Sunday, 24 April 2011

CentrePoint on Colombo via Smartphone …… thanks to Motella

While we always pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge, ahead of every aftershock, first inline for the portaloo and on the right side of the cordon when it comes to motel related social media developments, we are also prepared to give credit when it is due.  

Admittedly the only reason this happened was because we were delayed by dodging the liquefaction, bumping over molehills and avoiding central city roadblocks while out buying Easter eggs for our guests. 
So, between filing our EQC insurance claims, guessing the strength of the latest aftershock and urging people to be careful of splashback when emptying their chemical toilets, we put our thinking hats on and arranged for our hackers to break into the basement of Motella HQ and steal the access codes to the new, fantastic, mobile blog template.  
So now we can also beat our chests!  The next time you are out-and-about visit CentrePoint on Colombo Motel on your smartphone you will be able to view our blog in a smart new mobile format that's easier to read, navigate, make comments and watch videos on the go.
And if you have any time left after adding to your life by viewing our blog, have a look at Motella’s blog too!  It’s almost as good as ours!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Flattened, but racing to rebuild……

This was the title of an article about the restaurants close to us in today’s paper.

It came as both a shock and relief.  I’d heard stories but the reality is hard. Café Valentino- gone.  Metro Café – gone. Johnson’s Grocer – gone. 

Between here and the Town hall, probably the only restaurants left will be Strawberry Fare and Thai Smile.  All the rest will require rebuilding.

So it was great to see in The Press today that there are already plans to start the rebuild.

Reading the article was both a relief and a reality check.  We will get our favourite restaurants/shops back but not until the end of the year at the earliest.

This is a big positive for Christchurch and we congratulate Colin, Liz and Michael for staying in this part of town.  We look forward to your reopening!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Is Christchurch the place to visit this Easter?

Post quake Christchurch has turned into a Monday – Thursday town.  There are very limited accommodation options during the week but rooms to burn (it’s a euphemism, ok) over the weekends.  And the Easter break is no exception.   For some reason people just don’t want to come to the Garden City unless they absolutely have to.

But the savvy traveller could turn this to their advantage.  They could be the only ones to be able to go back to work next week and say “I went to Christchurch for Easter.”  Those that didn’t will only be able to listen with envy while they look over the photos taken at the Red Zone Cordon.

A quick look at Wotif will reveal an abundance of accommodation options over the extended break in Christchurch while Akaroa and Hanmer Springs are Chocca!

The intrepid traveller will know that the chance is there.  With so many people not being here, it’s a great time to enjoy post quake Christchurch.  Christchurch will be empty – all the recovery workers are back home and most of Christchurch will depopulate to Akaroa, Hanmer or even further away places.  The normally crowded restaurants could be back to normal levels and there are just enough attractions operating to keep you busy.

The Antarctic Centre, Punting on the Avon, Botannical Gardens, The Airforce Museum, Orana park, Adrenalin Forrest, Ballooning, Willowbank, Jet boating on the Waimak and a walk around the cordoned area – come and see the Grand Chancellor on a lean before its blown up or falls over!

You will also have the chance to take part in one of the most special Anzac Day Services in the country with the Christchurch one being held in Hagley Park at the more normal hour of 7.30am on Sunday.

You’ll be able to do all this by yourself, cos there aint gonna be anyone here!

And if you decide to stay with us, we’ll shout you a Punt! (Stay at least 1 night between 21 & 25 April inclusive and up to 2 people will receive one free punting ticket each, new direct bookings only.  Must mention this blog, of course!)

So take the aftershocks by the goolies and come on! Visit Christchurch this Easter!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The earthquake affects us all

There are newspaper stories everyday of how the earthquake is affecting everyone’s life.  These days some of these stories concern how things can no longer be done in Christchurch and how people have no choice but to leave town to get something done.  Here is another of these stories – and it’s about us!

If you had been following us on Twitter and Facebook yesterday you would have noticed that Jeff took a road trip to Dunedin and you may have been wondering why – here’s the story.

Unfortunately Naomi’s Dad in Japan is poorly and we booked tickets for her to go this Saturday on Monday.  Then we looked at the passport & found we needed a stamp to get back into NZ – other wise Jeff would end up running the motel by himself forever.....
We rang Immigration (omg their 0800 number is amazing, anything between 25-30 calls waiting time and we waited anything up to 40 minutes for the call to be answered.  The last time we used the call back service and they did call back!) and were told that we needed to complete THIS form and post it to the Dunedin office.  So, being obedient servants of the State, we downloaded, printed and filled in the form....oops....tried to fill in form.  Something didn’t make sense so we rang and waited, this time getting Roy (not real name).  We told him what we had been told and he said OMG NO! Don’t use this form and don’t whatever you do, post it!!  If you want to go on Saturday, take it to the Dunedin office in person with a cover letter explaining the situation, posting is impossible.  Wow! So different, thanks Roy!  So, we downloaded the correct form, filled it in and got confused – so back to the 0800 number and another long wait.  This time we got Elizabeth (once again, not her real name) who immediately understood our situation and offered to go through all the paperwork so that we would not have any surprises in Dunedin.  Yes, it took a while but we got it done.  Thank you Elizabeth.
(Cool coastal morning scene)

So this morning I left home at 4.15am, getting to Dunedin at 8.50am.  Asked a local where I was and found the Immigration Office.  Jumped in the elevator and pressed the “3”, nothing. Pressed another button and ended up being on “4” joined by 2 others.  I said I was trying to get to 3 and they said the elevator won’t stop at level 3 till 9.  I started saying “Typical Govt Dept.” But stopped myself and asked, “are you guys Govt employees?” and they said “Yes”.........heheheheeeee

Anyway, I went back down to ground level and waited till 9am, still couldn’t press the  “3”.  Tried again at 9.01 and it worked, I was in!  Explained the situation to the person and they said, come back in 90 mins.

Freedom, so I became a tourist & weirdly walked dangerously close to historical stone buildings and marvelled at a citycape of intact buildings.  This was reinforced upon passing the Knox Church and Carlton Hotel on my return – my god this city is not normal and there is so much to do.  Dunedin leaves us in the dust!   Why is it that after 6 months of shaking 1/2 demolished buildings start to look normal.  Dunedin was so surprisingly beautiful.  I had never looked at Dunedin like that before.  I also learnt that the Salvation Army began their activities in Dunedin in 1883.  Needed a wake me up boost and so went and had a real great cappuccino at The Black Dog Cafe & Bar – goooood!  After that, still had some time and walked into Snip Snip Snip and got my first post quake cut from Amanda!  
(Go the Sallies!)

(Christchurch has got corgis, Dunedin's got ..... this)

(A good cappuccino)

Then it was back to Immigration where Naomi’s passport was done!  (Usually this would take a number of days)  11.30am, after 2 1/2 hours in a truely Dunner Stunner (what the locals use to refer to a brilliantly beautiful day – which it was) I was in for the 5 hour drive home, slightly tiring but I still found time to Four Square and Tweet the trip home.  I’m knackered but Naomi is now ready to go on Saturday. 

It is in these little ways that the earthquake is affecting our lives.  Today was 10 hours driving for what used to be a 40 minute walk, but that’s life.

But I’d like to give a really big shout out to Roy and Elizabeth and everyone else at Immigration NZ for their wonderful handling of the situation.  You guys are really looking after Christchurch and we appreciate it!  (sorry but this excludes the first person that put us so wrong!)
 (Cool clouds on the way home!)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Thank you New Zealand, thank you!

Thank you New Zealand, thank you!
This goes out to everyone that has helped us here in Christchurch so far, even those who live here.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Let’s look at it, Christchurch is munted, in the east there are at least 10,000 houses needing rebuilding and 128 buildings in the Red Zone have had their lifelines cut short. On top of that, the locals are pretty much stressed out after 6 months of unannounced shakes.

Can we do the recovery by ourselves? Probably not.  The announcement of the formation of CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) was greeted with trepidation by some because it may lessen the control we have over our own future.  But wait a moment, let’s think about it, can we do this by ourselves? The simple answer is, no probably not, there is simply too much to do.

In this way, we have to be aware of just how much the rest of the country is contributing to Christchurch’s recovery. And we need to be thankful to the rest of the country, because they are doing it hard too.

At the motel we have noticed 2 patterns of stay, the long term guest of 3 to 4 weeks and the Monday - Thursday guest.  The long term guests are here for the duration and often work everyday.  Monday – Thursday guests come into Christchurch for the recovery on Monday, stay 4 nights and then head home on Friday.  The easy thing to say is, “Hey! Stay for the other 3 days!” and help us put Christchurch together even faster.  But if you think about it, these people all have families too and at the moment they are giving over half of their lives to us.  Four nights here in Christchurch means only 3 nights back home, and that must be tough.  They are all working long hours here and then spend their down time in a motel a long way from home.  They need to go home and see their families, participate in their communities and relax on their lazy boys.  The other thing is that they still need to work in their own communities.  For every day they spend here, is a day less they spend in their own communities, working and playing and for this reason we must be very grateful to them for the efforts and the sacrifices they are making for us. 

For some of our guests this has gone on for 5 weeks now and will probably continue for a number of weeks to come.  In addition, long term guests are here for up to 3-4 weeks at a time before returning to their hometowns.

In this way it is easy to see that this Christchurch disaster will have a large effect on all of the country for many years to come.

Hence we are ever so grateful to those that are working here, by themselves, for us, away from their own homes, away from their loved ones, away from their comfort zones, for us.  This will go on for a long time to come and we are and will be for a long time yet, very, very grateful for their sacrifices for us.

A Sign of the Shitty Times We Live In!

(This blog comes with a bad language/bad taste/terrible smell advisory)

This is no reflection on the state of the motel industry but there’s some SSMC (shitty social media communication) going on between the 2 isles of Godzone!  Here’s what its all about!

Some may find some parts of this blog disgusting, downright rude, smelly and in bad taste.  If you are one of those to react in such a way, click on the little white cross in the red box in the top right hand corner of the screen now.  In reality, we in Christchurch have become very used to talking to each other about our pooze and weeze and how we deal with these everyday, so for once you can hear about it as well.

Why is that? It’s because the eastern side of the city no longer has a working sewer system.  Some people can still flush their loos but they are being asked not to.  In place there are 27,500 chemical toilets, 400 chemical disposal tanks and more than 2,000 portaloos. 

 (Many thanks to Bebe Thompson for sharing the family's toilet secrets)
When you feel the urge, you either go to the Portaloo on the street corner or, when your chemical toilet is full, you carry your tank of pooze and weeze to the disposal tank (if you’re lucky, its on your street) and empty it in full view of the entire neighbourhood.  Little old ladies and short people have to make the trip twice as many times as others because of the difficulty of carrying & lifting a full tank up to empty it. Splashback is a constant worry for all.  The council has been encouraging neighbours to make the chore communal – “let me help you empty your chemical toilet tank!”  Citizens also have to hope their toilet room is big enough to fit an extra loo in it!  Yes, the logistics of taking a crap are somewhat more intense than before.

Now, back to the story.  Just as we felt that Christchurch was ready to take another step forward, we woke up to a newspaper headline screaming the horrific fact that there was a 50/50 chance our sewerage system would collapse and the whole city would be enveloped in a poo infused odour.

Just to gross you out totally, currently 40 million litres of sewage (1/4 of the daily total) is leaking out of broken pipes.  Just because we can flush our loos doesn’t mean it goes to the proper place!  You may ask, where is it going? The answer is no-one knows because the damage is so widespread. Ooooh yuckie!

Apparently the only way to solve the problem is to conserve water – have shorter showers, don’t have baths etc.  Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the intestinal flow which results in either No. 1 or No.2 so we encourage the theory of only flush when it’s brown!

Which brings us to today’s topic.  Despite the possible impending disaster, there is little visible panic and outside of the article in today’s paper there does not appear to be an overwhelming push to get the word out – not everyone reads the paper after all and there is not any great radio blitz to stop us pooing & peeing.  But we decided it was time to put our best foot forward.  While us stoic Christchurch people are totally at ease talking about ablutions, we realise that others from outside the city may not be so ready.  We decided to take the extraordinary step of placing a laminated notice in each guest room asking guests to flush as little as possible.  This alleviates the need to ask guests not to flush their toilets after asking whether they want green or blue milk.

In reality, we do believe that most people in this world do actually know how to live and that the last thing they want to do is spend their holidays reading signs about how they should be spending their holidays.

But, because I prefer smelling fresh air instead of what my bathroom can smell like, we took the plunge, stuck the laminated notice on with Bluetac and tweeted the result.  We directed the tweet towards @Motella – the ultimate lover of motel room signage!

I sat waiting for a jovial 140 character limit reply but was disappointed.  Oh well, I thought, maybe Gisborne motels are really busy with all the people not coming to Christchurch now.  It was not till later that we noticed a facebook posting mentioning a blog entitled – Motel Sign Of The Times.

We are proud to have once again been judged worthy of a mention in the world famous Motella Blog, just as we are happy to be able to share the pain Christchurch is feeling with those who can comfortably sit on their own throne and dispose of their business with the simple push of a button. Shit you guys are lucky!

We hope you all think of this blog next time you are doing what ½ of Christchurch’s population now finds to be a most challenging task.  And we hope that as a result of a bit of banter between two motel social media participants – this story reaches a lot further than the stench will if our sewerage system does totally fail…..

Postscript: CentrePoint on Colombo Motel's toilets are flushable.