Sunday, June 11, 2017

Goodbye, Great Granny

A picture with my great granny 2 years ago, during CNY. She left us in April, having lived to a ripe old age of 103 with 5 generations under her care. Great granny was very fortunate as all her 8 children were there to send her off on her final journey. Today is the 49th day since her passing and I'll definitely miss her but I'm glad that she can finally be reunited with her husband in the other world. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018

30 years after hosting the summer Olympics in 1988, South Korea will once again play host to Pyeongchang Winter Olympics which will take place from 9-25 February 2018. I was lucky to be selected as part of the Pyeongchang Olympics Supporters team, hence I was gifted with these official merchandise from KTO Singapore.  Thank you for the love! 
The Official Emblem
The official emblem draws inspiration from Hangul, with the shapes that form the logo stemming from the first consonants from each syllable in the word "Pyeongchang" when written in Hangul. The symbol ㅍ expresses the harmony of Heaven, Earth and Man. The 2nd character  signifies ice and snow and also symbolic of the athletes' performances. In short, the official emblem symbolises a "grand gathering of people from all over the world in celebration of Olympic winter sports, which is taking place in the harmonious land of Pyeongchang". 

Unveiling The Mascot
Soohorang, a white tiger which served as a guardian for its people, is the official mascot of the Olympics games. In traditional Korean folk tales, the tiger is often seen as a symbol of trust, strength and protection. Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear which is symbolic of strong will and courage, is the official mascot for the Winter Paralympics games. Their names are symbolic too; let's break it down further:

"Sooho" : the Korean word for "protection". To protect the athletes, spectators and all participants of the Olympics games.
"Rang" : derives from the Korean word "ho-rang-i", which means tiger. It also appears in "Jeongseon Arirang", the traditional folk music of Gangwon Province, where Pyeongchang the host city is located. 
"Banda" : comes from "bandal" meaning half-moon, indicating the white crescent on the chest of the bear.
"Bi" : to celebrate the Games.

*image courtesy of google
Interestingly, the tiger is also used in the 1988 Seoul Games. "Hodori" was an orange Amur tiger, portraying the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Korean people. "Dori" is a diminutive for "boys" hence Hodori is a male tiger. The female version was known as "Hosuni", even though she was seldom used. 
Fun fact: If you have watched Reply 1988 (strongly recommended! I super love this series man, esp with Park Bo Gum!), you would have caught snippets of the Olympics games on the drama. 

The Official Slogan
Under the official slogan "Passion. Connected", the game aims to bring together the athletes and game participants across 95 countries and gather in Pyeongchang, a place where everyone is connected with shared passion for the winter sports. 

You can purchases these merchandises from the official Pyeongchang 2018 stores in Seoul. The first store opened to public in last Friday at Lotte Myeongdong branch. Two more official stores will open next month at Lotte's department store and duty-free shop in Seoul. Currently, there are over 300 items available but the number of products will reach 2000 by October. So be sure to grab an item or more when you are in the vicinity! 
Lotte Department Store, Myeongdong Main Branch (9th Floor)
Address: 30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul

Lotte Department Store, Avenuel Branch (B1F)
Address: 81, Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cycling at Yeouido Hangang Park

I spent the weekend catching up on my fave K-variety shows and I watched the Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 special on Infinite Challenge, with my eye-candy Park Bo Gum as the special guest (*.*) Having hosted the summer Olympics in 1988, South Korea will now host the Winter Olympics in 2018. In this special, they challenged winter sports such as bobsleigh, ice hockey and curling with the national Olympic team members. For those who have missed it, you could catch the specials on Viu (ep. 524 to 526) and witness the effects of "Bo-Gum" magic. I will be focusing more on Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 in future posts too. 
Now that the harsh and freezing winter has subsided and the weather has turned warmer, there is an increase in outdoor activities for friends and families prefer to spend their time outdoors after being in the cold for so long. Yeouido Hangang Park would be one of the top choices, for there is a wide range of activities to do in the park. We exited from Yeouinaru Station (Line 5, exit #3) and were greeted with this sight! 
It was a beautiful day and I'm glad we came out for this trip instead of spending our time indoors. During cherry blossom season, this place will be packed with people, who will set up "camp" on the open spaces with families and friends, bonding over drinks and food while enjoying the scenery. This park also plays host to the fireworks festival during fall. If you had watched "Legend of the Blue Sea", you would be familiar with the scene where Joon Jae and Shim Chung witnessed the fireworks display in this park. 
The main agenda for today's trip: renting a bicycle and exercise our butts, ha! There are plenty of bicycle kiosks scattered around the park. It was easy to rent the bikes even if you don't understand Korean: you just need to indicate the number of hours, how many bikes and surrender a photo ID as deposit. Also, try to use your driving license or student pass instead of passport just to be safe.

Min rental: 1h
Single/Child: 3000KRW/hr, 500KRW for every 15 min
Tandem/Advanced: 6000KRW/hr, 1000KRW for every 15 min
We selected our bikes which came with baskets so we can dump our stuff and ride with ease. 
Leecher testing out his bike and he looked like he's having fun!
We cycled for awhile; peddling furiously up the slope while cruising down slope. At this point, I was starting to curse under my breath for choosing this route. Well, we didn't exactly chose this but we just followed where the majority of the cyclists were heading, ha! I was beginning to feel the strain in my leg muscles, so we decided to stop for a quick break. Thankfully the weather was superb so I wasn't feeling sweaty even though I had a great workout. With Hangang Railway bridge as our backdrop, we took a couple of pictures before embarking on our return journey. 
That's the fun part, to feel the breeze in your hair after the intense workout of peddling up slope. 
Yeouido Hangang Park
Address: 8 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02-3780-0561
Directions: Yeouinaru Station (Line 5, exit #3)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Melbourne Travelogue 09: Loch Ard Gorge + London Arch + The Grotto + The Arch + Bay of Martyrs

Continuing on our journey on the GO drive, which triggered my wanderlust again (what's new whenever I reminisce about our holidays). Majority of the people who embarked on the GO drive would normally end the journey at 12 Apostles. However, we decided to venture further and drove along the coastline to visit the surrounding attractions. While these formations may not be as famous as 12 Apostles, I think they are worth visiting too. 
After leaving 12 Apostles, we drove for a short distance and reached Loch Ard George. The gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard; the ship was bound for Melbourne from England but was wrecked at Muttonbird Island and only 2 survivors were found. 
The arch of the nearby island archway collapsed in Jun 2009. The feature now appears as two unconnected rock pillars and are named Tom and Eva, after the two teenage survivors of the shipwreck. 
There are stairs which allowed visitors access to the beach and a pathway allowed access to the eastern side of the gorge. Unlike the 12 Apostles which was crowded with tourists, it was very peaceful at the gorge with just a handful of visitors here. We sat at the beach and listened to the waves crushing against the structures - it really relaxes the mind! 
Loch Ard Gorge
Great Ocean Rd, Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
We moved onto London Arch, formerly known as London Bridge. Before 1990, this was literally a bridge that connected the arch of land to the mainland. However, a part of the bridge collapsed into the ocean in 1990, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer span and had to be rescued by helicopter. 
Impossible to get a decent picture without hair flying all over! Leecher had to pretend to put his hands around me, while in reality he was trying to "clamp" down my hair from flying all over his face. 
London Arch 
Great Ocean Rd, Peterborough VIC 3270, Australia
The stairway leading down to the next attraction.
The Grotto is essentially a sinkhole, where the limestone cliffs fall apart to meet the receding cliff line. The geological formation is reachable via the flight of stairs that leads down from the viewing platform at the top. We headed down to explore it at eye-level, which supposedly offers the best view where you can see the horizon, the pools and the jutting rock formations in one go. 
The Grotto
LOT 2 Great Ocean Rd, Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
The Arch, another rock formation formed through erosion along the GO drive. It was sure therapeutic to watch the waves crashing through the opening and cascading out of the other side. It almost formed a lullaby that lured us to sleep, with the constant breeze circling around us. 
The Arch
Great Ocean Rd, Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
After a series of rock formations, we made one last stop at Bay of Martyrs. Don't be deceived by the bright sun, it was freezing cold that even Leecher had his hoodie up to keep warm. We lingered around the place and took some pictures before carrying on the journey to Port Fairy. 
Bay of Martyrs
Bay of Islands Coastal Park, Nullawarre VIC 3268, Australia
❤ ❤ ❤ Read the rest of our Melbourne adventure here ❤ ❤ ❤

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Melbourne Travelogue 08: Sunrise and Sunset at 12 Apostles

Welcome to the new blog layout :) I wanted to revamp the skin completely but that will take up too much time so I did some tweaks here and there just to satisfy my 三分钟热度. So, Jan and Feb came and went and now, we are almost at the end of Q1. Weekends are more precious and my preferred way is to be couch potatoes in front of the TV spend quality time with Leecher at home. 
We slept for only 5h before we woke up to begin our journey to the 12 Apostles, hopefully to catch the sun-rise. The journey took around 40 min from our accommodation, but we miscalculated the timing so we missed the sunrise. It was also cloudy, so we couldn't see much sun rays along the journey too.
Then, it started drizzling when we arrived. We stayed in the car, waiting for the rain to stop. A full arch rainbow greeted us when we stepped out of the car, how lucky! Wonder if we'll find gold at the end of the rainbow, lol. The place was still pretty quiet, though we can see a couple of cars in the car park. With our gear in place, we began our journey towards the park.
 The pathway which will bring you to the 12 Apostles.
First view of the 12 Apostles - item on bucket list checked! After years of procrastination (while I was checking bucket list items elsewhere), we finally got to witness the beauty of the 12 Apostles - technically 8 are standing now, with the last collapse in 2005. It certainly felt surreal as we stood there, taking in the sights. We probably would have seen lots of pictures splashed across the internet, but nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes.
At the end of the path, you will see this circular lookout area. For shorties like me, you can't get a decent picture with the apostles due to the fence-like structure which branched out from the walls. 
This area is much better for picture taking, low fence and a splendid view. #photographytips 
Being at the edge of the coastline, it was extremely windy and the wind was playing a game with my hair, arg! I was also freezing and had to use the blanket for extra protection.
No matter how I try, hair kept getting into my face and it took Leecher several tries before he can get a decent pic of me without-hair-in-my-face.  
Perks of having short hair, lol #oneshotonekill
When the sun is up, the crowd starts streaming in. We took it as a sign that we should head to the next stop. We walked back to the visitor center and headed towards Gibson Steps Lookout.
Along the way, we came across a field where lambs were roaming freely, such a carefree sight. 
Halfway, we decided to turn back for the sky looked threatening and we were in the middle of nowhere with no shelter in sight. We struggled with our return journey for the wind was really strong. We hopped onto the car, soaked in the sights along the coast line before ending the trip at Port Fairy (more on that for another entry). As we drove back from Port Fairy, we decided to head back to 12 Apostles to catch the sunset.  
Lucky us caught sight of the rainbow on the way back. It felt so surreal seeing the rainbows, which added to the beauty of the coastline. 
A huge group of camera enthusiasts has gathered and lined up the bridge with their DSLRs and filters, hoping to capture the magnificent sunset. The pathway was crowded, but everyone still made space for all to witness the wonderful moment. We lingered till the last ray of sunlight before deciding to call it a day. 
12 Apostles
Great Ocean Rd & Booringa Rd, Princetown VIC 3269, Australia
❤ ❤ ❤ Read the rest of our Melbourne adventure here ❤ ❤ ❤

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, in a heartbeat!

Over the years, I have reduced my updates on social media. However, I won't miss the usual tradition of wrapping up the year with a simple post. I'm thankful for a pleasant year, be it at work or with family :) 

I started the year with a self-imposed shopping ban for 3 months. Leecher was extremely supportive of this, especially when the wardrobe was filled to the brim and he complained that I was invading into his closet space. The first few weeks was extremely bad, I would spend my time surfing shopping websites and adding stuff to my cart. The urge to cart out was so strong that I muster a lot of will power to stop surfing online shops. Soon, time passed and the urge to shop got lesser and lesser. Before I know it, I have not bought anything for 6 months. Achievement unlocked! Well, I didn't go on a crazy shopping spree after that apart from getting the essentials for the house and stocking up on skincare stuff during our Korea trip. 

Instead of our usual winter holidays, we opted to head back to Korea for autumn. Little bro also gave me my first ever birthday angpao, together with a ramen pot that he bought from Korea. My lil brother is all grown up now. He also made it a point to be at home whenever I head home for dinner, so we can have a family meal together and catch up. Thank you for that :)

We have also reached our 5th year of marriage. I'm thankful that you are always by my side, where our fave activity is hanging out in our comfy sofa watching K-drama. Well, I think I can see the side-effect on your waistline, so perhaps we should adopt a more active lifestyle in the new year?

Even though 3y has passed, I still miss baby bro a lot. I think of him from time to time and I still get teary whenever his name is mentioned. I love you, baby bro.

As we embrace a new year, here's wishing everyone a happy 2017! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter in Korea: From Incheon to Pyeongchang + Lepovill Pension + 그곳에가면

Hello December baby, my favourite time of the year! Oh, did I mention that my heart is still in Korea even though we have been back for almost a month? Ha, serious withdrawal symptoms. My life feels so empty recently; is this what they call mid-life crisis? To make things worse, Facebook reminded me of my winter memories from 2-3 years ago. Can I just hide in a hole and hibernate? That seems like an excellent idea now. By December, most of the ski resorts would be opened and there are several ski resorts which you can explore - Jisan, Yongpyong, Alpensia (just to name a few). Being an avid K-drama fan, Yongpyong was my top choice since this is the filming location of Winter Sonata, tsk tsk. We decided to save costs by staying at the pension instead of the resort itself, for a room within the resort could easily set you back by at least KRW200,000/night, which I will touch on later. 
Our tired faces after a long flight. After immigration, we hurried to the nearest convenience store and bought some snacks/drinks for the next leg of the trip. I'm not a coffee drinker, but somehow I always ended up drinking coffee in Korea. I think I'm more attracted to the packaging than the drink itself, ha. From Incheon airport, we headed directly to Pyeongchang where the ski resorts are located. 

How to get to Pyeongchang from Incheon Airport?
The ticketing office is located outside of the airport, opposite the arrival terminal. Hence, you will need to head outside, cross the road and look out for the office at 9C. 
The pension that we will be staying at was nearer to Alpensia ski resort (알펜시아리조트 스키장), hence we booked tickets from Incheon to Alpensia. A single trip ticket is KRW$29,000. The whole journey takes around 3 hours, with several stops along the way including one at the rest point for toilet break. We arrived at Alpensia and called Mr Kim, the owner of the pension for pick up. While waiting for Mr Kim's arrival, we booked our return journey (back to Seoul) from the concierge at KRW$17,000/pax. The bus will bring us directly to downtown Seoul, where we can then transfer to metro for the next part of the journey. 
We stayed at Lepovil pension for KRW$100,000/night, way cheaper than staying at the resort. Well, the downside is that we will have to call a cab whenever we head out or Mr Kim will give us a lift if he happened to head out at the same time. Cab rides mostly cost us around KRW$15,000 max (from city back to the pension) so it was still more affordable to stay in a pension. Plus, we had a great interaction with Mr Kim and his family/friends, hence it was a great experience for us too. 
The river flowing through the pension, which froze overnight due to the cold. We took a stroll around the compound on our last day, which I will share later in another entry. 
We were shown to our home for the next couple of days. I fell in love with the house and the surrounding, which reminded me of our Europe vacation. Mr Kim gave us a mini room tour, then left us to unpack/settle down. 
Our room came equipped with a small kitchen but we didn't cook anything apart from boiling water for cup noodles. We loved eating cup noodles whenever we travel, for it was so convenient to curb hunger pangs. Especially in cold weather, slurping up hot noodles just warms the body. 
레포빌 보드하우스 Lepovill Board House
Address: 대관령면 횡계리 14-343, 232-950 Pyeongchang, South Korea
Tel: +82 10-5755-8698
Our tummies started protesting once we settled in comfortably. We have not had a proper meal since we landed, for we were rushing from place to place. We asked Mr Kim for recommendation and he kindly drove us to this restaurant serving BBQ. 
Choice of floor or table seating; of course we had to go for floor seating - just for the fun of it. 
The standard drink for every meal. These are so cheap in Korea that it was hard to justify buying these in Singapore for personal consumption.
Check out the tray of meat; I'm so hungry looking at this.
I absolutely love the range of banchans that were served. Meanwhile, the fire is ready for cooking; can't wait to start! 
The most agonising part was waiting for the meat to be ready. Ahjumma helped us with the cooking while our duty was just to eat. 
All ready to eat, yum! I normally wrap it with half a lettuce, meat with a bit of gochujang and alternate between either kimchi or garlic (heck the smelly breathe). The meat was so tender that we devour ate pieces after pieces without stopping. 
Address: 대관령면 대관령로 192
Tel: +82 033-336-9290 
Ahjumma helped us to call for a cab. With our tummies satisfied, we headed back to the pension for another round of gathering at the cafe with Mr Kim & friends; I will leave that for another time. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Pyeongchang (^^)

  ☃☃☃ Read the rest of our Winter adventure here  ☃☃☃

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