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Interests, Pastimes & Hobbies

Monday, October 31, 2011

NZ: The Magnificent Wairere Falls at Matamata

“Hi, may I know how I can get to the Hobbiton Movie Set from here?”
“I’m sorry, Sir. It’s close right now. Tour resumes on Nov 9th.
“Oh well, what about the waterfalls? How do I get there from here?”
“It’s easy. Take the left turn on the second roundabout when you go along this street.”

A.S who just approached the lady with the same question was so excited to hear this.

“Can I join you to the waterfalls?”
“I don’t mind.”


The weather did not treat the 2 of them well that day. The hike up and down was interrupted with intermittent rain and they had only ferns as shelter. Imagine being wet, cold, hungry(lunch to have at the peak) and a little exhausted but the determined 2 made up to the top at last. Yay! The supposedly 1.5 hours tramp up took them much MORE than that. The trail was filled with water puddles and slippery steps served as a great place to have the greatest fall of the year!

At the end of the day, A.S went home contented. It was indeed a great day out albeit the sucky weather. To sum it all up, it was an overall great tramp, superb views, great rides(many rides which included this on the same day), great companies, great next-day-sore as well as pretty pants and shoes! 

                                        Cool, aye? 
       Correction: Actual spelling should be Wairere Falls.
                              *The names here... *sigh...*

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A.S's Top 20 Must Dos In NZ

A.S has a checklist of must dos in this NZ trip but she has yet figured where exactly to do some of them. It all depends on deals she gets and the list might expand as she finds out more interesting activities on brochures and fellow travellers she crosses paths with. 

Here goes the list as of now with no particular order:-

  1. Sky diving at Taupo

  1. Bungee jumping at Queenstown

  1. Zorbing at Rotorua

  1. Camping in a motorhome at one of the National Parks in the South Island

  1. Doing the 7hrs Tongariro Alpine Crossing at the Tongariro National Park

  1. Experience the dairy farm life and try her hands on milking the cows

  1. Kiwis/ Cherries/ Berries/ Nectarines picking or packing because they’re YUMMY!

  1. Sheep shearing experience

  1. Swimming with the dolphins if there’s such a thing

  1. Sighting blue penguins and kiwi birds

  1. Whale watching at Kaikoura

  1. Trying the Maori ‘Hangi’ Meal at Rotorua

  1. Visiting live volcanoes in Rotorua and soaking in the geothermal pools

  1. Skiing experience - DONE at Snow Planet, an indoor skiing centre at north of Auckland

  1. Surfing experience at one of the many beaches, probably Raglan

  1. Hitchhiking experience – DONE

  1. Abseiling at the Waitomo Caves

  1. Improving tennis skills – IN PROGRESS

  1. Visiting the local Toastmaster Clubs – IN PROGRESS

  1. Car Transfer at the more scenic South Island ( it gives an opportunity to drive and explore NZ without buying a car)

Do you have anything to add to her list?
Do you know of the best place/ best deal to do what she’s planning to do above?
Do you feel like A.S needs to clarify some unfamiliar words above?
Do you want to know why some of the activities above are in her list?

Go ahead! You’re most welcome to speak up at the ‘sharings’ link below.

Calves... "MMMOOOooooooo..........."

A.S stumbled and fell so many times that she would kill anyone who recorded it.
TIP learnt: Keep the skis in this /\ shape in order to slow your speed down.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hitchhiking Tips For Female Travellers

Hitchhiking to A.S is not something really new or impossible but yet she’s still quite apprehensive doing it. Single travellers especially female has to definitely exercise cautions before doing this. A.S agrees this is done only by cheapskates but yet she has to also add that it’s fulfilling, adventurous and opens up into another dimension in traveling.

Personally for A.S, as she travels, she likes to stay off tour buses or tour groups or tourists to get as much interaction as possible with the locals. Therefore, she does not stay in hotels but hostels where she meets and mingles around with fellow travellers like her. Besides hostels, she also do couchsurfing at locals’ place. She’ll share more about couchsurfing in her next post.  As for transportation, she is trying to do more hitchhiking. She has been assured that it is safe as long as cautions are exercise especially for a solo female traveller like her.

So, she did an extensive read up and has had some tips stick to her mind now. Let her re-tell what she has learnt in her own words.

  • First, walk to the edge of town where vehicles passing by are going into highways in the direction of where you’re going.

  • Choose a location beside the road where cars can see you and slow down (i.e intersections, petrol stations or drive-thru fast food outlets) and that it is legal and safe for them to stop beside the road.

  • Write clearly with a marker pen where you’re heading on a cardboard. Also include ‘Or Midway’ as one might only do half where you’re going and willing to give you a ride for that distance.

  • Smile and give eye contact to drivers passing by to show that you’re friendly and mean no harm to them.

  • Also, it’d be good that you wear clean light coloured clothes to assure them that they're giving a ride to clean, odourless travellers.

  • When someone stops for you, don't immediately hop into the car. Ask where they're going first. This buys you time to judge the person and register in your head the plate number, type of car as well as other passengers (if any) before you agree to the ride.

  • For solo female travellers, don’t take a ride with groups of men. Also, it’s reasonable that you take the front seat when you’re alone with the driver. You don’t want to be trapped behind with a child safety lock when you try to escape a wrongly chosen ride.

  • Also, keep your money, valuables and important documents close to you, split among pockets or belt hidden from the driver. Do not keep them all in bulk and never in your luggage bag/backpack which you might have to keep in the car boot. You may lose your luggage bag/backpack but not your money and documents if the driver made you leave midway or you escaped midway for safety reasons.

  • Have a map with you at all times to be sure that you’re heading where the driver said to bring you.

  • Once in the car, call someone or take out your phone to show that you’re informing a friend or relative or people you’re staying with conversation like, “I just got a ride to Matamata in a car. It’s a nice blue, Japanese made car  which is about 10 years old but it sure is tidy and the driver is so nice to give me a ride. He’s a Kiwi”

  • Make small talk along the ride to lighten the tension as well as to get to know the person you’re getting a ride with. This a good opportunity to learn more about the local people and culture of the place where you’re traveling. He/She might  even provide tips or recommendations on local insights of things you must not miss out.

  • Many sites which A.S read suggested that hitchhiking couples or 2 females hitchhiking together  has higher chances of getting a ride compared to individuals as drivers are less suspicious and feel safer for themselves giving a ride to them.

  • On the other hand, it’s always safer to take rides from couples or families if not lone drivers. Most importantly, always trust your instinct!!! Don't accept the ride if you do not feel safe or make up excuses to be dropped off earlier if you do not feel safe.

A.S’s had her own read from this blogs/pages below which you could find additional tips:-

So, last week, after gathering these tips, A.S went out and tried it out herself. She had a ride from a friend on a motorbike to Morrinsville from Hamilton. After walking around Hamilton, she walked to the edge of town in the direction of Matamata and took out her signboard.  It was drizzling then alternating with sunlight over and over again. This is NZ, she has learnt after spending 2 months here. Fortunately, it did not take her long before a truck stopped. The Maorian guy appeared not interested to talk which she found out later he had a sore throat. It was good too as A.S could instead,  enjoy the musics  as she looked out the window into the green pastures filled with grazing cattles.

One of the small talk A.S had with her driver went as follows:-

“What are typical Maorian food?”
“Meat, pork, beef, sheep.”
“I see. That’s for protein. What about carbo or starch? Do you normally take potatoes, bread, rice or noodle?”
“Nope, it’s normally beef, pork… We love meat”

What a valuable insight one only get by talking to locals, don't you agree?

Safely arrived. Thank you so much, Mr Maori!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tips: Tennis Forehand and Backhand Strokes

A.S had a one-on-one tennis lesson yesterday here in Hamilton, NZ. Who would have thought that she would get a good deal here in Hamilton. Probably her enthusiasm to play and improve her tennis skill caught the attention of the manager here at the tennis courts. 

First time around, she was snapping the court rules on the signboard at the gate. Having noticed that, the manager popped out from his office and asked her in. She got the contacts, details of suggested group lesson she could join and was even invited to join the local badminton club meets nearby. He got to know where she came from, what she was doing in Hamilton and how long she would be here.

At the second time, she popped in straight into the office for Dave. He was so nice to support her fund raising with selling egg tarts. 

"How would you like to get a one-on-one tennis lesson for NZD 20?" he suggested.

She was surprised. She interpreted the cost in terms of Malaysian Ringgit. That's equivalent to RM50.

"Seriously? Are you saying one on one? What's the normal fees?" A.S tried to contain her excitement.

"NZD 60. Yes, private lesson. Oh, you know what, in fact, the coach is out there right now. Come with me. I'll talk to him about it."

Cool enough. The coach whom she  eventually met agreed.

"When do you want to play? How about tomorrow?"

"One more thing. Will I be able to use a racquet for lesson?"

"Yeap, I have extra you can borrow."

Woo HOO!

So, yesterday, not the next day but a week after that, due to consecutive wet days, A.S finally got her first private tennis lesson and it's here in NZ. Sweet as!!! It was interrupted with rain but it did not put her excitement off. The lesson was good, the coach whom she eventually found out was a Californian and has been residing in NZ for 18 years. Nice, nice, nice.

This blog would see A.S on her road to improvement in the world of tennis!!!

Things she needs to take note of based on corrections/comments in yesterday's first lesson.

Go slooowww, don't go too near to the ball, hit earlier by keeping the racquet at the back in ready position earlier, bend knees forward towards the ball, left feet flat on the ground, swing with the aim to lift and bring the ball forward, close racquet(sweep past the ball) at contact point, follow through, right leg step forward after contact with the feet flat on the ground, pause before skipping back to recovery position.

Similarly, go slooowww, don't go too near to the ball, keep the racquet in ready position earlier, bend knees forward towards the ball, right feet flat on the ground, similarly, hit the ball then ROLL the racquet to close racquet positon after contact point to keep the ball low, follow through and racquet stay and pause for a while at the end, eyes and body remains toward where the ball was hit, left leg step forward flat on the ground after hit, pause before skipping back to recovery position.

Probably, studying how people play in a video would be better. It helps to keep the motivation going especially when A.S always like to think she could play like them whenever she watches such videos.

After the first publishing of this post, A.S would like to add here. "I noticed the girl in the video is a leftie. So, leg/feet guides in my writing above are the opposite to what you see in this video."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Language: Kiwi Vs American Slang

Having been to both USA and now NZ, AkiraSabine(A.S) can't help but realize the differences in some common words in daily life. It does not mean that a Kiwi word is not used by Americans but it's just not as common. It's funny but it's one of the fun part of travelling, being in a different place surrounded by different people. Being a Malaysian and because Malaysia is a Commonwealth country, we learn the British English and so has more similarities with the Kiwi English which is also another Commonwealth country. However, having said that, A.S still sometimes (and hate to admit quite a number of times) can't catch the Kiwi accent especially over the phone. She has to agree that the American pronunciation is still clearer and easier to catch as they tend to be a little louder, speak slower and stress more on the syllables. 

If you're a Malaysian, you'll notice lots of similarities in the following Kiwi words to what we use in Malaysia though we also adopt some American words due to the exposure to the American entertainment.  Also, not to forget some words which exist only in our 'Manglish' / 'rojak' English too which is not the main focus of this post.

Kiwi VS American Slang

Supermarket: Grocery store
Shopping Centre: Mall
Trundler: Trolley/ Cart
Rubbish: Garbage
Jam: Jelly 
Capsicum: Bell pepper
Spring onion: Green onion
Toilet/Loo: Bathroom/ Washroom
Bloke: Dude
Tomato sauce: Ketchup
Biscuit: Cookie
Tramping: Hiking (It's also common in NZ that they call it 'bush walking')
Jandals (short for Japanese Sandals): Flip flops/Thongs ('slippers/sandals' to Malaysians)
Highway: Freeway
Tights: Pantyhose
Torch: Flashlight
Duvet: Quilt
Sunnies: Sunglasses
Lipbalm: Chapstick
Sweet-as: Awesome/ Cool
Takes yonks: Takes ages
kumara (Maorian word): sweet potato
Bobby Banana: Baby banana
Heaps of: Tonnes of
Chooks: Chicken
aye: eh (used at the end of sentences)
Flat: Apartment ('flatting' in NZ means you share a house/flat with others)
Ice block: Popsicle (in Malaysia, we just call it stick ice cream/ ice stick)
Petrol: Gas
What The F**k: What The H**k
Caravan/ Motorhome: RV short for Recreation Van
CV: Resume
zed: zee (for Malaysians 'zac' for the letter 'z')
Cheers: See ya (when leaving a conversation/ meet up)

A.S also wrote this post on common American words/ phrases she observed in her 6 months in the USA last year (May till Oct 2010).

Drop in here if you wish to speak like a Kiwi.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Silky Smooth Egg Tarts

When things aren't going your way, think positive and have faith that you're getting close.
Success is sweeter when it doesn't come by easy.
When you think that you can't rely on people, look into what you have and create that opportunity.
People say ask and you shall receive but it's not always the case.
Opportunities doesn't just come by asking.
You've got to prove it!

 - A.S -

Fresh Home Baked Egg Tarts, anyone?

Have I gotten you tempted?

How would you like one for coffee or tea?
Yes, it's a kind of dessert but it's not that sweet. No worries.
It's vegetarian and no, it's not a custard. This is an egg tart. The filling is made from egg and milk.
It's crusty on the outside and silky smooooooth in the inside. Try it and you'll love it!
It's fresh out from the oven!
Smells GOOD, isn't it?

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