Tuesday, 31 January 2006

The price for a better tomorrow

Vera took our Honda for its routine maintenance today, which included the regular oil change, oil filter. When I saw the bill I was shocked. Not that it was expensive but the breakdown of it was so out of this world.

The cost of the oil for the Honda was $35.00 and the cost of disposing the used oil drained out of the Honda was $36.50! It cost more to dispose the oil (I am assuming it is because of the environment and all that) than to buy 4 litres of new engine oil.

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There I go again, making comparisons to Malaysia and Indonesia. In Malaysia, most garages (Kiwi for workshop) will store the oil to be disposed off in a proper manner..hopefully but don't charge you. In Indonesia most garages will make money out of selling the used oil to some entrepreneur who will convert it to something saleable and sell it. So they make money from selling you the new oil and again from the sale of the used oil.

If you had followed my blog, I bought a Ford Laser sometime in November last year. I filled it up (the tank I mean) a few days after I bought it. It has been 2 months since and the price of fuel has gone up 5 times and down twice and my tank is still not empty! How economical is that?

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

The hidden valley

The last leg of our holiday, we stopped at Rotorua, New Zealand's thermal capital. Almost the entire city of Rotorua smelled of sulphur, an acquired smell.

This place we went to is caled Orakei Korako or The Hidden Valley and is said to be the oldest and one of the finest in the world... or so the brochure says.

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Friday, 20 January 2006

Lots to do in Auckland

These are some of the things we did in Auckland, in between my work assignment.

This is Goat Island Marine Park where fish swim between your legs in the water. I don't have an underwater camera so cannot see the fish but trust me they are there. Big, small, long, short, blue, green...all shapes, sizes and colours were there.

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This is a typical new Zealand beach. Even in Auckland, beaches are not crowded. In Asian terms, this would be referred to as a deserted beach.

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We went for a bush walk was at the Kaitakere Forest Ranges where the largest Kauri trees can be seen. The oldest was over 1,000 years old with a 13 metre waistline. Giants of the forest as they are called.

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How could we complete a visit to Ackland without a visit to Sky Tower?

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No bungy jump for us. Even watching people jumping off makes one's heart skip a beat.

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Again, a New Zealand holiday would not be complete without a Maori performance.

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And one from a neighbouring Polynesian island.

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Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Auckland here we come

After 2 nights in Waitomo, it was time to head for creature comforts in Auckland.

Along the way, I saw this long bath right in the middle of no where!

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We had communal showers while we were camping but an outdoor bath like the one above gave the word communal bath a whole new meaning. And later as I was walking back to the car, I saw a cemetary next door. Guess who uses the bath?

Just before we reached Auckland, we stopped for lunch, Kiwi style at a park in Hamilton.

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Monday, 9 January 2006

The sun comes out to play

After all that wind and rain, we decided to abandon the idea of tenting and went for a cabin instead at the next stop, Waitomo.

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Just when we decided to take a cabin, the sun decides to come out. We had really nice weather from then on.

Saturday, 7 January 2006

Next stop New Plymouth

We still have 4 more nights before reaching Auckland so we still needed a tent. At that time all the cabins were full. We headed off to The Warehouse for tent hunting and got this new Kiwi tent but made in China. For $290, we thought it had to be good, if not better than our previous tent.

Next stop, Onaero Bay in New Plymouth. What a beautiful campsite that was! And what a spacious tent we have.

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This is the campsite where the river met the sea and it was absolutely beautiful and the playground was a child's dream.

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We were amazed at how some of the Kiwi tents looked like and what some of them had in their tents. Some had refridgerators, microwave ovens and some even TV's. The lanun camping we had in Malaysia looked like child play.

This tent, however, had other problems. It held the wind which started to slow down quite a bit since Wanganui. This time it rained more and the tent started to leak. The last night we had to put a raincoat over the tent to keep the water out.

Since it was only 4 days old, we decided to take it back to The Warehouse. Told them the tent was defective and they gladly refunded the full purchase price and even offered a 20% discount on another tent, which we politely turned down.

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

The Great New Zealand Camp

On New Year's day we began our camping expedition.

All excited, we started our journey north to the River City, Wanganui.

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We brought with us a 6 man tent that we used in Malaysia. Since there were only 4 of us, we thought that was more than sufficient to house all of us. We also thought that a tent was a tent in any language meaning one used in Malaysia would be just as good used in New Zealand. So we arrived at out first campsite.

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No drama there! No bridges to cross or rivers to cross that my Honda could not handle. When we pitched the tent, it was all calm and sunny.

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The following day, the weather took a turn and gale winds developed reaching 140 kmph. Our dear old tent was taking a beating. At one point, the tent was at a 45 degree angle. I seriously had doubts about where we might be sleeping that night. By the next day, part of it started to give way. By the third day, parts of our tent started to disappear and part of the front was missing the pegs. That is when we realised that we had to get something else.

Some of our "neighbours" still had their tents in tact standing and some did not even move in the wind. They used canvas tents and they were rock solid.

The fate of our tent...

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Sunday, 1 January 2006

New Year Holidays

It is the 1st day in the year 2006 and we are setting off for our holidays.

We can no longer afford overseas holidays but our aim to go somewhere we have never been to still remains true.

Today we head north for the New Zealand River City, Wanganui and along the way visit Vincent in Palmerston North. Although Wanganui is a River City, we planned to stay at a beach campsite in Castlecliff for 2 nights before leaving for our next destination Onaero Bay in New Plymouth. The Onaero Bay campsite is by the river on one side and the sea on the other. What more could one ask for? After 3 nights there, we will be off to Waitomo, famous for its glow worms. And after all that camping to creature comforts - Auckland.

I end my annual leave then and go back to work. Since my first assignment for the year is in Auckland, the troops follow me and stay at the hotel where I will be staying for 2 weeks. On the return drive to Wellington, we will be breaking our 10 hour drive at a campsite near Rotorua.

The weather this morning indicated gale force winds tomorrow and pretty much rubbish weather the remainder of the week. With all that wind and rain, this is no doubt going to be one heck of a holiday!

This blog is going to take a break for the 3 weeks we are away as I will not have access to upload blogs or photos. Back in full swing end January.

Happy New Year from all of us way down under!!!!