Monday, 24 December 2012

Cycling along Kapiti Coast

Our first summer experience is proving to be hot, hot, hot! It's close to the Singapore heat but less humid. Because it was cooler outside than indoors, we brought our bikes out for a spin today.

One of the simplest yet greatest joy of riding is the feel of the wind against your face. On a hot day like today, that feeling is priceless.

Kapiti Coast Coastal Route

The Kapiti Coast is about 50 km away from Wellington city. Compared to Wellington city, the climate is known to be warmer. Despite being only 50km apart, the weather in both places can be quite different. Commuting daily, many times have we board the train along the coast with sunshine yet only to be greeted with downcast and drizzle in the city. Just yesterday, we read about flight delays at Wellington airport due to low fog. We were like "what fog?"

Apple & Buck came out to play

We rode along Raumati beach, one of the many beaches along Kapiti Coast. There is a flat and wide shared path for both pedestrian and cyclist.

Flat and wide path by Raumati beach

The island at the back is Kapiti Island. Hence, the area Kapiti Coast. It's a nature reserve that allows a controlled daily number of visitors on the island. You will see lots of native flora and fauna, some endangered, like the Kiwi bird. 


It was so warm, we rode in shorts and flip flops. We couldn't lose the helmet. NZ being one of only two countries in the world that require helmets by law.


It was a hot day and the sea was calling out to us. We had no second thoughts on dropping our bikes, especially Gwyn who left in a jiffy.

Gwyn ejected from her Brompton

The water was cool and refreshing. If only we had our beach gear on us, we would have gone for a full dip. Thank goodness for the year end holidays, we will be back for more.



For the folks at LCSG, Tour de Middle Earth?

One for the LCSG crew

Just chilling by the rocks
It was a great way to spend Christmas eve, rolling by the beach and just chilling. Hope you had a good Christmas Eve too.

We wish all our readers a Merry Merry Christmas! Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Choo Choo Ho Ho Ho

It was Ho Ho Ho on the Choo Choo train today. The Capital Connection ran a decorate your table challenge on board their trains today and the response was extremely positive.

Decorate your table day

Props were all out in multiple array of colors. There were mini replica trees, toys, caps, socks, gift wraps and everything Christmassy. Passengers turned up with their Santa suits. There was even room for an actual tree.

Christmas tree

If you didn't know, Kiwis take their decorations very seriously. The amount of detail and effort put in was amazing. It was fantastic. Random strangers got together, props were passed around and everyone got involved.


Us included, we did our part and joined in the fun. Ho Ho Ho.

Joined in the fun

What started out as decorate your table soon transpired into decorate your entire cabin and get everyone moving. The festive mood around the cabin was certainly evident. Random people chatting, photo-taking, giving out chocolates and strawberries.

We were fortunate to be in a cabin that was in it to win it. Midway along the trip, some passengers started singing Christmas carols. 

In it to win it

It was quite the experience and not something we would come across in Singapore. It wouldn't be feasible to have a similar contest would it. There is probably not going to be enough space!



Six days to Christmas. Can't wait!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Summer time

Summer is here and the flowers have come out to play. Just the other day, we were greeted with some surprise additions in the garden.

Blooming Lily

What used to be a green bush blossomed into purple flowers out of nowhere.

Flowers that appeared "out of the purple"

The Pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) aka the NZ Christmas tree has timely started producing brilliant red flowers. And no, they are not rambutan trees. It's one of New Zealand's many native trees under threat from possum attack, and has been marked for conservation.

NZ Christmas tree

We had friends and fellow cycling enthusiasts, Juliana and Tim visit from Gisborne during the weekend. We knew Juliana and Tim through LoveCyclingSG. It was like a mini LCSG experience - Eat, Ride, Photo.

We took a short ride to Raumati Beach Village for lunch at Banana Leaf, newly opened Malaysian restaurant. They do one of the more authentic satays in Wellington.

Yes, we were guilty of the classic "finish eating then take picture" move....   

Lunch @ Banana Leaf

After lunch, we headed down towards the beach for the killer group shot. Superman: Man of Steel premiered early. Tim had his superman moment when he ripped his shirt off to reveal his LCSG roots.

"Bo Jio!" jested Gwyn.

To the right, LoveCyclingSG in NZ

The weather was awesome. We tried to sneak in a bit of Kapiti island into the shot under the glaring sun.

It was good fun and great catching up with Juliana and Tim. I'm sure we'll ride again soon. Maybe in Gisborne? :)

 
To the left: The evergreen pose

We rolled along towards the train station where we bade farewell. On our way back, Gwyn and I had an up close and personal encounter with a fellow stallion. We stopped along the road, stretched our hands over the wired fence and said hi. 

From one to another, the horse seemed to be interested in our steel framed stallions. We don't blame him, the Bromptons do attract quite a fair bit of attention.

Up close and personal
Eyes on the stallion.

Summer is beautiful and Christmas is approaching. As the clock counts down to Christmas, we just can't wait for the holiday season! There's lots to do and I reckon more riding and blogging should be on the list.

Till then, to all our readers, keep calm and ride on!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cycling in Parliament

Well, not literally, though it's great to see the topic of cycling in Singapore being discussed in Parliament.

AsiaOne 10 Sept 2012

I came across this short article which proved to be quite an interesting read. Here are my after thoughts, some of which you may disagree with.
"Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said that the total number of accidents involving cyclists has decreased by 17 per cent between 2008 and last year."
Misleading to say the least. Percentages and numbers can vary quite drastically.

Take for example in 2010, there were 25 cycling related out of 100 total road accidents.
-> 25 accidents involving cyclists.
-> 25% accidents involving cyclists.

And in 2011, there were 50 cycling related out of 250 total road accidents.
-> 50 accidents involving cyclists.
-> 20% accidents involving cyclists.

The percentage of accidents involving cyclists fell despite the number of accidents involving cyclists having actually doubled!
"He added that new dedicated cycling paths, which will separate cyclists from motorists and pedestrians, are currently being built in seven neighbourhood paths."
Sharing the road with cyclists can be a sticky issue for some. Dedicated cycling paths are certainly a good way to start, as long as cyclists on roads don't suffer the same fate as chewing gums!

The Park Connector Network (PCN) has grown leaps and bounds but it's still a far cry from connecting the island and facilitating inter town commute by bike. Until the PCN fully develops, banning cyclists on roads would be disastrous for bike commuters!
"In a bid to boost education in cycling safety, the Land Transport Authority will make new "Intra-Town Cycling" handbook available soon.The handbook will list good cycling etiquette and safety tips for cycling."

"The Traffic Police and Home Affairs Ministry are also studying measures to inculcate a safe road-sharing mindset among motorists and cyclists, and are reviewing cycling penalties to ensure that they reflect the severity of the offences."
It cannot be more true that there are cyclists out there that abuse their road rights. We've witnessed on more than one occasion, rampant cyclists that disregard rules and beat the red lights, hog lanes and weave about roads gangnam style, behaving as if they were kings of the road. Unfortunately, these black sheep give all cyclists a bad name. In times like these, it only takes one to tarnish any image. 

Education and awareness is definitely the way to go. But it's not just about cycling etiquette and safety tips for cycling. There is much more than that.

It's a total change in mindset, a radical change in culture and it's not just cyclists that need to be addressed. Drivers must be educated to know that roads are meant to be shared too. The misconception that paying road tax entitles you to rights on the road should really be dispelled once and for all. For the uninitiated, this is as true as pigs can fly. Paying road tax does not mean you pay for rights on the road. Cyclists, even though they don't pay tax, are as entitled to use the road. In fact, according to traffic rules, they are supposed to be on the road.

Plus the ignorant notion that cycling is just a hobby. It may be to you but to some, cycling is a form of daily commute, just like how cars get you to places, some prefer to ride their bicycles to their destinations. 

Education takes time but can be very effective. Just like how we were taught at a young age to share with the less privileged. I'm in no means implying that all cyclists are poor. The reality is that rather than being kings of the road, cyclists are more like the homeless, with the lack of rules, infrastructure and culture to protect them on the road. Road users honk them, pedestrians sneer at them.

And if there are to be harsher fines for cyclists, likewise, there should be stricter fines for motorists as well. It should really be both ways.
"Addressing cycling as a mode of transport, Dr Ibrahim said that while the Government will provide infrastructure for cyclists, Singaporeans are still encouraged to use the buses and MRT as the primary mode of transport."
I'm not sure why this should be mentioned at all. Can't help but get the impression that it's not a whole hearted effort to make cycling feasible, convenient and most importantly, safe for everyone.

In a nutshell, while infrastructure helps, the root problem lies within the mindset of road users who aren't willing to share the road. The best way to tackle this is via education, though this will take time. Until this is tackled, I'd say that we're still a long way from making Singapore a better place for cycling. Nevertheless, slow progress is better than no progress and at least there is some talk now.

Keep safe and ride on everyone.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Old is Gold

We attended a party for the launch of a vintage car showroom at McGuinness Classics Inc, Paraparaumu last evening.

I've always had the utmost respect for people with the knack for restoration. One man's scrap is another man's gold. Restoration is a form of art, one which may have been lost in today's fast moving advancing world, where many may prefer to buy new rather than fix old.

When we first arrived, we were greeted by a mega showroom of restored vintage vehicles. You don't have to live or breathe cars to be mesmerized by the beautiful cars on display that night.

Chevrolet 210 1957



Dutton Roadster 1985

Jaguar XJS 1987

Porsche 944 1983

This three wheeler caught our attention when it was started midway through the party and a massive roar was sent through the hall. 

Three wheeler with a motorcycle engine.

The Cadillac was one of our favorites. It was gorgeous and swanky, yet chic at the same time!

Gorgeous

Chic

Swanky

Plus you got to love the classic red leather.

Classic look

There was a nice truck on display too. Nice Tiffany blue.

Nice truck, nice colour

With the whole atmosphere and number of cars on display, I have to admit that there were moments when The Transformers tune seeped into my mind. I'm sure you can imagine how the cars might just come into life right?
 
Massive showroom with a huge collection of vintage cars.

It was a night of great music too. I always find it amazing how random individuals can come together, with different instruments, start jamming, unrehearsed and yet produce such fine music. Definitely a gift. 


This ensemble caught our attention with their interesting array of instruments, some of which were hand made out of recycled items like kitchen utensils and used glass containers.

There are plans to perform at the premiere of The Hobbit and we can understand why. Their "mystical " instrumental style of music will totally fit with The Hobbit.
 
Interesting array of instruments producing one sweet tune

It was our first time in a room with so many spectacular cars. It was an eye opener and we had good fun. Only pity was that there weren't any vintage bikes!

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Hungry Post

Few weeks ago, we received a parcel at our door step. We were expecting a parcel for a few bottles of beauty products but the box sitting there in front of us was way too big.

It turns out that Christmas came early and Santa Claus was a saint called Meowzhi.

Christmas came early

Just look at the stuff in there. We were spoilt for choice, like kids in a candy shop.

Treasure chest full of gold.

We did find our personal favorite, tip of the ice berg, creme de la creme - our most prized possession were in tiny orange vacuum packets. "Bak kwa" aka Barbequed Pork. Looks like jerky, tastes like bacon, only better.

We gobbled down almost half of it within a day. Instructions to heat up the packets in hot water before tasting seemed strange at first. Opinions changed quickly like magic. It's amazing how they taste like the real thing.

It certainly didn't take us long to realize that we had to practice some form of rationing if we wanted the goods to last through the year. Unless, there are other Santas out there that want to send us some more. :)

Our most prized asset.

Eating out in New Zealand generally costs a lot more compared to Singapore. A typical meal will cost around $10 i.e. an equivalent of the Singapore economical rice with three selections of dishes will cost about $8 here. It costs half that price in Singapore ($3 - 4).

While on a whole, they do cost more, the serving portions are also a lot more. In a sense, it evens things up. Nevertheless, we find ourselves experimenting more in the kitchen ever since our move.

Here are some meals that made it on cam. (The rest - we got too excited and dug in before reaching for the camera. I'm sure it has happened to you before too!)

Bak Kut Teh

Don't be fooled by the words "instant Laksa from Prima". With a bit of tweaking by adding your own tau kwa, egg and chicken, it actually tastes like the real thing even though it comes from a packet!

Laksa

We went global with Japanese curry and Taiwanese minced pork rice.

Japanese chicken curry with potatoes and carrots

"Ru Rou Fan"

And then there are the classics. Here is Gwyn's all time favorite - Fried Bee Hoon. It never fails to perk her up.

Char Bee Hoon

The classic sambal fried rice is always a good option. Sharon, you'll be happy to know that your sambal chilli has served us very very well!

Sambal Fried Rice

Old fashioned


We had a go at making some snacks too. This is one of my favorites, inspired by the Indian prawn fritters - the one with the prawn attached on top of the deep fried flour and you usually have it with a piece of green chilli.

Prawn Fritters

Chocolate cake to save any day.

My first attempt at baking.

There are days where we opt for western cuisines.

Pasta

Everyone loves a burger!

Home made patty burger

It's good fun trying out different recipes. We spend a lot more time in the kitchen over here then we would back in Singapore. It's definitely a lifestyle change. I wonder what's next on the try out list? Roti Prata maybe?