September 25, 2006

Not Home

Our home still doesn't look homey. I finished a project of mounting the pink wedding gift from my sister and I had high hopes that it will make the place look softer and more comfortable. But it still looks like a warehouse/barn/carton box.

We're not all that happy with our place at Titirangi. On Friday we were invited for "tea" to Thom's (my colleagues) place. Its been weeks since we moved and we got somewhat used to our house. But after seeing what a real home looks and feels like, our current box feels quite depressingly small, fake and unfinished. A real house has the right feeling. Its warm and cozy, a place where you're happy to return after a long day. We're still struggling to find the right places for our stuff. Obviously we don't have enough storage space: papers, wires and water bottles are all over the place...

Luckily we got our table delivered and we got a temporary sofa until the furniture company brings our real sofa.

Having furniture is cool, but surprisingly it still didn't make our place look more like home... What is missing here? Maybe a real floor? Maybe more space and prope walls, so that the house wouldn't shake when you rap your knuckles on the table?

We still haven't bought a car (a shelf, some lighting and TV table are missing too), although we spent enormous amount of time driving around looking for it. We've visited Turners auctions at least 4 times. Its a place where cheap Japanese imports (used) get sold for unbelievably low prices. You can get a proper 2000 Nissan or Toyota for about 3000-4000euros. We're looking for something cheaper and you can still get something relatively reasonable for these prices! The auction itself is something worth seeing, they really set up a proper show. First time we went there, they sold some 10 cars before we realized whats going on. But it is very stressful buying: you have few hours to find a car that you like from the ones available, get it inspected by a mechanic and then you still have to bid... Knowing our ability to make fast decisions (and wise decisions), its no surprise that we haven't got a car yet. The rental car that we have is cheap, so we can afford to wait for the right car to come along.

It was a relief to go out to the beach on Sunday after all this running around. The weather has completely changed during last couple of weeks. Today was the first proper summer day: sunny and really warm.

And surprise surprise, we went surfing again! This time to Muriwai beach. The waves looked huge from the shore, but as it was low tide, they didn't have much power. It was really fun and a much better beach for beginners than Piha. Well, I didn't have a surfboard this time, I went in with a buggiboard and it was no fun at all! I think I'm past it already.. :)

And this is just some regular gang wars in the Southern suburbs of Auckland. Kaj was really shocked with the amount of violence and crime that goes on here (or gets reported in media). I should find some statistics, especially some comparative statistics (lets say compared with Finland). In any case, I wouldn't go walking alone in the dark through any forest/park or Southern suburbs here.. I guess media has achieved what they were aiming for...

Posted by gkligyte at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2006

Far Away from Paradise

Finally the long promised pictures from our surroundings at Titirangi. This is the view from our village street at Landing Road. I just took camera with me one day and on the way home from work snapped all the pictures for this blog entry.

So yes, its this pretty and I often walk this road from the bus stop at the Titirangi village to our home. The area is surprisingly rural considering that it is some 20-30min away from the city centre. Titirangi is also known as the hippie mecca, everyone who lives here is some sort of alternative type: an artist, a hippie, or a European.. :)

And yes, its spring here, although its easy to forget about it, after a long and beautiful summer in Europe it feels really autumny and damp. Everybody keeps promising that the weather will get better. But I still wake up almost every morning with a steamy breath and you the grass outside is silvery, almost frosted.

Besides our 2 heaters, we bought a dehumidifier today (have you heard about something like that? I haven't before moving here...). A dehumidifier sucks all the dampness and humidity out of the air in your house. And you need it because your house obviously doesn't have any heating. At best times I hear it can suck up to 20litres of water a day. So our laundry will dry in some 3 hours instead of 3 days. Amazing?!?

Other news from here are not that cheerful. First and the worst, last Tuesday our car was broken into, while it was parked at Piha beach and while Kaj was surfing. Stupid and blue-eyed foreigners, as we are, Kaj had a backpack full of digital toys and gadgets, including our big Canon camera, his phone, his dive computer, etc etc etc... Our estimated overall cost of that backpack was close to 7000nzd. What a lucky day for those evil bastards who did it. None of the people that we tell the story to seem particularly surprised. Everyone has experienced something like that more than once. Just that they don't leave anything valuable in their cars.. So NZ is not a very pristine/safe place. Like most of the New World, I guess, for the longest time it accommodated all sorts of outcasts from the rest of the world... :)

The damn lucky thing is that we got our house contents insurance the day before (imagine our disbelief and relief that we actually got enough brain to take that damn insurance!). Imagine the faces of insurance agents when we walked into their office the next day with 7000$ claim...

The whole situation looked pretty grave at first. Kaj even lost his pants, so he had to drive back to the surfshop in his dripping wetsuit, call me so that I could cancel all the credit cards, phone contracts, etc. Then drive home and hope that the burglars didn't come to our home with his housekeys and didn't take the rest of the stuff away... And we didn't even know if the insurance would cover any of that, because it wasn't a theft from our house...

Obviously we'll have some financial losses, but if everything goes fine, it shouldn't be too bad. If they sort it out, we'll be devoted and dedicated customers of AMI, that is if they still want our business with them...

And today we're still sitting on our outdoor furniture, because our dining table and the sofa weren't delivered AGAIN. I just can't understand how these people are running their business here. They called us yesterday to tell that our delivery will come today between 4-6pm. At 6pm the delivery guys come in and tell us out of the blue that its only the table that they brought today, because the sofa didn't "make it to the delivery" don't ask me why. Then they walk away to carry the furniture in, Kaj waits for 15min, noone shows up. He walks up to the road, there's no truck, no sign that anyone would be delivering any furniture. He calls the shop and they tell that the guys have left, because our driveway was too long and they'll be coming in a smaller van tomorrow. And noone bothered to tell Kaj that they couldn't make it in with their truck. We're just so upset with this whole furniture nonsense. We called them 4-5 times afterwards screaming different things and we want our money back, so that we can go get our furniture. But they're not very eager to pay it up. So tomorrow there's another driving and screaming session waiting for us... A pack of liers... You can't trust anyone here... :(

Posted by gkligyte at 12:10 AM | Comments (8)

September 10, 2006

Home Improvement

I'm sorry about surfing pictures overload. These days I take out the camera only on the weekends and so far we've been going to have a look at the beach every weekend... I was hoping to take pictures around our home (especially because everything is in bloom here - apple trees, cherry trees, all kinds of trees!), but it was raining non-stop the whole weekend... Who wants to look at grey foggy and soggy pictures?

Most of last week we were engaged in the massive project of replacing the ugly curtains made out of potato-sack material with a better looking (but also dirt cheap) curtains. It involved driving for hours all over the town, getting kilometers of super-discounted material, buying a sewing machine from online auction (we're buying quite a bit of stuff from this online auction, its full of good stuff, the trade is very fast and you can get fantastic value for money!!), breaking at least 5 needles, plus some 5-6hrs non-stop sewing. At the end off the day, it was really worth it. In the middle you can see the result of our labour. We're happy about them!

You can see that our house is still completely empty. Luckily we got this tiny set of outdoor furniture (that is waiting for a sunny day to be taken out for breakfast on our tiny sunny porch), so we can eat our dinner seated (not in the bed anymore). We actually bought a carpet, a dining set and a sofa that were supposed to be delivered by this weekend. However, on Thursday we heard that we'd have to wait for stuff till the end of the month. After several times of serious talking and fist waving (involving 2 hours of driving to the furthest East side of town to the shop from the West side of town where we live), we were promised that our stuff will be shipped from Wellington and be here by next Friday. We'll see... I really hope so. Furniture hunting here is extremely time consuming, just as almost everything else. The town is really spread out and the traffic can be maddening.

We chickened out this time and didn't go surfing (partially because it was raining the whole day). Piha looks really scary from the shore, but its full of surfers and there are ways to enter the water from the side, so that you don't need to struggle too much swimming through whitewater. As Kaj says, you have to go there to find out how it is, there's no point to stand on the beach watching and thinking. So I guess, this is what we'll do at the next possible ocassion... :) Go and find out how Piha is...:)

I hope things will start getting somewhat sorted soon. So far we're just figuring out everything and, as starting life in a new place always is, its very confusing. I've been trying to get my Internet banking to work for almost 3 weeks now. Its not straightforward at all - I had to apply for a special secure code 2 times (1st time the application was lost and I waited 8 days in vain), then they send you a letter via snail mail (it took 8+5=13 days) with the code. Then you have to find out what are the bank account numbers of the various service providers that send you the bills (the bills contain only address where the cheques schould be sent!!!) Once you call up everyone and get their account numbers, you can go and login to the Internet banking system and apply to "add a biller". Then at the other end someone reads the email and replies that there's some information missing. Then you provide that missing information and then 1 biller is set up for you (maybe). You have to do the same for your phone connection, your electricity, your internet provider, etc... They really need to hire someone to look at their processes...

Many of services that we take for granted are kinda "latest trends" here. For example, there's only one bank in the market that offers an account that charges a flat fee for all services. All the others charge each time you take money from ATM, have a transaction at the shop with your bank card, even pay via Internet!!! Broadband connection is also sort of a luxury - Telecom has a monopoly on phone lines and charges outrageous sums for "line rental", plus you have to get broadband connection from somewhere (double the price!) that has, listen to this, a DATA CAP!!!!!! There's no broadband connection in the market that wouldn't have a data cap!!!! I couldn't believe it first when I heard it! NZ has a long way to go before it comes somewhat closer to Information Society. Not surprisingly it drags somewhere at the very bottom of OECD countries rankings for broadband takeup... Most of my colleagues have dialup connection at home, if any at all!!!

It kind of reiterates the point that moving to New Zealand, is like moving at least some 10 years back in time (some say 30 years back!) with all the good things and the bad things.. In many ocassions I just want to cry out to the people here - look, we've been doing this for years! It works! Just take it and copy it! It will be good for you! aaaargh..... :)

Posted by gkligyte at 11:14 PM | Comments (4)

September 04, 2006

Step Into Liquid

Last weekend we decided that we had enough of Auckland, packed up and left for Raglan, the famous surfing beach just 2.5 hrs away from home.

Thats probably the best thing we could think of doing over the weekend. The town itself has a lovely relaxed atmosphere with plenty of good cafes providing a stray weekend Aucklander a warm quiet refuge and tons of Sunday papers to list through while sipping a glass of morning latte.

And obviously, the best thing about Raglan is surfing itself! We spent maybe 2hrs each day (Saturday and Sunday) in the water. The conditions were not perfect, but even I managed to catch some waves without hurting myself too much! The water was bl**dy freezing, I think it must have been some +13C degrees. The feet go completely numb as you enter water and the first gushes of water seeping through your wetsuit down the neck, the arms and legs almost make your heart stop!!

We got our own proper wetsuits now and it really makes a difference. I spent almost 2 hrs in water on Sunday and felt comfortably warm, while Kaj was shivering in his rental wetsuit. Now we just have to get our own surfboards and noone can stop us!

And besides a great weekend, today we received our stuff from Leijonakaupunki!!! Its so amazing to go through the stuff that you haven't seen for months! its like unwrapping Cristmass presents or going through a time capsule. We realized that we need much more storage space than our "designer" home has to offer. We'll somehow have to be creative and resourcefull hiding our stuff in all unexpected corners of the house...

So far we haven't even got a table, the only piece of furniture that we have right now is a futon bed (thanks to Atma for generously borrowing it to us!) We eat dinner sitting on a floor covered with a newspaper... But this won't last - our new table, carpet and a sofa are supposed to arive to our apaprtment by this weekend (I hope so!) And even more stuff is supposed to come from Finland by the end of September! I hope our apartment will stretch enough to accommodate our earthly possessions!

Posted by gkligyte at 12:17 AM | Comments (1)