liveˈliv:v; to have a life rich in experience

a life abroad in australia & adventures along the way

Double Date with Javi and Kate

Kate and Javi were in town for Kate’s Brother’s wedding. We were lucky enough to catch the both of them before Javi flew back to the UK the next day. We spent the evening having dinner at one of our favorite places, Harajuku Gyoza in Fortitude Valley. We ordered many dishes that I failed to photograph, and the guys had their round of Sake.

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Some Animals We Saw at Taronga Zoo

4 days (3 days, really) in SYDNEY


Day 1 

Monday 12 November 2012

Our trip to Sydney began Monday 12 November, when Jenny dropped us off at the airport (THANK YOU JENNY!).  Once we landed, we took a taxi to Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments at 243 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, NSW, and checked in.  We got placed on the fourth floor, studio, room 422.

 It did not have a view because when we look out our balcony we see a car park structure, not so flattering.  Initially I was hoping we’d get lucky and be placed somewhere higher, but the elevators took forever anyway, so I was glad we were only on the fourth floor.

The place has an eerie feel to it.  It is an old woolstore, warehouse-like structure…very industrial kind of vibe.

We probably arrived around 3pm, and walked across Darling Harbour bridge and around the aquarium to the ferry stop, where we waited for the boat to Manly Wharf.

The ride was pretty neat, it was slow enough for us to take in the view of the harbour, and appreciate the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, and of course the Sydney Opera House by Circular Quay.  The trip was about an hour from our place.

We arrived at Manly and walked around for a bit for photos.


We met with our friend Nick, (see: who we had met during our trip to Vietnam in Sapa and subsequently met up with several times during that trip (Hoi An, Saigon, Singapore and now Sydney).  It was lovely for him to drive his bike out after a long day of work to have drinks and dinner with us.

He was so sweet- he got us drinks from Manly Wharf Hotel, and the three of us had dinner at Hugo’s, along the waterside (awesome sunset view).

We ordered a taster entree, Chorizo Pizza and Pork Belly Pizza.  It was a delicious dinner, best pizzas I’ve had.

 It was cool to hear about his exciting travel plans in the near future where he will be sailing with his mates across to the Panama Canal.  Ryan will be sending him two books this week – Chasing Sunsets, and Steering You Straight.

After dinner, the three of us walked across the street to grab some ice cream and waited by the beach to see if penguins would pop out underneath the wharf.

We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one at sunset!  They have the whole area blocked off so the public won’t scare the penguins away, with one worker to keep reports on the penguin sightings.

Ryan and I then said our farewell to our mate, Nick before catching the boat back to Circular Quay.

Once we arrived, we walked up the many steps around the Sydney Opera Picture and took many pictures of the iconic site.  Sydney made me feel like I was actually in Australia.

I got excited when I first saw the opera house emerging behind the Harbour Bridge as we got closer.  I am such a tourist.  Being in the city felt like being at Disneyland.  I felt giddy.  There was even a monorail.

We took a cab back to our place after that.

Sydney is an hour ahead of Brisbane because Queensland does not have daylight savings.  Regardless, I woke up  6am Sydney time, I was that excited to start the day.

Day 2

Tuesday 13 November 2012

We walked to Circular Quay and took a ferry to Taronga Zoo.

We didn’t realise that the bottom entrance would not open until 11am, and the only way to the main entrance was through the sky safari, or by shuttle.  We were able to go through the sky safari route, which was pretty fantastic with the views along the way to the top.  We loved our day at the zoo.  Took lots of photos of the animals (will have a separate post for Taronga Zoo).

 I like it a lot better than Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.

Afterwards we went back to our place to rest and change for dinner.  Along the way we stopped at Adriano Zumbo’s Bakery in The Star shopping centre.  We got two macaroons, lemon meringue tart and a chocolate mousse.  (We are gluttons when on vacation)

We made plans to meet Garrett (a college friend of mine who lived on my floor freshmen year at UCSB in Francisco Torres Dorms, 9 North).  He is currently living here with his wife while he does his PH.D.

 We met in Surry Hills in front of Red Lantern (Luke Nguyen’s Restaurant!).   Our server was named Timothy, from Minnesota.  He was awesome.  He lived in Germany for awhile after leaving Minnesota then moved to Australia, and has been living here for 10 years.  Garrett says it is more common to meet someone who is from outside of Australia in Sydney.   We had a very delicious meal, though very pricey (it’s Luke Nguyen’s restaurant, after all).

We ordered Bo Luc Lac, Whole Fried Snapper, Bo Kho, Rau Munog and Rice, with Vietnamese coffee and 333 Beer.

It was well worth it, and we had great company (Garrett, if you are reading this, thank you for taking the time to catch up with us).

The three of us walked together until we reached the train station to depart ways.  Ryan and I continued on our walk back to our place.  We enjoyed the swimming pool, jacuzzi, and sauna back at Old Goldsbrough.  I loved the sauna (I can’t believe I forgot to take a photo before we left).  We went back in the morning and again in the next evening.

Day 3

Wednesday 14 November 2012

We spent the morning walking to the city shopping center along Pitt Street and Castlereagh Street.

I got a black dress for work from TopShop and received a student discount (score!)  10% off purchase.  Ryan got two dress shirts from Country Road.  We continued to walk around the city to take photos of the historic looking buildings.

We dropped off our stuff, and went to have lunch at Hurricane’s Grill by Darling Harbour.

We shared garlic bread, mixed salad and a full rack of lamb ribs.   It was sensational.

It was so much food for the both of us.  We made it up by walking, lots of walking throughout our stay (I love walking, but wish I had more comfy shoes).

 We walked to the Botanical Gardens and took photos of ourselves with the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge in the background.  Afterwards, we continued to walk to and through Chinatown in Haymarket.

We stopped by Emperor’s Puff for some fresh hot cream puffs (recommended by Garrett), and bought 2 dozens.

It was so delicious and satisfying.  We then walked back to our place and called it a day.  My feet and legs were hurting from all the walking.

Along the way, Ryan got a Hot Roast Beef Roll with Gravy from Hannah’s Pies-where there was a sign next to it saying it was Sydney’s best pasties…the beef roll was tasty, but the portion was smaller than what I expected for nearly $7.

We spent the rest of the evening at the pool/sauna then watched some Foxtel telly.  Mostly Tosh.O and South Park, and Futurama. Walking all day wiped us out, and Ryan got sick.  It was raining in the morning (we had missed out on the Solar Eclipse, because we slept in -it was cloudy anyway).  It was hot and cold throughout, as well, messing with our body temperatures.

Some more photos of us.

Day 4 

Thursday 15 November 2012 (Today)

This morning, it was difficult to wake up.  We ate instant noodles for breakfast and finished up the chocolate mousse.

Ryan was feeling terrible with his sinus being all stuffed up, and he was a bit feverish.  We watched TV and packed up, and called for a late check out.   Took a taxi to the airport, and Jenny scooped us up once we landed.  I knocked out during the whole flight, which is only about an hour or so.

Dia de los Muertos Monster Mash Party

Ryan and I hosted a halloween party this year, and it was a graveyard smash.

Suicide is preventable, sometimes.

I may have written (or not) about me doing my social work placement at a children’s hospital, within the Mental Health Inpatient Unit.  I get to work within a multidisciplinary team who work with young children and adolescents who are experiencing acute mental/behavioural/emotional issues.  During admission, the treatment team provides many services but not limited to psychiatric reviews, family meetings, therapeutic group activities, school within the hospital, continual observation from nursing staff, and case coordination/ liaising with relevant stakeholders.

One of our “frequent flyers” (as we would call those who frequently present to the Emergency Department, and have had a history of previous admissions/contact with mental health services) took her life over the weekend.    Most people found out on Monday, and when I heard, it put me in a strange mood.  There were a lot of questions on my mind, especially, could it have been prevented?

This young patient was linked in with a community clinic for follow up treatment, and was on a waiting list for a more intensive program- she was seen twice every week by the community clinician, and her parents were on board with doing whatever necessary to keep her safe.  She was admitted 6 times, just this year. I helped with the case coordination for her last two admissions.

The first thing I did when I heard what happened, was look up her records/and history to read recent reports written about her.  Then I read some research articles on teen suicides; and came across an article stating “Suicide is preventable, sometimes.”  It basically commented on the common myth that many of service providers assume -that suicide is preventable, and we should work and provide as many services as we possibly can to help the individual be safe, and help prevent them from harming/killing themselves.  We believe that if we gave enough support to the person, that we can prevent suicide, so when it is not prevented, we seek someone to blame, and look at where we have failed and think about what we could have done differently.


I cannot imagine what her family must be feeling, as well as clinicians who worked intensely with her.  Reading the article was somewhat comforting, because it reminds us that even though we did all we could, and worked really hard, in the end, the individual will do what they are going to do, and it is beyond anyone’s control (no matter how hard we try to take control).  Instead of being too critical, it helps to remember and reflect.

Apparently, sadly, her suicide was the result of an impulsive action following a disagreement between her and her mother, where she ran off to get away, and jumped in front of a train. Who knew if she really meant to take her life.  In that instant moment, there is no turning back, no one to stop you.  It is BAM! and that’s it.

I remember her being so despondent during a review prior to discharge from the inpatient unit.  She did not say much, down cast eyes, vacant.  She was very difficult to read.  Did not engage, did not give us much during the interview, did not give much opportunity to build rapport (though it is often more challenging to do so in an acute situation).

Post discharge, the treating team from the inpatient set up a stakeholders meeting to discuss what the best treatment for her would be, and what preventative measures all involved can take to keep her safe. We visited the community clinic, to meet with her treating team there, and she was put on priority to attend the intensive treatment day program to keep her engaged and monitored by specialists.   A lot of people involved, a lot of people working together to keep her safe, a lot of people affected by her taking her life.

The only time I saw her face light up was when she saw a fellow inpatient she knew, who was being discharged, and she said “Hey Girlfriend!” and gave her a huge hug.  I guess you just never know.  Who knows what goes on in a young person’s mind, but it is so important that they know there is help available, there are people willing and wanting to help fight the demons stirring inside.

There are so many protective factors/resources to keep a person alive- and it really sucks, when they don’t work.

Many of us may have known someone at one point in our lives, who have attempted to take their lives, and some who actually completed suicide.  Generally, it is the males that complete, and the females who repeat (of course, not always the trend).

My first funeral attendance was when I was a junior in high school (I was 17).  A classmate who I have gone to school with since I was in 7th grade, took his life weeks before his graduation.  It was a terrible loss for many who knew him, and the ripple effect was heartbreaking.  I remember him being very lively, funny, intelligent- never failed to make those around him laugh, not sure if anyone was aware that inside, he was suffering from powerful and overwhelming emotions that led him to do what he did.   It was tragic.

That’s all for now.  I apologise if this topic/post has stirred any emotions for you.  I want to stress the importance to talk to someone/seek help, if/when you feel unsafe/wanting to self-harm or take your life.  No one has to suffer in silence.  There are people in your life who care for you, whether you realise it or not.


Lifeline #: 13 11 14


1800 SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Thanks for reading.

Oktoberfest Brisbane 2012

Ryan was pretty excited for this event, which took place at the RNA show grounds.  We took the 199 Bus along Brunswick to Ann Street, and from there, proceeded to walk the rest of the way to Oktoberfest.  We both enjoyed the food, and Ryan enjoyed the beer.  It was nice people watching, and seeing all those who dressed up.  

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Mumford & Sons 17 Oct 2012

Ashley had an extra ticket to Mumford and Sons, and I was lucky enough to attend.  The concert had two opening acts, I forget the first artist, but the second band was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  It was a very pretty concert, I loved all the lights that accompanied the music.  

Monday Routine

“Sometimes you gotta do what you don’t want to do to get away with an unordinary life” -Cat Power’s song, Real Life

Today was one of those good Mondays for me.  I managed to get up and leave the apartment on time to catch the 195 bus at 7:22am, located right in front of the complex.  If I had missed that one, I’d only have to walk about 10 minutes to the next bus stop to catch the 199 at 7:34am off Merthyr Road.  But I did make it so it saved me the walking (I have actually been pretty punctual throughout placement, looking forward to the day).

I caught the 199 at 7:29am.  The 199 bus route drives me through the CBD (Central Business District) where I get to sit and observe all the incoming and outgoing passengers dressed in their Monday’s best, out to impress.  As I sit there with my eyes hidden behind my Charade shades (that I have owned since my UCSB days), I am secretly taking note of how I should be dressing once I become a young professional, and how I want to present myself to the world. I never thought about this seriously in the past, I used to entertain the idea, but this time it is becoming more intentional.  Everything that seemed so far away from me a couple of years ago, is now inching closer and closer with each passing day.  Guess this is what it feels like to be growing older, and creating some sort of path for the future.

I get off at Cultural Centre Station and continue onto the next bus, any bus that goes towards the hospital.  Usually it is the 109 bus that goes through the busway, where I get off at the second stop. I wait at the stop light to turn green, then cross it to enter the building, up the elevators to the mental health ward.

Mondays, I am with the team that gets paged to go down to the Emergency Department to assess patients who present with some sort of possible mental distress.  The most common cases thus far are young adolescent girls who commit deliberate self harm by cutting, or who attempt suicide by taking an overdose on panadol (equivalent to taking a bunch of tylenol). If the case is severely acute, with high risk, and in need of diagnostic clarification, admission will occur if we have beds available.  If not, they will get referred on to the service available within the community. Today I sat in on an assessment for a patient who was brought in by their mother because this young person refused to go to school.  This young person has been admitted into hospital into the ward several months ago for a couple of weeks for diagnostic clarification.  This young person was previously diagnosed with adjustment disorder, and low mood disorder.  My supervisor and I spent three hours assessing and doing family work with this case.  The underlying issues based on my observation, was that the mother was pretty overprotective of her teenage child who appeared to be physically and emotionally immature considering the age.  She came off as being very anxious. I don’t think it was really necessary for her to drag her child all the way to the hospital due to school refusal.  The kid was just tired from having bad sleep and did not want to go to school, but of course we do the whole psychosocial assessment and listening in to understand the presenting problem.  The kid is not happy about the family relocating from Western Australia to Queensland, and is having trouble making social connections at school.  I’d go on more about this case, but in the end, the patient was discharged and referred on to the community for ongoing sessions with a psychologist and psychiatrist to review the kid’s meds.

I was supposed to go to another family meeting at 2pm with my other supervisor who works with the team on the ward.  I left the session towards the end of assessment in Emergency Department to grab a quick bite to eat (I was in ED from 11 to 1:45pm) before sitting in on the family meeting.  I later find out it had been cancelled so I began writing up my assessment for the next hour and a half or so.   Before I knew it, 4:30 was creeping up on me indicating that my day was about to come to an end.

I checked my personal emails and make my way towards the bus stop.

I got some good news while checking my email.  I made it to the next stage for a casual retail position at Tiffany’s.   I had applied several weeks ago in need of a weekend job (since I had to let go of my last admin position on campus due to placement).  I went through the whole online process of applying and answering scenario questions and submitted not giving it anymore thought.  I made it through to the group interviews last week, which is a first for me since I have never done group interviews before (I usually get hired by knowing someone, or on the spot, or yea..)  I tend not to like competition or be competitive, and so I did not treat the group interview as such, and was just myself.  It’s reassuring to know that being myself was enough to get me through to the next round.  I was pretty happy to receive the good news.  I like having an income, which enables me to do the things I enjoy.  I hope it all goes smoothly from here on til the new year.

I hopped onto the 66 bus to Cultural Centre, and then onto the 196 to New Farm.  I stopped by Coles to pick up a few stuff for dinner and lunch for the next couple of days. I arrived back to the apartment at around 5:40 pm, changed clothes, and cut up the pre-made chicken roast for dinner.  Then prepared my lunch for tomorrow.

Afterwards I had the most amazing and relaxing bath ever.  I had treated myself to buy bath oil from Perfect Potions a couple of weeks ago, and have been putting it to good use.  It is always nice to make the time for me to sit in silence, soaked under a nice warm bath filled with geranium, lavender and ylang ylang- it was very calming as it washed all my worries away.  I felt so rejuvenated, I thought I would write about it and about my day for a change.

I usually feel way too tired to post, and I know I have some posts to catch up on, but I’ll try to get around to it. It has not been a priority lately, but stay tuned.

It’s close to 9pm, better start winding down and sleep.  I love my sleep.

Sharing some encouraging words and positivity

My good friend Birdie sent me this website link, and it has some great messages to remind ourselves to look after our spirit and each other’s. 


Take a look:




A video for my nephew who turned 1