Goodbye Perth!

Dear gentle people of the world,

We’ve been privileged to call Perth home for the past 2 years. However the time has come for HRH, Amanda, Ethan and I to return to Brisbane. It is with a somewhat heavy heart that we bid this place farewell for it is here in Perth that my family of 3 became an awesome foursome, here in Perth that HRH found his (further) calling in breast cancer surgery (more on that in a bit) and here in Perth that Amanda realised all of my dreams (and some of hers) by transforming from a middling student of no-particular-note (she will agree) to a “maths whiz” (the words of her class teacher, supported by her classmates), a real achievement since even her father had written her off as “not a genius” – even if he does adore her to excess. Like most mothers who sang, patted and sent ABCs via mental visualisation (Shichida method) to their offspring in the womb, of course I was mortified by the repeat suggestion from teachers (prep to Year 3) that Amanda was “more creative than academic.”

Helloooo! I’m a Tiger Mama. For me that is like saying, “Er well, here’s your 4th place ribbon” which I can totally accept for things like Sport and Art. It’d be different if they said, “She’s creative AND academic.” Ha. That I can accept.

When we first moved to Perth, I was especially worried about Amanda’s academic performance because we had chosen to put her in Nedlands Primary, reputed to be Western Australia’s number 2 Primary School. We came from a good public school whose ranking I’m not completely certain of except I know is not in the top 20. This, going by a ranking I saw when searching for a new home in the 4101 this year. Once in Perth, we tried to enrol Amanda in school number 1, Rosalie Primary but were unsuccessful in securing a shoebox townhouse in the area. Quickly Amanda realised that she would have to work at a much higher level than what she was used to.

I won’t lie – she was very unhappy for the first 6 months here. Every day she used to ask to go back to Brisbane where she and I both had friends, play dates and birthday parties. This transition was hard on the both of us: Amanda who hitherto had been wildly popular among her peers, found kids at school nice but not especially welcoming. People wanted to know how long we were going to stay before they were prepared to “invest” in friendship with us. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to hide the fact that we were only in Perth for a while.

I didn’t expect to make any friends or the sort of friendships one would be sad to leave behind but I have: I have friends whose company I will miss, who I am sure will miss my company. For me, this has to be the toughest aspect of relocating constantly – people accept you into their hearts and lives only to have to let you go.

When reports cite surgeons as being top earners, none factor in the physical, social and mental cost of training for surgeons and their immediate family members. People compare it to undertaking professional exams like CA or CPA or CFA or even 2 year long postgraduate studies like MBA, but this is a way longer (try a DECADE) and much tougher on everyone concerned – the many moves, the long hours, the weeks that morph into months of neglect… For the record, we haven’t celebrated Chinese New Year in Malaysia with our kith and kin for the last 12 years because Chinese New Years typically coincides with the start of the new medical working year. It also coincides with the start of the new school year and being a parent, the last thing you want is for your child to miss out on that first week of fitting into a new grade. On top of which, we are usually moving from one place to another (like in the coming year) or have just moved (meaning: I have to unpack and sort a whole range of stuff relating to the move) during that time. Yes, you read it right: 12 years without celebrating Chinese New Year. For those of you who don’t celebrate the Chinese New Year, that’s like going without Christmas for 12 years.

Which is why I am looking forward to moving back to Brisbane. I regret having to leave my friends in Perth behind but I am pleased that this “surgical training journey” is at an end. I don’t want to jinx myself by saying it out loud but we’ve bought an old Queenslander to give our children an authentic “hippie upbringing” (in the words of HRH), the address numerically translating to “completion.” The end. No more moves, thank you very much.

Thanks to excellent mentors at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, HRH is now a qualified breast oncoplastic surgeon. In simple English, it means he removes diseased breasts and rebuilds them. He also removes breasts for women with the breast cancer gene and rebuilds them. It’s a procedure that’s since been associated with Angelina Jolie, who bravely spoke about her medical decision to have her breasts removed. Apart from enlarging, reducing, removing and rebuilding breasts, HRH can also remove appendixes, resection bowels, remove gall bladders, remove skin cancers… I’m the only one who wields a knife at home, in case you’re wondering.

Ethan has by far been our best souvenir of our stay in Perth. He is probably too young to remember his time here so we hope to bring him back to show him where he took his first steps when he’s older. I’ve invited many of my Perth mates over to Brisvegas to check out my hippie commune and promised them I will come back for a visit.

Here are some pics from our 2 years in Perth. Be sure to check out my posts from my visit to Margaret River and Yanchep National Park. When I have time I will blog about our trip to Albany, where we walked amongst the treetops, and Rottnest Island.

A picture of Amanda's first concert at Nedlands Primary.

A picture of Amanda’s first concert at Nedlands Primary.

A picture of Amanda with her teacher's bear.

A picture of Amanda with her teacher’s bear.

A picture of Amanda checking out a racing car at UWA's open day.

A picture of Amanda checking out a racing car at UWA’s open day.

A picture of Amanda at school assembly.

A picture of Amanda at school assembly.

Until we meet again in 2015, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! God bless!






The big move west to Perth.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention. Your friend Estella is moving to Perth, Western Australia, for a whole year, beginning late January 2013. That’s right. I’m packing up and going west, as befitting a supportive spouse who’s dragged everywhere for her husband’s career.

His Royal Highness had a telephone interview on Monday afternoon and he told me the news on Tuesday night. I can tell you that 30 hours is a very long wait when you are holding your breath, but we know now and as sad as I am to leave Brisbane, it is a huge relieve to be moving to Perth and not woop woop. Woop woop is Aussie slang for the great beyond.

I’ve been to Perth once, some 7 years ago, and it struck me as a nice place to live. Amanda was then only 4 and half months old, so my movements, during our couple of days stay, was restricted to the area around our hotel. I remember enjoying the weather, the fresh sea air and when His Royal Highness had time to take me around, parts of Chinatown, where Amanda had the worst ever watery poo. I was forced to change her on the backseat of our rented Audi, wiping down the leather seats with wet wipes afterwards.

Until our move, I will be making the most of my time left here. If you are in town and want to meet up, just give me a yell. Perth, on the other side of Australia, is almost 5 hours away from Brisbane by plane, so it might be a long time before we get to sit down for a cuppa.

I’ve since started getting rid of stuff I don’t use – clothes, books, bits and pieces – because from what I understand, we’ll be footing relocation expenses on our own. I expect our moving bill to be modest since we’re renting our apartment out fully furnished to the hotel in which we live. Befitting this type of accommodation, returns are excellent, so the mortgage and any incidentals will be more than covered.

Over in Perth, we’ll be looking to rent near His Royal Highness’ new workplace. A cursory inspection of  tells me we’ll be paying anywhere between $550 per week and $700 for what is commonly known as “student accommodation.” We could live further out but we only have the one car and I like walking everywhere. We hope to enrol Amanda in a local school, and at this point, I’ve already zeroed in on two.

What might pose a problem is the Language Other Than English (LOTE) offered at either school. French is offered as part of LOTE for students from grades 1 to 7 and the LOTE I was going to enrol Amanda for was Mandarin, which will be offered at our current school from grade 4 onwards. LOTE looks to be compulsory, so I’m going to have to speak to Amanda’s prospective school about an exemption or allowing her to join the lower grades for an introduction to the language. If I am free, I might sit in with them and learn French too. Well, I’ve always wanted to learn the language and now I have a good excuse.