Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Single Breasted Warbler

I am gutted.....a few hundred grams of my best friend is missing! That’s a whole lot of goodness gone. Even though it was infected.

J looked resplendent in her pink plaid pyjamas perched up in Ward 20 at Public hospital, her image incongruent with the previous days harrowing experience. After being injected with something nuclear , she was then wheeled unceremoniously (no fanfare) into a room to await her fate. Small talking till she ran out of words she then awoke to a gap in her bra. No body bandage, no hallucinatory drugs , no bosom.
Like the true soldier she is, she wore her pain on the inside and presented her usual bright sunny disposition that draws people like moths to the flame, like sailors to the sirens, like bees to the get the idea.

Wheeled back to her ward and deposited into “Anita’s” position she was lucky she didn’t get anything else removed or added on as she was in the plastic surgery area. Once that wrong had been righted she then had to face her next battle....the food.

Metabolic mush played havoc with her tender constitution giving her more nausea than being sucked into a centrifugal force like water in a revolving bucket. Several anti nausea pills later and she was almost ready to face her cottage pie as opposed to salmonella on a stick aka chicken satay. What don’t they know about bland there and the recuperative stomach? AND the bowls they give you to catch the stuff are small and unstable as one other patient conveniently demonstrated in the night.

If the op doesn’t get you the post op care will.

Cafe Chic - pronounced Chick

My brief but fulfilling career as a waitress is over. I am pleased to report that nine days of subservience did me no harm. Serving whilst was pleasant enough is not actually my calling.

I have a new found respect for wait staff and the work they do. It is not easy juggling large angry mobs and even angrier ones in the kitchen.

The Green Room was my cafe of choice where I pretended to a large and loyal group of industrial area workers that I actually knew what I was doing. The beaded sweat and blank stare may have been a giveaway to the contrary.

My loyal and adept barista collaborator Maddie, taught me the ways of the youth and how to remain calm under attack. She handled the regulars with ease, whilst knocking out hot drinks at will and only dousing me with hot chocolate chocolate once! It was from behind and cold at the time and she did try to (unsuccessfully) remove it from my person which only made it look more menacing.

The kitchen staff/owners were so hospitable...until they got to know me....then all bets were off. We were on swearing terms by day four. As long as they had their cabinet full and their catering delivered they were other times when you may have mistakenly written an order wrong or forgotten one, they began baring their teeth and snarling with unusual amounts of saliva visible. That's not hygienic!

Having tested the waters of hospitality I can now tick that off the big lists of
"haven't done that" and move on to one of the many other options on the list. Am trying springmaking in early January for a week.

This work experience thing is working for me.....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Officially Old!

I am now the proud owner of an 18 yr old daughter! Jesus H old does that make me? Freakin ancient....if you believe their press. Of which of course I don't and to prove just that have taken up residence in a local cafe pretending to be a barista/front of cafe staff. I have the offical low slung black apron to prove it. Mentally tallying up coffees, muffins and chicken wraps in quick succession to ten plus long queues whilst simultaneously smiling sweetly and running my fingers fluently over the abacus beads.

Working a job, especially one you have no training in just two weeks before Christmas is not an experience I would recommend for the faint hearted. Adrenalin has been called upon in copious quantiites repeatedly throughout the day. Christmas tasks dreamily anticipated have taken on a frenzied fervour. A Christmas cake making expedition turned into a pressurized taunting task as dollars worth of pre soaked and chopped fruit lay about my pantry begging for four hours of baking. After a marathon effort of evenly distributing copious amounts of toxic fruit into baking trays and then pushed into a slow oven, whatever the hell that is....obviously not fast and not so obviously 150 degrees as I thought but maybe slower than that. Anyway, the festive treat maybe a little smoky in flavour and a little quicker in its step. Bah humbug.

That topped with a celebration of the eighteen years sinced the famed pushing of the first offspring via the birth canal at a rapid pace of knots made for a busy week. An obligatory sharing of raw meat on an outdoor burning instrument amid the clanging of a number of alcoholic beverages saw that celebration celebrated.

Second offspring calling now for me to attend to one of its every need so must away. In the meantime......If you are interested....
check this out... Awesome photo murals for your kids bedrooms etc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Ovah!

I have decided that blogs are for the moment not retrospective rantings! i.e. S.E.A. holidays past. So no more!

Anyway, as we speak...I have a man cramped into my manhole....two children in bed, 'he that is king's' lunch waiting to be delivered to his work(to enable his training ride en route to work hampered by ten sandwiches in a large tupperware lunchbox and she will bring it because that is what her life has amounted to). Floors have been sucked and licked, biscuits have been baked, newspaper has been browsed, muesli with strawbs and kiwifruit consumed and procrastinated blog begun...

Great morning.

Oh yeah, man in hole....electrician. After spending up to a year on the ground we are finally mounting and connecting the heat pump. Thank you Mary for staying at home to facilitate this. We shall now be able to utilise the second floor this summer without losing 5 kgs.

Kids in bed - studying....NOT!

What does today behold? Xmas cake, Xmas presents, bills, installation including man with sunshade, Trade Me uploading and current sale, call Mum, buy tuner for laptop so I can watch tv on it (Breakfast show in the morning), arrange Friday night GGG (Glamour Girls Gig.

Have procrastinated (a common theme) on Xmas cake. As a virgin baker of aforementioned festive delicacy am taking my time and savouring the experience. Purchased ingredients a week and a half recipe off sister in law....moved recipe to kitchen area...moved it again to read while eating breakfast....hoovered....mopped....hung out washing...forgot about recipe....blogged...

Ah well, must go and check my multitude of lists to remind me about what I am supposed to be doing...

Am thinking of consulting a life coach..

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

12 September Farewell Hanoi

Saturday and all is well. I survived potential swelling, infection and a bout of Dengue fever. After a quick couple of showers to go we raced down to the pre-booked farewell breakfast only to discover our instructions were lost in translation. We lingered impatiently as they set up the buffet and pounced upon their every delivery. Happy with my standard 3+ plate intake of fruits, smoothies and coffee we bid the Serenade and Hanoi city farewell and leapt into the waiting car with the same speedway driver for the final shake up to the airport. Consistent to the end he surged through the inclement weather to our international departure lounge. Bidding him goodbye and good riddance full of smiles and hand shakes we turned our back on Vietnam and left on VN869 via Laong Prang (Laos captial) bound for Siem Reap (Cambodia) and three nights of cultural exploration.

*We ran into the Russians again at the airport and giggled at our chance reunion. They en route to Laos shared the first leg of our journey to Cambodia. K engaged them in the transit bus and again on the Laotian tarmac where an international exchange of business cards took place. One of the four was called Vladamir (of course) Belov and his wife was coming to Nelson later this year for a wedding. Pleasantries over we lamented the loss of an opportunity to bond on the boat in Ha Long Bay. Maybe an extra night would have done it. It is a fine line between balancing the courtesy of giving people their space and wanting to interact with them.

We had a quick uneventful turnaround in the Laos airport transit lounge of around 15 minutes where we managed to stretch our legs and bladders and catch some quick footage on video.

Our arrival in Siem Reap airport was to full sunshine. After escaping the Vietnamese acid rain, we welcomed the breeze less 30+ degrees reported by the airport. We cleverly bypassed the airport currency exchange and were greeted by the newest guide, Sophura and another 'mute' driver clueless to our language as we were to his. Eagerly we took extensive video footage heading into town on our 15 minute transit. Sophura was around our age and knowledgeable. We approved.

Our hotel was relatively new, stark white and an easy four stars in congruently fancy in this dusty little village/city. Large and expansive complete with swimming pool water feature and heaving in staff we were well impressed. Straight to the pool to test its water and cocktails while we waited for our room to be made up. The sun loungers, pina coladas and noodle dishes didn't disappoint as we took up residence poolside for a couple of hours as if we had been there for a week. Champing to get into our room before our 3pm pickup we reluctantly unhinged ourselves from the loungers and headed for room 318 three floors up. Changed and back to reception Sophura rejoined us after admitting to a lunch and afternoon nap prior to his return. Bundled back into the van we headed 10 minutes down the road to the famous Angkor Wat.

Our guide got us dropped off on the roadside where we were ushered over a fence and under some well placed trees. We could see the temple about 400m away magnificent from a distance surrounded by a moat and thousands of milling tourists in the oppressive afternoon heat.

In true Asian style I erected my travel umbrella to shade my skin from the sun. We literally dripped perspiration as we painstakingly listened to Sophura's exuberant verbose rendition of the entire history of the Angkor (area) wat (temple) and the common misinterpretations of the lay tourists.

It was about then after being bored into submission that we started to witness some chinks in his armour. The first nervous tic could be forgiven. The more fervant he become,the worse they got. We politely ignored the head rolling and shoulder shrugging but became slightly alarmed at the insane mutterings. I think he was taking a couple of personalities out for the day. The fact that he admitted to 'replacing' the original guide (due to sickness) left us nervous as to his credentials and sanity. We followed on dutifully distracted by his repetitious rantings and insistent interactions. A couple of his favourite phrases began with "I would like to inform you.... and It's amazing, How do they do that?"

We stifled giggles as not to enrage him as we now considered him fully blown 'pyscho serial killer' material. Glad of the company of the hundreds of fellow tourists we walked on tentatively. The temple had been built in 1113 and had see-sawed between Buddhism and Hinduism dependent on the King of the time. The Indians had brought both religions with them from India to Cambodia and of that the locals were grateful otherwise there would be no Angkor or the multitude of temples in it. This particular one was the most magnificent and had only been rediscovered by the French colonists in the late 1800's lost for the previous 400 years when the then King had fled to Phenon Penn pushed out by the invading Thais. As the Thais had captured all the scholars of the area and the majority of the people had left with the king, the Angkor (and all its temples) had been left to return to nature. The remaining populace were illiterate and thus the history and temples were lost. The jungle took back its place engulfing the area completely entombing the entire lot of wats.

Enter the French (19c) colonising at will and upon rumours learned from the locals they rediscovered and subsequently restored the lost city of the gods. The main structure consisted of five conical temples within a walled area surrounded by a moat that served to deter enemies and provide water for the city. A long central entrance path (400m) went out to the gate another horizontally wide magnificent structure decorated b intracately carved apsyrah (heavenly dancers) buddhas, serpents, lions and elephants. Sanscrit (Cambodian writings) told the story in carving too on the large blocks of sandstone used in its construction. Locals dotted the ruins worshipping the same gods in the same temples as their ancestors did centuries before them. Twin libraries were also a regular feature of the original architecture and lay on either side of the entrance. Large short steep staircases reminiscent of Inca temples led up to the five main towers. Pointy towers signified Buddhist temples and more low lying temples represented Hindu ones. When the Hindus were in power the Buddhas were all removed or chipped out of the carvings. The attention to detail was astounding and astounded the guide was with his disbelief of how it could have been done!

He said it only took 40 years to build which seems a 'jiffy' considering its expansiveness and intracacy. We were reminded of the wonder of the pyramids and Roman ruins and put it right up there in that league.

Agog at the experience and that of our ever insane guide we were happy to be redeposited back out our hotel 2 1/2 hot tedious hours later.

Alone again we discussed in depth the mental health of our Cambodian foe over more restorative cocktails poolside and wondered how we would survive the next two days with him.

Shaken but not stirred we decided not to venture out into town after dark for fear of meeting more of his unbalanced countrymen and instead stayed wihin the sanctuary of the 4 stars.

11 September - lest we forget.

Awake but unprepared to move we lolled about for another hour. 'Zing' our cutsie teenage pursor knocked persistantly at our door. K leaned out the window and summoned up all the manners her mother had taught her to greet her. We were told it was breakfast time "NOW" 7.30am. We begrudgingly readied ourselves and got another terse reminder from Zing. It seemed they had a schedule we were not abiding by.

No amount of table dressing could disguise their disappointing attempt at providing a European breakfast. Nor could any amount of make up disguise my reaction. A sparse and unappetising array of limp white cold toast, bacon cut from a pressing and two fried dead eggs with three pieces of dragon frit awaited my growling stomach. After force feeding myself one piece of white death covered in NZ butter (better) and strawberry jam I filled myself uncustomarily on the Vietnamese coffee in a bid to revive myself.

That over, we were herded onto a rowboat where our captain rowed us 'punt-like''(with oars) to a nearby cave entrance where we passed through to a cute bay to look awhile. The five minute oar back was hampered by a head wind so our sole rower had to dig deep to get all 7 of us back.

Back on board for a slow and peaceful return to the drop off zone ready for collection by our driver. Our entrepreneral staff had many souvenirs to foist upon us and I purchased some lovely little pearl earrings for Georgia for $30USD. A final lunch was gratefully inhaled which left me in high spirits regardless of the downpour that followed our every arrival or departure in Ha Long.

Cossetted back in the car with the same driver from yesterday we resisted the urge to offer the spare seat to the (unwashed) German backpacker. His failure to amuse us on board had left him out on his own. K took up residence in the front seat this time to divert all oncoming traffic through a series of hand signals and shocked expressions and to avoid potential nausea.

A quicker trip back left us 'safely' deposited in our room at the Serenade in Hanoi. Showered and regrouped we then set out in a search of local 'must sees'. We dawdled in raincoats and Crocs combing the shops for all they were worth. We stopped awhile in a really interesting shop choccer with antique foreign (for Vietnam too) jewellery and tried on a really strange array of necklaces and bracelets, me settling on four bracelets to go. The owner was a man with one inch well manicured finger nails who had a really easy feel about him which made the whole transaction quite pleasurable. Some of the stuff looked like artefacts and I got a small bad omen when K put on a snake necklet with an unusaly locking mechanism. With my wrist now six deep in bracelets, I felt satisfied with my ability to maintain a collection and we marched on.

As one can never have too much lacquer ware K purchased a beautiful set of trays and me some shocking pink bowls for Trudi's upcoming birthday. (It is tradition to bring home something pink for Trudi Hall's birthday).

Hungry now, we called into a nearby Vietnamese family run cafe and settled into the cramped area alongside a couple of sets of Australians and a lone Swiss. The Swiss man reminded us of Al HW with his short grey hair and marathon running look so we engaged him in conversation. He was a maths tutor at university and on a wee sojourn (not a paedophile on the make a K had suspected.
We all sat bemused as our teenage waitress repeatedly got every instruction cocked up
while trying valiantly to run the four tables on her own. Her mother looked on from the bar eyes rolling in disdain as we smiled on knowingly.
The food was nice (fried tofu and buttery corn) the drinks average.

Back on the street, renewed, we wandered on taking note of the historic tube house that had long closed and the busying streets amping up for the evening. We were now ready for the main street event as we contemplated a local cafe called the 'Tamarind' with it's large interior and 10% discount and extensive menu we silently concurred and entered. Seated in a well air-conded area on comfy cushioned sofa seats we ordered 2 papaya cocktails, fried mushrooms and a Thai glass noodle salad to complete our vegetarian experience. The drinks, food and rest were well received and we mentally high fived ourselves on another good pick.

With repacking to do for an early start tomorrow we sauntered sated back (skillfully navigated by K) in the direction of our hotel. Nearing the turn off to our street K's scientific navigational calculations had been temporarily displaced by the recent erection of a street market around 100m long. Not one to miss a shopping opportunity or (a recent erection) we lingered through the showery weather already damp and close to a drying zone. Jam packed with sunglasses, wallets, undies, perfumes and make up each stall was much alike. We finally submitted and returned to our expertly positioned hotel Serenade to shower, repack and set the alarm for a 6.45am pickup. Once the entire contents of our bags had been taken out and reinputed we rested easy and put out the light. That's when the mosquitos or some other creature decided to dive bomb me repeatedly. Stealth on its side I couldn't hear it or see it coming but I managed to scratch myself into an irritated slumber woken rudely by the alarm at 5.30am.

10 September 2009

*MUST get blog finished ASAP of Asian trip...
Expectations high we dined at the hotel restaurant takingon ample nutrients to get us through the 3 hr drive to Ha Long Bay. Checking out but leaving our bags, we packed an overnight bag and were duly collected at 8.30am. The heat high but the car cooled by air con we set out of the city. Once the traffic thinned all bets were off as our driver hovered habitually over the centre line surging and weaving in turn through the haphazard traffic for three solid hours. Karen turned many shades of green mixed with red as the local driving technique infuriated her. The driver was lucky to escape without a good tongue lashing and follow up cuffing from behind.

As we neared Ha Long, the rain started. We were dropped off at a waiting station whe re we waited patiently for our changeover. We eyed up the other tourists and wondered which of the 600 junks that departed daily was ours. About an hour later (hungry as rabid dogs) we were ferried out to our floating palace (Ha Long Dream). The "Öne Square Meal" was handed out for medicinal use and again it saved the day.

Once on board we were revitalised by the waiting orange juice and the thought of the high seas. The rain had abated as we set sail/motor for the limestone valley.

Seated at beautifully laid out tables we waited impatiently for lunch to be served. With only seven passengers on board and more than seven staff we reveled in the peace. The 6-7 course meal was well received as was the bottle of Chilean Chardonnay ($35USD) we quaffed all too quickly.

After lunch we roamed the decks and were quickly brought to the first stop on our tour of the area to a well worn tourist route. the "Cave Walk' was outstanding. An array of carved out steps took us and around 150 other tourists on an incredible journey deep inside one of the plethora of lime structures synonomous with this area. The cave was a large as a football field and as hot as Hades. Fighting off the stuffiness I was glad to see the exit but still amazed by the experience. Herded back on board we motored off to the next destination; swimming beach.

As we clamoured to gain full immersion we were rudely stopped in our tracks and directed through the ticket booth. Unfortunately we didn't have small enough local currency, so our kindly captain (fearing impending mutiny) dipped into his own pocket for us and told us we had only 15 minutes to enjoy!

We ran to the water and swum out to the nearby buoy where I overzealously circled it and it's large abrasive chain. Bleeding and smarting I exited the water and thanked the heavens that I was travelling with my pharmacist friend and her extensive booty of products. Fearing our 15 minutes of waterplay was over we headed back and our captain ushered us to the nearby steps to partake of the hill top view.

We climbed tentatively in our jandals up the carved from rock steps where we were told by our fellow tourists of the ensuing 400+ steps to the top! Valiantly we squelched all 400 steps to the viewing platform wheezing like asthmatics. Some other German aged 'David Attenborough' type gentleman had lugged the biggest camera and tripod I had ever seen up there to take some serious panoramic shots. We paused to enjoy the fruits of our labour briefly then headed back down.
Our legs weakened by the intense climb descended in a mind of their own, wobbling and tremouring at will.

Back on board again we head to; ''Dinner Bay'' and dropped anchor with a handful of similar vessels. Calm and balmy we relaxed with blue cocktails swinging our legs freely over the front of the unfenced vessel reveling in the pre dinner peace. Staff and passengers alike swam off the boat while we smiled on approvingly.
After showering and readying ourselves from the last swim we were reluctant to enter the well used bay for another dubious dipping especially with my recently abraised skin .

The dinner was extensive with great use of the local seafood. Stuffed crab bodies, large bbq-ed king prawns presented in lovingly carved vegetables, steamed fish and fried rice gave us another good stretching. Washed down with a nice French Savvy ($39USD) we sat for awhile outside on top deck before succumbing to the results of our gluttony and turned in for the night at around 9.30pm.

The room was slightly more comfortable than the deck of crudely padded/non existent deckchairs so we extended our hunched over bodies and fumbled fervently with the stubbornly stationery air con unit. I did manage to kick it into action switching every button I could find.

We began a night of tossing and turning in the heat in our small and moderately cushioned cots. Karen restlessly paced the 2m x 2m room and hung herself out the door in an effort for a temperature respite. We dozed fitfully before we finally began speaking at 6.30am.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

eek. accidentally posted without finishing

After a couple of hours we were worn down by the heat and negotiations so sought out some refreshments. A nice local (deserted) cafe served us up a couple of passion fruit slushees that were to die for. Temporarily hydrated we carried on. Another hour of shopping and we were ready for solids so we nipped into a classy three storey cafe/boutique called 'Tanmy'.

Mixing retail/dining and atmosphere we sauntered through the three levels, K fingering their linen while I holed up on one of their stylish sofas and availed myself of their free wifi on my iphone. Deciding to eat there we sat at a modern little eating area and ordered a couple of *savs (blancs as opposed to eloys) and beef salads and reveled in the peaceful surroundings complete with fish pond and styly coffee machine.
*We tried in vain to order a couple of Alan Scott Pinot Gris but had to settle on a French Savignon instead! Good Kiwi wine obviously popular.

Happy to pay the decent price for the serenity we languished on the Country Road like sofas as long as we could then used their stylish ablutions before heading back out to the mayhem of the streets.

3/4 stretched and wilting in the mid afternoon sun we decided to have "an experience" and haggled a price on a cyclos for a round trip of the lake for $5USD. Lurching around at snails pace we jammed two up in the seat for 1 and a half people and sweated buckets as we sat and enjoyed the watery inertia. Re-energised and oriented we headed back to a bag shop K had spotted, as our parcels now outnumbered our luggage. The first stop proved too inflexible without much choice so we pressed on and settle for $40USD for me (haggled from 60) on a hard case suitcase and $25USD (orig 40) for K for a patterned soft one. Our purchases packed safely inside the new purchase we headed back to the hotel to regroup before heading back out to dinner.

Showered and repacked into the new bags we headed for the roof top city view in the square. Up the lift to the fifth floor we eagerly ordered up a couple of long island teas and prawn crackers off the boy with the modern digital order machine. We got two black Russians and a bag of prawn crackers on a saucer. After several attempts to rectify the drinks order we gave in and took a couple of cursory photos and departed quite underwhelmed by the whole set up.

The square had touristy non-Vietnamese food to offer so we ventured further from the hotel in search of a restaurant our guide had recommended.

After a couple of laps of the area we settled on a kerbside seat at a nearby restaurant serving locals and tourists alike. We went straight to the good looking set menu for a $4USD/head and a couple of Gin and tonics later we could call it a dinner. A quick Pho soup to start followed by a fried fish with special sauce and a chicken and lemongrass dish left us happy in the knowledge we had dined like the locals. Weary and worn but not out we returned to our conveniently located abode and settled for another big day tomorrow and being collected at 8.30am for Ha Long Bay.

Day 9 9/8/09

We woke at 4am and dozed till 7am then planned our day of shopping in Hanoi. Determined not to continue over budget, I took out $60-80USD and another $100USD just to be safe. I came home with $12USD.

We meandered at leisure through the heated chaotic streets using the road along with all the vehicles as the pavements were stacked with parked scooters blocking our path. Prices here in the air conditioned shops are mostly fixed but some determined bartering won a few times.

We used the central lake located about 100m from our hotel as the centre point and fanned backwards and forwards from it in a bid to ensure we didnt get lost as the streets all looked the same. Ensconsed in the old quarter we found the streets of similar genre and marvelled at their plethora of goods going indoors where air conditioned when the mood struck.

The retail etiquette here was less demanding/irritating with some store owners not even coming near you. The heat seemed to slow them down as well as us. They have a system of discounting heavily for the first sale of the day to bring them good luck. Not sure how many firsts they had as they sure didnt look like virgins to me!

Almost over it

Have lost the impetus to post Asian trip but must press on in true Virgoan style....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 8

Day 8
A quick bike ride at dawn (7am) over the bridge to the outlying village areas proved interesting and worth a look. A concrete, recently laid road led us about three kms through a waking populace on a peninsula like area. Intermittent rain couldn’t dampen our soaring spirits as we biked free as birds or mothers on holiday before parking our bikes and entering the city market once more in search of a pre breakfast snack.

Back to the pancake lady after passing new and exciting sights of croaking frogs just before they were skinned alive and snake/eels slithering in a bucket as we were ushered to seats (wooden slats) where the plastic table cloth was lovingly placed and we partook of a bowl of the local specialty, Cao Lau noodles.

Temporarily sated we returned to the hotel on bikes and showered and packed and took one last meal at the resort . Five plates of brekky later, we rested briefly in the room before being collected. We waved our superfriendly super assertive Hoi Anians farewell and headed for the airport.

The flight was large and quick. Blue skies emerged as we headed away from Monsoon Hoi An. Upon landing, our trusty tour guide awaited. A cute looking Asian Leonardo DiCaprio called Sun (pron. Soon) swaggered confidently grinning charismatically at us. We put him to work immediately protecting our luggage while we relieved ourselves at the nearby WC.

Forty minutes into a racy Hanoi then a ten minute turnaround at the hotel and we were bundled back into our "çar" for the three hour walking tour to orient ourselves around Hanoi (capital of Vietnam). Dropped in peak traffic around the French quarter we walked through vast expanses of land put aside for governmental fancies like Ho Chi Mihn’s mausoleum, the temple of Literature and the President’s palace. We dutifully followed the less than exuberant but nevertheless knowledgeable Sun as he waited patiently outside while we investigated the ins and outs of the historical hot spots.

Three hours later and as hungry as wolves, we bid Sun goodbye and high tailed it up to our 7th floor bar that had been sadly left to rack and ruin and ordered restorative G and T’s with a seafood and beef noodle chaser revelling in the freedom and air high above the chaos of downtown Hanoi.

With full stomachs and heads buzzing we returned to our modern conveniently chilled rooms to shower off the day and slip into our robes for a well deserved rest.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 7

8/9 Having become acclimatised after four days in Vietnam we now wake at 7am. Back to the hotel breakfast, less tantalising the second time we rehydrated and took on board vital nutrients essential for another days adventures.

Keen to explore the city’s history we geared up against the elements in our trusty blue plastic pullovers and stylish accessory footwear and headed for the central market that we had hurriedly passed through the day before en route to the tailor’s appointment. Cramped into the space the size of a football field stood an array of merchants squatting either side of the narrow walkways, wares resplendent in circular cane platters. We passed noodle merchants, seafood merchants, butchering merchants, and fresh green vege merchants and backed up by trinket stall holders. The food merchants ignored us realising the futility of selling us fresh produce while the ‘trinket’ stall holders sang their local chant of ‘’You come my shop, plllllease”.

Thwarted by the deluge of rain but grateful for our waterproof shoes we mingled amongst the organised madness beneath the tarpaulin village architecturally engineered to provide fresh rain water for washing and cooking on site. Locals and tourists mixed alike with locals gathering their daily needs of fresh food with the tourists happy to gaze on in wonder.

Regardless of our already stretched stomachs we decided to roam dangerously close to risking a perforation of the wall and settled near a food stall to try the pancake like snacks the woman was making. We ordered one and I tried it to test for poisoning. Unscathed we shared it and promptly ordered another. The crispy exterior was filled with lettuce, herbs and shrimp then folded in half tortilla like and wrapped in a conveniently edible rice paper and dipped in some undistinguishable sauce. Mmmmm was the result. Curiosity assuaged we ventured out the other side of the market and made for the historical sites dotted about the city previously researched in the room.

*Quick pit stop to gather our thoughts and down a cheeky Mojito (because we could).

Voucher purchased we pressed on through the continuing downpour. Small running streams had now formed but undeterred we oohed and aahed over the Japanese bridge built four centuries before, toured through the oldest house in Hoi An walked through by the latest of the eight generations that had lived there, lurked about an old Cantonese temple (trying, unsuccessfully to mount the spiritual horse for a photo opportunity) and read studiously through an architectural presentation of local construction. Sodden and hungry again, we decided to seek refuge in a nearby cafe. Having become disoriented we ended up back at the same restaurant as last night (The Mermaid) and partook of a satisfying lunch of Cau Lao noodles and groper fillet sliced with bone in and covered in herbs and spices.

Now exhausted from all our experiences and wet through we hurried back to the hotel to dry out and relax ready for our day spa treatment booked for mid afternoon. My overzealous relaxing on the outdoor beds was brought to an abrupt halt as K motioned us in the direction of the day spa.

Dazedly I readied myself hoping I could soon return to that state of bliss. We filled out the required medical information forms, drank the potentially lethal liquid offered and followed our therapist into the changing room where we were told in Vietnamese to ‘’nude up’ and don the plastic undies.

Obediently, dressed in day spa gowns sporting cane sandals we were gently frog marched into our separate treatment rooms. K’s eyes rolled completely around in her head as she was led by the youthful non homosexual boy to her room. Once inside the room I lay face down gazing through the hole in the bed to a bowl of perfectly arranged rocks and waited for the magic to begin. Previous to this my feet were cleaned and energised in a bowl of tepid water alive with large amounts of lemon grass and mint. Ninety minutes of medium/severe manipulation left me pummelled into shape. The over earnest kneading of the scalp and face technique was new to me and not one I would like repeated. The ensuing salt scrub felt like an itch I needed scratching but quite abrasive and aggressive at the same time. I was hoping she would leave me one or two layers of dermis to go home with. Two hours later I was told to shower in the room whereupon she departed and left me unsure whether this was the end. Cleaned and scrubbed literally, I wandered back into reception where I was told to get back to my room so my therapist could then lead me back to reception.

Reunited again, K and I headed back into town briefly to collect my tailor made shoes then back to the happy hour at the resort to relax like Colonials over ginger cocktails in high back rattan chairs wiling away the evening gnawing on bar snacks and waiting for our Vietnamese orders to eat at leisure. Another early night (well we are getting on) ready for a 10am pick up to fly to Hanoi tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 5 and 6

Day 5 continued.
After a quick and efficient check in, we were bound for Da Nang airport where we got promptly deposited after an hour and a half uneventful flight. The only form of amusement being a well dressed (for a prostitute) well groomed young Asian ‘lady’ with proportions defying gravity. K stared agape at the adjacent sex goddess resplendent in her gold lyrex threaded black mini sheath that glided easily over her magnificently surgically enhanced bust down to her knees, topped off with killer high heels. I managed to capture her on video on our departure.

The tour company delivered and our man ‘Ken’ took us on a pre conceived detour to Marble Mountain where we typically/dutifully purchased our souvenirs. (nice Buddha head).

Back on track through a ‘Bosnia’ type village we entered the sanctuary of Life Resort Hotel which took me straight back to the Club Med Cherating style. Like kids in a candy store we acclimatised ourselves in thirty seconds to our outstanding new accommodation for the next three days.

We ran straight to the pool conveniently located outside our door and set up camp on the sun loungers after ordering a sumptuous snack of prawn and mango salad and matching ginger/grey goose cocktails. Mentally and physically high fiving ourselves and blessing the day Mrs Sinclair gave birth to our travel agent we sighed in utter peace and contentment. K slumped into an uncharacteristic bout of inertia while we dozed, ate drank and swam for the next hour.

Keen to stick to plan we then took resort supplied cycles and pedalled into town in search of the recommended tailoring shops to order our custom fitting suits. We navigated the bumpy less manic than Saigon streets, but manic all the same until we came upon our desired destination. Every second shop was a tailor and competition was fierce. A scooter pulled up beside me and tried to insist I visit her shop. As a tourist we are fair game and my skin slowly thickened as I endeavoured to rebuff them.

Once inside “Yali” tailors we roamed the spacious surroundings abuzz with activity confused and spoilt for choice. Around three hours later we departed, orders taken with promises of further fittings at 11am the following day.

Darkness had fallen and our appetites had risen so we headed back to the hotel and partook of the BBQ dinner on offer and a couple of bubbles before retiring to bed at 8pm! Big day out.

Day 6
7/9 Monday. Father’s Day in some countries, but not here. Body clocks slightly askew, we woke at 4.30am and decided to hold out till 6am before demanding to take the cycles out again. We read, drank tea and wiled away the hour and a half. The rain had bucketed down on and off and was on when we decided to do a quick reccy to find the nearby beach.

Straight out of bed we baptised the plastic rain coats in the downpour and cycled the four kms out of the city. Through active villages at 7am we compared our NZ options of riding short bays in the frost and revelled in our balmy albeit wet experience. It was one speed (slow) but with plenty to gawp at. Weaving around large puddles, scooters, locals, cars and trucks with little regard for pausing or giving way we found our ‘Çhina Beach’.

Like Mooloolaba beach but more deserted, with tepid waters we ditched our outer protection and entered the waves. The rip and potential attack of foreign sea creatures kept our experience short but satisfying.

Sodden but successful we cycled back into town only losing our way once and headed for the showers then a well anticipated hotel breakfast. Systematically making my way through all there was on offer we grazed continually for around an hour. As a good twelve hours had passed since my last meal I ate in an effort to assuage the large hole in my stomach. Two plates of fruit, (mango/passion fruit/pomelo) bacon and two poached eggs on toast, beef noodle soup and finally a crepe with fried banana with syrup and cinnamon to quell the appetite giant.

K had fallen in love with a book she had picked up from the resort and was keen to finish it so we made our spa booking for the next day and returned/waddled to our room to digest.
After a heavy session of digesting we checked the time and worked out we were thirty minutes late for our fitting appointment at the tailors.

We rapidly regrouped and set out for Yali. Apparently there is more than one so we spent another twenty minutes circling all three shops. Apologies given and received we were then herded into the air conditioned’ changing rooms where we stood motionless in an effort to keep the sweat rivulets stationary while they pinned, tucked and discussed the current global crisis. We made another appointment to return at four for a further fitting and scurried from the premise.

*In our haste to meet our appointment we ran headlong through the central local market dodging scooters in the one lane aisle while amazed at the array of goods on show.

With the worms biting, it was time for me to lead the way to a suitable pit stop. As I let my nasal passage do the walking my radar settled on a quaint but chic roadside cafe with appropriately arranged cane chairs and table settings set up begging for tenancy. We obliged and ordered two long island teas and freshly made spring rolls (not on the menu). The food, ‘tea’ and kerbside viewing were outstanding so we stayed for another round. By this time K was well and truly ‘stitched up’ and as cartographer our hopes of returning to Yali in time for our 4pm fitting were fading.

Back to the hustle of Yali and further frantic rearrangements we were then sent packing again to return in another forty minutes. Fortuitously enough time to trip and fall into an incongruously chic made to measure leather fashion shoe shop. I tried on three pairs and ordered one pair in another colour (to match my new tailored suit) that would be ready for pickup at 5 tomorrow. Got to love the speed of this town.

Back to the blessed tailors for a final fitting via bikes from our nearby hotel we arrived, dripping wet after pedalling through the dusk and torrential downpour. I mentally congratulated myself for hand picking such a worthy travelling companion in K as she battled ahead euphoric in the near national disaster conditions. Final try-ons and checking; the tailors are fastidious but their attention to detail and instruction leave a little to be desired. Fighting off previous urges to lash out at them in a bid to maintain local non aggressive custom, I repeated and gesticulated until the ‘penny/dong dropped’. We paid, arranged hotel delivery of the Empresses new suits and set off on our bikes and soaking blue raincoats in search of a suitable dinner destination.

Pedalling peacefully through the darkened streets we stopped at another kerbside restaurant that seemed half full with locals and tourists alike. Bikes parked, we were seated near the street whereupon we quickly ordered two Black Russians that came out in Martini glasses less the coke! We also ordered two dishes off the surprisingly extensive menu. Pork stuffed whole baby squid and a hotpot of seafood delights later we sat back well sated and ready for an early night...again!

All this yahooing sure takes it out of a girl. K keen to ‘knock the bastard off’ her book that is, we returned to the hotel. I showered and did my three sets of press ups (because I could) then read a little chapter and nodded off. Another big day out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 4 and 5

Day 4
5/9 Saturday. I am seated in the domestic airport restaurant in Saigon awaiting the arrival of my farewell spring rolls. Last night after an in room pre-dinner rev up of French champagne and local kettle fries and a pre timed ten minute power nap, we then made our way to the hotel’s sea breeze restaurant for the long anticipated BBQ dinner we coveted the night before. Perched high up on our bar stools overlooking the Saigon River we toasted ourselves on the ‘free flow’ wine beautifully chilled and presented and enjoyed the ambience complete with piped music seemingly handpicked from our iPods.

The seafood bbq exceeded expectations as a square plate of scampi, mussels, prawns and fish were presented to our ravenous eyes. The smoky flavours didn’t fail to please. The ensuing two glasses of wine was the one glass too many that sent us giggly exhaustedly back to our room.

Unaffected by jetlag we managed to stay up till 10pm local time (3am NZ time). Still with 10% left in my battery I prepared for bed with a little jasmine tea to go. Karen slipped between her sheets never to be seen again till the morning while I surfed the channels from my vantage point. I lasted for one cup of tea then succumbed to my stretched stomach and lay cast between the pristine multitudes of thread counts.

Day 5
6/9 Sunday. Awoken by the pulsation of my bladder at 5.30am, I tiptoed elephant-like to the WC. Upon my return, Karen had risen, Jesus like on Easter Sunday, and we discussed a quick march into the city before breakfast and our tour pick up at 9.30am. I opted for ten more winks so we dozed till 6am. K showered and I pulled on a pair of shorts as we ventured out in the opposite direction previously travelled.

K officious with her map led us up the road whereupon we were beset upon by a local cyclos rider who had us on his radar and was determined to show us a good time (for 10mins and $50,000 dong) whether we wanted it or not. After chivalrously accompanying us across the already manic throng of traffic at 7am in the morning, we were slightly grateful and after chasing us on foot over the bridge we reluctantly gave in to him as he studiously ignored our continual protestations. ‘Bernie’ insisted we stay put while he ran off to get his buddy ‘Wah’’ as the cyclos carried only single passengers.

While we waited outside the Ho Chi Minh museum contemplating our decision, K accidentally tripped and stood upon an innocent rodent spread-eagled on the sidewalk. He was already dead and even deader after K’s foot impression. With a corpse at around the size of a teenage cat, K did well to regain composure in only 2-3 minutes. Rooted to the spot inwardly reeling, her grimaced face contorted in revulsion as I did the neighbourly thing and caught the entire ordeal in a series of photos, I will name “The Saigon Situation!”

Recovered but unhealed, we leapt aboard the returning twin cyclos and were driven directly into the oncoming traffic further from our hotel into the unknown. Swinging between euphoria and uncertainty we weaved deeper into the seedier side of town and mentally sized up our captors. ‘Bernie’ had said he was 43 but looked a good 63 and ‘Wah’ looked older still. I decided together we could overpower them if needs be and returned to enjoying the sights and sounds of the local food market we were passing through.

Fruit lay resplendent at stall after stall as meat hung dead but proteinly appealingly to others. The rubbish truck with half its load spread out the back smack in the middle of the market didn’t do much for our appetites or nasal passages. After experiencing the visual symphony we headed back to the hotel with only a bridge and five million motorcycles and two aged cyclists between us.

We offered to vacate the seat on the uphill ride which was gratefully accepted and we hand pushed the cart alongside the throngs of mostly petrol driven vehicles. Back on board of the summit we glided at speed downhill as K’s chariot overtook my leading one and she whooped competitively past me.

We pulled up to our side of the road taking on the might of large Mac trucks and speeding cars as our antiquated, leg driven cyclos brought us safely to a stop at the front door of the Majestic hotel. K waiting with the ‘boys’ while I returned to the room to obtain payment.

The risk had been taken and was worth the increased heart rate as we congratulated ourselves on a great adventure. With the clock ticking we regrouped in the room, decided upon dashing out on foot to purchase local souvenir jewellery then back for brekky and a farewell swim for me. “When you have a five star pool – use it!” We reluctantly left our ‘home’ with our tour guide for the airport.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 3 - 5/9/09

In true fashion I woke at 4am local time (I usually do that in NZ). An ablution later Karen and I had a discussion about the room temperature then promptly returned to a deep sleep finished off by a good pillow dribble to awake from a coma at the 6.30am alarm. A quick turnaround, we ventured to the same bar of last night to behold our included breakfast. Well, from a well travelled, blasé perspective, I was impressed! The food, surroundings and service were exemplary. Karen unwittingly ordered three sets of eggs. Mortified, she ate the first lot, denied the second and foolishing let go the third. I did a good five plates of scrambled eggs, 2 x fresh fruits including pomeroy, passionfruit, guava, pineapple and watermelon, more sausages/hash browns/dim sums/tomoatos etc. I thumbed my nose to my sensitive innards and didn’t pay the price.

Hurriedly, yet relaxed we made the 8am meet with the tour guide. ‘Hugh’and Kiet the driver. Bundled into our local chariot we wound our way through the frenetic streets of Saigon weaving in fluid like motion through the plethora of cars and motorcycles to our tourist hot spot “ Çuchi” (pronounced Koochy) tunnels thirty kilometres from the city. We were walked through the international tourist destination step by step, climbing into the tunnels, viewing the booby taps and enthralled by the knowledgeable banter of our guide. After three hours of reliving the history and the atrocities of days gone by we were ferried back to the modern day sanctuary of all five stars to the Majestic Hotel.

Hunger pangs had set in so we rushed to the hotel’s pool area and ordered cocktails and a snack in a bid to assuage them. Relaxed by the pool we ate, drank and were Mary. A few lengths later we planned our next onslaught. With extra bag in hand we headed for the Ben Thang market. About fifteen minutes walk from the hotel we witnessed the streets (and crossing them – one big adrenalin rush) and found our undercover ‘’Äladdin’s Cave.’’

On a mission we entered the myriad of stalls sometimes like a vanishing point surrounded by octopus like arms grabbing and shepherding you into their particular shops. We bartered like locals revelling in the power struggle. Braver and wiser we exited armed with well thought out souvenirs of our time in Saigon. From ball gowns to lacquered kitchenware we had it all covered.

Sated but unspent we marched back in the general direction of our accommodation pausing only to partake of refrigerated caffeine drinks atop plastic stools on an amazingly busy intersection. We stopped briefly to purchase family loads of head protection (unimaginative and unobtainable at home). With a hunger brewing we returned to our well appointed rat hole to prepare for an evening of introspection and adventure for our last night in Saigon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 2

I am sitting in my luxurious hotel bed furiously documenting my trip thus far....lest I forget. After being let through check in at HK airport we high tailed it to the hallowed Koru lounge only to be rebuffed rudely and informed that we needed a forward Air NZ ticket to be allowed entry. Our hopes and dreams quashed with our Vietnam airlines ticket we walked back the seven hundred miles to Gate 5 to prepare for departure to Vietnam. With an hour now to find food we trailed the expansive post boarding pass area and purchased 2xnoodles and a cheeky Chilean Sav Blanc for 2. Sated, we met our Gate 5 departure on time and boarded our Vietnam airlines 2 ½ hour flight.

On the shuttle bus to the aircraft we literally rubbed shoulders with our pilot for the flight. Veronica Foy resplendent in her epaulettes was a dead giveaway. Karen engaged her and we ended up getting her card and her offer of assistance in Saigon (where she had lived for 8 years).

The international flight was surprisingly outstanding. Air NZ could learn a thing or two about space. We had lots of it and excellent food. The pre-flight noodles we enjoyed were superfluous. Not one to waste a good feed, we gorged happily. The staff was efficient but wasted no effort on being amiable.

Upon arrival we were met by the heat and Ken our local tour guide who brought us safely (no mean featin the horrific traffic) to our majestic (no actual) Majestic Hotel where we were immediately reminded of our entry to Paris with the Ritz-like flavour of its presence. French inspired history permeated through this 1925 built hotel with first class service, the icing on the cake. After dropping our bags and refreshing in the extremely well appointed room we rushed the sea breeze bar for a cocktail and snacks overlooking the Saigon River and commenced high fiving ourselves for making it unscathed to the Asian paradise that we be held.

PS. Before rushing the bar we performed a quick ‘reccy’trip to acclimatise ourselves with the locale and two pairs of cheap sunglasses were bought in the process. Spent financially and physically we retired to our room to get some winks after over 30 hours on the trot. We set the alarm on our phones and hoped to wake for the 8am start of the next day’s tour.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Asian Tour 3/9/09

I am sitting looking out into Hong Kong city from its international airport fighting off bouts of diarrhoea which started pre the 12 hr flight. I tried to sleep through the night enjoying the luxuries of premium economy class while constantly being disturbed by stomach cramps whereupon I was forced to clamour over sleeping passengers and gain sanctuary in the airline loo. A full evacuation of the contents of my bowel was effected as well as mini departures. Apart from that the flight was extremely amusing and entertaining thanks to the mirth of our friendly aged steward, Bill. Karen and I watched with our eyes open and closed several movies and dined on three course meals. Alcohol was consumed in pityingly poor quantities after an initial burst at the Koru lounge in Auckland quenched our combined thirsts.

We arrived sated and refreshed in Hong Kong only to be slowly worn down by hours of waiting and walking aimlessly about the confines of the spacious airport. We ate, slept and walked repeatedly for four hours before being allowed to check in.

*(Celeb spotting) Graham Henry did slip me a cheeky wink on the Auckland leg of the journey.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The New Bike

The New Bike
After fifteen hours of international travel concluding a nineteen day Asian tour nursing a hangover, instead of sleeping through the night flight as recommended, my reaction to the new bike birthday present hardly registered on the enthusiasm scale.

But, after a good days and nights sleep, I leapt aboard the Carrera bound straight for Scotty’s shop to have it fined tuned to my precise measurements. En route I fell in pulse quickened, my top lip moistened as I felt the change.

Quite happy with my current Scott of 4 years I thought it an unnecessary extravagance to change. But now I was beginning to see the error in my thinking. Even unaltered with one foot uncleated (too tight) and freestyling, I could feel the difference in handling.
After Dr Scotty did his magic on it I took off (literally) for the blue skies of summit road.

Charging out on a handful of dates I cruised up to the sign of the kiwi until I was approached from behind (in a bad way). I struck up a conversation with a woman I knew by sight and we carried on over Summit to Redcliffs where she was meeting someone. We were well matched as I gave the Carrera a sound work out psyching her out completely.

On my own again I fell into my own rhythm with lack of competition and pulled over at the end of the causeway to text my oldest at home sick. A lone biker passed complete with bag on his back so I knew he would be off to work from Sumner to town and therefore pushing it over the short distance. Not one to miss an opportunity in the head wind, I quickly followed him. It took me about 500m to catch him on my new steed by which time I had got an impressive speed up and was marvelling at the cycles engineering perfection. Amped again but having passed the ‘meal ticket’ I now led the way. Bagless and lycra-ed up I obviously had the upper hand and had to maintain it whether I wanted to or not. Just when I thought I had lost him he would appear. Hammer down. We finally chatted at the Barbadoes Street lights. He asked “How long can you keep up that speed?” I wanted to reply “all day long buddy! He then left at the CPIT for his job as suspected and I carried on home euphoric on the new wheels.

Having given up one career I was now happy to take up this Carrera. Moving up from the satisfactory Scott to the Carrera was like getting off an outdoor lounger onto a Lazyboy recliner. On this occasion, I will have to admit....Husband does know best! Clever boy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two More Sleeps

As I am kept awake by the sound of the driving rain, my dreams of filling our new raised garden with its first layer of sand are fleeting. With only two more sleeps to go before I leave for my South East Asian experience I have an urgency to complete lists of seemingly necessary jobs.

It is only 5am and I succumb to restlessness and leave the comfort and warmth of my bed to blog. The bravado of planning the Asian getaway rapidly dilutes with anxiety as the date of departure looms closer. What started out as an easy fun adventure seems more like a character building challenge as I contemplate yahooing across foreign soil in previously unchartered territories with only a girlfriend and carryon luggage as company.

The nine months of planning will be put to the test. It seemed like an excellent idea to take only a small amount of luggage to avoid check in queues and cumbersome trappings and a bold and mature statement to rid ourselves of all material evils like matching bags and shoes. Packing lightly in an attempt to relive the feeling of youth where you had and needed little and travelled simply on a wing and a prayer, we have decided to hit the ground running in Ho Chi Minh City and outfit ourselves in the local attire and blend into the sea of seven million locals. As well as one can blend with Western blond highlights and sapphire blue eyes (Karen).

After a flurry of farewell dinners and good riddance lunches there are only a few more things to attend to. Like, collect our tickets, *visas and passports, repack one last time, lay out the travelling outfit and fret over the unlikely cavity search I may or may not receive as a result of travelling lightly to Vietnam/Cambodia as two Western women with only carryon luggage for 11 days!.Dup!

*Visas for entry to China and Vietnam still being processed somewhere in NZ as a result of an oversight by the travel agent. Not to worry, bureaucracy be damned.

The itinerary has been meticulously planned and rehashed commencing with an 11 day whistle stop tour of the killing fields and China beach. In one of the two pairs of shoes packed, we shall be collected by car from our hotel and whizzed about door to door to witness the hot spots and highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia. Domestic air travel will be involved at intervals. After having custom made suits of every description and fabric fitted to our bodies in Ha Noi and having ridden yet to be found and booked elephants in Cambodia, we shall then jet our way to Hong Kong for some serious retail therapy. Many more shoes will be purchased as we up the ante and shake free our adventurous spirit as we enter the confines of the internationally acclaimed 5 star Peninsula Hotel for three nights. As we dust off the filth of war torn villages and step into the air conditioned luxury of Chinese shopping malls, all bets will be off and the thoughts of repetitive outfit wearing syndrome only a distant memory.

After shopping till we drop we then wing it to China to drop in on the wall. With over five thousand kilometres in width of country to explore, we decided we couldn’t do it justice on our time frame and have settled on two nights in Beijing. I have booked a cycling tour of the CBD in a bid to orienteer around at speed the areas of note. We shall spin around Teananmen Square, skid into the Forbidden city and generally make a nuisance of ourselves on wheels. The next day we shall test our mettle yet again on said bikes as we embark on an eight hour cycling tour to the Great Wall. We shall thumb our noses to the city and cycle out to one area of the Great wall, climb up on foot (and hands if required), survey the vast lands, nosh on local delicacies and then cycle home, spent on fresh air and sporting saddle sores after eight hours in the seat.

We then return to NZ on my 44th birthday where I shall make a meal of it in transit and then do it all again in NZ as we arrive first thing in the morning. This could be my last entry for a while as I shall be far too busy doing it instead of writing it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Think I have PMT which is good.....means i will get that nasty business over b4 upcoming Sth E Asian trip..... eating all forbidden fruits in one day....(kettles/fried bread/crunchie bar)...still unsated....openly questioned younger offspring if it was unnatural and wrong to want to strike her in the head for mildly annoying me....lost the will to use Shift key/punctuation and put together any kind of aesthetically pleasing look, didnt admit to older offspring that i wanted to harm her too for thinking that we were responsible for her insurance ad infinitum...another $196 i see no benefit from as it is third party cover and all she keeps doing is wrecking her own car! Another spin in the rain into a flax bush yesterday resulting in insanely run mascara and dishevelling of the mobile trash unit.

Returned overdue DVDs to library, succumbed to the couch with the children and witnessed another teen tripey movie with them, performed circuits around the city in search of food in between netball drop off and pick up...such is the life of the supermom!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Week One


Retire - intransitive verb, to leave a job or career voluntarily, at or near the usual age for doing so....
What does it all mean? I got the first bit right. People keep asking me “”what are you doing now?”” to which I reply...the same as I was doing before without the threat of impending commitment to work...

It takes a bit of getting used to...who am I? What do I do? How do I get remunerated? Am I beholding to ‘him indoors’?

I have decided my plans are to have no plans. I have a notebook with ideas that I will research and review when I have some spare time and to remind me of what to do with it.

This week’s accomplishments involve...writing a budget (last one was 7 years ago), setting up a *salad dispensary in my fridge (kids more excited than Xmas about it), paying for my upcoming overseas sojourn (with my squirreled away money), biking three times, roller blading the dog, returning overdue library books, paying the fines and vowing to use second hand book stores instead, visiting Chinese markets and getting free cooking lessons from mother, one on one with teens at varying stages of the day including breakfast at Tiff...Joe’s Garage and carting a drug induced friend home from a rather serious tooth pulling session. I told the dentist I was used to her in this state as she got drunk a lot...she won’t remember .
All in all a sweet transitionary week...

*Salad Bar
If you have ever been to Rocket Salad in Worcester Street you will be amazed at the plethora of ingredients they have on display to tantalise you with. You choose, they toss and all is well with your colon. Much to the delight of my female teens I decided to replicate it in-fridgero.

Gathering all my worldly contents I cooked, cut, chopped, tore, shredded, grated and placed all manner of ingredients in the conveniently compartmentalised container and got younger teen to whisk up a honey Dijon dressing in readiness for a serious tossing. This could go one of two ways...either a screaming success with convenient combinations of all food groups being consumed by growing girls or a stagnant grouping of decomposing ingredients laying forgotten and wasted in an overpriced, difficult to wash storage box. I am rooting for the former....

The Jacket
Having given up the opportunity to train work colleagues, I took it upon myself to start on the husband. What he needed I decided was a jacket! I tired of having to witness him in poorly chosen garments quite clearly not suitable for the elements. I had spied an appropriate sample on a previous fashion finding foray but needed his body to size it.

Upon the guise of a trip to the beach....I lured him into the upmarket fashion outlet en route, assuring him it would only take a minute and would benefit him against the upcoming off shore winds. He reluctantly parked and we entered the shop. I quickly found the article and encouraged it onto his person. He made minor noises about the sleeves being too short when he held his arms up, so I told him not to do that. Always the opportunist , and in an effort to cinch the sale I spied, tried and buyed, a “dracket”for myself. A cross between a dress and a jacket. He insisted I had many jackets but couldn’t deny me my sole dracket purchase .

An hour later, reclined in the sun in his jacket and sunnies, sipping a Corona at a local sea side cafe he emulated a Southern man, laid back, cool (but warm), rugged, confident and did I mention warm?

The Helmet
The search for the ideal helmet was finally over...

I had spent six months researching a civilian head protector for pleasure biking as opposed to a cycle helmet for cycling. When bedecked in street wear as opposed to luxuriant in lycra, I wanted a headpiece to match. I am all about the total look. I had taken to riding naked from the neck up in an internal battle to look less dorky. I was spotted and chastised by locals who quoted ‘’cool kids wear lids’ to me in a deriding text to which I smartly quipped, ‘’yeah, but free spirits die with good hair!”

A Belgium website ( held the answer for me. After many months of coveting and justifying the price, I finally placed the order and wore the freight cost. It arrived to much excitement on my part. I ripped open the box, stretched the stylish cover over the glossy exterior, placed the adhesive spots on the interior as suggested in the instructions and placed it on my head. I ran expectantly to the dork-o- meter had dramatically reduced but still held a reading. With my short, age appropriate hair style unlike that of the younger, long loch bearing models on the website I now looked like I had just returned from the stables!

Unfazed, I mentally pictured a pony tail wig under it which would balance out its large unwieldy spherical nature.

Phase one completed, I now have to purchase the bike to match the helmet.....

It is fortunatethat I am going to Asia in less than three weeks to source one...amongst other things...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Game over...where to from here...this one is for you said (from the bar at No. 4) go home and write up here goes...

Parting gestures....when you don't one turns up...or if they do...they consider it part of their working day....the real friends do..and those married to you...god bless.

All dressed up....nowhere to go..

Onwards and upwards...I shouldn't be blogging but I am because I don't often do what I should be doing.

After I get over my leaving...swinging between wanting to feel bereft but not and wanting to feel euphoric and not...I will have to settle on indifference. Not a feel we "Creamies"(stuck in the middle) like to feel but are prone to.

Must go to to get up for man ride at 7am, porridge, lycra up then departure 8am..short bays 45km mmmmmmmmmm. ya ya!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gmail - the new rush -

New Beginnings

OMG! How flash am I? In my soon to be new status of '"retired until further notice" I thought it appropriate to begin new things......blogging could be and will be the first. On my fancy new laptop purchased specifically for my new life I can wile away the hours commenting on my metamorphasis.

The world is my oyster...

One more day of work....Must inspire last set of trainees of MPM to outstanding new heights before I sign out for the last time.

Back the bus up.....

Last week of work this week before I am a free woman.....had a uge night on Saturday with our annual conference being held in Christchurch. I attended the gala dinner on the Saturday night with my dear/long suffering husband....yes i did get a wee bit blotto....and he did have to look after me again. To my credit I did manage to totter out on my five inch reception anyway whereupon I continued in stockinged feet....fifty dollar stockings with cutsie bows up the back black line that had had a good three outings so the average was close to seventeen dollars per wear..not bad considering...not to be repeated under new unemployed status. Mental note to self to take better care in future. Anyhoo, big Mike P himself of Mike P Mortgages fame did give me a good send off in the form of a heartwarming speech coupled with a giant powerpoint presentation highlighting my poor grooming choices over the past ten to seventeen years in larger than life size splendour behind him on the wall. I then had to totter up in aforementioned shoes in front of a crowd of one hundred plus and burble out a witty retort...blinded by the lights, I garbled incessantly, chronilogically challenged, whatever came into my mind. I then snatched the proffered envelope, clutched it to my less than ample bosom and returned to my seat to the roar of the appreciative crowd. Pleasantries over I made it my mission to consume the last of the free alcohol I would be able to drink on the company. The freedom, lack of consequences and copious consumption led me to forget my manners and after spying a particular broker that had been less than hospitable to me in the past and more than a little full of his own importance...I took it upon myself to regale him with his long list of shortcomings. Thankfully my bodyguard was with me to catch any stray punches that could have landed upon my belligerent jawline...