Friday, 29 August 2008

Our pad

Here's some pictures of our current residence in Auckland, which I know a few of you have been asking for.
We're not sure if we'll be here for long though, as the landlord may be putting it up for sale soon, which means we could be moving in late November time (all depends on the property market, etc). Hopefully we can stay here for a while cause it's pretty nice, and will be a good place to house all those people who said they'd be coming to visit us!!!!

Open plan living - cooking and watching TV simutaneously, brilliant!

Dining area, waiting for its baptism as yet.

Yes, that's Jody's mess all over the floor. How did you guess?

We've got a wrap around deck (yet to be used also -damn rain!)

View of the bush from the deck - good eh?

The hot tub (again, yet to be used)

Anywho, it's the end of my first month at work - so I'm off to get a little battered at the company's end of month party (free booze and food!). I could get used to this, in fact, I think I already have!

Love to all


Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Messin about..... what I do during my lunchbreaks. Hence the appearance of some new stuff over there (to the right). I've added an all important world clock for the international mega centres of Wakefield and Auckland, just so you know when we're in bed, and vice-versa. I'm also playing around with the voting thingy - whether this stays or not is down to if I like the results!!!

Anyway, back to work for me, whilst you lot remain in slumberland.


Friday, 15 August 2008

Ko Tao - Scuba Diving

James and me travelled for a whole day (Starting at 6.30am) on 2 buses and a ferry and still did not make it in time to catch the ferry to Ko Tao (An island off the east coast of Thailand). We ended up on Ko Pang Nang -the Island where the full moon party is held on. It was the afternoon after the party and everyone was lolling around looking slightly worse for wear. Not wanting to hang around here, we booked our ticket for the ferry for the next morning.

Ko Tao is beautiful. When we arrived we knew we wanted to do the PADI course (Scuba diving) and with guide book in hand we headed to the one it recommended - Easy Diver. It was just off the pier so we walked straight in expecting to be ambushed by people trying to sell us their course, instead it was really relaxed they sat us down, offered us water and a friendly English woman gave us a run down on the courses and accomodation which came included as well as some food vouchers. James and me planned to walk around and compare prices so we could get the best deal. When we mentioned the plan they kindly offered to look after our backpacks to make it easier for us. After weeks of the hard sell and people pushing their products, we found this so refreshing that instead of leaving we signed up there and then. It was 9000 Bahts each (which is around 138 pounds) for 4 night accomdation 4 days scuba training and 6 dives and food vouchers, which looking around afterwards was very good and slightly unique.

The course started that afternoon with some theory in the classroom and a video. We were in a group of 6, an irish couple Beven and Phil, a English girl Emily and a Danish girl Kate. Our instructor was Elliott. We had more theory the next morning and then we were out in the sea in the afternoon.

We got a boat to a small island near Ko Tao. Elliott had us jump in the water from the boat fully kitted out, then snorkelling towards a beach where the water was shallower.

Some photos added by James!

After we'd swum to some shallower water we practised breathing with the equipment and taking our masks off and on and clearing them under the water, also we did exercises swapping mouth pieces. I was James' buddy, I was worried we might argue but we were fine.
Then we swam back to the boat under the water going down to about 5m. There were so many fish in all the different colours and shapes.Really tropical, it was amazing!

Over the next few days we did more theory and dives guadually getting deeper. I think we went as deep as 20m.

Being super fit like James doesn't pay off in scuba diving. On one dive James with his massive lungs ran out of air, so as his buddy i had to share mine with him. He was like a big leech trying to suck all my air that i'd been gradually using. Least we know now though that we can share, and that my shallowing breathing can save us both if need be.

On the last day of the course we were woken up at 4am by a massive storm wind and rain. We wondered if our early morning dive would be called off but it wasn't and we were out on the choppy sea by 8am.
I felt alright and thought it was quite a laugh being tossed around in the boat, but about 5 minutes from the dive site when were kitting up for the dive, it stopped being funny and i just felt sick. We all jumped in the water and when the first wave hit me i was sick! YUCK but least i wasn't under the water with the mouthpiece in. Elliott was adamant that i would feel better once I was under the water and not being bobbed around by the waves so we dived down.
It was a hundred percent better under the sea! I was surprised.

We had 2 great dives that morning and we were filmed by Fran another diver. It was so relaxed, we all knew what we were doing and we just enjoyed the expereince without worrying about the fact we were 20m down while a storm was going on above us.

The the whole course was amazing and Elliott was a fantastic instructor and put my mind totally at ease. I'd recommend the course to anyone and you don't get seasick under the water even if you normally do on the surface (I know!)

Even if you're not bothered about diving Ko Tao is a great island and well worth a visit.


This picture was taken in Bangkok on our last night in Thailand. Already pointing to our new home in New Zealand.

The second stay in Bangkok was much better than the first. We had got use to the tuk tuk people and could ignore them easily and weren't so naive. We stayed in better area and travelled using trains to get around. It was a much better expereince and meant we could leave Thailand thinking of it in a positive light.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

New Zealand- The house hunt

Ok i know i promised you tales from Ko Tao and the scuba diving, but that will just have to wait!!

We've been NZ now for nearly 2 weeks and i have to say it been pretty manic.
We arrived on a wednesday and James was to start work the next monday so we spend the first few days searching for work clothes for him and shoes. We hired a car and drove around getting a feel for the city and before we knew it it was monday and i was left all alone for the first time in 2 months ish. Unfotunately i didn't have time to wallow in the abandoment as i had one small job - to set up our lives New Zealand.
My priorties were finding a house, aquiring money from our English bank accounts (withdrawing the maxium limit daily $800) and paying it into our accounts here, finding a job of my own and half hearted looking for a car.

I have been to a job interview for an agency and they were very positive that i will get work but they can not proceeed without my IRD number which is like the English national insurance number. So that's on hold as they can not issue that without a permanant address and then it takes 10 working days to come once you've applied. So i've got at least 2 more weeks off 'official work' the kind you get paid for.

Car hunting- James needs to be there. I'm not being girlie but it's the first time we'll be sharing a car and i don't want to be held accountable if James doesn't like it.

Believe me finding a place to live has kept me busy and i dare say i've put in as many hours as James has. (Mum - I'm not a lady of leisure! YET)
We had a deadline. We had two weeks from when we landed pre paid on the hotel we're staying in and after that it would cost us $135 a night a price we just can't afford to pay at the moment. So tomorrow is the deadline!!

Our house hunting process has gone like this -
1. Go on the internet (cafe) find a property you like- price, location, commutor links, rooms and pictures.
2. Phone (hotel) agents and check it is still availible.
3. Drive to the property and view it from the outside (Agents like to check your not wasting their time and that you actually like the location)
4. Phone (hotel) agents and confirm you would like to view it and arrange a time. (i've left a lot of messages that were never returned)
5. View the property taking photos and videos.
6. Talk James through each property using maps videos and photos as well as driving by in the the dark and peering through windows so he can get a feel of the places too.

I must have viewed 20 or so properties so by the end they were all merging in my mind.
My favourite property was one in St Heliers near the beach 2 bedrooms, unfunished, pets allowed (we really want a dog) and with an open fireplace in the bedroom. I dragged james along friday evening to look at it and he loved it too. The only problem was there was still tenants living there and they weren't sure when they were going to leave (really soon they assured us) We had 4 properties to view the next morning. After those viewings, we had another contender a fully furnished property on the north shore near a ferry port (James' commutor route) With 3 bedrooms, all the white goods plus extras like a cutlery, plates pots, pans, TV and a hot tub. Only problem was the landlord umming and ahhing about whether to put it up for sale in November (dependant on the property market) so we could quite easily have to search for another house on 4 months time. This property made a lot of sense as it would give us time to save up for washing machines and fridges but we weren't sure about location.

Monday morning i decided to walk around the area and get a feel for it. I was pleasantly suprized. The sun was out so i was waliking around in a t-shirt. the ferry was only 10 mins away and the sea 5 mins there were some bush tracks. I was texting James to tell him i'd decided which was my favourite when (if this isn't a sign from God i don't know what is) my phone rings in my hand, with the agent at St Heliers telling me that the other property was off the market as they weren't sure whether when the tenants would be moving out. Descion made!!
James and me are moving in to the property on the North Shore tomorrow (Wednesday). Dead on time!!

Sorry if there are lots of mistakes only James isn't here to spell check.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

khok Sok

After Ko Phi Phi we caught a ferry to Krabi ((lets just say the journey was uncomforable due to a tiny bit of sunburn) - You should have seen James (lobster))
We met a nice Austrailian couple though on the ferry and shared a taxi with them and an evening meal and drinks. It was a nice change from talking to each other. The next day we went to a beautiful beach on a longtail boat but couldn't risk getting more sun on our burn so took it easy. Krabi is beautiful!

Khok Sok is a national park and Fay had given us indepth instruction to go there! She'd told us where to stay and what treks to do with which guides. So with what we thought we knew we tried to jump in a bus, but a man enquired where we were planning to stay. Looking at the information Fay had had armed us with i said 'Green Mountain View guest house'. I think they sensed the weakness and proceeded to tell me they weren't sure it exsisted and if it did it would surley be closed for the low season. 'Luckily' they knew somewhere 'cheap' and it was definately open, convenietly run by their cousin. Ah ha, I smell tuk tuks in Bangkok again and flately refused to entertain the idea at all (James is always incredibly polite and very english playing the game very well i'm always nervous that he is going to say yes, but afterwards he tells me he never was- it's a strange game but it works. We're like good cop/ bad cop only i'm not entirely sure it's nessary)

When we get there we shout at anyone that will listen we want to go to 'Green Mountain view' run by Tawee with a guide called Bob Marley and any other slightly ridiculous information I thought I'd grasped from Fay. I think at this point all the people thought we were deranged, but someone out there seemed to understand because we were hussled into a car and low and behold the drivers name was 'Tawee' and he drove us to Green Mountain View, which was just beautiful!

Raised huts with a deck with an inside a fan and a double bed under a massive Mossie net, the height of luxury to my eyes. We had lunch with Tawee cooked by his beautiful wife with their kids playing around with cats (pretending they were baby dolls and putting them in prams) and his dog lying under our chairs. It was lovely! We booked the trek and Tawee drove us around showing us the local area that he was so proud of. He took us to view points, waterfalls and some monkeys at a temple (all free of charge) and took photos of us together. Tawee is a great man!!

The trek started early in the morning. We went to a market and I bought some more hiking boots as my last ones had disappeared between Ko phi phi and Krabi. We met our guide 'Me' and the rest of the group- a couple from Switzerland and a couple from Belguim.

We travelled to the raft houses by Long tail and the scenery was amazing, just mountains popping out of the water all lush and green. The water was warm and clear and i had the feeling it was incredably deep. When we got to the floating houses we were told to have a relax and swim until the late afternoon. The water was fab although at first the thought of how deep it was did scare me (I mean when it is so clear and you still can't see the bottom i find it a little uncomfortable)

We went kakaying and enjoyed our water living. We went to visit a cave in the evening but it wasn't that great, but the one they normally show people around was close because TOO many people had die in it recently. We did a night trek back in the dark and saw a few animals but mostly birds.

We had tea and the lads bonded over football from three different nations and they were all discussing how great Leeds used to be. Ah times like these i sometimes feel i should take an interested in football as it is obviously an international language but alas i still have no interest i can't seem to force it.

The next day we trekked for a couple of hours it was a bit of a let down as the track was so wide and clear we didn't really feel like we were in the jungle. When we got back James and me went tubing which was fab as we floating down the river (Which was freezing compared to the Lake and Sea) with monkeys in the trees above our heads, rapids and rope swings along the way a definate highlight!

We got back to our homestead with a dog to watch us while we snoozed in our hammock life doesn't really get much better.
As always we have to move on. The next day was a mega travel day which i'll blog about later- The Tales of Ko Tao!

Love Jody