Archive for December, 2015

December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015! #newyearcountdown #auckland #fireworks

Going against the crowd flow of flocking to the city to watch the fireworks at the sky tower, my gang and I went instead a little outside of the city, to Mt Eden Domain and caught the view of the fireworks from there! We could’ve walked all the way there from the city, but that would’ve been quite a hike, so we took a bus instead. And got there at about 8pm. Skies were still bright!

Here we are after a short walk from the bus stop, the Glenfell Place entrance. Behind us is the steep staircase going up to the summit. With the ladies, Sasha, Varsha and Juhi. Thanks to Aadi for being the thorn among the roses and helping us take a lovely shot here.

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Once we reach the top, the view was just breathtaking! Look at the whole city area from where we sat! It was very windy and cold, so after a quick photoshoot without our cardigans and jackets, we had to put them on quickly!

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With the lovely birthday girl Varsha, who turns 25 right at 12 midnight! The very reason why we’re here at Mt Eden and giving her a special celebration.

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A selfie with the very “hot” Juhi. Can’t believe this girl was so brave to go out in sleeveless and not even bringing any jacket with her!

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After the photo shoot session, we finally managed to set up our picnic blanket on the ground and start eating our very late dinner, Subway sandwich takeaway!

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We also had to carry all our drinks and some fruits and snacks up to that mountain. After all, we did have about 4 hours to go before the countdown.

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There were no lights or lamp posts on the mountain so there wasn’t much shot we could take when the skies grew dark around 9:30pm. As midnight closes in, more and more people kept coming up to the summit. Which at first we thought nobody was going to be there with us. Unfortunately, we were quite wrong. Loads of people came up after!

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Because it was just too windy at the area overlooking the city and skytower, we thought we’d just move in to another spot where the wind isn’t as strong. Here we are with all our bags on the ground and just sitting around, talking, chilling and passing time enjoying each other’s company.

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Finally the countdown! We didn’t have any official timers, so we just went along with the other people in the crowd that were counting down just before the fireworks came on. The fireworks lasted about only 5 minutes but from where we saw it, it was really small. Nevertheless, a good experience and the view, man, just cannot be described. Could be a very romantic place too if only I had someone to go with

Anyway, gave my gift to Varsha, and greeted her Happy Birthday, and then Happy New Year! After the fireworks show was over, we walked on towards the other summit where the crater is, and saw the rest of the mountain domain. Aadi also took the opportunity of the night to make it official with Sasha, oh the cute couple!

Then we ended the New Year’s Eve celebration with a good looong walk back towards the city center which took at least about 20 minutes! What a work out!!! Starting my new year right! Yeaaahhhh!!

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December 31, 2015

New Kicks for New Year’s. #nike #chucks #retailtherapy

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Finally took the plunge and got myself new kicks for the New Year. And not just 1, but 2 pairs of shoes for me, myself and I.

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Been eye-ing this pink-amber chuck taylors for weeks now, but I kept stalling and telling myself to wait until my old pair of $15 dollar Warehouse shoes fall apart and get worn out. But today, I was feeling a bit down and low so I decided to use retail therapy to fix my blues away.

Aside from the chucks, I knew I wanted the Adidas shoes but since they didn’t have it in my size, I figured I should get the New Balance walking shoes, and based on the sales lady, Isabella’s recommendation, I got the Nike one with a pink logo and some maroon on the back which was what she suggested I should get.

The Nike costed me $120 and the chucks were $109. Very pricey if you ask me but it had got to be done. At least it was both on Sale.

Happy New Year to me!!

December 30, 2015

A Day at the Park. #Cornwall #Auckland

Aimee invited Saj and I to go to Cornwall Park today to take a walk, chill and just hang out. We met up with her at the office just at about lunch time, and helped her deconstruct the Christmas tree and packed a few things from the office to her BMW.

But before heading to the park, it’s a late lunch makan time! Aimee took us to a Malaysian restaurant called the KK Malaysian Cuisine down at Epsom, just a few minutes drive nearby to the park. Nothing in the restaurant serves anything Kota Kinabalu style so I am not sure why they are called KK, maybe the name of the owner or something.

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We ordered a two serving Coconut rice, Kang Kung stir fried with Sambal, and their Beef Rendang.

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The rendang dish was about $20 I think, and it wasn’t spicy at all but it was definitely very tasty! I am usually not a big fan of rendangs, but this one was nice and juicy and not dry like the ones I normally taste during Hari Raya open houses!

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When we got to the park, Aimee showed us the Stardome Observatory which has an entrance fee but she just wanted to show us a small part of the place but the observatory was already closed. So we just ended up taking a photo in front of the entrance just to say we were here. Hehehehe

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After parking her BMW, Aimee, Saj and I took a stroll down the park looking for a nice spot to sit down and chill. Look at all the lovely trees along the walkway! Aimee and Saj walking in front of me while I was busy taking photos and some selfies.

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This shot was the best selfie for the day!

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I also brought my recently purchased Wilson volleyball to the park so we could play!

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Today, I also got to drive in Auckland for the very first time! Well, it wasn’t much of a drive really since I just helped Aimee drive her car nearer to the spot we were positioned at and the drive was just pretty much down the road inside the park area only. But hey, it still counts as driving!

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With Aimee and Saj at our spot under the tree. Good thing Aimee still had her beach rug in the car so we could use it to sit on the ground and play Rummy-O! Now, these two are quite the competitive board game players. It was such an intense session that I really wish they would just lighten up and play for fun! Have some conversation while we’re at it for goodness sake! Oh well, at least I won one of the rounds and was placed second for the others hehehehe.. and yes, Saj is the better player at this game 🙄

And once again, God answered our prayer for a good weather! No rain today! It was such a wonderful time of fellowship! Thank You so much Lord!

 

December 25, 2015

Christmas at the beach! #KiwiChristmas #Christmas2015 #eastAuckland

My Christmas #OOTD ! Got my top from a thrift shop for only $8.00 and love the leafy prints. Unfortunately, I realized it should be worth less than that because I noticed there were some holes at the bottom part of the blouse, and it kinda looked like bite marks made by rats. Eww.. its just a good thing it wasn’t so visible. Shot taken by Saj, we attended Aimee’s church down at Pakuranga called Hope Manukau Church. Just a one hour service of praising God, singing Carols and celebrating this beautiful day that Jesus was born. Loved their worship band too!

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The church service ended at about 10:15am, and we went to Aimee’s place to just chill and hang out before our next program for the day. Saj was just too tired and so he spent that hour at Aimee’s place taking a nap while I had coffee talk with Aimee. Learned a lot about her today, I guess it was God’s divine appointment really that got us together, and here I am asking her a simple, why don’t you just buy a house? question and I got the exclusive access to the story of her life. Wow, feeling very honored that she trusts me with her story and also pressured at the same time but guess I just have to leave it to God to help me deal with that knowledge now.

We got to Nelson & Bati’s place at about 12:30pm, the Zimbabwe-an couple’s home is about 10 minutes drive from Aimee’s place and it’s a lovely home really. Nicely tucked outside of the busy main roads, double story home with a nice backyard to have a barbeque party and a little garden bed. This couple from Zimbabwe is Aimee’s church friend and I was really glad that Aimee invited us to crash their Christmas lunch party because it’s cool to know people from all over the world with different cultures and hang around them and getting to know them.

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Coming to this party, I learned something new about their Zimbabwe-an culture. Before meals are served, the ladies would go around with a bowl and water to serve the guests and let them was their hands and wipe them off. Aimee went around doing this for the guests and I really admire her servant leadership.

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Now the food, although there wasn’t anything specifically “cultural” or Zimbabwe-an about the food, I guess it was typical western food. Aside for the rice though, Aimee brought that rice cooked in Coconut milk. There was also salad, potatoes, barbequed lamb steak, turkey roulade, chicken wings and some sausages. There’s too much food really for just a small group of people over for lunch. I didn’t have quite a large appetite at the time because I had such a lack of sleep and that usually makes me eat less than I want to. But I tried anyway, to stuff myself with as much good stuff as I can.

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Group photo with the company! With Nelson, Bati, Charles, Saj, Sean, Karla, Yolanda and Aimee, outside at the backyard having our meal.

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Switch! Thanks to Aimee for offering to give the photographer a break hehehehe

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And my oh my the dessert. Like, how do we eat all that just right after having such a heavy lunch?!

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If there was one thing I will remember about this year’s Christmas, would definitely be the weather. Two days before this Christmas beach outing was planned, I messaged the other classmates from our MYOB/Xero class who were also Aimee’s students and invited them to come join us at the beach. Sergii was quick to mention that the week’s weather forecast was not looking too good. It was raining all day on Christmas Eve really so I guess they were worried the thing might not happen. And I was praying and claiming that God will grant us a good weather so we can all fellowship together at the beach and celebrate Jesus’s day!

And when I mentioned it over lunch as well, while we were eating outside and the skies were looking all cloudy, Yolanda commented that with Auckland’s weather, you can get 4 seasons in one day so its rather unlikely that our beach trip was gonna happen. In my mind I was thinking, Lord, You have got to show them! And boy was He so faithful!

Despite the hesitations of the adults, who were quite happy to just stay indoors for the rest of the afternoon, I was quite persistent and encouraged them all to just head out to the beach, and God is soooo goood!!! Clear blue skies!!

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We arrived at the Eastern Beach around 4pm, after picking up Khaleed and Sergii from Panmure’s train station. Saj went off to take a nap again at Nelson’s son’s room so Aimee and I left him with the couple’s family to catch up on us as we made our way to the beach.

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Khaleed and Sergii with Aimee behind them making funny bunny ears!

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And look at sleeping beauty who finally woke up and joined the party!

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Selfie with Aimee at the beach! Aimee is one adventurous lady! She suggested we walk all the way to that little cave behind us and initially I was not up for such a long walk, but then the boys were game so off we went! Even Bati and her two young kids tagged along!

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We had to walk through a rocky path heading towards the cave, and frankly speaking I didn’t think it was suitable for the toddler and kid to come along but the boys were being very good gentlemen and taking good care of the kids and even ladies, helping them walk through the rough patches and rocks.

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I think it must have been about a good 10 to 15 minutes before we finally managed to get to the cave! There was more area to cover past that cave but we thought it was best to head back while the tide was not so high.

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More photo taking sessions and groufie while on our way walking back to the beach side.

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After heading back to the beach, we took the opportunity to give Aimee her little Christmas gift that the class got for her. Well, at least part of the class if not all. It was really Saj’s idea to get her a Christmas gift to thank her for her kindness and effort to help us all out on our Xero and MYOB assignments. I figured she likes wearing dangling earrings so we got her two!

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Next up, a little bit of Cricket before we end the day! It was my first time to play cricket and all I wanted to do was take lots of pictures on that day so I wasn’t playing it very seriously, unlike Saj and Khaleed whose life and passion is all about Cricket!

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Nelson and Bati also invited us back to their place for dinner again to continue the party at their place and help them finish off all the food. Of course there is only so much tummy space for Aimee, Saj and myself. Sergii and Khaleed both had other plans so they didn’t come with.

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Saj proudly showing off his newly acquired mad baking skills with the Zucchini and Potato frittata he made yesterday with Aimee’s help of course.

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By the time we finished eating and helped Aimee clean up and left Nelson and Bati’s home, it was well after 9pm. Aimee dropped both Saj and I back to the city around 10pm.

It was a memorable Christmas indeed. I am firstly so thankful that God heard and answered our prayers for a good weather! Also thankful that I got to meet new people and even learned new cultures. And despite initially not wanting to do the walk to the cave, I was so glad I did! It was like a mini adventure! What a way to spend Christmas and God even strengthened me physically to be able to endure and persevere and enjoy the day despite the lack of sleep. Hallelujah!

December 23, 2015

Christmas Dinner at Jo’s. #childhoodfriends

Kuan came to pick me up around 5:30pm and we headed off to Jo’s house in North Shore. Lovely to see Noelin again since we caught up during my birthday last month. I learned something else about her this dinner time, she’s an amazing and talented cook! She prepared and cooked this Turkey all from scratch and on her own! From the brine to the stuffing and the baking in the oven, down to the gravy, it was all her effort and hard work and what a lovely and tasteful turkey that was!

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Joanne prepared a baked salmon that was topped with breadcrumbs and all kinds of herbs. That was nice too.

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This was probably the only thing I didn’t try out during the dinner. Raw oysters topped with lemon. I mean, I have tried it before and as usual I tend to get rashes because of it so I didn’t bother to eat them this time around.

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Look at the lovely table set up! I helped fold those green Christmas tree-shaped napkins :-p

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The 11 adults and 2 children in the little party. With Joanne’s neighbors and Noelin’s boyfriend as guests, I was probably the one most out of place here but I find myself always the odd one anywhere else anyway. I guess that kinda makes me special hahahahaha.

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Group photo! One with me in the group thanks to Joanne, and another of the great company.

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Another amazing thing about this dinner is how detailed Joanne is with her organizing, even the Christmas crackers was a D.I.Y! She made them herself and not a store-bought cracker! She stuffed little trinkets in them and also a piece of Christmas-themed jokes. Hehehe.. although I didn’t really understood my joke but oh well.

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After that hearty dinner, it was time to open the presents! The kids get to go first and open up all their presents from families and friends. After all that commotion and excitement coming from the kids, the adults finally got to play their exchange game.

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Each adult had to bring one gift item worth at least $30 and then we will go around exchanging them randomly. By random I meant casting lots, and I got the last number in the batch, number 11 which meant I would go last. Not so fun for me but its alright.

The rule of the exchange game was that if you pick a gift, you can choose to open it or not open it and steal another “already opened” gift. So naturally, everyone was very kind and courteous in the beginning and didn’t steal anything and just picked and opened the gift they wanted. It was not until Noelin’s father started stealing gifts that others started joining in too. When it came to my turn, I first stole the Wine, and then gave the little gift I had on hand to Timo, then he had to exchange it with Alex and Alex again to Noelin for some Nespresso, and finally Noelin took back the wine from me and I was stuck with the same gift from the beginning. Wow, that was fun.

I am not much of a scarf person, but at least it matched what I was wearing that night. Hehehe.. the night ended around 11:00pm and boy was I glad to be able to get the socially awkward me over and done with. Still a blessing with lots of the tasty Turkey leftovers I was able to go home with. And an even more blessing? Noelin’s dad gave up his sandwich maker exchange gift and gave it to me instead. Cool beans!

December 18, 2015

Puhoi River Kayaking. #teamAchieve #ChristmasOuting

Today almost didn’t happen. But it did. Thank You Lord for favor, good weather, safe journey and good company!

2 Week’s ago, the boss organized a mini team outing to go Kayaking at Puhoi River. But the catch was, we were doing it on a Friday afternoon where we’d get off work early, leave at 1pm and arrive at the Puhoi Canoe Hire spot around 2pm.

At 1pm, it seemed like everyone was still busy with their unfinished business and was going to cancel the trip. But thankfully, our boss was so kind enough to ask if we were still game to go even if not everyone could make it. The 3 of us, Pavel, Sajid and I, of course said YES!

So off we went, a little later than scheduled, all four of us took a ride in Pavel’s little Nissan and went out of the city, heading north, for about 35minutes and arrived at the take off station around 2:10pm.

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Entrance to the Puhoi River Canoe Hire! The fabulous four. Hehehehehe…

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Registration and a signed waiver, in case of emergencies, the company is not liable of course.

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Group photo is a must! Us holding the paddle and oh so ready to get into action!

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But before that, a briefing to tell us what to expect, and where we will end up.

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Off we go!!! Good thing I persisted to bring my camera with me and the life jacket I had on had  a little pouch in the front that could hold my camera safely.

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This is how much leg room there is in the kayak. My very white legs got some sun and tan today.

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Some short mountain hill view on the side of the river. With some sheep as well making their presence known and calling out to us.

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Sajid was my kayak buddy for the whole time. Watching out for each other since it was his first time and mine too! I think he was even more excited for this trip and definitely showed another side of him when he tends to talk too much and all sort of weird funny chatter comes out of him. I also learned from this little bonding session cruising down the river, that he is a fan of Josh Groban and could sing quite well too! LOL.

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More lovely “Sound of Music” kind of hills along the river!

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It was an 8KM river down to the part where it ends at Wenderholm Regional Park. I quite enjoyed the paddle except for times when the water was shallow and the wind was blowing against the kayak. Also the hardest part was when the current kept pushing the opposite way of where I wanted to go.

It took us almost about 2 hours to finish the entire journey but still a very memorable experience indeed. God answered my prayer of a wonderful and beautiful sunny weather out! Yay!

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After all that hard work out of paddling the kayak, we went just 200m down the road from Puhoi River Canoe and stepped into the infamous Puhoi Pub which is one of NZ’s last iconic historical pubs left in the southern hemisphere. The interior was amazing. So much memorabilia and vintage items, people leaving bills with written messages and their name cards on the walls etc. Wow, I was lovin’ the place!

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Our lady boss gave us a shout on the drinks! I did not hold back and went for a good ol’ Smirnoff Ice! Tasty and refreshing, and only 5% alcohol hehehehe… It was the ladies who were the drinkers here! Pavel went with a non alcoholic ginger beer and Saj went with a tomato juice thing. Tsk. Boys!

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And ladyboss kept asking the men to go and play pool and they were so shy and hesitant! I went ahead and just got the deal done already and I am so glad I did cos we had such a good time! It was Saj’s first time playing pool, Pavel was of course a professional but it was really the ladyboss who had a hidden talent and could play pool pretty well too! It was the ladies against the men and we were leading until finally we girls got the black ball in before its time.. Aaaawww.. still, we were already close to winning!

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Look at that level of concentration in trying to get the balls in. Even with a bit of a flushed face from all the alcohol build up, I could still maintain focus!

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Just one game was enough for us and then we were off to Irina’s home down in North Shore Bella Verde. Luckily we didn’t have to bring any drinks because her home had a good collection of beverages already! I was enjoying their Gold Label Wolf Blass Barossa Shiraz from 2013. It was good wine really but maybe I just don’t prefer Shiraz in general.

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And I met a new furry friend, Cookie! He is Irina’s baby mix breed who is only 3 years old and such a friendly dog! So lovable and welcoming and just hungry for human attention! And the best thing is, it doesn’t stink! Now I feel like I can’t wait to have a dog!

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Irina has a really big and lovely home. Large kitchen with a large dining area and not to mention a barbeque area out at the deck. Gorgeous place. Too bad she’s leaving the company and so this is probably our first and last time to get to be invited to her home for a nice little meal and party. She’s this Russian lady in the office and I always remember her as the one who comes in super early like before 8am. She even displayed all her farewell cards and gifts (I picked the jewelry display mantle by the way!) on the table as decorations too.

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Our barbeque dinner is served! I think Irina’s husband had a really good skill for grilling food but mostly I think it’s cos he got a real good barbeque machine! We had grilled pork served with tomatoes and cucumbers. And I went crazy for it! Had 3 large slices of pork steak! uurrggh.. I really eat like a caveman.

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With the boys, Merwyn and Sajid hanging outside and eating while the rest of them ate inside the dining room. Was too nice outside to stay indoors!

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After all that food, what a better way to get the system to start digesting them by doing a bit of table tennis work out??!

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Saj playing against Irina’s husband. Such an awesome idea to have a table tennis set up in your garage! Good entertainment for guests!

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Pavel also got to play with Irina’s husband after he dropped Nik and the wife off.

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Even the ladyboss could play table tennis! My goodness! She is so multi talented! RESPECT!

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By the time we all got to play a bit of tennis, it was already 9pm and time to let our hosts rest up. What a day it has been indeed! Full day of activity and fun, I really enjoyed myself and so blessed to have such a pleasant experience and memorable event!

December 17, 2015

From Philippines with much love. #bff #sistersinChrist #itsmorefuninthePhilippines #snailmail

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More snail mails! Yay! Thank You Lord for sweet and loving friends like Lauren!

Awww.. this is so sweet of Lauren, makes me miss her even more. Love the long written message and even though I must say I was wondering why this particular card design, it was good that she mentioned that she wanted something to remind me of Philippines. Hehehe, okay, gotcha! 😉

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I normally post all the messages here, but lemme just sum up what struck me the most:

As much as I want to send you Chicken joy & Palabok, kaldereta, bicol express, puto bumbong, mango float and all the Filipino dishes & dessert that you want, I’ll just eat them for you on Christmas eve. 

This part really made me cry inside, I love how she knows my passion for food and all my favorite food so well!!! Awwww I love you Lauren!!!!

Salamat talaga Lau~ am so blessed to have you as my sister in Christ for life, and to eternity! Much Love!

December 16, 2015

Parantha Newbie!

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Had lunch break with these young fellas. With Khaleed and Sajid, my “office mates” at an Indian restaurant located inside a mini food court. Today was Khaleed’s first day at work since he got hired right after he finished his last paper. Sajid suggested we go to this tiny food court along Anzac Avenue, it was a bit of a walk, but it was a good experience I must say.

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I didn’t even know what we were eating for lunch. Sajid just went straight ahead and ordered food even without asking me what I want. Guess its a given when you’re a girl but you eat like a man. 😑

So I got to try Parantha roti for the very first time. According to Saj, its the brother of roti and this one is stuffed with cauliflower and some other spices. We had to eat it with our hands and even without washing my hands first. I know, totes gross. But I had to deal with it cos am with the boyz. 😓

The Parantha is served with a pickled spicy red thing which I think was also a mix of chili and it was kinda sour. Then we had to dip the Parantha with yoghurt! The yoghurt is like the dipping sauce. Interesting, never tried that before!

Although it was kinda oily, it was very filling. For a 5 dollar meal that was good enough to fill the stomach for the rest of the afternoon. What I didn’t like about it was the stench it left on my fingers! urghh.. Indian spices are really pungent that they really stick to your skin! Even fingers! 😕

December 15, 2015

Victoria Park.

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This is the view from the park where my friend /co-intern Sajid and I had a good rest sitting down on the ground from a hard core Rugby tag and a basketball game!

I don’t remember the last time I had worked out this hard. This is definitely my first time playing any kind of Rugby and it was nice to finally got the idea of the game and actually experience playing it. After work, as we were walking home, Sajid invited me to play with him and some people from the college, mainly the marketing and student services people like Torika and Pukar. We were at the park from 7pm to 9pm which was a good 2 hours worth of running and tagging people and shooting hoops!

This Park was about 10 minutes walk from my apartment and it was downhill slightly off the city center. Although my team lost the Rugby game, we totally brought our game up in Basketball and redeemed ourselves (Pukar and I at least, the other dude who was our team mate in Rugby doesn’t play basketball).

It was a nice change of activity and being outdoor for once. I can be quite the internet junkie and stay home all day if it weren’t for people who invite me to do stuff like this. I mean, deep down I feel hesitant, like the preference would always be to stay home, but my mind tells me “You need to go outside guuurrll!!!”🙄

December 13, 2015

Gardening Goodies! 🌱🌾🌿🍆#splurge #newbie #iwantgreenhands

After lunch at KFC with the connect group, I made a shameless request to my ride back to the city, Abby and Aashish if we could stop by a store where they sell gardening stuff. I wanted to get a pack of soil so I can continue to grow my potted plants in the flat.

They are so kind and took me to THE Bunnings store. It’s like THE place to find all things gardening, and of course, other manly stuff too so it was also a good stop for Aashish who is working on his painting business too.

And I went crazy! Splurged on an insect gun, 3 plastic pots, a ‘vitamin’ for my plants and some packet of tomato and radish seeds! Maann.. that was 52 dollars worth of investment on some future potential lettuces and vegetables!
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I also got myself a big pack of 25L Garden Mix soil so I can add more soil when needed and also so I won’t have to keep coming back or looking for places to get soil from again since gardening items like this is really hard to come by around the city center.

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The plastic pots I really needed to get because the previously used instant noodles cup was not draining the water well enough and I see it kinda stop growing. I think I should’ve placed more larger holes through the container but let’s hope in the next round I could do better.

Thank You Lord for Abby and Aashish! Yay for occasional suburb visits! hehehehehe