Hamilton Gardens

There wasn’t much to do within Auckland City itself, so I decided to return to my sister’s place in Hamilton after two days of dilly-dallying around.

I matamata you then you know!

It’s a scenic 1.5 hour drive from Auckland down to Hamilton. I have to say again, it’s such a joy driving around in New Zealand. The roads are smooth and there are no traffic jams. When I’m driving, I feel like I’m in one of those TV car ads.
I don’t know how the Kiwis do it, but everything in New Zealand just seems to look so much better compared to what we have back home. Even their graveyards look better than ours.

See? Got eerie fog some more.

Hamilton is supposedly New Zealand’s 4th largest city, but I reckon it’s still really kinda small. There isn’t a single high-rise building and the city centre is just one simple street through. Even Kuching itself is much bigger than Hamilton.
The little city itself doesn’t have much in terms of tourist attractions. Then again, what it lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality.

The only interesting place we visited there was Hamilton Garden, which is the location where I took the photo in the Microsoft-Windows-NZ-desktop-turned-racist-Malaysian-political-discussion entry.

It would’ve been a pretty ordinary trip for me if it weren’t for my sister’s two kids who went with us that day.
My sister’s kids are three-year-old Jayden…

And two-year-old Kirsten

Those two angels are truly the life of the party.
The main attraction of the Hamilton Gardens is the six gardens designed and landscaped to reflect the different cultures of the world. Our first stop was the Japanese Garden of Contemplation.

Those angmohs did a pretty good job creating a garden with Japanese influences, right down to this huge ass stone lamp on the path.

I pointed the lamp out to Jayden and asked, “what is this?”.
He took one look at it and proudly declared “THAT IS A MUSHROOM HOUSE!”
“No Jayden, it’s a lamp.”

A short walk away is the Chinese Scholar’s Garden.

This is the coolest garden ever. Walking along the Chinese garden, I can’t help but to act like I’m one of those typical master you see in ancient Chinese movies.
Like I’m supposed to sit on a bench, recite a poem, laugh heartily, then stroke my imaginary beard while staring wisely into the distance.

We took a short break at the American Modernist Garden. This garden pales in comparison with the other. It just looks like someone’s backyard with a swimming pool and a potrait of Marilyn Monroe.

By this time, Kirsten’s hair was beginning to get messy. She’s now looking like some Tarzan girl who just came out from the wild jungles.

I still love her though.
Kirsten doesn’t smile a lot, but when she does she has a smile that makes my heart melt. Like when she sees a furry puppy.

Or when she gets to play with water.

Her elder brother Jayden smiles too, but he’s a lot cheekier when he does that.

At the Indian Char Bagh Garden.

The most impressive garden by far at the Hamilton Gardens is the Italian Renaissance Garden.

There’s this scary-looking water outlet at the garden.

Jayden wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

Kirsten is just happy there’s water to play with.

Kirsten Corleone. Heh.

I like this photo of Kirsten looking like a serial killer.
Anyway, this entry is only meant to be a photo album of sorts instead of one filled with lame one-liners. So I shall end this entry with my favourite photo of my favourite baby girl.

There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be the cover girl of my desktop wallpaper! 😉

Continue reading

Auckward Landing

Auckland, City of Sails, is the largest and most populous city in New Zealand.

Auckland is located on the North Island of New Zealand. I was there last September to visit my sister and her family living in Hamilton, another city about 1.5 hours drive south. This was my second visit to New Zealand. Previously, I had explored the country’s South Island and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sky Tower, Southern Hemisphere’s tallest free standing building.

Auckland is a lot like a miniature version of Sydney. In fact, it feels very much like a replica of any other big cities in Australia, yet still unique in its own special way. There aren’t many places in the world where you could find a busy seaport, a wet market, the central business district, a volcano and a farm all located virtually next to each other. But that’s Auckland for ya.

My feet at 193m above ground

Apart from bungy jumping off the Harbour Bridge, I was kinda disappointed there isn’t anything else different to experience in Auckland City. Occasionally you see people doing stupid things, like jumping off a tower for fun.

But the city itself doesn’t seem to have much to offer. Shopping isn’t exactly cheap in New Zealand and the food generally is only so-so. Then again, Auckland isn’t known for its food or shopping.

The path to the summit of Mt Victoria, Devonport

It’s very easy to take good photos in Auckland.
Everything in Auckland is beautiful. The sceneries here are very beautiful. Even their sheep poo looks beautiful.

While in Auckland, I visited a few of its popular suburbs. One of my favourites is Devonport, an artistic tranquil laidback little suburb popular for its rows of nice cafes and restaurants.

Mushrooms, in a cosy little cafe called Spitfire.

Everything in Devonport is simple. The residents here live a very simple life. Even their cars look simple.

They’re happy just to wake up every morning, take their pampered dogs out for a walk, then sit by one of the cafes reading a book while sipping latte.

A coffee bean roaster. I LOVE COFFEE.

When I retire, I want to live a life like that and drink coffee everyday.

None Tree Hill

The famous One Tree Hill is another interesting place I visited in Auckland. Only problem is, the one tree hill is removed and replaced by an obelisk.
The hill reserve is actually a family farm, unusually located in the middle of the busy city. This must be the only place in the world where farm animals like sheeps and cows can roam around munching on grasses while city dwellers jogs up and down the hill.
Stupid joggers must kena lots of sheep poo on their shoes.

When the night come, I met up with an old friend of mine Joanne Chin for dinner at this nice Belgian restaurant called The Occidental. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but out of everything that I could have possibly ordered, I asked for their signature Belgian sausage that comes in a shape that looks amazingly like a piece of shit.

The shitty piece of Belgian sausage that I “occidentally” ordered

It tasted quite bland. I didn’t finish it.
The best way for independant travellers like myself to move around in Auckland is by private car. Still, I’m a little bit not used to this sort of luxury. For a big city like Auckland, it is kinda strange that public transport here sucks big time. Buses and trains are infrequent and expensive so many tourists prefer not to utilise them.

A bus trip from Auckland Airport to the city costs NZD$23 per person. Hiring a small car to drive around yourself costs only NZD$29 for the whole day. I’m lucky enough to borrow a car from my sister. Having a sister who lives in New Zealand can also cut costs tremendously. 😛

Thankfully, the roads are well signposted and it’s extremely easy to tour around self-driven. But from time to time, I had to stop to ask for directions and that’s where the fun starts.

City workers “catching snakes” at a fountain in Auckland’s CBD

New Zealanders speak in a weird accent. It’s close to Australians, but weirder compared to them. At least with Australians, you could still understand them. With New Zealanders, the words could mean something else completely.

Looks like something straight out of a Superman movie

You see, Kiwis pronounce “fish and chips” as “fush and chups”. They pronounce “left” as “lift”.
I once asked for a directions to get to a tourist destination, and the guy told me to “drive down this road and take a lift, go all the way down and take another lift“.
I looked at him one kind and asked if my car can fit into the lift.

Colourful suburban houses

Worse, Kiwis also pronounce “six” and “sex”.
I once bought something from a shop, and the girl at the counter said I need to pay sex dollars and ten cents”.
She wasn’t too amused when I unzipped my pants.

Continue reading