Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Zealand Trip, Part 2: Waiheke

On our second day in New Zealand, we decided to head out into one of the closer islands from Auckland to join a half-day bus tour in the morning, and then do our own improvised walking tour in the afternoon. This island we visited called Waiheke reminds me so much of the pear pie that I would always buy at March√© (the Swiss bakery/restaurant that has branches here in Singapore). I did not know before until then that it's the name of an island in New Zealand! Such an interesting coincidence.


This is a view of Palm Beach

Saturday, January 23, 2016

New Zealand Trip, Part 3: Hobbiton

From Auckland, we set out early morning on our third day in New Zealand to the Hobbiton Lord of the Rings Movie Set tour. We took the South Motorway, the big highway, so the view was not very scenic at all. I was a tiny bit disappointed. But we went inside the small towns on the way back to Auckland from Rotorua, and the roads were definitely a lot more scenic, albeit, longer than usual. I noted that we did not pay any toll fees at all.

I booked the tickets online, more than a month in advance. There are three pick-up sites for the tour, one in Rotorua, where we are actually heading after the tour, one in Hamilton and another one in MataMata itself, where the movie set is located. I chose the MataMata site since it's the shortest drive from Auckland, and also offered the cheapest tickets because of the proximity to the Shire.


This is the i-Site, at the MataMata city center 
The i-Site is located at Broadway Street, which is right at the city center, conveniently littered with restaurants and bars and lots of parking lots. There is also a souvenir shop inside the i-Site. I bought a few more postcards to send to myself and my relatives because they have such beautiful postcards and stamps. And they conveniently have a post box outside of the shop.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ted Talks SPAM

I've had my fair share of the spamming and scamming lot on emails and phones. And the very rare times that I've responded (semi-violently) to them was when I was on a terribly bad mood or caught in the midst of  an inopportune time. But what I really, really would most like to do is to annoy the annoying. But lately, I haven't got the energy or the precious time for that.

The last phone scamming thing I've experienced was quite recent. It was a phone call on the office landline coming from the Philippines (where else?). It caught me by surprise because I never give out our office land line to anyone. I myself don't even know the phone numbers, and wouldn't know about it unless necessary. And since there are only very few of us in the office, it was the Head of Services that answered the phone. The scamming people didn't know my full first name and my middle name. So I told them it was not me they were looking for. They were claiming I have some unsettled accounts with some bank in the Philippines. I hung up on them immediately, but they had the gall to call again! It was really embarrassing for me to keep getting the phone from the big guy in the office and for everyone to hear me trying to tell the person on the other end over and over that it was not me they were looking for. I was mortified and infuriated. 

I'm guessing they got my office phone no from LinkedIn since it's the only place I mention where I work. And from there, they got it from the company web site. I ranted about it on facebook and several friends confirmed to me that it's really a LinkedIn scam, and that most of the targeted accounts look pretty in the profile pic... so I guess I should be flattered, at least. Of course, I immediately made my profile picture to be only visible to  first-level contacts from then on and I've removed several contacts who might be pretending to be legit job placement agencies.

This video from TED is quite hilarious, though:



I really love British sense of humor. I wish I can have some of it. But it doesn't quite work when you don't have the accent. This made me laugh a lot today.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

New Zealand Trip, Part 1: Auckland

During the holiday season, we decided to take a trip down south. We visited the North Island of New Zealand and roamed in and around Auckland and Rotorua. We arrived on the 26th of December and we were blessed with warm sunny weather. Thankfully, it is summer in December in the Southern Hemisphere because I am not so much of a sweater weather person and I don't buy into that White Christmas crap because I have already experienced how much of a bitch the cold and bitter white winter can get.

The view of Auckland from our boat on the way to Waiheke Island
Our hotel was just right at the top of Queen Street. It's a famous street with all the shops and restaurants. Right at the bottom of Queen Street, you'll find the pier, where you can book all sorts of island trips.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Best of 2015

According to Instagram, here are my best nine photos from the previous year...

first row: best loved pair of shoes from Steve Madden, Airbus A350 simulator experience, visiting Frodo's hobbit hole at Hobbiton Lord of the Rings Movie Set in New Zealand (will post about this soon!)
second row: an evil bunny ice floe on Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon in Iceland, a picture representing my first time to try aerial yoga, a throwback pic of my beloved and long-missed autumn at the Japanese Garden in Toulouse
third row: trying out new wide angle lens on night time view from our balcony, throwback pic at Piazza di Spagna, the fittest i have been this year after 2 mos of xtendbarre + yoga + wall climb

...nine best, meaning the "nine most liked" photos of the year. I admit that, like most people, I tend to get carried away and get overwhelmed with the social media "likes" from time to time. But I try to remind myself that I'm doing Facebook mostly to keep in touch with friends, especially those who live far away. Making people jealous is just second priority (insert wicked evil laugh here). And the "likes", I really usually do not care about. A 1000 likes do not equate to being a 1000 times less lonely. Most of the time, it's quite the contrary, actually. Especially since, you will only get a lot of likes if you give a lot of likes also. It's not really because your picture deserves it or that these "likers" really like you. I'd always prefer good old-fashioned personal meet-ups any time or a personal private message if bodily presence is constrained by distance. Non-virtual relationships are seemingly becoming more and more of a rarity these days.

I like Instagram because i treat it like a pin board of all the good things happening in my life, whose essence, I would like to somehow freeze and capture in frames that I can look back on gloomy days to cheer me up. But the truth is, my most loved memories from last year cannot be captured in just a few photos. There were so many of them. For this, I am truly grateful and feeling "blessed" as the overused hashtag goes...

Happy new year, everyone! More photos and more adventures await!