Seoul Trip : Dongdaemun Design Plaza + LED Rose Exhibition

Hello hello!

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.

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My dad always pumped up to start the day off. Check out his Nikes haha.

DSC05477Mom usually more chill – but this is probably us waiting for Nick to come out.   DSC05482

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!

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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. 

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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!”

 

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All the food for 10 pax. 6 jjajangmyun, one LARGE tangsuyook, and some free dumplings.

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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 :P Save your money.

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Step 1 : Press on the orange tab. There’s still English here so you should be good.

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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.

DSC05485 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.

DSC05486 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! 

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 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.

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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)

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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. 

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DSC05514  DSC05517 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.   

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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.

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DSC05545Everything was so white and clean. Feels like I cannot make any noise here also. 

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This is the spiralling pathway that takes us to the lowest floor, level by level. 

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 One of the stools cushioned by leather scraps rolled together.

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DSC05560 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. 

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The gentleman all resting their feet

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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.

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 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!

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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!

DSC05586SEE! 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.   DSC05592 What do you think? DSC05583

Well, I clearly went to a better lit spot cause nobody was there to shine the flashlight for me

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DSC05623  DSC05615 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. 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Our takeaway

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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!

Seoul Trip : Ihwa Mural Village + Yonsei University

Hello everyone!

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!

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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)

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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.

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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.

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Heading up!

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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.

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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.

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The walk was definitely a lot slower than normal because of the incline.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We came to a point we just had to surrender to this. Lemonade booth just CALLED OUT to us.

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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.

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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?

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Everybody enjoying the view for a good 5 minutes before we continued the walk up to the mural village.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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DSC05395 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.  DSC05401 They have this tall one at the entrance to tease you on what’s inside.

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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.

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Walk, walk, walk

DSC05403   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  DSC05404

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.

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These two siblings doing the squat for that white fury thing

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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.

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The part where it all ends

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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.

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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.

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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!

DSC05435 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.  DSC05436  

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

DSC05440DSC05451DSC05453DSC05456  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).

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The zebra crossing infront of Yonsei.

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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!

Yippy Blue Yeay!

Aahh!

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!

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Till then! x

Seoul Trip : The Start of All Leg Breakdowns (Sinchon/Insadong/Bukchon Hanok Village)

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

DSC05039We 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?

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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.

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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.

DSC05048Nick 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.

DSC05050Almost 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.

DSC05052I 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DSC05069The 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]

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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!

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 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!

DSC05078Seoul bakery in the morning

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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.

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Mom asking us to get in quick haha

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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.

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Wassap doc

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Notebooks and whatnot. All the store owners like tak sempat sempat wanna tell “Made in Korea”

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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!

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 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.

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DSC05175Some of the special postcards available. These sold for at least RM 30!

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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.

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DSC05179Now 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.

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DSC05188Stopped 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.

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It was the fancier path to Samcheongdong!

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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,

DSC05192Stole 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.

DSC05197On my phone thanks to our Wifi Pocket!

DSC05198Ordered a bibimbap, rib bone soup and a dumpling serving. Good for four of us.

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 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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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DSC05225Kendama spots

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At one of the turnings up! Encouraging each other to go for the inclined path first pfft.

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Ming Yue was asking for a plaster here but I didn’t realize cause I was busy taking photos haha.

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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.

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One of the better lighting shots I managed to take

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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!

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Random painting in one of the alleys

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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.

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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.

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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.

Getting Back on Track

ROAR.

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! :D

Ultrasonic Ion Hair Treatment @ Number76 Starhill Gallery

Hello everybody!

I just got back from Seoul – and am in the midst of preparing many upcoming post about kimchiland. Its been a while since my posts previously in 2008 and 2010. Seoul has changed so much since I last visited it but we’re not going there for now. Today we’re going through a pampering experience at Number 76 at the Starhill Gallery branch. I’ve had my doubts on whether if I should ever walk in this salon because it looks fancy, reviews on social media so far has been great, and this only means one thing : pricey.

I did a little more research though – and found that most of their general services are pretty alright and is actually similiar to other hair salons that you find in malls. To be honest, it’s not my first time here – but I was too wary of my surroundings the first time to actually take photos and such. This time, Sue Ann from Number76 got in touch to see if I was interested to get a hair service done. I was about a week away from leaving for Seoul and who wouldn’t love great hair on a holiday? I quickly said yes – and off I went!

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My lens was so spotty – didn’t even realize! But check out clear landscape of KL!

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 Even better one

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Handy pair of glasses at RM 15. Langkawi sells dirt cheap sunnies – some at even RM 10 for Rayban rip offs.

 Anyhoo, I got myself booked on a weekend – remember to pre-book if you want to get a certain stylist to get your hair done. Some stylists go on a discount for a short period so if you are looking fo an even more affordable price point – look out for that. For those who hasn’t been to the branch in Starhill Gallery, get to level PAMPER with the glass elevator and you will see Number76 on your right upon exiting.

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Don’t let the classy look and venue scare you – the price of this branch is the same as all the other branches. So if you want to get your hair done, why won’t you choose to get it done here. It’s just like getting the same pair of shoes in Malaysia or the States. If you could get them for the exact same price, why wouldn’t you want to get it in Hollywood? I don’t know – my  #grassisalwaysgreenerontheotherside theory applies to stuff like these to make me feel like I have fully optimise the potential of my spendings pfft

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Not sure if you’ll be able to see clearly but if you squint hard enough you may. Basically put, to get a Senior Hair Stylist here it’s only about RM 76. Kids also get quite a good deal getting their haircut here as it goes up to 50% discount (depending on age). Many places charge at about RM 90 for Senior, or probably already at about RM 65 for Junior Hairstylist. Why won’t you pay about RM 10 more for better quality haircut (and service?)

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 They sat me down in the first 5 minutes I was there. Xuan, my designated hairstylist of the day, was attending to her customer on her finishing touches. So I just sat there and observed while I took a couple of selfies. I was also served a cup of green tea along with one of my favorite biscuits – Biscoff Caramelised Biscuits!! I had them once when I bought it from Seoul many years back. Reuniting with it unexpectedly definitely made my day happier!

Xuan got to me pretty quickly after her previous customer. She told me if we were looking to do a treatment we can do their signature Ultrasonic Ion Treatment (RM 250) along with a Tansan Hair wash! Many have been raving about the Tansan Hair wash and when I tried it for the first time I was so excited to see the end results.

For those who doesn’t know what the Tansan Hair Wash is, basically they wash your hair with tansan sparkling water and it usually takes of the dirty sebum, product residues and oil from your scalp. After the wash, your scalp will be breathing again and this promotes a healthier hair growth too! I’ve done this once before and saw the end results – but I wasn’t any less excited the second time. I love doing “housekeeping” as such – and it’s even better because this scalp cleansing is not something I can do on my own.

Xuan took me to the hair wash area and mumbled some Japanese. I asked what it was cause the rest in the salon echoed after her. Apparently it’s something they say to welcome you to the salon – as the hairwash area will always be the first step every customer goes through. So they welcome everybody there. Intersting.

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Xuan making sure my clothes don’t get wet. I also got a little comfy blanket. Little tiny etiquette services makes the experience a little better.

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I was trying to vlog but didn’t know how people took good angles. But my eyebrows look quite nice here hor? That’s the Tansan Hair wash going on. As you can see – no products are being put into your hair to get rid of the residues. It’s all the water! Real good water.

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After the wash, we get a good hair wash. I always admire how hair stylists are so willing to wash other people’s oily gooey disgusting hair! How?!

After shampooing, Xuan got an assistant to apply the treatment into my hair at the washing area. She explained step by step to make sure I knew what was going on. But even when she didn’t I kept asking what was happening because I was so curious? So this one is what ah? What about now? Now leh? This one different ah?

I think I may have almost been killed if I was a hostage and not a customer.

With the treatment still in my hair, I went back to my seat so that Xuan could seal the treatment into my hair with this Sonic Premium iron! It looks like a typical hot iron straightener – but it isn’t! It emits no heat, and all it does is vibrates and promotes penetration and sealing of the treatment into your hair. The iron turns blue when the process is being done – and when not in contact with your hair it remain to be in red.

The iron does not change your hairstyle in anyway and remains it at its original state before your treatment. The only difference is that it will be a lot silker and healthier as it will then be nourished by kerastese!

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It does feel like a straightening process after some time. Honestly you won’t be able to tell the difference while she’s doing it cause your hair will still be really wet. During the process I could feel that my hair was thinning out at the end because when Xuan pulled the iron back, I could feel the brittleness of the ends. I asked Xuan if my hair was really thin at the end – she flashed me a smile and said “Yes, very thin. Very weak”. #facepalm

She suggested that I chopped off my hair to make it healthier. But I just couldn’t! I wanted longer hair for my photos in Seoul. How how how! I’m not really the type who insists on longer hair and is actually more than happy to chop unhealthy bits off – but my photos look crappy with shoulder length hair at times! I told her I’ll hold on the major chopping until I’m back from Seoul. Xuan please don’t judge me!

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After the treatment was done, the salon gave me a 4 tube hair treatment set to bring home to maintain and prolong the treatment. We use this once a week as a conditioner – but this doesn’t mean we can only wash our hair once. We can wash our hair as often as we want but we just have to remember to use it once a week.

Extra tip though : The more often you wash your hair, the faster your treatment comes off!

Another extra tip : It is not recommended that you wash your hair every single day. I don’t. I think people with oily scalps will somehow feel the need to, but I read too that it’s your washing that promotes the oil production cause your scalp is used to it.

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After that, they gave us all a scalp tonic to prevent from hair fall and also an emulsion for our hair. The products were on sale the last time I asked. When the tonic was sprayed into my scalp it had a really cooling sensation. Aah, so nice. Like menthol in my head.

Finally – after about 45 minutes to 1 hour – it was hair drying time!

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Actually I couldn’t really tell by just observing how my hair looks if it has improved in condition. As you can see, my hairs were still quite stray and looked like it wasn’t silky. I had expected real silky and smooth end results visually. Xuan asked if there was a difference, I said we had to finish before we know!

Shortly after, she brought over the cup of water that was scooped out of the sink. It was quite disgusting to see, but also somewhat satisfying that all that goo is now washed away from your scalp. To see how it really looks like, check out my vlog about the whole experience at the end of this post!

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We were done and Xuan styled my hair and gave it soft curls at the end. Honestly, very very very few people know how to blow the correct curls for me. In this photo it looks a little flat, but it’s cause most my hair was falling behind my back. You have to watch the vlog!

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Thanks Xuan for being such a sweetheart throughout. 80% of the time she was just smiling pfft how to get that kind of talent. She smile I also smile at the end both of us smile but don’t know for what.

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My curls for the day (that wore through the whole day and half of the next day!)

VERDICT : True enough, I couldn’t really tell if there was a difference to my hair visually. BUT – touching it was a whole different level of surprise. My hair was originally coarse at the ends due to its dryness and running through my fingers through it wasn’t impossible but I’d have a knot or two somewhere. The upper half of my hair was fine – but it became so smooth after the treatment. The ends after the treatment were very light and bouncy (probably due to the curls) and I could easily run my fingers through them.

I test the health of my hair like this. I take a good bunch, poke my face with the ends of my hair and see if it is prickly. If it is prickly, it tell me how coarse and hard my hair is – that it can actually get annoying if done too long. I tried the same method after the treatment, and my hair end just glided and softly went across my face like nothing was ever there. It’s like having fine microfeather make up brushes across your cheeks rather than the ends of a broom. Basically, smooth like heck. It didn’t matter to me at that point of time if it looked healthy enough to my liking. It WAS so healthy.

Today, about two weeks down the road after the treatment and my Seoul vacation (which was btw an extremely dry city) – my hair is still really smooth although I washed it quite frequently. Every time I use the treatment it improves a little bit and brings me back to the original feel and touch. I wish I had 30 of them so I could feel the same everyday (if only I washed my hair everyday!). You probably won’t be able to tell by looking at it so maybe this may not be what you want to go for if you are only looking for visually silky hair. I’m sure Xuan can help advise on what’s best for you!

And that concludes my visit to the branch this time. Remember to watch my vlog to see how it really went!

That’s all for now!

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Hopefully we’ll be able to try other treatments next time!

Details of Number 76 @ Starhill Gallery

 

 Phone Number : +603 2141 6676 / 7076
 Email : contact@number76.com
 Working Hours : 10:00 – 22:00 (Daily)
 Address : S4, Pamper Floor, Starhill Gallery, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur.

How Many Social Media Platforms Do You Use?

Hello everybody.

So for the past few months I have been getting more and more involved with social media. I try to keep up with current social apps and try to register an account to see if I can use it. Honestly, if I had to make the ultimate choice – I would choose to not use anything. No smartphone, no data, no apps, no technology! Way before I knew how to work cellular datas or got the concept of it, I got an iPad. That was how I started downloading and getting to know apps.  Two years later, after refusing to get a smartphone – I somewhat ‘had’ to buy one because I was going to Beijing and it was the most ‘cost efficient’ way to stay in touch with my family (who all had already own a smartphone by then). I bought the iPhone a few months before I left, and even then – I fought till the end. I refused to get a data plan – and relied fully on Wifi. I was a strong believer of “No Internet, Better Life”. Honestly, I still am. But of course, internet got the better of me – and although I already knew what was coming, I succumbed to it.

Today, I look back and tried to do a list of the social media platforms I am using. They can be apps that I occasionally use to the ones I log in to on a daily basis. In total, I am considerably actively using TEN different social media platforms – and if I take away the messaging apps and take a look at how many different applications I use to update about my daily life – I’m actually using about 6!! I’ll try to rank them according to usage below while I’m at it!

1. Youtube (@guitarlegs)
2. KakaoTalk
3. Instagram (@thenatstory)
4. Facebook
5. Snapchat (@thenatstory)
6. Blog (thenatstory.com)
7. Twitter (@nataliechai)
8. Dayre (@nataliechai)
9. Whatsapp
10. Wechat

6 different social media platforms to update about your everyday life, is quite overwhelming if you think about it. Well, to be fair I don’t update daily – and most of the time i update once a week on average for each platform (Snapchat excluded). Do I really need to update on all of these channels? No. Do I want to update on all of these channels? Maybe, but not necessarily. Will I continue updating on all of these channels. Probably not.

However, I just really want to share my views on the usage of social media for me and the apps that I find really, really meaningful after awhile – that makes me want to continue using them to document my life. I’m just going to break it down below, and if you guys have other reasons to use the apps – please feel free to share with me!

Messaging Apps
My three go-to apps would definitely be KakaoTalk, Whatsapp and WeChat. I am a loyal user of KakaoTalk and no matter what you say, all the people I need to reach are on the app so there really isn’t a need for me to go to other apps. I still get on Whatsapp and Wechat for the different circles of people whom I may need to talk to. KakaoTalk is also better for me because of the Desktop Application. Chatting and sending files is entirely possible – and fast. It’s not a web-based chatting layout, but a real application that syncs with your mobile chats too.

Youtube

Honestly, if I had to choose ONE out of all the rest of the social media platforms to update on – I would DEFINITELY choose Youtube. I wish I had done this way back when I was studying in Seoul and Beijing. I began vlogging snippets of my week and uploading them into my channel since beginning of this year, and I must say it is SUCH a blessing to be able to look back and watch the highlights of your weeks. I have been watching different vloggers do their daily and weekly vlogs but one day I just woke up and thought – why not me? Maybe you can ask, why not just record and save it in your hard disk and just rewatch if that’s your main objective of vlogging. Well, its different. If it’s edited and put on such a huge public space like Youtube, it’s so much more accessible for me in future and I don’t need to keep all the unwanted footage because I’ve already done the filtering during the editing. I look at vloggers who have vlogged for 3-4 years and it’s amazing how they can just look back at the uploaded videos, simple click on any of it and be able to retract a memory from years ago, not only by story – but visually. I would encourage anyone to do it because it gives you a memory of a lifetime (or as long as Youtube lives!)

Instagram

INSTAGRAM

We all know it. We don’t need Instagram. But I do want to use it.

I don’t update much there because I feel like a crappy photo does not deserve to be put up on Instagram just because the standards set by other Instagrammers are so high!! My feed is not very pretty too, but I do try to make it as pretty as I can though I’m still in the quest of finding out how these people do it. Probably update it once a week on average. Unless I’m on a trip.

I would say Instagram is also quite a good app that summarizes all the main events for me in scrolls. Cause we all know the main events all earn a space somewhere in between those tiles. Pretty cool!

Snapchat 

This one was a HUGE surprise for me.

I downloaded it once on my Ipad because everybody seemed to be on it. I was SO frustrated that I didn’t get what was the app used for so I deleted it. We had to find out usernames of the people we wanted to follow, there was no Explore button for me to see who I could follow, people could only see my feed in within 24 hours, there was nobody on my feed (because I didn’t know who to add). It was a HORRIBLY boring application!

However, I got some really good tutorials from the people around me and gave it a second chance. I added more people into my list and FINALLY found the light to the app. It really IS such a brilliant app if you’d want to share glimpses and short meaningless moments of your everyday life. Things that don’t deserve to go up on Instagram? It all goes up here!! You can post 5 photos of things in the same event and nobody can complain or will find it annoying just because it takes up their feed. Do that on Instagram and you will be in the running to be the next person to be unfollowed!

And after an interesting day, I can just download the whole pile of short SnapChats for the day and have a copy of the day for myself. It’s like a vlog/diary in bite size! It’s almost the same reason why I chose to use Dayre instead of updating more on my real blog. Snapchat is a whole lot less effortless to document daily lifestyles!

Blog
For obvious reasons, the blog really is to document photos and also mainly where I use to share opinions and guides to things or places that I have been to or have experienced. I wish I had dedicated more time on writing on it because it really is such a good space for me to vent my thoughts on or just practice by writing. In nature, I feel alot more relaxed using text as a form of expression because it allows more time for train of thoughts. I would continue blogging for the same reasons as to why I would continue vlogging – but I must say vlogging is a lot easier and more convenient.

Will try not to give this up!

Twitter
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I used to tweet a lot more before I went to China but every since I had to stop using it because of the firewall issues in Beijing – I kind of drifted apart. I don’t really tweet now and I don’t make a special fuss to update much because it almost gives no value to my memories, just being bluntly honest. I can download an archive and look back, but that’s just going to be a hassle because this is not a place where I try to string my details for easy viewing. Most of the time its just crappy updates and mental notes I try to remind myself to do when I have no where else to write stuff.

Usually I just use Twitter to share my links to my other posts on other social media or to gather answers to questions I may need answered asap.

Dayre

DAYRE
Dayre is amazing for me only when I’m having an exciting day, or maybe when I’m on a holiday. It’s not really what I’d use on a daily basis especially if my days are usually by the routine. I use it most commonly when I’m away from routine and want to document or write things down on-the-go. I wish I saved all the information of the things I see on trips and vacation for my blog – but because it’s such a hassle, I just Dayre it and look back when I want.

Other than that, not much of a use except to kepoh on all the growth of all the mummy bloggers (because that’s where they all are, and I have a fascination for growing toddlers)

So that’s about the summary of my social media life. I feel like most of it I can definitely live without, but they are mainly things that I would want to use just so I can snoop on other people’s lives when I’m bored and just laying down on my couch. I kind of have a “Kepoh Slot of The Day” where I just scroll through all the applications I’m active on to just see what’s everybody doing. That usually happens at about 7.00 to 9.00PM when I am in the middle of waiting for my dinner to digest and procrastinating shower. That’s a fat two hours of busybody business.

Am I a social media hog? I HONESTLY don’t think so. I can really live without it, but it is a personal choice to stay on to document most things. Make the best out of technology for myself. Do I look forward to likes and comments? I’m not going to lie. It’s always nice to have people acknowledge the stuff you put out there – I can’t say those things don’t make me a little more thrilled. But honestly, I remind myself again and again not to be driven by those things and really just do this for nobody but yourself. Create content that makes you happy :)

How many do YOU use? And why?

That’s about it for now!

See you at all the other platforms if you’re there!

Todays World : Dating a Back-Up

Today’s blogpost is entirely based off an online video of an argument between a couple just today evening after dinner. And it got me thinking – what really is the reason and base of being in a relationship now? What does a relationship mean to people among us? I could be living a fairytale, but I believe in traditional relationships and that involves stages and a solid foundation to a relationship.

Over the past few years, I can’t help but notice that the norm of ‘dating’ right now is really like a test. Don’t get me wrong – I understand and fully acknowledge the fact that nobody knows who suits you best until both of you in the relationship has tried your best to work things out and manages to find it comfortable to accommodate to one another. What i’m saying is, why are there so many out there who gets on ‘relationships’  when they aren’t even sure who the person really is? Many then say “You never try, you’ll never know”. That, for them – permits the skipping of  the stage where you get to know each other and hang out more often than usual friends to see how things may work out. My problem with the whole norm now is that people jump on an ‘official relationship’ the moment they find each other attractive and then only chooses to think about compatibility after being together.

Call me old fashioned, but i don’t believe in relationships work like that. What happened to the innocence of love? Has that really never existed? For me, relationships start from being acquaintances > friends > closer friends > “grey area” > officially together! But it seems like everybody only sees the point in fast getting-to-know just by superficial standards and jumps from being acquaintances, and then probably a week of flirting, we see an update on Facebook or Instagram #mybae #loveforever #sweet in the next couple of days.

Do we not look deeper into character before doing that or is it really possible to go straight into a relationship by physical attraction? Honest question.

Im not saying it’s wrong or ridiculous, but I honestly don’t understand. How? Is it easier for people to jump from one another, just because we are so accustomed to the “replace if faulty” theory? There are so many fishes-in-the-sea theory? I think that’s a really bad quote for me anyway. Yes, plenty of fishes – but just one for you so why don’t you try to understand and evaluate before deciding on the right one? It’s not a marriage, true enough – but why not treat every single one as a potential to get there to start off with? If things don’t work out the way you wanted it to although you thought he was the one, yes – of course we would all have to move on. But why not start on the right track from the very beginning, ladies?

I know so many around me who don’t see eye to eye with me – but I find a need to stand for what I believe in, to share this message to whoever may be reading this. “Experienced lovers” will always say its good to try all kinds before settling for the one you know you like best. Just “so you can see the clearer picture“. I think the “clearer picture” can be just by getting to know each other! Nobody’s putting a gun to your head telling you what to do or to rush things. Be it months and years – if (s)he is not the one, you’ll know if you sincerely try to get to know the person over time. Sure, some people change (though some people often conveniently refers to it as “the revealing of true colours”) but take that off your head for a second and listen, observe and understand the person infront of you now. Is it really that difficult?

Don’t mistake for what I’m referring to as labels – because that’s a completely different story. So many of the people around us are together without a label. They are always just a person “i am seeing” or “going out with” but “no strings attached“, with an occasional proud smirk. Why are we so afraid to commit? If you are still REALLY in the getting-to-know stage, that’s perfectly line. But many use “no strings attach” just so they always have options despite having someone who is already so prominent in their life, as they are afraid they can always get someone “better”. Who else defines that “better” than yourself? There WILL always be someone better than the other if you look at things from a superficial level.

But why do you have to “look” for someone “better” and make the person infront of you a back-up plan in case things goes wrong. Look at the bigger picture. That bad guy is you. You are holding a good person back, because of your own selfishness of wanting something better, that hasn’t been presented to you yet. Just because you believe you can be worth “more”. Why pursue something that you can mentally put aside as a back up plan? The answer is already so simple : that person is not the one. And if you take that person just because other ‘choices’ don’t seem to appeal and you just want to be temporarily fulfilled as he’s the best for now. The bad guy – is still going to be you.

It’s always fun to have options – but I honestly don’t see the point in being in a relationship when your mentality is always going to be “Well, if this doesn’t work out there will always be another one“. I don’t want us ladies to be obsessed with anybody and to be possessive of whoever you may have, but give yourself a little bit of grace and treasure yourself a little more. Your value as a young woman, or just as a woman, your time and grace is never something that is worth less than others.

Think things through, don’t jump on men like you need them. You don’t need no man, just a stronger you. If you are able to value yourself as such, I feel like this will be able to make you see how much your future partner is able to be an extension of you – rather than someone that completes you, you are your own complete version and nobody can make you complete besides yourself. Prioritise your wellbeing first, and learn to love yourself before you love others

That’s all I have to say for now.

Mei by Fat Spoon

Hello hello!

This is going to be a random review in a long time. It’s probably not even a review – I just wanna share some things that we had at a recent outing with Vivien, Ginny and Joshua who is now working with Xiaomi in Beijing!! We tried Mei by Fat Spoon which is located in Desa Sri Hartamas. It was pretty tough to find with all the shoplots all so packed in one place. Ginny and I drove and made a few round before we finally found it. Right before you turn in to the shoplot areas, it’s at the first row and appears quite early on your left. The sign is also not too huge, but if you keep your eyes peeled for a white interior restaurant you’ll probably find it. It’s a corner lot!

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The interiors were really pretty cement and solid. It’s quite echo-y if you want to get a good chat over some good dinner. Most of the people who frequent the place are usually the more mature crowd from the urban society. We bumped into more than 5 friends there, no kidding. The owners are also running around themselves serving the customers, so you get pretty good service!

Ginny and I arrived first before the rest came. We sat around for about 30 minutes before we ordered anything – and they were pretty pleasant about it. That’s nice for such a packed place. Well, actually that’s nice for any place. I wouldn’t want to be hogging someone’s table for long. Especially if when we’re more than two!

Vivien came soon after being stuck in the traffic – and we just had Joshua left to start ordering! I already screen through the menu beforehand and it seems like they are more of a Japanese-Western fusion kind of place.

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DSC04613Hello there Joshua!

He sat down and was like “Woah, four of us use different phones”. Ginny uses a Blackberry, Vivien a Samsung/HTC, Joshua a Xiami and I an Apple. That’s kind of funny! Does any of you still uses a Blackberry? I kinda thought it died out but Ginny just recently bought a new one to replace her old one pfft. Loyal blueberry fan forever.

While waiting for our food, I walked around to take some photos of their counter tops and interior. They serve some onigiri’s and various types of cakes for you to nom over simple conversations. Pretty cool! They even have smoked duck onigiri. Super noms – just saw this after reviewing my photos.

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This was their waiting area. Love the minimalistic look.

 

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The girls. We used to call ourselves the Fishball Clan. I wonder if it still exists.

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I love pasta- so I had to try their Spaggheti Carbonara with Pork Bacon ! It was quite yummy.

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I suspect this was Vivien’s but I cant be too sure. This was the Torched Salmon Rice, if I’m not wrong.

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Also ordered a pot of tea that comes with two nice tea cups. Love it when we can share our tea. Any kind of tea!

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Okay, group selfie. It’s a pretty grainy photo – my bad. But the original quality wasn’t that good. Tried to brighten it up abit but it turned out super grainy. Wanted to re-edit it but I replaced the file in my computer. I guess this works.

So that was a brief overview of what happened in Fat Spoon. Overall, I felt like the place was quite cool and worth a try. I don’t know if we will come to one day, where we think “Man I want the carbonara by Fat Spoon” cause the taste wasn’t anything too astounding. But that being said, I feel like if I was already around the area and was looking for a place to eat – I would come back. I wished they tried to cut down on the echo of the place. Love how well lit the place is though. Lots of restaurants got to buck up with that.

So, till next time!

Backupophia – if that exists!

Hello all!

I am lost for abit – but trust me next month will be such a good month!! This month also probably got at least two updates so please come back soon. Maybe I try to do soon. It’s also about 2AM now – but i’m still up doing one of the most paranoid things ever. I’m backing up my Iphone photos. To another hard disk. And another. And another one. I now finally can go to sleep in an hour, after I finish having 3 exact same copies of photos in three different external hard disks.

I started developing this fear of losing my photos after I lost them once in a thumbdrive. Since then, I’ve learnt that I don’t mind paying more to be able to keep those photos forever. And one hard disk is just NOT going to do it. Two, sounds good. But three? That sounds like a pretty awesome plan. I’m not sure if they have a diagnosis for this –  backupophobia, or something.

So while waiting, I figured I should just blog while spending my time here in the living room. This week has been quite happening. As I’m typing this my body is pulsating from being tired, but I will fight through!! Spent quite a good amount of time running around One Utama yesterday trying to pick up stuff for an office warming party, and we stayed up pretty late (for me lah pfft) so me being me, my stamina just won’t make the cut for 14 hour outings – and I was quite burnt out by the time I was on the way home. I felt like my body was a pulsating machine pfft. I slept it all off until about 2PM today. So I woke up a happy girl, but less productive one. Well, I’m here compensating my day by giving it a few more extra hours and I’m throwing myself on the bed! Just turned on the aircond 10 minutes ago, so it should be good and chilly by the time I go in!

Forgot to take photos from the party last night – but vlogged quite abit. Hopefully you all menyokong vlogs vlogs saya, because I find documenting things that way are a whole lot more efficient. Just whip camera out – say some words, and tada!!

Okay, I’m just two minutes away from done. Please watch my vlog from last week for now – see you soon!!