I jump started the blog in January in hopes of writing everyday but it seems like I’ve not kept in touch since the LASIK post at all. It would be wonderful to just be able to spend a couple of minutes updating about my day. It’s not really about me not having the time, but also because the blog is somewhere I hope I can be extremely honest with my thoughts. The downside to that is that it’s a public blog, and society doesn’t really work that way these days. I’m not exactly an open book with my thoughts as I’ve learn that social media is not exactly a game I want to actively play. Will try to keep logs as often as possible.
When I used to write here, most of my readers were probably just people I didn’t know and it was alot easier to share things that way. Just like how it was always easier to tell a friend over ICQ about your thoughts and problems without worrying what they may tell your other friends or what kind of opinion they may form about you. It’s also not really about being worried that people may get judgemental. It’s just the fact that you don’t want people around you to know you so well?
Is that weird?
ANYWAY, just got back from Seoul (for a company trip!) and weather was so perfect. Can’t believe this 3-strike Seoul trips in within a year. After 2008, I’ve only been back to Seoul ONCE. And have never went back for SIX years. I still miss the country and the life I had back there once in awhile. To actually be able to go back April last year really brightened me up a bit because it does feel like my second home somehow. I can’t even find my way around Beijing as well as I can find my way around the routes of Seoul. After that I went back again cause I won the free flight to Seoul from Palsaik. This time, it was cause the company brought us over. I’m not complaining though – anybody can bring me back there anytime time and I’d enjoy it the same. I was just telling the team I’m not a fan of living in the country, but to have the blessing to be able to make visits in and out of the country every two quarters of the year (out of pure leisure) – will probably never get old for me.
ANYWAYS, before any other updates – here’s one of the funner videos I’ve done in the past few weeks apart from weekly vlogs (as often as I care to make them). Just a video of me speaking in Korean. I do enjoy doing this as it serves as a practicing platform for me, but it’s even better as I know people enjoy watching this girl just blab her way into their heads in a language they don’t understand. It’s funny how that’s a more preferable choice.
I am at Day 4 post-LASIK treatment and will continually update this post as we go on. For now, I’d just like to write down my whole experience with going through the treatment so that some of you out there may find helpful when choosing your treatment of choice. Also note that I am writing from Malaysia on January 2016 so prices that I share may be different by the time you read this.
Here’s a vlog of the experience incase you’re not an “article” type of person. Will share it here when i can but Post Surgery updates will definitely only be in text in this blogpost
Background On My Eyes
So before I continue with explaining about the whole process, here’s just a little bit of background of my eyes. I was diagnosed to be officially short sighted at the age of 6. My parents realised something was wrong during play card sessions where I was supposed to read the cards aloud, and I was beginning to watch the television with my head slightly angled towards the sides of the TV. My parents brought me to the optician soon after, and I remember refusing to wear my glasses cause I thought my friends in school would make fun of me. Years later, it came to a point where there was no other way I could read the things on the whiteboard. My parents had to come into class every start of the year to tell my homeroom teacher that I had to sit in front of the class to avoid me straining my eyes. Every single year, it was a mandatory practice and I got so used to it. Glasses and contact lenses were a huge part of my life and my power stabled at -6.50 in both eyes. I am 26 (by the time of LASIK)
Getting Around To Do LASIK
I began to consider undergoing the LASIK treatment when I was about 19. Since then, I’ve had numerous friends who did it and I remember always being envious. I would ask many, many questions about it in hopes that i would be able to convince myself to do it. I never got to doing it due to many reasons, but mainly because of the cost of the treatment. It’s a luxury that I don’t necessarily need, so there was no reason to convince or discuss about the treatment with my family. Now that its been a couple of years since I’ve been earning for myself – I came to a point where I just felt it was something I can afford and is willing to gift myself. I found OPTIMAX that actually allowed a 0% installment payment scheme. I looked into it and asked around to see who’s been there and if the treatments were safe (since there were different promotions and schemes constantly going on). I’ve had friends who has been there and they are all past Year 5 post-treatment and seems to be doing very well. I decided on going for my treatment at OPTIMAX after comparing prices and reviews. The place was also very near my workplace which made it very easy to move around for check ups.
Honestly before I went around considering the LASIK treatment, one of the things that I wanted to do this year was to undergo a thorough eye check up. I’ve never done one for the past 26 years and thought it would be healthy to just know what’s going on with me eyes after daily contact with lenses, solutions, make up residue and what not. There could be some sort of brewing infection waiting to be discovered. I guess growing up really makes you slightly more concerned about everything that comes to your body.
The Check Up
I stopped wearing my contact lenses for a week as the lenses change the shape of your eyes. The eye check up costed me RM 195 and it helped me determine my eye shape, dryness, power, corneal thickness and what not. After the checkup, the nurses will be able to determine if you’re eligible to undergo the surgery. I was immediately cleared for the surgery, and was asked to make a booking if I had a date in mind. I’ve seen reviews where the patients actually did the surgery on the same day of the check up, but not so sure cause I wasn’t given the option as my check up was at 2PM. The guys from OPTIMAX did tell me that if I were to choose to do the surgery on the same day, I would have to do my eye check up in the morning instead.
I decided to do the surgery on a separate day as I had other things to settle before really going into rest mode. The check up left my eyes dilated as part of the process to really analyse my eyes. It stayed dilated and never really went back to normal until only about 2 days later, which was the day I made an appointment for the surgery. I was told the surgery only takes an hour or so, so I got my dad to take me there. I’ve heard crazy stories about how there was one time this couple went for the treatment. The wife went in for her surgery whilst the husband went outside for a cigarette. The wife apparently was done even before he was done with his cigarette. That was extremely fast. In my head, that could only take about 15 minutes max.
It definitely didn’t take 15 minutes for me.
Treatment of Choice + Risks + REAL EXPECTATIONS
The clinic suggested three different types of treatment but really focused on two, as the other one was more suitable for people who were serving the army or didn’t want traces of their surgery left in their eyes. I was introduced to FEMTO-LASIK and RELEX SMILE. In easier terms, this is the breakdown of what both treatments are in my words. Please do some research somewhere else and some trusted site if you’re looking into this seriously. This is just my interpretation of what I understand the treatment to be.
FEMTO-LASIK (approx RM 8400 for both eyes): This treatment makes a flap from the cornea of your eyes in Machine A. That flap is a little U shape made in the centre of your eyes so it creates an opening to do the treatment on the affected area. That flap is then lifted up in Machine B, and the laser treatment happens – treating and zapping away all the causes of your eye problem. Your flap is then closed and sealed. You will wait for it to heal and be more adhesive.
RELEX SMILE (approx RM 12000 for both eyes): This treatment just creates a hole at the corner of your cornea. The surgeon then extracts a layer of something (that is apparently the factor to your eye problems) that’s under your cornea through the hole. What’s left to heal is the little hole and it’s less invasive the FEMTO LASIK.
I chose to go in with the FEMTO-LASIK treatment as it was a lot cheaper, and many friends have been through that and is safe anyway. RELEX SMILE was a newer technology, but I had to pay RM 4000 more if I wanted that. It was quite a quick decision for me as I wasn’t exactly at the luxury of wealth.
Going for this treatment, I had to know what I was up for and I wanted to manage my expectations with the healing too. I asked a lot of questions, but I went on to look up on the internet for more details on my treatment. I tried watching a couple of surgery videos but it later turned out slightly gory for me and I didn’t want to scare myself before the treatment. One MAJOR thing I had to know, or for anyone out there to know, is that if you were to do a surgery that has to do with creating flaps in your eyes – it will never fully, fully heal. The flap in your cornea will “heal” by being adhesive to the layers of your eyes again, but one of the better metaphorical examples to explain this would be imagining a long stick being broken in half and being sealed together with the best glue you can find. It won’t break however you swing it, but if given an impact strong enough – it will break apart where it once broke. Your flap WILL be able to be lifted (again) in 3,5,10 years ahead and possibly many more – if needed.
This is probably the BEST reason why you should take RELEX SMILE if you don’t want to be prone to a lifelong risk of having your cornea flap dislocated or wrinkled. The most comforting token I guess for me is that if anything hits your eye with such impact in future, SOMETHING will happen to your flapless eye anyway. So it really comes to perspective.
The Treatment (in approximate time record)
Day of treatment : Decided to wear a button up shirt so I won’t need to struggle with pull up’s post-surgery.
10.15AM – I arrived at 10.15am for my 11.00AM surgery. I was asked to go in earlier as they needed about 45 minutes or so to prepare for my procedure.
10.25AM – I met my surgeon, Dr Yen, who asked me in the room so she can have a look at a scar in my eye. My first reaction to that was “What scar?!”. Apparently during the eye assessment two days before, they found a little scar at the lower bottom of my right cornea. She took a look at it, and said it was possible to not cut through it – she’ll try, but even if it did – it wouldn’t be much of a problem as it’ll heal. I was slightly worried, but I believe I was in good hands after all that research. I personally did a research on Dr. Yen as well and she had happy patients (coincidentally, one who also had a scar). I asked her if it was going to be alright, she assured me so – and I trusted her.
10.35AM – I was then taken into other rooms for a final check up to see if my power was fluctuating from two days ago. I was told everything was very consistent and that I would just have to wait till it’s my turn. Of course, I had to pay before my treatment.
10.50AM – I was called in the surgery room. I left my shoes outside the room and was told by 3-4 nurses in the room to change into my blue patient attire. They only had XL and XXL so I spent quite a while being puzzled as to what to wear. They told me to wear thicker clothes so I assumed I could wear my own clothes in the theatre but I guess not.
11:00AM – I was sat down for a briefing by probably who seems to be the head nurse. I was given a pack of eye care and was briefed on how to use them. There was an antibiotic called Tobradex, a pack of lubricant eye drops, painkillers (only if necessary) and an eye shield for your night sleeping purposes. I wore paper socks too.
11.10AM – Dr.Yen sat down with me after the nurse finished with her briefing to explain to me again what the surgery is like, and also what to do and not to do after it. She went through process of what’s going to happen later in the surgery, which light to look at, what sound to expect, and checked if I was feeling okay. She told me we were going to move to Machine A, and then walk to Machine B to complete the treatment as they were different machines to do different things. I asked quite a few questions, but nothing she hasn’t already been asked by other patients. Just wanted to make sure what I knew about the flap healing was true, and she was very nice to set my expectations.
11.20AM – I was taken to a section of the room to do a final check up, get the anesthetic drops to let it sit before the surgery, and for the nurse do clean the area around my eyes. They were all very gentle and i loved the feeling of having ‘sanitized’ areas around my eyes. My eyes began to feel slightly swollen (probably from the numbing). I felt like my eyes were slightly bulging out of my eye pockets.
11.30AM – I walked in the surgery room. It looked like a dentist chair to me, but probably Business Class kind of dentist chair. The nurses laid me flat on the chair/bed that had a headrest like those in the salons where they wash your hair. They also gave me a blanket incase I was cold. Dr.Yen checked with me one last time if I was feeling okay, if I was nervous. Honestly at that point of time, I was pretty much nonchalant about it. Not nervous, but excited rather. This was FINALLY happening. In the next hour, I would be healed!! I laid down and by this time – I’m guessing my eyes were almost completely numb.
11.35AM – I don’t really remember the procedure by exact sequence, but I do remember having Dr.Yen asking me to look towards her (upwards) and she then took what felt like masking tape to tape the edge of my upper eyelid to stretch it backwards, and then the edges of my lower lids and stretching it downwards to allow a working vicinity. All these were done with my left eye closed and covered, as we worked on the right eye first. I then saw her use a clamp to make sure my eyes remained opened. I thought it was going to feel alot more uncomfortable when it came to the clamp, it actually just felt like cold silverware sitting PERFECTLY in between your lids. Your don’t really feel it there. I remember having lots and lots of water (saline?) put into my eye probably to wash off any residue or oil. She did some other things, but I don’t really know what was going on but nothing hurt.
11.40AM – The machine came towards me. Dr.Yen made sure I could see the green light and asked that I remained focused, even if it went blur during the process. This machine was supposed to create the flaps in my eyes so I was VERY determined to remain as focused as possible so my eyes wouldn’t move. The machine came downwards towards me and it got so close to me I couldn’t see my surroundings anymore, but the green light. My vision was isolated from everyone in the room. I then heard the machine say “Suction On”. Dr.Yen reminded me to remain focused and that it would all be done in 26 seconds. The nurse began to do a countdown out loud. 25,24,23,22,21…
In my head I remember thinking – ‘Wait, what? It’s already happening? My flap is being cut right now?” whilst trying to stay as focused as possible to the green light in the machine. By the time I was done wondering, we were already done and the machine made its distance until it declared “Safe distance”. That felt like NOTHING at all. I didn’t feel ANY kind of sensation when it was creating the flap. That was SUPER EASY.
But I realized I was quite nervous as it only really DAWNED on me that I now have an eternal flap in my eye, and I found myself pinching the blanket so hard in between my thumb and pointer.
The proceeded with my left eye and everything was pretty much similar.
11.45AM – We were done with Machine A. Both my eyes already had a flap. The nurses guided me up from my chair/bed and held my hands and walked towards Machine B – where the REAL deal is. Machine B was the real treatment. I laid on the chair again, not so nervous now cause everything was pretty much painless.
Dr.Yen did the same thing again, opened up my eyes with the masking tape-like thing as well as the clamp. She told me she would open up my flap for it to be operated on. To be honest, I was feeling this SO MUCH more. I could feel everything that was happening in my eyes, but I’m assuming it’s also because of the anesthetics wearing off. It wasn’t painful, but very irritating to my eyes. She warned that she was now going to open up the flap, I could see the tool coming towards me and my vision slowly blurring (as the cornea flap is now open). She tugged it gently left and right, and said it was normal if it was going to be blur. The whole process was honestly quite uncomfortable for me, though really really not painful. I did the same blanket pinching thing as I didn’t exactly expect to feel that way. My body started to tremble because I was honestly quite nervous now that I can feel things. I tried to control it as I didn’t want my body motion to affect the surgery.
11.55AM – The machine came towards me the same way it did for Machine B. This time, Dr.Yen told me there was going to be a green and red light. My vision was really blur and there was quite a strong glare so I couldn’t really tell which was the spot I was supposed to look at as they both seemed green. At certain points I was able to identify the green from the red, but most of the time I only saw one red with a huge glare that probably covered the green (or the other way round). Bear in mind that my flap was open so having such blurry vision was probably super normal. I told her I could only see the red most of the time, and she assured me that it was okay. Red was fine to focus at too. It probably may not have mattered, but I don’t know.
I didn’t feel anything here too, except it probably felt slightly breezy in the eye. Same thing, my vision was isolated entirely from the surroundings. There was the same countdown again, and this time I was more prepared and didn’t really wonder about if things were already happening. The green light disappeared halfway through the treatment and I was quite worried that something was going wrong. I stared at the same spot where the green light was, just incase. The countdown ended, and the machine moved away.
Dr.Yen pulled me back to her and my guess is that she proceeded into putting my flap back into place. I remember seeing her use this brush-like thing to flatten the flap into place. That didn’t feel tickly or anything at all. I could just see it there. During this procedure, my right eye has begun tearing quite a bit as it was a really irritable feeling. I remember not being able to see much, as it was blurry until the flap came back on – but it was still pretty much blurry as I didn’t have much time to focus before they covered my right eye to work on the left.
The whole procedure on the right eye was the most sensation I’ve felt throughout the whole process. It was ALMOST near slightly painful but not at all either. I can’t really seem to find a way to explain the feeling. Maybe just imagine a light feather that keeps trying to push into your eyes. It’s not painful, but its not exactly a “painless” feeling.
12:05PM – I asked for a short break as my eyes were squeezing alot due to the discomfort on my right eye. Dr.Yen asked me to open both my eyes but I wasn’t sure if my right eye was open as it has been tearing and probably protecting itself from the feeling. When they were beginning to operate on my left eye, I’m assuming even more of the anesthetics wore off and I could feel EVEN MORE. I told Dr.Yen about it and the nurse proceeded to give a little bit more of the drops. We waited just probably for about half a minute for my eye to stop twitching and the numbness kicked in. My eyes were ready to be worked on again.
This time it was alot easier and sensationless as the anesthetic was fresh and strong in my left eye. The doctor moved by flap and I felt nothing and just saw my vision start blurring off – just like my right eye. The procedure repeated, but this time it was a lot better.
12.15PM – I was done. Dr.Yen told me everything went well and the nurses guided me up. I was quite worried something went wrong in between. I had a sudden moment where I felt like my right eye was absolutely dark in vision – it was probably cause it was closed but I couldn’t tell. I could see my way out, but the nurses held my hand and made sure I didn’t miss a step. I met the doctor outside the surgery room, back at where they cleansed my eye area and she had me open my eyes to look at them with the microscopic machine thingies. I couldn’t stretch them open as it was tearing alot and it felt like there were eyelashes in my eye. She told me to kindly bear with it as she needs to see if the flaps were put back nicely in place. I took a deep breath and tried to open it up. This time my left eye was still alright – but my right eye was feeling a bit more of the surgery. Dr.Yen gave me another dose of the anesthetic drops on my right eye but she warned me that it would wear off soon – and that my left eye would feel the same at some point of time. If it’s tough for me, the best way would to just grab some rest back at home and it should be fine after a while. We scheduled for the next check up the next day and I left with my sunglasses on.
12.20PM – During my 30 minute ride back to my dad’s shop, my eyes were tearing profusely I could barely get them open. The glare was alright, but there was quite a sting in both my eyes. The best example for this is probably the feeling you get when you chop onions. It was also quite uncomfortable, and borderline painful. It wasn’t pain as in it hurts – but you get occasional jabs of stinging sensation in your eyes. My mom bought me lunch after that but I couldn’t eat it because I could barely open my eyes. Walking and everything was fine, but I had to force a little bit of my eyes open to walk and get around the steps.
1.30PM – I got back home, the feeling was still the same. I was beginning to worry as it’s been a while now. Nobody really warned me that there would be so much excessive tearing and sting. I still had my sunnies on in the house, and cause it was so dark – i couldn’t see what I was eating. I knew it was curry, but I couldn’t figure out between chicken and fish.
As I was tearing too much, I asked Siri to call up Francisca (who did her operation in OPTIMAX too) and asked if she remembered tearing this much. I was told that there would be discomfort but nobody warned me about tearing like this. She told me she didn’t remember – so i took a leap of faith and just believed that this was the absolute norm. I just quickly ate, took a shower and went to bed (with my eye shields).
3.30PM – I woke up halfway through the nap, and still felt that my eyes were tearing albeit much better now, I could open it probably 30% more than before. Dozed back to sleep very quickly. Occasionally find myself hitting on the eye shield by accident, probably I was trying to rub it in my sleep.
5.30PM – Woke up finally and felt MUCH MUCH MUCH better. I remember scrambling the sides of my bed to look for my glasses out of habit – but i remembered quickly that I can now see without them. I could now open my eyes with no problem. I walked around my house for the first time and only began to enjoy my clear vision around the house. So there you go, it took me about 6 hours or so for my eyes to go back to a comfortable zone but I’ve heard stories of where my friends only took about 2-3 hours before it felt normal again.
And that is about how the whole ordeal went. If I had to put a Pain Meter to it, it would probably be 1/10. But the Discomfort Meter would probably be 6/10. But all these really only lasted the 6 hours, and after I went back for the check up the next day – the people at OPTIMAX told me it was completely normal 🙂 I wish they had told me but I guess they did, just not that it would be SO excessive. I had nothing to worry about.
Day 2 – Went back for a check up today and my vision is now 20/20! The nurses told me that me eyes were extremely dry so I should do the artificial tear drips every 30 minutes instead of every 2 hours. Dr.Yen wasn’t on duty that day so Dr.Stephen took a look at my eyes to see if they were healing nicely. They were and he let me ask any other questions I had in mind about healing. He also took the time to remind me not to wash my hair, and cleared me to drive even on the day itself.
Day 3 – Today I’m already feeling absolutely normal. Went out from the city for a short getaway in Malacca. Was in my sunnies the whole time to protect it from direct contact with the air conditioner, wind, sand and glare. It takes your eyes about 1-3 days to heal so they are still in a fragile state.
Day 4 – Resumed Sunday activities as normal and went out to the mall. Was trying to look for a hair salon to help wash my hair. Couldn’t book Number76 at the last minute, and every where else charged at least RM60 for a simple hair wash. We went home, and my mom helped me do it. My eyes are usually really dry in the morning as I sleep with my eyes slightly opened. It’s quite a hassle to take the eye shields off and put in the eye drops, but I guess it has to be done!
Will keep updating as we go! For those who’d like to do their treatment at OPTIMAX, I believe you can just find them easily and ask for the current rates. I am in no way affiliated to them so I wouldn’t know their updates quotes except for my own.
Week 1 – Did my post surgery check up today. Everything is normal. My vision is now 0 on the left eye, and 20 on the right eye. The nurse commented that my eyes are very dry so they got me to buy this gel called Genteal Gel. It’s a gel formula you put in your eye 3 times a day, and indeed – it has improved tremendously. I sleep with my eyes open and that definitely does not help with keeping my eyes lubricated. This gel was the BEST solution to it ever.
It’s a fresh new year – yes. Plenty of space for new year resolutions and whatnot. I won’t say I’m really the type to jot down a list of resolution to achieve for the year. I guess I’m just a believer of letting fate take its course. Though I got to be honest, this year does feel a little different. Getting through the new year, I realised that many many things have taken its own course. I have taken first steps to doing many different things on a personal level. To create, improve, and repair many thing in different aspects of life. They wouldn’t be my new year resolution – but the new year really did give me a sort of motivation to just plunge forward with the things that has already been in my head for a while.
Just sharing with you guys some of the latest things that I’ve been going through :-
I just went through a LASIK treatment. At this point of time, I’m healing from a pair or eyes that were previously at the power of -6.50. I’ve always been wearing glasses since the age of 6, and being able to do this for myself 20 years later still feels a little surreal. But I’m glad I went through it. Sharing the whole experience through both a vlog and a blog post so I can help the people who needs to understand what it felt for me. I’ve been reading through reviews online but nobody has really shared a similar experience to mine! Coming up in probably a week 🙂
I’m building an online store. That’s all I’m saying. I’ve been wanting to do this for the past 3 years – but never really got to it due to many reasons. Now that I’m more mobile it’s easier to get in touch with different resources and to actually get things done.
I have finally found the urge to stay fit! I am possibly one of the laziest person I know when it comes to physical activities. I think I’m considerably weak in terms of core strength although I must say I may have tight punches (only discovered when fooling around and accidentally bruising friends). But in 2015, I realized my body has been changing and things are just not the same anymore. So what they say is true – at the age of 25, your skin and body WILL be noticeably different. So to keep up with my efforts, I am currently signed up with KFIT!! It’s damn good!! You pay RM 99 to just walk into majority of the fitness locations at no extra charge. Actually, if you’re kiamsiap don’t want to pay – can just sign up for free and you’ll get a free class per month anyway. That’s what I did until I was motivated pfft.
Meanwhile, just going to come back and do short updates!!
Just incase you are all wondering what’s been up, here’s a little photo from work, but nothing related to what I’ll be writing about. I always end up apologizing for not updating the blog but I know so many of you are not here anymore. I guess blogging has honestly died down for me, but I cant bring myself to shut it down for all the things that I have written here. So here I am, paying a little visit – and this time just to share a little story with those who are here.
So, on to what I’m to share with you all.
For those who have read the blog since my high school days, probably you already know throughout the years that I have come to learn Korean as a third/fourth/fifth language. After completing my course in Seoul in 2008, I came back to KL and started getting different jobs for translation and interpretation. Over the years through each job I take, I never forget to reflect after the task is done and be grateful for this gift that was given to me. It wasn’t something that I was forced to do, but rather came across so conveniently. The blessings I have received of the years in the name of the Korean language, the doors it has opened for me, the people I have come to meet because of it.
I loved and enjoyed each and every one until one recent one. One that kicked me into a deeper reflection mode, and led me into this whirlwind of thoughts that never stopped thinking about my own self worth. I talked to a few people close to me, but never really chose to talk about it in public. It wasn’t SUCH a big deal, really – in fact, it was very subtle – but came across as something very astoundingly shocking as compared to the other similiar jobs I have done.
This job in particular connected me with about 5-6 fresh faces. Usually in every job we will meet an average of that number, but only one will be constantly connecting with you to make sure everything is okay. Especially for events that lasts from 3-6 hours. This one was no different.
But the people were.
This was the first time I felt so mistreated by people in general, and never thought that I would one day come across people that would make me reflect on my entire self worth. I pondered on this for many, many days. Days that could have potentially evolve into weeks. But after almost an entire week, I decided that this was really not something or somewhere I want to remember myself to be. I decided to leave it behind, although it wasn’t something to easily ignore. In a nutshell, the people were very busy with their jobs and couldn’t care less for the welfare of the freelancers, and didn’t even have the courtesy to notify us about updated plans just because we weren’t needed. I don’t really want to go into details as that would let in on what or who was involved.
However, bottom line of the story – you can feel defeated and let people bring you down to somewhere you feel like you don’t deserve to be. Just remember that it is okay to feel so, but don’t let all the negativity carve something in you that will stay forever. I know that we shouldn’t let all the confidence that we’ve always had in ourself be smashed apart in a few hours just because of a few individuals that don’t matter in your life.
For those who are feeling a little down at this point of life – I’m with you!! :)))
Cheer up, and let the positive chirpy people in your life! On a side note, uploaded a vlog today, hope you enjoy it!
I’m writing this post RIGHT after uploading the previous ones. Hopefully I will be able to start off early, and top up later on. As I’m typing away, my edited photos are already uploading on flickr to be shared here with this post. Today’s blogpost should be quite visual as there’s nothing much to share – but I just want to say that that we shifted Day 4’s itinerary to Dongdaemun for the whole day as we were quite stretched out from Ihwa. We needed a day where we would just chill so we just chose one place. I chose this place because weather was alright and we needed a clear day to enjoy the rose exhibition at night.
My dad always pumped up to start the day off. Check out his Nikes haha.
Mom usually more chill – but this is probably us waiting for Nick to come out.
At the lift area where our AirBNB studio apartment is. Love the lighting here, skin looks awesome. To start of the day, we already planned beforehand to come together to get takeaways. If you’re in Seoul, you just NEED to experience a takeaway in order to feel like a local. And when it comes to takeaways, it has to be jjajangmyun (black bean noodles). Our place was a little too small for 10 people, so we headed over to the Mings at THEIR airbnb house.
Omg their place was SO pretty. It was a fully decorated house with 3 rooms and it nicely fit all of them. When you walk in the house there’s also a nice woody smell to it that makes the whole place smells so cosy. Their host just lives right below them – so its SO helpful!
We went to their place in the morning. And this was what welcomed us. The two boys outside just recording Kendama shots. This was pretty much how things went throughout the whole trip. This area was the alley that their house was at. You see the wooden house on the right where Ming Han is sitting. Thats the house. SO PREETS. I wish I took a photo. We then asked their host if he could order the jjajangmyun for us. I also ordered a tangsuyook (sweet and sour pork) and the host asked for some free dumplings as service. Man, when the food came – there was SO MUCH food. He gave us at least three plates of dumplings for free and we couldn’t finish everything on the table.
When the delivery man came, all of us took out our camera and kept taking photos haha. Nobody went to pay or help him take the stuff out. It was pretty funny. Jacoons in Korea. I asked if it was okay to take photos (although we were already at our 20th photo probably), he just smiled and say “Sure sure, take all you want!”
All the food for 10 pax. 6 jjajangmyun, one LARGE tangsuyook, and some free dumplings.
How it looks like all laid on the table. Man.
It was a rainy day, so we waited till the rain went off. Parents were talking and I remember it was the day Pacquiao and Mayweather’s fight was on. We all watched it while waiting for the rain to stop, but it kept on drizzling. My family brought an umbrella, so we headed back to our studio (which was only about 10 minutes walk away) first before meeting up about 30 minutes later at the subway station.
So yes – for those who wants to learn how to reload a T-Money Card with these machines that don’t operate in English yet, here’s your guidance! For foreigners, it’s quite important to get a T-Money so its more convenient and it’s a lot cheaper travelling around as you get transport transfer discounts. So it you get off the subway and hop onto another bus in probably the next 15 minutes – your ride is either free or probably a top up of 200 won depending on your distance.
This machine sells the traveller T-Money Card but i highly recommend AGAINST it. I remember the card being sold for a higher price as they come with coupon vouchers for all the tourist spots. If you already have your itinerary planned and don’t plan to get to the palaces and whatnot, a normal empty T-Money card can be bought at convenience stores at about 2000 Won. Just ask for T-Money, and give them about 10,000 won to reload. Probably will cost you about 12,000 Won in total and you can travel for maybe about 10 trips (subway & bus!) before you got to reload again. You should keep the card, because I feel like nobody ever goes to Seoul only once 😛 Save your money.
Step 1 : Press on the orange tab. There’s still English here so you should be good.
For those who wants to save the hassle of getting a T-Money at a convenience store, just press the purple tab and your card should come in a box.
Step 2 : To reload or check your T-Money balance, simply put your card into the machine and it’ll automatically scan and identify your card’s information. Direction of card shouldn’t matter.
Step 3: Just click on your preferred reload amount adn you’re good to go! Good to have at least more than 5000 won in the card, just to be safe!
It’s so simple even my brother can do it himself. And he reads no Korean.
Since it was a rainy day, we decided to just get to Dongdaemun Design Plaza where we could be indoors for a little while more incase it was going to drizzle. To get here, just take the subway to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4 ,5) and get out at Exit 1. You should be able to see the building upon exit. Just look around for abit.
Looks so grand and huge. I don’t know what about it that’s so…attractive, but I was just staring at it when we first got there. How did they BUILD this thing? What is it supposed to be. So apparently it’s a few building combined together, so just imagine that this huge oval UFO lookaliek thing is like a shell that houses these different entities. Although separate, they mostly focus on arts – just different types of art.
When we got out the station, we were already in the building. We got out at this park-like area. I don’t know if the place was set up like that just for an exhibition, but it was a play area for families and there was quite a crowd. Not as many foreigners as I’d expect to see. I realize that about Koreans though. They visit their touristy spots alot compared to foreigners. (Let’s put Myeongdong aside for now)
This was all before we got out to admire the structure of the place by its external form. We decided to just walk from top to bottom and look at the building before it gets dark. We wanted to see it at day and night so we went straight for that. Was afraid that it’ll be gloomy again and it wouldn’t look as nice. We walked out of this little hole and was like WOAHHHH WHAT IS THIS. It’s like you’re in outer space, but not really. Your brain is just not used to building in such form. It’s so polished looking, but you can’t find a reason to explain why was it built that way. Let’s just enjoy and stop trying to judge art.
But hey, that fella who imagined this in his head before building it – you deserve more cheese and bacon in your life. Good job there buddy. We took lots of photos before walking to the highest floor and getting our way down. Well, we also took a lot of photos inside. And outside. And almost every part of the building. I guess it’s only fair to post a some of those that we took, to justify the photo spam.
After looking at it from afar, we walked up and ended up at this grassy area. Don’t know what’s supposed to be in this area but they have a lot of space to hold events and exhibitions. Pretty smart design I must say. Strolled through that just looking at everything from a higher view.
We then got inside the building. I think this was probably the 4th floor or something. The cool thing about the building is that you can choose to take the stairs down, level by level. You can also just walk along the pathway that spirals down every floor. It’s this wide white area that smells like new paint. I also suddenly recognised the place from a drama my Mom was watching. It was pretty cool, felt like Deja Vu – just not mine.
I think the first area we walked into was sort of a Kids Area where everything is just colourful. There was also a(nother) public piano for the kids to just slam their little fingers on to make beautiful music. Actually there was this kid that was playing REAL scores from like Mozart or something, and his mom was just looking on to him with the “NO MISTAKES SON, NO MISTAKES” stare. So much pressure pfft.
Everything was so white and clean. Feels like I cannot make any noise here also.
This is the spiralling pathway that takes us to the lowest floor, level by level.
One of the stools cushioned by leather scraps rolled together.
Look at this rest stops where they put the golden bunnies. So the kids have the colorful ones and when you’re adult enough, golden bunnies please.
The gentleman all resting their feet
Doesn’t this look like the perfect place to hold a red carpet or something. It has an X factor. After visiting the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, we headed opposite to where all the shopping outlets were for dinner. We walked over to Doota which was at the far right and went straight up to the food court because nobody knew what was there to eat. And you know, at the food court everybody gets to choose whatever they want. I got myself a jjolmyeon – which is a spicy cold noodle. It was really spicy, but i LOVED it. The noodles were chewy and the sauce had a lot of flavor too. I think I got this for about 8000 won or something.
After dinner, we headed back to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza because my friend told me that there was a LED Rose Exhibition going on when we were there. You should probably check out if it’s still happening during your travelling period so you don’t miss out. We didn’t see this side of DDP so I had to ask the information counter where it was. Roses in Korean are called jangmi. So you can probably just say “LED Jangmi oddisoyo?” Wah the whole stretch of roses were just SOOOOO pretty! I took lots of similiar photos but I’m just going to post them all because I can’t decide on which one to post because they all look pretty to me. Lots of LED roses coming your way. WHITE LED ROSES!
It’s pretty hard to get a good shot if you’re not good with the camera. I tried pulling up the ISO but there was too much noise in the photo and it didn’t look pretty at all. Everyone was trying to get a photo with the roses but they all turned out to just be shadows amongst the roses lol.
My dad took some and the first one turned out quite eerie haha!
SEE! We then decided to just put our phone flashlights to good use and give him some lighting support lol!! So two of us were shining the flash on his face so we can see his bright little smile and still see the roses in their glory behind. What do you think?
Well, I clearly went to a better lit spot cause nobody was there to shine the flashlight for me
I also took some panaromic shots from the night that I wanted to just put in the post! There was about 20,000 roses all around the area, separated into two lanes. We only walked one lane since it was pretty much the same. It was a simple exhibition, but really beautiful to just slowly stroll through.
After taking what probably felt like 2000 photos, we decided to just look out for the Cheonggyecheon River. I read that it was supposed to be nearby so I asked everybody if they could do a little bit more of walking. Everybody was up for it so I quickly asked for directions. I’m the type that wouldn’t mind asking for directions every minute along the way just to make sure. To my surprise, probably only 2/5 people I asked knew where it was. The worst part was, I asked his shop owner where the river was and he said he didn’t know.
The river turned out to just be less than 100m away from his shop. Can we all please give a moment of silence for this man.
Anyway, I wanted to come to the river because it’s really pretty at night and if you walk along the river the whole way to the end (this was the other end) you would see different structures of the river and probably some lantern exhibition or something if you’re lucky! Go look it up.
After all that walking, we all went back to Hongdae. My family decided to just take a walk at the busy area at Exit 9. After some shopping, we went to the pojangmacha (road side stalls) to just grab a few things to takeaway and eat back up in the studio.
Man, I’d kill for this cart to be at my doorstep every night just ready for me to grab a stick or two. I love the fish cakes, the soup that comes with it, the fried egg that comes with the sauce, the rice cake. Everything in here was just yums to the max – especially in cold weather. I CANT WAIT TO GO BACK TO EAT THIS!
We ate some at the stall, and took some back home. We also went to buy one of the spiciest Korean noodle as I really wanted Nick to try it. He’s always up for spicy challenges so this one was one of those that I really wanted to put him through. You should see his face when he took his first few bites. After that it was just down the drain. Next thing you know, he was infront of the fan trying to cool himself down.
You guys should try it!
It’s called Buldalg-Bokkeum-Myeon. SO NOMMY though. I tried it, can’t take it, but I love it.
Nick’s noodle before he gobbled EVERYTHING up. This guys no joke for spicy challenges.
And that pretty much wraps up Day 4! If you’d like to watch the day in video form, here’s my vlog for the day!
I know its been a while. But I forgot that this was a pending project to work on. So next up on the trip after Day 1 at Sinchon, Insadong and Bukchon Hanok Village – here goes Day 3, where we spend most of our time at the Ihwa Mural Village. We also took a trip to Yonsei University (where I used to study) just for reminiscing sake.
The village was honestly one of the hardest places to get to. Some of us were really panting on the way up. I would definitely recommend to get to this place on a day with good weather (check the weather forecast) and please bring some water for yourselves. Well, I’m kind of exaggerating to be honest – but I think my tip can potentially make your walk up a little more comfortable.
I’ve heard alot about the Mural Village because the place is known for its street art. I imagined the place to be this huge residential area where we just walk and chill with lots of cafes. It didn’t turn out quite like that. For me, it felt like a place where I buy tickets to, and its just random street art here and there (without random cafes everywhere) at a huge wide space. It’s almost like an art museum, but open space.
The Inhwa Mural Village is located at Hyehwa – which I heard is an upcoming place like Sinchon. So I was looking forward to walk around the area after finishing the mural village.
So lets get to the day!
Before heading to HyeHwa, we got ourselves some quick breakfast and Twosome Place in Hongdae where we stay. It’s really convenient there, because the cafes are just EVERYWHERE!
We then headed straight for the area after breakfast. We took the train the Hyehwa through Line 4 and took Exit 2. For further directions, hopefully the below information helps :-
Directions: Take a left after Marronnier Park after exiting from the subway station (Exit 2). Walk straight and headsouthward toward the Naksan Park and you will begin to come across murals (3 to 5 minutes).
(Walk 300m then turn left at large intersection→Walk 100m then turn left at Ministop convenience store→walk 200m)
This is the park where we’re supposed to walk to. It’s only about 150m – 200m from the subway exit so you can easily spot it. We spotted this old granny picking up trash and she had a lovely companion with her. So many grannies take around huge dogs (Siberians especially!). Quite a number of people still came by to say hello to the little cute thing. The granny just did her thing.
At the park, you’ll see this whole area up ahead. Honestly, it IS pretty confusing at which aisle to take to end up here. All I can say is – just ask where is Ihwa Mural Village.
Or just show this text to the locals (이화벽화마을 어떻게가요?) or if you’d just like to say the place of the name, it’s Ee-hwa//Byok-Hwa//Ma-Ool. That stands for Ihwa//Mural//Village.
Will you look at the incline of the roads? It gets steeper.
Along the way, we still come by random cafes and neighbourhood stores. I like the vibe of this place because it feels very unpolished and the people around are really just living their own lives. It’s not like Hongdae where everything just seems so polished and everyone is so aware and conscious about themselves.
We got ourselves come kimbab rolls because we just couldn’t anticipate how far we’d have to walk. I bookmarked this website that showed the PERFECT instructions on how to get there – photo by photo – but I couldn’t find it anymore by the time we were there. My signal on the wifi egg was really bad, so I had to hog onto Ming Yue’s.
The walk was definitely a lot slower than normal because of the incline.
Just an example of some random stairs that we always have to walk up without prior notice. It’s like a Surprise Me, Stairs game all the time.
One of the random alleyways. I can imagine a really hipster photo being taken at every corner in this place. Or actually just the whole of Seoul. CRAY.
There were some samples along the way and it was octopus I remember. Mom and I ran over to grab some to eat on to fuel our body for this hike pfft. I WILL SURVIVE.
We came to a point we just had to surrender to this. Lemonade booth just CALLED OUT to us.
It was the best decision made that afternoon. The sun was scorching hot, it was one of the warmest days during our 10-day trip in Seoul.
Getting to a part where we oversee the roof. This reminds me abit of the one we saw in Bukchon Hanok Village but this one is really just the rooftops of random houses that aren’t polished for tourists. I can easily see a Korean Drama being filmed in any of these rooftops, especially the ones painted in marble green. I sometimes feel like I recognise the rooftops from certain dramas too. But that’s definitely just my imagination – or not?
Everybody enjoying the view for a good 5 minutes before we continued the walk up to the mural village.
At this point I thought we were going to be lost, but cause I read that its also a good idea to get lost trying to find the place because there’s just so many hidden jewels to be discovered around it area. Or that may just be me trying to give confidence. Sometimes it is a little scary to be the only one who knows the way amongst 10 people.
After that little beautiful stroll past trees and random statues, we were finally beginning to see random wall art. I knew we were coming close the the main area of the mural village. The art pieces there are certainly random, and they make things like electrical boxes or meters look simply adorable and interesting to look at!
Before getting there, the only thing I knew about the village was this looong flight of stairs that had a painting of fishes on it. The next thing I found out about it was that it was worth going to, so I went straight for the directions. I didn’t even look at photos (i did look at random vlogs online though!) because I really wanted to be surprised.
If you have the time, maybe you wanna run through the few photos I took of the place and see if you’d like to spend half a day here!
Finally found this flight of stairs.
It is one of the main landmarks where drama shoots take place. I can see why, it looks really beautiful from far. Like a flat painting in the middle of nowhere. It was a pain trying to get a clean shot of myself and the stairs though. This was the clearest I got. Usually everyone is just bustling up and down and trust me, this shot was taken with at least 10 strangers just staring back at me waiting for their turn to sit down on one of those steps. I will call this the awkward photo spot.
Look at that thing the put up at their door, the girl with the hijab. I saw that and was like O_O It’s like a flat stature but three dimensional as well. I went around it to figure out how it’s done then I looked left and saw the museum that was showcasing this genre of statures. It was the Naxan art space, and I’m not sure if the rotate artists/artworks – but the statures that was in this place was quite a new type of art for me. Everything was flat form the front, like nothing thicker than three fingers put together, but it looks so whole from the side. They have this tall one at the entrance to tease you on what’s inside.
Look at this! The face was definitely no wider than three fingers from the front. But It looks like a normal piece of art from the side.
We walked abit more to find another flight of stairs. I believe this one was on Rooftop Prince – though I only vaguely remember the scene. Many of them were just going up stairs to explore the neighbourhood but honestly the weather was not cooperating with us, and all of us had to go because getting separated was just going to be a hassle. We were already quite tired by the time we got to the village, so we weren’t too interested in getting up as well.
Walk, walk, walk
Came to just take a photo of it! Have to take one myself also even if I’m not in it. Stepped on it abit also so I can say ya I was there pfft. /marking territories
This one was quite cheesy so I didn’t take a photo. Actually, I would have lah but seriously TOO many people looking on. I don’t think I want to take a photo under that pressure pfft. Also another awkward photo spot.
These two siblings doing the squat for that white fury thing
After about 1 hour of brisk strolling in the niehgborhood, we were pretty much at the end. I’m sure you would take a longer time if you went up the stairs. We all took a rest at the stalls where they sold drinks and snacks, as well as some group photos. I think we rested for about 15 minutes then we were already calling for food pfft.
The part where it all ends
Le familia. Sorry Nick, I just don’t understand why there isn’t a photo of you out of all 6 shots where you look normal.
You see. They still had to test our leg control even when we’re getting out of the place. Slow and steady steps down back to the neighborhood.
I wanted to walk around Hyehwa in the beginning, but knew it was just going to be too much walking in a day – so I gave up.
We were contemplating on where to eat while walking down slowly but surely (lol), then we came pass this restaurant that was really empty. I took a quick look at the menu that said GAMJATANG (soup with potatoes, vermicilli noodles and meat in it) and just said YES! I love gamjatang. And because nobody was there, food was guaranteed to be quick. It was also so warm, we asked the ajummas to turn on the aircond for us. They didn’t seem to pleased, but I think it was alright to be a demanding tourist sometimes. Teehee.
After that we headed back to Sinchon. The rest didn’t follow us so they went back to Hongdae. I got my familia and Ming Yue to come with me to just walk around the place. To get to Sinchon, just get to Line 2!
Took a photo of this clown. He seemed so out of place. I think it’s cause it’s only usual to see clowns in an atmosphere of balloons, kids and colours. Seeing this one sit here, just feels a little sad. We took a detour from Sinchon to Yonsei University. It was going through a massive construction phase – but we still managed to get into the campus (no ID required). Here’s one of my favorite places in Yonsei to take photos at.
The place was really quiet so we really just walked around and absorbed whatever was there. Also note that by this time, our legs were already pulsating from all the walking pfft. #weaklings
After that we heading back to where the shops were for dinner. We walked around to see what was there to eat, and I remembered that Mom and I really wanted to have jjimdalg (braised chicken in special black sauce).
The zebra crossing infront of Yonsei.
I saw one of the signboards around the corner the night before when we were browsing around so we spent a good 30 minutes looking for it. We finally found it, got excited, walked up, and was served to the table. So this is supposed to be a really yummy black sauce chicken where the chicken is braised till its soft and it goes SUPER well with rice.
Sigh, but when we were at the table I already knew it was a fake version instead of the one we always go to. Rash decisions. Sad.
Okay this pretty much wraps up Day 3 in Seoul. If you’d like to take a look at my day visually – here’s a vlog for you to watch!
Trying to get myself to get this blog kicking and thinking on what are the things that I used to put on this blog. Then I remembered having so much fun with the camera before we had smartphones and everything was history. Getting back to the camera for photos feels pretty old, but I love it! Took some photos and just had no where to post it (not a fan of posting selfies on Facebook, not especially when there’s nothing going on) so the blog it is!
While I’m preparing the next post for Seoul, just going to have updates frequently (also to writing!) so I still have an outlet to rant about things that don’t matter. Photos for now!
FINALLY sharing with you all my little getaway to Seoul. For those who need some Seoul itinerary planning, weepdeedoo! Sometime ago, my family and I were just in the car thinking about if we will ever go to Seoul again together. My dad and brother has never been there again since I went there to study – and they’ve never been brought around by me. My cousins, aunties and grandmother have all been taken around Seoul by me but not my own immediate family members. My mom has been there numerous times, all thanks to very viable reasons such as me needing an extra hand to do packing and i probably need another partner to lug my bags with me.
Back to the conversation about if we will ever get on the plane together – all 4 of us – something got into Dad and he asked to just check the airplane tickets online. I did – and it was only about RM 700 per person. We thought about it over a few days but didn’t really want to take too much time because of the price influxes. We bought the tickets. The next thing we knew, months later we were on a plane heading to Seoul.
After being away for more than 7 years (I was there in 2008!!), I am finally heading back. I was there in 2010 but it was a really short trip. I was honestly really excited because Seoul holds so much memories for me and it was a place that was always developing and growing. My friends were going in and out the country so often, and the Kpop buzz has only been undyingly harboring which made me miss it even more just by looking at shows that feature certain places that I used to spend a lot of time at.
We spent about 10 days there (from 30th April 2015 till 10th May 2015) and got ourselves some good companion. The Ming brothers and their family came along too and there was 10 of us in total! It’s funny how we ended up going together. I was in their house with a group of friends and Uncle Ho was just jokingly asking if it’d be okay if he tagged along and pretended to bump into us in every place. Fast forward, jokes became real – and we ended up in Seoul together. It was really fun having another family come with us cause it was a little bit more meriah.
Weather was going through the end of Spring. We didn’t know what to wear because temperature seemed so unpredictable as it kept changing on the sites online. I looked up hashtags (#seoul #korea) to see what would people be wearing. They all looked so different and there were so many throwback photos. Anyway we just packed what we could – only about 5-6 outfits each person, cause we were looking to shop or either get our clothes washed at the coin wash stores.
So here goes the beginning of our SEOUL trip in 2015!
[WARNING : 88 photos ahead!]
Day 1 : AIRPORT / SINCHON / SOLBING DESSERT
We checked in 3 luggages and the little lime one was a handcarry I took just incase we had extra stuff to put in the luggage on the way home. We took AirAsia so it was definitely a smarter way to make sure you still had extra space to put your stuff incase you went overboard shopping. I wouldn’t say we were huge shoppers because stuff in Seoul isn’t too cheap – but there are areas that sell clothes for about RM 15 in extremely good quality! What if we go crazy there? So bringing an extra bag was the plan! I lugged my laptop and everything else inside so it was quite hassle free. Quite worried that I would lose my eye one it for a bit in the airport then everything will be gone. Having things on my back would be a lot more easier to take care, but I made sure I paid more attention to it lah. Rather than have a sore bag throughout the whole 10-day trip, right?
For the first time, we weren’t seated at the wing of the plane! Was put at the aisle, but I guess it’s alright. 6 hour flight is considerably long, but cause I was too happy to be going to Seoul I think it really didn’t matter at all. Ask me sit at the end of the plane – sit only lor. AirAsia buy seats also must pay really kiksei me.
Second time boarding from KLIA2 and I see that they now have a lot more travellators. Good for people like us who had to walk till the ultimate end of the place. The only thing I can think about the distance is horror for those who is about to miss their flight – and realize its only at the end of the road. Good luck mate pfft.
After 6 painful hours – sigh, really so long lah. What also cannot do in the plane. No entertainment TV, iPad also didnt bring, forgot to download anything into the computer, had my harddisk but I didnt’ download VLC to play the odd formats of the movies. Submit myself to fate and just concentrate on being grateful I’m currently in a plane heading somewhere. “You are lucky, Natalie. Be happy. Be patient. You are lucky. Ok?”
Arrived at Incheon International Airport, went to collect our portable Wifi (we used Pocket Wifi Korea at USD 3.95 per day). You can check the link out HERE. It was pretty good as it covered a lot of places except for when you are underground such as the subway areas. I would recommend it. The sites say that the coverage is really bad in places like Myeongdong but it worked pretty well for me.
Mings went on a different plane and arrived in Seoul about half a day earlier. We were able to get in touch with the wifi router to tell them we’ve touched down! It doubles as a shuttle train somewhat as it’s tracks are different and can bring you to stations in a shorter period as opposed to the usual city subway that may take about double the time that requires transits. Pretty cool – so you get to see people still walk in and out the train although their destinations isn’t the airport.
Nick and Dad in the Special Needs seat. Usually old ajussi’s will tell you to move if they don’t think you deserve the seats. They were there cause they were the baggage guardians LOL. Mom and I just sat at the common area and waited. The train right was about 45 minutes before we arrived directly at where our AirBnB apartment was – Hongik University aka Hong Dae.
Almost there : We had 9 stops from the Airport!
Our apartment was REALLY REALLY close to the subway. It was really just a stone’s throw away, and didn’t take more than a minute from the exits. The building was SMACK right in between two exits of the subway so it was pretty convenient. It was my first time staying in an Airbnb and this was a self check in so I was pretty nervous. We booked the place a few months before and they gave us a password to enter. I inquired to confirm if the password was correct just a few weeks as we were about to arrive – and the owner confirmed that there was nothing to worry about. We found the place easily – but there was a problem.
THE PASSWORD WASN’T RIGHT! I tried again and again to no avail 🙁
We couldn’t get in for about at least 15 minutes and I was mildly freaking out because my family and all was with me and I couldn’t really answer as to what was really happening. I couldn’t really contact the host because she kept insisting that I could text her with the Airbnb platform and she would respond soon. I guess I was really a little too trusting to just have been okay with that. I texted her with our Wifi Router (thank God for that!) but I really couldn’t just sit down and wait for a reply outside the apartment door. I looked and searched for contact numbers, and there was one that I had saved – but nobody was picking up. I called again and again, and finally a girl picked up.
The girl told me she wasn’t working there anymore, but she could still give me the password to the apartment. My eyes opened wide but I tried to sound calm. In my mind I was just thinking “HOW IN THE WORLD DOES AN EX EMPLOYEE HAVE THE PASSWORD?”. I really just wanted to get in the house so I just responded as casually as I could as she confirmed my location, I assume the owner of the studio has a couple of properties opened for AirBnB. I told her the name of my building and she gave me the password – I keyed in the password – and slide down the cover – and the door unlocked!
BUT…it wasn’t over. The lady on the phone went on and didn’t want to hang up. I was trying to rush the conversation cause it was still an overseas call and was going to be damn expensive. It ended up being RM 14.40 for a call that was less than 3 minutes. She was complaining to me about how she wasn’t paid by the owner of the studio for being a local runner for the services. The owner who I’m communicating with on AirBnB resides outside of Korea and has her own runners to facilitate the place and make sure guests are comfortable and attended to. I guess this girl was having an issue with the owner and she was telling me to leave mean reviews for the owner. Girl, you don’t know what you doing man. That’s my moneh you complaining over. I just told her that I am sorry about what’s happening, thanked her for letting us in and hung up.
I really liked the place!! It had 3 beds and bathroom and toilet was separated – which was a great plus! We were about 11 floors up high and was overlooking the main roads of Hong Dae. You can view in in my vlogs on Youtube – will attach the vlog of the day below if you want to watch everything live. The only downside was that it had no air conditioning. It was still spring and weather was pretty chill – but man, first night was just cruel. We were kinda sweating, I figured it wasn’t the way to go and texted the owner to help us fix our aircond. Actually we didn’t know how to turn it on, but I still needed him to come over to take a look. He promised to come over either super late at night, or just next 2 days cause it was the weekend.
I decided to get the conversation about the aircond going as we went out to just do a quick screen though at Sinchon and also have dinner. I miss by 5000 Won (RM 15) BBQ buffet in Sinchon, where my uni was. Just couldn’t wait to get back to see how the place looks like!!
Sigh but damn unlucky we arrived at Sinchon but I just COULDNT find the place. Thanks to KakaoTalk’s Call Feature I was able to call Dawn to check with her on where it is. The service was quite bad so I couldn’t really hear her properly. We had about 9 of us and i didn’t really wanna lug everybody to go look for the restaurant with me so we just decided on a random bbq restaurant. We ordered a bean paste stew, few pork belly slices and marinated pork ribs.
Yummy!! It was one of the best ways to kick start a Seoul holiday. Ahh, just miss the original BBQ. There’s just something so different about having barbecue in Korea. May just be me, but aiyah – holiday, then of course have to like and be happy with the feeling of being in the foreign land ma correct?
After dinner we walked around Sinchon a little and got a bit sad. So many things have changed since I was there. I sound like a broken record, but the changes were just TOO drastic. I didn’t recognize the place anymore. Imagine spending almost a year on the same rotary and to find it being so different you don’t recognise it any longer. I guess it’s almost like how an old folk comes pass the city, and gives that longing vibe and sigh on how they don’t recognise a place they once called home as they are now replaced by tall buildings and whatnot. How can a place change SO much in just a matter of 6-7 years? Wei shen me?
Looked around for about an hour and it was time for dessert. We spotted Solbing Desserts the moment we walked in Sinchon so I was adamant on trying it because so many people recommended it.
Wah the desserts there don’t play play – I think about 15,000 won on average for a bowl. That’s about RM 45 plus minus. But this is a holiday, so it’s okay. Think in the currency of the country you’re in! My family ordered two, one Strawberry and another Red Bean.
WAHHHH!! The Strawberry one was one of the BESTEST strawberry desserts I’ve ever had. I love that they didn’t use normal water but like shaved milk? The consistency was so soft and light and the strawberry serving was just ABSOLUTELY generous. With every scoop, I could get 2-3 slices of strawberry easily without really having to pace my bites to spread the toppings with the ice.
I didn’t try the red bean one cause I wasn’t a fan of red bean – but this was apparently really good too. The only downside is that those who can’t take milky tasting stuff wouldn’t really fancy it. The condensed milk gives the absolute topping and taste to the dessert – and its SO good. I loved almost everything about it except for the fact that it couldnt become a messy dessert. The spoon got quite sticky and my fingers ended up being sticker at every bite. That wasn’t a very comfortable experience, but it was worth the try.
The Ho’s got 3 different ones. I remember one was blackberry yoghurt, another pretty similiar one that was also berry something, and another strawberry one. They really liked it too!
While we were at the place, we thought we saw our first Kpop artist Sohyun from Akdong Musician. We’re still not sure if it’s her but it’s either we never got to confirm or everyone just looks pretty damn similiar haha. After dessert, we went back to our place to rest up for the next day.
I continued to try to fix the aircond, only to find out that the A/C was actually switched off by the apartment management. Weather was still quite cold so they switched off all A/C’s and if we turned anything on it was nothing but the heater. I got the guards into the studio to check and then only they told me it was a central A/C and there was no use in me trying to get the settings correct. Sigh, so I texted the AirBnb runner to request for a fan. At first he said no, because they don’t have the inventories. Finally Alexis the owner gave him permission to get one under the company and it came two days later! WEEE! Really cannot sleep without anything at all. Weather was chilly outside but not strong enough to come in and chill the whole room.
It was about 23 degrees or so but we could easily walk around in slightly longer sleeves and that’s about it. So that’s not exactly the kind of cold that would chill up your whole apartment. Anyway, that pretty much sums up first day of Seoul. It was only about 6 hours to do most of the things before it was bed time.
Moving on to Day 2!
DAY 2 : INSADONG/SAMCHEONGDONG/BUKCHEON HANOK VILLAGE
I have a 10-day itinerary all done before the trip. If it was only my mom and I, we probably wouldn’t make it so systematic. But because everybody else hasn’t really toured Seoul, it was pretty much necessary. It was also good for me to just walk around and re-see these places to see if they have changed. I can share the itinerary with you guys in Travelling Seoul 101 after my blog posts are done! I am very motivated to finish it this time!!
We decided to go around Jongro the second day. That means we cover Insadong > Samcheongdong > Bukchon Hanok Village! We didn’t want to rush things up so three places were more than enough. The day started at about 11AM and we headed straight to Insadong.
[Directions to Insadong : Take Line 3 and head to Anguk Station, and exit through Exit 1. Walk all the way straight and you will see a huge walkway on your left after about 2-3 minutes. On your right should be a couple of roadstalls selling food or newspaper stands etc]
Insadong is a place that is very heavy on cultural and traditions of Korea. If you like that kinda thing, this is where you should go. Occasionally you get to still see old ladies in hanboks walking around. There are also a couple of good cafe’s if you’d like, but you need to walk around. I had the best waffle in my life here, but have no recollection of where it is. Anyway, first thing for us was BREAKFAST!
It was quite tough scouting down a normal bakery that served breakfast-like food. There was one at the corner right before we turned in Insadong, but the place was filled. We walked down a little to find nothing, and just turned back to the initial bakery to try to forcefully put everybody in. Thankfully, a couple left and that gave us just enough space to put all 10 of us!
Seoul bakery in the morning
While the rest were all inside the bakery trying to stuff ourselves, Aunty CK was still outside with Ming Yue and Ming Li looking at street art. They were selling hand-drawn hand fans and whatnot. Ming Li got herself a fan with her name written for 10,000 won. That’s about RM 30. Quite pricey – but we accepted it as tourist price.
Mom asking us to get in quick haha
Finally getting some bread in our tummy to start off the day. Our staple drinks in the morning would be this. Parents could get coffee, Nick would get Korea’s latest fad of blue lemonade and I will ALWAYS ALWAYS get iced peach tea. There’s nothing like the peach tea that is being sold in any random cafe in Seoul as compared to the ones we get here in KL. Peach tea there is…so peachy.
Fresh flowers that were sold almost everywhere in Seoul. They are really huge on flowers!
——MID NOTE : Okay this is my SECOND time rewriting this blog post from this point. I finished the blog post with a LOT of words and was done after about 2-3 hours. It didn’t save and now I am sad. I soldiered through a mild headache writing it and just told myself, a bit more – just a bit more! And WordPress decides to log me out. I don’t know if I’m angry at myself for not copy pasting the last moment when I could or what now sigh. Sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad——-
So we walked along the road of Insadong (which is approximately about 15 minutes walk down at normal pace without stopping) and then I saw Ssamziegil! I had to go in there. I always love going in Ssamziegil because everytime I come it’s always different. I usually end up here from another direction (don’t ask me how) but anything works right. Ssamziegil looks like a building you can easily just walk pass along the streets but it gives off a whole different vibe, and for me, it is the highlight of the whole stretch of Insadong. It’s the lot with all the green leaves on it. We took the side entrance in (not sure why) but wherever that leads us into the place lah.
Hello side entrance of Ssamziegil!
Also, we were greeted with a new kind of street snack. It was called the Ddong Bbang, which literally translates to Poop Bread. Good thing it didn’t smell as nasty as the name suggest, but I would think that it would sell better if it had a funkier taste to it – just like smelly tofu. At least a selling point right? Took some photos and we went in.
Finally inside of Ssamziegil (how many times have i said this word? I don’t even know what it means). Look how vibrant and lively the whole place is. As you can probably see, it is this building with four levels and you keep walking up in a spiral as it leads you up to the rooftop. Along the way up, you will get to see different shops that sell mainly locally made products that are really cute or just things you’d buy as souvenirs. A lot of films are shot here thanks to it’s artsy fartsy outlook and the interior always changes. The last time I came it was some eco-friendly kind of theme, and this time I think they were exhibiting children’s paintings. The colours made the place look really pretty though.
Looking down from the second level. We don’t usually stop at the shops because its either too expensive or the stuff doesn’t really suit what we are looking for. I don’t know what we’re looking for also, but not the hipster kinda of stuff lah.
Notebooks and whatnot. All the store owners like tak sempat sempat wanna tell “Made in Korea”
I took a couple of tourist-y photos, please don’t judge. How else do I take a photo here.
We almost decided to leave and start going down, but I caught sight of this place right at the other side of the rooftop and felt like we had to go see what’s happening. Turned out to be this Couple Note Tags kinda thing going on. Korea’s really big on coupley things, like the Ddong Bbang I mentioned just now even had a couple set that you can buy on a discount from original prices. So this was nothing surprising but I always love taking photos at such places, especially when notes and deco is really packed and photo worthy!
Walked out of the place after about 20 minutes and walked along the roads of Insadong. For those who needs to see what Ssamziegil is like from the main entrance (here you go below!). It is the highlight of Insadong for me but wouldn’t really spend too much time there if photo quota is fulfilled pfft. We had about an hour or so before meeting the rest again so my family continued marching down the halfmark of the street.
Some of the special postcards available. These sold for at least RM 30!
So many Koreans are in Insadong. I would guess that for a place so local like this would have many tourist flocking in the area – but they were all mainly Koreans just soaking up all their own culture on a weekend. Great stuff. When will this happen in Pasar Seni? One day – I am hopeful.
Also randomly walked into this other building that had stairs with flowerpots so I just ran towards it to take photos for the blog. So long since I could do a #dedicatedblogger thing. Here is a small part of the huge cafe culture in not only Insadong, but Seoul. Two or three story cafes are like – you know, just any other clothing store.
Now i regret not taking away the plastic bag I bought some stuff from. So ugly my photo!
As we kept walking i can’t help but notice like this increasing number of people just walking around eating what seemed like ice cream. It was pretty warm and I could use a popsicle. I saw the store selling it just a few stores away. OH EM GEE they were frozen mangoes!! I love love love love frozen fruits; i would slice up bananas or strawberries just to freeze them and bite on them like ice cubes. I’ve never had frozen mango but with my love for mango and that its now frozen FOR ME without having to wait – ON! We easily bought three and I just loved the way it tasted. Of course, nothing special – just like a normal mango. But i love that it was frozen and i was so convenient to eat – just like an ice cream. The mango stick was selling at 3000 won. Pretty expensive but worth it for me.
Stopped by just because she was in a hanbok and her nuts looks polished and fresh.
After Insadong, we went to Samcheongdong. There wasn’t much there but I felt it was also a place that was worth being at. I didn’t know the roads and because there were coincidentally so many policemen (and young ones teehee) so I just went and ask about three separate ones to see if they could guide me there. We were walking in a larger group so it’d be easier if there was a shortcut. To my surprise, none of them knew – which was actually why I ended up asking THREE – and they were all volunteers (yeap, they cared to explain why they couldn’t help). So I could only ask for directions for larger landmarks like the Gyeongbokgung Palace because I knew Samcheongdong was around that area. They guided me across the road from Insadong but while walking towards the direction, I recognised this path on our right below.
It was the fancier path to Samcheongdong!
Not even halfway : We just had to stop by at the little resting seats at the side because our staminas just won’t allow the turbo up. Everyone was just strolling happily up the slightly inclined route – but well, not for people who usually just use our legs to drive. You can actually see how incline the road actually is. Slightly, but surely,
Stole a photo of this couple
We decided to really just take a rest after all that walking at a restaurant since it was lunch time anyway. Couldn’t seat all 10 of us together so 6:4 it was. Just ordered very simple stuff as we weren’t too hungry. Rested for about 45 minutes and we were ready to go again.
On my phone thanks to our Wifi Pocket!
Ordered a bibimbap, rib bone soup and a dumpling serving. Good for four of us.
As we walked out there was a throng of policemen who marched pass with all their safety gears. In my head I was thinking “Crap, don’t tell me something is going on”. They were bringing their safety kids with the body shields, gas masks and everything. It was hard not to be bothered. Didn’t want to make a fuss by asking so much and decided to observe first. Is that way I could so easily bump into three policemen at the same spot just now?
Anyhoo, we continued walking along and ended up in this area that had alot of quaint shops here and there. You just had to stop by some because sometimes there’s a queue and you just wanna kepoh and see whats up. As for us, for the first queue we snooped a little and just found that it was this guy who drew portraits of people. He must either be 1) really famous 2) good at marketing because those drawings didn’t seem like they were genius or close drawings. Didn’t really stop by any other queues after that and minded our own business.
With the above area being the halfway mark, we got to Samcheongdong and had to find another cafe to sit down (yes we just had to). Well, Samcheongdong IS about cafes and dessert houses anyway so if you’re just here to look see – you’re bound to be out in 30 minutes. Do some cafe hopping, walk by the shops in the attic of the lots, and you can possible spend half the day here. We were only here for 45 minutes (30 minutes cafe, 15 minutes look see) before we went straight for Bukchon Hanok Village
When we stopped by we started seeing more and more police guarding odd entrances of the alleys around Samcheongdong. I just had to ask what’s going on cause situation was getting to look quite serious. I’m not kidding when I say they had about hundreds of young policemen (probably serving NS) all dispatched just to guard the area. Here’s how the conversation kind of went (in Korean) :-
Me: Hi, do you know how to get to the Bukchon Hanok Village?
Policemen : Uhm, I’m not too sure I’m just a volunteer.
Me : Oh, that’s fine. Okay, look is there a situation going on here? A riot maybe?
Policemen : Uhm, yes there’s one going on nearby but you don’t have to worry about it.
Clearly he didn’t want me to probe further and was reluctant to disclose where the riot was. But in my heart I was like CRAP CRAP WE ARE GOING TO BE TRAPPED. WE WILL BE IN TEAR GAS ALL OVER HOW HOW I HAVE 10 PEOPLE WITH ME WOR! So I tried to investigate further.
Me : Okay, do you think it may be near the Palace cause I’m heading there soon.
Policemen : I think it’s best not to head there because that’s where the riot may take place.
Me : Oh so it’s at the Palace?
Policemen : Y…es..
Me : Okay cool thanks.
I went back to the cafe and went “YES THERE’S A RIOT!” and everyone’s automatic reaction was “How do we get out of here Natalie?!”. Okay that’s the end of it. We didn’t really panic much la, after abit of research it was just for Labours Day the people of the country were demonstrating against some policy of the country for labour.
After shopping at random shops like the 5 Dollar Shop (that had stuff more than 20 dollars!) we headed straight for Bukchon Hanok Village. It was said to be the “Santorini of Seoul” as it overlooked all the houses on a slanted angle and they are looks really beautiful. So we had to see it for ourselves. It was my first time to the village – I guess they made it a thing in the recent years as a Must See spot.
We spotted some tourist information guides who walked around in red uniforms with a huge ‘i’ on their caps for Information. They could speak fluent English, Chinese or Japanese (albeit with an accent but it works) so they guided us easily to where the village was with a free map!
At one of the turnings up! Encouraging each other to go for the inclined path first pfft.
Ming Yue was asking for a plaster here but I didn’t realize cause I was busy taking photos haha.
Hello is me.
Finally at the top after quite a quick climb I must say. The path was just REALLY inclined (but not yet the worst of our whole trip) and we were sometimes lost but if we knew the way it would probably only take 5 minutes from Samcheongdong. I’ve never been to Santorini but the view from were we were was pretty sweet. The traditional roofs and colour scheme of the whole area during the golden hour was just very very pleasant to look at.
One of the better lighting shots I managed to take
We went up further just to take a look at the real residential houses around the area, since it’s what the place is famous for. And according to the map this was the route to the subway station!
Random painting in one of the alleys
You see that door behind me. So tradition. So cool. So sturdy right? Probably just half right. If you look closely it’s just an a automated door that opens and closes like a normal door but made of wood. Probably sturdier than your average apartment door – but still a bit cheat ah. I think the government must have played a part in enforcing that the houses here don’t change in interior. We realize some even go to the extend of just placing wood-looking plastic on the roofs and fake it to be extension planks from inside of the house (as part of traditional architecture) but it’s all just for show.
Walked down after about an hour or so, and the walk down was even steeper than the route up. We had to talk mini mini steps to make sure we didn’t lose our balance. Thank God the weather was getting slightly cooler so we weren’t sweating so much with the walking.
On the way to the station at the end of the road down, we came past this shop that had a mini queue. They were selling octopus skewers at 3000 won each. Well, we were sort of hungry by then and decided to buy one. WAH it turned out pretty damn good and was one of the best random street snacks we ate. It was so good we were already 2 minutes away from the store, Ming Li decided to walk back to buy another one.
Yummers! Octopus with mayonnaise and the dried Japanese flake thingies.
That marks the end of our Day 1 & 2 in Seoul for now. Probably will start updating the Travelling Seoul 101 page slowly but surely. If you’d like to experience the whole journey on this day live, you can watch my vlog below. As for now, I’m signing off to prepare the next post for you.
Wah took ages for me to log in and type. Something is really up with my blogging platform! But this shall not hinder me from continuing to blog! So I am finally back from Seoul after spending about 10 days there. It was a really fun but sort of tiring trip because we were always travelling – going out and about. Right after that straightaway go back to work (although honestly work is super chill) so it didn’t feel like there was a rest gap. Since Korea (which was probably about 3 weeks ago!) I don’t think I really got a weekend to myself and just stay in until this two days ago. It was seriously what was missing in my life and I started to notice myself being so klutzy and was a mess. I think what I really need is just alone time – I’m having so less of that (except for when I’m driving home, but that’s really using up a lot of concentration and energy just trying to squirm out of my way in traffic). I used to have so much time just being a potato at home, watching the things I want to watch – I don’t know what taking up my time to do all these things I deem as leisure.
Anyway, will be blogging about my Seoul trip – one that I haven’t done in AGES. It’s been about 5 years since I last went back so you could just imagine how excited I was to go back. I wont speak much about it now but all I can say is that Seoul has changed so much I couldn’t even recognize my area Sinchon anymore. The changes has made it become so foreign to me and I was honestly quite intimated by how a place could change so much. So many memories were made in the street with all my friends from Yonsei and to see it just revamp and not knowing what happened where (except for McDonalds) is really quite scary.
Just an update of my life : the biggest change that has happened since when I was actively blogging would be the fact that I am now able to drive myself to places. I am extreeeemly delighted at the thought of that and though I don’t choose to drive at night because of my astig, I’m still happy that I can now manage my timing at my own expense and will no longer need to depend on others as much as I did back then. It feels FREAKING good. So many things in my to-do list achieved after having a car. Having my favorite CDs played anytime, singing to my customised playlist, learning to pump petrol. These are things you can’t do if you don’t drive alone! Singing in the car with friends okay lah maybe can do, but I bet you not as fun as singing alone because….gone wrong also nobody scold you. But sometimes I try to Beyonce I get a whizz in my head so I have to stop pfft. Lousy until wanna vomit.
So many things happened after Korea too. The team and I went to Singapore to attend Youtube FanFest and it was our first time on the Red Carpet. We were all contemplating what to wear but Zalora Malaysia was super kind to have sponsored our outfits for the event. I wore all their outfits for all 3 days I was there. Got a pair of heels too and was so glad they fit perfectly. So many asking me how exactly was the Red Carpet? LOL first things first – the Red Carpet wasn’t meant to be my path anyway. It was for the team’s main channel TMT and walking the event with them was just a tad bit awkward because everybody seemed to be shouting at me by the name MING and I am clearly not a MING – so that means they weren’t shouting for/at me. Everyone seems to know every other one on the Red Carpet so it waass a little bit weird.
It was a fun experience anyhow and I like the fact that we were able to just come and experience first hand what it feels like to be on a Red Carpet pfft. Although I wasn’t the celebrity you get to see the true insights of how the celebrity truly feels during an outdoor Red Carpet event – TRULY TRULY HOT and sweating like mad but you gotta maintain the million dollar smile. Good job, the rest of the Youtubers!
Wah I’m typing this one the HTML tab – but when I switch it to the “Visual” tab which is where all HTML is supposed to come to live – nothing is happening. I guess I can’t really do much with this post for now. For those who has nothing to do and needs some basic entertainment, please visit gu niang’s Youtube channel to watch all the travel vlogs she painstakingly spent time to edit. I will put them here so you can watch them – then the rest you navigate yourself if you’re interested ok? Not bad I give you choice to choose if you want to watch further. #betterthaninsurance
Okay that’s all for now – uploading my scheduled vlog now (last one from Seoul then I’m ready to go to bed. Usual vlogging stopped cause I didn’t know how to post things up without flooding but here we go again – good time to start tomorrow! 😀