DHAL: July 13-19, 2014 – Ottawa for a week!

One week home in Ottawa, been looking forward to this for weeks! ūüôā

Michael and I aren’t planning on going home for over summer/Christmas holidays, since our graduation date isn’t until December 20th and we expect to be moving and preparing for a job rural at the end of the year, hopefully! This rotation is our opportunity to spend some time in Canada… so who knows when we will be back next!

Spent some quality time with the family!

Got to eat one of my favourite Vietnamese meals – Bo Bia! Fresh rolls with Chinese sausage, sauteed turnip, egg and veggies including Thai basil dipped in a hoison peanut sauce – thanks mum!

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A meal selfie!

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My mom’s famous deboned, stuffed, and breaded chicken wings! Delicious! And some homemade samosas

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And with my grandparents!

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Trying out my grandpa’s first batch of banana lime liqueur – coming along well!

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We enjoyed quite a few different taste testings, haha!

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I finally got to meet Benny! The dog my brother adopted earlier this year who is now considered the baby of the house and my mum’s favourite. He’s a cutie and (mostly) really well behaved but always gets a little too excited when new people come over that he pees on them.

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He’s a sweetheart and a whiner, always crying and looking out the window if you leave him behind.

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And he loves his balls and squeaky toys…

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Had the opportunity to go down to Perth Road Village to spend some quality time with Mike’s family on July 14th. Their property is by a lake and very cottage-like, so it was very nice and relaxing! Mike’s brother Matt and sister in law Jessica recently had their 2nd child – Rinoa, who’s super cute! Their oldest, Jasper has grown so much since I last saw him!

Some of my favourite photos, you can view all of them HERE.

Matt, Jessica and Jasper out on a canoe ride

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Matt & Jess’ dog Bubba – not feeling well today.

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Father son laughs

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Auntie and niece bonding time.

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Little Rinoa

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Tummy tickles!

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Like father like son

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Hanging out with Uncle Mike

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Indeed!

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A pair of loons and a baby! We tried to get as close as we could without being intrusive and they certainly kept an eye on us the whole time just in case!

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This dinosaur

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Got to satisfy a few of my cravings! Including McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast (mmm sweet and salty, maple syrup and sausage) and of course, Shawarma Palace with their awesome garlic sauce! Not shown: Stops at Tim Horton’s!

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Even had time to catch up with some of my best girls! Thanks for coming over on July 17th Atong, Julia and Hue!

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Julia loved Benny!

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Julia requested Cuttlefish snacks by Nong Shim, which apparently can’t be found in Ottawa anymore. They are delicious though, even Mike’s hooked on them.

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A lovely engagement gift from Julia & Atong ūüôā A family cookbook that even has room for photos!

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And perhaps most importantly, my mum held an unofficial engagement dinner with Michael’s parents so they could formally meet all of my family. This was on Friday, July 18th, the night before both Michael and I flew out to our respective electives. We decided to have dinner at Chu Shing and luckily, only a handful of family were missing. It was the usual family deal, chaotic but I think it went well!¬†Thank you also very much to my grandparents and to Ong Tia Ba Y for their generous gifts!

Some of the photos!

Selfie at the dinner table

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With Mike’s parents, my mum, my grandparents, and my dad’s aunt and uncle.

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The elders!

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All my aunts and uncles (except for my 4th aunt who was in LA with her daughter Lilian) and a few of the cousins

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Some more cousins as well as Aunt Diane, Uncle Andrew (my great aunt and uncle’s daughter) and their 3 children.

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Group photo!

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With my dad’s side of the family

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Aren’t I lovely?

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With Michael’s family. Unfortunately, his sister Meaghan was not able to join us due to work. His brother has 2 small children on an early schedule and it’s a drive up from Kingston!

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Before heading home, we dropped by Phuket Royal, a restaurant where my cousin Kevin was working (couldn’t make it to our dinner) to say hi. He was just getting off work so we decided to go to My Sweet Tea to catch up over bubble tea. We didn’t get back until past midnight, and Mike and I still needed to pack! Needless to say, it was a late night.

Woke up at 4:30am the next morning to have breakfast together at Perkins with Di Nam before heading to the airport for my 7am flight to Vancouver. Good bye family and see you again soon!

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They’ve changed the format of the security line at the Ottawa Airport to be extremely inefficient, causing myself and a number of other passengers to almost miss our flight. At other airports, once passengers go through security, they may be pulled aside to a different station for an explosives scan, which is when they swab the outside and also open your bags to swab the inside¬†and test for explosives.¬†For whatever reason,¬†Ottawa has decided to incorporate the explosives scan as part of their security line, before your bags go through the scanner. The ENTIRE security line gets held up when someone’s having their bag tested. Meaning nobody’s bags are being scanned and nobody is walking through the metal detectors. Completely inefficient, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they better change that.

My sister met me once I landed in Vancouver and we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before I had to start heading to Horseshoe Bay to catch my ferry to Nanaimo. It took a good 2 hours to get there from the airport via the SkyTrain into the city and then bus to the ferry terminal. More about Nanaimo in my next post!

Getaway: Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18) Review

March 10 – 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taken from their booking page:

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

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

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

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

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

View upon entering the cabin.

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

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Looking back towards the front door

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

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Couple of faux wicker chairs and colourful cushions

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

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

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View of the bathroom with the toilet behind the shower.

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Up the stairs

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

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

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Large deck, partly secluded by greenery.

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Also has a small BBQ with 2 potential gas tanks

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

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

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Other things worth noting:

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

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

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

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He never replied to our last text.

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

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

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

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

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