Moments back in Ottawa

We had a few goals this time back in Ottawa:

  1. Spend time with family
  2. Plan our wedding
  3. Relax

Did we obtain our goals? Yes!

One of the things I was most excited about was seeing my grandfather. As some of you may know, my grandfather has been deaf my entire life. He had sudden loss of hearing shortly before I was born – I suspect the hearing loss was precipitated by a viral illness. He had contemplated a cochlear implant at that time but decided against it… until last year.

With the suggestion, help, and support of the family, my grandfather proceeded with a cochlear implant surgery on November 4, 2015. My mom sent me photo updates, including some very cute ones of my grandpa bundled up on the hospital bed before going into surgery. Unfortunately, I do not have those photos at this time.

I’m sure he was feeling quite anxious at the time, but what was even more prominent in his facial expression was optimism!

Yes, we are THAT family when a family member is at the hospital.


Here are some photos of my grandpa after coming out of surgery – smiling and hopeful 🙂 And aside from ugly stitches, he experienced no complications!



After a month of healing, his implant was then activated, tests were completed, and he started (and still continues) his audiological training, with help from my uncles. What started off as indiscriminate clicking noises and echoes eventually became recognisable sounds and words, yay!

Of course, there were frustrations. My grandpa described not being able to set the perfect program for his implant, often returning from his appointments with more background noise than before, sometimes feeling dejected and unwilling to train. The annoyance of having the external transmitter continuously fall off – the magnet is not as strong as you think! He has tried different methods of securing the transmitter but it remains an inconvenience.

Upon coming home, for the first in my life, I had (mostly) a verbal conversation with my grandfather! By speaking slower, enunciating well, and using shorter sentences, I was able to freely converse with him! My entire life I have always spoken to him via notes (piles of paper and books have amassed over my lifetime) which take considerable time to write – what a change! My written Vietnamese is at the higher level it is today thanks to the dedication of my grandparents to teach me and the numerous opportunities to put it to use when speaking with my grandpa. I am also quite lucky because my grandpa said my voice is easier for him to understand compared to other family members. Now we can just sit and talk, with an occasional written note, how awesome is that?

I’m surprised at the lack of photos from our trip back to Canada this time… but here are a few fun moments back in Canada!

Note: From March 05-12th, we went to Turks & Caicos for a one week vacation. It was amazing and will be have its own post!

Target was having their liquidation sales during our time home. The sales were actually terrible and the cash registers were always freezing. Here we are waiting in line forever!


We came home just after lunar new year. One of my favourite Vietnamese new year’s treats is Banh Tet (savoury glutinous rice with mung bean + pork or sweet banana filling, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed). One of the best things to do with leftovers is panfry the savoury mung bean and pork ones until its nice and crispy… thanks mom for the treat!


And belated new year red pockets from the family, thank you!


Having this little one so very excited every time you walk in the door. And constantly following you around and begging you for food at every opportunity. I miss Benny!





Forgetting how dry Canada is! Cracked, itchy, stinging skin even with moisturizer!


Enjoying some things you can only get in Canada, like ketchup chips, one of my favourites!


They have even come out with ketchup Doritos… although I am not a fan.



Regular stops at my favourite shop – Tim Hortons. I don’t drink coffee but dang do I miss the cheap, delicious, variety of donuts, pastries, and bagels. Now I want a bagel…



And of course, with Tim Hortons comes Rolllll up the rim to win! Probably one of the most Canadian photos I’ve ever taken…


Visiting my favourite bakery in Ottawa, Macarons et Madeleines, now at a new location! The best croissants, caneles, and macarons in town. Expensive, but delicious!




Officially asking these wonderful ladies to be a part of my bridal party!

When my sister agreed to be my maid of honour 🙂


Had to ask my cousin Janet over Skype because she’s studying in London


Catching up over food and having 2 of my best friends say yes to being my bridesmaids!


My sister went to Japan over her Christmas holidays and was kind to bring back some Japanese chocolates for us to try!


Limited free time but still catching up with friends! Sushi at Kiko Sushi Bar – expensive but tasty!


A visit to another favourite with Mike and Julia – Art Is In – where my brother now works! Amazing food and great atmosphere!



Ruixi took me to a hole in the wall (Hung Sum Restaurant) for the best dim sum I’ve ever had in Ottawa – literally!



Visiting my dad at Beechwood Cemetery for the first time in a long time!


My sister had bought my dad these ornamental dog figurines (representing us) for his garden when he was alive. We brought them out to his grave years ago and although a little faded, they are still around!


While planning a wedding, still making time to go on dates with my love! We did get a bunch of wedding planning finalised, but I will save that for another post!

A skate on the Rideau Canal for the first time in many years, all 16km – how we’ve missed it!


Waiting in line at one of these huts…


For some Beavertails and hot chocolate – not a visit on the canal until you’ve had this!




Of course, we had to have a lunch date at Play, one of our favourite restaurants in Ottawa.


Mike’s newfound love for beef tartare meant he had to have it at Play!


The food and service almost never disappoints!



Lots of silly moments with my family



Quality time with the family… delicious onion ring poutine and burgers at The Works!


Mom’s Com Hen (basket clam rice) – delicious broth, eaten with rice, ginger, shallots, alfalfa, pineapple, peppers, starfruit, mango, and basket clams!


My favourite brand (President’s Choice) of hors d’oeuvres! Just cannot find anything like that here


Can’t visit home without a trip to all you can eat sushi – a family favourite!




We didn’t have any family events when I was back home, but I did get a chance to stop by and see my Uncle 2’s family!


I also had the chance to see most of my other family members at different opportunities, which was nice!

A weekend out on Buck Lake to be with Mike’s family… always indulgent and fun!

Focus of attention on the newest member of the Brown family – Rinoa




She look like a doll or what?




But their cat… their cat is always trying to kill me. One day, I will need an epipen…


A last meal out with Mike’s parents, introducing them to play!


Our last photo together at the airport heading back to Australia – unfortunately my brother felt unwell and stayed in the car! 😦


Looking back now… what an unbelievably short trip 😦 Until next year!

Onwards to Ottawa!

February 24, 2015

Woke up, checked out, and headed to the airport. We were pretty excited! Dropped off our car and checked in without any hassles. Perks of being a Qantas Club Member – priority check in and lounge access!

Had some breakfast in the lounge and soon we were boarding our flight for Sydney. Shortly after that… onwards to Canada!

The flight from Sydney to Vancouver is always a long one. Benadryl helps to knock me out for most of it and the rest is spent on the computer or watching in-flight entertainment.

Had a crazy health scare during the long haul flight, but that is a story for another time.

Landed in Vancouver and passed through Customs & Immigration without any issues. And of course, we had Tim Hortons immediately 😉 Next thing we knew, we were landing in Ottawa and seeing our families!

So nice to be home!

Flying to Brisbane!

February 23, 2015

The first 5 weeks of work passed by like a blink of an eye. Even so, we were already ready for a vacation, bring it on!

Hung out in the Qantas Lounge at the airport before flying back to Brisbane! Here’s the view!


We picked up our rental car at the airport and checked in at our hotel – Riverside Hotel Southbank. Clean, modern, good size, and exactly what we needed! Had a daytime nap and rested in bed watching the Oscars.

So nice to being back in Brisbane! After resting, we had a lovely walk around South Bank, bought some Max Brenner chocolates for family, and stopped for a snack at Ahmet’s. Their dinner banquets are definitely worth trying friends!

Excited for food!



Freshly baked Turkish bread glazed with butter and herbs ($5.50)


With a side of Baba ghanoush ($4.90) – one of our favourite kinds of dip, made with roasted eggplant


We also got some Mucver – Green zucchini fritters with tomato salsa, fresh mint & dill yoghurt ($11). Tasty, but much greasier than we personally like.


Later that night, we went over to Matt and Kristen’s for dinner, joined by James and Kim! So, so nice to see and catch up with them! Felt like forever since spending time with them! Matt and Kristen made yummy chili con carne, James and Kim brought 2 kinds of cheesecake and we brought some wine. So delicious and filling, and in great company too! We miss you guys!

No pictures…sadface 😦

Moments of 2015 in Rocky

Have been an incredible slack at regular blogging 😦

Here are a few happenings since moving to Rockhampton and before going on vacation!

A quick visit from Stacy and Christine during their drive up to Townsville at the beginning of the year!


Officially starting work as doctors and being featured in the weekly hospital publication 😛 with approximately 30 other wonderful colleagues!


Experienced ice skating in Australia for the first time on January 18th. Winter Magic Ice Skating in Rockhampton – $18 for 1.5 hours on mediocre ice, in warm weather – the worst rental skates and ice conditions I’ve ever experienced (as a Canadian) but still so much fun! Being one the best skaters on the ice for once is pretty thrilling too 😛


Thanks to everyone who came out!


The Canadians have never sweated so much while skating 😦


We have never had so many Huntsman spiders join our household until moving to Rockhampton. It is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. You know the well known fact that everything is a nope nope in Australia? That fact is correct.








Laugh at me or not. Those photos were taken on different days and were different spiders! 😦

I have also had the opportunity of making many new friends and getting to know my old ones better, including one of my best – Amanda! ❤


We can often be found enjoying delicious food together, including this tasty beef wasabi pizza from Pizza Capers 😉


Visiting Mt Jim Crow with friends on February 7th. A gorgeous view!




Looks more dangerous than it really is


Pretty man with a pretty view


We even caught a rainbow…


Got nasty mosquito bites


And ran into this fella lazily feasting


The gang who climbed Mt Jim Crow!


A few beautiful beach days were enjoyed!


A quiet Valentine’s Day this year, as we do every year. I was working and Michael was off. I came home to a delicious home made dinner and some of our favourite red wine! Thank you love!




Let us take a minute to remember Tropical Cyclone Marcia that hit Yeppoon on February 20th as a Category 4 and Rockhampton as a Category 3 later that day. Michael was meant to start work in the afternoon but it was too dangerous to go in. I was in hospital as the storm was passing through, here’s a short clip…

Received this photo from a friend who was home to give you an idea of the eye passing through!


Many homes and businesses were affected by the storm, causing at least $750 million in structural damages. Lost power and water affected people for days, even weeks. Not to mention, the heat was unbearable!

The silver lining? Quality time and dinners in the dark. Very romantic no?


We left for Brisbane on February 23, 2015. Still with no power but thankful we had clean, running water the entire time.

More adventures coming soon!

Anytime at the Giddy Goat

Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar is a favourite for many in Rocky and the perfect place to head with your family or friends at any time. Breakfast, lunch, midday coffee and snack, dinner, and late night drinks.


With an expansion upstairs open Wednesday – Sunday, lots of room for everyone!

Not to mention they also have attractive specials including:

  • $5 steaks on Thursdays with $1 sides (coleslaw, corn, caesar salad, mashed potatoes, onion rings)
  • $2 tacos on Wednesdays (chicken, beef, fish, falafel)
  • Well priced drinks and daily special menus


We have visited a number of times now, including on Thursday for the $5 steak special. Incredibly good deal, although you cannot expect an amazing quality steak 😉


We have also stopped by during the day for coffee and cakes to catch up with friends.

Decent quality cakes available in the cabinet with numerous options and fair prices!




The coffees ($3.50-4.80) aren’t bad and the slushies ($3-4.50) are tasty, although a tad on the sweet side.

There are also some pretty tasty lunch items including gourmet burgers and healthier options!

I was fooled. Ordered the Salmon, lettuce, avocado, red onion, feta and aioli ($14) thinking it was a fish burger – but it was smoked salmon! Still pretty tasty!


My favourite type of roasted pork is the old school Asian styled. But this Crispy Pork Belly Salad with mixed lettuce, green beans, coriander, crispy noodles and honey soy dressing ($16) puts a nice spin on my traditional favourite!


After numerous visits to the Giddy Goat, we have yet to be disappointed by the wait times for food and drinks. The service has also been impeccable – friendly and prompt. Now that we are settled in Rocky, will continue being a regular for sure!

Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

What’s it like being a doctor?

How’s your job? Do you like it? Are the hours crazy? Are the nurses nice? Are the surgeons mean?

Just some of the repeated questions I’ve received from family and friends since starting work as a medical intern. 😉

I was on the General Medicine ward for my first 5 weeks. Then we went on our annual 5 week holiday (which I’ll definitely tell you more about later) and now I’m currently week 8/10 of another Gen Med rotation. Where has the time gone?!

First day on the job… I knew absolutely nothing and no one, it was fantastic. (Not). I spent every day imitating a sponge as best as I could. Trying really hard not to look too much like a fool while absorbing everything I was seeing around me. Trying to remember patients and their issues, staff members’ names and their roles, which forms to fill and how, where to find equipment and leave specimens, etc.

It was exhausting. For the entirety of my first week, I got home, ate dinner and immediately fell asleep.

However, like many other tasks in life, I gained familiarity and through that, confidence. With time and experience, I’ve even built some competence! 😉 These days, not only do I leave work on time, I also don’t take work home with me AND I can stay up for hours after having dinner!

Some of you may have heard the saying, “Interns are just pens with legs.” The reality is, there is some truth in most medical stereotypes. I mean, we do have to…

  • Make sure the patient list is up to date
  • Write the chart notes during ward rounds and patient reviews
  • Fill out request forms, such as pathology, imaging, referrals, etc
  • Complete the discharge summaries

So yes, a lot of writing is involved. But can you imagine if this pen ran out of ink?

Who would keep people up to date with patient notes? How would patients get their required tests? How would GPs and other doctors know what happened to their patient and what follow up was required?

As the ones who spend the most time on the ward, and through the above roles, we often end up spending a lot of time with patients and their families. We are the first point of contact for nursing staff in caring for patients. We help to clarify questions and provide more information. We listen to and acknowledge concerns, even if only to provide a joke and share a smile. Not to say the senior doctors don’t do all the above and more, it’s still a rewarding experience for us junior doctors.

So yes, we are at the bottom of the totem pole. Some days you feel it, but most days you’re definitely an essential part of the team.

Thai Tanee – Great Thai in Rocky

We love Thai food. And we were very grateful to hear that there was a great Thai restaurant in Rockhampton. We were even happier to feel the same way after trying it once ourselves… then a few more times after that. 😛 You see where this is going don’t you?

Thai Tanee definitely has some of the best Thai cuisine we’ve enjoyed. If you’re in Rocky wondering what to have for dinner, definitely head over and check out Thai Tanee!

The restaurant is spacious and adorned with Thai decor, with plenty of room for small and large groups.



Always promptly greeted at the door by the staff and shown to a table. The service is always friendly with frequent checks to make sure we are enjoying the food and have everything we need.

Love the gold bamboo cutlery! Also noticed the traditional layout/use of spoon and fork – spoon in your right hand to bring food to your mouth, fork in your left hand to cut/push food onto your spoon. No chopsticks, but available if you ask!


We have had the pleasure of tasting many of their entrees, including:

Thai Spring Rolls – large, not greasy, and filled with minced beef, clear noodles and veggies. Love having these piping hot.


Chicken Satay ($10) – tender, moist, nicely flavoured and even better with the accompanying satay sauce and cucumber salad.


They also have the most delightful Curry Puffs ($9) – easily our favourite entree on the menu. Their Chicken Toast and Golden Triangles ($9) are good as well, but lacks the flavour punch of the entrees previously mentioned.

The main dishes are a decent portion for one person, but even better when shared because… variety!


Pad Thai ($15) – one of our favourite dishes. This stir fried rice noodle dish might be soggy on a bad day (too much sauce) but the flavour is always on point.


Pad See Ew ($15) – it’s always a toss up between this dish and Pad Thai. Love the sweetness and wok-flavour in this one!


Thai Fried Rice ($15) – can’t go wrong!


We’ve tried 2 of their soups. Tom Yum ($9)


…as well as Tom Kha Gai ($9). Both decent, but not as flavourful as we’ve had in the past. Too many other good dishes on the menu, we wouldn’t be quick to order the soups again.

Curries are our favourite. Green Curry ($18) is our favourite hot one – coconut milk based and full of flavour!


Our favourite mild curry is the Massaman Beef ($18) – beef is so tender it literally falls apart and the peanuts provide a great contrast in texture and flavour. Reminds me a lot of a Viet dish called ‘Bo Kho’

Definitely try the Thai Iced Tea or Iced Coffee! Can be rich with the added condensed/evaporated milk. My favourite is the Thai Iced Lemon Tea – no milk and very refreshing! Beers and wines are reasonably priced as well.

Stuck without dinner ideas? Definitely recommend dining at Thai Tanee! If you have a group of 6 or more people, consider trying one of the banquet options. $30-35 per person for a set menu that allows you to try a variety of popular dishes and leaves you stuffed!

Thai Tanee on Urbanspoon

Orientation Week

January 12-16, 2015

Looking back, our one week orientation in preparation for our new job as medical interns went by in a blur. Was it useful? I sure thought so at the time. But when you have so much information being thrown at you with the expectation that you will remember everything – sometimes it feels like pouring water over a duck’s head… nothing sticks.

Important aspects I remember:

  • A chance to meet our colleagues, the other new interns – at social events as well as part of orientation. It’s nice to start a new job as (at least) acquaintances rather than strangers. Also a good idea to socialise when you’ve just relocated to a new city 😉
  • Meeting the staff of the Medical Education Unit (MEU) – they look after us and make sure we are alive and well… and still do!
  • Cultural Practice Program – an introduction to the culture and practices of those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander. Amazingly, I have never received such a talk through out medical school. Even simple knowledge like how their family hierarchy works can make a difference in the care of those patients.
  • Listening to a panel of 2014 interns sharing their tips – interesting at the time… but honestly can’t remember everything everyone said.
  • Skills rotation – refreshing our suturing, cannulation skills, etc.
  • Spending time with the previous interns on the ward we are rostered to. Good to get handover and tips. Would’ve been even better to spend more time with them getting hands on experience prior to starting our first shift.

Everything else… can’t say I remember much of it now. Not to say I didn’t find it useful at the time, but we really had to learn most aspects of our jobs on the go. Listening about how to do paperwork or order tests is never the same as going through the process of doing it yourself.

Then it was pretty much ‘hit the ground running’ on our first shift. Exhausting because you are so unfamiliar with everyone and everything. But by the end of first week, everyone gets the hang of things.

Do we become smarter? Knowledge-wise? …Maybe. Administratively? Most definitely!

People joke that medical interns are ‘pens with legs’ … sometimes, I don’t disagree! 😛

Joking aside, my first few months working as a doctor has been great. Impossible to sum it up in a single blog post but I hope to share stories in the future!