Michael & I are engaged!

And we wanted to share the happy news! 😀

Michael and I spent our week off, from Monday to Friday (March 10-14) on a beach getaway on Stradbroke Island.

We stayed at Allure Resort, in a lovely privately owned beach cabin (Shack 18) that you can read more about in this previous post

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First selfie after arriving 🙂

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Just 2 minutes walk from the beach

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With absolutely gorgeous weather

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We had brought all our own groceries so cooked and indulged in many delicious meals in our beach cabin. We had lots of private time, and enjoyed quite a bit of relaxation including catching up on our favourite TV shows, watching movies, reading novels, and playing Splinter Cell on the Xbox. Yes, we even brought our Xbox to the island. 😉

More importantly, we had lots of fun in the sun! Spent hours swimming in the cool, crystal clear waters and went for long walks on the beach.

It was actually during one of our walks on the beach, on March 12, 2014, that my wonderful partner of 3 years asked me to marry him.

Here is what Michael would like to share:

I had been contemplating for weeks how exactly I wanted to ask the love of my life to marry me. I opted for a simple plan that involved doing something that has brought so many days of fun together, asking her during a day at the beach. From our previous camping trip to Straddie, I recalled that there is an interesting area of beach with boulders and other various rock formations accessible at low tide as Deadman’s Beach transitions to Frenchman’s beach. So, with keeping the schedule of the tides in mind, around low tide I suggested we make our way towards Frenchman’s beach.

My plan was initially to double back on Sandra during our walk, hiding among the rocks in order to find a private spot to write my proposal in the sand. Luckily, as we were walking through the completely empty beach, Sandra suggested we stop so she could shoot a video of the waves and rocks. I immediately jumped on this, disappearing behind the largest of the rocks to quickly extract the ring from my backpack and write “Sandra Marry Me” in the sand. I really would have liked to put it in a question…but I was unsure exactly how much time I had before her recording was over, so I kept it to the point with just three words.

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Just as I finished the last letter, I poked my head out from behind the rock to see she was done and looking for me. I called for her to come around the rock to check out something cool. As she walked around the rock and her gaze shifted to the writing, I dropped to one knee, opened the box to display the ring and said, “Sandra, you are the love of my life, you make me so happy, I want to be with you forever. Will you do me the honour of marrying me?”. She said YES! We kissed and I proudly placed the ring on her finger 🙂 I’m a happy man.

Right after he put the ring on my finger 😀

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I thought Michael was hiding behind a boulder trying to scare me. Imagine my surprise to see his message in the sand and then down on one knee!

There was no hesitation before I said, “Yes!”  In the past 3 years, he has shown me what love for another should be by showering me with it. He has been immensely kind, caring, and supportive. He praises my strengths and accepts my flaws, encourages me and pushes me to be the best person I can be. He treats my family with love and respect and I am extremely lucky to have been embraced by his family from the beginning. Michael is my best friend and the love of my life. ❤

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We are very happy and extremely excited for what the future will bring!

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Here is a short video of our time on Stradbroke Island!

We have kept our engagement quiet these past few days in order to let our families and close friends know first. It was even harder to do because we had no internet service during our time on Stradbroke Island and had to wait until we were back in Brisbane. But now we want the rest of the world to know as well!

Family and friends have asked a few similar questions, so I will share my answers with you here.

1) Were you surprised or did you know it was coming? Well, Michael and I have talked about getting married for some time now. While we were back in Canada over Christmas, he surprised me by asking me to go look at rings with him. He had also asked my mom for my hand in marriage and received her blessing, so I definitely knew it was coming, but it was certainly a surprise when he proposed! Like I mentioned earlier, I thought he was trying to scare me. It never crossed my mind that he was about to ask me to marry him!

2) Did he pick the ring out himself? Yes he did! We tried on a few different styled rings together over Christmas to get an idea of what we both liked, but he secretly got this ring on his own. I love my ring! I especially like that it’s a Canadian diamond surrounded by beautifully delicate and subtle detailing.

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3) When’s the wedding?! Is it going to be in Canada or Australia? We honestly don’t know yet! There are so many factors that are out of our hand at the moment with regards to where we will be doing our medical training. So when we know, we will let you know too!

Whew, if you’re still here then thank you so much for reading and sharing in our good news!

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Stradbroke: Good eats at Tillers Cafe Pantry

During our stay on Stradbroke Island, we enjoyed ourselves twice at Tilllers Cafe Pantry, a lovely open air dining space right next to the reception of Allure Resort.

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The cafe offers non-alcoholic drinks and a nice selection of breakfast options, as well as sweet and savoury snacks. What we also really liked about this little cafe is the pantry, plenty of neat and unique specialty items to browse through and try.

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Our first visit was for coffee and an early evening snack. We were greeted by extremely friendly staff and the enormous cheesecakes in the display case caught my eye immediately.

I couldn’t pass up a slice of passionfruit cheesecake ($6) that even came with a side of delicious vanilla ice cream! Loved the topping! The crust was quite crumbly but not too sweet and I believe I even tasted coconut flakes.

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Mike enjoyed his flat white… and of course, some of my cheese cake. 😛

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The following morning, we came back for breakfast. In contrast to an empty cafe yesterday around 5:30pm, the cafe was buzzing and packed with customers. Definitely a popular breakfast destination!

My wonderful date!

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Photos of the menu. Reasonably priced, tantalizing options!

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Mike didn’t take long to make up his mind: Croissant filled with smoked salmon, capers, sour cream and dill ($14.50) and a coffee ($4). He enjoyed his croissant immensely and was pleasantly surprised at the fresh and delicious side salad that was not mentioned in the menu!

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I decided on the Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12). I never say no to haloumi. And I’m not usually a fan of avocados but this was the most perfect avocado I’ve ever seen and tasted. I know, I sound crazy. But it was beautifully green without a blemish, perfectly ripe and buttery. And I don’t know how they get that dressing so emulsified but it was delicious.

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And I also ordered a plain toasted croissant ($2.50) – best croissant I’ve had in a long time!

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This vacation on Stradbroke Island has been extremely special with wonderful memories during our stay on Allure Resort. Enjoyable experiences at Tillers Cafe Pantry with tasty food options and friendly service will definitely bring us back when we’re on Stradbroke Island again!

Tillers Cafe Pantry on Urbanspoon

Getaway: Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18) Review

March 10 – 14, 2014

What we had been looking forward to for a long time… 5 days and 4 nights on Stradbroke Island after our Paediatrics Rotation!

In order to get to Stradbroke Islan you can catch the city train to Cleveland station, where you can connect with one of 2 buses:

  1. The free shuttle bus to the Stradbroke Flyer Ferry ($15 for students) to One Mile Jetty
  2. Bus 258 to the Stradbroke Fast Ferry ($14 return for students) to Dunwich

Doesn’t really matter which ferry you take as you end up within minutes of one another and on the same bus towards Point Lookout.

We were lucky to find and rent Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18). A beautiful, privately owned cottage by Harry & Robyn on Allure Resort grounds (Point Lookout) that was within our budget and exactly what we were looking for.

A self contained, air-conditioned beach cabin that contained all the facilities we needed for a getaway.

Taken from their booking page:

The stylish architect designed high-set one-bedroom eco cabin offers a practical, inspirational design, with a mezzanine bedroom featuring a queen size bed & two mattresses for children. The cabin is air-conditioned with open plan lounge/dining. It is self contained with a modern kitchenette, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, washing machine, big screen plasma TV, DVD/CD & Foxtel service.

The resort is located right beside the bus stop, which is great.

Shacks 1 to 20 on Allure Beach Resort! Bright yet subdued colours coat the walls of each shack, very appropriate for the beach surroundings!

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This was our home for 4 nights, Shack 18. Bathroom is within the protruding structure beside the door.

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Note: The majority of the following photos were taken just before we checked out. We were too excited to move in to take any pictures of the original state of the cabin 😉

View upon entering the cabin.

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Kitchenette to the right, with fridge and cupboards (also containing washing machine and laundry sink) to the left. Dining table in the centre. Further ahead is the seating area with a coffee table facing the entertainment system.

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Looking back towards the front door

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Better view of the kitchenette with a small dishwasher, a 2 burner stove and a convection microwave oven with grill. Ample amount of dinnerware and cutlery, essential pots and pans, as well as cooking utensils.

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Couple of faux wicker chairs and colourful cushions

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One of the best entertainment systems we’ve had in rented accommodation. We even brought our Xbox as well as a USB full of TV shows and movies to watch.

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Some novels, likely left behind by previous tenants (I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Sinner), as well as a Chinese checkers set. There were also magazines lying around.

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View of the bathroom with the toilet behind the shower.

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Up the stairs

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Large comfortable bed with lots of closet/luggage space in front of it, as well as a large mirror.

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Lots of bright canvases adorn the walls of the cabin, adding to the atmosphere.

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Large deck, partly secluded by greenery.

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Also has a small BBQ with 2 potential gas tanks

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Although we were not official guests of Allure Resort, we still had access to their lovely heated swimming pool and gym

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The cabin had awesome natural lighting during the day, there’s even a skylight. However, once the sun goes down the cabin gets pretty dark, mostly because of these wooden shades. I wish the lighting within the cabin could’ve been brighter! It was the one thing we didn’t like about the cabin itself.

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Other things worth noting:

  • Cell phone reception is non existent for those with Optus. Can’t comment on other providers but you can get decent reception simply by crossing the road.
  • Wireless internet is not provided, however, is available for purchase from reception at reasonable rates. $30/week
  • This is not a serviced apartment, although all linen and towels are provided, including a complimentary change for stays longer than 7 days.
  • You are literally less than 5 minutes away (across the street) from Home Beach. From there, you can walk along the vast stretches of beach and stop anywhere to sunbathe and swim if you wish!
  • Tillers Cafe Pantry beside reception is fabulous for breakfast, a snack or gourmet/specialty items!
  • We brought all the wine and groceries we needed and cooked most of our meals in. Definitely doable if you want, however, there are a number of restaurants to eat at in the area. There is also a very reasonably priced bottleshop as well as a Foodworks nearby if you need to stock up.

The one and only major negative aspect of our stay: communication with the owners of the Shack 18, in particular Harry.

Below are screen shots of our texts with him shortly after we settled in.

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He never replied to our last text.

Firstly, we were simply enquiring about items that were promised to be provided.

In our confirmation email, it was stated: “WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU: As we provide linen and bedding there is practically nothing else but yourself in holiday mood plus your personal items incl. beach towels.” We believe it was fair to assume that there would be sufficient toilet paper to last the duration of our stay. We would’ve been happy to bring some from home, but this should be explicitly suggested. Or even state “Initial supplies only” on the webpage.  As we respected that this was a private booking, we did not contact the resort for any additional requests.

We asked about milk, coffee and sugar because that was advertised as being included with the cabin. The answer we received left us with a bad taste in our mouth. We certainly did not ask about “grocery items,” simply what was promised. And why do you even have to mention a guest stealing your coffee in the past? Are you insinuating we will too? Should’ve just stuck with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, those items are actually no longer provided and it was our mistake for not updating the online description.” Also, simply removing/changing what was written on the webpage at the time of our booking is neither appropriate nor a resolution.

Finally, we asked for simple resolutions in the last text, which we received absolutely no answer or follow up to. Most services, private or not, deliver on what was promised. We were polite in our communication and treated the property with respect. Cleaning up after ourselves and putting everything back in its place, even though there is a $90 linen and cleaning charge. To respond with silence, unfortunately, shows a complete lack of respect for your paying customers. Not to mention we couldn’t make use of the BBQ!

With all that being said, would we recommend Straddie Beach Cabin, Shack 18 to our friends? Absolutely. It was a wonderfully comfortable stay and perfect for a couple needing a few days of relaxation. The rate is reasonable and you have almost everything you need. However, I’d certainly recommend to bring extra toilet paper and maybe a lighter! And not to be too disappointed if there’s poor communication with the owner. The good thing is, you are given other numbers to contact in case of an emergency, so you should never be stranded.

Bird Gallery & Studio – Everyones Exhibition

Saturday, March 08, 2014 

(Note: Not the best quality photos, I apologise!)

Tonight, Yoni Shor was submitting one of his watercolour paintings, ‘Crashing Wave’ to Bird Gallery & Studio’s Everyones Exhibition.

You can click the link for more information but in summary: Everyones Exhibition is a 2 week exhibition held at Bean Cafe for local emerging artists to showcase and sell their artworks for free. No commissions are taken and there is even an opening night party for the artists and general public.

Of course, we had to stop by 🙂

Bean Cafe is located at Laneway 181 off George St

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All the unique and beautiful pieces on display

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Yoni’s Crashing Wave

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More views of the cafe

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Our friend, Beatrice Sim, also had a (gouache and ink) piece on display, Unexpected Places 

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Lots of local talent, many of art pieces for sale. Would never have found this little gem without the help of friends, please drop by and check it out!

Fun at galleries and goodbye to new friends

Saturday, March 08, 2014 

After a yummy and severely filling lunch at Malaya Corner, we decided to check out the Gallery of Modern Art.

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Yoni had been before so it was Michael’s and my first visit!

Although I quite enjoyed my time and found many pieces to be very artistic and talented, I found myself wondering if I was being trolled throughout the visit.

Like music, food, dance, and other forms of art, I understand that everyone has their own taste, some of which are cultured, developed and acquired while others are innate. I certainly don’t like all types of music or food but can understand if others enjoy them.

However, when it comes to modern art, I can’t help but wonder if there are hidden cameras around. Recording people’s ridicule or attempts to be appreciative and/or sophisticated with certain art pieces. A 3-hour video of two brothers chewing the same piece gum and passing it back and forth to each other. A grown man, on video for 45 minutes, dancing the twist with gold tassels hanging from his nipples.

Sometimes I just don’t get it. And the museum pays for these art pieces! We all joked that we just needed some time, money and a ridiculous idea in order to be displayed in a museum as well. That’s seriously how some of the pieces made us feel.

This was another art piece – Gold tinsel being blown from behind by a pivoting fan. Needless to say, we didn’t understand it but still had fun.

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A few more silly moments

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Posed so well he hid the original

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Shadow boys

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Yoni’s food baby!

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Taking a rest and enjoying the view out the window

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Entrace to Cai Guo-Qiang – Falling Back to Earth exhibit that you need to pay for entrance Yoni wasn’t really interested but Mike and I will come back another time to check it out.

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We also walked through the Queensland Art Gallery although I didn’t take many photos

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Richard Long’s Ring of Stones (1982)

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We then headed to the Sciencentre, which is always my favourite. Here are a few random photos.

Jelly fish made of plastic

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Coincidentally, we ran into Dan and Prasan at the Sciencentre. They are both 3rd year med students on exchange from Queen’s University (Canada) and completed their Paediatrics Rotation with us these past 2 months. We had discussed grabbing a drink before they flew out later that night, so off we went!

Enjoyed the extensive beer menu at The Burrow. Mike’s new find – Kwak (8% Seductive malt character. Rich, satisfying Belgian experience)

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Prasan was my silly group member, he will be missed!

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Group photo! Lovely getting to know you guys, safe trip home and all the best with your studies!

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Lunch at Malaya Corner

Saturday, March 08, 2014

With exams completed yesterday and Yoni in town, we decided to go out for lunch! Michael and I have passed by Malaya Corner multiple times and now were finally going to check it out.

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First impression on entering: Malaya Corner is much more spacious than it looks on the outside. Brightly lit with plenty of dining room, I imagine it would be feasible to quickly get a table even during peak busy hours.

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Started with drinks. Mike got a green tea bubble tea while I got a cold teh tarik. Both drinks were delicious although in hindsight, we probably didn’t need them alongside the massive amount of food.

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Michael and I really enjoyed our Malaysian meals in Singapore and were looking forward to re-experiencing those delicious foods.

One of our newer favourite dishes is laksa, which is what Mike ordered – Malaysian Laksa ($16.90) hokkien noodles & vermicelli with fish cake, prawns, calamari, bean sprouts in coconut curry soup.

A humongous portion that was packed full of seafood in a delicious coconut based broth. He found it odd that there were 2 types of noodles and preferred the hokkien noodles. Although not a laksa connoisseur, he found it delicious and always brings back the good memories of having it for the first time in Singapore.

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The other dish we’ve tried in the past is Nasi Lemak ($12.90), which is what Yoni chose. His dish consisted of Malaysian coconut rice with curry chicken, beef rendang, anchovies, egg, and pickled veggies. He found all the components of his dish quite tasty (except onions, because he’s not a fan of them) and finished his entire dish.

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I got the Penang Char Keow Teow ($11.90) – stir fried ho-fun with prawns, calamari, fish cake, chinese sausage and bean sprouts. I’m a sucker when it comes to stir-fried broad, thick rice noodles. This was delicious generous amounts of seafood. However, I did find the noodles slightly overdone and the dish overall too greasy.

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We thought it would be a good idea to get a 4th dish to share: Yeung Chow fried rice ($10.90) with shrimp, BBQ pork, chinese sausage, and egg.

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Yummy! But overall bad idea. It was actually really tasty but there was so much food! One common denominator to all 4 dishes: the monstrous portions.  So many leftovers to take home, haha!

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Friendly service, great menu including many drinks, delicious food with enormous portions – would definitely return with more friends!

Malaya Corner (City) on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Last few sights

Sunday, March 02, 2014

After an amazing and extremely filling lunch at Kororo Ramen, Michael and I walked some more in order to check out a few last night minute sights before heading to the airport.

“The Royal Society of Victoria Centenary Monument 1859-1959. This glacial boulder brought from Mawson, Antarctica… has been set up to commemorate the completion of one hundred years of endeavour by the society in its work for the advancement of science, and to mark its special interest in Antarctic exploration and research.”

In other words, we have touched Antarctica!

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Royal Exhibition Building

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And the back of it

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to take a tour of the building. Next door was also the Melbourne Museum, which we also couldn’t visit – next time!

Haha, Porsche parked on the grass in front of of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.

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And our last stop of the day, the Parliament of Victoria.

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Unfortunately, it was already closed to the public by the time we arrived so we simply sat on the steps and enjoyed the passing views.

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And that’s it friends! The last of our Melbourne adventures. After this, we walked back to our apartment to pick up our luggage, hopped on a tram to Southern Cross Station to grab the SkyBus ($30 return) back to the airport!

Had quite a bit of time at the airport so I did get some studying done. Flight home was uneventful and grabbed a cab home from Brisbane Airport.

What a great trip! Melbourne is definitely a city we’d love to come back and visit again when the opportunity arises.

Melbourne: Lunch at Kokoro Ramen

Sunday, March 2, 2014 

Our initial plans of having Japanese ramen at Little Ramen Bar turned out to be a fail since they were closed on Sundays.

Instead, we found ourselves taking a long walk to Kokoro Ramen on Lonsdale St and joining the queue for a table in this busy restaurant!

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As we were a group of only 2, we were able to get a table quite quickly and ahead of some of the groups in queue ahead of us. Thank goodness because we were starving!

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Posters for sale. And I loved the different coloured wood panels on the wall as well.

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Being our first visit and without being given any instructions upon being seated, it took a few minutes for us to realize that we had to go retrieve menus from the front counter and order there as well.

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We took a look around us at the other patrons, and the ramen bowls looked pretty big and filling. Despite a lot of pondering, both of us ended up ordering the same dish. Normally we like to get different dishes as well as a few appetizers to share, especially when writing a review, but not today unfortunately!

There is self-serve water and side dishes, which we helped ourselves to. And then we waited. And waited and waited. Because the restaurant was so busy with quick turnover, it over 20 minutes before our ramen bowls came out.

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But boy, did it look good or what? Tonkotsu Shoyu with pork belly ($10) Thin egg noodles in a thick pork bone and soy sauce based broth served with spring onions, red ginger, black fungi, sesame seed, and ajitama (marinated soft boiled) egg.

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Flavour of the broth was rich and excellent, and definitely not too salty! The pork belly was extremely tender, the egg was cooked just right, and I’m always a fan of fungus.  We didn’t specify while ordering so were given thin noodles. Next time, I would definitely ask for thick noodles as I find the consistency of thicker noodles more appropriate with such a dense and strong broth.

Of course, I’ve never been to Japan so I cannot compare. However, our meals were delicious and extremely satisfying! Would definitely recommend a visit to Kokoro Ramen to anyone who’s interested in delectable Japanese ramen.

Kokoro Ramen on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Shrine of Remembrance, Botanic Gardens, and more

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Today was our last day in Melbourne, with our flight back to Brisbane at 10pm. After checking out of our serviced apartment, Dorcas, and temporarily storing  our luggage with them, we walked across the street to visit the Shrine of Remembrance.

“Built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who servd in World War I and is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. It is a site of annual observances of ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day and is one of the largest war memorials in Australia.”

An impressive structure, even from afar

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View of the front

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View from the front

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Two visitors being given a tour. At their feet is the Stone of Remembrance, engraved with “Greater love hath no man.”

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Every year at 11am on Remembrance Day (Nov 11), sunlight shining through the aperture lights up the word “love” on the Stone of Remembrance below.

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You can actually go upstairs and onto the balcony

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View from above the front entrance, looking into the CBD

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The Cenotaph and Eternal Flame to the right of the front entrance

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View from the back of the balcony

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Walking around the side towards entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens

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Higher up view of the same side

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We then crossed the street to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, a lovely space to enjoy all sorts of activity.

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While we sat in the park to have brunch, we saw an Asian church group gathering singing songs and playing games, a family with 2 children playing soccer, and 2 girlfriends doing yoga.

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A real life ugly duckling? First time I’ve seen a black swan!

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After a short walk through the gardens, we walked towards the city, stopping to properly visit the National Gallery of Victoria – International. Although we didn’t take any photos, we were quite impressed at the collection, and the fact that it was completely free for visitors – highly recommend!

The Arts Centre is right next door. Perhaps we will see a show next time we are in Melbourne.

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By now, we were starting to think about lunch and passed by Federation Square where they were having Pancake Day! Not wanting to spoil our appetites for lunch, we didn’t participate in the festivities which looked like fun.

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We had already decided to search for one of our favourite dishes, Japanese ramen, for lunch. After finding Little Ramen Bar on Urbanspoon with an 87% rating, we walked in anticipation all the way there only to find out they are closed on Sundays! Our bad for not paying more attention. Where did we end up having lunch? Find out on the next blog! 😉

Melbourne: Dessert at Brunetti

Saturday, March 1, 2014 

After a delicious dinner at Bar Santo, Christine suggested that we have dessert at Brunetti (City Square).

She claimed it was one of the most popular dessert shops in Melbourne, how could we possibly say no? Actually, it never takes much convincing for me to agree to any form of dessert.

It was already 8:30pm by the time we arrived and the place was still buzzing with customers. (Photo below was taken the following afternoon)

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There was quite a decent selection to choose from, and I imagine there is even more variety during the day.

I found the layout of the dessert area of the shop a little frustrating and not conducive to both the customer and the staff. Customers just crowd in front of the display cases and when they’ve made up their mind, get the attention of one of the staff to put their order through. It would be much more orderly and perhaps quicker to have the cash to one side. That way, whenever anyone has looked at the selection and made up their mind, they can step to the side to order and free up room for someone else to step in and take a look.

We skipped out on gelato, coffee and other drinks but did get a few desserts, which were all extremely delicious!

Christine got a Tre Gusti with dark, milk and white chocolate mousse. The consistency was lovely and light, melting immediately in your mouth.

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Michael and I got the Rum Baba (back) and a slice of the pear and berry cheesecake (front, unsure of exact name).

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The Rum Baba was a delicate cake that had been soaked in rum/syrup. Although we were personally not fans of this one, we definitely appreciated the look and texture of this cake. In addition, it was neither overwhelmingly sweet nor contained too much rum. I’m sure there are many fans of the Rum Baba!

The cheesecake was fabulous. I loved that pear was the strongest flavour I could taste, which sometimes doesn’t happen in baked goods with pear. I remember the crust was neither too thick nor sweet and even had some chocolate chips. Overall, a very generous slice of not-too-sweet but wonderful cheesecake!

Brunetti is a lovely establishment to visit at any time of the day either by yourself or with company. There is a large selection of reasonably priced delicious desserts to choose from as well as savoury items and drinks. Plenty of seating area outside to watch the city go by as well. It’s too bad there isn’t a Brunetti in Brisbane, I would’ve loved to revisit again!

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Dinner at Bar Santo

Saturday, March 1, 2014

So many restaurants to choose from along Fitzroy St by St Kilda beach, we probably should’ve done a little research before arriving, but not a problem! It was lovely to walk along the street and check out the menus and vibes of each restaurant.

With terrace dining (and not many empty seats), welcoming staff, $5 sangrias, and $20 mains, our decision was easy – Bar Santo for dinner!

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Christine happy to have her MCCEE over with!

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Sangria… cheers!

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As an appetizer we got a plate of calamari with garlic mayo ($12) to share but were too excited to take any photos. Calamari was good but mayo could’ve used a lot more flavour.

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Awaiting mains, which took what seemed like forever to arrive but when they did, they were piping hot. The menu on their website is not current, so unfortunately I don’t have the full names and descriptions of each dish.

For our main courses, Christine got the beef lasagna that came with a salad and chips. She thought it was quite tasty and it was certainly a generous portion.

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Michael decided on a smaller plate of mussels that came with a side of bread. Although the dish was nice, some mussels were quite chewy and he felt the sauce was plain and could’ve used more flavour and some kick.

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And for myself, the eggplant parmegiana, which was piping hot and delicious. However, the dish was a tad too oily for my liking and the salad would’ve been nicer with a little bit of dressing.

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It was overall an enjoyable experience with attentive service and tasty, reasonably priced food.  I would suggest Bar Santo to my friends; however, there are too many other fantastic looking restaurants in the area that I would like to check out before returning.

Bar Santo on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Street art & galleries

Saturday, March 1, 2014

After our tea/coffee break, Mike and I went across the street to check out Hosier Lane and surroundings, known for it’s vibrant street art.

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Definitely a great opportunity for some photographs! Here are a few of my favourite shots.

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Really liked the boy and girl in this shot

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I can spend hours wandering through alleys like this observing the art and looking for hidden stories.

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Down below and up above, something interesting to see everywhere you look.

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Even garbage bins can be art

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Love him

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We then made a quick stop at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). It was then we realized that there are actually NGV sites and the one we visited first (closest one to Federation Square) was of Australia.

We didn’t stay for long, but I really enjoyed looking through this room. Visitors took time to sit down and draw their version of Jan Senbergs’ “Show Us Your World”

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We then walked over the bridge, across Yarra River and passing by Flinders Street Station along the way.

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Enjoyed the view by the river and decided we would definitely walk along it later.

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Not too far away was the National Gallery of Victoria – International.

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Unfortunately, what we didn’t realize was the gallery closed at 5pm and it was already 4:30pm. That was alright! We did a quick walkthrough with plans to return tomorrow. I didn’t take many photos, but loved this stained glass ceiling.

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Christine met up with us shortly after 5pm to hang out for the evening. She agreed to a walk along Southbank Promenade by Yarra River, which was lovely with the view and enticing aromas of food from nearby restaurants.

We ended up stopping at Saké Restaurant & Bar to enjoy a drink. Christine and I had the smallest (but tasty) belinis we’ve ever seen while Mike really enjoyed a sake bomb.

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With the first pangs of hunger, we hopped on a tram towards St Kilda beach for dinner… read about it in our next post! 😀

Melbourne: Chinatown, Alleys, & Federation Square

Saturday, March 1, 2014

After a filling and delicious lunch at Shanghai Street, we took a leisurely stroll through Chinatown.

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A few weeks ago, a friend told us about a neat bar he stumbled upon in one of the random alleyways off Chinatown. He couldn’t tell us what is was called or where it was, but he said it was a cool ‘nerdy’ bar that’s set up similar to a science lab with drinks being served out of flasks and test tubes. He also said it’s at the end of the sketchiest alleyway you might find and that we should definitely try to find it.

So this was the first random alley we decided to check out…

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Love the art, although there was not another soul in sight

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Turned the corner to what looked to be a dead end

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And what do you know? We found it, called The Croft Institute! Haha, what a coincidence. Unfortunately, it was still too early and wasn’t opened yet.

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Really liked this

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Leaving Chinatown to head into Federation Square!

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Liked this view of the tram and old architecture

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In the atrium at Federation Square. Little sales going on and cafes to take a break at.

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We headed into the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

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Fun going through the history of moving image!

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Outside, Federation Square. Many people passing through, hanging out, visiting nearby attractions

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Now middle afternoon, we took a quick break in the atrium at In a Rush Espresso to recharge before continuing on 😉

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Portugese tart, iced tea and fresh fruit juice

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The adventure will continue in the next blog, thanks for reading! 🙂

Melbourne: Lunch at Shanghai Street

Saturday, March 1, 2014

After a morning of walking around, we were definitely in the mood for a delicious lunch. And we already knew what we wanted – dumplings. It’s Melbourne right? There’s got to be amazing Asian cuisine around. The only problem was, where can we get great dumplings.

With an 89% rating on Urbanspoon, our decision was easy. A short walk soon found us joining the queue outside of Shanghai Street. Simple rules in the world of food: If you want good food, go where the queues are.

(Took this photo after lunch, no longer a line up outside)

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A bustling little shop with small tables and limited seating area. Staff handed us menus while we waited in line and took our orders when we were ready. Luckily, we were near the beginning of the queue and turnover was quick.

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We were soon settled into a small table for 2 and awaited our food. The worst thing about going to a dumpling restaurant with only 2 people? You only have enough belly room to try a limited number of items… unless you want to take away lots of leftovers.

Xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings) was our first dish to come out. Piping hot and filled with delicious broth. Even with utmost gentleness we had a few dumpling leaks, a shame! Although the dumpling skins were nice and thin, I wish they were a slightly more sturdier.

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Our second dish (and last) dish was fried pork buns. These had a much thicker, chewier skin but were also filled with soup. Take care with these ones! Bite the top off and suck the soup off rather than munching it directly or you’ll end up squirting hot soup in someone’s eye! 😉

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We did want to try the egg custard buns but unfortunately they were unavailable.

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The fried pork buns seemed quite popular as many people around us were enjoying them as well. While we were eating, a couple waiting to be seated even approached us to say those looked really appetizing and asked what the name of the dish was so they could order it too.

Both types of dumplings were generous in size, hot and flavoursome with good texture. Although quite busy and you may have to queue, the line moves quickly and the food is definitely worth the wait. Did I mention everything is also very reasonably priced? Less than $20 for our dishes that left us stuffed! The staff was consistently pleasant and we certainly left pleased and looking forward to a future visit. Our only regret was not being to try more dishes!

Shanghai Street Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Markets, Boats, & Books

Saturday, March 1, 2014

With the MCCEE behind him and after 24 hours of crummy viral gastroenteritis, Michael was luckily feeling much better. Finally going out to see Melbourne!

Started the day with some coffee before hitting Queen Victoria Market. Hey handsome 🙂

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The market was very large with a lot of produce and products, however, we both found it lacking in character.

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One of our favourite markets is Eumundi Market and we were hoping it would be more along that vibe. We weren’t interested in shopping, so I’m sure there are many people who would like this market a lot more than we did. It would also be a different story if we lived in Melbourne, because we’d definitely buy our fruits and vegetables from here.

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However, we enjoy markets for their sights and smells, especially for the food. There were a few shops within the market and a small food court off the main market. We ended up enjoying some dutch pancakes for late breakfast ($9.50, a little pricey). Didn’t eat much because planning on having lunch soon!

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Would we visit Queen Victoria Market again? Don’t think so, only if it was to buy groceries!

We then hopped on the free tram and headed down to Melbourne Docklands to walk along the marina and check out the surroundings.

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A lot of development going on in the area, I particularly liked the purple windows of these new buildings.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to own a yacht? 😛

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It was morning so many of the restaurants weren’t opened yet, but would definitely love to come back down here during the evening and have a meal by the water!

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Melbourne Star Observation Wheel just a few minutes away

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We were soon back on the free tram and headed back into the CBD. Our next stop was the State Library of Victoria, we loved it!

What a great atmosphere. People hanging out. Red beanbags scattered across the lawn.

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The architecture was beautiful, I would study so hard in a library like this.

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The facilities were great. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a library packed with people of all ages – studying, browsing, hanging out, on the computer, etc. There’s even a chess room!

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There were also a number of galleries to check out. And the best part? Free for everyone!

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Aaand time for a lunch break! Read about it in my next post, thanks for visiting!

Melbourne: Quest on Dorcas

Mike and I were in Melbourne for the MCCEE on Friday, February 28th. Poor Mike got gastroenteritis the night before his exam and wrote it in horrible discomfort. As for myself, the MCCEE deserves its own blog post, which I will be writing at a later date.

During our time in Melbourne (Feb 26 – March 02), we stayed at Quest on Dorcas, serviced apartments right off St Kilda Rd by the Shrine of Remembrance. And we highly recommend!

Well equipped, lovely, and clean apartments. Quiet, comfortable, and close to the tram station with everything we needed nearby. Staff were hospitable and we were actually upgraded on arrival. We had absolutely no complaints regarding our stay, however, it would be nice to have free wifi and/or newer TVs so we could load watch own entertainment via USB. Thank you Dorcas for a great stay! We will definitely choose you again if ever in Melbourne!

Here are a few photos of our apartment:

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Stayed in the first couple of nights in order to focus on studying. Right after we checked in, we walked to the nearest Coles in order to stock up on groceries and the apartment had everything we needed to make our meals. Our only suggestion would be to have better knives please, it’s hard to cut veggies and fruit with serrated knives!

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The view of Eureka Skydeck 88 from our apartment

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And the lovely night view of CBD

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We didn’t actually go out to see Melbourne until the weekend, those posts coming up! 😀 Thank you for reading and definitely keep Dorcas in mind if you are looking for a place to stay. It is also extremely walkable to the CBD and all attractions 🙂

Valentine’s Day dinner

February 14, 2014

Although completely consumed with studying, we did put time aside for ourselves to celebrate Valentine’s Day. A slightly silly holiday, as you should be celebrating your love everyday, it was still nice to do something a little more special than usual.

I decided on getting ‘us‘ a ‘gift‘ – case of 12 bottles of wine, yay! I personally picked a mix of reds, whites, and sparkling – which we will be enjoying (hopefully if all my choices are good) throughout the next months!

Flowers, a card, and a delicious home cooked meal from Mike. We also cracked the first bottle of wine, a Kooks Shiraz 2012, given the stamp of approval from the both of us.

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Glazed beef tenderloin with walnut mash and grilled veggies. The walnut flavour was great and the beef so tender, so yum! Thank you dear!

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You can clearly see how tired and tired we are in this photo. 😛

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Someone might think, “Why not roses?” Because lilies are my favourite, they are large and beautiful, will bloom over days, and leave your house smelling amazing!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! What did you do to celebrate?

Paediatric Medicine: End of Rotation 1

Hi friends 🙂

Today marked my last day of Rotation 1 – Paediatric Medicine, which I completed at a large tertiary hospital.

8 weeks on a variety of teams, soaking in as much as possible, in as little time as possible.

  • 2 weeks in General Paediatrics
  • 1.5 weeks in Emergency Department
  • 0.5 weeks in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • 1 week in General Surgery
  • 1 week in Gastroenterology
  • 1 week in Oncology
  • 1 week in Respirology

I definitely enjoyed some placements more than others, for a variety of reasons including: personal interest, consultants and senior staff more interested in teaching, and the learning opportunities provided.

For this rotation, we had a number of assessments, including 3 mini clinical examinations (mini-CEX, each worth 10%): neonatal (well-baby check), short case, and long case.

My well-baby check was performed an adorable newly born girl and her lovely parents. She was a little hungry and crying during my examination but was perfectly healthy.

My short case was a respiratory exam on a 1 year old girl who presented with noisy breathing. She was recovering from bronchiolitis and by chance also had a number of neurological findings with associated developmental delays.

And lastly, my long case was a young adolescent girl who presented with fevers on a background of complex mastoiditis leading to the severe complications of intracranial abscesses and venous sinus thrombosis. Incidentally, she had many features consistent with Cushing’s which led to additional discussion points.

The feedback I received from all 3 of my assessments were positive, so hopefully my grades will reflect that!

And today was the big day. A multiple choice exam of 75 questions worth 50% and 2 OSCE stations, each worth 10%.

The written exam was overall fair and very representative of our teachings this rotation.

The clinical exams each had 2 minutes perusal followed by 8 minutes of discussion:

  • Case #1: A 5 week old girl who came in with signs of sepsis.
  • Case #2: A 5 year old girl with acute exacerbation of asthma.

For each case, we had to discuss what additional information we would like on history and examination, what our differential diagnoses were, what investigations we wanted to perform, and how we’d like to manage the patient.

Those 10 minutes go by in the blink of an eye, and I always walk away thinking, “Should’ve said that, could’ve done that, forgot to ask about this, didn’t mention that.”

Only time will tell how I did this rotation! Hopefully hard work paid off.

In the meantime… I would love to catch up on my sleep. However, before I do that, I need to catch up on my blogging! Thanks for reading! 🙂