Thursday, 5 July 2012

My Auckland Days

Auckland Harbour and CBD

I have not been back to Auckland, New Zealand for some years and I started to have this feeling that I miss Auckland a lot. I miss my friends, my house, my former office, my university and my favorite dining places in Auckland.
I missed many opportunities in these last couple of years to be back to Auckland when I am in Melbourne due to busy schedules. It is only four hours flight away compared to 11 hours from Malaysia or Singapore. My New Zealand friends are starting to get impatient waiting for my arrival as well. They kept asking “when are you finally coming back?” With my upcoming Melbourne trip, I am going to drop by Auckland again.
Auckland, the city of sails is where I spent my formative years and where I started to be in the front line of politics with my involvement with the New Zealand Labour Party. It is also the place where I met good friends, especially Phei Chee and form friendships that lasted to this day. It is also the place of many firsts to me, from first time getting my own car to first time betting on horses. I developed my fascination for horses there but I’ve sold them since I came back.
I also my miss house in Epsom, Auckland very much. It is where I have my finest collections of Chinese porcelains and Chinese paintings by famous artists. Especially with winter at the Southern Hemisphere now, I miss my huge rosewood desk near the fireplace in my study where I did my assignments. I also miss my old office at the Labour Party Chinese Branch in Dominion Road where policies were discussed, complaints were received and assistance to the needy was given.
The faculty of law of University of Auckland is situated near the Auckland High Court at Eden Cresent was the place I spent most of my time during my university days besides the faculty of arts for political studies at Symonds Street. When I returned to the university some years later, entering the gates that I had entered so many times before, walking through the corridors that many outstanding leaders had frequented, gave me an extraordinary sense of place – a small place in history.
All work and no play made Jack a dull boy. I played golf religiously. Enjoyed fishing on good weather days till I hate black snappers. They don’t taste good but that was what I always got! I played mahjong with friends at night, especially during winter when daylight is short to kill time. Auckland is a very boring place after sunset. Sometimes we will go for karaoke but there was no Chinese karaoke establishment in Auckland until 2001! Quite often, I will be invited to attend dinners organized by Chinese associations there but the food is always horrible. After sometime, I will just send them a polite decline.
After a couple of try at Malaysian restaurant at Ponsonby, I swear I will not go again. If the restaurant is in Malaysia, I am sure it will close within three months. The food is not Malaysian at all! Every Thursday night, without fail, I will have dinner with my dentist friend, Dr Peter Ng and his wife. We will scout for Chinese Restaurants around Auckland and try each one every week. I first met him during the wedding anniversary celebrations of my GP whom was his best friend. By fate, we met again during a conference in Auckland called the New Zealand Pan Asian Congress with famous lawyer Mai Chen as its main speaker.
Our favorite is Peking duck at Empress Garden in Jervois Road while my personal favorite is Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Wakefield Street. Dynasty’s pan fried mince pork with salted fish is something to die for. Even Li Yen in the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur can’t prepare this dish like them. The first thing I am going to do when I am in Auckland this time is to be there for dinner. Another Chinese Restaurants in Auckland that serve delicious food are Dragon Boat at Elliot Street and Grand Harbour near the America Cup’s village. After all the good food, when I visit his clinic for dental treatment, Peter will always joke –too much good food still stuck in between your teeth. Well, Peter, thanks so much for your care when I was there.
Weekends are always full of activities for the Labour Party or otherwise I will be at the race course. Sometimes, with friends, we will drive out of city for golf and sightseeing. I particularly like Whangaparaoa Bay with its Shakespeare Regional Park, about an hour away from Auckland. Going for dim sum is also a weekend indulgence with Ming Court in Sky City as my favorite or a drive to North Shore just to see Auckland CDB sunset. Till this day, I can still remember roads in Auckland with a flash of memory; no wonder friends said I have photographic memory.
Auckland – the city that made me what I am today. 

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