Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wilson's Promontary - atop Mount Oberon

Semester 7 - End of AMS year

What can i say...its been another great semester in melbourne, albeit a rather short one. returning to melbourne from my USA/HK trip, i didn't have much time before i got back into action in the lab. the pressure was on to produce results since i only had a few months left before thesis submission.

lab work has been frustrating at times, but certainly rewarding when u get the graph that you've been hoping for. i must say that i've learnt a lot in terms or working with the locals, being confident enough to present my results at meetings, defending my work, answering questions confidently and in a convincing manner. these, i believe, are traits that are important in future working life.

outside the lab, i was active in the melbourne uni debating club. its been great just being able to have the chance to hone my public speaking skills. i really enjoy building a case around the topic, drawing on my available knowledge of world events, and making a case convincingly. (not to mention all the hot caucasian girls around the club). i exceeded my expectations of myself, earning praise from the adjudicators and fellow debators at some stage.

thats the beauty about australia sometimes...its given me the opportunity to try out stuff that i never got to try in secondary sch/jc, when i was deemed not good enough for some of the sports/clubs.

leaving the job at the gelati shop, i took up a new job as a disability attendent support worker. its not to bad i guess, getting paid to do simple tasks. time passes much faster than in the gelati shop and sometimes i don't even have to stay for the full hour. the job makes me appreciate what i have and not to take life for granted. just being able to stand up and take a pee is a luxury that quadriplegics do not have. its amazing how we take things for granted and live life dangerously at times.

i became closer to the outdoors this semester, going on weekend trips to wilson's prom, cathedral ranges, and the dandenongs. its so refreshing to get away from city life on the weekend and retreat to somewhere where the air is fresh, and population density low. sure helps u to recharge. having a picnic out in albert park with friends was also great.

dad and uncle dominic and aunty esther came to visit this sem too. they were here on business but it was great having them around....got to dine at vue de monde and stay in a hotel for a couple of days. degustation dinner at vue was certainly an experience, though i found it rather pretentious. its great if u are into molecular gastronomy. the presentation was certainly interesting.

i did some community service by helping george kong out with his sudanese eye screening program. we gathered in sunshine on a saturday morning. i felt priviledged once again, to have enjoyed a wonderful childhood, free from fear of persecution and free from the cries of genocide.

Monday, March 31, 2008

last friday's dinner at Taxi bar was absolutely awesome...all thanks to the glaucoma conference. Taxi restaurant at federation square is one of the most highly rated restaurants in melbourne. it was kinda uneasy though...being a low ranking medical student...sitting amongst all the consultant ophthalmologists...pple who have somewhat made it in life and made it to the top of their game.

here's the menu for the night

Deguatation dinner

  • konbu roll of snapper with spicy plum sauce
  • peking duck gyoza with pickled cucumber and spicy hoisin sauce
  • lemongrass broth with scallop wonton coriander and cherry tomato
  • steamed atlantic salmon with blue swimmer crab crust and green asparagus sauce
  • wagyu porterhouse with green bean and tofu salad with japanese horseradish cream
  • chocolate tian with honey ganache and cherry foam
  • Taxi petit fours. selection of fine teas and giancarlo coffee by grinders.
and that includes free flor of a selection of australian wines and sparkly and portugese port.

i guess these pple are really passionate about what they do, and i've decided that ophthalmology is not my passion in life and there's no point for me in wasting so many years of my life as a young doctor trying to get into this very coveted and elitist speciality. i won't find much meaning in it.

as i agreed upon with james the other day on skype... global funding for eye research is actually drying up as most of the funds are channeled into the diseases that are claiming most lives...such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. though eye diseases severely impair one's quality of life, it doesn't actually claim lives...only rarely.

this AMS yr has been a great experience for me playing around in the lab and getting a feel of research in basic sciences. i won't say my lab is the most well-equipped and established one around but its been great working with a rather supportive and inspiring professor, someone who epitomises the upper class british society. not forgetting of course the wonderful colleagues whom i had a great time chatting with and sharing a tiny office with. and that includes some of the ophthal registrars from overseas who are really brilliant and yet nice to a humble medical student like me. haha.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

yet another semester has gone by in Melbourne! how time flies!

3 years of medical school is officially over and i'm at the halfway mark!

before i boarded the plane for singapore, as usual, i sat in the departure lounge...staring out at the tarmac....yet another lazy afternoon in melbourne. i enojoyed just sitting and watching the guys gas up the plane and load the last of the baggage onto the 747-400 megatop.

its been a great semester. it kicked off with me arriving back late in melbourne, due to my voluntary attendence at World Glaucoma Congress. i did so, being the diligent and aspiring opthlmologist of course. (excuse to slack longer in singapore!)

lab work got off to a slow start. i was mainly reading journal articles at first. thankfully, nicole, the lab assistant, was very helpful in running me through the basics of lab work and the basic protocols to be adhered to in the lab.

there were days in the lab when i got out of bed thinking to myself: why in the world did i choose this boring unit for AMS? shouldn't i have just gone off to some 3rd world country to investigate HIV or sth like that?

too late for regrets...lolz.

then of course came the jap exchange program hosted by the japanese club of unimelb. wonder why i went for it anyway.....oh well...a leopard never changes its spots! haha!
but it got me all fired up and i suddenly had this new found fervour to learn jap language...instead of just speaking a spattering of it. those times i spent trying out jap class, was , in a sense, a waste of time as it turned out to be a 5 minute interest.phantom of the opera, was, of course...awesome. the company was too. xy took me to a nice korean joint in clayton for dinner before that. and i guess we had such a good time that we were late for the performance! squeezing through the people to get to my seat just reminded me about how i have not quite arrived yet in terms of social grace.

spent a bomb on taxi fare to get back from clayton and in retrospect, i wonder why i did such silly things anyway.

the boredom soon led to a period where clubbing took place almost every week! BLVD, club 7, it was our regular hangout for a while. the first night at 7s was the worse.....the sheer amount of alcohol in my blood just made me feel like i was going to die! never felt so horrible in my life! clubbing should be a fun thing, not a torture. oh well...i guess part of the fun is in being uninhibited and doing stupid stuff in the club.

distinguished business leader series.... it was inspiring listening to a self made millionaire's story from rags to riches. the high commissioner didn't seem as friendly when i approached him compared to previous occassions. i guess that just reminds me that in singaporean society....there is a certain culture of upward deferrence. that one of lower standing should not be too bold in approaching someone of status, even if that is considered to be acceptable in a western society. furthermore, my question was a rather inconvenient one....and i guess the allegations in the aussie newspapers are not entirely true or entirely false, and it would put a senior civil servant on the defensive.

met a nice girls from RMIT. she looked pretty attractive from afar... didn't have much of a conversation with her but i got invited to RMIT's durian party.

taiwan cocktail party.... not too bad...actually got ming in for free... that's when we first got to know cc....and subsequently sy. can't believe i actually pulled off that conversation in canto! i was just hanging out in there for dear life! (and face!)

oh well...it wasn't too bad...her 21st bday celebration was a nice and cosy event. had an interesting conversation with sherry...this girl from wuhan...and of course, later got to know sy better at the karaoke session.

french dinner...ming was so kind as to lend me his car...u know me...being so sick and tired of taking the trams. i wanted to up my game for once. c'est bon. thats the name of the restaurant in port melbourne. $40 pre fix menu. it was not a bad deal, honestly! but i just somehow found that it was an overkill. no point offering such sophisticated stuff to a simple person who can't appreciate it. she was really happy though...i guess. though the conversation centred around some strange things...and i felt like my intellect wasn't running at full capacity...and i wasn't being intellectually challenged or stimulated. couldn't belive i was talking about such crap.

subsequent dinner....dinner at Halah....(yea...haha...the name...) korean food was great...but conversation was crap. can't believe someone would actually talk on the phone for 5 mins in front of someone else.

dinner at spicy sichuan place...even worse...ordered too much...had a minor quarrel while crossing the road even. but it all went down well that evening.

test driving cars! that has got to be a new and exciting experience for me. we are not talking about glitzy showrooms with nice friendly sales people here. we are talking about meeting a complete stranger and getting into a car with them.

the vietnamese dude didn't give me a good feeling though i felt that his car was really nice to drive. bree, the aussie hottie...oh well....nice number, but would u want sth with no power steering? the old lady in belgrave....most ulu place in melb!!! again no power steering..but car in great shape! jess from frankston...the moment i tested it...i knew i had to have it! it was the complete package! and sth in me just told me"this is THE ONE!"

"the one" hmm....that's how it should feel like i guess.

i was impressed by the generosity and trust showed by the australian when she accepted a $20 deposit for a $7000 car.

taking delivery of it...oh well... awesome experience! i felt so liberated! just kept driving and driving till i came to the beach. and didn't know where i was! haha .uncle dominic and dad did come in the earlier part of the semester. it was great to have arespite from lab and come out to meet them. nice when people visit. u get to eat good stuff that u don't normally eat on ur own.

ming's bday was an absolute smash! the stripper was....oh well, not exactly drop dead gorgeous....but that just shows how deceptive these online sites are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

wonder why i get depressed easily these days....i guess it happens when u have too much time or no goal to work towards. i try not to think about what if i had gone overseas. sometimes i wonder why i could not achieve that 70% aggregate. is it because i was too distracted by stuff in my first 2 years? i guess thats possible. in retrospect, even though i thot that i did study hard, i guess it wasn't hard enough. or maybe just not studying smart. i'm not brilliant. not born brilliant. and to make matters worse, i don't exactly have a great passion for medicine. but i'm over that now. i've got over that internal struggle in my first 2 yrs. no point going back to fight the same battle now.

TJ is right...i should focus on the positives. on monday prof bought lunch for us at the nearby cafe/bistro to welcome the 2 new lab assistants. and he told us about how impt it is to get out there and do stuff. he is always an advocate of being an active participant and not just a passive observer. which made me realise that thru out my secondary and JC life, i've always been content to just sit by and watch things happen...watch pple go on stage and make speeches, watch people win medals in sports, while i'm always down there in the crowd, amongst the masses, looking up at these pple. it didn't help that i was demoralised in scouts.

its really time for me to change. i really should hv done more in IH in my first yr. spending all the time on studies is not healthy. it causes poor time management.

just watched Argentina vs Australia at the MCG last night. it was an awesome match an i was so fortunate to be able to get the last concession ticket for just $20! the highlight for me , of course was to watch the 2 time world champion team live in action and they are just classy. the soccer they play is just so fluid and smooth. they made the socceroos look clumsy. even though the score was just 1-0, the aussies were definitely outclassed by the south americans.

its a pity i had to go alone though. it was so last minute and could not find pple to go. it makes me realise how tough it is to go thru life alone without having anyone by your side to pour your side to pour ur feelings or emotions out to.

for now...i really should buck up on my lab work and get serious about this literature review. no point being slack now and not accomplishing anything after one yr. like prof said: what you put in is what you get out of it. wise words from an accomplished consultant opthalmologist / eye surgeon / ski instructor / cyclist ....etc...

be inspired.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Phantom is Back!

I can't stop rambling on about an awesome night out i had last night! What else could it be! The day i've been waiting for for 4 months since i booked the ticket! The Phantom is back in Melbourne! As usual, the music was great and absolutely swept me away... but it was also the theatrics and special effects that left me with an unforgettable experience.

Of course, the company was great too. XY took me to a fabulous korean dinner somewhere in clayton. sure beats the ones we have in the city.

reflecting on yesterday....i guess life is full of disappointments and unexpected revelations. i mean...as much as we want things to go the way we want it, sometimes it may not be meant to be. and we'd probably be better off just coming to terms with the reality rather than trying to force things. i mean...we have to try hard but sometimes, the time is just not ripe.

we should be grateful for what we have....and not keep trying to push the limits of possessions. i got into a taxi at clayton only to realise that the driver was an RMIT student from India studying accounting. he typically earns about $150 for an 8 hour shift. which made me realise how fortunate i am....and what a good life i've been leading all this while.

i just had a great night out...100 bucks on a phantom ticket, nice korean dinner, beer at hard rock cafe, cakes in glen waverly....and all this while my counterpart was driving a cab trying to earn some dough to pay the bills.

why should i be complaining?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Holiday in Taipei!

Just got back today from a week long tour/visiting trip to Taipei. Its been a great experience, I always enjoy visiting places that I've never been to before. Knowing little about the island, I went in with an open mind and came back discovering a whole new world and culture that I never really had much insight of previously.

As one flies into Taipei, one will look out of the window to look at a bustling metropolis nestled in a mountainous island. Looking further out to the Taiwan strait, one is reminded that this is one of the major political flashpoints in the world, an area of potential conflict which hopefully will never have to happen.

Great thanks to Wayne for being a great host an a tireless tour guide. After meeting at the designated rendezvous point on touching down, we wasted no time and headed straight to the Taipei 101. It was essential to make good use of the good weather and clear skies (as my prior experience at Jinmao Tower in Shanghai would suggest).

I am hereby proud to brag that I have taken a ride in the world's fastest elevator. At 1010 metres/min, it certainly is pushing the limits. As soon as the levator door closes, the cabin pressure starts to adjust to condition the passengers ear drums. In a mere 37 seconds, visitors to the observation deck are whisked from the ground floor right up to the top. At around the 77th floor, the lift motor kind of cuts of and the rest of the journey is simply completed using the momentum already built up. Neat stuff.

The views, needless to say, are simply spectacular. There's also this huge ball at the top which acts as a balance to counterract the forces on the tower due to earth movements or typhoon winds. The fengshui element in the tower is pretty significant too. The round coins seen at regular intervals on the building obviously symbolize wealth and are there in hopes that the prosperity in Taiwan will continue.

Great thanks also to Wayne's grandma who took care of us with impeccable hospitality. We stayed at her place for 4 nights in this are called Muzha. She even kindly prepared breakfast for us in the mornings and fruits when we returned.

I was quite impressed that his grandparents drive and dine at western restaurants! and go to far flung places for vacation! I could never imagine my grandparents doing that!

We visited Zhi nan gong the next day. The public bus system in Taipei is really quite usable though not too user friendly to foreigners as everything is in traditional Chinese. I am really impressed by how they have a comprehensive system to help move people through this sprawling city. Its very affordable too.

Somehow i can't help but feel that life in Taiwan is more colourful though more chaotic than Singapore. I guess its mainly due to the freedom given to the media and the ability of people to speak and criticize freely. Every night on the news, there is plenty of gossip. The hottest thing when we were there was the outurst from President Chen's daughter, who's husband was faing a jail term for insider trading. They just kept playing it over and over again and even turning it into a ringtone!
World's longest ice cream!

Friday, May 25, 2007

today was the last day of school for semester 5, and also the last day of preclinical school.

in a sense, i left the school gates with mixed and strange feelings. on one hand, glad to have finished 2 and a half years of gruelling preclinical school. on the other hand, kind of sad to go separate ways from all the good friends that i've made during my time spent here. also a sense of pity that i did not get to know some people whom i think would have made good friends. oh well, i guess some things in life are fated and if you are meant to meet again, i believe your paths will cross some time or other int he not too distant future.

headed down to the pub for drinks with some med people in general. it was a nice chill out place. later went to dinner with the singaporeans at our usual thai restaurant on lygon.

oh well...i guess no time for nostalgia now. exams are in 10 days time and its crunch time!