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2020 Recap - From Miss to Mrs

Looks like this is my first post for the month of December, and this also concludes my final post for the year of 2020. Obviously I'm getting more and more procrastinating again.

What's up everyone! So how's 2020 treating you so far? Good? Or bad? Maybe some of you had experienced the ups and downs, but always remember to be grateful and thankful that you have made it this far. By the way, can you believe that today is the last day for the year 2020 and tomorrow, we're going to welcoming another brand new year. Phew, time is indeed flies so fast without we realise it! 

Now, let me do some brief recap of what I had experienced throughout the year. It's funny to reminisce that last year was my most travelling year where I got to travel almost every month, but then who will ever thought when come to this year, everything seems to be crumbling down due to unforeseeable and unpredictable pandemic which hits the whole world. All my travel plans which I had planned earlier eventually fall apart. The only trip I managed to proceed is The Aloha State, Hawaii of USA (post here) where I went in the early of March.

#1: One and only trip for 2020 - Hawaii of USA

These are the trips that I have no choice but to cancel with a heavy heart 😫:

  • Athens & Santorini, Greece with Scoot Airline - Initially we plan to take our pre-wedding photoshooting here.
  • Dubai & Abu Dhabi with Cebu Pacific  
  • Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Slovenia & Slovakia for my final solo backpacking trip before settling down
Just wondering when will we able to travel again, like we used to be without worrying too much. Frankly speaking, I do miss travelling a lot, and I believe most of you do feel the same way too. But at this moment, all we can do is to always stay safe and pray hardly that everything will back to normal once again.

Since we are not able to travel abroad yet, therefore I took this chance to travel locally by supporting Cuti-Cuti Malaysia. I went and covered most of the places around Sabah like:
#2: Cuti-Cuti Sabah

And because majority of the hotels in Sabah are doing promotion including those 5-star hotels, immediately we took this opportunity to do a relax and rejuvenate staycation at these prestige and luxrious hotels:
#3: Staycations in 5-star hotels of Sabah

Besides going to Kuching for Chinese New Year early of this year, the only domestic trip we made it this far is to Kuala Lumpur in the month of July. We even rented a car and drove to Genting, Bukit Tinggi and lastly, Bentong just for the sake of fresh durian. 

#4: Trip to KL in July

Last but not least, the most important highlight for this year is where I upgraded from Miss to Mrs. Yes, I'm officially tied the knot. Our wedding reception was initially scheduled to be on 10.10.2020 but due to the sudden spike of covid-19 which caused by the state election, both my husband and I decided to postpone it. Plus, all my siblings and relatives are not around KK, we felt that no point to held the tea ceremony as well as the wedding reception. 

#5: Both of us are avid travellers. He is backpacker whereas I'm flashpacker. 
And we have been travelled together to almost 10 countries within 3 year 

And that pretty much sum up my life for the year 2020, although most of the time I was spending my precious time by staying at home. I still go to work in between, just that my time at home is more than going to the office. Despite this, I felt it's not a bad idea afterall cause I got to learn and try cook more new recipes. Frankly speaking, I have never into cooking but not until MCO, it has literally changed me and I got to cook different type of cuisines, including nasi lemak, curry chicken, chicken rice, Thai, Korean and Japanese cuisines. I even tried to bake cake and made desserts for the first time in my life. 

Talking about my resolution for the upcoming year of 2021, I wish I could shed some pounds and to blog more frequently (tons of backlog travelogues). Of course the most importantly is that I wish I could travel abroad next year - at least once perhaps. Seriously cannot tahan already. Luckily I still remember where I store my passport. Do you still remember where you place your passport? And where will be the first country you wish to visit once the border is open and safe to travel? Do share with me by leaving a comment below. 

Before I close this chapter, I sincerely wish each and every one of you to stay safe and healthy always. Let's pray together that the world will getting better and restore back like it used to be. In the mean time, be a responsible "rakyat" by complying the stipulated SOP - put on your masks when going out, keep your social distance and avoid large gathering. Take care everyone! 

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New Zealand Day 4: Paihia & Russell

 << Previous Post: Road Trip to Paihia & Day Tour with Harrison's Cape Runner to Cape Reinga  <<

It's our 4th day in New Zealand and we decided to take things slow and easy, before continue with our next road trip. Since we're in Paihia, a main tourist town in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand, we took the chance to explore this small little town and also the neighbourhood town which is Russell


Getting to Russell from Paihia is pretty easy by taking ferry to cross over. It's more convenient if you have car so that you have the freedom to explore Russell. Departs every 15 minutes from Opua, the ferry crossing took approximately 10 minutes and passed through the harbour. You can purchase the ticket online in advance, or even on the vessel on the day. 

#1: Taking ferry from Paihia to cross over to Russell

So, what's so special about Russell? Besides being the country's first sea port, it's also first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. The town holds a significant place in New Zealand's history as it is full with lots of historical places and buildings. Even the town's streets retain their original layout and names since 1843 and many of the historical buildings are open for public for visit. 

#2: A very quiet and quaint town of Russell 

We spotted few cafes and shops but they were closed as it's still quite early in the morning (probably around 8am). I guess the best time to come here is before the lunch time cause I believe that most of the cafes, restaurants and shops have opened their business. It's not a bad idea to arrive here earlier cause we hardly spot any tourists and we can stroll around the town in a peaceful and calm environment. 

#3: Driving around Russell is so relaxing

#4: Museum in Russell 

#5: Flagstaff Hill - one of the spots in Russell you shouldn't miss 

#6: Spectacular lookout point 

#7: Wild flowers in Russell 

After spending roughly 2 hours exploring Russell, we took ferry to cross over to Paihia again before leaving the town permanently. Similar to Russell, Paihia is a delightful small town that don't need extra miles to discover the entire town. My friends and I just parked our car at one spot and then, we walked around by heading to the museum, public library, war memorial house and we even having our lunch here. 

#8: A delightful small town of Paihia

#9: Williams House Public Library - We're kinda attracted to the exterior of the building

#10: Paihia War Memorial Hall 

#11: Sakura blossom in Paihia

#12: Our lunch in Paihia - pork ribs and burger 


We then continue driving to Hamilton, the most populous city of the Waiko region which takes about 4 and half hours drive via State Hwy 1. My friend booked one night stay in this bed & breakfast by the name of Glen Horne and it turns out to be one of my favourite stay throughout my trip in New Zealand. Not just that our stay is cozy and comfortable, the host even provide us a simple and light breakfast. That's so warm and thoughtful. We went bed earlier and have a good rest cause on the following day is going to be another exciting day. 

#13: Our stay in Hamilton

#14: Clean, cozy and comfortable bed & breakfast. Highly recommend. 

Glen Horne B&B 
Date Stayed: 16 September - 17 September (1 night)
Room Rate: RM319 for 3 pax - 1 queen bed and 1 single bed ensuite with bathroom
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New Zealand Day 2 & 3: Road Trip to Paihia & Day Tour with Harrison’s Cape Runner to Cape Reinga

 << Previous Post: Day 1 - Auckland, The First City We Visited in New Zealand <<

It's time to begin with our road trip in New Zealand. We collected our car rental on the second day in Auckland. We rented Nissan Tiida from Apex Car Rental and their services were amazing as they picked us up from the hotel we stayed in Auckland. Driving around New Zealand is not that difficult as the driver's seat is on the right side and they drive on the left-hand side of the road, exactly like in Malaysia. Malaysians can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have a current driver's licence. Just bear in mind that the common legal age to rent a car in the country is 21. 

#1: Goodbye Auckland! Will see you again

#2: Nissan Tiida which we rented from Apex Car Rental

#3: The first thing to do when rent a car is to dropby at supermarket to stock up some groceries and snack. 

From Auckland, we drove all the way to Paihia, a small town is well-known for a gateway to the sandy beaches of the Bay of Islands. As the journey took approximately 4 hours drive, my friends and I took turn to drive. I have to say that the road in New Zealand is pretty smooth one, and I almost fall asleep midway of the drive. 

#4: In Paihia, we stayed in Averill Court Motel

Averill Court Motel
Date Stayed: 14 September - 16 September (2 night)
Room Rate: RM524 for 2 nights for 3 pax 

On the next day, we drove another 1 and half hour from Paihia to Harrisons Cape Reinga Tour centre where we signed up with them for an exciting tour around Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga riding powerful terrain 4x4 truck to bus convention. This is one of the top attractions in North Island of New Zealand which I personally think you shouldn't miss it out. The full-day comprehensive tour departs daily at 9am and it's expecting to end around 5pm. 

#5: Harrisons Cape Reinga Tour riding on their powerful terrain 4x4 truck to bus convention

The so-called coach can fit up to 45 pax for 1 trip of tour. It has air-conditioning inside the coach and with large panoramic windows for the guest to enjoy the best scenic viewing. Not sure about WiFi connection inside the coach cause when we went New Zealand dating back in 5 years, Internet wasn't so important yet. The tour covering tourist attraction spots such as Aupouri Forest, Ninety Mile Beach, Te Paki Stream & Sand Dunes, Cape Reinga, Tapotupotu Bay, Rarawa Beach, Te Kao, Houhora Heads and Ka-Uri Unearthed. 
#6: My ootd on that day - try to act lil bit boyish

#6: Ice-cream in New Zealand is must try. It's amazingly good!

#7: Chamomile (sometimes I mistakenly thought they are daisies)

#8: Some snacks provided by the tour operator

#9: Don't you think their parks are super lovely?

#10: Tapotupotu Bay - A beautiful sandy bay nestled in the hills on the eastern side of Cape Reinga. 

#11: Lighthouse in Cape Reinga - the highlight of the tour

In Maori belief, Cape Reinga or Te Rerenga Wairua (Maori language) is a sacred place. It's the departing place of the spirits of the recently deceased. It is also the dramatic meeting place of the Tasman and Pacific Oceans.  
#12: Sand board at Te Paki Sand Dunes (extra charges apply and therefore, we didn't play)

#13: Poor dolphin in Ninety Mile Beach

Overall, my friends and I enjoyed the entire 8-hours tour especially with our guide cum driver who non-stop entertaining us with his humour and jokes. And the best part was we're rewarded with clear blue skies and therefore, almost all the photos we took were amazing and stunning. 

Tour Cost: NZ$70 for adult, NZ$40 for children
Tour departs at 9am and ends around 5pm.

#14: Our dinner bought from the supermarket - quick and easy. Not forgetting along with the national fruit

[Oh damn! I hate the new interface by blogger. My photos tend to be smaller than last few posts and I unable to share from Flickr]
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New Zealand Day 1: Auckland, The First City We Visited in New Zealand

 << Previous Post: Day 0 - British Airways & Qantas to Auckland, New Zealand <<

Fyi, New Zealand consists of two major islands where most of the population lives - North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and South Island (Te Waipounamu). Those names in bracket are in the Maori language. We began our New Zealand trip from the North Island and the first city we visited is none other than Auckland, the capital city of New Zealand. For this trip, my friend Agnes took the lead of planning and arrange everything; from accommodation, car rental, tour and etc while I finally can just enjoy the entire trip with stress-free. Thank you, Agnes! 

We settled down in this budget boutique hotel by the name of Shakespeare Hotel for just a night. It's not just an-old school hotel, but it is also consists of pub, restaurant and even brewery. So if you love to drink, then this place is meant for you. Unfortunately, my friends and I don't drink. Location wise, it is tucked right in the heart of Auckland city - easy access to shops, restaurants, eateries and even the nearest attractions.
#1: Shakespeare Hotel - this is where we stayed in Auckland city.

#2: Most budget hotels don't have lift within the building. Therefore, pack light.


Address: The Shakespeare, 61 Albert Street, Auckland CBD (Cnr of Wyndham St & Albert St)
How To Get Here: After taking Skybus from Auckland Airport, align at 175 Queen Street stop, walk for 75m and then turn left into Wyndham Street, keep walking straight for about 150m and you will hotel on the opposite road with red-coloured building. 
Date Stayed: 13 September - 14 September 2015 (1 night)
Room Rate: RM332 for ensuite room with a queen bed and a single bed (we travel in 3)

Since our trip in Auckland was pretty short (like less than 24 hours),  hence we intend not to get further away from the CBD area first. Plus, we will return to Auckland again before taking our flight to the South Island.  

Here are some of the places and building we came across on our first two days in Auckland:

#4: Auckland somehow reminds me of Melbourne

#5: Business district and one of the big four accounting firms just behind me

#6: Stunning Victorian Italianate style building

#7: What a busy city! 

#8: Cool mural painting on the staircases

#9: Auckland Ferry Terminal

#10: Auckland Tower - one of the city's top attractions

#11: Church nearby the tower 

#12: Auckland Art Gallery's Clock Tower

#13: My geng for this trip 

My friends and I are not that particular when comes to food. Now you know why I don't claim myself to be a food blogger cause I'm fine with anything - as long as it's clean, cheap and most importantly, edible. If you are on budget trip like us, Auckland has few food courts with variety of Asian food with cheap price. We came across one which nearby the Queen Street that caught our attention. I know you guys must be thinking, "Flying all the way to New Zealand for Asian food? You must be kidding". We tried our best to savour as much as Asian food we could find cause throughout the entire journey, for sure we will end up with either burger or fish and chips cause you know, this is New Zealand.  

#14: Food court with variety of Asian food near Queen Street

#15: My friend ordered this Chinese fried rice and it's freaking huge that my friend unable to finish it.
By the way, wondering will Uncle Roger approve this fried rice? Or he will say "HAIYA!"

Right after satisfied our hungry tummy, it's time for shopping! Well-known shopping icon Queens Arcade is an ideal destination for shopping. You can find all sorts of shops here, from fashion to accessories and even cafe and confectionery shops. But if you often read my blog, you will now that this is not my favourite place to shop. 

#16: Queens' Arcade - retail store in CBD area

Souvenir shops are my all-time favourite place to spend my money. The downtown area of the CBD has a number of souvenir shops for a range of budgets. Just head over to the lower Queen Street and lower Albert Street area, then you find what you need as a keepsake.  

#17: Fridge magnets, postcards, stamps - these are what normally I got from souvenir stores

That's pretty sum up what we did in Auckland when we had like less than 24 hours. Auckland does have few historical museums such as Auckland War Memorial Museum and New Zealand National Maritime Museum but we tend to skip them. 

Right after our small little tour around Auckland CBD area, we went back our hotel and started to pack our things. Check-out time is approaching and after that, it's time to begin with our road trip around New Zealand. Will continue more of this for the next upcoming post. Okay, thanks bye for reading this post! 

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