Graduation presents

December 21, 2014

After lunch at Wagaya, our families came back to our house to visit – a first time for my family from Perth!

In addition, our families took that opportunity to give us amazing, generous, graduation gifts – thank you so very much!

My mom gave us our gifts from my grandparents first – as they are the oldest and couldn’t attend in person – thank you Ong Ba Ngoai! We will put the money towards our future and wedding planning!

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I received a nice watch and card from Ong Ba Ba

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Thank you to Ong Ba Ut for their generous gifts – we will put it towards our relocation and setting up a new life in Rockhampton!

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A very special gift to Michael from his parents, a laminated card that his mom has kept safely for many years

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My mom is the best, as always!

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With the best card 😛

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She gave us each a Pilot retractable fountain pen

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Michael also got a beautiful dark purple DKNY tie from my mom, and I received 2 Pandora beads – thank you mom!

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Thank you to Di Loan for your lottery tickets! We were really hoping to win, but alas!

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Also a very special thank you to Ong Ba Hai (Ong Ba Ut’s best friends) and Nghiem for sending me cards and gifts!

Some family photos

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I also want to share the graduation gifts from Michael’s family! We received them on December 11, 2014, during our beach getaway at Noosa with his family 🙂

Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan gave us a generous gift to treat ourselves out to a celebratory graduation dinner – thank you! It was really too bad that our graduation date was changed to a week later this year compared to previous years. Unfortunately, they couldn’t attend but I’m sure they had a great time on their cruise!

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Uncle Rick and Aunt Wendy gave us the cutest Christmas ornaments. They definitely went on our tree and will be on our tree every year!

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Uncle Jim and Aunt Brenda gave us the novel “Breathless” written by Dr Todd – a thoracic surgeon who performed many of Canada’s early lung transplant operations.

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Thank you so much to everyone for all your love, gifts, and kind words! Treasured forever!

Graduation – Family Photos

December 21, 2014

With no other graduation ceremonies taking place, the University of Queensland campus was beautifully quiet for our family to take photos at a leisurely pace.

Campus is beautiful with sandstone and green back drops. For just one camera, a tripod and me running back and forth in heels to set up – I think the pictures turned out pretty good! What do you think?

Some of my favourites 🙂

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My pretty mom!

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Who knew this day would come?

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And always take the opportunities for pretty photos! That’s my rule 😉

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Everyone was ready for lunch by the time we were done taking photos – off to Wagaya for Japanese food!

We had a made a reservation and had our private room, which was nice!

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Sake for everyone, right mom? 😛

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Very happy everyone loved their food! It’s one of our favourite places and we were really happy to share with our families

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After lunch, we came back to our place… more about that in the next post!

MBBS Graduation – we’re doctors!

December 20, 2014

After a long journey, MIchael and I officially became doctors – yay!

Our graduation ceremony took place at the University of Queensland campus and attended by Michael’s parents, my mom, Ong Ba Ba, and Di Loan.

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Micheal receiving his “diploma” and being congratulated by the Chancellor. You actually receive an empty cylinder on stage and receive a packet of documents, including your diploma/testamur once you leave stage 🙂

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My turn 🙂 I didn’t faceplant on stage, success!

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As with every university graduation ceremony I’ve attended, the graduates are asked to turn around, face the audience, and give our family and friends a standing ovation. To thank them for their never ending love and support, for helping us achieve our dreams, and celebrating with us. This is a moment of happiness for many students, but a bittersweet moment for me. Happy to have succeeded but with tears stinging my eyes, remembering my father who’s no longer on this earth to see his daughter graduate. I know he would’ve been extremely happy and proud 🙂

My Ong Ba was quite exhausted after the long ceremony

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With a class of over 400 people, you can imagine how crowded the campus was!

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Family photo!

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My biggest support

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My other half, my meant to be!

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We decided not to hang around for long as it was quite crowded and hot, plus everyone was tired, but we were able to grab a few photos with our friends on the way out!

With the lovely Sarah 🙂

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Josiah and his family are amazing people – so warm and gracious – will never forget their hospitality!

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Will be working with Chuan in Rockhampton in 2015! Woo hoo for getting jobs!

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Can’t forget these 2, Fiona & Smiley, PBL 25 represent from Day 1. Missing Christine (elsewhere), James (on his honeymoon) and Kristen (with her baby girl)!

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And of course, Tom!

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While getting our diplomas framed, we ran into Lauren!

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Woo, we did it!

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Part of the reason why we were eager to leave was because we had already made plans. My Ong Ba Ut couldn’t attend our graduation (not enough tickets) so we had decided to come back the following day (Sunday) to take some family photos together. We would dress up again and come back to campus to take photos at our own leisure. It would work out perfectly because our graduation was the last ceremony of the year so campus would be completely empty.

So with that plan in mind, we went back to my family’s apartment to celebrate!

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Lots of toasts!

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Lots of “1-2-3-Voooooo!” (1-2-3 cheers!)

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Michael and I had wanted to take our families out to dinner to thank them. But everyone was tired and we decided to get McDonald’s takeaway instead. With wine. Ended the day super classy!

Thank you again to all my family and friends for your love and support! Couldn’t have made it to today without all of you!

Malaya Corner and meeting for the first time

December 19, 2014

Dinner out with my family from Perth, and they were meeting Michael and his family for the first time!

Michael and I suggested Malaya Corner for dinner as it has a lots of seating, and tasty, generous dishes for a very reasonable price.

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Unfortunately, some of my family members really didn’t like their dishes and jokingly vowed never to return 😛

Some of our dishes

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Even though the food may not have been the best, the company sure was!

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I don’t remember the last time I had a meal out together with both my Ong Ba Ba and Ong Ba Ut, making memories for a lifetime!

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Glad Michael and his parents had the chance to meet some of my family as well!

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We walked over to King George Square after dinner to enjoy the Christmas Lights Spectacular show

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Then walked my family back to their apartment. It was getting late and everyone was ready to call it a night.

We did, however, take a few more family photos!

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Thank you to Ong Ba Ba for treating us to our first family meal out together! ❀

Family arrives from Perth!

Around close to midnight on December 18, 2014, my mom and I greeted our family arriving from Perth. Welcome to Brisbane!

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My great aunt (grandma’s sister) and uncle Ut (Ong Ba Ut), my great uncle (grandma’s brother) and aunt Ba (Ong Ba Ba), and my Aunt Loan (Ong Ba’s daughter). Who’ve traveled to Brisbane in order to celebrate our graduation with us!

I helped them rent a 2 bedroom serviced apartment at Lexicon Oaks in the city, which they were really happy with. Spacious, had all the amenities, a gorgeous city view, and in great location. Consistently good customer service as well, would highly recommend if you’re looking for a place to stay in the city!

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It was already so late by the time we got back to their apartment, we called it a night with plans to catch up the next day.


December 19, 2014

How good is it to catch up with family?

Ong Ba has Alzheimer’s disease. Although he may have difficulties remembering the conversations we just had (sometimes starting with, “Who are you again?” haha), he is such a delight with his humour and stories! Although he doesn’t remember me as he wasn’t around when I was growing up, he fondly remembers my mom! And my grandparents, aunts and uncles back in Canada.

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My Ba Ut, who has always supported me and my decision to come to Australia to study. She is eerily similar to my grandma in some ways – especially her cadence 😛

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Us with Ong Ba Ba – Ba Ba is well known in the family for her style and loud hospitality with guests

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My mom made a very simple (yet delicious) lunch of pumpkin soup and ginger chicken with rice. It was really nice to have a large sit down, family meal which conversing in Viet – something I’ve missed!

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Family photo 🙂 The only person I haven’t mentioned yet, Ong Ut! Always ready with a joke and a laugh!

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With full tummies after lunch, it was decided that we would go out for dinner later that day, to officially meet Michael and his parents… dun dun dun 🙂

A tasty catch Breakfast at Chouquette

December 17, 2014

It’s silly that it’s taken me so many months to share such a gem – but here it is! Now that we are living in Rockhampton, I can only daydream of having delicious French pastries again soon!

Founded and managed by Lara Sample, Chouquette opened in 2006… I didn’t visit until 2014, what a shame! At least we got a few visits in before moving away.

With the skills of French-born and trained bakers and pastry chefs, alongside Australian staff, Chouquette consistently produces authentic and high quality delights. It’s easy to see why customers return again and again.

In 2013, Chouquette’s sister business, Crust & Co, opened in Wilston as a wholesale business that also caters to the public. If you know me, then I’ve definitely told you how much we love Crust & Co! Chouquette is no different, with the bonus of more options and atmosphere!

The small bakery in New Farm opens at 6:30am Weds-Sunday. Get in early for the best selection of goodies, as well as a seat! There are a handle of seats indoors and a few more outside on the sidewalk. Definitely not a place to set up shop and study for the day, but a bite to eat and catch up with friends is perfect! You will also notice a consistent stream of customers come in for take away goodies through out the day.

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The variety makes the selection process difficult. Do I want cakes? Or pastries? Or bread? It often ends with, “I’ll have a bit of everything!”

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Service has always been fantastic and one of the few opportunities I’ve had to hear and speak French since moving to Australia!

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Prices are definitely on the higher side than what I’m used to, especially compared to back in Canada. But once in a while is definitely worth it 😉

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One of my favourite breakfast options are their filled baguettes! Fresh, delicious, crispy baguette with a variety of toppings. They are max $9.00 and one of my favourites is salami, provolone, basil, lettuce and tomato.

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We love all the pastries, although haven’t had the opportunity to try many of their cakes yet.

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Here a few yums!

Mille feuille – good cream but the pastry is a little too dark.

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Canele – beautiful and tasty! Although the ones we’ve had at Macarons et Madeleines in Ottawa will always be the best!

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Good coffees

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And of course, can’t forget to mention the good company! 😉

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Definitely worth a visit, I know I’ll be coming back when I have the chance!

Chouquette Patisserie & Café on Urbanspoon

Family trip to Stradbroke Island!

December 16, 2014

Stradbroke Island holds a special place in our hearts. Not only is it one of our favourite places in Australia, it was also where Michael proposed to me on March 12, 2014!

We were very excited to be able to show our parents the beautiful island and the place we became engaged 🙂

There’s not much to say because the photos speak for themselves!

Ferry ride over

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Ran into so many beached jellyfish

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Look at the gorgeous water!

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My mom is not a fan of midday beach fun because it’s so hot and the sun is so strong, very happy she still came along!

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Selfies!

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The rock where we got engaged! Where Deadman’s Beach transitions to Frenchman’s beach… ❀

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Continuing with the Gorge Walk

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We finished the day off with Korean BBQ dinner at Midam – delicious!

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Abigail’s Baptism

December 14, 2014

A special day for a very special girl.

Abigail was baptised on December 14, 2014 at St John’s Cathedral surrounded by her family. Baptised alongside a few other young children, the ceremony was performed by The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt (Dean of Brisbane), The Reverend Dr Ann Solari, and The Reverend Canon Dr Nigel Leaves.

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Michael and I were incredibly honoured when Kristen and Matt asked us to be Abigail’s godparents. We were thrilled to accept… to love her, guide her, and be a part of her life. Just a little sad that we are now living in Rockhampton so not able to see and spend time with the Gibson family as often!

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Abigail was dressed in a super cute white dress with her hair clipped back. Shoes eventually became non-mandatory as she was more comfortable barefoot.

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With a love for water, Abigail waited as patiently as she could to be baptised…

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But see how incredibly happy she was to be blessed!

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She even made the congregation chuckle as she found a friend with a similar interest in water

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Unfortunately, our camera died so we don’t have many photos to share!

Happy and proud parents!

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Bright outside, and hungry!

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Abigail’s baptism was followed by lunch with Matt and Kristen’s families, as well as Christine and her mom, at Il Centro.

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Tried their infamous sand crab lasagne with creamed crustacean sauce – so rich and delicious!

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And also enjoyed the potato gnocchiette with seared scallops and roasted chestnuts – yum!

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It was also really nice to meet and spend time with both sides of their family 🙂 Thank you so much Matt and Kristen for not only letting us be a part of Abigail’s special day, but also her life!

Fam in Brisbane: Beach getaway at The Sanctuary

December 06-13, 2014

The day my mom, Mike and I got back from our Singapore/Malaysia trip coincided with the arrival of Mike’s family to Brisbane.

For a week of relaxation and to spend time together, we booked a holiday home at Noosa (Sunshine Coast). The house was large, beautiful, and comfortable. Tucked away giving privacy and tranquility.

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Spacious kitchen, even a deck and BBQ.

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The only downfall? The Sanctuary is located on Upper Hastings Drive (not mentioned in the listing) which required a hike up 200 steep stairs. Good exercise for Michael and I, but a little difficult to enjoy for the rest of our group.

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The view was nice though!

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We spent every day at the beach, often with a 6am morning swim before breakfast.

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My mom was amazing. She marinated numerous types of Vietnamese meats and we had delicious BBQs almost every night. We also did go out for a few meals, including this cozy and yummy breakfast at Gaston!

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My mom showing us one of the activities she enjoyed as a kid – making butterflies from flowers

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Sunshine, the ocean, good food, board games, catching up on books, talks and laughs… vacation always seems to pass too quickly!

SIN/KL 2014: Vietnamese dinner at From Bac to Nam

November 28, 2014

Across the street from Outrigger Resort, as part of Burleigh Gold Coast Motel, was Bac to Nam Vietnamese Dining.

It had been a very long time since the three of us visited a Viet restaurant (nothing beats home cooked food right?), but we were all intrigued and decided to give it a try.

The first thing we liked about the restaurant was its unique name. Bac to Nam means ‘North to South’, alluding to a menu that includes items from North, Central and South Vietnam.

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Upon entering, the restaurant was dimly lit with nice ambiance and lovely, traditional décor. Resembling a hut with wooden tables and benches, with simplistic containers for utensils and napkins.

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Around the walls were canvases of scenes from Vietnam, some of which we have even personally visited.

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Mom got Vietnamese Prawn Fried Rice ($16) – generous amount of prawns and well seasoned. Good Vietnamese iced coffee too!

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Michael chose Chili pork with rice ($17) that he really enjoyed.

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And I got Pork belly with homemade sauce and rice ($18). The pork belly tasted homemade, succulent with crispy crackling and accompanied by a subtle sauce.

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Portions smaller than expected, but good home-style food, not to expect anything fancy or extravagant. We had an enjoyable night but did find the menu to be quite a bit more expensive compared to Vietnamese restaurants in Brisbane. They are licensed now as well so you can enjoy a beer with your food!

Bac To Nam Vietnamese Dining on Urbanspoon

SIN/KL 2014: Gold Coast for a night

November 28 2014

Hello friends!

With end of year exams finally over, we were more than ready for vacation!

To start, Michael and I were taking my mom to Singapore and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) for a week, Nov 29 to Dec 06. Related blog posts to this trip will be titled with “SIN/KL 2014” 🙂

It would be my mom’s first visit to Singapore and the first time in Malaysia for all three of us. We had hoped that Mike’s parents, as well as his Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan would also be able to join us. Unfortunately, the cost of airfare was too high for their dates of availability.

Taking advantage of Singapore’s budget airline, Scoot, we had to fly out of Gold Coast Airport, about an hour’s drive from Brisbane.

We booked a night’s stay at Outrigger Resort in Gold Coast for a good night’s rest without rushing to catch our flight the next morning. For around $115, it was exactly what we needed: clean, spacious, with a pool, numerous restaurants along the street, and less than 5 minutes to catch the bus directly to the airport.

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Easy check in, now off to find some good dinner!

Final exams of medical school – 4th year OSCEs

November 22-23, 2014

As you may recall from my last post, we had our Surgical Specialties (orthopaedics and ophthalmology) exam on Nov 13. Following that, we had a week to prepare for our final exams of medical school – the dreaded OSCEs!

These are a set of clinical exams that test all the skills we’ve learned and honed throughout medical school. A variety of skills may be tested, including history taking and examination, clinical reasoning, basic/advanced life saving, investigation interpretation and response, procedural skills (venepuncture, blood gases, etc) and more.

We were told ahead of time that we would be rotation through 8 stations, each with 2 minutes perusal (to read your stem and collect your thoughts). 6 of the stations were 8 minutes long and the other 2 stations were broken down to 2×4 minute stations with related tasks.

Needless to say, we were stressed. We were incredibly stressed! The entirety of our medical school could be tested in 1.5 hours. Not only was there so much to know, but 2 of the most important rotations (paediatrics and obstetrics & gynaecology) we had completed first in the year, which seemed like so long ago.

My OSCEs took place on the morning of Saturday, November 22nd. The group of us sat in nervous anticipation waiting to start, trying to pass the time by chatting with our colleagues or doing some last minute reading.

I was allocated to the green team with 7 other students and we were soon escorted to our first stations. Facing away from the wall, the buzzers soon went off, signaling the start of our OSCEs. Everyone turned to the walls to read the stem (taped to the wall) of our first station.

Once the OSCEs started, they passed by in a whirl. Time flew and you were in and out of each station in what felt to be a blink of an eye. There was no time to rehash or even think about how you did in the last station because you were too busy giving it your all in the next. In less than 1.5 hours, it was over. The wonderful ladies coordinating the exam for my green team gave us big smiles and congratulated us before ushering us out to join up with the rest of the group.

The room was a buzz with students discussing the stations and their performance. Lots of happy smiles to have one last hurdle behind our backs, however, not without some caution that our performance in one or more stations may have been lacking. The director of the MBBS program shook our hands on the way out and asked everyone how the OSCEs went for them, a nice comforting gesture!

And since I might forget what my stations were in a few months time, I am going to record them here.

In no particular order unless specified.

1) This was my first station, which was a 2×4 minutes. Was given an ECG to report, which was SVT. Then also given some bloods to interpret (hypochromic microcytic anemia, likely due to iron deficiency). After interpreting the bloods, we were given pathology forms to request the blood tests we thought appropriate. This was almost a ‘gimme’ station as it was very similar to previous years, however, I was so nervous it definitely took away from my performance!

2) My second station was an 8 minute one. A few weeks prior to our OSCEs, we were asked to submit a clinical & procedural skills log – a report of the things we accomplished and to what level. At this station, the examiner looked through my log and asked me questions seemingly to verify our stated level of competency. I was asked a number of questions, including, “Talk me through how to do an IV cannulation. What complications could arise? How do you do an ECG? What gets printed out on the tracing? What are leads V1-V6 called? If you walked into a room and someone was unconscious, what would you do? And how do you do chest compressions? How do you perform ophthalmoscopy?” Nothing the examiner asked was out of my comfort zone and I just continued to answer his questions until the bell rang.

3) A young male fainted while gardening. Tasks are to take a history, examine and manage. Was greeted by the examiner as I came into the room playing the role of a nurse, with an unwell patient on the bed. Turned out he was in anaphylactic shock and required acute resus and further management once he was stable.

4) An expected death in a patient with advanced bowel cancer. Had to do a death certification, talk to the spouse and write up the paperwork.

5) Preadmission talk to a patient for an anaesthestic assessment. The main finding in his history is a mechanical valve on warfarin therapy. Would need heparin bridging and antibiotics.

6) Giving a distraught lady the results of her hysteroscopy D&C, which was thankfully not cancerous but endometrial hyperplasia. Talk to her about the risks of endometrial cancer and treatment options for endometrial hyperplasia.

7) Taking a history and presenting a mental state exam of a patient experiencing acute psychosis, likely schizophrenia.

8) My last station, another 2×4 minutes. First task was to interpret a chest x-ray which demonstrated lobar pneumonia and then to write up the medication chart.

Overall, the OSCEs went well. At every station, I can still to this day, think about things I forgot to say, things I should’ve done and things I could’ve done better. I just hoped that the examiners felt I performed well enough to pass overall!

Mom is in Australia!

November 17, 2014

Mom arrived safe and sound to Brisbane! No issues with flights and no lost luggage, win win!

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Unfortunately for her, we are right in the midst of studying for our OSCEs and couldn’t be as carefree as we would want. In anticipation of this, she took our suggestion of flying to Perth (after getting over her jet lag) to spend time with family for a week. So off she went to Perth 2 days later on November 19! Hope you have fun mom!

Last 4 weeks of medical school – Orthopaedic Surgery

October 20 – November 13, 2014

Ending medical school with a specialty I had been dreading… Orthopaedic surgery. Crazy hours, macho surgeons, and an intense knowledge of anatomy required were only some of the things I had been warned about.

Needless to say, I found none of the above true and in fact, extremely enjoyed my ortho term. There were 5 other students in my group and we were based at a smaller hospital especially known for elective hip and knee replacements. We were split into smaller groups of 1-2 students and assigned to an ortho surgery team. There were 3 doctors on my team, a consultant, a senior registrar and an intern – and I was very appreciative of each person, in particular, our consultant.

He started every face to face encounter throughout the day (even after coming back from lunch) with a smile on his face and the words, “So, did you do any reading? What did you learn? Why don’t you tell me all about it?” In response to our answers, he would ask us questions and provide us with more teaching. He was always kind and non judgmental, even if you didn’t know the easiest answers. His continuous interest and support in our learning was the push students (like myself) sometimes needed to really become interested in what we learning. Although the registrar had a different style of teaching, he was the same. There was never any time we spent with our team, whether that be in clinic, in theatre, or even on coffee break, that we didn’t gain more knowledge.

Even though I am not interested in pursuing surgery, for the first time in a long time, I felt useful and wanted in theatre. The team would encourage us to come to theatre and rather than leave us to watch silently and awkwardly in a corner (the bane of medical students’ existence sometimes), we were always asked to scrub in and assist. Even if we weren’t assisting, the team would continuously ask questions and teach during the surgeries, which was great.

I really thought Orthopaedic surgery would be my least favourite rotation, especially with less interest in surgery and my subpar anatomy – but I have to say, these last 4 weeks of medical school have only bettered the two. I’m looking forward to my surgical terms next year when I’m finally working and I have to say my anatomy is heaps better now!

My last rotation ended with 2 MCQ exams on Nov 13 (a day earlier due to the G20 public holiday) – one 50 question ophthalmology exam and another 50 question Orthopaedic exam. Despite walking out of the exam with the trembling thought of, “Oh my god, that was so much harder than I anticipated,” I’m happy to say that our results have seen been released and I got an excellent mark – so stoked!

We didn’t have time to lament awaiting our surg exam results though, as we had OSCEs to study for, which I will talk about in my next post 🙂

Blog absence

Hello friends!

Over a month since I last blogged, sorry I’ve slacked! There’s been a lot of stress studying and preparing for final exams, followed by a lot of fun and excitement. I’m looking forward to updating my blog these coming days… please stay tuned! 🙂

Having friends over for dinner!

October 24, 2014

After so many months of talking about getting together for a catch up, we finally did it! Bing came over for dinner and we agreed on preparing a 3 course meal between the three of us. Unfortunately, I, of all people, forgot to take a group photo! 😩 Instead, I only have photos of our meal.

Bing prepared the entree – Perfectly cooked mussels in beer with Asian flavours. We prepared the main dish (Banh Tam Xiu Mai) as well as the dessert – Vietnamese Flan. My first time making flan with over-the-phone-directions from my mum, turned out way better than expected!

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Felt like we could’ve kept talking through the night. Had a great time and can’t wait to do it again!


October 27, 2014

Being able to get to know Sam over this year was definitely a treat, especially during our Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation. Lots of laughs and assistance with keeping sanity were provided on his end. I was lucky, I even got to hear stories of his relationship, including his plan to propose! If you know me, you know I get super duper excited for other people when it comes to things like this. Both Mike and I were very happy to learn of their engagement while we were back in Canada! Unfortunately, we didn’t attend Sam & Kim’s engagement party. But… we finally got the chance to catch up and more importantly, meet Kim!

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We invited them over for dinner and without thinking, decided to make Thai green curry with rice for dinner on a super hot day. The heat and spice may have been a little overwhelming, our bad! Sam & Kim brought equipment over to make hotcakes for dessert. Unfortunately, what they didn’t know ahead of time is our microwave is broken and can only run for a total of 4.5 minutes before it dies. These hotcakes that were meant to be a simple dessert because they were prepared in advance and only needed cooking in the microwave ended up having to be steamed over the stove. Sorry guys!

Delicious though! Full of citrus flavours with a dollop of cream balancing out the sweetness.

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Thanks for coming guys!

Dinner with friends at Capri Bar Cafe

October 19, 2014

With a very pleasant previous experience at Capri Bar Cafe in Emporium in the past, we invited a few friends to join us for a revisit. A 50% off special was being offered through Dimmi at our time of booking, which made the experience more worthwhile.

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We were a group of 5 and similar to our previous visit, service was excellent. Staff were attentive, friendly, and happy to accommodate any requests – thank you!

For wine, we ordered a bottle of 2009 Solar Viejo Tempranillo from Rioja Spain ($49). It was the first time any of us had tried a Tempranillo, a black grape variety, and quite enjoyed it.

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Our friend Xuan decided to try out two main dishes while the remaining 4 of us decided to order a variety of entrees to share. This worked out really nicely as the share plates were perfectly sized and portioned.

Our share plates!

Mediterranean Bruschetta – House made olive tapanade with roasted pumpkin and grilled haloumi ($13). Really tasty and definitely an easy inspirational dish to try out at home!

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Mediterranean Koftas – Mediterranean lamb koftas served with a chick pea and rocket salad, tzatziki and Turkish bread ($17). These were moist, flavourful and delicious! Loved the freshness of the tzatziki sauce as well.

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Chicken & Haloumi – Grilled chicken served with roasted beetroot and rocket salad finished with grilled haloumi ($16.50). Salad was nicely dressed but as you can guess from this photo, the chicken was a little dry and unfortunately not very seasoned.

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Arancini – Baked beetroot and walnut arancini, served with a rocket salad and a side of marinated fetta ($16). One of our favourites. In addition to the taste, the colour from the beetroot really makes this dish stand out!

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Chicken Fritters – Oven baked sweet potato and zucchini fritters, with grilled chicken strips and house made tahini yoghurt ($18). The fritters (and the sauce) were great, another dish I’d love to try and recreate at home, especially when they’re baked and not fried. Unfortunately, this dish also contained the same unexciting chicken strips!

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Capri Pizza – Air dried beef rib fillet, semi dried tomatoes, olives and roasted eggplant with mozzarella and fetta cheese ($24). With all our food coming out at once, the pizza was a little cooled by the time we got to it but still good! Thin crispy crust and a good mixture of ingredients, would’ve never thought to add roasted eggplant to any pizza but it works well!

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Xuan’s first main was Prawn & Calamari Spaghetti – Local prawns and baby calamari, marinated in chilli and garlic with Italian parsley and extra virgin olive oil ($28.50). Nicely balanced dish with a flavourful sauce and good quality seafood, although perhaps frozen as opposed to fresh prawns.

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His second dish was NT Barramundi – Grilled Barramundi fillet served on sweet potato Roman gnocchi with parmesan roasted cauliflower and avocado salsa ($33). The fish was fresh and nicely cooked but he didn’t find the ingredients worked well together which made the dish overall not memorable.

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Sharing small dishes is great because it leaves room for dessert 😉

Xuan and Yung Howe had a slice of Flourless Chocolate Cake – Warm flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache, berry coulis and vanilla gelato ($13) – mmm yummy!

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Yoni really enjoyed a Macadamia Brownie – Dark chocolate, roasted macadamia brownie served with white chocolate ganache and vanilla gelato ($13).

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We all agreed that plating of the previous 2 desserts, in particular the sauces, a little… tacky 🙂

Mike and I had an exceptional Sticky Date Pudding – Banana sticky date with butterscotch sauce and vanilla gelato ($13) – the perfect hot and cold, salty and sweet dessert combination!

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We had a great dinner, with many more hits with our food than misses. Lots of fun catching up and sharing stories and the night ended on a high note with a surprise – some port on the house! Thanks to the staff at Capri Bar Cafe for their awesome service and good food! Total bill came to $150 which was definitely a steal! Looking forward to visiting again 🙂

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Capri Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Pig ‘N’ Whistle

October 18, 2014

After a failed attempt to have breakfast at a (what we learned to be very) popular bakery in New Farm, we decided to instead enjoy a meal at the new Pig ‘N’ Whistle in Fortitude Valley.

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Taken from their website:

Opened in mid 2014, the Brunswick Street venue is the newest addition to the iconic Pig ‘N’ Whistle family.

Situated in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s main entertainment hub, this venue has prime position in the heart of the city’s most popular nightlife spots. Pig ‘N’ Whistle Brunswick Street boasts two outdoor beer gardens, stunning high ceilings and exposed brick heritage listed architecture – all combined to make it a celebrated venue for local residents and visitors to Brisbane.

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Downstairs, the venue has a large and open modern kitchen, which focuses on local produce and simple and delicious pub food. Local craft beer and British ales frequent the many taps throughout the venue and are complemented by an extensive wine list. Pig ‘N’ Whistle Brunswick Street is the newest offering in Brisbane’s nightlife and the ultimate ‘local’ for people looking for a great, non-pretentious, atmosphere and good quality food and beverages.

It was a quiet Saturday morning with a few other patrons scattered across the different dining areas.

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After placing our orders, we opted to sit outside. Really liked the accent mirrors on the old brick walls!

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Our orders came out quickly which was great because we were starving!

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Mike ordered the Eggs Royale – Tasmanian smoked salmon, poached eggs, spinach, avocado, sourdough toast ($16) and a flat white ($3.70). Today was the day I learned the difference between Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale… they’re the same, except Eggs Royale uses salmon in place of ham. Eggs were nicely poached, generous amount of decent smoked salmon with a nice Hollandaise sauce. Coffee was good too!

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A softie for Haloumi cheese, I decided on the Greek Breakfast – Grilled haloumi, eggs your way, mushroom, tomato, avocado, spinach, sourdough toast ($18). As you can see from the photo, Mike’s poached eggs and mine were like night and day. Mine were a stringy hot mess, with nearly naked yolks and the whites tasting too vinegary. If this were my restaurant, I would be upset if someone served those eggs to customers. Good quality (not too salty) Haloumi and nicely ripened, buttery avocadoes partly made up for my failed eggs.

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We had good service and really liked the day time atmosphere of Pig ‘N’ Whistle but think the night vibe would be even better. The food (aside from my eggs) was better than anticipated. Would definitely return at night to check out the bar and non-breakfast menu!

Romantic evening at Baguette Bistrot & Bar

October 13, 2014

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Our first experience dining at Baguette Bistrot & Bar on Racecourse Rd in Ascot! Greeted by a cozy bar at the front, we were directed to the dining area which exuded great ambiance with a variety of seating arrangements and dimmed, romantic lighting.

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“Are you celebrating your anniversary?” Ricky asked as he showed us to our table.

No, we weren’t 🙂 But we certainly love a nice evening out! And our 50% Dimmi Special reservation was just a prelude to a lovely night!

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We were seated at a spacious table for 2, given menus, and left alone to peruse.

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Even though it was only Monday night, we gleefully decided to share a bottle of wine. Uncharacteristic of us as we normally only have a glass. We picked out a bottle of 2009 Leeuwin Prelude Cabernet Merlot ($58.80). Unfortunately, I’m writing this over a month after our visit so other than remembering we really enjoyed it, I can’t tell you for exactly what reasons… 😛

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After having a look at the menu, Mike and I decided to order a number of entrees to share instead of going the typical route of entree, main, and dessert.

First up, Handmade artisan French sour dough baguette, salted butter (for two) $7.80. Love the simple but different presentation. A nicely warmed, crispy baguette with good quality butter – one of our favourites!

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Scallop carpaccio, shaved fennel, finger lime, citrus dressing (gf) $22.00. Scallop carpaccio (raw scallops) was a first for the both of us. Scallops were sweet and although we would’ve liked more acidity (even with the slices of blood orange) this dish definitely met our expectations.

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Escargots à la provençale, sour dough bread $20.00. We love escargots but have never tried them this way. Cooked perfectly, not chewy at all, these were delicious! Nicely seasoned and the garlic really shone through the tomato base without being overpowering. Adding a slice or two more bread would be perfect.

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Ricky and the other staff checked on us through out the meal and made sure we were enjoying ourselves. Ricky tried more than once to convince us that a second (and even third) bottle of wine could only make our evening better but we really couldn’t handle it! 😛

Pepper mill steak tartare, quail egg, fresh truffle (gf) $25.00. Steak tartare is a dish Michael only recently discovered (and really liked) so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try another version. Loved the presentation with the quail egg served in its shell and being able to pour it over the tartare ourselves. Although I’m not a fan of the consistency of raw egg whites and would’ve preferred just the egg yolk. The tartare was really nice in flavour and texture, we only wish there had been some frites/crisps/bread as an accompaniment!

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Twice baked fromage – soufflĂ© (v) $18.00. Mmm, this dish was so delicious. Super fragrant and fluffy, I want some now as I’m writing this! When we ordered souffle, we expected to see something tall and risen, so the plating seemed a little… flat – literally! Nevertheless, tasted amazing.

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Triple cooked potatoes, truffle aĂŻoli, parmesan (gf) $9.00. These were sinfully delicious. First of all, they are cooked in duck fat. If you haven’t had duck fat potatoes before, you are missing out. You just can’t get the same great flavours using oils! When we asked how they were triple cooked, we were told first steamed, then twice fried. Yum! The truffle aioli and parmesan topped it off really well.

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Despite getting pretty full, we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity for dessert. Especially when the option of Jasmine tea crĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e with spiced lychees (gf) $16.00 doesn’t leave your brain. A nice generous portion served in a tea cup, how appropriate! The delicate jasmine flavour came through really nicely and the dessert was not overly sweet. The lychees were indeed spiced and an added treat!

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The other creme brulee flavour that night was tonka bean, which sounded very intriguing as we have never tasted that flavour before – described to us as somewhat similar to burnt caramel. We’ll definitely have to try it next time!

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We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Baguette. Not only were the atmosphere and service great, the food was spectacular. We tried a variety of dishes, each one offering unique flavours and textures. Special thanks to Ricky for his sense of humour and service throughout our meal! We’d definitely recommend a visit to Baguette Bistrot & Bar, especially for a special occasion or romantic night out – albeit on the pricier side at regular price! 🙂

Baguette Bistrot + Bar on Urbanspoon

Thanksgiving brunch

October 11, 2014

A tradition since moving to Australia, Mario hosted the Canadian Thanksgiving meal yet again this year. Interestingly, most attendees were Australian but who can resist a get together that revolves around delicious food and over indulgence?

The Canadian crew with Mario, Stacy, Yoni and Mike

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Selfies!

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Some of the food spread:

Tender and fragrant roasted leg of lamb with creme fraiche, courtesy of Mario

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Butternut squash soup and chicken pesto salad from Mike and I

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Yoni made savoury beef filled crepes

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The rest of the food including: scalloped potatoes, pumpkin, beet and quinoa salad, mini quiches, and tacos. There was an array of desserts including sticky date pudding, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake.

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Didn’t take too many photos of food or people but good meal nonetheless! Likely our last Thanksgiving meal at Mario’s since we will be moving away in January. Happy to have held on a small aspect of home but it has never been the same celebrating Thanksgiving without family (and a stuffed turkey).

JC Wang – Talented busker from Taiwan

This is a long overdue post, but I wanted to share with you a talented artist I met in Brisbane months ago. Her name is JC Wang, from Taiwan, and she busks in the CBD – click HERE to check out her Facebook page and HERE to check out her Instagram.

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She uses water colours and specializes in beautiful portraits, bringing out one’s most beautiful features in a colourful splash.

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I happened to walk by her set up in Queen Street Mall a few months ago. Like many passersby, I paused to admire her completed portraits on display. After seeing the simplistic resemblance captured in all her subjects, I decided to commission her for 2 pieces to give away as gifts.

A close up of one of the completed paintings – my grandparents! Given to them as a gift during their 60th Wedding Anniversary celebrations!

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JC holding up both my pieces, the other is, if you can’t tell of Mike and I. A birthday gift to him earlier this year. We are planning on getting it framed and displayed once we move into our new place in a few months 🙂

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Thanks JC for the 2 beautiful works of art!

Stop by to say hello and check out her work if you’re in the city! She is super friendly and creates portraits of different sizes and prices – something for everyone 🙂

Catching up with friends at Bread & Meat Co

October 10, 2014

After months of hearing about not only the amazing sandwiches served at Bread & Meat Co, but the fact that they served Canadian poutine, Michael and I were super excited to suggest a visit to this eatery for a catch up with our friends.

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We were told that most of their sales occur by early afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find the place not packed with seating available on a Friday evening.

Bright and rustic, loved that everything was on display and open to our viewing.

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With the 5 of us, we made sure to try all 3 regular sandwiches as well as their weekly special.

Beef Brisket Dip – 36 hour roasted beef brisket topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish aioli, and a side of jus for dipping ($9.50). Packed to the brim with brisket and perfect with the jus, it’s easy to see why this is a favourite among customers.

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Corned Beef Sandwich – New York style corned beef with gherkin aioli, topped with poached cabbage and a side of spicy dijon mustard ($8.50). A tad on the salty side but goes well with the dijon mustard! Those who ordered this sandwich thought pickled cabbage or sauerkraut would make a better condiment in flavour and texture over poached cabbage.

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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – Smoked pulled porked with a BBQ hickory sauce, topped with fresh coleslaw on 2 toasted brioche slider buns ($8.50). This was my order, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The pork melts in your mouth, good crunch from the coleslaw and the brioche held together nicely. I did, however, find the BBQ sauce a bit too sweet and overpowering the smokiness of the pork.

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Xuan and Alexis

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Lastly, the weekly special Porchetta – Juicy pork loin with an herb stuffing, crispy crackling, topped with a salsa verde on a warm ciabatta roll ($9.50). Porchetta is something I learned for the first time tonight and it was true to its name – fatty and moist, boneless pork roast.

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Cool salt and pepper shakers

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And of course, how could we pass up the opportunity for a taste from home – Canadian Poutine with golden fries, fresh curd cheese smothered in hot gravy ($6). The good news is, the gravy was well seasoned and not crazy salty as some of our friends who’ve already visited warned us. The sad news is, this is not real poutine. The salty, squeaky cheese curds of real Canadian poutine is irreplaceable. And unfortunately, the chopped up bocconcini served at Bread & Meat Co is an admirable replacement, but simply not good enough.

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We wouldn’t order the poutine again. Instead, we look forward to trying their Sweet Potato Parm Fries ($6) or their Chili Cheese Fries ($7) next time.

The sandwiches were all delicious and massively filling. Look forward to visiting again and would definitely recommend to our friends. They even offer free weekday lunch delivery in the CBD for orders more than $18, how awesome is that?

Good to see you guys!

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Catch up soon Sarah!

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Bread & Meat Co on Urbanspoon

A quick return to Stradbroke Island

October 6, 2014

On March 12th of this year, Michael proposed to me during a wonderful vacation on Stradbroke Island. One of our favourite places turned into a very special place that day, and we will always look forward to the opportunity for a visit.

With beautiful forecasted weather, we took advantage of the Labour Day long weekend to spend a day on the island.

Started our day sharing a delicious breakfast at Tillers Cafe Pantry, a restaurant attached to Allure Resort, where we stayed back in March. The last time we were here, it was our first meal out as an engaged couple and my first time wearing my ring in public. I remember not being able to help but continuously glance down at my ring, as it was so sparkly in the natural light 😛

We enjoyed Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12), which was just as delicious as last visit!

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We also shared a slice of berry white chocolate cheese cake accompanied with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. The cake had really good texture with interesting crunchiness from white chocolate within the cheesecake.

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We strolled along the beaches after breakfast, even coming across this sand mermaid who has seen better days

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Blue skies, sunshine, warm sand for lounging and refreshing ocean swims! Love him 🙂

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Coming up to high tide by the time we passed Deadman’s Beach and headed into Frenchman’s Beach, but here is where he proposed! At the tall boulder just slipping out of the sun… 🙂

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A perfect day, Stradbroke Island will always be one of my favourites places ❀

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Breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower

October 5, 2014

After months of being away, we finally caught up with James and Kim over breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower.

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With a cute and homely atmosphere, Cafe Auchenflower invites you in with friendly service and a steady stream of customers.

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A small menu that offers both sweet and savoury items, something for everyone.

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We started off with drinks, including a nice flat white, freshly brewed tea and iced coffee with ice cream

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I ordered an iced chocolate, which was a little disappointing. Simply milk with chocolate syrup, not overly cold and certainly not iced.

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James and Kim decided on poached eggs on sourdough bread ($13) with a couple of sides, each around $3 (avocado, fritters, bacon).

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Michael couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pass up Benedict Eggs on toasted sourdough with bacon ($17).

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Everyone received consistent beautifully poached eggs and quite enjoyed their breakfast.

I ordered the Breaky Wrap with bacon, egg, greens, corn salsa & chipotle mayo ($17). Grilled to perfection with a generous amount of greens and bacon, although eggs a little overcooked.

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And don’t forget to check out the cabinet on your way out, tasty treats to pick up!

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A lovely breakfast with great company! However, despite a good visit and food, Michael and I did find the menu overpriced and won’t be too hasty to return.

Cafe Auchenflower on Urbanspoon

2014 Korean Cultural Festival in Brisbane

October 4, 2014

By complete chance, Mike and I passed through King George Square before heading to the cinemas to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. As a result, we stumbled upon the 2014 Korean Cultural Festival while it was in full swing.

Numerous stalls lined the square, many offering different Korean street foods, which pulled us in immediately.

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We started off with two kinds of vegetarian dumplings ($5) – yum!

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The stall we found most enticing, Korean hot dogs! For $2 each, we had delicious battered and deep fried hot dogs with a sprinkle of sugar and tomato sauce…

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Yum!

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Delicious Soboru Pan ($2, Korean peanut butter crumbled bread) – which was moist and delicious! Reminded me of a pineapple bun with a more decadent topping.

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I’m not a fan of red bean, but Mike loved this donut with red bean filling ($2)!

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We were also invited inside the City Hall’s main auditorium for a variety of performances including traditional music and dance. Unfortunately, we had a movie to catch!

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What an unexpected and pleasant surprise! 🙂

2 weeks on Opthalmology

October 6 – 17, 2014

My two weeks on ENT was immediately followed by two weeks on Ophthalmology. Without very little prior exposure to this specialty, you could say I was certainly a little stressed! However, my concerns were proven to be completely unwarranted. We were rostered to work in a variety of environments, each welcoming with its own learning objective.

The majority of my time was spent in the Eye Casualty Clinic seeing patients with acute illnesses like infections, foreign bodies in the eye, pain, etc. We also reviewed quite a number of follow up patients. Being in Eye Casualty allowed us to learn and hone some critical skills including how to take and document an opthalmology specific history, how to measure intraocular pressures, more practice using a slit lamp (with lenses) for indirect ophthalmoscopy and using a fundoscope for direct ophthalmoscopy. In addition, we also had the chance to see more specialised tests using machines such as optical coherence tomography and wide-field retinal imaging using Optos. Many thanks to the doctor in Eye Casualty for giving us much of your time teaching us!

We also had the opportunity to spend time in theatre, where I had the chance to see procedures such as an orbital decompression for Graves disease, ocular biopsy suspicious for cancer, and of course, cataract surgery. Although it may seem mundane after watching it more than 5 times, intravitreal injections are an important component for treatment of diseases that affect the retina, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. As someone who is interested in General Practice, I especially appreciated learning how to identify and refer ocular emergencies.

And to end my brief blurb about my time on ophthalmology, here’s a photo of my (currently) healthy looking retina!

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DHAL: July 19-25, 2014 – Week 1 in Nanaimo

July 19. After saying farewell to my sister in downtown Vancouver, I hopped on the bus to head to Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. The bus ride took less than an hour and a one way ferry ticket to Nanaimo cost $16.25.

Beautiful views from the ferry terminal!

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I was on the Coastal Renaissance… never have I been on such a humongous ferry! I admit, I did get lost but I was impressed. Ended up making it to the top deck and… fell asleep for most of the ride over to Nanaimo 😛 I was exhausted with only 3 hours of sleep, I tried!

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Once we arrived in Nanaimo and with my luggage, I decided to grab a taxi instead of the bus. I don’t think I mentioned this in a previous post, but the hospital I’m doing my elective at has a 3 bedroom house that they rent out to medical elective students for FREE. I felt quite lucky to be able to save some money! I was dropped off at the hospital to pick up my house keys and then walked approximately 700m to my accommodation.

The house is spacious, with everything provided, including linen and household products. Even has a desktop computer and printer for tenants to use.

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There is a housekeeper who comes by every Tuesday to clean the house as well.

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I had a moderate sized room with a desk and closet, didn’t take long to settle in! There’s also a lock on every bedroom door, allowing more security when you’re in and out of the house.

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Pretty great internet provided!

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I ordered some groceries online the day I arrived and was too lazy to go exploring so I even ordered some Chinese take out for dinner. Lowlight: It was THE WORST food I’ve ever eaten, I don’t even want to explain it. Those in Nanaimo, never order from Sun’s Noodle Bar. Needless to say, not much got eaten and a lot was thrown out.

I spent Sunday at home, reading and relaxing. There wasn’t much to do around my neighbourhood and I didn’t care to go into the city. Sunday night my housemate came home, a really sweet medical student from Ireland doing an elective in Paediatrics.

Otherwise, I was just nervous for the start of my elective! Was hoping for a nice preceptor! Have never worked in the Canadian medical system before so didn’t know what was expected of me yet. Monday came quickly. I started my week with some PowerChart training – the online medical record system they use here. I then met the course coordinator and eventually my preceptor. I was expecting to be a part of a hospital team for my geriatrics elective. Turns out my preceptor is a one man team!

He’s great though. Extremely patient and never discouraging towards me. He lets me do as much as I want within my limits of comfort and learn what I want to learn. Always takes his time to answer my questions and teaches whenever the opportunity arises.

As you can imagine, elderly patients most often have a plethora of issues that landed them in hospital. These can include: dementia, delirium, instability, falls, cardiac disease, stroke, incontinence, infection, etc. I love geriatric medicine because it is so general that you always see a variety of presentations. History taking needs to be thorough and examinations need to be all encompassing in order to not miss anything in an elderly patient, especially when there can be so many causes to their issues.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, we are in the hospital in the morning and at his clinic (about 5min drive away) in the afternoon. We spend Wednesdays and Fridays in hospital.

My first week passed very quickly. My days start later than I’m accustomed to. My preceptor often tries to make it in by 9am but he has 3 young children to take care of and drop off at different activities in the morning, so we often don’t meet up until 10am. I get to start my day at a good pace and have time to review patients before he gets in. The days pass quickly because we are so busy, I often don’t get home until 7pm and we normally don’t have time to take a proper lunch. Usually we work until we need to rush to clinic and eat our lunch during the 5 minute drive there. A one man team is busy busy!

So far so good though, I’m quite enjoying my time working! Don’t know if I’ll see much of Vancouver Island while I’m here, we’ll see!

My sister is coming for my first weekend here, to celebrate my birthday early with me, which makes it less lonely!

Great Korean food at Maru with friends!

Sarah (who’s Korean!) had suggested I try Maru, one of her favourite Korean restaurants, so I made it the last stop of our Food Adventure Day with Yoni on June 29, 2014.

We had just finished watching Edge of Tomorrow in the city, and even though we weren’t really hungry because all we had done that day was eat, we just couldn’t skip dinner. Maru is located on Elizabeth St just beside Malaya Corner, on the 2nd floor.

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Full house on a Sunday evening, luckily, we were able to get a table without reservations and waiting!

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My adventure partner for the day! We also picked up some bubble tea at Hazel Tea Shop just down the street before heading in 🙂

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The menu is extensive, with lots of options including rice dishes, soups, noodle dishes, and BBQ – something to suit everyone! Prices were slightly higher compared to Madtongsan II down the road, but definitely worth the quantity and quality of food!

Loved the side dishes: kimchi, seaweed salad with mayo dressing and fish cakes

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I decided on Omurice with chicken curry – delicious! Loved the crispy chicken and the subtle (not salty!) curry. Extremely generous serving size, I could only finish half and saved the rest for dinner the next day – heated up nicely!

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Yoni got a rice in a stone bowl and meat, possibly pork or bulgogi. Unfortunately, it’s been so long now that we can’t remember and they don’t have an online menu to refer to!

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With a great first impression, both Sarah and I recommended Maru on July 11th when we had dinner with Amanda, Xuan and Mabel!

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Xuan ordered Beef Rib Soup that came with rice on the side, he found it a little bland unfortunately.

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I can’t remember the name of this dish that Mabel ordered, but it was spicy and tasty!

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Both Sarah and Amanda ordered one of the ‘ziggle’ plates – the Korean word for sizzle! They got the Ziggle Spicy Pork which was delicious.

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I got the Ziggle Dadak Beef, which was marinated minced beef sizzling in a pan, also served with rice. Very tasty but I was glad I had friends to share it with because it’s a lot of meat!

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Portions again, were very generous, we were definitely stuffed afterwards!

Also enjoyed some Black Raspberry wine. I’ve only had raspberry wine once before but I really enjoy the berry sweetness! $20 for a bottle shared between 4 people.

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Fast and friendly service with generous servings of delicious food and tasty side dishes (not always the case at Korean restaurants) at extremely reasonable prices – I think I’ve found a new favourite Korean restaurant. Will definitely be back!

Maru Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Post exam catch up at Bonsai Botanika

July 11, 2014

3rd rotation finally over! I was quite excited to be flying back to Canada the next morning, but first, a catch up with friends! 🙂

We wanted to find a coffee shop to sit and chat before dinner and Bonsai Botanika seemed perfect. The decor and ambiance is very alluring from the street, I remember Michael and I walking by many times and telling ourselves that we needed to come back and check it out.

The theme and decor is hard to describe, very rustic yet quirky – does that make sense? I’ve never seen anything like it before, it’s really neat!

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Once inside, however, it becomes quite confusing. The cafe is 3 levels high. Non alcoholic beverages like coffees and teas, as well as their iconic flourless cakes can be ordered on the first floor. If you are looking for real food though (apparently it’s also a ramen restaurant), you need to head up to the second floor. There are no signs that direct you, which can make it a haphazard first experience.

Noticed that the service left a lot to be desired – staff were impatient and didn’t take the opportunity to provide suggestions off the menu to new customers. The cake cabinet was also in disarray, with many empty slates left dirty and uncleared. The ones that were available did look delicious though. No prices were displayed, and I was appalled to later find out a small slice was over $8.

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We ordered our drinks before heading upstairs to find a seat. Lots of room for small and larger groups. We quickly glanced at the food menu at the unmanned bar – damn, expensive!

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It took quite a while for our drinks to arrive, and they also came quite staggered. Perhaps she was new, but the staff member who brought my order was so confused when I pointed out that the drink she was calling green tea was supposed to be a piece of green tea cake. It later turned out that that drink was a juice ordered by someone else at our table. How can you work at a place and not know what your drinks are by looking at them?

Mabel and I got two different kinds of their hot chocolate. Very interesting and unique presentation, as well as delicious! We only wish it had been hotter, much hotter than the temperature it was served at.

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The green tea flourless cake was quite tasty and rich, served with some whip cream and fresh rosemary that added an interesting flavour. It is too overpriced for me though, I wouldn’t get it again.

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Xuan got a cappuccino. The double walled glass mugs are quite cute!

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Sarah and Amanda both got juices that were tasty and refreshing.

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At the time of our visit, the 3rd level was closed so I don’t know what is up there. Perhaps we can check it out during our next visit.

Once you get past the confusing set up and so-so service, Bonsai Botanika is quite a quirky and interesting place to grab a drink and catch up with friends. The drinks are nice although I do think the food is very overpriced. I don’t know if I would ever come here to try a meal unless someone I knew said the food was really good. Definitely worth another visit, even if just for the interior design!

Bonsai Botanika on Urbanspoon

Photo Shoot with the Gibson Family

As mentioned in this previous post, I had the opportunity to take some photos of one of my favourite families on July 6! This was the first time I had ever done anything like this. I was a complete noob and using kit lenses but I think we had some winners!

Here are a select few of my favourites 🙂

Don’t get to see some autumn colours often in Brisbane!

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This gorgeous pout

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Do I see bubbles?

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I’ve got daddy’s nose!

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Those big cheeks and eyes!

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Moment with mum

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Family chatting

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Tell us more little one

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And one last one 🙂

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Oh, and this curious bird!

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Had a great time with Kristen, Matt & Abigail. Didn’t really know what I was doing but I really enjoyed this little photo shoot! I am much less intimidated when it comes to shooting people now, yay! And I really like capturing natural moments now, as opposed to posed photos. Hopefully we get to do this again soon! 🙂

Vegetarian dinner at Kuan Yin Tea House

Mike and I have been wanting to try out Kuan Yin Tea House for a while now as we often seen how highly rated it is in Brisbane for its vegetarian cuisine.

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Had the opportunity to try it out with the lovely Amanda over dinner one night. We were famished and the menu looked well priced and quite appealing!

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We immediately noticed the fantastic service provided by all the staff which was friendly and accommodating. We arrived for dinner around 7pm on a Friday and were surprised to be told the restaurant was out of rice, although the staff were apologetic and happy to offer a substitution.

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The meals at Kuan Yin are very affordable. We ended up ordering 2 appetizers and 2 main dishes to share, as well as a bubble tea each. Note to self and others, that is a lot of food for only 2 people, as warned by the staff! 😛 However, we were hungry and wanted to try as many dishes as possible, taking away leftovers is always an option too! 😉

My lovely date!

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Peking Duck Rolls. Interesting concept but shouldn’t be called a peking duck roll when it’s nothing like the original dish which normally only has additional spring onions and a sweet bean sauce. Very sour and overpowering pickles and the vegetarian duck skin didn’t seem to have seasoning.

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Sweet Potato Wedges. These were delicious! Not sure what the secret to the seasoning is, but we definitely tasted salt and cinnamon. Yum!

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Because Mike couldn’t join us… we made him feel included! How convenient to have such beautiful photos 😉

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I chose the sweet and sour pork bento box. Since they didn’t have any rice left, they offered a tofu substitute instead. Also came with a few side dishes including veggies and a fruit salad. Overall, this dish was satisfactory. Filling but I wouldn’t get it again.

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Last dish, Sour Spicy Dumpling Soup. Huge serving, lots of dumplings but we didn’t find the broth spicy or sour enough!

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Overall, had a great time, however, more due to the company than the food. I’ve been quite privileged to have extremely good Asian styled vegetarian food in my life, which may have set my expectations a little too high 😛 With that being said, I would definitely come back for another visit and try different dishes, even if it’s just for those sweet potato wedges alone!

Kuan-Yin Tea House on Urbanspoon

Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Second stop on Food Adventure Day with Yoni was Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken. With a 90% rating on Urbanspoon and having never tried jerk chicken, we were looking forward to it.

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What is jerk chicken? From their website, “Infused with a secret blend of herbs and spices, our chicken is marinated for 24 hours and char-grilled to succulent perfection.”

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Jamroc is convenient to get to but doesn’t really have a dine in atmosphere. There are probably less than 15 seats scattered indoors and along a bench outdoors, so not really convenient for grabbing a bite with friends and hanging out.

Service was friendly and the staff was happy to provide suggestions. We opted out of a combo, going to for a burger/wrap + drink instead.

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I chose the Rasta Wrap with marinated chicken breast pieces, garlic mayo, tomato, onion & lettuce. Super fresh wrap and vegetables. The chicken was indeed succulent and nicely char grilled, however, I found the garlic mayo overpowered the seasoning of the chicken. For the level of spiciness, I chose “Chilled Out (Mild)” which was way too mild, I didn’t taste a hint of heat. Would definitely go at least one step up next time to “Traditional Spice (Medium)”

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Yoni got the Negril Burger with marinated chicken breast, smokey BBQ sauce, tomato, cheese, onion and lettuce. Nice bun, toppings and chicken, but he too felt the sauce overpowered the chicken and not enough spiciness.

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We also grabbed some yummy tropical fruit juices ($2.50 each), mainly because I missed having soursop… and we were thirsty.

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Personally, I find the prices comparable to Grill’d and the (chicken) burgers overall tastier. I would definitely return but only if I’m with no more than a few friends due to lack of dining space. And definitely up the level of spiciness on my chicken. Until next time!

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Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken on Urbanspoon

Quick meal at Golden BBQ

Golden BBQ was on our list of cheap eateries to try during Food Adventure with Yoni day a few weeks back. Roasted pork and BBQ’d duck are 2 of my favourite dishes, so I was really looking forward to a quick but delicious bite, especially considering the 88% rating on Urbanspoon.

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We arrived around lunch time on the weekend, busy but a few empty tables so we didn’t have to wait. There is no real decor or ambiance in this restaurant, which is fine! More of an in-and-out kind of stop.

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The plan was to be out eating for the entire day so Yoni and I decided to share a combo plate – $14.50 for a choice of two meats with steamed rice (or noodles for an extra $0.50). Of course, we chose the BBQ pork and duck.

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Every portion comes with a complimentary soup of the day. I don’t know if the type of soup changes often, but it was pumpkin or squash for us. Very dilute but warm and inviting nonetheless.

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There is hardly a wait for your food at Golden BBQ and our food came out within minutes of ordering. Portion size generous, served with a side of boiled or steamed napa cabbage. Unfortunately, both meats were served at room temperature and as a result, the pork skin was not nearly as crispy as it should be. Should be served piping hot so it was a disappointment. They do have great prices for a quick and easy meal out so I can see why people love returning.

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I’ve been spoiled growing up when it comes to roasted duck and pork. My honest opinion, the ones offered at Golden BBQ are definitely not as good and flavourful as they should be. If you’re having a barbecued meat craving or want to serve something nice for dinner, I would recommend picking up the meats at Burlington BBQ (a whole duck for around $25-30 and serves a whole family) just a few shops away, as their meats are tastier. It also ends up being much cheaper when you take it home and make up your own rice and side dishes!

Golden Barbeque on Urbanspoon

DHAL: July 12, 2014 – Back to Canada!

The day I flew back to Canada! And because of going back in time, 2 days in one!

This was my flight schedule:

Brisbane to Los Angeles (with Qantas) with approximately a 3 hour layover. First point of entry into USA so needed to take out and recheck in my luggage… even though I was only flying through. I don’t remember ever having to do this in other countries?

Los Angeles to Chicago (with Qantas) and only a 1 hr layover. As long as I could get my boarding for the next leg before arriving to Chicago, it should be okay.

Finally, Chicago to Ottawa (with United Airlines operated by Express Jet) arriving at 7pm on July 12.

The day immediately started off on the wrong foot when I dropped off my luggage at the Qantas counter in Brisbane. The lady was grumpy and raised her voice at me when I inquired about being unable to print a Chicago to Ottawa boarding pass after checking in online. She practically called me stupid for purchasing a flight with so little layover time and “kindly suggested” not doing it in the future. Knowing it was going to be a long day, I didn’t have it in me to deal with her. It wasn’t until I was boarding my flight later that I realised she never gave me my baggage tickets. If my baggage got lost, I wouldn’t have a reference number to locate it with.

Next was going through security. I had never seen the line up so long before, it was snaking around the entrance foyer twice. I guess good thing I arrived with plenty of time! When I finally reached the security scanner, I took out the usuals of my laptop and liquids in a clear plastic bag. Some airports also require that you take out your iPad as well. Noticing that the man in front of me had taken out his iPad, I took a step forward to ask the employee if he wanted me to take mine out as well. Before I could even open my mouth, he barked at me saying, “Get back and stay with your bags!” He thought I was trying to go through the metal detector, which I wasn’t and told him so. He said I didn’t have to take my iPad out and then sent me through the metal detector. Thinking finally, I’m through this line, can you guess what happened? They scanned my bag, the employee working the scanner said he needed to search my bag, took out my iPad and sent everything through the scanner again. In the meantime, people behind me are being held up as well. Unbelievable.

Finally through security, of course I was “randomly chosen” for an explosives scan. So used to it, I lifted my bags on the counter before the employee even asked. “You’ve done this before obviously!” he joked. Yep, I answered, every time!

After going through Customs and with all the airport procedures behind me, I headed to the gate early and settled down. Was able to chat with my mum and give Mike a call as well. I told them my concern of missing the connecting flight from Chicago to Ottawa and we all agreed that hopefully I’ll have time in LA to grab that boarding pass from United Airlines.

Flight from Brisbane to LA was around 13 hours long but felt more like 20. The airline food was actually delicious, I was quite impressed! I chose a lunch of chicken salad with aioli sauce that was quite filling and full of fresh crisp vegetables including peas, radicchio, and celery and cucumber. Hot breakfast was a spinach frittata with beans and sausage. I also realised halfway through the flight that there is a galley in the back filled with goodies for passengers. Fully lining a backlit wall were snacks of Anzac biscuits and savoury biscotti, as well as amenities including socks and toothbrush kits. Service was great and being in an aisle seat allowed me to get up and stretch whenever I wanted without disturbing fellow passengers.

I was pleasantly surprised when I landed in LA and had someone greet me at the gate with an express envelope allowing me access to priority lines through customs and security, as well as boarding passes for the remainder of my trip. I shouldn’t be missing any flights now!

Once I collected my bags, I was directed into the express line, where I waited… and waited. Watching all other passengers fly through the non-express lanes. Why? Because there were nearly 10 normal lines and 1 express. One customs agent was alternating between my line and a regular one next to me. After a while, he skipped our line all together. After a few passengers in the next line were called and we remained ignored, I asked the gentleman in the next lane if it would be alright for me to go next, he agreed. When the agent called out, “Next!” I thanked the man again and proceeded to push my luggage cart towards the desk when the agent quickly yelled at me saying, “I was calling this line, not you! Get back in line and wait for another agent to call you!” I was appalled. What is the point of having an express lane when it is moving slower than a regular lane, even worse, not moving at all? Luckily, I could afford the wait, but I’m sure there were other passengers behind me who were genuinely concerned, and may have even missed their flight.

Unfortunately, it was all in vain. The LA to Chicago flight ended up being delayed for over an hour, causing me to automatically miss my connecting flight to Ottawa. In the past when I’ve missed flights with other airlines, I have been automatically met at the arrival gate with new boarding passes for the next available flight. It was not the case this time. Before disembarking, we were told to talk to the agents at the gate, who directed us to a panel of phones, called the “Rebooking Centre” to rebook the flights ourselves. I looked around while being on hold for what seemed like ages at other passengers who like me, were tired and frustrated at such a slow process. Eventually, I was put on another flight later that evening but had to find the United Airlines desk to collect my boarding pass.

This was when I realised the Chicago O’Hare Intl Airport is humongous. I stopped to ask a man driving an airport buggy for directions to the United Airlines counter. He informed me it was in the next terminal which is quite a distance away and offered to drive me there. It was a small gesture, but appreciated nonetheless!

Eventually, I made my way to the United Airlines counter, got my boarding pass, and asked about ensuring my luggage would be put on the correct flight. If you remember, I was never given baggage tickets so there was no way to track my bags. I ended up having to give them a physical description of my bags and just cross my fingers that they make it back to Ottawa with me.

Soon I was finally boarding a teeny tiny plane back to Ottawa. The flight was short and I remember the elder man who sat next to me. He spent the flight completing Sudoku puzzles and looked very physically fit. Made me think, I hope I keep myself mentally and physically engaged like that in old age!

Landed in Ottawa to find out one of 2 of my luggage pieces made it to Ottawa. I wasn’t too concerned but had to wait in line to file a claim. When I was asked what was in my piece of missing luggage, I replied, “Inside the suitcase is a cardboard box, filled with ginger beer, candies, and biscuits… for real.” 😛 By the time I was done, I was the last person on the flight to walk out.

My mom, my brother, my aunt and Mike were the only people still waiting arriving passengers… finally home!! Finally reunited with Michael, and my family!

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DHAL: July 04-12, 2014

A huge gap of DHALs, how shameful! This is going to be a long one!

Friday, July 4th… meant one more week of Anaesthesia before the completion of my Critical Care rotation! It was getting harder to see the end now because although it was so close, it felt so far! Since there was no final exam (aside from an online multiple choice exam I had already completed in week 2 of 8), I did not have to spend my weekends immersed in studying, I was able to enjoy going out and seeing my friends.

So on Friday after my shift, I met up with Amanda for dinner. There is a vegetarian restaurant in Fortitude Valley called Kuan Yin Tea House that Michael and I have been meaning to visit because we have heard good things and it is highly rated on Urbanspoon (96%). I was a fun night out with Amanda but the food was subpar, I’ll be writing a separate blog post for this later on!

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Next day on July 5, I finally had the opportunity to see and catch up with Josiah and Danya! They are living in Bundaberg this year, so we have not had a chance to hang out since coming back from Canada, but it finally happened! Weekends in Brisbane for them are always hectic but they had some time to pop over for a visit! And I was finally able to pass on a small wedding gift that Mike and I brought back for them from Canada, which only had to wait 7 months 😉 They even gifted us a nice bottle of wine as a belated engagement present, unexpected but thanks so much guys! It was so good to catch up and hear that they are enjoying living in a new city and being well looked after by the small Bundaberg community. They are liking it so much that they have decided to stay for Josiah to pursue his internship training… that’s saying heaps!

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Lowlight: My cousin, Hoang, from Vietnam who now lives in Brisbane with his wife, was supposed to come over for dinner on July 5th. Unfortunately, something came up and they had to cancel!

The following day on July 6, I had a photo shoot session with the Gibson family!

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This was the first ‘photo shoot’ of any kind I’ve ever done. Pretty much had no idea what I was doing, didn’t have any special equipment, and worked with kit lenses. Had a good time with Kristen, Matt & Abigail but too bad Abigail wasn’t her usual smiling bubbly self! I imagine having a big black camera covering my face might be a little intimidating for a 6 month old! Was able to get a few photos, even some smiling ones. I’ll have to make a separate post but here’s a teaser photo!

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Because my cousins never made it on Saturday for dinner, I invited Sarah and Amanda over for some studying and dinner on Monday, July 7! Had bought a bunch of ingredients to make dinner and didn’t want them to go to waste, what better way to use them up than to have friends help you? Made some Thai green curry chicken to have with rice, yum!

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Had also made lots of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies so sent the girls home with a bunch as well. What made the night fun was meeting Sarah’s boyfriend, Jay. After years of poking fun at her for having an imaginary partner (he has always been too busy to attend any of our events or get togethers), we met him when he came to pick her up. Mind you, it was completely dark outside so I have yet to see what he looks like in person 😛

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The weekend passed too quickly and soon I was completing my last week of the critical core rotation. I feel quite lucky to have had most, if not all, preceptors be very kind and willing to teach. It made for a very good learning environment and I never felt intimidated with any procedural skills, even when I failed them. There was always room to improve and my supervisors were always willing to make things work better for me.

It is also nice when your effort and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. I was rostered for 2 days (July 09-10) on the APMS (Acute Pain Management Services) team, who are responsible for hospital wide consults for patients who require more specialised care for the managment of their pain. These patients can include those who have epidurals, regional blocks, or patient controlled analgesia (PCA). With only 2 days on the service, I made the most of it including being proactive in taking notes, chatting with patients, and handing over plans to nurses in charge. I’m not sure what the other medical students did during their time on APMS, but when I received the note (not required and squeezed beside the signature box) “Above and beyond the call of duty” on my last day and a number of verbal thank yous and compliments, I knew I had done well 🙂

Lowlight: I was told this last week of the rotation by the course administrator that she wanted me to make up time for 2 sick days I took earlier in the rotation. My last week, where I’m fully rostered, and she wanted me to make up 2 extra shifts last minute. I was not happy as we were never made aware of having to make up for sick time, isn’t that why you have sick days to begin with? After having a chat with her and explaining to her that the request was unreasonable in the amount of time I had left, she told me to have a chat with the respective professors of the Emergency and Anaesthesia departments. Bring them my work books and evaluation forms so they can assess if I have done work to their satisfaction and maybe they will let me pass the rotation without making up the time. Lucky for me, both professors were more than happy to let me off after having a chat and leafing through my documents. It was annoying and stressful before I was given approval because of the potential to fail the rotation, but I’m glad things worked out!

Soon, Friday (July 11) rolled around and I was super eager to finish my last day of work! I had been packing up and cleaning the house bit by bit throughout the last 2 weeks so I didn’t have much left to do before flying out Saturday morning. And to end the rotation on a good note, the anaesthetist of my last shift was awesome. He spent the first few hours of my shift grilling me and asking me questions non stop, explaining things along the way as required. When that was exhausted, we just chatted about life in general where he also shared some good advice for my internship year. By 2:30pm, he was showing me his wedding videos and because the same surgery had been going on since 8:30am, he asked me if I just wanted to head home. Early day on my last day? Heck yes! I could definitely use some extra time.

I went home, where I met up with Yoni. He’ll be renting out one of our bedrooms (Christine’s in the other one) so I just wanted to give him the keys and a verbal handover, including what food he should help us finish, which he’s always happy about.

I then headed back into the city to meet up with Mabel, Amanda, Sarah, and Xuan for a post-rotation hang out! We had a coffee catch up at Bonsai Botanika before heading to Maru for a yummy Korean dinner and finished the night with some delicious bubble tea at Gong Cha. I will be writing blogs for the respective restaurants soon! Lovely evening with good company to end my time in Brisbane!

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It was around 9pm by the time I got home, plenty of time to finish up my packing and cleaning. I tried to stay up as late as I could in order to sleep easier on the plane but by 3am, I had to lay down for a 3 hour nap.

Thanks to Christine for giving me a ride to the airport at 7 in the morning! and soon I was boarding Qantas flight 15 to Los Angeles. Boy oh boy was it not the best journey home, will tell you more in the next DHAL!

DHAL: July 02-03, 2014

Lowlights:

  • Yesterday I experienced the worst lowlight since starting DHAL. I was feeling quite down and sad regarding the anniversary of my dad’s passing and being alone at home made it even worse, I’ve never been alone on this day before. I cried many tears. But writing yesterday’s blog definitely helped me deal with my emotions, even if it brought back many many memories. Thank you to all my friends who sent me their love, it was very much appreciated!

Highlights:

  • Ran into Mabel after finishing my shift the past 2 days in a row! Nice to stop for a chat and a few laughs!
  • The flowers Michael sent me bloomed and are gorgeous! Thanks love!

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  • Even though I’m on afternoon and evening shifts this week, it’s nice being in emergency theatre when the rest of the operating rooms are empty and there are only a handful of staff on duty. Just nice and quiet… 🙂 Also, the tea room is always stocked with fresh bread (white and whole wheat!), butter, vegemite, and jams to make toast. A good pick me up when you’re feeling low on energy! Of course there is always coffee, tea, milk, juice and also a basket of cookies for some extra calories whenever you need it.

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  • Since coming to Australia, we have been buying the large tubs of yoghurt thinking that it was the cheapest option, especially when they’re on sale. Recently I learned that was a lie. And that regular priced yoghurt in individual servings is cheaper than large tubs on sale! Never again will I be buying tubs when I can be buying something cheaper, with more variety, and easy to pack for lunch!

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I know, my life is SO EXCITING! 😛

Consistently delicious food at Mon’s Thai Rarnaharn

We have eaten at Mon’s Thai Rarnaharn a number of times now, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to blog about it!

Dining in at Mon’s Thai is always a pleasure with good ambiance, friendly staff and great service. There is the option of dining indoors or outdoors (sheltered and of course, with heat), which is nice! Also fully licensed with BYO bottled wine.

The prices here are slightly more expensive than what you might expect compared to other Thai restaurants, but the quality of food is consistently great and the portions generous. We have also ordered take out a number of times – quick preparation times and piping hot – they even offer home delivery. Sometimes we find takeaway portions can be smaller than what is offered dining in, but certainly not at this restaurant!

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My last visit was on June 14th with Tan and Christine. The restaurant was packed for a Saturday night, with both small and large groups. After browsing through the menu, we decided on one of the banquet options as the dishes were appealing and it seemed like a good deal.

We chose the Phuket Banquet option (minimum 2 people) at $29.90 per person. This included:

  • An appetizer for each person. Either Mixed Entree (1 springroll, 1 chicken satay skewer, 1 curry puff) or Tom Kha Gai
  • 1 main dish per person. Choices were Mussamun Beef, Green Curry Chicken, Beef or Chicken Stir Fried with Oyster Sauce.
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Ice cream with chocolate/caramel/strawberry topping
  • Tea or Coffee 

We were unorthodox, had our tea and coffee before the meal because Tan and Christine were falling asleep despite being hungry. Jasmine green tea for me and decent cappuccinos for them!

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I now apologise, we were so excited to eat that I forgot to take photos of our appetizers until we were halfway through, here’s a curry puff for your viewing pleasure.

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And half of my bowl of Tom Kha Gai. For those who don’t know, it is a delicious coconut milk based soup with strong aromas of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal – yum! I was first introduced to this dish in Bangkok and this definitely brought back memories!

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We were then served the jasmine rice and our mains.

Green curry chicken. We opted for the mild-medium level of spiciness with extra chillies on the side, I’m glad! Tender chicken, flavoursome broth and crisp vegetables.

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Beef Massumun (beef curry) was delicious and melted in your mouth. I am also a fan of the cashews! This dish reminded me of the Vietnamese dish ‘Bo Kho’ due to the texture of the meat and spices in the sauce.

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For the third main, we decided on Stir Fried Beef in Oyster Sauce. Whenever I order dishes in restaurants with stir fried beef, I always wonder if it will come out dry or awfully chewy. This was definitely not the case! Beef was easy to bite into and vegetables still had a crunch, simple dish but yum!

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For dessert, we were expecting one scoop of ice cream each. Boy were we wrong. 3 scoops of nice vanilla ice cream! Luckily, there is a second stomach for dessert but we seriously struggled to finish this meal. Banquet option was definitely a bargain!

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Other dishes I’ve had in the past and love include their Pad Thai and Pad See Eiw, definitely give those a try as well!

Definitely recommend Mon’s Thai for some of the most delicious Thai food in Brisbane!

Mon's Thai Rarnaharn on Urbanspoon

5 years without my dad

July 02, 2009 (Ottawa, Canada)

Today marks the 5 year anniversary of my dad’s passing.

I understand that everyone’s struggles and losses are different and cannot be compared. I know I’m very lucky to have grown up with a father. One who loved his family and worked hard, sacrificing a lot in order to provide for us. One who brought us up to be good people, one who taught us many valuable lessons and skills.

However, as the years go by and I get older, it pains me more and more that I lost my dad so early. He wasn’t even 51 years old and I was turning only 22. I was still living at home, hadn’t truly grown up, with barely any life experience under my belt.

Now 5 years later, my life has changed significantly. I went from living at home to moving across the world and starting a new life on my own. I am months away from graduating medical school and becoming a doctor. I have met the love of my life and we are now engaged. And I am upset that my father has not been by my side to see any of this happen! He never had the chance to visit Australia, which is where he wanted to retire and why I even looked into going to school here. He did not get to see my siblings and I finish school, begin our careers, and start our families. He never had the chance to meet Michael, although I’m sure he would have accepted him like his own son. He won’t see us get married and when we have children, they will never get to meet their grandfather, who would’ve loved them and taught them so much. There was so much in life my father did not have a chance to experience!

Sometimes I feel quite bitter. Life isn’t fair. But it’s always a reminder to live life to the fullest. Enjoy life and fill it with as much love possible… I miss you dad…

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I wrote the following back in 2012 but wanted to repost it in order to share his story again with you:

3 years ago today, a great father left this world – mine.

This man fled Vietnam by boat and survived years in a refugee camp during which time he nearly died – more than once.

When he finally made it to Canada, he met his daughter for the first time – me.

With literally the clothes on his back, he endured hardship and racism in a new country – without speaking the language.

But he laboured hard, lived meagerly and sacrificed – he made a living.

He embraced a new culture and nourished a growing family – built a strong foundation for a new beginning.

He bought a car and soon he bought a house. He educated his children well and took his family on vacations – accomplishments many take for granted.

Everything was going well. Then came life-changing news – the diagnosis of liver cancer.

Five years followed. Happy moments. Hard times. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Pain. Relapses. Hope. Family.

The father once so reserved now spent hours a day just talking with his children – he wanted more time with his family.

The dad who preferred staying in to save money now encouraged his children to enjoy the pleasures of life as often as possible – he had regrets.

The man who never liked being the subject of photography now wanted to be in as many pictures with family as he could – he didn’t want to be forgotten.

The husband who seemed so strong now often spilled his fears as well as tears – he was afraid to die.

The man who told us to share with him all that was in our hearts because he was going to die in 3 days – he foretold his death.  

The man who hugged us, who kissed us, who cried with us and wished he didn’t have to leave us – he accepted his fate.

The man who had to remain sedated until he passed away – hopefully he knew no pain.

The man whose breathing slowed until he took his last breath – died surrounded by a stronger, more loving family.

The man who has shaped the person I am today – my father.

Dad, I will forever miss you and love you. My memories of you and your teachings will have a permanent place in my heart.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post.

And thank you to all my friends who continue to give me their love and support. The meaning of friendship became most clear to me in the days leading up to and the weeks following my dad’s death. You were my pillars of support and I truly would not have been able to be there for my family if you had not been there for me. I love you guys.

Below are links to posts from previous years, I’m putting them all here so I can easily look back on them in the future:

DHAL: June 27 – July 01, 2014

A few moments of my previous few days…

Highlights:

On Friday, June 27, Mabel came over to review some Obstetrics and Gynaecology cases. Good to go over things and happy that information is still fresh on my mind. Caught up over homemade dinner including cauliflower soup and banana chocolate chip bread! It’s nice to have people to cook for, otherwise I don’t feel the motivation to make food!

On Saturday, June 28, I finally met my cousin and his wife in Brisbane! He moved to Brisbane from Vietnam over a year ago but initially I didn’t know he was in Brisbane and then life got in the way. Fortunately, although I absolutely abhor his father for despicable things he did and said when my dad was sick, my cousin is a kind person and his wife is quite friendly and easy to get along with. I met them in Inala (home of Viet-town) where they spoiled me with a yummy dinner at Que Huong Restaurant in Darra. Food dishes included fried soft shell crab, abalone and steamed chicken with greens. I was glad to finally catch up with him and meet his wife! They took me by their place so I could see their home and was kind enough to drive me all the way home. I’ve invited them over for dinner this coming weekend, so looking forward to that.

Then the next day, Yoni and I went on an awesome food adventure. We decided on a budget of $40 each and I chose a few highly rated but cheap eateries in the Fortitude Valley area. We met up at 1pm, started with BBQ pork and duck at Golden Barbeque. On the way to the next restaurant, Jamroc – Jamaican Jerk Chicken, we made a pit stop at 711 for Krispy Kreme donuts. Stuffed after jerk chicken, we headed into the city so I could run a few errands. Deciding to talk a walk in the Botanic Gardens, our plans were pleasantly foiled when we found out the cinema in the city was still showing Edge of Tomorrow and we could get student priced tickets at $6.50. After an enjoyable movie and some time to digest, we picked up some bubbletea from Hazel Tea Shop and headed to Maru, our last stop for Korean dinner. A very fulfilling, weight gaining, 6 hours of eating and eating. I’ll definitely be writing some reviews for the places we visited – let’s do this again soon Yoni! 🙂

This week in Anaesthesia, I’m rostered for PM/evening shifts in the Emergency theatre. Things have been good, I get a nice long break in between afternoon and night surgeries to have dinner. I’m actually writing this blog post on my phone during said break 🙂 I have had the same senior registrar the past two days who’s been very kind, encouraging and keen to teach. He reminds me very much of the first intern I ever worked with back in the beginning of 3rd year. The kind of person I hope to be towards my juniors in the future.

I have caught up with one of my favourite shows – Supernatural. Glad to hear that the show has been renewed for a 10th season because I can’t wait to see what happens!

I believe I have finally finished all my shopping to begin my packing to go home. You’ll see what I mean in a few weeks!

Lowlights:

Being alone! Canada Day was utterly boring as it isn’t a holiday here and I spent it all day in theatre!

Wished time went by quicker when you want it to! As much as I’ve enjoyed this rotation, I can’t wait to finish and be on a plane home!

DHAL: June 19-26, 2014

Hello friends! How have you been?

What a long absence, but here’s what I’ve been up to this past week!

Highlights:

  • As I mentioned in my previous DHAL, I spent last week in ICU and glad to say I enjoyed my entire time there. Unfortunately, I do think a week is too short. Just as I was getting used to the very different medical environment and getting to know the team, it was time to move on. Alas!
  • On Friday, June 20th, I made soft cranberry white chocolate chips! I think they turned out good and not too sweet with a hint of cinnamon.

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  • The next day, I accompanied FangYing (and her younger sister FangZee) in the morning to help her look for wedding dresses. I couldn’t stay with her for all her appointments because I had lunch at Matt & Kristen’s – thank you so much for the delicious food! It was lovely to see their family – Abigail gets bigger, smarter and more gorgeous each time I see her. Not only was it really nice to see my friends (James, Kim and Smiles), it was also really nice to meet some of their friends and catch up with some of the ones I’ve met in the past. Annette, who I first met through Kristen during our first year elective in Vietnam is 6 months pregnant already, how time flies!
  • On Sunday, I went with FangYing and her sister again to another bridal shop in Indooroopilly, where she also convinced me to try on a few wedding dresses. Although I’m not seriously looking for one myself yet, it was a fun experience! I definitely do not want a mermaid wedding dress and after trying on some strapless ones, I like them a lot more than I think! That’s all I got so far 😛 Afterwards, we met up with YungHowe, her fiance, for dimsum lunch – yummy! I’ve been craving for a while so it was quite satisfying 🙂

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  • It was a fun weekend that continued even into Monday when I met up with Sarah and Amanda for a girl’s night catch up. We had dinner at New Shanghai, left stuffed with the promise of doing it again soon. It was also Amanda’s belated birthday so Sarah and I had the chance to treat her to dinner.
  • My gorgeous friend Ruixi married her love, Chris, on June 21! So sad I couldn’t be there with them and friends, but she was a beautiful bride and they both looked so happy!! I’m so happy for you two! Love seeing the photos!
  • Starting this week until the end of this rotation – July 11th, I will be on Anaesthesia. This entails me accompanying a different anaesthetic consultant everyday to theatre in order to learn and assist. So far, I have been blessed with very friendly seniors who are happy to have a medical student and eager to teach and give me hands on experience. I am getting better at ‘bag and masking,’ which is the most important skill to learn in these next few weeks. I still lack the upper body strength to hold the mask and bag at the same time, but I’m working on it! Another skill we try to master during this term is intubation – which I’ve met with variable success – I accidentally put the endotracheal tube in the oesophagus today. My last intubation was perfect though, hopefully I keep it up!
  • The other nice thing about anaesthesia is the chance to see surgeries I haven’t seen in the past. For example, a total hip replacement, maxillary advancement, bilateral breast reduction, etc.
  • This morning, I got confirmation that I will have free accommodation during my 4 week elective in Nanaimo, BC – yay! Saves me at least $500 🙂
  • I finished at the hospital quite late today. It was already very dark outside when I got home but I saw an outline of a bouquet waiting for me at the door. I couldn’t look at it until I was inside but what a beautiful surprise. A bouquet of our favourite flowers – lilies from Michael – I love you! They haven’t bloomed yet but are so fresh and I can’t wait to see what colour they are. Thank you dear!

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Lowlights:

  • I need to start packing! 2 weeks left until I go home! So much to do still. I have 2 pieces of baggage on my flight back so I will be bringing back goodies for my family 😉
  • Long days. I’m exhausted and falling asleep around 10pm these days. This rotation is draining! Can’t wait for it to be over and to be going home!

DHAL: June 11-18, 2014

Hello friends!

Look at that, I didn’t even get through one month of DHAL and I already failed at daily blogging, oops!

The reason I haven’t been blogging is because I have been on shift in the Emergency Department and in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the past 7 days straight and I’m so tired when I get home – with laziness and studying distracting me. I still have a couple more days to go before I can finally have the weekend off. My days are averaging 10-11 hours, which is quite tiring for a number of reasons:

  • You’re not getting paid.
  • You need to be alert and learning at all time, so it can be very mentally exhausting.
  • It’s constantly a different environment with new staff, protocols, and procedures to become familiar with.
  • You still have to go home and study or read up every night to at least look slightly competent.

With that being said, there have been a number of highlights and lowlights this past week.

Highlights:

  • Enjoying and finishing my 4 week stint in the Emergency Department. I quite liked the variety of presentations – from mild to serious and seeing how they are assessed and managed. Had a good time working alongside the doctors (especially the interns), nurses, and physios. Felt appreciated for my work and had a good performance assessment by a senior doctor at the end.
  • I finally had suturing experience! An elder man had a large wooden post fall on his hand which gave him a number of lacerations that needed to be sutured. My only prior experience was in theatre while the patient was still asleep, not awake and watching me. I’m happy to say that unlike before, I sutured with a steady hand, with proper technique and approval by my seniors. Patient was also happy with my handiwork – yay! Confidence restored, I thought I was going to have to live with a hand tremor exacerbated under pressure for the rest of my life.
  • And related to previous post, where it used to be nerve wracking to have someone scrutinize me while doing procedures, either someone junior observing to learn or someone senior watching to make sure everything went well – I am now quite comfortable performing underneath someone’s gaze. Phew!
  • Did my own plaster casts, on real patients! I know, it’s silly that I’m halfway through the end of my last year of medical school and only getting this experience now. Unfortunately, as international students, we do not get the opportunity to go on a rural rotation, which is where you get a lot of hands on experience. With that being said, I’m trying to make the most of all opportunities I come across.
  • This week, I am the only student in ICU when normally there are 2-3. Initially, I was a little intimidated to be the only student, especially in such a different medical setting without a colleague, but now I definitely feel privileged. I now have scheduled one-on-one teaching time with great consultants, who never make you feel stupid for not knowing all the answers. I was invited to stick with one team throughout the week and follow the same patients so I get the opportunity to learn how patients are managed in ICU – as opposed to being with a different unit every day. I’m also getting opportunities to see and participate in procedures and tasks I haven’t in the past, like maxillary antral lavage, bedside bronchoscopy, and transport of critically ill patients. It’s cliche, but I really am finding everything interesting. My days in ICU pass by quickly as there are a number of scheduled activities every day including: morning handover rounds, one-on-one teaching, radiology meeting, afternoon teaching rounds, etc. I always feel welcomed to ask questions, which is a good facilitator to learning as well. Only 2 more days!

Lowlights:

  • I am SO tired! Would’ve been nice not working for 9 days straight, but I guess that’s what the real world will be like when I’m working.
  • Not eating well. I’ve been averaging 1-1.5 meals a day, which isn’t healthy but I’m trying to change that.
  • The sickest patients are in ICU… and it’s hard to see them not get better. For example, we are caring for a young woman who had pneumococcal meningitis and developed sepsis following a microvascular decompression surgery for trigeminal neuralgia. She now has partial locked in syndrome – paralyzed from the mouth down, intubated and ventilated and could only communicate by blinking her eyes. After a couple of weeks (when I first met her), she began to develop fevers with an unknown focus, despite adequate coverage with antibiotics. All possible tests and scans have been performed with no cause for her fevers found. In addition, she has a rash that was getting worse before our eyes and right before the end of my shift today, she took a turn for the worse and became completely unresponsive – GCS 3. It’s not easy dealing with an unwell patient, but even harder when we don’t know how to help a deteriorating patient.
  • June 15 was Father’s Day, always a difficult day when my dad is no longer with us in person…

DHAL: June 8-10, 2014

Highlights:

  • June 08 – Starting a new show called The Blacklist. I’m really enjoying it and it reminds me of Alias, one of my favourite shows. A female protagonist, working for the FBI and a male antagonist (but is he really a villain?) with a unique relationship with the protagonist and a clearly deeper motive to his every single action.
  • June 09 – Saw X-Men: Days of Future Past with Sarah and Amanda, I loved it! I was also surprised to see Blink (Asian mutant who can create portals) played by Fan BingBing, an actress I grew up with for her role in the extremely popular Chinese series, Princess Pearl.

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  • June 10 – Good teaching sessions today. Ended the evening with a dinner from McDonalds. I know… I shouldn’t have.

Lowlights:

  • June 08 – Not getting much studying done because I was too busy watching the Blacklist 😛
  • June 09 – Had to tear up all the weeds in the backyard. Our landlord refuses to provide any gardening equipment and we will not spend our own money on such tools. Therefore, we have to tear them up by hand whenever there’s a house inspection or they make a big stink about it. A good workout, but wouldn’t need to do it if the landlord would do something about his backyard like the real estate agent said he would when we first moved in 3 years ago.
  • June 10 – Long day! Headache by the time I got home but ebbing with some Tylenol.

DHAL: June 06, 2014

(Yes, I skipped DHAL for June 4th and 5th, sorry! I just didn’t find anything exciting or unusual to talk about)

Highlights:

  • Sleeping in… until 9am today!
  • Lunch date with Sam and catching up. I miss having him around to joke with like last rotation. He went to Wagaya for the first time today, and approved! Even treated me to lunch, although I was the one that took him, so thank you friend! 🙂 Glad he liked it because his girlfriend loves Japanese food, so now they have a new place to dine at.
  • Dinner date with Amanda, Sarah, Kee Ping, his girlfriend Janice, Xuan Ping, Aditya, and Daniel at Malaya Corner. So nice to see them all and catch up! Food was tasty and plentiful and conversation was not lacking – what I enjoy! Also ran into Clarence and his friend Andrew, so that was a nice surprise as well.
  • I baked today! The first time in a long time. I only bake when I can share with friends, like tonight. Trying to create a new chocolate cake recipe as well as a new choco-peanut butter icing and I think it was a success! Saved some for some special people I’m visiting tomorrow 😉

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  • Completed and submitted internship applications to Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, 3 states in total. Now it’s completely out of my hands, I’m just praying that both Michael and I will be offered a job in the same city – that is our only wish.

Lowlights:

  • We haven’t sprayed cockroach repellant outside our house in a long long time. Now that it’s getting colder, the first one has finally made it’s way inside the house! Argh, so gross. It was about 1.5cm long and was too fast for me to kill… now it’s around the house somewhere and going to get revenge on me when I’m asleep. I guess it’s time to set traps. :(d

DHAL: June 03, 2014

Highlights:

  • When I was in Canada, one of my favourite cereals was Honey Bunches of Oats – Just Bunches! Randomly started craving that, so I looked for something similar at the grocery store. Guys, I found something even better: Jordans Crispy Oat Clusters – Chunky Nut

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Delicious! There’s just something about crunchy oat clusters… maybe because they’re flavourful with awesome texture and don’t get so soggy so quickly? And I was so impressed because there are tons of whole hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, and brazil nuts. I know right? So many awesome, expensive nuts in a cereal box – who would’ve thought! Delicious with frozen fruit and yogurt!

  • I came across a really good Vietnamese singer I’ve never heard of before – Hoang Thuc Linh. Really great, mature vocals and she really does older Vietnamese music justice – I don’t really know many younger singers who embrace the genre.

Another one I like

  • I came across this English proverb on Instagram today, “A smooth sea never made a skill sailor.” It made me think back to the rant I wrote yesterday. Although frustrating at the time, every experience, even difficult, can teach you to be a better person.

Lowlights:

  • Still having difficulty finalising my personal statements for internship applications that are due this Friday!

DHAL: June 01, 2014

Highlights: 

  • Start of a new month!
  • Thought I lost/forgot my daily sign off sheet for this rotation but it was just left in the Emergency Department AND it wasn’t thrown out!
  • Actually being told to go for lunch today by a senior doctor. And then talking about Canada to the same doctor because he is interested in taking his family there next winter so his children can experience snow for the first time.

Lowlights:

  • Severe abdominal pain waking me up late in the night that ended with me in the toilet for a long time. Don’t know if it was the Subway I had for lunch or food from New Shanghai at dinner with Christine. She was fine though at least, which is good!

DHAL: May 31, 2014

Highlights:

  • When your shift passes by quickly than you expected
  • Catch up and dinner with Christine Q at New Shanghai

Lowlights:

  • Failing at inserting 2 cannulas in a row! Has never happened before and what a blow to my confidence! 😛

DHAL: May 30, 2014

Highlights:

  • I passed my Obstetric & Gynaecology rotation! Woo hoo! Results came back last week, and if you didn’t know how I felt about the 3 consecutive days of exams, you can read about it HERE. I was genuinely worried about the possibility of failing and ended up doing much better than expected. Happy with my results and can now breathe and move on!
  • I was rostered to sit in on a 4hr teaching session for the junior doctors today. Couldn’t help myself from participating even though I think I was only supposed to be an observer but a great learning experience. Case based learning today on the topic of neurologic presentations to ED (syncope, delirium, altered mental state, overdose, etc) interspersed with clinical skills. I’m glad there will be teaching like this for me next year to help keep up with relevant knowledge and skills.

Lowlights:

  • Ending the day with a headache 😩

DHAL: May 29, 2014

Highlights:

  • Finding the motivation to finish all my assessments (ahead of time) for this current Critical Care rotation. Modules are completed online with respective quizzes followed by an online multiple choice exam. Passed everything, so that’s now done and out of the way!
  • Calling my great aunt and great uncle in Perth (grandma’s siblings) to catch up and invite them to Brisbane to visit and possibly attend my graduation. I felt guilty because I haven’t spoken to them in a loooong time, they didn’t even know of my engagement! My great uncle has Alzheimer’s but it was still great to have a conversation with him about what’s been going on in my life and my future plans… even if I ended up having the same conversation with him over and over at least 5 times.

Lowlights:

  • Ended up calling in sick today. Just haven’t been feeling well and low mood. 😩 Hard coping being alone and never been away from Michael before!

DHAL: May 28, 2014

Highlights:

  • Having Christine over for dinner of fish cakes, roasted sweet potato and green apple & fennel salad. Peanut butter cheesecake for dessert! It was lovely to catch up with her and have her company for a few hours!

Lowlights:

  • Feeling generally unwell and a little down. And could be related or unrelated but a severe lack of motivation today. Didn’t get much done overall. 😩

DHAL: May 27, 2014

Quite the uneventful day!

Highlights: 

  • A great teaching session alongside Lauren and Kee Ping given by the Medical Education Registrar at our hospital. Simple things that really drive home the point but exactly what we need to work as an intern next year.

Lowlights:

  • A pretty bad headache that knocked me out for a few hours.
  • It makes me sad to see family members not bother lifting a hand to help their loved ones in a health care setting. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t care or if they feel it is not their job/beneath them – but either way. I was assisting a staff member today (she was tiny) to change the sheets of a large elderly man. He had urinated on the bed and also had dementia, was delirious and agitated, and didn’t speak much English. Despite our struggle, his big burly son didn’t even try to assist, either physically or even speak to his dad to help calm him down. When we finally finished, he pointed to a clean urinal bottle, at his feet, that fell during the change of sheets and said, “Um, the urine bottle is on the floor.” Really, you couldn’t just pick it up? I know everyone is different and has their own reasons, I just couldn’t imagine being like that when my dad was very sick years ago and I was his care taker.