Where am I today? I’d love to say I’m off on a date, like the title of this blog suggests. And I am (kinda) just not the romantic sort. I’m over Guest Blogging at Styling You
As many of you know, I don’t have a CLUE about dating, so I’ve gone to the very stylish Nikki Parkinson to share my story (and for some much-needed fashion advice).
Look out world, here I come!
Check out what I had to say about my one and only date dress, and Nikki’s advice, here at: http://www.stylingyou.com.au/2014/09/what-to-wear-on-a-first-date/
And if you’re new to The Global Goddess, please scroll down (or refer to the Archives page on the left hand side) to read more about my dating, travel and spiritual adventures. Please follow me by clicking on FOLLOW on the very top black strapline of this page (next to my picture).
THERE are seven men to every woman in Christchurch. A salacious fact onto which I clutched as tightly as my passport as I flew across the Tasman at the weekend. Six years ago, I saw my first ever fortune teller who emphatically predicted that not only would I meet a man who was either younger than me or young at heart, but I would meet him in New Zealand. At the time I was ecstatic, given I was flying to Queenstown that very weekend, convinced my luck was about to change. It was my first trip across the ditch and it was incredible, but all I managed to do was meet a male editor who, like me, was stuck all alone in a luxurious alpine lodge with a bunch of honeymooners. We overcame this awkward fact by pretending we were newlyweds who didn’t spend any time together except over dinner at night, which confused the smug, happy couples, and is a story about which we still laugh to this day.
A year or so later I won another trip to Queenstown, a jaunty journey on which I invited my sister and about which I have previously blogged the perils that awaited us at our destination. We escaped white outs, igloos, icy mountains, a narcoleptic and a randy ram just by the skin of our teeth and with the assistance of copious amounts of whiskey. The only bloke I met on that trip was on the flight home and whom I wrongly accused of sitting in my seat, which made for some rather awkward hours back to Australia. I returned to New Zealand a year or two later, this time to attend a conference in Rotorua, where I vowed I could never marry a man who smelled strongly of sulphur.
But last weekend I went back, lured by a girl’s weekend and the firm fact that there are now seven men to every woman in Christchurch, the odds surely on my side. I should explain this mathematical impossibility by letting you know that the reason there are so many men in town these days is that they are rebuilding this pretty city after the devastating earthquake of February 2011, in which 187 people were killed, 1000 buildings destroyed, and about more of which I will write later.
As per usual, my story begins before I even board the plane when a 60-something man at Sydney International Airport leans him arm against my body, before jumping in surprise and exclaiming: “Oh, I’m sorry, you looked like a table.” Now, I know my universal sex appeal holds no bounds, but even for me, this was a new low. A piece of furniture? A table wearing a leopard-print scarf, clasping an orange handbag and drinking a glass of red wine? Things have leapt off to their usual sterling start.
The clock is pointing glaringly past 1am when I arrive in Christchurch with my four new female friends and when we attempt to check in, the receptionist asks whether we are “here for the wedding?”. “Well, I am looking for a husband”, I reply, before scuttling away to my room. Half an hour later, there’s a knock on my door, and just as I’m mentally praising the hotel for their prompt delivery of the man of my dreams, I open the door to find the receptionist who has decided that since one of asked for a toothbrush kit, all of us must have forgotten our toothbrushes. I ponder this logic into the wee small hours of the morning.
Breakfast is at C1 Espresso café with owner Sam Crofskey, 37, who not only lost his original café across the road in the quake, but his house as well. Sam was working in his high street café when the earthquake hit.
“I was a little bit confused. The coffee grinders fell off and landed on my legs and the power went off and then I could hardly stand,” he says.
“We needed to get rid of the customers, the staff and then ourselves. We had more than 100 people in the café at the time.
“Out on the street everyone was distraught and I thought everyone was over-reacting. I thought we’d come back tomorrow and clean everything up. It took a lot more for me to understand the city was actually gone. When you are here with no power or phone you have no idea what’s going on.
“I was like, my business if fucked, my house is fucked…that’s annoying.”
Sam moved C1 across the road to the old post office – the first reinforced concrete building built in Christchurch – and reopened in November 2012.
These days, the café retains the old post office vault – now used for a coffee machine; sparkling water is poured from a dentist tap; a sliding bookcase leads to the toilet; and burgers are delivered to patrons via tubes which run from the kitchen to tables.
And on the rooftop there’s a vineyard and beehives with plans to build an eight-room boutique hotel here in the near future.
“We wanted to rebuild it as a legacy. There are lots of really cool things in Christchurch. We opened the doors and people flooded in. They really wanted to connect with the central city,” Sam says.
“Christchurch was a broken city before the earthquake full of old, white people. It had no young people. But now people are doing cool stuff and are proud to be here.
“The lights are on and people are home now. The old rules are gone.”
It’s at this early point in my trip that the story I thought I would write about Christchurch starts to change. We head over to the CTV site where 115 people – the majority of victims – were killed in the earthquake. There’s nothing there now but a simple plaque, dedicated to the dead. In the background, there’s a colourful mural of a naked woman from the Calendar Girl’s Strip Club, one of the first buildings to reopen, and presumably going great guns with so many labourers from around the world in town.
Across the road from the CTV site sits the Cardboard Cathedral, constructed from, among things, 96 gigantic cardboard tubes, as a gathering place for the devastated community. But one of the most touching sites in Christchurch sits just across from the cathedral – 187 white chairs to commemorate every person who died in the earthquake. Visitors are invited to spend time there, reflect and even sit on a chair with the simple words: “choose one that speaks to you.”
In the badly affected Anglican Cathedral, locals say when the quake hit, a statue of the Virgin Mary spun around and faced towards Christchurch. Outside here, there’s a pile of “sorry stones” on which visitors have penned their condolences. Colourful Buddhist prayer flags flap in the breeze nearby.
But there’s also hope among the rubble. In the aptly-named Re:START sector, businesses are blossoming out of shipping containers. New Zealand fashion designers are peddling their wares alongside cafes and craft stores. In New Regent Street entrepreneurs such as Rekindle are turning waste wood from demolished homes into edgy jewellery, art and furniture.
Just out of town, other businesses, such as The Tannery Boutique Retail and Arts Emporium are finding previously hard-to-secure council approval for businesses is much easier these days, as the city rebuilds. There’s even a Ministry of Awesome in Christchurch these days, where some of the city’s creatives gather to discuss ways to recreate devastated areas.
It’s a city of gap fillers and anchor projects. Colourful graffiti art adorns massive walls, impromptu gardens are planted everywhere and street installations are a delightful discovery around every corner. The town clock, which stopped at 12.50pm – the precise moment the earthquake hit – still stands in the town.
As for the men, to be honest, I’m so enraptured by this city’s story of resilience and resurrection, I forget to look. The earth moved for me in Christchurch, just not in the way I expected.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism. To book your own escape, go to http://www.christchurchnz.com
THERE’S a fascinating article in the February edition of Cathay Pacific’s Inflight Magazine Discovery which examines Asia’s love of the exotic, specifically its cuisine and culture. The story focuses on fashion, and how many traditional styles of dress not only still exist, but are part of the vernacular. From Vietnam’s elaborate ao dai’s to Japan’s kimono’s, wearing historic dress is not considered unusual. In China, women wear the qipao; the Balinese don the hip-wrapping kambe; while in India, modern-day Maharanis are embracing the sari. But what happens when certain Asian cultures swing dramatically in the other direction? The result, as I discovered on my trip to Taiwan last week, is weird, wacky and wonderful.
Is it a nurse, a nun or a sign indicating the women’s toilet? I stumbled across little pinkie while in the acclaimed Taiwanese restaurant, Silks Palace, better known for its award-winning yin and yang beef noodle soup served in a cauldron. Yes, our host is at the table explaining all about this amazing dish, and I’m out the back taking a photo of the dunny.
I’m not quite sure what a Damper Baby is, but it seems to play a crucial role in Taipei’s exclusive 101 shopping centre, home to the esteemed Din Tai Fung dumpling palace.
This little pooch outside Taiwan’s first ever Bubble Tea shop in Hsinshu was not only wearing this attractive leopard-print coat, but had four baby shoes on each foot. I mean paw. I bet puppy was named Gucci or Muffin.
Everyone else was gazing at the amazing spectacle up in the sky at the Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi. I was looking downward at this young lady who was not afraid to put her best foot forward.
Proving that if you stay anywhere long enough the culture rubs off on you, my fellow Australians Natasha Dragun (Double Dragon) and Bev Malzard (Honey Ooolong) unleashed their inner animals.
And immediately sparked a trend among the younger Taiwanese visiting the Shen Fen Waterfall as these two cute little copycats demonstrated.
It was not just the fashion which fascinated in Taiwan, but the food, as these decadently sweet tomatoes soaked in plum juice proved at the Silks Palace. Is it a tomato? Is it a plum? Who could tell?
Back at the world-renowned Ding Tai Fung, the mountains of dumpling dishes were enchanting.
While the coffee sign at Pingxi was a little confusing…
The pippies in chili, ulimately interesting…
And the Buddhists at Long Shan Temple, inspiring.
Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific’s Rosemary was as bubbly as the champagne the airline served on the flight to Taipei, via Hong Kong. The Global Goddess travelled in style courtesy of Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy cabin. Launched in February 2012, the new Premium Economy experience features a more quiet, spacious cabin than the traditional Economy Class with between 26 and 34 seats per aircraft. The seat pitch is 38 inches – six inches more than Economy Class – and the seat itself is wider and has a bigger recline. Special features include a large meal table, a cocktail table, footrest, a 10.6 inch personal television, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices and extra personal stowage space. Premium Economy passengers are also allowed 25kg of luggage and have priority check-in at dedicated counters and priority boarding.
How to get to Taiwan from Australia: Cathay Pacific has multiple flights a week to Taipei via Hong Kong from six major Australian cities, including at least three flights daily from Sydney; three from Melbourne; daily from Brisbane; seven weekly flights from Cairns and Adelaide; and ten weekly flights from Perth.
HE shared the same name as a major Italian city and was a journalist, which ticked two boxes: he had an interesting moniker and could spell. So, it was without hesitation that I decided to go on a date with a friend of one of my male mates. Unfortunately, he also looked like a garden gnome, replete with round belly, long, sharp nose, pointy ears and glasses. Twenty minutes into the date, during which the gnome spent twenty minutes looking at my breasts (in his defence he was also short so was eye level with my cleavage) the gnome decided I wasn’t up to standard and promptly left. The gnome later told my male mate that I wasn’t “like a supermodel”.
Imagine my delight yesterday, three years later, when my male mate got married and, along with the obligatory pervy uncle with the wife 30 years his junior on the guest list, appeared the gnome. Now, I knew the gnome was going to be at the wedding, and would like to say I deliberately chose to wear my sexiest off-the-shoulder red number, but truth-be-told, it was the only decent wedding attire I had. What I didn’t know was that two of my girlfriends, one I hadn’t seen in months, and another in a decade, would also turn up at the wedding in similar red dresses. So, rather than looking single and sexy, I looked like one third of the Pointer Sisters and I’m pretty sure everyone was wondering what our first act would be.
The gnome turned up in an ill-fitting suit where the pants and sleeves were too long and his pants had faded prematurely in relation to his suit jacket. I would be lying if I said when he lit up a cigarette just as a petrol tanker drove past that I didn’t harbour a brief fantasy of a random explosion, but I figured that might put a dampener on the wedding celebrations.
Also on the guest list were a bunch of rather dowdy wives who all looked like they’d been to the same hairdresser and there had been a special on mousy brown hair colour, a horrible fringe, and a perpetual frown.
I, on the other hand, love weddings, and adopt the all-Australian attitude that you take the cost of what you spend on the gift, multiply this by a factor of five, and then proceed to redeem your gift cost by drinking as much alcohol as possible. This is also possibly why the groom put my girlfriends and I on the table up the back of the room, behind a post. Which suited me fine, as we were also the closest to the dance floor.
During the evening the gnome, who is still single – clearly Brisbane has a dearth of supermodels looking to date gnomes – spent several hours looking longingly in my direction, according to my girlfriends. Either that, or he had never seen an Australian woman drink so much Sav Blanc and still be standing.
It was all going so well, and I was out front, in the middle of the dance floor teaching the relatives from country South Australia how to do Nutbush City Limits (it’s kick, kick, clap and THEN turn people!), when the gnome decided to grab his jacket and depart. It was only 8.30pm so I can only assume he had double booked his night and was off to entertain at a children’s party. Again, either that, or he had caught a glimpse of my beige control underwear which was doing a mighty fine job keeping my tummy, bum and thighs in check, thus confirming his suspicions that I am not a supermodel.
The night continued and the mousy brown brigade continued to sit with their cat’s bum faces. They were less-than-impressed when I accidently broke a glass while alternatively playing the drums on the table and a glass with a spoon. And even less impressed when that crazy Korean Psy’s Gangnam Style came on and I busted out some moves (and possibly my dress).
By the end of the night it was just me and one of my Pointer Sisters left on the dance floor, all cat’s bums and gnomes long-since departed.
I limped home with bleeding feet, reeking of sweat, and hair all mussed up which in my opinion, are all the hallmarks of a splendid evening. I had quite simply, had a ball and realise it’s moments like these it can be great fun being single.
I imagine the mousy browns have probably awoken this morning without a hair out of place, their faces fixed firmly in a line of disappointment, arranging to meet each other for a cappuccino and discuss that outrageous lady in red.
As for the gnome, I checked in my garden this morning just to be sure and there was no trace of him. Given it’s just over two months to Christmas, I guess he’s busy getting ready to be Santa’s little helper.