Thursday, 26 February 2009

Adam Page Solo (26th February 2009)

I’ve seen posters of this show called the Adam Page Solo plastered around the city and stumbled upon an article about the show last week which sounded rather interesting. On further digging, I found a video clip of one of his performances on the web and pretty much decided I must go to the show. 1 man, 15 instruments and he could create a whole jazzy piece – wow, I have to see it in person!

Asked around to see who was keen to go along but no one got back to me except Damien, who also wanted to watch the show - sweet! Got us tickets which cost $25 each. It was a general admission ticket i.e. first come first seating preference. We sat about 3 rows away from the stage right in the middle – exactly where I wanted to be ;) This was also the last of the Fringe Festival events we were attending. I'm amazed I did so many this year - awesome!! I had Damien to thank for introducing me to the Fringe this year :)

The show was an hour long, starting at 9pm. It was one of the best and original improvisation of music and comedy rolled into one. Adam is SO talented! You should have seen my eyes light up when I watched him create his songs, playing short bars of music/rhythms with the various instruments ranging from the saxophone to bass guitar, keyboard to b-boxing, putting them into loops with this recording pedal machine, creating a song as if a full band was playing. Absolutely amazing!

Adam was wearing a full suit at the start but we could all see he was sweating profusely so when he asked the audience if he should strip, we said sure, to which he did a strip tease on stage! It was so funny to see Damien’s facial expression when Adam’s yellow tie flopped onto him – haha, I laughed so much seeing him trying to rid the tie! Even funnier still when Adam stripped down to an inflatable sumo suit and continued to entertain the audience with more music. Oh, the hilarity! He also had a bottle of beer which he sipped in parts to create the different tones when he blew into the mouth of the beer bottle for his music loops. I was clapping my hands together like a gleeful kid :P

One of the highlights of the show was the use of a vegetable as an instrument. I would have thought perhaps banging a carrot like a drum stick but no, Adam being the funny man and musician that he is drilled holes into a kumara and made it into a wind instrument! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing - he was blowing into the kumara like it was a small, fat pipe!! Have to hand it to him for his creativeness.

The show was also interactive where the audience participated to the music loops and Adam had to mix up a song that had 3 different music genre on the spot. Very impressive mix he did of metal, bollywood and romantic ballad. A must-see show and I can't wait for him to come up with the next one!

After the show, we had supper at Momo Tea. Hmm, this is beginning to be our regular supper place after shows...Had the fried Malaysian noodles again (it is so yum!), a few yakitori sticks and tried 2 other drinks - a hot almond tea for Damien and cool lemon honey tea for me, both very nice. Reminds me so much of the typical nightlife in Malaysia when I come here :)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Salsa @ Sunset & La Tropical at The Dell (18th February 2009)

Around 6.30pm today, I went to check out Salsa @ Sunset. It was a free salsa event held every Wednesday evening in the month of February (weather permitting, of course) at the top of the Band Rotunda on Oriental Parade (on top of Fisherman's Table), hosted by Cuban Fusion. I've not been to this event before, me being somewhat less salsa enthusiastic these days and only turning up to events occassionally, so it was a first. Yay!

As usual, Rafa starts with a free introductory lesson followed by music to social dance to - I turned up just as they were wrapping up the lesson. Wow! There were SO many people up on the roof. I wasn't expecting such a crowd but hey, the sun was out and the weather was nice, plus the event was free, so why not swing by for a few dances? Caught up with a few friends who were there and danced a bit. Photos taken:

We DEFINITELY still need more boys in the social dance scene! Naz and I were standing around most of the time, waiting in queue to dance with the next available guy :/

Left around 7.30pm, went home to shower and grabbed a few picnic items (blanket, water, biscuits etc) and drove to The Botanical Gardens to meet up with Rosel for a movie. It was another free event this summer - don't you just love living in Wellington with all these free events? :) This movie night was part of the Film By Starlight series brought to us by Cuba Street Carnival where movies were played on a big screen at The Dell in the Botanical Gardens. Pretty much open-air movie that you watch on a large lawn with family and friends with your picnic.

Tonight's movie was a documentary titled La Tropical, depicting the lives of Cubans in dance, music, passion, racial segregation and discrimination. A very good documentary - thanks Rosel for inviting me along! In fact, this was the first time I've watched a movie outdoors in Wellington. 2 ticks for me for doing two firsts today :) It was a different experience compared to watching movies in the cinemas. Though it is still rather chilly to watch movies outdoors plus sitting on the grassy patch for over an hour, my bum was pretty sore after. Some photos taken tonight:

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Hew's birthday dinner & Lost:Shades at Happy Bar (15th February 2009)

Hew invited a bunch of friends over to Osteria del Toro for dinner tonight for her early birthday celebrations (her actual birthday is on the 17th). It was also the last time most of us will see her, Jonathan and Edmund before they embark on a 6-week trip to Australia and South East Asia. You guys will have an awesome time!

I’ve been meaning to check out Osteria del Toro since they begun renovations across the street from my workplace. Very beautifully and elegantly decorated, it is a Mediterranean restaurant and serves an assortment of food from tapas to pizzas, pasta to tagine dishes (food cooked in a large cone-shaped like cover, typical of Moroccan cuisine). And it is also the only place I know of in town that serves sangria!

I guess the interior of the place built up my expectation that the food too would be exceptional but I was rather disappointed at the sangria and paella I had. The sangria was not properly made i.e. the cut fruit was not soaked in the red wine long enough thus no fruity flavour to the sangria. The paella, which was enough to feed 2 (I shared it with Hew’s friend, Linda), would have been nice minus the extra dollop of salt in it. I was waiting to see if Linda had anything to say about our dinner but she was quiet so I thought it was to her liking only to find out after we’ve had half the paella that she too couldn’t stop drinking the jug of water to rid the saltiness! Another friend of Hew’s had a tagine dish which was tasteless. Hmm, perhaps the chef put the salt in the wrong places…Jane insisted we brought it up with the waitress serving us and to appease us, the restaurant offered us (me and Linda) free dessert. Nice try but I had to go shortly to a play with Damien so told Linda to get my share’s worth for herself. Thankfully the meals of the others were alright and I tried Hew’s lamb tagine which was really nice. Guess I will need to come back another time and give them a 2nd chance when I have more time.

Sorry guys but I have to run! Catch up with you all again soon and safe travels Hew, Jonathan and Ed!!

Left the dinner group about 8.45pm to meet Damien at Happy Bar for another Fringe Festival event, this time a play titled LOST: Shades. Cost us $15 each and upon entry, it was as if we disappeared into some la-la land. We were greeted by 3 masked women wearing a mask of a crow and actually ‘crowing’ whatever they were mumbling at us, looking at us oddly, making us (or rather me) felt I’m ET or something. We were ushered to the empty seats set up – the chairs were of all random shape and heights! The stage was covered with unused envelopes and there was a live 2-3 piece band playing music that was so out of tune in the background. All in all a rather strange yet interesting atmosphere.

Haha, I could see Damien raising one of his brows at my response to the question one of the ‘crows’ asked me. I was asked if I lost something and I thought, well, why not give them one they can’t answer, and said “lost love”. It’s a tough one to solve and I doubt they could solve it for me tonight ;P

Plenty of audience participation in the 50-minute long play – we had to go outside and stand around the open air car park next to Latinos Bar, turn our chairs around several times to face the stage or the bar where the performers did their acts, even walking to the back of the storage area and sat along the stairwell to watch the remaining of the play.

What was the play all about? Honestly, I don’t know. It was rather random – it had the crows, a woman who kept typing letters and leaving voicemails to her friend who wouldn’t return her calls, another woman who kept reading these letters from some far away land, and many other acts which I do not get what was the meaning behind it all, except that I was completely lost. Hmm, perhaps that was EXACTLY the meaning of the play, to makes us all walk out of the bar absolutely bewildered. Still, I had fun and thought it was rather amusing. Thanks for asking me to come along, D!

White water rafting at River Valley (14th February 2009)

It’s Valentines Day today, which is just another ordinary day for me since I don’t have a special someone to spend it with this year. Even if I do, really, Valentines Day can be every day of the year if we wanted to – you don’t have to show and celebrate love just on the 14th of February, you know. Every day can be a special day if you make it one ;)

So what did I do today while lovebirds roam the streets and clog up cafes and restaurants? Well, me and 7 other friends decided to take a day trip away from Wellington to Taihape for an adventure – WHITE WATER RAFTING! Oh yeah, I LOVE white water rafting. Did it my first in Cairns and got hooked ever since. The adrenaline rush going through rapids in the beautiful outdoors is my kind of thing!

Got up at 7am to finish up my packing, picked up Dvita and headed to Flo’s place in Brooklyn while we waited for the rest to turn up. The group headed up north in 2 cars – Flo taking me, Dvita and Colm, while Rachel took girls Debs, Alice and Louise. This was also the first time I was going on a trip in NZ with a new bunch of travel buddies (I’ve always only travelled around NZ with Helbert). Felt a bit odd yet exciting at the same time :)

Colm and Dvita are insane! They would wind down their windows and shout “Hey cow!” at the herd of cows in the meadows we drove past. You can see the cows just look up at us, still chewing grass, as if saying to each other these humans must be nuts…haha…

Around 10am, we decided to stop in Levin for breakfast at Stationhouse Café after searching around for this café Flo had been talking about the whole morning. Next time, Flo – we’re hungry!!

Hmm, the lady behind the counter sure reminded me of those cooks in the kitchen of old English boarding schools, in particular those who would come out chasing you with the rolling pin if you were naughty. Hee…

Left the café at 10.45am and continued on our drive to River Valley located in Taihape. Looking at the website link Rachel sent me earlier this week, this place is an adventure centre – you can stay at the lodge and do other activities such a horse back riding and hikes too. We decided not to stay the night as the only rooms they had would cost us about $80 a night each which was too expensive for a night’s sleep.

Arrived at River Valley at 1pm for lunch. I wasn’t that hungry to go for their lasagne or macaroni and cheese lunch. Guess it was a mix of anxiety and my full breakfast earlier, I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my trip puking all the way down the river. That wouldn’t be fun at all. Instead, I had my muesli bar and Sanitarium liquid breakfast drink I had packed in my bag. Just something light for the tummy so I wouldn’t starve for the next 4 hours.

At 2pm, we were done checking ourselves off the name list and all geared up for rafting. Everyone was given wetsuits, thermals, jackets, reef boots and a helmet. Very different from my last raft where we wore only T-shirt and shorts but here, we were only allowed swimsuits and had to wear whatever else was provided. Some of our gears were still wet from the last raft. The guides passing us our items made sure we felt the water stream out from our already soaked gear. One of them deliberately squashed the helmet on my head several times! Eww…YUCK!!

I’ve got too much gaps in my gear…oversized…

I thought it was funny when the guides asked if we were part of some radio station’s Valentines Day competition. Apparently the majority of the crowd today were random strangers from around the country who won a V-day competition and the winning prize was a weekend of adventure sports spent with another random stranger you got paired up with. Haha, no, we didn’t win such a competition but here on our own :)

It was a small group half-day raft with only 4 rafts heading out today. We piled onto a van that took us to the start of our journey on the Rangitikei River, a wild, remote, free-flowing river with ample Grade (or Class) 4 and Grade 5 white water rapids. Ooo, this would be my first Grade 5 white water raft – the one in Tully River in Cairns was only a 3 or 4 because the water level was rather low when Helbert and I rafted then. So exciting!!! And yes, I am scared as usual when I take on any water-related adrenaline sports yet I still do them!

A safety briefing and group photos later, the group was split into smaller groups and we had to carry our rafts into the river. I had Flo, Dvita, Rachel, Alice and Louise in my raft along with Ant our guide of the day. Ant is an experienced guide (no one fell out the raft today) and a funny man too, making us laugh lots throughout the day. Colm and Debs were in another raft with other folks.

The gorge was just amazingly beautiful and peaceful, with a mix of shallow pebbly parts as well as world class white water rafting famous rapids such as Max's Drop, Fulcrum and Foamy. In fact, there are 10 major Grade 4-5 rapids on this 12km run, plus numerous smaller rapids. The water level today was considered to be just right though the water was still cold. Oh yeah, trust me, I know, because Ant pushed us all off the raft for a swim while he cruised along and picked us up at the end of the river pool. Naughty!

Of course, we HAD to splash any rafts that came to near ours :P For some braver souls, there was also a cliff which we could jump off near the end of the journey. Hmm, not for me though…I’m quite happy sitting in the raft. Maybe next time…

Returned to River Valley Lodge around 6pm. What an AWESOME time we had on the river! What a pity Helbert wasn’t here to join us – he would thoroughly enjoyed this experience! Can’t wait to do my next white water rafting trip – wonder where next time…Time to head for a shower and get out of our damp gears. Freezing!!

F&*k…there was no hot water to shower and I’m totally frozen!!

After everyone got showered, we went to the office to settle our bill for the raft. Cost us $145 per person and $60 for the raft CD which we split among ourselves. Thanks Rachel and Flo for organising this day trip – I’m so glad I came along!

Left River Valley around 7.15pm for dinner at Bulls. Rachel and the girls wanted to have fish and chips at this famous shop in Bulls but it was closed by the time we got there so we settled for whatever we could find. Arrived in Wellington around 11.15pm and I finally crawled to my bed at midnight. So tired now after all the workout earlier…zzz...Photos taken today:

Saturday, 14 February 2009

El Guincho gig at San Francisco Bathhouse (13th February 2009)

Yet another Friday and end of the working week. My Friday night out pretty much started at 3pm with work drinks at The Kiwi Pub on Allen St. I’ve never been to this pub and honestly, it sure felt weird. Me and my workmates all agreed the place was way to bright white though very Kiwi themed (think paua shells, spoon collections, Kiwi phrases etc.). Doubt we would come back here again…

Home for a shower and change, I was out again at 6.30pm to meet James and Geoff at The Malthouse for drinks and then to James’ favourite Thai place on Cuba Mall for dinner before we went to see El Guincho play at San Francisco Bathhouse on upper Cuba St. It was all a last minute decision to check out the gig and both boys and Dvita were keen so James and I went to get tickets to the gig earlier today. Cost us $25 per person. Frankly, I’ve never heard of El Guincho – all I knew was he’s a Spanish musician that uses samplings and incorporates elements of afrobeat, dub, Tropicalia and rock and roll to create a kind of “space-age exotica”. Sounds pretty interesting – never heard it before so why not? Plus I’ve not stepped into San Fran either!

Caught up with Rachel and bunch who were at Mighty Mighty (across the street where we were having dinner) celebrating Rachel’s new job. Congrats, my dear! Stuck around for a drink and then over to San Fran to see if the band had started. It was meant to start at 8pm but the place was absolutely dead so we decided to come back later and headed to JJ Murphy’s for a few drinks. An hour later, we headed back to San Fran and still no sign of the band. What the? We were told by the lady at the counter that the gig wouldn’t start till 11pm! Sheesh!! Us 4 then decided to stroll down to Southern Cross Bar to listen to the band there and have more drinks to kill time.

Oh, I forgot to mention, my workmates Sam and Scully had been calling and texting me the whole night to find out my whereabouts so they could come join us for a beer or two. Mark was with the boys and the trio must be so drunk! Just wait till they see their phone bill at the end of the month and the number of calls they made to my phone!! At one point as me and my gang were walking to Southern Cross, the phone rang while we were passing by the adult shop on upper Cuba St. Me being cheeky, I dragged James into the shop and starting to tell the boys on the phone where I was, describing to them the items I was looking at :P Bloody hell, those pirate girl costumes cost like $400!!! The boys on the other end of the line were passing the phone around talking to me, and they even got some random person they grabbed in the bar to chat with me over the phone. Argh, they are crazy!

Anyway, back on track to Southern Cross Bar, we kind of just chilled around over drinks and shortly after, drunkards Sam and Scully came to join us. Oh my dear god, I really DO NOT know them! They were just up to silly antics, Sam sitting on the bouncer’s lap (I was praying the bouncer wouldn’t just grab him by the collar and toss him out of the bar) and the two just being quite ‘lovey-dovey’ with one another (and yes, I have evidence of it but damn, my camera wasn’t quick enough to take a shot of them playing tonsil hockey!!!!). They are SO doomed come Monday morning…hehe…

Around 11.30pm, I said my goodbyes to boys Sam and Scully (poor Sam – Scully had to ring up Sam’s fiancée to come pick up the boy) and the original crew of 4 headed back to San Fran. Finally the band was playing! It had been a long night just waiting for the gig and us walking everywhere about town drinking so by the time we got there, we pretty much had enough and was plain tired. Dvita went out for a smoke and was approached by an older man who had a question for her: “Excuse me, but are you girls escorts?” Dvita came back to our table telling us the story about how she just went nuts at the old man. She told us he said we girls looked so disinterested in our men after asking her the question and she just ranted at him. Me and the boys just cracked up laughing – that has got to be the best $25 spent to see Dvita outraged! And then she goes pretending to cosy up with James just to piss off the old man who was sitting at the table behind us!!

The band itself was alright and Dvita, James and I had a couple of dances in front of the stage (Geoff, as usual, just watches from afar). We didn’t stick around for long as Dvita and I had to be up early tomorrow for our rafting trip (yay!) so left around 12.30am. Photos taken tonight:

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Gaura Yoga (12th February 2009)

What the f%^k happened to the sunny weather we've had???! I ran home from work and was absolutely drenched!

Caught up with Dvita around 6pm at Gaura Yoga Wellington on Vivian St. Our dear princess (ah yes, I think the nickname I've given her is now stuck for good because most of us know when we say Princess, it means Dvita...hehe...well, she is the baby in the group, being the youngest of us all) suggested we go check out another yoga place this evening. I've heard of this place from friends before but never tried it. Since Dvita was keen to go, why not?

Very different to Bikram Yoga, this place was a yoga centre and upon entering the place, I felt I had zorbed into a yoga retreat some far, far away from Wellington City. For $18, we did a Challenge class which included dinner with dessert at the end. Pretty sweet deal to me! The class itself was in a relaxed setting, with soothing music playing softly in the background as the teacher spoke of the moves we had to perform. It was challenging for me as the moves were all flowing fluidly with little time for me to stop and think about the different moves - I just had to go with the flow. Plus, without the heat, I could feel my muscles tense up much more. During the rest period at the end of the class, the teacher sang something like a lullaby in a language I didn't understand - just felt very peaceful and tranquil. Hmm, interesting...

Oh, the vegetarian dinner and dessert at the end of it was so worth the pain I had to put up with in class! Really yummy food :) In fact, I think the food is probably a good incentive for people to turn up to the class knowing there's a reward in the end. Ha! Hmm, perhaps we should do this once a week, Dvita. I wouldn't mind someone else doing the cooking for me once a week plus get some exercise as part of the package ;)

Helbert's farewell (9th - 11th February 2009)

Over the last couple of days, I've been spending most evenings helping Helbert sort out some of his packing and last minute things before he leaves NZ for Brazil on Wednesday. I've been trying to reduce my own stuff in case I end up leaving the country or move again and now I've got more stuff hiding in my room from Helbert! Oh well, I can use them until such time I need to move...

Helbert didn't want to have a huge farewell party organised before he left - his argument was that most friends who threw a farewell party ended up back in NZ so it was pointless. Hee, I think he meant me as well...ok, fair enough. We had a very last minute farewell dinner organised at Hog's Breath Cafe and I managed to round up several friends of ours for dinner. Photos taken at dinner:

Helbert and Christian

Luciano and Andrew

Erik and Sonja

Me and a very shy Bruce

My dinner, Calamari Prime Rib served with
salad and curly fries - yum... :)

Group photo (l-r): Luciano, Andrew, Erik, Sonja, Bruce,
me, Helbert and Christian

It was really nice to see Helbert all happy and excited to go home. He has been contemplating leaving NZ for some time but had to push it back due to his injured knee. Now that his doctor said he didn't need a knee surgery, he was free to go. For me, it felt rather sad to know that my best friend, someone who over the last 3.5 years have become part of my family (and knows me inside out), one I can depend on for anything should the need arises, plus long time travel partner, is leaving me. I'll miss him dearly. I knew this day would come sooner or later but it still didn't prepare me for the actual moment he was leaving. He came by my place to drop of the last of his stuff and bid me goodbye before he left for the airport on Wednesday. I had promised him I wouldn't cry but burst into tears when we hugged for the last time. Writing about this still brings tears into my eyes. Promise to keep in touch, Canezin, and safe travels home!

I couldn't help feel a sense of loss after he left - who will I travel and dive with next time? Who do I run to if I need help? Who do I go to if I need a shoulder to cry on? Who else calls me Catatau (that's his nickname for me which in Portuguese is the cartoon character Boo Boo Bear) and gives me a lot of sh*t, just to piss me off for the hell of it? All these questions came to mind. Somewhat illogical when I have so many other friends who are there for me when I needed them and to stuff together. Just really feel I need a good hug right now... :(

Sunday, 8 February 2009

BBQ at Bianca's (8th February 2009)

Bianca had invited me over to her place in Titahi Bay a few times but I've never been there to date. Somehow I've always had something else on. I was meant to catch up with Greg for coffee before he leaves for Christchurch tomorrow and Bianca had invited me over for a BBQ as well this afternoon. Hmm, what about bringing Greg along? That way I get to catch up with everyone. Clever, so clever :P And Greg didn't mind going to a Brazilian BBQ either - yay!

I was hoping to catch a ride with the city boys Helbert or Claus but both had already headed off to Bianca's by 2pm so I had drive over with Greg after we picked up some supplies for the BBQ (usual deal, BYO drinks and meat). Titahi Bay was an unexplored territory for me as it is located outside of Wellington inner city, about 30-45 minutes drive away. Hopefully I don't get lost!

Stop texting me, Canezin! Helbert must be wondering if I got lost on my way and was texting me to find out my whereabouts. I'm already on the street, looking for the house! Lots of familiar faces at Bianca's, and we even had Rita and her oh-so-adorable baby boy visiting from Australia. Helbert and I tried to catch up with Rita and family during our travels to Sunshine Coast but didn't end up meeting them. This was a nice surprise to see them back in Wellington! Was very nice to catch up with everyone over food and drinks :) Photos taken at the BBQ:

Greg, Claus and I decided to check out the beach nearby and caught up with Chris and Paula who were strolling ahead of us. Actually, Titahi Bay is a very nice suburban place. Wide streets and easy access to the beach. Though I'm not sure if it is an ideal place for a single like me to live in - it kind of gave the impression to be a family oriented place. Maybe ask me again in a few years...Photos taken on our beach walk:

Left around 5.30pm to have a coffee with Greg at Deluxe Cafe. You have to come back next weekend for the Cuba St Carnival so we can dance lots of salsa! Was really nice to catch up over the 7s weekend, Greg - look forward to see you again soon :) Safe travels home!

My first NZI Sevens experience! (7th February 2009)

The day has finally arrived!! I'm SO excited - this was my first 7s event that I'm actually taking part i.e. going to the stadium AND wearing a costume! Yay!

Was up at 9am and got showered and ready for the long day ahead. Texted Claus around 11am to see what time he was planning to head to the stadium and he asked me to head over to his place to help him dye his hair. Dye your hair???? According to our Superman here, he needed to dye his hair black to look the character. His argument was that Clark Kent has black hair. Whatever - I say he's just a vain, vain man :P Went to the nearby pharmacy to buy his hair dye and back to his place to dye his brown hair black. I didn't really end up helping him much except taking photos of the whole dying process in a laughing fit!

Gee, you sure are taking your own sweet time, Claus...It didn't bother me as I was having fun teasing him :) Scott and Alicia were heading to the stadium as well and Scott was trying to organise a time to meet up and head over together. We had planned to head out around midday but Claus still wasn't ready at that time (plus we still haven't eaten lunch) so we decided to just meet up later in the stadium. Scott and Alicia were going as Eyptians and when I told Claus that they were telling us to hurry up, Claus said to also mention that we Superheroes don't talk to dead people. I cracked up laughing at the smart comeback and I did actually text it to Scott, who laughed as well. Haha! Photos taken at Claus':

Around 2pm (after Claus made us both lunch), we headed into town in our costumes. It felt so odd walking in these 3-inch high chunky red boots that felt as if weighing me down. Slow down, Claus, I can't run after you! Claus was running around the streets in his silly antics, 'flying' through the blocks, teasing random people and even ran across the street to help a lady carry her groceries! I had one hand covering my mouth and the other holding my tummy, laughing till my tummy hurts. Oh dear, this is going to be one crazy day...and I have to put up with him the whole time!

Courtenay Place was filled with crowds in different themed costumes. It was as if Wellington had becomed one big Halloween or Mardi Gras party - you look more normal in a costume today than not in one! I wondered what tourists who arrived for the first time in Wellington would think of life here if they turned up this weekend. They must think this town is party, party, party - haha! A group of people outside Sweet Mother's Kitchen hummed the Superman theme song as we walked past! Hilarious!!

We decided to skip the initial plan of walking to Westpac Stadium (even though it was a gorgeous day) because those boots were causing blisters to my ankles - ouch! Claus saw the stadium route bus pull up at the Courtenay Place bus stop and before I knew it, he had picked me up and ran carrying me towards the bus! The bus driver was sniggering as he took our $3 fare having witnessed the whole thing. Eeks, embarrassing! Did I also mention that the bus was filled with happy, crazy and semi-drunk people in costumes? Oh yeah...

At 3pm, we arrived at the stadium. Streams of people were queuing up to go in. Such an amazing sight to see the creative costumes! Superman's first task here was to find the first aid office so I could get some plasters for my blisters :( I couldn't believe I actually had to fill in a form just to get a plaster! Weird...

Our uncovered seats had a view smack in the middle of the field and lucky for us, not out in the baking hot sun. AWESOME! The afternoon was spent watching the rugby teams fight it out on the field, laughing and chatting over beers and just soaking up the atmosphere of the event. Around 4.30pm, Scott finally found us and one by one the others came by to join us: Alicia, Jessica, Greg and his Top Gun boys, and Flo. All of us had such great costumes - photos, photos, photos! Alicia really looked the part of Cleopatra and Jessica was a sexy bunny while boys Flo and Scott were Eyptians in their own ways ;)

Did I mention that Claus had all his personal belongings like money and phone hidden inside his red underpants? You should take a look at the photo I took...the bulge did caught a few stares...hehe, and I purposely rang his phone just to startle him... :P

The venue was packing up as the games went on. Surprisingly, time seemed to pass by very quickly and we left the stadium around 9.30pm, heading back into town on the Stadium Shuttle bus. That was some 6 hours spent at the stadium - wow! There were performances such as dances, a parade, spot prize games and a singing competition in between games as well. All in all, an interesting experience for me and a totally different vibe to the normal rugby games held here. I don't really think most people here were for the rugby ;) England won over team NZ in the finals and I have to admit, that did put a damper on the crowd but oh well, better luck next round.

The queues to the buses heading into town were so long! I had to sit on Claus' lap during the bus ride and he was being mischevious, telling me to ring his mobile so I could feel the vibration coming from his underpants. Wait, wait, wait...hahahaha! I can SO feel the vibrations and couldn't help but laugh :P Photos taken today:

Several friends of mine who didn't participate in this year's 7s were out in town having drinks so I had Claus come along to join the gang at Lagerfield on Blair St (plus to show off our crazy costumes!). Bumped into several other common friends of ours as we roam the streets. Haha, it was so cute to have little kids coming up to Claus for a photo - they really do think he's Superman. Cute! I got a text from Helbert saying I looked nice in my costume. Where ARE you??? I looked around the crowd but couldn't see him! "I can see you...," he replied when I asked him where he was. Argh! Finally found him sniggering underneath the tree with a beer in hand outside The Establishment with his flatmates and other friends of ours. You rascal! Caught up with friends for a bit and taking lots of photos as the night went on.

Superman being Superman, Claus kept disappearing on me throughout the night. He was probably 'flying' around saving damsles in distress. Oh well, I'll just hang out with my mates then. James found me in the crowd and we went over to join the rest of the bunch outside The Tasting Room for a few beers. Oh my god, there was a table of girls dressed up as Amy Winehouse - is THAT even a costume genre? They were behaving much like the singer, lolling their heads half-drunk and throwing ice cubes at random patrons!

James and I decided to go check out the rest of the street party in town. Most of the Courtenay Place area was blocked out to vehicles with makeshift stages set up for live bands and DJs, and people were just dancing on the streets. We had so much fun hopping from one stage to another, dancing in the crowd to the music played. Strangely, the rest of our gang decided to take off home one by one and we were the only 2 left still prancing around town and clubs (my legs were so sore from all the walking and jumping up and down to the music in these boots) till 2am. Perhaps because some of us had a big night out last night so were just feeling tired. Plus the fact that I took part in the event and most of them didn't, it was probably just another Friday or Saturday night out for them, whereas for me, I was all hyped up for my 1st 7s weekend. Honestly, this year's street party wasn't as packed and happening compared to last year's despite this year being the 7s 10th anniversary. Still, I had great fun and now I can put another tick on my checklist - been there and done that. Tick! Photos taken out and about town tonight:

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Night out with the boys (6th February 2009)

Around 7.30pm, I caught up with boys, Geoff and James, at JJ Murphy's to kick start our big night out. James' sister, Fiona, and her partner, were there with us for a few drinks and Dvita popped over for 1 as well (she was going away for the weekend so couldn't stay out with us). As we sat at the table outside, several people in costumes were roaming the streets, some quite drunk already - well, this is the start of the 7s weekend. Lots of crazy people in all sorts of costumes in town! Oh, just wait till the rest of them come out from the stadium at about 10pm. That is when all the fun begins :)

Me and the boys took turns buying rounds of drinks throughout the night. After JJ's, we headed over to check out Hooch, a new burlesque themed bar opened by the folks who own Hawthorn Lounge. Had my mojito made with cachaca as usual ;) Though the setting is much different to the 1920s gentlemen club/lounge in Hawthorn, one can tell straightaway that it is owned by the same people - just something about the character or vibe, or maybe the list of cocktails served...

Hmm, suddenly feel like having some chips...Us 3 Musketeers headed over to McDonald's inside Courtenay Central for a quick snack. Bought 3 packets of the 'to die for' shoe-string fries and just poured them into a heap on the tray and went for it! Hehehe...

Next stop, Alice on Forresters Lane. If you haven't been to this bar before, you must come here to experience being 'Alice in Wonderland'. We had a few rounds of their $20 cocktails that came out in dainty teapots and cups. Exactly like the Mad Hatter's tea party! So much fun sipping our cocktail as if we were having high tea :P

My phone is beeping non-stop! Friends Colm and Greg (my salsa friend from Christchurch who's up for the 7s) were texting me to find out my whereabouts and both brought along more people to join us. Awesome! In between catching up over drinks and taking lots of photos, I also had a boogie or two with James and Greg respectively next door at Boogie Wonderland. Oh dear me, some of the songs were so cheesy and I laughed dancing with the boys, not just to the funky moves they pulled out dancing to songs like Night Fever, but also because my dress kept falling off! Haha, I had to pull up my dress as I danced - hmm, need to get those sticky tapes next time...

Geoff stayed behind at Alice while the rest of the bunch moved on to Jet Bar and Lounge for more dancing. Somehow we lost a few people along the walk across the street...hmm...Jet was really packed but Colm, James and I found little pockets of space to dance on the dancefloor. At one point, Colm and some random guy were doing a haka - crazy! And there was this drunk guy dressed up in a Wally costume who would purposely walk past me or dance close by and 'accidentally' brush my butt! Argh, the cheek!! I had to ask Colm to dance close by so Wally couldn't get to me. Sheesh! So typical of a 7s weekend...Photos taken tonight:

The remaining 3 of us continued on to The Establishment for more boogie but didn't stay long - it was so packed and the floor had lots of broken glass. We finished off with a few dances at The Temperance and headed home around 1.30am. What a long day this has been but I had such an awesome time with my boys :) You guys are the best!

Friday, 6 February 2009

One Love 2009 concert (6th February 2009)

Today is Waitangi Day, a public holiday in NZ which celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. That means no work and more play - yay!

Caught up with Rachel and gang for brunch at Sweet Mother's Kitchen around 11.30am. The gang was heading out to Hataitai after brunch to check out the One Love 2009 concert held at the Velodrome. I've not done the concert before nor have I been to the velodrome - cool! I'm in :)

I need to show you these photos I took of Dvita - she's SO greedy! Ordered an extra side serving of beans only to not touch any at all! Photos taken of her and her mega-sized meal:

"Does anybody want some beans? I can't finish them...," said Dvita. Tsk, tsk!!!

Speaking of beans, everytime I see them, my brain automatically associates it with farting. I teased Dvita saying none of us would be hanging out near her at the concert because she would be on a farting frenzy. I cracked up laughing when she starting to sing a children's bean song (I've never heard it in my life!). It is a rather long song but she only gave us a few verses which went something like this:

Beans, beans, they make you fart,the more you eat, the more you fart,the more you fart, the better you feel,so eat your beans at every meal!

What a cracker!

Brief stop at Waitangi Park to check out the Waitangi Day celebrations. This weekend is also the 7s weekend and we already saw many people in all sorts of costumes roaming the streets! It was such an awesome sight :) Photos taken on our walk:

Boys in cow suits and lifeguards

Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi Park

People in costumes of all sorts roaming around town
Dvita, Chris and I took the bus to Hataitai while some of the others walked or drove to the velodrome. OH MY GOD - the bus was PACKED!! Hopped off the bus in Hataitai Village and walked up to the velodrome around 1.30pm. Cost us $10 per person for the event and we were given a small Radio Active card as proof of entry. Those over 18, who planned to drink, got an pink wristband ;)

Found Colm in the queue at the entrance and us 4 walked towards the event site and found ourselves a nice spot in the grass. Colm went to look for the rest of the gang, Chris was chatting with his friend nearby while Dvita and I walked around checking out the shops. There were little stalls set out along the site, selling anything from clothes to nice smelling things to food. Bumped into Kelly and David at the other end of the field, who were busy painting henna on themselves :)

Such a nice summer's day - I need a beer! Dvita and I went to queue for our first round of drinks. She bought the first tray of 4 beers for $25 and each of us (me, Chris and Colm) took a turn to buy beers for us throughout the day.

Radio Active 89FM's One Love 2009 is a celebration of unity, respect and good feelings served up with the finest summer sounds of live dub, roots and reggae with top-notch lined ups including The Black Seeds, Unity Pacific, Little Bushman and Electric Wire Hustle. Spent most of the day just chilling out in the sun, catching up with friends (yes, we finally found the others including Kim who is back from her holidays, and we all sat altogether - quite a crowd, we are!) as we enjoyed our drinks to the laid-back music. I'm not huge on reggae music but do like The Black Seeds who were the last band to play this afternoon.

I'm SO relaxed right now...must be the four beers I've had...

Dribs and drabs more friends came to join our group. Damien came by with Michelle (also Malaysian), and Claus eventually popped over around 4pm. It was such fun finally having The Black Seeds on stage - most of us got up and danced to the music with the rest of the crowd, in flip-flops or bare feet!! Caught a ride into town with Damien and Michelle around 6pm. Claus was no where to be found - he kept disappearing while he was at the concert so left him to his own devices. He's a big boy - he'll be fine! Bye everyone - see you guys later this weekend! Photos taken at the concert:

Thursday, 5 February 2009

1st BIGAS of 2009 & movie night with friends (5th February 2009)

Normally, my work drinks with the boys would be on Fridays but as tomorrow was a public holiday, the 1st BIGAS get-together was held today (Thursday). Everyone who wanted to attend, both current and former colleagues chipped in $10 each for beer and pizza. It was a good turn out, with me being the only girl but the boys usually just treat me as another one of the blokes anyway :) Couldn't stick around for long as I was meeting up with Rachel and gang for a movie. Photos taken at the office:

Rachel had organised a movie night for the gang at Embassy Theatre to see Slumdog Millionaire. Cost us $18 per person for platinum leather armchair seats and our large group took half the whole row. The movie started 6.15pm and I highly recommend you see it. It potrayed the lives of Indians living in the slums, how the children survive growing up, which is very similar to those depicted in Brazilian movies of Rio favelas. Amazing story, with some provoking scenes. I absolutely enjoyed the movie :) Thanks for organising this, Rach!

After the movie, everyone strolled over to Hawthorn Lounge for drinks. Colm and I made a stop at Cha for dinner and joined the rest around 9.30pm for a drink. James and Geoff were there too. Everyone flitted around the jazz lounge, sipping their drinks and catching up. Was really nice.

Oh, did I mention that James has snipped off his locks and not wearing his hats these days? Took me awhile to get used to it! Photos taken at Hawthorn:

James giving a look of disapproval - why is Geoff so photo shy??

Hey, NO!!

Me and buddy James

View from the bar

One of the Hawthorn boys mixing a drink

Headed home at 11pm and James was a gentleman, escorting me home, even though I only live 3 blocks away. He was really sweet, offering me his arm when crossing the street. So typical of James - he's just this old-fashioned, swing dancer type of guy. Sometimes I feel that I zorb to the old ages with his little etiquettes. Both James and I agree that this sort of etiquette are uncommon in today's world and that it should be kept up. Male-female relationships, even as friends, now lacks physical contact for contact of any kind tends to trigger warning bells that it may mean something more than platonic friendship. For me, cheek-kissing when greeting hello and goodbye, hugging, a gentle squeeze on the arm or rub, even stroking of the hair, has become normal for me and I don't really think of it as any different to just purely platonic, the love you have for one another like siblings or friends. Though some cultures may find such behaviours inappropriate. Hmm, there's no wrong or right I guess. I say, James, keep it up - it's a good trait to have and I'm sure the women love it ;)

NZI Rugby Sevens Street Parade (5th February 2009)

The NZI Sevens is played in Wellington annually as part of the IRB Sevens World Series for international rugby sevens. It is a huge 2-day event and Kiwis fly from all over the country to the capital city to join in the Mardi Gras-like event while still enjoying the nation's favourite sport.

I am not a rugby fan but have always wanted to go to the event with a bunch of friends, all dressed up in costumes - it would be so much fun! Didn't plan to go this year as I didn't organise anything with friends so most of us weren't going. In one of my catch-ups with Claus, I mentioned about this and it turned out his work colleague had tickets for sale so we had Saturday tickets to the rugby. AWESOME! Cost us $70 per person for the day ticket. Now all we had to do is look for a costume to match :) What should we wear, what should we wear?? We had less than a week to sort it out - I'm SO excited! My first Sevens!!

So earlier this week, we went to hunt for our costumes. Since there was only 2 of us, I thought it would be cool to go as a couple of something or theme, or two of the same kind. We went to Costume Cave to hunt around for something suitable, tried a few costumes and had plenty of laughs. I should have taken my camera - it was so funny! We tried all sorts from The Flintstones to the Adams Family (I'm too short to be Morticia), police officers (Claus disapproved of my latex Sergeant Sexy dress with clip-on buttons in front - said it looked too stripper-like), and Claus even tried on a skeleton suit (it looked way too tight and showing too many bits...eww...). I guess it was somewhat difficult for us to find something to match as Claus was tall and bigger built while I was small. Plus we didn't have a specific theme in mind and the shop didn't have photos of the costumes for us to look at so that made it even more complicated trying to figure out what we want to be this weekend.

On the same day, we went to another costume place on Ghuznee St, The Costume Company and Claus immediately fell in love with the Superman outfit hanging outside the dressing room. I could see his eyes light up, literally telling me that if it fitted him, that was what he would be going as. Oh dear god...never had I imagined going as an action hero. Nor has it occured to me that I could go as Supergirl (does she even exist???) until the ladies in the shop brought out the costume for me to try on. Claus had fake abs and red underpants which I cracked up laughing so hard when he 'flew' out from the dressing room. Surprisingly I fitted the Supergirl outfit so there you have it - we are going as the Super team! I must admit the costumes suited us well - he looked good while I looked cute for an Asian Supergirl. I could have gotten a blonde wig but with my long locks under a wig in the sun, er, no. It would be rather interesting when we had to go pee because it was a one-piece. Hmm..

The 2-day event started off with a street parade of the nations through downtown Wellington. I had brought along my camera to work so I could check out the parade during my lunch break. Caught up with James and Colm on the way and the 3 of us sat outside the Old Bank Arcade on Lambton Quay for coffee while we waited for the parade to begin.

The parade was meant to begin at 12.45pm but was delayed. Poor James had to go so couldn't watch the parade with us. Flo, whom we bumped into earlier on our way to Lambton Quay came by to join me and Colm. We decided that we should stand up on the bench nearby than sit at our table as the crowd in front of us was beginning to build up and blocking our view.

Around 1.15pm, the parade began with Batucada Sound Machine leading the procession from the Parliament down Lambton Quay and Willis St to Civic Square. 16 teams cruised along in floats, festooned with banners and balloons, throwing streamers and candies at the cheering spectators. Photos taken at the parade:

This is the start of a big party weekend!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Buddha Boy at BATS Theatre (4th February 2009)

Damien and I went to see a play, Buddha Boy, at BATS Theatre this evening. It was one of the events featured as part of the NZ Fringe Festival 2009, a festival of theatre, music, comedy, outdoor productions held in theatres, galleries, halls, clubs, pubs, homes, harbours, studios and streets of Wellington. I had no idea what the play was about except that Damien's work colleague was in the play but tagged along anyway. Well, Damien tagged along with me when I went to see The Little Dog Laughed without knowing much about it so it was only fair I trusted his judgement this time. Ha, but it turned out he too didn't know what the play was about! Oh dear that makes the 2 of us!

Tickets cost us $16 each. There was something wrong with Damien's EFTPOS card and he just couldn't pay for his ticket - no worries, I'll get it and you can pay for drinks later.

I've actually never been to BATS Theatre before so another first for me :) It was rather interesting, small and intimate. Sitting at the front, I felt as if we were part of the play. Buddha Boy was an awesome play with only 3 actors and was about 50 minutes long. The story was somewhat realistic which I could relate to even though it was of the subconscious world, where dreams and conversations help two very different people discover what they can't see for themselves. The Buddha Boy was in dreamland in search for enlightment from a mistake he had made with his best friend; a woman, whose life is so dark and depressive, drank herself to the same world as Buddha Boy. And the two helped each other find meaning in their lives.

The play was definitely full of drama and emotion - I kind of felt bad for Damien's friend who played Janu aka the Buddha Boy. In one of the scenes, he was slapped in the face by the woman he loved and for about the next 15 minutes or so, I could still see the red fingerprint marks on his face! Ouch, that must have hurt! Imagine the number of days he had to put up with this as part of the play - you must see the show to support these budding actors for their professionalism!! Thanks for inviting me to the play, Damien - I really enjoyed it :)

Around 9pm, we headed to Momo Tea on Courtenay Place for dinner/supper. I've never been here - another first tonight. YES! It was a bubble tea house that served a variety of Asian cuisines. We shared a plate of Malaysian Fried Rice Noodle, and a few skewers of grilled chicken and prawns. Since it was a tea house, we just had to try their unique mix of drinks. They have a wide selection of tea concoctions and we didn't know what to go for so asked the waitress to suggest a few for us. I tried their peach lemon tea (very nice and refreshing) while Damien had the mung bean milk tea (also very yummy).

We were chatting and laughing away while sharing our meals and drinks. It reminded me so much of life back in Malaysia where at around 10pm, friends and/or family will head out for supper and have food and drinks such as those we had tonight. We should do this more often! Cost us $35.90 in total.

Poor Damien looked so embarassed...It was probably some problems with his particular bank because his card just wouldn't work (for the record, he definitely has the funds). I ended up paying for our supper as well - no big deal, you can get the next round another time. I teased him that he should treasure this moment because it is not everyday that he gets taken out to a play then wined and dined by a woman. Hehehe...even he laughed :) Thanks for another wonderful catch up - looking forward to the next one!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Salsa dancing at the Worser Bay beach (1st February 2009)

I went to check out Ramnish's Salsa on the Beach event this afternoon at Worser Bay. It was a free event and I have not seen Ramnish in ages so I have to go! Picked up Sharon who was in town around 2pm and the two of us headed out to Seatoun/Miramar where the event was held. This was the 2nd Salsa on the Beach event and I think it'll continue on most Sundays during the summer period (weather permitting, of course).

Woah, dancing salsa on sand is hard work, man! Especially the spins!! I found myself dancing off-balance with the uneven surface and toes getting stuck in the sand. Still, it was a first-time experience for me and good fun :) It was nice to finally see Ramnish - when WAS the last time I saw you? Also caught up with a few other salsa dancers whom I've not seen in a while. It was nice to catch up and have a few fun dances to Ramnish's ipod and speakers at the beach.

Ramnish was dancing with both me and Naz at one point. All was fine and dandy until he decided to multiple spin both of us at the same time in one direction. If it was on a solid surface, I believe we would do fine but on sand? I wished someone had recorded what happened - Naz and I were spinning in the same direction for a few turns but somehow collided with each other with a bang which sent me falling to the ground. It was so funny! But no, we weren't going to do it again just for the video...Photos taken at the beach today:

Crusty Demons Unleash Hell NZ Tour 2009 (31st January 2009)

The Crusty Demons are a group of daredevil freestyle motorcyclists performing death-defying stunts live on stage and this year, they are back in New Zealand for their Crusty Demons Unleash Hell NZ Tour 2009. When I found out they were in Wellington for a 1-night only show, I went to buy 2 Premium A tickets for $99 each - one for me and one for Helbert. Helbert has been raving about the Crusty Demons for as long as I've known him (he used to race on a motocross bike in his younger days) and this would make a perfect thank you and leaving gift. Yes, he has finally made a decision and will be leaving us for Brazil in 2 weeks - I'll miss my best mate :'( But it's all for the best and it's nice to see him happy and excited to go home. We'll have to keep in touch and visit each other!

Around 6pm, we headed over to the stadium. The place was bustling with spectators, both young and old. I must say, we have one of the best seats in the stadium - our views were smack in the middle of the ramps! Awesome! Plus we were close to the food stalls and toilets :)

The pre-show entertainment was a good laugh. Volunteers from the audience had a chance of fame on the big screen (and get closer to those sexy Crusty babes) and winning cool prizes. The first challenge was a test of guts, where participants had to scull a terrible concoction of milk, eggs, fish sauce and other liquids mixed in a bucket. And if you thought that wasn't bad enough, the presenter topped it off with someone's underpants that had a brown stain on it! Eww...The second challenge involved 2 men getting spanked by a Crusty babe. Hmm, I think those guys on stage enjoyed it more than the prize itself hehe...Kids too had a chance to take part in all the fun and games - one kid went home with a mini-bike. Lucky!

Frankly speaking, I'm no fan of motorbikes and really did not know what to expect. But after tonight, I think I've changed my mind about motorbikes. The stunts performed by these crazy riders from USA, Australia and our country's own were jaw-dropping! The double flips, back flips, and many other off-the-bike flips wowed the crowd. It was such an AMAZING show! One wonders how high their life and medical insurance premiums are...

Damn, my camera ran out of battery and memory card was full before the final act. ARGH!!!

Helbert was poking at me to show me his goose pimples from all the excitement and kept thanking me for taking him to the show. Haha! I'm glad you are enjoying the show, mate! I had an awesome time at the show too - so glad I made the right decision to get the tickets. Expensive but definitely no regrets. You MUST go see the show and experience the wonder yourself! Photos and videos taken tonight:

The show ended around 10pm. Dropped Helbert off at Sandung's place and I headed into town to catch up with George for a few drinks at Coyote Bar. Ah-ha, yet another first for me, drinking at this bar. It was supposed to be where the Crusty Demons after-party was held but when I was there around 11pm, it was still pretty quite. I haven't seen George for a few months so we chatted and laughed, bringing each other up to speed with the events of our lives. George introduced me to a new drink, white Sambuca on ice. Hmm, tasted rather minty, somewhat like liquorice. I like it!

Around 12.30am, we headed over to Red Square for a bit of a boogie. Gee, it sure felt odd dancing in clubs as I hardly do so. Lots of people dancing in their own groups. Sharon (who was here for the weekend) popped by to say hi around 1am and shortly we all headed our own ways back home. Finally I had my dinner at 1.30 in the morning! It has been one Hell of a night :)