So somehow one of the most memorable desserts I had when visiting Taiwan a couple of years ago managed to magically make its way over to me all the way here in America. More specifically, it landed itself right in Orange County. I mean, this is practically godsent. This dessert brings back so many pleasant memories of Taiwan–
walking eating my way through the bustling night markets of Taiwan with my cousins, stopping to take pictures of the night life, trying to bargain, and playing games with my cousins. This dessert is also one of the recipes my aunt would used to always make out of scratch and she would be sure to make for me when she came to visit us in America.
This, my friends, is the 芋圓和地瓜圓 (taro balls and sweet potato balls) , with a delicious side of 愛玉 (ai yu jelly)，仙草 (grass jelly), coconut jelly and 黑珍珠 (tapioca pearls). It doesn’t get more “QQ” than this. Oh, and there’s shaved ice in the center with some type of creamer that you just drizzle all over. Sweet, refreshing, satisfying, and every bite is just so special with all the ingredients that come in this bowl.
There is nothing quite like being aboard a Navy hospital ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the vast blue stretching endlessly around you for miles and miles. It’s an incredibly powerful and provoking feeling to see that it’s just you and the ocean around you on all sides. I stepped outside and was just flooded with an overpowering sense of tranquility because it’s unreal just how beautiful the ocean can be. It’s incredibly calm and the clear sky fades slowly into the horizon, meeting the waters and forming gorgeous ombre blues. The point where sky meets sea is indistinguishable and it leaves you wonderstruck. Just the other day I stepped out onto the deck and saw the most serene waters I have ever seen in my entire life, with no winds or waves and it just looked like a blanket of silk. Never before have I seen the ocean that calm and it was probably one of the most incredible feelings ever to be able to experience the ocean like that in such serenity. I wish my words could do it justice, but truthfully my words or pictures will never be able to fully capture just how picturesque the sea is. Or how it’s capable of making you feel so serene, so small, so humbled, and yet so at peace. It’s just a crazy feeling. I don’t know how to describe it—sometimes it just feels so unreal that I’m here.
Thinking about it now, it’s quite incredible that I’m able to be sitting here in the lounge of the USNS Mercy after a long week of CHE’s in the field doing extractions in Bouganville, Papua New Guinea. Never would I have imagined that this would be able to become a reality to be doing what I’m doing and to be able to experience such unique opportunities. I’ve always wanted to go on humanitarian trips to pursue my love for both travelling and community service, and everything I’ve been able to do thus far during my time with Pacific Partnership has really fulfilled that desire.
What a rewarding feeling it is to come back at the end of the day knowing that you’ve left a positive impact on another person. To know that you have helped fix another person’s problems, no matter how small, and walk away with an even greater feeling of fulfillment—there is nothing quite like it. I’ve observed that sometimes it’s easy to forget about the whole patient aspect when you get into the mundane cycle of things: busy schedules, long days, routine procedures, numerous patients and an expected production value per month to reach. These things can make it very easy to forget that it’s not just about what a doctor can do for their patient, it’s also about what a patient can do for the doctor or healthcare provider.
Today in dental we saw some of our very first patients from Papua New Guinea. Sometimes it still feels so surreal thinking about the fact that we’ve travelled hundreds of miles from Fiji to get to where we are now. However, being able to finally see patients really serves as a positive reminder of why we’ve spent all these hours and energy working and preparing. One of the lieutenants was giving us some background of the population in Papua New Guinea and was explaining to us that the majority of the people in Bouganville have never seen a dentist. With several of the cases we’ve already seen so far, there are many patients with advanced calculus buildup and periodontal disease as a result of chewing betel nut, poor oral hygiene and lack of access to dental care.
Today we finally saw land. Crazy how exciting that can be, but this past week has been long—you kind of lose track of time after being out at sea for so many days. It’s a pretty powerful feeling to step outside and see nothing but miles and miles of ocean stretching all around you with nothing else in sight.
Photo c/o USNS Mercy PAO
Acai bowls have been quite the craze for some time now, and for me, it’s a staple after a trip to the beach. Usually after a swim in the ocean, all I can think of is having something cold and sweet to cool down and de-salt all the seawater in my mouth. After a refreshing early morning swim this week from La Jolla Shores to La Jolla Cove, I knew exactly what I wanted for breakfast and had my friend drive a little farther down to Pacific Beach so I could get my acai bowl fix.
I rely on Yelp heavily for all of my restaurant and food choices, so coming here seemed obvious considering they had a 5 star rating. It’s a small cafe that sells everything from acai bowls to smoothies, coffees and Brazilian pastries.