Our Kiwi Holiday – Part 3

Note: The thumbnails below are linked to larger versions of the photos on our Flickr.com account. To see more of our New Zealand photos, click here instead.

We left Rotorua for New Plymouth on Christmas Eve. According to the guide map we had at the time, there would be passing by the attraction known as the Three Sisters which I guessed was similar to the Twelve Apostles rock formation attraction along the Great Ocean Road here in Victoria. I “guessed” because we haven’t actually seen it up close. But we did try.

We followed the signs that led us to where we would allegedly find the Three Sisters. Instead, we found an empty graveled car park by the beach. After a little looking around, we realised that we were expected to walk beside the foot of this cliff by the beach on to the other side to see the rock formation.

So, we walked the rocky and muddy path to the other side then all of a sudden, the tide began to rise. The water and foam was slowly but steadily approaching the cliff where we were walking. We immediately doubled-back to the car. Thankfully, we were only like five minutes away from the car park. Had we been there earlier, we would’ve been at the other side of that stupid cliff when the water rushed back in. There should’ve been another way to see the attraction without having to risk getting trapped. Or maybe there was and we just didn’t know about it. With that we continued our journey to New Plymouth.

We only planned to stay in New Plymouth for three days including the day we arrived and the day we would leave. That left us with just one day, Christmas Day, to actually go see Mount Taranaki and the surrounding areas. So, when the lady at the hotel told us that there was going to be a Festival of Lights event at the nearby Pukekura Park (teehee), we grabbed at the opportunity.

According to the hotel lady, the park would be lit up with colourful lighting at night and that there would also be a celtic band playing. The last bit certainly made me want to go even more. I had hoped the band would play a recorder.

On the way to the event, we realised that we had to walk a long way to get there. Walking distance, indeed! And on the way, we were attacked! Or at least, almost attacked.

A few minutes into the park, we began hearing faint music. It must be the band, I thought. We followed the music because we were essentially lost inside the park by then.

At last we reached a clearing and in the distance was an empty amphitheatre beside a lake. Well, almost empty. There were lots of ducks both in the lake and on the amphitheatre grounds. There was no other way but to go through the amphitheatre grounds where the ducks were. Then, halfway through the amphitheatre grounds, all the ducks turned towards our direction. Those on the lake swam towards us while those on land started walking towards us! It was like they were trying to corner us then pounce on us. Really! We ended up making a run for it.

We made it to the part of the park where the band was actually playing. I was a bit disappointed that there was only one band but it was the first time I’ve ever seen a celtic band perform live so I was still pretty happy about it. So we spent the night listening to the renaissance stylings of the Crehan Celtic Sound band.

We were very tired when we got back to our hotel since we had to walk like the hotel lady recommended. We so regretted not bringing the car. In the room, we got out the sleeping bags we bought earlier because the room was a bit on the seedy side like the hotel we had in Auckland (see Part 1).

We always have some form of Christmas Eve midnight feast (as is tradition in the Philippines) but that year, we didn’t. We were too tired to stay up too late. That and we didn’t really have a lot of stuff to eat. We bought a lot of canned goods and a small bag of buns earlier but we decided to only eat those the next day when all the shops would be close (we found this out earlier that day). So, our Christmas dinner was nothing more than cold canned food with bread for a side-dish. To date, it’s the worst Christmas dinner we had ever had.

We included going to New Plymouth in our itinerary mainly because of Mount Taranaki aka Mount Egmont which, like I wrote before, was featured in the movie Last Samurai. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t go to the actual set for the movie because it being Christmas day, the set was closed. Luckily, you really couldn’t close down a mountain over the holidays so we were still able to drive towards it and look at the sights around it like Dawsons Falls.

After our trip to the mountain, we spent the rest of Christmas day just watching TV which was having a Lord of the Rings marathon while eating our canned Christmas feast.

The next day, we drove back to Auckland where we spent the rest of our Kiwi Holiday. I know I wrote last time that I’d try finishing this series with Part 3 but there is so much more to write. And so, this story will be continued.

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Published in: on January 27, 2006 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who’ll Come a Waltzing Matilda with Me?

Today is Australia Day here in the lucky land down under. It’s a public holiday so we didn’t have to go to work. Instead of being able to participate in any of the events planned out for the occasion, we were driving around Melbourne picking up stuff we’ve won from eBay.

To mark this occassion though, I’ve made a little recording of Australia’s favourite folk song Waltzing Matilda. No, I didn’t sing it. Instead, I made a little arrangement of the song that I could play easily enough on my Yamaha 302B plastic alto recorder (a flute-like musical instrument if you didn’t know by now). Now, let me warn you that I’m still an amateur recorder player so please don’t expect too much out of the performance.

But at least, if you are not familiar with the song, you’ll at last hear how it plays. By the way, I’ve first heard of this tune as an ad jingle when I was back in the Philippines on a TV commercial by Sunraysia which was a fruit drink brand imported from Australia.

When I migrated to Australia and I heard this tune sung by Aussies, I thought they were singing the Sunraysia jingle. Of course I know better now.

So, to hear the tune, download the music here:
Waltzing Matilda (the popular version) [0:34 minutes, 128kbps, 531kb]

You can see the lyrics to the song and explanation to some of the slang used in Enigman’s Waltzing Matilda page.

For more info on the origins and history of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, here’s the National Library of Australia’s page on Waltzing Matilda.

Well, trying to come up with a decent performance of this song out of my recorder was my way of celebrating Australia day. And so now, you can come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Published in: on January 26, 2006 at 11:35 pm  Comments (6)  

Our Kiwi Holiday – Part 2

I had intended to write a more detailed account of our trip but after all the work I’ve been doing lately, I’ll just have to make it brief and simple. Actually, I should’ve aimed for a short retelling regardless.

Note: The thumbnails below are linked to larger versions of the photos on our Flickr.com account. To see more of our New Zealand photos, click here instead.

Now, continuing from the previous installment of this story, the next day turned out to be a much better day. We were able to book another hotel to stay in Auckland when we get back from Rotorua and New Plymouth during the final leg of our trip. Also, we went to the car rental shop where we booked our car and we got a Toyota Corolla hatchback which is almost identical to the car I drive here in Melbourne.

With the car already on hand, we left for Rotorua earlier than originally planned. The plan was that we would drive all the way to Rotorua from Auckland stopping only for toilet breaks. Fortunately for us though, the lady at the rental car shop recommended we take a side route that passed Matamata instead of the main route.

Matamata was worth the detour, too, because it’s the town nearest the farm where they built the Hobbiton set used in the Lord of the Rings movies. Even though all that was left of the set was some of the houses’ understructure, it was great to set foot on the actual Hobbiton hills.

On the drive to Rotorua, we often consulted the free maps we had just to be sure we don’t make any wrong turns. We had to laugh at some of the place names we’ve read though because they sounded awfully like naughty Tagalog pharases. For example: Te Teko sounded like “My Penis” and Pukekohe sounded like “My Vagina, ok?”

Anyway, we managed to stay on course and arrived in Rotorua safely. Our first impression of the place was that it stinked and not because it was a dirty place. Rotorua is surrounded by boiling mud pools and the smell of sulphur often fills the air. So, during our four day stay at Rotorua, we had to endure the smell of rotten eggs every now and then.

Still, it was a pretty, wonderful and peaceful place. I only had to keep telling myself that we were safe and that the whole town wouldn’t just turn into a volcano and blow up.

Since, we watch a lot of the reality TV show The Amazing Race, every road trip and visit to an attraction that seemed like an in-game Detour or Roadblock, made us feel like we were a couple in the show competing against non-existant couples in a race. And because we watch the show, we made it a point to visit the places in New Zealand that were featured in the show like the Zorb or the Waitomo caves (though we didn’t abseil/rappel down). And although the Skyrides luge track wasn’t featured in the show, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

We visited other places around town but I wouldn’t bore you with anymore details. Suffice it to say, we enjoyed the Zorb, the Waitomo Caves visit and the luge rides at the Skyrides track by time we left Rotorua.

After Rotorua, we drove down to New Plymouth to see Mt Taranaki which was supposed to be the “stand-in” for Mount Fuji in the Last Samurai movie starring Tom Cruise. As you can tell, we’ve been concentrating on the sites that were featured either in movies or in TV shows. I’m such a couch potato.

I’ll continue and hopefully conlude this story in the third installment.

Published in: on January 24, 2006 at 8:57 am  Comments (7)  

Can’t Beat the Heat

The past couple of days had just been very warm. The temperature was averaging at about 40 degrees Celsius as far as I could tell. The house was like the inside of an oven and stepping outdoors under a shade didn’t help any either.

We tried to beat the heat through the tried and true Filipino way of going to the mall but the nearest shopping centre didn’t have air conditioning powerful enough to completely overcome the warmth coming from the outside. Still, we welcomed the reprieve from the horrible heat. However, it was only a short term solution as the mall closes at 5 pm on weekends.

And since the sun doesn’t set until 9 pm during the Summer (as in right now), we still had three hours of sunlight left and we could only spend it at home.

Fortunately, during a very short heat wave when we were still living in an apartment in Canberra a few years back, we’ve purchased this “portable” air conditioner. By portable, I didn’t mean that it weighed light. I just meant that we can carry it around with us when we move to another apartment or, as is currently the case, to our house. It’s not as powerful or as efficient as a permanent wall mounted air conditioner but it was good enough to beat those few days in the year where it was really hot in Canberra.

We brought it along with us when we moved to Melbourne but never got the chance to use it at our St Kilda apartment. Still, we kept it just in case we needed it. And this Summer, we desperately needed it. I got it out of its box (we keep the boxes of the appliances we bought) and promptly installed it in the second bedroom that we converted into our study/computer room.

After installing the exhaust tube to the window, we turned it on and we felt this sudden gust of cold air from the aircon’s fans. It was glorious I tell you. We had the thing turned on the whole of yesterday afternoon after coming home from the mall.

Today, after waking up in the morning, we went straight to our study and turned on the aircon when we realised that the weather wasn’t going to be an improvement over yesterday.

Raquel recently won free tickets to watch the movie Keeping Mum starring Rowan Atkinson at the Village Cinemas in Geelong which was about 40 minutes’ drive south from our house at Werribee. The plan was that we would drive to Geelong early, have lunch there, do some window shopping, then be at the movie theatre for the designated 6:30 pm showing.

We went to Geelong and the mall was a disappointment. It was much cooler (I meant that in its literal sense) if we had just stayed at Werribee Plaza (the mall that was just about 5 minutes’ away drive from our place). But no. We had to be in Geelong to watch a free movie.

We had a haircut then went on to do some window shopping but the heat was just too much to bear. I rather be sitting at home watching a DVD with the aircon turned way up than sweating around some mall waiting for a movie we had no intention of watching if we hadn’t won the free tickets.

The reason we didn’t leave the moment we got there was because of this warning that came with the free tickets: “Please note that if you do not attend, you may not be eligible to participate in free screenings in future.” And of course, how could we turn down a free movie, and for that matter, future free movies.

In the end, at around 3 pm, we said, screw this, and left for home anyway. That free movie wasn’t worth the suffering we endured and was about to endure had we stayed around.

When we got home, we immediately retreated to our study, turned on the aircon and sat in our chairs in relief. It was great!

Raquel and I had to do some chores though that forced us out of the “cool room” but at least we knew that a relief to the heat was just in the next room waiting for us when we wanted it.

At around 8 pm, the air started to cool down (outside the “cool room” I mean). Maybe it was because tomorrow was forecasted to be a cooler day. Or maybe it was because of all the cloud cover generated by the bush fires around Victoria today that caused the temperature to lower near night time. Whatever the reason, at least it’s cooler now. Thank goodness we only had to endure this kind of heat for only a few days in a year.

Published in: on January 22, 2006 at 11:42 pm  Comments (6)  

Whew

It’s been a very hectic week. I was hurriedly trying to finish a work issue before this weekend when I received an email last Monday from our host at Lunarpages informing me that our site was eating more than its fair share of server resources. They temporarily transferred the site on another server pending a resolution to the problem.

So on top of doing work in the office, I was equally preoccupied uninstalling superfluous apps from the site which might, on the off chance, be the reason for my site eating up server memory. I dismantled my Lovarian Adventures webcomic site so that the only thing left is a home page and links to the actual comic pages.

I have moved most of the pictures and images used on the blog from our own Gallery to either Flickr or Photobucket. Then I changed the URLs on the blog so that it now points to the images on their new URL addresses.

In the end, all that was left was the WordPress blog application (this blog) and another unused image gallery application. Although I wasn’t entirely happy with having to strip down our site, I preferred doing that than having to move it to another host. That would be more of a hassle. Fortunately, Lunarpages was happy with the changes I’ve made. In a couple of days, if the memory usage stays down, they’ll move the site back to the previous server and then I’ll have full control of the site’s backend again.

Over the week, we also installed a new LG dishwasher with the help of Spike, a friend from work who happens to live in Werribee, too. I’m not a handy man type of guy. I guess that has got to change now that we have our own house.

We have also assembled some of the furniture we bought from Ikea after dinner. As of this writing, there are still three big bookshelves we’ve yet to put together.

Well, I’ve decided to skip doing the remaining furniture over the weekend and give myself some much needed rest and relaxation. Not to mention some time to write a blog. That reminds, me I still haven’t written the next part of our New Zealand holiday. I’ll be continuing (and concluding) that story real soon. If you are intersted.

Anyway, I’m just happy that everything seems to be slowing down again. I just want to sit on the chair in our rumpus and just relax.

Published in: on January 19, 2006 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bills, bills, bills

A slew of bills arrived at our postbox the other day. There was a bill for the electricity, one for each credit card, a phone bill and for the first time, a water bill. In all the years we’ve been living here in Australia, we’ve never had to pay for a single water bill before. Living in various apartment units in previous years with no water bills arriving, we have surmised that the water costs must already be included in the rent. Which was fine by us, that’s one less bill to worry about. On the other hand, I used to wonder if tenants who don’t pay for their own water are actually heeding the call to save water. After all, it’s easy to leave the tap on while brushing or shampooing your hair when you don’t have to think about having to pay for every single drop.

Scrutinising our quarterly water bill, we were curious how customers are charged. Itemised in the bill were water and sewarage service charges. Hmmm… both are necessities and aren’t something we can’t control so on to the next. There were 2 separate charges for the actual amount of water we’ve consumed and curious as to their pricing, we went to the retailer’s website. We found out that there are 3 pricing tiers they use to charge consumers. The higher your usage is, the more you pay. Good to know as there is now an incentive to save more water and perhaps even start thinking about recycling.

Failing to see any other way to save more from our water bill, we turned our attention to the electricity bill. According to the bill, we are currently subscribed to the TRU Energy’s At Home plan. The line item describing the amount we’re being charged read “At Home Peak”. Which led us to think, does that mean they have a special rate for “At Home Off Peak”? And if so, when does it kick in and how do avail ourselves of it?

A call to their customer service line and about a half-an-hour wait later, we found out that although they do have an off peak rate, we’ll would need to have a special meter fitted. Since we made the call after hours, the consultant couldn’t transfer our call to the department which handles enquiries regarding these meters. Ok, on to the next question. As we’ve recently received a letter from the company asking us if we’d be interested in their Dual Fuel plan, we asked what it is all about. This plan is being offered to customers who get both their electricity and gas supplies from TRU Energy. Instead of having to pay one huge bill every quarter, they would estimate the household’s usage and charge you monthly instead. This would mean better budgeting because of fixed and smaller amounts to pay every month. Meter readings would still be done and if the amount of usage changes, the monthly payments would also adjust. It does have its advantages but we prefer to pay for our actual usage (as opposed to estimates that may be changed later anyway) so we haven’t really decided yet if we’d like to sign up for this plan.

With the electricity and water bills sorted out, the only bright spot in the mail seemed to be with the telephone bill since it shows a $13.87 credit. I’ve taken advantage of a package deal from our ISP and have switched our fixed phone line when I signed up for their broadband more than a month ago. Thinking that the line has now been transferred to the ISP, I called up Telstra to arrange a refund for the amount mentioned. Simple enough you say? After reciting my phone number several times, answering “Yes/No” to their automated service system with the high-tech, low usability voice recognition and being transferred to five consultants, I was beginning to wonder if the amount was even worth all this trouble. One man I talked to informed me that my account with them is still active despite the transfer being completed since mid-December last year. He also added that I may even receive more bills from them as there is no indication in their system that the phone line has been inactivated. After this spiel, he asked if I still want to have get the refund now or wait till the final bill. Stuff it, I’ll get the refund now. He transferred me to a lady who finally arranged to get the cheque sent to me (in 5-7 days was what she said). The conversation with her took about 30 seconds after about 20 minutes of explaining, waiting between transfers and listening to the hold music. Don’t you just love calling customer service these days?

Not.

Published in: on January 19, 2006 at 3:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Server Problems

At this moment, we are experiencing some problems with our host regarding server memory usage. The site is temporarily transferred to another server until the problem is resolved. During this time, you may notice that some of the images or pages might stop working.

If everything goes well, all will be back to normal soon. If not, then we’ll probably just have to relocate the entire website elsewhere. In that event, the site will become offline for some time.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to fix the problem before the seven days they’ve given me are up.

Published in: on January 16, 2006 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Ikea experience

The first two times we went to Ikea, we had no intention of buying anything. We heard good things from people who had previously shopped there and wanted to find out for ourselves if their products are as well-designed and reasonably priced as they are being made out to be. The store was huge, with the first floor dedicated to the showroom and the level below it acting as a “market”. This market section resembles a grocery store with racks and shelves stacked high with merchandise while shoppers walk around with a trolley to put their intended purchases in. All the smaller items could be found in this area while the bigger items are stored in the warehouse at the back of the store.

The idea is for people to create their customised list based on the displays in the showroom, find out the location of the item from the tag hanging from it, pick the item up at the specified location, put it in the shopping cart and pay for it. It’s very Do-It-Yourself (DIY), with the staff only offering assistance on product information, what options are available and performing stock availability checks. The store is also peppered with posters claiming that because most of their furniture are stored in flat boxes, you could even transport them home yourself. How’s that for a healthy dose of self-sufficiency?

We went home that first time with a product catalogue clutched in our hands. Wow, look at these amazing products and at that prize, it’s a steal! We were after some bookcases and a TV unit and went back a second time to look at these items and liked what we saw. However, since we neglected to take measurements of our living space, we couldn’t really decide how many bookcases we wanted and if the TV unit we liked would even fit. We didn’t go home empty-handed though as we bought a set of light globes for our floor lamps and a desk lamp for the kitchen.

A week passed. By this time, we had made measurements and plans as to how we want to decorate our rumpus room and made a list of what we wanted to buy. The list consisted of 3 large bookcases, 4 CD towers, 1 corner bookcase, 1 storage combination (TV unit), 3-drawer chest for the wardrobe, a twin-set rubbish bin combination with a slide-out attachment. The sum was a good chunk of money but considering the amount of furniture we are after, it is only a pittance compared to what we’d pay if we get it from another store.

With that in mind, we went back to Ikea last Saturday, already dreaming of our new purchases all set up in our living room. We got there at around 2 PM, had a snack (I wanted to make sure that hubby has the energy to walk around the store since our previous visits left him hungry and miserable) and trooped back to the store. We soon found out that although most of what we wanted were available in-store, some items are out of stock. The corner bookcase was sold out, same with the TV bench that goes with the entertainment unit, ditto with the CD towers and so was the slide-out accessory for the rubbish bins. We debated for some time if we want to consider another model that is in stock but finally decided against it.

We also decided to have the items delivered and thought that we could skip the pick-it-up-yourself step and let the staff do it for us since they would be delivering it anyway. I bet our faces showed a world of bewilderment when the guy we were talking to told us that he could only help us with the location of the items but we would have to pick them out ourselves, pay for it at the checkout counter, queue up at the home delivery section with our purchases, pay the delivery fee and wait for it to be delivered on the appointed day. Gj looked like he wanted to throw his hands in despair. Guess now we found out why the prices are kept low as the shopper really do all the grunt work, no exceptions.

After collecting everything we want (3 large bookcases, a 3-drawer chest, 2 shelves on either side of the TV unit, 2 bridging boards and 4 small doors for the TV unit), we queued up for the delivery service just as the store’s announcement system informed us that the store is about to close. We paid the $65 delivery fee (lower if you live nearer the city) and were told that we could expect our purchases the next day. We went home exhausted and hungry, as usual, but glad that at least we got most of the things we wanted. By then we’re also thinking that maybe the unavailability of some of the items on our list is a blessing in disguise. With the exception of the TV bench, we basically got what we were originally after and budgeted for.

I woke up Sunday morning to a ringing phone. I wasn’t able to get the phone on time but got a recorded message from the delivery guys. Although we were originally given an estimate of an afternoon delivery (1 to 6 PM), they said that they’ll be coming within the hour. They made good on that promise as the Budget truck they were driving backed into our driveway half an hour later. It only took about a couple of minutes for them to unload the heavy boxes and they were off. Speaking of heavy boxes, we were amazed me to see these delivery guys lifting a 45-kg box all by themselves when hubby and I could hardly do it together. We even got an offer of help from a fellow shopper when we were trying to get one bookcase into our trolley the day before, must have been the look of agony in our faces that tipped him off – here are two puny Ikea virgins who haven’t even developed the kind of muscles required to lift the merchandise!

Anyway, hubby has put the TV unit together and was looking mighty satisfied by it last night. He even said that the thing made the room look classy. Next up would be the 3 bookcases and the chest of drawers. After that, we could ring Ikea up and see if that TV bench is already available. Can you tell that we’re newly converted fans?

Published in: on January 16, 2006 at 8:01 pm  Comments (3)  

Musings on an overheard conversation

While trying to catch a nap on the train today, I overheard two Filipino women greet each other as they sat down several seats from where we were seating. One of the women had her teenage daughter with her and introduced her to the older woman. The daughter smiled and said hello to her mother’s acquaintance. The woman smiled in return then proceeded to haughtily ask the mother, “Nakakapag-Tagalog ba ‘yan? (Does it know Tagalog?)” To which the mother answered, “Nakakaintindi lang, di nakakapag-salita. (She can understand but cannot converse).” The mother then proceeded to say that the family migrated to Australia when the daughter was only 2 and so the kid grew up knowing English as her first language but could still understand Tagalog/Filipino because she hears it being used at home.

The first thing that strikes me about this conversation is the inappropriateness of the words used by the older woman. I was appalled to hear her refer to the girl as “iyan” (that) as if she was an object instead of “siya” (she/her). Although the two seems interchangeable to Filipinos nowadays, it still sounded rude to my purist ears. It’s not as if they were talking about an inanimate object or a favourite pet that could do tricks, it’s a person we are talking about here. A fairly young one but an entity on to herself, nonetheless.

Which also made me think, why did the older woman direct the question to the mother instead of asking the daughter directly? Maybe the Filipino elders’ practice of “huwag makikisama sa usapan ng mga matatanda,” which discourages younger Filipinos to join in the conversation of their elders, was on display. Although this practice has been encouraged in the past among the young as a sign of respect to their elders, I don’t know if it’s still a good one to follow. At least not all of the time. We all know that most adults are not always the wisest people around and I believe that young people should be encouraged to speak their mind in a conversation with an adult. The exchange could enrich both sides’ view of each other and if done correctly, could still be executed in a respectful manner.

The other thing that struck me about the conversation was the fact that the daughter could understand Filipino words but is unable to speak it. How difficult is it to jump from comprehension to speech? But then again, that’s my situation with the Chinese language as well. Although my mom has always encouraged me to speak to her in Chinese, I rarely do so. That is because although I could understand most of the Chinese words when she’s talking to me, there are some that I don’t really know the meaning of. But instead of asking what each word means and then commit the new word to memory, I usually just fill in the blanks, assume the meaning of some words and never really try to remember them. The only time I ask for the real meaning of a word is when I couldn’t really guess the word and it’s crucial to the comprehension of the sentence. On most occasions, these words would be nouns or verbs. For example, if my mom asks me to do or get something, she’d say something in Chinese and to me it would translate to something like, ” Could you get me that …, I need it to …?” Of course I’d have to know what the words in the blanks mean. How else could I get what she wanted for whatever she intended to do? Which is to say that although the words would be familiar to me the next time I hear it, I couldn’t come up with the words myself when I need to. Which frustrates Gj no end since he’d ask me what something is called in Chinese and I would only stare at him blankly and say, er… I don’t remember.

Maybe another reason for this inability to speak the language comes from the lack of practice. My mom puts the blame on this for my inability to speak the language and has even discouraged me at one time to talk to her in Filipino, insisting that I use Chinese to do so. Her plan backfired of course, when I ceased talking to her at all during that period.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the accent. Once when I was talking to my maternal grandfather in Chinese, he suddenly laughed out loud. There was nothing funny in what I was saying and so I asked him what he found so hilarious. He answered that I had a “funny accent” and laughed some more. I think it would have been a good learning experience for me had he told me what the correct pronounciation was but he never did. I was self-concious of this accent everytime I talk in Chinese and spoke the language less and less.

Learning a language should be fun and the best people to learn it from are those who know it and speak it. Next time you know of someone trying to learn Filipino, maybe it’s a good idea to encourage them and although their efforts may be hilarious to you, it’s okay to laugh but make sure to correct them. I, for one, wouldn’t mind that kind of support and instruction. On the other hand, I would have persisted and learned Chinese inspite of my experiences when I was younger. But then again, maybe I was just a lazy student after all.

Published in: on January 12, 2006 at 12:31 pm  Comments (3)  

I Hate Gardening

When we were still house hunting, one of the main things I looked out for was the front and back lawns. A lot of Australians, I bet, would prefer lawns they could turn into beautiful gardens. Not me though. If I had my way, I’d have the whole lawn paved. I’d rather be doing something else than spend my time mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, watering the plants and raking the green waste.

I thought the house we bought didn’t have a big grassy lawn to begin with but it still took me a good while just to mow the stupid area this past weekend. I spent most of my weekend mowing not only the grass in the backyard but also the front lawn.

After returning from New Zealand, the grass and the weeds have grown pretty high making the job of mowing the grass more difficult than it really should. That’s my guess, at least. So while I was trying to cut away the weeds with the mow, Raquel was busy digging them up from the places where I couldn’t just mow them down.

We also realised that we didn’t have much gardening tools so we rushed off to our new favourite store: Bunnings Warehouse and bought a manual lawn mower, an electric line trimmer, a hedge trimmer, two weed-removal tools, gloves, earmuffs, goggles, weed killer spray, a small spade and big spade, a rake and a hand shovel. What a cash drain this gardening thing turned out to be.

With the proper tools and after all the work, at least the yard was now presentable again. I just wish I could avoid doing all the work all over again in a week or two. I’m seriously considering paying for somebody to just pave the whole back yard or fill it with pretty gravel or something.

Published in: on January 10, 2006 at 10:08 pm  Comments (3)