An Open Letter To An Angel On His 5th Angelversary

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Dear Keith,

Five years have gone by really quick, huh?! January 28 will  never be the same again. I know it has been that long but whenever this day comes, everything just suddenly comes back afresh. Yesterday, I texted Mama to find out what their plans were for your 5th angelversary. She said she wasn't sure. And then she told me that she cried because she remembered the last time you called out to her and squeezed her hand so tight. The painful memories of that day came rushing back. I was heartbroken all over again. It's been five years but the pain remains the same. I went home really hurt and when I saw your photo in the house, I felt  worse  and couldn't stop crying.

Then I went through our old photos and came across one during  your christening. I am looking at the photo right  now and hmmm, I look a bit gaunt and you were grimacing. As far as I can remember, it was a long ritual and I'm sure you already had enough of everyone's attention when they took our photo. I am really glad that I was there when you were baptised because I really regret not spending much time with you when you were growing up. I am still thankful though, because  I was there the day you were born, and physically looked after you until you were almost one.

Somehow, you always have  given  me the courage to express how I feel, so  I thought I would tell you that I really haven't stopped asking "why". It's probably because things have not really changed since you left. In fact, I think things actually got worse. You know when wise men say that a loss should bring people together? I don't think it's true because your passing almost tore  our family apart. I mean it remains intact, but one of our family member's behaviour is oftentimes very challenging and to be honest, heartbreakingly shameful. I was hoping that he would have the courage to change his awful ways because we lost a precious son, but I believe he doesn't have any conscience anymore. Instead of making it up to your Adings because you really didn't get along with him very well when you were here, he chooses to be this horrible human being that brings sorrow to our family. So perhaps this is the reason why God decided to take you. Because God knew that nothing could ever make him change and God wanted you to be spared from all the stress that our family is going through right now. It's been five years and I'm  still struggling to make things right. The constant misunderstanding  and ingratitude also always gets me down. I would have given up on our family a long time ago if not only for your Adings.  But don't worry about your Adings because I know they will be fine. They are very strong children  and I have no doubt that they can defend themselves from anything and anyone. Besides, they have you - their guardian angel. I know you are very proud of them. Always remember that they look up to you.  

Speaking of your Adings, Meow and I talked to them last night. It's amazing how time flies. If you could see them now, they have changed a lot physically. Ading Cxye is no longer the little Madamme  who loved dressing up. She is now a fine young lady who loves selfies. Haha. I'm only joking.  Ading Linus, on the other hand,  has turned into this handsome young man. He is now taller than Mama and wears Papa's clothes. They both remain polite and very  good children. They are mabait and talented just like you. 

Last night I slept with Meow for the first time in a while because I needed comfort. When I woke up this morning, I put him back to where he has always been since we left for New Zealand- beside your photo. Then, I lit up a candle and said a little prayer.  I cried again because I miss you so much. I don't think I'll ever stop crying in times like this. It still hurts that much.

Back home, Mama prepared some noodles for the family to share then she went to visit your place on earth with your Adings and Inang. Apparently when they arrived, it seemed like someone has already lit up a candle for you. Perhaps some of your friends visited you earlier. 

One of your friends, HJ also posted something thoughtful  on facebook. Your friends have become so special to me because I know that they'll always be there. They remind me of you. Through them, I could somehow get an idea of how you would have been. I am very grateful for that. 

Hayyy, another year has gone. As much as it still hurts, I know that this pain I am feeling is a part of who and what you are. I believe that when you lose someone very, very special, the pain never fades. Thank you Keith for reminding me to always be kind even when I have all the reasons not to.

I miss you so much and I will always love you.


Love,
Mommy
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P.S. Right now, I am listening to "Lighters". I am also wearing your favourite colour, blue. :)

And So, Career-Break Is Finally Over

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Last week when I reminded J that I only had one week left before I go back to work, he told me not to get too excited because I would miss my freedom. He was right. Today is officially the last day of my career-break and already, I am missing my freedom. The big changes that are about to come are honestly daunting, but I am confident that my experiences and learnings in the last twelve months  will help me deal with this anticipated "new normal" no matter how challenging it will be. Besides, I think I have prepared myself for this transition. Well, sort of. The thing is, I really don't want to try too hard to make my return to work really work. After all, I am going back to my old job and will be working with the same people. Also, everyone has reassured me that there is nothing to be worried about because nothing has really changed. But the fact of the matter is that, I had a very intimidating experience when I started with this job three years ago,  and I just don't want to go through that again. I want this whole experience to be enjoyable this time because at the end of the day, I have earned  my position and I think I deserve to be there. So really, why should I be worried, right?

Anyway, there are certain things that I will really miss when I go back to work. In the last three months, we've been quite lucky to have been given the chance to be together everyday despite the fact that J is working. Those random conversations about trivial matters throughout the day are one of those things that I treasure because it's not everyday that every couple is fortunate enough to do that. Also, sharing home-made lunch with J is one of those things that I really enjoyed the most. 

Besides J-related things, I am also going to miss my morning coffee run. Almost everyday since we moved into our flat, I have been buying coffee from the local cafe around the corner. I became friendly with the delightful staff so every now and again, I get a free coffee or sometimes pastry. I will miss watching how they make our coffee in different ways, and definitely our chit-chats in between.

Believe it or not but I am going to miss the mundane things like cleaning our bathroom everyday, generally tidying up our flat compulsively and running some errands any time of the day. Ah, gym. I'm really not sure what to do with gym when I go back to work. I used to go between 9-10am, when all the 9-5ers have left for work because I am selfish and I want the gym to myself when I am working out. I actually went to the gym at 5 o'clock in the morning last Monday to see if it's going to work. It shocked my system to say the least, and I felt quite unwell afterwards. So, now I'm not sure. I'm definitely not keen to work out  after work because I know it's going to be crazy. But whatever. 

Above all else, I think it really is  my freedom that I am going to miss the most. For a year, I had so much time in my hand to do whatever I want. There were times when I've done bugger all and it felt just as satisfying as when I was  productive.

Honestly, I am dreading the thought that from tomorrow, my life will revolve around schedules once again. But the silver lining is that, I am finally going to regain my identity back and will soon be financially independent again! 

So yeah, wish me luck as I continue with what was put on hold a year ago. I don't know if professionally I am better but rest assured, I am a changed person and I know that I am better than I was before. 

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The Interislander Ferry From Wellington To Picton

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Currently on my lap is Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" and reading  halfway through their trip to Burguete, I realised that I am very back blogged with our very own adventure in the other side of the world that is New Zealand. So I dropped the book (temporarily) and decided to start writing about some of the most memorable things that I have experienced down under. 

October was literally our last month in New Zealand so I planned our trip to the South Island like a pro. After thoroughly researching about the best possible way to get around the island, I came up with the best idea: ferry, drive then fly.

So we began our journey to the South Island with a ferry ride from Aotea Quay in Wellington. Everything went very smoothly from checking-in to finding our seat in the premier lounge. Interislander Kaitaki Ferry was rather looking old and rusty on the outside but it was not too bad in the inside. 

The premier lounge was still almost empty when we got in so we queued up for the complimentary breakfast buffet straight away. We took a good seat in the middle of the lounge  and hoped that  it would stay quiet at least until we were ready to venture outside the ship. Unfortunately, a bunch of young travellers appeared out of nowhere. Their behaviour in helping a disabled woman was rather gaudy and their voracious laugh made me really uncomfortable. We made the decision to leave the lounge and explore the ship instead. We eventually found a good spot on the top deck and we stayed there majority of the time. We only went back in the ship when it got too windy or when we needed a drink. We never went back inside the lounge as it looked uncomfortably full. 

I prayed for a good weather that day, and we were blessed with more than what I asked for. The bright blue sky and the calm water gave me the confidence that it was going to be a smooth voyage through the open waters of Cook Strait.

I got a totally different perspective of the capital as we sailed away from Wellington. Wellington is indeed very beautiful no matter which way you look at it, and I couldn't be more thankful for having lived in the city for ten months. I couldn't stop clicking my camera. We were rewarded with the most amazing views as we left the North Island behind.

In more or less than 45 minutes, I lost sight of the North Island as we entered the Cook Strait. It got really windy and cold, and the water turned a little rougher, so we made our way back inside the ship. It was perfect timing to have something to eat and get a little bit of rest.

But we didn't want to lose our spot on the viewing deck and miss the spectacular views, so we went back outside more than half an hour later and braved the cold wind.  

Suddenly, snow-capped mountains appeared on the horizon. 

I was awestruck by everything that was around me. It was a magnificent 360-degree views of rolling hills and mountains, turquoise waters, unbelievably blue skies and beautiful horizon. I was already engulfed by the whole experience and our journey to the South Island has just started.

I could sense the beauty of the South Island as soon as we entered the Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sounds. It was incredibly breath-taking. One of the most scenic routes that I have ever taken in my travels.

More than three hours later, we finally arrived in lovely Picton.

We didn't plan to explore Picton but I am glad that we at least had lunch at the Seabreeze Cafe and Bar overlooking the harbour. Picton was pretty at first sight.

And this was the beginning of our incredible South Island adventure. :)

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My Humbling Experience As A Carer In Wellington

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Only a few people knew that I actually worked in New Zealand for a while. As I was on a career break, I didn't pursue my career in Nursing. I was adamant that I wanted to do something different and learn new skills. However, it dawned on me that Wellington was perhaps not the best place to make a career change (for me anyway). After months and months of tediously tailoring my CV and writing endless cover letters, I remained unsuccessful. My more or less than 100 job applications got rejected one after the other. It was humiliating at first but then I met a few people who were also going through the same ordeal, so I was reassured. At least I was not alone. Eventually, I took the drastic decision to join an agency.

During my interview, the recruiter asked if I was sure of my decision to become a carer because of my qualifications and my experience. All I could say was, "I wouldn't be where I am professionally now if I didn't do the things that a carer does". She offered me NZ$18/hr, few dollars more than the basic salary of a carer, apparently because of my professional background. I accepted the offer without knowing the real value of NZ$18. I just needed a job (because I had other obligations).

When I got home, I excitedly told J that I finally got hired. When I told him about the job and the salary, he was not convinced. He was concerned that I would do heavy lifting, all the nasty work and get very tired for a small amount of money. He said I really didn't need to work and that he was happy if I just stayed at home and honed my writing and painting skills. We ultimately came to an agreement that I should at least try one shift and see how it goes.

My first assignment didn't come until about a month later. I received all the information about my client on the phone. I was told that the client was quadriplegic and that I had to do personal care and some housework. For all my sins, I said yes to it.

I arrived at my client's motor lodge residence 30 minutes before I was due to start because I was excited- not. I was basically expecting a handover from someone. The door was slightly opened so I let myself in. The lights were dimmed but I heard some noise, so I said, "Good Morning". Before I could say another word, the lady asked me, "who are you?". I introduced myself and asked if there was anyone who could tell me more about her care. She raised her voice and firmly said, "you should know". The truth is, I was not properly orientated about the client. I was expecting a handover or at least a careplan as mentioned during my training. But there was nothing at all. I didn't know what to do. I had to be honest and told the client  that I have not been a carer before and that it would be helpful if she could tell me a bit more about her routine. She looked at me as if I was useless and I could feel the tension rising. She reminded me that I came too early and that I should arrive exactly at the time I am supposed to start work. I apologised and reassured her that it won't happen again. And then I realised that she wasn't quadriplegic. She was indeed moving her arms! Hoorah! 

The first thing she asked me to do was to make her a cup of coffee and she was very specific with it. I was worried because making hot drinks is one of my weaknesses. Surprisingly, the lady liked her coffee and she brightened up after just one sip. She then instructed me to do little things while she woke herself up. After I finished tidying up her sink, she turned the lights on and looked at me. Finally, we could see each other clearly. I smiled at her but she looked away. 

My next task was to empty her catheter bag. She asked if I have seen a catheter before. I almost felt insulted. She watched as I disconnected her night bag. She was clear that I should flush the night bag with warm water four times, shaking it vigorously each time and leave it hanging on the side rail with the drainage valve open. I was deep in my thoughts when I heard her say, " Can you please stay in there for now while I empty my stoma bag?". I closed my eyes and thanked God. 

It wasn't long until she asked me to empty her bin. Afterwards, she enquired if I have assisted anyone with ROM (range of motion exercises) before. I confidently said yes, but as I expected she had her own way of doing her exercises. She talked me through it and slowly, I felt that she was warming up with me. She was talking more and was actually looking at me in the eye. And then she apologised for being grumpy when I came in. We shared a quiet laugh and then she explained why she has lost confidence in some of her carers and the agency. Listening to her speak  made me realise that she has been let down by so many people so many times that she no longer had room for any more disappointments. 

After 7 reps of lower limb abduction and then pelvic rotation, she was finally ready for a shower. She wondered if I knew what a transfer board was. I told her we call it banana board as it's shaped like a banana. Her eyes lit up and she gave me her biggest smile of that morning. I helped her transfer from bed to chair and wheeled her in the shower. I thought I was going to assist her with her shower too, but she politely told me that she could manage on her own. I made her bed instead and washed the dishes. I anticipated that she would need a drink after her shower so I made her a fresh cup of coffee much to her delight. I helped her back to bed and helped her dress up. After which, I helped her transfer to her mobility scooter. Everything seemed to have been going well until I tried to navigate the scooter. I thought I was going to be told off for being so careless, but instead she patiently taught me how to drive it. When she was comfortable on the scooter, she drove outside for some "fresh air" while I cleaned the shower room.

By the time I finished, it was past noon. She signed my form and thanked me. She asked if I was ever going to go back again. I said I'll be back in the morning. She smiled and I left.

And that was my first day of being a carer. I wasn't the same since.

I went back the following day and things have changed. When I knocked on the door, she actually called out my name. She was happier. I turned the kettle on soon after I dropped my coat and my bag on the chair, then made her a cup of coffee exactly the way she wanted it done. Then I emptied her catheter. I was complimented for washing my hands afterwards. Thank God, I have obsession with hand washing. Then I prepared her breakfast. I felt more confident that day. I was doing things naturally, almost oblivious to the fact that I was in someone else's place. ROM exercises followed breakfast and then I applied cream on her legs. She refused shower that day so she asked me to iron some of her clothes and go to the shop instead. And when I got back from the shop, she asked me to sit and have a cup of tea. I politely declined her offer of tea but I sat anyway. And there, we finally had a proper conversation. And every shift since then, we couldn't stop chatting. 

We talked about politics, religion, culture, travel, art, books and other random things. I later found out that she was a scientist before she had the devastating accident. She told me that more than ten years ago, her truck fell off a cliff. She sustained a spinal cord injury that left her paralysed. I tried to hold my tears back listening to her heartbreaking stories but all I could see  in her was strength and determination. I wondered how, after all these years, after all she has been through, she managed to stay strong and positive. She proudly said that after the accident, she became a journalist and eventually published two books. She also mentioned about her husband and her two children. Our conversation flowed so naturally, and it was just my third shift with her.

I tried not to mention anything about my personal life especially my profession, but how I assessed her sacrum and described her pressure ulcer confirmed her suspicions. The praises I received from her since were rather nauseating. She introduced me to her District Nurse as her best carer ever. I was very embarrassed. She even requested the Nurse to pay a visit only on the days that I was working so I could also check on her ulcer. 

I turned up to work one day to find another carer in the client's room. I thought I had my days mixed up but apparently not. She was sent by the agency to shadow me without my knowledge, but of course. The following day, I received a phone call from the agency telling me that they received a letter from my client saying good things about me. The lady thanked me and asked if I could increase my hours. Unfortunately, I was also committed to my volunteer work so I said no.

I looked forward to every 3-hour day shifts with her because I knew that she was looking forward to seeing me too (because apparently I can talk). She still had bad days especially when someone dropped her foot or someone didn't treat her well, but they got easier to deal with as days went by. 

Seemingly, I became her favourite carer. I became her "to go to carer" if things didn't work out with her other carers. I would get a phone call even if both my client and the agency were informed that I was away. I received phone calls from the agency asking me about how I did this and that. One time I was working out in the gym and got called at 8pm because apparently, they couldn't get a carer and the poor lady has been on the chair since I left her that morning. When I turned up, the lady was crying. Her frustration was palpable. That was the first time I saw her emotionally weak and I was glad I was there for her. Unfortunately, that was the last nail on the coffin. For days, I listened to her complain incessantly about how unhappy she was with the agency, so it didn't come as a surprise to me when she finally decided to cancel their services. I was sad of course because I really enjoyed looking after her, but she deserved an agency who could provide her with better healthcare services.

Every now and again, I think about the lady and wonder how she's been. The reality is, she touched my life as much as I (probably) have touched hers. If I didn't accept the carer job, I would still probably be confused as to what I want to do with my career. At that point, I was confident to give up the passion that I was once very good at. But working with the lady made me realise that caring for people remains the only thing that I am good at and passionate about. I just needed a new working environment to realise that.

I knew that as a carer, I was working for far less than what I am actually worth, but that wasn't important to me. What mattered to me was the fact that I was helping someone, and somehow making a difference in her life, no matter how small. It was enough for me to see my client smile every time I turned up for work. I would like to think that my presence brought her some kind of hope. I could feel her sincerity everytime she said thank you and wrote little notes on my timesheet. For the first time, I could honestly say that I wasn't working for money.

I will always be proud that at some point in my life, I took a huge step backwards and became a carer, because if it wasn't for this opportunity, I wouldn't have met such a strong and inspiring woman. I wouldn't have appreciated myself as much as I do now. I wouldn't have believed that "anyone who becomes a part of my life is lucky" (according to my client).

And now, whenever I look back at this experience, I am reminded that indeed, one simple smile, one gentle touch and one kind word can really go a long way. 

My friend Kemi is right. I should never ever doubt myself.

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My Top 15 Restaurants in Wellington and Why I Love Them

Friday, 6 January 2017

The Indian take away we had the other night got us talking about our favourite Indian restaurant in Wellington. Since then, I couldn't stop thinking about my food adventure in the coolest little capital.

Those ten months of food indulgence in Wellington definitely made up for the times that I refused to eat out because 1) it's expensive in London, and 2) you can't get in any of the best cheap restaurants without queueing up for hours. Until now, I still can't get into the groove of dining out here despite being surrounded by famous restaurants and inhaling the smell of my favourite Chinese food everytime I open our kitchen window. At the moment, I prefer cooking our own food not only for the love of it but also because I find it more convenient than going out.

But Wellington is a different story. There, I had the freedom to explore the immense food scene and I ate to my heart's content. Unknowingly, I became a voracious eater. I've never loved food as much as I did in Wellington. The thing is, they have far too many restaurants and cafes that could easily satisfy my evolving palate. I absolutely loved the diverse food culture of the city. Add to this the consistently high standard service and the relaxed atmosphere. I have been to a few of the poshest restaurants in Wellington and never once did I feel intimated by suited male and elegantly dressed female guests- because they are almost non-existent here. This is one of the reasons why I was  more confident in trying as many restaurants in Wellington as I possibly could. And now, here I am, writing about some of them.

1. Boulcott Stree Bistro - 99 Boulcott Street
- Set in a cottage on top of Boulcott Street, this restaurant is a little charmer. It easily became our favourite restaurant in Wellington. I love the intimate ambience as much as the food here. J loved their French onion soup (NZ$16), while I was very impressed with their braised pork cheeks (NZ$36) and pan roasted market fish (NZ$36). Pricey you might think but with the greatness of the food and the excellent service, every dollar is worth it. And oh, the mouth-watering sticky date pudding (NZ$16) is a winner.

2. Ortega Fish Shack and Bar - 16 Majoribanks, Mount Victoria
- Located just below the hill from where we used to live, Ortega was the first fine dining restaurant we visited in Wellington. Based on reviews, the restaurant can get very busy so we made a reservation for 830pm. When we arrived, our table was ready and the waitress was quick to take our orders. As it was sort of late, I thought we should have the starter and the mains together. It was one of the worst dining decisions I have made. We waited for almost an hour for our meal to arrive. We were very hangry. When the food finally came, we hungrily devoured them. For J, his smoked white warehou with cucumber kimchi, egg, mayo and black pudding crumbs (NZ$34.90) was not as good as he was led to believe. But the starter- soft-shell crab, roasted pork belly with sweet tamarind and coconut dressing (NZ$22.90) and my main- Tarakihi with laksa sauce, vermicelli, egg and ginger oil (NZ$34.90) definitely made up for the long wait. They were divine. I've not much to say about the service though, as we received no apology for the food delay.

3. Osterio del Toro - 60 Tory St, Te Aro
- I have been to this restaurant twice - lunch with my friend Ei and dinner with J. I have been lucky on both occasions as the restaurant was not busy. In fact, Ei and I had the whole restaurant to ourselves and with J, there were only a family and a couple in the room. I am normally skeptical about empty restaurants but not with this one. The food was good and the staff was competent. When I went with J, he wanted anchovies on his pizza (meataly - NZ$23.00) but the waiter was quick to dismiss the idea. I insisted that he should at least ask the chef. He said he will try but didn't get back to us. But when the pizza came, there were anchovies all over it. 

4. Restaurant 88 - 88 Tory St, Te Aro
- I first went to this restaurant a few weeks after we arrived in Wellington and then went back a couple more times since. It's officially my favourite Vietnamese restaurant (so far). The selection of food from entrees to dessert is out of this world. Their drunken salt and pepper baby chicken (photo below) blew me away. I never had such a very delicious chicken in my life. Imagine me eating the poor chicken to the bones. The shaking beef (NZ$29.50) was phenomenal. And for desserts, I recommend the banana leaf wrapped sticky rice pudding (NZ$14.50) and the creme brulee and black sesame ice cream (NZ$13.50)- they're amazingly good.
NZ$29.50

5. Majestic Cuisine - 11 Courtenay Place
- I actually wrote about this restaurant separately because for the first time in so many years, I actually dined in a Chinese restaurant with a good service. This is the reason why this restaurant will always be special to me.  

6. PapaRich - 3b/1 Grey St
- My first Malaysian food experience in Wellington was rather poor so I was very glad that Paparich came to Wellington. They have a different take on food ordering in that you write your order number and food specifications on a piece of paper and when ready, hand it to one of the staff. They also have a buzzer on each table for when you need assistance at any time. The food came in huge portions and they were indeed very satisfying. The chicken skin is to die for! The plain looking Mantau with Kaya was surprisingly very good. For the mains, the crispylicious fried chicken and rice meals are the best! With an average spend of approximately NZ$30, you're in for a treat.

7. Shed 5- Queens Wharf
- I don't know but there was something romantic about shed 5 the night we ate there. The restaurant was calm and the music was light. The food was superb and we were looked after very well by the staff. Although it's quite expensive, it's worth it. If you're lucky, you can sit by the window overlooking the harbour or next to a happy and beautiful rubber plant. :)

8. Logan Brown - 192 Cuba St
- Apparently, Logan Brown is the best restaurant in Wellington. So, when I made the reservation online, I wrote on the special requirement box, "A good dining experience that I could take back with me to London". We went the night before we left Wellington and I'm glad that we saved the best for last. It was the best way to cap off our amazing 10-month stay in the capital. It was the highlight of my food experience in Wellington to say the least. Everything was beyond my expectation and more. We were given a good table in a corner behind the till that provided us with a bit of privacy. The restaurant with its fine dining atmosphere was far from pretentious. The service was personal, with a very competent and obliging waitress. The food was close to perfection. For entree, we ordered the market fish ceviche (NZ$25)and the pheasant and rabbit terrine (NZ$25) to share. For the mains, Ei went for the Hapuku (NZ$39), J got the wild Fiordland venison (NZ$43) and I chose the braised beef short rib (NZ$38).

9. Charley Noble- 1 Post Office Square
- Despite their industrial looking ceiling with exposed pipes and wires, I actually had a very good dining experience at Charley Noble. Their breaded flounder (NZ$39) was so crispy I barely left anything for the dog. Their truffled mac and cheese (NZ$12) tasted so good. The staff who served us was very honest and knowledgeable. Highly recommended.

10. Great India - 141 Manners St
- Our favourite Indian Restaurant in Wellington and still haven't found an equally good one in London. Their food is excellent whether you have it in the restaurant or as a take-away, and it's very affordable too. They actually have a daily lunch promo of NZ$12 for two courses. The staff is very accommodating, they always make you feel special.

11. Park Kitchen - 6 Park Road, Miramar
- I am not very keen on the staff at Park Kitchen but I love their food. My favourite being the linguini with chorizo (NZ$16). 

12. La Bella Italia -  10 Nevis St, Petone
- Our friend suggested this Italian restaurant after a disappointing trip to a Filipino festival in Petone. La Bella Italia satisfied our hunger with its flavourful "Il Classico antipasti (NZ$23.50), "Calamari Grigliati (NZ$16.50) and huge servings of delicious "La Pasta" (NZ$25.50) . A very good place to go to for some proper Italian food and products. Yes, you can also shop for Italian food items in the restaurant. Una vera delizia.

13. Siem Reap - 99 Dixon St
- My first ever Cambodian food experience and it was very good. I am a fan of processed Mi-Goreng and when I had the real Mee-Goreng (NZ$17) in Siem Reap, I was over the moon. Deliciously cheap food and very friendly staff.

14. Two Souls - 290 Wakefield St
- In my humble opinion, Two Souls is Wakefield Street's best kept secret. It became our "to-go-to" restaurant when we wanted to have a good meal but couldn't be bothered to go anywhere far. Their hot wings was delicious (NZ$12)so as their pork spare ribs (NZ$12.90), and seafood fettuccine (NZ$23.90). And the lady   who I assume was the owner was very friendly and helpful.  Sadly, I just found out that they have permanently closed down.

15. Smokin' BBQ Grill - Capital Market, 151 Willis Street
- Until recently, there was no Filipino restaurant in Wellington. All there is, is a "carinderia" inside the Capital Market in Willis Street. Smokin BBQ Grill is on my list because Ei and I frequented this place. But honestly, Ate's food is super yummy. Their BBQ tastes authentic, just like the BBQ that I always crave for. Our favourite sisig is the best sisig I've had so far. And with a meal deal (ulam + rice) for just NZ$9.50, you're definitely in for a Pinoy food treat.

The  restaurants above and my constant food buddies completed my amazing food experience in Wellington. I am beyond grateful.

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