Okaa-san came to Wellington, hooray! I didn’t see her until dinner, so that’ll come later in the post, but I did spend the night with her as well as Sophia’s cool fam! Alright, start of the day is important though, so here we go.
I woke up and packed all of my stuff, and dang if packing doesn’t still suck. But then it was time for a lovely breakfast, this time featuring cream cheese and strawberry jam. Oh, how I’ve missed those things too. I had to run a bit to meet Sophia for lunch, but what we got was so good! There was this Vietnamese place called Satay something, and it was so good! They had a variety lunch thing for like $8, so I got 2 spring rolls, chicken satay and salad. Ohhh god I love the food here.
Afterwards I wandered to the Wellington Cable Car, which was suggested to me by both Sophia and okaa-san. It was tucked into a little alley next to a McDonald’s, but I found it! It was a really short ride, we’re talking maybe 4 minutes tops? Quaint though, like the rest of the city. It gave a great top view of the city, which called for some pics and selfies. It even had some city history written on signs, although I’ve forgotten what I’ve read by this point.
Beyond the cable car was a huge collection of botanic gardens, which I wandered through pretty successfully. I had no map but a bunch of signs to follow, so I think I saw most of what there was to offer. First was a general look around the top though, where there was a fancy sundial I’ve never seen before. Around the infinity loop were the months with every 5 or so days written. You stand on the closest date to whatever it is real-time, back to the sun, and lift your interlocked arms above your head. The shadow cast lands on the hour, supposedly, which it did for me. Cool stuff. After that was a spiffy wooden outlook that trailed a few meters out from the hill, extending out to give a grand view of all the trees.
The flowers actually came after that, and they made me realize how much I miss hydrangeas! We’ve always had them out back at my house, but I haven’t seen them since Sanzen-in at Ohara, where the ajisai (Japanese word for hydrangeas) weren’t in bloom. So them in full, gorgous and vibrant force was a gorgeous sight and one I sat on a bench to admire for a bit. There was also a mini Australia flora section, followed by a rad little succulent garden.
After the wandering excitement downhill everything flattened out, leading to a duck pond, an expansive rose garden and a greenhouse. There was also this cool neon netting meant to respresent the trashy 80s neon scene? Can’t find my picture of the sign, but it had some self-jabbing words and weird semi-homage to neon. It was strange. Then came the logical rose garden, where there were at least 50 different varieties and many of them had an ombre multi-color deal going on. They even smelled good, which is something I personally have never found to be true for roses (secret time: I actually hate the things. if you care about me you’ll never get me roses). The greenhouse was also pretty nifty, with a lot of tillandsia (air plants), water lilies and many of the plants we have at my school’s greenhosue. So almost a taste of home.
After that whole ordeal was over, which actually took at least 3 hours – props to you garden – I went looking for my Asian markets. And god if google maps isn’t wild. It took me through so many neighborhoods, in the back alleys of some university and across roads with no crosswalks. But alas, I made it and I found my Korean tea! It’s called ‘Solomon’s Seal’ and is really delicious; I think I’ve been drinking it everyday at Sophia’s house if I’m not nursing a mug of genmaicha. But important thing is, I found it. I also tried ‘rice punch’, which is a ‘Korean staple’ if the can’s tagline is to be believe. I remember ages ago in Koreatown in Osaka, Hilton had bought one from the vending machine and downed it, saying it tasted like home. He’s from Taiwan, and I guess it had been a childhood thing for him. But at the time I hadn’t had the coins for the vending machine, and i could never find it after that. Until today!!!
After the Asian markets I also stumbled upon a Friday night market, which had a bunch of cheap and delicious-looking food. We’re talking a bunch of homemade dumplings, steam buns, tacos, Morroccan wraps, mie goreng, pizza, frankfurters on a stick and more. I only got mango lassi because I knew we were about to have some swank dinner, but it was a tough call to walk away.
And then it was time to see okaa-san!! When I came in Sophia’s mom said, “Oh, Yasuko hasn’t made it yet! So sad!” and no way, I peeked around the corner and there she was adorably hiding! Such a joker she is 🙂 We greeted in English, but it felt so weird we switched to Japanese almost immediately. It was so nice to speak nihongo again, oh man, and she had a blast on her trekking tour and even got an adroable little certificate and everything. It was so nice to see her! Dinner was a delicious combo of bibimbap, kimchi and cucumbers, whose recipe I’m gonna put below because it was so simple but so good. Dessert was a combo of ice cream, blueberries and cheesecake, which was also delicious and just so beautiful. When we were done okaa-san and I headed up to bed in rooms next to each other, and she showed me some Miao-chan pics otou-san had sent her and I showed her 2 cats dressed as Totoro and the Cat Bus from the movie. One last night of bonding, what a great way to end my time in Wellington.
- chop real thin and lay out so none overlap
- lightly salt and let sit for ~15 minutes
- squish all the water out of the cucumbers
- fry in a pan with oil and chopped garlic for ~5 minutes
Voila, these things are yummy, slightly mushy cucumber and something anyone will enjoy.