13th Feb is my day.
I luv peanut butter cups, Dairy Queen, people watching, purple Skittles, B&J's, warmhugs, smiles, laughter, sweet letters/cards, photographs, fun.
I'm not short, I'm FUN sized! :D
Bg from lmfSUNLIGHT @ twitter.
Icon from lovepocky@wgspec.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I was outside Tampines MRT, when from far I saw that there seemed to be a bottle neck congestion. Going further, I saw that it was due to a chair and a bottle being placed apart, blocking the pavement. There were 2 piles of vomit in between.
My first thoughts were of disgust.
Then I saw 3 people near the vomit. First was an old lady in a wheelchair, selling tissue to people walking by. Then, I saw a man in his 40s - 50s who looked mentally handicapped and was also in a wheelchair. He was clutching his mouth looked very unwell. The 2 piles of vomit must have been his. Lastly, was a man in his 30s, with down syndrome and also in a wheelchair. He was laughing at the man who vomited, and made retching sounds.
Immediately, my heart broke and I felt so uncomfortable and sad.
I don't know what's the relationship between the 3 of them, but seeing that they're not physically and mentally able but yet had the courtesy and kindness to prevent from stepping in the vomit by placing their own belongings to block the pathway.
There was probably no one who was going to help clean up the man who vomited. Nobody will take care of him. Is he going to go home reeking of vomit? Does he even have money to visit a doctor since he's so unwell? Can he afford it? He was so helpless.
I felt really sad that I was unable to help. I didn't know how to help. The image in my head and the sadness I felt stayed with me for the entire night.
Sunday, July 03, 2016
Hiking Dobongsan alone
Despite being in Korea for 4 months, I have yet to hike the mountain in Seoul, Bukhansan. After researching online, I found out that Bukhansan National Park actually consisted of 3 mountains. I wanted to take the easiest route, hence I opted to hike at Dobongsan, Uiam Rock route.
I reached the park at around 10am, and started my hike up. I had taken photos of the map near the park entrance, and was sure I wouldnt get lost. It was a weekend and was rather crowded, hence I knew if I had any accident, people would help me.
Around 15 minutes into my hike, the crowded route suddenly became rather empty. I was worried and decided to ask for directions. I asked these 2 ajusshis as they looked rather kind, and they pointed me in the right direction. We began chatting, and one of them offered his extra hankerchief to me as I was sweating. Another group of ajumma behind was also listening to our conversation, and talked a little to me, Around another 15 minutes up, there was a rest area. He set down his map, and invited me to sit with them, and gave me a cup of iced water. The ajummas also set down their mat, and invited me over. I decided to go over, and they offered me bread and this purple drink. They also cautioned me to not continue following the 2 men, as afterall I was alone and they were guys. Hence, I decided to follow the group of 3 ajumma and 1 ajusshi.
The hike up was way more tiring than I had expected! It was unlike the hike up Seoraksan - lots of rocks put together to form steps. The hike up Dobongsan was filled with large rocks that were protruding out of the ground, and some parts were rather narrow. Many a times, I almost slipped. The ajummas told me that in future when I hike in Korea, I should buy hiking shoes that are not slippery. One of them even invited me to her house to take a shower and watch TV, LOL. Then the other one invited me for lunch. Near the Uiam Rock, there was this large boulder that had a rope attached to it. I had to hold onto the rope and climb up the rock, but I was rather afraid, so I told the ajumma that I was scared and I wasn't going to do it. I was worried that I wouldnt be able to come down afterwards. The ajumma told me that if she could do it, I could too, LOL. So they helped me up and wow for once I really felt like I was rock climbing! Around 200 metres later, we finally reached the peak. We could see Obong and Jaunbong from the peak. Then, we took a commemorative photo together :) They even called me their Singapore daughter! They told me that they were going to come in Singapore in Nov/Dec.
After coming down the peak, we found a spot to picnic at. I tried the Korean yellow melon for the first time, and it was pretty good! They also brought steamed corn, cherry tomatoes, onion potato pancake, this spicy fish thing, apples, banana, smoked egg. I only had the Sun cake from Taiwan and Bakkwa from SG to share, LOL. We sat and ate for around 30 minutes, and it was a good break. Then, we packed up and continue our descent. One of them passed me her hiking stick as she saw that I was having difficulties. She only had one, but she chose to lend it to me. Halfway, the ajummas asked the ajusshi to go ahead first, then told me that they were going to the toilet in the bushes LOLOL so I went with them but I didnt pee HAHAHA. The way we went down was different from the route up, and this was along a stream. The sound of the water flowing was very calming and peaceful. There were many people gathered along the stream and just dipping their legs and resting. We finally reached the base at 2PM. We took 4 hours in total including lunch, which was around 30 minutes. One of them told me that she was going to bring me to the 전철 (?) which I didnt understand, but it turned out to be the subway. When we were near the shops area, one of them treated me to Hoddeok. I was really full from our earlier lunch and now this snack. Then suddenly they entered a guksu shop LOL but thankfully they ordered 4 to share. They gave me a bowl for myself and I had to google how to say "I can't finish this" in Korean LOLOL because they weren't taking from my bowl. I wanted to treat them for the meal as they had took care of me very well, and I felt very grateful to them. They told me that it was alright. After our meal, we went shopping at the outdoor clothing stores around the area. They bought several shirts, which they were discussing about during lunch. We reached the subway at 4PM. I thanked them a lot, and told them to be happy and healthy. They wished the same to me, and told me to be careful.
It was a really beautiful memory, of the aunties treating me just like their daughter. Despite our language barrier as my Korean isnt very good, they tried their best to simplify some words for me, and tried to understand my lousy Korean as well. Their warm hearts were so kind and generous to a mere stranger, and it is truly something I will never forget.
Friday, June 10, 2016
1 Day Jeonju Hanok Village trip from Seoul
We took the 8.10AM express bus from Central City Terminal, which is right beside Express Bus Terminal. This is because the bus to Jeonju runs along the Honam line which operates from Central City. It was a newer and nicer terminal than EBT. Although buses run every 10 minutes, most of the buses are the luxury bus which are ₩6000 more expensive and there is roughly 1-2 normal express bus per hour. The duration for both types of bus is the same - 3 hours. There is a rest stop at the halfway point which is big and clean with many food stalls.
We reached the Jeonju Express Bus Terminal at 11AM, and bought our tickets back to Seoul for 6pm. Then, took a cab to Jeonju Hanok village. The cab fare was only ₩4800, which was the same price if 4 of us took the bus! The cab stopped us after the Jeondong Cathedral, which was on the main road of the Jeonju Hanok Village.
Many people rented hanbok as you could wear it and walk around, taking photos with the surroundings. There were many group of friends, and those with all guys would have 1 or 2 guys wearing the female hanbok LOL it was a funny sight. Some of the Korean girls opted for the old school uniform, which was quite cool too!. There were many food shops and cafes around, but the more popular food sold were mandu, chicken skewers, octopus skewers, grapefruit beer and makgeolli. So, hanbok and food is the main point of the Jeonju Hanok Village.
First, we tried the famous that is along the main road of the Hanok Village. We bought one of each type and shared it among the 4 of us! The staff will help you to warm it up in the microwave. This was probably because we were foreigners, as the Koreans had to do it themselves lol. The octopus skewer was good as it had a thick, stringy cheese layer 😍 We also tried the meatball skewer, but it wasnt very good as I could taste some of the fats. I tried the bottled pumpkin sikhye and it was not bad! I like it more than normal sikhye.
The bibimbap bingsu was major letdown, as it tasted worse than its beautiful looks. Another pat bingsu we ate at the cafe above a shop selling Jeonju Chocopie was really delicious! It was so simple looking, but it was so good! The chocopie was yummy too! Its huge~! I saw shops selling it for a range of prices, ₩1600 - ₩1800 for the original dark chocolate one. The weather was rather hot, so we spent almost 2 hours sitting in the cafe as there wasnt anything else to do. Then we went to Sobok for matcha balls which was surprisingly good, as it still had the injeolmi taste.
There was also Gyeonggijeon shrine, which we did not enter. Opposite the shrine was Jeondong Cathedral. The cathedral grounds are open to public, but we were not allowed to enter the cathedral itself. We took some photos and then left.
We bought mandu from the famous mandu shop again as take away, and ate it on the bus back to Seoul.
Monday, June 06, 2016
Andong, Ulsan, Pohang
My friends went to Jeju, and since I was going to go with my family, I did not go. Together with 4 other friends, we planned a 3D2N trip from Seoul to Andong, Ulsan and Pohang.
We bought the 3-days Korail Pass (Youth) as we calculated the price for each train ride we would take, and it was cheaper for us to get the pass. A friend who was only joining us on the 2nd day bought the 2-days Happy Rail Pass, as it was still cheaper than the individual train tickets. Apparently, an international student card is required for the Happy Rail Pass as it is meant for foreigners living in Korea for more than 6 months, but when purchasing the pass, the staff did not ask for it. The Korail Pass is more worth than the Happy Rail Pass, as the 3 day KP is almost the same price as the HRP.
Initially, we planned to go to Daegu, but after some research we realised that there wasnt much tourist attractions. Hence, we opted for Andong instead. We also wanted to go to Ullengdo & Dokdo, but the journey was too complicated so we decided to forgo it.
Outside every train station, there is a tourist information centre. Please visit them as they have many informative brochures and maps!
We took the Mugunghwa train to Andong as there is no KTX service for this line. We did not manage to get seats, so we sat on the floor at the "cafe" area. There is a coin noraebang in that cabin too!
At Andong, we went to the tourist information booth to ask for directions to Hahoe Culture Village. The staff gave us a map of the Andong Station, where the bus stop was clearly indicated together with the bus timings. We saw that there were many food options nearby, hence we had korean bbq meat ribs for lunch.
We visited only one tourist attraction, which is the 하회마을 Hahoe Folk Village. There are several folk and culture villages in Andong, but we chose this as there was a small hill we could hike up to see a nice view. We took the public bus to the village, bought tickets at the ticket booth, left our luggage at the free locker storage beside the ticket booth. The actual village is 1km away from the ticket booth, and there is a shuttle bus provided to and from the ticket booth.
We walked through many old houses and huts! Many huts had a straw roof, which I have not seen before. Then, we walked to the small jetty and took a small ferry across the river. The ride costs ₩3000 for a return trip. On the small island, we followed the signs to Buyongdae. We got lost as the signs stopped, but we managed to ask for directions. It was a 10 - 15 minutes short hike up the cliff, but the top towards the peak was much steeper. We made it, and took in the beautiful view overlooking the folk village. Then, we took the ferry back and hurriedly left as we had to catch our train to the next destination.
We took a train to Ulsan at around 5pm. When we arrived, it was night time. There were many motels right outside the Ulsan station, so we went to 3 motels to ask around. Most of them are dodgy and even the entrance is very discreet. The counter is just a small hole in the wall to give their guests privacy. In the end we settled for Alibaba Boutique Hotel as it was the least dodgy of all (having rooms meant for families is a sign!) and seemed new and clean. The rooms were huge and spacious, and so were the toilets! There was a hot tub / bath tub in all the toilets. We were extremely pleased and satisfied with the hotel and I highly recommend it. We even managed to get a discount as we booked 2 rooms for 2 nights. However, most people here do not speak English so it is good to know a bit of Korean. We walked further into the city to look for dinner, as there is no restaurants near the station. It took us a 10 minutes walk before we found restaurants that were open. It was a good and warm meal of 낙지국밥 gukbap as it was drizzling and cold outside.
The next day, we boarded the first bus of the Ulsan City Tour Bus from Ulsan Station. There are 2 routes, and both are loop services. There is 2 stations where you can transfer to the other loop. You have to pay the bus driver directly, either in cash or credit card. Transport cards are not allowed.
The first route we took was the Daewangam Loop. We went to the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum first. There are actually 2 museums there - the whale museum and the life experience museum. We chose the LEM as there was a live aquarium with fishes and dolphins and smaller animals like rabbits, birds and turtles; whereas apparently in the WM there is a carcass of a whale. The LEM isn't a big scale aquarium, but at a price of ₩4000 (discounted if you are on the Ulsan City Tour), you can't complain much. The highlight was the dolphin show as they had 3 dolphins.
Then we went to Daewangam Park, which is a MUST GO! It's a 20 minutes walk in the park to the cliffside facing the sea. The wind was extremely strong and I felt like my ears were going to fall off lol. There were many rock formations, and a long bridge that connected the mainland to an offshore island. There were many people and it was sooo cold. The view was fantastic though!
We alighted at Taehwagang station, and transferred to the Taehwagang course. We went to the Ulsan Museum which was rather huge! They had an exhibition on Dokdo. There was also Korean history, and there was petroglyphs!
Then we hopped onto the bus again, to Taehwagang Grand Park. There was a huge field with beautiful yellow flowers, so we took lots of photos there! Although the place is famous for the bamboo field haha. The bamboo fields were pretty, but it was difficult to get a pretty photo. Also, one part of the bamboo field was cordoned off, probably because the bamboo shoots were still rather young.
Then, we hopped onto the bus again, back to Lotte Plaza. Junwen suddenly realised that his wallet was missing and so Samuel and him set off to look for the wallet. We were all extremely worried, as it would be rather troublesome and costly. Hazel, Ethel & I went shopping at the department store, then decided to go look for food first so that the boys could join when they are back. Thankfully we received a message from them saying that Junwen found his wallet, we all felt so relieved for him. He had left it at the Ulsan Museum and called to ask about it, and the staff kept it for him! We had dinner at the crowded street near the dept store~
At night, we made funny videos using the musically app hehehe it was so much fun!!! :-) It was a pity I didnt get to soak in the huge bath tub though hahaha it looked so inviting. Pohang
We reached, and headed to the market for lunch. We were so hungry! We had hoddeok, but it was just ok to me LOL. We went to the seafood area, and ordered seafood. It was so cheap! It was like a fixed price of 10k per pax. Ethel doesnt eat seafood so she ate lots of hoddeok >< The auntie gave us sooo many fish it was insane HAHAHA she just kept putting more into our net?? Then she asked us to go to the restaurant upstairs where they would serve us our food. Anyway, it turned out to all be sashimi style, which got quite sickening after a while >< Thankfully there was free 매운탕 (spicy fish soup), which helped clear our palates.
Samuel and Ethel left first as they wanted to go back to Seoul to do their school work. Hence, Junwen, Hazel and I continued on the Pohang trip, to find Homigot. Thru my maps, it seemed really easy as all we had to do was to take a bus and transfer. We took the public bus and alighted at the stop where we had to transfer. However, the bus that we were supposed to transfer to didn't even exist! Unfortunately, the place was like a residential area and a total dead town, as it was a public holiday and no shops were open! We asked an old lady, but she told is to walk in front to where the shops were and ask others. Most of the shops were closed and there was hardly anyone on the streets.
We saw a police station and thought we were saved, but it was empty!! Then we saw a district office, and the lights were on so we thought there were people inside. It was closed too. We were about to walk away when we saw 3 men coming out! We hurriedly went over and asked them for directions. They told us we had to take a bus to Guryongpo, then change to another bus to Homigot. We even used the toilets in the district office lol.
We boarded the correct bus, and asked if it went to Guryongpo. A lady on the bus told us that she was going there, and to alight when she did. We alighted, then went to what we thought was the bus terminal to ask about the bus to Homigot. We were told that the next bus was an hour later, so we decided to take a taxi. Turns out the people we asked were all taxi drivers LOL but we didn't want to waste more time so we took a cab. He told us the fare was going to be 12k, but I thought it was just an estimate so I asked him to turn on the meter. On the meter it was 14k, but he still charged us 12k. He told us the story of why the area was called Homigot, something about the tail of the tiger. Also, the 2 hands was to signify peace between two villages that used to fight.
We finally reached and took a lot of photos with the famous steel hands, one on land and one on sea. We walked to the beach area too, and it was beautiful looking into the endless horizon. The arduous journey was rather worth it! Then, we took the bus to Guryongpo, then changed to another bus straight back to the train station. We had standing for the KTX train back, but managed to sit down for a few occasions when the seats were not occupied.
I was extremely grateful for Junwen's pro korean skills as without him, we would have definitely been even more lost in Guryongpo. I had even thought of turning back and just going back to Seoul when we were lost at the residential area, but Hazel and him were very encouraging and said it was alright to continue looking for the place.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Took the KTX to Busan station from Seoul station. We bought the 3-day Korail Pass as it was considerably cheaper than buying the return tickets. Our train was at 10 AM, so we had breakfast at Seoul station since we were early.
After reaching Busan, we checked into Shin Shin Hotel at Seomyeon. We decided to stay at Seomyeon as it had a very central location and it would be convenient to travel to both the Haeundae area and the Jung-gu area. The hotel was cheap, and the room and toilet was actually pretty good!
We headed to BIFF square and Gukje market first to eat the famous 씨앗호떡, which is hoddeok with grains. I loved it so much! We walked around more, then Kenny and Lingying had more street food. It was actually my first time eating street food in a tent, because most of the time I just eat while standing up.
Then we headed to Jagalchi market as we wanted to have seafood dinner. Behind the market, there was a platform and many people were looking at the seagulls. The seagulls were really close and there was so many of them! This old man was feeding the seagulls with prawn crackers. He beckoned us forward and gave us some to feed them. We chatted with him, and he told us that he loved Singapore and has visited 3 times! We asked him to recommend us a dinner place, but he said that food at Jagalchi market was very expensive. He proposed to bring us to another restaurant. He emptied out the prawn cracker into our hands and told us he would bring us there once we finished feeding the seagulls.
We ventured and weaved thru many alleys, before reaching this famous 국밥 (rice in soup) restaurant. He was a frequent diner, so the young boss knew him. The young boss spoke English very well, and told us that he took over the business from his grandmother and mother. I was excited to try, as 국밥 is one of the famous food in Busan! It had pork in it, and the old man taught us to add a little salt, seasoning and prawn paste into it to make it taste better. He also ordered soju and made us drink with him lol.
Then, he brought us to Busan Tower and Yongdusan Park. There was a short cut, so we didn't have to walk the entire park area. It wasn't much, tbh. Maybe because we went at night. But we didn't bother to pay for the tickets up to Busan Tower.
He told us he was going to show us another popular restaurant in Busan, so we thought it was a place we could visit the next day. He then led us into the restaurant and ordered even more food! Round 2, I guess! Hahaha. It was a drinking place where people ate dishes like 쭈꾸미 (spicy mini octopus) and 빈대떡 (bean pancake). We drank soju and beer, and I think the old man was a little drunk. He invited us to his house and to noraebang, which we both politely declined hahaha. But he was sincerely a nice guy, and very genuine. We exchanged contact with him, and promised that if we visited Busan again in future, we would look for him.
We woke up early, and headed to Taejongdae first. Honestly, I did not know what to expect as I had not researched much about this place. It turned out to be the highlight of our trip! They had the danubi tram service, which I highly encourage everyone to take, as it will make your life a lot easier. The entire route of Taejongdae is extremely long, and the only people who walk are the ajumma hikers. We got off at the first stop which was a temple that was rather deserted. We walked to the next station, which was an observatory. Then, we boarded the train again to the lighthouse station.
The lighthouse station is the absolute highlight! The cliffs surrounding the lighthouse was amazingly beautiful. We spent a lot of time climbing the cliffs to get good photos. Please wear a good pair of shoes with a strong grip, or else you might slip and fall into either the valley or the ocean and die a terrible death. The view was amazing and its a really good spot to take photos!
We were super tired after we climbed around the rocks and the many flights of stairs at the lighthouse, so we took the tram back to the terminal station.
Then, we headed to Gamcheon Mural Village! We bought a map as we wanted to visit all the stamping posts and get the post card. However, it was already close to 5pm when we went, and most shops were getting ready to close. The route is a circle as well, but the end of the circle did not seem to join. The many fishes along the way are actually guiding you along the route! As we went on a weekend, it was slightly crowded at the more beautiful murals as people would queue to take a photo. However the queue was quite bearable even in the winter cold.
At night, we went to Gwangalli bridge to catch the light show. Personally, I felt that it was not worth our time as it was quite boring. The light effects were quite simple and there was no music. People were setting off smaller fireworks along the beach, which they bought from the vendors walking around. There was also a busker, which helped to make it a little more interesting. We left before the show ended.
We only had 2 places left on our itinerary. So first, we headed to Yonggungsa temple, which was a Buddhist temple located along the seaside cliff. As read from many blogs and also by checking the map, we realised that the bus stop is a distance away from the temple. So we decided to just take a cab from the subway station. I finally bathed the Buddha again, which I last did 10 years ago in primary school. People were also standing on the rocky cliff, but the rocks at Taejongdae is way nicer!
We took a cab to Shinsaegae Centum City, and visited Spaland! It is considered a high class jimjilbang, and costs ₩18,000 for 4 hours on weekends. For foreigners, they would give you a guide that details the steps to enjoying the spa.
First we soaked our feet at the outdoor foot spa, which is part of the common area. Then, we went back to the gender segregated area that contained the spa and the bathing area. I love soaking in the hot spas and was pleasantly surprised that they had outdoor tubs too :) It was similar to an onsen as you had to go into the tubs naked. The bathing area is open as well, so there are no individual cubicles. Same for the area where you dry yourself up and slather on moisturiser and dry your hair.
Then, we went to the common area where all the sauna rooms were located at! There were many rooms and even though it was a Sunday, we were still able to enter the small rooms. The floors of the sauna rooms were so hot, we were trying to walk really quickly, hahaha. The steam room was actually open and that was where people were eating the smoked eggs and drinking sikhye, which we did as well :D We wanted to mimic what we saw on Korean shows and tried to crack the egg against our heads, but failed. We spent exactly 4 hours in Spaland, which is actually sufficient even though it seems short as compared to normal jimjilbang where you can stay the entire day.