Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Fuel price on the rise.

I just heard from my kakis in Malaysia that fuel price is likely to go up again!

You guys back in Malaysia are so lucky. Here in New Zealand they don't tell you there is an increase in fuel price. No fore warnings, no sms from buddies, no queues at petrol kiosks the night before. You just wake up one morning and go to a petrol kiosk and see new prices displayed and they increase prices as and when the world market prices increase.

When we first arrived, which is only a month ago, petrol was selling for 118.7 cents per litre. Since then, it went up 3 times and down once. Went as high as 133.8 cents per litre and is now hovering at 131.9 cents per litre.

Initially we waited for our tank to empty before filling up the 3 litre Odessey but seeing the fluctuation we fill it up the moment the needle touches a quarter tank of usage.

Here's the thing, despite all this, there is no change in prices of public transportation (I take the train to work daily). The government here does not control price increases in public transportation nor does it control fuel prices sold to the public or industry. Most of the busses in the city and trains run on electricity and 90% of the electricity runs on hydro electric and water is free! At least in Wellington it is free. The price of coffee does not increase in proportion to the increase in fuel price. Roti canai is still sold at $6 and you can get some commodities at below cost if you wait for the right time when they have "specials" on! No one ever protested or even came close to making a comment on the increase.

Now, if it was Malaysia, you will be hearing it all over the radio, TV and newspapers and why the government should step in to control the price or the taxis will have to increase their fares and busses will have to charge more and the fella with a stall under the tree in an abandoned car park who pays no rental will have to increase his price of "ais kosong" for some unknown and unrelated reason, etc etc.

And if it was Indonesia, another kettle of fish, demontrations would start at the ever so famous Bundaran HI in Jakarta. Students will be carrying placards asking Susilo Bambang to step down and there will be major public outcry becasue the population would now be suffering. Yet Jakarta will be congested and on a Friday afternoon, Jalan Sudirman will be a massive carpark! People will still be queuing up to buy fuel guzzling cars like Jaguars!

Monday, 27 June 2005

Is winter over?

Despite the mid winter having past on June 21, 2005 and the days are actually strating to get longer although by a few minutes each day, or so they claim, the temperature is nowhere near heading North!

We had hail yesterday, the hills around Wellington were snow capped, last night it went as low as -2 deg C in some parts of Wellington and this morning, despite a display of clear blazing sunshine, it was only 4 deg C higher than it was the previous night. It is still freeeeeeezing!

Am not sure if it is all that walking or the temperature. Both my ankles are terribly painful. Parts of my feet are slightly swollen at the soles and walking is becoming more of a challenge to me now. I enjoy it though.

I went to see the local doctor to find out if there was something wrong. She checked my feet, charged me $62 and told me to get a new pair of shoes! She referred me to a outlet called the "Shoe Clinic". I went there after seeing the doctor.

These guys are amazing! They told me to walk through a scanner placed flat on the floor, which recorded my problem, my shoe size, my weight and how much pressure I put on my feet and where exactly on my foot was the pressure. Amazing! So the end result was for me to purchase a pair of shoes that fit my feet exactly, softens the places I put pressure on and I must say it is comfortable. I have 30 days to try the shoes and if my problem still does not go away, I can get a full refund! By the way, I am poorer by $299.00! That is a lot of money for a pair of shoes but very cheap for the comfort of walking daily.

Not only my feet are feeling the effects of the cold. My digital camera takes a long time to store a shot. I initially thought it was the batteries. Changed them but still the same.

Can't wait for summer.....

Saturday, 18 June 2005

Free weekends...

We just came back from a wonderful weekend (actually the weekend ain't over! It's only Saturday). And all it cost us was the petrol, and some shivers as the weather is still pretty darn cold and days are still pretty darn short. We are so looking forward to summer.

We went to this park somewhere near Titahi Bay. It was about 15 minutes drive from where we are an the view was spectacular! We frist drive up to the top of an awesome hill, then drive down to the bay. There are lots of places to park and walk and run and do whatever you want. And it was not crowded, there was only like 5 others cars there. We were told during summer we can expect to see maybe another 2 cars! That's a crowd in Kiwi terms. Then again, there are so many such parks dotted around the city. There were people swimming (yes swimming!) and some surfing. Actually the water is not that cold. Just the wind that makes it cold.

Later after a nice roast dinner we drove down to Petone Foreshore for some spectacular fireworks display! We stood by the esplanade for about 30 minutes witnessing some great mid winter fireworks. It was freezing cold at least for the kids it was. We had a bottle of nice white wine and the cold did not feel that cold after all. It took us 20 minutes to get to the esplanade. (June 21st is the official mid-winter in NZ. The day is the at its shortest on this day!)

There are loads of things to do on weekends and I wonder when we will run out of things to do. Most of them are actually free of charge.

And sorry there are no photos. Yours truly forgot to bring the camera. But tomorrow we are heading for the Te Papa Musuem and the camera is all loaded!

Friday, 17 June 2005

Friday drinks...

There is this Kiwi culture of Friday drinks at the workplace. So every Friday, we all get together for drinks at the company's expense. Firstly we get to dress casual to work on Fridays, then at about 4.30pm (work finishes at 5), we get to roll up our already "short" sleeves, and those with hair to let your hair down, and sit down for drinks. There is beer, wine, juices and finger food!

Now this is life... Not bad eh!

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Peculiar Things about NZ

New Zealand is an amazing place and it never fails to facinate me. Each time I see something peculiar, I ask myself "if this was back home....." When I mean peculiar it is purely how a foreigner would see it.

Here are some of them....

You need to pay to park your car in the CBD during business hours. That is nothing peculiar, but in addition to dropping coins into a parking meter, there are two other options. You can swipe your visa or mastercard credit card on the parking meter to pay for your parking. This is even more can send an sms from your mobile phone to pay for your parking! I have yet to figure that out but, MPSA and DBKL wake up!

The Wellington city council does not charge for water in the entire city. So you can use to your hearts content without having to pay a single cent. can drink straight from the tap! Back home one would see multiple joints from the mains going in all directions!

I walked into a public toilet once and saw that the ingredients that made up the hand wash used there was displayed. This I was told was to ensure that if you were allergic to something in that hand wash you would not use it. Back home, some toilets don't even have a bar of soap, let alone what it was made of!

Phone calls within the same area code are absolutely free!

Thursday, 2 June 2005

Windy Wellington

Wellington is often referred to as "Windy Wellington" and it sure is one heck of a windy city! The wind is so cold, it bites into you. I go to work with 6 layers of clothes and it stll feels cold. Despite me wrapping myself up, there are still people walking about in a tee-shirt and shorts!

Back in Malaysia, most people I know won't think twice about watching the weather. Tell me, how many actually watch the weather after the news to find out if tomorrow is going to be rainy, dry or cloudy? Ok, how many actually watches the news, to begin with? Here, I notice that waiting for the weather forecast is so very important. So far, they have been darn accurate. It at least prepares you for the next morning. The other day, the forecast was hail and that morning, I saw small ice cubes falling on my window sill at the office.

We shut the windows tight every night and yet, we can feel the wind finding its way inside our house! I bought one of those clocks with a temperature reading. It is now about 8pm in the evening and we have two heaters blowing in the room and the temperature is 16.1 deg C. In doors! No joke!

Skin can easily dry out in the cold and the cold wind can make things worse by indoor heating. Vera's fingers started cracking and bleeding and Anil has also started developing dry and craking skin.

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