Sunday, July 29, 2007

Last Singapore Days (& Insomniac Nights!)

Last days in Singapore are shorter than I ever imagined; it's such an amazing city! I've been here a year, and still feel as though I can still find more to do, more weekend trips, more coffee shops and places to go out, more crazy random adventures. It is really interesting to compare the work culture here to home; at times its hard to know where to be, what to want. So many stories, even in the last week...

From top left: Mark, Joelle, Phillipe, Howard, Jens, Sapna, Kristin M, Sean, Vivi, Kristin G, Roland
Pizza @ Kristin's 1-year-Anniversary with Singapore! Kristin celebrated her one year day in Singapore, Sean and I our last weekend in the city, with Canadian Pizza (ironically from Malaysia) and Sarpino's Pizza (from Canada), and Singaporean beer. Left: Roland & the Pizza more early morning, crazy times, so many people. Half our MRT pubcrawl team came out on Wednesday night. Same bands, 9 pm to 4 am, Joelle's crazy dancing, a search for a "lost" purse, three hour freeflow....I am going to miss the parties!

Far Coast ... would you believe that I found a NEW coffee shop? My last few weeks here, and we stumble upon Far Coast...right on Orchard Road, just a place we never bothered looking. All day breakfast (ok, tiny, but still good!), choose-your-roast espresso and cocoa drinks, comfy sofas, great atmosphere.

Left: Kristin G @ Far Coast

Last MOS Night...
Clarke Quay, Singapore's central nightlife, one more time. Ministry of Sound ofcourse, the Pump room, McD's for disgusting egg mcMuffins. Not to mention our pub-crawl on foot, to the Cheers & 7-11 on the way.

Simply Bread...the next afternoon. Another Singaporean ex-pat delight I find in my last days. Fresh baked bread, right in Robinson Quay and city centre as well...great coffee, awesome sandwiches. Real bread!!! This and Werner's Oven; I'll be back for both!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back in Singapore--MRT Pub Crawl Part 2!!!

Back in Singapore for a fun two weeks of job hunting and partying! Two weeks to enjoy the things I'll know I'll miss; the people, the Singlish, my favorite cafe (Menotti!), fresh fruit stalls, amazing thai food, cheap shopping, and the fact that a weekend away can mean an island paradise or totally random experience.
Left (top): Damien, Kristin G., Sean, Jens at Walla Walla, Holland Village
Left (bottom): Sapna, Joelle, Kristin G, Kristin M @ a random Thai place in Chinatown---green curry, yum!

Friday's MRT Pub Crawl: Part II was an attempt to get off every stop on Singapore's purple line, drink a beer, and get back on in 3 hours. Our goal was 10 stops; we made 8 (skipped Chinatown but still made it to St. James before the MRT shut down). A bit more successful then our Green Line crawl last semester (the line was too long!) although we did miss all you Scots in your kilts, and the rest of the NTU exchange crowd.
I think that pictures are a 1000 words in this case...check the slide show (all of you using Facebook, click the "View Original Post" link!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bay of Islands: Fun Times in Paihia & Cape Reinga

Our last few days in the North Island were spent at the Bay of Islands, a popular summer destination way up North. Since it's winter, as you can imagine, it's a bit rainy! Still had a great time as a backpacker team of four--A Canadian, a British, a Dutch, and a Hawaiian. We spent a couple nights in a bar, a day viewing the beautiful (but windy) Cape Reinga, a couple hours in a Fireman's pool hall (thanks to some drunken volunteer firemen!) and an afternoon on Russell Island...
Top: Goos, Cherry & Joel on Russell Island

Cherry, Joel and I headed back into rainy Auckland for a night...and bumped into some of the Kiwi Crew one last time at Globe Bar. Got a bit lost in a rainstorm, waited for 2 buses, broke an expensive bottle of wine (gift), and rushed back to our accommodation in time for photo uploading and a few hours of sleep. Off to Syndey next, but definitely going to miss New Zealand's beauty. Goodbye New Zealand, I'll definitely be back!

Lloyd, Cherry, Joel, Sapna

Friday, July 06, 2007

Backpacker Fun in the Rain: Wai-o-Tapu Scenery

Since this post doesn't contain skydiving photos (it was too cloudy; we waited in Rotorua, Taupo and Paihia for a total of 5 days!), I've added scenic shots from the ground. Here's New Zealand's winter scenery; geyers in the rain. Tons of fun since Cherry and I stayed at the Base Backpackers, and met a lot of cool people, not to mention the randomness of bumping into a lot of our fellow Kiwi Experiencers along the way!
left: Noreen, Rob, Cherry, Olly
Rotorua: A cool little city, although it does smell a bit of sulpher from the beautiful landscape. Great hostel, good place for adventure sports (mostly in the summer) , and where I watched my first rugby match ever.

Taupo: Where Cherry and I travelled down to, from Rotorua, for 2 days, in hopes of catching a skydive...beautiful day...just not beautiful over the dropzone. Colm & Nile (two Irish guys we met) joined us for the 2nd day of waiting. It's funny petrified as I was of skydiving, it's fear begins to wear off when you try so many times to psych yourself up for it! Partying with the Irish boys was a good time though...popcorn night after the the 24 hour kitchen...

Haka Falls: Great scenic viewpoint, also included in the slides. Even in the winter and the rain, New Zealand is a breathtaking country. As the Kiwis say, Sweet As!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rotorua Rapids: Whitewater Rafting on Canada Day!

Raging rapids and what felt like a minute of near-drowning experience--what a way to celebrate Canada Day! Although I do have to say, New Zealand's similarities to Canada amaze me---from the gorgeous scenery, to the fun people, to the integrated spiritual culture of the native people (called Maoris) in the area. Despite popular belief, Kiwis say "eh" a lot more than we Canadians do!

Like any adventure activity, the Kiwis at the Raft-It!/Sledge-It! company in Rotorua, New Zealand, went through the safety procedures---ie: what to do if you fall in the water, how to hold on properly, etc. Like everywhere, you sign the disclaimer, knowing that it's completely safe. They even chanted the Maori "Kia Tor! Strong Boat, Strong Women, Strong Men" before we took off. Their prayer to the river and Mother Nature before we went down the falls sent a shiver down my spine.

E Hono Re Kororua Ku Te Atua - Glory to The Highest
He Maunga A Rongo Ki Te Whenua -
Peace on Earth
He WhakaRopaid Kia Tangata Katoa - Goodwill to All Mankind

7 metre falls Prayer:

E Te Awa E Tere Nei "Kaituna" - Greetings to the River Beside Us "Kaituna"
Tena Koe Papatuanuku Nga Mihi Aroha Kia Kot - Love to Mother Earth
Nga Taonga I Waiho Ae O Tatou Tupuna Tena Koutou - Thanks to Ancestors for Leaving Treasures
E Te Manuhiri Tuarangi Naumai Haere Mai - Distinguished Geugests, Welcome

E Te Atua - Verse asking for a Safe, Spirtual And Happy Journey Throughout Our Travels
Kaha Rawa
Tiro Mai Kia Matou E Hui Nei
Homai To Kaha
Te Wairua Tapu To Maramatanga
Mo Tenei Mahi

Of course, you never actually expect the raft to flip on a 7 metre waterfall, trapping you underneath the raft. Fighting under white water takes your breath away; that 30 second search for an air pocket was excruciating. Finally finding the rope and holding on for life, screaming "Help" at the top of my lungs, I emerged from the rapids, hearing the voices of our Kiwi rescuers. It was fun though!

This slideshow is my only proof that I fell down a waterfall, 7 metres into the Kaituna River. Check out the photos!