Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Obsession with Washi Tape

Last year when I found out I was heading to China, I knew I had to keep a journal, and I knew I had to make sure I remembered as much about the experience as possible. So I bought a Smash Book for journalling. I also bought washi tape, because, well, I needed tape to hold stuff in the journal. Now, I have been journalling since I was a teenager.... And I always keep a travel journal, but this was well, a new approach to the previous ones.

Not only did I fall for Smash Books completely... Love love love... But washi tape changed my life. From a couple of rolls just to hold stuff in, I then went crazy.... I bought so many.

Now I pretty much use the stuff for everything.

Need to decorate a card.... Washi tape.
Need to journal.... Washi tape.
Book too similar to everyone else's... Washi tape.
Hold a gift closed.... Washi tape.
Set a theme.... Washi tape.

The tape is smooth, and totally easy to use, it can be moved, repositioned, and still stick down.

I imagine I'll be using if forever... And probably buying far too many rolls.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 27, 2014

Exploring The Weta Cave

Now, I am a mad keen movie fan. I could happily see movies all day. Especially sci-fi and fantasy movies. I love stories and impossible worlds, so of course, a trip to The Weta Cave is always a highlight.

I've been before. And it was awesome. And now I went again. Yes, this is being posted to two of my blogs, because, I think it fits.

Richard Taylor and the team at Weta have put together and amazing experience at the Weta Cave. From a free 25 minute behind the scenes look at the various wings of Weta and the movies they have been a part of, to the museum, to the replica props, to the quality merchandise, it's all great. Now they even have a paid tour as well. (And that's only $20 per adult!) it does get busy, so go early, avoiding 11:00am-2:00pm which seems to be the busiest time.

Now, why on the Guru sight? Well... I've been wanting to knit dwalven hats for a while... And now I have a picture of a real one up close. But they also have the prop replica knitting pattern and kit... From the same yarn as the one in the films! Yes, I bought one.

And a chain mail kit!

Such a nerd, I know. Watch this space to see the hat and the scarf take shape... And go visit the Weta Cave in miramar if you are in wellington! It's amazing, even if you don't like Tolkien.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Living in Changchun, China

I spent 5 weeks living and working in Changchun, Northern China. It was an amazing time and one I will cherish forever. During my stay I worked in mainly middle schools, and had a chance to live a truly Chinese lifestyle.... Albeit an affluent lifestyle.

The first thing to note was that because I travelled with money, I had more than most people in the city. Food and entertainment was cheap by western standards, though the Chinese complained at rising prices for things. Admittedly I did not go and buy a Bentley, or Prada shoes, but I definitely did not go hungry or wanting for anything.

Food was cheap. I ate my way through different street and snack foods with gusto. I loooooooved hot pot and pancakes, and candied hawthorns. Gorgeous. However, I did find buying foods a matter of trust. Learning "su" or vegetarian was essential, as was handing over money and hoping that it was enough to various stall holders. I was amazed that products such as bananas in a freezing northern winter were still cheaper than in New Zealand.

Restaurants generally had picture menus to choose from, which was ideal. Beer was also really cheap- working out at about 50 cents a can or bottle.

Changchun isn't a tourist destination which made it so wonderful. People were always keen to talk, or touch, or photograph, and would happily chatter away in mandarin even though I couldn't respond in anything but English. I thought I would feel more lonely, but the general non-sensical conversations staved off loneliness well.

The city is filled with wonderful public spaces and parks, which people use. I spent a lot of time wandering in the parks, which filled me with tranquility and joy.... Rather than the malls that I found stressful.

Things to note about travelling to china..... And really, take heed.

The bathrooms are.... Ummm.... Not western. Squat toilets. Often without flushing or doors, and always without paper. It only took one day, a laughter filled conversation with a 16 year old girl teaching me how to use the facilities, and a massive package of tissues that I would stuff in my pockets or bra, before I mastered the toilet. I did get a wee spot of delhi-belly, once in Changchun and once again in Beijing (which was waaaaay worse, thank you Beijing water supply for that)... So splurging on a hotel room with a western toilet is well worth it, or just asking as most accommodations had both options.

Laundry is also an issue, no laundromats or automated machines to speak of for me, but living longer term I would have probably done something else. I always travel with laundry liquid capsules, rather than powder (travelling through airports with unlabelled white powder never seems like a good idea), and these dissolve quickly and easily. Washing in the sink, rinsing in the shower, and leaving to dry in the bathroom on the shower rail and a travel clothes line worked well. There was no humidity, so things dried quickly.

Carrying an address card from the hotel was also genius. This way if I got lost I could get an easily recognized taxi to or from the hotel. All taxis were 2 coloured, with beige. Also, really cheap. Generally 10-20 RNB would get you anywhere you needed to go. Public transport in Changchun was much harder to use as generally people did not speak English. The train was an experience, but required booking tickets a week in advance, and flashing the thing around to every conductor I saw to be sent to the right carriage and seat.

I will be blogging about various sights in Changchun, so keep and eye out here for changes and activities.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad