Thoughts of a geek

14 May 2012

Community (The Blog Roll topic 1)

Some friends and I somehow ended up agreeing to try blogging about a series of topics together. For some reason this initiative is called “The Blog Roll”. The first topic is “community”. Perhaps there will be more. So far Melanie, Frith and Polly have blogged on the topic; Daniel and Valerie may also do so at some point. Perhaps other people will decide to join in as well.

So. Community. What can I say about it? I think it is important. It is a fairly vague word that can be used with a variety of different meanings. And it keeps coming up.

I am not very good at contemplating on demand.

Well! Another week has passed. I will try to at least flesh out something from my notes.

One form of community is a group of people who happen to be in the same place regularly. When this happens they tend to at least recognise each other’s faces, and sometimes friendships and deeper community develop. One factor in how much this happens is how big the group is; as groups get bigger there is less opportunity to talk to each individual person for an extended period of time — assuming the time spent together remains constant and that it is split evenly between the people present then the amount of time per person is inversely proportional to the number of people in the group. How much the people in the group have in common also tends to have a significant effect, be it age, situation, common interests or whatever else. What the people are doing and how much opportunity it allows to talk to others and get to know them is also a big factor. I find that walking often works quite well for this, as it tends to break a larger group up into smaller groups of 2–4, while also allowing people to move around between these smaller groups. Situations like working in an office, where everyone is busy at their own desk most of the time, are less conducive.

On the other hand, I found Memphis (the graduate computer science lab at VUW) to be a stronger community, even though on the face of it it seems like a rather similar situation to such an office environment: a bunch of people sitting in front of computers doing their own thing. I think there were a number of reasons for this. One was the presence of (comfortable, old and somewhat dodgy) couches, where people could hang out and chat. While this could sometimes be distracting for those working, it also led to lots of interesting conversations about all sorts of topics, and encouraged an environment where people could ask others for help. Shared music (through the oft-rewritten Memphis stereo system) also contributed significantly, I think. Sharing other people’s choice in music provides a connection in itself I think, it provides some feeling in common. And speaking of the stereo, projects like writing the stereo software and that for Fridge also provided opportunities to work together with other people on interesting and open-ended projects outside of coursework, which also served to build relationships and community. Memphis also organised a number of social and sports events outside of the lab, and built a shared culture through things like the Memphis painting hack, t-shirts and badges. It is a pity that it all died so quickly once the lab was closed and things were restructured for the new engineering degree, but that is often the way in the university environment, with a fresh new group of students coming through each year not knowing much about what has gone before.

Another form of community is when people join particular groups. I distinguish this from the first form because the first is mostly people who just happen to be through together by work, study or something else, while this second form is more a matter of choice, perhaps specifically for the purpose of meeting other people. There is certainly some overlap though. The group may be one that meets together physically, as clubs tend to, or it may be online or through some other mechanism. The #wellingtonlunchchat IRC channel is an example of the latter — a group of people who used to work or study together, who now have mostly moved on to other places, across a number of countries, but still keep in touch on a daily basis in many cases, if in a fairly low-key way. The channel originally started as a way to organise meeting for lunch with those working in other offices in Wellington, but always ended up being more about general procrastination, techy news and asking for help and advice with programming issues.

Examples which come to mind of such groups which did meet together in real life were the two main clubs I was part of at university: Interface and VUWCU. I am still in touch with many people whom I met through both; in fact I think they make up the majority of my friends from Wellington. This suggests that they did something right.

A third form I will categorise is wider communities, where one is a part without knowing the majority of the other people in the community, yet shares some common bond. This is a looser sort of community, yet can be quite cool sometimes, when one can feel like part of something bigger. Perhaps this is important. The common bond of such a community could be some major part of life like religious belief (say the wider Christian community), common interests (people sometimes talk about the geek community as such an entity) or just a common hobby (swing dancing, or Lindy Hop in particular!).

A couple of examples of such connections with a wider community which I thought were cool come to mind. The first was when a friend and I were travelling around Scandinavia and spent a night in Oslo, where we stayed with a group of Christian students in their flat near one of the universities. We did not know any of them personally, but my friend had a connection with one of the people in the flat through some mutual friend through IFES, and they were happy to have us to stay when we visited. Even better, it just so happened that the night we were staying was their weekly community night and so we got to eat dinner together with them all and the two adjacent flats, learn a new card game, and then we all sung a few hymns together in Norwegian. Despite being in a foreign country and not speaking the language, we had something in common. And interestingly I found it easier to pronounce Norwegian words when trying to sing along with a bunch of other people.

The second example was just through swing dancing, Lindy Hop in particular. It is quite cool to be able to go along to a dance anywhere in the world and find people who know the same steps and enjoy the same music, and just be able to dance with people with whom you might not have much else in common. I was in Toronto earlier this year, as I had a week in Kitchener-Waterloo for work and so flew into Toronto and spent the preceeding weekend staying there with a friend. It just so happened that the weekend I was in town was the weekend of the Toronto Swing Dance Exchange, so I dragged my friend along and we went to the Saturday night of it. It was the first time I had done any swing dancing outside of London, so I found it particularly cool just to be able to show up, in a new country, and dance with a whole bunch of people I had not met before, and perhaps never will again. A bigger community!

I was thinking about writing about online community as a fourth form, but I think it is already covered by the other forms: either particular groups like #wellingtonlunchchat, or wider communities like Reddit. Perhaps blogging comes in somewhere here too? Can the ‘blogosphere’ be considered a community, or is it too loose and disconnected?

Community flats probably bear a mention, though I have had mixed experiences there. I have only been in one flat that was explicitly a ‘community flat’ (it even had a blog), but I think I found more community (Can community be compared like that? Closer relationships, perhaps?) in the flat I lived in after that, although it was not particularly organised as a community flat per se. We just happened to get on pretty well, chatting and eating together quite a bit without it being an explicit aim. We still had our conflicts, of course, but on the whole it was pretty good. Perhaps trying to force community is a bad idea? Or perhaps it was just that everyone was really busy and stressed for other reasons, and there were a number of personality conflicts.

On the other hand, there are certainly things that can be done to encourage community. I think the physical layout of a house can make a big difference. Being on a single level, with rooms arranged around a central living room or kitchen can be helpful as people in their bedrooms can hear what is going on and join in. Just having a nice comfortable living room where people want to hang out by default makes a big difference, and having enough room for everyone. That can perhaps be tricky in somewhere like London where space at a premium, and long narrow terraced houses are common. Perhaps some architects out there would like to look at designing houses to encourage communal living in big cities while being space-efficient?

I was thinking of writing more comparing London and Wellington, but I am not too sure what to say, and this post is getting too long as it is, so I think I will just post it (at last). Perhaps that will be a topic for another time, or perhaps not. Hmm, there might be something more to write about music here too, and how it ties people together. But enough for now. In the mean time, what are your thoughts? Comments? Any questions?

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26 April 2012

Decisions, decisions

Filed under: Me — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 6:45 am

I moved to London in May 2010 for various reasons. Partly because Jordan and Josiah told me to (hmm…), partly because I was not sure what was next in life so I thought a change might be helpful, partly to travel and see the world a bit, partly because I did not seem to be getting anywhere in Wellington on several fronts. I originally was planning to stay for between 6 months and a year, get whatever job I could find, travel as much as possible, and then head back home to Wellington. I ended up getting a better job than I expected, and found the travelling bit to be much more time-consuming than expected (particularly planning and organising everything) and so did not get as much done as I had thought I would.

It is now 23 months later, and I still have not done as much travelling as I would like or feel like I should, but am not keen on the idea of staying in London long term either. I have still not worked out what to do with my life. A number of things which I am dissatisfied with include:

  • I am not finding the project I have been working on at work all that interesting, fulfilling, or in an area I want to focus on.
  • My flat has numerous problems (the kitchen not being very nice to cook in and living areas not being particularly conducive to community are probably the biggest issues for me, though how cold and damp it gets in winter is a close runner-up). It is not possible to find a flat in London which is all three of nice, affordable and in a convenient location. Even finding two out of three is tricky.
  • People are almost always very busy with work, travel or various other commitments, and also tend to be a bit more reserved than those in e.g. New Zealand. This makes it difficult to make friends, and even once one does have friends or at least acquaintances they hardly ever have any time to actually meet up or do anything. Some people are always busy with work, some are travelling a lot, some are booked up months in advance; for one reason or another pretty much everyone is busy. Even organising weeks in advance people are usually busy, or will cancel at the last minute. Not that this is never a problem anywhere else, but it seems to be worse in London in my experience.
  • The city is just generally big, crowded, dirty, noisy and unfriendly. There are no beaches, no hills, and I cannot really go walking about barefoot. The parks are good but not really comparable to Wellington’s town belt.

On the other hand, there are many good things about London, and this side of the world in general:

  • Lots of great museums, art galleries, and some fairly decent parks
  • Lots happening to see and do — plays, musicals, live music, dancing, festivals, and pretty much anything one might be interested in
  • Cheap and fast Internet connectivity
  • Amazon MP3 store, free last.fm radio, iPlayer, and other online services that are not available in NZ
  • Cheaper music than NZ, cheap or free delivery from Amazon and various other online stores, and some other cheaper things too
  • Cheap and quick flights to pretty much anywhere in Europe

On that note, and a particular dislike of cold dark winters in London, I am pondering moving on at the end of the year. Though there are yet things which could keep me here, your advice (dear readers!), would be much valued. Some options I am considering — with varying degrees of likelihood, and not actually in any particular order — are should I:

  1. Keep working at Google in London
    1. On Offers
    2. Transfer to another team
  2. Transfer to Google somewhere else
    1. Sydney
    2. New York
    3. (where else?)
  3. Do an MSc in Computer Science
    1. At VUW
    2. At Auckland University, Canterbury, or somewhere else in NZ
    3. Somewhere in London, maybe Imperial
    4. Somewhere else in the UK
    5. Somewhere in Australia
    6. Somewhere in Europe
  4. Do some sort of diploma or certificate in theology, or something similarly God-related.
    1. At Laidlaw in Auckland
    2. Somewhere else (where?)
  5. Move back to NZ and look for a job (at what company?)
    1. In Wellington
    2. In Auckland

Any advice? Comments? Suggestions for other options? Things to consider?

This also means that I need to get on with seeing as much as possible on this side of the world before I leave.

3 December 2010

An update

Filed under: Me, Photos, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — qwandor @ 9:16 am

Wow, I have not written anything here for rather a while. I have still been uploading photos of some of the things I have been up to, but perhaps a summary of the last couple of months is in order. Hmm, let us see, since the beginning of October…

On the 3rd of October, there was a fairly substantial flood on the street my flat is on and the surrounding streets, meaning I had to wade through water about 30 cm deep (deeper in parts) to get to my flat when I got home at around midnight. I went back out and took some photos, of course. Fortunately it was all fine by the morning.

Silverthorne Road flood: there was quite a lot of water

On the 11th October, I went to Zürich for a day and a half for a conference for work. I had to get up at something like 4:00 am to get out to the airport for my flight out there, then it was straight from the airport to the hotel and into the conference, so there was not a whole lot of time for sightseeing. I did get out a bit on the Monday night, when there were a number of organised activities to chose from. I walked up Üetliberg with a few other Googlers, and we cooked Pörkölt for dinner over a bonfire in the dark. I had a bit of difficulty finding my hotel room but it worked out in the end. The Tuesday was another full day of talks and workshops and such, then we headed from that back to the airport and back to London. Unfortunately our flight was delayed due to the strikes in France, but we got back in the end.

Zurich for GEEK: Zürich at night from Üetliberg

Back to London, I joined a hiking Meetup group that started at the beginning of October, and have been on 3 hikes with them so far, each on a Saturday and separated by 3 weeks: to Box Hill, part of the Ridgeway track near Tring past the Ivinghoe Beacon and Bridgewater Monument, and most recently in Guildford and along the River Wey. None of them were especially long walks (each about 14 km and fairly flat, this being England), but by the time we take the train out to wherever we are walking, wait for everyone to turn up, walk, stop for lunch, stop to look at the view along the way and have dinner at a pub at the end before taking the train back to London, it ends up being a fairly full Saturday. It has been a fairly international group, with often quite a few Americans, some Irish, a Turkish guy, some French people, Greeks, South Africans, various other Europeans, and on the most recent hike an Australian and another Kiwi. It seems that the English tend to be less interested in getting out to do and see things and meet new people. Perhaps they are more likely already to have an established group of friends and weekly routine.

Ridgeway hike: The English countryside

On the most recent hike, in Guildford, we stopped for lunch at a church which was built in 1087 AD, and still open. Admittedly some parts of it had been rebuilt since then, but some remained. And even before the 1087 church there had been an earlier Saxon church on the same site, apparently. History here is on quite a different order of magnitude than in New Zealand.

I saw two fireworks displays for Guy Fawkes: one on Guy Fawkes day itself (though people here call it Bonfire Night instead), and one on the day after. On the Friday I went down to Wimbledon to see the show at Wimbledon Park, and took lots of photos. The fireworks were not all that impressive — similar to the show in Wellington, but not as good — but the bonfires were cool to see, as that is not something I have seen for Guy Fawkes before. They also had all sorts of fairground rides for kids and others.

From Guy Fawkes at Wimbledon Park: Some fireworks

On the Saturday, one of the women in my church homegroup had a bunch of people over for a bit of the party and to watch the Battersea Park fireworks. She has a fifth floor apartment with an excellent view out over London, so we stood out on the balcony to watch the display, then headed back into the warm for lots of good food.

On Saturday 13th November I went to see the Lord Mayor’s Show with a few people. We waited across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice, where the first half of the parade ended. There were many different groups of people, floats, military vehicles and so on, as you can see in my photos, and it went past us for a little bit more than an hour. Afterwards we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and went up to the Whispering Gallery and the Stone Gallery around the outside. I had not been up there before, but it turns out that the Stone Gallery is a pretty good spot for taking some nice panoramas of the view out across London, so I did.

Lord Mayor's Show and more: A view from the Stone Gallery. Click a few times and look at it full size, there is plenty to see.

After St. Paul’s we had Dim Sum for lunch, then headed south to see the fireworks over the Thames as part of the Lord Mayor’s Show. Unfortunately the viewing spot we picked turned out not to have much of a view at all, so we spent most of the show running along the bank trying to get far enough along to see the fireworks without trees and buildings in the way. About a minute after we finally found a good view, the fireworks finished. They were good fireworks, much more interesting than either of the Guy Fawkes shows I saw, but only lasted about 10 minutes. After that we listened to a couple of free jazz concerts at the Southbank Centre as part of the London Jazz Festival, both of which were good.

Other than that, I have been going to some swing dancing classes on Wednesday nights, mostly in Camberwell, which have been interesting. The first time I went to the Camberwell class was the second week it ran, and I have been for the 4 classes there since. One week in the middle it was cancelled so I went to a different class in Dalston instead, run by the same organisation but with different people. The Camberwell class usually has around 12 people; the Dalston one had 44 on only its second week running. It made for a rather crowded room.

This most recent weekend, on Saturday 27th November, I made it out to the Horniman Museum, which was nice. Among quite a range of other exhibits they have a good aquarium, and the jellyfish were amazing — and rather mesmerising — to watch.

This Saturday, 4th December, I head to Germany for a week’s holiday. I am spending 3 nights in Berlin, 2 in Gießen and 2 in Munich. I hear the Christmas markets are well worth a visit, and other than that I guess there will be plenty of museums and historical sights to see. Recommendations are most welcome, if you know what is worth seeing and doing.

18 July 2010

London, part 2

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 8:30 am

Continuing on from my last blog post, I summarise the last month and a bit over here. As usual photo albums are linked along the way.

While waiting to hear back from Google about whether they would offer me a job, I got offers from two other companies. Google was my first preference, so fortunately I was able to persuade both the others to wait for a few weeks until I got an answer from Google.

Nottingham: Despite the rain we managed to have a look around. I thought this was a pretty cool fountain.

In the meantime, I went up to Nottingham to visit some friends of friends and see the place. A couple whom I know from my church back in Wellington, Kelvin and Caroline, used to live in Nottingham. They moved to Wellington almost a year ago now. Before I left Wellington some of their friends from Nottingham came to visit and they had been very thoughtful to introduce me to Pui, Claire and Guy. So I was able to go up to visit the three of them last month. I took the train up on Wednesday 9th June and stayed with Pui and Claire at first and then Guy later on. We went to see the Nottingham caves (or at least, the small part of them that is open to tourists), the Galleries of Justice (an old prison turned into a tourist attraction, with guides acting as jailers and such), the outside of Nottingham Castle (it did not seem worth paying to go inside), and several pubs. One of them, the Trip to Jerusalem, claims to be the oldest in the country, though it is one of about 20 pubs to make such a claim. Nonetheless it is a cool building, with parts of it being caves carved into the hillside. It has a nice relaxed atmosphere, kind of maze-like. We also went to Sherwood Forest, and saw the Major Oak, which is reputed to have been the hiding place of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. There are quite a few statues of him around the place. Other places I went include Attenborough Nature Reserve (in the rain), Wollaton Park, and the campus of the University of Nottingham. It is a lovely campus, with a large lake and beautiful grounds and buildings. It must be a nice place to study. Guy’s birthday was on Sunday, so he had a small party on the Saturday before. I took the train back to London on the morning of Sunday 13th June. The photos tell a better story than I do, so check them out.

The following Monday I got to catch up with Frith, an acquaintance from Wellington who had been on exchange studying up at Leeds and was on her way back to New Zealand. We went to the Science Museum and had a bit of a look around. That week I also begun my search for a more permanent flat, as I needed to be out of the Peckham flat by the end of June. I contacted various different places and ended up looked at a couple on the Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Thursday I heard back from Google that they would like to offer me a job, which I accepted pretty much immediately. On Friday afternoon I got to catch up with another friend from Wellington, Teresa, who had been in Canada studying for the past year and was also on her way back (indirectly, via Bangladesh and Syria) to NZ. She and her friend came over for what ended up being rather a late lunch. It was great to catch up and to have some company, though a bit hurried due to the limitations of public transport. That Sunday All Saints Peckham had a big combined service with another church focussing on the effects of gang violence in the area and paths to peace, which was interesting.

The following week I had lunch at Google on the Thursday to meet some of my colleagues-to-be and discuss a bit about what I would be working on. I also went three more times to one of the flats I had looked at the previous week, in Earl’s Court, to meet each of the people currently living there, as they were not all available at the same time. It was the landlord who had shown me around the first time, as none of them were around. They seemed quite keen on me, and when I asked they said that they did not have anyone else looking at the flat. They promised to let me know by that Friday, 25th June, whether they would have me in the flat. It was looking fairly likely, and I had very little time left to find somewhere before I had to move out of my first flat. Unfortunately they did not get back to me on Friday, or Saturday, and I could not get in touch with any of them. I finally got a call on Sunday to say that they had found someone else, which was frustrating after the delay and having had to take the time to go all the way there and back 4 times to see the place and talk to them. I immediately set to looking for other flats, and found two potential places, one in Wandsworth and one in Battersea. The Battersea one looked like it might be a better place to live and was also cheaper, but the guy living there was away and so I would not be able to view it until Friday 2nd July at the earliest.

My first day of work was Monday 28th June. I looked at the Wandsworth flat that evening, and it looked like a decent place and certainly in good condition, though quite expensive. I heard back the following Wednesday (I think) that the landlord would have me, so I decided to go for it as I was rather desperate by this stage to find somewhere to live. Fortunately Tracy and Andrew were very kind again to put me up between flats, so I made two trips walking, busing and Tubing with all my luggage out to Colliers Wood on the Wednesday night after work, and managed to carry everything in one trip back to Wandsworth on the Saturday to move in. Straight after moving in and going through the inventory and so on with my landlord I headed out to Kew Gardens to join Tracy and Andrew and a couple of their friends for a picnic. They are nice gardens, but £13.50 does seem like a lot to pay just to visit some botanic gardens. Unfortunately I did not think to bring my proper camera so I only got a few photos with my phone camera.

Kew Gardens: They have a New Zealand section in one of the glasshouses.

So I now have a flat for a little while. I signed a 6 month contract here. My landlord was planning to go back to France for a couple of months for work, and then to somewhere in the USA for 4 months or so, so wanted a couple of people to rent out the place while he is away. A few days after I moved in I was joined by a guy called Jiri who is here from the Czech Republic for a couple of months over the summer to do an internship and work. He seems like a nice guy. Our landlord has been living here as well, I think his plans have changed somewhat though I am not sure quite what is happening as I have not been able to talk to him lately.

London flats: My bedroom in the Wandsworth flat, where I sit writing this.

Last Sunday I went to the evening service at Holy Trinity Clapham, which is fairly close. They have something of a claim to fame as having been the church of William Wilberforce and his Clapham Sect friends, who are well known for their work in abolishing slavery in Britain, among many other things. It seems like a nice friendly church, though the service was rather short and a bit lacking in people around my age. I might go back tomorrow anyway.

I fly to New York on Monday week, rather early in the morning.

8 July 2010

London, part 1

I did say that I was going to write a blog post about London at some point, so here it finally is. I will just try to briefly sum up what I have done here so far. Photos are linked along the way.

First day exploring London: Musical plants at the Tate Modern

I arrived here on Saturday 15th May, flying into London Heathrow airport at around 7:00 pm BST. Tracy and Andrew, who are friends of my dad and moved here several years ago, very kindly picked me up from the airport and let me stay in their spare bedroom for my first week in the country. During that week I was kept fairly busy with interviews at youDevise, Maxeler and Future Platforms on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I also looked online for a short term flat in which to stay while I was looking for work, and was fortunate to find a place in which I stayed for a little over a month while looking for a job. I also managed to fit in a little bit of touristy stuff. On the first Sunday, the day after I arrived, I saw the Tower of London (from the outside), wandered around the South Bank and visited the Tate Modern, then crossed north again to see some nice buildings. On the Wednesday of that first week, having a day free of job interviews, I wandered around Westminster and saw Trafalgar Square, the Horse Guard, St. James’s Park, Buckingham Palace, Green Park, the Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, and more in that area. I also had the chance to spend a couple of hours looking around Brighton while down there for the interview at Future Platforms on Friday.

Westminster and surrounds: Trafalgar Square
Brighton: Interesting graffiti

On my second Sunday in London, having settled into my flat, I visited Holy Trinity Brompton for one of their morning services (they have 8 services each day, split between two locations). Afterwards I went to the Natural History Museum for a bit. I found their enormous collection of precious stones and minerals especially interesting. The have a large hall full of perhaps a hundred or so display cabinets, each of them full of all sorts of samples. It is overwhelming, like a lot of things here. It is just so big! The following work I had a couple more interviews: a telephone interview with Google on the Monday, and my second interview at youDevise on the Tuesday. Other than that it was not a particularly eventful week. I did a bit of baking. On Saturday I bought a bike, as cycling seemed like a good way to get around. Unfortunatly I was not able to ride it immediately as I did not get a helmet and lock until the following week.

Natural History Museum: It is a lovely building, like so many here.

That Sunday, the 30th of May, I went to one of the services at All Souls Langham Place in the morning, and then went to another church near my flat called All Saints Peckham in the evening. All Saints was a lot smaller and a lot friendlier than the other two I had visited, so I decided to keep going there at least while I was in the area.

On Tuesday I had my third and longest interview at youDevise, which was about 5 hours long including lunch. After that I visited the British Museum, which was interesting. They have the Rosetta Stone, which was cool to see. They also have a New Zealand collection, which amused me. It is interesting to see how other people see your country.

British Museum: Māori artifacts

The following day I had my in-person interview at Google. They have Douglas Adams’s bath in their foyer, along with a couple of towels. I also enjoyed sampling the food — they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner free for all employees every day. Afterwards I visited the Science Museum, which was (and still is) my favourite so far of the museums I have visited in London. I have been there several more times since, and still want to go at least once more as I have not yet seen everything there.

The next few days were fairly uneventful apart from lots of phone calls to and from my recruiter at Google discussing various details. That takes me up to about a month ago from today, so I think that it is best for me to continue from then in another blog post rather than delay any longer in posting this. I started writing this post several weeks ago, so it really is time that I finished it.

14 March 2010

More travel plans

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 4:24 pm

I just bought my tickets. They would have been about $100 cheaper if I had bought them a few days earlier. Oops.

I suppose I should back up a bit. To start with, I went in to STA travel and asked what fares they had one-way to London. The lady there was going to email me through some options, but never did. When I emailed them somebody else replied to me, giving only one option (some flights via Korea, with an unspecified carrier). Looking online on STA Travel’s website the cheapest flight was with Singapore Airlines, via Singapore. House of Travel had similar prices, with Singapore Airlines also the cheapest. Trying Singapore Airlines’ website directly, I found it easier to use than the travel agents’ sites, and the fares were about $200 cheaper. I also noticed that I could stop over in Singapore for no extra charge, so I figured I might as well stay for 3 or 4 days and see the place. Great!

I asked a friend for advice on what to do in Singapore and how long to stay, and he suggested that I should visit Malaysia while I was in the area, and pointed out that there were cheap flights or a bus available. Well, this opened up even more possibilities, resulting in me delaying even further in booking flights while I tried to decide how long to stay in Singapore and Malaysia. I am still not sure what I will be doing or quite where I will go, but I have finally bought my flights (the major ones, not yet any flights from Singapore to Malaysia). I will leave Wellington on 2010-05-03 at 9:30 am NZST, fly to Auckland and then Singapore to arrive at 7:00 pm SST. I leave Singapore on 2010-05-15 at 12:45 pm SST, and arrive in London at 7:00 pm, ready to have fun navigating the public transport system with all my luggage.

My current (rough) plan is to stay at a backpacker’s hostel for 2 or 3 nights in Singapore, then either fly to Kuala Lumpar or take the bus across the border and up to Melaka and perhaps on to KL from there. Or perhaps I might take the bus up and then fly back. I am not looked much yet into what there is do see and do.

So, if you have suggestions of what I should do, or know anyone in Singapore or Malaysia whom I should meet or even stay with, let me know!

(Oh, and thanks to everybody who has already given me advice! It is much appreciated.)

31 January 2010

Leaving (Earth)

Filed under: Me — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 5:11 pm

My contract at Innaworks ends at the end of March this year. I am planning after that to move to London, try to find a job there and hopefully find time to travel around a bit while I am at it. I will most likely leave in April or May, depending on airfares, how long it takes to get a visa, and a few other things. I have just now paid the visa application fee and filled in the first part of the form. It is quite a process.

If any of you have any advice about travelling in general, London in particular, finding work, or contacts in London or elsewhere in the UK then I would be happy to hear from you. I would also like to catch up with everyone here in New Zealand before I go, so if you want to catch up or hang out sometime let me know.

I also need to get rid of my bed, lounge suite, and possibly other furniture (chest of drawers, desk). If you might be interested in buying these off me or borrowing them while I am away, let me know and I can give you more details.

Song: Code 64 — Leaving Earth

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