Saturday, 31 January 2009

Dinner at Maria Pia's & Alicia's birthday party (30th January 2009)

Kelly had been trying to organise a group of us to Maria Pia's Trattoria for some time and finally managed to round up a group of us to dinner tonight. Maria Pia’s Trattoria, located in a heritage building in Thorndon (near Parliament), is internationally renowned for its no-compromise, artisan Italian food: authentic, hand made and using the best organic, seasonal ingredients available. I have never been to this place but by the sounds of it, it would be a posh place for dinner. Eeks, I'm meant to save money to pay off my travel loan!

Colm, Dvita, Kelly, David (Kelly's new man), Rachel, Flo and I met up at Maria Pia's for dinner around 7.15pm. It was the first time I was catching up with the group (I've seen Colm and Dvita earlier this week) - so much to catch up on since we last got together. Maria Pia's is a nice little posh place with a romantic setting. Maybe except the part where this lone spider kept trying to crawl on me - get away from me!

As I had expected, the meals were on the $30 mark. Expensive, true, but depending on the crowd or event, it's worth the price you pay. The meals were simple but tasty. I had their Orecchiette con cime di rape - artisan “little ears” pasta in the classic Puglian style with broccolini & broccoli greens, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Yum! Of course, I had room for dessert and tried their Affogato di gelato - vanilla bean ice-cream topped up with espresso and a shot of alcohol. Ooo, this is going to keep me buzzing at Alicia's party later :P Photos taken at Maria Pia's:

Thanks for organising the dinner, Kelly! We should do another group dinner some other place - I love to try out new places to eat :)

Around 10pm, we all headed over to a house in Mt Victoria where Alicia was throwing her 22nd birthday party. But before that, a quick stop by the liquor store on the way for the others to grab drinks. I was informed by the liquor store owner that there is a hat club in Mt Victoria and that I should check it out - hah, the attention I'm getting from putting on my new hat I bought today! Ah yes, I've finally found a cool hat for myself and had it on tonight with my frilly black cocktail dress - looking rather sexy, I have to say ;P

Caught up with lots of friends at Alicia's party whom I've not seen since I got back from my trip in Australia. As usual, there were lots of dancing, accompanied by DJ Alicia's ipod. Our birthday girl was looking hot at usual - I can't believe you are only turning 22! I feel so old!! I flitted around the house, chatting with different people, dancing like crazy and taking photos as the night progressed. Volunteered myself as the photographer so that our Alicia can just enjoy herself than spend her time taking proofs of her big night :)

Colm and I did this insane speed hat swapping - check out the photos! We went on and on dunking each others hats on our heads, creating a hair mess and got me quite dizzy after awhile. So funny and fun! Luciano and I dance so much forro and samba, and I had many wonderful salsa dances and even did a rueda with Rodney making crazy calls. I'm going to feel the muscular pains tomorrow from all the dancing! Rodney was calling a move called 'New York, New York' which sounded more like a donkey noise "e-yor, e-yor". I didn't understand what the move was - so lost!

Around 1.30am, I made my way home. Thanks for the invite, Alicia - I had a blast! Photos taken at Alicia's party:

Monday, 26 January 2009

Sunday with Damien (25th January 2009)

Caught up with Damien for brunch today and tried our luck at Carribbean Cafe - we have been meaning to check out this cafe but it was closed the last time we headed over. You wouldn't believe our luck - it was closed again!! Urgh!!! Should really have rung them up before walking 4 blocks to the place. Thankfully the weather was so nice and warm - it didn't bother me that the walk was a bit of a wasted effort :)

We ended up heading to Island Bay for brunch at The Bach Cafe. Another first for me! It was a nice cafe located on the main road facing the ocean and boy was it busy. We were fortunate to get an outdoor seat under a bit of shade - nice food, nice company and gorgeous views. Except for the fact there were mosquitoes or sandflies biting me!! Get away from me!!!

After brunch, we walked across the street to check out the rock pools. I didn't know that this area was the Taputeranga Marine Reserve, a spot in Wellington I've not scuba dived in yet and would like to when the water gets warmer (does the water in Wellington shores get warmer?). Wow, the water was so clear and beckoning me to take a dip. Ok, maybe just one toe...eeks, cold! The water temperature was probably about 17-18 degrees Celsius - still need a wetsuit to swim in such temperatures. Saw several divers and snorkellers about. Hmm, wonder what sort of marine life exists here?

Damien managed to convince me to walk out to the tip of a rocky path, so narrow that a slip would guarantee a dip into the rock pools on either side. This is CRAZY! But I did it anyway with fear I may slip on my flip-flops and grabbing onto the rock formations or Damien's arm for support. Argh!

Stop laughing at me Damien! He found it most amusing seeing me get my footing and trying to regain my balance every time the wind blew :P He nearly lost his jandals that he left on one of the rocks (the tide was rising and getting closer and closer to his jandals)! Hahaha, I had to laugh when I watched him rush his way to grab the jandal that nearly floated out of his reach! Photos taken at the rock pools:

F%$k! Why are all these bugs still attacking me??! Make sure you put on insect repellant if you ever come by this area. The bites itches like crazy!

We had to make the most of the sunny day so decided to take a walk along the Eastern Walkway along the southern end of the Miramar Peninsula. But before we headed over, a stop for ice-cream by the beach :)

Ok, maybe THAT wasn't such a clever idea...we couldn't actually walk on the beach to have our ice-creams because it was so windy and tried to shield the ice-cream from the sand flying everywhere. I could taste the fine black sand in my cookies 'n' cream ice-cream (couldn't really make out if it was the cookies or extra sprinkle of sand). Hmm, gritty...

Saw lots of people heading towards a shed nearby so decided to see what the commotion was about. Turned out 'the shed' was actually the Island Bay Marine Education Centre. I've heard of this place but never been able to make it to their monthly open day. We so happen to stumble in on this month's open day! Awesome :) Here, visitors can get up close and personal with some marine creatures - there were several displays in the Bait House and knowledgeable staff answering any questions you may have of marine animals, plus a touch pool where you could gently stroke and feel the textures of starfish, mussels, sea slugs etc. Better still, entry was by donation. You should come by to check out this place if you haven't. Kids would love it!

We continued on with the plan to walk the Eastern Walkway track which takes approximately 1.5 hours. Seriously, are you sure I'll be fine walking the track in flip-flops??? Damien assured me that it would be fine. Ok...It was a beautiful walk, with shade from the canopy of pine trees in some parts and a spectacular view of the Wellington coastline. We could literally see through the water from where we were standing (damn, it would have been a perfect day to go snorkelling/diving). Photos taken along our hike up:

At the highest point of the walk lies the Ataturk Memorial, a memorial that commemorates Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, defender of Gallipoli and first president of modern Turkey. A nice picnic spot but we weren't prepared for one so just chilled out, chit-chatted and got some sun before making our way back to the car.

Thanks for another wonderful day out, Damien! Got dropped off home by 5.30pm and was feeling absolutely exhausted. Wondered if it was because of the sun. Hmm...Tried to sleep but ended up calling family back home in Malaysia as it was Chinese New Year eve (gee, I've totally forgotten about the celebrations given I've missed 6 of them since living here). It was so nice to chat with my grandparents, mum and dad, aunts, uncles and cousins. Always brings tears when I talk to my family - oh, I so wish I was home for the celebrations! Next year, I HAVE to make it back home for Chinese New Year.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Hew's singlehood party (24th January 2009)

Hew had invited a few friends out tonight to celebrate her recent singlehood. Yeah, life can take some unexpected turns at times - tonight was meant to be her hen's night party but as the wedding has been called off, us "bridesmaids" were still called upon to party.

I went to join her and friends at Hummingbird Cafe & Bar on Courtenay Place around 8.30pm for a few drinks. I don't know about the others but this bar has always given me the impression it is where older people hang out. By 'older', I mean age 40++. And the songs they play are of my parent's time (think The Beetles, Bee Gees etc). Ok place if you want to talk but not ideal for young women to potentially find a man about the same age range. Hmm, only few of us in our twenties in the bar...Hew and Jane both liked it there so the group stuck around before heading over to Molly Malones, a couple of blocks away, to meet up with Jane's bf.

Oh, did I mention we had Phil who was Phillipa for the day? Haha, well, he had no choice being the only guy in the single women group :)

Around 10.30pm, the remaining 4 of us (me, Hew, Phil and Jane) headed over to Molly Malones to meet Wayne and friends. Not sure if it was the summer air or the alcohol but both Hew and Jane started to pash each other (and I couldn't help but took photos of them hehe...). My, my, ladies - your little stint would probably have 'killed' some of the boys in the pub :P The girls were also giving me tips and lessons on how to play the dating game - me being the most junior of us 3. Okay...shall keep them in mind...Photos taken tonight:

I didn't stay out too late as I wasn't feeling up for a big night out so left the gang about 12.30am for home. Will catch up with you ladies another time - have fun and keep safe!

On the topic of male-female relationships or dating, one thing I do find just sitting in the pub, sipping my beer and watching the world pass me by, was the male-female dynamics. There were many solo ladies sitting or standing around with some sort of 'desperate' look in their eyes, hoping that some guy would walk up to them to start a conversation. As I observed the men and the lack of them in numbers, they were just looking around, scanning from one hot chick to another 'hotter' chick - eyes lit up seeing the huge selection of single women available. So many of them, so many choices. Is this why most single men in Wellington are non-commital and rather stay single to play the field given the high men to women ratio, and if single women do find a guy who actually wants a steady relationship, he has got to be a rare find? Hmm...So far, my theory of the men in this town still holds true - they fall into 1 of 4 categories: not-in-the-country, gay, non-committal or attached.

Friday, 23 January 2009

My 1st Bikram Yoga class (23rd January 2009)

Dvita had asked me to tag along to a hot yoga class at Bikram Yoga Wellington on Tory St this evening. I've always been meaning to check it out so when she asked, I had to say yes! Bikram or hot yoga is a series of yoga poses done in a heated room, promoting profuse sweating, which is said to rid the body of toxins. It also makes the body very warm, and supposedly therefore more flexible. I have to admit I'm a wee bit nervous about the class - I recalled reading or hearing that sometimes people pass out in the class due to the heat. Wouldn't want that to happen to me!

The class started at 6pm but we were there by 5.15pm because the Friday evening class is a Koha class i.e. payment by voluntary donation for charity, and it packs up very quickly (oh yeah, the students are less than an arms length away from each other). I had to hire a bath towel because Dvita didn't specifically tell me what size towel to bring and I brought along a small sports towel. You really need a bath towel to put on the yoga mat and trust me, you WILL want a towel.

It was a 90-minute long class and during the course of the class, I did contemplate giving up and just walking out (the woman in front of me wanted to do so but was very curtly told off by the instructor - ouch!). The heat made it rather difficult for me to concentrate on the yoga poses, feeling a little light-headed in some, and the profuse sweating just made it a tad challenging to have my hands grip to my ankles. I was dripping with sweat and walked out absolutely soaked through! Oh, and if you were thinking 'eww, sweating!', well, everyone in the room is sweating - you can see beads of sweat trickling down to the towel. Thoughts of stripping down to bare essential wear for the remaining of the class is likely to cross your mind.

I often wonder, is there such a thing a silent yoga class? I don't know why but I find it somewhat stressful or my peace disturbed when a yoga instructor goes on and on, rambling all the moves (which also happened in this class). Hmm...

Wow, even after a warm shower, I could still feel the heat from the class burning my cheeks. But I must say, it does feel kind of good, sweating it all out. Might give it another go and who knows, add it to my weekly exercise regime :) Thanks for asking me to come along, Dvita! Those of you who haven't tried Bikram yoga yet, put it down as challenge for 2009!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Flat belated Xmas dinner (19th January 2009)


Yes, after 3 weeks travelling in Australia, I'm now back in Wellington. Thankfully it's a public holiday today - that means 1 more day to rest up before getting back into the swing of things. Boy do I need another holiday to recover from this one. Did SO much stuff and absolutely loved it! Now that I'm not running around places and planning activities to do, my mind and body is beginning to feel the exhaustion from my travels. Urgh, pain...

Sarah (Andy's gf) and Priscilla suggested we do a belated Xmas dinner for the flat this evening and swap presents. The girls and Andy did the cooking while I was still busy sorting out my stuff (don't worry - I'm not running away from responsibility; have already volunteered to do all the dishes). Priscilla made a simple and yummy lemon roast chicken served with corn on cob and roasted veggies. Hmm, tasted SO GOOD! And there was dessert too after the awesome dinner :)

After dinner, we sat around the lounge and Andy handed out the presents and Xmas socks filled with candy. Priscilla and I both gave Andy DVD kung fu movies (he's a movie buff) while we got lots of smellies (mostly soap stuff). We laughed that perhaps we all stink thus swapping such type of presents - haha! And I had a bar of soap in my Xmas sock!! Oh, so funny...Thanks guys for the sweets and presents! Photos taken this evening: