New ZeaLand Down Under – Queenstown

New ZeaLand Down Under – Queenstown

Last week, we went on a short trip to New Zealand.  We bought the tickets back in November since they were selling them really cheap.  We chose to go in May since we wanted cooler weather. It’s been so hot here in Manila that it feels like it’s 40 degrees Celsius.   It was a welcome change from the hot and humid.

New Zealand is a really pretty with a lot of scenic places to go to.  We weren’t able to to go to all the places since we were only in Auckland and Queenstown.  We did go to Milford Sound and Hobbiton which were the highlights of the trip.  As cities go, Auckland is so so. It’s pretty compact but its not really comparable to other more cosmopolitan cities. I say just go straight to the more scenic spots in New Zealand.

Queenstown is a resort town in the South Island and is surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.  It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the country.  My friend told me that I could miss everything else but I shouldn’t miss going to Queenstown.  He was right. It’s a very picturesque and beautiful town all year round.  It’s for adrenaline junkies but we didn’t do anything remotely adventurous during our short stay.

We stayed at the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside which had an amazing view of Lake Wakatipu.  You are literally a few steps from the lakeside.  I ended up taking pictures of the every morning.  The view was simply majestic.  You can walk around the whole town and finish in less than half a day.  I got acquainted with the town streets really fast.  The cool weather helped and it was easy to walk around town and enjoy the scenery.

This is the view of the Remarkables from the airport.

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Here are some views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. When we arrived, it was dark and cloudy.

 

It snowed the next day so it became snow-capped mountains.

 

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Adios Retail Therapy

Adios Retail Therapy

I have come a long way to be able to say this.  Adios shopping! Who I am now is a complete turnaround from how I was ten years ago. Back then, I was in my banker job.  I was paid well with no financial responsibilities.  All the money went to my own expenses.  I shopped, I dined, I partied.  Whenever I was stressed or unhappy, I would go shopping to make myself feel better.  The relief lasted only for a short while, and the misery set in again.

I used retail therapy to comfort myself.  I was stressed at work and it felt like I was mad at the money I was getting paid with so I spent a lot of it.  I still saved a substantial amount, mind you.  But I bought a lot of crap.  Clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, bags and jewelry.  You name it, I bought it.  Looking back now, the thrill of the hunt of what to buy was what made me happy.  After I bought the item, the elated feeling goes away. And you’re left with that empty feeling of what to buy next.

At work, we dressed up well and bought designer shoes and bags. I graduated to expensive watches.  It felt like we were trying to keep up with the Joneses, the clients.  Who were kidding?  They were the clients, they had millions of dollars in their savings account.  We were the bankers, it will never be the same.

I kept on buying until I stopped myself around five years ago.   I was on a trip and bought five designer handbags.  My tax refund alone was enough to buy another handbag.  I realized that this wasn’t me.  What was I doing?  I was ashamed of how I had become.  In the last five years I made a conscious effort to curb my inner consumer and buy only what I needed to.  I became more discriminating with where I spent my money on.   There was a time when I felt ashamed to be seen wearing designer items.  I tried to be as low-key as possible.  It was a far cry from how I was before.  But that was an extreme reaction too.

Would my life be better if I used a Chanel bag compared to a no-name bag?  Would I walk better and look better wearing a Christian Louboutin heels compared to heels I bought at Payless Shoe Source.  I have to admit, I do have both which I don’t use as much now.  They’re reminders for me of how I was in the past.  It also helps that I don’t buy as much now since I am dropping sizes in clothes so I didn’t want to buy something that will be too big for me in a month’s time.

I still shop but only for essentials and gifts.  I’m more discerning now of what I buy.  Do I want it or do I need it?  And I don’t do impulse purchases as much.   Maybe it’s age.  I find that I’d rather keep my money rather then buy something that I know I will lose interest in a few days later.

Adios retail therapy! You’ve helped me through my twenties and thirties.  It’s been good knowing you.  We’ve had some fun times together but it’s time to move on.  I am a mature, responsible adult now and I choose to make myself happy in other ways.

Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up

It’s summertime and that means it’s time to go to the beach! Last time I was at the beach was a  year ago.  We decided to go to Balesin Island which is a 25-minute plane ride from the city.  It took us the same amount of time to fly to the island as well as going from the house to the airport. Our flight was at 5AM so the traffic situation was non-existent.  But enough about the traffic because we are here to chill and relax.

Balesin is a private members-only island paradise. The island is 500 hectares and you literally have the whole island to yourselves, aside from the other guests.  When we were there over the weekend, there was a total of 400 guests.  I was suprised because I honestly didn’t see much people.  It was that big and private.  We stayed at the Balesin Village which is the Filipino-themed village.  There are other themed villages such as Bali, Phuket, Toscana, Mykonos, St. Tropez and Costa del Sol.  Our villa was the closest to the main clubhouse and had the best beach in the island (in my humble opinion).   My villa looked like this.  We even had our own private jacuzzi.

We were not able to get beachfront villas as those have been booked ahead but our view was still fantastic.

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This was the beach by our village.

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I’ve included below more pictures of the other villages in this amazing island.

Lastly, some more pictures with magnificent views.

I’m having  #sepanx moment right now wishing I was still at the beach.  Anyway, it was a good weekend trip and this will make me look forward to my next island/beach trip.  When? I don’t know.  Hopefully soon.  Really soon.

Happy vs. Joy

Happy vs. Joy

We live in a society wherein the primary objective is to be happy.  Whenever something happens, you ask yourself whether you are happy about it or not.  Before going to bed, you ask yourself whether it was a happy day or not.  It is this state of being that everyone constantly tries to achieve but it seems like the more we try to be happy, the more miserable we end up being.  Why is that so?

Let me quote my second favorite musical of all time, Wicked, and one of the more unappreciated songs sung by Glinda called, Thank Goodness.

(sung) That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:
(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed…

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Who
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Without consulting dictionary or Google, happiness comes across to me as a feeling that arises based on external situations. According to the song, happiness happens when all your dreams come true.  Then what?  What happens next?  We become so focused on reaching that goal in order to be happy.  We tell ourselves that we will only be happy once we’ve done this, achieved that, gotten this and surpassed that. And when you do get it, you know you will be happy.  You should be.  But have you ever felt a bit let down even when your dream did come true? And that it wasn’t how you anticipated it to be?

I had to grapple with this concept the last few months. In the past, I always thought that being happy was the most important thing in the world.  It was only recently that I realized that I wasn’t really searching for happiness.  I mean yes, who wouldn’t want all their dreams to come true?  I still do.  But I based so much of my self-worth and well-being on external situations and events.  These would be whether I get promoted, get a good bonus, get married and/or have children.  If I achieve it, I’m happy. If not, then I’m not happy.  It’s all very external-based and conditional.  I needed to change my mindset into being happy all the time, whether or not my dreams come true.

I realized there was something that was more important to me than being happy.  And that is joy. Somewhere along the way of trying to achieve my dreams, I seemed to have lost my joie de vivre. I’ve become an automaton. In my search for happiness, I realized that what I was actually looking for was joy. It was what I didn’t know I needed and wanted.  It is that cheerful enjoyment of life that I was looking for.  Whether or not my dreams come true, I will still have that same zest and exuberance for life.  I just want to feel excited to be alive even if it meant doing something new or doing the same thing over and over.  I want to find that sense of joy and wonder again when I was a child.  I want to be amazed at and be in awe of everything. Joy to me is an inner happiness and is unrelated to any external event.  In my mind, that is just how I differentiated between happy and joy.  Joy comes from within whereas happy is derived from the outside.

I still have dreams that I want to achieve.  Whether or not I achieve them, should not affect the unqualified joy I have for living. Sure there will be happiness, sadness, disappointment, contentment and many other emotional states.  What I want to maintain constant is that unwavering vibrancy to life.  Can’t believe it took me a while to realize that.  But I’m still glad I did.