Showing posts from 2011

Another Christmas Away

Christmas in Kiwilandia still throws me off kilter even if it is my 2nd time around.
Here, the season brings in the hot summer, sunlight till 8:30pm, people frolicking barefoot and wearing their skimpier clothes. You roam the city and there are hardly anything that alludes to Christmas. Whatever decor you see usually has Santa in a singlet and board shorts riding a surfboard! To top all this, instead of the warm Christmas dinners, people plan Christmas BBQs!
Then Christmas day arrives and that's it. The day actually feels like Good Friday in Manila, where the streets are deserted, the shops are closed, and you know everyone's left the city for a nice summer break elsewhere.
Even the island girl in me is thrown for a loop.
Yes, Christmas in Manila can still get hot and muggy, but December is usually one of the coolest months we'll have in a year. The days are shorter, and we all get into the season with an overkill in decorations. 
I miss being able to drive around the cit…

A Visit to Bale Dutung

PIC and I are huge fans of Anthony Bourdain. We love the sarcasm, the biting honesty, the lack of frills and endless ennui that he projects on No Reservations. I've even read his books Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw, and own his Les Halles Cookbook. Heck, we've even dined at Les Halles in NY and to this day use his onion soup as a true gauge of fantabulous onion soup.

Goodbye Train Tracks!

Just a quick post to say I finally have my braces off!!!
Last Friday the ortho took an hour and a half taking my braces off and fitting permanent retainers to the back of my lower teeth. Surprisingly, it wasn't as easy as I expected it to be.
Having the doc pry the train tracks off with pliers when they feel like they've been super glued to your teeth is not the most pleasant thing. But I plowed on and kept my eye on the prize whilst I squeezed all the blood from my fingers. I hate getting into that chair but such is the price you pay for vanity.
And voila! At 1:00PM Auckland time on the 25th of November I am officially braces free.
After 19 months of having them, it felt weird to finally get them off. My teeth felt ridiculously light, smooth, and slimy! Then there were those endless hours in front of the mirror getting used to my seemingly bigger teeth, and dare I say, odd smile. It was so different that for a minute I actually went through separation anxiety thinking I look…

PIC's Birthday Dinner at Euro

For his 33rd birthday, PIC and I went to Simon Gault's Euro for dinner at the Viaduct Harbor.

My Soccer MOMent

I learned to play soccer today.
I really don't know how I get into these things, but as I always say, try everything at least once!

All Hail the Mighty All Blacks: As told from the mind of a clueless fan

I started off the 2011 Rugby World Cup never having watched a match completely from start to finish. It just wasn't something I saw myself completely invested in. Not even  when Sonny Bill Williams showed off his glorious pecs and abs during the All Blacks vs Tonga game.

My Partner In Crime aka PIC

This weekend is a bit different from many weekends past. There was no weekly badminton, no plans with friends, a Rugby World Cup Final Sunday night and a public holiday on Monday. I loved it.

Yes, I'm Still Here

In case you've been wondering where I've been off to the last couple of weeks -- I just got dunked into the busiest work weeks I've ever had since starting here in Kiwilandia.
Babysat two new clients, one in pitch and one in transition, and realized just a tad too late that they needed more effort than I was originally told. Unfortunately in the midst of all this fuss, I had pre-scheduled a four day trip to Sydney with PIC and it could not have come at the worst time. How was I to know three months ago that this was going to happen??
Anyway, while my first day off was a bit tense and I drove straight from the airport to the office on my first day back everything went off without a hitch with the clients and so far, they still seem to love us. Enter all the other busy work, our 10k run, and two weeks have passed since we got back from Australia Fair.
There really isn't any point to this post my friends. I just thought you'd be interested to know that I am still ali…

RWC 2011 D Day - Australia vs Ireland

I've always thought it doesn't matter what sport you watch, if you watch it live you are guaranteed to get swept off your feet by the excitement of it all.

A Creature of Habit's Go To Places

It feels like wherever PIC and I go, we always end up with a few favorite haunts. And this is normal, right? I sincerely believe we are innate creatures of habit. Unfortunately, couple that with my OC tendencies and you're in for a habit on overdrive.

Watching NZ Rugby League in Style - From the Lounge!

The closest I ever got to rugby was playing tag rugby in Ireland. I was mediocre at it plus my team mates found it hard to pass the ball to me given my height. Whenever the taller ones did, it was almost always WAY over my head and I've had to leap up with a 50-50 chance to get the ball. So there were very few tries in my career plus one solidly embarrassing attempt that wasn't counted as it was a touchdown vs a valid try (hard lesson to learn in a tight game after a breath defying dash across the pitch and a celebratory jig over the try line). I guess I was more a "tagger" than a "tryer" you could say.

So when PIC rang me to ask if I wanted to see a real life Rugby game from the Vodafone Warriors' lounge, I said, "Hey sure, why not?".

The Three Day Taupo Thunder (4 of 4): Huka Prawn Park

I finally managed to spit out this last instalment of our Taupo excursion.
Huka Prawn Park is actually located in the same compound as the Huka Falls Jet office, literally just next door -- which is why it was so hard to avoid.

Ted Baker has Arrived in NZ!!!

OK, so I'm still faffing about on all the meaty stuff but this is so much more important!

For those of you who know me, Ted Baker was a favourite resource of mine for office wear and party dresses while I resided in Dublin, Ireland. So imagine my excitement when I saw a "Coming Soon" sign at a yet-to-be-opened shop on the ground level of Britomart here in Auckland, with Ted's much beloved logo plastered on it. With my poor unassisted eyesight, I literally spotted it from at least 10 feet away and went sprinting closer to the glass panes just to confirm that my mind wasn't playing tricks on me. PIC barely knew what hit him.
So August is now upon us and the store has opened. As anticlimactic as it sounds, it took me almost two weeks before I found my way to Mr Baker's Kiwi abode. It was lovely, but tiny, and an average of 30-40% more expensive than they are in the UK. There were a few items I'd scoped on their online store that I was hoping to get at the stor…

Randoms: PIC's Own List of Cities to Visit

Ok, so I know I have a gajillion posts in backlog, but here I am again sharing bits of fluff. 
Due to the popularity of my earlier "Cities" post, I thought you guys might be equally interested in PIC's own list of Top Ten Cities to visit. So here goes -

TokyoMoscow + St PetersburgBerlin + MunichMonaco + ZurichAthensRio de Janeiro + ArgentinaBarcelonaPhnom PenhBeijing + ShanghaiMorocco
Now, despite being an auditor you might notice that Maths isn't exactly his strong suit. Neither is following directions. He also wanted me to mention that he's also interested in seeing Egypt, Seattle, Bangkok and Poland just in case he can still squeeze those in.
Funny how there are at least 455 cities in the world with populations of over a million people but we still come up with the same five cities in our top ten (or in PIC's case -- expanded top ten) list. 
I do have to say that with each year we see more cities, this list does tend to change a bit. If you had asked us to hand…

Randoms: Cities I Want to Visit

Tokyo, JapanBarcelona, Spain - 2 failed attempts Toronto, CanadaMaui, HawaiiDubai, UAEMonaco, French RivieraZurich, Switzerland - 1 failed attemptCairo, EgyptRio de Janeiro, BrazilCrete or Athens, GreeceCompared to most of our well-traveled friends, PIC and I are probably the least traveled. Looking at this list and seeing the number of cities I've missed from the European contingent is simply disheartening.
Anyway, I'm having one of those moments where I sit in a corner dreaming I had just won the lotto and am now plotting how to spend my riches -- hence the list. One of these days I should get PIC to give me a list of his top 10 and post it here so you can compare. In the mean time hope my list and this inspires you for your own next Top 10.

The Successful Pandesal

I am not a baker. Apart from some easy bake brownies that always ended up tasting weird from my fledgling attempts through Elementary and High School, I have purposefully avoided the art of baking most of my adult life.

The 10-Minute Karekare & Piha Beach Tour

For fans of the movie "The Piano," these beaches would be most familiar as backdrops to Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin. 

Item 3 on My 2011 List: Learning to Play Squash

So... you already know I dabble in badminton. Not expertly mind you, but dabble in it enough I do.

Randoms: The Pre-Loved Car

Or in my case, not so loved.

I've never really driven a pre-owned car before, let alone bought one. I've always believed that the security you get from knowing your car will last hassle free for the first 3-5 years justifies the premium of buying a new car.

Randoms: Dissecting the Bad in Badminton

I thought I'd do these random posts to keep things interesting... nothing important or heavy, just random moments in my life that feel fun to share. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Every Saturday PIC and I join a group of Pinoys for two hours of badminton in the afternoon that we normally arrive an hour late for and make it a point to only play four games.
Whenever asked if I'd want to have another go, I just say I've hit my quota at four. With at least three courts in play and two hours, you can play a helluva lot more than four even if you only came in for the latter hour.
Now, just this last Saturday for some absurd reason, I decided (with a bum shoulder / crick in the neck that has been plaguing me for days) to go for gold -- PIC and I arrived early and stayed the full two hours and I played at least eight full doubles games almost non-stop.
Sunday came, and I couldn't even get out of bed without an Advil. I couldn't drop/relax my left arm or my shoulder would…

Jervois Steak House

Have you ever seen Masterchef? More specifically, have you ever seen Masterchef New Zealand?

Well one of the chef judges is Simon Gault and I am fast discovering that I am a fan of his work.

Quick Post: Treasures of Commerce Street

In the last month or so, I've probably been to Commerce Street at least three times now. In fact, if I weren't buried with work last night, tonight's visit would have been a fourth.
So what's so special about Commerce Street in Auckland? The Food.

The Three Day Taupo Thunder (3 of 4): Huka Falls Jet

Another day, another set of Taupo exploring to do. This particular day saw us dressed and ready at 10:30 AM waiting at the hotel lobby for our Huka Falls Jet pick up. 
Whenever we'd try to look up "Things to do in Taupo..." this attraction always came up as a popular choice. Even our local friends were quick to say that this is a must-do stop, so "do" we did.

The Three Day Taupo Thunder (2 of 4): The Cliffhanger Swing & De Bretts Spa

Yes folks, I'm still alive... I am quickly typing this now before I hit my one month mark. There goes all attempts to get back into the flow of things and churn out a blog once a week or at least every two weeks. This real life thing just doesn't rhyme with my chosen lifestyle. 
Anyway, let me tell you all about my attempt at the Cliffhanger Swing and our quick splash into the De Bretts Spa. 

The Three Day Taupo Thunder (1 of 4): Waitomo Glowworm & Ruakuri Caves Combo Tour

Easter weekend was closing in on us and PIC has it in his head to get away for that weekend for a proper vacation. Sydney, Wellington, and Rotorua were thrown into the mix but we ended up going for Taupo. What convinced him? The potential for trout fishing which I completely vetoed once I set out to arrange our IT.

Why I Miss Paris...

It feels like an eternity ago since I've been to Paris... 

Paris to me is memorable for so many reasons. It was the first city I visited in the EU outside of Dublin and was meant to be a treat for my 28th birthday. This is also where I started my first foray into designer handbags. PIC gave me my first LV handbag and I bought my first pair of LV sunglasses in this city. 

Viva Italia Part 5 of 5: Roma

Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). Last installment to the Viva Italia series and I can't believe I finally made it!

Quick Post: Reasons to Get an Ipad

So its been a while. 
I guess in the last couple of weeks, real life took over and filling up my little snow globe has fallen to the wayside. Never fear though, as I am now back with a vengeance.

Funky Pillow Cases from Me & U

This is a super quick post, but I just wanted to share finding this shop totally by accident while we were roaming around the atrium of SM Megamall on our last Manila visit.

A Kiddie Field Trip to Kelly Tarltons

I've always been a fan of zoos and aquariums so I thought I'd check out Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter out on Tamaki Drive here in Auckland. I have been warned by friends that its a small venue and that I might not enjoy myself, but hey, if its popular with kids it should be equally good for the kid at heart right?

Rocking The Goose Station @ The Fort

As in all of our Manila trips, a dinner with fellow Filipinos similarly exiled to work the slave mines of audit in Ireland needed to be scheduled. I am not in audit myself, but find that most of my friends are; largely due to PIC's mafia web of connections. As the foodie evil genius of these gatherings, I thought we'd try another OAP pitstop -- The Goose Station.

Viva Italia Part 4 of 5 - Toscana and Pisa

The other night, I caught a glimpse of Amanda Seyfried ham it up in "Letters to Juliet" while my squeaky, underutilized brain feverishly tried to make sense of the pie and bar charts I was churning at half a snail's pace. It wasn't really her or the sorry excuse for a love interest she had in that movie that caught my eye, but the setting in which they were placed.  In that moment I braved to look at the TV screen, they were walking across the Siena Piazza where the bi-annual Palio races are held.

Quick Post: Borders NZ

Who blogs about a bookstore? Better yet, who blogs about a Bookstore RUMORED to be closing?

I do.

Our First OAP Pitstop - Cafe Juanita

Of the many restos we picked up from OAP, Cafe Juanita was the first one we were scheduled to visit. I am not the best navigator ever, so it took us a while even in broad noon time daylight to find this little gem in the back streets of Kapitolyo, Pasig.

A Quick Post Manila Report

Another quick post folks as I am struggling to find time to squeeze in more proper blogs even as the words are starting to leak out of my ears. Who knew these things take up so much time?!?!
Anyway, I thought I'd keep things going by doing a quick one telling you about how the trip went overall.
Usually when I fly home to Manila, I hardly stay any longer than two weeks and so far, since I first left the country to live overseas, there has always been a reason for me to come home once every 12 months. My usual M.O. is to stalk "Our Awesome Planet" (OAP) for good restaurants to try, drum up a list of things to do, pencil in an out-of-town trip, then go about drafting my infamous I.T. which you've all seen in a previous post. Such is the life of the slightly obsessive compulsive traveler. 
This time, it seems that all I did was eat. Instead of a random beach or my ever favorite Boracay, this year my out of towner was to Bacolod City for a family wedding, then once back in …

Quick Post: A Glimpse of Bacolod While Chasing OWWA

The main reason for this last trip home was to attend a family wedding and it was held in the City of Smiles, Bacolod. 

Bacolod is the capital of the Philippines' sugarbowl, Negros Occidental and the city is famous for its annual MassKara festival. Its not the biggest city, but it is definitely not lacking in charms.

My Birthday at Cru

This year I spent my birthday in Manila after eons of celebrating away from home.

Unlike my 30th where I was full of hope, zen, and optimism for what this decade will bring, my 31st was a study in depression. The realization of hitting my 30s must have come a year late as I heard most people experience this same phase of denial when they hit 30. Not when they hit 31.

Viva Italia Part 3 of 5 - Firenze

Florence, or Firenze in Italian is possibly my favorite stop of all.

Manila Time

I am heading home in a few days for a wedding, meet up with my best friend, and be introduced to my two new godchildren.
Its IT time again...
Just to give you an idea of how my ITs usually turn out - here's a snapshot. Its blurry on purpose guys, sorry about that, but I am just a tiny bit shy about bumping into any of you while I am on holidays.
To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to this trip for at least a thousand and one reasons but as the days pass and D-day is getting closer and closer I am getting more and more excited. While it will be busy, I guess I am getting excited about seeing everyone again. There is always that never ending list of affairs you need to sort out -- are my siblings ok, is the house still functioning in every little way, does everyone have what they need, do I need to attend to paperwork while I am there, do I need to ship over some stuff left over from Ireland that I sent to Manila instead., the list just goes on and on and on. But betwee…

Quick Post: Chicken Empanada

Today was one of those days when I just couldn't be bothered. I think this is what they call a Monday.
PIC and I were supposed to meet up after work to go to the gym but that great idea quickly flew out the window as soon as I got into my car. So I made my excuses and went to the supermarket instead.
I may not have enough energy to be bothered about work today, but I certainly have enough juice in me to attend to some craving issues.

Viva Italia Part 2 of 5 - Venezia

The trains in Italy are notoriously late. Sometimes it can be as bad as an hour late similar to what happened to us. Apparently this was very commonplace as only the tourists were panicking. 
When the trains do arrive to take passengers for the next trip, there is no mad scramble as you would expect. Everyone just goes about their business in the most normal fashion ever. It was just another day for the train to be late.
With each ticket, you get an assigned seat number and will be surprised to find someone already sitting in it once you get there. In fairness, they will move over the minute you gesture that they've taken your seat -- I guess many Italians just prefer to chance their arm for a better view.
We reached Venice at dusk, it was a good evening to be where we were.

Viva Italia Part 1 of 5 - Milano

Last night, I was watching the latest episode of Top Chef and the long discussion on risotto reminded me of our trip to Milan and their unique risotto. Mmmm... yummmm...

Learning to Surf

I like to think of myself as an active and sporty person. At the same time I know how lazy I can be. So if you can marry up the concepts of lazy, active, and sporty in your head -- that would be me.
Because I am so lazy, active and sporty, I have tried a few things to maintain that image, starting from going to the gym regularly, doing yoga, tae-bo, boxing, playing tag rugby, badminton, proper swimming (meaning actual laps which I never did because I'm such a poor swimmer), then eventually completing my first 5 and 10 mile runs, etc etc. Over the years, many of these activities went to the wayside, either because I got sick of it, it was too inconvenient, or there was just no one to play with. The only ones that still manage to sneak into my schedule are the gym visits and badminton once a week.
Enter November 2010 and me moving to my Kiwi friend's natural habitat.

Brasserie Les Halles

So I've already written about our New York trip, and while there are probably a hundred other little stories that I can grab from it, I think the one that I find most noteworthy is our dinner at Les Halles.  Now, the only reason we thought to visit this restaurant was because of the infamous Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations notoriety. The man certainly has his way of convincing us what food is worth eating and what's worth ditching. Because of this trait, we thought, what better place to visit than the brasserie that he used to cook in and still associates himself with, right?

Empire State of Mine

Ok, so I have tons of backlog, but I have got to start somewhere right?
My most favorite city is the city of New York. I just fell in love with her the minute our shuttle crossed the boundaries of Manhattan. It was like being in the movies, only this time, I was on set and it felt like real life.

First post! 2011 Auckland Seafood Festival

Its my first post for this blog and its about my latest adventure too... something tells me it'll be a while before I manage to write about all of our travels to date. There has been so much and I highly doubt I'd be able to recall all -- but here's hoping.

Anyway, onto my first post!

Apparently the Auckland Seafood Festival is an annual 3-day thing that happens about the time of the Auckland Day weekend. This year, it started from Saturday the 29th of January and ends on Auckland Day, Monday the 31st at the Viaduct Basin.

My partner in crime (PIC) and I went on the Sunday and arrived at around 1.30pm greeted by throngs of people enjoying the good seafood and the wine. Our friends had gotten there earlier, about 12-ish which meant someone had the good sense and great luck to snag a table for the group. The only rule was that there should always be at least one person left manning the fort so we get to keep our table while the rest of the group toured the site and filled up …