Sunday January 29, 2017
Food is love, food is life. That's pretty much the message being driven home at the moment, as we celebrate Chinese New Year in 2017. The first meal is always reunion dinner on CNY Eve, where I spent it with my father's brothers having a very lavish meal. In between, we followed the epic semifinals tennis match between Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov - what a game!
For the first day of CNY, all of dad's side of the family gathered for an epic lunch at my uncle's house - 28 of us in total. So awesome to see everyone again, and really a special time with family enjoying some delicious food. At night, we went to a friend's house in Tropicana where again we ate and drank like kings in an opulent house, perfectly designed for entertaining dozens of guests.
As we drew closer to midnight, we set off some firecrackers and fireworks - and what a show, much better than what Auckland Sky Tower puts on for the Gregorian new year!
Wednesday January 25, 2017
It's been pretty wet since arriving in Malaysia, which is odd for this time of year. Nevertheless, this of course has not stopped the steady flow of delicious foods into my mouth. My day is basically eating and sleeping, and it truly feels like holiday mode right now.
The flight from Auckland to Singapore was fortunately good. The people sitting next to me relocated to seats with more leg room, leaving me with the whole row to myself. I caught a good four hours of sleep, and felt quite refreshed upon landing at Singapore airport. I had a two hours layover, and there's lots to do there, so I busied myself wandering around the terminals, looking at the various gardens and koi pools. I had a quick squizz at the Butterfly Garden, but it was still dark outside, and it was raining, so I didn't stay for long. There were also several Pokemon decorations around as part of a promotion, and the main feature was an offer to get a plushie for $10 after spending $120 in the airport.
Singapore to Malaysia was pretty rough, and though we departed slightly late, we landed on time. However, the air train between KLIA terminals suddenly broke down, and immigration took far longer than expected, so it wasn't until close to noon that I actually got out of the airport. First meal - fried rice and wat tan hor!
I've never been back to KL for Chinese New Year. It's quite chaotic actually, there's much more traffic on the roads as people rush to buy last minute gifts or food, or head out station to their hometowns for reunion dinner. The rain has made the temperature quite bearable during a time when it is supposed to be over 30C, but of course, exacerbated the traffic jams.
The plan for the next few days will basically be just eating and catching up with family, though I managed to catch one of my ex-colleagues and his wife today. They took me out for banana leaf rice in Puchong, and, as greedy as we were, also went for lau sar bao, the golden duck egg yolk bun. Almost impossible to find in New Zealand, the authentic lau sar bao is salty and sweet, and has a slight grittiness from the duck egg yolk. The bun must be soft and almost cakey, and the inside should look like molten gold, spilling out as you take your first bite. So gooood.
Monday January 23, 2017
I'm sitting here on board my Air New Zealand flight to Singapore, the first of many flights over the next month, as I make my way over to the UK. I've spent the last month saying my goodbyes to various people from all aspects of my life, and in turn, receiving their well wishes for my journey ahead.
It hasn't really sunken in that I won't be in New Zealand for a while. I've lived here for almost 29 years and it will always be home to me. The past nine years in Wellington has been a journey in itself. I've come to realise my place in the world and what kind of person I am. I've gained confidence in how I interact with people and how I conduct myself at work. I've learned an immense amount about who I am and what I am capable of doing. I've met lots of people and made life long friends, and like the many friends who I grew up with in Auckland, they've helped shape me to become the person I am today.
But there comes a time in Kiwi's life where the call of adventure and travel beckons. We live so far away from everything and the world is such a big place. The drive to leave was also accelerated by the fact I wouldn't be eligible for the UK's youth migrant visa for much longer. So without a real plan or job lined up, I resigned from PikPok and bought a bunch of flights to the other side of the world. It's the classic Kiwi "I'll just wing it" attitude. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, and I still don't really know, but I know that I'm about to have a bloody good time travelling.
Sunday January 15, 2017
I had my farewell party at Southern Cross last Friday, and then a mega Final Karaoke at K Zone afterwards. So many people turned up, it was quite overwhelming! It was great to see everyone, especially those who I hadn't seen in a while. After karaoke, a small group of us went to Sassy Loves Cash for a bit, and it was around 3am that I finally got home. It was amazing. I had so much fun on Friday, and I'm going to miss these people who have been such an important part of my life for the past nine years.
In spite of my lack of sleep, I had my Final Badminton on Saturday morning, then yum cha at Regal. I was off to Wadestown for Andrew and Claire's farewell/engagement party too, and then back home to continue the big decluttering. I managed to fob off a lot of miscellaneous stuff to various people, so thanks for helping me out in that respect!
This morning was my Final Service at Central Baptist, and I had specifically requested to be on the piano to pay tribute to an amazing church that was so warm and welcoming to me those eight years ago. I love that the church continues to be so inviting to people across different life journeys, and that they encourage people to worship in a way that has integrity for themselves. It has been a blast serving on the music team, and I'm so happy I was able to bring a smile to people's faces with my cheeky playing style.
Thursday January 12, 2017
You'd think that being unemployed, I'd have a lot of time on my hands. I had planned to write tons of stuff for my food blog - I have a huge backlog dating back to my trip to Melbourne. My day actually fills up really quickly - I'm cleaning, sorting out rubbish, packing away belongings, running to the post shop, running to appointments, getting documentation, selling items and meeting people. I need to drop some stuff off at the City Mission, dump any discarded clothes in the Clothing Bins, and continue packing away all the things I won't be bringing overseas.
I've managed to complete my itinerary, with every flight, bus ride, train trip and accommodation all booked. Final little bit is to see what to do in each city!
Monday January 2, 2017
2017 is finally upon us. What a year it's going to be for me! In just over three weeks, I'll be starting my Big O.E. with the first leg of my journey from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur.
The past year has been good for me. I'm very proud of Doomsday Clicker and the financial success that it's brought PikPok. It's been a fun project to work on, and exudes the signature polish and gorgeous art style that PikPok games have. It's got that quirkiness and humour, and those systems have been fun to write. I took on a greater role in recruitment and we hired some cool people over the course of the year - some of whom I won't actually get to work with! I leave PikPok with my head held high, knowing I've made a positive impact on the company and proud of what I've achieved in my nine years there.
I got to see the Final Fantasy A New World Concert in Melbourne, and almost exactly a year later, I will be seeing the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concert. I walked Lake Waikaremoana and barely survived with a bung knee. I went to five weddings, played piano at one of them and was a groomsman at another. We saw the end of Strawberry Fare, but went hard with Wellington on a Plate. There was Little Penang's fifth birthday, mooncake festival, hot pot, yum cha, late night trips to see the glorious night sky, badminton, squash, crocodile biking, and of course, karaoke. There was Pokemon Go and the ensuing hilarity of me being interviewed by the NZ Herald and Flava, and scoring a mention on TV3's Seven Days.
2016 has been pretty memorable for me and it'll go down as a pretty crazy year.
I've been spending the last week catching up with family and friends. Jules, Mana and I did the drive from Wellington to Auckland on Christmas Eve without any incidents. Christmas was spent in Waiuku on my sister's in-law's farm with loads of food and presents for the nine children in attendance! On Boxing Day, I bought myself a new laptop (that I'm currently using to type all this up) and spent the rest of the day on the North Shore at Mat's house with the Pokemon Gang. On Tuesday, I took James and Navi around Auckland for a whirlwind tour, visiting Western Springs, Giapo and the waterfront to check out the massive cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas. On Wednesday, I met Jono and Charlotte for yum cha at Sun World, then Jordan, Tessa and Mana for Korean food and some arcade games. It was my sister's birthday on Thursday and we had lunch at Carriages Cafe in Kumeu, then I was back in town for Bryce's stag do. We had dinner at Elliot Stables, then did an escape room and had drinks at Dr Rudi's in the viaduct. Friday I had dinner with Mel, Jarrod, Jono and Charlotte at At Bangkok, then dessert at Ollie's, and then on New Year's Eve, I was out in Cockle Bay with Jono and Charlotte again.
I've even found time to go to the gym while I've been up here. It's nice to be relaxed enough that I can sort out all my travel plans and organise things for the trip, and fit in time to catch up with people, eat delicious food, and lift some weights.
Here's to 2017 and the surprises it will bring me.