Monday February 22, 2016
Been back in the country for a full week now, having had an amazing time over in Melbourne seeing the sights, eating the food, seeing old friends and of course, the Final Fantasy: A New World concert which was the main purpose of the trip. I arrived on Thursday night and spent it at Andy's house, eating some teriyaki chicken burgers and the best onion rings I'd ever had, while watching his friend play Final Fantasy X for the first time - great way to get into the mood for the weekend. On Friday, I met up with Sonny at Madame Squint where I had a soft shell crab bao, and did some shopping around DFO South Wharf, H&M and Emporium. I ended up at Lygon Street, because I really wanted something from Brunetti, the delicious desserts place with cabinets of cheesecakes, fondants, macaroons, pralines... every imaginable sweet. After that, I wanted some steak, but because it was the Friday night before Valentines and I was sweaty and gross and #ForeverAlone, I felt intimidated going into one of the Italian restaurants and dining by myself, so I went to good old Chin Chin and dined like a king.
On Saturday, I went with Andy to Manchester Press for their famous bagels, then continued wandering around town for more clothing bargains. I had lunch at Mamak, and trained all the way out to Windsor where I surprised Ben for his birthday. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the pub there, called Windsor Castle, and even tried a chicken parma. Yeeeah. On Sunday, I met Darius for breakfast at the famous Hardware Societe and had a most delectable lobster benedict. I have so much writing to catch up on for my food blog, it's not funny. I followed him to church as well, inside the cinemas at Melbourne Central, and met some of his friends for lunch at Lentils As Anything, a vegetarian "pay what you want" establishment in East Melbourne. I was back in town to get ready for the Final Fantasy concert at the Melbourne Recital Hall.
I thought I could bring a drink into the amphitheater so I purchased a large bottle of cider from the bar while mingling in the crowd of hardcore Final Fantasy fans, some of which had brought along plushies (Tonberry, Boko, Cactuar :3) or even cosplayed for the night (Red Mage, White Mage, Auron, Cloud, Aeris). As I reached the door, I saw a sign saying no food or drink inside, so I had to scull my drink and ended up extremely drunk and emotional for the first half of the concert. But even as I sobered up for the second half, the music was still fantastic and nostalgic and powerful. There were cheers from the crowd during the most epic themes from almost 30 years of Final Fantasy music, and as the night drew to its climax, we were invited to provide a single word vocal for the final song - One Winged Angel!
I was off to the airport extremely early on Monday morning. I played To Zanarkand and Let it Go on the piano in the departure hall, but there was no applause this time around - probably because the airport was pretty empty at that time of day. Of course, Jetstar was late by an hour, which meant that once I got to Auckland, I would only have an hour to get through customs, get lunch, get to the domestic terminal and catch my flight to Wellington. That lunch I had from Auckland International Airport was the most depressing meal I've had - having spent four days in Melbourne eating the most delicious food ever and having to come back to New Zealand and eat Subway of all things... truly sad.
Since then, I've been super busy still, trying to finish the project I'm on. We were at Coenn's Provisions on Tuesday for Tim's birthday, drinking heavily at Fork and Brewer and S & M's on Friday for Bobby and Cory's farewell, I was at Pete and Bronwyn's wedding on Saturday where I was the only person to volunteer to speak, and I was at music at Central Baptist on Sunday. It's been an action packed weekend and I need another couple of days to unwind... but there's no rest for the weary. I was almost tempted to go back into work to do some loading optimisations, but I think I should stay at home and relax.
Thursday February 11, 2016
I have been insanely busy lately. My current project is six weeks long, and we are currently in week five. Fortunately for me, I'm at Auckland airport, waiting for a plane to Melbourne while the team back in Wellington are pushing towards the final deadline. Still, I did a few nights of overtime last week to get through my huge list of tasks so it was not without my own sweat and tears.
People have been visiting. I caught up with Melburnians Ants, Jo, Ben and Jill when they were here for a wedding. My parents came and visited too, and we enjoyed much delicious food. It was dad's birthday (almost) while they were down so I took them to Matterhorn and Floriditas.
A couple of weeks ago, I was up at 5.30am to see all five classical planets in the sky at the same time. Looking out to the glow of sunrise out east was Mercury, then looking in an arc high in the sky, Venus in its dawn brilliance, Saturn, Mars, the waning quarter moon and finally Jupiter. It was a sight to see. Absolutely stunning. I've never seen all five at once like that before, and I think it speaks volumes of the kind of wonderful city I live in that I was able to walk out onto my balcony and see all of this so clearly.
Last weekend was Waitangi Day and Chinese New Year, which I spent with my parents, my sister and two nephews. I think it's important to observe tradition; it is custom to be with family on Chinese New Year's Eve for a reunion dinner. The next day, my parents were off to Malaysia with 4kgs of cherries, 2kgs of plums, a loaf of bread, wine, chocolates, smoked salmon, crackers....
So the reason I'm in Melbourne is that I am fulfilling an old dream that has been in planning for the past decade: see a Final Fantasy orchestral concert. It's going to be mega. All the nostalgia, emotion, memories and melodies. I will hopefully be stuffing my face full of delicious food too. Looking forward to it!