Sunday, April 27, 2008

Voice Recital

Tanya's voice recital....
She was vry nervous but sang very well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Character Sketch

While working with my 8 year old on how to character sketch I found this presentation very useful!

Monday, April 21, 2008


We got to see a performance of Tanya at her School's Annual Spring Fair..

She did so well..We were thrilled!

Watch her Dance for " Work this Out" from High School Musical!

She is in the right dancing with a Denim Skirt!

Singing " Yesterday Once More!

Tanya at far right!

The Pizza Dance!
Tanya at far left with her friend Michelle!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Art Classes

Finally its showing some light ..on my insistence we started Tanya starts with Chinese Brush Painting classes..It was not as colorful as her expectation of a work of art as they start only with black ink...

Her first weeks work....not vey interesting !

A great improvement...showing results!

We are getting there Riona with art teacher....doing "Easter Eggs " topic chosen by Her Highness Riona!

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Zealand

New Zealand - Intro

We just returned last night from our longest holiday as a family to New Zealand.
We had a wonderful time and the experience was awesome.
I am eager to write as detailed as I can as this would be the first holiday the girls can probably recall so I want them to read it several years from now and they should bring "great memories" of holidays in their childhood.

Very often we end up taking several pictures during a holiday and we look over them may be for a season. Earlier days when we were taking prints we would take a look or two and they finally get into an album and stay there untouched unless some relative or acquaintance shows some interest ...then we pull it out...yet we will hardly have detailed memories....this is true for me...and I am sure for most people..and in this digital age we view them a few times on the computer screen and there it goes to one folder which is untouched in our hard disk..for several years to come.....Like if someone asked me today what we did in Sydney for a holiday 2 years ago... I would not have much to say.(I wish I had blogged about it)...even if I could manage to pull out the photos ....hence blogging I think gives me a greater chance of recalling and reliving the great experience one goes through in life.It also gives me the convenience of answering a friend who enquires " what did you do in New Zealand" " just check out my blog" is an easier and I think more helpful answer.

So this detailed account of would be written as a journal for my family to recall our great experience....needless to say if you are planning a trip to New Zealand it will give you great pointers things to be done and may be some things not worth the time and effort.

March 27th Thursday
All set to take the longest flight we have taken as a family.
I was apprehensive it was an 11 hour flight .....also it would be the first time the entire holiday we would be driving on our own....I did a lot of planning as to what we should do and what we should cover each day....

The countries the girls had been to before are India, Singapore, SriLanka,Malaysia,Brunei,Japan,Hong Kong and Taiwan.

So New Zealand would be their ninth country they are visitng.And they were notably excited as we had a family from New Zealand as our neighbours for a brief period .Also Tanya had a close friend from Australia and Riona's Year 1 teacher is from Australia they knew they are going to some faraway land which is distincly different from Asia where they had lived their life so far. And sure they were excited to have English spoken and written everywhere...

So we boarded the flight by 10 PM from Taoyuan International Airport.
Much of the flight both Sedj and kids slept which was really good...I did catch some sleep too...the flight was full...
We arrived at Auckland about 2:30 PM local time. Th girls were happy eating at McDonalds at the airport.

We picked up the car from car rental company along with a GPS .....we also exchanged some currency to New Zealand Dollars...

We could clearly feel the difference in pace of life.

Every one looked relaxed and laid back....they were people just sitting outside the departure lobby just relaxing and no hurry to leave or go anywhere.

We also saw two girls who held a big banner saying " Welcome Grandma"....truly relaxing atmosphere.

We called on an Indian family we were corresponding about nitty gritty details of our trip.
Ramesh and Vrinda were extremly helpful to give us the quick tips of what to do and what is not worth ...We spent about 3 hrs with them before heading off to Lake Taupo where we had booked our stay.

Here are few photographs taken in Ramesh and Vrinda's house.

Here is a video taken ....Do they look like they have just completed 11 hr flight couple of hours before....So I think all the apprehensions was in my head and they took full advantage of the opportunity of making new friends....

A noticeable factor all over New Zealnd is the existence of Trampoline...
It seems to be a add on everywhere ....every motel/hotel/mall seems to mention that it had a trampoline.

Lake Taupo

New Zealand - Part 2

We left their house at ManuKau after having yummy dosas to head for our destination at Taupo.

Our destination 279 kms away and the time estimated was 4 hrs.We took about 3 hrs..

We were surprised to see "Bombay" signboards

On my return I figured out that it refers to a ship that came to the region in 19th Century

More info on click on this link Bombay Hills Auckland

Well the kids slept through the drive....and we were quite tired just hoping to reach our destination.

We arrived at Taupo at about 9:45...and took us about 10 minutes to identify the exact place we were supposed to stay.

Although we had made arrangements that we would be doing a late check in to our utter despair we could not find our keys and folder in the security box to which we had the password to.

By God's Grace we located a guard just in the nick of time...from what we gathered later he does a round at just once at 10 PM, we managed to get our unit opened.

If we had not....I would have been blamed for messing up our vacation for the rest of my life....the confusion was there because we had changed couple of times on our date of arrival and somehow they didnt seem to have the latter message....

It was fabulous place to stay...just beside the Lake Taupo.

I would recommend it to anyone Lake Side Villas

The unit came with a full kitchennete....and it was simply fabulous.
We retired that night for a well deserved rest....

Some photos of the unit!

The Road Outside

The Entrance

The LAke View

Lake Taupo

Day 2

Huka Jet Falls
Huka Prawn Park
Skyline Rides

We were up late and it was one of those days we had not pre booked anything since we thought we may be too tired... So we got up and got ready to set out for the day. We headed to the Taupo Shopping Centre which is about 10 minutes walk or a 5 minute drive. We just caught breakfast at Subway at 11 AM and needless to say we were all hungry.

I like to write some facts about New Zealand All facts will be in Bold Italic NewZealand lies in the south-west Pacific Ocean compises two main and many smaller islands.It is similar in size to the British Isles but only has a population of just over 4 million.

NEW ZEALAND KIWI - Unique to New Zealand ,kiwis are flightless,nocturnal,burrowing birds that live on the forest floor. They have a cone-shaped body,strong neck ,small head and powerful muscular legs. Vision is poor but hearing and smell are both well developed.

Well we headed off to Huka Jet Falls Ride.

About Huka Falls

The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, near Taupo on New Zealand's North Island.
The Waikato river is one of New Zealand's longest rivers and it drains Lake Taupo - the largest freshwater lake in all of Australasia.
At the Huka Falls, the Waikato River which is normally 100m wide, is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20m drop.
Every second up to 250,000 cubic metres of water gushes through the gorge and shoots out over 8 metres beyond to create a beautful blue/green pool.

The name Huka is the Maori word for 'foam', which is appropriate as the falling water and rapids certainly resembles foam, especially under flooding conditions.

I had decided let only Sedj take this as I did not want the girls to be frightened by their first ride. While he took the ride in a jet boat to view the spectacular Huka Falls...we decided to walk around . We strolled into the Huka Prawn Park premises and Tanya was quite excited when they told her that she actually can fish and afterwards they will cook the fish she caught and we can have a sumptuous meal...The idea was so appealing and the girls got excited. I for one knew its not a good idea and fishing is not one of those things none of us had patience for or the skill set...but they were persistent and we had to kill some time so we finally gave in and spent $70....It was probably the most wasteful expenditure of the trip...but if we look at it another way it taught our kids a very important lesson that fishing is not their game....sometime they need to get it themselves...and here they got it because these were prawn farms which had over 40000 prawns in each and they still could not catch one...or shall I say they did not have patience to wait with the bait till they get hold of one....I would say its a good time killing activity and if it thrills you to catch a prawn...I am not sure none of us will ever try fishing was good lesson learnt at an expense of 70 dollars.
Moments that taught them fishing is not their game.

By the time we had our misadventure with prawn fishing Sedj was back from his adventure ride and was very thrilled.
Here are the photos!

Then after the prawn fishing adventure and huka falls jet ride we headed to Syline Gondolas for a ride. It was a very enjoyable place for kids as they liked the Luge rides...They took turns and did them a couple of times before he headed back from Rotorua to Taupo.

The Skyline Snaps!

We went to the Woolworths supermarket and did some grocery shopping so that we can at least get to eat breakfast at our villa.

Zorb Rototua

Day 3 - 2nd Half - 30th March 2008 New Zealand

WE headed to have lunch in Rotorua Shopping Centre and was thrilled to find a good Indian joint at the Food Centre.

We did some shopping for shoes....and had to as shops close at 4 PM being Sunday

After our Zorb adventure which one Sedj looked good and was a good experience.

The Zorb is an 11 foot high inflatable transparent sphere which you can ride inside.
Only Zydro ride was available that day ...and Sedj had a good time as you can see in the photo and video...

The silhouette is Sedj waiting to get boarded in the Zorb...
Sedj is inside the Zorb rolling down the hill..

After the Zorb we headed off to the Polnesian Spa and had a good experience of hot sulphur pools....

orakei korako

Day 3 in New Zealand- First Half

RiverJet Thermal Safari

Today’s first activity was a pre booked river jet ride which includes a ride through fantastic geothermal wonderland and a thrilling jet boating experience.

The trip was about 3 hours.

The cruise is through the Waikato river with very tall pine trees on the sides.
The stunning native bush and abundant wildlife you’ll encounter will leave you with a lasting impression. During several stops along the way the guide cum driver explain about the rich history of the area and its unique wildlife.

The trip included a free entry to Orakei Koraka also known as the Hidden Valley
Orakei Korako is situated on the Waikato River at Lake Ohakuri, which is a Hydro-Electric power plant. The name Orakei Korako can be interpreted as “Place of Adorning”. Maori women used the pool to bath and beautify themselves for ceremonies.
The Silica Terraces that form the base of Orakei-Korako Geyserland and Thermal Park are believed to be the largest of its kind since the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces in 1886 on the edge of Lake Rotomahana beneath Mount Tarawera.
At present, there are up to 23 active natural geysers that play freely throughout the area. One geothermal consultant stated that Orakei Korako has the greatest number of active geysers of any geothermal field in New Zealand, with the most variable and most interesting changes.

There is a vast number of boiling hot springs to view at Orakei Korako as well as mud pools and there are extensive bush walks to enjoy through areas of native flora and fauna.

The highlight for many visitors on the walk through the valley is the thermal Ruatapu Cave (sacred hole). The cave extends 120 ft down to a hot pool at the bottom named “Waiwhakaata”, which means "pool of mirrors".

The experience is one of its kind….it cannot be told and explained ….but the one hour walk through the well laid out path way gave a peep into various geo thermal activities one normally never gets to see….

Check out their website for more vivid pictures

Orakei Korako

The valley has almost completely unchanged for thousands of years. The safe walkways lead you past spectacular silica terraces, boiling mud pools, gushing geysers and into an extremely rare geothermal cave. The serene beauty formed from and around all this geothermal commotion will leave you astounded.

Even though the beautiful surroundings of the Waikato River are an important part of the safari, we also like to –in good kiwi fashion- had a bit of excitement. The jet boat takes you frighteningly close to obstacles in the water and we shot at full speed towards the river banks. And of course you’ll experience the legendary 360 degree spins. We were fortunate to have about a dozen of them thanks to our friendly driver .While Tanya was highly thrilled Riona couldn’t get the full substance of the trip and was looking rather weary by the last half hour.

Waitomo Caves

Day 4 - Waitomo Caves - New Zealand

Taken outside the Glow Worm Cave!-Awesome experience!

We headed off to Waitomo and did a full blown guided tour of the glow worm cave and Ruakuri Cave..

The experience was truly unique and had a good time shopping for souveniers..

We headed back to Lake Taupo to do a cruise in the lake ...The day was cloudy ..but we still did a full two hour cruise...

Lake Taupo Facts

Taupo has an exciting and unique history in the thermal heartland of the North Island in New Zealand.

Taupo and its legendary lake, is a unique New Zealand town whose birth started on the volcanic slopes, where western dead lands were swept by dust storms. This is a place rich and steeped in spiritual and cultural history in the coming of the Maori, and the struggle and endeavour of early European settlement.

Lake Taupo began its dreamy watery beginnings with a volcanic eruption in 186AD. This enormous eruption blew a 660 square metre hole in the earth sending ash into the atmosphere so high and so far, that the Chinese and Romans recorded these fiery red skies.

Lake Taupo

It is so vast that the entire country of Singapore can fit inside the Lake of Taupo..

The cruise took us to the rock carvings of Mauri...

Length 25 nautical miles (46 km)
Width 18 nautical miles
Perimeter 104 nautical miles
Area 60,000 ha (600km²)
Volume 59 km³
Height above sea level Minimum (chart datum) 355.9m
Depth Maximum 186.8m below chart datum. Average 110m

There is enough to do in Taupo itself for a full week in terms of sight seeing and activities...

You can check that out in this link LAKE TAUPO

We went home and the kids and Sedj some time in the spa at the villa.


Day 5 - New Zealand - Hasting and Napier.April 1 2008

We headed off to Hastings and then to Waimarama Beach..the beach was very inviting and beautiful.

But the water was really cold and hence decided not to venture out too much...

One of the main reasons we went to Hastings was also we wanted to go to a water park...Splash Planet...but they had already closed since Easter for the winter season...

We headed out to Te mata Peak...beutiful view from the peak...

We then went to Napier and had a Mongolian Barbeque for Lunch..

The girls went to play around a playgound near the beach...

While on out trip back the police finally caught up with us with a speeding ticket...we learnt our lesson and never drove above 100 km for the rest of the trip....

Once we were back to our Lake Side Villas Sedj and Tanya went for bike ride ...

These pictures we take outside our unit....the scenery and nature was awesome and cannot be described by words...

Under Water World -Auckland

Day 6- Taupo- Auckland-Paihia 2nd April 2008

We set off to Auckland very early so that we can go to Kelly Tarltons under water world before heading off to Paihia...

We finally reached there...but the whole place was very disappointing...if one has seen under water worlds in Singapore , Hongkong this does not live up to the expectations...

The only highlight for Riona was she got to see Penguins....

After the Huka Prawn Park misadventure this was the next....

We headed to take a cruise on the Auckland Harbour...Auckland/ New Zealand had the highest per capita of see them in the dock...all kinds...

We headed off to Paihia....for another 4 hour drive....

Paihia - a great place to spend 2 to 3 days though we were there only for a night...

Once we checked in to our hotel we went to see Hararu falls...Another spectacular view...

On our way back we saw a home being shifted by a trailer...just couldnt get good photos as it was dark...

We did some souvenier shopping...and went to bed..

Bay of Islands

Day 7 - Bay of Islands Original Cream Trip

This was indeed highlight of the trip....
It was a full day trip...6.5 hrs with an hour for lunch at an Island,,,

We had an excellent guide on board...and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day....

It was truly an experience of a kind...

Before we went on cruise

The first half before lunch!

Post Lunch

Includes the island walk!

Hole in the Rock

We headed back to Auckland as soon as we landed ashore .

We reached Auckland about 8 PM and checked in to a hotel for our last night in this beautiful country...We headed off to Ramesh and Vrinda's house for dinner.....and came back to take rest...

Shopping in Auckland

Day 8 Shopping in Auckland 4th April 2008

We headed to Victoria Park Market to shop as it was widely advertised...It was ok but nothing unique or outstanding about it...Then we headed to dress-smart and WOW it was a shopping paradise and clothes and accessories at very reasonable prices...We had a limited bought a few things rather quickly before heading off to airport....
I would recommed about 4 hrs there if you really intend to shop...

A few photographs taken on the last day!

We returned our car and had lunch at McDonalds and boarded our 11 hour flight home..

Need less to say that the flight seeemed long but we were all tired and longing to be on our own beds back at home in Taipei..

All in all it was a wonderful trip we had as a family..

Sedj drove about 2500 kms during the week...I must mention I did do about 1/10th when he really felt sleepy....and he was a great father patient with his daughters during the entire trip..

He bathed them very morning through the trip and that was a great relief that I wasn't already at my wit's end before we headed out for each day...

The girls had a long break from the nitty gritties of school and home work.....
And they were good too not once I had to carry Riona because she was tired and they survived the 7 days of driving too...

Thanks for reading if you did reach this far...its not a great account but they are memories that will last a life time for us as a family....


The only things I feel we could have tried to cover was Cape Reinga via 90 Mile Beach Tour ( which is a full day) also visit Agrodome so the girls got to see a Sheep Show and feed Sheep...since the shows are not very frequent you may have to plan half a day for that...

A final Sum up the itinerary for someone who may wonder what to cover in North Island

Thursday night - Fly Taipei - Auckland
Friday - Arrive Auckand - 4 hours drive Check into hotel at Taupo
Saturday - Huka Falls Jet,Huka Prawn Park,Skyline Rides
Sunday - River Jet Thermal Safari, Zorb , Polynesian Spa
Monday - Waitomo Caves , Lake Taupo Cruise
Tuesday - Hastings - Waiamrama Beach, Temata Peak,Napier - Acquarium
Wednesday - Kelly Tarltons Underwater world , Auckland Harbour cruise,Haruru Falls
Thursday - Bay of Island - Original Cream Cruise
Friday - Shopping at Acukland - Fly Auckland to Taipei

New Zealand - A great Holiday Destination to chill out!or be very active like we did!