Monday, December 12, 2016

If I Had $22 Million

Sharn came back from the toilet trying to contain her excitement.

"I think I just won $22 million."

Really? Are you sure?

"I think so. I have to go home and check my lotto ticket."

Is anyone at home? Get someone to check for you.

"No I want to see it for myself."

Will I still see you at work tomorrow?

"Maybe not."

How many percent confident are you sure you won?

"85%?"

What are you going to do with the money?

Sharn's eyes widened. She grabbed a piece of paper and started writing:

1) Leave the country
2) Buy a car
3) Buy clothes

I text her after work. Did you win $22 mil?

"No lol"

Haha try again next time see you tmr lol

Sunday, December 11, 2016

冬天的Akaroa

The plan today was to visit Akaroa, a popular historic town on Banks Peninsula 1.5 hours drive from Christchurch. I got up at 7 am, made my way to Halswell by bus, alighted at Glovers Road and walked out to the main road to wait for my first ride. 5-10 mins later Tim stopped and picked me up. He was on his way to work (excavation) and dropped me off at the intersection of Ahuriri Road and SH75. Though it was only a 15 mins ride, it was a good start and I was happy I had made some progress.


The Southern Alps from Halswell on a clear day.


In less than 5 mins Craig picked me up at 9.38am and drove me all the way to Akaroa. He was on his way to deliver car batteries. He lives in Kaiapoi and recommended me to check out Glentui.


I reached Akaroa at 10.30am on a beautiful Monday morning. It was very quiet in town not much happening.


Shortly after the French arrived in Akaroa, the British signed the Treaty of Waitangi officially declaring New Zealand a British colony. Today the Union Jack and French flags can still be seen flying in Akaroa.


The war memorial was owned by a community trust and depended on donations to get it repaired following the Christchurch earthquake.


Walked along Beach Road to the relocated lighthouse


View from Britomart Monument


There was a fallen tree blocking the path and I dirtied my bag while going under.


Tui tree


Whimsical Waeckerle Cottage


Last glimpse of Akaroa. There was not much traffic in town I thought I stand a better chance of getting a ride back if I walk towards the main road.


Decided to drop by Barry Bay Cheese and managed to hitch a ride from Mike. He lives in Oakins Bay and went out of his way to drop me at Barry Bay. I felt a little uneasy when he kept staring at me. I was relieved to get off his smelly car.


Walked around the shop and tasted four types of cheese. No production going on in winter. I couldn't get any ride outside the cheese factory so I walked along SH75 while sticking out my sign.


If only someone would stop...


I passed a team of tree cutters controlling traffic and managing safety. One of them yelled up "Wait! There's a pedestrian!" The guy high up on the tree shouted "Where??" I waved and shouted back "Here! Be careful!" After I passed a huge branch fell off.


I continued to walk and finally a red car stopped. It looked new and was very clean and tidy inside. Conway, a property advisor from Plunket is on a business trip to discuss setting up a school in Barry Bay. He's on his way to Christchurch airport to fly back to Wellington. He told me he's been to Singapore a few times and proudly said he has tried durian. I could have made it straight back to Christchurch on this ride but I was really interested to check out the views which I remember passing by in the morning when Craig drove past so I asked to get off at Hilltop.


The view from Hilltop was absolutely stunning overlooking rolling hills and the Banks Peninsula.


I couldn't get any ride at Hilltop so I walked up (the hill) for some distance. The wind was blowing and my hands were cold. Finally a car stopped and they were Natalie and Abbey from Brisbane and Sunny Coast. They are music teachers on holiday in NZ. I was super lucky as they were also staying along Papanui Road!

Relieved to have made it back to Christchurch, I took the bus to Northlands mall and bumped into RS when I got on! Updated each other on how our day went. He did grocery shopping with me for less than an hour and we parted ways. So pleased with myself that I managed to go to all the places I wanted to visit today - Akaroa return in five rides :)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Working Holiday: An Oxymoron?

工作时想玩却没时间
玩时害怕没钱想工作
在城市时想去小镇
在郊区时开始想念城市生活
漂浮不定时 想找个地方落脚
安顿下来后 又开始想要流浪
好不容易离开繁重压力的白领工
转做简单的工后又害怕头脑变迟钝
有那么多时间玩 却总是没玩到什么
回国前有的想家 却舍不得纽西兰
打工度假就是这么矛盾和纠结...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Lovely Day in Lyttleton: Bridle Path

One of the top things I regretted not doing enough when I lived in China was making the effort to go out more when I didn't have classes. Sleeping in on my day off work was super tempting but I managed to resist the idea, dragged myself out of bed at 8am this morning and caught the 9.24am bus 28 to Lyttleton, a port town south of Christchurch.


First of all I'll need to get a map to figure out how to get onto the Bridle Path.


I was done with the Farmers Market in less than 30 mins because there were not much free tastings lol


I have poor navigation skills so I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to locate the track hehe. I enjoyed the hike up. Level of steepness was just nice and there were lovely views at the top.


Lyttleton Harbour


Sugar icing on the hills


They passed this way


I sat down on a bench with the name Jane Deans and looked out at the Heathcote Valley. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the history of this trail.


Early settlers used the Bridle Path to get from Lyttleton to Christchurch on foot.


As I made my way down, I watched three gliders flying down and it was amazing. I can totally imagine the feeling of flying in the sky having done the same not too long ago. 


One of the few remaining monuments built by the settlers


Biking uphill looks really tedious to me


Didn't realise there was a gondola going up to the Port Hills


Reached the carpark at 12.44pm and caught the 12.53pm bus. Since it was early and he's about to knock off I was thinking of dropping by his accommodation since it was on the way. He suggested meeting at Central Station and we walked around Restart Mall.


Following the 2011 earthquake, the container mall was introduced to breathe new life into the central city and encourage people back to the CBD.


Clever and innovative use of containers - cafes, shops and even ATMs!


A backpacker from Taiwan collected smiles from all over the country for the people of Christchurch.


Words of encouragement before we parted ways and went back to our own accommodation.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Working in Christchurch

The next four months in Christchurch we were preoccupied with juggling multiple part time jobs and coping on our own when we lived apart for a month.

I got a job as a sales assistant in Northlands mall which was super handy just 5 mins walk from where I stayed. I applied for the opening on Seek and was called up to try out for a few hours (paid work in cash) at the kiosk. Lily is from China she buys her goods in bulk over there, they are mostly animal hats, scarves, accessories and gifts. I run the kiosk alone for 8-9 hours a day 6 days a week. Sometimes I don't even get a day off when Lily is short-handed it got to a point I couldn't even rest when I was sick and had to be firm and say no to her last minute requests.


Coincidentally he got a job at The Palms (Lily has a shop there too and sometimes I am asked to work there) and he was working just diagonally opposite me! He would bring me free food and drinks from time to time and visit me at my shop during his break. He even sold a big flower cushion which was one of the more expensive items in the shop! This job was a huge boost to my travel fund but the most boring ever it drove me bonkers. It's not a busy business and Lily forbids her staff to read or use their phone even when there is really nothing to do. My only friend at work was the mannequin I change her into a different colour poncho every morning lol. 


I had a short stint with Thai Po Thong for about 4-5 weeks as a wait staff. It was again just 5 mins walk from Proctor St (damn lucky me) and I get 2-3 shifts a week, each shift about 2.5-4 hours. I'm allowed to have a free meal there which is awesome because I don't have to cook my own meals in the small kitchen shared with 6-7 other people. This was my first time waiting tables and I dreaded it in the beginning because I was paired with an unhelpful waiter. Chub doesn't communicate with me and I can't understand his poor English at times. It's frustrating to work with someone who has more experience and puts you down in front of the boss. I was so relieved when Chub left and I got to work with Bank and Laura both students 18-19 years old. They had way more waiting experience than me despite their age. I didn't break anything (I keep telling myself I must hold onto the plates no matter how hot they are) and only spilled a glass of white wine so overall I feel I didn't do too badly considering my limited experience haha.


Shortly after I started at TPT, I was selected to participate in a research study by IRD and INZ. I had applied for this on backpackboard.co.nz. It was just a one-off interview session; the purpose is to find out and understand the experiences of new migrants in NZ. I was asked about how I set up myself in NZ, how did I find the process of applying for a visa, IRD number, bank account, phone number, etc. The session brought back memories of the anxiety and stress when I first came, everything was foreign and new. I shared about my journey, frustrations calling IRD, thoughts about the improvements/suggestions they are working on and what others had been through. I received a $75 gift card at the end of 1hr10mins of talking. It's a visa card loaded with money!


RS went back to Singapore to serve his notice period and I replaced his position at Gloria Jeans working as a cafe assistant. The job involves taking orders, serving food and drinks, making cold drinks, washing dishes, clearing tables, opening and closing the shop. I would make myself a cup of creamy hot chocolate and a grilled cheese toast before the start of the day. Towards the end, Arthur taught me how to make coffee and latte art. That was both challenging and fun. I never drink any coffee because I found it bitter but after understanding how coffee is made, I realised it is possible to customise the drink to one's taste and discovered my love for coffee ever since.


Even though I didn't manage to work in the ski fields, it's more meaningful to work in the service sector can interact with people rather than do brainless and routine factory work. I doubt I will ever work in retail again unless I have no choice - very long hours and only one off day no time and energy left for play~! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

NZ WHV Extension in Christchurch: Lousy Service

Arrived in Christchurch jobless again and with three live lobsters. They seem to have fallen asleep on the bus here lol. Since the immigration office doesn't open until Monday, we checked out the farmers market in Riccarton on Saturday and the Canterbury Museum on Sunday. We had applied to work in the ski resorts while in Motueka and were contacted for further information but the chances were looking slim as they prefer candidates who could commit the entire season till mid October. At that point in time our visas were only till August and we haven't secured another three months extension yet. So our primary purpose for coming to CHCH was to extend our stay and if we could find a job here we'll stay and see how. The paperwork was simple but the experience was terrible!


It took us about an hour to get to Addington from where we stayed. The nearest bus stop was quite far away at least 20 mins walk.


Make copies of every payslip beforehand for your own record just in case. Get ready your credit card details; cash and eftpos are not accepted.


No point printing forms too early prior to applying; INZ updates their forms every now and then be sure to use the correct form and the most recent one.

We applied for a working holiday extension visa on 10 June 2013 in Christchurch. It was Monday around 11am and there was a rather long queue. The middle aged woman with glasses at the counter was bloody lazy and was not listening to what we were saying. I requested her to make copies of our payslips but she did not copy all of them properly. I have never seen someone who is so lazy to remove the staple and despite showing my concern and explaining how important it is for every payslip to be submitted, she disregarded everything I said and can't wait to put away all my documents into the brown envelope. I should have insisted she make a proper photocopy argh!!! I was completely disgusted with her poor attitude. This job is not about brushing people off and chucking away envelopes. As the face of INZ, I expected better service and be treated with more respect. The average processing time for such application is about 24 days. I bet it was gonna drag to my surprise INZ sent out our passports on 20 June and we received them on 23 June so it took about 10-13 days. By the time we got the extension all the ski positions had been filled. What do we do now in CHCH?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fishing with Tomo & Dempsey's Track

Half day to spare before our bus at 4pm: whale watching or fishing? I just could not pay $170 pp to see tails so we decided to go for a two hour fishing trip ($80 pp) with Kaikoura Fishing Tour. We weren't prepared for the rough sea and spent more time throwing up than fishing lol. Oh well at least we caught something lah!


Tomo getting the boat ready just for the two of us


First stop was to retrieve Tomo's crayfish pot from the sea


I was expecting the lobsters to scurry and fidget like mad but they were surprisingly calm.


I was feeling too seasick to even stand up properly but I did force myself to pick one up eventually.


Undersized or pregnant ones are returned to the water to protect the sustainability of crayfish. Tomo tossed them back into the sea like throwing a rock.


Putting a new bait back into the pot


By this time we were so sick we even unabashedly asked if we could turn back and get a partial refund of course the answer was no and so we pressed on. As we slowly got the hang of it, we seemed to be less bothered by the seasickness. More fishes ate my bait than I could catch them lol. Naturally we were excited when he reeled in the first catch of the day.


虎视眈眈


This could well be the first and last time we'll ever go fishing again so we gathered our last bits of strength for this photo even though we were feeling like dead fish inside.


Tomo filleted the fish we caught and flicked the remains to the waiting albatrosses.


Albatross fight


Our total catch was just six sea perches and three crayfish courtesy of Tomo. So glad we were finally back on shore.


There was still plenty of time left so we went up the Dempsey's Track. We could see the whale watching boats from atop and stared at the sea for any suspicious movements of orcas haha.


Mist over farm land


Panoramic view of Kaikoura Seaward Range

Goofing around


好好拍一张啦


Freedom that we wish will never end