Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Part 5: Snow! Snow! We Spotted Snow!

Visiting a country which is experiencing winter would not be complete without the sight of the frozen version of white candy floss. Anticipating snow just before the trip made us purchased a whole range of winter items such as mittens, gloves, second hand winter jackets, and snow caps(to which my mum insisted...tak payah beli!, pakai opah punya cekup pun jadi) to name a few. The kids were especially excited about their first snow encounter, whilst the adults were equally thrilled to experience snow once again.

The moment we left Waitomo cave, we could sense the drastic temperature drop. We bundled ourselves up, windows shut and huddled closely together for warmth. Our body heat served as the only functioning heater in the van. We drove towards the mountainous region of Turangi via the picturesque Lake Taupo. The scenic route forced us to stop several times for picture taking and posing in front of nature's magnificent backdrop of mountains, greens and lakes. The many stops were actually a foe in our schedule, swallowing most of our precious time.

"I believe I could fly, I believe I could touch the sky..." he hates that song.

Overlooking Lake Taupo.

The destination for this leg of the tour is The Tongariro National Park. Excited as we all were, we needed to first find our Motel to check in before proceeding to the ski resort located at the national park. Slumped all our bags in one place, slurped a few bowls of instant meehoon soup and hot chocolates, performed our jamak prayers and we were off! It was a mere 20 minutes drive to the National Park but we actually took 30 due to the icy roads. Snow capped mountains started to appear amidst the trees and when the first one was spotted the whole group screeched out "Snoooooooooooooowww! Snoooooooooooow!"

As we neared the mountains, more snow started to be visible by the roadsides and the scenery transformed from the greens to a beautiful white wash. I was in contentment gazing at the beauty of it all but mostly at the faces of the screaming kids. The feeling of syukur overwhelmed me tremendously that I was there to witness Allah's creations with my parents, my brothers and sisters, and my family. It would have been perfect if my second brother and his family were there too.

Our first encounter with architectural structure near the National park was this historic chateau famously known as Chateau Tongariro. The name of it alone made us feel special and without any inhibitions we acted as though we were Counts and Countesses he he he.

That's the Grand Countess Wiz, the owner of this Chateau. She was kind to let us capture her picture in front of her property.

Tongariro Natioanal Park was gifted to the New Zealand people in 1887 by the Ngati Tuwaretoa tribe which has now been conferred as a World Heritage area. There are many walks offered by the park and one of them is the Tongariro Crossing, regarded as one of the best one day walks in the world. But of course we didn't have time for all those challenging walks with grannies and kiddies on tow. We were there solely for the snow! snow! snow! Just look at the happy faces below.

The biting cold forced us to cut short our time in the snow and hurry our steps to the well heated chateau. We were welcomed warmly by its staff although we were not staying guests at their premise. The chateau was lavishedly decorated with antiques everywhere and the ambiance was simply lovely. There was nothing much to do there except to visit the loo. While waiting for everyone to finish, the rest of the troupe gathered around the fireplace enjoying the stylish interior and seeping in as much of the scenery of Mount Ruapehu outside.

As we adjourned, we were bestowed with the resplendent view of the sunset. It was the perfect ending to a day that was filled with gratitude, contentment and syukur. We were truly blessed with the opportunity of enjoying this beautiful journey.

Almost everyone...

Next Entry : Whakarewarewa

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - Sesame Street

Monday, June 23, 2008

Part 4: Exploring Glowworms

Day 4, Sunday 8th June. After checking out from Boundary Motel, we left for Turangi via Waitomo caves. My mother had warned me before the trip that she was not interested to watch any types of worms, glowing or otherwise. I managed to convince her that "glowworm" was just a name given to a cave which stalactites and stalagmites resembled glowing worms. After much fuss she agreed. Little did she know that they were in fact truly worrrrmms and yes they somehow glow!(laughs, sorry mak)
It wasn't an eekie yucky gooey experience, but more of an informative and magical adventure.

We were not allowed to take any photos whilst in the cave, so these are from Google.

The moment we entered the cave we were spellbound by the ancient underground labyrinnth of limestone caves and grottos. The formations of the stalactites and stalagmites which took thousands of years to form, resembling animals and other interestingly recognizable shapes, put us at awe. The whole gang including my aged parents had to scale the steep steps and tight and narrow paths in the caves. The trail continued on to a unique boat trip gliding silently through the starry wonder of glowworm grotto. We were advised not to make any noise as not to scare the bats or other cavey creatures away(of course we exagerated to the kids to make them quiet and the kids were quite terrified by this). In one boat, all 12 of us seated silently, well 13 of us including the guide, admiring the myriad of tiny glowworms lights flickering and glimmering reflecting off the water below. With our heads tilted, we gaped at the inexplicable beauty of the millions of glowworms above us and somehow appreciated the moment together in silence, in the dark, on a boat, in a cave, in the cold, in New Zealand! Trust me, that moment was a one in a million moment that could never ever be possibly recreated. Allahamdulillah.

You can read about the history of the cave and the glowworms here and here.

Some pictures taken at the entrance and exit of the cave.

Tracking back to the van. It was super cold by now.

Next Entry : Snow! Snow! We spotted Snow!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Part 3 : The Return to Middle Earth

First, meet the Hobbits...

and the Elves...
The original stars of the famous award-winning fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of The Rings.

Our journey to middle earth began right after breakfast departing from our Ellerslie Highway Motel Auckland and heading straight to Hamilton via Matamata. The two hour ride was brimming with excitement and commotion in our van due to our uncontrolled zest which resulted to the wrong turn at one juncture! Instead of staying on the planned route, we deviated onto the kampung road which took us along the winding country side, passing through the many valleys, farms, ravines, fields and fields of rolling greens and needless to mention the millions of sheep and cows! I reckoned, it was the best mistake we have ever made! Below are some picturesque sights we were opportuned to encounter.

We arrived at Matamata Visitor Information Centre just in time for the 2 hour tour. From that point we were transported to the remnants of the Lord of The Rings movie set located on a vast 10 acre beautiful farmland. Spectacular views of hobbit holes amidst the rolling green hills awaited us there. The Hobbiton movie set was situated on the Alexander's Family farm, primarily chosen by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema as it resembled closely of the Middle earth described by Tolkien. The farm was thought to be the perfect venue with the existence of the pine tree which was known as "The Party Tree" standing in front of the lake. The surrounding rolling farmland was untouched by the 20th century clutter such as roads, buildings and power lines, making it the best setting for filming the trilogy.

After the completion of LOTR movie, the Hobbiton movie set was returned to its natural state. However hobbit holes and some structures from the film set are still in place especially for LOTR fans to appreciate and enjoy. This site is the only surviving set from the movie that has been reinstalled, reconditioned and restored for the purpose of tourists attraction.

Welcome to Middle earth folks...

Little Hobbit holes (not exactly how they look in the movies though. Peter Jackson barred anyone form reconstructing the exact holes depicted in the movies for copyright purposes.)

The infamous Party Tree captured from the inside of a hobbit hole.

A close-up view of the hobbit hole which has now become the home of the sheep.

A modern Hobbit visiting the ancient home of his ancestors.

The Reunion :Gandalf with the Hobbits and the Elves in their modern day costumes.

Right after the LOTR tour, we were presented with the opportunity to pet and feed the hand-reared sheep.

Happy Hobbits and Elves at the end of the tour.

After a long eventful day we drove ourselves to a cozy motel and retired there for the night.
Boundary Court Motor Inn
36 Boundary Road, Hamilton.
Tel: (07)8559082

Next Entry : Exploring Glowing Worms in Waitomo Caves
Hobbit - Enya

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Part 2 : Street Fit For A Shopping Queen.

Queen Street, Auckland's main street is home to many restaurants, shops, boutiques and entertainment centres. It offers a cosmopolitan experience much similar to other world reknown shopping streets like Oxford street in London, Fifth Avenue in New York, Orchard Road in Singapore and our very own Bintang Walk!

After the rejuvenating hot chocolate and biskut crackers, we loaded ourselves back in the van and headed straight to the happening Street. I was supposed to meet a fellow blogger Dee here but we arrived at the meeting place more than 2 hours late.(Sorry Dee) Anyway, Queen Street was indeed a very happening street for us ladies but "wished it didn't happen" for the men!(laughs) It was simply endless walking, perpetual window shopping and butt swaying for everyone. There wasn't a fullstop to the shops, rows and rows of them and we could hear ourselves saying to the men and kids,"...after this traffiq light, kiter stop k," but of course we lied ha ha ha with "...sikit je lagi, dah nak sampai dah" Our parents called it quits halfway and we left them on the bench outside the Star Mart. We reassured them that we would be back soon, but we forgot to mention the time. So to our surprise when we went to fetch them, they were no where to be seen! We had thought so much that they had probably walked back to the van. When later we saw our van passed us by with my yeop driving to pick us up but without our parents in it. Arrrgh! A few minutes later an sms from my dad "...We were freezing and we decided to walk back to the van, tapi when we got there the van dah tak de. Kami dah tak nak jalan lagi, kami dah penat." I screeched, ran to catch the van driven by yeop who could never seem to stop properly due to the traffiq. We practically had to chase him all over Queen's Street. My sis during the waiting and the chasing sempat pergi beli cookies for herself lagi ha ha ha. We managed to get everyone on the van and drove around looking for our parents. It was funny how a big group spotted running, huffing, whilst posing for cameras, in between shopping and munching, could stay sane together.

So here's a lil bit of Queen Street folks.

My parents and kids taking a breather.

My parents trying to catch up with the rest of the gang.

Part of the group, the rest insisted to stay anonymous, like we don't know who they are!

My son suddenly refused to continue walking. He said "...kaki anin dah tumbuh bulu kenin." Ha ha ha, I didn't know where he got that idea. Maybe he wanted to say that his bulu roma all standing up due to the very cold weather.

Night time was like 5 pm here! We paced our steps quicker to finish window shopping. This was the place we left our parents. And as you can see, they were missing. Sempat tangkap gambar dulu before panicking he he he.

Special poses from the hobbits.

Next Entry : The Return To Middle Earth

P.S. Dee, I'm sorry that we couldn't meet up that day. I felt really bad. I still have your sambal in my fridge. We'll meet up when you are back here ok, maybe at Nando's? he he he

Monday, June 16, 2008

Part 1 : Moo Zealand!

It was just like a scene from "Home Alone" the movie where everyone in the family rushed to the airport dragging bags, jackets,and kids. Alhamdulillah, we didn't forget anybody or anything for this journey. Medicine (seberokeh of ubats)oitments checked, instant noodles, instant soups checked, snack mamee and asam checked, 3 in 1drink sachets checked, socks, undies, chargers, camera, extra bajus, creams inhalers, mopiko and vicks all checked! We practically packed the mini version of our entire home content with us except for our Juara!

MH131 Kuala Lumpur / Auckland departed approximately at 8.40 pm. The 10 hour flight occupied us nicely, watching movies after movies and gradually left us sound asleep in our tiny weeny little spaces. The food served was fairly good, and the best thing about sitting with a child, you get to sample the food first before anybody else and of course you get that extra uneaten dessert portion from the kid's tray. As morning emerged, a glimpse of Aotearoa appeared on our oval windows. It was the prettiest sight I have ever seen at that point of the journey. We squealed and cheered at the view, signalling at each other in "We are almost here, yippy yay!" gesture. From then on, the camera never stopped clicking and I even fell almost on my face on the escalator for posing too long for my sis's camera. What is with me and falling kan? ha ha ha.
Travelling with a big group has many shortcomings. One of them is waiting for everyone to finish going to the toilet. We wasted quite some time at the airport using the loo. The cold weather was the culprit, I attested to that. After everyone's good, we adjourned to pick our 12 seater vehicle which was conveniently parked a few metres away from the airport.
And off we went to our first accommodation, loading off our luggage, food bags and more of the toilet material content before heading to our first motel.

After settling in our rooms, the kids gathered around and yours truly Makyang whipped up a teko of hot chocolate and took out a pack of biskut krakers tesco, and the kids ate like they have never eaten before. One whole pack and teko gone before your very eyes! Yang paling banyak makan was the budak yang pakai topi merah tu!

Ellerslie Highway Motel
384, Ellerslie - Panmure Highway,
Ellerslie Auckland.
Tel: (09)5793044
Next Entry : Queen Street Auckland.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Journey (to Middle Earth) Begins

A resolute decision between my family members(more between my sis and I) took place early this year ; to embark on our long kept dream journey, putting our busy schedules and our not so much money in the bank state aside once and for all. My preggy sister and I took the bungy plunge of purchasing the Airline tickets from MAS at the MAS Fair early this year without having an inkling of how we could pay for the rest of our family's expenses come June 5th. "...just book the tickets Da, worry about the rest later!" I kept reassuring her over the phone as she was sceptical about the entire thing whilst lining up to buy tickets for the whole family. Once the tickets were secured, we yayed and yippied ourselves as well as giving each other ideas on how to convince(or trick) our spouses who never knew what we had up on our sleeves he he he.

It has been my parents' wish to travel to the land of the long white clouds ever since forever! They kept talking about it every time we met, about driving the caravan around the countryside, about cooking outside, about gathering us adik beradiks together in one holiday trip. Everyone was always too busy, husbands and spouses, wives and menantus, kids and school. But it has to be done even if we had to fight, argue or bicker with our spouses and siblings about it. It was tough, the booking, the deciding, the planning, the money sourcing, the amount of can't imagine the work to making this happen. But you know what? we pulled it off! Alhamdulillah, we finally pulled it off! For someone who doesn't have a permanent income, I'd say it was a miracle to successfully finance this trip. The savings of my little cake business of the 2 years made it happen. I am leaping with my arms stretched out right now, gratified, thankful of the smooth journey, with all 12 of us boys and girls of young and old, back in one piece.

It is apt for me to share with you right now this journey of ours. A trip which was braved through poignantly in the wintry weather, a ride through icy roads with us bundled up in layers of T shirts and wind breakers constantly munching on bags of chocolate chip cookies and punnets of chips all the way through. The views from our little rented van were spectacular and needless to say the oooohs and the aaaahs at each and every picturesque scene we encountered.

And the oooohs and the aaaaaahs begin...
(But before that, need to catch my breath, do the laundry and gather pictures from all 4 cameras first, then I write)

Pippins Song - Lord of The Rings

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Grand Finale

Love is in the air folks! Birds are chirping the love tunes, wedding kompangs are belting the wedding notes, people are eating the scrumptious lauk-pauks, kids are peeling the telur rebus, photographers are snapping contemporary Udei kinda shots and of course not forgetting, the cake decorators are making final touches to the edible wedding centrepiece. It has been a very hectic week for me, making sure everything falls into place at the right time. Classes to round up and marks to tally, decorative cake items to source out and buy, cakes cakes cakes to bake, decorate and deliver. Please don't think that I make thousands of cupcakes and orders come gushing in bulk,...I don't. I am more of a novelty cake decorator and I bake in small quantities concentrating on minute details. However, it is just as tiring as well as taxing, trust me.

So, last week was the last of my last cakes for the half year period. I will take that month long break to replenish, to rejuvenate and to renewsulgate(he he he feels like making up a new word) myself. I will resume in July insyallah with orders already coming in as I write this, blinking brightly at the bottom right corner of this computer. I owe many thanks to all of you who lay your trusts in a stranger like me in constructing your wedding cakes. A responsibility that simply weighs down heavily on my shoulders in which I take pride in every time. So to all who have ordered and who have instantaneously become friends of wiz, I would like to render my utmost appreciation and gratitude. The money earned from this small business of mine are well spent on the kids' needs and education. Here's praying every bite of wizcakes generates a halal income for my family. Thank You so so much.

Some pictures of the cakes I managed to decorate. My thank yous to Fais and family, DK the sweetest lady customer all the way from Brunei, and also Dini and Fiqah.

DK ordered four different themes for her daughter. I only put up two of them here though, didn't manage to capture any shots of the other two.

I will be away for the whole of next week folks! Yay! Hopefully, insyallah, when I return, I will be more creative, more refreshed and with more stories to blog myself here. The destination? It's where the hooligans play like gentlemen under those dreamy white endless clouds. Till then I leave you my sugar candy land home for you to binge on while I'm gone. Enjoy!