Shikoku Road Trip Autumn ’17

Just came back from Japan around a week ago and am already looking for new places to travel next year! I decided to share my travels (itinerary included) for keepsake purposes and also to relieve the breathtaking moments 🙂

Itinerary (Shikoku + Hiroshima 8D7N road trip)

5/11/17 (Kagawa Prefecture)

  • Afternoon flight from HK – Takamatsu Airport
  • JR from Takamatsu – Tokushima
  • Sleep: Airbnb in Tokushima

6/11/17 (Tokushima Prefecture)  longest drive ~ 1.5 hours

  • Getting our rented car
  • Mount Bizan 眉山
  • Naruto Whirlpool 鳴門渦潮
  • Oboke Gorge Sightseeing boat cruise 大步危遊覽船
  • Sleep: onsen hotel 祖谷の宿 かずらや

7/11/17 (Tokushima/ Ehime Prefecture) longest drive ~ 2 hours

  • Kazurabashi of Iya祖谷蔓橋, Iya Valley 祖谷溪
  • Peeing boy statue 小便小僧 >> we skipped this as we spent too much time taking photos in the first location
  • Dōgo Onsen 道後溫泉
  • Sleep: Nest Hotel Matsuyama ネストホテル松山

8/11/17 (Ehime/Hiroshima Prefecture)

  • Matsuyama Castle 松山城
  • 3 hour drive to Hiroshima
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 原爆紀念館
  • Sleep: Airbnb

9/11/17 (Hiroshima Prefecture)

  • Boat to Itsukushima 宮島
    • Miyajima Shrine 鳥居
    • Toyokuni Shrine 嚴島神社
    • Momijidani Park 紅葉谷公園
  • Oyster lunch

10/11/17 (Kagawa Prefecture)

  • 2.5 hour drive to Kagawa
  • Kotohira-gū 金刀比羅宮
  • Check into Tokushima Airbnb

11/11/17 (Kagawa Prefecture)

  • Drive and ship into Shodoshima 小豆島
    • Olive公園
    • Kankakei 寒霞溪

12/11/17 (Kagawa Prefecture)

  • Ritsurin Garden 栗林公園
  • Shopping
  • Home

Note 1: The above trip was planned by my friend Ashley who speaks and reads Japanese almost perfectly and who is very well travelled across Japan
Note 2: The photos below are unedited, mostly from my camera (in auto mode) and some from my friends/my phone

Day 1 – Travelling from Takamatsu to Tokushima 

We travelled via HK Express, which is one of the newer HK budget airlines who sparked up news recently as they cancelled several of their flights to Japan on the flight day. thankfully our flights were not cancelled but both to and return flights were delayed several hours; so our plan to drive from day 1 was delayed to day 2, as we didn’t want to drive at night on the first day to Japan.

We touched down around 6pm and planned to catch the bus from Takamatsu to Tokushima at 8pm; we had to check into our hotel room before 10pm else they would cancel our booking.

Unfortunately the bus was full; our next option was to take JR (japan rail) to Tokushima, but we would very likely reach past 10pm thus we would need to find another accomodation within the same night or we would be sleeping in the streets of Tokushima. Thankfully, after fervently messaging Tokushima airbnb hosts, we managed to find one that would take us in on late notice!! So my advice would be if this was already planned to be a road trip, try to arrive earlier and get a car and start driving from day 1! I guess public transport in the more rural areas of Japan are less convenient compared to in bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

Day 2 Exploring Tokushima Prefecture; catching my first glimpses of autumn leaves 

  • Mount Bizan 眉山

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One of the more popular vantage points to have a bird’s eye view of Tokushima city. Apparently also a good place for cherry blossom viewing but obviously that’s not in the season. Actually i was just interested in autumn leaves searching as I’ve never seen one! However autumn leaves were not yet in full bloom thus this is a photo of me and Matthew standing next to the only relatively redder tree in the place! Apparently there’s a Ropeway that is an aerial lift to the top of Mt Bizan that we didn’t take.

  • Naruto Whirlpool 鳴門渦潮

They were joking that we were spending money and time to see a mega sized toilet being flushed but it turned out much more amazing than expected. Take note that there are 2 times in a day that the whirlpool is at its largest, so make sure to catch those times to make it worth every penny! The photo below is the most obvious whirlpool picture that I managed to take so sorry for the overexposure hahaha

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They actually brought us INTO the whirlpool area, which i initially thought they would just go around it lest we got sucked into a sinkhole! Turns out the waters in the whirlpool area would be just a tad bit choppier but it was very safe and we could see many whirlpools, big and small, being formed at the same time. It was simply fascinating and I’ve never seen anything like it.

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  • Oboke Gorge Sightseeing boat cruise 大步危遊覽船

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This was also another awesome boat ride through the Oboke gorge. We got to see autumn leaves spread across the valley and with the evening sunlight shining in, it was truly a magical moment.

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Onsen hotel 祖谷の宿 かずらや

Staying at an onsen hotel was an experience by itself. It was my first time trying onsen (which means hot springs bath) and to be honest it was a bit weird getting stark naked in front of my friends (they separate male and female onsens obviously) but it was ok once I got used to it. But i couldn’t stay in the water longer than 15 mins; I would have severe vasodilation and get really really dizzy to the point I had to squat down @.@

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We had the most delicious and grand dinner. I think they served us like 10 different dishes and even the guys got really full by the end of it.

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Day 3 – To Ehime, and 2nd Onsen experience 

Kazurabashi of Iya祖谷蔓橋, Iya Valley 祖谷溪

These are just ~ 5 mins drive away from our onsen hotel.

You have to pay to cross the bridge so we just stood at the edge (and got warned by a staff via loudspeaker in various languages other than Japanese because we were still taking photos despite their warning)

What I like about our trip thus far was that we rarely met overseas tourists; most were local tourists and especially elderly retired folks, who were, needless to say, very courteous and polite.

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It’s probably not obvious from photos but the bridge was made up of pieces of wooden planks with the gap bigger than the piece of wood itself!

We spent like 2-3 hours just taking photos near this bridge.

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  • Dōgo Onsen 道後溫泉

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My second onsen experience in the trip; this is a popular public onsen in the Ehime prefecture. Unlike in the onsen hotel where we could have the bath entirely for ourselves, this time the bathhouse was filled with tourists and locals alike; with most of the locals being elderly ladies who were extremely well prepared with their toiletries and they really came here to have a good bath. Maybe this is the secret to smooth and wrinkle-free skin!

Day 4 –  To Hiroshima 

  • Matsuyama Castle 松山城

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I guess everything is more interesting for me as it was my first time seeing a Japanese castle! We got a good view of the city, held a samurai sword (which was lighter than I expected) and saw some of the old military equipment used back in the days. (which looked extremely uncomfortable)

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 原爆紀念館

After a long 3 hour drive (with me and Matthew taking turns driving) to Hiroshima, we finally reach the city around dusk. What was not to be missed was the peace memorial museum, which is located close to the hypocenter of the nuclear bomb explosion.

The museum offered various perspectives on the atomic bomb; the science behind it to the social, political and medical impact it had on its victims. It was visually very alarming, showcasing the clothing remains of the victims, giving you the background story of the clothing’s owners (most who were schoolchildren) and photos of those who died a slow death from the impact of the radiation.

It left me slightly shaken, to be honest. And I think that’s the only appropriate feeling for something as destructive as this.

 

 

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This display hit me hard for some odd reason. The clock that stopped right at the moment the bomb hit, which was at 8:15am, 6th August 1945.

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The Genbaku Dome, also known as the A-Bomb Dome, which is the true hypocenter of the nuclear explosion. This was how it looked like immediately post explosion. Here’s some insight to why it is still standing:

The atomic bomb exploded at a height of 600 meters, 160 meters to the southeast of the Atomic Bomb Dome. At the time, the building was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. At the moment of detonation, the blast exerted 35 tons of pressure per square meter and created a fierce wind speed of 440 meters per second. The building absorbed the powerful explosion and heat, and burst into flames. Because the impact of the blast came almost directly overhead, curiously the thick outer walls and the steel dome escaped complete destruction. However, the people who were inside at the time died instantly and the interior of the building was completely gutted by fire. Although the exact time is unknown, the building with its exposed steel dome began to be referred to as the “Atomic Bomb Dome”.

~ Excerpt from Visit Hiroshima website

Day 5 – Exploring Itsukushima / Miyajima

  • Itsukushima 宮島

We woke up at 5.30am to catch the first boat at 7am to Itsukushima. We were early enough to catch the sunrise (which looks like a sunset haha)

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  • Miyajima Shrine 鳥居

The reason for getting there early is to get to the Miyajima Shrine (photo below) during low tide so that the road to the Shrine is still accessible; it would be flooded at high tide and pictures could only be taken from afar.

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  • Toyokuni Shrine 嚴島神社

Prior to the entrance of another shrine (Toyokuni Shrine), there were these wooden ladles with a body of water before them; my friend taught me how to wash my hands with the ladle before entering the shrine (if i don’t remember wrongly, it should be washing your left hand – right hand – left hand then hold the wooden ladle vertically upright and letting the water flow down)

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Inside Toyokuni Shrine. The mountainous view around the shrine was simply stunning. Also during high tide, the ground below the shrine would also be filled up with water (thus it is built on stilts)

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Most of the wishes I see are full marks for exam!

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  • Momijidani Park 紅葉谷公園

This place is truly aptly named autumn leaves valley! This is where we got the most autumn leaves landscape in the entire trip. We were surrounded by the the most vibrant colours one could ever imagine. I love that there are still some green and yellow to bring out the red leaves instead of just all of it being red autumn leaves. One did not need any photographic skill in this park to take nice pictures in this place! (Thus I posted a couple of them because I simply could not choose)

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Kindergarten children going on school trip with a boy and girl holding hands as they walked in file through the park. I just thought the blue and pink brought even more colours to picture 🙂

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After a couple of hours, the shrine was already flooded by the rising tide.

Because we woke up really early, by the time we finished going through the shrines and park, it was only time for lunch! Hiroshima is famous for oysters so we tried out this place on the island which had a queue

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Oysters in all its glory: baked, fried, raw oyster. It tasted heavenly to say the least. It was such a satisfying meal.

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Day 6: Heading back to Kagawa 

  • Kotohira-gū 金刀比羅宮

After a 2.5 hour drive from Hiroshima, we arrived back at Kagawa prefecture.

This is a Shinto Shrine in which we had to climb ~ 1000 plus steps to reach the top. It was not too stunning in comparison to Momijidani Park that we went to the day before; apparently it is beautiful in cherry blossom season.

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After that we checked into our Tokushima Airbnb pretty early in the evening.

Day 7: Driving around Shodoshima

Shodoshima 小豆島

Matthew was really excited getting here as we would literally drive our car into the ship and get shipped (human + car) together to the island, and so we could continue our road trip on the island. The attractions on the island were rather far apart so it would be not feasible by foot and public transport would be less convenient compared to driving; so for those with cars may consider following suit.

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1st stop: Angel road

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2nd stop: windmill ?魔女宅急便

apparently this is a famous spot for an animation called 魔女宅急便. there are broomsticks available for free borrowing so we just took photos for the fun of it !

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Kagawa is famous for udon. We tried both the cold and hot version and both were amazing! And I suddenly remembered that my father told me Japanese appreciate it when you slurp loudly while eating noodles as it signifies that it is oishi (tasty)

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The winding hill roads leading up to Kankakei 寒霞溪 was absolutely stunning. We were surrouded by every hue of orange and yellow as we headed up the trail.

At this point (photo below), it was too beautiful so we stopped the car at the roadside to take photos!

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Kankakei 寒霞溪

Our last stop of satisfying our autumn leaves obsession.

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Photo below shows you how autumn leaves shots are made!

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Day 8: one last stop and then heading home

  • Ritsurin Garden 栗林公園

Located in the city of Takamatsu, it was last attraction stop before returning the car.

It is a well curated garden built by the feudal lords; imagine being surrounded by tree sized bonsais and man made pools/waterfalls. it was a nice stroll but a bit too packed with visitors.

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Thank God for the good weather throughout the trip! Besides a few drizzles on one of the days, we were blessed with blue and sunny skies with the occasional cloud, which is the perfect concoction for photos. Also really thankful to have a responsible and careful driver/boyfriend who got us through 7 tiring days of driving a humongous Toyota Alphard Vellfire filled to the brim with 7 adults and their suitcases which got heavier and heavier by the day! Besides being the occasional highway driver, I was mainly the navigator, which basically means looking and reiterating GPS instructions lol

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alt-shift-work

sorry for the half-year hiatus. guess time flies and unfortunately fast food culture has made it difficult for people (me included) to have the attention span to read posts that last more than 5 seconds.

but i just decided to post something up anyway just to keep the blog going.

just finished my 1st week in the A&E department. though i have gained a teensy bit of experience spending 1 year in the medical dept and 3 months in the ICU, it’s refreshing and daunting to know that there is still much to learn, especially out of the familiarities of the disease spectrum that i usually see.

Just within the 1st week of AED, I reduced a dislocated shoulder, did FAST scans to look for free fluid in the abdomen (which could indicate a serious diagnosis for patients presenting with abdominal pain), did a bunch of pelvic ultrasounds for the women in early pregnancy to rule out miscarriage, and many many more.

The only down side is the erratic work schedules. I’ve been though on-call previously in the medical dept where we could possibly be working for 36 hours straight, and the maximum work hour for an AED shift is 10 hours. But at least on usual days in the medical dept, i would get to work in the morning and then get off work around evening. Now on certain shifts, i go to work at 2pm or 4pm and then get off work at 12am-1am. Which is a really weird time. because by the time i get home and sleep, it will be late, and i will wake up late the next morning and be minimally productive. And then get to work again. And also it’s a definite no-no for people who want to have a social life. When I have 3-4 PM shifts in a row, it’s literally me just getting to work and then getting back to my bed and repeating the same cycle for 3-4 days. without seeing anyone other than my colleagues.

am looking forward to my next vacation next month – Japan! It’ll be my second road trip, but Matthew will be the only one driving, so i’m thinking of getting refresher driving courses in HK just to make sure i can be a safe and reliable backup driver.

Talking about drivers, today we watched a movie – A Taxi Driver – which is a korean historical action drama featured in the 1980s, about a taxi driver (the unlikely hero) who unintentionally putting himself in danger to get a German reporter into the heat of a revolution which was largely under-reported by the Korean government.

Maybe next time i’ll talk about my recent Cambodia/New Zealand trip if anyone else out there is interested for some sharing of itinerary. 🙂

CNY in Hong Kong

This is the 2nd year in a row that I’ve been unable to head back to Malaysia and spend CNY with my family.

Streets are empty, shops are closed, and facebook is full of family gathering pictures which make me feel really bad for not being able to spend time with the fam back at home (because my leave is only for the first 2 days of CNY; then I am due for work tomorrow). Largely because I only took leave in March to go on holiday with my friends and i couldn’t take so many leaves because there are just so many weeks of holidays in a year. Plus it’s extremely difficult to get leave in my dept now due to manpower shortage. sad but true :/

Terribly sorry for the inconsistencies in my blogging timing due to work and other preoccupations. I really want to go back to regular writing though. Somehow it’s very therapeutic and allows me to sit back and reflect.

Let me put it in point form because I seriously don’t know where to start.

  • Hit hard on the face – by a wedding bouquet in Mikesee’s wedding – which signifies i’m next in line to get married i’m slowly, insidiously but surely entering a different phase in life. more responsibilities, more bills to pay, a more practical future plan to figure out, parents ageing, friends getting married etc etc.
  • Got closer with Matthew’s family; including the bro and his girlfriend. We went camping together (which is another awesome story! though i felt really uncomfortable without bathing for one day @@), took grad pics together and had dinner together for festivities like Winter Solstice (冬至) and Chinese New Year. They are a truly awesome bunch! ❤
  • Am actively working out more via playing tennis and running, mainly to lose weight because I have two bridesmaids’ duty to carry out in May ’16 and Jan 17′. need to lose my flabby arms and tummy that i gained since working. it has been harder to control my diet due to long working hours and night food is tempting during a long and tiring call!
  • Am going to Nepal in March with Matthew plus some A level mates! needless to say I’m super excited. Have been doing research on what action camera to get (DJI osmo?); am even tempted to get a drone. But they are wayy too expensive. So we will most likely end up renting one.
  • Thankfully work has not been too hard on me recently. I’m back to doing general ward this quartile; but it’s much much easier 2nd time round with me knowing the general flow of things, and with a much more easygoing boss. though i must say working as an MO is so much more different than a HO because now when i go back i’ll think about my patients and did i miss anything and could i have done better or should i have done this or that…
  • I’ve not been that consistent spiritually lately; work has bogged down my spirits and I don’t attend church as often as I would like; I don’t pray often and I don’t allow time for bible reading daily. So am truly thankful to have a few days off to reconnect with God and get my priorities straight.

A slideshow of photos to illustrate some of the points above.

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By the way am working on a page for hiking trails in HK. because there are really awesome view of HK that I NEEEDDD to share! ❤

Winding down

After an intense few weeks back at work, it’s finally time for me to wind down and have BOTH days of the weekend off to just chill.

Just completed my MRCP (internal medicine specialty exam) Part 1 last Monday. It’s unlikely that I will score very well but am just simply keeping my fingers crossed that my marks will be enough for me to scrape through, and not pay another HKD 8,000 to resit! I will most likely take Part 2 early next year when I get into my half-year emergency medicine rotation. Am more than looking forward to get out of my medical rotation to finally enjoy some shift work where I can end work on time! Also, my malignant boss is currently on leave so am finally also enjoying some time off some intense “high EE” moments at work.

Photo updates:

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Discovered a wonderful dessert place just 2 mins walk away from my place in kennedy town – Summer Ice! (夏雪) 

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Purple sweet potato milk drink – heavenly!

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A nice catchup with fellow Malaysians working in HK. The excuse was to meet up for Hari Merdeka (Malaysia’s Independence Day) where we had nostalgic Malaysian food in Cafe Malacca (Sheung Wan).. Yums 😛

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New toy – Amazon Kindle! I’ve been wanting to get one since forever but was always worried that I would miss the feeling of holding a good book in hand, but eventually got it anyway. By the way this is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur : an amazing collection of poems. Totally resonated with her writings! 

 

 

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A timely bible verse shared with me by Carmen. When I was having a tough time at work. ❤ 

Alright need to do some journal seeking for a presentation to come in 2 weeks’ time. Till then!

Fighting Giants

Sorry for being missing in action (if anyone ever still reads blogs over buzzfeed/9gag etc!). Have been really busy in residency training for the past month, working on average of 12 hours per day, not counting my hours doing on call duties, around 1-2 times per week.

Before starting my current rotation in internal medicine, I was told by my senior that I had an exceptionally malignant boss paired with a very “chur” (Cantonese slang for extremely busy) work schedule, which would last 3 months (July-Sept). She suggested that I take as much holidays as possible to evade the “chur”-ness when I could. I took her advice and couldn’t be more thankful for the break. As it turns out, the malignancy was an understatement, and the fact that I was very junior made the whole combination a lot worse than if I were a bit more accustomed to work as an MO.

But oh well, if that is the way things are planned, God has His well reasons and I am often reminded of James chapter one.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 

I mainly spent the past 2 weeks catching up with sleep and long lost connections, attending church seminars, revising for MRCP part 1 (first part of the internal medicine specialty exam) and hopping onto the Pokemon Go bandwagon (a Dragonite just slipped out of my hands half an hour ago *sob sob*). I would balik kampung (go back home to Malaysia) if i could but parents are currently at my bro’s place in Seattle so. And they will come visit me end of September (thus earlier escape from my current crazy rotation!)

5 more weeks to go and I will be liberated from this madness. I really, really want it to end soon (and I simply can’t wait to get into A&E rotation from Jan- June next year!) But no doubt I have learned much even though I’ve only spent like 3-4 weeks working as an MO. More procedures, more management to learn, more time spent with patients and their families and a step closer to being a better doctor/person.

A bit of pep talk to myself: David managed to defeat Goliath not because of his size, nor his might. It was because he knew whom he was fighting for –God. and he knew God was with him every step of the way.

Tzehui are you willing to believe that too?

the theory of negativity

I  was chatting with Matthew on the phone and halfway through i paused and said, “Do you think I’m complaining too much?”

“Yeah,” He said. “You seem to have a lot of negative comments about work now.”

Which is absolutely true. My morale, spirits, emotions have all been going downhill since my 3rd rotation (surgery) and it has upped somewhat in my current and final housemanship rotation (obs and gyn) cause my colleagues are pretty awesome and sociable. We are also on the same page on not bringing on ourselves unnecessary workload but simply do what we’re told (albeit with some grumbling).

I realised I was happiest in my 2nd rotation (paediatrics). The workload was pretty heavy with many admissions (~20-30 per night) but very much enjoyable with nice colleagues, seniors and nurses (well, most of them anyways.) But the people I worked with in 3rd and 4th, were, mean for no obvious reason, to say the very least. Maybe that’s work life and maybe that’s workplace politics that exists anywhere.

I told Matthew, “This is probably what God meant when He said:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23

Sin is apparent everywhere and in everyone. Not just in criminals, in rapists but more so in the little things we do/NOT do to other people. And it reminds me all the more why we need God. And how easily my emotions/thoughts are affected by my environment!

Am praying that I learn how to triumph with God’s strength and wisdom and not succumb to the hostility that I am thrown into.

And besides, I will be in a different environment come July when I become a MO 😛

… some rantings before i run out of wifi.

sorry for the 4 month long hiatus again!

been wanting to update since forever but with no wifi in my hostel room, blog updates will have to wait until i can type comfortably on my laptop (like now) when I’m at my friend’s place.

Just an update (in case anyone is interested), I got a job offer to work in an intensive care unit of my first choice. Praise God! Really did not expect to get it especially with my average results. But residency training is probably going to be pretty stressful as I will be working in a teaching hospital (my alma mater!). Will undergo internal medicine training for the first 2.5 years, instead of the usual anaesthesia route.

As for housemanship life, am glad to say that I have survived 9 full months of housemanship (with more than a few scratches and tears, to say the least): 3 months of internal medicine, surgery, paediatrics each, and now with 2.5 months of obs and gyn left. It’s far from my favourite subject, and with everything so protocol-driven, work is pretty mundane. wished i could go back to reading the Bible and novels more, but work is still tiring nevertheless.

Another active problem (as we always write on progress notes) would be my moving problem. Expensive rental but convenient location to my future workplace. No furniture but then I will have the liberty to furnish however I want. But from apartment-shopping to furniture shopping, all of it is pretty tiring (though fun when I am not tired!)

I used to have a page on my blog titled “places to go in HK” but later removed it cause my classmate who read it said “and you tell people you have been living in HK for the past 5-6 years?” Seems that I have been under-travelled (if this word exists) but now i think i’m more equipped to provide more info who those looking for a more enriching holiday experience in HK! (but keep in mind that this is still a foreigner’s view of HK). I am still fully a Malaysian (and proud of it!)

Will move into my new place in May so hopefully there will be more updates then!

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the view otw back to Malaysia. whatever type of cloud formation this is, it takes my breath away. 

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Thai street food! 

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furniture shopping! (and using Matthew as a ruler when i didnt have one)

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Discovering an old school dimsum place while bringing sis and Kwang around during their short stay in HK!

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So long since i’ve hiked. at Dragonback