Lilypie - First Birthday

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

행복의 치즈케이크

Sometimes it needs only a familiar taste on your tastebuds to ring up all those warm memories of home~~~

xxx 幸福的芝士蛋糕 행복의 치즈케이크 xxx

Today my lab junior brought me some of the Costco cheesecake which I helped choose yesterday for his brother's birthday. I ate it for breakfast. Coffee and cheesecake - a delectable combination!

It tastes exactly like my mom's cheesecake~~~

I miss home~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, September 24, 2010

Japan Visa Requirements (for Malaysian)

To apply for a travel visa to Japan, these documents need to be submitted to the Japanese consulate:

-Passport
-Visa application form (download here)
-Passport size photo (4.5cm x 4.5cm)
-Photocopy of passport
-Reason letter
-Schedule of stay/ travel itinerary
-Photocopy of alien card (if residing in another country)
-Certificate of enrollment at university (get from graduate school)
-Certificate of deposit balance from bank (minimum = how many days you going to stay at Japan x USD100 per day)
-Confirmation slip of airline reservations
-Confirmation slip for accommodation reservation

It took only one day for the Japanese consulate in Busan to process my visa. Travel visa is FOC. Japanese consulate in Busan is located at Choryang-dong subway station.

After Fukuoka

After Fukuoka, I came back to Busan and realized that the temperature has dropped a few more degrees. Everybody is in long sleeves now.

After Fukuoka, I am more acutely aware of the differences between Korea and Japan.

After Fukuoka, I am just so tired that I sat in front of my lab computer and did nothing the whole day today.

Some of the differences between Korea (Busan) and Japan (Fukuoka):

The place.
1. Korea has free drinking water everywhere. Japan does not.
2. Korea is more hilly. Japan has more flat land.
3. Busan's streets and houses look older although Fukuoka is said to be the oldest city in Japan.
4. Korea's streets are narrower. Japan's streets are wider.
5. Korea is dirtier. Japan is much cleaner - sterile, even. Just a little less cleaner than Singapore.
6. Korea's temples are less glammed up.
7. Korea's taxis are newer and nicer. Japan's taxis are those really old Toyota models like from the 1980s! Japan's taxis have automatic opening doors though...
8. Korea's subway stations make it difficult for you to change lines if you get on the wrong subway. It is much easier to change to the next platform in Japan.
9. Busan is much rowdier thanks to the ajummas and giggling university students. Fukuoka is sooooo devoid of human presence, I dunno why...
10. Busan is much more livelier than Fukuoka. I wonder why Fukuoka was voted into Newsweek's Top 10 Most Dynamic Cities instead of Busan!
11. Busan has too many sleazy love motels and is in lack of clean, homely backpackers' motels. Fukuoka's backpackers' motels rock!
12. Busan has many shopping streets aimed for university age people and you can find The Face Shop, Mischa, Nature Republic, Skin Food all lined up in one row. I didn't see such places in Fukuoka.
13. No. 12 being said, however, Japan's shopping malls are funkier.
14. Korea's salespeople charge a small fee if you take plastic bags. Japan's salespeople give them out freely.
15. Korea is so much cheaper. Japan is 3 times more expensive!
16. Korea's taxi fare starts from 2400won and jumps 100won every 144m travelled after the initial 2km. Japan's taxi fare starts from 550yen and jumps 100yen for every 50m travelled!
17. Korean restaurants serve side dishes (kimchi) at the start of your meal. In Japan, you have to buy your own kimchi.

The people.
1. The Koreans' dress sense is too monotonous. You can see your favorite shirt from Gmarket being worn by a few dozen people in a week. The Japanese have more varied taste and individual style (punk/gothic/doll, etc).
2. Koreans like to wear one piece. Japanese like to wear their clothes in layers.
3. Koreans' hairstyle is monotonous and somewhat old-fashioned (think curled bangs and black dye). Japanese hairstyle is funkier and more colourful!
4. Koreans like to wear super high boots. Japanese wear more sensible shoes.
5. Koreans have super small eyes and single eye lids (except for those who have gone under the knife, of course). Japanese eyes are bigger and have double eye lids.
6. Koreans say iye as yes. Japanese say iie as no.
7. Koreans don't go neh neh neh (yes) on the phone a lot. Japanese say their hai hai hais (yes) a lot and quite forcefully.
8. Koreans apologize less. Japanese say sumimasen more.
9. Korean women are more full bodied. Japanese women are slimmer and willowy looking.
10. Korean ajummas are loud and brash and blingbling in their clothing and speaking. Japanese are more reserved and polite.
11. Korean guys look like Rain. Japanese guys look like Yutaka Takenouchi (竹野内丰).
12. Korean guys look more boyish. Japanese guys look like real men.
13. More Japanese understand English compared to Koreans.

(my Fukuoka adventure, to be continued...)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fukuoka Dreaming.


Two weeks ago, I woke up one morning and decided to go to Fukuoka, Japan.
Fukuoka is just 3 hours away from Busan by ship and since I have 3 days holiday for Chuseok(autumn festival), I thought, "Why not?"


I almost ended up going alone.
It feels so Lost in Translation to be traveling to Japan alone, especially during autumn.
A little bit lost, a little bit mellow, a little bit confused, and a little bit romantic.
My inspirations? Scarlett Johannson and an American girl I knew from church which feels like Scarlett Johannson. She always looked so lost in Korea.

I watched Lost in Translation 3 times. It's one of my favorite movies.
Traversing the busy Tokyo subway alone, walking in the rain through a Japanese temple garden, crossing Shibuya armed with only a plastic umbrella, hopping on rocks paved through a zen pool, witnessing a Japanese wedding ceremony, taking photographs of shoes with red maple leaves fallen on the ground.
Finding friendship and company, maybe.
Love, needs no translation?

Ends up, I'm going with two more girls.
It's gonna be a girl trip and we're gonna stay a night at a sauna-and-capsule-hotel!
And it's still so hot, more of late summer than early autumn actually.
So I don't think I'll be seeing any red leaves just yet.

But I've already had my Lost in Translation moment.
So, Fukuoka, I'm ready to come to you.

Fukuoka Dreaming.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cocktail afternoon

Recently, I hang out with my junior labmate a lot. His name is Jae Gyong and he's Korean. Taking exercise walks to Gwanganri, going shopping at Megamart and Costco, playing billiards, etc...

Last weekend, after going to Costco to buy stuff, he made a couple of cocktails for me at home and taught me a thing or two about cocktails. ;-)

"Screwdriver"
1) Vodka and orange juice is known as "Screwdriver". Although I'd mixed vodka and orange at home before, I didn't know its name till now.
2) "Screwdriver" is made with 1 parts vodka and 2 parts orange juice.
3) You can mix vodka and cranberry juice and it will taste just as nice, or even better!
4) A second name for "Screwdriver" is the "Lady Killer". Cos girls won't realize its alcoholic and thinking it's just plain orange juice, will drink and drink till they get pissed drunk.
5) The name "Screwdriver" originated from engineers pouring vodka into orange juice cans and mixing with a screwdriver.
6) Storing vodka into the freezer preserves the taste and makes the vodka taste purer, while reducing the "alcohol" taste. Pure alcohol doesn't freeze, so it's OK to put it in the freezer.

"Kahlua and vodka"
1) Kahlua tastes like bitter coffee and alcohol. This is my first time drinking Kahlua, I don't like it, I prefer Bailey's anytime.
2) It's 1 part vodka and 2 parts Kahlua.
3) Anyway I didn't like this drink so he finished it and I downed the Screwdriver.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Day 2: Haeundae & Dalmaji Vesta Spa

Suddenly, autumn comes without a warning. After two days of rain caused by the typhoon, the temperature dropped today to a pleasant 25C. A bit chilly. I shouldn't be wearing short pants anymore.

Two weeks ago, the sun was still scorching hot! I brought Leo to visit Haeundae Beach and Nurimaru APEC House. The Nurimaru APEC House was used for the 17th APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Leaders' Summit in 2005. APEC has 21 member economies, including most countries with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. APEC Summit 2005 in Busan was attended by Abdullah Badawi(Malaysia), George W Bush(USA), Hu Jintao(China), Junichiro Koizumi(Japan), the late Roh Muh-Hyun(South Korea) etc. One thing that has never failed to amaze me about the House is, admission is free and open to the public but the place has been kept in tip-top condition since 2005!

My first visit to Nurimaru APEC House was on my first weekend when I arrived in Busan. I can still remember the short walk up the hill together with my Malaysian friends and the weather so cold I was still wearing my down jacket. What a change in weather from then... Leo and I were literally withering under the blistering hot sun as we walked up to the House. First thing he said when we got inside... "AIRCON!!!"


It was so hot until we were like nomads in the desert... the weather made us lazy and sleepy. When I was a kid, mom always screamed at me not to simply lie on the ground anywhere, but it was too hot that day... we saw a shade at the ground floor, sat there to rest, sipped sweet ice tea and fell asleep on the lawn for 15 mins with tourists walking around us!

Crossing the hanging bridge to get back to Haeundae Beach after the nap

Brought him to Haeundae Beach for some bikini ogling. Got front seats at the hottest spot with the best number of bikini babes walking around!

After a quick shower (500won coin operated shower), we took our fastfood dinner at Lotteria Burgers and took a taxi ride up to Dalmaji Hill. I had wanted to stay at Vesta Spa ever since hearing good reviews about the place from Katie months ago. Vesta Spa is located on Dalmaji Hill and has a great view of the entire Haeundae Beach and sea from its full glass windows.

It costs 8000won per pax if we enter before 9pm and more expensive afterwards. So we decided to enter at 8.30pm and leave at 9am the next morning. We arrived at 8pm so we decided to kill time by taking a short stroll on Moontan Road under the bright moonlight. Walked along the lonely path with the pine trees all around us and saw the shimmering reflection of the moonlight on the sea. Got creepy after a while (it was the 7th lunar month, afterall) and so we turned back to our spa.

This is the beautiful seaview that greeted me when I woke up from my sleeping place in the morning.

Monday, September 06, 2010

鸟教授

来到韩国念研究所的第二个学期,突然发现一件事情...
原来 24个 credit hour 里面,必须有 9 个是拿自己专业(major)的科...
别的研究所的外国学生都知道
就是我们研究所的韩国学长没替我们查清楚,也没跟我们说
结果早我一年来的两位马来西亚同学现在面对着是否能顺利毕业的窘境...
教授摆出一副爱莫能助的样子

首先要在这里声明,不是我们不要拿回自己的专业课
而是这里没有韩国教授要收外国学生
因为他们都不要英语教课 - either 是很麻烦要不然就是懒惰
结果我们逼不得已只好拿 telecommunications major 和 computer major 的科
因为那边的韩国教授肯用英语教我们

还好这事情对我影响还没很大
我还有两个学期可以追回 9个 credit
结果今天跑去问那个教 electronics major 的 advanced semiconductor (VLSI) 的那个教授
可不可以收留我们两个外国学生
进去找他前我整个研究室的学生都警告我说
“那教授很凶的,我们已经被他骂了好几次...”

没想到那 VLSI 教授真的这么鸟
进去时,我对他说,我们是外国学生,因为学校规定我们必须拿 9 个 electronic major credit
所以我们来找你,请你收留我们
没想到他噼里啪啦用一口非常流利的美式英语对我说
“我肯定不会用英语教你,除非你听得明白我用韩语教课,否则不要拿我的科”
“我现在是要把电子知识传授给我的韩国学生们,不是要教你们说英语”
“你们来到这大学就是一个错误,你们应该到首尔大学或是 KAIST去,这就是你们的错”

听了真是火冒三丈,竟然有这样的教授...
岂有此理,外国学生就不是你们釜庆大学工程研究所的学生吗?
那跟我们那个马来西亚的校长叫华人同学回中国去还有差吗?
真是有够鸟的...
学校要收外国学生,就应该确保教课都是用英语,而不是叫我们上课上到第二个学期叫我们滚去首尔的大学!

听了超级不爽
他一直重复说:“我现在是要教电子,不是叫英文,你听不懂是你的事”
电子知识只是可以传授给你们韩国人,我们就不是你的学生了吗?
我直接问鸟教授,那我上课听不懂,可以问你吗?
鸟教授傻眼,支支吾吾说,可以,那是我的责任啊...

#@!$%#@$^#&#%&!#%@!%$#!@

真的是超级不爽!!!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Day 5: One Day Trip to Gyeongju

On Day 5 of Leo's visit, we got out of Busan to visit a nearby city - Gyeongju/庆州/경주. It takes only an hour's bus ride (3000won) from Nopodong bus terminal to reach Gyeongju, which was very convenient. Gyeongju is a thousand year old city, which was the capital city of Silla (ancient kingdom of Korea). While Melaka's history is only 500 years, Gyeongju's history is 992 years. There's so many historical sites and relics to visit here.

The Gyeongju city tour is operated by Cheonma Travel Agency 천마관광 and can be booked through phone reservation here:
Phone Reservation: +82-54-743-6001
Adult ticket costs 15,000won. Another additional 10,500won for entrance fees and buffet lunch.

I booked the Course 3 city tour:

Course 3> Departs at 10:00 and returns at 18:00
Bulguksa Visitor Center → Bomun complex (drive-by point of interest) → Gyeongju Station (10:50) → Gyeongju Bus Terminal (11:00) → Poseokjeong → Daereungwon (Cheonmachong) → Cheomseongdae → Seokguram Grotto → Bulguksa Temple → Bomun complex (pass) → Gyeongju Station → Gyeongju Bus Terminal

Upon arriving at the Gyeongju Bus Terminal, we walked to the opposite street to find Cheonma Travel Agency 천마관광 and waited for the tour bus to pick us up at 11am.

Poseokjeong

Our first stop was Poseokjeong/鲍石亭, which means "abalone shaped stone pavilion". At first I thought it was just a stupid longkang, but I was so wrong. Poseokjeong was a royal pavilion in which Silla kings held banquets for the nobels. Now the pavilion is no longer there, but the abalone-shaped stone water canal remains. This site served as the royal pleasure ground, on which the kings and nobles floated drinking cups in the canal. Whenever the cup stopped in front of someone, he would have to recite a poem there and then. This game, called Yusanggoksuyeon, was believed to have originated from China. However, other than Poseokjeong, there is no other sites that remain till this day.


Daereungwon (Cheonmachong)

Around Gyeongju, even in the downtown area, it is not uncommon to see huge grass mounds everywhere. Those are actually the ancient tombs of Silla kings and queens. Eerily, it suddenly dawned upon me that we were walking around in the Valley of the Dead, but then the tombs are maintained so well that it feels that walking in a park instead.

Of these tombs, the only tomb open to visitors is the Cheonmachong/天马冢, which means "heavenly horse tomb". The tomb got its name from the picture of a flying white horse painted on a saddle, which was excavated from the tomb in 1973.

Interior of the tomb. The tomb has some kind of a damp smell which I think is what the guide book refers to as "the breath of a millennium years"... haha.

The white horse picture

This is where the tomb's owner lay.

The gold crown, which according to the guide book, is the biggest and most luxurious gold crown that was ever excavated. At the time of excavation, it was found on the head of the dead dude.

Cheomseongdae

Cheomseongdae/瞻星台 is the oldest astronomical observatory in East Asia and was built during the reign of Silla Queen Seondeok 顺德皇后. The diameter from the bottom gradually decreases till the top until it becomes a smooth curved body line. A square shape and a circle each symbolize the ground and the sky.

Saw a field full of pretty flowers nearby the observatory.


Seokguram Grotto

Seokguram Grotto was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It is a stone temple built by Kim Daesung for his past life parents. The carved stones were piled up in a dome shape and covered with earth soil to give the cave look.

The highlight of this grotto is the big Buddha statue that was "built like weaving silk out of stone" and the beautiful and tender features of Buddha. IMHO, this UNESCO Heritage Site is a must-visit site because of the Buddha, but I didn't take any photos of it out of reverence for the statue.

Bulguksa Temple

The last stop on our itinerary was the Bulguksa Temple/佛国寺 which is very nearby Seokguram Grotto. This place looks gorgeous with its red leaves in autumn.

Haetalgyo Bridge, describing the path to reach Nirvana from Sabha (present suffering world), is located on the way to the Bulguksa Temple. Love the weeping willow.

Very very hot afternoon sun.

Dabotap Pagoda, carved by Silla's top artisan.

And then in one section of Bulguksa, we saw pebble piles everywhere... Koreans stack pebbles to make a wish...

on the door...

and even on the tree!

Finally, the last thing to do in Gyeongju is to buy Gyeongju bun - red bean biscuit!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Day 1: Campus Couple (CC)

There's a small print on a stationery I bought which reads:
"Love Letter. Love vanquishes time. To lovers, a moment can be eternity. Eternity can be the tick of a clock."

Weird sentence aside, I guess I understand the meaning within.

After two weeks of pure joy, he left today, back to his old life, and me back to mine. This morning when I entered the lab, my professor was in. He asked me, "Two weeks is too fast, right?"Yes, two weeks is too short, but looking back on the moments we spent together, every moment lasted an eternity.

xxxxxxxxxx

Finally, we can be CC (short for Campus Couple). Showed him around my university campus on his first day, to let him know how my life is like here. Visited my lab, said hello to my professor and labmates, saw the Pukyong-saurus, visited the university museum, etc etc.

Brought him to Paris Baguette on university street to eat patpingsu (Korean version of ais kacang). He loved the cream puff also!

The pendulum thingy in the spanking new university building.

Climbed up the winding staircase.

Examined the upside-down World Map.

And my first photo at the university fountain.

He said, this is a very beautiful campus. I'm so glad and feel more at ease with your life here now. :-)

Feasted on samgyupsal for dinner.

And for dessert, went to this lovely cafe where happily, there was not many people around that night and we got to occupy the small upper loft entirely to ourselves.

xxxxxxxxxx

Loft Story

View from the top, with comfy cushions and my favourite wrought iron xxx

Molten chocolate fondant xxx

Pure bliss xxx