Closure

Sadness. Happiness.

Freezing. Warm.

Surprising. Expected.

Suffocating. Reassuring.

Angry. At peace. 

Depressing. Exciting.

Disbelief. Trust.

 

Binominal bin descriptives don’t do justice. Things are not just black and white. 

There is a gradient. A spectrum. From extreme to extreme.

 

I am not okay today. But I’m less not okay and more okay than I thought I would be. So I am proud. I will be okay. Someday.

3DS Games I Need to Play

So recently, I caved and became an owner of a brand new Nintendo 3DS, only just adding to the family of Nintendo handheld consoles within my family, which include the original Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, and Nintendo DS Lite.When the 3DS first came out, I believed that I would never purchase it, and therefore gave up my dreams of being able to play new games from my favourite series, namely Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright/Apollo Justice, and Pokemon. However, there was a deal last month where I just couldn’t pass up…and here I am today, a proud Pokemon trainer who has defeated the Elite Four.

Before I forget, I just wanted to quickly document a few games that I am extremely excited about playing sometime in the very near future….very near.

1) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

  • Release Date:Oct 24, 2013
  • Price:$29.99

2) Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

  • Release Date:Feb 28, 2014
  • Price:$39.99

3) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

  • Release Date:Oct 28, 2012
  • Price:$39.99

4) Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright :Ace Attorney

  • Release Date:TBA, 2014 (already released in March in other parts of the world)

Time to keep an eye open for some deals!

We Are Stardust

When I was in grade 5, I wanted to be a mathematician.

When I was in grade 7, I wanted to be an architect.

When I was in grade 9, I wanted to be a pianist.

When I was in grade 11, I wanted to be a pediatrician, although pharmacy also came under my radar.

When I was in first year university at UBC, I wanted to get into pharmacy for good, and abandoned the medicine idea.

When I was in fourth year pharmacy, I wanted to be a hospital pharmacist.

***

We are stardust. I believe that our very existence in this universe is the product of a next-level series of events that happened just so, and that each of our purposes in life is also designed by our fate. Along our paths towards finding that purpose, we often become distracted by benign attractions or malignant temptations that present themselves at different stages in our lives. However, although unbeknownst to us at the time, I believe that each choice we make and every step we take is with a purpose in our personal Goldberg Machines. One thing leads to the next, and sometimes we look back and wonder how did everything fall so perfectly into place. Some may argue that things were not perfect at all; however, I believe that even negative or traumatic experiences are meant to be part of the journey, and are vital pieces of the mosaic that represents our identity at any given time.

Looking back at all my youth’s aspirations as outlined above, I am amused by how scattered and distracted I was. In grade 5, I thought that I wanted to be a mathematician because I could finish my Mad Minutes in 10 seconds. In grade 7, I thought that I wanted to be an architect because I had started taking art classes and loved to draw, and wanted to find a way to put it to use. In grade 9, I thought that I wanted to be a professional pianist because I was completely submerged in the beautiful depths of classical music while preparing for my performer’s diploma exams. In grade 11, I thought that I wanted to be a pediatrician because being a medical doctor seemed like what everyone else interested in healthcare wanted to be. Furthermore, I loved children, so being a pediatrician seemed to be the perfect fit. That same year, I was introduced to the world of pharmacy through a work experience, and I believe that was one of the most steps to where I am today.

During first year university, I spent the year feeling very out of place in a room full of crème de la crème keen students, and I had many conversations with my classmates about what they wanted to major in. I was surprised by the proportion of people who had plans to go into pharmacy/pharmacology/biochem/physiology and then apply for medicine. The more I heard, and the more I talked, the more I realized that I was not really cut out for medicine. And so I began my pilgrimage to the field that I now call my home, pharmacy. I was absolutely elated when I found out that I was accepted into pharmacy, and somehow I just knew that I was on track. I remember very distinctly during a gathering with my first year classmates, I was engaged in a conversation with two other girls about what we our plans were for the following year. I mentioned to them that I had declined my pharmacology offer and accepted pharmacy. Much to my surprise, instead of congratulating me, they both stared at me incredulously and questioned why I did not go for pharmacology. Then and now, that is a question that I never hesitate to answer: quite simply, because I chose pharmacy. (I could go into all the reasons why, but that is not the point here.)

However, even after I was in pharmacy, I was lost for a bit. I was blind-folded by the limits of my school curriculum and by my own ignorance, and did not even think to explore the realm of hospital pharmacy in my first 3 years. But something awoke within me at the end of my third year, and I began to make up for lost time. Every single person I had met, shadowed, talked to, or worked with has been instrumental in the process of my personal growth. Now, as I look back on the last few years, it is unbelievable how nicely things fell in place for me, and I can almost forget the inner turmoil and anxiety I felt throughout the whole process. This year of residency has truly been a defining and landmarking time of my life, and it is now such an important part of my identity that I can’t imagine who I would be if I had not decided to do a residency. Hospital practice is something I have discovered that I am passionate about, and I feel that I have found one of the main purposes in life for which I was created for.

On another note, I believe that love is also governed by fate. A series of events happen just so, and two unlikely individuals may be brought together to discover a soul mate in one another. Although times during this journey may be uncertain, confusing, or deleterious, I believe that each step we take has a purpose, and will lead us to finding that person with the most perfect of imperfections who will love us as much as we adore them, if not more.

Hugs & Kisses

I never usually tolerate kisses in any shape or form from people who I have just met, but today I received countless affectionate pecks on the cheek that I could neither avoid nor wish to wipe away.

As this week is my vacation week,  I have had a bit more time on my hands to do some non-residency things. While I still have been going in to St. Paul’s every day to work on my project, I have also purchased and starting playing Pokemon Y on my brand new Nintendo 3DS, gone for a run, gone shopping, run errands, and taken an on-call volunteer shift at my favourite place in Shaughnessy, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Every shift brings different challenges and tasks, not to mention that I had not been back at CP for a few months and I have never taken a weekday morning shift before, so I was very much looking forward to it.

This morning, I became the ultimate companion to a 2-going-on-3-year-old little girl, who is the sibling of one of the kids on the program. I’m not sure if it was because I am super likeable, or because she finds it very easy to warm up to others, but the second I knelt down beside her to say hi while she was watching Sleeping Beauty in her cozy armchair, she gave me the sweetest smile and giggle, and we were instant pals. Throughout the rest of the shift (and thank goodness the movie took up a good hour-and-a-half), I spent time with her all over the house, minutes at a time. We went down to the Volcano Room to play with the giant blocks, attempted to get into the Sand Room but it was locked, went up to 3rd floor to squish around some Playdo, ran around in the hallway, settled down in the Snoezelen Room for a few minutes, went down to the main floor Sun Room to play with the trains, went to the kitchen to have a snack (she had a yoghurt tube and pretty much a WHOLE orange, while I had a coffee and a cookie), went back up to 3rd floor to draw, then went over again to the Snoezelen Room, then went outside to play in the play house and draw with chalk on the pavement, then it was finally time for lunch. I was exhausted, to say the least. It was so amazing how much of an energy ball she was, completely tireless and neverending desire to go do something else.

However, what amazed me the most was the amount of love that this little one possesses. While I was thinking of other options of getting her to places without having to chase after her all the time, I decided to pick her up and carry her around. At first, I thought this was a bad decision because she reached for me on multiple occasions afterwards to pick her up. However, much to my surprise, she began to hold onto me tightly with her chubby little arms, and alternatively press her soft little cheek against mine and pepper my cheek with affectionate little smoochies while I carried her around. Initially, I almost wanted to pull away because I was taken aback by all the kisses, but it was physically impossible as I held her with her face at a level just beside mine. I was (and still am) touched by the amount of affection that she showed me, her temporary companion for the morning. She gives her love and affection so freely and with such endearing innocence, and her family is so lucky to have her as an unwavering beacon of light during their darker times. This was yet again another example of how much children never fail to surprise me, and I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to spend time with her.

The experience I had during my shift today made me wish that I had time to commit to regular shifts as I once did a few years ago, but perhaps the magic is that much more beautiful to me because I don’t see it so often now. Regardless, I am going to continue looking out for on-call shifts to pick-up, so that I can continue to make even a small difference in some little ones’ day, as they often make insurmountable differences in mine.

Sochi 2014 Figure Skating Coverage Schedule

In anticipation for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, I have compiled the ultimate broadcast schedule for the figure skating fan. 🙂 Fun fact: Team Canada has the largest team for figure skating during these games: 17 skaters in total!

Sochi 2014

Sources:

Tone-setting Gifts

I didn’t specifically set any New Year’s resolutions this year. It was partly because I didn’t want to be associated with the hoard of hopefuls who set lofty goals every single New Year’s Day but never see them through, but mostly because I already had so much going on that I didn’t have time to think about it. Ironically, this whirlwind of events that I have already lived through during these first 2 weeks of 2014 has indirectly caused me to realize a few things that I am promising myself to be more mindful of this year.

Life’s Gift #1: A much anticipated vacation to Taiwan and Hong Kong at the end of 2013.
My Realization: I truly love residency and the work that I do, because by the end of the trip I could not wait to return home to start the second half of my residency and go back to work.
My Promise: To cherish every moment and seize every opportunity to learn, on-wards to the rest of my residency and beyond.

Life’s Gift #2: A viral infection and secondary bacterial infection of the sinuses, eyes, and throat, with which I was out and under the weather for a whole week, and had to call in sick for the first day of my ICU rotation.
My Realization: I too often take my health for granted.
My Promise: To be more aware of when I am stretching myself too thin, and how to take better care of myself (which includes getting enough sleep, keeping up with exercise, and eating well) so that I can continue to do everything that I love doing.

Life’s Gift #3: A friend who loves me enough to tell me the truth, even if it may be the painful truth.
My Realization: I have been a fool.
My Promise: To spend more time thinking of myself, and less of certain others. As well, to live in the present. It’s okay to learn from the past, plan for the future, but I need to limit the time that I spend wishing for the future in my mind to come now, because the future will come soon enough, but it is never of the same substance as we may predict.

Life’s Gift #4: A friend who loves me enough to help me through an inner turmoil that was at risk of overflowing.
My Realization: I am so blessed to have such caring friends in my life.
My Promise: To reciprocate all the love I have received, and to make a more concerted effort to show that I care very much about and appreciate each of my friends.

#joaninHK2013: Reflection

It’s crazy to think that it’s already been a week since I last blogged, but the nature of my visit to HK didn’t warrant frequent blogging to document things as I did in Taipei. My week-long stay in HK was 50% spending time with  family and friends, 40% shopping, and 10% doing touristy things. Tonight is the last night we are spending here, and I am definitely looking forward to returning to Vancouver, in more ways than one! That is not saying that I did not have a good time though, because I did.

Hong Kong is truly a unique city, where old and new coexist symbiotically. All over the city, you see old, stained buildings with protruding air conditioners juxtaposed against new, shiny glass office buildings and malls. The bus systems are old but convenient and intimate (you have to call out to the driver to request a stop), and the MTR system is well-developed and quick to the pace of a HK lifestyle. There is an abundance of street markets where you can barter with the shop owners for a bull’s horn comb or a few dragonfruit, as well as modern supermarkets and convenience stores to run your everyday errands. Just a half hour drive away from the busy city core, you can get to many fishing towns which are still very active and undeveloped.

Grandma <3

Grandma ❤

The best part about this trip was seeing my family over here, especially my grandma. The last time I saw her was over 2 years ago, and she is much different and much unchanged at the same time. This time I spent time with my 85 year old grandma, she is more frail and weak, less in tune with her memory and hearing, but still has the same fiery personality that I remembered. I wish that I could spend time with her more often than every couple of years, but living halfway around the world, I can be content with knowing that she is well taken care of by my aunts, uncles, cousins, and her neighbours.

My mother’s old highschool and work friends have all been so gracious, and we have not been without activities during our stay in HK. Auntie R took us shopping and eating at 又一城, Auntie D invited us over to her place for hotpot to celebrate Christmas, Uncle K not only picked us up from the airport but drove us to see places away from the bustling city, and a hoard of my mother’s old highschool friends (who they insisted I called them by their first name only or 姐姐) took us out for lunch. We are so lucky to have so many people spend time with us, and I’m sure that my mother is especially happy to see all these familiar faces.

Mmhmm

Mmhmm

The shopping never fails to disappoint me in HK, especially the street markets on 鴨寮街 (Apliu Street) and 花園街 (Fayuen Street). There, we pretty much swiped every stall for their phone cases, cute things, and more random cute things. My allergic rhinitis started after we went to those busy and congested areas, but it was all worth it. The malls also had some pretty awesome amazing deals. G2000 and Giordano are among my favourites, as well as Uniqlo, which we visited at least 3 times at different malls. I stalked up on winter coats x2, sweaters x4, work pants x2, and leggings. 東薈城 (Citygate Outlets) also has a whole new floor for shoes, and I bought a pair of Dr. Kong flats and a pair of Geox flats, as well as a pair of adorable bunny flats…all work appropriate. All in all, I had a pretty satisfying retail treatment period.

I’ve definitely gotten fat from this trip, despite all the walking, and my favourite meals are definitely breakfasts at the local cafes, and any meal with a HK style milk tea. I was unfortunately hit with a bout of GI upset near the middle of the week, but I recovered in time to enjoy my last few days.

On Saturday, my mom’s old work friend, Uncle K, drove us away from the city to visit fishing towns and sight-seeing spots. This is the beauty and diversity of Hong Kong; it’s sometimes hard to believe that a short 30 minute drive can remove you completely from the crowded, hazy, busy city to the quiet, fresh-aired, leisurely suburban-rural areas. We visited 清水灣, 布袋澳 ( Po Toi O “Sack Bay”), 西貢 (Sai Kung), and 流浮山 (Lou Fou Shan). These fishing towns are very much still full of activity, with Sai Kung becoming more and more busy as a tourist attraction, and Lou Fou Shan continuing to be fruitful in oyster farming. Walking down the street of Lou Fou Shan and seeing all the seafood stalls, neighbouring seafood restaurants, and golden oysters on bamboo baskets left out to dry, it would be quite the hellish experience for those who find the fishy smell revolting. I, on the other hand, don’t mind it at all, and it was definitely an olfactory and visual party. A pitty I couldn’t have a tastebud party as well, but I couldn’t risk worsening my bowel issues and ruin the rest of my trip.

from Sky100

from Sky100

We also paid a visit to HK’a newest landmark, the ICC, world’s 5th tallest skyscraper. We went to the very top, Sky 100 Observatory Deck, and luckily it was quite clear that day so we could easily see quite far and admire the city. The elevator that goes to the very top has no stops in between, and took around only 30 seconds to complete the trip. I’m sure that the night view will also be lovely, but either way, it is definitely worth it to visit Sky100 at least once when in HK, as it offers a one-of-a-kind perspective of the city.

This has been a very nice trip and getaway from residency, but I am now more than ready to be back. I didn’t realize how much I missed my dad and brother until we spoke over the phone today as we were packing up our room. I miss white food (there! I said it!), I miss my friends, I miss work, and I miss Vancouver. It’s funny how I always feel at home whenever I come back to HK, but I’ve realized that my heart lies in Vancouver with all my family, friends, and life there. It’s been a great time in Asia and we have enjoyed such hospitality in both Taipei and HK, but I can’t wait to be back home. 🙂

#joaninTW2013 Day 4 Final Reflection –> #joaninHK2013

It is now Day 4 of our trip, and after a slight fiasco of having to call our travel agency for the car to get to the airport (they forgot about us!), we are now sitting patiently at our gate at TPE awaiting our flight to HKG. I have just eaten my Japanese style rice ball with honey fried chicken that I picked up from Family Mart, and am sipping on some Lipton Milk Tea and munching on some chocolate-covered dessicated fruit (WAY better than Brookside!) while typing this post. It’s quite hilarious to think that I have decided to do this post at all – I guess residency is really getting the best of me. But in all seriousness, our short trip to Taipei has been such a blessing, and it wouldn’t feel right without a final reflection to document all of my deepest thoughts about this wonderful city in a wonderful country.

The people

The part of the trip that has touched me the most was definitely the people of Taiwan. Everyone we have met, whether they were airport ground staff, hotel staff, drivers, restaurant owners, waiters, tour guides, or shopkeepers, have been so warm, friendly, and helpful in every way possible. It seems that the whole city of Taipei is filled with kind-hearted souls who welcome all with open arms and hearts, so much so that I would not be afraid as a single foreign traveller to return as I would not be without aide, ever. Even people who we have not met, those who are just random citizens who I see and observe on the streets, exude a considerate, conscientious, and good-natured aura, which was quite a change of scene from Vancouver. There are no absent-minded youths crossing the streets with their eyes glued to their cellphones, nor are there grumpy, self-righteous business people clacking their ways to work. Driver, pedestrian, and cyclists alike are well aware of their surroundings, and always make way for others whenever necessary. I love the people of Taiwan.

The lifestyle

Maybe it was where we stayed, but living in Taipei is so convenient – all daily necessities are literally within arm’s reach. You just need to head down to the street, turn the corner, and there are an abundance of 7-Elevens, Family Marts, and various markets for groceries and shops for food. If you ever needed anything more, the convenient subway station could take you to wherever you needed to go. With so many restaurants and small family-owned food shops in every alley and street, it is not surprising that most people don’t cook at home. Why cook yourself after a long day at work when you can get a cheap, warm meal of whatever you desire just a minute’s walk from your home? One could easily make many friends with all the nearby food stall owners; these women not only cook a mean meal, but they are also the sweetest beings ever and genuinely care about you and want to get to know you. It’s like having many “mothers” to take care of you and your tummy! I love the lifestyle in Taiwan.

The food

I already alluded to this earlier, but the food in Taiwan is amazing. Not only is it cheap, but pretty much anything from any shop or restaurant is legit. Amazing bakeries are everywhere, simple yet hearty local cuisine at every street corner, and dainty specialty cafes all over the city. I wish we were here longer as I didn’t have a chance to have Din Tai Fung, nor did I have bubble tea, believe it or not! But still, everything that I have had was so satisfying and delicious. I love food in Taiwan.

In summary, I love Taiwan, and I would come back again in a heartbeat.

Onwards to HK, my home away from home! Blogging may be more sparse as we have less planned, but we shall see. 🙂

#joaninTW2013 Day 3 (Dec 21)

Day 3 in Taipei was an absolutely amazing day!

This morning's breakfast :)

This morning’s breakfast 🙂

We started the day with an early buffet breakfast at the hotel, and I first want to say that when I mentioned the breakfast yesterday, I didn’t give it nearly enough credit as it deserves. It has so much variety that caters to all types of guests; sunny-side up eggs, scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, oatmeal, and pancakes for the Westerners; congee, associated preserved goods, lotus root, bean curd dishes, rice, noodles, and buns for the Asians. There is also an unfailing supply of various types of drinks, including hot coffee, hot milk, ice coffee, iced tea, and juice. The chefs are extremely thoughtful and really work hard to provide good quality and variety – we are so impressed!

After breakfast, we had an early start to the day as our morning’s tour guide came to pick us up at around 0800. Our tour today once again took us to the North coast of Taiwan, but today we went to 基隆 (Keelung) and 野柳地質公園 (Yehliu Geopark). Keelung is Taiwan’s second largest seaport, and is a small city just north of Taipei. Apparently, it used to be called 雞籠 “chicken coop” because the mountain/hill it is near is liken to a chicken coop; however, it was later changed to 基隆, which is phonetically pronounced the same in mandarin, but does not have such a downgrading meaning. This city is apparently well-known for their tempura, which unfortunately we did not have a chance to try as we were only passing through. We were also lucky to see the big yellow duckling sitting in the harbour! It was the first day at Keelung, as previously it was sitting in Kaohsiung. Since I missed it while it was in HK, at least I got to see a glimpse of it here. 🙂

Braving the wind and rain @Yehliu Geopark

Braving the wind and rain @Yehliu Geopark

The highlight of the tour was definitely the time we spent at Yehliu Geopark. The main attractions to this cape park are the hoodoo stones that decorate the entire cape. The sea waves have eroded away the softer rock, leaving unique rock formations that we now are able to marvel in and gape at. The most famous is the one that is called “Queen’s Head”, which looks like a regal queen’s side profile from one direction only (any other direction, it does not look like anything). Other ones include the “Cute Princess,” “Ginger Stones,” and the “Candle Rocks.” It was almost unbelievable that nature would be able to create such things, especially the Candle Rocks as it appeared too perfect. Walking through all the rock formations, I feel like some things are man-made or augmented by man, such as the ground, but I think that the actual main attractions are real. It was a shame that it was so windy and rainy that we weren’t able to enjoy the park as much as we could – apparently the best time to come is in September/October when it’s not too hot, but not rainy. I sported my new yellow rain poncho the whole time, and I felt super fashionable. 😀

The best honey toast at Dazzling Cafe Mint

The best honey toast at Dazzling Cafe Mint

After we got back to Taipei, I called up my friend Jay, who I know from Vancouver, and we met up for an awesome afternoon chillage! He took me subwaying to have lunch and do some shopping, and the first stop was Dazzling Cafe, home to the world’s best honey toast. He ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Honey Toast and a latte, while I ordered the Party In Your Mouth Honey Toast and a caramel macchiatto. Jay’s toast came with a healthy dollop of whipped cream and chocolate sauce, with crunchy box toast that had some hazelnut filling. My box toast had delicious buttercream, icecream, and strawberry sauce atop crunchy toast as well, with a tiny pitcher of extra honey in case it wasn’t sweet enough. These were seriously the best things I have had in ages, and I am glad that my virgin honey toast was taken here. When I get back to Vancouver, I will try the one at What8ver sometime and compare, but I doubt nothing will compare to what we had today at Dazzling. After a delightful “lunch” at Dazzling over good conversation completely in English (SO refreshing), we strolled over to SOGO and I binged on Muji stationery. Then, as the legit foodies that we are, we attempted to go to Caldo Cafe nearby for soufflés. However, there was too long of a wait, so after hanging around for 15 minutes and still notable, we decided just to head home. It really was a shame that we didn’t get to go today, as Caldo is Jay’s favourite place, and there are no soufflé shops in Vancouver! Again, this is another reason that I need to come back to Taipei. Anyhow, spending the whole afternoon with Jay was awesome, and I felt so lucky to have a friend in the city who could take me exploring the city in a way that I never would be able to on my own. Thank you! 🙂 (PS Where was my mother? She was contently enjoying another massage at the place near our hotel!)

Day 3 Dinner

Day 3 Dinner

For dinner, I reunited with  my mother and we went down to the streets near our hotel once more. We ended up in a place called 味都拉麵, where my mom had a 麻油雞 (sesame oil chicken) with rice, I had a 海鮮麻辣拉麵 (seafood spicy ramen), and we shared some delicious stirfried local cabbage. The food was simple but so delicious and satisfying, and we had very nice conversation with the store owner lady, who apparently came back from the US to open up this shop with her husband. She was as appalled as we were by the short duration of our stay in Taipei (only 3 days), and she suggested that an easy way for me to be able to come back to Taipei is to marry a nice Taiwanese boy. Good idea…anyone have recommendations? 😉

And that was pretty much the end of our day! After dinner, we went to 7-eleven to pick up some random snacks, and then just returned to our room to chill and clean up. I intended to use the hotel’s treadmill tonight, but unfortunately the top floor was closed for “typhoon warning” (the only way to the gym is through the  top floor’s open terrace). Boo. But whatever, that only meant more time to complete this blogging with my delicious lychee flavoured Taiwanese Beer!