Lilypie - First Birthday

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Day at Haeundae (Daeboreum Festival)

Haeundae (海云台) is the most famous beach in Korea. It's also the title of the Korean disaster movie last year which showed in Malaysian cinemas under the name "Tsunami". In the movie, a tsunami came from the East Sea and wrecked the entire Haeundae area, which other than the beach, also consists of hotels and skyscrapers and old winding streets with eateries.

Coincidentally, there was an tsunami alert for Japan and Jeju island today after the earthquake in Chile, of which I wasn't aware and was ignorantly happy, standing with about 10,000 other Koreans on the beach for their Daeboreum Festival (first sighting of the moon festival).

This piece of poetry literally translates to: "Hiking Haeundae. The cliff rises up a thousand feet into the sky, as you look down pine trees dot the horizon. The sea meets the sky and blurs the skyline, as seagulls fly into the evening sun."

We met up with our Malaysian Dongseo friends again at Haeundae subway station. Our initial plan was to take a bus to a temple up some hill because they often visit temples during the first or fifteenth day of the lunar calendar. But after waiting for half an hour for the bus which arrived full and with no taxi willing to fetch us, we changed our plan to visit Haeundae beach instead. Which was fine by me!

There were so many people! They had food tents set up and people were flying kites in the air. Apparently there was some festival going on to mark the first new moon of the year and there was going to be a bonfire at 6pm. It was like a "Light the Christmas Tree" event but instead they were going to burn the huge stack of trees. Talk about polluting the environment. There was a long queue of people waiting to stick their wishing paper onto the tree-pile.

A nice ship passed by while we waited in the cold for more than half an hour while elderly Koreans pushed and bumped into us. People here are kinda rude in the sense that they always bump into you and NEVER apologize cause they take it for granted that with the huge number of people you are bound to bump into each other all the time. Like in supermarkets, crossing the road, in lifts, and during huge gatherings like this.

While we were waiting, there was an announcement and suddenly everyone started jostling and rushing to the front to take pictures with their handphones. They were actually trying to take pictures of the new moon. It's a tradition that during Daeboreum, people climb mountains, braving cold weather, trying to catch the first rise of the moon. It is said that the first person to see the moon rise will have good luck all year or a wish will be granted.

Bonfire. Voila!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wine and dine in Korea

Today my day got better. Because it involved food! But when school starts, dining out will be a luxury cos we are back to being students now.

My first meal in Korea is called gukbap and it literally means soup with rice (guk is soup and bap is rice). It is at a restaurant near the main gate of Pukyong National University. We went there around noon with my labmates. I just went to the lab for a short while today cos my professor is still in Finland so there's nothing much arranged for me yet. And this Monday is a holiday in Korea! Independence from Japan.

They serve kimchi, at EVERY meal. Anti-clockwise from left: green chilli which is eaten with paste from the next plate, yellow onions in sweet sauce, kimchi cabbage, kimchi turnip, and in the middle is salted shrimps something like cencaluk minus the stench, and a small plate of noodles. And short grain rice served in a metal bowl.

This is the gukbap! It is a kind of pork stew which, according to the shop, has been stewed for 48 hours and the soup is just so tasty! The meat inside are all the fatty slices of pork, and they taught me to throw it the shrimps and leek to add flavour to it. Stirring the soup brings up the chilli below which turns it into a red colour, making it more appealing. Koreans dump in their bowl of rice to eat together with the soup, but I prefer to eat it seperate for now. I like this dish cos it's something like the Korean version bak kut teh, which is one of my favourite foods. :-P

After that Su Lin and I took a walk up the street to shop for stuff and we saw this huge steaming cup of coffee on top of a van! They were promoting some Arabica coffee. I got to sample not just one cup of coffee but they also gave away five sticks of Maxim Arabica instant coffee powder. And the promoter in red is sooooo pretty! Tall, slim, flawless complexion and beautiful face... I was like, do they need to hire such a pretty promoter ar...??! @_@

At 6pm we met up with a few other Malaysian students from Dongseo University and we went to eat... guess what... pork stew again. Koreans love their pork, huh? But it's a different version called gamjatang. Big pork bone and I had to pick at the bone to get the meat out. The meat is so tender and the soup is very flavourful!

Gamjatang

This is the dried version, something like 干捞 with 冬粉.

Then we moved to a pub in a nearby building for our second round, doing what Koreans like to do best -- drink!! The place was filled with youngsters and most of them are girls!

Huge jug of Cass beer.

It was something like a welcome dinner for me and also a joint birthday celebration for Pearly and Su Lin. This is the BEST tiramisu cake that I have ever tasted! From Tous les jour.

There were 11 of us in total. Bryan was holding the camera.

Fruit punch, non-alcoholic. I downed a glass of beer and two shots of soju.

Lastly we played this cool drinking game where a shotglass is put into a glass of beer and everybody pours a little soju into the shotglass and the person who makes the shotglass sink into the beer has to down the mixture of soju and beer! Pearly was the one.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Arrival in Busan, South Korea

Oh, so today I finally reached Busan after a seven-hour trip from Penang. Departed from Penang airport at 8am, and transited at Hong Kong for two hours. Reached Busan at 6.40pm (Korean time, which is one hour later than Malaysian time) and was so relieved to see Su Lin and Sang Jung pick me up by car.

Weather's not drastically cold, it's somewhat like Chandler, late autumn.

Shall I make it a point to blog everyday? Today had more downs than ups... but I guess I'll try. Today I met a friend at the airport and I was telling him about how sad I felt to leave my hubby behind and he remarked that it was my choice, I could have simply just not come to Busan. I mean, how insensitive can that be? I was just trying to pour my feelings out to a friend and that was what I got. How insensitive to tell someone who has gone forward with her decision, that, she could have simply just pulled out the first place? Like time could go backwards, if you get what I mean?

Second. In the Hong Kong to Busan flight I leaned back on my airplane seat and accidentally caused the Korean uncle's beer behind me to fall and spill onto his lap. And he was back there shouting at me all the time yet I didn't hear cos I had my earphones on and was watching Gossip Girl on the in-flight entertainment. Shucks. I quickly dunked my apple juice, ran to the toilet and got him some tissue and then his face looked better. Getting to a new place has just not rid me of my calamity. :-(

Thirdly. I just went to Mega Mart with Su Lin and Pearly, another really nice Malaysian girl, and bought KRW70,000 (~RM210) of stuff and everyone around me was yakking in a foreign language which I totally could not make sense of and I just felt so lost. Felt so lonely even though we got these really huge and sweet Korean strawberries and yummy creamy yogurt for dinner. It was 11pm here when Su Lin and I finally got to eat just those for dinner. OK, I also had a green tea tart. That KRW70,000 of stuff included a thicker comforter, a body pillow, cup noodles, Happy Bath natural oatmeal bath liquid with two refills, two water tumblers, 2 packets of laundry powder detergent. Actually it was pretty worth it, considering the amount of stuff that I bought.

Our dinner

Us at the airport. Two years seems like an eternity to me now. But since I'm already here, I'll just have to take it one day at a time.

More updates tomorrow, hopefully.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CNY Thoughts...

Here I am, typing down my thoughts in the middle of the night after a really sumptuous dinner at Uncle Chong's place - think homemade mui choy kao yuk with bun, steamed chicken with special taucheo celup-celup sauce, fragrant lotus leaf yam rice, yong tau foo and steamboat... mmmmm aaaahhhh~

This Chinese New Year is a special year of sorts for me, my first CNY after getting married, first time not spending '30th night' and chor yat at my house, first time celebrating CNY with his family in Malacca, first time spending a peranakan CNY, first time eating ketupat and sambal udang and rendang on the first day of CNY (truth to say I really missed my normal CNY dishes!), first time meeting some of his relatives, first time giving out angpow as newlyweds, first time receiving angpow as newlyweds! Different customs vary by ethnicity, in Malacca (Hokkien) we get angpows for being a newlywed while in Ipoh we have to give out double angpows (Cantonese)! First time celebrating triple birthdays within two days, 20th Feb is my mother-in-law's birthday and An An's (btw this kid calls me Aunty, that's another first for me!) while 21st Feb is my dad's! First time travelling up and down half of Peninsular Malaysia within the first week, first time not having to anticipate start of work! :-P It's been really, really great and the first week seemed like an eternity... and it's not even over yet! So happy... ^_^

Mom said we are like birds, flitting from one place to the next. On 29th night of the Chinese calendar, we were back in Ipoh from Penang, and by 30th night we had arrived in Malacca. On 2nd day we took a bus up to Slim River to spend CNY at my grandpa's place, and on the 3rd day we were at Ipoh again, and managed to meet some of my friends too. And on the 4th day we were at KL again cos I needed to get my Korean student visa done, and Kok Shin was so kind to fetch us to Klang to meet up with Teck for bak kut teh lunch, and then to Puchong to meet Kak Waan and then Dom fetched us to Pudu. Talking about Pudu, it is still as terrible as hell even after the so-called facelift! There's like this mountain of garbage just below the steps and the stench fills the air... such a turnoff for tourists! And then after 3 days in Malacca tomorrow I'm travelling back to Ipoh again. And next week, this time, I'll already be at Busan, enjoying the nice cool spring weather.

And since I'm on this topic, I've been postponing my feelings about leaving for 2 years till it's really overdue. Ever since I got the confirmation about going to study, I've been putting off being sad each time somebody asks me "How are you feeling about leaving?" It was really easy then to give myself excuses to not think about it, too busy planning the wedding, too busy during the wedding, too busy during CNY... yet now it's time to face my inner demons. Everytime I see that sad face, and of course my parents' reluctant faces and my friends' hugs and "see you after two years", something kicks me a little inside yet I'm still not feeling an overpouring of emotions, not just yet. Could it be something in me is set free now? Feeling as relieved and as free as a bird. The anticipation, the excitement, and yes the commitment of marriage really helps. Perhaps I'll save my tears till the airport. Then hope for the best, that 2 years will just pass by in the blink of an eye.

Till then. Happy CNY, everybody!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Misc.

I wanna blog about my wedding so badly, but my photographer informed me that he will only be able to pass me the pictures next week. So, stay tuned! I'll entertain myself by blogging about some petty stuff here.

Recently I'm totally addicted to the Milo I bought from Singapore! It's a special kind of flavour - Australian Recipe - which has a more chocolatey and milky taste. Add some Dutch Lady fresh milk and voila! That taste I remembered from my childhood came rushing back... yummm... *so heavenly*. I brought back 2 small cans and a 3-in-1 pack from SG. I must have it every morning after I wake up. Didn't dare to drink it for the few days before my wedding cos drinking Milo will make you fat... but now I can drink it again! Hohoho~

One of my wedding gifts - a red towel - from Peck Li & Chew Hsia. Peck Li passed it to me in Ipoh a week before my wedding. That day I went to Aussino Gurney to buy body pillow sheets and saw that this towel costs RM69.90! So pricey for a towel... :-S

Yay! And my Thanksgiving gifts have arrived from the United States... thanks Guat May for bringing them back to me. Bought all online from Target and had them shipped to my colleagues': La Regale hobo evening bag in champagne color, $17.99; Black/gold cinched clutch, $16.99; Converse One Star silver shoes, $12.24; Purple fringe sandal, $5.24. All prices in USD. I wanted the champagne colored evening bag to use during my wedding but when I saw it, it looked overpriced. :-( I guess the best bargain was the Converse shoes but they're half a size too large, luckily for the straps I am still able to wear them. My friends like the black/gold clutch.

And last but not least, bought this compendium of Sherlock Holmes stories from Borders to make up for my old one which got wet in the rain. It is double the price for what I got for my old one. But I guess I won't have time to read it... haven't unwrapped until now. :-(