Category Archives: friends

The 5 things I miss the most about Australia

12 Apostles at Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

12 Apostles at Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road


Obviously this list is endless, but I thought I would focus on the 5 things that have made Australia special to me and that will be irreplaceable. Living here has been amazing and I’m definitely going to miss it. I’ve had some of the best experiences hanging out with friends and studying. Sometimes I almost forget that I studied here as most of the great memories I can recall are the ones with friends. But okay, enough of this prologue, I’ll get on with the list.

5. Cycling: It’s no Denmark but Melbourne is definitely an amazing place to cycle. The streets are mostly wide, flat and some spots even have designated bike lanes. Living in the good side of the river has its benefits of great cafes and bike paths. Canning St is definitely the cycling super highway and there’s something to be said riding in a bike pack, with no cars in your way. I know a lot of people complain about how crap it is to cycle here and that drivers are aggressive, but compared to most cities…Melbourne is a cycling paradise. I wish SF wasn’t so hilly so I could continue cycling there, but then again, maybe I’ll just get some buns of steel to help me conquer those hills.

My ride!

My ride!

4. Public transport: I’m going to miss all the trams and trains here. PT in CA pales in comparison. I’m also going to miss all those funny ads about rhinos on skateboards. Now who thinks of that?! Oh, but one thing I won’t miss…myki. Goodness, what a horrible system? Melbourne, you didn’t invent the rechargeable travel card, so why didn’t you just copy any other existing system? To help sum up why myki is so dumb and expensive, here’s a site that explains things that are cheaper than myki.

Oh and I also will NOT miss running after the tram. Come on tram driver, if you see a lady in heels…wait, why don’t cha?!

Here are a couple of those funny ads.

Beware the rhinos!


Why is this woman riding a rhino?

3. Food: Anyone who knows me, knows that I love food. Basically I’m a fat kid in a small asian girl body. The best way for me to get to know a city is to eat. Melbourne has such amazing restaurants and so many of them are cheap eats. I love discovering new places and love trying new cuisines and it’s great that Melbourne is so multi-cultural in that respect. I’m even going to miss pies and sausage rolls. Who am I?!

Some of my reviews can be found here.

Now, does anyone know of a good curry laksa or pie in SF?

2. New experiences: From making new friends to exploring new places, I’ve had some amazing experiences here. I’ve been lucky enough to see more of Australia than many Australians I think. I’ve been to every capital, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, cross country skied in the Australian Alps, swam in the Indian and Southern Ocean, tanned on the famous Bondi Beach and dodged gators in gator country (ok, maybe not…it wasn’t gator season when I went to Northern Territory but still!).

Arnheim Land view from Ubirr

Arnheim Land view from Ubirr

Surfing in Anglesea!

Surfing in Anglesea!

Watching a Wallabies rubgy match!

Watching a Wallabies rubgy match!

Driving on the wrong side of the road!

Driving on the wrong side of the road!

Learning how to rock climb!

Learning how to rock climb!

1. Family: I’ve been amazingly lucky to have such wonderful friends that I can call my family. Without these friends, I seriously would not have enjoyed myself as much as I have and it would not be as hard to leave. I’m so glad that I was able to meet such amazing people in my masters program. Without them, the program would not have been as enjoyable. I’ll never forget all of our coffee dates, cheeky beers after CCPP, PEN nights, and catch-ups in the OEP lab. I’m so proud of all of us and I have no doubt we’ll eventually change this world and make it not so gloom and doom.

Being silly on Cinco de Mayo!

Being silly on Cinco de Mayo!


Last night in OZ with friends!

Last night in OZ with friends!

I’ll definitely miss my housemates, Nessa and Andrew. I’m going to miss all the delicious meals we’ve shared and all the times Nessa and I watched ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ only to hear Andrew or Morten also comment on how bad the brides looked. It’s so hard finding good housemates and it’s even harder leaving them.

Andrew and Nessa being goofy.

Andrew and Nessa being goofy.

I’ll also miss all of my workmates. It’s been a blast working at Earthwatch for the last year. Everyone is so enthusiastic and passionate about their work, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in the future.

Drinks with my Earthwatch buddies!

Drinks with my Earthwatch buddies!

Lastly, I’m so happy to have Morten and Buddy. We’ve made a life here together and next year will definitely be hard without him and Buddy. He’s introduced me to so many people who I can call my own close friends and also to so many things, from cross country skiing to mountain biking to rock climbing. He’s encouraged me, pushed me to my limit and I’ve come up on the other side more adventurous and curious.

Enjoying some sun in Beechworth.

Enjoying some sun in Beechworth.

It’s definitely a bittersweet moment for me and I have no doubt I’ll see everyone again. So it’s not goodbye but more of a see ya later. Love you all and cannot wait to see where and when I will see you all next.

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Australiana with a dash of Americana

I’ll start off with, no football game is complete without a nice brew and some buffalo wings. Yesterday, it was the Australian Rules Football (AFL) Grand Final (GF) aka their superbowl and we were all gathered to watch it. Hawthorn Hawks vs. Sydney Swans. Now the thing about AFL that should be mentioned is that it is primarily played in Victoria but other states have teams in the league. Victoria is footy country whereas New South Wales and Queensland are rugby country. So I’m guessing most of Victoria was devastated to see Sydney in the GF over one of their other ten teams. Even more devastating was that Sydney won yesterday. Tears everywhere…unless you were a Geelong fan as their natural enemies are Hawthorn so you were happy to see them go down, if it wasn’t by your own hands.

Watching the game at an AFL viewing party is very similar to watching the superbowl at a superbowl party sans the wings, coors light/bud light, red cups, great commercials and an awesome half time show. Wait, what am I talking about? An AFL Grand Final is nothing like the Superbowl.

Tips to improve AFL Grand Finals:

  1. Add some glitz and glamour to your coverage.
  2. Get better advertisers, especially during commercials.
  3. Bigger and better halftime show (sorry The Temper Trap, as much as I love you, you were a bit out of your element there?).
  4. Note to self: Always bring buffalo wings to a viewing party. The only redeeming factor of sports bars are buffalo wings (disclaimer: I don’t eat meat, but I make an exception when it’s American inspired).

Venturing out onto the streets after the party, we milled around looking for an adequate bar and as a last resort, went into The Kodiak Club. To my surprise, it was a bourbon bar and you know what that means! America! Little fact: Bourbon is American whisky brewed in Kentucky. And what do you know, they had a late night kitchen and what was on the menu? Buffalo wings and all kinds of fatty American treasures (i.e. mozzarella sticks, sliders, grilled cheese) and so many American and Mexican beers to make you squeal like a little school girl! They even had some Canadian things to make it all so North American (mooseheads and smoked maple syrup).

So all in all, the night turned out even better than I expected. Got my Australian fix with the AFL Grand Final and also got my American fix with the buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and Sam Adams. Thank you Kodiak Club for making an American feel at home in this strange land of koalas, kangaroos and AFL.

And now I’ll leave you with photos of the buffalo wings that made my night, the last seconds of the GF (boys are not too bad on the eyes)and the best commercial of the game.

(This is just one of the many great commercials featuring Rhonda, the safe driver. See below.

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American holidays down under?

I wonder how ex-pats celebrate their holidays abroad…especially if the holiday is ENTIRELY foreign to that host country. Fortunately American television (god bless Hollywood) has infiltrated enough countries that I don’t have that problem. Naturally the best holidays to celebrate that aren’t typical in Australia are Cinco de Mayo, 4th of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving! Celebrating it here really makes you think about why you are celebrating it…whether it’s just to get drunk and eat candy or to celebrate our Independence (What up England?) or to give thanks and enjoy a nice meal with your loved ones (and to eat pumpkin pie).

Tac-O!

4th of July aka America’s Birthday – There’s nothing as American as apple pie…tru dat. Celebrating America’s birthday was awesome…aside from the fact that it was freezing winter! No fireworks, but we did have sparklers (note to self: sparklers burn holes in furniture…) Eating burgers, mac & cheese, and apple pie, what a better way to say ‘I love America!’ It was kinda strange celebrating with the Aussies, since they are still under the British crown…legally. Yay America for beating those redcoats out!

Apple Pie!

Halloween – Messy messy night…what turned out to be a relatively innocent party turned into mayhem. I guess what do you expect when it’s halloween? We had mummy and goblin cakes, ghost lollies..oh and plenty of booze. Quite a good showing from the Aussies, who really have only been celebrating Halloween for the past few years. The most typical question I got asked about Halloween was ‘What should I wear…should I go as something scary?” My response: ‘No, didn’t you see Mean Girls?” lol. I try to block out the rest of halloween since it was pretty traumatizing…let’s just say it involved me pretending to sleep while others ran around naked in the house…god, how have we not had the po po called on us yet?

Turkey Day! – Trying to explain Thanksgiving to others is a pretty strange thing. The origins are quite horrific…I recall msot of my elementary school days the teachers telling us that it was the first meal shared between the pilgrims and the American Indians…a peaceful meal. It wasn’t until later on that our teachers actually began to tell us what it really signified…the overtaking of America. What a shame. But despite the bad origins, it has evolved to become a nice meal shared between loved ones and that’s how I explained it to the Aussies. We had everything from turkey to green bean cassarole to pumpkin pie! Unfortunately they don’t sell canned pumpkins (imagine the looks I got from Aussies when I asked them about it…it looked something like this O_0) so I had to make it from scratch. Not too shabby, it turned out all right but not as sweet as I had hoped. Oh well, next time! Celebrating Thanksgiving abroad really makes you thankful for all the loved ones you have back home and all the new ones you’ve gained in your travels. I’m so incredibly fortunate to have met so many great people and to reatin my friendsships back home 🙂

Haha, why do all my holidays involve food? Oh well. I was a fat kid in another life, I won’t deny it.

2:15 finish?

Huzzah! 2:15 finish…what a long 2 hrs and 15 mins that was! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I finished the Melbourne Half Marathon in 2:15…maybe a little less, can’t recall what time I crossed the start line. But anyways, as my 2nd half marathon, I am pretty please with myself…considering that I ran this HM 20 mins faster than last years Nike run. Yay! The first 10 km was a breeze and then that’s when it went downhill…I didn’t see any markers until we were at the 18km and by that point I wanted to die. Once I saw the 3km, I thought ‘Breeze…I’ll finish this in 2hrs no problem.” WRONG. Running along I was like ‘Hell yes, I’m so there…where’s the finish line?? Um, yea…then I saw the 2km sign…say what? It took me 10 mins to run 1 km? YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! The last 3km were so brutal, I was about to give up but why would you give up in the last second? Yea, I pushed on and finally saw the finish line, you can’t imagine how happy I was 😀 (<-something like that) I guess I ran so hard during the race (approximately 6:34min/km) that I ripped my shoe! Hahaha! So glad for it to be over…this training has been more intense but it totally paid off. Now I can add this finisher’s medal to my collection. Thanks to everyone who donated and supported me. Until next year!

Only 2 km to go and in pain!

Another Half Marathon?

My body asks me why I put it through this pain…and I ask of it, actually I don’t ask it…I tell my body that I’m doing another half marathon! The day is almost here, less than 2 weeks! Let’s hope my legs hold out for another couple weeks because this training has been more intense than last year’s…that’s for sure! As part of this year’s half marathon, I decided to raise money for the Environmental Defender’s Office Victoria. They are a non-profit environmental legal team that provides legal advice/consultation to communities about environmental issues. I guess not all lawyers are soul-less money makers! Good to know 🙂 I had a goal of $250 originally but I surpassed that in less than 1 week of posting my fundraiser! So I decided to up to $500 which I was able to reach, thanks largely to Jose Revuelta and Karen Nga! Thanks to everyone else as well, couldn’t have managed the training without you all!

Update: Just 4 days left til the HM and I’ve already started the carb-loading (just my excuse to eat more rice and pasta…not that I need the justification lol). I’ve surpassed my fundraising goal of $500 and broke $600! Gosh my friends (all of you) are freaking amazing! Thank you so much for all the messages of support, it’s definitely kept me going. See you at the finish line! (I’ll be sure to post a photo of me at the race, before and after…I won’t need to say which is which because you know I’ll look haggard at the end of the race lol).

Here are the trails that I’ve been running, the number marks kilometer!

Prince Park Run


Merri Creek Trail


Melbourne City Trail

Surfing USA! Sorta…

So it takes me a trip all the way to Australia to finally learn how to surf? Yea yea yea I know..CA is known for all of our surfing and whatnot…I mean we totally walk around in our bikinis and surf in between classes lol. No but really, my last encounter swimming out at sea was getting thrashed in the coral reef in Fiji so you can understand why surfing would make me a bit nervous :-/ But it was actually fun! We went down to Anglesea as part of our Postgraduate Environment Network (PEN) group, a nice study break. It wasn’t the best day for surfing but the sun decided to come out to play. Our instructors gave us about a 20min lesson and explained the basics…um, who knew that it’d be such an arm work out? And for those of you who know me…I have absolutely no upper body strength! However, once I got out to the water, I was rocking it. Okay that may be a bit of an exaggeration, BUT I did manage to stand up 4x! Hells yes! Total pro…now I just need a hot bikini to be like those chicks in Blue Crush…watch out California…new surfer on the waves!

Exhausted!


Learning!


Showing off our technique!

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Americans down under!

Something I’ve been waiting for since I first arrived in Melbourne finally arrived! The Americans!!! Amanda, Michelle, Michelle, Sarah, Kirsten and John all came to visit a couple of weeks ago. We spent 4 crash course days in Melbourne experiencing all things Melbourne, from cafes in laneways to hidden bars to dirty hipsters. We went around all the happening hoods and stayed right on Flinders Street in a sweeeet apartment! Day 1 was pretty rough…everyone was experiencing jet lag and their first taste of Melbourne winter…chilly! We explored Fitzroy, the CBD, Collingwood, Carlton, and Brunswick. I was definitely cracking the fun whip to get everyone going to prevent them from succumbing to the jet lag and to make sure we saw as much as possible. Our goal was to stay up at least ½ hr more every night…considering they only made it to 10:45p the first night!

We were able to do a day trip out to Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins (aka Fairy Penguins)…smallest penguins in the world. Our party bus was pretty sweet…nice astro van to haul all the kids ☺ We managed to make it out of Melbourne and I will have to admit, Amanda was the best choice for a driver despite her choice in radio stations (Bruno Mars is never okay). I’ve never been out to Phillip Island myself so I didn’t know what to expect but we were able to see wallabies (aka wombats), koalas, black swans, kookaburras, and penguins. As awesome it was to see everything…it was FREEZING! How painful to sit there and wait for the 20 penguins…though I did get to perfect my penguin walk. Pretty awesome and realistic as everyone will tell you, haha.
The rest of the time was a blur…as we rushed through the last bits of our Melbourne itinerary…hitting everything from Victoria Markets for souvenirs to souvlakis in the CBD to kangaroo steaks at the Napier to laneway bars. How sad that the only kangaroos that we saw…were on our plates! Oh well, I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that they were pretty freaking delicious ☺

As we packed up our bags and headed to Sydney, the sun finally came out in Melbourne and everyone saw Melbourne live up to its name of having 4 seasons in one day! Our trip to Sydney was spent enjoying the Sydney Harbour as we stayed in the YHA – The Rocks. We did the Sydney Opera House tour, which was awesome and gorgeous! I would totally recommend it, though seeing a show there would probably be cooler. We also saw Bondi Beach, despite all the protests from Michelle and Amanda (and their stupid beach song)…you can’t go to Sydney without seeing the most famous beach of all! It was a cool and windy winter day at the beach but a lovely sight overall…nice and relaxing time for our whirlwind trip. The last night in Australia was spent at the Rugby Union game: Australian Wallabies versus South African Springboks…which Australia totally killed! Rugby + hot men + beer = the perfect way to end our trip! I’m pretty sure by the end of the trip, John was over us objectifying men! I’m surprised he survived the trip with all 6 of us girls! Goodonya mate!

But alas…all things must come to an end ☹ Saying goodbye to everyone at the airport was difficult…more difficult than when I first left in February. I’m very blessed to know that I have wonderful friends back home who are willing to come all across the Pacific to visit…if only for just a week. It was a teaser of what I have back home…great family and friends. I can’t wait to be back in the states for Christmas knowing that I’ll get to see everyone again. Love you all!

Birthday down under!

funfetti!

They say it’s your birthday, dunna dunna dunna…

Another birthday down under and I can proudly say this one went better than planned! Britne and I share a birthday and we decided to party it up like it was 1999! We spent our actual birthday indulging in Japanese food and ice cream! The next day, we had our birthday party and stayed up til 6am dancing like fools. Nothing like dancing like an idiot with your friends to celebrate your birthday!

I’m so blessed to have so many great friends and family back home ☺ 22 was a fabulous year, but I know 23 is going to be even better. I was definitely apprehensive about having my birthday here in Australia and I was definitely having a bout of homesickness, but it was all for nothing! I had an amazing time and am so thankful for the friends and family back home and for all the friends I’ve made here in the past few months.

Birthday girls and Tom with our funfetti cake!

Holiday? On a wetland?!

You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about so let me tell you…Dani and I decided to go on holiday to Brisbane. First of all, we should have known how disastrous the trip was going to be since we couldn’t decide where to go in the first place. Well we finally decided on Brisbane in hope of some sun. Our trip to Brisbane started off well enough, early morning flight and then settled into Bunk Hostel in Fortitude Valley. Man, is Brisbane boring! Tuesday night and nothing to do…what a disappointment! Luckily we met up with some of Dani’s friends in Brisbane to plan out a canoeing and camping trip for Thurs-Sat. On Thursday we headed to Gold Coast…apparently it’s the Vegas of Australia. What a weird concept…it’s such a tourist trap!

But anyways, onto the real exciting part of the trip. Our idea was to canoe to our campsite from Elanda Point in the Noosa Everglades. The campsite was ‘supposedly’ 2 hrs by canoe…though they had expected it to be ~3 hrs since there was a strong wind warning. So we get 4 boats (2 in each, 1 guy and 1 girl). We launch offshore and we’re paddling…it’s looking okay and BAM! The wind and the rain pick up. OMG, I forgot how much I hate boats. We’re all struggling a bit and then Dani’s boat capsized! Luckily it was a shallow zone so they stand up and get back into the boat. Continue paddling…2 hours later, we’re all wondering why we haven’t reached the campsite yet. We’re all thinking ‘Man Australians must be EXTREME if they can paddle to the campsite in 2 hrs…we must be weak!” My canoe paddles out farthest…we lose the other 3 boats and at this point, I’m freaking out! Once the rest of the boats reach us, we’re freaking out because we can’t read the map and have no idea where we are. We call the canoeing company to ask if they can pick us up because we’re not at the site and have no idea where we were…unfortunately they said no. It was after business hours and no one was around. So next time, I’ll need to be more courteous and try to die between operational hours!

Now our group is freaking out even more, we decide to call 000 (Aus’s emergency services aka 911). They ask if there’s any injuries and there wasn’t so they told us to sit tight and to make camp…it was going to be a long night! Forced to camp on the wetland, we tried to cook some dinner while water encloses all around us and we’re freezing our bums off basically. Finally we have some dinner and manage to get into dry clothes…bed time at 6:30p. It was the most uncomfortable night ever as we tried to cram 6 people into a 3 person tent and the other 2 in a 2 person tent. I managed to get some sleep but it was definitely interrupted by bird calls, intruding water, and fidgeting people. Finally morning comes and we pack up…to our relief the canoeing company calls us to tell us that they’re rescuing us because another strong wind warning was issued and there’d be no way we could paddle out before it hit. We finally see the boat, relieved we didn’t have to paddle back and they tell us we’re the very first group that they’ve ever rescued. We gave a great name to foreigners lol.

From this, I’ll never go canoeing again no matter how good the weather is…too much effort for the result lol.

End of the Semester

Finally finished my first semester of grad school! Whew! It was a challenging and testing semester, but I survived. I’ve learned so much more than I had imagined and really enjoyed all of my classes in the end. There were some moments were I thought I was wasting my times, but it turned out for the best. The best part of the program has definitely been the people: awesome peers and awesome professors. It’s so refreshing to be around people who care, understand, and share your concerns about the world. It’s also great to be in a new country where they’re undergoing sort of an upheaval in the environment world. But now that I’m done, I’m shutting down my brain for the next week or so just to recover. I don’t think I’ve ever written as much as this in my life, but I’m happy to know that I can do it. Huzzah!

And now onto the fun stuff! Tom, Natasha and I have been searching high and low for a house over the past month and we finally have one! It’s a bit (actually a lot) rickety, old, and in desperate need of some level ground and paint! It sounds a bit sad doesn’t it? Well it’s cheap and right near Sydney Rd in Brunswick so key location trumps level ground lol. We got our keys today and man was it an ORDEAL! First we went to 3-4 commonwealth banks before heading to Box Hill to find an open one on a Saturday. We went to the house with our friends and it was an anti-climatic opening because the door wouldn’t open! Our keys didn’t open the door! It was deadbolted and so luckily we were resourceful and ended up breaking into the front window! Is it sad that this is the 2nd time I’ve climbed into my house through the window in the last 4 months? After climbing into the house, we had a good inspection and realized our kitchen level was totally sinking and unlevel lol. Guess we missed that when we did the inspection. Oh well! It’s a house and it has a roof, I’m quite content. Hopefully it’s not haunted because it has to be like 50+ years…I can live with unlevel grounds but not a casper.

Here are some photos of the end of the semester!