Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gourmet Food in New Zealand

I don't starve myself. I eat the food that I want, and I have no preferences on food. Whenever people ask me about my food I would immediately tell them, "I eat anything, as long as it is edible." In my past few months in New Zealand, I have eaten in almost every town that I have been to, and with every town comes the variety of food and flavors. Although I am a 'rice person', that is, a person who is satisfied with rice as a staple meal, I have recently tolerated lunch and dinner meals without rice. Potatoes, pasta, and bread have been the common substitute here to the Filipino's main source of carbohydrates.

This is my first ever meal in New Zealand. If I remember it correctly, I had this Farmer's Breakfast in one of Auckland International Airport's restaurants.

 This dessert was from Wellington. I can't recall the place, but it is a restaurant that is always full at dinner time.

 This perhaps is my first gourmet meal in South Island. I had this salmon meal from the Beach House.

Tony's Seafood and Steak, Wellesley Street, Auckland CBD

 I still go with the common Chinese food as it is available almost everywhere in the world!

 
 
 The above meals were from Buster Crabb in Invercargill, New Zealand. The serving is so huge that it can feed 2 individuals.

 Tahong or mussels have been one of my favorite seafood dishes. From baked to buttered to tinolang tahong! The green lipped mussels are abundant in New Zealand. 


 These beautifully created, sumptuous Japanese meals are a must try. I had this in Wellington, in one of the favorite Japanese take-away restaurants along the central business district.

 This is Bordeaux Bakery's cronut. New Zealand's first cronut.

 
 Very meaty! From Steer and Beer in Wellington.
 
From Water Bar Restaurant, Wanaka


 Roast pork! Parang Lechong kawali lang.


 
 
These were from Floriditas in Wellington.

 
 
 These are from Cabbage Tree. The second and third picture's black portion are mushrooms, looks like blood stew or dinuguan, eh.

 
 
Typical breakfast in New Zealand - Baked tomatoes, sausage, poached eggs, bacon, hash brown, mushrooms.


Now, tell me... Are you hungry? Haha. I am! The above meals range from $15-40 dollars. Once the price reaches $25 and above, siguradong very decent meal na yun!

Friday, February 14, 2014

I'd Want To...

http://hamkahatta.deviantart.com/art/The-Backpacker-41545637
Okay... there are plenty of things that I'd like to do in the future. And I mean the near future, as in 5 years from now. Specifically, those things that would let me know and love myself further, contemplate, meet new people, and explore. I'm turning 28 this year and I think I haven't done so much in my life that I am quite proud of. Definitely, working in the Middle East is one thing that not all people would be able to do in their entire lives, so let me include that in my list... So here it goes... 11 things in my bucket list to do before I reach 30...

1. Work abroad. I have accomplished this. I had been to Saudi Arabia and experienced a lot of firsts and wonderful things in that country. The culture was shocking at first but I eventually managed to digest the cultural differences. My Middle Eastern stint was a sure milestone in my life as I took the road not (so often) taken. I moved out of my comfort zone in the Philippines, went to a new country relying on my self, decided on a lot of things, enjoyed the salary, and felt the scorching desert heat. I know that's a big leap.

Then I told my self, "You can't really speak Arabic, go to a country that speaks English!" Then poof! New Zealand came. I worked my ass off, completed the requirements, and now I am here in New Zealand. Now, tell me... I am a brave man, eh?! Two countries and two licenses (other than the Philippine license) in 4 years... And why am I looking at the Trans Tasman agreement for Australia?! Haha. Will it be another journey to the land down under, err soon?

2. Visit countries. They say travelling is a hobby for the rich. Actually, that's exactly what my thought is. Haha. Who travels as a hobby? Of course those who can afford it... And now that I am earning my own money, I think I can save some for my next trip! It's the culture, the people, the food, and of course the tourist destinations that I'd like to explore... In my list, of course, are my country's neighbors: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. It would be awesome to know more about my brothers and sisters from the South East Asian region. I also am aiming to visit the Eastern part of Asia, specifically Hong Kong, Korea, or Japan. Japan's very rich history is ultimately a culture-hungry type of guy must experience. Look at their temples, their bonsais, their sushi, their kimono... Take me to Japan soon!!! Of course I'm also dreaming of seeing the London Eye, the London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and the San Fransisco bridge! Ehem, enough of day dreaming... Those places will require some huge savings... Gotta start a piggy bank soon! Lol.

3. Travel alone. Oh yes, for an introverted guy this could be a more boring (solemn) activity. But that's me, your quiet housemate/colleague/friend. I would like to know how it feels to be in a place that I don't know (not literally, of course I'd search about the place first.. lol), to be in a strange place I know nothing about. Could it be the liberating experience it may give? With the traveling comes different modes of transportation... I believe I'll know more about myself if I do that. Soon.

4. Cook good food. I cook Filipino food. That's it. I guess I have to bring out the inner chef in me (if there is) some time... Gotta watch Ratatouille again to bring out that flame!


5. Volunteer. I am not a very patriotic citizen and I admit that I have never done something that directly helped those in need. Uhm, I have done medical missions before, did some teaching sessions for kids, but those are out of curricular requirements. I'd like to feel good internally. I'd like to use my skills to at least help others (apart from professional nursing).

6. Be in a relationship. Haha. I can't believe I am including this in my list... I guess it's time? They say I have to be in a number of relationships to find the real one whom I can stay with for long term... Darn, beynte syete na ako wala pa rin?!?! Next move nito deretso kasal na... Haha. Simply, date somebody. Find that connection with another person's heart. Ulk.


7. Find my friends. I just need to catch up with them. Them who? lol. I feel that I really need to catch up with them.

8. Sing. I know I can sing. And I could have been very very good in singing if this talent was honed when I was younger. Well, it's safe to say that I know how to properly sing, I know when I am out of tune, and I know when I am straining. The key thing, ehem, is to get the right song for my vocal range.

9. Buy something. Invest. Uhmmm. What should I buy. I have the necessary things I need. Uhmmm... What should I buy anyway (on a second thought)? A car perhaps? A house? I guess I have to change the heading to Invest... Right, the more proper heading would be 'invest'. 


10.  Watch a live musicale, concert, or stage play.

11. Commit mistakes. Mistakes make one a better person, eh?! I guess so. 


It takes some quiet moments to come up with a list of to-do's like mine above... Sa akin lang po... we need those personal time for ourselves... and quiet moments make you realise a lot of things... Why not create a list of your personal 'I'd want to...'

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Goodbye 2013, Welcome 2014!

Whew! It has been thee years since I started doing my series of 'goodbyes' and 'hellos' for the outgoing and the incoming years. And I've done all of those in my three places of residences: in the Philippines, in Saudi Arabia, and now in New Zealand. Indeed, I've started exploring and experiencing the adult world; I work to pay the rent and send some home, and technically, be the young-adult who 'explores the world' out there. 2013 had been very good to me... I've once again made a big leap in my career and personal life as I dared to challenge my self with big decisions and crossed life-changing routes.

 
 

At the start of the year, I was just tad busy working on my papers for the Nursing Council of New Zealand's requirements for international registered nurses. Other than the usual shifts in the Refinery where I worked as an Emergency Room nurse, my days were spent in the streets of Jeddah to process my legal documents. It was quite a liberating experience for me to travel around Jeddah and see different places (as opposed to the misconception of people about traveling alone in the Arab city). At least in those days, even weeks, I have felt that I could really stand by my self, do the things that I was quite hesitant to do before, and of course, travel alone. The pedantic me remained the same, I planned my trip, I set alternatives if my first plan didn't work out, and I learned to use the GPS from my mobile phone. Jeddah is (still) a very interesting place. I could still perfectly visualize how the streets look and feel like. Somehow, I'm missing Saudi Arabia.

Apart from processing my papers during January and early days of February, my post-graduate course with the UP Open University kept me busy. Honestly, I can't remember (at this time) the last courses that I had for AY 2012-2013 but I am sure I finished all of those. To sum it all, I had 27 units completed, I just have to finish my intensive practicum and the dreaded thesis to have that Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN) after my name. However, with the recent change in my career plans (and location), I doubt it if I would be able to continue with my degree... I really am clueless of what my options are.

March came so fast! It was the month that I got so busy arranging my annual leave for the Philippines. At the same time, it was March's second week that I decided to drop my conditional resignation. March 16 was the date of my resignation letter and that was the first day of the 90 days countdown for the final working day. It was a strategy that I thought of just to have options. I'd be on annual leave which still meant that I was an employee of my company and the two remaining months to be completed when I come back. But there was a twist of fate!!! My CAP school in New Zealand declined my application for an apparent reason! I was really devastated when that news came and thought that New Zealand might not be meant for me... But just a few days later, they reversed their decision and accepted me back into their programme. But from the initial August intake, it was moved to the second week of June. Of course, I was energized again and I activated my neurons for some time-planning activities.

I once again kissed the soils of the Philippines when I got back in April 2013. I just loved the environment of Manila and my hometown, Muntinlupa. I was welcomed by my mom and dad in the airport and when I got back to our home, our cat, Pippin, welcomed me with aloofness. It took him quite a while to get acquainted with me until I was able to carry him again. He's gone big! Really big!

 

One thing that still makes me smile when the thought comes into mind is the morning breeze-scent in our home during my first conscious breathe when I get up from my bed, add the sound of the birds chirping and the choo-choo sound of the Laguna-Manila railway (which in fact is so far from our place, yet clearly [but not annoyingly] heard), the sight of the morning sun from the East - my senses are completely vitalized by the environment where I was literally born and raised. Haayy, when could I possibly visit our house next year?

Okay, enough of my reminiscing...

My April 2013 vacation was extra special because of the presence of my brother, a marine engineer, whom I last saw in person before I left for Saudi in 2010. He's a grown man! We almost looked like a twin! lol. Well, I really missed my bro... and of course we had a couple of bonding days during my vacay. Some food trips here and there, mall hops, and out of town adventures were great! We made it a family event, something that we can look back during months that we're all offshore/abroad.

 
 
 

After processing my papers for New Zealand and working on my OEC, I once again bid my farewell to my homeland. Although I know that I'd be coming back soon, I didn't know that IT would be very soon enough.

Just like what I mentioned in one of my previous paragraphs, my CAP school in New Zealand asked me to be here in an earlier date, a month (or two) earlier than expected. So I rushed things up, had my medicals, ran to the Saudi Council for Health Specialties to get my good standing certificate, and passed by the police station for the police clearance, all of which were required for my New Zealand stint. I arrived in Saudi in May 04 then I had my final exit within the same month, May 31, 2013. Ang bilis!

I once again kissed the soils of my homeland, only to leave it again in less than 10 days. That was one of the fastest series-of-days I had... Another journey, another beginning...

So I landed in the Maori land, the 'other' land down under, New Zealand. I actually blogged about this in my entry entitled From Middle East to Middle Earth. I finished my CAP and gained my registration as a nurse here in New Zealand. And while hurdling towards the goal of landing a job, I had a couple of tours around the areas of Oamaru, Dunedin, and the Southland.

I landed a job in September 2013 and so far I am quite contented with my current workplace. I'm still in the Emergency Department, just the extension of my practice in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. Workmates are good (a couple of Filipinos in our department), some are approachable, some are just civil. My flat is just in front of the hospital and IT IS really a huge convenience for me. I like my current place, but I am still eyeing to be in a place where I can explore further. I'd like to be in a bigger city, if possible, but right now I think I am very much settled in my place.

Oh, did I mention that salary is so good?! Yes, it's something I never imagined before. Haha.

Before the year ended, my most precious smartphone, Galaxy S3, was soaked under water for a couple of minutes!!! I came from a toxic night shift that time and when I got home I just undressed and threw all my clothes in the laundry and I completely forgot that my phone was in one of my pockets... then boom! Memories and apps all gone... :( I told my self, "what the heck... microsim is still okay, sim still works... I'm earning dollars... I should buy a new phone!" Within the same day, I bought my new Galaxy S4! Haha.


I am very thankful for 2013. A lot of mind blowing events happened, good thing those events were all good... What could possibly happen next year? Will I be able to step on our dream house? Shall I have a love life? A son/daughter perhaps? lol. We'll see. Thank you so much 2013, I welcome you with great enthusiasm and positivity, 2014!!!

Monday, December 02, 2013

From Where Are You In America?

That's a random question I get from patients or some random stranger who happens to start a conversation with me. So the question goes, do I have the American accent?

I have stayed here in New Zealand for less than a year and I don't think that the workplace has contributed immensely with what the locals hear from me. They would ask,

"From where are you in the USA?"
"I reckon you are from Canada based on your accent..."
"Did you study in the US? You sound like an American."
"Are you from California? There are lots of Filipinos there."

Of course, I'd quickly say, "No, I'm from the Philippines." Then I'd get that shocked-look from their faces. And to explain further, I'd add, "I don't know, this is how I speak English in the Philippines. Probably because we're much Americanised...
Them: I know some Filipinos from here but they don't sound like you.
Me: Oh, I watch US movies and television series almost everyday... That should explain why...
It's just that I am conscious enough with how I speak to my patients to the point that I unconsciously acquire the American-accent. Ano daw? Labo. Basta tunog-Amerikano daw ako, tapos. Haha. I observed that they get what I say even in the lowest pitch/tone if I use that accent.

But really, I prefer to speak with neutral accent.

And that... brings me to my realisation about IELTS. Haha. I had my IELTS examination in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last year. The listening part of the exam would be very easy for people who watch US movies or television series. However, the reality is different... I still struggle with some locals having very thick accent and those who speak very fast. Whew! Hala, sanayan na lang! Lol.
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