- She was at the hairdresser.
- Life's busy.
- She'd seen my sister's baby scan picture.
- It was beautiful.
- The weather was bad.
- She's going to Queenstown this weekend for a colleague's wedding.
- My uncle's fiancé's shop opens this Monday night.
- The cleaning lady (CL) turned 60 today.
- She and her friend brought said CL a facial as a present.
- She hopes CL will be able to stay still long enough to enjoy it.
- She wanted to know how one of my work projects was going.
- She'll call me soon.
After Laos, the big Asian trip headed into heady Vietnam and amazing Cambodia - both were spectacular in completely different ways ... the stormy motorbike ride through the countryside near Hue was one of the best parts of the trip, and the temples surrounding Siem Reap were completely absorbing. The whole trip went way too fast and definitely left me hanging for more - overall, a succession of beautiful, tranquil moments mixed in with the general chaos and craziness that is modern Indochina.
I was lucky to get a great tour group as well which always makes things so much more enjoyable - my previous trip to South America was also fantastic, so hopefully the next one will be equally as charmed (Central America or Japan/China are the contenders, but who knows if that'll come to pass in '09?).
On the work front, to say a lot's been happening would be the understatement of the year - I celebrated my sixth anniversary at work in October, which is a scary thought in and of itself. My boss also departed to head up another team around that time, which left me in charge ... and, eventually, to applying for his job and then getting it! The new Government has set a rip-snorting pace and I've been pretty much chasing my tail ever since ... it's nice to have a new focus, but I'm hoping to get some 'head space' at some point so I can properly adjust to this whole managerial thing.
I was also lucky enough to take a trip to England for work in June, to attend a couple of conferences, meet our 'sister' agencies over there and generally learn a bit more about the UK health system. The NHS is an interesting beastie, and one with a fair amount in common with ours, so it was a great opportunity all in all (and one again which went far too quickly). Of course, it was a lot of fun seeing a good number of the old London crew again over a lager or two ... it's beyond strange to think that it's coming up to nine years since I first set foot on those fair isles (and yes, the grey hairs are beginning to make an appearance too, which was another new experience in 2008!).
I also managed to squeeze in a few trips around New Zealand (home, weddings, concerts, weekends away, etc) and welcomed/caught-up-with people in Wellington too, which was great. The lovely Tom and Meg were in town for Webstock last week (and it was lovely to meet the charming Matt too), so it's been fantastic catching up with them and generally reminiscing about the good old days circa the turn of the century.
Since then, I've managed to survive the madness that is Bangkok, go elephant riding and bamboo rafting in Chiang Mai, take the slow boat down the Mekong River, hike through the jungle and swim in a waterfall - so many amazing sights, sounds ... and smells (have some great pictures already and it's only the end of week one!).
We have a few days here in Luang Prabang, so it's nice to relax for a while. We're staying at the Thongbay Guesthouse, overlooking the Nam Khan river ... very tranquil, and great to watch Lao life go by. Had a lovely tasting plate of local food last night at L'Elephant, then went for a few drinks at the Hive Bar - the bars all shut at 11.30pm for the town's curfew, so we had to carry on at the local bowling alley! (as you do).
Time to get out and about again I think - a visit to one of the many temples in town and climbing the 300-plus steps to watch the sun set from Mt Phu Si await ...
‹ 6.2.08 / 4 comment(s) ›
The second biggie is an upcoming jaunt to South East Asia for basically all of Feburary, with the requisite Sydney stop-off for the Mardi Gras madness on the way home. Given the South America trip's success, I'm going down the tour group road again, this time with Intrepid Travel on their "The Great Indochina Loop" tour. Here's the route map:
So, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, here I come. There's loads of things I'm looking forward to seeing on this wee sojourn - far too many to go into here - but you'll hear all about them in due course no doubt (or feel free to give me a gentle prod if things start looking dreadfully stale again). Any travel hints/tips/must-sees will also be gratefully received in the comments!
‹ 21.1.08 / 0 comment(s) ›
Saturday rolled around and after picking up Tracy's friend Anna, we headed through the tunnel to Lyttleton for more culinary goodness at the local farmers market. Very busy it was too, and a great array of fantastic produce ... picked up some nice brie, and plum and walnut spread and some rainbow olives (and scarfed a mini bacon and egg pie on the way out). We headed in to the city after lunch and had a bit of a look around the Arts Centre (nothing really grabbed my eye, or opened my wallet) and then the new(ish) city art gallery - some great exhibitions there, including Bill Hammond's eerie bird works and Ans Westera's brilliant photographs.
Saturday night arrived and we headed out for dinner (with Anna and Ross, who I hadn't seen for years) at The Flying Burrito Brothers - a buzzing little Mexican place and an offshoot of the one here in Wellington. It was margaritas and mole all round, then back to Tracy and Scott's to watch the All Blacks hammer Portugal - no contest really!
It was a lazy start to Sunday (a quality PJ session!) and then off on the road as we headed over to Banks Peninsula for a bit of a look-see. We stopped at The Hilltop Cafe for a late lunch - a delicious garlic prawn linguine - and soaked up the magnificent view, right over Akaroa Harbour on a beautifully warm sunny spring day. After we'd had our fill, we jumped back in the car and drove back to the city, just in time for me to grab my things, head to the airport and then wing my way back to Wellington. A great weekend away and just the ticket to recharge my slightly depleted batteries!
‹ 16.9.07 / 3 comment(s) ›
‹ 9.4.07 / 3 comment(s) ›
General highlights (in no particular order) are as follows: seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch performed live at last, by the brilliant iOTA; noshing on the delicious ricotta hotcakes at Bill's; pizza and beers at Kerry and Michael's, along with a madcap bunch of Perth ladies in town for their 10th M.G.; doing the Oxford Street shuffle, including the Columbian, the Midnight Shift and the (newly renovated) Oxford; good being dazzled and entertained by the Parade; dancing (communing?) and people-watching at the Party (pics on flickr); sating my Wagamama cravings (hurry up and get to Wellington already); shopping shopping shopping (but only buying one shirt - a very nice Ben Sherman job though); catching up with Luke and Monika (schnitzel is good recovery food) and Cheryl too; and finally, copping a little attention from randoms, which is always flattering!
‹ 20.2.07 / 0 comment(s) ›
"My boyfriend and I had (note the past tense) been going out for a couple of years. Usually for Valentine's we did cheap but thoughtful gifts - heart-shaped cakes, treasure hunts round the neighbourhood, that sort of thing. Last year he told me he had the best idea yet. I was pretty excited, but knowing he was working with a student budget I assured him it didn't need to be expensive or extravagant. He assured me otherwise, but 'knew I'd love it'.Goodbye boyfriend indeed! As my antithetical contribution to the day's 'celebrations', I cooked a delicious dinner for two hot women. So there!
Come Valentine's Day, I come home from work to find a treasure hunt. 'How nice', I think, 'maybe there's a bunch of flowers at the end'. Oh no. At the end I find my boyfriend. Handcuffed to the kitchen table in his undies. Along with his younger brother. Goodbye, boyfriend."
‹ 14.2.07 / 2 comment(s) ›
As always, my cardiac cup truly runneth over for the wonderful Meg (ably assisted by her equally brilliant hubby Paul) for keeping the BMAV fires burning for yet another year. Now, go have some fun saying it with ... bile.
‹ 5.2.07 / 0 comment(s) ›
As you can see, the rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated - the prolonged radio silence was entirely unintentional but these things are wont to happen in blogville from time to time!
For those who were wondering, the 'big trip' was fantastic - it all seems like a distant memory now but I had a brilliant time meeting old friends and new, while seeing some of the most spectacular places on Earth. I'll get round to writing things up eventually and 'backfilling' the blog but for a moment, feel free to check out some of the evidence (which I am extremely happy with for a mid-priced camera!):
- New York
- Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon
- Lima and Cusco
- Sacred Valley
- Puno and Lake Titicaca
- La Paz, Sucre and Potosi
- Salar de Uyuni
- Southern Bolivia
- San Pedro and Santiago
- Buenos Aires