Lilypie - First Birthday

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in Busan

The best place in Busan to feel the festive joy of Christmas is at Nampodong Christmas Tree Festival. For the entire month of December, the main shopping street at Nampodong is sealed off to traffic. Christmas trees, big or little, line the streets on both sides. Couples walk hand-in-hand and groups of families bring their kids out to enjoy Christmas, taking photos with the brightly lit trees and decorations. 

I like the plain white snow crystal decor at Innisfree skincare shop
Swan, polar bear and penguin lanterns afloat on a long bench filled with water  
Christmas toy train

This year the most special installation is a big Noah's Ark with the theme "His Story". Many old CRT TVs are mounted on the ark, each playing an individual movie of The Passion of Christ. Although at first glance, not many people would understand the significance of the ark and the TVs, and nobody really stood in front to watch the movie, but at least people would look at it and ask, "What's that???" 


The portrait painters set up their easels again during this season~


OK now for more vibrant pictures.......... the Nampodong Christmas Street:



Baby Jesus, born in a manger

I'm very glad to be able to celebrate my last Christmas in Korea with some friends. I brought the new Malaysians to visit the Christmas Tree Festival at Nampodong together and it was a fun time... although we were almost freezing to death... 

Some Malaysian friends and one girl from Kazakhstan

My church group also had a carolling session on the big stage below the big Christmas tree on Friday, the 23rd of December. So many many people from our church turned up this year to sing carols together, almost 40 of us! I felt extremely proud and happy to sing out His Story on stage.  


Carolling with my church members
Instrumental performance by Onnuri church members

On Christmas Day, I went to church. I always feel that the best way to spend Christmas Day is in church, celebrating Jesus's birth along with all the church members. I don't mind people who only turn up in church on Christmas Day or Easter's Day, cos at least they care enough to show their faces. In a few year's time, I hope that I'll be able to attend church with all my family members. And next Christmas, I'll finally have a home in which to put up my very own Christmas tree and deck out the ornaments! Can't wait for that time to come...

The church kids participating in a sketch of The Christmas Story... loveeeeeeeee how the younger kids have these sheep and cow masks on their faces, they look like little angels! So cute!


This year we even had Santa Claus! One of the church members dressed up in the red costume.
Members of my community group
And of course, not forgetting my Christmas lunch with stuffed turkey and Korean food!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One week to Christmas!

Can't believe there's only one more week left until Christmas! Time flies by so fast when one is busy. Can't really feel Christmas in the air here in Korea though even though it's winter, except when we visited Nampodong Christmas street (blog about that in the next post). I feel like the festive mood is stronger in Malaysia, decorations in shopping malls, shops blaring Christmas songs, etc. Here I seriously don't feel anything except when I go to church, and that's why I play aloud the Glee Christmas album and Michael Buble and Home Alone soundtrack when I'm in the room alone, to surround myself with some Christmas joy. ♥

Some randoms:-

The "Christmas tree" is up in my room! *^^* Well, actually it's a Sanrio Christmas tree card sent by my hubby last year... I love this card so muchhhhhhhhh cos it can stand up and it's got presents beneath the tree and when I pull the paper handle on top the tree leaves actually open and can see little Santas hiding inside! So cute!!
Christmas card 2010

Just received this in the mail this evening... it's Christmas card Part II, of the same Sanrio series... also sent to me by my dear hubby. It's a big house with many Santas inside! And it has glitter all over it to represent snow... got glitter all over my desk and hands while opening the card! Love it!

Christmas card 2011

Finally... the Santas are out on the street! Although this Santa is not handing out goodies to kids sitting in his lap. More like holding the 50% banner for Nature Republic!


Skincare during the dry winter season:-

♥ Got this miniature IOPE moisture lasting sample kit a while ago which consists of softener (toner), emulsion (lotion) and cream. IOPE is one of the high range skincare brands in Korea, which is quite expensive, so till now I can only use their sample handouts. Love the nice scent of the softener which is not too overpowering. And the cream keeps my face deeply moisturized at night, which tends to get dry because I turn on the heater in my room every night. 

♥ MISSHA year end sales! I got the following items all at 30% off a few days ago. From left toright: BB Boomer (8,260won), SPF33 water based sun block (5,600won), Super Aqua pore ideal serum (11,060won), and Super Aqua oxygen micro visible deep cleanser (12,460won). The BB Boomer is a boosting cream used before applying bb cream, it has pearl inside it to make my face appear more radiant - very good because my face looks so dull and dark all the time, and double cream is not too oily for winter skin. I've used the SPF33 water based sun block during summer and I found that it absorbs very quickly into my skin, and not oily at all - perfect for when I go back to Malaysia! This is the first time I'm trying out the Super Aqua range... the serum tester felt very light and easily absorbed into my skin. Nice refreshing for use in Malaysia too. And the oxygen cleanser sounds very interesting - apply the liquid to dry face and soon you will see foam bubbles appearing on your skin, after that wash off with water. Good as a makeup/bb cream remover I guess. ^^


Even the bakeries here have got into the Christmas mood! Paris Baguette Americano take-out costs only 1,000 won now due to the stiff competition. And chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies wrapped in a nice blue ribbon! Perfect as a gift for a friend's house party. ^^






And enjoying myself with a nice hot latte at Angel-in-Us! See they changed their paper cups to Christmas red too!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A little something happens everyday.

11 more days to Christmas... why hasn't it snowed yet??

As I walk to the lab each morning I see workers maintaining the pine trees along the road. Did you know that pine trees are very expensive to plant? But there are so many in my university campus... I see the workers spraying jets of water onto the trees, and the acorns all fall down. The acorns look like brown, insignificant Easter eggs lying on the ground, waiting to be found. And some of the bigger trees get their branches sawed off. I guess that's because the workers are trimming off the frivolous things, so that the trees don't need to spend so much energy during the winter.

Last Sunday our challenge for the week was to find something to be thankful about, everyday. Well, you might not know it, but a little something happens everyday.

♥ On Monday my work computer almost died on me. Thankfully, I managed to fix it until it's up and running at the moment. It just needs to last around 8 more weeks... hope it doesn't act up again.
♥ On Tuesday the receiver in my project just couldn't work. I removed the previous circuit on my board cos I thought it was simple enough to rebuild. But it just couldn't work! Thankfully, I had taken a photo of the previous circuit and so I rebuilt it according to that and it is working now!
♥ Today is Wednesday, thankfully, so far so good... I hope no more shocks happen throughout the week!

Sometimes the "everyday" gets so mundane that I fall into my depression routine, thinking life is so meaningless and all that shit. But I forget, that without those little shocks I get, jolting me back to reality, life that is boring and mundane can actually mean being carefree and calm.

Sigh... also, just when I thought I can be free after my thesis defense...... I am even busier than before. Before the last week of December, I need to complete:

- 1 journal paper
- 1 conference paper (so that I can go attend the skiing conference)
- update 9 months of work into my laboratory notebook
- debug and test my receiver circuit! omg...

I have no time for my pile of books stacked up by my bedside... but I keep Fashion Babylon (Imogen Edwards-Jones) at my lab desk so I can read it whenever I am waiting for something to load up, and Bag of Bones (Stephen King) by my bedside so I can sneak in 10 minutes while falling asleep to King's lengthy drawl~

Winter season makes me wanna snuggle up in my warm heated room every moment of the day. ♥ After getting back from the lab, I get a nice long hot shower and dress in my comfy cotton long pants, make a hot chocolate mixed with milk, put on my specs and snuggle under the covers and get hooked on to Forensic Heroes III (Kate Tsui + Ron Ng = ♥ forever!).

Last but not least, not forgetting the total eclipse of the moon that happened on Saturday night. I think this is the second eclipse I have seen since I was in primary school. Anyway, it was very fun. Me and my friend lay on our backs in the stadium grounds with our faces toward the sky, watching the red moon above our heads. We watched it until it got too cold for us then we went back to the dormitory.

Red moon, total eclipse, December 10th

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Eulsukdo Revisited

Winter time is bird-watching season again....... this time I brought my junior to re-visit the Eulsukdo (숙도) Migratory Bird Park.

Eulsukdo is actually a small "island" located at the lower end of the Nakdong River. The Nakdong River estuary ranks as Korea's largest habitat for migratory birds. During winter, migratory birds fly from colder grounds (such as Siberia) to warmer places such as South Korea. Among the birds to watch out for include the whooper swan, spoonbill, and greater white-fronted goose.

I was very much looking forward to this trip cos I hadn't been able to see any swans the last time I went there. >.<'''


On our way there I stopped one of the elderly men who were carrying around some big camera equipment to ask about the location to see the birds. In Korean, he said, "longggggg". So at first I thought he meant the road leading there was very long. Then he said, no he meant that the bird is very "long". 

Indeed, when we reached the tip of Zone A for bird-watching, we saw many "long" birds, or huge birds with long necks, in groups, floating on the water. I think they might be giant geese. Some looked like swans from the graceful shape of their necks, but we couldn't be too sure as they were really far away. The place was so quiet that we could hear the loud squawking of the geese/swans. The birds were very sensitive to our sounds and movements. As soon as they heard our talk and approaching footsteps, they just took off and flew/swam further away!

 More pictures of the bird sanctuary:

Mandarin ducks swimming in pairs
I really love mandarin ducks cos they are always swimming in pairs, so lovely. The male duck looks very prim and proper with the brilliant green color of its head and white collar around its neck. It looks like it's dressed up for a formal dinner event.

Eulsukdo Migratory Bird Park

Met two new friends, a girl from Kazakhstan who is an exchange student in my university, and a solo guy traveler from Singapore. 
 
We also visited the Nakdong Estuary Eco Center. A big museum dedicated to the education and preservation of birds and small creatures in the wetlands. This museum is very nice, designed by a Japanese architect. Often there are various educational outdoor activities organized for groups of school children.



Feel as free as a bird every time I visit this place. Feels like the land is so huge and the air is so fresh that I can take in huge amounts of it into my lungs and breathe out. Feel the warm sunshine on my face.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Haeundae Beach in Autumn.


If you ask me what is there to do, in that gap of time, after all the colored leaves of autumn have fallen to the ground and with the chaser lights of Christmas still 25+ days away, I would say -- go to the beach. What go to the beach in early winter when the water's cold and there's no bikini girls to see?

I love the winter coast. The beach isn't as crowded as it is in summer when all the girls in teeny weeny bikinis come out to play. The sea is a dazzling blue, as is the sky, where you can see for miles and miles away, and even see Tsushima (Japan) on a clear bright winter afternoon. And the flock of seagulls and pigeons. They mesmerize me the most.  

 

There is an army of seabirds on the sand, those little white specks on the sand. The seagulls like to stand, very still, facing the breeze, letting it glide through their oiled wings and smoothen their feathers. I guess they feel happy and comfortable, smug even, on such a beautiful day. The seagulls are too proud to mix with the pigeons with gray feathers. They stand in different crowds. Occasionally a seagull walks into the flock of pigeons and tries to grab the food away from the pigeons, thinking they are lord over the gray ones. The proud, fair and lovely seagull raises its voice and squawks loudly at the pigeons, like an irritating fellow who doesn't know that he is irritating. The pigeons just gently ignore the seagull like a crazy fellow and continue to feed. Cos there is plenty of food. If you hold a prawn cracker in your hand the birds will hover in mid-air and peck the tidbit from out from your fingers.


We decided to walk up Dalmaji Hill and along Moontan Road since it was such a beautiful day. I didn't feel cold at all even though the temperature was 10 degrees Celcius. The weather was so good till I felt that the walk was a short one. At the end of Dalmaji are the twin lighthouses - one red and one white. The name of the place is Cheongsa-po (青沙浦) fishing village. I am always amazed by the twin lighthouses but nobody seems to really stop by and just continue along the way when they are in their vehicles.  

Lighthouses just mesmerize the hell out of me. They evoke a sense of picturesque postcard romanticism, like I can imagine hanging up a framed picture of these twin lighthouses in my dining room and stare at it all night and all day. The bright red lighthouse and the subdued, pure white lighthouse, against the maddeningly blue sky. I'm in love.


Monday, November 28, 2011

One Day in Beitou (在北投的一天)

On the day after my conference session, mom and I went to Beitou (北投) to enjoy the hot spring. It was really a day for me to relax because I had finished my "official duties" in Taipei.

 I think it was drizzling a bit as we rode the MRT, but thank God when we reached XinBeiTou station the skies cleared up and we could walk around a bit.



The Beitou MRT platform (waiting for exchange to XinBeiTou line) is such a delight to behold! Took many pictures of the cute structure there. The building is a replica mix of the Plum Garden & Beitou Hot Spring Museum. And there is a Japanese-like hot spring deity in blue. There are a couple of cartoon statues dressed up in Ketagalan (Taiwan natives) costumes too.


We continued the walk up ZhongSan Road (中山路). It was a leisurely walk on a beautiful day, the weather was warm but not too hot, and the sun was not so bright as to sting our eyes. This was my second time to Beitou but my first time to walk up ZhongSan Road. There are so many beautiful things to see there - the big, brick bungalow which was formerly the public bathhouse, now changed into the Hot Spring Museum, its lush, green compound, lotus pond filled with pretty pink lotus flowers, the crisp green air which can no longer be found in Korea at this season.

 
The interior of the Hot Spring Museum. It is a huge, two-storey bungalow - the upper floor has a nice hall filled with tatami mats and Japanese-styled doors. The paper wood sliding doors reminded me of the Japanese-week furniture I wanted to buy in The Sims Social but which cost too many simoleons. There was a big balcony overlooking the huge compound of the museum.


The ground floor is a remnant of the public bathhouse, now just an empty pool filled with stained tiles and window glass from the olden days.


Continue walking up the road we reached the historical building Plum Garden (梅庭), formerly a Japanese-style house which became a summer retreat for the famous calligrapher 于右任. The house is kept simple yet elegant, with a very poetic nature to it, like it has a tale to tell of its own. The wooden beam ceiling of the house were hung very low, a trademark of the old Japanese house because Japs back then were very short. The location and architecture of the house were superb, truly a befitting mansion for a man of 于右任's stature.


We stopped for a quick brunch at some cafe near the junction uphill from Plum Garden. By stroke of luck, I accidentally found the entrance to Beitou Thermal Valley (地热谷). I didn't know we had to turn left after the junction; I had thought to go straight. Luckily I didn't or I would have missed it because the entrance was not very significant. Beitou Thermal Valley is a place which I missed on my last visit to Taipei, so I wanted to visit it very much this time. The place looked very beautiful but dangerous.

在眼前看见的是一片热气袅袅上升,蓝色的湖面看起来平静,底下却危机暗伏。我不禁想象着要是失足掉入水里,是否会霎那间皮开肉绽,滚烫的泉水立刻把肉身化为乌有,只剩下一副白骨。哈哈,我想一定是小时候《西游记》看过太多遍了。再想想,温泉温泉,水温应该顶多是六,七十度,只会把人给烫伤,还不足以致命吧~
 

Finally, reached our destination - Spring Hotel Resort (春天酒店). Cost NT800 per person. Only summer season have free beer. Went there the first time with Leo and had a very good impression of the outdoor pools so I brought mom there to try it. Tried all the different hot spring pools (there was one with very nice rice wine smell) and fell asleep on the hot stone slab..........

After I came back I read other people's blog on Spring Hotel Resort then only I realised that taking photo is not allowed at the outdoor pools... hahaha. No wonder many people were looking at me while I used my camera. But Taiwanese are too polite and seldom tell off people outright, unlike the Korean ajummas here.
 

Feeling all refreshed after the nice hot spring, took the longer road back to the MRT station. Passed by the very beautiful Beitou Public Library and went in to take a look. Reminded me of those days in Chandler where we used to visit the nice public library.