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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Auckland Update

It's been almost a week since I landed on the shores of the land of sheep. I've managed to find myself a place to stay in the suburb of Parnell in Auckland. I'm moving there on this Saturday. It's a tiny run down one bedroom unit that costs way too much for what it is, but this will have to do for the moment. I'll see if I can upgrade in a few months. At least it's within a walking distance to my work. I also managed to find some money to open an account with a bank that offers a fairly high interest rate with no bank fees including account managing, EFTPOS and ATM access. I also got myself a mobile. It's a prepaid Vodafone, and thanks to the lack of competition in this country, I get to pay way more than what I paid in Australia. I'll be starting at my new job on this coming Monday. I went in the lab a few times now to see what's happening. I met my coworkers who seem to be all nice. I also met my new boss who seems to be a nice guy to work for. My computer's on order, and supposedly will arrive soon (I cannot do the work without this). That's all nice and well. Everything else are not so great... There is no IKEA, no Costco, no Target, and generally no competition here to drive the consumer price down. Probably the market is way too small for these guys to come here and compete. There are lots of Rice Rockets running way too fast, and motorists seem very hostile against bike riders that makes me worried since I plan to use bike to commute. I looked at broadband options, and they are abysmal. I thought it was bad in Australia, but it's worse here. I don't know if I'll even bother to get a TV since it's so not worth it; basically you need a cable or satellite, and what they offer is nowhere near as good as the one I had in US. Probably that's all good for saving money though... I'd better find something positive about this place before I get too depressed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Taking off

I'm in the International departures at Adelaide airport right now. I'm already through the customs and waiting for boarding. I still have an hour and a half before boarding, and the monitor doesn't show which gate I should be boarding... I guess I'll figure it out when the time comes. Anyway. I'm on the Internode wireless Internet now provided for free for just web pages. It's wonderful. Not a speed demon, but certainly nice to have an access, for free. I got my money exchanged to NZ$ already and I'm getting excited about this whole new venture. My new boss is meeting me at the airport, and I certainly look forward to starting the new job.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Manse@North Adelaide

Our family went out for a dinner before I head out to Auckland; you never know when I can come back here next time. My sister found this place The Manse in North Adelaide and that's where we went tonight. This place looked like an old house converted for a restaurant. It had a high ceiling and looked pretty upmarket. The price tag was also upmarket but not outrageously so considering what you get. More of that later. Anyway. When we went there though I noted strong smell of charred wood; the kind of not very well cured wood burning and churning out the tar, kind of smell. This did not go away as the night went on, and this did not impress me at all. We were sat at a round table, but it was rather unstable; leaning on it meant your side sags badly... Anyway. The food was wonderful. Considering the price you are paying for it, it better be. But still. We got the Grande Degustation thing, then got; 4 entrees, sorbet, a main, a cheese platter, a dessert platter, coffee and after dinner chocolate. All entrees and main were wonderfully done. The cheese platter was adequate while the dessert platter was a bit of a mixed funbag; I really enjoyed about half of what's there and the other half was okay to not so good. After 4 hours of dining though I felt stuffed, and left the place a very happy man (with a lighter wallet).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jimmy's Place@Dickson

Bunch of us including myself, Dr. NvS, his wife Mrs. CCvS, another of my friend RPL, his partner V and also one of my old friend C went out for a dinner at Jimmy's Place Chinese Restaurant in Dickson. I've been told that this place has fantastic seafood, so we went there... And it did not disappoint. I've never had a mud crab in my life, so this is one of the reasons I wanted to go there. We had mud crabs cooked in ginger and shallots with thick noodles, stir fried beef, chili prawns and steamed Chinese vegies. The dish were all great, I cut myself with pieces of crab shells but apart from that, it was all good. God knows when I'll be here doing the same thing with these friends, but hopefully sometime again near future.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's one for the money, two for the show...

Three to get ready, Now go, cat, go. As the old song goes.

Anyway. My good friends Dr. NvS and Mrs. CCvS are expecting... A twin! CC wasn't feeling too well; she's got this morning sickness thing. It looked pretty bad and she looked pretty miserable. They suspected it might be from having two little ones in her. Well. They went for an ultrasound session today, and found out that this is indeed the case. Congrats to both Dr. N and CC, I always wanted a twin brother myself... :)

Venti ain't Venti

A few entries ago in this blog, I wrote something about the different sizes of cups offered by Starbucks in different countries. After walking all the way to Civic today, I needed a bit of an energy boost. There is a Starbucks in Civic, so I decided to drop by to see how it is... Well. I was VERY disappointed. Sure they offer green tea frappuchino. It's been my favourite for a long time. I ordered one at a Venti size. They took a long time to produce one for me. It took yongs. Bad. Not only that, they made a raspberry crap for me... Worse. I had to ask them to make a proper one. This took more time, and I was so not impressed. There were so many people working for them (at least it seemed, compared to the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble in Bethesda) yet they took this long to produce a wrong drink for me. Anyway. This version of green tea frappuchino tasted more like the one offered in Japan rather than the one from the US; it tasted more strongly of the maccha green tea and less sweet compared to the one in the US. I prefer it this way. So it's good. They have only a thin straw which doesn't really suit for the use with frappuchinos; they get clogged too easily. But that's also okay... Then I suspected something more sinister; the Venti cup seemed smaller than the one from the US. I was emptying it a lot faster than usual, and at first I thought it must have been my thirst or something. But it felt strange; I normally get REALLY full on one of these babies, but I wasn't. It said it's 600 ml. Okay. So I looked up in the web to see what size it is in the US. Apparently it's 24 oz for cold drinks over there, and 20 oz for the hot drinks. 24 oz translates to about 710 ml while 20 oz translates to about 600 ml. So. Venti ain't Venti! I felt cheated after paying almost AUS$8 for this drink...

National Museum of Australia

I went to the National Museum of Australia today. I think it opened just after I left Australia 5 years ago. My friend Dr. NvS didn't like it because he thought the exhibits were not necessarily objective, and he thought museums should present facts as they are. Anyway, I took a bus down to Barry Drive, walked across ANU to get to the museum. It was a bit of a hike really, carrying my dSLR and other stuff. I spent about 2.5 hrs looking at stuff, and I found it actually interesting. I think it would be good for any tourist wanting to know a bit about Australian history. It covered fairly wide range of things starting with prehistoric stuff to local car industry to sporting legends; trying to show what Australian uniqueness is all about. On the way back I walked back all the way to Civic, and got a lift off from the good Dr. NvS. I'm pretty tired now...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Found...

There is a Starbucks in Adelaide, after all. It's located in Rundle Mall. I was pretty full since I just had a lunch at Cafe Buon Giorno in Rundle Street so I didn't order anything, but I went in to check something. In Japan Starbucks offer 3 difference sizes of cups; short, tall and Grande. In tye US they upsize the cups by offering tall, Grande and Venti. I was wondering what they offered in Australia... And they offer Venti! I didn't hang around long enough to check if they offered my favourite drink which is a green tea frappuchino. I'll do that once I got to Canberra.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Shockers

I didn't realize how much I rely on the Internet for everything. I used to use a Cable Internet from Comcast when I was in the US. It was pretty good really. Costed me about 50 dollars a month for it, but it had no cap, and though it was not the fastest out there, I was okay with the speed. My parents are still using a dial-up, and I pushed them to get something faster. They finally decided to get a broadband at home the other day, and I was pretty stoked. My father wanted to get a DSL from TPG, for he has been using this company for ages, and didn't want to change his mail address since he uses it for his business. That's fine. They offer DSL packages. Or so I thought... Well. TPG site told us that my father's phone number is in the DSL coverage. Good. We ordered the package, then waited... We were told that our line has a pair-gain, and it needs to be removed for the DSL. Fine. We were told that it may take up to 8 weeks (!) to do this, but it was done in a day. Good. Then we received our modem/router a couple days ago, and I set that up. We were told that it would take 3 to 5 days for the line to go active. Excellent. Then we got an email from TPG today telling us that we won't be getting a DSL connection because Telstra will not upgrade the local phone exchange in near future. Bad news. It's now a Telstra problem, and we will not get a broadband (or at least the DSL). I understand that this means no matter which company we go with, including Telstra, we won't get DSL. Bugger. It's rather strange because a house across the street from my parents' place has a DSL connection, and it's also using the same local phone exchange (in Brighton). WTF? When will this country emerge from the Internet stone age?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin

The crocodile hunter was killed in a freak accident today. RIP.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Kenji Restaurant

Today is the Father's day, and our family went out to Kenji Restaurant in Adelaide. It's located on the South side of CBD. My parents know the proprietors and apparently have told them that they would bring me there once I come back from overseas. So off we went. We would hardly go out for dinner since my parents don't go out for dinner often. This place offers more of fusion cuisine rather than the trad Japanese. I had grilled scampi with sea urchin as an entree (appetiser in Australia) then grilled lamb with yuzu scented yoghurt sauce as a main, followed by panna cotta with boiled rhubarb and macchiato as a dessert. The place and the food was wonderful. Not the cheapest place, but certainly was worth the money. Unfortunately... My parents usually have really early night, and today was no exception. Usually they hit the sack by 7 PM. This doesn't go too well with a night out for a dinner. We started dinner at 6 PM, and by 9 PM we were back home. A little too early for my taste. Anyway. It was a wonderful evening.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Planning the relocation

I wasn't sure if this entry belongs here or to the other blog, but I'll write it here... I was looking around for the flights from here to Auckland. I REALLY wanted to avoid VirginBlue. I thought of going over there during the last week of September so that I have a week to settle down then when the job starts in October, I can hit the ground running. Or so I thought. Well. Looking at the price of the flight, looks like I'll be using VirginBlue yet again... Air New Zealand would charge 500+ bucks for a one way ticket. Qantas would charge 450+ bucks. VirginBlue would charge less than 400. All these airlines didn't impress me at all. The pricing of the flights are misleading to say the least. They quote the price of the ticket, but it doesn't include any tax, surcharges and fees. Qantas I thought was the worst offender... Starting about 250 bucks they advertised their ticket. What they didn't say of course was the actual ticket would cost 450 or more because of tax, fees and surcharges. Anyway. Looks like I'll be leaving here on Thursday September 21st. I'll tell the guys in Auckland this, and hopefully I'll be able to settle down before the starting date...