Am online in New Zealand-- it's funny how internet becomes so much less of a priorty in Myanmar that it's taken me this long! It's wonderful being home, even if everyone I meet thinks I'm from somewhere else. The food is fantastic, family is good, and the wedding looks like it'll be a huge hit! The setting is glorious and thankfully the weather seems to be good (even though it's quite cold for me!)
Coming back is so strange. Everything is so familiar and laid back. Everyone is relaxed and normal. No extra makeup, just ordinary people. The fashion is still weird and way out, with lots of funky hair dyes.
It's been a whirlwind trip. Stayed a night with Aunty Gay. Spent New Years Day calling to find a rental agency open with a reasonably cheap car. Found one for $35 from an Asian guy who looked like he hadn't cut his lawns in months! But it runs okay so am happy. U. John has bought a place at Cooper's Beach, and everyone was up there so didn't really see many. It's supposed to be good, with two flats on the property, but there was a leak in the water tank so no one could stay for very long! Spent the afternoon with Nadine and her cute (tiny) baby Ruby. She is very well and happy and quite domestic. She isn't working and spends all day as a mum. Felt a bit odd to see her and hear her comments on motherhood--it is such a different world than mine!
On Tuesday, I drove down to Hamilton and had lunch with Lisa, which was really great, but the kids were not there, of course. Had dinner with U. Garry and spent the night there. Shane was very interested in Myanmar and is buzzing with ideas of his impending trip to Asia.
Drove down to New Plymouth yesterday. Stopped at Waitomo Caves for a look... VERY touristy, but pleasant. Arrived for the hen's party, was given a netball outfit for the theme of schoolgirls and met all sorts of strangers of all ages. There were drinks (far too many) and games, and then the only stripper in the New Plymouth phonebook came to give Hayley a lap dance! It was all quintessentially kiwi, even the humility of the stripper (a very surreal experience, as he had his mum along as his "minder", and the bridesmade was worried that he'd be someone that she knew--I mean, New Plymouth is really not that big). She got a box of kinky goodies including a blow up doll. Hayley threw up all the way to town and it was a Wednesday night, so not much was open. The only place open was a strip joint, which of course is the only one in town so of course had the stag do. Stuart, the groom, was also throwing up everywhere.
Got up today and went to visit friend and baby #2, Sami. Huge contrast. Though only 6 months old, Rowan (from Korea, with Moroccan husband Zu)'s baby was 12 pounds and absolutely enormous in comparison! He was a very happy baby, however, and as we wandered about town we discovered all the faults with shopping malls that don't have pushchair access and properly designed baby change facilities (it was very obvious that no planner had ever actually had to USE any of the areas).
The wedding is tomorrow in some gardens down the road. NZ has been having a bit of a bad summer, but the weather has been gorgeous the last couple of days and hopefully that'll continue tomorrow. The reception is here at Hayley's mum's house (which is a dream), overlooking the Tasman Sea with Mt. Taranaki peaking above the rolling hills behind Oakura. On Saturday I'll be driving back up... what a quick trip!
Happy New Year to all!