Long overdue life update

It’s been a while!

I quickly lost the energy to blog last year as my life was taken over by work during the day and study at nights. My wonderful boyfriend, T, is credited to feeding me almost every single day. I made it through my Master’s with more grit and determination than my five years of university, finishing as one of the top graduates! I certainly feel a sense of smugness at the course coordinators who had heavily advised against students taking a full-time load while working full-time, haha. My favourite subject ended up being biostatistics, which one one of my two least favourite subjects in undergrad.

From October, I starting applying for job, though I still didn’t really know how I could get to what I wanted to do. Sharing the frustration with most applicants, I didn’t know how to get into the field to get experience when experience was an essential requirement! I had one interview but it was only a part-time role so I wasn’t too disappointed to not get the role. My Master’s finished in November and I finished off all my applications in a week before leaving for a 3-week trip to Europe. I actually had a Skype interview while there, but again didn’t get the role.

Returning to Melbourne in December, the end of my contract (there was mutual understanding that renewal was not a possibility due to funding, and I knew when I took the contract role with no renewal potential that it would be the kick in the butt I needed to move fields) and Christmas period was looming and I was officially stressed! I only had one interview lined up for after the New Year by the time Christmas rolled around and no one was advertising anymore.

I didn’t get the role in my interview after New Year’s, and had an emotional breakdown during my first week of unemployment. I’ve never been unemployed, and it was a tough time. I was really questioning my life choices and wondering whether I had wasted a year of my life pursuing something new. January was a quiet period for applications, but thankfully I did get an interview for early February, which lead to an offer a few weeks later. I started my new job on February 26. It’s been quite an adjustment from working in biomedical research to public health research. I still want to leave research, and hope this job will be a more relevant stepping stone to reach that destination.

In February, I also moved into T’s, apartment. We had decided this last year but I decided I really needed my own space to get me through my studies. Combining living arrangements and finances would help us save more money. We had wanted to rent a different apartment in his building but missed out on the single opportunity that came around in January despite offering a really long lease and quite a lot more money! We had landed on that compromise because the location of his building is better than mine, but I really wanted my green army to thrive, and his apartment unfortunately gets next to no sun. Now that I’ve moved into his apartment (and my goodness was that a struggle and a half) and I’ve been able to maintain most of my plants while giving some away, I really cannot be bothered moving apartments again! So I guess we’ll just stay here for the near future. In the meantime, I have turned my apartment into an Airbnb, a venture which is proving difficult and costly but I’ll give it some time to see if it can turn profitable.

Since then, we’ve been so busy everyday, barely managing to keep up with housework while still organising our combined junk to clear out or sell. The apartment is STILL a dumpster after almost three months! I hadn’t realised how difficult it was for two people to fit in a one-bedroom apartment, when we’ve both been living comfortably in our own apartments!

Last week, I flew up to Sydney with T and Mum for four days (with Dad joining for the middle two days) to attend my graduation ceremony. This will probably be my last tertiary degree (or at least I don’t intend to progress beyond Master’s) and UniMelb undergraduates do not get a hat (humph), so I really wanted to attend. At least I can say now I’ve attend the USyd campus! It was a lovely trip and we ate lots of good food.

We’ve just booked a short (by my standards) trip to the USA in September. Surprisingly this has probably been the hardest trip to plan, and it is likely going to be much more costly than the last two trips which were longer.

Travel: Japan Trip 2012 (Day 16 & 17 – Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo)

Travel: Japan Trip 2012 (Day 16 & 17 – Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo)

See: Japan Trip 2012 itinerary and summary

Day 16: December 11

This was our last official day in Japan. Our first stop would be Tokyo Sky Tree, which was completed in earlier in the year (2012), becoming the new tallest building in Tokyo (and Japan) and the new hot spot to visit. I knew it would be busy.


Tokyo Sky Tree is not as central as Tokyo Tower (which I didn’t visit the observatory level of this trip, but did go to the top for the previous trip. I’ll touch on a comparison later), but is built with a large shopping, dining and entertainment complex called Tokyo Solamachi. There’s also an aquarium. We were lucky that it was such a beautiful day. It’s really cool to walk up towards the tower and look up! To me it always feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, as surrounding buildings are fairly short and residential compared to the dense skyscraper suburbs.

Because Japan loves new attractions, the waiting queue was monstrous! I think if we had gone a few months earlier it would have been impossible to visit. We lined for close to an hour before getting tickets. There are actually reservations tickets (from two months in advance) and fast-pass tickets for foreigners, so during very busy times, purchasing tickets on the day may not be available if everyone’s purchased ahead.

We purchased tickets for the first and second observatory. These tickets are some of the most expensive admission tickets I’ve purchased in Japan. I would recommend not going beyond the first observatory if it’s not an exceptionally clear day, as you will probably not see much more. They have signs on the first observatory level every day that will let you know which iconic attractions are visible on the day (importantly, Mt Fuji).

As you can see, Mt Fuji was visible on this day (this was taken from the first observatory level)!



On the first observatory level, you can get your photo taken in a specially decorated area. It’s a bit cliche, but the staff will also take one on your own camera as a free service. It’s pretty difficult to get a good photo with a person and the background yourself. The staff have a decent spot set up, and they will use flash. If you don’t give them your camera on the wrong setting (whoops my fat thumb), you’ll probably get a really decent photo for free. We liked the photo they took on their professional camera, so we purchased it as a memento. On the second observatory level, there’s a glass floor to stand on and look down. One other reason why I don’t think visiting the second observatory level appreciably better is that it is ridiculously hot. This was a warm winter day, and being that high up and surrounded by nothing but glass in a confined space with hundreds of people… it was really hot and stifling. I can’t imagine how bad it would be during autumn, spring or summer!

Having been up both Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower, I think they are both unique experiences. Tokyo Sky Tree is less central and a lot taller, so you see more of the greater city of Tokyo, but less of the iconic details that you can see from the more central Tokyo Tower. If you’re not interested in ascending either, Tokyo Tower will always be the most iconic structure, and I think it’s absolutely worth wandering around in the nearby region to get those shots of the red tower against the city. Personally, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower (see day 13 post) is actually my favourite building for city views of Tokyo, because the rooftop offers views undisturbed by a glass window, and you’re really in the heart of central Tokyo with great views of Tokyo Tower itself.

Following that, we had a quick lunch at a simple restaurant in Tokyo Solamachi.


The rest of the day was for us to just wander around Tokyo some more. We walked around Omotesando and Shibuya. It really was such a nice day.



By dinner time, we were in central Shibuya and found an okonomiyaki restaurant in Center-gai. Despite it being such a busy location, it was actually really great.



Every table had it’s own grill plate, and the okonomiyaki was divine!!! There’s nothing like it here.

After dinner, we walked around a bit more, enjoying the (crazy) hustle and bustle and city lights.



We returned to our hotel for our last sleep in Japan.

Day 17: December 12

We had a morning flight from Narita to Hong Kong. We took the JR Narita Express (NEX) from Shinjuku station (purchased the tickets the previous day, just to be on the safe side so there would be less to worry about), which was really convenient and so comfortable. It is, however, quite expensive and still takes 90 minutes.

At the airport, we had a farewell meal of ramen!


And that concludes the two-week trip in Japan! I was pleased with how it turned out and what we were able to fit in. It was my first time really travelling through multiple cities and using the JR pass. I was so glad to check a lot of things off my Japan bucket list. It was well worth doing it all myself after many, many hours of research. Though I realise I’m at a distinct advantage as it’s my third trip and can speak Japanese. Soon I will get started on posting about my 3-week Japan 2016 trip!

But maybe Hong Kong first…

Food lately: July 2017

Pork ragu open lasagne (Romulus & Remus, Richmond)

I could only pick one outstanding dish for the month. I think this was my first open lasagne. The pasta was silky smooth, while the ragu was hearty and had a good kick of chilli too. So yummy.

Various cakes from Ganache Chocolate and Zumbo

I was spoiled by cakes last month. T kindly bought me various mini cakes for my birthday.

Beauty empties: July 2017

NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer (Custard): Still my favourite spot concealer. This is a staple recurring purchase now.

Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum: This has been my hair serum of choice for a number of years now. The smell is refreshing and it leaves hair nice and soft. It’s not holy grail material, but I’m happy with it. I love supporting this brand’s extremely proactive stance on animal testing.

Jouer Mattifying Bronzer (Sunswept): A few years ago, Youtubers were going crazy for this bronzer (of course there’s barely a peep about this brand nowadays). I purchased this in a gift set as I was running out of my other bronzer. While it was an improvement, over time I started disliking the warm tones that all bronzers have. I now prefer contouring powders and their cool and ashy tones. I didn’t technically finish this (maybe 70%?), but the design of the palette gave me a lot of headaches – once I hit pan, it was hard to get product on the edges due to the rectangular shape, and the powder broke apart from daily impact more than any other pressed powder product I owed. I decided to bin it because I was sick of it breaking off all over my carpet.

Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream: I purchased this in conjunction with a MD day cream which I talked about in last month’s empties. While this cream is a rather scary green colour, it was a good thick night cream (for those who actually like thick night creams). It’s so thick it has a balm-y texture. It is especially nice in cold weather when my skin becomes really dry.

Soap and Glory One Heck of a Blot: This is an average compact finishing powder. It’s not as smooth and finely milled as I would prefer. After a few months, parts of the powder oxidised (turned a bit orange…?!) and became really firm, so it became almost impossible to use. I also didn’t technically finish this because I could no longer get any product on a brush without using an unnecessary amount of elbow grease.

JUJU Cosmetics Natural Moisture Aloe Toner: I used a lot of products from this brand a few years ago. In the end I didn’t fall in love with anything but everything was pretty good for such an affordable brand (it’s Japanese). As I am least picky about toners, I used their toners for a few more years after I had tried all the other products. The toner is really gentle, refreshing and doesn’t leave any sensations on the skin.