Lilypie - First Birthday

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring things

Back to happy and carefree mood again, so... random ramblings continue! ^^

Spring is already here! Tonight I am meeting a Malaysian girlfriend who followed her hubby to Busan for conference. We are gonna eat at Haeundae and catch up on all the stuff at home, yay! Next week (4-11 April) my group of great friends from my MMU days are coming to visit me, and we're going to the Jinhae Navy Port Festival to see sakura and I might go to Seoul with them! And the week after that, my family is coming to visit me... oh... can't wait to bring them around this country which I have lived in for more than a year. :-)

Magnolia tree at PKNU front gate
There is this beautiful magnolia tree in front of my campus which only blooms once a year, and the time is now! Well last week it really started blooming but just within a day or two the flowers started turning brown around the edges and some are falling. Why don't beautiful things last for long... :-( I forgot to take pictures of it last year, and next year I will be gone before it blooms, but this year, I managed to make the most out of it by taking photos and eating take-out meals at the Family Mart opposite while looking at its magnificent beauty!

Korean magpie
What is spring without flowers and birds? This is the Korean magpie, which Leo hates so much... hahaha. I see these birds every morning hopping around, picking worms out of the ground. And I especially love it when it spreads its wings and swoops down to the ground. Simply magnificent. When I first came to Korea and saw this bird, I thought, dang, even the birds are so much more well-dressed here! I told my Korean labmate that I like this bird very much and he said, why that's a very common bird!

New bunny soft toy
This bunny is supposed to be so last season but I finally bought it from Seomyeon! Now I have an additional bedmate to hug to sleep at night. :-) I bought the one with the polkadot patterns. Now I have at least 5 items here in Korea which have white polkadots on blue fabric! (My basket, my scarf, my cushion at the lab, my scarf.)








Yay and change of season means I get to try (and buy) new facial stuff. I tried out samples from the Arsante Eco-Therapy range from Face Shop and fell in love with it! The skin toner has like this yellow oily stuff floating on top of it but its actually aromatherapy oil. After applying it my face I feel so relaxed like I'm in an aromatherapy session. :-)

And I bought the Original Power whitening and wrinkle-remover ampoule from Nature Republic yesterday. After toner, apply this, then apply lotion, then apply cream. This bottle of ampoule was 50% off and only cost 9,000won! So cheap!

I am also trying to stick to my exercise regime of 2 sets sit-up morning and night, 2 jogging sessions every week, and 1 swimming session every week. I want a bikini bod for summer!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Places to visit in Busan

Busan subway map
Recently more and more people are visiting Busan, South Korea, so here you go, my self-compiled list of interesting places to visit in Busan. :-) I will keep adding to this page from time-to-time if I explore and discover more places of interest!

*And oh... if you like my information and find it useful, please help by clicking my advertisements! Kamsa hamida!

Beaches
1) Haeundae beach (Line 2) - South Korea's best beach and featured in the 2009 movie Tsunami. See the beach covered with the record-high number of parasols (listed in Guinness Book of Records), bikini girls and "thong-man" in the summer. Feed crumbs to the huge flock of seagulls in autumn and winter. Also, pay a visit to the APEC Nurimaru House.

2) Gwangan beach (Line 2) - Take an evening jog/ stroll along Gwangan beach and check out the Diamond Bridge (Gwangan Bridge) with its multi-thousand LEDs at night.

3) Dadaepo beach (Line 1 Sinpyeong, bus) - See the big musical fountain in summer and get wet in it! Also the rock concert in summer. Take bus No. 2, 11, 96, 98 from Sinpyeong Station or Goejeong Station.

4) Ilgwang beach (East Busan, bus) - A small, secluded and peaceful beach away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city. Go to Gijang and eat blowfish afterwards.

Temples
1) Beomeosa Temple (Line 1) - The best temple in Busan, located on Geumjeong mountain. Go there for the beautiful autumn colours. Has temple stay programme. If you're interested in autumn hiking, there is a trail up to the North Gate of Geumjeongsanseong Fortress.

2) Haedong Yonggung temple (Line 2, bus)  - A beautiful temple with the most amazing seaviews. Go there to see multicolored lanterns in May for Buddha's Birthday. Take bus 181 from Haeundae Station.

Spa
1) Vesta spa (Line 2) - Spend a night at this spa and wake up to the beautiful views overlooking Haeundae beach in the morning. This spa is on top of Dalmaji Hill, the most beautiful place to view cherry blossoms in spring. Take a midnight stroll along Moontan Road and bask in the full moon. Take a taxi from Haeundae Station.

2) Oncheongjang (Line 1) - Visit the largest spa in Busan "Horshimchung" spa.

3) Shinsegae Spaland (Line 2 Centum City) - Visit the most luxurious spa in Busan, with its curious, multi-themed sauna and relaxation rooms. Get a foreigner's discount coupon at the Shinsegae information counter which entitles you to a 20% discount and free drink. Downside: Only 4 hours max and cannot overnight.

4) Aqua Palace (Line 2) - Another luxurious spa where you can overnight. Located at Gwangan beach and Haeundae.

Shopping
1) Seomyeon (Line 2) - Downtown of Busan. Visit the underground shopping area for the cheapest clothes in Busan and the Lotte Department Store. Lots of bars and pubs here too.

2) Nampodong (Line 1) - Nice street shopping and street food. Buy your camera at great deal here. Also visit the indoor musical fountain which plays every hour in the Lotte Department Store. Visit the sky garden of Lotte Department Store for a breathtaking view of Nampodong area at night.

3) Busan National University (Line 1) - Nice university street shopping! Lotsa cheap clothes (blazers, bags etc.) for the university-age crowd.

4) Centum City Shinsegae Department Store (Line 2) - The biggest department store in the world (Guinness Book of Records). Expensive taste! Check out the Kyobo bookstore and Ice Rink. Remember to get your foreigners' coupon at the front desk!

5) Costco (Line 2 Suyeong/ Millak, bus) - American wholesale hypermart. Get your cheese and beef salami here! And eat the gigantic pizza and pile on the onions and mustard. Take bus 54 from Suyeong bus station.

Cliffs
1) Igidae (Line 2 Kyungsung/Pukyong, bus) - Visit the Igidae cliff/ beach area with its scenic views.

2) Taejongdae (Line 1 Nampodong, bus) - Hop on hop off the small choochoo train that brings you around the Taejongdae area. The cliff and lighthouse views are amazing.

Church!!!
1) Antioch International Ministry (AIM) (Line 2 Suyeong) - Visit the Christian English service here which starts 10.45am every Sunday morning. It's an international church so we welcome foreigners from all over the world to gather to praise and worship God together! ^^ Check out the website at http://www.aimchurch.com/

2) Pukyong National University home group and Bible Study (Line 2) - On Thursday evenings students from around gather at a home group for fellowship and study God's Word together. It's fun! ^^

Other interesting places to visit
1) Yellow flower (Line 2 Sasang) - The yellow rapeseed flowers bloom end of March and April. You can also ride a bicycle here.

2) Jagalchi fish market (Line 2) - Check out the weird and most unimaginable sea creatures you'll find them all here at the wet market. Just walk over from the PIFF square in Nampodong.

3) Eulsokdo Nakdong Estuary (Line 1) - A beautiful wetlands for migratory bird-watching for all seasons. You can also ride a bicycle here. Take a bus from Sinpyeong Station.

4) Chinatown (Line 1 Busan Station) - For homesick Malaysians, eat your fill of dragon dumplings, tangsuyuk and fried mandu here! And wash it all down with a piping hot bowl of soybean milk. If you need any Chinese cooking stuff here is a great place to get it too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monk live jazz bar

[Sept 18, 2015] Watching the drama 오 나의 귀신님 triggered me to start blogging again to fill in the holes in my blog about my life in Korea. The guitar scene reminded me of the times where me and my partner-in-crime, Tiina, used to sneak out of the lab sometimes to check out the underground music scene around our university. 


This was one of the weekday nights where we left our lab at night and visited this place called "Monk live jazz bar". I used to think that I would never forget the names of some of the places around Pukyong National University, but now I have forgotten most of them already. We ordered cocktails and sat at the back of the bar to watch the jazz band play on stage. I remember the bar being quite empty at that time - maybe because it was a weekday night.

At another time, Tiina and I were just walking around after dinner when we saw some flyers promoting an underground music concert. Being the fun people that we both are, we decided to check it out. It was so spontaneous that I didn't even bring my camera. Hence, no pictures. There were no chairs and everyone was standing and waving their hands to the music the young pop/rock band was playing on stage. There was all this university youngsters around us. We enjoyed ourselves up to a point where we really couldn't understand any Korean lyrics and the music got too loud for us, then we left.

There was also another time where we joined Rohit at one of his favourite watering holes, the Yellow Submarine. We played pool and drank. Then we went clubbing and bar-hopping... and then we were completely locked out of our hostel because of the curfew, and we had to spend a night in the lab. 

Haha... those were the days.... and this is a picture of the bus stop near the university roundabout at night. I might have taken this picture to remember the big, bright full moon.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

感想

很久没在这里透露一些个人的心事,想法了。
原因没有其他,只因为早前处在一个 state of equilibrium,很平静,很舒服。
平时就是忙于上课,吃饭,做研究,还有带新来的朋友到处参观而已,所以在部落个上写的都是游记,没有什么特别的想法。
时间过的还算充实,最重要的是没有人来烦我,搞到我情绪低落。
平日没什么去玩也不要紧,因为四月份我的死党就要来找我了!还有家人~

x                         x                         x

前两天来了新室友,一个乍看之下还以为是马来西亚华人的韩国女生。
眼睛大大的,和平常的韩国女生有一点不一样。
再看清楚,哦,脸好白皙的,其实比马来西亚华人美很多,哈哈哈。
她英文说得不好,仅靠我现有的破烂韩语来沟通,还有肢体语言。啊~呜
这样相处下去,不晓得这个学期完毕之后,我的韩语会不会突飞猛进?ㅋㅋㅋ~


其实我的韩语还算进步了,哈哈哈!
昨天去唱 K,成功唱完《秘密花园》的“그 여자”,一字不漏!
唱毕,朋友们还掌声鼓励一下,心里真的有点小感动~ ^^

x                         x                         x

昨天其实发生了一些不开心的事。
发现到有个人把我从他的“墙壁”上挡掉了,不晓得他会在他的“墙壁”上写我什么?
来韩国之前,朋友就对我说,要提防这个人。
那时候我还不相信,还觉得蛮能相处的。
过后才发现,他平时不爱睬人就不睬人,一天到晚搞自闭。
平时只爱批评人,还有只是在需要哪个人的帮助时才和那个人好。
而且我根本没对他做过些什么,为什么需要刻意把我挡掉?真是奇怪的人。
其实他曾经说过,研究室里的韩国人都是自私的,这是因为上辈传下来的。那他又何尝不是?
要怪只能怪自己运气不好吧,为什么其他人的研究室就可以和睦相处,守望相助,我们的就如此田地~
还是算了吧,我不应该和这般幼稚的人一般见识!

x                         x                         x

今天发生了一件有趣的事情。
两个礼拜前,我和芬兰朋友参加了一个地下摇滚音乐会,认识了两名韩国男生。
其中那个比较可爱,比较有礼貌的,我竟然过后还和他在学校里面二度邂逅!
而且两次都在星期六早上,虽然不同时间,上个星期是九点,今天是十点。
哈哈,还挺有缘分的。^^

好了,发泄完毕,继续研究...
其实写完了也感到自己挺幼稚的,多少岁了还把其他人的想法,所作所为,让自己难受。
在这里为大家献上一首先在最流行的歌,祝大家周末愉快!^^

《秘密花园》 “그 여자”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Autumn in Korea - N Seoul Tower

On the second day, we visited N Seoul Tower. The 236.7m N Seoul Tower sits atop Namsan Mountain and offers panoramic views of Seoul and the surrounding areas. The letter ‘N’ stands for the tower’s ‘new’ and more youthful look, which resulted from a 15 billion won remodeling in Dec 2005. 

Before I went there, I thought N Seoul Tower would be just like any other tower in the cities which I've visited - KL tower, Taipei 101, Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower and Stratosphere Las Vegas. - just exceptionally tall, modern buildings, but nothing spectacular. However, it turned out to be more romantic than I thought, because of the beautiful autumn scenery! When our taxi reached the cable car station, I spotted a nice hill park where the trees had all changed into their autumn colors. Hey I thought, we don't have to go all the way to Daegu for autumn leaves now! So we spent a nice, relaxing stroll and took many pictures with the red and yellow leaves.

Small hill in front of Namsan cable car station
We went for lunch at one of the nearby restaurants, and saw people in a long queue in front of one of the "tonkatsu" shops. There were also many nicely decorated, romantic cafes along the sidewalk. The yellow gingko trees lining the street also lent a tinge of autumn to the surroundings.

Eateries along the road near to Namsan cable car station
We took the cable car up and walked a short distance uphill to N Seoul Tower. A traditional martial arts performance was held at the square in front of the Tower. There were also the Teddy Bear Museum,  Coldstone ice-cream and souvenir shops. Bought some little souvenirs and enjoyed the cold breeze while walking around looking at the Love Locks around the place.

At N Seoul Tower

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Earthquake. Tsunami. Nuclear meltdown.


Praying for the situation in Japan right now. 

On the day of the earthquake and tsunami, I was actually quite worried cos the first thing that hit my mind was the 2009 movie "Haeundae/Tsunami" where a megatsunami formed near Japan and wrecked destruction on the Haeundae and Gwangan beach areas. But my Korean friends and professor were quick to reassure me that Korea is safe because the country is in an earthquake-free zone and tsunamis are blocked by Japan.

So the biggest threat and worry now is what if a nuclear meltdown happens and high levels of radiation leak into the air? Still, Busan is about 1,000km away from Fukushima but weather officials fear that if the wind direction changes and blows the radioactive wind towards South Korea rather than to the Pacific ocean then we could be exposed to danger.

So, keep praying guys.............

White Day in Korea

This is my second White Day in Korea ♡~~~

White Valentine's Day is celebrated in Korea and Japan on March 14. On White Day, boys give candies to girls. As a rule of thumb, the value of the gift is three times the value of what the girlfriend gave to the boyfriend on Feb 14 Valentine's Day hahaha.

This is the pile of gifts stacked up outside every Family Mart store. This year's featured K-pop idol is I.U. 아이유 who sang “좋은  날” (Good Day). She is the latest sensation among hot-blooded Korean boys these days.


I went shopping at Seomyeon with a Korean girlfriend on Saturday and took a few pictures of the White Day gift stalls around the area. There was a human hamster and human tiger giving out Free Hugs too!~

I'm kicking myself now for forgetting to get myself one of those nicely wrapped White Day gifts cos this will be my last White Day... maybe I'll go to Family Mart later and get one.

Angel-in-us strawberry latte and java mocha frappucino

After shopping we went to have coffee in Angel-in-us and I got a free pouch with miniature toiletry set! So nice~~ ^^ We also did some girly stuff in the cafe like applying eyeliner and glitter eyeshadow cos she was getting ready for her "blind date" later. In Korea, "blind dates" or 소개-ing (so-kae-ting) is very popular among singles trying to look for a potential boyfriend/girlfriend.



Then yesterday on White Day my labmates gave me Chupa Chupps in different flavours~~~ ^^

Monday, March 14, 2011

Autumn in Seoul - Cheongwadae (Blue House)

The Blue House or Cheongwadae (青瓦台) is the executive office and official residence of the President of South Korea - currently Lee Myung-Bak. The Korean name literally translates to "pavilion of blue tiles", as the main building and its two annexes are covered with a total of 150,000 traditional Korean blue roof tiles. The exterior design was based on the architectural techniques used in the construction of traditional wooden royal palaces. The hipped and gabled roof of the building is regarded as one of the most refined and attractive styles of Korean traditional architecture.

Entrance to the Cheongwadae is by guided tour only, where you can book online via email 6 months - 10 days in advance. After visiting Gyeongbok Palace, we waited at the Gyeongbok East parking lot for passport check, then followed the tour bus to Cheongwadae. Upon entering the Cheongwadae, an audio headset featuring a few different languages was provided for a guided audio tour. We watched a video presentation and President's speech first in a room before proceeding for the tour. There were very "yeng" "bodyguards" tailing us around, clearly dictating us on where and when we were "allowed" to take photos... in spite of the President's speech earlier saying "사진 이 찍어요!" (please take more photos!) =_='''

Main Building
Cheongwadae Fountain

The Nokjiwon Garden, situated inside the Cheongwadae compound, is the most beautiful and serene garden I have ever seen. Inside the garden there are deer (梅花鹿) running free and grazing on the grass, a small stream full of exotic carps and more than 120 different types of trees. The garden was completed in 1968 and today there are commemorative trees planted by previous presidents to celebrate special occasions.  In the middle of the garden, there is the most impressive and beautiful umbrella pine tree (bansong). The tree is 17 meters in height and is presumed to have been planted sometime around 1850. I also saw persimmon trees and I felt very excited seeing it cos persimmon is one of my favourite fruit and this was the first time I actually saw its tree!

Bansong umbrella tree in the middle of Nokjiwon


Lastly, we visited Yeongbingwan, the State Guest House. The interior was very nice and had these elegant chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. And we took pictures with a cardboard cutout of Lee Myung-Bak and his wife and saw a photo exhibition of the deers in Nokjiwon during the four seasons.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Freshmen welcoming ritual


*Updated photos, because the "Freshmen welcoming ceremony" for Engineering building was held today!

Perhaps one of the weirdest things I've ever seen in the Korean university is the "Freshmen welcoming ritual", held at the beginning of the new spring semester. It was held at the ground floor outside my lab building around 5-6pm.

I was first attracted by the loud banging of traditional cymbals and drums outside the lab window. The musicians were students dressed up in traditional colorful Korean garb. Last week I saw another welcoming ritual where one of the students even dressed up in full ancient gear complete with hat and a sword at his side... so geng.

The ceremony seemed to be a Taoist ritual, with a real pig's head (wow..), candles and fruits at the altar. Some paper money was rolled into a stick and stuck into the pig's nostrils for prosperity. Usually a professor and student representative would say some opening words, then kowtow in front of the pig's head altar. A pig is used because Koreans see the pig as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. If they dream about a pig at night, means they will have really good luck the next day. 

Anyway, the whole thing was some sort of blessing ritual for the freshmen and students to achieve good results in their university life. The student representatives would dress up very smartly in suit and tie, and a gang walking together looked like those HK mafia/ Japanese yakuza from the movies.... haha. After the students kowtowed in front of the altar, they would throw out coins and some snacks to the attendees for good luck.


There was also a festival to promote the university's clubs and societies on Tuesday, held on the school field.  There were many stalls and booths setup around the field and there was a big stage in the middle. We could get a piece of paper and get 15 stamps from the stalls and booths by playing some simple games like "A says Do, B says Re, A says Mi and so on", beat the hands following A's rhythm, or some macho games like punching the Taekwondo board in half, or even get free beer, pizza, chicken and waffles. At night there were some song performances and it was quite happening. 

The 2 pictures above were captured by the university front gate where the dance club members were doing K-pop dance to recruit new members.


And finally, spring is already here!!! *^^*

Jinhae Naval Base

Jinhae (진해) is most-known for its cherry blossoms (sakura) and the Jinhae Port Festival in April. However, last year's Port Festival was canceled after the bombing of the South Korean navy ship "Cheonan" by North Korea forces in March.

Jinhae is one and a half hours away from Busan by car. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, Jinhae was developed as a naval base by the Japanese imperial army, and the Japanese who lived there planted many sakuras in the city. That also explains why the city's development and planning also feels more Japanese than Korean.

I didn't get to go to the Port Festival last year and wear navy uniforms while posing with the beautiful pink cherry blossoms in the background, so I'm really anticipating it this year! However, I had the chance to visit Jinhae last autumn for a paper presentation in KIMICS conference. The conference was held inside the Jinhae Naval Academy, which is rarely open for visitors to enter. I think it is some sort of a military prohibited zone cos when we were busy taking pictures at the entrance, a solider came up to us and said "Do not take pictures".

On both sides of the road are sakura trees which will make this place look like heaven during spring!
Jinhae is truly one of those places with astounding views, ranking up there among South Korea's most beautiful places together with Suncheon bay. I could see the geographical advantage of the place as a navy base because the area was a secluded bay with mountains surrounding the area from a distance. The blue sky and the blue mountains afar and the blue sea all seemed to blend together perfectly, just like a beautiful Chinese ink drawing. Also, it was late October and the wind blowing  in from the coastal area was really chilly. Before the conference started, Rohit and I ran around the beautiful area to take lots of pictures. Felt like we went sightseeing more than going for conference... kekeke.

Got my hair all over my face in all of the pictures, but it was really nice!!
Then, we went back indoors at 10am for the opening ceremony and awards presentation. The organizers also showed a 20-min video of the Cheonan sinking incident and paid tribute to the navy soldiers who died on the ship. Although I couldn't understand most of it (the video was in Korean) but I somehow felt moved to tears.  But when I looked at Sung Mo who was sitting beside me, he was sleeping!!! So unpatriotic, haha... That's why I always tell my Korean undergraduates, "Don't go to war... you'll absolutely die cos all you care about is your Starcraft and iPhone apps and how your hair looks like in the morning..."

Left: Me and Sung Mo, undergraduate in my lab who is now a masters student
Right: Me and professors and labmates... OMG I'm the shortest!

Busy taking pictures before my presentation...
After our presentations there was this navy parade and honoring-of-the-guards ceremony so we rushed to get good seats at the platform. The immensely beautiful backdrop served as a natural stage for the ceremony and I had fun watching the navy guards and band parade around in their uniforms. I sat with Sung Mo and talked and joked a lot with him. I enjoyed it very much.  

Love this place, especially the mountains and the sea

Then, after another round of presentations by other lab members, Rohit and I went out to take pictures of the Turtle Ship. The Turtle Ship that we saw was a remodel by the Korean navy from the ancient ship built by Admiral Yi Sun-Shin in A.D.1591, which was instrumental in defeating the Japanese invasion in the South Sea. It is named the Turtle Ship because of its exterior shape (turtle shell), but the head is a dragon. The shell has many spikes on it too, looks like a torture device at sea.

Picture depicting the battle at sea between Korean and Japanese forces, with the Koreans using the Turtle Ship
There were also many aircraft and fighting machines in the area, including a sailboat "The Forerunner", which was used by a Korean sophomore at UCLA on a solo sail trip from Los Angeles to Busan.

 

Sunset

After that it was sunset and Goodbye, Jinhae... till I see you again in Spring for the sakura season! Then I left happily to meet my girlfriends from Malaysia who were visiting me in Busan but there was some mishap when they arrived. But that's another story.