Archive for the ‘Bucket List’

Scuba Diving in Great Barrier Reef: CHECK05.10.13

Australia took me by surprise in how multi-ethnic it felt and how insanely expensive everything was. I was pretty sure even if I didn’t speak a lick of English, I could probably get by on Chinese alone. We only had two weeks to split between Australia and Fiji, so we stuck to the big “Must See” cities. As I mentioned in my law school bucket list from two years ago, I wanted to climb Rainier (check) and go scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef. The reef part of my bucket list was the driving factor behind this trip, so Cairns had to be on the list. We decided Melbourne and Sydney would be the other two places to go.

Drew had been a dear and done all the planning for us because I was neck deep in school work for a class that will not matter for anything but I refused to do poorly on any class after screwing up so badly in undergrad. I took my final exam the morning of my flight date, that’s how close things were. I didn’t get to savor any of the planning of the trip, but by the time I got on the plane, I had zero deadline looming, and it felt so so good.

We started out in Melbourne. I was told I would love Melbourne because the people are so nice and laid back there, and it’s true. Maybe it’s because of their crazy good weather, but in all three locations we visited in Australia, the people were so relaxed and always lounging outside. My friend also warned us that it’s incredibly expensive to drink in Australia. She was not kidding. I asked for their cheapest local beer to go with my burger (A$20 for their cheapest burger), their cheapest beer was A$8 a pint. We went to the convenience store to pick up a soda, just regular 12oz size drink was A$3.50. Food was consistently more pricey. We went to a popular breakfast place, the average breakfast plate was A$20, the two of us spent nearly $60 on breakfast. Drew and I had been saving for this trip for a long time and we were prepared to spend a pretty penny on the trip, but we didn’t quite expect food and drinks to cost nearly double of what we would pay for in the States. We got used to spending around $50-60 for breakfast and $100-150 for dinner. For the glory of the last big hurrah!

My favorite thing we did while we were in Melbourne was join a Penguin Parade tour. There was a tour bus that went around picking people up in Melbourne and drove us 2 hours or so out to Phillip Islands where we saw penguins return from hunting in the ocean at night to march back to their dens. When we first got on the bus there were two Asian girls. Then the next stop was Chinese family, who needed Chinese translator. Andrew and I looked at each other and wondered if this was a tour that only Asians join. The stop after that were another two Chinese ladies. Andrew said, “Oh my god, have we become Asian clichés? Wasn’t this trip recommended by our Asian friend too?” The rest of the stops were French/UK tourists so we felt a little less Asian touristy. Phillip Island was beautiful, their cows look happier than most cows curled up like kittens on the lawn, lazily munching on the lush green grass.


We went to a koala conservatory, where we watched a koala lick a eucalyptus tree for 5 minutes straight because it was raining and that was probably his water supply for the month. This was the only time I’ve seen koalas where I didn’t feel a bit bad about it, like maybe I’m contributing to his woe by visiting. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the zoo, Drew is a huge zoo lover, we go whenever we can, but sometimes, I do feel bad when I think the conditions look less than ideal and maybe if not for zoo goers, these animals might be out in the wild. Like we saw the most unhappy looking brown bear in Melbourne Zoo, and we talked about how far from home he is. Koalas at the conservatory look pretty happy despite being all sopping wet from the rain.


Before the penguin parade we went to The Nobbies where we saw a few penguins that were molting and weren’t water ready hanging around. They are so cute. There were also a good number of wallabies jumping around. At night, we went to see the penguin parade.  There were no musical fanfare nor big floats, but we saw big black patches on the ocean as they swarm toward the shore. We “ooooh’d” and “ahhhh’d” over the large black patches coming to shore, and suddenly there were penguins waddling through. Hundreds of them slowly waddling through, stopping for some rest a few feet away from us to rest, before marching back to their dens. Some of them would fight loudly by their dens because “Who the hell are you? And what are you doing in my den!?” It happens a lot apparently. Penguins are loud. Apparently one of the wallaby got sick of the noise, we saw him bounce along the edge of the parade path, and choose a spot where it was dense with penguins to jump right into. It gave them quite a shock and one little penguin got pushed into the brush a few feet from the main path, and he looked confused for half an hour.

Sydney 164

Sydney was mostly a food tour for us. It’s a big city. We saw the Opera House and walked around their botanical garden. We walked and walked. We went to the Sydney Aquarium because as I told Drew, “Good thing we are paying to see their caged fish because we are only diving in Cairns and Fiji where there might not be any fishes to see.” He called me a smart ass and directed me to the dugongs, which are these big happy manatee like creatures. I took photos of sharks’ teeth to give myself a view of what I might be seeing last. It’s not morbid unless you think I plan on losing to the shark.

Most of the popular places to dine at Sydney were Asian cuisine, so had Thai, Chinese, Taiwanese and some other Asian fusion food. The best thing about Sydney was Oxford Social. The food was sooo good, I would definitely eat there more often if it wasn’t halfway around the world. One thing I’ve found to be priced reasonably were the steaks. Another thing is, their wine by the bottle was reasonable too, but I’ve found even their most full bodied wine to be too watery for my taste. Still, I was ready to do less “city” vacation after walking around two different cities.


Cairns. My sister and our friend, D joined us for this part. When I decided I was going to learn how to swim and take scuba lessons a couple year ago, I was so vocal and excited about it, I got some 6 people all riled up and ready to join me in swimming/scuba lessons. In the end, four of us made it to certification. When Drew and I planned our trip, we asked our certified group to join in. I don’t know why, but I was expecting Cairns to be all beachy and resorty, when really, it was Australia outback. Mud and sticks and rain foresty. It’s a little bit like our Oregon Ocean Shores, with murky cold water. The beach life guard, next to the little resort we stayed out, set out a net for those that want to swim in the muddy water, but didn’t want to get stung to death by jelly fish. That’s about how attractive the water was. We joined a day tour to head out to Great Barrier Reef. The reef was a good 45 minutes choppy water ride from the shore. I have to say, the reef was a bit disappointing. I had built my in my head that the reef would be crystal clear water, teaming with more life than I could possibly hope to see, instead the water was very murky. We had to stay near our dive buddies or risk getting lost. I know the reef is huge and there are probably areas that are crystal clear, but it would probably take more choppy boat ride to get out there and it’s probably much further out than most dive tours will go. There were some really cool things, we got to touch this giant clam that was surprising quick in snapping shut despite it’s ginormous size. We dove around some reef chasms. This was our first use of our dive knowledge outside of school, so it was neat to dive for fun and not have to do lesson tests.

We visited the rain forest by Cairns and saw a spider that was bigger than a smart phone. It was definitely not a spider that you want to kill with your own shoes.

Someone once told me, scuba diving is the closest we can come to flying, and it really is. We did three dives at the reef and as we got more comfortable in the water, it felt more and more like flying.

Fiji dive was much much better. To be continued on next post…


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The Art of Suffering07.21.11

If you’ve live in Seattle for any real length of time, chances are, you’ve stared at Mount Rainier.

As a hiker, I’ve spent a ridiculous amounts of time staring at and taking photos of it from different mountains all over Washington. I was invited to climb Mount Rainier three days after finishing my Mount Baker climb. While I wished for more rest days, I couldn’t pass up the chance to climb a mountain that I’ve spent years dreaming about summiting. It was a moment that I’ve trained so long and hard for, so even though I was still hurting from climbing Baker, it felt wrong to not go.

Climbing Mount Rainier was the hardest thing I’ve done. Up until then, climbing Baker was the hardest thing.

One of my law school bucket list item was climbing Mount Baker, I can’t find words to describe how grateful I am to be able to hit my bigger bucket list item of summitting Mount Rainier a week later. I’ve trained my ass off this year for Baker, hoping to be able to achieve this one goal but I had written off Rainier as a sailed-ship.

While I was climbing Rainier, one of my teammate asked if I was going to ask the boyfriend to take up mountaineering with me. I told her, “No, I don’t see him as a mountaineer because he doesn’t suffer well.” She laughed and asked what I meant. I explained to her it takes a certain personality to be able to enjoy themselves while putting themselves through great discomfort. It’s not for everyone.

I imagine law school to be very much like mountaineering in many aspects. There will be much suffering to get to the end. The thing that helped me greatly while climbing Rainier was to remember that it was a privilege to be doing the climb at all. So while it was a lot of physical pain to haul nearly half my bodyweight halfway up Rainier, every moment of that was by my choosing.

While clinging onto the mountain for dear life with a few points of crampon teeth, I was still in awe of the beauty around me.

Beauty that only a very privileged few could ever share. Mountaineering requires ridiculous amount of time to train, money for gear, and time to do the multi-day trips. Not everyone can afford those things. Still even for those that could, when they are there, can they let go of the pain and fear enough to enjoy themselves?

Ever have an amazing night but you stayed up way past your bed time and you have to work early the next day? Did you grumble through your misery of lacking sleep the next day? Or did you bask in the glow in a night well spent while feeling slightly woozy from missing some sleep? That is the art of suffering well.

Law school is going to be a lot of suffering, but if the conditions are right, the reward could be so glorious.

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Law School Bucket List04.04.11

Being that school is still over a year away for me, I got to thinking about things that I’ve been wanting to do, but have put off doing. Things that I might feel too old to do by the time I graduate at 40. I came up with two big things.

1) Climb Mount Baker

2) Go Scuba Diving in Great Barrier Reef

I signed up for a class to climb Mount Baker back in 2008.  My buddy and I wanted to climb Mount Rainier, but needed some mountaineering training, so we took a class to climb Mount Baker.  The class was divided into two sections, climbing on different weekends to reduce the number of rope teams on the mountain.  We were in Section 2.  On the weekend before our climb, Section 1 went, there was a freak accident and one of our classmates died.  The climbing club’s activities was shut down for investigation.  We had a make up climb in 2009, but I didn’t have the time or means for it then. Climbing a mountain means my little frame 106lbs frame need to be able to haul 50lbs up a mountain, so I need to do this before I turn soft from studying too much.  It’s now or maybe never, and “never” sounds like a terrible thing to me.

I keep hearing the Great Barrier Reef is disappearing.  Is it?  I don’t know, but I’ve been wanting to go, and maybe waiting another 4 years to go might not be such a great idea in case it does disappear.  I don’t know how to swim though.  You’ve been swimming like a fish since you were 2? Well, I’ve been sinking like a rock for longer.  Thanks. I need to just swim well enough to pass the scuba test, which really doesn’t sound all bad. Again, it’s just time and money.


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