More about the North Island

The north island has been lovely, although the weather has been slightly chilly. In fact, chilly enough to prevent us from doing the Tongariro Alpine Trail hike, which would have been the highlight of the north island. Instead we had to fill the time with a hike through a still active volcanic valley. What a chore.

The scenery is amazing. We started off with tree fern forests (we call them dinosaur trees because they look like the belong in that era), but shortly outside of Rotorua we were surrounded by lakes and mountains. And then the scenery turned to desert landscapes. And this morning, we were greeted by ocean views. The only other place I have ever been that had such varied landscapes is in my native California.

So far on this trip, I have driven on the left in the first time in my life, and seen active volcanic terrain (steam literally comes out of the ground!). I have also managed to deal with a chemical toilet, and sleep inside a van. And most importantly, Chris and I are continuing to learn and understand each other a little better each day–what better outcome from a honeymoon?

Next, on your more rugged terrain of the south island.






Yum yum chilli and pepper crabs

So leg one of our journey is now over and I can officially say that I have not slept a wink so far in Singapore. We are 8 hours ahead of GMT so I imagine I will crash a bit later on the plane. Who knew time travel would be so difficult?

I thought I would add some pics of some of the food we had with Robbie at a seafront seafood place. I can’t describe how good chili crab is. The crab itself is succulent and sweet, but the chili sauce is what it is all about–literally finger licking good and the thing to do is dip these small fried buns called mantou. The pepper crab is another favorite–it leaves your mouth nicely tingly. Again, indescribably delicious and worth the trip to Singapore just to taste these dishes.

So leg one is complete, as the last pic shows. 12 hours flown so far. We are heading back to the airport in a few minutes for the remaining 9 hours before our destination: New Zealand!






Announcements Gay marriage equality Key Events

We are married!

Cake Family Partying!

Donny’s Mini-blog for Friday: What a fun start so far!

So the partying has begun.

We greeted my brother Jimmy this morning, and then our friend Debby who flew in from Philadelphia. And then in the evening the partying began in earnest when Chris’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and the Ruggiero clan from ¬†New York all descended upon the Wong-Dicken household.

It was a short evening–we started at 5:30 and kicked everyone out by 9:30. But it was SO MUCH FUN! How often in life do you get to get different family members and friends from so many different parts of your life together in once place? By my reckoning, this type of convergence happens at going-away parties, at your wedding, and at your funeral. And for the latter–everyone will be enjoying it except for you.

But not only were they interacting, they were also enjoying each others’ company, getting to know one another, and forming new friendships. And much of it without any of our help. We even had a small cake that we cut as if it was our wedding cake (actually, it was our wedding cake because we’re not having one on Friday!).

For me, even if this small party at our house tonight was the entire wedding “event”, I would be wholly satisfied. And tomorrow is going to be amazing…it will be the same thing as tonight but 10 times bigger (well, 6.21 times bigger, but who’s counting?)–and 100 times more fun!



Fun data point of the day: Diversity among our wedding guests


Donny’s mini-blog update: Wednesday

So after a much-needed lie-in, today was just check-list after check-list of things to finish. I set up an old iPhone which will be used for playing back our wedding disco music at the pub and finalised speeches while Chris attended to some much needed cleaning in the flat and also set up the bag of thank-you cards and other goodies that we will need to bring on the day.

I finally got my haircut as well, so all I have left to do is to finish my vows and to clean our fishtank (which is currently experiencing an algal bloom). It was nice to have a day off of work, and definitely needed since night-time was the only other time I had available to do any wedding things.

After some shopping, we stopped off at the pub to double check a couple of details with the bar manager Darren, and to meet with 4 of our helpers for the day, whose job it will be to queue some music and to also usher people around. Everything seems to be running smoothly so far. Hmm…perhaps complacency is a dangerous place to be but so far, so good.

I did wake up with yet another anxiety dream (this time, I was in an epic Bourne Ultimatum-like movie where I was being hunted). So it will be interesting to see what may come tomorrow morning. But one thing for sure–there will be no opportunity for a lie-in tomorrow morning. My brother’s flight gets into Heathrow at 7AM and if all goes smoothly, he’ll be knocking at our door at 9:30AM or earlier. And so it all begins…


Fun data point of the day: Age distribution of our wedding guests


Fun data point of the day: Food strategies for a happy marriage?

Family Key Events Reflections Uncategorized

Donny’s mini-blog for Tuesday

So my tactic for dealing with the stress of the upcoming nuptials is to try to have as normal of a routine as possible. This means going to the office for a couple of days of work. This way my head stays clear during the day.

However, the problem arises when I get home because this is when I can start doing the bulk of what is on my task list for the wedding…and that can be overwhelming when there are last minute work deadlines to deal with, client calls, and then in the limited hours before sleep, trying to cram in some work for the wedding.

Anyways, as I sit right now in my office done with the few things that were on my to-do list for Tuesday (3 client conference calls, interviewing a job candidate, an editorial deadline for a review article, and a deadline for a research survey), I can finally take a deep breath. And that is when a mix of joy and panic sets in. I’m taking the days on either side of the wedding off, so this is my last day in the office without a ring on my finger. In fact, THIS IS MY LAST DAY IN THE OFFICE WITHOUT A RING ON MY FINGER!!! OMG, I’M GETTING MARRIED. IN THREE DAYS! And then the extra panic starts to set in–the “festivities” actually start on Thursday when the out-of-town guests start arriving in the morning. And THIS IS IN JUST TWO DAYS!!

And suddenly, everything that I had been procrastinating on because of work (haircut, ironing, food shopping, cleaning the fishtank, doing the windows, sweeping the patio, making a wedding disco playlist, WRITING VOWS, etc.) needs to get done in THE ONE DAY WE HAVE LEFT before the out-of-town family arrive en masse at the flat.  ARRGH!

In between obsessively looking at the weather forecast (in not one or two, but on three different sources), I have found some moments of peace by taking time out to obsessively troll Gumtree ads for cute puppies for sale. These darlings below are two of our favorites so far.

So advice or anyone planning a wedding: Every time you get too stressed out from all the wedding work, just take a puppy break.



Fun data point of the day: What’s for lunch?