Friday January 4, 2019
Finally back in Canada after a glorious two week summery excursion in the homeland. It's wet here, in Vancouver, and I'm told it's been snowing in Toronto. Sigh.
The end of last year was busy. We had our final work karaoke on Friday night in Koreatown. It was so epic and full of laughter and good times; there was plenty of Disney, 80s power ballads and 90s cheesy pop, and we even sang Phantom of the Opera - with Emily hitting those amazing notes sung by Christine at the end of the song. So good.
I went to the light exhibition down by Ontario Place as well. It was pretty serene walking around the island, but the art installations were pretty colourful and interesting. It's cool that even in winter when the weather is so cold, there's still some kind of incentive to go outside and see what the city has to offer.
Pokemon Go's long-awaited PVP feature dropped this month, but as expected, it was nothing more than a mind-numbing tap fest with only slightly more strategy than a game of rock-paper-scissors. The rewards can be obtained regardless of winning or losing, the cost to make your Pokemon competitive is extremely high, and there's just no incentive to take that plunge.
The flight to Vancouver and then Auckland was not too bad. I played Smash Bros for most of the time, but then ran out of battery power on my Switch heading to Auckland. It was an overnight flight, so I managed to catch some shut eye, but I also watched Ant Man 2 and Incredibles 2. I arrived in Auckland very early on Thursday morning, and I babysat my nephew for the day.
I'd been starved of decent Malaysian food for so long that my first three meals in New Zealand were Malaysian - Kampung Cafe in Glen Eden, KK in Greenlane and Little Penang in Wellington. I basically took the airport bus from Wellington Airport into town, said hello to my excolleagues at PikPok, dumped my luggage at Mana's house and went straight to Little Penang on the Terrace. Auntie Tee and Uncle Keith even recognised me while I was standing in line, it was so nice to talk to them and tell them how much I missed their food. They even gave me a free teh tarik!
PikPok has changed a lot since I'd left. The company's grown by 40 people in two years, and the kitchen now fits more than two people. It was good to see everyone and see how they were, and catch up on news in my absence. We also went for karaoke!
My two weeks was spent basically absorbing as much Kiwiana as I could. Burgerfuel, L&P, Hells Pizza, mince pies, feijoas, the accent, the sun. I even played badminton! I visited tons of my favourite places in Wellington and Auckland, and I caught up with so many people: old workmates, church friends, family, school friends, University friends. It seemed like everyone had either gotten a mortgage, a dog or a kid in the time I'd been away. Though I may not have messaged many people over the past couple of years, it was easy to slide back into conversation as if nothing had happened, and for that I'm truly thankful. Everyone was keen to hear how my travels were, and about my life and job in Toronto.
The weather was awesome. Even if it was raining in entire time, I would have still had a good time not freezing my face off. Most days it was cloudy, but the sun came through quite often, in that familiar ozone-less burny sensation. I got some great pictures of Wellington's waterfront and Auckland's Waitemata Harbour, and sent them back to some jealous Canadians.
But of course, all good things must come to an end. The flight from Vancouver to Auckland was another night flight, and I slept so much that I almost ran out of time to watch Crazy Rich Asians. I'm not looking forward to the cold months ahead, but I am looking forward to seeing all my Toronto friends again, and telling them about my adventures and how great New Zealand is.