April 2020

April 2020

Working from home is the new normal. I’ve been into the office twice this month, once to print out some stuff and another time to upload some files (internet at the flat is the same speed as what we had back in 2008).

Here’s a photo of our home office setup. The fourth person (either Hannah or Anthony) works from the desk in their master bedroom. I’ve since had a chair delivered from the office – they retail for $1300 so I will be sad to give it back.

To celebrate Easter, Anthony organised a little Easter egg hunt and we painted these little clay piggy (bunny) banks. They were on sale from Cheaper Buy Miles, our local discount store. I painted mine like a mixture of the characters from the Netflix series, Tiger King. And a little bit of The Joker.

We’ve continued making pizza. Covering the dough with olive oil makes it nice and crispy. Also, I mentioned how frying bread in a thin layer of olive oil makes really yummy sandwiches, right? Well, I used a toaster today and realized it’s the first time I’ve used a toaster in two years.

March 2020

March 2020

I pushed through the general admission mosh, lit only by the lightshow and New Order’s 1986 banger Blue Monday‘s synth (so, very lit). I nudged a 40-ish woman aside with the wheelchair in my arms.

“Are you for real?” she said, incredulously.
“Yeah, I’m for real,” I replied, wittily.

It took the blue oxygen bag strapped to my departing end to make her realize that no, I was not in fluoro carrying a wheelchair down a grass verge just for kicks.

March 14th – 2nd shift

I thought it would be funny to learn to ride a unicycle, so I bought one on Gumtree for $20. I haven’t gotten very far in both senses of the word, but it was fun skating past cyclists with a unicycle in hand.

I’ve also completed my first shift with St John – twelve hours at the Flemington Racecource for the Victorian Racing Club. Personally I think horse racing is not as good as people racing, but the venue is very fancy (they hold the Melbourne Cup there) and the people watching is good. We aren’t allowed to take photos at events.

Here’s some photos from the women’s T20 cricket final – Australia vs. India. Tickets were $20 and Katy Perry did the pre- and post-match concerts. The zoom lens on my Galaxy S9+ is great.

February 2020

February 2020

I’ve been looking at the Bam viola cases for several months. Now that I know Briana doesn’t want to give me her violin, I’ve finally gone and bought one. It cost the same as the original viola+bow+case+strings. Unfortunately, a lady at orchestra has the same model of (violin) case. I am hoping that one day she gets them mixed up so I can take hers and join the violin section once again.

I also bought a new mute as my old one was a violin mute that didn’t quite fit across the two center strings. That was a lot cheaper, and I got a wire one because it was the cheapest one on Ebay. It gives the mute effect but doesn’t make it much quieter. Not sure if I like it because it means more people can hear me.

And I’ve finally swapped out all my strings, for the first time since I bought the viola in 2015. I figured that since I only practice once a week at rehearsal, the timing is about right. They sound nicer than my old ones.

Thanks, Gabby.

Punn, my old flatmate from 2018, came and visited. He’s doing his six-week elective in Brisbane along with another friend, so he dropped by for a week. We visited the Dandenong Ranges – takes almost two hours by public transport because I didn’t want to rent a car. I thought it was too well-maintained and would like something slightly less accessible. It was super busy and cramped until we got further inside the park to the less touristy areas.

The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk (1000 Steps) is a tribute to the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea from WWII. A lot of the people we saw wouldn’t have made it up the real thing.

Crepe unrelated.

January 2020

January 2020

My week and a half in Wellington was spent trying to catch up with friends. It’s funny how now everyone is looking at beginning their first full-time engineering jobs. Surprisingly few considered going overseas, but a lot of my University of Canterbury friends are coming back to Wellington.

Something I forgot to do when I got back from China was make a map of my photos. At work we use mapping software that is super flexible and they will never notice me uploading personal photos. I highly recommend you check out this map – seeing photo points on a map gives them much more context and shows how far out the villages are.

Guangzhou Photos Map

I flew mid-January to celebrate the end of my first year in Melbourne! The bushfires get a special mention, leaving the city in a haze. At least it was nice, clear, and not too hot for our canoe polo day. That same day I took my lead climbing course. I can now do climbs that require you to clip your own rope in as you go.

I met a guy called Phil Ng at work. We were talking about surnames because ours are the same, and I said how we changed ours when we moved to New Zealand because Wu is easier to say. He said that his grandfather didn’t do that when they moved to New Zealand.

As an example of why it might be good to change names to get jobs meant for white people, I mentioned the March family from Fiji. He said, “oh I know a March… Christina? And she has a sister called…”

Turns out his sister met up with Auntie Christine when Christine was visiting us in the US. I don’t really remember her visiting but apparently that happened.

November 2019

November 2019

I visited Geelong by myself and Echuca with the other grads at the start of the month. Geelong is Victoria’s second-largest city, and Echuca is a small town on the border with NSW along the Murray river. The weird thing about rural Victorian towns is they’re full of trendy stores, well-kempt roads and public areas, and no sign of poverty. I learned what a Potemkin village was yesterday.

Sulin (flatmate from 2017-18) came to Victoria for a road trip with her extended family. Luckily we were both in Melbourne for one day after I got back from Echuca. She couldn’t finish her pizza from DOC so I helped. (Hers was better)

Arup participated in the Corporate Games, a multi-code sports tournament between companies. There were several thousand participants and I ran the 10k race. I ran with the Western Programme Alliance joint venture though, because Arup made us pay half whereas WPA paid our whole entry fee. Also, their shirts looked better.

The two laps took me 46 minutes, whereas apparently it takes the F1 cars 80 seconds each.

The next day, Anthony (flatmate), Thomas (uni friend) and I played canoe polo in the very brown Yarra River. We lost all our games.

Thomas (foreground), me (red kayak, orange t-shirt)

At least the Arup Christmas party made up for it. The theme was Hollywood so we went as Men In Black. The event staff confiscated our guns at the door but they didn’t confiscate Frank, the motorised, singing pug.

And below, a small selection of November’s food. The burgers were expense-claimed to Arup.

October 2019

October 2019

I’ve been here for ten months now, and for the first nine I only left Melbourne if I was on a plane. I started October by leaving Melbourne twice in three days.

On Thursday, I took the regional VLine train to Ballarat, a major gold-mining city. Unfortunately, works on the rails meant I had to catch two trains and a bus. It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to get there, and two hours to get back (the extra 45 minutes was because I had to wait for a bus at a station ⅓ of the way from Melbourne).

The following Saturday, I drove with a couple colleagues and their partners to Lerderderg State Park, roughly halfway to Ballarat. We went on a 6 hour hike that took 7.5 hours because it was extremely steep and we had a couple people who don’t hike (for one, it was her first time hiking!).

For my third time out of Melbourne, I went up to Nagambie for a small intervarsity canoe polo tournament. I played with the RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) team – and don’t worry, none of us were actually students at RMIT. I also saw my first kangaroo of 2019! (Pictured is #2.5)

September 2019

September 2019

I’ve been working on an aid project in the Pacific Islands for about six months now. As the person on the lowest rate, I very nearly got to go to Samoa for two weeks as we are carrying out building inspections all over the two main islands. It doesn’t require any technical skill, just for people to take inspections and answer questions. Unfortunately, I’m probably much more useful back at the office taking care of the IT systems.

The Winter canoe polo season is now over, which means I can re-join the Heidelberg Symphony on Wednesday nights. It runs a bit later than I’d like, but I haven’t touched my viola since the Auckland NYO concert back in July. It still has the “fragile” tag on the handle.

I went with dozens of coworkers to the climate strike. It wasn’t really a strike for me since I went back and made up the hours later, but whatever. The mounted police were out en force as well.

Finally, we went to a new restaurant next to our house called Sassy X. We all had the bottomless brunch (turns out the bottom is one main + 6 drinks in 2 hours). Not sure if I got my money’s worth since I only had two drinks. We also figured out why our TV reception has been crap.

August 2019

August 2019

I’ve begun working at a project site every Wednesday. A consequence of Melbourne’s flatness is that I can see the project office from our living room window, despite being five kilometers away. Imagine a monolithic, black, twelve storey building in the middle of Palmerston North.

On my first day, they had a massive cake sitting on the table with a note saying “Please eat”. I asked someone what it was for, and he said they closed out a project the day before. Then why was it still here the next day? Well, this was the last cake of five.

A group of Arup employees hold quarterly wine tasting sessions for $20 in the office after work. There was a space left, so I signed up. I almost threw up on the train home, and I will not be going back. I only finished eight of the nine glasses over three hours.

And to fully embrace Melbourne culture, Hannah, Roisin and I went to a second-hand vintage clothing store out in Brunswick. I bought a denim jacket and a heavy winter coat, but I was much more interested in the other items there.

Happy Father’s Day Dad, Ye Ye, and Gong Gong! Sorry Dad, I dropped my phone on the 31st and am getting a new one shipped to work ASAP.

July 2019

July 2019

July marked my last trip back to New Zealand for the year. I know it’ll be my last with the National Youth Orchestra because I realised it costs me about $2000 to attend. $1000 in lost wages, $400 for the flights, $300 for the course fee (roughly), and let’s add on another $300 for miscellaneous expenses. Also, that was the most alcohol I’ve ever had in a single week. Good thing Gabby and I are lightweight, because it still wasn’t that expensive (it’s fun when your little sister turns 18). I managed to fit in a trip to the climbing gym with friends right before my flight. Por Por and Gong Gong kindly picked me up from Panmure. I asked Gong Gong to take a candid photo of me and my friends at the wall (see below).

I went to Chin Chin for a coworker’s birthday. Little did we know that despite being a Thai restaurant on a Tuesday, we would have to wait 45 minutes for a table. Turns out it’s some award winning restaurant and has been #1 in Melbourne multiple times. Never seen such an expensive Pad Thai in my life.

We finished off the month experimenting with a friend’s slackline in the park. Actually, Gemma Nash’s cousin as we later found out. Gemma is the classmate from uni who is half Fijian Chinese. We also put Róisín’s pole up and had a couple NZ friends visit, who were very intrigued and had a bit of a go themselves.