The Most Alive I’ve Ever Felt

It’s been a while since we’ve blogged, but now we’re back and have lots of new things in store! (:

August 3, 2014

As much as I enjoy the outdoors, you will most likely never see me willingly spend more than a week in nature. But I did, with my family at several national parks, including Yosemite. Why? To scale up the Half Dome. I was doubting myself on whether I could even make it to the halfway point. I tried two years ago with my dad, but couldn’t do it for several reasons.

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I MADE IT. It was exhausting but totally worth it.

At first, I told myself that as long as I passed where I stopped last time, I was a winner. I passed it, and I told myself to just make it to the halfway point, then I’d be a bigger winner. Every time I arrived at my goal, I started having thoughts that I could do it.


In order to reach the Half Dome, you had to scale a sub-dome that had steep stairs and a narrow pathway. Then, you had to walk between these cables on a ridiculous incline before reaching the top of the down. I was climbing the sub-dome when I looked below me and froze. Fear steeped in and I couldn’t push myself forward anymore, so I decided to go back to the base and wait. I didn’t want to be a danger to myself and others. I wasn’t happy when making that decision because I went so far to not go all the way, but it was the right choice.

I’m really proud of myself for exceeding my own expectations, and I can’t wait till the next time I surprise myself again.


Was there a time when you surprised yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

See you soon,


Photos by my father and me

All the Things We Enjoyed While Abroad


  • Making friends through the most unexpected situations
  • Finally starting my internship and loving it!
  • Beautiful Copenhagen (though it was ridiculously expensive)
  • inside jokes with friends
  • Rather Be by Clean Bandits ft. Jess Glynne (I’m taking this from Juliet because I am obsessed with this song as well)
  • Making and eating the BEST chicken salad I’ve had in a while
  • Food (any and all)
  • Checking another thing off my bucket list (Visiting Paris, France)
  • Old family friends who are there for me through thick and thin, willing to help me out with anything
  • Enjoying the company of friends, stress free
  • Adding new songs to my phone to listen to on my commute to work
  • Listening to the audio book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, while on my commute to work
  • Adventures on a scooter in Lisbon
  • Beach beach beach!

  • Kina Grannis’ cover of Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio.
  • Sony World Photography Awards 2014 – just stunning.
  • Song of the Day: GTFO My Room by Andrew Garcia, Ryan Higa, and Andy Lange
  • Rather Be by Clean Bandits ft. Jess Glynne
  • Regaining strength in my foot after my surfboarding accident
  • Not becoming a caffeine addict but still enjoying flat whites and iced coffee with ice cream
  • Good-looking men all over the place in Australia
  • Josh Golden’s cover of Show Me by Kid Ink ft. Chris Brown
  • Keeping in touch with people at The Iconic long after I’m gone
  • Friends who give me encouragement without knowing why I need it
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (book)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (book)
  • Skydiving and riding on a quad! I have never felt so alive.
  • Daniel Sloss, Scottish comedian
  • Learning how to code, thanks to Code Academy, starting with HTML and CSS
  • Starting fresh and new on my Twitter

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One with Nature… Kind Of: New Zealand (Part 1)


Kia ora! (Hello)

I learned that I cannot be away from my nail clippers for more than five days at a time because my nails will grow longer than 0.25 cm and that’s just not okay.

Do I sound crazy yet?

I went with my roommate Janus to New Zealand South Island. It was the first time I went on a long vacation without my family. My mother usually does the planning with my sister’s input, and my dad and I just tag along. I didn’t realize how much effort planning a vacation took. Thank you, Mommy Dearest, for all the energy you put into our family vacations.

We booked a hop-on/hop-off tour with Stray. Hop-on/hop-off means that you can stay longer at any destination and just catch the next available tour bus whenever you want to leave. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to use that function because we had only one week before we were needed back in real life.

Even before we started our trip, there were several issues we hadn’t resolved:

  1. We were arriving in New Zealand on Saturday, and our tour didn’t start till Sunday. We didn’t pre-book a place to stay at for Saturday night because the places we found online weren’t near the city center and were pricey. We believed that we could find something cheaper in the city.
  2. Our flight from New Zealand left at 6 AM on Sunday, but our tour bus didn’t arrive back to the city until 9:30 AM.


19 April (Sat, Easter Weekend) in Christchurch – And the Adventures Begin

  • We were so excited about going to New Zealand that we headed straight for the international airport. Makes sense, except we had a connecting flight in Melbourne and needed to be at the domestic airport instead. There was about 30 minutes of confusion as we tried to find our way to the domestic terminal.
  • Our flight to Christchurch was delayed, so we were arriving around 1:15 AM instead of 11 PM. And then there’s the issue of where we were going to stay…

By the time we got into the city, it was around 2 AM. I just want to put it out there that I am actually an old grandma living in a young person’s body. Once it hits midnight, I’m already thinking about how good my bed and pillow is going to feel, I think and move slower, I don’t listen to what anybody is saying, and I’m a bit grumpier because I’m tired and ready for bed.

Before Janus and I left, our travel agent told us that there isn’t much in Christchurch because the city is under reconstruction. I didn’t think it was a big deal because I’ve always lived in a place where there’s some sort of construction going on. But she wasn’t talking about that kind of construction. What Janus and I didn’t know was that the city was in the process of rebuilding from two 6.3-magnitude earthquakes in 2011. Many buildings were destroyed and many more structures and infrastructures were weakened, and now there were small pockets of the city between huge areas of blocked off land and streets. When we arrived into the city, my first thought was, “Uhh… are we in the right city?” Yes. Yes we were.

We wandered around for a while, asking bouncers where the nearest hostels were because we had no idea what the layout of the city was like or where we were. At one point, a truck passed us, turned around and stopped next to us. The driver rolled down the passenger window and asked us if we needed any help. I wanted a bed more than anything at this point, so I asked him if he knew where we can find a place to stay for the night. Fast forward a couple minutes and he was driving us around town looking for a place to stay.

He was a policeman who just got off work early, and he was going home when he noticed that we were walking around the city at 3:30 AM and heading towards the red light district. Thank goodness he helped us out because I probably would have given up and parked myself right outside Burger King. The cheapest place we found was at a hotel, and we stayed in the executive room because they were having a deal. However, we couldn’t check-in until 9 AM, so we bummed out at the casino for a while. There was an Irish guy who followed Janus and I around for a while, asking us if we wanted to kiss him. Excuse me, I know that it’s good luck to kiss the Irish, but not when you smell like booze and speak way too close to my face. Go away… please.





After a good four hours of sleep, we were ready to check out the city in the daylight like normal people. What I enjoyed most about Christchurch was that instead of rushing to rebuild the city, Christchurch is taking time to re-define itself, whether it is by building a mall out of pallets or installing art pieces randomly throughout the city.

  • The Arcades Project is a series of 10 large crossed arches made out of glue laminate and steel. It is situated right next to the blue Pallet Pavilion, a local performance venue.
  • The Avon River runs through the city and along the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
  • The destroyed Christchurch Cathedral, which I think is still hauntingly beautiful.
  • The Transitional Cardboard Cathedral, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, is made out of cardboard tubes, timber and steel.
  • “185 Empty Chairs” is an installation by artist Pete Majendie. There are chairs of every shape, size and era paints in uniform white, symbolizing the 185 people who died in the earthquakes.
  • Re:Start Mall is made out of containers. I thought it was cool idea creating a temporary shopping solution by outfitting retail stores in containers.


20-21 April (Sunday & Monday) in Franz Josef – Hiking is a Good Way to Shape Your Bum

Twinkles was our tour guide. He was lanky, had one dimple, and enjoyed walking around barefeet. He was the right amount of talkative and awkward, and I enjoyed hanging around him because he was chill.

On our way to Franz Josef, we passed by a tiny town with a population of two. The population of two owned a museum of random crap the owner collected. I enjoyed the store thoroughly because the owners are extremely sarcastic. People would write mail to them, mostly commenting on how they didn’t appreciate the jokes that were made. The owner would write back, making several sarcastic comments and thanking them for never wanting to go back.


Janus and I wanted to skydive at Franz Josef because people said you can see land, water, and glaciers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it because the weather was cruddy and the clouds kept hanging around. Instead, we did a lot of hiking and soaked in the glacier hot pools. While hiking, I thought about how my family would really enjoy New Zealand because of all the nature and hiking.

Now that I think about it, I’m the odd one of my family. My family loves hiking, and we go at least once a year to a national park to hike. Everyone in my family is good at hiking except me. My dad is good because he is a strong self-motivator; my sister is good because she likes to give herself challenges to overcome; and my mom is good because she doesn’t care if she makes it all the way to the top, as long as she can enjoy herself and take pictures along the way. As for me, I always want to make it to the top, but put a steep hill in front of me and I start thinking, “What the hell… why am I doing this to myself?” One of my motivators to keep on hiking is it’s working out my butt and legs, and I do want to make sure they look good.




On Monday night, there was a knock on our door. Guess who it was? Mr. Policeman! He was visiting his friend at Franz Josef while we were there,  and we happened to stay in the same hostel (mainly because that was the most well-known hostel in the tiny town). He brought Mawson, his Alaskan Malamute dog, along and we all hung out for a while until the blackout hit.

New Zealand has an ice cream brand called Memphis Meltdown. It’s much better than Haagen-Dazs. Janus and I bought one, and I accidentally dropped it on the floor. It was expensive, so we picked it up and kept on eating it. Five second rule, you know?

22 April (Tuesday) in Lake Wanaka – Nobody Told Me About All the Drool When Skydiving



On our way to Lake Wanaka, we stopped at Lake Matheson and walked a trail around it. The waters are dark brown, created by natural leaching of organic matter from the surrounding native forest floor. On a calm day, it creates the ideal reflective surface, and that’s why it is also known as the Mirror Lake.


Janus and I were able to go skydiving over Lake Wanaka, which was our second choice anyways. We jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet with 45 seconds of freefall. It was exhilarating and exciting, and I’m glad I didn’t wee my pants. I was hesitant to include a video of my jump because it’s really awkwardly hilarious, but I did anyways. I showed this video to my rooommates and they all cried because it was… well, you’ll see. Before you watch, just know that I’m not very good at being myself when people are videotaping me. And I didn’t know how much drooling I would do.

I’ll finish with the second half of my trip soon!


Sources: Wikipedia; Air New Zealand Inflight Magazine Kia Ora, April 2014;

First Time International Student


No more crutches or wheelchairs anymore – I CAN FINALLY WALK AGAIN! I’m not up to my pre-injury pace yet, but all good things take time, right? The only thing that bothered me during my healing process was that I became the slow walker. I get impatient when there’s a slow walker right in front of me—that’s why I walk in zigzags a lot—and now I’ve become one of those slow walkers. No doubt once I’m all healed I’ll be back to zooming around people again, but I did learn to be more sympathetic during my time as a crippled. Like the old saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

As for my first week as an international student at University of Sydney (or what locals call Sydney Uni):

I’ll roll out of bed at 5am for monetary compensation & free breakfast.

IMAG0569 IMAG0570

Janus and I have decided to participate in a paid study because (1) money and (2) free breakfast. The study is two hours long and only available in the wee hours of the morning, but they have bacon, Nutella, cream cheese and chocolate Rice Bubbles… I can’t say no. The only thing that sucks is that it’s kind of early, so Janus has to see my sleepy-stank face and endure my bitchy attitude in the mornings. (Sorry!)

This is an ongoing nutrition study. We’re given a specific type of food to test each session, and we do each food three times before moving on to the next food item. For our first food, we are given 50 grams of orphan glucose. Sugar for breakfast… just what the doctor ordered.

All sugar...

All sugar…

The Internet in the room is shitty, so I spend this time organizing my planner and thoughts and draft emails and blog posts on paper. It’s nice to be sort of cut off from the world, but I’m pretty sure I’d go crazy if I went longer than 5 hours without synchronizing my life with some sort of technology.


If the campus isn’t a straight line like Boston Uni, then be prepared to see my lost face A LOT.

Sydney Uni campus is gorgeous. It is a mix of UCLA and Boston College, and is completely different from Boston University. I still have to discover all the tunnels and passageways because this is probably the only time I’ll ever get a true campus experience.

IMAG0580 IMAG0575

Birds still terrify the shit out of me.
There are so many seagulls and ibises (ibi?) on campus. They stare at me like I’m the one getting in their way + they run funny + they can poop while they’re in the air = me freaking out internally.

Australian logic != American logic (!= means ‘not equal to’ in computer coding language; hello, nerd Juliet)
My schedule told me that I had to be at LG32 (room 226). I walk into a building and the first floor is all the 300s classrooms, and because I couldn’t see stairs going downstairs, I thought maybe they flipped the logic and the numbers decrease with each floor. (Makes sense, right?) Go upstairs and it’s the 400s. Looking confused on the flight of stairs facing the main entrance, a mailman comes to my rescue and leads me to the classroom. Before he leaves me, he reminds me that LG means ‘lower ground’. And I go, “Uh duhr, Juliet.” I couldn’t remember what LG meant because whenever I hear LG, I think of the mobile service company. Oy.

Off for more adventures now!

Interning at the Iconic

A good sign that you’re either a workaholic or have an obsessive personality is that even after leaving your internship, you make sure that email inbox is clean every single day.


I’m a little thrown off because I’m not cleaning my three email inboxes at The Iconic. Thursday, 27 February was my last day interning there. I didn’t have much time to collect my thoughts throughout the day because I was finishing up some things, so I’m reflecting about my time at The Iconic now:


About the Iconic
The Iconic is an Australian-based online retail company (comparable to Zappos in US and ASOS in UK) that started in October 2011. Going into the third year of business, the company is currently transitioning from the startup mindset to one about growth. The Iconic is undergoing a rebranding process in order to better define who the company is and have a reason as to why they’re doing what they’re doing—it’s like how some people eat peanut butter right out of the jar, but I don’t because my mom would slap my hand every time I tried doing that when I was younger. There will be a lot of changes happening to The Iconic in the year of 2014, so be on the lookout.

The company is one of the most diverse companies I’ve ever seen: a handful of British and Australian, lots of French (or maybe I was just surrounded by them), sprinkled with American, German, Danish, Portuguese, and other countries. (Funny enough, most of the Asians were in the finance department; way to reinforce the stereotype.) All the different nationalities together means lots of different ideas to pull from and be innovative and the possibility of creating something amazing, but it requires a lot of communication and understanding other people and how they function and why they do what they do… and a shit ton more of communication. (It reminded me of the team projects at school, but on a wider scale.)

Side note: I’ve been trying to figure out what being Australian meant. If you have the Australian accent, you’re Australian. But there are many people who live in Australia that don’t have the Australian accent, and they consider themselves Australian. I want to say that The Iconic is a good example for what Australia is like—diverse as heck.

Before Interning at the Iconic
Truth be told, I didn’t want to intern at the Iconic. I asked previous Iconic interns what it was like to intern there and they didn’t give me a good vibe. One said she didn’t have anything to do (to which I thought, “Seriously? But it’s a startup, so there should be lots to do!”) I didn’t want to get an internship where I wasn’t doing anything because it’s a waste of time and space. I know me, and if I’m at an internship or work and there’s nothing to do, I either (a) periodically ask my boss if there’s anything I can do, (b) start doing things not work-related, or (c) just think and see where that leads me. I’m the type of person who always needs something to do.

Three Cultural Differences

First, time gets lost easily in Australia. American companies are more time-conscious, while The Iconic is a little bit all over the place. At TripAdvisor, if a meeting was scheduled for 2 pm, then it means the meeting starts between 2-2:10 pm. At The Iconic, that meeting could be starting anytime between 2-2:30 pm. That’s because all the managers usually have back-to-back meetings and barely have enough time to get comfortable in their seats before they’re whisked away to another meeting. There were a couple of times where I’ll go up to my boss (Angus) to ask him a question, but he tells me he has to be at a meeting that started 5 minutes ago. Either they need to have fewer meetings, or they need to talk faster in these meetings to make it to the next one.

Second, Australia is extremely laidback, more so than California. Me? Laidback? No. I’m high-strung, adventure-seeking, fun-loving, curious, talkative, and a lot of other things, but not laidback. Adjusting to Australia’s relaxed culture was more difficult than I imagined because I strongly prefer structure with a little bit of flexibility over some structure with a lot of go with the flow. I think I adapted pretty well though. Similar to America, Australia has a 9 to 5 work structure, but it feels like you can come and go as long as you get your work done. Heck, Angus comes in between 10:30-11 am (Is he sleeping? Is he calling America and/or Germany? I always wanted to ask). Our internship hours were actually 9:30 am-5 pm, which (to me) started too late and ended too early, so I arrived in the office between 8:15-8:45 am and left between 5:30-6 pm. Even after I leave work, I do little things like clean out my email inbox, but that could probably be the obsessive side of me talking. I hate it when there are more than 3 emails unread, so imagine what I’m like when I see 12 unread emails…four times as crazy. Aurora, my former desk buddy, had more than 5,000 unread messages in her inbox, and I always flipped shits inside because I was dying to ask if I could clean it out for her. (Maybe we should add crazy to the list of how to describe me.) Australia has definitely mellowed me out, though, believe it or not.

Lastly, Australia is more about positive and constructive criticism while America is more straight-up-you’re-this-and-that-wrong. One of my previous bosses told me for my final evaluation that I worked too efficiently, making it seem like I was always in a rush to leave work. (Not true; I’m an efficient worker because my personality is I don’t like to dilly-dally.) I wouldn’t have cared so much about the comment if she had let me explain as to why I am the way I am, but she said it in a way that made it seem like I was in the wrong, At The Iconic, I researched a handful of topics and made PowerPoint presentations, and all I get is “interesting” and “good job”, which makes me wonder if there are comments they aren’t telling me. They had a template for presentations, and each slide included a title, subtitle, description, and actual information. Sometimes I didn’t know what to write for the subtitles, so I put random one-liners (i.e., for my citations pages, my subtitle was “Not MLA- or Chicago-styled citations, but Juliet-style”) and nobody ever said anything to me. I don’t have a style that I prefer more, but I am used to people telling me how it is, without having the intention of making me cry.

Surpassed Expectations and Mellowing Out

Like I said previously, I wasn’t expecting much coming into this internship. I figured I was going to get menial tasks like watch this and do this when it hits that or do a lot of copy paste and delete. The first day of the internship, Aurelien greeted and told us who we were working with. His final words were, “If anybody makes you get them coffee, just come find me.” He told me I was working with Angus, who wasn’t there yet because it was 9:30 in the morning, so I was handed off to Clare. My first task was to do research on online loyalty programs. I used to hate research because it was usually about a topic that I had little interest in, so my initial reaction was, “No yay. Let’s whip this out and move on.” It turned out to be interesting; looking at what other companies were doing made me think about what the Iconic do to differentiate themselves. I even found the other topics I was asked to research somewhat interesting too, which made me think about whether there were certain aspects of business where it was not worth a company’s resources to innovate and just stick with the norm; if so, how would you decide?

First three weeks I was struggling internally. I wanted to maintain my work attitude from America, but it really didn’t work well with the Australian environment. It wasn’t as if I could make it work if I tried hard enough, it was more like IT’S NOT WORKING SO YOU MUST CHANGE OR PERISH. Here are my thoughts on why forcing a circle peg (American Juliet) into a square hole (Australia) couldn’t work:

  • Couldn’t ask Angus questions whenever I wanted to because he’s a super busy dude. If I was given three tasks, then I would do as much as each task as I can and gather a cumulative list of questions. Then minimize the list of questions to ones that were extremely important, ask those questions and leave the rest for another time. Also, try to minimize question time to 5-20 minutes because the man has stuff to do.
  • Meetings don’t start at the time they were planned? What? You said the meeting is starting at 3 pm, and it’s now 3:02 pm and where are you? I picked up on that pretty fast and soon I didn’t go to meetings unless someone picks me up on their way to a meeting.
  • Finding a balance between work and play. Even if Australians are laidback, they are still serious about their work. It’s hard to think about playing at work because I’ve always been work work work work, okay, go home and play. I didn’t get the hang of it, but I did dance and sing in my seat a lot.
  • Smile? No smile? I love smiling. I smile at people on the streets, hoping that I made their day a little better. I didn’t know if Australians appreciated it as much as Americans, and I still have no answer. They don’t make funny faces, they give half smiles… I was confused. So sometimes I smiled, one time I made a face at Aurelien as he passed by…

I was getting the hang of it towards the last two weeks, but unfortunately, I didn’t have two full weeks and time zipped by pretty quickly. Now they’re replacing me with newbies and I’m a little sad.

Random Observations, Memories and Thoughts

  • There were three guys in the office that could pass off as brothers because they were all tall and European (at least I think they were all European): Angus, one guy that recently left, and another super tall dude.
  • Patrick and Jimmy (who worked with Patrick) were soulmates and it couple of the company. Whenever one was without the other, it was like hell broke loose. Jimmy was a bit of a player, though, and also had relationships with Tyler and Kaega. A couple of times we would see them talking to each other in the hallway and we would role play. Good laughs.
  • There is a gender divide in the company: the boys hang with the boys, and the girls hang with the girls. Sometime during the first two weeks of the internship, Jimmy, Sheena and I were invited to eat lunch with some of the boys. I didn’t mind because I prefer hanging out with dudes more than chicks, but I was more like, “Let’s all hang because that’s more efficient.”
  • I enjoyed cake of the week, which is surprising because I’m not a big fan of cake except for green tea and tiramisu. Sheena and I made Tim Tam Slam one week and it was a huge hit in the office.
  • One time I was super hungry so I ran out to buy some more food. I saw Tyler (who’s American) on my way out, and I asked him where I should go for food. We ended up grabbing sandwiches at this funky little place (I forgot the name of it). Spontaneous and cool.
  • Either Patrick or Adam (the big dogs of the company) mentioned that they were replacing the plastic tables and giving everybody their own table. It was a happy and sad thought. Happy because then they can get some bookshelves and drawers to organize their stuff in, but sad because the plastic tables kind of set the tone of the company for me. Alas, as the company matures, the look must mature as well.
  • Aurelien was a ball of surprise. I thought he would be a serious-all-the-time dude, but he isn’t. He always has a bunch of jokes ready to go. First my crippled state, then the supposed drunk hidden in me… a very pleasant surprise.
  • One day Angus rolls in a trolley full of Tim Tams, and it was like Christmas Day all over. It was the highlight of that day.
  • I was eating a bag of Starburst Babies one day, and Angus called them little Buddhas. And then Aurora turns around and asks me if she can get some of my babies. That’s probably why they’re called Babies, just so people can ask that question.

tim tams

Last Thoughts
I’m glad I interned at the Iconic, though, for several reasons:

  • Working at a company transitioning out of the start-up phase was interesting and suitable to my personality.
  • Meeting people with different accents! Not gonna lie, it was a bit difficult at times deciphering what people were saying (and I’m mostly talking about the Frenchies here).
  • Getting real experience and understanding more about Australian culture before starting classes at Sydney Uni, where I’ll probably still get culture shock, but less so because of this.
  • Friday beer and chips! They should start having that at American companies.
  • Meeting all the people in general. Different backgrounds, different stories to tell… I already miss them all.

It took Sheena and I a little over an hour to say all our goodbyes. Not exactly goodbyes because we’re planning on visit them while we’re still in Australia, so it’s more of a see ya later. But I already miss them, and kind of want to go back, strap myself into a chair and tell them they can’t get rid of me so easily. #separationproblems


Catch you guys on the flip side,

Photos by Juliet and Janus

Mis Axilas Duele (My Armpits Hurt)

Subtitle: Adventures of the Crippled One

During Surf Camp about three weeks ago, I rolled over my toes into the ocean when I tried standing up on the board. I didn’t think it would matter very much, so I continued to walk on it for two weeks. Finally went to the doctor’s last Friday, and the prognosis was that I had overstretched tendons and should keep off my foot for a while. What do I do right after the doctor says that? GO ON ADVENTURES.

Friday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day at Luna Park

I emailed my mom about my injury and how I needed to use crutches, she sent me this email:


Ma, do you have to make fun of me at my moment of pain? Oy. It’s difficult talking to my mom via email because she speaks Chinese-English and I speak English. Sometimes I have to guess what she means because she’s missing nouns or verbs. Same thing interning at The Iconic. Since it’s so diverse from China to Indonesia to France to Portugal, I get lost in people’s emails because they’re speaking their version of English. At first I was like “You said what now?” but I’m picking it up quickly.


Janus, Jana, Sheena, Yae Jin (Jenny), Daniel, and I planned to go to Luna Park for Valentine’s Day because… why the heck not? We had to take a short train ride out there. Even though Sydney tunnels and stations are not air-conditioned and I sweat buckets when I’m in them, I don’t mind it all because it’s better than Boston’s public transportation. I am definitely not missing the always late, always loud, always squishy, always smelly T.


Janus said Luna Park Sydney was like Coney Island in New York. There’s actually a Coney Island in Luna Park. Tiny amusement park with maybe only 10 to 15 rides. We knocked everything out in about two hours. My favorite rides had to be the burlap sack slide and bumper cars. There weren’t any roller coasters with big drops, but I did get to scream my head off on one ride because I spent most of the time perpendicular to the ground. I’m pretty sure I was yelling for my mommy to come and save me…


My physiotherapist gave me this arm crutch to use during my limping period. It’s one of those crutches with an arm ring to put your hand through so you won’t hurt your armpits. I thought I could handle a two-hour adventure at Luna Park, but after half an hour, I had to try to not be grouchy. If you don’t know, I get grouchy pretty easily- when I’m hungry, when I’m tired, or when I’m annoyed. This time I was getting grouchy because I was frustrated. I didn’t know how much it would hurt using crutches and I felt bad that I was slowing down the group. I couldn’t really do anything about it except not explode on bystanders, and I didn’t. Whew. My homies would have seen a shocking side of me.


Saturday, February 15th – Hunter Valley Wine Tour

If I didn’t buy a ticket for this wine tour already, I would have stayed at home and rested. Since I paid, I pushed through the pain and enjoyed the day as much as I could. Sebastian (Sebby) was our tour guide for the day. He had bright red hair, was born in Western Australia and drove across the country with his girlfriend for job opportunities on the East Coast.

hunter valley sebby

We first went to a wildlife park (but I don’t remember the actual name of the park) where kangaroos, emus, wallabys, and koalas roamed freely around the grounds. We got to touch Pepper (koala) and hold Shaggy (snake). Pepper is really, really, really soft. I’m currently in the process of finding out how to grow eucalyptus trees in my backyard so I can bring a koala home for myself.


(I was on the phone trying to get a doctor’s note for my foot, a wheelchair for Melbourne, and two crutches instead of one.)


I was bitten by a snake once in seventh grade. My science teacher had lots of reptiles in his classroom, and he would put them on the classroom tables to feed them because the kids always asked him too. One morning, I walked past this snake who just finished its breakfast (there was a huge mouse shape in his stomach), and he attacked and bit me on my thumb. I wasn’t afraid of the bite because he barely damaged me, but I was more shocked at how fast he attacked.


We got to wander around the park grounds, and saw a Tasmanian devil (kind of cute), wombats (their heads look too big for their bodies, which make them funny cute), dingoes (much prettier than I imagined), and kookaburra (I tried to make it sing/laugh, but it just wouldn’t). Janus and I watched while two peacocks chased after an emu (which are huge birds), and the emu reacted by having a seizure and then running away. It was pretty funny.




After the park, we went to three wine tastings, one cheese tasting, and one chocolate tasting. By the time we finished the first wine tasting, I was saying that “the pain in my foot don’t hurt no mo’”. That was point of the tour, right? I especially enjoyed the cheese tasting. There was one (which I can’t remember now) that tasted like sour cream and it was oh-so-delicious. Why didn’t I buy it? Probably because by that time, the pain in my foot was coming back and all I wanted to do was sit down.

What I learned from the wine tour: it takes time to accept the taste of red wine. For now, I am more of a moscato and white wine girl, but with the right food pairing, I can learn to like red wine as well.

Sunday, February 16th – Melbourne Time!

I had a four-day class trip in Melbourne for my Australian Culture and Society class. I would have preferred if I weren’t injured and could walk everywhere, but being on crutches or in a wheelchair while in Melbourne gave me a whole other perspective on the city.


Sheena and Janus waited with me at the airport for a wheelchair, and while we were waiting, this beautiful men’s team from Perth waltzed in. When I say beautiful, I mean oh-my-gosh-I’m-already-melting beautiful. I tried figuring out which team they were on the spot, but I didn’t know which sport they played. The only thing I could tell you is that they were sponsored by an insurance company.

There was an hour and a half before our flight left, so the three of us took a spin around the airport. More like me being spun around by Janus. She had lots of fun figuring out how to use a wheelchair and then pushing me around. I don’t know why but Starburst gummies are more delicious in Australia than in America. I also tried meat pies from Pie Face for the first time, and even though it was a little bit on the pricey side, it was so good! Harry’s is the original meat pie company, but their meat pies are so intense that I turn my nose away. Pie Face, on the other hand, has a good balance of crust and meat and other random crap they put in there.


For dinner, we ate at Naked for Satan, which is Mexican tapas where patrons grab what they want to eat (because everything’s on toothpicks), and just bring the toothpicks to the register afterwards to pay. Janus and I split dinner, so we grabbed pretty much everything because that’s how we operate. There were a couple that I wasn’t a fan of (and one that I couldn’t get past the smell), but the rest was pretty damn good. A must try place while in Melbourne!


Monday, February 17th – Such is Life

Janus and I rose up bright and early because we had to be at RMIT at 9 AM for a lecture and I was going to take much longer because I was on crutches. We ate un grande breakfast at Café 65, just how queens should eat. It’s a good thing that there was so much food too because I needed to have enough energy to maneuver on the crutches.


I was exhausted when we arrived at RMIT around 9:30 AM because we took a wrong turn and I needed a few breaks for my armpits. I signed up to do the “What’s Love Got to Do With It” tour around the Australian Open, but it was very walk-intensive, so I switched to the “Such is Life” tour about Ned Kelly and his time at Melbourne Gaol. Ned Kelly is an iconic figure in Australian history and folklore because he was an Irishman who had multiple conflicts with the law as a kid, and was finally executed by hanging at the age of 25. We had a tour of the Melbourne Gaol, which is based on the Eastern Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, and re-enacted the courtroom drama of Ned’s trial.


The one thing I will remember about Melbourne is barhopping in a wheelchair. The biggest difference between Sydney and Melbourne is that most everything people go to in Sydney are on the main streets, but all the good stuff in Melbourne are in the alleyways. These alleyways are horrendous for disabled people: some slant inwards so you’re always moving from right to left, some are cobblestone which makes me want to pee when I ride over them, and it’s never a smooth ride. Even in general, Melbourne’s streets aren’t safe for the disabled, whether they are on crutches or in wheelchairs. I was thrown out of my seat several times trying to get on the sidewalk and banged a couple walls as well. Nonetheless, it was an interesting night. We went to:

  • The Croft Institute—drinks are served with a needle, and bathrooms look like hospital waiting rooms
  • Section 8—outdoor bar with very loud music and very large bottles of beer
  • Sister Bella—two flights of stairs to a comfy bar, board games are available
  • Stalactites—24 hour Greek food, and it was great



Tuesday, February 18th – Great Ocean Road Tour


I also signed up for this tour long before my injury. It cost $100, so I definitely didn’t want to back out of it. Unfortunately, the tour wasn’t wheelchair accessible so I had to try my best hobbling along. Overall, the tour wasn’t as great as it could have been. They prepared light snack before lunch and lunch for us, but the food and drinks were awful. Of course I’m a biased because I was crippled and couldn’t do everything that everybody else did.


I did, however, ride a helicopter over the 12 Apostles. When I climbed out of the helicopter, a pilot named Tane came and helped me out. I grabbed onto his arm while limping, and he asks, “Do you want me to help you over there to your crutch or do you want to stay here and I’ll bring the crutch to you?” I know I say this a lot, but this man was gorgeous and perfect. Without a second thought, I said, “It’s better if you just help me over.” Oh man, his smile was perfect and… swoon.


Wednesday, February 19th — Green is the New Gold

In the morning, Janus and I trekked (or she trekked and pushed while I sat) 30 minutes away to eat at a cafe called Silo by Joost. Silo by Joost is a zero-waste, eco-friendly restaurant. Everything that comes through the company is either recycled or could be recycled. Straws are made of cardboard, plates are re-tiled plant holders, and lots more. The food was delicious as well. Janus and I tried this sweet brown rice with lots of random stuff on it because the waitress said it tasted like rice pudding. It does not taste like rice pudding, and all the random stuff was pretty sour so the only way to stomach it was to eat it with the peaches. Except we didn’t have any peaches. Otherwise, the food was splendid.


After brekkie, Janus and I wandered off to pick up some flat whites. Once again, cobblestones, bumpy ride that made me want to pee, and lots of alleyways. Manchester Press was located in an alley with a huge disco ball swinging in the middle of it. Australians know how to make their coffee. That, and I can better withstand stronger coffee now: I only put one spoon and a half of sugar. (Still working on it, don’t rush me!)


Turns out, the first stop for our tour “Green is the New Gold” was at Silo by Joost. Janus was pushing me down the same road, and we looked at each other, thinking, “Please tell me it’s not the same place….” It was, but at least we got free nibbles and coffee this time around. Dan then took over wheelchair duties and pushed me for the rest of the time. The tour was interesting: our guide was an eloquent speaker and knew what he was talking about, and he led us to several destinations that were important to the topic of sustainable living and design.


We had about 3 hours between the end of the tour and when we were supposed to be back at the hotel. Becky, Janus, Daniel, Lucas, and I started out as a group and checked out the place around Federation Square with ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and the nearby alleys. I would have loved to have more time just to check out each and every restaurant we came across because every place offered something different. We then split up so it was just Becky, Janus and me, and we had a food adventure of our own with Becky pushing me most of the time.


First stop: Shebeen. 100% of the profits of drinks go towards a program in that drink’s country of origin. For example, if I bought a Beer Ha Noi tinny from Vietnam, then that drink’s profits go towards Room to Read (as listed by Shebeen). It’s a great concept, and way to help others.

Second stop: a random macaroon shop in the middle of a hill. We passed other macaroon shops, but we only stopped at this one for some reason. Thank goodness we did, though, because their green tea macaroon was superb. I almost broke out in tears when I bit into it because it was a macaroon with the perfect amount of green tea flavor. I want another one now…

Last stop: Meatball & Wine Bar. Janus’ boss and one of my coworkers recommended this place, so we couldn’t leave without trying it out. We were all kind of full from the previous two places, so we split everything. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS. Seriously, my taste buds are having a glorious time in Australia with all the food. The meatballs? Perfectly cooked. I wouldn’t have thought to pair it with the white sauce, but it works! And the bread isn’t so thick that it covers all the taste, but it accentuates the meatballs and sauce just perfectly.


Thank you to all the people who pushed me around in my wheelchair in my crippled state: Janus, Sheena, Jana, Lauren, Daniel, and Becky. I hate depending on people because I don’t like to be a burden, so for you guys to do it so willingly without complaints makes me really happy that you guys are my friends.

Update on my foot: it’s almost healed. I can walk like a normal person now… still pretty slow, but at least I can walk. I almost made it to work (which is usually a 15-minute walk) without feeling tired, which is improvement.

One last thing before I finish talking about Melbourne:

Favorite bar rules ever

Favorite bar rules ever

The Crippled Juliet


Photos by Juliet, Janus & Charlotte

If I Stopped Karate Kicking in My Sleep…


from left to right: Juliet’s feet & Janus’ feet

Hello amigos y amigas,

Remember that Galaxy Bruise from my last post? The one I got as a gift from Surf Camp? It’s gone now, mainly because Janus kept telling me to massage it. I don’t think I mentioned that I also hurt my right foot trying to stand up on the surfboard. Apparently I mistook my toes as the bottom of my foot and either strained or sprained them… I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. All I know is that it hurts.

Instead of taking life slow and letting my toes heal, what do I do? Keep on walking, running, crashing into things, and falling off other things. I really don’t think my foot will heal anytime soon. On Monday, I went into work with a bandage on my foot and relaxed a lot; at night, I walked into a man and fell off a chair. Also, I karate kick the wall when I turn in my sleep, and it just so happens that I kick with my right foot. On Tuesday, a smaller limp; I changed my sleeping position so I kick the wall with my left foot, but I wasn’t used to rolling off the bed with my left foot first, so I fell on top my right foot. Oy.

Saturday, February 8th – Walking Adventure, Karaoke, and Heels

Janus and I spent the morning at the Rocks Markets, while Sheena and Jana went to the Surf Competition at Manly. Sometimes all you need is a relaxing morning, you know? In one part of the markets, there was an island of food. There was so much food, it was like Holy Crap I Feel Full Just Looking at It. Their gozleme was bigger than the size of my face! Oh man, just think of all those carbs… Should I feel happy or scared?


We finished the markets in an hour or so, and it seemed kind of pointless just going back to the apartment because that’s lame. So we decided to walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens, which was right next to the water.


During the Drop Bear Cup, one of the photo ops is Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair in the Gardens, so I really wanted to see her chair. It was a disappointment.


What?! Mrs. Macquarie, whoever you are… that’s not a chair. That’s a big rock with an inscription about Mrs. Macquarie Road. Can you feel my disappointment? I was expecting a ginormous wooden chair with beautiful carvings or engravings or something! At least the walk in the Gardens was gorgeous. Chased a lot of birds, even though for the life of me I hate them so much. (I chase them because I hate them.)

Currently there is a city-wide art event called Taronga Wild! Rhinos, where businesses, artists and schools decorate rhino sculptures to be placed around the city. Rhinos are becoming extinct, so after this art exhibition is over, they are going to auction off the sculptures and the money will go towards rhino conservation. My favorite sculptures are the top two: I like the one of the top left because it reminds me of china patterns, and I like the one on the top right because rhinos aren’t supposed look like zebras.




We made the best sandwich ever that night. No cooking necessary, and oh, mama mia, I was in heaven. Sandwiches really  isn’t the food to eat at a date. There’s just too much food to put in the mouth, and everything’s always falling… but it’s okay. In front of the girls, I don’t give a crap. That sandwich… that avocado…the perfect tomatoes… I’m shedding a tear just thinking about it.


At night, Yae Jin and Janus’ friend Wendy came with us to go karaoke! I still feel that karaoke is best when you go with a group of Asian-Americans because then you can sing Asian and American songs. In my mind, karaoke should always entail Asian songs, but since Jana is white and the other girls are different kinds of Asians so it was hard finding a middle ground. We still had fun, though. There was lots of Beyonce and No Scrub and Backstreet Boys to go around.

Afterwards, we decided to hit up World Bar in Kings Cross. It was a pretty bad time, so I don’t want to talk about it. I will say how dumb I was for not taking the night off because I had an injured foot. And I will scold myself for wearing heels.

Sunday, February 9th – Cupid’s Undie Run and Not Watching a Movie

Another thing I decided to do on an injured foot? Run for charity. One thing you guys probably don’t know about me: I don’t wear pants if I don’t need to. It’s a free feeling. So when Janus found the Cupid’s Undie Run where we run in our bra and panties, I said hell yeah because it’s probably one of the few chances I’m allowed to not wear pants in public. Ain’t gonna say no to that. The run was only 1 km, so it wasn’t that bad. We ran for 5 minutes by the water, stopped and did some Jazz-ercise, and ran back to where we came from.

undie run photo booth

You know what Janus is really good at? Finding free shit to do. Sydney puts up postcards all around the city, advertising events and sometimes giving out free things. Janus goes crazy whenever she finds one of the postcard stands. She found one for a free movie membership and a free ticket to watch a movie, so we were going to watch a movie on Sunday night. Um, let’s first talk about how crazy swanky Australian movie theaters are. You can buy movie tickets and alcohol at the ticket concession stands. Yup, and alcohol.


I’ll never find a movie theater like that in America.

Turns out, they needed to process the membership information for 24 hours before we were able to get our free movie ticket. Total bummer, but we decided to walk back home (which was an hour to an hour and a half away). I didn’t mind walking because it meant that I didn’t have to spend money, but my foot really didn’t like me after the walk. The place we were reminded me of Los Angeles and the suburbs: empty with some interesting stores. There were so many bridal shops, which reminded me of Temple City, California. There was a Chinese medicine store that said “Don’t tell me what’s wrong with you, because I will find out and tell you.” Asians crack me up, man.


Monday, February 10th – Free Tim Tams and Food… I’m Not Going to Say No

I enjoy working at the Iconic because there are always random surprises and fun. Angus, my manager, has connections at Tim Tams and the office turned into a frenzy when we wheeled in a whole cart of Tim Tams. These were mini Tim Tams, which are perfect if you want a small bite of chocolate and don’t want to eat a huge Tim Tam bar. By the way, I tried doing a Tim Tam Slam and failed miserably.


Our floor also had an event: free BBQ! Tori was the Grill Chef, and that’s all I know because I arrived late. Janus and I took so many plates of food back to our room: a full plate of watermelon, a bowl full of corn on the cobs, a bowl of pasta… we pretty much don’t have to cook this week. Me is happy.



Look forward to the next post! This Saturday, we’re off to a wine tour in Hunter Valley and Melbourne with our class!

Update on last week’s Tim Tam Chocolate Slam – It was a big hit in the office! We cut the “cake” into itty bitty pieces because it just had so much chocolate, which turned out fine because we were able to go to most of the departments and spread the love.

timtam choco slam

And with much love from my heart,


(That’s Kevin. He’s too tall for his own good.)

Photos by Juliet and Janus

Danger: Surfing Causes Galaxy Bruise


I’ve been in Sydney for about a month now, and am thoroughly enjoying myself here. From Mondays to Fridays when I walk through the Central Station tunnel to work, I can always expect to hear this one old Asian man playing the er hu, which is a traditional Asian cello with two strings. I just can’t help but smile when I see and hear him play.

Surf Camp – Friday, January 31st to Sunday, February 2nd

First of all, I’m not a water person. That’s my sister. She can swim like a fish and enjoys the feeling of water. I know how to swim, but not the person to say yes to being dropped in the middle of the ocean. So it makes sense that a few days leading up to surf camp, I was excited and nervous at the same time. Turns out, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined.


Camp was located at Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park in Gerroa, which is about a two-hour drive south of Sydney. The beach is actually nine miles, and nobody seems to be able to tell me why it’s called seven mile beach. We lived next to a trailer park, and it was my first time seeing one. For the most part, the living situation was exactly what I thought it was going to be: bunk beds, communal bathrooms, outdoor hangout space, and hammocks. It was exactly what high school music camp was like, and I wasn’t a fan of music camp. Living in the mountains with no Internet, kitchen, or a comfortable bed is just not the way to go for me. For a weekend? I could bare with it.


We had three two-hour surf lessons. In the first lesson, we learned the basic techniques of surfing. I was good at that because we weren’t standing on the board. It was a different story when we learned how to stand on the board. On land, I’d say that I have decent balance; I know people who are much more clumsier than I am. On water, it’s the other way around – I am the clumsiest of the clumsiest. I got on the board three times by myself, but only lasted for about 1.5 seconds. The other times I stood up with the help of the instructors, who, by the way, were all 18-20 years old. !!!


By lunchtime on Saturday, I had a huge bruise on my stomach…rib…area… I would make up a story and say that I got hit by a board, or got in a fight with a bird and kicked its ass. Truth is, I got bruised just from carrying the board out into the ocean. Sad, eh? I call it the Galaxy Bruise. It’s my pride and joy, man. The picture below was taken a couple of hours after it formed, but it turned dark purple and ran along the side of my… pelvis? It was kind of cool and beautiful.


Near the camp, there was a big ol’ jumping pillow. It’s just a inflatable trampoline that sticks out from the ground. All weekend there were kids hogging it, and they really didn’t like it when us “big kids” came over and jumped on it. Whenever we tried, there was a kid leader who led an attack on us and tried to take us down. He succeeded 100% of the time. You know he’s going to be a Steve Jobs in whatever he does in the future.




Will I ever go surfing again? Yes. I just need time to heal.

The “Cake” Experiment

There’s a group at work who bring in cakes every week as a “yay, fun cake day”, and Sheena and I are bringing in one this week. We first tried making a no-bake cake that called for lemonade powder, graham cracker crust, Cool Whip, and something else, but Australia doesn’t have any of that. What’s Cool Whip? What’s a graham cracker crust? That’s what makes me miss America.

We settled on making a cake with three simple ingredients: dark chocolate, Tim Tams, and butter. That’s a lot of chocolate. We broke up the chocolate-iness by putting in some toasted walnuts, but then we had to add more chocolate to cover the walnuts. I’m a little nervous guys…. we’re trying it this afternoon.


I feel as though this post was a little off for me. Maybe I’m stressing out inside about classes at USyd, or my OCD-ness just wanted to get this over with in order to continue cleaning out my email inbox (yes, it’s actually a thing)… I don’t know what it is, but I’m definitely a little off today. Maybe it’s the shitty weather Australia’s been having this week. And weather has a huge impact on my emotions. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in no time.



Photos by Juliet & Surf Camp Australia

New Year, New Things We Like in January


  • Enjoying a chill new years eve with the rents
  • Mani pedi & massage day with my momma
  • Finding the perfect pair of wedges for London!
  • Catching up with a good friend from high school
  • For once, feeling rested after a 13 hour flight to London
  • Lovin’ my roommates, they’re so nice and awesome!
  • Meeting new people from different schools
  • Drinking hot tea on a cold day
  • Exploring the surrounding area in South Kensington with Becca.
  • The excitement (but also a bit of the stress) of booking trips to travel around Europe
  • Wandering around and getting lost
  • Picking up public transportation and beginning to know my way around
  • All the markets in London
  • Having a nice cup of coffee and reading a good book at a café
  • FINALLY receiving my SIM card in the mail after ordering three times and waiting for two weeks.

Straya Day Part 2!

You know what I miss about America the most? Smiles. I love to smile and laugh because… why wouldn’t you? I keep thinking back to the time when I was walking past a Burger King parking lot, and a man was unlocking his car when he locked eyes with me. I gave him my usual smile and kept walking ahead, but he called after me, “Hey! Thank you so much for that. Your smile just made my day.” That’s why I like smiling! But the other day I smiled at a man cleaning the streets and he goes, “Mhm. How’s you going?” or whatever it is Australians say. Excuse me, my smile wasn’t an invitation to possibly hit on me? Other people look at me like they’ve never seen a smile before. Geez louise!

Sunday, January 26th – Straya Day & Scary Canary

Instead of hopping on the Straya Day madness and go to Bondi or Milk Beach for drunk fun, we decided to go check out Manly. We had to take a ferry there, and Sheena and I knocked out on the ferry. There were a large amount of Asians there, and they were all talking so loud I felt as though I was back in Asia.


It was a cold day, which kind of sucked. There was crew racing going on, so we sat down and watched it, but ended up sleeping in fetus position because it was pretty windy that day. Best part of the beach was when Sheena and I were walking back from the bathroom and this kid who looks like he’s in six grade looks at us and goes, “Hey ladies.” Another great moment was when a little boy on a bike passed us, then stopped right in the middle of the road because he wanted to pet an oncoming dog. LOVED IT. Children… too adorable.

We ate lunch at a Swedish restaurant called Fika Swedish Kitchen, which was tucked away in an alley. First, how gorgeous are European women? They have long legs, beautiful eyes, gorgeous hair… most of the time I just go (gulp-omg-she’s-gorgeous). Not to say that I would change anything about me. I’m fun-loving and have beautiful eyes and legs too!


Anyways, I ordered their lunch special: salmon and kale pudding with watercress green apple and radish salad. It was scrumptious! I’m not a big green peas fan, but it really did enhance the taste of the meal. I also ordered a cup of coffee, which is an important moment because I never order coffee.

While waiting for the girls to finish eating, I started scribbling notes on a napkin (for blogging purposes). One of the waitresses saw me do this and handed me a paper bag to write on, and inside, I was screaming, “YOU’RE AWESOME, LET’S BE FRIENDS. I want to work here. Will you hire an Asian?”

I noticed a mini-library on a bookshelf high above the store where you walk in. I asked the waitress what “lanebocker” meant, and she said it’s just a place where people can drop off and take books whenever they want. I ended up taking “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, which I will read on my flight to Melbourne next week. Is it next week? I think so.

At night, we went to Scary Canary because they had a special foam party going on. That was my first and probably my last foam party for a while. It’s fun at the beginning when everything is light and fluffy, but once the party went on and the foam starts to go into your eyes and you start to choke on it, it’s not so fun anymore. The guys there were a little handsy, relative to other Australian places I’ve been to. Even though we bowed out of Scary Canary around 11 pm and headed back home, I had a fun night and was exhausted by the end of it. Oh, and I also broke my shoes.

scary canary

Let the adventures resume next weekend with surf camp! And hopefully my contacts come soon.


Photos by Juliet and Janus