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.

Gold Coast : Surfers Paradise (and the rest of Brisbane)

Finally I come to my last post for one of my favorite getaways in a long time!

We spent out last day in Gold Coast at the vicinity of Surfers Paradise before we got on the train home. Time passed super quickly and I was dreading the thought of going home. Everything about Gold Coast was great, except for the fact that residents seemed to be a little more racist than the friendly ones in Brisbane! Nevertheless, we still enjoyed being there while we were at it because the end of Gold Coast was marking the end of our Australia trip! We took a walk at the city in the morning and was all ready to get to the beach. We didn’t change into swimwears because the weather was half chilly and half warm – it was a vague borderline to decide if we would want to swim in the sea. Then again, I’m not a fan of walking into deep depths of water so I never brought any swimwear anyway.

We woke up to a moody Sze Ye – but Ginny still got all three of us to take photos in her onesies. The daughter of the owners of the house was delighted to see us wake up in the onesies so we were more than happy to prance around the house in them. She is four. For those who are questioning why were we in onesies – here’s a funny story.

We all brought our on PJs to wear during bedtime – but from the first night we realised that the homestay’s warm water had run out and it was FREEZING. The temperature in Gold Coast dropped to about 8 degrees (and worst, wind was strong) and because we had gotten back home late – the other people who stayed in the house had used up the quota for all the warm water! The heat storage was also getting cold cause of the sudden temperature drop. At the end we ended up having to shower in cold cold water. I think it was actually an acceptable temperature if the shower was taken in a Malaysian climate – but taking it in such a cold weather was horrible! I had my own PJs and although I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to put myself in a onesie (we were warned before the trip by Ginny) – oh my, were those onesies the saviour of the night! They were so warm and comfortable to sleep in, it was almost like they were an extra blanket.

The next morning I woke up to the high pitch squeals of the little girl because she was so excited to see little ‘animals’  the house. I was the last to wake up so when I did my final entrace she was so excited! Suddenly it felt like I was the star of the day pfft. Ginny wanted us to take some photos before we left (there probably wouldn’t be another day we would be caught in a onesie) so we did!

 

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Grumpy little Sze Ye from her horrible sleep the night before

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Our host family had a little dog at the backyard for us to play with. We wanted to put keep her in the house from the horrible cold the night before, but it wasn’t really our place to let animals in.

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Morphing into our real identities.

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After that, we cleaned up and headed straight for Surfer’s Paradise. Took the bus there – probably under 20 minutes.

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Tramway –  I have a thing for trams. Still amused by how its a train but also a bus at the same time.

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Arrived at Surfers Beach!

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Aaah – breath in breath out.  Clean beach clean sand.

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After that we got to get some good Austra…

Halfway typing that I realised I had a memory lapse and I don’t remember having any of the meals below. So we probably just went to have lunch somewhere nearby.

Oh wait, now I remember. We went to this place nearby that had really good value meal sets!

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Ginny had a prawn salad (just captioning as it is) but I remember it was quite good and prawns were fresh and chewy!

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I had a beef wrap. I think I remember it being a little dry but it didn’t matter – meat wraps in huge portions! Green light! Green light!

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 We didn’t spend too long in the city as we had to rush home

Ginny asked if the hosts would be able to give us a lift to the train station and they willingly said yes! I would definitely recommend staying in their house if you ever go to Gold Coast – best host and house ever. We made such good friends with their daughter (whom I have shamelessly forgotten what her name was) and the nearer we were to the station, she became more quiet and started to not say anything as we came close to saying goodbye. When we were at the station, she was so upset that we were leaving that she didn’t even want to get down the car to send us off.

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Sean was an amazing host!

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It was a fairly long ride so nobody was in our carriage for the first few stops

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And I was doing what I do best (yes I sleep with my eyes partly opened!)

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 Hungry hungry for food. We wanted big big portions so we decided that Asian was the way to go. Vietnamese it was.

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Hungry and sleepy Natalie always comes with smeared eyeliner.

After dinner we craved cheese so we had some nachos with cheese. We ordered the kids meal because it was the only simply dish with nachos and cheese. The rest had other toppings which costed a lot more.

(Okay honestly speaking, I don’t even know if this post is chronogically right – I’m just creating the story as we go pfft please forgive me girls)

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Satisfying the fatty aspects in us

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The next morning we decided to walk around the city as it was our last day in Brisbane! We went to places we’ve walked through the past days but it was our last day so we just wanted to use it to its fullest and go to corners of the city we haven’t been to before. We also went to the Farmers Market where they sell yum yum food and some other stuff you can use at home.

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At the end of our trip, Sze Ye was a pro Go Pro officer,

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At this point of the photo I realized I lost my scarf and i NEEDED to find it because I borrowed it from Omoni. So many things was going on my mind while taking the photo. “Did I wear it out today?” “How did it fall without me noticing” But of course, the photo comes first.

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It was a kids arts festival so there were so many activities going around

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We also went to the Farmers Market (honestly don’t remember before or after) and got a taste of some foreign bakeries.  I’ve always seen Benji from ItsJudysLife talk about Farmers Market and I remember thinking I wish I can get to see one of these. It’s kind of a like a wet market back home in KL but just a lot cleaner and organised?

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One was for about $5 – thats RM 15 for one little round doughnut. But I really wanted to eat it!

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 We sat down to finish our food like a local. Enjoying the Australian life (or pretending the live it)

After that we headed over to have a proper Australian brunch (what is brunch of not a proper Australian brunch!) because we never had any of those for the past week we were in Australia. But it was such a waste that we chose to go on this day because I was already half full from all the food at the Farmers Market. We had a lot of dough in our stomachs by the time we headed for brunch.

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Went to what was supposed to be one of the most famous brunch restaurants

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I was TOO full to finish brunch with a smile

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This was mine. Looks so small to me now that I’m blogging about it – but man it was huge for my appetite that day.

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L1000397Miss Ginny Yap giving her most layan smile that ever existed

We went back tired and prepare for the next early morning ride home. The next morning we woke at about 3AM to head out the bus station. Our van that was supposed to take us to the airport didn’t arrive till it was 20 past 5 so we were halfway panicking about if they were ever going to come. They did of course, and most of the passengers were Malaysians. We greeted each other by not greeting each other and just slept all the way to the airport.

And THAT marks the end of  my AUSTRALIAN trip!

Thanks Sze Ye for being such an amazing host, and would not have experienced Brisbane if ít wasn’t for you 😀

Gold Coast : Sea World – Being 1058′ ft High!

 

Good Morning!

It’s another new day in Gold Coast and we were headed for Sea World and the Q1 tower today. Took the bus as usual and while waiting for it to come we went on to a photo taking frenzy. That’s what happens when you travel with a group of girls 🙂

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We had the flare right behind us so we were experimenting on ways people do selfies. Heré’s the gun under the chin – but Sze Ye was too shy!

 

Arrived at the Q1 Tower quite quickly! (img cred : sunloverhols)

We paid for a whole day (two separate sessions). Tried using my student card but didn’t realize it had expired.  You could choose between the morning session or the evening session – depending on what you’d like to see. Prices don’t vary TOO much – and since we didn’t have anywhere to go for the evening we decided to just buy the packaged ticket so we could come back again after visiting Sea World. Came early in the morning because weather was clear and it was the best time to go up! We were sent up 77/78 floors high and I did NOT regret buying the tickets. It is admittedly one of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve seen from a tall building – you’ll see why in a bit!

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What is this!! My jaw literally dropped when I saw it – HOW CAN THE SEA BE SO CLEAN?!

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Trying to reenact my own expression

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So damn breathtaking!

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I took this photo through a glass – but weather was so damn clear and air was clean, this looks like I took it from an open balcony!

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The tower had WiFi for guests so we were all hogging onto it to post photos!

After spending about an hour here we headed straight to Sea World! Didn’t know what to expect but I think I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Mister Walrus to welcome us!

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There was also a place for us to look at penguins from down under (under water level) and also when they’re all resting above  at the bay.

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 I just captioned this as “Little Shark nyam nyam” – then I realised I never saw a shark out in the open like this pfft.

So anyway, little dolphin nyam nyam.

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The show!

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Got into the souvenir shops to get Sze Ye a hat because it was so hot!

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 Getting friendly with some starfish – we got to touch some gel like species that looked like a pot brush. Felt so weird.

 

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 Got in here so Ginny can register herself for her own diving activity. We both didn’t do it. For those who are interested, you probably have to sign up before walking in.

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 Flowers from Ginny’s camera. I think although I’m not so much of a flower person, I appreciate clean and white flower.

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Mr polar beat was up and getting his morning swim

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Spent a good 15 minutes just staring at it!

We left at about 5 probably, spent about 3-4 hours in the place. Wanted to grab a bite of the Fish and Chips and Sea World because it’s apparently really good – but we missed it! It was open when we first arrived . I guess its a heads up for those who wants to head thre.

A few hours after that, we headed back to the tower to catch the sunset!We were rushing – and it really felt like we barely made it! Phew. But yes we still got to walk around the platform for about 5 minutes before the sun started setting. There were alot more people during sunset than in the morning, and the worst part is everybody would be cluttered at one side of the 360 platform because that’s where the sun is setting!

I managed to grab a space (lost sight of the other two) so I took so many photos. It’s not the first time witnessing sunset, but looking at it from such a height and with such good view was pretty cool. I don’t need to do this again (my eyes hurt like beejeezuz staring right at it) but it was worth the money I suppose.

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The night skyline of Gold Coast T-T Rims of waves in gold – is that why its called Gold Coast?  Never ever saw such a beautiful sight-  not even the Shanghai Tower could beat this. Lights were just SO clear!

Right after that we got ourselves a platter to eat at the cafe (there’s no time limit – you hang as long as you want). One of the most filling platters I’ve had – I forgot how much this was, but I remember it was well worth the price in Aussie dollars. Perfect to share among 3 girls – or just with another person with a good appetite. Seafood was fresh and chips were filling enough incase the seafood wasn’t enough.

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And that wrapped the end of the day!

Hopefully I get to do a wrap up of the trip by the next post!

Gold Coast : Dream World

Finally headed to Gold Coast for some beach and sunshine. It was supposedly “winter” but weather was still alright as the sun during daytime was pretty strong. We headed for Gold Coast by the train, after stressful efforts to make 9 trips in within Brisbane with the public transport, so we get the GC trip free. Apparently if you make 9 trips and above with the transportation card, public transport is free for the rest of the week. We arrived on a weekend so that all those trips were made in vain. Quickly topped up trips in within Brisbane just for this trip because tickets to Gold Coast was a little higher.

Woke up early in the morning and rushed to the train station. Sze Ye forgot her transportation pass so she had to rush back (3 minutes walk away from the station). We missed the first train anyway so we had another 30 minutes more to burn in the station. Finally got onto one – and voila, there was WiFi. Time to upload some photos from the day before.

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Grabbin some extra sleep while waiting for the train

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Everyone with sleepy faces and me appreciating WiFi.

We booked a room from one of the houses in AirBnB – it was an extremely good stay as the hosts were very friendly and accommodating! It wasn’t tough to find their place at all with the help of some GPS. Our bus station was about 7 minutes walk away from the place so I must say it was quite convenient for us to make our way in and out of the area. Neighborhood was quiet but not dead – as neighbors were just taking walks and dogs were just outside the houses for us to walk by and pet. Cars were speeding quite a bit I must say – but nothing too dangerous.

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Just like how I would love it! This IS the Australia I had in mind.

When we finally found the place – we were SO happy because it was such a clean house. We were provided towels, for both face and body and had a chocolate bar to boot. Bear in mind the place was the residence of our host, and they are actually living in the house themselves. Parents with two young daughters and one or two more who already moved out. They left the keys to us and went out of the house before we arrived. I had a minor shock – these people were so trusting. I cant imagine that happening to a Malaysian household. Leaving the keys under the mat for a stronger to walk in.

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Super clean bedroom 🙂 We could walk around the house as we like, but we mostly stayed in

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Had our own TV too, which is also why we didn’t need to walk out much except for when we need to use the bathroom. Also, milk bread and fruits were free to consume in our private refrigerator. We really felt at home.

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The family had a pool that we could use too, but weather didn’t allow the luxury of that. It was not freezing, but a few degrees below appropriate level to swim pfft.

After settling down, we all decided to get to Movie World before the day after so we could have more time to loiter around the city. Took some time to finally decide if we wanted to go because it was already 12 or so in the afternoon, just a few hours before Movie World would be closing – and it takes about an hour or so to travel our way to the place. Sze Ye decided to stay, so Ginny and I went on our own – promising to meet in the city for dinner. Sze Ye also bought tickets but we all got annual passes so it didn’t matter if she didn’t go anyway.

 

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 Paparazzi shot by Ginny – if I didn’t mess the timeline of my photos wrong. On the way to Movie World.

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Here we are!

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 Just realized we were polka dot synced!

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Welcome to Movie World – and I found my childhood friend Mr.Piggy from Looney Tunes!

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Saw the studio and was jumping at heart because I thought we could walk in it to see how they did all the animation. Turned out it was closed 🙁

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Walked around for quite a bit and back to the centre of the the place, only to find the areas being blocked by barricades and throngs of people seemed to be sitting down and waiting for something to happen. We didn’t hear of anything so both of us didn’t know what to expect. Asked around and apparently there was a parade happening! We made it just on time before it started – what luck. Most of the characters were out in their own signature vehicles 🙂

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I love Warner Bros! Such chilhood – my heart was beating quite fast. I felt like a fan girl in a Kpop concert. But not so much after this whole thing because I attempted taking a photo with Bugs Bunny – who then (hopefully) accidentally boobed me. Meow.

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Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you! 😀

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 We tried taking a photo of the train right behind us – I guess this was good enough.

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We went on the Spooky Coaster, which was probably the Scooby Dooby Doo ride. Totally unexpected ride that was. The line was filled with kids and parents –  we were holding bags and cameras so we thought this was definitely a safe ride with all those lugs. We were wrong. It started of quite and innocent, just another merry-go-round kind of ride along animated dim litted caves. The ride came to a pause at one point and the kids infront of me was already screaming. We knew something was going to come, but didn’t know what to expect!

Ginny’s bag was half open in between her legs so she was praying that it’s nothing too drastic. Suddenly, VOOM! We were sped backwards at super speed and before we could digest what was happening (in between grabbing all our stuff in between our legs), it was this huge open space area of all the separates speeding down rails from afar. Our rides were quite steep and cornerings were quite sharp. Somewhere in between one of us shouted “I THOUGHT THIS WAS A KIDS RIDE!!!”. Guess not. Half the time we were just worried about Ginny’s gadget bag that was half open cause the zipper malfunctioned under pressure.

After the ride we spend a good 10 minutes just trying to fix it. Or just Ginny actually. I was just – recharging from all that Scooby Doo shock.

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” I’m sure I can fix this! Give me some time!”

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 Batman time! (There wasn’t much to see)

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 I think she is sad because we couldn’t get in the studio. Was extremely excited when we saw it.

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If you’re into some Merry Go Round

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Saw this when we went in but right before we left I just knew I had to take this! Ginny was not a roller coaster kind of person cause she’s afraid of heights. So I made the ultimate decision to take it alone, just a little bit before they closed! We had to wait about 30-45 minutes so Ginny waited for me outside alone in the cold. So touched! But I must say, good thing I went on it – because I would be regretting it up till today otherwise. It was an extremely speedy ride, you could barely remember anything that happened. It shoots right out of the cave, I had a little bit of a spoiler as I was sitting next to a dad who was on the ride for the third time or something with his kids. Got through the long lines actually because I was a solo rider .

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Look at that steep drop!

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One of the areas that seemed pretty abandoned.

Looked like one of the places they could use to shoot movies, nothing was going on here – don’t know what the space was for. Not many walked pass the area too – but it was pretty to take some photos. Pictures would have looked a little more attractive if I edited the colours and contrast a bit to give the place some justice, but that’s really a lot of work guys.

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 Saying goodbye to the theme park. Sky was getting dark, and we had to run to catch our bus to meet Sze Ye in time back in the city

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The two ladies recommended that Korean food in Aussie was one of the best outside Korea. So we attempted to get some of these slurps – pretty good decision on a cold night. Weather was getting chillier and chillier!

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Some good jjigae to warm my tummy. Costs alot more to eat this here than back home – but I have to say it’s all worth it!

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All full and happy 😀 But definitely getting tired.

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 That’s all for today – goodnight everybody 🙂

Two Koalas In A Row!

The title says it all. Two koalas in a row – and it all happened so quickly!

On our third and fourth day in Brisbane, Ginny and I went to Lone Pine that was only about 20 minutes away from Sze Ye’s house by ourselves because Plain Jane had her assignment to finish up. It is apparently the worlds Largest Koala Sanctuary – but the largest, didn’t turn out to be too huge – at all. We still had to wake up early, but it was worth it because I love going to zoos. There’s just something about watching animals sleep, interact and eat that makes the world seem like its moving at a slower pace.

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We were there really early – probably about 9.30! Ginny already had the schedules in her head so we were just going straight for the shows. I got an annual pass and Ginny got her visitors pass that was only valid per day. I remember we were both quite surprised to see that the management was actually quite lenient. Visitors could just walk in without getting their passes checked – it was almost as if we didn’t need to get tickets. Australians must be so honest, because if this was back home – I’m sure there would have been so many trespassers! But people, don’t take advantage of the system – the tickets only cost AUD 33 for daily passes, and AUD 65 for yearly passes with unlimited entries. Sze Ye says they aren’t usually that lenient,  so don’t push your luck. Oh by the way, Lone Pine has WiFi. Hallelujah!

There was a Sheep Dog Show at 10.30 so we walked around the park abit, looking for a washroom. Walked pass some birds that were being fed their first meals. Wasn’t a good place to start of my animal visiting day, the flutter that they make with their wings gives me goosebumps. They were beautiful birds though, here a sneak peek of how they look like. It’s a good thing we didn’t come close (although Ginny was slightly disappointed)  because they came to visit US in Gold Coast! Not these birds of course, but the same lorikeet species. Will elaborate more on that later.

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Just before the show we walked towards the barn and came across some darlings. It was probably the kids area as children were allowed to pet and play with guinea pigs, pat the little donkeys and just feel the animals. I loved the part where the little flurry sheeps were all around us waiting for people to feed. I couldn’t feed them cause I was eating my own breakfast so all I did was watch the little ones feed. So fun to see families bringing their little toddlers and allowing them to touch them animals. Love it!

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The little goats here were just munching off the hay in the cup and this little boy was so happy he chuckled so much! Heart melt alert guys.

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 And this little doll – she was just staring at the sheep trying to feed them and then stopping again to stare. Got stopped by a Chinese couple who brought their grandchildren there and they were trying to get to the barn but didn’t know how. They couldn’t speak English too so we tried giving them a hand. Brought my back a little to my times in Beijing – long time no speak. Not rusty, but just missing it a little.

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 Meh meh time! I never understand how sheep dogs are trained – but still very cool to watch.

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All chased into a small area – not very sure of the objective of this.

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The sheep dog, that is SO loyal and obedient it was almost scary. It’s eyes ONLY looked at the owner with such a longing pair of eyes. It was almost as if it was saying “Give me LOVE! Give me ATTENTION!” This went on for probably another 15 minutes as we were all trying to get photos with it and the sheeps.

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That. Is a real gangstah sheep guys. See the dog staring into the eyes of the owner again.

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With Ginny this time.But look at the dog’s eyes fixated at this owner again!

Later we went on to look for some koalas to see and hug! The eucalyptus leaf scent was so strong, its like we knew we were near! Most of the koalas were awake – to my surprise, probably a great thing we were there early. After seeing them awake, I think it’s safe to say I think they look alot more adorable asleep and curled into a huge grey furball. If you actually observe them abit more, they actually look like really huge version of bear and rats. If that makes sense.

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It’s this little baby’s birthday and her mum brought her here to celebrate her birthday.

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First photo with a koala – and a cute little one.

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Ginny’s version looks alot more gentle!

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Moved on to a bird show later – where they fed the eagles small rats and flew by our heads. Not very pleasant for people with bird-phobia like me.

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This was a really cute bird to come by. So soft and gentle looking – but definitely not gentle in nature. We weren’t allowed to pat it.

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No idea what was going on here.

By the time we finished everything it was already about 12 in the afternoon so we hurried to the kangaroo area. It was my first time seeing kangaroos so I was quite excited! Even more than seeing the koalas. Ginny gave me some tips on what not to do before we walked in so I was so prepared. I prepared with some kangaroo food, and Ginny had her Go Pro. Yeap, well geared.

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 Pedo-Nat on the move. Just eavesdrop and sat infront of these kids looking at them patting the joey.

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Nom nom nom

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Oh yeah. This was the bossiest kangaroo in the house.

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Finally found a small framed kangaroo with her baby. We spent quite a while with her because Ginny says they would be more hungry than the others.

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Spent about 4 hours here – and wanted to spend so much more time here. Forgot why we had to rush back.

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 Got back home right after and chilled until dinner. It was getting a little too cold and I didn’t want to touch the bed cause we were dirty from being outside so the couch was the only option. Check out my company of the day – the fans. Was also waiting for Sze Ye to finish writing her paper so that we could finally celebrate her freedom!

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 Portable pillows everywhere. After Sze Ye was done we went out to get some dinner. Ginny looked up this restaurant Habitat. It’s apparently new and served really good food with great service.

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 Took us awhile to get here. But indeed the food was good.  Food in Australia is quite pricey, and for us to eat in a nice made up restaurant like this – we expected a burn in the hole of our pockets, but this place served pretty affordable food  for Australian standards.

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 Some really tasty beef cheeks. Both Sze Ye and I ordered the same dish, but it was the most appealing and seemed like the best value out of everything else. No regrets!

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 Keep girls full and they shall not be nasty! After dinner, we walked around the city looking for some chocolate to warm our tummies. The weather was getting chillier by the day and when dark falls, it really does quite cold. I was also getting hungry so we all stopped by Max Berner Chocolate Bar that was around town. Wanted to get some more tandoori sandwiches but was trying to save the money. Spend SO much on money the past few days, almost 80% of my money was spent on food and the rest on entrance fees.

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 Looking at old photos I kind of miss my long hair. But I hate how unhealthy it felt.

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Max Brenner suckao and hug mug. Something I’ve heard and see for the first time. For those who haven’t had this before, you put all the little chocolates into that cup to be melted, then you add milk and make it your own little DIY hot chocolate. Pretty interesting!

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 Ginny had dark chocolate, and Sze Ye had the milk

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Walking around streets of Brisbane, was pretty quiet – but just the way I like them Australian streets.

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 One thing I loved about the trip was that it was Go Pro friendly. We didn’t need to always try to get someone to help us take great photos like this. The only challenge was that one person out of the three, that was usually not me, had to pretend like we were prepared to take a photo – but in reality has her mind fully concentrated on clicking on the shutter button on the ipad that was synced.

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Sze Ye is slowly becoming a pro at this.

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Scenary that night. It was breezy and quite cold – but nothing to complain about 🙂

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Went home to prepare for the next day as we headed to walk around the city to have lunch, then to the Brisbane Botanic Garden. I think I remember dreading waking up this day. The city itself was okay – it was a change from all the nature we were getting. Sometimes I wonder. As much as I appreciate being around nature, beaches and whatnot – I do find a sense of belonging in cities with buildings and bustling traffic. I never noticed this until I made a trip to Shanghai last year while studying in China. Getting to Shanghai from Beijing was a breath of fresh air, and going back to Beijing – made my realise how much I actually appreciate ‘real cities’. As much as I hate to admit, I think I really am some sort of dependant to the facilities of a city and high rise buildings. However, with that being said – I still think I can adapt absolutely fine in somewhere like Australia, that has the best of both worlds.

So anyway the next day, which was the fourth day at Brisbane –  we headed straight for ARIA. It is apparently an award winning restaurant that serves you a true fine dining experience. Ginny also mentioned that it’s owned by a Masterchef judge, so we can expect really good quality food!

 

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Plain Jane doing prayers before food

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Fresh tuna that came for me as I ordered the set. Analyzing my food before I dig in. Then I REALISED.

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I don’t eat raw food! So I gave this to Ginny, who kindly exchanged her tasty dish below

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 Scallops with tangerine to match! I remember liking this dish alot. Scallops were well done 🙂

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Anyone interested to visit this restaurant during this visit can find it at 1 Eagle St, Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia. We were pretty happy with our food (we had more than the above, but I didn’t have the photo uploaded) except for the fact that Ginny’s ice cream that costed probably RM 50 was very crystalized. Nobody actually came too check if everything was okay and if food was alright, only until when we went to collect our jackets at the counter upon exit. I must say service was good, but not up to what it sets itself up to be.

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Took the subway on this day. Pretty similar to what we have here in KL. How different can subways be anyway – if you know any please tell me 🙂

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They had a couple of shops we could find back home in KL, but best part about this place was FREE WIFI!

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One of the more peculiar buildings

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Walked pass this interesting corner of the city that marked flood levels. It must have been pretty bad. More than half of Ginny’s height!

Headed to the City Botanical Gardens after that. It was a very cold day, and it got even chillier by the hour. Good thing Ginny always carries an extra jacket in her brown bag (that fits EVERY thing) so Sze Ye got some good cover. The garden was pretty boring I must say. I didn’t know how to appreciate flowers enough to be excited about looking or smelling them. I did see some interesting plants, that looked like toilet brushes – should have taken a photo. Here are some photos from the walk.

 

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Funny chair we found. I wonder who walks by and goes “Okay, lets spend a few hours chilling on this chair”.

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Clearly not a photo taken by me. But I thought this was a cute photo of the little duck

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Fake bats that I really thought was real for a split second. Bats playing guitars – funny. Ngeh.

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Ducks being fed bread by two people – they offered us some to feed but we didn’t. Forgot why!

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While waking we decided to chill by the cafe abit. I knocked out in a few minutes.

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Super good photo in my opinion by Ginny! The colours are SO soothing!

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Pretty coloured flowers I must say. I imagined myself to be in a fairytale and put on on my ear. It fell off 5 seconds later. It was a sweet relationship and memory.

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This was Mount Coo-Tha, a very famous lookout point in Brisbane that overlooks the city. We were pretty lost in the huge garden at this point and just wanted to sit down somewhere for abit. Sze Ye and I was engaged in quite a conversation here I remember so we just sat down  while she tried braiding my hair. It was a good 5 minutes rest until our mamasan Ginny called for us to go explore and walk more. This whole place was HUGE. After some research, the internet tells me that the City Botanical Gardens is 52 hectores huge!

Heading home, we found a spot that was perfect to take photos. We spent a good 10 minutes just taking several photos. Girls being girls, we really take these things quite seriously and its most comfortable doing it when we all understand the importance of getting just ONE good shot. I took the first session, Sze Ye then thought it was quite cool so she popped in, then we put Ginny in as well cause she was always taking photos of us! See which do you like best?

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Natalie Chai photographed by Ginny Yap.

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Sze Ye photographed by Ginny Yap

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Ginny Yap photographed by Sze Ye

 

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Took a bus waiting selfie before we headed back home!

And that wrapped up our fourth day in Brisbane. Pretty laid  back trip I must say – minus the early waking up (yes I must stress this every time!)

Finally In Australia!

Note : Picture heavy post. Of my face. My friends’. And my face. Yeah. 

I’ve always thought about going to this place so many of my friends call their second home. Their photos all look absolutely beautiful, even of those that are casually sitting by the corner of a cafe. It’s a kind of atmosphere that’s so calming you don’t find easy to see here in KL. Maybe it’s a “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality, I don’t know. I have a couple of friends spread all over Australia, but this time we decided to visit Brisbane first. Sze Ye is located in Brisbane, and she was going to leave the place in a year (leaving no one else there) and it only made sense to visit places that we were going to ‘run out of friends’ first!

Ginny texted me about free air fares probably two to three months before but I didn’t want to decide on it so quickly. I always like to have a little bit of extra time to let the idea sink, then when I  decide that I want to go, I still need a bit more time to actually tell myself IM ACTUALLY GOING!

Had about another 2 months before we left for Gold Coast (there isn’t a direct flight to Brisbane) so that was a good sink-in time. You can tell that I’m not up for a lot of spontaneous opportunities and is quite rigid that way – but our friend Ginny here is usually very chill so she’s up for whatever. That’s why she let me set the date of whenever I felt most comfortable leaving!

We talked to Sze Ye (who was an absolute dearie, she sent me a long list of cost breakdowns and top few reasons of why I should go to Brisbane!). We decided to go right before winter comes because both Ginny and I ABSOLUTELY  resent cold weather – we’re just not made for it. And here we go, its a combined post for Day 1 and 2 so it may be abit long!

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That’s Ginny and her Care Bear. We were running a little late and I was very gancheong because Miss Ginny was very chilled eating her dinner when it was about 30 minutes to our boarding time! I always like to check in super early so it gives me a sense of relief so I was quite terrified pfft. We were very lucky however! A buggy that picked up an old woman offered us a ride down the long walkway towards the boarding area from the immigration check in. We zoomed to the departure lounge in no time!

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Ginny thinks I’m quite aunty for requesting the officer to tape my bag multiple times! What do you all think? It’s so safe and it gives you a sense of security, no? At least you know if somebody has tampered with your bag or slip it open to put in drugs pfft.

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Ginny almost prepared everything before we went so she booked Link Transfers to come get us. Service was really good, their schedules apparently follow your airplanes punctuality so you don’t have to worry about missing the bus. They sent us from Gold Coast to Brisbane – and some even had a door to door service, depending on where you stay at the area you were headed to. I think this costed us about 70 AUS.

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My first glimpse of the famous blue skies in Australia

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The van that came to fetch us was really huge, look at how high the top of the car was. 2 hour ride on this was definitely alot more comfortable than my ride on the plane. Did I mention that there were bawling kids – I could barely sleep.

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Just look at my mata sepet and pale face. Ginny did a great job curling into a ball and she could get some hours off the clock.

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We then arrived in Sze Ye’s place. She cooked some warm porridge for us and it was the best welcoming comfort food ever. Missing it already! We rested for abit and headed out in an hour or so.

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Taking the buses in Brissy for the first time. Pretty similiar to our transportation services here in KL I would say. Sze Ye looking very happy here as she brings us to  City Botanical Garden. My first park experience in Australia – was very very excited!

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Be prepared for alot of more of selfies!

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Happy girls on green green grass.

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Took this photo from somewhere – I think saturation is very high so the colour is quite off.

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Three of us – defined by our shoes.

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There was a perfect flare for us to take photos with. It was the first time Sze Ye knew about flares so she was very excited to take nice photos with it.

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Working in our Go Pro skills for the first time

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We found it especially useful. Tried to do a set of photos inspired by Fault In Our Stars then we just didn’t know why it didn’t look as dreamy. Ginny went home and told me the next day it is most probably because our hair was all right under our heads and not spread out like how the posters are. Lesson of the day : Hair makes a vast difference in the atmosphere of your photos.

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Later at night we headed over to San Churros to try out some famous chocolate and churros. Sze Ye was raving over how good their warm chocolate was so we ended up here. Ginny and I love churros (the same kind) so we were hoping that San Churros served it. Ended up being the kind of churros that they typically sell at churros places that tastes like fried flour. We love theme park churros and places should definitely offer it!

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Did not end up going gaga over the stuff there – but it was great to have at least tried it!

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Waiting for the bus in the cold is not the best and most enjoyable things to do – but its our first day, we are happy for all things.  We were heading to Eat Street Market for some yummy food! Sze Ye told us that it was going to a place with loads of food but I imagined it to be a food court. Turned out like a very clean market place that served food from all over the world. Food was extremely yummy but expensive if we kept converting. After the second day I just decided to stop converting. Since I wasn’t a shopper, I decided that my money should all go to the yummy food I’ll probably never get to eat in KL.

You can enter Eat Street Market (Remora Rd, Eagle Farm) by paying 2 AUS Dollars for entry and find the food of your liking! The was even a Malaysian store – but I did not get that of course. Some shops sell candles and whatnot, but 95% of the shops are food, food and FOOD!

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The calamari store’s line was SO long – we just had to try it although it was about AUD 10. That’s slightly more than RM 30 guys.

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The taste was worth the wait (but not the money).

Then again, we can’t just convert. That was the standard price for almost all kinds of food there.

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Yummy! Bought my huge sandwich for AUD 11 or so, with extra cheese. It was SO good. Love meat sandwiches.

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Ginny and Sze Ye were getting some cannolli. There was a store called Jake and Elle around the corner so we sat down at the table infront of it after getting some and started munching away on my food. After sitting for abit, Sze Ye kept mentioning about how the guy at the counter looked extremely familiar and she was pretty sure that she knew who he was. I was thinking maybe it’s just  someone from her university. Quite cute I would say.

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Suddenly when we almost finished, Sze Ye went “Oh my god. I think he’s the guy from the cooking show! Masterchef or something?. A lady who was sharing the table then commented and said he was from a famous TV show called My Kitchen Rules. Everybody on the table was doing a little fangirl moment (although I didn’t know what the show as about) because Ginny recalled shortly after. Here you can see Sze Ye googling about him to check if its who she really thinks it was. Voila – surprise surprise! It turned out to be her favorite contestants out of the whole series – how could she forget! Silly silly Jane.

After spending about two hours in the place we headed back home. Chose to take the ferry cause the walk was a little far (but not like ferry helped anyway). We missed the ferry and it left right when we were about 30 seconds away and could actually see it.

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Reviewing all the photos from the day. Ginny alone brought over 4 cameras (that’s insane!!) so we usually take extremely long to look at them photos!

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View from the ferry deck of the Brisbane city.

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And am wrapping up the photos from this day with a photo of Sze Ye playing with a kendama  I brought over to play with! She’s so good at it – getting the first cups in a few minutes. That joy we all share when we land our first cup.

The next day we woke up at 9AM (Brisbane is two hours ahead of KL time) and visited the Sze Ye’s uni, the University of Queensland that was a 15 minutes ride away from her home. She left for classes even earlier in the morning so it was Ginny and my first time on the bus without having Sze Ye prompt us on where to get down. It was quite worrying at first because the buses there didn’t have any prior announcements as to which station it was gonna be. Good thing we got it right, it was the last stop anyway.

It was exactly how I’d imagine the place to look like – but maybe that’s also slightly because we had previews of it’d look like. Sze Ye sent some photos before we went over and said “You guys will be here!” “This is how the place will look like!” “Are you guys excited to come HERE?”. #salesnumberone

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We found a spot to sit down. The grass wasn’t very green and it was honestly a little muddy. You can even see it in the photos. Sze Ye picked out a spot that didn’t have animal poo so we were sorted out. She also made some sandwiches and bought some cookies in advance for us to bring over in the morning. Extremely great host!

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Quite a  nice spot under the tree, and there was wifi! Out of all places in Brisbane, the oddest place to have wifi!

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The birds came to us in no time. They didn’t come initially then Ginny the animal ambassador started feeding one and the flock of birds came. I don’t like birds and fishes so this was quite a traumatic experience. What was worst – the bird shat on Ginny! Birdie birdie – you cannot shit on the person who gives you food! No! No!

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Hungry and greedy birds disturbing my peace of mind

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When the birds came I THREW everything in the bag and fled.  The mission was the save all the food!

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 Took this accidentally while vlogging actually.

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Hello there Mr Tortoise/Turtle.

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Couldn’t sit down for a good 10-15 minutes – but here’s my attempt in being friendly. I tried.

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I did.

And because we were all dressed PICNIC themed (I had to borrow stuff from Ginny because nothing I had was girly or picnic-y enough), we took loads of photos. Clearly not going to post all of them here, but just a few random ones. Not even going to pick the nicest out of the whole lot cause we really took so many. Not sure if I mentioned this above, but Ginny brought a grand total of FOUR cameras and I had one. That’s LOADS of photos. I don’t even know if anyone goes through all these texts, but incase you do – you know.

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Before heading back after the short and maybe sweet picnic, Sze Ye brought us around to take a little stroll around the campus.  The thing about uni campuses overseas – they’re exceptionally huge compared to the normal ones in KL. And even if we do think of one that has a HUGE space, it’s not as laid back and relaxing as these campuses is designed to be. It’s just a totally different feeling. Small things, big feelings.

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Took this photo because there were alot of insects flying around it but because Ginny was busy taking photos of it saying the flies look like fairies I tried to take a photo too. But we obviously fail to see them “fairies”

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Happy Stone!

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Walked pass and asked Ginny to take a photo of our shadows. And she goes “For what?!”

I don’t know either. I just wanted to.

So that wraps up our tour around University of Queensland

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Hair’s a party here but I cut it right after I went back to KL. Meanwhile, #bustimeselfie.

Didn’t do much on our second day because we had the rest of the activities planned out for other days due to geographical convenience purposes. Stayed in quite a bit, also because our host had an assignment to rush. She had a long nap after our picnic (can’t recall if Ginny and I did too) and woke up and went straight to her assignment. Ginny and I then left for dinner at the mall across the road, which turned out be to quite yummy. At least we both liked what we ordered. Photos below!

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It’s called Harajuku Gyozo and their gyoza – oh boy, that cheese bacon gyoza – had me salivating.

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My little bowl of noodles – I was SO hungry that day. Feel like I could recall the exact feeling. Good thing food was good.

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Didn’t bring my laptop or ipad so every night I come back and just catch up on what’s been happening on the other side of the world.

And THAT – wraps up two of our eight/nine trip to Brisbane! It was a pretty long post but because I took so many photos I just want to share the less of the most of it with you. I don’t usually practice the habit of uploading it in Facebook because I personally don’t browse other people’s albums so I feel like nobody’s going to see it. So I’m just going to share them here, and if you see it you see it. Sorry the photo colours are so inconsistent and I couldn’t edit them all to fit one theme. Remember they’re all from different cameras so if you’re wondering which camera took what – I can pretty much tell you I don’t remember.

Alright now – time to sign out before I hit the sack! On a side note, I kind of miss my long hair now that I’m editing the post.

Goodnight everybody.