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Friday, October 20, 2017



After Venice, I was initially a little disappointed by the city of Rome. In Venice right after we got off the train station it was a beautiful canal and beautiful structures right in front of us and all around us. But with Rome, when we got off the train station, it looked like we were just in another old city. But Rome did not disappoint. 

The first day we went to the Colosseum. No matter how much grandeur we were expecting, we could not have expected a more amazing structure. It was very crowded and chaotic but it was large enough to hold everyone without getting in the way of us enjoying the stadium. 

Fortunately AB looked it up beforehand and found that it was important for us to get tickets for a specific tour to see the underground portion and the upper ring. However even when we booked on the first day when it was available, all the English tours were booked, so we had to book an Italian one. It turned out okay, although we didn't understand the tour guide, neither did about 15 the other people on the tour (American and Chinese).  We just listen to the American tour guy giving a tour to the other five people who were American, and looked up things on Wikipedia.

The history of the Colosseum was very interesting. Apparently it was used not just for Gladiator fighting, but also for regular performances like theatricals. Also because it was dedicated as a Christian structure, it was relatively spared of destruction.  Seeing the underground portion was very interesting, because that's where they stored the animals and the slaves. They also showed us a rebuilt of the trapdoor that lifted animals and slaves up onto the main stage.  Going up to the upper ring was very interesting too, because we got to see an overall view of the Colosseum from above. The size of the stadium was amazing, and it was also sad to see how much of it was destroyed.

Palatine Hills 
Since the Palatine Hills were right next to the Colosseum, we thought we would just visit the Palatine Hills and Roman Forum the same day as the Colosseum, but I think it was a bit of history overload for us. 

The Palatine Hills were where the wealthy lived in the past. This included royalty and politicians. However much of the structures from the past have become ruins. We could imagine how grand it was in the past, and it was sad to see that not much of it was left. Some of the buildings would have been bigger than Disney World. We could imagine the old living rooms, bedrooms, or Hordeleum (race horse track), and rooms where they entertain their wealthy guests. There was marble and art from all over the world. Despite all the ware and tear the buildings have withstood, we could still see certain intricacies such as the detailed patterns in the ceilings and mosaic floors.

Roman Forum
From the Palatine Hills there was a gorgeous view of the Roman Forum: from the Colosseum to the Senate House. This was where ancient government buildings and temples were located. It was also known as the marketplace where all the hustle and bustle was. Triumphal processions, public speeches, criminal trials, and commercial exchanges took place there. We wish we had listened to Rick Steve's guide, but the lonely planet guide also gave a good picture of what the Forum used to look like. At the southern end was the Arch of Titus that the Arch Du Tromphe was modeled after. There were also ruins of the Temple of Vestal Virgins, the Regia (ancient royal residence), and the Shrine of Vulcan that became the Comitium, where Senate had formal gatherings. The judiciary and Senate later moved to the Basilica Julia built by Julius Caesar.

In the North, stands the 8 remaining columns of the Temple of Saturn which also functioned as a bank. Near it also stood a few remaining columns and pedestals of the Temple of Concord, Vesta, and Castor and Pollux. People performed animal sacrifices before them. 

Because the area used to be a marsh and sediments from the flooded Tiber would settle there, the level of the Forum had been rising with people paving over the sediments. 

It was a super hot day, so we took refuge in a tiny super expensive cafe inside and ate some yummy ice cream popsicles. We also waited forever for the bathroom because there was only ONE bathroom open for the entire place! We didn't get to walk through the whole thing...We were historied out. 

Trevi Fountain
We slowly strolled to the Trevi Fountain, featured in the film La Dolce Vita. It was beyond crowded. There were so many people we couldn't even reach the fountain to touch it. It was tradition to throw a coin using your right hand over your left shoulder backwards into the fountain, meaning that you'll come back to Rome someday. Alan warned me multiple times not to do it because I might hit somebody since we were standing several feet away and on the steps. I insisted on doing it the proper way. Sure enough, when I threw it, it hit some guy's leg. The guy was so nice, he gave me back my coin and Alan threw into the fountain facing forward. All the coins from the Trevi Fountain are collected daily and given to donation. After they made a law forbidding people from taking coins from the Trevi Fountain their profit increased significantly.

Piazza Navona
We continued our Excursion to the Baroque Piazza Navona. This is what one-way imagined to be the quintessential Roman Piazza. There were street artists, musicians, people sitting outside of restaurants getting a drink and enjoying the view. In the very center is Bernini's Fountain of the Four rivers. The four figures represent gods of the four major rivers: the Nile (Africa), the Danube (Europe), the Rio de la Plata (America's), and the Ganges (Asia). On top is an obelisk with a dove holding an olive branch representing the emblem of Pope Innocent X's family, whom, this fountain was dedicated to. The Pope's palace faces the fountain as well as the Church Sant'Agnese in Agone. 

The Ganges long oar represents it's navigability. The Niles head has a cloth draped upon it meaning no one knew where the source of the Nile was. The Danube touches the Pope's coat of arms because it was the closest to Rome. Rio de la Plata is sitting on a pile of coins represents riches from the New World. He is also scared by a snake meaning rich men's fear that their money could be stolen. A myth has it that the Rio de la Plata is cowering from the church of Sant'Agnese, fearing this structure built by his rival Bromini will crumble on him.

We continued on to the Pantheon, but it was closed that day because of a Holiday. We decided to enjoy a nice meal in a small restaurant featured in the Lonely Planet, and we took the bus back. But we had to walk quite a ways to find a bus ticket as it seems all the bus ticket stations close around dinner time. For those visiting, note that there is an app to download for easy access to bus tickets!

Friday, July 14, 2017


Ah, this chart would have been helpful for baking in the past. If I didn't have a particular type of cream, I could just make it... Well, now I know. much butterfat in heavy whipping cream. Makes me kind of sad that's what I use for making ice cream. :(

butterfat content trying to reach = A
highest butter fat content that I have = H
lowest butter fat content that I have = L

To get 1 cup: Cups of high butter content = (A-L)/(H-L)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Italy: Bellagio, Venice

Overall, a fabulous trip! Loved Italy and hope we will come back (did kind of toss a coin in the Trevi fountain). But it was definitely way too crowded, so would hope to visit in the spring/fall next time. General outline of our trip: Milan -> Bellagio -> Venice -> Rome -> Florence (Pisa) -> Milan.  Things that definitely require ahead of time booking include Colosseum, Vatican, Uffizi, and Last Supper. Many others are also better booked a few days in advance. Some sites we used wikipedia as a guide, but later found Rick Steve's audioguide to be awesome.

Day 1: arrive midday to Milan airport Malpensa, which is actually 1hr train ride to Milano Centrale, so we decided to go to Lake Como up north. Required taking 2 trains (>1hr) to get to city of Como. From there, we took a 2hr ferry to Bellagio where our first hotel was waiting. Quite a bit of transit for the first day, but it was nice to just enjoy the beautiful view of a lake between mountains while lounging on the ferry and half asleep.
Our boat from Como to Bellagio
George Clooney's Villa

View from our balcony
Steep stairs next to Hotel Bellagio

Sunset at Bellagio fishing dock
Day 2 Bellagio: Beautiful small city that required going uphill immediately from the ferry. Our place had a beautiful view of the lake and mountains beyond. We wanted to go on the tour of the Villa Serbelloni, but there were no tours on Mondays. Instead we took self-guided city hike up the hills (maps in tourist office just behind Basilica of San Giacomo), and got some good views of the city, lake, and Alps beyond. AB was a bit drained from the sun, but he made it. The views were okay, but probably would have made better time by visiting the Villa Melzi Gardens. A lot of people spend a couple of days here and perhaps get an all day on/off ferry pass, and then can visit multiple little towns with their beautiful villas. We didn't have time, so we went to Varenna, spent some time along the beautiful narrow pathways and main plaza, and then took a train to Milan, then Venice.
View of Bellagio, Lake Como, and the Alps in the distance

Bellagio town center, lake bank


Day 3 Venice: The benefit of the summer is that the days are long, so despite arriving at night time, we were still welcomed by a stunning view of the Grand Canal and the San Simeone Piccolo Church. Venice is just like no other. Pictures can't express the atmosphere of no cars or roads and the enchantment of water everywhere. Instead of EMS cars or police cars, there are boat EMS and police in motor boats. Same with taxis - all boats!  Venice really lived up to its hype and glamour.
San Simeone Piccolo Church
Grand Canal on top of the Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge ($12 million), has shops on top of it, made of marble


First full day we went to the San Marco Plaza that housed the San Marco Basilica with it's glorious mosaics - one of the largest collections in the world. It was called the Church of Gold because of its extensive gold backed mosaics covering 8000 square meters (enough to cover 1.5 football fields!) and makes the whole place glitter gold. The life of St. Mark is depicted inside. In 9th century, St. Mark's body was stolen from Egypt (pictured in mosaic above the door) and now lies as a sacred relic here. Most of the treasures were from Crusades of Constantinople (Istanbul). There is also a famous alterpiece, the Pala d'Oro, Byzantine gold masterpiece studded with thousands of gems. Church is free, and for $5, we went to the top to see the mosaics up close - amazing!

San Marco (St. Mark's) Plaza
St. Mark's Basilica + amazing mosaics
AB waiting in line to get into the Cathedral, background is the National Library
Doge's Palace corridor

Entrance to the St. Mark's Basilica show scene where St. Mark's body stolen from Egypt

View of St. Mark's Plaza from on top of the Basilica
Top of St. Mark's Basilica. Doge's Palace on left and National Library on right, ocean straight ahead.

Next we visited the Doge's Palace, which was kind of like the president's palace. Entering the palace, there are the Golden Staircases that are literally gold. The rest of the rooms were were the Doge attended his affairs including room of advisors (Scarlet Chamber), granted audience (Scudo Room), for the Senate, for the Great Council (one of the largest rooms in Europe b/c 1 male from each family came), administration of justice (Compass room), etc.  There is also a Bridge of Sighs that prisoners would walk across to the prisons (called sighs because prisoners would sigh when they took a last look at freedom through the windows of the bridge). The prisons were such a maze. This whole place was much bigger than it appeared from the outside. Apparently there are secret passageways, and there's a specific tour you have to book ahead of time for that - sad we missed that!

The Giant's Staircase guarded
by Mars (land) and Neptune (sea)
Golden Staircase leading to
Doge's apartments
One of many beautiful rooms

Chamber of the great Council
Senate Room

We continued on to get a fabulous view of Venice (no skyscrapers!) from the Campanille (Bell Tower) that collapsed and had to be rebuilt in 1900's. Then walked along the water, and went to the Arsenal.

St Mark's Basilica
Doge's Palace
Looking out into the the ocean, church, Lido beach on right
St. Mark's Plaze
Looking out towards the trains station and mainland
First tiramisu! Yum!
Tried tapas from Cantina Aziende Agricole: sardines/onions on corn meal, fried meat ball, fried eggplant + cheese, strawberries on cheese/bread, eggplant/cheese/bread, cheese? 

We had the best pasta ever here in this small restaurant (where we noticed other than us, there were only italian men). Trattoria Chinellato.
BEST PASTA EVER! Squid ink pasta with cuttlefish - so tender!

It was so fun just to wander the streets!

Day 4 Venice: Since we were in Venice, we wanted to take a gondola ride, but boy is it expensive if you just want a 2 person ride (80 euro/boat), so we waited for some other people to join us.


We decided to take the ferry bus to the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. But the ferry was so slow, essentially going from bank to bank and stopping every single min, that by the time we got there, it was closed for lunch (noon-3p). It would've been faster if we walked! So unfortunately, we could only see the gorgeous outside. We continued on to the Gallerie dell'Accademia, but I think it was under construction, and without Rick Steve's audioguide, we didn't really know what we were to look at. It had venetian paintings of the 13-18th centuries. There was art by Bellini, Lotto, Tinteretto, Titian, Veronese, but I wonder if we might have missed a floor or building or perhaps so much of it was closed due to contruction... The original Vitruvian Man is there, but it wasn't on display. :( Anyhow, we left a good time b/c otherwise we would have been caught in the massive rainstorm.

Looking towards St. Mark's Plaze and the Bell Tower
Santa Maria della Salute Basilica
Wandering the narrow pedestrians streets

The Tempest: "Some academics think that this is the first landscape of Western art history (excluding drawings or watercolors). It depicts a soldier and a gypsy breastfeeding, isolated in a lush landscape. In the background there’s a city, threatened by a storm. This was Lord Byron’s favourite painting because of its ambiguity."
Massive rainstorm with "bus stop" on the right.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Baby AB

During father's day, ABs mom was reminiscing a out baby AB.

- Cried really loudly as a baby, louder than the other babies.
- Cried every time he was put down on the crib or when dad picked him up.
- Used to draw out calendars (January, Feb...)
- After arriving at aunt and uncles home from school, AB asked for pen and pencil and quickly drew the streets from the school to the house. The uncle confirmed all the streets were correct.
- He would read the TV guide and confirm it was correct.
- When he was 6mo and looking through the newspaper and flipped from colored to a black/white page, he would cover and uncover his eyes. 
- Parents had told him he was gonna have a sister. But when it turned out to be a boy, AB told his principal that he changed his mind and is getting a sister. 
- There was a spill on aisle 13 of the grocery store. So from then on, he would always go back to that aisle every time he went to that grocery store to see if there was a spill.
- His mom went shopping and 3yo AB said don't spend all the money, need to save some money for college. 
- When 12yo, was super upset when he didn't get on the all star team for little league.
- In high school, was lying down sullen and depressed after the stock market tech crash.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Married life 6+ Months

A quick 6 months has passed since getting married, and it went by in the blink of an eye.

What I've learned:
-Don't fret over the small things: which day to hold small group, what meal to get, which restaurant to go to, what hike to go on. Probably better to keep peace. AB claims he is the one who keeps peace though.
-AB has a very detailed journal that he allowed me to read a bit of. Quite interesting... though he denies it.
-It's possible to love even more than when we first got married.
-Don't rub face to face
-That there's a grown up version of Chuck-E-Cheese's: Dave & Buster's
-& is called "ampersand"
-AB brushes his teeth a lot, but not very well....
-AB's favorite fruit is strawberries, and then bananas.
-Cooking and other chores are so much more fun with another person.
-Don't plan more than one vacation at a time with AB. Overwhelms him.
-If AB isn't talking very much at night time, it's not because he doesn't love me, it's because he's tired or focusing on the road while driving and has bad night time vision.
-How did AB ever think that eating a muffin a day was healthy?!

Nap time! During fun camping trip to Lake Livingston April 2017 (Easter)
View of Lake Livingston, quite shaky up here!

EC's wedding in Palo Alto area! Got to see AB's bro! Thanks HL and GC for hosting!

Is My Child Being Protected?

Have you ever heard of anyone suffering from diphtheria, polio, or small pox in the US? Probably not, and that is due to the success of immunizations. These diseases are rare or non-existent in the US today because vaccines prevent these devastating diseases.  However, the US is on the verge of an epidemic.  Although the highest unvaccination rate in Texas public school districts is 4%, rates in private schools can be significantly increased, as high as 40% at Austin Waldorf School. With unvaccination rates this high we are risking the lives of our children with vaccine-preventable diseases. 

California previously allowed non-medical exemptions of vaccines for school attendance; however, after the 2014 measles outbreak in Disneyland, California now has one of the strictest vaccine exemptions.  This year, mump cases surge in the US and is now on track to surpass last year by 50%. Texas has not learned from the measles or mumps outbreak and remains one of 18 states that allow non-medical exemptions.  In fact, there are currently bills moving through the House and Senate that would make this exemption even easier and further damage herd immunity.  As part of a community, we strive for the health of not only our own children but also our neighbors' children. When more than 95% of the population is vaccinated, those who cannot be vaccinated because they are too young or have compromised immune systems can still be protected from these preventable illnesses.

Although pediatricians believe vaccines are an important part of children’s health, some parents are still hesitant.  Many parents fear that vaccines cause autism; however, that myth has been debunked with many studies. Furthermore, the original paper stating that connection was withdrawn from publication due to falsified data.  The cause of autism is still unknown, but experts believe it is most likely related to genetics.  Other parents worry that too many vaccines will overwhelm their child’s immune system. In fact, our immune system is built to handle thousands of germs that we might be exposed to through a mere cough, so the handful of germs in the recommended vaccine schedule pales in comparison.

In 1955 alone, more than 13,850 people suffered from paralytic polio.  In 1999, one child a week died from chickenpox.  Even now at least 3,300 people die from the flu every year.  Do we really want to go back to the days when we fear that our children will become paralyzed from polio or killed by chickenpox? 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

China trip

AB had never met my family in China so we decided to take a trip to China. It's a mixer of ups and downs to say the least.

Not so good:
-Got sick the whole trip, both of us. First AB got sick from his aunt, and cuz I was sitting right next to him on the plane, I got sick too. And it wasn't just a simple cold, it made us so tired and cough so much that neither of us could sleep. Thankfully we were with family so they gave us some cold medicines and we tested a lot. 
- the smog in China was insane. While the regular value of health is supposed to be less than 30, the smog level in China got up to the three hundreds! We had to wear an n95 mask every time when it went outside.
-AB didn't like the West Lake so much, even though it's supposed to be one of the more beautiful and inspiring places in China partly b/c we went on a weekend and it was way too crowded, also the smog was bad.
- we got scammed: we had search drop a route to get to the Great Wall but then in the morning when we looked up the route it turned out not to be there so we had to ask the front Hotel how to get there. The hotel told us to get off at this one station and look for a tour bus that's really easy. When we got off at the station a bunch of people told us all yeah take this tour bus and it's about to leave so we were in a big hurry to find the tour bus. They told us that it would only be 20 you and going there and coming back and it also included the tickets which were $45 per person which we thought was pretty good. But then once we got on the bus they told us the bus wasn't going to leave until another 45 minutes later so we waited there for 45 minutes but when the time came they told us this bus is actually not leaving and they made us take another small car to another bus. And when we got to that bus they told us that car wasn't leaving for another hour and so by that time I wanted my money back but they refused so we decided to wait for the bus to go. When the tour bus started the lady initially it was talking about China but then all the sudden she stopped and said that we had to pay another 170 in order to watch this cultural show that none of us wanted to watch. Some of us in the back realize that she was trying to get us to pay more money so we refused to pay but she got angry and stopped the bus and told us that if we refuse to pay that we needed to get off the bus. At this point AB put on his phone and pretended to videotape her  and she got very upset and came over to us and tried to ask for the video. Fortunately I didn't know what she was talking about cuz my Chinese wasn't that good so she just went back to the front of the bus. So we didn't say anything until we got to the great wall and then she divided us up individually and tried to make deals with us. She initially told us so she will just drop the price to 110 per person but we thought that was still ridiculous since we had no intentions of watching this cultural show and all we wanted to do was go see the Great Wall. We really had no intention to continue on this tour with this ridiculous lady so we said that we wanted to go on our own way and we wanted to entrance tickets to The Great Wall that we had already paid for however she refused to give us the entrance tickets to The Great Wall because we refused to pay for the cultural show that we didn't want to go to in the first place.we finally worked out a deal with her where we pay her 20 yuan each for entrance tickets (would be 40 yuan otherwise).  So although we didn't get scammed as much as the other people it was so ridiculous that we had to pay additional in order to get the tickets that we already paid for. And it was good that we didn't continue on her tour cuz otherwise we would have only gotten 20 minutes at the Great Wall! 
- Google was banned in China, and it sucked! Man, did we feel the real impact of Google in our lives. It meant no google search, no gmail, no google maps, no google play to download apps that would be compatible in China! And all the apps I did end up downloading ended up all in Chinese - sadness that I can't read Chinese. :(  I was hoping to map out our trip in Beijing via Google Maps, but then I was forced to learn some Chinese characters and use a Chinese map app.

The good:
-Got to see my cousin's super cute and precociously smart boy. Man, he can talk up a storm. :D
-On the last day in Beijing, it snowed! It was so beautiful and peaceful. I won't forget that moment because AB made me pause and enjoy the snow because I don't think he's ever seen snowfall. O_o It was so cute watching him amuse over the snow, sticking out his tongue. >_<
-Because of the snow, the smog level went down from "hazardous" (the highest level) to "unhealthy" (below very unhealthy, which is below hazardous). Yes!
-Despite all the hassle of getting to the Great Wall, once we got in the wall, there weren't that many people (not the peak season), we could see the Great Wall for miles, and we got some nice us-only pictures! - which would seem impossible in China!  So it turned out rather enjoyable. We did have a little trouble finding the bus to go back, and ended up taking a taxi to the bus station, and it all worked out. Phew.
-The next day we actually went back to the same lady who sold us the tour bus ticket, complained about the terrible tour guide, and got 100 yuan back. I'm still amazed we were able to do that!  That NEVER happens in China. I looked up scams in Beijing and so many came up ranging from tour guide scams to tea house scams to rickshaw scams in front of the forbidden palace to KTV scams. YOU ARE FOREWARNED!
-Ate so much delicious Chinese food, especially cooked by my aunt and grandmother. But we also went to this awesome Hangzhou Restaurant (Xin He Yuan).
-We had family around us to take care of us when we were sick.
-Got to hangout with my cousin a bit and walk around West Lake. Also got to bike a little bit! Biking is so much fun and freeeee rental!
-Played some Majong with my grandparents and AB. AB was surprised how serious my grandparents were. Haha.
-Seeing how ginormous the Forbidden City was as well as Tian Tan (religious place that the emperor went) in Beijing. Seeing the enormous 13 Lin (Chinese Buddhist Temple).
-Staying in a very comfortable and posh hotel (Novotel)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Married Life 1.5mo

Random thoughts:
Here I am lying in bed going to sleep after a night shift in the ER. All I want to do is stare at the adorable, sweet, wonderful man next to me. It's been several days on nights so I haven't had a face to face conversation with him in days, and I'm really missing him.  It gives me a mixture of emotions including happiness to the point of tears when I think about our future together. I wonder what it would be like to have kids in the future; how did I end up with such a sweet and understanding man; what is he dreaming about now; what will we be like when we are both old; will we get to be old together?  He looks so angelic gently snoring now (well...kind of getting louder now). So peaceful. Part of me is wondering if I'm being so overly rosy colored about everything and emotional now because of monthly hormones. Who knows. Perhaps. 

Are you really mine? I still can't believe it. I'm sorry for my emotional breakdown earlier today. I appreciate how you said "I love you" even when I kind of woke you up earlier as I was getting in bed. Also for secretly doing the laundry and not mentioning it or seeking acknowledgement from me.  I on the otherhand, definitely had times where I made sure you saw that I cleaned something or did a chore, making sure to seek appreciation and approval from you. I should learn from your humbleness and selflessness. Miss you! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Discoveries about AB and myself since being Married

  • He has never been anywhere cold. You'd think I'd figure this out earlier, but nope, just found this out while trying to plan a trip to Beijing in the dead of winter. This is gonna be interesting....  When I asked where's the coldest he's been, reply: "New York or the summer...or the air conditioning at work."  Uh oh....
  • So glad we got a robotic vacuum b/c neither of us likes to vacuum
  • Snoring is not that easy to deal with...penetrates even ear plugs sometimes.
  • His beard is reddish!
  • He likes to sleep on his right side
  • He looks like 3 year old when he sees snowfall
  • Even though we're both not very materialistic or gift oriented, he still gave me flowers on Vday (actually, day before)
  • Other than not liking green peppers, melons, celery, grapefruit, pineapple, he also doesn't like peas
  • I'm bad at doing the laundry, picking up mail, throwing away the trash...somehow AB quietly gets all those things done secretly.
  • Does not know how to use a can opener. Yup. True.
  • To be continued...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Moments from our wedding

  • Fun bachlorette party: delicious food, AB knowledge game, who's best at drawing AB ...with plate on their head, escape room with the wedding party. Family and friends getting together to make the center pieces and boutineers.
  • So many ppl helping out with making the center pieces and boutineers (Megan, KP, family)
  • 1st time me doing french manicure for KP
  • AB (groom) struggling with exchange of bride with father of the bride. "Think football!"
  • AB got boo'ed for peck on the cheek and then people surprised at intense first kiss.
  • Accidentally always looking at the pastor during ring exchange.
  • Venue coordinator changed last minute due to family emergency, but we reviewed details with club manager before rehearsal
  • Last minute change in procession with surprisingly insistent pastor
  • Eating delicious meal at Feng's Kitchin for rehearsal dinner.
  • Ordering way too much food at Classic Kitchen for wedding breakfast
  • Trying out a lot of different types of photos with photographer.
  • Being worried when some people didn't show up at designated time, but it all turned out ok.
  • Awesome maids of honor: there to give us food, touch ups, finding random items, fixing dress, like body guards.  And family who were there early to help with unloading and decorations.
  • Decoration team. Awesome.
  • RW looking confused regarding what to do with the tulle.
  • Neal helping with tying ties and putting on boutineers.
  • Confidence that things will go okay: hearing music when we were taking pictures prior to ceremony. Also when AB put on his suit and found the thank you speech in his pocket - that we had planned it well. Also when WK said the venue was really nice before the ceremony.
  • Moment of sadness/tearing up when I started walking down the aisle, but dad made a joke.
  • AB fearful that I ran away after professional paused.
  • First time after walking down aisle and realizing how many people there are and recognizing people.
  • Seeing so many diff people from diff parts of my life at the same time and place.
  • Tear up when AB said his vow.
  • Wedding message from pastor Tow: commitment, complement, companionship.
  • Beautiful song from Ken, Steven, Karen.
  • Forgot the prayer after sand ceremony, AB had to remind me.
  • Surprise at seeing GA family after ceremony when they said they wouldn't make it (and their lovely adorable daughter!)
  • Having trouble getting family together for pictures. "Where is Neal!?"
  • Delicious appetizers: ahi tuna, mushroom purse, lobster empanadas with white wine sauce.
  • MS said he ate like 7 empanadas.
  • Riding on the golf cart, everyone on golf course being nice and saying congrats even when delaying their rounds
  • Small group being loud when we went to take pictures
  • Really good stuffed balsamic chicken, flat iron steak with tobacco onions, and pesto crusted salmon.
  • AB's times of uncertainty: started first look late (didn't know if makeup was close to being done or would be very late), backlog at club entrance before ceremony (not sure whether to start with 60% there, or delay further), dress bustle broke (not sure if would delay dinner, activities, dress quality), hair appearance in pictures
  • Fun shoe game where bride and groom answer series of questions with "bride" or "groom" by raising corresponding shoe: my Washu friends surprised AB has worse sense of direction, his friends surprised I'm more frugal. So many people thought that was the best game ever and had never seen that game before. Having the same answers. Yi apologizes first. Who is more thrifty, adventurous, better driver, better cook and what the other person cook best (egg and tomato vs spaghetti)...
  • People asking about honeymoon, whether AB's place had furniture now (haha).
  • Fun 2 hours after scheduled program: getting to see and talk to people.
  • Having lots of people wanting to take your picture like you are famous.
  • Feeling nice that people appreciated how nice the venue was taking into account all the effort we made to figure out if people all fit.
  • Taking pics at wine cellar, photographer Clint's jokes: what is a pirates favorite letter?
  • Being able to take some of the pictures outside and inside. How we had awesome weather!
  • Having issues with the bustle and MLC came to the rescue with needle and thread.
  • Amazing photo booth that was better than professional quality. And getting to see the pictures.
  • Wish I could have told more people that the ceremony flowers, boutineers, centerpieces, bouquets, were done by friends and family.
  • Speeches: Darrin and sports analogy, reference to being homeless. Maids of h: funny tag team about past (301, scatterbrain, xmas gift); and tearing up. Tearing up during dad's speech about meaning of name and finding a worthy person after so many miles. Parents tag team and Alan saving up for college at 5, clock, maps.
  • AB's father shocked that he could dance (kind of).
  • Some people looking different than what we thought when we finally met them. 
  • Not getting to eat an egg tart - asked brother to keep one for me and he forgot.
  • People commenting on how sweet the fruit was - but didn't get to eat any. :(
  • People so complementary of how well the wedding went.
  • Everyone helping to clean up.
  • Staff took one of our flowers and took a selfie to send to his wife in Japan.
  • Us being the last 2 to leave.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Post Global Health Year Thoughts

1. What motivations and experiences led you to apply and join the global health residency? I was interested in working global health environment long term, so I wanted to test it out and see if I'd enjoy it.  I had experience in working at a fairly poorly run clinic, so I wanted to see what it was like to work in a place that had a bit more resources and better well run. Maybe in the future even if I don't work in a global health setting, it would be helpful if I go into public health or education. 

2. What was your most meaningful experience during your year abroad and why?I really enjoyed seeing what healthcare could be like in a resources limited setting. It was good to see what components made up a well run clinic. It would be helpful in my future endeavors if I choose to work in a global health setting. I also really enjoyed having continuity with the patients at the COE where I was able to be comfortable with caring for HIV patients. 

3. What advice do you have for future GH residents and other pediatricians who want to do work abroad? What tips would you like to share that knowing would have benefited you at the start of your year?Some days get busy and tough, and it's easy to get down.  So it's important to get to know the staff and other coworkers at the clinic or hospital. People are more willing to work with you and help you if you do simple things like go through the greetings, keep a smile, ask them how their day is doing, including the nurses in your plan, etc. It's not possible to save every child, and you just have to focus on the kids that you were able to help. But also remember what your limitations are and continue to ask for help when you're not sure. 

4. How do you think your experiences abroad will improve your abilities as a clinician in Houston and in other resource-rich settings?Working in Lesotho required me to be much more independent in terms of problem solving and looking up information.  I couldn't just defer to an attending.  It helped me learn what my limits were.  I was more confident to make difficult decisions that required action as opposed to letting things go its course. The experience has also made me more eager to continue learning to increase my fund of knowledge.  I also had more experience with doing research - including coming up with a project, submitting an IRB proposal, gathering data, and data analysis.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cape Town - Good Hope, Boulder's Beach, Bo-Kaap, Botanical Garden

Cape of Good Hope

Not my best hairstyle at Cape of Good Hope because of the wind.
I am ashamed to say that I've actually never heard of Cape of Good Hope until I started looking up Cape Town.  History is not my forte.  But as I read more about it, the more I understood its significance in history.  It was not just a regular cape - it was a cape that really, truly gave sailors hope as they rounded the tip of Africa.  The weather and ocean just prior was unpredictable and dangerous, but as they came to Cape of Good Hope, they knew they have made it around and are on their way to their destination.
Dassie spying on the tourists
Unfortunately for AB and I, the day we went was extremely windy.  It was so windy that I felt like I had to be on all fours in order not to be knocked over by the gusts of wind.

Amazing look out point at Cape of Good Hope

Trying not to be pushed down by the gusts of wind
On the second trip, the weather was far more agreeable! I was able to hike from Cape of Good Hope to Cape Point lighthouse (one way 30 min to visitor center and then 5-10 min to the top lighthouse).
View of Cape Point and its two lighthouses
On the trail from Cape of Good Hope to Cape Point I encountered some ostriches - why did the ostrich cross the road?

Diaz Beach - so secluded and peaceful, and the water was really warm

Looking down at Cape of Good Hope and Diaz Beach

Short hike to the lower lighthouse

Cliff view at Cape Point
Hout Bay

Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is a 5 star shaped castle built in the 17th Century by the Dutch East India Company.  The purpose of the Dutch settlement was to replenish ships that passed the treacherous coast around the cape.  Today the castle is a museum and still houses the ceremonial facilities for traditional cape regiments.

During the Second Boer War, part of the castle was used as a prison.

The prison doors had writings on the outside of the door because they turned the door around - not sure what it all means.

The Torture Chamber was pretty spooky - not much in it except a dark room and some chains
Boulder's Beach
Home of 200+ colony of penguins, who supposedly started out as two penguins.  The second time around we were lucky to go at a time when baby penguins were hatching! They were so fluffy!

Colorful town used to be called Malay Quarter.
Having some Cape Malay food - it was super sweet (I didn't particularly like it that much)
All the houses were so colorful - it was like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Botanical Gardens
One of the top Botanical Gardens in the world!
Canopy Walk
Really really huge aloe tree - didn't know aloes grew into trees!
Last tree of its kind! So sad! Apparently there is no female version of this tree, so it can't reproduce.

Victoria and Albert Waterfront

Robbin Island
Maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
Query where Nelson Mandela worked.
It was surreal to listen to our tour guide talk about his experience in the prison.

The last one was Nelson Mandela's cell: