodies - a WOW crew t-shirt and volunteer pass which we had to wear when volunteering, a small bottle of water, a WOW badge and programme. Best of all, our names were printed in the programme this year! Yay!! It may not mean much for some but it's a sense of appreciation and recognition of the volunteers' time put in for the show. So awesome!

I was a roamer programme seller the whole week, walking around the foyer in the midst of the excited and cheerful crowd. Sold my 150 programmes every day from 6-8pm and still helped volunteers Tam and Kerry who were stationed at the foyer booth sell their lot. I love being a roamer, getting to mingle with the crowd and in between took photos of and with the pre-show entertainers who were out and about entertaining the streams of people flooding TSB Arena. There were a lot more pre-show entertainers this year - dancers dressed up a tui birds, Cupids, housewives, furry monsters, mime performers etc. So much fun watching them interact with the crowd and they never fail to make me laugh and smile. Despite having to work here after a long day at work, I feel uplifted and energised. Photos taken while working:

I would meet at least 1 person I knew each day - yes, I do know a lot of Wellingtonians hehe...On Friday, I saw Frank Mount, a man of notable rank in Telecom and walked up to him to introduce myself. The poor man had no idea who I was (his face was blank) and I had to tell him how I tree up to him in the Telecom hierachy - you could see the sudden relief in his face. Friends Karen, Daemon, Scott and Hannah were also seen passing through during the week.

I also attended James' birthday drinks at Southern Cross on Friday and had a fun time dancing swing with the birthday boy as well as swing dance friends Daemon and Dan to band Wellington Heads. I'm still not very confident with my swing moves but the boys were nice and made my dancing experience a good one :)

Oh yeah, we volunteers at WOW get to attend the after-show crew party this year and the theme is Space. Sioned, the Merchandising Co-ordinator (all volunteer programme sellers report to her and I've worked with her too last year), insisted that us programme sellers attend the not-to-be-missed party. Sounds like a plan but when would I wear? Hmm...

Was up early on Saturday for a swim and caught up with Jonathan for brunch a Baobab Cafe in Newtown at 11am - cool little cafe which I've not been too. Nice food and a very relaxed atmosphere. We took the outside table and were entertained by a busker playing the guitar nearby as we enjoyed our meals, coffees and chit-chat. I enjoy my catch-ups with Jonathan and was disappointed to find out that he will be moving to Canada at the end of the year. I’ve only started to get to know you better and you’re leaving?! Hmm, we’ll have to catch up more often before you go!

Headed back into town to meet Scott after brunch to swap photos from our trip at 1pm and was telling him about my make-up dilemma for the space costume party I'm attending on Sunday - I have an idea in my head of the futuristic look to suit my silver dress and white boots I rented from Costume Cave for the party (the costume is kind of a blend between a 60’s go-go dancer and Barbarella) but wasn't sure how I was going to get it done. Scott was nice enough to offer his face paints and even did a few test runs on me, making me look more like a panda than a futuristic bombshell haha!

Tam and I went to see the show tonight at 8pm after our volunteer work and I must say, it wasn't as impressive as the one last year, kind of didn't end with a big bang. This year's show was hosted by the Topp Twins, NZ's folk singing sister comedy duo playing their various characters on stage. There were lots more dancing this time and they had a Man Unleashed section which as the name implies, showcased men with to-die-for bodies in all sorts of artsy costumes. And they were quite a tease too, doing the whole cowboy hip wiggle dance at the crowd along the aisles! The organisers at WOW must have heard about the man drought in Wellington and brought so many together in one show :P

The winner of the Supreme Award this year was an entry from Alaska. I wonder how did he ship the dress made of wood in one piece to NZ...The costume entries are always impressive and creative. Mum should totally submit an entry - these sort of creative arts is so her thing! The show is 2 hours long with no interval so make sure you head to the WC before you get to your seat for you do not want to miss a single bit of the spectacular show! I'm glad tomorrow is the last day of WOW – it has been an insane week and though I've had fun, I do want to get back to routine and catch up with sleep.

Sunday was the last day of the show and I volunteered from 3-5pm then rushed home to dress up for party. Had to get Priscilla to help tie a high ponytail for me with the aid of Andy’s hair gel to prop it up. Shall be good fun when washing the thick layer of hair gel off my hair later tonight…Walked over to the party at Temperance Bar at 8pm – the whole venue was booked out for the private function! 3 floors all to ourselves!! The place was decorated to suit the space theme with an inflatable tunnel set up from the entrance to the bar and the venue ‘smoked up’. Even the bouncers at the front doors were donned in Star Wars costumes haha! The party itself was awesome with the majority of the crew dressed up in costumes – Star Trek characters, aliens, space cadets etc. One of the dancers wore a costume that had small canvas blocks hanging on his top – the blank ones are for you to write down your number so he could call. How very creative (and cheeky)! I almost couldn’t recognise Carrie who was a blue Smurf-like space cadet. Great job, Carrie!

Tiara Hymen (a pre-show entertainer now dressed in drag) was the MC for the party, whizzing around in her (or his??) roller skates, pouting her lips and posing for cameras. Finger food was served throughout the evening and each person is entitled for 2 free drinks at the bar. The party kicked off with thank you speeches from the organisers, a best-costume competition, followed by dance performances by the WOW dancers (damn, the boys danced more femininely and sexily than the girls!) and singing. We then had a DJ playing lots of cool dance tunes – my new friends and I had a ball jumping up and down on the dance floor, laughing at some of our silly antics and photos.

“Are you gay?” asked hottest-looking male dancer I’ve seen tonight. What??! Not sure if I should feel offended by the comment or it was a joke but that was not an ideal opening line when trying to get to know someone…he just dropped several levels on my hotness scale…

Left the party at 11.30pm for home. God, these boots are not made for walking let alone dancing – my feet are killing me! It was a pity that I had to work tomorrow for I would have loved to party a little longer. Photos taken at the WOW party:

Looking forward to the next WOW!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Tulip Sunday & World Press Photo 09 (27th September 2009)

Was up at 9.30am to do my washing, had breakfast, then caught up with Chris around 11am at his place before heading to the Botanical Gardens for Tulip Sunday. Today was also the start of daylight savings where we put our clocks an hour forward - a sign that warmer weather is coming!

Tulip Sunday is an annual Dutch-themed event held at the Botanical Gardens where the whole family can enjoy a day of fun activities, food, performances and walk the gardens filled with thousands of glorious tulips in an assortment of colours. It has been a few years since I last went to the event (I think the last time I was at Tulip Sunday was back in 2004 when I was still living in Kelburn) but it was pretty much the same as I remembered - took plenty of photos of the gorgeous tulips and also locals of Dutch heritage wearing their traditional costumes :)

Though the sun was out, it was still a bit chilly with the occasional spring drizzle but that didn't deter the many Wellingtonians who came out today for the event. Families were having picnics all around the gardens and we joined the crowd at the Soundshell to watch the performances lined up for the day. We were entertained by the Young Tulip Dancers, Dutch kids who performed several dances to music that sounded like children nursery rhymes, all clad in their traditional costume. This was followed by jazz band, The Pitts (oh, James would have loved to be here to dance!) - the drummer's drum set was an assemble of trash cans and frying pans, and he cracked me up when he used an eggbeater on the trash can to create music!

Hmm...hungry...left Chris at the Soundshell and went to queue to buy a Rookworst, a type of Dutch sausage, that was sold at one of the stalls in the gardens today. Cost me $2.50 and some 15-minute wait because the line was SO long. Tasted alright, but still hungry :/

Stayed on for a bit to listen to another jazz band, 5 O'clock Shadow, and left about 2pm for coffee at Mojo on Kumutoto Plaza near Queens Wharf. Photos taken today at Tulip Sunday:

I was enjoying my coffee and cake while Chris was taking a photo of the cafe only to get told off by the manager! She didn't want him taking any photos of the place, which we thought was bizarre. Hmm, perhaps she was afraid we would copy the design? Anyway, this was the photo that got Chris in trouble:
Scott came over to join us shortly and us 3 headed over to Shed 11 to see the World Press Photo 09 exhibition that was currently on from the 11th of September till 4th October. And Happy Birthday again, Scott! Yes, it was his birthday today even though we've celebrated it so many times over the past week hehe...

Cost us $2 each for entry to the photo exhibition and the press photography were very well taken. The exhibition features 200 photos and is regarded the most pretigious international contest in professional press photography. I could feel the pain and agony from some of the photos taken in war-torn or post-disaster countries - dead bodies, bloodshed, tears, loss. Some were nanosecond shots in the most dangerous of places, which made us wonder how on earth the photographer managed to get out alive and not get shot. My favourite photo was the one that had Michelle Obama taking a nap on the husband's shoulder - just shows that with responsibility and commitment, sacrifices need to be made to achieve their goals. Photos taken at the exhibition:
Outside Shed 11 where the photo exhibition was held

In the queue to get into Shed 11

Photo taken by Chris of Wellingtonians admiring the photos

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Good Night - The End (26th September 2009)

Spent most of the afternoon catching up with sleep and went to meet Liviu and friends at Downstage Theatre around 7.30pm to see the play Good Night - The End that was showing from 11th Sept - 3rd Oct. Liviu and I had organised to see the play tonight because I won't be available in the evenings the week ahead as I'm volunteering at WOW again this year. Tired as I am from the trip home, I'm going to drag myself to the play!

Cost us $45 each for the 2-hour play with an interval in between. Good Night - The End is a play that looks into the daily lives of 3 Grim Reapers trying to kill time in a kitchen when not at work, counting down the days to Christmas and the random Italian-speaking playboy boss (he wasn't really speaking Italian but a mix of Latin languages jumbled up) popping into view out of the blue yet cracks me up everytime.

The show started off with the Italian sitting behind a screen, learning to speak English by listening to the language tape, followed by total darkness and the Grim Reapers emerging on different sides of the stage, speaking in Darth Vader-like voices, neon lights and smoke surrounding them. The rest of the show pretty much didn't make a whole lot of sense but it was comical to watch how these Grim Reapers interact with each other like young hostel students. Harvester of Sorrow was always making Milo and trying to deal with cancer (aren't Grim Reapers dead??), Unavoidable Destiny just doesn't stop eating and poor Transitional Friend gets bullied by the other 2 Grim Reapers all the time (he's so pitiful and near in tears, makes me want to mother him and tell him it's all ok). And L'amministrazione, the boss, would appear randomly to talk to them about the Christmas party in his made-up Italian. His appearances were funny - one had him slowly removing part of a picture hanging on the wall and emerging, 'blending' his head into the painting. I laughed when I saw that and the others were still glued to the reapers not realising what had happened. Another occasion, the Italian came out from the floor, supposedly being cased by dogs from hell and he was checking himself to make sure his nuts were still intact and thanked god. Those tight lycra pants of his imprinted everything, and I do mean everything...

The play ended with an illuminated dance performance by the 4 actors in skeleton suits which was awesome. Would I recommend the play? Well, I suppose so. It was very creative despite not having a logical progression in its story. Perhaps this is the new-age type of play? I don't know but it sure got quite some laughs out of me and kept me entertained.

Around 10pm, Liviu, Jonathan and his sis, Michelle, and I all walked over to Havana Bar to check out Carlos' gig with Son Clave. Probably wasn't such a wise idea to be there and I was trying my hardest to social with friends, most of whom were keen to hear stories of my Tonga trip. Danced a bit, even tried teaching Jonathan some salsa and cha-cha which was fun. Left before midnight and walked home - couldn't stand it anymore. I was just so exhausted.

Walking home on my own, it hit me that I was back in Wellington, back to the reality of life and no more on holiday. Strange feeling of sadness to be back...weird...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Scott & my joint birthday dinner (18th September 2009)

Scott and I decided to have another joint birthday party this year, this time a dinner at Nicolini's Italian Cafe Bar and Bistro on Courtenay Place, instead of booking out a whole bar like we did previous year. We have so many friends in common and it is just easier to have everyone attend the same event. It's become a tradition for me and Scott but I'm not sure how long this tradition will last given Scott's leaving in December :( You've got to come back in September next year and have another joint party in Wellington, Scott! And we are flying to Tonga tomorrow - yippee!! It's a real pity that none of our other friends could make it on the trip as many are returning to their home countries at the end of the year and couldn't afford another trip between now and then. Oh well, we'll have a blast anyway and make them jealous with our photos...muah-ha-ha...

The birthday celebrations began with pre-dinner drinks at Betty's on Blair Street, a new bar in town that I've not been to yet. It was a pretty last minute decision so only very few people turned up to meet me there - James and I were the first there around 7.30pm (James was kind enough to escort me to Betty's from my place). Betty's is an interesting bar, smallish place with a projector screening digital art shots on the walls, changing every few minutes. And they have a pretty good cocktail list too. I bought us a round of Belle Fluer cocktails that had a lychee base - cost $17 each which was a bit steep but it turned out really good. Photos taken at Betty's:

Boys Liviu and Jonathan popped in to join us and bless Jonathan, he brought me a bottle of wine as a birthday gift. No need for gifts people - your presence is all I ask of! Thanks for the wine, Jonathan! Scott and Hannah dropped in around 8pm. Ah, finally got to meet this mysterious Hannah that my dear friend Scott has been dating and telling me all about - I'm surprised we have not crossed paths given we are both salsa and samba dancers. Well, I suppose we tend to know the boys than girls on the dance floor. Hmm...she reminds me somewhat of Megan Fox at a glance...nice work Scott, very nice...:P

Around 8.15pm, all 6 of us made our way over to Nicolini's for the 8.30pm dinner party. I was slightly irritated by the fact Scott and I specifically requested for our group of 28 to be seated in the back courtyard but instead were placed out in the front across 2 long tables. Nevermind that, half of my guests had to stand around because our second table still had diners finishing their dinners. What the hell?? I was already not happy when we had to get everyone to pay Scott for their dinner in advance (we were on the $39 per head pre-set menu which included garlic bread, choice of 1 entree, main and dessert from the list provided and complimentary coffee) because Scott was told that if we had no-shows, we had to fork out the cost, and now this? I wasn't impressed at all and I don't think those diners like us standing around willing them to move quickly too. I'm not sure I would host another large group dinner here next time...

Dribs and drabs everyone piled in. Lots of chatter over wine and food, introductions of friends from different social networks and Scott and I leaving our seats time and again to chat with our friends up and down the tables. More birthday presents - got a cute birthday card from Chris that made me laugh (had a picture of a hamster dancing) and a gift from Stacey as well. And we also had lovely Antje at our party, who was probably feeling jetlag as she has just flown in from Germany today (she's visiting for a few weeks). Thanks, you guys! Photos taken at dinner:

Oh my god, I'm SO full! After having garlic bread and my entree, I could hardly fit in the main let alone the dessert - the servings were huge! Thankfully no more dramas with Nicolini's the rest of the evening and everyone had a good time. We said our goodbyes to friends around midnight and split into small groups - some went salsa dancing, a few of us went off for drinks and the rest headed home.

I was left with boys Colm, Liviu, James and Chris and 5 of us headed over to another new bar in town I've been hunting for ages called The Library. I read a review the the papers not long ago that it was the hottest new bar in town located on Courtenay Place but I work in the area and just couldn't find the entrance to the place! Turned out to be through the door next to Burger King where the Natural Health Centre is located (pass through the door and head towards the back and upstairs). The Library is a boutique high-end cocktail and late-night dessert bar, beautifully decorated to suit the library theme, books and books everywhere with little nooks and sofas to chill out on. Quite similar to Hooch, Hawthorn Lounge and Motel Bar, it has a romantic atmosphere with subtle glowing candles here and there. There was even a jazz band playing tonight - fabulous! Colm was sweet to buy me a birthday drink - I had a Rossini, a strawberry bubbly, nice and light to the taste. James and Colm left after one drink and the remaining 3 of us left around 1am. Photos taken at The Library:

Thanks everyone for coming to the birthday party - I had a great time in awesome company :)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Days leading up to Tonga trip (14th - 17th September 2009)

Another extremely busy week for me at work and in my social calendar. I SO need a break...

Went for a free 1/2 hour consultation with a life consultant at The Choice (same folks that hosted singles' events in town which I had previously attended) on Ghuznee St on Tuesday. Not that I think there's anything wrong with my life and lifestyle that I feel the need for someone to give me advice on but just plain curious what on earth does a life consultant do. It seemed to me a life consultant is like a personal trainer who uses fancy tools to help you keep track of your goals and/or desires and work with you along the journey to achieve them. It was quite interesting to chat with the consultant who in the brief session told me that my life is all fine and dandy but I'm not doing anything to find a life partner. She told me that though I have a very active social life, my goal/focus is about the event or catching up with friends rather than going out there to seek a man, which could be the reason why I've had not much luck in this area of my life. Right...I'm not 100% sure I agree with her insight about my love life though come to think of it, I do go to events with no expectation of meeting a man. Hmm...

I also got to meet my job seeker in person today - yes, I've finally been matched up with a job seeker for my volunteering role as a job mentor :) Rosette has recently moved to NZ from Philippines and though she is currently working, she's seeking for a permanent role that's more relevant to her qualifications and experience. My job is to assist and support her along this journey - first things first, I need to review your CV and cover letter!

Today was also the first Tuesday that I didn't have to teach samba gafieira so went out to Havana Bar to check out Elaine's Samba Funk Quartet gig. I've never been able to attend her Tuesday gigs because of dance practice but now that class has ended, I've got no excuse! The Taylors were there (where is Christian??) and so were many familiar faces - lots of catching up to do in between dances. Liviu always cracks me up with his own version of samba dancing :)

Wednesday was my final burlesque class for the term and Grace taught us as few routines of all the moves we have learnt in the last 5 weeks put together. We got to pretend to be characters today - cutesy Betty Boo or sexy vixen, quite opposite characters I say. Fantastic job, Grace, for her first burlesque term. I had heaps of run and I look forward to Level 2 class ;)

On Thursday, I caught up with Liz for dinner and we went to see the movie Young Victoria together (I had won 2 tickets to the movie) ,then home to pack up my bags for the trip until mignight. Feeling quite burnt-out and sleep deprived but I've got no choice for I won't have the time to pack tomorrow since that's when Scott and I are throwing our joint birthday dinner!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Christian's farewell & afternoon at the beach with friends (13th September 2009)

It was Christian's farewell brunch today and a group of us friends gathered together for yum char at Regal Restaurant on Courtenay Place around 11am. Only less than 2 weeks to go and Christian will be leaving us for Newcastle (UK) where he will be starting his new life as a PhD student. You will be SO dearly missed, Christian, and all the best! His departure also means the end of our weekly gafieira class - it's sad that the class has finally come to an end. Christian's done a great job keeping it going after Helbert left. Thanks so much!

My god can we eat! Dribs and drabs, more and more friends came and we ended up having to squash closely to fit into the round table - 16 was the final count. Poor Annie was eating from her lap! It was nice to see everyone, some of whom I've not caught up with for a long time. Photos taken at yum char:

Willy-John, Stephen, Kim and me

Christian, Robert, Stacey, Paul, Ethel and Robyn

An hour later and still going strong eating...

Making a face as Willy-John was snapping photos

Some 1.5 hours of chit-chat and yummy food later, you could see we couldn't take another bite as everyone was lying back against the chair. Tummy full!

Clever Ramnish suggested we all head to the beach for some salsa after lunch - great idea! It was a beautiful sunny day today, just perfect for the beach :) Some of us went along with Ramnish over to Dicksmith's to buy a mini speaker for his ipod and met up with the others who where headed for Oriental Bay beach to chill and boogie. I love our salsa on the beach Sundays - 1 ipod, a mini speaker and off the salsa crowd goes bare feet dancing on sand, at times causing a crowd to gather or stop to watch us having heaps of fun. Photos taken at the beach:

The Asian peace pose!

Boys Ramnish and Christian getting their vitamin D

And here's lovely Annie :)

Dancing gafieira with Ramnish on bare feet

Hmm, that speaker didn't last very long - needed to be fully charged before use but nevermind, we've had a few cool dances. More to come as the weather gets warmer!

Liviu came to meet up with me around 2.30pm and we enjoyed the rest of the sunny day catching up over coffee. Haven't seen him in 2 weeks - much to chat about! It was an amazing Sunday spent in good company of friends in the sun :)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Death By Chocolate (5th September 2009)

Scott came to pick me up about 6.45pm this evening to Dransfield House on Willis St where we were attending a live event + chocolate tasting + online experience called Death By Chocolate. Cost us $38 each for the event created by Vanessa B Baylen from WhoDunnIt Events. This is the first interactive event I'm attending where participants get to play detectives to try and solve a murder mystery - how exciting! Once you've signed up and paid the fee, you will be sent a confirmation email with links to sites where you can hone in your detective skills e.g. how to identify the different personality types, ways to ask smart questions or find clues in preparation for the 'live' event.

We arrived just on time at 7pm to this 1870s two-storey Italianate-style Dranfield House which operates as a function centre and a perfect place for a mystery murder - crystal chandeliers, original oil paintings, polished wooden floors and ornate mirrors contribute to the unique atmosphere of the venue. Upon entering the house, we were greeted by Detective Beverley Hylskop and his assistant (we later found out that the assistant was the creator Vanessa) who signed us in, gave us a detective pass, pen and notepad each. We (the participants) were final year students and this was our first real life case and final exam for our course at the School of Detectives.

Us student detectives were gathered in the briefing room where Detective Hylskop gave us details of the case: Victim Mr AJ Oak had died from eating a chocolate tainted with the poisonous sap of Deliciousa Toxica at the chocolate themed singles' night at Dranfield House earlier this evening. It is unknown whether Oak was the intended victim, and there were 8 suspects detained for us to interrogate. The personal possessions of the victim and suspects have been confiscated and placed in the Evidence room in yellow trays which we are to inspect. And a fresh new batch of chocolates have been provided by Bohemein Fresh Chocolates for us to sample (Bohemein's way of proving their product is guilt-free). We had 2 hours to conduct our live investigation - no time to waste!

Scott and I began our investigation going through the individual possessions in the Evidence room (and yes, we did sneak out to sample the yummy variety of chocolates in between). We found all sorts of things - bank cards, jigsaw puzzle, letter from a deceased mother, spoon, toothbrush, poison mould killer liquid, cafe docket etc. So many things! How are we going to jot them all down? We (the student detectives) were encouraged to share information found and write it up on the large whiteboard provided. Some were already interrogating the suspects! Scott was still slowly going through the bags - hurry up!!

I went to speak to my first suspect at the bar and my god, what a bitch! Tamara "Tam" Artow was one of the guests at the singles' night and was very curt with her answers to my questions, looked me up and down in disgust and snapped at me, telling me to do my homework before asking questions! What the f&^%??! I went to look for Scott and told him about my ridiculous interrogation to which he laughed and said that perhaps Tam would be friendlier to a male detective. True enough, when Scott went to interrogate her at the bar, she went, "My, my, you have such a lovely accent..." and continued to flirt with Scott. Argh! Fine, I'm sticking next to Scott now with the interrogations...

While Scott was busy with Tam, I was approached by another guest at the singles' night, suspect Jack Azz. "Hello, what is a beautiful thing like you doing, sitting on your own at the bar?" he said to me, all suave. You can tell from a million miles that this one was a player! He was nice enough to answer my questions - found out that he knew some of the suspects prior to attending the singles' night. Hmm...

Scott and I chatted with Alison "Allie" Gull, another guest at the singles' night who was on a wheelchair due to a horse riding accident and was here tonight with her carer, Justin Case, a bald man who was quite fidgety (he may jolly well jump out of his skin if I boo! at him). Justin was the boyfriend of the hostess of the singles' night, Ivana "Coco" Noe, an older woman dressed up in a Bohemian-Indie look and at some point being interrogated by another student detective, ran out of the bar in tears (I've no idea what happened). We also spoke to Cassandra "Kaz" Enova, a hippie girl who turned out to be the AIDS victim support person for Susan "Sue" Tuble, a former prostitute who recently found out she has AIDS. Sue looked rather depressive and unstable, and I was standing slightly further away as Scott was asking her questions in case she did something quite dramatic. Sue in real life is an actor and my salsa friend, Amalia, but she, like the other suspects were fully in their characters - very impressive I must say!

With little time left, we briefly talked to Coco and Pearl Harber (Pearl was the waitress for tonight's event and is another depressive one - we could hardly get anything out of her), and all the detectives were called back to the briefing room to deliberate, submit their findings whether this was a murder or accident, what evidences to prove so and who was the real murderer. Frankly, there was just too much information to digest (other student detectives managed to find out that Oak used to be a woman who went to school with Allie, Jack owes Tam money, Pearl is pregnant with Jack's child etc.) and I took a stab that it was a murder, that Sue wanted to kill Jack for giving her AIDS by insisting on unprotected sex and he was still going out sleeping with other women the same way, but by accident Oak took the bait instead.

This was not the end of the mystery - we were not told who the murderer was but to find out more as the event continues on online till the end of the month via a secret website given to us. More clues, new findings/information and opportunity to ask the suspects more questions (they will reply to your post if they wish to) as the days goes on. Ooo, I SO want to know who the killer is but the answer will only be revealed 1st October. Argh - too long a wait! Photos taken at the event tonight:

The live event ended around 9.30pm. Participants and all the actors mingled for a bit post-show. Amalia came to apologise to me for being so mean to us - don't worry about it, my dear! I know you were in character :) Though I find that the plot is too complex for the 2.5 hour live event, I do encourage you to check out the event if it comes to your town. Well worth the experience ;)

Left around 10pm and tagged along with Scott to Breaker Bay to attend his colleague Simo's birthday party. Lots of WETA crowd in the lot and the place was done up with balloons, flashing disco lights and smoke, plus a self-service bar at the deck. Chatted with some of Scott's colleagues over drinks and decided to call it a night around 12.30am. Photos taken at the birthday party:

Ear candling (5th September 2009)

Got up early this morning and headed to The Natural Health Centre on Courtenay Place for my 10am ear candling appointment. Haha, I can see you giving me weird looks - ear candling??? Well, I've heard about this holistic way of ear wax removal but have personally never tried it. Was at the Women's Lifestyle Expo last week and found out that The Natural Health Centre nearby my workplace offers this service. Yes - another tick on my list of things to try out for the year!

The experience was interesting but not as relaxing as I had envisioned. I had to lie on my side while the therapist lights one end of a hollow candle placing the other end into my ear canal and holding it upright as it slowly burns downwards. I could hear a hissing sound of the burning candle and frankly, I was more worried I would get burned even though the therapist assured me I would be fine. Okay...*gulps*...Once half the candle was burned, the therapist removes the candle from my ear, cuts off the burnt end and empties the contents from the hollow piece into a small bowl of water. Those icky, dried up yellowish-black bits in the bowl were supposed to be my excess ear wax and/or residue from infection in my ear! Eew - looks disgusting!!

The whole procedure was repeated with the remaining half of the candle (of course, the therapist didn't burn the candle all the way but stopped when it was getting near my ear lobe) and with a brand new candle for the other ear. Cost me $50 for the 30-minute job and I left the place with a thin layer of sweet-smelling candle wax in my ear. Hmm, I'm not fully convinced that this is the best way of removing ear wax. Still quite puzzled how on earth my ears could hold so much dirt!

Hurried along to Christian's place after that for gafieira practice and he made us lunch - was nice to catch up. Sigh, can't believe he's leaving soon in just a few weeks :(

Friday, 4 September 2009

Another fully-packed week (31st August - 4th September 2009) a hectic week this has been! It has been both busy at work and in my social life!!

Attended the Network Night hosted by Rose Desmond from the Job Mentoring Service at the Multicultural Services Centre on Tuesday evening where job mentors and job seekers got together for an hour to discuss and swap ideas/experiences in finding and getting the a job. Tonight's topic was all about understanding a job description and how to mould your CV and cover letter to suit, a skill in the job-hunting process I'm still learning but also very familiar with so have lots of input towards the discussion. It was amazing to see the number of people who attended the session - 1/3 of the group of about 15 were job mentors from varies industries.

Before the session started, Rose had a brief chat with me with regards to the job seeker she intends to match me with. I read the name on the form and smiled - I already knew this job seeker! And before I could finish telling Rose how I met her, Paula walked in. Haha, my Brazilian girlfriend, Paula, was the potential job seeker! We ended up chatting most of the evening about the challenges she faced in her job hunt. It was as if I was re-living my previous experiences when I was in her situation. I gave her my contact details at the end of the evening - regardless whether or not I do end up as her job mentor, I'm more than happy to help her out where and when I can :)

Wednesday, yet another busy day in the office. Had a lovely lunch catch-up with Jonathan at Chow next door, went for a swim after work and burlesque class later in the evening. Learnt how to peel off gloves tonight with our teeth - very sexy :) My company had sent James off to Fiji for the week to work (damn!) so no catching up with him tonight after class. Despite being miles away, he's still contactable and already trying to talk me into showing him my new burlesque moves. Hmm, what do I get in return? :P

Worked in the office on Thursday - had too many meetings so pointless to work from home. Caught up with Chris for dinner at this new Korean restaurant on upper Dixon St called NewKor. Tried their spicy sizzling chicken and Bibimbap (a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed vegetables, chilli pepper paste 'gochujang', raw egg and mince meat) - not bad but I've had better Korean food in town. Cost $26.50 all up including a soft drink and 4 small complimentary side dishes. Headed over to Ernesto for a mochacinno (thanks Chris for shouting this one!), brief stop to see if Geoff was at JJ Murphy's (yes, Geoff's back in town after months working abroad) then went our own ways home.

Thought Friday would be a cruisy day at work? No way! Just so many issues at the office to deal with. Was glad I had made lunch plans with Rob so got out of the office around midday to meet up with him. Bumped into Stacey on the way to Thai House on Cuba Mall (another place I've not been before) and us three had a great time chit-chatting about our Asia travels over lunch. Poor Stacey's hurt her arm over the weekend and is now a 1-arm lady and going through physiotherapy :( No dancing for her - hope she gets well soon!

Come Friday evening, all I want to do is just get into my pajamas, eat junk in front of the TV and sleep early. That was what Priscilla and I ended up doing the last two Fridays - naughty but nice! After a week of talking me into getting a haircut (my hair is all poofy and according to my flatmate, badly needs a cut), Priscilla finally tracked down her hairdresser, Andres, to sort out my hair today.

Waited for Priscilla to come home from work (she wanted to tag along and see and give her 2 cents to the transformation) so made some peanut soup dessert while waiting for her to turn up. This dessert is a specialty at Fortuna Restaurant in my hometown, Batu Pahat, and always served with red bean Chinese pancakes. The peanut soup is easy to make - most of us already have the ingredients at home: peanut butter, sugar, cornflour, water and milk. Took me only 10 minutes to prepare it. Photos taken of my dessert:

Around 6pm, we headed to Si Salon Ltd on Customhouse Quay where Andres is currently based (he's closing shop and going to work in another hair salon). A humourous, flirty and quite hot-looking middle-aged Mexican man (he's happily married) who's a joy to be with. And he plays Latin music too - I first for me being in a Latino salon. He was the only person in the salon tending to the last 3 customers (me included) so while he was with another client, Priscilla and I kept ourselves entertained with our girly chats. He's so funny - asked me what hairstyle I would like and I said something sexy, bouncy and one that men would want to grab for and he lifted me off the chair in his arms and said "There you go - easy!". Hahaha! I like the way he treats his clients, giving them plenty of compliments and attention. It's no wonder Priscilla recommends him to all her gfs!

He trimmed off quite a chunk of my hair, layering them and getting rid of the untidy ends. My head feels SO much lighter now! Cost me $96 for the cut which was the standard price one would expect in this town. He finished off the cut by styling my hair into curls with a hair straightener and the end result made me look as if I came from a different era - vintage-looking. Pity us girls weren't going out into town so no showing off this evening :/

Left cheeky Andres around 8pm for dinner at Majestic Cuisine on Courtenay Place on the way home. Us girls have been discussing all the yummy food from Malaysia and Priscilla was craving eggplant cooked with salted fish and pork mince so decided to check out Majestic Cuisine to see if they served the dish and they did! Oh, it was yum and we were so full trying to polish off our 2 dishes. Cost $45 total for a pot of tea, rice to share, the eggplant dish and beef with spring onion and ginger dish. Slightly on the high-end scale for Chinese restaurants but very good food.

Oh, here are some photos before and after my session with Andres:

Bye-bye long locks...

I look as if from a movie set of some other era, hair in curls

One more photo before I wash it off!

Hmm, not used to having so little hair...will take awhile for me to get used to the new cut...

It's 11pm on Friday night and I can't sleep because the stupid next door neighbours are having yet another party. They have their stereo turned up so loudly that my room vibrates with the bass music. ARGH!!! I'll give them till midnight and then I'm calling the noise control people to shut down their party...