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May. 18th, 2008

amanda magical journey

Excuse me, but Fanta is NOT an ingredient of Sangria...

After 21, birthdays just come and go with no big fanfare, and that's the way I like it... As per tradition, I took some homemade baking into work, and was pleasantly surprised to find that Larissa and Steph had prepared a gift for me - a wedding planner folder/book thing, which I didn't already have and should come in extremely handy in the next few months (only four and a half now!), given my utter state of ignorance of most wedding traditions and etiquitte.

Anyway, for dinner we went to Sylvia Park because I wanted to go to Borders (easier to find a park than in town) and thought we would give 'Casablanca' restaurant (next to Nandos) another go. We'd been there once when it first opened and can't really remember how we felt about it afterwards, but we knew it wasn't one of jaw-dropping amazement, given how we hadn't felt compelled to return until now. If you haven't been there, the décor is actually quite 'authentic' Morroccan, and most of the menu items seem to be too. Being a special occasion 'n all, I decided to splash on a jug of sangria, which was listed as $35. Now I figured if it was that expensive, it must be pretty good, right? Well... James and I could see the bar from where we were sitting, and while we didn't actually see them pour it in, James saw the person hovering near a jug holding a bottle of Fanta... Hmmm...

They brought it over, and we both took cautious sips. First it tasted like how we thought it should - i.e. a kind of fizzy, fruity red wine. However, then came the distinct aftertaste of Fanta. As for the chopped fruit, let's just say there's no way it could've been soaking in the wine overnight (unlike the version we had at a Mission Bay restaurant once). No doubt about it, this was some shoddy work... But seeing as I hate making a fuss in restaurants, we decided to let it pass. Besides, I still got roaring drunk, and it provided some great LJ fodder! Still, we're probably not going to go back there again...

May. 4th, 2008

gob banana

What's this, an update?!

I just realised that I never wrote about what finally happened with the HK Airport-typhoon incident. Two weeks later is better than never, right?

Well, obviously I finally managed to get home okay... After 19 hours of delay we finally got off the ground and on our way. Arrived back in Auckland at 7am Monday morning, my brother picked me up, I had a quick change of clothes and then drove myself straight to work. Yes, that's how dedicated I am... actually there were some very important deadlines that day which couldn't be delegated, otherwise I'm sure I would've flagged it. After I dispensed with the tasks that needed to be dispensed, everyone urged me to go home, but by that stage I was fighting against sleep to avoid jet lag - if I could just resist until the normal NZ bedtime that night, I should be all okay for the rest of the week. Fortunately I managed to, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

The last two weeks have gone by in a blur. I could specify some of the things I did but perhaps not in a coherent order. Vehicle-wise this weekend has been 'exciting', one could say. When I went to pick James up from work on Friday night, he discovered I had a flat tyre... great! No idea how it happened, and for how long it had been that way, but I'm so ignorant when it comes to cars that it wouldn't surprise me if it had been a week-long deflation process. That's when I discovered my boot didn't even have a jack (haha, for some reason that sounds rude), fortunately James' workmate volunteered his, and without any sort of hard labour on my part my wheel was changed. It's great to be a girl sometimes!

Unfortunately the changed tyre was only a space saver, on which you're not supposed to drive faster than 80km/h, so I had to get a proper fix the next day. On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early (for Saturday) at 8.30am and went into Newmarket to find a solution. Long story short, I went to Beaurepaires, Honda Service, Pit Stop and Newmarket Tyre Service, and only got my problem resolved at the last place. The culprit? One nail... They got it out and repaired the puncture. Who knows how long it'd been there? Ah well, at least it only cost me one hour and thirty five dollars...

The other 'excitement' came when some Asian boyracer idiot in front of me decided to do a sharp u-turn downhill on a busy street with three cars closely behind, one of them me, behind me was jiaryn, and then behind her another car. Suffice to say we all had a heart-stopping, brake-testing moment, but everyone came out unscathed. Lesson? Assume every other driver is an idiot without common sense and give them plenty of distance.

jiaryn and I spent the rest of the day shopping and doing various other things, though with her cold/flu getting progressively worse, and me getting increasingly nauseous after the misguided decision to have two dairy-based concoctions within a short space of time despite being fully aware of my unfortunate and sporadic lactose intolerance, things went a bit downhill... However this was made up for by our nice evening at her house with some good friends, snack foods, and good ol' reduced cream/onion soup dip.

The unrelenting rain today kept me inside watching episodes of No Reservations on Youtube and making cauliflower gratin, which was highly satisfying. Next time I won't skimp on breadcrumbs though!
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Apr. 27th, 2008

good cows

5 months later...

Himalayan Sunset 12 - Almost Gone

Finally finished sorting and uploading a selection of our India photos to Flickr! Check them out here.

Apr. 20th, 2008

michael tired

A series of unfortunate events...

Well, seems like even though I've had enough of HK, it hasn't had enough of me because I'm still here... Last night after waiting for ages at the departure gate, it was finally announced that the flight was delayed until 7.40am the following day. Usually in these situations the airline provides a free hotel stayover, but given that this weather had affected around 200 flights or something, all the hotels were already full and the only thing they could offer were meal vouchers. They urged any HK residents to go home and rest, and the next day they would be able to claim up to HK$300 in travel costs. I decided to go back to Mei Foo because the idea of sleeping in the airport didn't appeal much... Would normally have taken a bus or maybe even tried the MTR but they were pretty much gone by then, so went by taxi (plus could claim it back anyway). On the way we passed an another taxi which had obviously just crashed on the side barrier, the vehicle looked pretty bad but I could hear through the radio in my taxi that the police had already been called, and it didn't look like anyone was passed out or in mortal danger, so we kept going. Got hardly any sleep last night since by the time I had a quick shower and went to bed it was already about 2am, and then couldn't really go to sleep because it was so narrow etc. Got up at about 5.45am-ish to go back to the airport at 7am, I even checked on the Cathay website beforehand and it still said the flight was 7.40am, but by the time I got there they had delayed it again to 4pm... Well, I certainly wasn't going to wait around the airport for 9 hours so decided to go back to Mei Foo AGAIN. Dad was actually with me so we both took the bus back to Mei Foo. The plan now is try to get some rest, and then check the flights again before going back to the airport this afternoon... What fun!

The airport was of course a complete mess and the Cathay staff were all over the place working their ass off, so I didn't really bother to complain much because I can totally sympathise with them, a tropical cyclone isn't exactly something you can have control over and having thousands of people yelling and swearing at you probably doesn't help. Last night I even saw one of the Cathay girls fighting back tears because she was so stressed... anyway, I'll see what happens, let's hope I can still go to work on Monday because I have a TON of things to do........... 
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Apr. 19th, 2008

gob prison

Stuck in HK airport...

Well, my prediction that being in HK would inspire me to post entries certainly seems to have been overly optimistic in hindsight, doesn't it? Only the fact that I've been forced to wait at the gate for my delayed flight for well over two hours now and the availability of free wifi seems to have spurred me to action...

Anyway, the previous two weeks have passed in a blur of shopping, eating, shopping, eating, and then more shopping, with a slight break for some sightseeing. Wedding-shopping wise I think I've accomplished everything I set out to achieve. Food wise I think there was slightly less variety than I had hoped for but that's not always possible when travelling in a group.

The main thing of course was to finally show James the Hong Kong I'd been going on and on about all these years, although I have to admit maybe it wasn't as #1! in every way as I had promised. The grass is always greener from afar, after all... I think I've said this before and I'm sure I'll say this again, it's nice to live in NZ (or similar) and visit HK. We both agreed that unless we were filthy rich, it would be quite difficult to lead the same sort of relaxed lifestyle we have in NZ. Even I get tired of shopping in HK. Of course if I lived here I would make a much greater effort to expand my activities such as exploring the plethora of hiking tracks in the region, but it's usually unfeasible given the short time we have here.

I don't know if I'll write much more for now for fear of losing everything in some technical disaster, and the fact that I simply can't think of much more to say, but I posted some photos from this trip to facebook. Flickr is of course still vastly superior for photo sharing but given we're still in the middle of posting all our India photos (pretty slack of us, I know) I didn't really want to upset the flow of our photostream... Have a look if you're interested!

P.S. I think this icon is pretty apt given my current situation, but I do intend to update my icons... one day...
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Mar. 31st, 2008

amanda magical journey

Miscellaneous News

Well, I suppose now is as good a time as any to write the first entry of the year! Having been just about three full months since my last entry... since I like doing things in bullet points, here are the various things I want to get down in this entry, in no particular order:

- 'Proof' (or pure coincidence) that bad things come in threes, today I, 1) forgot to bring my laptop to work, 2) broke my favourite mug, & 3) forgot to take my mobile with me when I left the office. It just wasn't my day...

- James & I got engaged just over a month ago now on 23 Feb, most likely going to get married in late September. I can't be bothered to go into the details because it's such old news now...

- Jack Johnson in Napier was pretty good except we blew a tyre on the way there and then had trouble changing it - mostly my fault for preventing James from stopping earlier when he felt there was a problem. Fortunately shops are open on Easter Saturday and Beaurepaires were there to lend a hand, James was adamant about going there because of Vince Martin.

- I joined a gym near my work and have been going pretty well except for from last week onwards due to various circumstances, but they're all excuses in the end, aren't they?

- I'm going back to Hong Kong this Saturday for a fortnight, will be back in NZ on April 20. James is coming as well but only for the first week, the focus will be more sightseeing and and less shopping in that week, and then back to shopping in the second, lol. Seriously though, I plan to buy as much wedding stuff there as possible to save money, yay for the strong Kiwi dollar!

- I now usually dispense news via facebook (e.g. engagement), which partly contributed to this journal's demise...

- Yes, James & I have been house hunting, it's been quite fun actually, and since we're not in an urgent rush it hasn't become 'the bane of our existence' like some of our friends have described prolonged house hunting to be... we do have some very specific tastes, requirements and price bracket too so it helps narrow things down.

That's all I can think of for now, though I'm sure there are some things I've missed... But be thankful that I wrote anything at all! Who knows, being in HK my inspire me a bit more though, like it does usually...
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Dec. 26th, 2007

gob thumbs up

What did I do on Boxing Day?

Well, hope everyone had a nice Christmas, even if the weather was crap as in Auckland... Today we went to the Boxing Day cricket and nearly got hypothermia from the cold wind and lack of sun in the main stand... we even rushed back home during half time to grab some jerseys, that's how cold it was. It was also a bit annoying how our juice and soft drink got confiscated at the gate, even though they weren't in glass bottles and weren't alcoholic, which was obviously a ploy to try and make more money from selling drinks. We did cave in and buy some horrendously overpriced hot chocolate because it was so cold, but that was it. As for the cricket itself, Bangladesh had a pretty good run but then collapsed at 201 all out, leaving us a not-too-difficult task of winning. In fact, it was so easy that the Black Caps pretty much cruised all the way to the finish. I mean, we got some 4s and 6s here and there but it was generally pretty boring, in fact, so boring that the drunken louts in the terraces started chanting 'boooooring... boooooring'.

In the evening we went to Sylvia Park and saw The Golden Compass, even though I'd read bad things about it I still wasn't going to give it a miss. In the end though, no matter how hard I tried to love the movie I just couldn't, it was just very... average. They skipped out a lot, and I understand there are time constraints in a movie, but even skipping out the most important part of the book, i.e. the ending - really? Then again, still not as bad as the horrendous movie version of Howl's Moving Castle, which is still the worst book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen.

Back to work tomorrow! But it's only a 2 day week so I can't really complain. =)

Dec. 22nd, 2007

gob thumbs up

I finally discovered Guitar Hero!

Being the 21st of December today and the last day of work for most (but not me), quite a few people started drifting out of the office from noon onwards... So I didn't really feel guilty taking the last hour of two of the workday to play Guitar Hero in one of our larger meeting rooms. It was the first time I'd played and I was immediately hooked, just like I've been with all other coordination games... Anyway, after two or three songs I'd pretty much decided that I needed to buy one of these for the Xbox 360 at James', so off we went to EB that very evening! We even got a great discount from the two crap games we traded in for it, so that was even better...

If not for the fact that the console & game are at James' and I'm at home at the moment, I would surely still be strumming away... Though I'm sure the tiredness would start having an impact on my playing ability pretty soon! I'm also looking forward to buying Guitar Hero II (we have III) so I can get the Trogdor song! Funtimes...
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Dec. 20th, 2007

gob banana

When will Air NZ stop playing its mind games with me??

Okay, so basically when I decided to stay in Wellington for that weekend in Jan and that James should come down as well, I thought he better book his flights as quickly as possible so we can still get those 'Smart Saver' fares ($89 one way). Very sensible, right? Because once you miss them you may end up having to pay 'full price' (of $280 one way). So we got all that sorted out. Great.

Then the very next day they launched their 48 hour domestic sale where I found it it was only $49 one way AKL-WLG! And for the dates we wanted! I was already a bit annoyed but it would only have suited one of the timings we wanted, so that offered some consolation. Of course, for Smart Saver fares you can't get a refund if you cancel, so re-booking on the cheaper fare was out of the question.

Just now I checked grabaseat again and their domestic sale is over but turns out they're doing a different $49 AKL-WLG special, which this time included the flight we did want coming back up.

In summary, we could have saved a total of $80 if I had booked the flights at their 'optimum' prices. But how was I to know?

Sigh, I guess the whole point is that if people are aware of stuff like this in advance, everyone would just be able to plan around it and Air NZ wouldn't be able to make any profits... Also, since I already don't have to pay for my flights because it's partly for work, we are 'saving' on that (not that I would've gone down in the first place otherwise). Finally, we have our Saturday night accommodation sorted at a friend's so that's another $80-120 we don't have to pay to a backpackers/motel/hotel.

Still. If there's one thing which is sure to irk me (and I'm sure it's in my HK genes), it's knowing that I could've paid less for something than I actually did. -_- Ah well, I've just got to live with it, and hope it doesn't happen again too much! And I could've saved myself all this trouble by not even looking at the Air NZ site - ignorance is indeed bliss...

Dec. 18th, 2007

amanda haunch

Trips galore!

Looks like it's going to be a busy summer for me, already have 3 out of Auckland trips confirmed with more in the works! So far, there's:
Jan 4-6: going to Wellington partly for work but then staying for the rest of the weekend for fun
Feb 2-9: going to Blenheim and then onto the Queen Charlotte Sound track, will probably also head down to Kaikoura
Mar 22: going to see Jack Johnson in Napier, will probably drive down (I'm supposed to aim to get my full license by this time, let's see how that goes...)

We're also going to try to go to the Bay of Islands sometime this summer, though let's hope the muggy Auckland weather doesn't spread to there as well... Despite (or because of?) all these plans, I'm not taking any leave over Christmas/New Year apart from the forced office closure on 24 Dec so hopefully I should get a lot of stuff done while everyone else is away! Then again, I'm sure things will end up piling up anyway...

Finally, I can't resist posting this - if you've heard of a turducken, you'll still be impressed by this monstrosity consisting of the following birds all stuffed within each other:


Mmm, 50000 calories' worth of poultry...

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