• Quick one

    I’m back in Auckland! Whakatane was really something. The whole sunniest town in NZ is so true, and you know what, good weather is nothing to sneeze at! Heat pumps in the motel and at work meant I was pretty much never cold and my hayfever was under control. I even wore my contacts a few times. Coming back to my cold damp house kinda stunk….but I guess there’s nothing like home.

    The drive there and back was really pretty. Just before we got into Whakatane proper (around Matata??) the ocean view was a.ma.zing. It looked like the very edge of the world…like you could just sail out to the end, and fall off and disappear. Photos below…

    Expenditure: Well, BF and I went to the supermarket on Sunday morning and spend about $35, mostly on food for him. I bought $30 of groceries in Whakatane, another $10 in food for a big shared dinner we made on Wednesday, $11 for seafood chowder (my first chowder ever!) in Opotiki, and about $25 on drinks. Drinks were $2.50 in Opo but normal price in Whakatane… I also spent about $5 on random tea and wedges on the way home.

    Looking down on the town

    Looking down on the town

    Down by the river head

    At the riverheads

    At the riverheads

    At the riverheads

    Down by the riverhead

    Possibly not the most picturesque part of the township, but I liked the light

    Possibly not the most picturesque part of the township, but I liked the light

    Here we go - postcard perfect

    Here we go - postcard perfect

  • 100 things to do before you die?

    Call me unambitious, but I don’t think I could even do 50.

    I want a career, marriage, house, kids, blah de blah…. Aside from that, what are my aspirations? I guess they mostly boil down to experiences, and by experiences, I mean mainly travel. Here’s my (unfinished, rough, susceptible to change) attempt to list places and things I want to go/see/do:

    • Skiing in Queenstown
      Vegas, Grand Canyon, California, NYC, maybe parts of New England
      Road trip around the South Island
      Stay in Northland (Kauri Cliffs!!) Dolphin watching.
      Mediterranean – not fussy
      Parts of Europe – not too fussed
      Hong Kong, Malaysia
  • Apparently we in NZ are the third most indebted country in the OECD.

    Scary stuff.

    No wonder our mortgage rates are so high. No wonder he don’t have 30yr mortgage terms. No wonder the default rate for a Visa or MasterCard is 19.95%.

    It’s definitely reinforcing to me how important it is to save. If BF starts his degree next year, that’s seriously going to impede his ability to beef up his EF, let alone long term savings. I want to go to Fiji or Raro or somewhere in the Pacific for a week. And on a cruise. And round the South Island. But I guess all those things will have to go on hold.

    GAH! Especially when I’m seeing great deals, like take a partner cruising for $1 (plus port taxes and the like). SO ridiculously cheap.

    Someone said, “but what about pirates?”

    I don’ t know, maybe something’s wrong with me, but I’m not too worried. Same with swine flu – I guess right now it’s on the other side of the world and just sounds pretty insane. Still, I can’t forget a spinechilling story I read in the Independent – “The floors were covered in my husband’s blood”, or something like that. This poor woman was tied up by pirates, and came out on the boat to see the decks awash in blood and her husband dead. She was  actually standing in his blood.

    (Yes, I know swine flu seems to have made its way here too, but the odds of me catching it are pretty damn low. Heck, I’ve travelled when SARS was still a concern. Ohhh….imagine how low airfares are gonna go now! Nobody will want to travel, so everything is bound to plunge.)

    Sigh, living within your means is boring. But I guess nobody ever said being responsible was easy.

  • Jetsetter

    I think one of the things I’m going to do once I graduate is start a travel fund. I really want to be able to go on a holiday once a year. We get four weeks paid leave a year by law, which is TONS! Having a separate account devoted entirely to travel should be a good motivation, and stops the whole “do I really want to raid my savings” issue.

    Notes from the Frugal Trenches also has some really good tips here.

    I like the idea of mixing it up and alternating big vacations with smaller ones.

    I’m keen to do a Pacific Island, go to Australia, road trip around the South Island, and of course Europe, some of the States/Canada and the Mediterranean. And maybe around Malaysia/Singapore/Hong Kong. Gosh, that’s a lot! Something like Europe we would probably do as an OE, I think, and work our way around. We also want to go on a cruise, which might make a good honeymoon or something.

    I haven’t heard of free stopovers before, but I’m keen to find out more! I guess another thing is to travel when no one else wants. Then again, you risk being stuck somewhere where there’s an unstable political situation, a health risk or a terrorist attack. Like all the people who got stuck in Thailand (was it last year or early this year?). And right now the MFA is advising against travel to Fiji. Call me crazy, but I probably would still go anyway! Not to the main island, but there are tons of other ones, the touristy ones. And when me and my mum went to Singapore and Malaysia about 5 years ago, the Sars thing was still winding down and people were paranoid about travelling to Asia. A few people on the plane were wearing the face masks. I found out recently that trip only cost $500 return EACH, including our two nights at the five star Sheraton. And we lived to tell the tale…

  • Things to do, places to see

    American culture is pop culture. Pop culture is American culture.

    Something we learned in first year Intro to Pop Culture (if I recall correctly) and so very true.

    I figured I’d make a quick list of things I want to see in the US when I get there eventually…one day. Maybe I’ll even remember to look this list up and refer back to it!

    Vegas (Photo)

    The Grand Canyon (Photo)

    Taco Bell (Photo)

    IHOP (Photo)

    Chinatown (Photo)

    Central Park (Photo)

    The MOMA (Photo)

    Just shopping in general (Photo)

    Am I too old to enjoy Disneyland? (Photo)

  • Homeland heart

    I don’t think that title even makes sense. I just like alliteration. Make that, i LOVE alliteration. Disproportionately so.


    I had dinner with the family and some family friends over from Singapore, at a Malaysian restaurant. (I felt bad in hindsight, for not asking them questions about their trip and visit, etc. I think I still feel like a child around the family, not like a grownup at the grownup table. But I’m 20 now, and I can’t really just sit around and only speak to answer any questions thrown my way now, can I??)

    The staff were really lovely, really homey, hearty, earthy types. They make you feel at home. Even me, a rather culturally confused banana. The accents strike a chord in my heart and their ways of speech. So did all the photos and posters on the walls. KL. Petaling Jaya. Putra Jaya. Big bustling cities with amazing architecture.

    I really, really want to go see them. Honestly, I don’t even know where in Malaysia I’ve been. Obviously Kuala Lumpur, but I don’t know if I’ve been anywhere else. But all of a sudden seeing all that up on those restaurant walls made me want to see it ALL! It made me want to take BF there and go shopping and sweat in the humidity and eat the great food, and probably get food poisoning but chug on nonetheless. Of course it would probably be good to have the parents there at least for some of it, seeing as I don’t know the language or my way around.

    Just some photos off the net…

    Putra Jaya

    putra putra1





    I think I actually have been there, it looks familiar…I think we drove through when we visited YEARS ago. The big open clean streets, the lake, the Arabic architecture….it was really quiet and open and sort of winding….suppose it’s their version of say Botany Downs/American style McMansion developments, but obviously with a federal/govt twist.

    Apparently there’s also a Multimedia Super Corridor, an area devoted to companies in multimedia/IT/communications. Interesting..

    I don’t really feel particular links to the country. No heritage, no fond memories. It does make me sad though, from the little I’ve gleaned about the political situation. Apparently there’s a tizz about the new PM, who’s banned all mention of a Mongolian woman who was the mistress of his aide, who wanted her share of commission (??? Something to do with acquisition of submarines ??) and ended up dead, shot in the face and then blown up with C4. Nice. (Most of the news seems to be in Malay from a cursory search, so a lot of this I got from other blogs). It’s a pretty disturbing tale; if nothing else, that’s a GRUESOME way to go.

  • Forced leave

    I’m currently researching travel deals, flights and cheap getaways, as well as campsites and cabins.


    We’re all being forced to use up our annual leave during the next three months. As a part timer I expected to be  exempt, but no. Being part time also makes it much harder to actually get the time off and do something with it.

    I planned to take my leave at the end of year and escape to some tropical Pacific idyll. Not anymore….

    I don’t want to take leave and spend it sitting at home. That’s my holiday leave and dammit I want to use it to travel!

    So, because I need to decide when to take this leave by tomorrow, I’m in full tilt researching mode.

    I’m hoping I’ll be allowed to take it in chunks, say 4-5 days, because it would be ridiculous for me to take six months off (or whatever it comes to, because I only work 15 hours a week and if I only used 15h/wk in leave that would take a bloody long time to use up 9 days). Plus this way allows me to actually go somewhere! If plans fall through, well I’ll save the money and relax at home and maybe even find a random one-off type job.

    I just resent being forced to take leave before I want to, and I absolutely REFUSE to waste it cleaning the house, doing assignments and generally doing the usual.

    The problem is timing. I have mid semester break in just over a week, and intersemester break in July. I cannot organise any road trip of any sort with friends by tomorrow. I’m just going to have to pick a week and hope it works out. BF should definitely be able to accompany me during April.

    Cheap flights – where? Wellington, and just soak up the city? Tauranga, go to the Mount like I’ve always wanted? (Probably better just to drive, we would need to get around somehow and it’s not a long trip from here). Maybe in July we could fly to Queenstown for skiing, but I gotta focus on the April break first.

    Road trip: BF gets his full licence end April (AFTER my break, grrr) and we don’t really want to drive far in his car. But we can’t rent one until September when he turns 21. Possibly somewhere close by, maybe around Orewa, Pakiri – we could get a cheap cabin or camp out.

    Stay local: We could do another night or two in a city hotel. Or we could do a midweek getaway to Waiheke Island or Great Barrier. I still have my printouts sitting on my desk from when I was looking at them for Valentine’s Day.

    GAH! The pressure! Obviously I don’t need to finalise everything TONIGHT, but I do need a rough idea of when we’ll be doing these things BY tomorrow (although not necessarily even locations). Do I ask for the first week of April off or the second?

    Please God, let me be allowed to take 5 days at a time.

  • So this morning I went to a special morning tea to meet with my ‘scholarship support person’, along with a bunch of other scholarship recipients.

    It wasn’t much use to me and the other third years, as we’ve been through it all, don’t have any questions or concerns to raise and frankly are about to graduate. We don’t need to worry about grade averages. We’re in our last year and won’t be back next year, or if we are, our scholarship will be over anyway! This would have been much more helpful earlier on, however. I’m sure the younger students will appreciate it.

    Mainly, we went for the promise of a free morning tea.

    I was envisioning something like this…


    or this….

    tea2or …


    or even this…



    What a waste of time.

    Apparently nobody came to the first session yesterday, for which she had gone out and bought a ton of food. So today, all we got was a three litre of Just Juice (and plastic cups) and two plates of plain choc chip cookies. They weren’t even very good. They were OKAY, but nothing spectacular.

    We did get to talking about summer school and going on exchange, though. Summer school’s a tricky one. A friend got burned by the office – she took a compulsory third year paper in summer school to get ahead. She would have had to do it anyway in first semester, she just took it over the summer instead. Scholarship staff didn’t care. They flat out refused to pay for that paper for her.

    Apparently they continue to pay your fees if you go on exchange, though. Here the policy is you generally go second semester of your second year. I’ve missed out, obviously.

    But do I regret it? No.

    Why didn’t I go overseas? Honestly, none of the universities on offer really appealed to me. But I’ll go through my main reasons here.

    1. The financial aspect. Sure your fees are paid, but living costs are not cheap anywhere, really. I just don’t have that kind of money saved to support me through an entire semester abroad. Yes there are other scholarships and grants, and the enterprising girl who spoke today wangled sponsorship from House of Travel, but realistically you’re going to need to cover some, if not most or all of your expenses yourself. Food, board, insurance, passports and visas, souvenirs, and of course travelling around wherever it is you are. I’m not ready for that.

    2. I’m not super keen to leave BF. Plus, breaking my lease would be a bitch. Wouldn’t want to leave him paying for two. It’s not that I doubt our relationship; after all he spent six months in the army and we’d only had two months together before that. It’s just not something I would choose to do. I do want to travel, but I’d rather do it while working (not studying) and I’d like to do it with him.

    3. My job. I have a good job, and it’s in the field I want to work in. Why would I give that up?

    If I happened to be single, I might have given the matter more thought. I still don’t think I would have made a different choice, though. I think my decision to stay in NZ was good. I don’t feel quite ready to travel and although I’m getting the itch I think postponing it and travelling later will pay off.. I’ll get much more out of the experience.

    And to think I once planned to go on my OE straight out of school! What a colossal mistake that woulda been! I’m mature, but not that mature. I know my way around Auckland. But put me somewhere else and I don’t know if I could stand on my own two feet. I’d probably even have struggled if I went to uni in a different city….but I wouldn’t have, because nowhere else does this degree like they do here.

  • I’d like to fly away….

    BF’s project has ended; such is life as a contractor I suppose. Not holding out any hopes of going back to Old Company, although they are still paying his health insurance, the new manager V is somewhat of a dipshit and does not like BF. Rumours are he will soon be ousted. Honestly, the dramas of management at that place. it’s ridiculous. How many times can you  possibly chop and change?

    Hoping to get a hold of Boss of the co. where his project just finished. Apparently he really liked him; he just didn’t like the guy BF worked under/contracted under, or his work ethic, they didn’t get along, hence the sudden windup. BF will propose to be taken on as an employee. If he can get through to him, that is. Being the head honcho he hasn’t been at the workshop all week.

    We have absolutely nothing this week…not helped by the fact that payroll managed to miss an entire day off my timesheet, and SL is still being deducted despite the fact that I’m pretty sure my balance is now zero or less. Have signed up to view balances in real time online, but now I’m waiting on my temporary verification code….

    And yet,,,,we’re talking about the end of year! The plan is to go away for a week. Somewhere tropical and lovely. Fiji. Bali. Raro. I dunno, don’t care too much really – we’ll have to get our passports, sort flights, book accommodation…and of course save and save some more.I’m a bit worried. I’ve never travelled on my own (well obviously he’ll be with me, but the only international travel I ever did was with my parents, YEARS ago) and don’t really know how to go about it. Particularly all the trip details. I definitely don’t want to pay a travel agent, but maybe we should have a chat to one at some point. I’m worried about finding a place to stay, getting from the airport to wherever, etc. I’m still signed up to all my travel newsletters, so I’m getting those every week and I can start paying attention to them later in the year.

    Gotta have something to look forward to!

  • Globetrotting

    800px-globesvgHappy New Year!!!

    Now that everyone is off overseas I’m feeling really left out!

    But I know in a year or so I’ll be free to start making my own plans. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do it alone. I guess if I had tons and tons of money I might not feel so bad, because in that case if anything went wrong I’d still be okay even if I had no one for support.

    I don’t know if it would hurt me career wise to go travelling so soon…I mean obviously I’d work overseas, but not necessarily in a professional field, if I couldn’t get work at some sort of media company.

    I’m the kind of person who would find it way more fun to go with someone else, to bitch to and rub my feet and share the highs and lows. And keep me down to earth and stop me getting scammed….and help me organise the practicals, seeing as I’ve never travelled alone (have barely travelled anywhere NOT alone for that matter, all my travelling was done under the age of about 5). Visas? Plane tickets? Passports? Accommodation? Jobs? Urrghhhh, not a clue. Well, I know a little about visas and permits from my past job, if only that there are vast amounts of paperwork and it’s best to travel in top health, with lots of money and a job lined up… Tackling all that alone and making it in a strange country by myself is kind of a terrifying thought. I really should have done a semester overseas, but cest la vie.

    Anyway, places to go! Me and the boy wanna see Europe, for sure. No definite plans. I don’t even know where we’d base ourselves, wherever I guess. Scandinavia sounds lovely and the people are great, but I suppose our main criteria would be somewhere affordable, English speaking and where we could work.

    I have no definite countries to visit, actually. Maybe Italy, France, Greece, Germany…maybe Sweden, or somewhere up there? Wouldn’t mind going to Ireland. And Spain. Hmmm…

    Maybe we should save some places for our honeymoon. Like Venice.

    I asked myself, why exactly is it I want to travel? A coworker mentioned awhile ago that she didn’t really get the whole travel bug thing and had no desire to see the world. Fair enough. To be honest I’m kind of a homebody myself. I know it’s hideously boring to admit, but I like my life fairly ordered. I like to get to bed at a decent hour, I like to have my spending under control, have something in place for dinner, go food shopping every week and make it to the butchery before it closes on Sunday evening. I like to catch up on everything in my Google reader (I’m an addict), read the news online, deal with my emails and stop in at Facebook.

    But I’ve always wanted to travel. I wanna see NYC, maybe some of the mountain states, I want to see Europe and maybe Hong Kong and Singapore again. I want the chance to make some good money (probably highly unlikely), see how others live and experience it for myself (which presumably will make me realise how good we have it here, relatively), take photos, see places I’ve only read about, meet new people….and try their food! Because really sightseeing is only a small part of it; I mean, what are you gonna do, pop over to Stonehenge, take some pix, do a little dance around one of the pieces, then leave?

    I do, however, really want to be able to mark down tons of little red pins on those virtual maps that show ‘all the places in the world I’ve visited’.