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 😛 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 : 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.

How I Learnt New Languages Efficiently!

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Well, given that I’ve attempted learning Korean and Chinese (both written and spoken) and have somewhat managed to go through it without losing my hair, I’d like to think that I kind of have a grasp of what works and not when learning a new language. People come to me and ask if it’s tough, learning these language – it is. I’m not going to hide it – but it wasn’t so difficult that I was on the verge of giving up at any point. I’ll probably put up a vlog on this when I have time but for now let’s do a blog post!

Let’s get real – Chinese is one of the MOST difficult languages that we can ever imagine to have. And who in the world learns Korean just for fun? Nobody. I didn’t, but I’ll work on that later. I have decided to break down what worked for me  in points!

 

#1 : Learn to love the hardest part of the language – written form.

Korean : You would have thought it’s the weirdest language out there with squares and boxes, and it must be so hard learning to read all that stuff. The hook that got me to learning this was when I found out the language was alphabetical and in nowhere near Chinese where a stroke could change the whole meaning of the word. I got so enticed just realizing that fact – that I was on a roller coaster on memorizing the words over two days.

Chinese : All Chinese letters are pretty easy to write. You just have to remember the simple elements of fire, wood, animal, food, water. Anything that has to do with water (sea, ocean, pool) always has the water element next to the word. The supporting character for you to read it out and give it its own meaning would be another simple character.

 

#2 : You CAN’T stop at intermediate level. KEEP GOING.

Before you start, prepare mentally to survive till advanced level. This is an advice that has been given by SO MANY lecturers from Korea and Beijing – and I stay true to that.

Just because you can already read the words, and hold a simple conversation now – doesn’t mean you will remember how in a couple of years down. Your brain can only sustain information (especially when it comes to a foreign language that you may not use commonly) when you reach an advanced level where you do not need to thread words together before saying them. This makes it that when you stop using it as often as when you learnt the language, it just degrades to an intermediate level – but you will still be able to brush things up in no time when you are determined to get back to advanced level.

For those who stopped at intermediate level will probably see what I mean.

 

#3: Learn with New Media

I love songs and watching movies. I made it a point to polish pronunciation and listening skills by switching all entertainment to the language I was learning. When I was learning Korean, almost everything on my playlist was Korean. I watched Korean movies, dramas, sitcoms. I didn’t go through a day without listening to Korean. Same thing too when I was in Beijing.

I downloaded a music app that only played Chinese songs that had lyrics in Chinese and romanized words so I turned that on every morning when I was getting ready. Before going to bed, I just let the TV play so that I could watch dramas or them reading news. Even if this may not mean that I could understand everything, your brain is actually absorbing on the pronunciation and placement of grammar. It may even be something as simple as “News is brought to you by…” or “Coming up next..”. Your brain picks that up unknowingly because its on repeat – and it may not be a practical thing you will be able to use right away. But you will be surprised how fast your sleeping mind picks up compared to your conscious state.

 

#4 : Start translating early!

Yeap. Even as a newbie. 3-4 weeks into learning the language.

For those learning Korean, you’ve got the best choice of songs. Kpop songs usually don’t make sense and are CRAZY repetitive. Learn translating those songs line by line – download one of those dictionary apps on your phone. I personally recommend Daum Dictionary. For example, I’m just going to pick the simplest and most famous Korean song. Gangnam Style. You will realize that there are repetitions of the same word. Find out what they are and they probably are words that are very commonly used in the context of conversational language.

Romanised Version

Areumdawo / sarangseureowo /
Keurae neo /  hey / keurae / baro / neo /hey
Areumdawo / sarangseureowo /
Keurae / neo / hey / keurae /baro/ neo hey

Translated Version :

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end

Well, now you know Areumdawo is Beautiful. And Sarangseureowo is Loveable!

It is a proven method to work and get the words in your head.

Translate your favorite songs of the language even if its tough. Go through it over and over again. The feeling of understanding the song upon your own research is not an explainable feeling. It’s alot different than getting readily translated versions online. Doing this well enable you to identify the most common words and having translate c0untless of songs will remind you vocab by vocab each time they appear. You really only need 300 vocabs or so to be able to start speaking normally!

 

#5 Carry a D.I.Y Vocab book!

I wrote down words that I didn’t know but would like to know and went back to write it down. For example, after translating a song of choice – and I find that a word is used so ever so frequently I would write it down and separate it based on columns. It doesn’t have to be words you can use. Write down things that you find interesting, even if it is vulgar or too sexual. Yes I said it. There would be no context that you will be able to use it, but sometimes it’s these triggers that helps us remember grammar better because of its shock level.

Here’s a glimpse into my first DIY book. I have two of these over the span of time I was learning. But really, the first one already had me speaking quite comfortably!

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After jotting down random words, you can advance to writing down sentences that you learn or hear by the streets like this below.

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What you do with this book, is that it has to be SMALL SIZED and you would be able to bring this book EVERYWHERE you go, or at least to the toilet when you can. Take it out and test yourself page by page, slowly. You don’t have to memorize everything. But what I do is I try to memorize one page (that probably has like 10 words?) and i test myself at the end of it – by covering the translation of it in English. I do that again the next session – and slowly you start to remember. Don’t move on so quickly just because you feel like you’ve got it. Get back to it at random times just to see if you know the words still.

You’d be surprised at how much you’ve grown. Looking back at my D.I.Y book now, puzzles me how those words were like algebra.

 

#6 Learn it with at least one friend that you know prior to classes (who is as determined as you are!) 

This is important because of the beginning stage of the learning experience. Enrolling yourself into a class will still get you friends to talk to. But you may not be as comfortable texting or conversing in the language because you may still be quite distant from each other. However if you get a friend to come in with you, you start making silly mistakes and you may even be braver to ask questions on what you missed out and make fun of the people in the class or parts of the class.

Maybe you both found one of the words to sound very much like a very obscene word in your first language, that would be a good thing to laugh over – and also will be a good memory trigger 🙂 You will also end up growing with a friend and it just makes it more fun to be able to share secrets over a foreign language that nobody else knows. It’s almost like a special power.

 

#7 Be Brave To Make Mistakes! 

There is no more advice more previous than this.

Make your mistakes, with whatever you have. Use sign language – you will learn from this making mistakes and being corrected because it also triggers a shock factor into your mind and you WILL remember it because there is an instance that helps you. Everybody has student ego at some point, when you believe you have known enough for your own liking. It is at these times that it is best to test it out and be prepared to be corrected. I still am being corrected till this day and do not mind it one bit! You NEED grammar nazi’s to help you with this.

 

#8 Talk to yourself. Have an imaginary friend.

I’ve never told anybody this. But I had my imagination turned on ever so often when I was learning the languages. Before I slept, I imagined instances and I would speak out loud as part of being in a conversation. I was both A and B who was speaking to each other. I know it sounds kind of odd and not everybody can do this. But doing this more gave me confidence and realization that I could actually say the things I want to say. It can’t be scripted, I had to come up with my own impromptu responses. Nobody was there to judge me – and I was braved to use words that were at the back of my head!

I imagine marketplaces alot and quarreling with old nasty women. That was a way to fire up conversations.

Then I’d go to bed. Not long after, I started dreaming in the language I was learning. Always happens 🙂

How to Make Kimchi Soup

Hello.

Because I’m not in the video I figured I need to charge in by spamming the post first. #rachelberrysydrome

So I did an assignment for my project called Introduction to Film and TV Production. I got to say I wasn’t really happy with this final product because quality of video was so bad! I forgot to fix the settings but it looked fine on the preview screen in the cam. Also had light allowance problem because the camera was consistently blocking off and allowing light to be captured so my end product of the raw videos were quite inconsistent when it came to exposure. Technie noobs, I guess this is what you have to deal with in life pfft. That aside, we had to do a demonstration video so here’s what I made – Kimchi Soup.

Truthfully, I added alot more ingredients to it and instead of Kimchi Jjigae (jjigae is soup), I was actually making something called Budae Jjigae. However, I decided not to call it Budae Jjigae because I didn’t have the right recipe or appropriate soup base recipe to officialize it as Budae Jjigae. Hence, I am finalizing my kimchi jjigae but with a turbo boost of what Budae Jjigae usually has.

The video is not what I handed in, the one I had to turn in was a little bit more trickier because I wasn’t supposed to put subtitles or captions to explain my directions of how to make the soup. Unlike other straightforward How-To-Cook videos, mine has a little story that I forcefully injected in because that was one of the requirements. I didn’t have emotional touches on this one, I guess – but it was still a little tale to pull of as a story.

Got Abby and Francisca to argue for the beginning of my video. The took 15 minutes to find about a final topic to argue about because everything else just got each other laughing! Impatient director (holla!) was impatient.

So, here’s my way of cooking Kimchi Soup with a Turbo Boost of meat that serves 3-4 portions (that can make you feel really full, for sure!). It’s really easy so I hope you guys out there (Korean lovers, especially) try this recipe. There is a place that sells cheap and good Kimchi in Ampang especially for making kimchi jjigae so I always get my kimchi from there cause they are usually home-made by store owners or associates. Doesn’t take more that one hour actually but sometimes it gets a little long because I really want to slowly boil the taste out of the kimchi and everything else.


Please enjoy and do drop me emails/comments if you don’t understand any!

SEOUL : Hong Dae

If you want to be continuously surprised by a country, Seoul is the right place for you and here’s to find out why! These photos were taken in the span of a day in just one area of the kimchi city and I’ll elaborate why it’s worth a trip there if you’re not all about fashion is more about arts!

Yes, its not the end of my Seoul episode yet. I’ve just been too occupied with some other things. Nevertheless, I think most of the keywords that lead you to the blog is this so good for you too! This time is more of Hong Dae, one of the places that I like hanging around at. Believe it or not, I’m still not done going through all the small alleys. It’s always these alleys that contains treasures. Normally we would always wonder how does these little outlets survive with such a location, but these Koreans always make it. They always have their customers no matter how hidden the shop is. Maybe because their items are always unique from one another.

Seoul really is a place that has so much surprises in store for you. I wouldn’t say it would be the best place for keen shoppers who are always into fashion. Not that Seoul doesn’t have any, but personally I would say the attraction of this beautiful country are the little things that awaits you when you least expect it. It’s always a treasure hunt in this country that values arts and will always bring forward at least a portion of their traditions into the revamped places. My type of thing! For photographers who are looking for a quaint country to shoot it, Seoul should be just the right place!

(Update)

Just realised that I forgot give a column to Hong Dae in the Travelling Korea 101 tab so here’s a short intro. Hong Dae, short of Hong Ik University, is a place where most youths go to for clubbing and drinking. It’s like the clubbing streets of Seoul, a safe clubbing street. For those who are looking for a nightlife during your stay in Seoul, Hong Dae is the place for you. There you will be able to meet all kinds of youths, particularly college students as as ironic as it is, the clubbing street is actually named after a university that is located there.

You can take the green line, and its right next to Sinchon that I’m always rambling about. Then again, I would like to remind you that Sinchon is not exactly the best travel spot that you would want to go to. Hong Dae should be a better place. This is because Sinchon is more of a chill out place for the (unadventurous) people who actually stay in Korea to find the little happenings to be amusing. Hong Dae is more upbeat and into fashion and arts.

Anyways, here are some photos.


The funny thing about kimbab is that I really love it, especially the beef flavored ones. At this point, I can understand why some people are crazy about sushi. I can’t take sushi, and am still wondering why. I’m fine with eating the ingredients on its own, but when put together – the smell makes me nauseous. Back to kimbab, this shop that I went has the finest kimbab perfected with sesame oil and seeds.

The drinking culture is really the ‘in’ thing in Seoul. Hence, they have streets of what I would call “alcohol cafes” where people would just sit down and talk over bottles of alcohol.

The reason why I wouldn’t call them pubs because they aren’t the type of pubs we have in Malaysia where people really drink. I know that we do have some chill out pubs but here in Korea, its all fully furnished just for your comfort. They give you plushy comfortable cushions, prepared to sit you in the house from 5PM to 5AM. I can’t explain it in words, you would have to see it for yourself only to acknowledge this special trait before we start comparing it with the pubs in Malaysia.

Besides alcohol, there will always be another thing that has to come with it. It’s called ‘An Ju’. Basically it is a side order that people would normally have while drinking. It kind of means ‘accompaniment’ (not directly translated) to go with your drink. It can range from chicken wings to crackers. Crackers are the ‘in’ thing tho. The coloured ones.


This is my favorite karaoke line in Seoul with the rooms overlooking the streets of Hong Dae.

Unlike in Malaysia where we have the three dominating karaoke brands, they have random brands here and there. You just have to find out which is your favorite. Luxury has quite a few outlets (they have one in Sinchon too!) and it’s about the only one that I would go when I feel that I have some extra money to spare. It’s not really an expensive karaoke to be at, just a little pricier than the rest. The only thing is that, ice-cream is free flow and it is a concept karaoke with rooms of your preference. Most of it are cushioned so that you can get comfortable. Korean karaoke’s charge you per room per hour (regardless of pax) and they’d normally be about 15000 Won ($15/RM 30) per hour.


The walls of the karaoke. Creative…..or not?


You’ll never guess what this is.
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It’s apparently a beauty saloon!! Not a normal one of course, after some research I found out that they do sell some merchandises and provide service counselling in regards to beauty. See the extends that they would go to? See what I mean by ‘surprises waiting in store for you’?


Another norm : a hip chill out cafe.

These open air cafe’s really give you the privilege to just sit out and stare into space. They don’t really have a dominating coffee house (they have too many, TOO many) and most of the people would normally just go to these street ones as they are equally comfortable and hospitable. Korean service is always tip top 89.5% of the time.


One of the street arts


This is a lounge. I would believe that most foreigners would hang out here – apart from the foreign area looking at those flags but I can’t be too sure. I liked the name of the place so I took a photo of it. Like the setting?


We were walking down the streets when Dawn suddenly bursted into laughter. I turned and saw this. It’s a pizza house but its name was So Geli. Only Malaysians/Singaporeans would get this I guess. In our lingo it kind of means So Disgusting/Ticklish. What a name for a food shop!


This building caught my attention.

It’s called Sang Sang Ma Dang <상상마당>, litreally translated to “Imagination Field”.

I don’t really know how to explain what’s inside. It’s basically a building that stores the modern simplicities. Very artistic things they have in here, ranges from furnitures to stationaries. I’ll attach a few photos of the interiors for you to understand. Never failed to be amazed by these architectures and it’s interior!


Sang Sang Ma Dang #1


Sang Sang Ma Dang #2


Sang Sang Ma Dang #3

Get what I mean by how I can’t explain what’s inside? I didn’t go in during this trip which explains why I don’t have the original photos. The last time I went in I was very, very amused.


I’m going to have to ask you to guess what this is again. Simply because everything is so unexpected!
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It’s a cosmetics shop! Wouldn’t have guessed that right? I thought so too because when I first saw it (was actually standing RIGHT INFRONT of it) I thought it was a fashion outlet. The moment I stepped in I was a little surprised as they had very meticulously designed packaging for their cosmetics and they were all in really good quality! I didn’t buy any but it was worth the eye opening experience!


Crepes aren’t anything special but when I first saw them, it wasn’t as commercialised as it is now in KL. Seoul has the best crepes and waffles that I have ever had. I was in a waffle phase during my time there although I almost never ever like desserts at all. There’s this in credible waffle in Kang Nam that’s selling for above Rm 60/$20 for one which is said to be the ultimate best. I’ll promise myself to try that the next time I’m there!


This is one of the methods that are not very commonly used in KL although I found it to be pretty strategic. Well, I guess the culture in our country isn’t really ready for people to step over their products (despite it being in print) or either there are regulations that they have to abide to. Which is a shame, because I am always attracted to these floor ads. Then again, Koreans are quite responsible for their mess so they’re always bound to clear these ads up if the event’s over.


Finally a photo of me and Dawn! Here’s us taking a photo infront of the mascot of one of the chicken restaurants? Chicken is like a menu by itself in Korea. Here we would say, would you want some chicken and we would think of like Chicken Chop, Fried chicken mixed with braised vegetables and maybe KFC. But there, it’s one thing by itself and the number of retails that has chicken as their sole menu is…..incredible.


The Korean style of dimsum. A steam pot for dumplings, traditional Korean noodles and cold noodles. This was tucked in a small aisle so I found it to be very ancient. Gave me a comfortable feeling as I like to be at the presence of such flavor. Places like Malacca exerts the same vibe.


I know its quite er, out of place but pfft, i admire artworks like these too! I feel like one of the people who I always laugh at who stand infront of the Christmas trees in malls for a photo. 🙁 So mean, I know!!


Please don’t tell me this is very common because such buildings gives me hope in life. Frankly, such arts make me believe that people still have the freedom of expression is not afraid to believe in themselves. I know it doesn’t really relate directly – but I’m just saying that this is what such creativity brings me to. I can’t draw to save my life – you won’t even want to see my stick doodlings.


Going crazy doing this post because it makes me feel kind of disappointed that I have not come across such things in KL. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that we’re bad and that we don’t have such things – I just hope that I’d bump into them one day. Anyways, cute cellphone store – no?

Seoul : BBQ Buffet

Hello!

Yes guys, not finished with my Guide to Korea posts yet. They were supposed to be blog fillers but I need to make Jamie go to this place so here’s a guideline for you people who’re going to Seoul. Meat BBQ buffet for an average price of Rm 24 per person!

This is one of my favorite places to go in Seoul. I love eating, especially meat so this was truly heaven for me. I could spend 6 hours here just eating away and I wont be charged an extra cent.This time when I went, it was 8000 Won ($8) – not sure if they raised the price!

The last time I was there during my course it was only 6900 won ($6 .90)! I love this soooooooooooooooooooooooooo much that after 2 year I went back and met Cinaboy, we were suggesting where to eat and all – he looked at me and snickered “I KNOW YOU WANT THAT BBQ!!!” LOL – I’m quite the BBQ lover lol! This boy’s epic expressions have never changed since 2008!

There are alot of similiar places but since I was a Sinchon-girl, I only go to this. And those who know me should know best, when I find a restaurant that I like – i’ll only go to that one loyally!

So Sinchon is where it is at. For those who are unfamiliar with the place, don’t be confuse as there is another place by the name of 신천 (Sincheon). Both are in the green line but you can always recognise it by it’s station number OR you can just always remember it is next to Ehwa Womens University (이화대) and Hong Dae station (홍대역).

Take the exit that leads you to McDonalds. Walk straight, you will pass by shops like Adidas, The Face Shop, Paris Baguette. This street is called the SinChon Rotari. As you come by a t junction, just keep walking ahead until you catch T-World on your left (it should be on the other side of the road). To make things easier, the better known shop for you to spot is Starbucks. Go in the lane that is in between T-World and Starbucks.

You should come across another coffee shop. They key to this road is that you should just keep walking straight. There will be a couple of divisions from left to right but just go straight. The shop should be on your right!

Then you will start seeing alot of similiar BBQ places, but trust me –  the meat in the one I’m about to ask you to go to is the best! The one above is the shop. Look out of the yellow boxes on the second floor to recognize it.

As you arrive, you can sit down and start stuffing your belongings into a plastic bag that they provide you (to prevent your branded bags from being fried or smeared with oil). Mom’s face smiley-faced because it looks pale lol!

The ajumma (aunties for Korean) will help you put the foil on top of your bbq plate. It is recommendable that you poke holes in between by yourself so that the oil can drip into the hole. This will prevent your meat from getting burnt before being cooked. Don’t worry, it doesn’t fall directly into the fire. The ajumma’s will tell you not to because the taste of the meat would go with the oil – but why’d you wanna eat the oil? Lol

Pick your drink. You can have plain water (for free, of course!) if you want. The good thing about this particular store is that you can have soft drinks (all included). In some other stores, you’d have to pay extra. The only unlimited thing would just be meat. Blah, we don’t want that!

They always have some kimchi, mushrooms, korean pancakes, korean noodles and also white rice if you want! But for people like me, I only want to eat the meat yummeh! If you take the rice you’d feel full almost instantly!

The variety of sauces they provide you with. You have got to eat appetizer they have as it really builds up your taste buds. I really do think they contribute to making the meat taste better! I usually don’t take the sauces but I particularly one type that they have –  but you’d have to make it yourself there.

1) Take a small saucer from the shelves and pour some sesame oil into it. Then, put two pinches of salt into the saucer. Mix!

Dip your meat in it (especially samgyeopsals!!) and its heaven!

Some fresh homemade kimchi and seasoned crunchy radishes. I love their kimchi!

You have to take everything by yourself. The scissors to the plates. The only reason why the waitresses are there is to sit you down, change your foil every once in a while, serve you some soju (with extra charge of course), and collect your money! Fully D.I.Y!

The variety of meat they have. Looks a little unappetizing here because they’re still all raw. They have almost everything, from chicken to beef to pork. Forgot if they had lamb though? My favorite is the samgyeopsal (삼겹살).

Remember to carry some vege with you too! Super delicious to be wrapped with the meat!

Here’s Sam choosing some meat for herself!

Everytime I  come, I’ll be here for about 3 hours. I think that equates to about maybe 7-8 rounds of plates of meat of all kinds. I always leave with a stomach too full. Always a hard time to get home!

Now, now – here’s who I came with. Dawn, Sam and the mom.

For those who don’t really like going to these BBQ restaurants because they make you smell bad from all the smoke, this partciular shop provides you the fabric freshener to make you smell good right before you leave!

Uncle Jang Dalg Gal Bi, Ampang

(Note: The restaurant’s business has grown and they are branching out to new outlets in different areas. They have also changed their nameplate to “Uncle Jang” and it is no longer of the attached photo below! Will update as soon as I can to ease your j0urney!)

Stuck in a decision of whether to go to Korea for its local delicacies or to visit Malaysia for its rich heritage?

Fret not, as this time you can have both decisions in your pocket as I’m about to tell you where you can get some good Korean yummy’s right here in Malaysia so you don’t have to confuse yourself!

For local Malaysians, if you are tired of all the bibimbap’s and barbeques and think that’s all that to Korean delicacies, prepare to be introduced to a whole new type of the super wide umbrella of Korean food. Here, I have my favorite Korean restaurant that I go to in KL and no, they do not serve your typical kimchi soup or beef bulgogi. I have only visited 2 Korean restaurants loyally in KL – one is because the food is really good (this), and the other because the food was really cheap.

The restaurant is run by a family of pure Koreans and with that you can guarantee your food will definitely be of the authentic roots of the culture. Their ingredients are also imported from Korea so you need not worry about how the local the dish may turn out!


From the MRR2, you’d have to go the road opposite Tesco and turn in into where the yellow apartments are. The turning is almost right opposite the Shell petrol station in MRR2.


You’ll see this upon turning.


A little after this, go straight and you’ll come across a traffic light that has Carrefour’s market on the left. Make a left U-turn and go straight up till the end. The restaurant will be on your right and it looks like this.


*SHINING SHINING*

(The reason why this photo is a night shot is because it was another day)


The clean restaurant with both floor and tables seats for your choice.


Step 1: Choose your choice of dish from the menu

Now, now – before you start worrying about not being able to interpret the menu at first sight, most of the time there will be English literate individuals to help you. But, in any case there isn’t – just read through this and you’ll be save for the day

First, you have to decide if you want to have a spicy or non-spicy dish. Non spicy is RM 19 per t portion, where as spicy is RM 22 per portion. For hot eaters – specially request for REALLY HOT – you’d go home feeling like a volcano teehee.

Second, decide how many portions you want. Normally 1 portion is for each pax but as my family members are usually quite small eaters – we don’t normally order 4 portions for 4. Maybe you’d like to order 3 just incase you can’t finish. Well, for those who are thinking to only add portions after your meal – think again as you will need to have a minimum of 2 paxes for each additional portion order. But if you think you will be able to finish – go for it!

Third, choose your Sa-Ri’s to compliment the basics that are already in the menu (cabbages, sweet potato, rice cakes, chicken), you should decide on what you’d like to add on to your meal. The rice is for the second phase of the meal (to be explained later) so you can either choose to have Ramen or Udong as your accompaniment. Mushroom, Sweet potato and rice cakes can also be added for an extra charge.


Step 2: Enjoy the free refreshments that are provided by all Korean restaurants.

Now you don’t have to worry about having to order drinks!


Step 3: Wait patiently to be served

Step 4: Enjoy having your food cooked right infront of you!


Slowly coming together


Food is ready to be eaten. The waiter/waitress will notify you when it’s done so don’t worry about having to guess when to eat it!


Step 5 : Always remember to accompany the dish with these to enhance the taste of the food!


Step 6 : Choose the biggest lettuce available if you are clumsy to avoid dropping the ingredients after wrapping

If you still feel a little hungry after your meal, dont worry! If I were you, I’d be more afraid to NOT be hungry because I always want to have that last combo of the whole set – fried rice!

For only RM 6 per portion, you get to have some fried rice (that is only to be served AFTER you finish about 80% your initial order). It’s not your typical anchovies fried rice. If you observe closely, it has lettuces, seaweed slices and most importantly – every Korean restaurant’s secret weapon – the special red sauce!

For OCDs, don’t worry about the pan being dirty or the sauce from the previous dish would remain at the pan when they fry your rice! Before every fried rice serving, they gladly clean your pan for you (includes scraping) so that you’d have a fresh scent of the rice!


Step 7:  Order your rice

Personally I’d advice you to just order 1 portion for 2 person because the portion is quite big. But indeed, if you’re quite a big eater – 2 for 2 is adequate!


Done! You can also wrap the rice in lettuce. No worries if you ran out of lettuce. Koreans are very generous so just lift your hands a little and ask for another plate – no charge! See why I love it here?


Here’s a map for your guidance!


And the address

 

[Seoul] : White Cafe

I have no idea what this cafe was called but it definitely was just one of the random cafe’s we walked into in Seoul. Basically 70% of the cafes are nicely themed as most of the students usually chill in these places to study for an upcoming exam or to chit chat. It’s very important to have a really comfortable setting in your cafe as these people usually sit in for hours.

I loved the cafe’s in Seoul when I was still studying there, simply because it’s usually very peaceful – like some study cafes you might see in KL. Basically, it’s like all their cafe’s are study cafes!

This particular one that I walked into was completely white washed and the amount of white in the place was almost blinding. It’s like you just walked into an area of fresh snow – if only they had fluorescent lights it would be completely white. Good thing they had installed yellow lights to lessen the eye pain – although just by a little bit.


Upon walking in

ITZ SO WAIT IM GONNA DAI!!

Couples usually like to snuggle up with the curtain draped down.


Overlook of the private rooms

White cream cakes

We ordered this to share, some really good drink pfft.

The best thing was that we get a slice of cake totally free if we purchase a cup of anything.


Not to mention, it wasn’t just the low cost pandan sponge cakes. We could choose from a wide range of quality cakes – but we chose tiramisu, which was perfectto considering the fact that I’m not a fan of confectioneries.

Spying on me drooling over the phone

That’s me idolozing Dawn’s phone. I love long lean flip phones. LOVE!

Good function! Directly mirrored self cam convenience!

Lollipop I’m gonna getchu.

S.E.O.U.L

Hello.

These photos are long overdue but I had no time to filter them so here are another set of photos from my 17-18 day trip! These are random shots from different days I suppose, I’ll caption them as I go along. So long since I posted many many interesting photos anyway, right? So here are some for you while I get busy with an upcoming event and some assignments. Finally found time to post these up!


Self service lat laundry convenient store. Takes only an hour inclusive of drying. Cost me about RM 15 for one session! :'(


A cup of noodles while I wait for my laundry to be done. It was a long vacation so I didn’t bring different sets of clothes for each day. I washed them every 5-6 days and it was pure fun! Love the drying machine – hope we had one of that at home!


This is Myeong Dong for sure. Thats the mom with the moving deco for a ramen shop! It goes up and down! Very cute I only wished I had recorded it.


Streets of Myeong Dong. For those who have been curious as to what does the ‘normal’ Korean look like, here you go!


Ever so popular ice cream vendor. There are about 10-15 of these shops here but this one always has long queues.


It was the World Cup season and Adidas had an event where you queue to open up lockers in this room and get to win something. If you’re lucky you get their jerseys and if not, just two small keychains. Look at the queue!


Toldcha it was the World Cup season


Here’s one thing interesting about Seoul. There are always these enthusiastic ‘usherers’ infront of the cosmetic shops. They always lure you in with a doorgift (yes! every single person who walks in) and when I used to be in Seoul and was short of cotton wools, I’d just pretend to talk in then I’d get 3 weeks worth of cotton wools TEEHEE.


Well, I DID mention that these ‘usherers’ were ENTHUSIASTIC. Sometimes I have to pull really hard to make them let go of my wrist!


Krispy Kreme in Seoul is just love! Always glazed evenly with sweetness of the right level on goldem brown doughnuts. Perfection.


I spent an hour (while waiting for a friend) infront of the glass just watching them do their work. So hygienic and systematic.


Look at the glazing process!


Was having a break in K.K. Super eyebags at that time teehee


..so I took some shots of the vendors. Here’s one of the ‘kedai runcits’ teehee.


We watched this man do his thing from above and was so tempted to try so we bought teehee. It’s fried glass noodles (japchae) wrapped in fried flour(?). Not as nice as we imagined it to be tho.


One of the unique displays for a soap outlet.


Here is the shop


Streets of Myeong Dong so filled with people.


Grandpas in Seoul are always so chic! Reminds me of the 70s.

Norm in Seoul. They always sit FAAAAAAAAR apart pfft.


Tired and exhausted from all the walking.

Do you see the ahpeks behind? They are people you want to stay away from most of the time because they’re normally drunk and always talk nonsense. I was so afraid of them the first few weeks I was there (when I was still studying in Seoul) but later I just got used to them pfft. They won’t harm you, but just keep nagging or talking to you especially if you’re alone.


Descending from the train. One of the photos I took especially for Abigail. 2AM as the public commuter’s ambassadors.

Seoul : Kang Nam 강남

The Kangnam district is like the Beverly Hills of Seoul. You can expect to see high end fashion, branded cars to pets with Burberry shoes in this place. It is separated into alot of sections, the better known ones are Cheong Dam Dong (청담동), Sin Sa (신사) and Apgujeong (압구정). You can get to KangNam with mainly the Green or Orange line, depending on which area you want to get yourself to.

If you’re looking to shop in malls, make sure to stop by the Galleria mall. One of the most elegant exteriors of malls, I might say. It doesn’t look so extravaganza in photos but it really is quite a sight.

The different views of the fish scaled exterior at night.

This is what it looks like in the day. Credits as watermarked.

As most of the things in Kangnam are understood to be more expensive, people simply categorize or look at you a different way if you reside there. Nothing special to me though, not as adventurous as the usual townspots that I have mentioned in this episode of the Kimchi city. For those who are looking to bump into your Korean artist, you can try bumping around the area because most of the major agencies are located here and are spreaded all over. It is really quite easy to spot a celebrity – they travel in Starcrafts cars. Alot of shooting happens there to, so if you wanna try your luck!

Brought the Mom to Kangnam for a little walk before we headed for the Namsam Tower (which explains the same outfit). We wanted to go economical so we decided to walk, only to find out that the weather was strongly against our decision. Could barely sightsee around much so we settled for a drink and decided to leave the place since there wasn’t anything much anyways. There is a section opposite the Galleria mall with nice mini boutiques but we weren’t settled for any shopping so off we went. Took about an hour to walk to the nearest subway station because it was so hot and there were slopes every single where!

Sigh, let’s not remind ourselves about the ridiculous amount of slopes and stairs in Seoul! Now you know how they get them slim legs. Killer heels, walking 24/7, slopes, stairs – all the unintentional exercise you need! So now you know its not the surgery or injections. The average Korean girl just simply walks alot and deserves her skinny legs pfft.

Okay, less of the nonsense and some photos to describe my short turnaround in Kangnam with the Mam.


Sat down for a drink because of the hot weather! Literally sweating drips by just sitting down!


Looking deceivingly skinny here.


The mother

The cafe opposite our chillax


One of the coffee shops in Kangnam. There are alot of quaint stores here around in Seoul. Very nice to look around.


King Kong Joe up on the building


One of the giant toy builds on top of another.


Striking yellow looks yummy in this car.


The subways tagline that describes its comfort : “Now, Seoul Metro’s rival is a mother’s hug”
Sounds a little weird in English but very smart in Korean description


Dawn and I with Shrek in Myeong-Dong. Not supposed to be in the Kangnam post but…tadah!