Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Courteous Driver

Friends from abroad remark that our drivers are very gentlemen drivers. Drivers obey the road code and are very courteous. This definitely doesn't happen in some Asian Countries.

Indeed, the driver of this tanker was an eye opener to one of my visitors. he actually pulled to the side of the road so that the cars could pass him. My visitor say, in his country, they won't care.

Now, you know why Auckland was rated 4th best city in the world. Though this photo was taken outside Auckland.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Auckland, my city

According to the Mercer 2009 Quality of Living survey, which covered 215 cities and was based on criteria including political, social, economic and environmental factors.

Auckland jumped one place from last year to join Canada's Vancouver in fourth place, while Wellington stayed 12th on the list.

Austrian capital Vienna took No 1, knocking Switzerland's Zurich and Geneva into second and third respectively.

The global recession meant many organisations were reviewing international appointments and cities with favourable rankings had an advantage when it came to attracting expatriates, Mercer spokesman Rob Knox says.

"Despite the financial crisis, New Zealand remains a very attractive market for expats-- particularly as a career development opportunity for high potentials."

Welcome to Auckland.

In both my blogs, I have many posts on Auckland. You will enjoy visiting this beautiful city.

Photo taken from Devonport, you can drive across the Auckland harbour bridge or take a ferry.

Wash your hands

I was at a wash room of a medical facility when I saw this sign above the sink today.

I thought how appropriate with the swine flu pandemic. When the SARS was around, I was in Singapore, where there were deaths and schools were closed. Children were taught how to wash their hands.

New Zealand is very far away from Mexico and USA, but we are not free from this scary situation. Nine students and one teacher in the 25-strong party from Rangitoto school which arrived back in Auckland on Saturday morning after three weeks in Mexico have tested positive for influenza A.

We are told to be cautious and wash our hands.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Stills: Barns:Kings Barn New Zealand

This is a new group, every Sunday, we have a challenge. I am glad I had this photo. I drive pass it sometimes and I happen to have my camera with me.
Kings Garden Barns are actually garden centres aka plant nurseries.  There are seven of these barns in Auckland, very distinctive by it's yellow colour.
Garden Centres are some of my favourite places. Even if I don't buy anything, I like to do my window shopping the way other people do in shopping malls. I am a country girl at heart. Even when the water engineer was a professor, and i was a faculty wife, I was more comfortable digging with dirt under my nails than spending time doing a manicure.

Flathead fish

Dear Aunty Ann,

Lincoln, Olivia and I went fishing. We were lucky and caught a big flathead next to the Southport Sundale bridge.

Next time, you come to South Port, I will take you there. This place is under the bridge between Southport and Surfers Paradise. They have done up very nicely under the bridge now. It is all clean and have timber broadwalk thru the broadwater now.

Last time, I took Uncle Kalang to The Spit. That was in the open ocean.

Mum threw away the head and we ate the body. Mum made some sashimi and some cooked in Thai massaman curry. It was very nice.

 Uncle Charles says it looks good cooking with curry and sour tomatoes.

You can see how big the head is compared to another fish.



A flathead is one of a number of small to medium fish species with notably flat heads, distributed in membership across various genera of the family Platycephalidae. Many species are found in the Indo-Pacific, especially most parts of Australia where they are popular sport and table fish. They inhabit estuaries and the open ocean.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Helicopters in Papua New Guinea.

If I was a romance writer, I would write an autobiography. I would be a beautiful, frail and tender heroine, lost in the mountainous jungle of Papua New Guinea. This handsome hunk of a chopper pilot comes down and swoop me up to the skies.

Alas, there was no such luck for me, nor was there any for the pilot. He was ferrying the water engineer and his mates.

Dog welfare

There are SPCA donation bins all over New Zealand. I have seen loving pet owners, but there are horror stories. People hurt their pets and abandon them. Just last week, SPCA persecuted a man who hurt his girl friend's dog so badly that he had to go to jail for three months. People abandon dogs and cats for various reasons.

In NZ, there is light at the end of the tunnel for abandoned dogs. The Pedigree Adoption Charitable Trust was launched in march to care for the 11,000 dogs dumped every year. 

Spaying and neutering is one solution the Cat Cafe in Singapore believe in. My friends used to catch the wild feline animals and sterilize them before release them.

I was one of the founding members of the Cat cafe in Singapore. My friend J continues to send me news about the cat and dog welfare in Singapore. You can imagine how passionate I am with these helpless creature. My  language is very strong to those who abandon cats and dogs. It is bad news there as in New Zealand.

There is a petition which J sent me. I looked it up to see if it is a hoax. It is a real case, but the petition is now outdated. Still, it shows how horrific people can do to their pets.

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

I was horrified and shocked to see the article in the Daily Voice
yesterday about Tammy, a dog that had been burnt so badly by her owners.

The owners wanted to punish her for jumping over the wall into the
neighbours place. They fetched her and put her in her kennel and set it

I am not sure how many of you have seen the pictures. As an animal lover
it brought tears to my eyes because she was burnt so badly. The SPCA had
to put her down.

The SPCA have removed the other 2 dogs from these people and are pressing
criminal charges against them. I am therefore appealing to all animal
lovers to please add your name to the petition so that the owners are
given the maximum punishment befitting to them.

The kennel burning incident occurred in the Western Cape province of South Africa around August, 2006. An article originally published in the Cape Times on August 25th 2006 notes: 
A Parow couple are to appear in the Bellville regional court on Friday, charged with burning their dog alive.

If convicted, the pair could face fines of up to R200 000 or two years in prison.

The pitbull, named Tammy, almost died when her owners allegedly tried to set her alight in her kennel. She was so burnt so badly that the SPCA, who had rescued her and the owners' two other dogs, had to put her down.

"She was suffering immensely and there was nothing more we could do for her," said Allan Perrins of the SPCA.

Tammy had burns all over her body: on her face, legs and underbelly, but her eyes were particularly badly damaged.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Anzac Day: Lest we forget

Families with babies, and young kids brave the gale and rain.

Auckland is very cosmopolitian. She has the biggest Polynesian population in the world. here a Polynesian group in the Parade.

I managed to get a snap shot of the old vets. The photo isn't clear because the weather was really dull and grey.

Here is a Dad and his young kids going to the service.
I wrote about Anzac day in my Book:http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2008/11/mail-order-bride-chapter-1-norman.html
In New Zealand, families of all generations go to the parade. Most have had garnd parents who fought in the war. I have a friend J.A. who was there. She's in her 80s, and every year, she marches in the parade.  I wish I could post a photo of her here, but I didn't ask her permission.

Anzac Day: Lest we forget 2


I am not sure what this group is. They seem too young to be in the forces full time.

This seems like the girl guides.

This may be Brownies.

That little guy just warmed my heart. He had a proper suit and tie. Some one may recognise him and be very proud. "That's my boy!"
There are 30.321 New Zealand war graves in 63 countries from France and Belgium, Bulgaria and Kenya. And Singapore. Yes, I always take my overseas guests to the Kranji cemetary when I was living in Singapore.

Anzac Day: Lest we forget 1

The parade marches up Dominion Road. There were just about ten old Vets. They are braving the cold wet weather for this.

The first of the parade, a very tall young soldier and a drummer from Dexter Ave. The water engineer had commented that the vets would almost all be dead, who would be at the parade?

People were in rain coats and umbrellas waiting for the start of the parade. I was bundled up in winter gear because I was still having the flu with a beanie, pashmina and a parka.

The traffic police stopped the traffic on both ends of a very busy Road, Dominion Road. People were happy to be diverted to a side road. Others just stopped.

These couple of blogs and the one in my other blog, Poppy Day are my tribute . 
To all the war veterans who fought in the war, lost their lives so we could live in a free world.
It was forecasted gale winds and rain, but what was braving that compare to the bravery of the soldiers. I dragged Sam to the Mt Eden War Memorial to see how this day was commerated in the suburbs. Previously, I had gone to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to the civic service .
**** Despite having more than 1000 posts, I am still learning. This is the first time I have put commentaries in between photos. This blog, unfortunately, the photos are in reverse order. I will try in my next blog.***

Our Town Shoot Out: My Choice


I've accepted a challenge from Patty to post photos of our local community every Friday. This week's theme challenge is to post photos of my choice in my town.

There are links to all the Friday Shoot Out participants from around the world at the bottom of my left panel. Maybe you'd like to join us as well and post photos of your community? 

I have accepted Barry's invite and am looking at my achives for seomthing about Auckland. The Poppy Day would be really appropriate, but I posted it before I knew of this invite.

Auckland is in an isthmus, we are surrounded by water. Children have waterwise lessons from an early age. Here in Devonport, the children are having sailing lessons. Our Olympic gold medal winner started sailing at the young age of eight.

Papua New Guinea: Canoe

The water engineer traveled in this canoe. In Borneo, we also have boats we call long boats with an out board engine just like this one. Our jetties were different though.

Papua New Guinea: River huts

Dotted along the Sepik River, 700 km from river mouth – 3oom wide or more, are little grass huts of the Papua New Guinea tribes.

This river reminds me of the Rejang River of Borneo, 563 km, and the river trips I used to that.

please click on the photo to see the huts.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Papua New Guinea: Misty Mountains


This is what the water engineer saw from the helicopter.

The misty mountains reminded me of what had happened to one of my primary school classmates, L. He was in his 40s when he set out to climb Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain 13,435 feet (4095 meters) above sea level. in South East Asia, located in sabah, Borneo.

Apparently there was a white out when the clouds came down and blanketed the mountain. When it cleared, the front party thought he was with the party at the back and vice versa. When they all got together, he was no where to be seen. He must have fallen down a cliff when he couldn't see anything. I think it was similar to the Mt Erabus Tragedy where an Air New Zealand plane crashed in Antartica..

I prayed for journey mercies before the water engineer flew off. I never felt stressful before his many overseas trip. This was one I was stressed out. Perhaps it was because he was heading to the bush in the mountains.

Papua New Guinea, the mountains.

The Water Engineer went to Papua New Guinea on a work assignment. He must have drank too much Jungle Juice. (Jungle Juice is a home brew consumed in Papua New Guinea).

From the helicopter, he kept seeing snakes and he was in the sky among the clouds. LOL.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rain please

This is what my sisters Rose and Elizabeth coming from Australia, mean when they say New Zealand is so lovely with all the green. The water engineer says Australia is so dry and brown.

The Miracle of water. Let's not spoil it.

New Zealand: Clean and Green

A friend said her son is coming back to live in New Zealand after being away in Sydney, Australia for about ten years. Why? asked a visitor from the same city. It's the green, he is missing.

Indeed, New Zealand is so green according to my sisters who visit from Australia. Rose says the green is soothing to the eyes.We who live here tend to take this place for granted sometimes.

I have been revolutionised by the green revolution, simply love this place. In Singapore, I take friends, not to the shopping malls, but to places less travel by. Here too, I take them to see green. We try to replant.

My cousin H is a forester, replanting for commercial purposes in Whakatane and Blenheim. My friend Ngarimu replants for environmental reasons. I promised him, next time he plants, I will be there.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Orewa beach

We try to make the best of the remaining warmer weather. We go out every weekend before the wet cold winter sets in. Just in case you are wondering why i am talking of the cold now, it ia because New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, and our weather is opposite of the North.

Auckland is good, we are never too cold. Last weekend, we were at Orewa beach, the swimmers were gone, but there were lots of catamaran banana boats, surfing, kite boarding, and there was even a paddle surfer. The photo is grey, this is because the weather was windy and wild.

This post is specially for fellow blogger seethroughgreen. New Zealand has a whole lot of fun activities in a small bottle. We have met many tourists from all over the world, and they love it.

This weekend, my twenty year old daughter G and her friends crossed the Tongariro. Now, if Sam does it this summer, there is only me who hasn't done the crossing, and the pressure is great.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kiteboarding at Orewa, New Zealand.

If you follow my blogs, you would know that New Zealand is a great place for out door sports. Yesterday, I was north of Auckland at Orewa, known for retirement homes and beautiful surfs. I don't know if the retirees are involved such extreme sports of wind, waves and surfs.
In the very cold breeze, I quickly went out to take my photos and then recluse myself in the car challenging my brain a mathematical game of Sudoku while the water engineer when to investigate his beach with another friend. You will like my photos of a new sports. Kiteboarding. I admire these sportsmen and women in their wetsuits oblivious to the cold. I thought of Jean batten when I saw the surfer. I guess if Jean is alive today, she too would be at the Orewa beach.
Kiteboarding, a synergy of wind and water forces, takes harnessing the wind to the extreme! Kiteboarding is the ultimate fusion of kiteflying(power kites), wakeboarding, and snowboarding. This fascinating combination realizes mans eternal dream of flying. Once you experience the rush of kiteboarding, you will never be the same! Kiteboarding is the hottest new kite sport to sweep the world and it thrives on pure adrenaline!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fruit and herb Stall

While traveling last Saturday to the west of Auckland to Kumeu, land of grapes, wine, fruits and horses, I was pleasantly surprised to see such "honesty" stalls still exist. There has been reports of thefts of products and money at these unmanned stalls. Things have been so bad that some owners resort in installing a CCTV camera to nap the culprits.
If you look carefully at one side of the concrete wall, you will notice the number is 168. This number is highly favourable to the Chinese. 168 sounds like forever prosperous. This owner must be very trusting, and he is blessed in abundance as a result. What is an apple or two, or a basil or two, to him when he had the whole orchard or herbs field.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


When I started this blog, it was my intention to showcase my book Mail Order Bride, which I wrote two years ago. It is about the life of a foreign woman who came to New Zealand. Sadly, New Zealand is very small, and I found the publishers were not interested in this kind of genre. Apart from Penguin and Random, I did not bother to send my book to other publishers.

This book is the embodiment of many issues of the darker side of today’s society. Auckland city is chosen because of her cosmopolitan features, as well as the presence of immigrants, new and old. There are mail order brides from all over the world. This story could happen in any big city in the world.


Parts of this book involved the young Maoris and some of their customs. This is a fiction intertwined with facts. This year, I got to know Ngarimu, the grand son of the Maori chief during the Bastion Point Protest.

My book has become real to me as Ngarimu played host to me, Sam and my sister Elizabeth and Kalang recently. He took us to places and told us stories that only privileged visitors were taken and told. So now, I am taking the book out of the woodwork and see if I can find a publisher.

Ngarimu, a Maori from New Zealand and Kalang, a Kelabit from Borneo found that their two tribes  have so much in common. In fact, when Kalang walked the streets of Auckland, he was greeted Kia Ora.

NewZealand Native bush: Manuka

Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka or Tea tree or just Leptospermum) is a shrub or small tree native to New Zealand and southeast Australia. You may have heard of the Manuka Honey or the Tea tree oil.
I take Manuka honey every day and if the family feels the itchy feeling of their throat, I make them take a teaspoon of the expensive active UMF 25+ Manuka honey.
The honey comes from the bees who harvest the wild Manuka and the oil from the berries. I always have a bottle of Manuka or Tea tree oil which is very good for skin problems.
I took these photos in a public park in Western Auckland. My friend Ngarimu and his Maori tribe are involved on replanting native bush in his tribal land at Orakei. It has the dual purpose of planting a medicinal plant and preventing erosion.
American Mr Lloyd strongly believes that manuka honey dressings saved his leg from amputation. So convinced that he came on the cruise liner Millennium to meet the people who changed his life.
Manuka products have high antibacterial potency for a limited spectrum of bacteria and are widely available in New Zealand. Similar properties led the Māori to use parts of the plant as natural medicine.
Kakariki parakeets (Cyanoramphus) use the leaves and bark of Manuka and Kanuka to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feathers.[3]

Manuka honey, produced when honeybees gather the nectar from its flowers, is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer in taste than clover honey and has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. The finest quality Manuka honey with the most potent antimicrobial properties is produced from hives placed in wild, uncultivated areas with abundant growth of Manuka bushes. However a very limited number of scientific studies have been performed to verify its efficacy.

The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand has formed the Waikato Honey Research Unit to study the composition of honey and its antimicrobial activity. The Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) is the industry association that promotes and standardizes the production of Manuka honey for medical uses. They have created the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) standard which grades honey based on its anti-bacterial strength. In January 2008 Professor Thomas Henle, University of Dresden (Germany)[4] identified Methylglyoxal as the active compound in Manuka honey. This is now shown on products as MGO Manuka honey. E.g. MGO 100 represents 100mg of Methylglyoxal per kilogram.[5]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Winter flus

Some students in my school spend their morning tea and lunch time skateboarding. Kids, they don't feel the cold weather.

Seen zipping through the Western Springs park, was this shirtless and shoeless man on his skateboard, oblivious to the cold and wet autumn weather.

Whereas heeding my grandma's advice," Come in an put on something warm!" I still caught this winter flu despite my influenza vaccination.

According to medical information, the virus strains for this year are
  • A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus
  • A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Florida/4/2006-like virus
  • and my Chinese doctor says it is the Hong Kong flu.

    May be I already had caught the Hong Kong flu before I had the vaccination.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Autumn sun set in the Southern Hemisphere

    Last weekend, I went to Rotorua, it was dusk when we were driving home. The sun was beautiful. Unfortunately, the water engineer won't stop the car to let me take a good photo. So here is one I took in our moving car, taken somewhere just after Hamilton on our way back to Auckland.

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009


    When you sink your teeth in that block of chocolate, have you ever wonder where the chocolate came from?

    My grandfather used to grow cocoa trees which produce pods like these. Inside the pods are seeds and it is the seeds that yield cocoa powder, the essential ingredient to make chocolate.

    These pods are not from my grandfather's trees. I snapped these in the Winter Garden green houses at the Auckland Domian. They gave me a pang of nostalgia from the old days in Borneo when I was a kid.

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Rotorua Lakeland Queen

    My trip to Rotorua was very worthwhile, and I took many photos of various landmarks. Berthed on the Rotorua lake, I saw her Majesty the Queen. This genuine 266 passenger stern wheel paddle ship was built on the traditional lines of the Mississippi River paddle ships.Purpose built and launched in 1986, the Lakeland Queen has only ever sailed on Lake Rotorua and is now a well-loved icon of Rotorua. She is powered by a 240 hp Cummins diesel engine driving the 8 bladed stern paddle through a hydraulic system.

    The Lakeland Queen, New Zealand’s only Paddle Stern Driven Vessel returns to Lake Rotorua in all its glory complete with a 10-metre extension and a stylish new interior.

    The Lakeland Queen can now cater for up to 240 guests for a seated breakfast, lunch or dinner, or 300 guests for a cocktail style function. The options available include one of the daily scheduled cruises, exclusive use of the upper or lower deck for a scheduled cruise, or to charter the entire vessel for the ultimate corporate, incentive or wedding experience.