Saturday, December 31, 2011

happy 2012

it is the last day of 2011 and ideally, it should be a time to reflect of the year that has passed and the year that will come.

i would like to sit in an open area, on the grass and gaze into the dark sky filled with stars while reflecting upon the year.... reality, i am here in the house, sitting in front of my mac and having a full stomach of hokkien noodles which they brought home for me after they had their dinner outside. i stayed home to watch the grandparents. it is still raining outside and hence, i doubt i will be able to catch any stars let alone a galazy of stars.

i wonder if i will get the chance next year- to sit under the stars.

counting down with a crowd of strangers is not my cup of tea.

anyway, i would say that 2011 has been good to me health wise. i try to recall when i was last sick ...and i couldn't ;) i did not apply for any sick leave, nor do i have any serious injury. well, i do have the occasional heat rash and that clumsy bicycle accident (haha)...but other than these, i am hale and hearty and for 2012, i want to keep this.

work wise, things had gone smooth and i got my promotion albeit time-based. no problem with colleagues or the kids although i made a loud hullabaloo at the beginning of the year regarding the tasks i got. well, i succeeded in getting one major post taken away din i? so that was another success ...from crying in front of the boss. kakaka...that was a first.

there are also a lot of other firsts at home, like taking care of grandma this year. i will be sleeping with her tonight till i need to go back to work. i hope she lets me sleep till sunrise the next morning. i have always welcomed the new year at home for the past few years....being at home makes it the cosiest.

but....that makes my social life gets from bad to worse. there is broken heart to cry about or new love to embrace. there are just the familiar faces and the usual activities. it is not as easy as what you see on tv. puh, those characters have no other problems except relationship problems.

well, singlehood has not been that bad to me. i get to travel quite a bit this year with friends and colleagues. i counted 4 holiday trips, near and far. they were yogyakarta, london/paris, belum rainforest and seoul. all totally different from the other. the shopping has been good too kakaka....but i still managed to save more this year.

new year's resolution? gosh, i really dun have one and that is really bad eh? imagine having no target in life. there are no new things i want to try. love? whatever will be will be. i just want to have a smooth journey in my career and enjoy my life.

see the photo of the glittering stars in the post? well, i will make my life glittery and bright amidst the dark sky. hope everyone will have a good year as well.

happy 2012!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

christmas...don't end

it seems like christmas has never left me. haha

i am still receiving christmas card, and this here only arrived today.

all hello kitties in it. is so easy to get me things eh???

went back for meetings today too. gosh....lots of work is waiting for me come the new term. when the term start, i will be drowning i am sure. better learn to breathe under the pile.

went back to the rented house as the ex-housemate has also left me tit-bits and chinese new year card. sweet....
and these happen to be my uncles' favourites. so they enjoyed it tonight.

and lastly, i also got these from slim river:
cookies to keep me filled while playing cafe world and a hello kitty pill case. haha...see, i told you it is easy to get me thing.

mom is coming back tomorrow and the day after that is another aunt. i still have to attend meetings tomorrow and will only come back in the evening. haiz....

the house is crowded as well and i haven't unloaded all the things from my suitcase. aiyoh....
i am only reading today's paper now. better clear some things from the suitcase and keep them tomorrow. mom is going to be shouting!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

last day in seoul

home sweet home...or is it???

i had a bad bad flight. only managed to sleep for 1 hour in the plane. damn it. the place where i was sitting had strong cold draught and made me very cold. i had my jacket but i do not have a balaclava! the nose could not bear it.

arrived before 6a.m. at lcct and had a smooth ride back on the bus to kl sentral and the commuter to tm. phew. i din have to wait long and i arrived at tm before 9.15a.m.

i can't wait to call it a night earlier later. it is first meeting for the brand new year tomorrow. and the day after that would be a second meeting. work work work....the end of holidays is near.

anyway, let me finish writing about the last day in seoul.

i finally had time to venture on the streets of itaewon- alone. my travel mate was not interested to go hence, i brisked through the whole street taking in everything.

itaewon is known for its 'international' crowd. it is near an american military base camp and there are restaurants serving food from different cuisines from around the world. the only mosque in seoul is also in this area, so halal food is definitely not a problem here.

i had a happy happy walk because i found samsung leeum museum of art right at the other end of the street from where i was staying. this museum was in my to-visit list, but unfortunately time did not permit me to visit.

a look of the museum from outside. i am already impressed with its surrounding. it is on top of a small hill. art lover should not miss this place.

this is the arch at the entrance of itaewon street.

one of the fuel stations along this road. there are two. see how the fuel pump is hanging instead of sticking to a kiosk. really saves space.

aaarrrrgghh....comme des garcons play store!!! and they were having 20-30% was not opened yet. i was there at 10.45a.m. but the shop would only be opened at 11a.m. phew! good my money from buying another similar t-shirt which i already have hahaha. money is still buying this:
i bought a pair of jeans from evisu. i have mentioned earlier that things from japan are cheap right?? they hire hong kongians to work in their shop. yes, this brand is popular with the hong kongians.

the pair of jeans just fit right....can't get any fatter if i want the jeans to wear longer.

check-out at the hotel was a breeze. my suitcase weighed 19kg...just right for the 20kg i bought for the trip home.

on the way to lunch, we passed by this place:

seoul, world cup football stadium. the place where the finals was held.

lunch was kimchi jjigae- stewed pork kimchi soup. this is the best meal i had in korea and it is one of the more reasonably priced one.

the lunch crowd. all locals.

only the locals know this place and it is not really in the city centre.

fried pork cutlets. i love the coleslaw topped with yoghurt.

this is how it looks like when you mix lots and lots of seaweed to the rice, then pour the stew over the soup, and then mix mix mix. yummy...

everything there was on the table, fried egg roll and lots of kimchi side dishes. look at that pot of kimchi soup brewing in the middle. i want it!!!

after lunch, we went for some business visits. i only tagged along and acted as the secretary. and when the host gifted new year gifts, i also got some. wakakka...such hospitable korean manufacturers. thank you thank my friend too lah.

a set of nail clippers- one for the fingers, the other bigger one for the toes. the toe clipper even comes with a magnifying glass so those who have difficulty bending down or seeing their toes from a distance can use the glass. convenient eh??

and the metal part, where you clip your nail, it can rotate to suit the angle that you want. cool eh?

2nd gift set- a lunch box set worth rm300. lunch is definitely going to be more delicious if i eat from the box set hahaha....

the container is made of ceramic and it is quite heavy. it even comes with a pair of chopsticks. how convenient. i am not going to keep this lunch set in the cupboard. i am going to use it for work to make it worth its price.

after the 2 visits, we went to incheon international airport and reached there at about 5.30p.m. our flight was at 0020 so we had hours to spend there.

kia forte, our ride. it has a really spacious car booth that could fit both our big suitcases and with still a lot of space remaining for another one.

this was how we spent 3 hours at the cafe- watching 3 idiots on my macbook. lousy airport, there was no free wi-fi. so watching a movie was an activity we could do without the internet connection

the airport is a spacious one and they have different arrival halls too. the duty free is impressive as well. louis vuitton boutique is there. well, you can find lv boutiques almost everywhere. with tax refund, one can really shop a lot here....if you have the money.

well, i guess that sums up my trip to seoul. it has been a good one as i manage to see everything on the list i have prepared. the food is good and i am glad that my first korean cuisine experience is in seoul itself with a local guide. yes, i grumbled about the weather but fortunately nobody fell sick. it was definitely a good good break.

kam-sa-ha-mi-da seoul.

Monday, December 26, 2011

day 5, seoul

came back very early 7p.m. we were already in the hotel. and of course the weather was even colder today. in the morning, it was -11C. the longer i stay, the colder it gets.
luckily the exploration today was done in a car. phew! and the model is kia forte.

jun came to pick us up at 11a.m. it was a lot of driving around. he tried to stop at a few shopping streets but there were simply no parking spaces. they are really hard to come by, hence, the subway is definitely the best mode of transport here.

first place where we stopped was on one of the bridges that run across the han river, the 4th longest river in korea.

you can see another river and one side of the city.

we went to costco and a local shopping mall. well, my 2 friends here are workaholic and are forever looking for cookwares and glasswares and plastic wares samples for the kitchen.

we had lunch at the mall's food court.
this is a meat brewed soup with rice, their version of bak kut teh.

this is korean noodles. quite plain with only onion in the soup. i am starting to accept the taste of kimchi now and it does not taste as bad as the first time i tried it. but still, i do not take more than 2 pieces.

after checking out the mall and costco, it was some driving in the city looking at the streets full of young crowd until he finally decided to go to namsangol hanok village.
it is an area where they recreate old houses and is a tourist attraction. there is no entrance fee charged. how awesome.

saw groups of tourists from china, indonesia and hong kong coming in buses. was really cold as the area was kinda barren. the landscape in seoul is nothing to shout about. it is flat and one sees buildings everywhere albeit not many tall ones.

the compound area of the village.

just like the look of the solitary tree there.

the main gate to the village.

there are many different types of rooms and they are really small. gosh, i wish i was inside one of the rooms getting cosy.


ceremonial hall.

prayer room.

there is a park adjacent to the village and we walked there. it was just a small one.

a time capsule was put here to celebrate korea 600th anniversary with 600 things that captures korean lives.

then we drove to a sushi buffet place for dinner. this place is popular with the young crowd as it is cheap, only 13,900 for adult at dinner time. the variety was not much but it is ok for the price charged.

and that was it.

some of the snacks i bought at the supermarket in the morning. ginseng sweet is a must i guess. everything here is already about rm100. expensive leh?

anyway, tomorrow, my flight home is at midnight. the activity planned is factory visit. yeah, imagine eh? coming all the way to seoul and i get to visit kitchen ware factories. well, it should be interesting. the factories are on the way to incheon international airport.

will take a walk along the streets of itaewon first before i check out. i think i will be doing that alone since my travel-mate is not interested to explore further. and....i have found a shop selling evisu jeans and there is sale!!! haha.....things from japan are cheap here. i found hello kitty fork, spoon and chopstick set which i also have at home, and the price here is only rm15. in kl, they were selling it for rm70! but accessories which korea are famous for, are really expensive. simple ear-rings made of silver is already rm30.

time to pack...just dump everything inside since my bag is quite empty. i guess the next time i blog will be in malaysia. good bye freezing winter.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

day 4, seoul

i am still slightly tipsy from rhe soju drink i had for dinner. pikkien and i had 2 bottles of soju, which is korean rice wine and it tastes like sweet vodka. the alcohol level is 19.5%. my face was read after the 2nd bottle and the body was all warm. man, it felt good. we had dinner of fried chicken again at itaewon, the first place where we had supper.

you know what, it was -4C at day time today, hence being out too much in the cold was really torturous. today, we were without our local guide, hence, we had to plan the itenerary on our own. luckily i did my homework before i came and i only had to refer to my list of places to visit.

so today it was all gungs- palace in korean.

this is the street of itaewon where i stay. if you look really carefully, you will be able to see my hotel, hotel d'oro. it is really convenient as the subway is only 2 minutes from the doorstep and there are many restaurants and shops in the area.

so the first place we headed to was deoksugung palace.
it was right at the intersection of city hall, one of the busiest intersections in the city. the palaces in seould blend in with the modern skyline and it makes it so easy to be visited.

the entry fee is only 1000 won, about rm3.
they usually have the change of guard but it was cancelled today due to the weather.....-4C you....i am not kidding. man, it was a challenge staying outdoor for long.

the ceremony hall of the palace.

national museum of art deoksugung. they had a photography exhibition at this time but we skipped it.

these are real plants!! i am not sure if they are flowers. they look more like cabbages to me ;)

desoksugung is really small, so finish it in a breese. then we went out to the city hall intersection before heading to our next palace.

there is an outdoor skating rink right next to the intersection, in front of the palace. gosh, i wish i could skate there, but there was such a long queue. ;( i have never skated on ice before.
the staff working to clear the layer of ice on the rink with water.

so from deoksugung, we walked to gyeongbokgung palace. it is just down the main avenue.

before reaching the main entrance of the palace, we reached gwanghwamun square first. they have big monuments of historical figures in the middle of the avenue. make good photo-taking area.

the main entrance of gyeongbokgung palace.

the entrance fee is 3,000 won.

we were just in time for the changing of guard ceremony which takes place every hour.

see the white surrounding the pavilion??? it is frozen ice on the lake. gosh, it was really cold being out there. i have never experienced this cold weather before even in my travel to europe. don't be fooled by the sunny and clear sky. it does nothing to warm you up. i think it is going to be like this for the rest few days, and snow will only come after i leave. there is not enough moisture to form snow anyway.

this is the national folk museum adjacent to the palace. entry is free.

all the 12 zodiac signs.

from the folk museum, we made our way to cheong wa dae also known as the blue house because of its blue tiles. foreign visitors can get free guided tour, provided they book earlier. maybe months or at least 10 days earlier. haiz...our local friend here does not know such thing and my friend here did not forward the information i found to him. i should have done it myself and submitted our names so we could get a guided tour of the place.

oh, cheong wa dae is the presidential residence and it is situated at the foot of mount bugaksan.
i think this is the place where you can see the most police officers on duty. every 50m you can see them on patrol and i was stopped by one asking me where i wanted to go. i look like a spy??

the police booth outside the junction of cheong wa dae

trees lining the pavement outside gyeongbokgung palace. cheong wa dae is right behind the palace.

a roundabout near cheong wa dae.

see the blue tiles on the roof?? that is cheong wa dae. so sad, i could not enter. actually i had been to this area yesterday. remember sam cheong? the area is just down the road.

so, after taking all the photos i wanted, we headed to insa-dong. on sunday, this area is a pedestrian area. it is full of art galleries and quiant handicraft boutiques.

we had traditional korean porridge for lunch, bonjuk.

i had shrimp porridge. yummy. gosh, i think this trip is more of discovering korean food. my stomach is already bulging!! we complain that the portion is big every time, but we always forgot about it when we ordered because we just want to try everything on the menu. the bowl of porridge is 8,000 won.

this place is really clean. it is on the 2nd floor. most of their eateries are on top of shops on the 2nd or 3rd floor.

we walked along the street of insa-dong and enjoyed looking at the local handicrafts.

we found this gem, ssamziegil market where local artists exhibit their goods. they were all very interesting but the price was too expensive. the standard of living here is really comparable to japan.
that is the layout of the market and it was bumper to bumper on the alleys.

we also tried some street food. yeah!!! i was still quite full, but the delicious street food was too tempting to resist.

i dunno what this is called in korean but it is not bad for 1ooo won. i think it is made of glutinous flour with caramel sesame and nuts for the filling.

we din but this fried potato. their version of fries maybe.

hotdog covered with batter.

grill chicken and you can choose the sauces you want- bbq, honey, or hot and spicy. we choose hot and spicy of course. yummy.

from insa-dong, we went to dongdaemun to see the gate and the river. the gate is no. 1 treasure and it is called heunginjimun gate.

this is the gate...haiz.....under renovation.

so from there we walked to cheonggyecheong stream.
woooho...look at what we found. they sprayed water continuously on the tree branches and icicles formed on them. beautiful.

you can see murals along the river too if you walk further....but it was too cold and we went back to the hotel from here.

well, that was my day. it is time to call it a night. just 2 more days in seoul. don't think i will freeze to frosty the snowman. my clothes are enuf to keep me warm. phew!

good night.